- Published: 26 March 2020
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Battlefield: The Tempest (GM Information)
Bringing a battle fleet into Bard is difficult. Even when the Scottish planet is in a favorable position, ships must carefully transit the outer binding. Barring a rare planetary conjunction, they must then make a naked dash across the second folio and transit the inner binding to reach Prospero.
For raiders and spies, the system is quite favorable. The bindings which hinder a fleet formation offer individual ships excellent cover, either to evade pursuit or to sneak in system. Patient captains may arrange starfall to occur on the opposite side of the sun from Prospero, move into the inner binding, and then ride an asteroid for several months until they are quite close to the planet. Raiders can use the asteroids, particularly the outer binding, to stage ambushes. The mix of standard and retrograde rocks in Iago’s belt even allow for an ambush from both sides, provided the enemy can be lured into the correct position. For Terran Sphere planners, mostly unaware of the planet’s value to the Shohan, a raid against Prospero is a perfect opportunity to weaken Shohan forces in the system and divert resources from more important targets, such as Fort New Detroit and Diyu. It is unlikely that the Fleet will gather significant forces for the raid, preferring a fast strike in and out. Just enough to rattle the Shohan. The flip side to this is the potential for the PCs in a game to hold senior positions in the force, and to have a chance to truly step onto center stage.
MacBeth’s glitch in the grav limit dictates arrivals to some degree. Ships arriving near it revert early, and thus burn more fuel to pass by. Conversely, Macbeth is an obstacle for any ship retreating past it. The Shohan have revived their long disused grav wave calculations to understand why, and so do not expect to receive Terran probes from certain stars while Macbeth is in the way.
Unfortunately for the Terran Sphere, that is likely the only advantage they receive. While the colony appears only lightly defended to scouts, this is a bluff. Overseer Eira is well aware of reports of ships operating behind enemy lines and has moved most of the forces designated to protect her system into deep space, awaiting the moment that an unwary force makes its way towards Prospero. Her plan has never been sprung, in part because the Sword’s forces have been in position long enough to spot the outlying forces. Reconnaissance from the Terran Sphere does not have this luxury of time. Additionally, thanks to her oversight of the infiltrator teams, Overseer Eira is extremely well versed in the capabilities of Terran Sphere technology and its naval doctrine, which provides her with an unexpected edge in countering the invading force’s moves. For player characters that encounter her, they should feel almost like she’s using clairvoyance to guess their moves as the Shohan forces react to the fleet.
There’s still one more player that needs to make their grand entrance: the Sword.
Having raided and spied upon Bard for years, the Sword’s routines are broken by a clairvoyant vision; the TSN will soon raid Prospero in force and it will most likely be a disaster for them. Commodore Clairvaux intends to add his forces to the raid, hopefully turning the attack into a rout for the Shohan. The Sword fleet, in order to arrive with the maximum surprise, will make a sustained realspace burn from Bard B. Crossing the outer system with cold ships on a ballistic trajectory, they will slingshot around Macbeth to hopefully arrive just as the TSN engages. Executing their trademark burn maneuver in a high speed strafe will be difficult, but with the Shohan distracted by the TSN, Clairvaux believes it will be decisive. If the TSN does not show, their escape plan is to burn harder in system rather than brake for battle, slingshotting around the sun in order to reach the grav shore as soon as possible.
The TSN reaction to the arrival of the Sword’s force is mixed. On one hand, reinforcements are always welcome, especially in an operation that has rapidly gone downhill. On the other, the Sword barely acknowledges the TSN, going for close burn maneuvers that foul naval targeting solutions. From here there are several directions the battle could take. The Sword may fight to see the Shohan fleet decisively defeated before taking up orbit around Prospero, or, they may leave the Shohan fleet to the TSN while moving directly for the planet. The Sword moving to attack Prospero, with or without the Shohan defeated first, places the TSN in another quandary. The navy came here on a raid, and is not prepared to land troops on world. The Sword, on the contrary, is eager to retake the ground. When Commodore Clairvaux starts landing shuttles, does the TSN try to send down what marines they have? If Clairvaux compensates for his limited ground teams with selective or even indiscriminate orbital bombardment, does the navy intervene? Does the Commodore, fearful of the infiltrators hiding among the populace, order the entire colony purged to prevent them from spreading? In all of this, how do the fleet officers, at the limits of their orders and training, react? Are they willing to start a three way fight against their erstwhile fellows, or will they stand back to let the former Bard Defense Force reclaim their home by any means necessary?
After the battle, the Sword of the Xan’s legal status is a thorny issue, assuming they even stick around within the system. The former Bard Defense Force personnel disobeyed direct battlefield orders during the evacuation, and as such ought to be arrested pending court martial. They have also press ganged civilians into service, conducted illegal salvage, and occasionally stolen from TSN supply lines. Did Clairvaux’s heroic liberation of his homeworld earn him a reprieve, or has the brutality he ordered in the reconquest added to the charges against him? Either way, Clairvaux is unlikely to submit to the Terran Sphere authorities for a trial, nor would his people stand for it. It’s entirely likely that if pushed too far, the Sword will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Admiral Riley and the original Havenites, cutting a path out of the system through tightly stretched Terran Sphere forces back into occupied space. In this case they would be even more determined to wage their crusade against the fallen Shohan and infidel TSN alike.
For the Shohan infiltrators who have been training on the colony, its fall presents them with an ironic opportunity to slip into the Terran Sphere. Should the Terran Sphere regain possession of the colony from the Shohan and the Sword, it will have to develop some method to detect the infiltrators unless it wants to keep the entire colony on lock down. Such a situation is sure to displease both the newly liberated inmates and the dispossessed former inhabitants. Even with a lockdown, the Sword of the Xan or private smugglers may see a number of Prospero’s former residents at large in the Terran Sphere. All of this assumes that the Terran Sphere and the Sword carry the day, of course. With the raiding force’s unpreparedness and the lack of coordination between the two forces, it is entirely possible for the Shohan to drive them both from the system. In that case the ambitious Overseer Eira, once confined to a single system, may have won the standing she needs to ply her hand across the sector. Such would be a dangerous state of affairs for Terran Sphere, given the time and energy she’s devoted to learning everything she can about her human foes.
[This Rough Magic]
[Good Wombs Have Borne Bad Sons]