For those of you who know me, this section is intended to fill you in on what is happening with the production and release of my role-playing game (the one I first told you about back at Balticon in 2004). As well as providing the first overview of the history and making of the game, and its related projects and stories.
While those of you who don't know me, I'm Mike
McPhail, author of the Alliance Archives (or All'Arc for short) series, as well
as the creator of its related Martial Role-Playing Games (or MRPG) system.
The reason the
All'Arc MRPG manual has not been release (the short answer) is that other
projects keep pushing it to the back of the line. Seemingly out of the blue, in
2006 I was asked to edit, and illustrate, a military science fiction (MilSciFi)
anthology entitled "Breach the Hull (BTH)". The contributing authors
(all met at one convention or another), included Jack McDevitt, John C. Wright,
Bud Sparhawk, CJ Henderson, and John C. Hemry (aka Jack Campbell, author of the
"Lost Fleet" series), and several other "up-and-coming"
writers. So I put the All'Arc MRPG back on the shelf, and got busy.
contribution (beyond being the editor) was as cover artist. The cover image was
based on one of my earlier works, a space battle reflected in the visor of a
space helmet; not impossible, but one that I hadn't fully tried before with my
1994 vintage CorelDream 3D software. The level of detail that I needed to
create was also an eye-opening experience, not to mention tricky as the only
way to see what detail was needed, or how it turned out, was to have an 8x10 (high
def) print made, because my monitor can't show the same level of detail as the
final printing would.
Secondly, I needed
something to make this book different, something that reflected the spirit of
its military theme. What makes one branch or arm of the military stand out from
another (besides the uniforms and the toys they play with)? Unit Markings. So I
worked with each contributor to design a logo pertinent to a group or
government within their story.
As you can
imagine, all of this took time. In November of 2007, at Philcon, we had a
launch party for BTH. All the authors were in attendance (except McDevitt, he
had a scheduling conflict, but he was nice enough to sign a case of books we
sent him). The party went well with over a hundred conventioneers stopping by.
Now in 2008 I'm
on a promotional tour for BTH, and working on the sequel, "So It
Begins". As of this moment, I've finished the cover art, and I've started
to receive the stories. This one is to be launched at Lunacon 2009 in New York (providing all is done in time). This
time around, we could see work from David Sherman (DemonTech and Starfist), Will McDermott (writes for White Wolf), and Charles
Gannon (wrote for Traveller back in the days). So as you can see, I'm busy (in
a good way) with these projects, which includes the third book in this trilogy,
"By Other Means", with its release date (hopefully) in late 2010-
early 2011, then I'm done. Will it take that long before I have time for the
game? I pray not!
DQ Update: Forget all the Neal and Dark Quest references. In the end, we severed all ties with them, and are now turning them over to our lawyer, in the hopes of getting our three years back royalties and pay as freelancers.
2012JAN27: Since the original version(s) of the then Allaince Archives was never finalized --plus the bulk of the work is split between Word docs, and Corel cdr-- we are now working to convert them into a standard format (namely PDF) for publication.f
2011JUN15: Work on the "Project Bible" for the MRPG has begun. This is what's planned so far: The gaming system will be known as the (d=dice, C=100) Percentile System, for the MRPG (Martial Role-Playing Game) Core Manule. The All'Arc is only mentioned as the reason that the systems was developed, and if all goes well, will be it's own module in the near future, supported by a series of novels.
2010JUL16: We tried to obtain the domain name "alliancearchives.com", but that was already taken, and seems to have been "shelfed" for some reason. So as of this moment, we launched the new domain "www.alliancearchives.net". This in advance of the proposed March 2011 launch of the MRPG core rules manual (AGM-01 Rules and Regs).
2010JUL14: Yes friends, it's time is coming. I'm now working with Neal of
Dark Quest, to figure out the size and format for the game. Rather than try to
do a full blown Alliance Archives adventure game, we are putting out the Rules
and Regs as a stand alone manual, basically "The Martial Role-Playing Game
(MRPG)". He (Neal) already has plans for several modules based on the work
of his other authors.
Currently we are looking for a mid-2011 premiere at one of the newer gaming
conventions in Maryland. But! First I have to finish DTFIII By Other Means, as well as get the
cover art done for DTFIV No Man's Land (all female authors), so we can
advertise it in DTFIII BOMs. That and I have to work on my own module for the
Alliance Archives. No pressure!
2009FEB05: With the death of Marietta Publishing, I've found a new home for SIB, and BTH (maybe even BOM). A while back, Dani was contacted by Dark Quest, they were looking to see if I would be interested in letting them publish the Alliance Archives MRPG (as it turns out, they had read this very webpage after meeting me at UberCon). Well, to make a long story short, now that they have picked up my anthologys, they will also be doing my game(s). Slatted for a 2010 release, in association with MilSciFi.com.
2008SEP16: Since this first posting of this page, Breach the Hull has won the Dream Realm Awards for best Anthology for 2007, as well as being a finalist in the Best Cover category. Additionally we have about 2/3 of the stories for So It Begins currently being edited, with another three or four still outstanding. Originally my wife and I weren't slatted to write a stories for SIB (cutting back on the number of authors from BTH), but now that we are award winners we have been asked to submit to the anthology.
As stories goes… back in my days at the Academy, my youngest
player (he was fourteen when his brother first brought him into the gaming
group) said to me, (I'm paraphrasing after all these years), "You've put
so much work into this (the game) that most likely your going to die the moment
you finish it."
I don't know exactly what he meant by that; I know in my heart, he
wasn't putting a curse on me or anything of that nature. But! Come AD 2006, I
decide to take the game down off the shelf where it had lived for over a
decade, and started formatting it for publication, that and to learn some new
software. Well less than a month into the project --while I (and my wife) where
scream at some guy in India who was doing tech support on that new software-- I
had a physical brake down and became chronically sick.
