Well, it’s been about a week and a half. Time for an update!
First of all, we automatically send out a bi-weekly update to those parties involved in the art or writing of the TRO. For those of you who are working with us and have not received the latest (today’s date), let me know. For folks who are NOT on the project but are curious about the TRO, drop me a note at ssatak (at) yahoo.com. I will send a single copy. Who knows? Maybe you will spot a naming error or something…..
We have added two more BattleMechs to the roster. Yes, I know – the list was supposed to be frozen, but the Periphery is still not very well-represented in the ‘Mech section, and the writeup/design/artwork was already there.
The first design is for the Taurian Concordat. I just received permission to use the Forge assault ‘Mech. Some of you may recognize the name from the ‘Battletech Universe’ website’s own attempt to produce a TRO. It is a modest effort by a Periphery state to get a leg into the ‘big leagues’ and the design is solid. Thank you, Kirk. We are working on a commission for the art.
The other design is a piece of battlefield salvage which has been heavily modified for Solaris Seven, then taken and modified further for use on hunting expeditions. Where, you might ask, would such a machine be needed for big game hunting? Why, on Hunter’s Paradise! For those of you who do not recognize the name, it is a world out beyond the Lyran Periphery and a bit ‘north’ of the Rim Collection. The design includes such oddities as laser eye beams, a big hatchet and a torso-mounted cockpit. The art for the Death Incarnate (a former Kuritan Quickdraw) is complete, the design is a good one and the writeup is nearly done.
I am getting murmurs back from my vehicle artists: Daniel Cherng is experiencing scanner problems and Mike Sullivan is sandwiching his work in between day jobs. These are two talented fellows, and I eagerly await the fruits of their labor. Eriance is still plugging away at ‘Mechs, but should be able to turn his attention to AFVs in the near future. Finally, David White is still working on the Thunderbolt – he too has many obligations to fulfill, so it may be another week before we see what he hath wrought.
My co-author Geoffrey Butler is also juggling a busy schedule, but between finals at school and a girlfriend (!), he is making progress on the proofing and final edit of the writeups. He is even adding info to ground our work more solidly in the 3063 era (bonus!).
I am still going through each writeup and trying to maintain a fresh eye. Just the other day a reader caught a discrepancy between a description of the Marian Hegemony’s Catapult as surplus and a later reference to its performance which seemed at odds with the initial description. I made some changes (‘refurbished’ is such a useful word) and the issue was solved. But things like that will continue to crop up, and our writing will tighten, as the artwork portion comes closer and closer to completion.
I have been thinking hard about the artwork itself, specifically where VTOLs are concerned. While many of them will remain conventional helicopters (the art is in the can), some will feature unusual propulsion systems (such as that found on the Bell X-19) or even a ring rotor. It all depends on what the artists choose to use, but I strongly suggested they avoid conventional rotorcraft layouts (although in the case of the Oculus, the Lockheed Cheyenne AH-56 will serve). We have enough helicopters in Battletech.
Another challenge was to see if we could showcase a tracked AFV which did not exceed six tons and yet still carried a decent loadout, moved at a good rate of speed and was well-armored. The Taurian Concordat’s Cortes is a good stab at this idea, packing an ER medium and ER small laser, 2.5 tons of armor and making 7/11 with tracks. We probably could have made it a bit more ‘shooty’ with a wheeled suspension, but there are already armored cars in the TRO (the Centaurus and the Diatryma) and they have their limitations.
We wanted something like the Czech 38t from World War II. Not intended for taking MBTs head-on, it excels at raiding supply columns and, when attacking in mass formations (as the Germans did), all those ER mediums have to be somewhat disconcerting to a foe. My only regret is that in order to reflect the actual crew such a vehicle might have, I would have to add half a ton of ‘stuff’ to the design and that would mean dropping either armor or a weapon.
As it is, we will just have to rely on the miracle of 31st Century fire control systems to permit a single crewman to drive AND fire AND maintain communications with his lancemates. *Sigh* I suppose if a Mechwarrior can do it, anyone can.