Saturday, October 8, 2016

BattleTech AU: The Under Sphere

Some years ago I struck on a number of ways to procedurally generate alternate campaign settings from existing BattleTech material. My third and favorite is an underworld where people, 'Mechs, factories etc appear when they die or are destroyed in the Inner Sphere.

An obvious consequence is that characters or regiments who were killed off are still knocking about; or less obviously, in the case of conquerors and assassins, they quickly find themselves outmatched by vengeful victims and get killed again. So the ownership of planets tends to lag by a war or two, and many of the little alliances from the 2300s and 2400s would still be around.

It's my favorite because it lends itself to...

Year 22, Month 1, Day 14 in the Life of Joe
The Canteen

A plainly ill man plays guitar in a cage, and lunges at customers as they enter; he wears gloves so the strings don't tear rotten flesh from his fingers. A sign on the front reads Do Not Feed Zombi Hendrix. On the other side of the room, a man with white hair and an eye patch shouts "Will someone shut off the damn music!?" while pressing his ear to the wall.

Joe: "Where's the guitarist from?"
Riddick: "The Promised Land. Story goes that God so loved Jimmi Hendrix, that He sacrificed a dozen worlds so that the man could live forever. And just like that, twelve new colonies were lost. Nobody knows where that dark constellation is."
Riddick, shouting to the far side of the room: "Ain't that right, Frederick?"
Frederick, in the voice of one experiencing a dreadful epiphany: "The booze is in the walls!"

...and of course, the fighter group on Ryan's Vengeance-class dropship use an archaic style of neurohelmet...

...I was trying to work up a second bit where they go around with a Zombie Hanse Davion who can only say "Victor" until he digs up and eats Victor's brain, at which point he switches to only saying "Katherine," but it wasn't working.

[Edit: Whoops, the Odin-look-alike is supposed to Frederick, not Ryan. Trying to mash up Focht and Tigh here, and Ryan is not Focht.]


  1. I really like the concept. Canon B-stringers get to lead the story until some A-lister dies. You could also have leaders find all the troops they sent to their death when they arrive.

    1. Yep yep! Only downside I can see, is that it works best when the players are all familiar with the normal setting; so either a party of BattleTech lore vets, or neophytes who've campaigned enough to feel it when things go upside down.

    2. If you're running a campaign, any setting would do, really. Also a wacky, what-if dream sequence or Homer-esque voyage into the underworld.

      But what about when you're 75 and die of cancer? Do you just wake up and die of cancer again? Do you reappear in your self-assessed prime? or just cured of your cause of death?

    3. and yes, I'm a little uncomfortable with Jack Harkness.

    4. I haven't worked out aging. Cured of all ills, but continue aging forward until you age to death again? Or age (backwards or forwards) to the verge of adulthood, upon which some evil mechanism of the Under Sphere makes people die? Or upon reaching the verge, begin aging forward again naturally?

      And then there's miscarriages... could convert them into virgin conception by hapless Under Sphere bystanders. For children, and infants especially, I might have to invoke Star Trek's Conveniently Aware Door principle.