I’ve talked before about world building, specifically within the universe of Tribes. World building is extremely important and the more you work on the world that your characters inhabit, the better. While some world designers only go far enough in their world building to create what’s needed, others go well beyond the call of duty in order to created a rich, elaborate depth. One very good example where this is the case is the universe of Battletech.
For those that are unfamiliar with the tabletop game Battletech, here’s the basics. In Battletech, you pit your army and wits against your opponent’s. Like many tabletop games you move small models, called miniatures, around on a battlefield grid. What sets Battletech apart from other war games is that your army consists of huge lumbering war machines called Battlemechs, or Mechs for short, piloted by MechWarriors. These great monstrous machines are the ultimate combat unit, raining destruction in their wake in the form of lasers, long range missiles (LRMs), autocannons (ACs), and particle projection cannons (PPCs).
The creators of Battletech could have stopped at this point with the lore. All you really need to know is that two sides are at war and they use Mechs to fight each other. Thankfully, this doesn’t even come close to scratching the surface of the Battletech universe. To start off, they have a deep history reaching back centuries before the era in which the tabletop game is set. History about the migration away from terra, and the settling of other planets. There’s a whole line of events about what has happened in the Inner Sphere, including all the factions, territories, and wars that have rages over the centuries. Then, there’s the Clans, a group of MechWarriors who fractured away from the Star League, a doom alliance of the Inner Sphere houses, and created their own Clan order in a distant star system. Later, the Clans would return in the Clan Invasion, or as the Clans called it Operation Revival.
All of this is still just scratching the surface and I’d need pages to go into any real depth. There’s so much history and depth that Battletech has even spawned a series of Battletech novels, each one pulling from known Battletech history and adding more of its own. Each of the rulebooks is also filled with short stories between their sections and if you want even more gritty details of the history there’s a whole series of Historicals that can be purchased and read.
While a historical background is fantastic, my favorite part of the Battletech universe is the technical information. While the Total Warfare rulebook gives you a small taste of a few technical details, the real treat is the TechManual. This book, while providing construction rules for the game itself, is filled with in universe descriptions of all the technology used by all sides. From how Battlemechs operate to the operation of the various weaponry, it’s packed to the brim with lore for technology geeks like me. As an added bonus, the Technical Readouts, which provide new units to play with, have information on the history and technical details of each unit they offer.
The Battletech universe tends to draw enthusiasts in and surround them with elaborate lore. Thanks in part to this deep rich lore, the Battletech universe has managed to move beyond being just a tabletop game. Everything from videogames to novels, to even an RPG, has come out of the universe that Battletech has created. I can’t help but think that it can only get bigger. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to read the TechManual.