So I had a few people (both online and even strangely offline) ask me to do more lore threads, so hell may as well do another one. This was a specific topic requested by u/Icewind, and it's a good topic that I know is a still sore spot for a lot of people: the canceled third person stealth game StarCraft: Ghost.
For those that didn't follow it, StarCraft: Ghost was a shooter/stealth/action game announced in 2006 for Gamecube, PS2 and Xbox. However, years of pushback and radio silence, changing studios and a game that Blizzard said didn't meet their quality standards led to it getting officially canceled in 2014.
They did release an an awesome opening cinematic though, check it out
But we aren't here to get into the history of the game's development, there's a billion articles and videos on that, rather I'm going to do an exploration of the lore of the game, and what aspects of Ghost did get brought into the greater StarCraft canon and had some impact.
Ghost: The Story We Got
This is going to briefly go over the released plot of StarCraft: Ghost from the book StarCraft: Ghost: Spectres. A ton has been modified, for instance Tosh wasn't in the original game as wasn't a ton of Nova's ghost trainees from the manga Ghost Academy. It pulled a lot from the book StarCraft: Ghost: Nova, which was to serve as a prequel book to Ghost, and from the “Ghost Academy” manga that told Nova's story training as a Ghost. But as far as the story of the games go this is what we got.
Nova was a daughter of the Terra Family of the Terran Confederacy, one of the Old Families that ran the government. When a terrorist attack killed her family, her psionic powers awakened, killing the terrorists and forcing her to flee to Tarsonis's slums where she was captured by a crime lord named Fagin. However, shortly before the planet fell to the zerg, a wrangler (ghost hunter) named Malcolm Kelerchian rescued her, and brought her to the Ghost Academy of the new Terran Dominion, where she graduated quickly and gained the personal eye of Dominion Emperor Arcturus Mengsk.
Meanwhile however, Mengsk was looking for ways to improve his Ghost Program to counter Kerrigan. His agents discovered a gas named terrazine on an abandoned Tal'darim shrine world that could enhance psionic powers. Mengsk created a secret program of next-generation ghosts named “spectres” to test the gas, and named it Project Shadowblade, and put General Horace Warfield in charge of it. Unbeknownst to them however, a renegade psionic bent on destroying the Dominion, who held the identities “Cole Bennett” and Colonel “Jackson Hauler,” commander of Nova Squadron, infiltrated the project to find its use in his own schemes of dominating terran space. However, it was soon discovered that terrazine gas not only drove subjects insane with hallucinations and bouts of madness, but it undid the memory wipes that ensured ghosts never remembered the atrocities Mengsk ordered them to commit. Mengsk shut down the project, and either killed or imprisoned what spectres were made. Hauler fled the project, hoping to restart his own Project: Shadowblade to take down the Dominion.
Hauler first recruited Gabriel Tosh, a renegade ghost who had faked his death to escape the Ghost Program, and together the two gained funding from the Umojan Protectorate, a terran government opposed to the Dominion, as well as technologies from a classified Dominion program named Sector 9. They took control of a powerful battle station named Gehenna Station, and using Hauler's contacts in Nova Squadron (the spec ops force of the Confederacy/Dominion) recruited ghosts for their cause. With their memories restored by terrazine, many went willingly to this new revolution to take down Mengsk. Using terrazine and a stabilizing enhancement mineral named jorium, Hauler hoped to make a new, more stable version of spectres. Hauler claimed to want to install a democracy in the sector and avenge Mengsk's atrocities, but secretly wished to seize power of the terran nations of himself.
Their activities in recruiting ghosts caught the attention of the Dominion however. After a terrazine refinery exploded on the planet Altara, Nova was sent to investigate, initially being told it was the work of United Earth Directorate holdouts. However, she discovered that the zerg had been lured there by the explosion, and that the strange gas leaking from the refinery was beginning to undo her memory wipes. She ran into Malcolm Kelerchian, the wrangler who saved her on Tarsonis, who was there to investigate a number of ghosts who had vanished investigating the planet. The two eventually found some hints to a “Shadowblade,” but not too much else as to what had occurred on the planet.
