I just finished reading Interstellar Players . Actually, I bought it with my copy of Dawn of the Jihad, through which I just skimmed becauseb I felt some of the info in ISP might come in handy to better undersatnd the events in the latter book?Wel see?Anyway, conspiracy theories have always been an integral part of the Battletech Universe, be they the Vandenberg White Wings, Snow Fire, the Black Pearl, Hohiro SLDF puppet or the Minesota Tribe?From the very beginning, we players are sharing the point of view of well informed people, with the frustration of not knowing what really stands behind those mysterious events. I read old hands had a name for these?they called them erenskies? but this one has obviously been accounted for.
ISP does not fail to live up to the tradition. Written from the point of view of a trash reporter, who has some good intel indeed, you may be sure he will not fail to spice it up to gain the extra C-Bill?The book contains some 10major secret societies, and 5 minor ones, albeit the last one is just hinted at and the date it is written on /April 1st 3066? may well be the clue giving it as a joke. And we all know TPTB will never have any qualms playing one on the ever gullible Battletech masses?Hello, Orca! This said most of these sections are bringing exciting information on the Universe, and useful tools to the gamemaster?I feel itches reading this book and even its content went a long way towards healing my grief over the demise of this year Fan Council GameSo here are my thoughts, as a Game master, as to how we can use the contents for our little sessions.
After a well written opening fiction, though only marginally useful, but wel get back to it later, we get to the core of the book, and dive straight into the 6th of June history. Wee given, I think, a fairly good account of the way the 6th rose to power in the Word of Blake, from and before its very inception?It offers a good look on the way dissenters were silenced, or sidelined, and shows that the Word is now far less fractious than it originally was. We also have the usual red herring, in the guise of having Kali Liao, of all persons, as the Master!!! Hard to believe, but the theory I have myself might well amount to the purchase of an even bigger seafront estate on Tharkad. Just read the WoB section, and see if a few facts do not add up?Also, wow, I loved the diary of Colonel Schmitt. Si non e vero, e bene trovato, like our friend lorenz would say. Having Richard Cameron kids (unheard of before? shangaied to the Periphery on board the Tirpitz (yes, the White Wings?one) rises nicely the level of expectation over coming fiction?o:p>
The second part of the book, about the Illuminati, is much weaker in my opinion?Not that is poorly built or written in any way, quite the contrary. But?the foundation on which it is built, having the Inner Sphere rules by an omniscient, omnipotent secret group expert at manipulating like so many pawns the known power wielders is just too unbalanced. I will be clear : if the player characters are aware of it, they know their actions can succeed only if the Illuminati agree eventually. A very limitating thing, and a fun spoiler in itself. And if they are part of the group, they will soon be mired in unending plots, with the frustration of seeing the need for secrecy limit their possibilities so much. My advice would be, if a GM is to use the Illuminati, to deem them a powerful group, but limit their field of action to a single power sphere. Eevntually, it would double up with the next entry?o:p>
?which is a very good one too. The Irian Corporate Cabal is also an useful plot device, albeit a bit too contemporary perhaps. The struggle for power between the State and the Corporations is a tarte ?la cr瘱e of political discussion of our time, but I do like the way the writers rendered it. They also make for nice behind the lines plotters, powerful indeed, but not as much so as te Illuminati.
Now on to one of my personal favorites in the book : Interstellar Explorations! Geez, you can base at least 2 different campaigns on it. I love the Indiana Jones tang of it, the possibility to include various player characters in it (and some of the players in my roleplaying group plainly hate wargames, despite my best efforts?It nice too to see how it meshes nicely into the CBT universe. Indeed, it on my scenario ideas list, at the very top or very close.
Another good one, for a short campaign, is the Genecaste?As a Lovecraft fan, and a Call of Chtulhu player, I see how you can surprise your players with this group. The grading forms of the genecaste also make for the Call many cults and adepts and minor monsters (yes, the best Chtulhu sessions stop short of the apparition of a major God or well?). I just advise to keep them few, borderline paranoid although indeed vengeful against mankind. One last word, the way the section has been written is brilliant. Perhaps it just me, but like in a good Lovecraft story, I felt an increasing uneasiness climaxing into a delightful horror feeling as I read on.
The Brotherhood of Cincinnatus, and the Davion Warriors Cabal, offer useful insights on the workings of 2 of the Successor states militaries. Very solid sections, and fairly well known ground here. CBT RPG is a game about politics and treason too. These sections provide nice bases for long campaigns on this theme.
The Exituri is indeed an interesting idea, based loosely upon the medieval Hashishims, but it will be hard to exploit in a RPG because the schemes of these fanatics are so much long term, and exposure at any time before this would result in their elimination. It a nice write up, though.
The One Star Faith is a bit of the kind of the Exituri?it will not be too easy to use, but the info about them is nice to see. And solves the questions I been asking myself since I read of the clan invasion.
Overall, ISP is a must have for the Battletech fan. Its information may well be willingly very inaccurate on some sections. But you will enjoy the read. I will be short about the form. But FanPro indeed seems to have come up with a new sourcebook concept that is a winner. I am starting Dawn of the Jihad and there too, they used the in universe, partially informed point of view, through well written supposed diaries, articles, intercepts, all kind of very plausible data.