Building a Story – Alternate Clans Part II

Andery you say? Wolverine survival you say? Back that up or I’ll start bitching, says the canon lawyer.  As I mentioned in my last post, diverging from canon BT into an alternate universe/timeline for BT is hard work, especially so once you really start to head off into the unknown.How do you manage it? Well there are two things you will need, covered in the last two posts by Knightmare (Josh) and Panzerfaust (Jason), who both, like me, have a background in historical research.

The first thing you need, as mentioned by Josh, is a clear understanding of not only your AU, but how it diverges from canon and where it leaves the established timeline.  You also need a very clear understanding of not only the canon timeline, but also how canon factions interact, how they change over time and their outlook, as this will dictate how they will react to your changes.

Once that is sorted out, you then need, as Jason put it, a whipping boy.  Jason had a very good point, I can be very singular in my vision.  For those who do not know, I have the general outline of the KU lined up to 3035, a decade out from where we are.  Not only is this important for developing threads in the story for later full blown chapters built around them, but also for allowing room for the player generated threads to find their place within the greater whole.  The role of the Jason’s and Josh’s is to pull my head in and provide solid advice, something they have done to an excellent degree, providing insight, correction and excellent ideas of their own.  Though I do not always listen, being a little taken with myself and fairly head strong, without their efforts the story would not be half of what it is.

The hard part is balancing things and for the most part I would say 30% of player ideas get taken in in their entirety, with about 65% getting some level of modification, mainly so that they line up with important story elements that are yet to be revealed.  Only 5% get shot down.  I was sent one this morning that was off the radar as far as the story is concerned, but I will keep it as it will not kill the story, though it will kill a character I had plans for later.  Oh well, I’ll just have to promote someone else, unless of course the person who submitted the story can show me a plausible out for the said character.

So, how then, once you have diverged from canon, do you keep plausibility.  There are two very useful tools.  The first is detailed story development, mentioned above, so you always know the how and why of story elements and can explain them in a believable way to the masses.  The second method is tying into canon again.

This second method involves a first divergence, but then a convergence with a canon event. Of course this canon event will be somewhat different from the original, by virtue of changes you made earlier, but this repeated touching on canon is a good way to maintain plausibility.

For the Inner Sphere KU timeline, we have had to go so far left of canon that our only recourse is detailed universe development and believable story telling (ignore the WarShips), which I think we have managed for the most part (ignore the WarShips).  For the Clans in the KU, who will not turn up until we finish with the current crop of players, (yes kids you’re safe for now) I am using the method of returning to canon events.  As you will see below, in Part II of the Clans development, the Widowmaker Trials are used as a return to canon events, albeit changed as they are, in order to keep the plausibility level of the narrative up.

Of course, you will all be the judges of the success of our efforts.  Enjoy…

Pain and Healing

Following the Supplication of the Wolverines, Clan relations began turn bitter, based on real and imagined slights from prior to the Supplication and from events during it.  Several vicious fights broke out between those Clans that had suffered the Censure, those seeking to curry favor with the ilKhan and those who had other scores to settle.

Clans Wolf and Coyote, as avatars of the ilKhan’s will, were quick to land heavy blows on the Widowmakers and Smoke Jaguars respectively, with both Clans hitting back hard.  These battles, and others like them, were catalysts for the wider rounds of fighting that erupted.

As 2823 wound to an end, Khan Sarah McEvedy and saKhan Dwight Robertson were demoted and placed under direct command of the ilKhan as his aides, an indirect insult, whilst the Wolverines began the Trials to determine who would lead them.  Franklin Hallis and Trish Ebon would compete successfully for the positions of Khan and saKhan and begin the process of conforming to the ilKhan’s will, as they prepared their Clan for the fighting that was sure to come.

As the Trials between Clans continued to escalate in both scale and violence, Nicholas appointed Andery as Loremaster of the Clans, a temporary position of little real power, but one that would, in Nicholas’s words “Guide the Clans in the ways of proper thought and deed.” As 2823 turned to 2824, Andery came to officiate at many of the bitterly contested trials, always acting as a neutral arbiter and always displaying a fair hand.  It was during this period, especially during the years from 2823 – 2828, that the office of the Loremaster of the Clans gained power beyond what Nicholas had originally intended.  Andery’s even handedness, willingness to listen to and accept council from the Khans and other senior officers of all the Clans and castes gave the office of Loremaster great weight and respect.