Soon after, the group got a transmission from Korhal: Mengsk's Palace was under attack by shadowy assailants. Hauler, who had been working alongside Nova, sent in Tosh and a number of spectres to capture Mengsk, intending to force him to reveal his crimes before the universe in a pirate broadcast by famed renegade reporter Michael Liberty. Nova intervened, but found several ghosts on her team were secretly working for the insurgents. She got into the palace, and confronted Tosh, who used to be her close comrade when they were training to be ghosts, and Tosh, having the onset of terrazine insanity, became obsessed with bringing the group he trained with in Ghost Academy back together. Forsaking the operation, Tosh exposed Nova to terrazine, but even with her memories back of the horrible acts Mengsk ordered her to do she refused to betray Mengsk. Eventually, though they killed and captured a number of ghosts, the spectres were forced to retreat without Mengsk. Nova and Kelerchian confronted the Emperor, who begrudgingly revealed the truth about the spectres, and ordered Nova to find and kill everyone involved with the attack.
Nova and Kelerchian investigated Shadowblade, and uncovered their connection to Umoja, when Hauler used a gas to knock them out. Nova awoke on Gehenna Station, with Hauler trying to convince her to join Shadowblade against Mengsk, but she refused. Eventually, she broke out, and rescued Kelerchian with the help of the station's renegade AI made from the consciousness of her old ghost friend Lio Travski (long story). Enraged at letting Nova escape, Hauler killed Tosh's close friend and lover, Kath Toom, an act with Tosh first blamed on Nova but soon realized was his commander's doing. Nova reached the center of his operations, and found Hauler was preparing a device named the psi-indoctrinator to brainwash spectres into service. He demanded that if she not step into the indoctrinator he would kill Kelerchian. Before she could agree, Tosh attacked Hauler, buying Nova enough time to psionically ram a stalactite into him, killing the spectre general.
Nova and Kelerchian escaped in time for Dominion forces to nuke Gehenna Station. Tosh escaped as well, with a number of spectres in stasis and Toom's corpse, promising that he would start the spectre program again.
If it gets a bit confusing I tried to condense a very convoluted story into readable form. The wiki has a more longform summary, there's a ton of characters and motivations to it. But if there's any point of confusion let me know.
Trivia: What Made the Jump to StarCraft?
So from this point on I'm going to go into things that were to be introduced in Ghost that made the jump into real StarCraft games or just general cool trivia of what was taken from the games:
General Horace Warfield was originally intended to be introduced as the antagonist of StarCraft: Ghost, but the character design was later changed to Jackson Hauler, a character who was introduced in the StarCraft 1 manual as Nova Squadron's commander. Warfield would of course show up in StarCraft II as the head of the Dominion Armed Forces, though with a very different character design.
Ghost's story would be continued with Tosh's arc in StarCraft II, where he hires Raynor to help reactivate the spectre program, break the captured spectres out of New Folsom Prison, and take down Mengsk. Tosh's ending is the canon one, though Heart of the Swarm changes its dialogue depending on which choice you made, both when encountering Noca and before rescuing Raynor in “Conviction.” However, no matter the choice Raynor can use spectres in the epilogue missions, a nod to spectres still being around.
- If you side with Nova, the three targets you destroy, jorium processing facilities, terrazine tanks and the psi-indoctrinator are all the elements that Jackson Hauler used to create spectres (though the indoctrinator appeared to not have been used on his initial recruits). However, it's unclear whether this was intended to appear in Ghosts or not, or were added to the novelizations after their appearance in SCII.
Ghost would have featured Nova going up against remnants of the United Earth Directorate on the world of Abaddon The novelization references this somewhat in her assassinating remaining key UED leaders. But for those UED fans out there this also confirmed pockets of the old fleet are out there, alive and well.
The Koprulu Liberation Front, a rebel movement against Arcturus Mengsk, was going to be a major faction in StarCraft: Ghost and a recurring antagonist for Nova. Nova assassinates some of their leadership in the prequel book to the game StarCraft: Ghost: Nova, and Umojan agents blamed some of their secret Dominion attacks between SC1 and SC2 on the KLF, but they are never directly seen after that.
Terrazine was going to be central to Ghost, a gas that enhanced psionic powers while driving those that used it insane with hallucination. This became major in StarCraft II, and it was revealed terrazine was a gas from the dimension of the Void used by the xel'naga Amon to empower his followers.
- On that note, Legacy of the Void shows a number of spectres falling under the control of Amon in his Moebius Corps. This may have also been referenced in Ghost, as one of the website blurbs talks about the spectres having a “true master.” Between this and the revelation that terrazine is connected to the Void, this may mean Ghost would have included elements of Amon's story.
- Nova Covert Ops makes passing mention to Nova knowing the risks of terrazine, likely a reference to her being exposed during the story events of Ghost (or at least the novelization, unclear whether it would be a plot point in the main game).