That and a few other incidents, lead me to believe that the
project was cursed. My wife --who is a strong Christian--, has dismissed this
concept completely. But! Shortly after Dark Quest Game and I came to an
agreement about having them publish the game, the owner came down with
pneumonia, and I later contracted H1N1, which in turn lead to almost four
months of doctors and emergency room visits (plus two car crashes, and almost
dying from what should have been a simple case of stomach flue).
Keep in mind. My players never had any problems, and have been after me for quite sometime to finally put the game on the market.
Is all of this just pure coincidence? Or am I doomed to an
inevitable self-destruction. We shall see…
P.S. I'm still looking for a Priest to bless the project, or atleast
exorcise the Demon guarding it.
The Alliance Archives series is a military science fiction
set in the not-too-distant future. Against a backdrop of advanced technology and
interplanetary commerce, mankind once again proves that its greatest enemy is
still itself. As always, the weapons and machinery of warfare continue to
advance, while the pain and suffering of the soldiers remains the same.
The series centers on a group in concealed exile. Unofficially
hunted and lawfully persecuted under the growing religious and political fervor
at the turn of the 21st century; their only crime was being part of
a medical experiment to find a cure for the human condition.
As the story goes, the world renowned pediatric specialist,
Dr. Tyre McPherren and his team, which notiably included, Dr. Robert Maxwell (adminstrative director) and Dr. Johnathan Parr (animal researcher) developed the long-envision Rosetta Stone of
direct machine-to-mind communications. The Synaptic-Interface (SI) was literally a self-assembling, nano-scale antenna that could relay data across the synapse of the human brain.
Obtaining official permission for human clinical trials was
all but impossible, forcing McPherren to go underground for the next phase of
testing. The SI worked, and after additional testing a new and most unforeseen
'side-effect' emerged; the procedure could be passed onto an unborn child
through its mother.
History never had the chance to debate the value of his
discovery; at the International Conference of Physician, Dr. McPherren openly
admitted and took personal responsibility for conducting illegal research; he
then announced his discovery to the world.
A month later in the European press, an article appeared announcing Dr. Tyre McPherren disappearance while in police custody. It also posed the question of what happened to his test subjects--those who received the SI--a now infamous misspelling would forever label those
subjects as the "Children of Ty'Pherrein."
game itself hasn't reached the light of day, the storyline of the Ty'Pherrein
Alliance has. Sometime back in 2002, I finally gave my wife permission to write
a story set within the realm of the Alliance Archives. Entitled
"Progenesis", it was intended to be a story which centered on a young
Ty'Pherrein female whose father was just killed in action; and her search to
find the truth behind his death, aided by her father's Parr-scout, and one of
As I told my
co-author, "You just can't write a story and
drop Ty references in it, you have to treat it like a period piece." So I took
it upon myself to write a synopsis (like I would for a role-playing game
session) about the events leading up to, and including, the character's father's
death, using very specific military and Allied (the Ty's military) terms, as
well as describing the equipment they used, and the environment around them
(this story was set on the planet Demeter, the background for most of our
games). By the time I was done, I had accidentally written my first short story
(now titled "Betrayed"), and much to my horror, I was ask to write
The first Alliance Archives story to see the light of day (oddly enough)
was based on one of our game scenarios; "Chimera" published in the
mixed anthology, "No Longer Dreams" in 2005. It was a pseudo-horror
story which introduced the world to both Trooper Troy McKencey (one of my
oldest characters; the editor kept trying to correct the spelling of his name) and his partner, a Parr
scout-cat named Magow.
My wife (Danielle Ackley-) has also written within the framework of the All'Arc universe; although none of her stories are a direct part of its timeline, they are clearly set within it's borders.
What is the
Alliance Archives, and how did in come into being? Well that would depend on at
what point you entered the story of my life. Growing up back in the 70s (I was
a teenager at the time), I was an avid media science fiction fan--hadn't picked
up the reading bug yet--so as a Day-one Trekkie, and now a newly formed Star
Warrior, I was always trying to design my own stuff; graph paper is a wonderful
thing. I still don't precisely know were the race name, "Ty'Fairen"
came from (possibly a cross between Colonel Tie [BSG] and a local news reporter
in New York by the name of McFarren), let alone why I used a apostrophy (must be
that Irish O'Thing); but the Ty'Fairen Alliance was all mine, and I used it
whenever I play-acted (you know like cops and robber, soldiers and such), and
then later when I learn about role-playing games (RPGs); but I'll come back to
that specific point in a bit.
The year is some
time after 1977 (the release of Star Wars), but before 1979-80; it was during
my summer vacation, and I was waiting with my friend and coworker (he got me
the job) for our respective buses to take us home. As we were talking, I said I
was looking for a title for my Alliance, that had the same basic layout as Star
Wars--both words have four letters and share an "ar", sort of
thing--so Thomas came up with the "Alliance Archives". After he
explained to me what an archive was, I though it was a great idea, and the very
first concept of an alien library, where everything that happened was being
reviewed at some future point, came into being. Now if I had been a writer at
the time, maybe life would have been different.
Around 1979 (at
the premiere of Alien) we met a man named Charles Weekes; not only was he a Sci
Fi fan, but he lived near us back in Queens. As it turned out, he wanted to be a science fiction writer and
thought all our play-acting stuff might make good source material for his
stories. He tried working under the Alliance Archives banner, but it wasn't
his, so he came up with a similar idea and called his series "The Galactic
In 1982, we learned about role-playing games--namely Traveller--so it wasn't long before we were using their rules to run our stuff. By this time I had picked up the reading bug, and was working my way through the standards of science fiction.
From Rama to Ringworld; Starship Troopers to The Deathworld Trilogy, and some really good stuff Charles would lend me, like Starman Jones and A Matter For Men (the War Against the Cho'Tor series). So on any given night, you could run into anything in a game, from a Fremen, to a Pyran, to a pissed-off K'zinti carrying a Gashta (Piper's
I played a Ty'Fairen (by now a Ty [ t'I ] for short). These sarcastic, gray-haired, gray-eyed, psionic soldiers (along with their equally sarcastic and psionic Parr scout-cats [yes, armored, sentient house cats, with telepathy, what's you point?]), sported the latest in high-tech hardware, easily recognized by their carapace Allied Power Armor, and high-capacity Gauss rifle; although few in number, they had a long history of make trouble--militarily--for the so-called super powers of the game.
