Mekton Zero Dev Notes Volume 1: On Characters
Mike Pondsmith recently sat down and began to write a series of articles about the development process of Mekton Zero. Thank you for joining us for this first Dev Note.
Creating Two Characters
In Mekton Zero, you don’t just create one character; you actually create two. One is your “Pilot” character—the person who drives around in a giant robot. But the other Character is the MEKTON your Pilot drives. Drives is actually a poor way of describing the relationship between your Pilot and their MEKTON. A better way to describe this relationship would be interacts with. On Algol, mecha are considered to be somewhat dimly sentient—about as bright as a really stupid horse—and your relationship with a given mecha is somewhat similar to that of a rider and their mount rather than a driver and an automobile.
The Profession you choose will usually shape the Mekton you end up with. All of these designs have been built in the original MEKTON ZETA construction rules, and then converted into the simpler MEKTON ZERO format. As a rule, we encourage GMs to set the basic parameters (All Military, All Civilian, Mixed Used Suits, all Experimental) for all the players in a single game group. But within those parameters, there’s a lot of possibilities.
One thing that makes Mekton Zero different than other mecha games/shows is that every mecha is unique. If two players both end up with Maulers, it doesn’t mean that those two Maulers are identical, because just like Pilot Characters, MEKTON Characters also have stats, skills and personality quirks. Having Stats means that there can be a pretty wide variation even between the same make and model of MEKTON.
The idea behind it:
I really wanted to make MEKTONS more than disposable vehicles. This meant giving them some reason to be memorable. The breakthrough came when I realized that in almost every mecha show, the hero mecha is treated like an individual, even if it really is just a hunk of steel. Some shows (like Zoids) take this even further, giving the mecha a definite awareness. I didn’t want to take the player’s agency away from them, but I wanted their MEKTONs to be more of a personal vehicle. The compromise is a vehicle that has enough awareness to be interesting, but never enough to act independently of its “master.”