(Bits to add - Zucchini
Structure: Story background. FASA background.
Jordan Weisman, his vision - Macross - Battletech, Citytech, Aerotech, Battleforce, Mechwarrior, The Succession Wars, Battletech Reinforcements, Sourcebooks (House Liao, Kurita, Marik, Steiner, Davion) Mercenaries Handbook, Battletech Manual - The Rules Of Warfare, Dropships and Jumpships, Technical Readout:3025, 3026, Camo Specs,
Rolling Thunder, Sorenson's Sabres, The Fox's Teeth, Tales Of The Black Widow Company, Cranston Snord's Irregulars, The Saga Of The Gray Death Legion, The Galtor Campaign, McCarron's Armoured Cavalry.
The Spider And the Wolf, Shrapnel: Fragments from the Inner Sphere, Decision at Thunder Rift, Mercenary's Star, The Price of Glory, The Sword And The Dagger, Warrior: en Guarde, Warrior: Riposte
Map Sets + Blueprints
Battletech started in the heyday of board games by a couple of lads in a company called FASA who constructed (accidentally?) a pretty complex and complete system for generating 'Mechs and fighting with them. The game simulates combat between the most advance war machines created, Battlemechs. These 3-4 storey humanoid (sometimes 4 legged) war machines powered by artificial muscles and caring more fire power than the average tank/boat/plane of its weight class. The game was originally played on a hex grid but thanks to model released later can be played on normal war gaming table.
The background is fairly basic, that in the future a faster than light jump drive is invented and humanity reaches out to the stars. The different cultures on earth form houses and the whole thing is watched over by the "star league" who tries to keep the peace. After a while the star league give up on the fighting between the houses and leaves en-mass. What follows is a long and bloody series of Succession Wars within know space known as the 'Inner Sphere' which cause the level of technology to stagnate or in some cases reverse. Looking at this so far you can see the designer who wrote background based the whole thing on the fall of the roman empire and once again proving that history can teach us something.
The game wasn't supposed to take off like it did and much to creators surprise became a fast selling and popular game with a huge fan base. Fan soon grew bored of cardboard cut outs for playing pieces and the Ral Patha model company proved us with some great miniatures.
The first were laughly out of scale with the most famous example being the 20 ton tarantella which was bigger that most of the other mechs in the game including heavy mechs over 60-80 tons. Later a box set came out for the rules with included a range of plastic mech which shared the same moulds as their lead counterparts and these plastic model can usually be found proping up an army as they were a cheap alterntive to lead.
Over the years as the range of Mechs, tanks and battlearmour increase, Ral Partha kept up with a increasing quality of models, a role thay have kept to this day.
Following on from the huge success of the game several mini games set in the gaming universe including AeroTech (fight jet combat), SpaceTech (space ship combat) and GroundTech (Infantry Combat), each proved to be ether too complicated or just plane boring and never really took off to any degree of success.
During this time FASA comissioned a series of novels with further expaned the background and introduce key character, some of whom still live on in the current time frame of the universe.
After gamers had spent years fighting the battles of the Succession Wars a new threat arrived within the Inner Sphere, the Star League had returned after years of isolation (Now know as the Clans, with a strict warrior culture) to reclaim Terra. Only the combined efforts of the Inner Sphere and the techno-religion 'Comm. Star' could stop them. This new development in the Battletech universe brought with it new rules (showcased earlier with a supplement for Star League technology) for new weapons and most importantly new 'Mechs for the Clans.
The popularity of the background now spawned two distinctive off shoots which ironically share the same name. Perhaps the most famous is the Range of PC games called Mechwarrior (a pair of DOS games had come out before this and faded into oblivion) which was a simulation of actually piloting a mech. The series was very popular and has survived 4 incarnations and multi add on packs with new mission and Mechs. At roughly the same time a Role-playing Game, also called Mechwarrior arrived allowing players to play the role of their 'Mech pilots and the game integrated seamless with the table top game.
FASA were riding when suddenly their past came back to haunt them. It seemed that stuck for ideas for Mech designs in the original game they copied designs from the manga/anime series Robotech (some were direct photocopies out of Robotech source books). FASA originally never intended for Battletech to be so huge so never thought much about it, however now it was and it was impractical to change the designs. Of course the owners of the Robotech licence eventually noticed and began a court case against them. At first the owners of Robotech wanted FASA to stop publication of Battletech altogether claiming the entire game infringed upon their copyright. FASA after a long court case (involving miltary experts to prove how the two types of giant mechs were different) they successfully kept the game but had to stop all books with the copied art and stop all model production that were also copied designs. These models quickly lived up the slag-term used in the game of 'lost-tech' as it became rarer and rarer to see them on the field of battle.
After this whole messy incident behind them the game continue on and soon more expansions to the system came out with more developments to the Battletech universe including the Inner Sphere raid on 'Huntress', the Clan Smoke Jaeger's home world (shown in great detail in Mechwarrior 3 on the PC) ,the splinter group to Comm. Star forming called Word of Blake and the FedCom civil war. Each development enhanced the universe for those who played the RPG and the war games (if you like me you play both that's a double bonus). At some during this time a cartoon came out (sorry not sure of the name) showing the story of the 'summerset strikers' that featured traditional cell animation and computer generated Mech fight scenes.
After this golden age of Battletech a dark shadow has descended upon the hobby. The owner of FASA and Battletech had sold the rights to his son (the now owner of the new games company Wizkids) so he could product a collectable model game called (again irony) Mechwarrior: Dark Ages (A bizarre future to Battletech were universal peace has cause the Mech to become antique). People took this as a sign that the hobby was dead and being replaced with a jumped up kiddie version. However it turned out the original licence was passed on to a third party company who continue the line today as 'Classic Battletech'.
The hobby now stands at a new age, AeroTech 2 has been released and as an update to the original covers jet fighters and space ships with better system than before. Originally banded models are being re-designed to get around the copyright laws. Finally with the Wizkids games Mechwarrior (see above) being official canon, its will be interesting to see where the company for classic Battletech take the setting.