Awhile 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.
|“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.
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.
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 profile – Archer Christifori
- Characters in profile – Canin 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…