Friday, July 24, 2015

The Announcement from Catalyst Games Lab

Well, Catalyst Games Lab finally made the announcement that everyone's been waiting for., You can read the entire announcement here:

Now, for my thoughts:

The Interstellar Operations rulebook has been, along with the recently released; Housebook: House Kurita, has been the company's Moby Dick, refusing to be cornered and harpooned for years. Even after parts were taken out to be included in a new product  the book is still around 400 pages of all sorts of things. Things like era weapons and equipment, rules for building Tripod, Quad-Vees, LAMs, Primatives, and Super-heavy 'Mechs. There are also rules for Nukes, bioweapons, and Chemical weapons too, for those who want them. And there is Strategic BattleForce, an expansion of the BattleForce game system from Strategic Operations, and the rules for a strategic game called Inner Sphere at War.

All in all, it gives any BT fan another layer that they can play with.. It's in Beta, which means you can buy the PDF for $10, look for any problems and report them to the company via the special thread on the official forum.

BTW, the rest of what was to go into Interstellar Operations has been moved to a new product, Campaign Companion, listed Here:, (9th item down)

The next big news: The Iconic BattleMechs that were known collectively as the Unseens are being reimaged. The announcement page has a couple of pictures of the reimaged Warhammer, and them image at the top of this post  has the reimaged Griffin and Marauder. I expect that Catalyst will release the other images, which I've seen refereed to as "Newseen" once their look has been finalized.

And the last item on this list I want to talk about tonight......

The first new physical Battletech Novel in years!

We finally get to have novel-length fiction again. This one is by Jason Schmitzer, but the announced novels to this point include Loren Coleman's complete Shadows of Faith, Victor Milan's Case White, and a trio of Kell Hound Novellas by Micheal Stackpole, two of which have never been published before.

So, it appears the novels will pick up where they left off, the end of the Fed-Com War and the start of the Jihad. I plan to start pitching for a novel as soon as I finish working on the non-BT I am currently writing. I have several novel ideas which I hope I can bring to you the action of the Jihad in a way the Jihad sourcebooks couldn't.

Writing a Battletech novel is going to be a challenge, and its one I'm looking forward to.

There are also going to be new PDF product lines coming out, just check the coming products page from above and I hope you enjoy the new stuff as much as I will!



Monday, July 20, 2015

Writing for TROs

Above is the cover for the TRO3150, which was released for sale in PDF today, and hopefully will be at Gencon in physical form. It's a sequel of sorts to TRO3145, and has mostly designs from the 3145 mini-TROs that didn't make it into the 3145 edition, with some new material.

This makes the fourth physical TRO in a row in this I've contributed a couple of entries to. (I claim credit for a couple of the designs mentioned in the TRO3085 "Old is the New New" section) Unlike most of the source-books, the writer's efforts are scattered through the book, with no one writer dominating a section. When the call goes out for pitches, the pitch includes the list of units for that TRO. Writers submit a list of designs they want to write up, and the Production developer chooses who writes what.

Writing for a TRO is different than other source-books. First, you have a vary hard word count limit for each entry. Second, three groups contribute to each entry, each having to match up to the other two. The teams are supervised by either Herb or a production developer to make all three groups mesh.

The first group are the designers. Writers do not design the entries. Instead of small group designs the game stats for each entry, translating in many cases these last two TROs,  MWDA stats to Battletech stats. They decide what equipment goes where. If there's a need to stat out a variant, they will do it. They also have a hand in giving each design a design quirk.

Second are the artists, and their designs have to follow the stats laid out by the design team. SO if a design has a large laser in the right arm, the artist has to make sure they draw a large barrel on that arm to match the design stats. They have to a aware of the design quirks and if possible, include at as part of the illustration.

Writers write the fluff -- everything else that isn't game stats or illustration. As writers, we have guidelines we must follow about the tone and content. We get some notes from the design team about year produced, where it's produced, who has the design, and other notes like that. From them, the writers created the overview, capabilities, deployments, variants (if any), and notable units/pilots. Writers also get input into design quirks.

