Alternate Timeline with Thanks – How it’s done

Our BattleTechDC Collection Game SettingsAlternate Timeline with Thanks – How it’s done

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while ago I explained the “Why” I created my alternate timeline. Now I’m going to explain how it was accomplished. Creating a well organized and detailed BattleTech Alternate Universe is a lot more complicated an endeavor than I originally planned. For a start, all I began with was the musings and funny ideas I had about the BattleTech canon timeline that bugged me. I wondered how certain events could have gone their own way and the fictional consequences if these different paths were taken. To begin my Alternate Universe, I first selected a start point, or key event to change.

For example, I knew the first major change I wanted was for Clan Nova Cat not to join the Invasion – mainly because I didn’t want them in a meat grinder with the Smoke Jaguars, but also because I wanted them more on their own path. It also always bugged me that the Cats ended up in bed with the Draconis Combine – something I wanted to avoid. With this knowledge I wrote my first line in a brand new word document.
“3049: Oathmaster Biccon Winters experiences a vision of Clan Nova Cat’s destruction in the Inner Sphere and warns the Nova Cat Khans off joining Operation Revival. Severn Lervoux and Lucian Carns withdraw Nova Cat participation in the Invasion of the Inner Sphere shortly after.”

This is literally the first two lines I wrote for my AU, and with them I needed a way to fill the gap I created in the printed fiction. To justify the changes I immediately wrote a second entry of Clan Star Adder being activated as a reserve Clan in the Nova Cat’s stead. I then jumped forward to the Invasion of Luthien. However, in this scenario the battle is being fought with two Clans having far less animosity towards each other. Because of their better working relationship the Star Adders and Smoke Jaguars take the Black Pearl of Luthien! With this change I instantly had an opportunity to kill off both Theodore and Takashi Kurita, and promote Hohiro to a position of greater power as Coordinator of the Draconis Combine. With these small changes I had about half a dozen more dates that my history had suddenly modified. Later, with the Star Adders involved in the fighting against Operation Bulldog the fight was more drawn out, and the SLDF had two Clans rather than one to contend with.

Within about an hour I had about three pages worth of changes made purely because I had changed one event. I realized that BattleTech was so changeable that one little change spawned so many consequences and that I’d need to track each change I made through history especially since I wanted to make multiple changes. I realized that although the future sourcebooks would give me ideas (which they continue to) that they would slowly take a backseat to my own documents. Knowing that a single word document would not work, instead I’d need something broader.

[quote]I realized that BattleTech was so changeable that one little change spawned so many consequences and that I’d need to track each change…[/quote]
I’m not a huge database user, never really have been, and although it may have been easier or tidier I stuck with what I knew.  So before I even began to write the timeline properly I created about a dozen word documents one each for all the major factions.

Initially this tracked only their WarShip assets and ground troops. However as time went along character profiles and general production details have also been added – the layouts based on the Field Manual entries (sticking with what BattleTech has done is easier for me). With these in place I could track each destroyed WarShip and each destroyed Regiment as well as their replacements and each ship/unit’s battle history in the What if Timeline. I used every scrap of canon information that I could find on each faction’s units and officers saving me the mammoth task of making up names for all the Cluster and Regiment commanders!! This gave me the data to get started along with canon sourcebooks to add in ideas I began to write.

BattleTech TRO 3055

By the end of the Clan War I was a little tripped up…

By the end of the Clan War I realized thing was going to trip me up and do so in a way that I couldn’t really counter – territory gains and losses. Already I had added to the faction pages their lost and gained worlds and I had added a “What if: Butcher’s Bill” document to my growing What if support files to track destroyed units, ships and people. Instead of trying something stupid like drawing my own map (I’m not nearly good as things like that as Blacknova or others), I did what I guess most do searched Google for BattleTech Maps and picked the one closest to where I was in my timeline (ended up being the 3058 mainly because it was nice and clear and you could read all the planet names) copying it into paint I began to draw in the lines of border changes. As Blacknova could probably tell you this simple map was not the tidiest of things but it got me started and helped track lost and gained territory and it has worked quite nicely (it’s the same map I started with that I still use today although it looks a lot different from where it started).

