What do you do when your favorite game’s setting takes a turn for the worse?
In the world of tabletop and rp gaming, our favorite settings become the homes where we tell our stories, where characters live out grand adventures, where kingdoms fall and nations revolt and the people taste tyranny or freedom. BattleTech was no stranger to these concepts in its heyday with FASA Games.
Set in a bleak, run-down sci-fi universe where petty lords fought over a long-lost and nearly forgotten unified humanity, BattleTech was a game of armored mechanized combat, and in the future, the rulers of the battlefield were BattleMechs, giant humanoid war machines that walked, punched, kicked and blasted their way through the galaxy.
Resources were scarce – not just war materials but water, food, and transportation from planetary systems. Realms fought tooth and nail over water worlds or a small cache of lasers and spare parts. Society had sunk to feudalism, and the ancient science of the gameworld was positively Aasimovian. Before the end of FASA, the company introduced the Clans, the returning warriors of that golden-age Star League before them, with vastly super technology.
And then… FASA folded, the game was in limbo. Soon, WizKids picked up our beloved robot mayhem franchise, and promptly destroyed the story-lines.
The line’s a little blurry in my memory – I’m not sure where officially the FASA produced story ends and WizKids’ begins – but I can tell you that it was they who first used the word jihad. A popular word in those early 2000’s, let me tell you. A few terrorist acts, and it became a HUGE buzzword, and all I could remember was it sure seemed like my favorite game was capitalizing on that buzz.
The story-line? A once-thought dead maimed leader is saved by technophiles, who secret him away while he becomes mad and, once the world knows his communications organization have been playing them for fools, breaks part of it away rather than face their secrets. After the golden age of humanity is poorly resurrected, these mystic technophiles – and their super duper new cyborg army! – are about to be inducted into the new Star League, but at the last moment, the League dissolves, leaving them with their peckers in their proverbial mechanical hands.
So they decided to destroy everything. And in the process, absolutely ruin a gorgeous, richly detailed setting that, while already somewhat suffering because of the earlier Clan technological revolution, was still worth saving.
Now, Catalyst Game Labs produce material for the game (still owned by another company, though). Another company owns other parts of it, and further ruined the story-line by advancing it by 100 years or so, making it nigh impossible to ride out the shitty ruin of the Jihad to a better, more satisfying conclusion. And Harmony Gold still owns the “unseen,” and those bastards still won’t let me have my damned Warhammer.
This game used to own. Thanks to idiots and buzzwords, now it just collects dust on my shelf.