Note: "Here is a link to a site, that although not Parr in name, it's Parr in spirit."
The scout cat
idea is originally from an episode of the "Outer Limits", back in BC
(Before Cable) when TV was black and white. As for the Ty's having gray hair
and eyes, well that came from Taarna in the animated movie "Heavy Metal",
what can I say, I liked the way it looked.
As happens over
the course of time, we started playing other games--AD&D never did it for
us--such as the FASA's Star Trek RPG, and its related miniatures games. Since
we had been long-time Trekkers (higher order Trekkies), and costumed
conventioneers, it was a perfect fit. Generally we preferred to stay within the
universe of the series and movies, so there was a lot less lateral stuff
brought it (in other words, no Ty'Fairen); but it did introduce me to the
percentile system of games, (take note, that will be important later).
My bio states,
"... life long dream was to join NASA as a mission specialist." So in
1986 I started down that road by enrolled in the Academy of Aeronautics in New York, as a design major in aeronautical
engineering. While there, I made many new friends--both civilian and
military--who shared my interest in Sci Fi and role-playing (not so much into
the costuming and conventions through).
afternoons at the Academy's basement cafeteria became "game-night";
generally we played AD&D, Rifts/Robotech, Paranoia and a new game "The
Alliance Archives"; since it was a futuristic military RPG--and most of
the players were former or active military--this was the game of choice (toys,
man, toys); but the gaming system itself wasn't original, I was just using (as
all role players do at some time or other) rules from another game. After all,
at this point it was just for the fun of it, and just between friends. That is
until the faithful night...
The story is
told (and I have no reason to disbelieve it), that a group was playing
AD&D, and that the players were in a heated argument with the DM over the
rules concerning the affect of damage on either a PC or NPC (can't remember which
this far along). Well, these Marines were not happy in the least with the way
the game handled what they knew from training (I can't recall if any of them
had seen combat at the time). So as I was coming over to see what was up, one
stood up and said, "Mike you're a design student, do something about
it!" With a simple, "OK, I'll see what I can do." the All'Arc
took its first step on the path to becoming its own franchise.
understand that most students were studying to become aircraft mechanics (hands
on work), while design students dealt with mathematically modeling the effects
on aircraft, so we can design/draft them literally from the insides out. So
doing research and coming up with simple formulas for effects was what I was
studying at the time (one hour in the class room was often followed by three
hours in the labs); plus I was a role-player, and had seen how several games had
handled such problems (usually by creating an arbitrary numbering system that
only worked within the confines of that game, with no real-world correlation) and
decided to start anew.
In the end, the
way this worked was that I would come up with something, then put it before the
players in a game and see if it worked, or if the players thought I had my head
up my butt concerning either aspects of the military, or the operations and
effects of weapons. This part of the process was critical (and my primary job)
was to take it and refine it. Happily I was of a mind set that I wanted to be
realistic in my work, since from time to time, what I came up with--regardless
of how much work I put into it-- was crap(pe). And I fully understood, that
only an uninformed, self-important civilian, would dare to think that they knew
more about the truth of combat, than someone who had been through it.
How do you
succeed, when 90 percent of the marketed (manual-based) role-playing games have
failed to get most of it (reality) right? Let alone do it in a way that is
simple, and doesn't step outside the boundaries of traditional RPGs. In fact,
it's still a question I'm trying to answer.
Well you must
remember this is a time before the internet (my personal computer was a
Commodore 64 with a ribbon-fed, dot matrix printer) happily I had the resources
of the Academy (including Kean University, when I moved to New Jersey, so my
wife could finish college) library, and the expertise of my professors. But no.
as it came to pass, it was my friends who provided me with the source material
I eventually found useful; from lending me their Marine Corp training manuals
and related books (there is one I didn't give back; sorry), to giving me their
hand-me-down copies of Soldier of Fortune magazine.
weapons' damage in an RPG is just a number; the larger the caliber--and whether
it's a pistol or rifle--the bigger the number and the more damage it does,
based on some sort of comparative scale. I very quickly discovered that this
simple method doesn't work. Bullets of similar calibers can behave differently
depending upon the shape, material, powered charge and barrel length used; and
that's just from looking at my Guns and Ammo, which compares--as a buyers
guide--the performance of different manufacturers' rounds.
At the time the only hard
data we had about weapons effect was from a reference book on WWII tanks and
anti-tank guns. It listed the caliber of the gun (which I later found out was
different from small arms) and the stats for each type of round; this it
compared to its' ability to penetrate a given number of inches of armor plate (known as the
armors' bias). It looked hopeful, but later proved to be impossible to scale
down; but it did set the basic idea for penetration vs. armor (not a new idea
in gaming, but at least we were working from a new source, not another RPG).
A formula was
need, but a simple one that could compare any new data to its baseline.
Nowadays you can pick up a ballistics program almost anywhere (a luxury I
didn't have at the time) and the high-end physics we used at the Academy was
too complicated and still required some reference point in order to make sense
within the game, so I started gathering facts. Since the M16 (now the M16A1)
was the weapon of choice (and almost all of the manuals dealt with it down to
the smallest detail) its abilities would be used as our baseline--or
standard--by which all other such weapon's would be compared.