Although some suspect Andery’s acquisition of such power may have been at odds with what Nicholas had intended, the advantages of his brother’s influence were quickly evident to the ilKhan.  Andery’s touch could be used in situations where the ilKhan’s hand would be too heavy, or lead to escalations in an already tense situation.

Despite Andery’s efforts to mollify the Clans in their first real period of individual freedom, where their actions were not wholly under the eye of the ilKhan, he was not able to permanently keep a lid on the growing tensions.  The growing storm continued to build, with its center piece becoming the building feud between the Wolves and Widowmakers.  The period from 2828 until the Supplication of 2834, saw the brewing inter-Clan war grow in intensity and scope, despite the Loremaster’s efforts.  The ilKhan showed little concern, seemingly content for his Clans to test themselves ever more keenly.

The loss of both their Khans, to what appeared to their eyes, as a Wolf/Wolverine sponsored coup during the Watch Censure, had driven the Widowmakers into a fury.  Unable at first to vent their anger on the Wolverines, due to the two year moratorium on conflict with that Clan during the Supplication, the Widowmakers had focused their attention on Clan Wolf, fighting continually with the Clan Andery had adopted and seeking to embarrass the Wolves and by extension Andery himself.

However, the abilities of the Wolves were a match for the Widowmakers on the field and far superior when it came to exploration and economic development.  This led to many clashes between the Widowmaker warriors and their lower castes, especially the merchants, who saw their abilities and profits wasted by their short sighted Khans.

The ending of the Wolverine Supplication in 2833 only added fuel to the fire, as the newly independent Clan was still as vigorous as before and was soon taking an active lead in the colonization program. At the same time the Wolverines managed to hand the Widowmakers two stinging defeats, further embarrassing the Widowmakers.

When the Widowmaker Merchant Caste appealed to Andery directly to assist them, following a series of blunders by their warriors, who had gravely affected the ability of the merchants to support their Clan, the warriors of the Widowmakers reacted with harsh severity.  Within days of their appeal, the Widowmaker Merchant Caste leaders were dead, with fully a fifth of the rest of the caste massacred in the days that followed, as an abject lesson to the other lower castemen of the Clan.

The action of the Widowmakers shocked the other Clans, who saw their actions as a demonstration of the Clan’s lower castes loss of confidence in the Warrior Caste and the resulting massacres as an even clearer demonstration of this.

Emotions on both sides were running high, and they reached a flashpoint when Khan Cal Jorgensson of Clan Widowmaker publicly accused Clan Wolf of having agitated the Widowmaker merchants to rise against their Clan.  Khan Jerome Winson of Clan Wolf vehemently denied any involvement, instead counter-claiming that Clan Widowmakers massacre of their own people invalidated the current office holder’s right to govern. Clan Wolf demanded before the Grand Council that Clan Widowmaker undergo Supplication.

Khan Jerome Winson of Clan Wolf, backed by the Wolverines and Coyotes, called for a Trial of Supplication in order to, in his own words “…bring an end to the misrule of the Widowmaker Khans and bring their Clan back onto the true path of the Clan Way.” The Widowmaker Khans, Cal Jorgensson and Kyle Vordermark, were incensed and argued against the motion, attempting to rally support, which rapidly appeared to be non-existent. The Widowmaker Khans eventually lost the debate, but immediately invoked a Trial of Supplication to defend their position.  Clan Wolf competed for and finally won the right to defend the Grand Council’s decision, adding elements of Clans Coyote and Wolverine to their bid.

The trial took place on the Steitz Plains of Ironhold, within the neutral territory of Clan Jade Falcon, where Clan Widowmaker was defending with a Cluster of ten Stars against eleven Stars from Clan Wolf and its allies. Off the battlefield, warriors from the other Clans watched the Trial through a system of monitors and satellites. The Khans of the Grand Council, led by Nicholas and Andery Kerensky, officiated the duel, to ensure that the rules of this bitter battle were strictly enforced.

The initial exchange was fierce, with both sides committing large forces to frontal attacks. Well into the battle, Khan Jerome Winson and Khan Cal Jorgensson mutually declared a Trial of Grievance, causing the combat around them gradually die down, as the two Khans squared off.  When it became clear that Khan Jerome Winson was about to disable the ‘Mech of Khan Cal Jorgensson, a Star of Widowmaker BattleMechs leaped into the Circle of Equals, attacking the Khan of the Wolves. Whether they attacked under orders, or on the spur of the moment was never to be known, as all five were eventually killed in the battle which followed.

