As with many things, the concept of Tech Infantry, or more affectionately known as "TI" or "Tech", came out of pure boredom. We can blame two people...Nathan Bax for starting it all... and Marcus Johnston for keeping it alive.
Seasons One and Two (1997-1998)Edit
Season One (Fall 1997): While stuck in Morrison, Illinois during his summer break from ISU, Nathan Bax was bored out of his mind. Looking forward to the new Starship Troopers movie, he thought of playing a White Wolf game set in the Starship Troopers universe. He told a couple of his friends about it, including Marcus Johnston, Chris Yarwood, Martin Hohner, and Jennifer Simmons (Bax's girlfriend, later his wife) also joined in. Together they braved the worst the Bug War could offer. Not a lot of political backstory... just a lot of missions, dying, and good roleplaying. Lwan Eddington, Fialla Spencer, and Arthur Clarke make their first appearances.
Season Two (Spring 1998): Well, we said goodbye to Martin, but added Penny Horwitz and Joel Ruggaber (who were engaged and later married). For the 86th Platoon, it was no longer just about the Bug War. Bax added in a political element and the 1st Civil War was changed by the player's actions. With the Triumvirate destroyed and all well with the universe, Bax got bored and decided to end it. Richard Fox and Maeve Harrington made memorable first appearances.
Season Three (1998)Edit
Season 3—Part 1 ( Fall 1998): Penny ran the show now, 15 years ahead, and the players played the kids of their previous characters, on the run from the TI draft. Hilarity ensues as we keep running into our old characters, Penny gets more bossy and we all start getting bored.
"Ring of Fire" Movie (Halloween 1998): Bax comes back down for Halloween and runs a session. The characters are taken through history to find out about the Orb and the Caal invasion that's being affected by it. Finally the Caal are stopped by taking the Orb out of existence altogether (thanks to "the grey man") and everything's back to normal.
Season 3—Part 2 (Winter 1998): Or is it? Well, Bax didn't like the way Penny had messed up his creation, so he basically destroyed a lot of what Penny was trying to set up. Penny solves this problem by creating an alternate universe, where many of our old and present character's situations were changed, and we had to figure out how this all meshed together. At first, it was a cool idea, but then it devolved into playing our old characters in weird ways. Personality conflict between Marcus (stressed out from student teaching) and Penny (stressed out from wedding plans) finally ended the game with little resolution.
Season Four (1999-2001)Edit
Season 4.1 (1999): After a hiatus, Bax wanted to start an e-mail game in the TI Universe. Martin, Marcus, and Chris played, but then Bax got busy with work, and it was disbanded after only one or two turns.
The Daughters' War: Season 4.2 (1999): Marcus tried to use the e-mail game idea as well. This game actually went on for a couple months before it got stopped by Marcus' heavy workload in Korea and player disinterest. Erich Von Shrakenberg and Deirdre Macoure make their first appearance. You can read this season either in published form or in its original form.
Rage Against the Dying of the Light: Season 4.3 (2000-1): Marcus, back in the Midwest but bored to tears due to his job at State Farm Insurance, revived the TI e-mail game in order to fill the time. This actually worked and had eight characters running through the ins and outs of the 3rd Civil War. It finally ended after 9 months of play...perhaps about a month or two too long. The complete stories from this season were once available online, but with the demise of Geocities and then Martin's laptop hard drive where we kept our backup copy getting fried, the game was feared lost forever. However, thanks to a few other players, the Wayback Machine, and Ed providing us a new webhost, the game story and TI Season 4.3 website have been restored to their former glory. Martin's old site dedicated to to detailing and categorizing the entire Earth Fleet for Season 4.3 is also restored on Ed's server, although most of its information has also been transferred to this Wiki, especially in the various Starship Classes pages.
Seasons Five, Six, and Seven (2000-2001)Edit
Season 5 (2000): This was Bax's game that he played in the normal tabletop way down in St. Louis. Again, political intrigues abound, deception, lies, and good storytelling. What actually happened is a mystery because none of the other veteran players were involved.
Season 6 (2001): Bax again... with a lack of players in the St. Louis area, he called upon his old veterans to play once a month, in marathon sessions for TI. This was Y3K... sending TI a thousand years in the future in order to throw us off completely, and created the Holy Terran Empire. It was a very good storyline, but it was hard for all of us to be there every month. Eventually, the game disintegrated.
Season 7 (2001): Bax's second attempt to do marathon sessions, this time taking the same plotline, but set it five years later. However, Bax really wanted to do something else other than TI, so he systematically killed every single legend from the TI universe. It was fun, but sad.
Season Eight and Abandoned Projects (2002-2004)Edit
"A Place Called Earth" Miniseries (2002): An attempt by one of the former players of Season 4.3 (Andy Hutchinson) in order to restart the TI universe. This was set at the very beginning of the universe, once vamps and werewolves came out of the woodwork. Interesting concept... but this e-mail game lasted for three turns before falling apart due to the inexperience of the handful of players involved.
