Chaos Theory

Preview of Total Chaos chapter art (Williamson).

In late 3067, the Word of Blake unleashed its Jihad, fanning the flames of violence and spreading it across the Inner Sphere. Three mercenary commands struggled to find their footing and profit from the all-encompassing warfare. As they navigated their way through the conflicts erupting on hundreds of worlds, these mercenaries grew in power, prestige, and character. Facing adversity, victory, defeat, and enemies within and without, they were typical of many commands touched—for ill or for good—by the Jihad.

As the Jihad unfolded through the Jihad Hot Spots plotbooks, players were introduced to the Chaos Campaign, a new game play system that gave players the opportunity to craft their own games around specific battles and events of the Jihad. Now that campaign, spanning fourteen years of conflict, has been collected and updated. Presented here are all of the Chaos Campaign tracks from the Hot Spots plotbooks and interwoven with select tracks from the Jihad Turning Points e-publication series and several all-new tracks and mini-campaigns.

This volume also includes detailed reports on nearly forty planetary campaigns, providing context and details previously clouded by interstellar media, local reports, and personal journals. With an updated and streamlined core ruleset for the Chaos Campaign and new Jihad-era Random Availability Tables for the Word of Blake, Mercenaries, and Militias, this book has everything players and gamemasters need to recreate the pivotal campaigns of the Jihad and lead their forces to victory.

 So. Total Chaos. What’s it all about?

Preview of Total Chaos chapter art (Chris Lewis).

It’s no secret I was the main perpetrator in creating and incorporating the track system into Catalyst’s BattleTech products since 2005, with the debut of Dawn of the Jihad. (And to be fair, Paul Sjardjin was instrumental in helping me hammer out the rules and making them work.) The track system was also instrumental in providing me the inspiration behind the Turning Points e-pub series, which has been going strong since its debut in 2008.

The initial ruleset utilized the older BattleTech Master Rules and Maximum Tech, which was the game’s mainstay for several years. It was obvious after Total Warfare came out that the first two Jihad plot books – Dawn of the Jihad and Jihad Hot Spots: 3070 – would need to be updated at some point. Blake Ascending could have been that update, but other factors during the changeover from Fantasy Productions to Catalyst kept that from happening.

So it’s been my personal goal to get the older rule references and material updated. Cue Herb Beas last summer.

Logo of one of the new mercenary groups highlighted in Total Chaos.

Because the BattleTech line needed to readjust its focus for the next couple of years due to conflict with Shadowrun’s own upcoming anniversary, the focus on The Republic and the subsequent Dark Age had to be delayed. Which meant a full year of product needed to be ‘invented’ to fill the 2012 gap. While the majority of the focus would be on the original Star League, there had to be some product to address the current era fan, lest they feel neglected.

Through a brainstorming session, I floated my idea of combining all of the Chaos tracks into one e-publication. When talk turned to physical print, we discussed incorporating the six Jihad Turning Points as well – but I was reluctant to reprint them completely, as it would cause the e-pub line to lose their special ‘luster.’

After some more consideration and discussion, we hit upon the framework of what would end up being the Total Chaos campaign supplement. This print book would include:

  • All of the Chaos Campaign tracks printed in the prior JHS plotbooks
  • Several key tracks from the six JTP publications, folded into the track timeline
  • Several all-new tracks that would either expand upon some of the key conflicts, or provide opportunity to cover other events
  • The Missions tracks, previously printed in the Starterbooks
  • Three new mercenary units for readers to ‘follow’ through the tracks – or even play through the campaign
  • Nearly forty detailed ‘sourcebook style’ articles on key planetary campaigns of the Jihad, including combatants and information on how to run a mini-campaign
  • New Random Availability Tables for the Word of Blake, their Shadow Divisions, Mercenaries, and Militia
  • More information on the mysterious ‘Mr. Askai’

Total Chaos had turned from a simple track compilation book into more of a historical look at the key points of the Jihad, something that many readers and fans had been clamoring for over the last decade. While it wasn’t an all-inclusive blow-by-blow accounting of the Jihad—a book that would span more pages than any three of our core rulebooks combined—it was a compromise of sorts that I hope will go over well with our fanbase.

With our framework complete, it was time to solicit the author pool…

(To be continued)

11 thoughts on “Chaos Theory

  1. Interesting and promising.
    Some questions:
    1. Will naval encounters be included (dropship insertions, dogfights in space…).
    2. Besides the track fkufftext will other new information be included (for example what finally happened to the MDs)?

    1. 1. There are some space-specific tracks, yes.
      2. There is new information, but nothing about what happened to the MDs. (Seriously – no one knows in the Dark Age, so why would we tell that 60 years before?)

  2. Well, as an enormous fan of the Chaos tracks I’ll definitely be buying this as soon as the PDF hits, because it sounds insanely cool. Hopefully if enough people buy it we’ll see more “campaign books” in this style.

  3. So are the three mercenary units of drastically different “starting size” allowing/encouraging players to experiment with various Battletech scales, or will they all start off at the same company/battalion level that typifies an Inner Sphere Merc unit?

    also can you tease thier names?

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