Okay, follow me
on this: The M16 fires a 5.56mm (the caliber is not used in this equation), 55
grains projectile with a muzzle velocity of 3300 fps (3200 fps is also the
standard). The +.5 is left over from the Commodore basic programming language;
it allows the equation to be rounded off by dropping everything after the
Pen = (w/55)x(v/3300)+.5
I could now
compare different rounds, but it didn't tell me anything about what kind of
damage they can do. Then I discovered an article on Chinese-made bullets, in
which it compared the armor-piercing (AP) version to its standard ball round,
as it related to its ability to wound its target (a person). The result was,
that the AP round had almost twice the penetration as the ball round, but only
did half the internal damage (cavitation; we'll get into that later); whereas
the AP version of a 5.56mm could punch through 10mm of steel plate. Added to
Pen = ([w/55]+10)x(v/3300)+.5
This new formula generated "10" as its baseline, now it was a
matter of comparing this ten to potential damage it could cause to
the human body. Since the mathematics of energy verse material strength was
just business as usual, the medical reference section would prove to be the
most mentally disturbing part of this process for me. I was never into gory
horror movies, so the first time I opened an EMT field medical treatment
manual, I found it unsettling to say the least. By the time I was done, I had
an understanding, and an ongoing morbid fascination, with the horrors that
weaponry, not to mention just plain bare hands, could do to the human body.
Because of this, I can never watch a Hollywood fight scene, or play an RPG where damage is either mathematical (knock
down is points), heroic or stylized, without think, "That's just
continue on this line of though, I must first talk about Gray Area Modeling--a
term I only recently learned about--this is the variable part of all RPGs (when
you roll the dice to see what effect you had on something, from nothing at all
to total destruction). It's different from working the odds (that's when you
have your character do everything possible to make sure something happen) in
that it's the luck of the roll, such as in why someone in a crowed gets hit,
while others remain untouched.
To create this
Gray Area, I need a reasonable scale of damage for the human body. The EMT
manual didn't really cover gunshot wounds in that manor, but the burn scale
did. After obtaining a few new manuals, (namely the Army First Aid Guide and
Field Surgery Manual), I adapted the burn scale terms, and the related
treatment and recovery time for each level of severity; much to my delight it
worked. I eventual expanded the games' Medical Reference section to be very
descriptive (but not illustrated, just the idea gave me the creeps), which sees to
only be used when a player-character is injured and his player is doing
everything he can to keep him in the game.
Over time several EMTs (some former players now living the adventure)
and a registered nurse, have reviewed this part of the game. Overall I was told
"I did a good job"; only time will tell.
To Be Continued...
Except from the All'Arc Glossary: Ty'Pherrein
(Ty’Pherreins [TI Far’ rE ins]) or Ty’s; are a technologically augment group of
humans who had become persecuted by religious fanatics, backed by government
legislation, such as that put in to place during the late 20th
century controversy over human cloning and stem cell research. Alternate
spellings: Ty'Fairen, Tie'Pherran, Tiepherren.
Before we can get into what the Ty'Pherreins are, we must first
talk about what made them different in the first place, namely the Synaptic
Interface (or S.I.) antenna. The S.I. Procedure is very simple and painless
from the perspective of the patent; basically you drink what appears to be a
banana/grapefruit slushy while watching a monitor and trying to answer
questions as they come up on the screen. Within the icy drink are the
nano-scale, enzyme coated parts of the antenna, which--once they heat up to
body temperature--are attracted to the key points in the brain by a combination
of bio-electrical tracking and coded enzyme receptors.
Initially they form what is called a node, and through additional
vitamin supplement, the body naturally forms semi-metallic crystals which hook
onto the node, and then to each other to form a rudimentary network of (for a
better word) wires, which lace along the brain and act as an antenna.
What? Were you expecting some sort of Frankensteinesk,
lighting-bolt driven machine, drilling electrodes into someone's head?
Remember, Dr. McPherren was a pediatric specialist working to help disabled
The rest of the hardware was external, and operated like a
radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag reader. Since the antenna had no
internal power supply (boy did McPherren get that one wrong), the reader would
induce a minute electrical current through a radio frequency signal, which in
turn energized the antenna allowing it to either pickup or transmit electric
impulses firing across the synapses of the brain. These signals in turn were
read an interpreted by a device known as the SIcom (Synaptic Interface
Communicator), which was the true Rosetta Stone in this process--the antenna
was just a clever idea--but it was the SIcom software and related neural
networking processors which made everything possible.
Like any prosthetic device, the S.I. was intended to be applied directly
to an individual in needed; but as with most innovations there can be
unforeseen uses and sometimes personal consequences, and in McPherren's case,
it was the unplanned pregnancy of one of his test subjects.
During standard prenatal care, late in the third trimester, a
sonogram showed what appeared to be the formation of the antenna nodes; this
took the researchers completely off guard. The concept that any element of the
nanoparts could make it across the mother/child blood barrier was unheard off,
but yet something did happened.
Late in 1998, Corrin Vega was born a health baby boy, who researchers
watched and tested with the greatest interest. Very quickly it became obvious,
that Corrin's nodes were not initially S.I. nanoparts, but were instead the same semi-metallic crystals which made up the antenna. It was theorized that
the enzymes used in the Producer set up some form of immunological response in
the mother that was pasted alone to the fetus, allowing it to produce a variation of the targetting enzyme.
Around 2012-14, (back when we were suppose to have a moonbase up
and running), at the Luna America material testing facility, they were working
on the electromagnetic partial defector mast for the upcoming Mars mission,
when during the destructive testing phase, the entire mast and testing-rig just
disappeared--not exploded or vaporized--just disappeared.
To make a long (and published) story short, we used local
materials to make mast and test-bed. When the electrical current in the mast
was pushed to the burn out point, part of it superheated and liberated what
came to be called (incorrectly, but what can you do science fiction got there
first) Hyperions from the dark matter (cosmic dust is just full of the stuff)
contaminants found in the in the materials. Within a decade we were sending or
first unmanned autonomous starship--The Argo--to Tau Ceti, a system shown to
have an Earth-like world orbiting in its Goldielock zone (but that's another
story). As a result, the corporations who were lined up for the Mars mission,
shifted those resourced to the new frontier, planet Demeter.