With these in place I could write to my heart’s content and be able to track everything from lost units, to new WarShips to worlds turned to dust in all of about 20 word documents and one image map. It was a simple start but it wasn’t enough. I quickly decided that although I loved many of the ‘Mechs and ships of BattleTech I also like to create my own, it’s simple BattleTech is made to be customizable – you can change absolutely every unit in this game and create your own up to and including entire Star Systems!! So I created three more support files – Inner Sphere ‘Mechs, Clan ‘Mechs and Aerospace. Into each went my first few created units the Nova Cat’s Dragon Cat OmniMech, the Federated Suns Stealth OmniMech and the Nova Cat/General Clan Anna Rosse Battlecruiser among them. I also decided that I loved many of the units created by those on the forums and decided that they deserved a place so I began to add more dates into the timeline and more units into my support files, I also began to modify those units and their fluff to match my new timeline, slowly these three initial “Unit Documents” became about ten as I added, a “Support Units“, “Battle Armour and ProtoMechs“, “Combat Vehicles“, “Unique Creations“, Unit pages and additional technologies pages.

In all today I have:

  • Alternate Timeline with Thanks – What if History went Different: Chapter Events
  • History Short – General Timeline threads online
  • Federated Suns What if Stats
  • Lyran Commonwealth (Alliance) What if Stats
  • Capellan Confederation What if Stats
  • The Free Worlds (formerly Free Worlds League) What if Stats
  • Draconis Combine What if Stats
  • Periphery What if Stats: includes major pirates
  • Clan Nova Cat What if Stats
  • Clan Wolf What if Stats: includes Clan Wolf-in-Exile
  • Raven Alliance What if Stats (formerly Clan Snow Raven)

  • Clan Sea Fox What if Stats (formerly Clan Diamond Shark)
  • Rasalhague Dominion What if Stats (formerly Clan Ghost Bear)
  • Clan Hell’s Horses What if Stats
  • Clan Jade Falcon What if Stats
  • Clan Star Adder What if Stats
  • Clan Coyote What if Stats
  • Clan Steel Viper What if Stats
  • Clan Goliath Scorpion What if Stats
  • Clan Fire Mandrill What if Stats
  • Clan Blood Spirit What if Stats (discontinued since fall of Clan)
  • Clan Stone Rhino What if Stats (discontinued since fall of Clan)
  • Star League Defense Force What if Stats
  • Mercenary What if Stats
  • Blakist Remnant What if Stats (yes there’s some of them still around)

Future (Yet to be named) enemy special information: this one is a long way off but I’ve had a few ideas so in they go, and NO they are not intelligent aliens

  • Inner Sphere Mechs TRO
  • Clan Mechs TRO
  • Battle Armour and ProtoMechs TRO
  • Aerospace TRO
  • Combat Vehicles TRO
  • Support Vehicles TRO
  • Movable Structures TRO
  • Unique Mods TRO
  • New Technologies – a couple things that haven’t been seen yet and a couple that have
  • Characters in profileArcher Christifori
  • Characters in profileCanin Rosse
  • Active/Destroyed WarShip List: individual file from the actual factions less info but focused on the active/destroyed status
  • What if Stats Butcher’s Bill: all the destroyed stuff from people to planets each year has it’s own list of what died when
  • What if Stat’s Map of Inner Sphere
  • What if Stats Map of Inner Sphere 3081: (a pretty one thanks to Blacknova) nice reference point for change’s that have happened

All in all around 40 files all working towards the same thread – some of the information is duplicated in different sources. However, having it in multiple places means that if I screw up I can fix it by going into one of the other files and at least recovering the barest information about something. I’ve seen how a couple of others deal with their AUs and I’ve seen a couple that work with the barest amounts of support – this seems to work for me. From lines on one page of a word document to multiple pages of written paragraphs. From one document to many and many more to come.

This is how I have done it, and it’s not over yet…

6 comments to “Alternate Timeline with Thanks – How it’s done”

  1. I can echo the importance of accurate and redundant record keeping. It’s one of the reasons why I love the forum so much – it’s a great bastion for record keeping! Some of the best AU ideas or changes are often posted to the forum first.

    Being readily accessible and searchable makes the forum a great resource. Gotta love time stamps.

  2. Interesting way of doing it. I go more for spreadsheets for data and docs for fluff, as the sheets allow me to quickly calcualte and balance what I need, but each to his own.