"Exodus" project (2002-2003): An abortive attempt at a TI revival that never got off the ground. Marcus was the instigator again, with lukewarm support from Martin, Chris, Bax, and a couple other former players. The idea was to set it in the year 4097, a thousand years after the Empire was destroyed at the end of the Y3K (Seasons 6 and 7) game. A handful of survivors from that cataclysm had managed to colonize a lone planet on the edge of another galaxy, but their colony had disintegrated into a dozen petty states all warring with each other, and technology had retrogressed to a hodgepodge of primitive and even medieval devices alongside a handful of surviving high-tech islands. It was an intriguing concept, but world-building proved more fun than actually writing a story or creating characters, and most of the players wandered off from sheer boredom while waiting for Martin and Marcus to finish drawing maps and writing out timelines.
The Middle Kingdom: Tech Infantry Season Eight (2004): This was the second time someone had seriously come up with a way to restart TI yet again. After the "Exodus" idea flopped, there was always somebody trying to come up with something. Finally, over Christmas 2003, the idea of changing the timeline to allow the Eastern Bloc take over everything was rather intriguing. It lasted four months, before Marcus got burnt out, and although Ed Stasheff tried to keep it going, it ended soon after. Most of the stories from this season are still available online, thanks to the Wayback Machine and Ed Stasheff. However, this season was still somewhat fresh in Martin's mind when he created the general Tech Infantry page on TV Tropes.
Novella and Season Nine (2002-2011)Edit
Prayer for the Technocrats (2002): Marcus' novella about the Caal Invasion, the fall of the Federation, and the rise of the Holy Terran Empire. It laid the groundwork for what would become Season Nine several years later. While it is highly recommended that you buy this book or read it online before playing, it is not strictly necessary (especially if you are willing to dig through this Wikia to find the important bits of backstory).
Born Under a Gray Sky: Season 9 (2011): Seven years later, many of the players had played other “play-by-email” stories, but none of them ever lasted as long as Tech Infantry. Marcus was publishing the first of what he hopes will become four Tech Infantry books, three of them comprising the PBeM seasons. As Chris was bored in Arizona, cut off from his friends, he was excited at the TI stories and thought back to the “Golden Age” of gaming he had participated in. He asked Marcus about starting a new campaign. Marcus said he would be willing to do it, but seriously doubted whether there would be enough player interest. After a little arm twisting Marcus agreed to send out feelers along with Chris to potential players. Eventually five other players decided to join. Interestingly, Season 9 was originally going to be called "Second Soul" after the Charlemagne quote "To have another language is to possess a second soul." Marcus later chose "Born Under a Gray Sky" to be name of the season. The characters of Argus McCall and William Bishop were intentionally created with home planets on heavily-polluted Minos and perpetually-overcast Wilke's Star, repectively, so as to retroactively justify the new title. For this season, This Wiki was created and eventually nicknamed "The TwikI". Apparently the original concept was to chronicle the birth of the Holy Terran Empire as would be seen in the chonologically-later-set seasons Six and Seven, but the players quickly rebelled at this idea and instead decided to gang up on and kill Vin Dane and prevent the entire Y3K timeline from ever happening in the first place. Which didn't quite work out that way, and instead they ended up chronicling the fall of the Federation and the birth of the Empire after all, just not in the way anyone expected.
Tech Infantry 2.0: Miniseries and Season Ten (2012-Present)Edit
"Little Pool Of Light" Miniseries/Season 9.1 (2013): "Lorpius Prime", a player from season 8 and 9, volunteered to moderate a short miniseries game that is planned to run about as long as a typical full-game episode, four acts plus prologue and epilogue. The setting is the early years of the Holy Terran Empire, ten years or so after Season Nine and the end of the Ascension War. The Emperor is firmly on his throne, but the new feudal socio-economic and political structure of the Empire is not fully settled in. Systems are isolated by the end of the Jumpgate Network, pirates and smugglers roam the outer systems, the Bugs are invading again, and the K'Nes and Jurvain are both feeling frisky. The goal of the game is to act as a prequel for the forthcoming tenth season, test a modified character-generation rules system, and introduce a bunch of new and powerful NPCs to populate the galaxy. Begun in late August of 2013, the game is still ongoing. You can read the continuing story here at the TI Archive site.
No Fate But What We Make: Season Ten (2014?): Planning is currently underway for a tenth season, with a newly-revamped set of character-generation rules and a new Storyteller/Editor. Marcus is busy with job and family, Lorpy doesn't want to commit to moderating a full season, and so Chris has volunteered to take over the reins of the game. No firm start date is set yet, partly because Chris wants to delay until he completes a planned move to a new city and gets settled into a new job, lest they cause a mid-game hiatus. The timeframe is expected to be twenty years after the last season, approximately 2285, with the Holy Terran Empire getting settled in now that the Ascension War is finally truly over. But new conspiracies are afoot to seize power, and the public revelations about the Emperor's true identity are about to throw the Empire back into chaos. Several short stories and vignettes have been published on the other TI site which set the stage for Season Ten or cover the decade between seasons, but their canonicity is not yet clear.