Thursday, November 23, 2017

Forgotten Periphery States

Happy Thanksgiving! I'd wanted to post a 'Mech today but I'm not done with the writing. So instead I'll talk about the conquest of the Americas Periphery.

Any discussion of the Star League will inevitably focus on its ten major states, especially the four which fought to remain independent. But wouldn't there have been innumerable minor states too, who weren't as capable of resisting? We know colonization continued during the Star League - couldn't more have formed?

These questions are only partially addressed in the lore, and in only two places: MW1e (page 7) says there were six Territorial States when the Star League fell, and the first Periphery sourcebook (hereafter P1e) suggests six or seven such regions on its map of "geographic" zones.

Here's P1e's geographic map superimposed on its political map.

Four of the geographic zones match what the text says about the original size and extent of the Outworlds Alliance, Taurian Concordat, Magistracy of Canopus, and Rim Worlds Republic (née Rift Republic). That suggests the other zones correspond with Star League-era states too.

The "March Worlds" zone is especially interesting. It has the remains of the Alphard Trading Corporation, which dabbled in Periphery politics, produced 30 'Mechs/month for Amaris, and was decimated by Kerensky's forces (MW1e, p136); it has lots of remnant states, like the "Rift" and "Outer Sphere" zones do; and it overlaps the FWL's Rim Commonality province. I remember from HM:FWL that the FWL relied on foreign production for much of their war material, that the FWL was on better terms with the nearby Periphery than the other Star League Member-States were, and that the ruling Marik was sore at Kerensky around this time. I wonder if these things were related.

The "Capellan Marches" seem to contain New Vandenberg, which means it can't be a separate nation. But it could be the Taurian worlds which participated in the New Vandeberg Revolt. That'd be worth marking as a seventh zone.

The "Draconian Drift" would contain the final Territorial State. Never heard anything about it, not even by inference. But habitation there is so scarce, both on the map and in the text, that maybe silence isn't surprising.

Star's End is in the wrong place, incidentally. The texts of both MW1e and P1e agree that it should be mirrored over to the right, to put a lobe of the "Draconian Drift" between it and the Oberon Confederation. (For some reason the Steiner and Kurita maps put Porthos there instead, and Star's End where Porthos should be.) 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

skiptober 'Mech industries

[Unrelated to today's post, but worth repeating: longtime BattleTech author Blaine Pardoe has posted some of the original BattleTech maps - with z-axis notations!]

Okay, remember how the Free Worlds League builds 500 'Mechs/yr, with 230 being "signature" for their faction? Curiously, the Draconis Combine's "Weapon Industries" page seems to list 230 signature 'Mechs too.

  • We know from the MW1e tables that Kurita builds 142 Panthers and 64 Dragons/yr. 
  • Luthien Armor Works should build 13 Chargers/yr. If we rate Chargers as the Periphery's contribution to assault class manufacturing, they'd total 16.7/yr; if we model their production on bug 'Mechs (~430/yr vs 12500 in existence), they'd total ~17.2/yr; and I figure Kurita and Liao split assault production 93:24
  • Marik builds 9 Quickdraws/yr, out of a total 500 'Mechs/yr. Kurita builds a total of 600 'Mechs/yr. So, at a guess, Kurita might build 9 * 600/500 = ~11 Quickdraws.

142+64+13+11 = 230.

We know that page doesn't list everything they build, of course; there's the Atlases at Al Na'ir, and there must be hundreds other 'Mechs/yr elsewhere. (I could maybe believe LexaTech builds 270 LAMs/yr, but that's pushing it. 370/yr is right out.)

Although I don't have as much data for the Federated Suns' weapons industries, it looks like their pages may show 230 "signature" 'Mechs/yr too. (It would certainly explain why they list Cal-Boeing's Ferret facility at Dorwinion on Belladonna while omitting Achernar's Enforcer and Dervish facility there.)

This is all a long-winded way of saying that I'm really very sure that the Lyrans produce 230 "signature" 'Mechs and 270 more common ones each year. Unfortunately, it turns out this means I have to discard my inferences from TR:3050. (Well, not totally discard them; since the 3050 Lyrans inherit former Capellan factories in the Sarna March, I can use them to inform my estimates of 3025 Capellan production.)

I've been thinking that Taurian production might be a microcosm of Lyran production; that might hold up. I'm having less luck keeping Defiance's production comfortably high - I'm hoping that Banshee production isn't the missing piece, because I'd like to avoid adding that in if at all possible.

Was hoping the 'Mech Availability Table from the '80s Mercenary's Handbook would help, but the factional and rarity biases are too strong to do that easily.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

skiptember stars

[Edit, November 15: longtime BattleTech author Blaine Pardoe has posted some of the original BattleTech maps - with z-axis notations! /Edit]

Usually I spend only a few days each summer poking at BattleTech's starcharts.  Spent a little more time this autumn because someone was asking where to put Rigel.

(Here's the data I'm working from. I transcribed it from a copy of the Yale Brightstar Catalogue in spring of 2014; haven't fixed the entry for Peacock because I lost the key to the raw data.)  

BattleTech's 1980s stellar coordinates seem to have been generated systematically. Although mirrored left-to-right from how an astronomer would plot them, they do a pretty good job matching the stars' real life Right Ascension; and although the distances seem wonky, they do show a general shortening as if being projected onto a plane.

Picking out meaningful trends is extra hard because, in real life, stars aren't distributed randomly or evenly. They naturally appear in lines, curves and circles across Earth's night sky. Also, the sample is biased.

I figure I can minimize a lot of those confounding factors if I do the simplest thing possible, and the simplest thing I can think of is to look more closely at the slight differences between BattleTech's Right Ascension and real life Right Ascension.

There's a bunch of obvious sin curves there, not sure what to do with them. Why should there be an arc starting near zero degrees difference at 100 degrees RA, rising to the top right corner and then (wrapping around to the top left) falling back to zero at 280 degrees RA? Are the other curves on the bottom likewise a single curve wrapped around on itself?

Frickin' trig functions and polar math, man. Wish I were still familiar with how converting between polar systems worked.

If I don't get any bright ideas about this Right Ascension thing, my next step is probably to take stars in groups of three and calculate what angle their plane forms relative to Earth's, for as many groups of three as I can stand, and see if any patterns emerge from that.