For those following my blog posts over time concerning the new line of BattleTech rulebooks, Interstellar Operations in many ways remains not only the most ambitious rulebook I’ve ever tackled to date (which is saying something after TO/SO), but also the most daunting. [For those that haven’t been following and are wondering what IO will do, check out the following old blog post.]
Beyond the ‘holy cow, this is gonna be an insane book to write’, there’s also been the simple fact of too much other work taking up a lot of my time…most especially the pain of getting Leviathans out the door. While we’re still working on the aftermath of the debacle to reach Gen Con and re-directing energies to ensure it gets out the door by the end of the year, my day-to-day work is lightening enough to start spinning IO back up to full writing and development work.
I recently re-assigned two sections that are one of the most looked for rules currently in BattleTech to a new author: the Force Creation and Operation rules. These were previously found in Field Manual: Mercenaries. Not only has that been out of print for several years, but we’ve learned a lot since then, not to mention published a lot of new rulebooks as well. As such, the goal for these rules is to retain all the best of what has gone before, integrate what the fans have been missing, and all while meshing it with the entire line of current rulebooks.
Mike Miller (not southpaw, but the ‘other’ Mike) is the new author for those sections and he’s generated an initial blog post I’m including with mine below.
Interstellar Operations has moved in fits and starts, with some sections coming together rapidly and others being rather more obstinate. For example, the Solar System and Planet Creation rules are basically done and tested; they’re currently at least in partial use behind the scenes by writers who are providing a constant trickle of further feedback. A very simplified version (the quick start rules, for those players who don’t want to drown in detail) will be out even sooner in the upcoming A Time of War Companion. A section that will hopefully provide some more detail on BattleTech communications (coincidental, considering an Ask the Writer question about HPGs that just came up) is also done, though it is mostly a fluff look at HPGs and more details on hyperspace “physics” to explain oddities that Dark Age Era novels bequeathed to BattleTech.
Another section of IO that should be drafted and out for review in some indeterminate number of months (I hoping around the holidays) is a rather difficult bit of “AccountTech”: Force Creation and Operation rules. While I could probably copy-and-paste rules out of prior mercenary sourcebooks, I’ve seen there are some gaps in them, leaving very valid questions about how to actually earn enough money to successfully operate a mercenary unit. And there’s always interest in streamlining rules so players can spend more time having fun (i.e., blowing shit up) with their merc unit rather than processing paperwork for it.
“Intricate AccountTech” rules are difficult to thoroughly review and playtest “in-house,” especially when accompanied by the rest of a behemoth book like Interstellar Operations. There’s also the issue that formal playtesters and fact checkers tend to work under the assumption (usually correct) that what hits their desk has the formal stamp of approval from TPTB, so they try to avoid suggestions or demands that radically alter the draft even when the draft might need radical alterations. These two issues led me to conclude that if I had to write new Unit Creation and Operation rules, it’d probably be best to take a cue from the Great and Wise Herb’s masterful handling of A Time of War (what, I have something brown on my nose?): a public beta test.
Therefore, once I have the draft together and CGL’s reviewers agree it’s intelligible and functional (again, aiming for end of the year), I hope to make it available as a .pdf for a public beta test of several months.
So there ya go…spining it back up, writing getting back on track and we’ll start moving the end cap to the entire line into motion once more…thanks for everyone patience as we take the time to do this book right.