Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Star League Era (Technology Ascendant)

Hey Game Fans, we’re back with another look at the Star League Era for Battletech.  Today we’re going to take a look at the Military technology of the Era and how it shaped both the Star League Era and the Eras that followed.  We’re going to feature specifically Unit types that have their time in the sun during this period as well, and hope you can see how many of the in-universe experts in Battletech refer to this as the peak of humankind’s technological development.  

The Star League ensconced technological innovation into its founding (There are actual clauses in the Star League Accords and other official documents, notably the Edict of 2650).  The Terran Hegemony retained its place at the top of the Star League in part because of its technological advantage compared to the member states.   Terran Hegemony Forces were the first to feature the battlemech (A Terran Hegemony technological breakthrough), and throughout the history of the Star League worked to maintain at least one technological innovation cycle ahead of the other member states.  Wonderful new technologies came into practice throughout this era in all aspects of life (Terraforming technology, medicine, other applied sciences all flourished during this era).  

General technological improvements saw the development of ultra light structural components, engine technology and improvements in the metallurgical processes for making armor plating.  FTL communications also come into being with the development of the Hyperpulse Generator (HPG) and its implementation across the entirety of the Inner Sphere and reaching into the Periphery.  Scientists made their first steps towards developing powered armor technology and the first inklings of Artificial Intelligence research.

Military technology went absolutely bananas during this era.  Existing ranges on energy weapons increased dramatically along with the development of pulse energy technology.  The first electromagnetically propelled projectiles appeared in the form of Gauss Rifles.  The Lubalin Ballistics corporation developed a Battlemech scaled shotgun in the form of the LB-X series of weapons, and other autocannon manufacturers developed weapons capable of prodigious rates of fire.  Missiles developed powerful tracking systems and homing beacons.  It was truly the era of the Iron Mongers when it came to technological improvements within the Terran Hegemony.  

Technological Innovation was concentrated primarily in the Royal Regiments (the regiments that were Terran Hegemony owned prior to the founding of the League) but as time passed the Regular Regiments and the House regulars all benefitted from the technological innovations of this era.  The Star League spread its technological advantage across all of its military assets, including the Warships of the Era.
The most advanced weapon system of the time was purely defensive in nature.  The Space Defense System was an automated network of Drones (ranging from the size of Aerospace Fighters all the way up to full sized Warships) that would protect the major worlds of the Star League (issues with the programming would limit their deployment to Hegemony Worlds, but they were powerful defensive systems that took a major toll on the SLDF as they liberated the Hegemony following the Amaris Coup). 
The Star League also built massive fortification planetside on hundreds of worlds.  The largest of these, the Castle Brians were massive structures that could survive direct orbital bombardments and nuclear weapon strikes.  They served as the headquarters for battlemech divisions and boasted monumental scale repair and refit facilities along with storage for gear, food and quarters for the crews assigned to them. 

Lost Arts

Warships were a technological wonder.  Capable of jumping between Star systems by way of a Kearny-Fuchida Drive, they also mounted powerful sublight engines and were designed to ensure military supremacy in space.  Warships were massive engines of destruction, and an orbital bombardment scarred hundreds of worlds during the Reunification War and the drive to liberate Terra.  These massive war machines would not last long after the end of the Era, as the member states of the Star League rapidly destroyed their ability to maintain and build new Warships.  (Comstar, with its access to Terra’s industrial output would maintain precious few of these Void warfare machines).  

LAMs, or Land Air Mechs were a technological innovation of a completely different type.  Designed to mate the military advantages of Aerospace Fighters and Battlemechs into a single Chassis, these LAMs were capable of transforming from mech to fighter mode (some models had a mid-transition form as well).  While they had a variety of advantages compared to other units, they were a very delicate resource, and the end of the Star League destroyed most States ability to produce more LAMs, and they carefully hoarded the spare parts and technicians capable of repairing them.  

As the Star League Era wound down, most member states looked to end the Succession Wars that would follow by quick, decisive strikes to their opponents’ ability to produce advanced technology.  Warships would virtually disappear between the SLDF Exodus and the end of the 1st Succession War.  These great ships would be the first casualties of the degradation of the Star League’s technology base.  When factories were destroyed, the engineers and workers that operated them were often killed in the same attack, and precious knowledge was lost to the Inner Sphere. It would be nearly 250 years of sustained combat before the Successor States started to even consider rebuilding their lost technologies.  

Next time we'll talk about the other major conflicts of the Era as we head into the Amaris Coup and Usurpation.  Game On, Game Fans


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