Some units from Ghost's multiplayer “Invasion” and “Mobile Conflict” modes (which would have players control units of different races against one another) were all new, but some made the jump to canon or at least were considered for development:
- The Grizzly Fighter-Bomber was going to be a heavy transport craft that terran players could deploy. It showed up in the book StarCraft: Ghost: Spectres as a craft deployed by the Dominion.
- Terrans could play as Light Infantry, which had very light armor and an exposed face area. This may have been the inspiration for the unarmored Troopers in Nova Covert Ops.
- The game featured the first infested SCVs as a playable option for zerg, which would later show up as the worker units for Alexei Stukov in Co-op Missions.
- A deployable terran buggy unit with a 35mm HE Cannon was named the Stinger. Its design may have been the precursor to the Hellion, which initially has a similar look and had a similar anti-infantry gun in its early stages.
- The protoss had a powerful ranged infantry unit named the Vindicator. The Vindicator would show up in the early stages of Wings of Liberty's development on a hovering disk, changing named several times from the “Purifier” to the “Soul Hunter” before finally being cut.
- A number of StarCraft II unit models may have been taken from Ghost. The dragoon for instance draws inspiration from the Ghost design, as does some of the zealot's design. The Lurker and Zergling designs also seems to be a midpoint between SC1 and SCII's design.
Several guns available for use in the campaign and multiplayer would also become staples of the SC universe:
- Nova's weapon through all games, the C-20A canister rifle, was going to be her main weapon in Ghost, and had a variety of different loadouts and modes that could be used, including a semi-automatic fire mode, and a grenade launcher. It's an advanced version of the C-10 most ghosts use.
- The assault mode would feature the AGR-14 8mm gauss rifle, probably the most common assault rifle in the sector, and used by Spectres in StarCraft II. It was however introduced earlier than Ghost's development in the book Speed of Darkness.
- The Torrent SR-8 shotgun first appeared in Ghost as an option to use in multiplayer, but would later show up as a very common shotgun used by the Confederacy/Dominion as far back as the Guild Wars.
- The game would introduce the BOSUN FN92 rifle, a snipe rifle that later would appear in the book Heaven's Devils as the weapon of choice of Raynor's sniper comrade Rydd Kydd during their time in the Guild Wars.
- The E-11 lockdown device was a weapon that could lock down vehicles, similar the the ghost ability in SC1. The device would appear in Ghost's prequel book Ghost: Nova as a weapon Nova trains with.
- The game would feature the ability for ghosts to use protoss psionic blades. This would never show up again in canon, except during experiments with a protoss/human hybrid named Project: Gestalt in the comic Do No Harm. The Monomolecular Blade in Nova Covert Ops, while not a true psionic blade, used the wielder's psionics to hone its edge to a molecular point.
Several planets later used were introduced in Ghost. Helios was later used as planet options in StarCraft: The Board Game and gets briefly mentioned in the news reel of the cutscene “Public Enemy” in Wings of Liberty. Ash'Arak, a protoss colony world would appear in the comic Why We Fight as a center of protoss operations.
- Vyctor V and the Fujita Facility were supposed to appear, which was the Confederate testing facility where they ran experiments on ghosts and the zerg, including those done to Sarah Kerrigan. It was introduced in the enovella Uprising.
For those of you who ask every ten minutes about protoss reproduction, concept art was made for a planet named Lorcadia, which was an aquatic world where protoss would tend to their eggs, kept underwater in massive metal hatcheries. This however was just concept art for a game that already wasn't canon, and there is no other evidence protoss lay eggs, so don't take that as an answer to “how to protoss reproduce.”
The song used in the intro cinematic would later be mixed into the “Echoes of War” orchestrated compilation of Blizzard music with the track “
,” played after a remix of Brood War Aria.
- Two dropships shown in the intro also have the callsigns “Lightbringer” and “Doomhammer,” a reference to Uther the Lightbringer and Ogrim Doomhammer from Warcraft.
Just to clear something up I hear a lot: Nova Covert Ops doesn't actually take all that much from the planned story of Ghost or really many elements at all, though it does take a chunk of lore from the novel Ghost: Nova and lore and characters from the “Ghost Academy” manga, which were under the “StarCraft: Ghost” label, but aside from things listed here not too much from the games themselves.
I think that's a good batch for this time, sorry if this is all over the place. I'll put these out again with a little less frequency, next time going back to Heart of the Swarm where I left off for those following that campaign lore series. But as always I'll be lurking to answer lore questions anyway. See you all next time!
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