Now why is this important to the story of the Ty'Pherreins? The big
corporations that sponsored McPherren's work, had established a research colony
on Demeter, and were allies of the Scottish Rampart Corporation (later to become the
Dominion) who had industrialized the Tau Ceti's Jovein world-system. They had
the ships need to transport all of McPherren's test subjects and surviving
research staff off Earth, and for now granted them sanctuary in hidden exile.
While living as guest of the Dominion, the third generation (now termed Gen-3) of
Ty'Pherreins was born--and things just got stranger and stranger--like Corrin
they were born with the S.I. nodes, but unlike him, they quickly developed a
full antenna matrix. At first it was though that these children might be
autistic, since they talked very little to their parents, and seemed to be
looking of into some unseen place most of the time; but test quickly proved
otherwise. Emotionally they all seemed to be introverted and had moderate to severe
social difficulties among strangers, either they were quite (termed as being
"shut-down") and self absorbed, or completely unnerved and crying to
be left alone.
Here's when we get into that whole "Village (Children) of the
Damned" thing; early on Corrin's eyes lighted in color (which can
sometimes happen), and by the age of 30 his hair hand gone completely
gray (once again this can happen). Were as
the children were born with either blue or gray eyes (this despite genetic
family traits) and their hair also came in gray. Once again, it was believed
that the enzyme was the culprit.
The biggest surprise was yet to come. It turns out they were
communicating with each other via their un-powered S.I. antennas (although the
researchers like to use the word "communing", in that they were
sensing each others presence and sometimes strong emotions, rather than talking).
As one research put it (quoting Niven), "Think of it as evolution in
action." the children were born with, and learned to us this extra sense
(although they refused to call it ESP), compare this to the
generation that grow up playing video games and using computer. To the
previous generation, what they (their children) could do with these things, was
sometime beyond their belief.
As the third generation
grow up, they came to grips with there emotional problem around that magical
age of thirty (sooner if they found a companion and bonded), but the surprises
still weren't over. The Gen-3s turned out to be the "brains" of the Alliance,
within this generation theories and innovations were made that transformed not
only interstellar travel and material science, but also artificial intelligence
and autonomous devices. Notably they renamed the SIcoms' capabilities and
applications, the science and technology was now referred to as Psionics (the
term is believed to be derived from psychic and electronics, but most likely
there just being smart-arse and using something from the mid-20th century
media); and all of it hidden away from the people back on Earth.
With the birth of the fourth generation (Gen-4) around 2062 AD,
what we now think of as a Ty'Pherrein came into being. Normally their born with
gray or light blue eyes, while the S.I. nodes for some reason don't develop
into the full antenna until after puberty (avoiding the autistic-like
behavior), and unlike other generation, they can communicate directly with each
other using both imagery, sound and emotions, without the need of a S.I.com
This generation was the first to call itself "Ty'Pherrein"--from
that old newspaper article-- and just as other ethnic groups have adapted and
modified formerly racially derogatory names and terms, the children of
McPherren would use this one.
As the dictionary states: (an) alliance: an allying or being
allied; specifically a union or joining, as of families by marriage; a close
association for a common objective.
There had always been an alliance between the group and its
corporate benefactors. Those who not only provided the financial resources they
need to keep them going, but also the staff and technical support and personal
that made day to day living possible--and as time and politics changed in the
world--the soldiers, training and equipment they need to fight for survival.
Throughout their days in exile, the group was lead by Corrin Vega--he
hadn't intended, nor desired to be in charge, but circumstances put him there
during the preparation and evacuation of the group from Earth--who in many ways he felt
responsible for all that was happening (since it was his birth that had put
them in this situation) so he accepted his position as leader, and learned to work
within the group and their friends and associates among the corporations, to
get things done.
By uc101 (Ultra Cunabulam, or 2062 AD) with the groups population
now measured in the thousands, the first signs of possible social division
started to appear. The original test subjects and the newly S.I.ed (whose
members are now known as Gen-1 and 2) continued to called themselves the Clan
McPherren, or just McPherrens (out of respect for Dr. McPherrens Celtic heritage),
and now the Gen-4s were called themselves the Ty'Pherreins, and subsequently
the Gen-3s then adopted the nick-name Pherren (since they felt they were the
parent generation that lead to the birth of the Ty'Pherreins); Corrin felt it
was time to put in place some form of higher organizational leadership, while
doing everything possible to avoid the segregation pitfalls (warriors vs.
chiefs) of forming a government.
So by mutual agreement of the group, an official Alliance between the
generations was formed, and outlined in the "Terms of the Alliance (their
equivalent of the U.S. Constitution)"; there would be no parties or
subgroups of any kind (meaning that there wouldn't be a separate advocate for
the McPherrens, Pherren, or Ty'Pherreins); while the leadership would be
comprised of three members who have proven their abilities (a.k.a. no
elections) in times of peace and hardship. Ultimately, the Ty'Pherreins--backed
by the Pherren--ran the show.
The Allied Defense Force (ADF)
Before there was an Alliance there was the Allied Defense Force (ADF)
and its' sole purpose was to protect--by force of arms--the members of the
group, and their corporate counterparts. Service in the ADF was voluntary, and
only for those who proved themselves capable of meeting the demanding physical
and mental hardships of combat. In the wider view, the entire population, in
one form or another helped to support ADF operations.
At this point in its history (circa 2042-62) the ADF was very
small and inexperienced. Trained by just a few Army of the Dominion specialist
(namely Major Stonebrigde), they operate in squad-sized unit--designated as
Pacs--using tactics more akin to a Police SWAT team then a conventional
military unit. The elite of these, were the airmobile Recovery Teams (later
known as the R3 Teams, for Rescue, Reconnaissance and Recovery), who in the
early days were in fact the only active fighting force in the ADF.