Nicholas Kerensky and the rest of the Grand Council immediately moved to defend Khan Jerome Winson from this cowardly action.  A moment later, one of Khan Cal Jorgensson’s PPC’s discharged at point-blank range into ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky’s cockpit.  There is no way of knowing if the action was intentional or not, as the battle had become a confused melee of dueling ‘Mechs. However, the battle came to an abrupt end as technicians and medics tried desperately to extricate the stricken leader from his ‘Mech. By the time they reached him, ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky was dead.

As attempts were made to rescue the ilKhan, the Widowmaker force had withdrawn into a tight defensive circle, preparing for the worst.  Seeing the potential for savage violence, Andery Kerensky ordered the units from Clans Coyote and Wolverine, along with several Khans, to intersperse themselves between the Widowmakers and Wolves.  The Khans of Clan Widowmaker were taken into custody and the Wolves were forced to stand down, by the simple expedient of Andery standing before the Wolf force, in only his cooling vest and shorts.  Speaking to the Wolves he told them “This battle is over and you have the victory, though at great cost has it been earned.  Should you wish to break the rules of the Trial, you must come through me and stain your own hands with Kerensky blood.”

The threat of Andery’s actions was enough to send the wolves to their ships, but not enough to placate them, with rumors of a war against the Widowmakers to ensure their utter destruction.  Andery moved quickly to head of any unilateral actions, calling for the Clan leaders and all blood named warriors to gather on Strana Mechty to elect a new ilKhan.  Most assumed this was a mere formality, with none willing to stand against the last of the founders.

At the Grand Council meeting on July 11, 2834, several matters were for urgent discussion.  The first, the election of a new ilKhan, brought the first surprise, with Andery declining the honor when nominated.  His wished to continue his role as Loremaster stating that “…the Clans need to begin to learn to lead themselves, without a Kerensky to guide them at every step.” Instead, Jerome Winson was elected in his place, with his first action as ilKhan to officially recognize the position of Loremaster of the Clans and make it a permanent fixture, something Nicholas Kerensky had never done.

Following the election of Jerome Winson, the matter of Supplication was discussed, with the Widowmaker Khans stripped of their rank and the Clan ordered to give up 19% of its assets and resources.  Khan Vordermark and several high ranking warriors of the Widowmakers had gone rouge, fleeing Clan space and taking half a cluster with them.  Clans Burrock and Wolf were given the right to chase down and kill the deserters.

With theses matters in hand, the period now known as the Trial Wars, quickly cooled as the clans took stock of the Widowmakers fate and began to devote more resources to exploration and development, rather than all out war.  With Andery as Loremaster, one final action remained in his legacy to the Clans, the Trial of Blood Founding.

During the chase of saKhan Vordermark, the small Burrock/Wolf force was faced with many trials, form their targets, nature and the Bandit Caste.  By August 2835, only two warriors remained, one from each Clan, having endured immense hardship and great challenges and over coming all.  These two warriors, from non-blood named stock were Lesia of Clan Burrock and Mitchell of Clan Wolf.  In honor of their great victories and almost legendary journey, the Loremaster presented a new Trail to the Grand Council in late 2835.

The Trial of Blood Founding was intended by Andery to enable the Clans to bring new blood into the Eugenics program over time, as he had long believed that Nicholas’s use of only the 800 loyalist names could one day be a great limit on individual Clans.  In order to undertake a Trial of Blood Founding, what would later be known as a Freeborn warrior, would need to be recognized by their Clan as having undertaken actions worthy of a Bloodname.

Once recognized by their Clan, the applicant Clan and Warrior would need petition the Grand Council for the right to found the new Blood House.  Those opposed within their own Clan and from other Clans would then face the Applicant in a Trial of Blood Founding, where the applicant would face three opponents, each more difficult than the last, in a Trial.  The applicant would have to defeat all three opponents to earn the right to form the new Blood House.

The Grand Council accepted Andery’s new Trial in principle, though some of the more traditionalist Clans would use it very sparingly and oppose many of the other Clan’s attempts over time.  However, the Trials for Leisa and Mitchell were held, with both warriors successful and founding the Blood Houses of Nonu and Mousley respectively.  The Trial of Blood Founding would go onto see moderate usage through the years, with 84 new Bloodnames steadily being added to the rolls until the current day.

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