  3. Question: Since you have the Star Adders and the Smoke Jaguars conquering Luthein (and excellent reasons on that mark) why do you not have a “Clan Smoke Jaguar what if” sourcebook? Can you honestly say that without the Coordination of the Black Pearl, the military might that the Star Adders had (highest of any clan, and the cooperation of the Jaguars that Bulldog would succeed?

    Bulldog forces depended heavily on Combine units, who would most likely be beaten and scattered after many failed attempts to recapture the capital. And the forces necessary for Serpent would be unavailable as they would most likely be tied up with other Clan advances, due to the loss of Tuakayyid.

    And I assume the ComGuards lose Tukayyid for three reasons. One, the Nova Cats are not involved. Two, a very proud Clan Smoke Jaguar (high off of their win with the Star Adders on Luthein) does not feel inclined to bid beneath the cutdown and will actually push to capture the Dinju Heights if not the Delta as well. Three, with the Star Adders involved we have another militarily strong clan involved in the fight and who would most likely win, Clan Star Adder warriors may not have the sniper qualifications of many of the CNC and CGS warriors but they are better warriors in general.

    So with the fall of Tukayyid, there is no breathing room to plan either operation Bulldog or Serpent. Thus leading back to my question, where is Clan Smoke Jaguar in all of this?

    1. Amarus Cameron sorry I missed your comment until now!

      The reason behind no Smoke Jaguar What if is they were essentially destroyed as per canon. Not sure if you’ve read the timeline on forum but this is how it went… (briefly)

      The Clans in general still won Tukayyid giving time for the liberation of Luthien and Bulldog. The reason behind this was simple the Smoke Jaguars were a badly beaten up force after Luthien, they were quarreling with the Star Adders over their “shared” occupation zone (basically they won Luthien and thought we want it all back) and the Star Adders were not happy to give it all up so quickly.

      On Tukayyid for the Star Adders I think I had them win but overall it was still not enough to swing the ComStar dominance. The Clans really needed the Wolves, Jade Falcons and Smoke Jaguars all to win to have any chance of victory with ComStar shifting forces to assist against other Clans meeting each one with full force the Clans had no chance at Tukayyid. Because of their staggered landings – if they had all come down at once I think ComStar would have been slaughtered but the Clans wanted their Honour so they got it – and a broken nose.

      Losses at Bulldog were higher than canon and took longer so Serpent had to wait longer and was even more badly beaten up as a result (I think pushed back to a single city eventually). Also Clan Wolf (in-Exile) was more involved in the AU than canon with Khan Phelan Kell forcing the Star Adders to accept Hegira shortly after Luthien following an honour dual the terms were:

      Wolf (in-Exile) win – Star Adders get to keep their territory but don’t help Smoke Jaguars

      Star Adders win – Wolf (in-Exile) withdraws all support for Bulldog

      The Exiles still haven’t really paid for that… After that Khan Kell took over all mop-up operations in the Inner Sphere finishing off the last of the Jaguars.

      The Combine did not make many attempts to retake Luthien simply because Hohiro forbid it, he knew his forces couldn’t make the move – they made one with lots and lots of support. Clan Smoke Jaguar died on Huntress and Strana Mechty (at least the core of them did…)

      Hope that explains it a bit more, if you got any more go for it I’ll try to answer quicker this time!!

      1. Dragoncat,

        I see your point, taking on Clan Star Adder is not a smart idea for any clan if you are thinking in pure numbers; nor are their warriors pushovers. I guess I simply cannot accept the theories and suppositions that people push towards me in regards to my clan.

        Also I had not read all the documents yet, just the article at the time.

        But there are so many ways we could have won, so many units are just un-accounted for. And the easiest and quickest answer is the one I always get, “Well they were mopped up with Bulldog” Frankly I know that is not the case. Simple example is the 6th Jaguar Dragoons, they got caught in orbit by the blasted exiles. Many units were in transit, to and from the homeworld. If any of them had heard of battles on Huntress you know they would have gone running.

        But hey yours is AU I can’t blame you, honestly it is really thought out and I applaud you for it.

        Good Hunting,
        Amarus ‘The Last Jaguar’ Cameron

  4. Can’t figure out how to edit!! Knightmare if you can please – I meant the Clans still lost Tukayyid!! Sorry

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