The bulk of the ADF consisted of roughly two light infantry companies--200
plus troopers--with no support services (beyond transportation), armor or
artillery. This made it literally an all fighting force, lacking the 10-to-1
(ten support personnel for each combat soldier) ratio normally required to keep
an army operational. Instead troopers worked to provide for themselves (often
with the help of other members of the group) by doubling as maintenance,
mechanics, machinist, cooks and clerks. The medical, quartermasters and
ordinance units were commanded by small groups of specialist supported by
either Dominion personnel or corporate operatives; while technical, material
and financial support came from the parent corporations (Highland,
KHN and Freeman Technologies).
Below are two of
my reference sheets. To the left (clickable), are the basic symbols of the ADF
and Alliance. In the middle (clickable), are
the rank structure and identification icons (with specialties) for each,
along with standard squad organizational table. On the right is the unit patch
for the 174th (17th company, 4th squad) Pacs Recovery Team.
The man charged with instructing the "volunteer" ADF in
the arts of war, was one Major Garrett Stonebridge (technically he was a
Sergeant Major, but no one ever called him anything other than "The
Major"); a decorated member of the UKs' Royal Marine Commandos, and later
the SAS. He was recruited by the Rampart Corporation (the spacefaring arm of
Highland Reactors) to head up the training of their security force and act as
the assistant chief of security.
After the Major got over the initial shock of not being allowed to shout
at, or imposed physical correction (punishment) to ADF recruits, he quickly
modified his methods to concentrate on the "guilt" of letting your
comrades down; he was also the man who taught the rank and file how to curse.
His favorite was a modern Irish curse (this is real, when
we were over there this word was even on T-shirts), so "Feck",
"Fecken" and "Fechen'ell", found their way in to the
Ty'Pherrein language (later to be know as Ty'Linqua).
Do you remember back in the 80s the movie "Red Dawn";
the scene when the kids ambushed the Spasnaz in the woods and just chewed them
to pieces? Well that showed me a few things that I didn't want to happen to the
ADF, so I worked on developing full body armor for my characters (this is still
in my RPG days). Adapting something from someone else gaming system--even
then--just didn't sit right with me; I needed to make it universal (and if
Now-a-days reality is closing in fast on what Sci Fi (and
Hollywood) predicted as the capability of materials and made-portable
electronics; but I didn't have that at first, so it wasn't until my Academy
days that I finally started figuring out what went into making Allied Power
It is important to remember that most of this stuff is 80s
technology, with very few 21st century updates. The term Power-armor in this case
is a misnomer, it's really Powered body armor, in that it has an onboard
computer (the Pacscomp), which handles image processing from the helmets'
side-mounted imaging-spectrometers (which operate full spectrum from
ultraviolet to infrared), and graphics display; communications and encrypted for
both the comm and SIcom bans, as well as the transponder identification
sub-system (which generates the icons seen on the helmets' heads up display to
ID other team members, and mark potential targets and bad-guy). This is all
pretty standard stuff for a 21st century computer games, but back in the 80s,
it was hardcore Sci Fi.
The armors' outer case has been made of many different things over
the years, but currently it's a compound know as Synara (my trademark mind you)
which is a type of synthetic spider silk, composite to a ceramic armored shell.
The outer most layer was covered in electrostatic stromatifors (little blobs of
color that could expend and contract [like a cuttlefish's'] to form different
patterns when current was applied to them). For a time we played with the
Predator's prismatic stuff, but I could quite work out the mechanics.
There's a lot more to the suit, but I'll save that for the game.
Above (clickable) is a 12-inch clay statue I made a few years ago; it's the first full 3D view of the original Allied Power Armor used in the MRPG. Future models will be CG, mostly in the prorgam Blender.
The Allied Star
The Allied Star--in one
form or another--goes back to the very beginning of my life. I remember a
little plastic Nativity Scene with the star of Bethlehem
over it all; the image remained with me over the years and eventually became a
symbol of both hope and renewal. The star has evolved over the year (clickable), with its' current incarnation as the Allied Star Shield (image
Aw yes, the Dominion. Back in the old days (before the Academy),
Peter played his creation (the Sirius Dominion) were pseudo-Fremen from a
planet burnt out during a global nuclear war, leaving only dome-enclosed
cities on a lifeless desert world orbiting the star Sirius. His Slavic-based Siriussians
where seen thought out the early days--from Traveller to Star Trek--and in fact,
I worked to incorporate them into the All'Arc MRPG at that time (with his
blessings); but this was not to be, as an irreconcilable difference came
between us (my future wife) so I wrote out the Sirius Dominion (which annoyed
my players at first) and any of Peter's concepts from the game.
Then the idea of a Domain (a Dominion) came back into play; this time
around they were my own spacefaring Scotts, using Soviet-style hardware and
living on an ice covered moon orbiting a super gas giant in the system of Tau
Ceti (home of the planet Demeter). Now the question, "Was I trying to be
that radically different from Peter's stuff." Happily the answer was "No".
After I designed the star system (planetary sizes, orbital distances, Goldilocks
zone, etc), I played around with the idea of industrializing an entire Jovian
system. Starting with a habitable moon (such as LV-426 in Alien(s) or even Yavin
or Endor in Star Wars), and then played with putting factories and launch
faculties in low or micro gravity. So for example you could us an
elevator-style lift tower with counter-weights and a traction engine to pull a
ship or payload in/out of orbit; and the rest is fictional-history.
It was during the Battle for Demeter campaign that a terrified
Legionnaire was trying to call for help over his radio; rather than stating
that "Dominion troops were overrunning his position", he screamed,
"God help us there are Demons here!" (this happened in an All'Arc
game, back in the late 80's); from that day on, the Dominions' Strike Force
(commandoes) were known as "Demons".
The poster child for the Demons was (and still is) a character
played by Kenny, namely Colonel O'Connor or just "The Colonel"; he
landed on Demeter as a Captain, but as attrition thinned the ranks of Strike
Force, his ability to get things done eventually pushed him up the chain of
After almost a decade of playing the game, Kenny decided his
character was going to leave the service, so after a very interesting fire
fight in the barracks with Transdermal rounds (soft bullet-like capsules with a
contact tranquilizer), he left and was getting into a jeep, when his
second-in-command (Lennart's character) stepped out onto the buildings' fire
escape and launched a 90mm recoilless rocket at the vehicle. Boom...and it
stands to date as how Dominion characters tend to be retired.