Now for the print version of TRO3145 and TRO3150, new material, usually new notable units, replaces some of the fluff the writers wrote in addition to other changes and additions. They are written by someone else, and we writers have no say over what is added or taken away.

So, that's a glimpse into how a TRO is put together in my experience. When you read through it, remember it took a lot of people to put each one together.



Friday, July 17, 2015


Well, not much is happening at the moment with the Battletech writing, as most of my efforts have been thrown behind getting this non-BT novel done. That's about two-thirds done.

But there is some things going on with my Battletech writing. My story for the HONOR BOUND anthology should be published in the next couple of weeks. I have submitted another story for a second anthology Jason put the call out for. Let's see if he accepts it for the anthology. When I'm not working on the novel I mentioned above, I'm rewriting a story that had some negative feedback from the writer's group. Hopefully, this will make it a much stronger story.

I have yet to hear back about a third story I submitted to Battlecorps, hopefully I'll get an answer before the end of the month. I have not heard anything about the annual Battlecorps print anthology. And no one has asked if I'm interested in writing for the (re)new Battletech Novel line (For the record, I am interested, but not until after I finish this other novel).

So, it's summer.

Talk to you later!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015


According to Randall Bills, Battletech's Line Developer (And chief game creator, and chief bottle washer....) the above image is the cover of the first new Battletech novel in several years. (He posted this to Catalyst's Tumbler Page, so it's already public!) But I still don't know anything about these new novels.....

So, let me talk about something I do know something about --- Battlecorps anthologies. I have written stories for several Battletech anthologies and hope to continue doing so. Battlecorps anthologies come in two different 'flavors' --- Print and Thematic.

Print anthologies consists of stories drawn from the Battlecorps website for a particular year. Volume 1: The Corps consists of the best stories from the first year of the Website's existence, Volume 2: First Strike has stories from the second year of the Website, and so on. In addition, there is a new story written just for the anthology that isn't from the website. None of my stories have made it in any of the print anthologies, but I'm hoping this year I will see one of my stories in the print anthologies.

Thematic anthologies are different. For one, all the stories are commissioned by Jason for the anthology --- We pitch story ideas and Jason chooses which ones he want to see. Second, there is theme for the anthology. For example, the currently running Honor Code anthology's theme is the Draconis Combine --- the stories had to have the Combine as a major part of the story. Other than that. we were free to use any event or set it in any time. Most of the time, an anthology is tied to a sourcebook coming out, sometimes for another reason.

But the theme is what ties all the stories together. It can be an event (Operation Rat,  Klondike) a group (Honor Code) or a period of time (Like this new anthology). We generally have free reign to write whatever we want, as long as we use the theme as the central part of the story.

Now, just because I send in a completed story, on time doesn't mean it'll be accepted for the anthology. Jason may not include it in the anthology, but still buy it anyway for the website. It's up to me to give him what he wants and hope he's satisfied with it.

As I said above, I have written stories for several anthologies. Salvage was written for the Operation Rat anthology. Family Ties was written for the Klondike anthology, The Blood of Man was a part of the Jihad Hot Spots: Terra anthology, and My Father's Sword was written for the Onslaught anthology. Another one was written for an anthology that never got off the ground, but was published.

What's the difference between writing an anthology and writing a normal story? The biggest difference is time. A regular submission you can write some, leave for a few days, come back, work on it a little more, lit it sit for a week, and so on. In the anthology submission, there is are deadlines: the first is for pitches, the second for the actual story. This Anthology has about a four-week window from announcement to sending in the finished story. So, it's a tight window to create, plot and write a short story.

Second difference is the story length. Usually, a word count is given (In the case of this new anthology, 4,000-7,000 words). Now, Jason's not going to get angry if the story's a little longer than that, but it's usually best to try and keep the word count as close to the solicitation as possible.  For the Jihad Hot Spots: Terra anthology, we had a 12,000 word limit, which is why The Blood of Man is my longest story.

As it stands right now, I've completed the first draft of the story. Now, I'm letting it sit for a couple of days, then I plan to go back and do some cleaning up and editing. It's a little longer than Jason wants, so I need to see if there's anywhere I can trim it without losing any of the story.

I need to get back to writing!