Well going along with this unforeseen demonic theme, the homeworld
of the Dominion is the ice moon (more like a dwarf planet) of Dante--as in the
Inferno--so named by one of the explorers who commented that, "...it looks
like Hell frozen over."
The Army of the Dominions' civil engineers (you must remember,
that the Army "Is" the nations' infrastructure) seems to have spend way
too much of its time practicing their arts. So far they have built a classic
Cathedral (St. Christophers') which houses all of the major religions; a full
scale Stonehenge (with all the missing
details) seemingly out in the middle of nowhere; and a three story tall statue
of Cerberus, made from fussed black and red volcanic glass, which sits on a
cliff over-looking the main city.
The most notable place is Patriot City, a cemetery built around a monument
based on the megalithic passage tomb Newgrange in Ireland. From the middle of the monument is a
massive eternal flame (which puts out greenhouse gasses, as part of the
Terraforming project to help heat up the planet); inside are dedications to
those who die during the attempted Herobon--Ronin Mercenaries--takeover of the
Rampart facility (at the time it wasn't officially either a colony or
independent nation); as you approach one of the dedications, a synthesized
version of the person's voice tells you about themselves, and how they died.
In a story (not seen in the game) the Ty'Pherreins mated one of their
autonomous A.I.s to part of the monuments "I was..." voice
system--combined with something akin to a hologram--we find the story's lead
character coming to Patriot City in order to talk to his fallen comrades. It
was a very interesting and moving scene.
This was the creation of Charles, and is basically his variation of
the US Navy in a far future universe, staring in a big-ship space opera; he
would play this group in the games, and often wrote about them in short stories
as part of his Galactic Journal series.
For the longest time, I though this was an original term that
Charles though up and as such I wasn't going to us it out of respect. Well as
it turns out its not a knew idea, back just before the American War of
Independence (Revolutionary War, 1775-1783), it was proposed that the colonies
in the America could operate under the Federal theory of Empire, namely they
(the 13 colonies) would be part of the British Empire, as a self-governing
nation not be under direct Imperial rule; They Who Must Be Served said
"No", and the rest is history class. I have also seen this term from
the American Civil War, were the South referred to the North, "as the
Federal Empire"; even today there is talk of the UK become a Federal Empire.
The Federal Empire (circa 2062 All'Arc timeline) is the
inspiration for the cover art on both Breach the Hull and So It Begins, in the form of the
AeroCom (originally, the USAF. Aerospace Command) Starfleet. After fifteen
years of playing the "Battle for Demeter" scenario, I was
looking for something knew to bring into the MRPG. The idea of the US turning Imperial wasn't new by a long
shot, but I had to do it in my own way so as to keep it within the realm of
possibilities, both in the game and in my literary works. So as always, I had
to come up with a series of cause-to-effect events to bring about this radical
change in American policy (that's a polite way of putting it).
UN declaration of December 2000
“Utopia Mandate” or “Mandate 2000”
Preamble of the Utopia Mandate
We the people of the planet earth now at the beginning of the second millennium of
man; while poised on the shores of
space, and the hope it brings for a new beginning; do here by resolve to stop
the spread of humanities greatest disease, that being the plague of war.
; In that all
spacefaring nations of our world, pledge to prohibit the transporting and
trading of materials of war, in all forms and mediums, through the vacuum of
space. It is hoped that future
generations of humanity, who grew to adulthood beyond the cradle of man, will
look to our past, and judge us for our actions, both for good and evil, and
will have learn form our mistakes. That
they will not live in a nation but in a world community were the knowledge of
war, and its machines of self-destruction, is only a distant memory from a far
This was the cornerstone in the "Battle for Demeter" scenario (All'Arc
MRPG) which lasted over two decade of almost continuous game play. To sum it up:
at the turn of the 21st century, someone in the UN decided to draft a
"symbolic" resolution, (which they do from time to time), basically
outlawing the transport of military material (both physical and intellectual) through
space to other worlds, in this case they meant the Moon and eventually
Mars--but like so many other unforeseen events--the major space powers through
their seats on the Security Counsel and later the General Assembly ratified the
"Utopia Mandate"; effectively making it international law with no
immediate purpose or enforcement behind it.
In the original storyline we put the space station up and
colonized the moon (the war got in the way in the real world), then we started
to run into problems concerning law enforcement in space. So in 2009 a new body
was added to the UN in the form of UNCETA (United Nations Counsel for Extra
Terrestrial Affairs), with the Utopia Mandate and a number of other
pre-existing Space and Universal Human Rights laws at its heart.
No one could have foreseen the advent of hyperdrive and the colonization
of an alien world; so in UNCETA controlled, gun free society, whoever had the
weapons became an instant superpower.
The DMP (which originally meant "Demeter Military
Police") was as a gaming element that combination the Federal Security
Agency from "Outland" ("...think it over."), and the A.D.
Police from "Bubblegum Crisis"; it was the first non-military
character generator brought into the game, and was quickly followed by both Civilians
So the problem now was enforcing UNCETA laws off world without an
armed security or police force. The proposed UN Department of Multinational
Police (DMP) was to be an unarmed (meaning no lethal weapons) force controlled
directly by UNCETA; to say that the nations involved though this was a bad
idea, was an understatement. Eventually, it was worked out that the DMP would
be an independent agency working in conjunction with the International Court of
Justice in the Hague, under UNCETA guidance; support, both fanatically and
logistically was to be provided by member nations.
In 2010 UNCETA voted to create an amendment to Mandate 2000, based
on article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that, “All are equal before the law, and are
entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.” Since
the DMP was the only agency charged--by the UN--with the responsibility to
provide said protection, it would in fact not be a violation for their officers
to have, transport, and use their weapons in space.
League of Spacefaring
In 2042 (or 45), with the armed take over of the international
community on Demeter by the Legion and supported by the Ronin, the member
nations to UNCETA simply withdrew form the organization on mass, making it
little more than a paper pushing committee with only the DMP for support.
Very quickly all the major power implemented their emergency
building programs (the government is always thinking up "what if"
plans for stuff) and put to work building starships and training space model
forces. In an effort to reduce cost and better obtain their common goal
(liberate Demeter), they form the League of Spacefaring Nations (LSN), and
oddly enough China opted not to join.
These ships are later seen on the cover of my books, Breach the Hull and So It Begins.
Yes this is the Legion
estrangere (the French Foreign Legion) I always though that they would make
a great military adversary, but the question was "how to do it?" well
history answered that question. During the Algerian campaign (1955-1962), the
1st Foreign Parachute Regiment rose against the French government over the
planned negotiations to end the war. The Regiment was disbanded and the Legion
reduced and kept under tighter control from that point on. If it happened once,
it could happen again, but this time on a distant world far beyond the reach of
the French authority.
Basically, after the failed armed attempt by the Ronin to capture
the Rampart construction facilities and habitats (this event led to the
formation of the Dominion), the French leadership felt it wise to put in place
some form of security force to protect their interest on the frontier world of
Demeter; while at the same time having some level of plausible deniability in
violating "The Utopia Mandate"; they decided to "hide in plan
sight" some 200 hundred Legionnaires as workers assigned to the French
territories. In short, someone convened those in charge of the Legionnaires the
switch sides and help take over Demeter, rather that protect French Colonial
Hirobon and the Ronin
"Shyobai wa sensoo mitai na
(Business is [like] war)
Having a faceless corporation as a villain is a common theme; mine
is the multinational conglomerate Hirobon Omni Corporation (sounds like
"the way of the Hero"), with its power base in the Southern Pacific
Rim (SPR) countries; its world headquarters is located in Japan, but the real
power is in China; they us the Nippon facade for dealing with the western
Hirobons' primary goal (besides being the legitimate face of a
criminal organization) was to buy into anything related to advanced technology
(with the advent of hyperdrive, Hirobon switched its main focus to
aero/astronautical engineering), thus allowing them to have some level of
influence--and profit from--the advancements of others. We're not talking
investments here; they what a piece of the action or they will cut off badly
need materials, products or services until they get it.
And if that doesn't work, as the saying goes, "Love bit of
machinery you got here; it would be a shame if something happened to it.";
enter the Hirobon Yojimbo (meaning "bodyguards"), like their parent
company, they have a public face as a security firm, but more often than not
they operate as mercenaries; nick-named Ronin (a samurai without a master) by
the west, they are among the best soldiers money can buy and equip.
The Brotherhood of the
Teutonic Knights (Ka'nigits)
Despite the name they had nothing to do with either Nazis (who
suppressed this order during the war) or any of the myriad of modern subgroup
that follow such beliefs. The name was taken from a Catholic military order
that served during the Middle Ages--and in fact lives on today as the Deutscher Orden (Germen Order)--during
the crusades they were comparable to the Hospitallers and Templers.
To put it simply, this group started out as a bunch of rich-kids
from Connecticut (Stratford to be specific), who had too much time, money
and ego on their hands, and thought that they could do a better job of running every
things. As time went on, they focused on the belief that the "less
intelligent" among them were out producing (having kids and consuming need
recourses) the "intellectuals", to which the Knights belonged. Neither
racisms nor instituting a subservient slave race, came into the equation
for them, "...for there is greatness in all of the races of humanity."
(which was one of their key slogans), but this belief in their intellectual superiority
led to them to target the so called third world and the more "primitive
cultures" for political persuasion, while supporting the efforts of
those like themselves. This did not mean "hate groups", but those
working for the betterment of the human race (as they saw it) mostly in the
field of genetics; so programs to feed and house the masses were often targeted
for termination through any number of means.
At first this belief culminated in the Knights throwing money at
corporations, political groups and individuals that had a similar agenda; but
at some point they decided to play for higher stakes, and put their recourse
behind a military coup in a Southern Pacific Rim country. Basically, big business wanted to displace the
locals (including the government), so they could get at the natural resources
of the island and industrialize the territory; mercenaries in the employ of the
corporation (but powered by Knight money) turn the island into a blood bath; to
make a long story short, they got away with it.
With the serendipity of hyperdrive, and the colonizing of a new
world, the Knights literally set their sights on world domination; their plan
was simple, control the commerce between Earth and Demeter and you control the
population. A population of top notice professional in almost every field of
human endeavor; this was the Knights' dream come true, now all they had to do
was make sure none of the "Lessers" fined their way to this Utopia.
Additional: When I created this fictional group back in the early 90s, I was playing on the basic fears of big business, and secret societies working to manipulate the minds of the population, and take over the government. I had no way of knowing that some twenty years later, a real world variation of this would come into existence. I pray I'm wrong.
It must be mentioned, that in 1992 Charles G. Weekes die of a
heart problem. His dreams of becoming a science fiction writer died with him. I
had lost contact with him back in 1986, and have had no luck finding any of his
work beyond that point, and the stuff I do have, would require a massive
rewrite to be usable, beyond the point were it would be "his" work.
Currently I don't even have enough background material to writer something in
his name, let alone in his literary universe.
2009FEB05: An excerpt from Weekes' novella, "Confrontation" will be in the e-Book version of So It Begins.
The only up note is that I dedicated my first hardcover military science
fiction book to him. So if nothing else his name now has a place among the
authors of our day.
Please note that this web page has not yet undergone final editing.
Time was short, so my apologies for any mistakes and/or typos.
Copyright ©2010 Mike McPhail, All Rights Reserved.
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is forbidden without the prior written permission of Mike McPhail of McP
Attn: Mike McPhail, MilSciFi.com, P.O. Box 493, Strafford, NJ 08084
The material on this website is a work of fiction. Names,
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