Giant robot anime fans, just wanted you to know that Mekton Zeta is once again available in dead tree form. You can POD through Drivethru or order through the Talsorian Store
The Witcher RPG is getting closer and closer, but while you’re waiting, many of you might want to know that the Witcher RPG will be printed in languages other than English. Here are just a few of the publishers who will be bringing out Witcher RPG translations.
Chinese – Beijing Labyrinth Culture
French – Arkhane Asylum
German – Truant Verlag
Italian – Need Games
Polish – Copernicus Corporation
Spanish – Holocubierta Ediciones
Editing the book: many people think it’s all done in an instant. But editing is one of those games that takes a lot of time.
A Pass, A Pass, And Another Pass…
You start by printing out the entire book, because editing in layout just doesn’t work. You miss too much. You also miss physical layout issues like widows, orphans, and strange artifacts of the text. Things can try to sneak by for layout like missing page elements, changes in typefaces, strange rendering elements… And you must print the ENTIRE book, not sections, because things that go wrong in one section often affect another section. That’s how we ended up with two different ways of spelling a Cyberpunk character, for example. Being throrough; it’s how you catch the infamous “page XX” placeholder error that has shown up in so many books (ask White Wolf about this one sometime).
And you can’t rely on automatic spellcheckers either. For example, the spellcheckers missed the difference between widows and windows, which is what I originally wrote in the paragraph above. That kind of spell-checking requires a human—in this case, Cody, who read the line and said, “Windows and orphans? Is that a new typographic error I missed somehow?”
The Eyes Have It…
Now it’s ready to go to Fran The Editor. But actually, you don’t just send it to Fran The Editor. You get several other people to read it first. Some of them are reading for comprehension. Others read it for rules issues. Some are just plain novices who you want to read the book so you know if it makes sense to someone who hasn’t been looking at the thing for months. So, the final set of corrections involve actually 2 to 5 readers before it even gets to Fran who then reads all the corrections and suggestions before drafting her final decision on edits.
Finally, The Big Guns…
Fran The Editor starts to edit. This can take a long time, as she must be exacting. One reason Fran is The Editor is that years ago, she emailed me with a huge list of errors in a published book that the original editor had missed. That got her the job. But she spotted all those errors because Fran is careful. And takes her time. As much as it takes to get it right. Only when she goes through it a dozen times does she mark it as done.
Then the manuscript goes back to the layout crew for correcting. Which is also harder than it sounds. Since editing usually includes bad grammar, strange sentences, etc., you have to rewrite entire passages sometimes. Which need to be checked for correcting too. These changes also alter the layout. I’ve had books that added entire pages thanks to editing rewrites. And extra pages need to be rearranged so that the book ends up with a proper page count or it will cost an arm and a leg to finally print.
Yep, Still Editing…
Once you make the corrections from Fran, you submit the book for a second pass. We rerun the book. Now Fran looks for everything we missed the last time. She marks up the second draft. We make the changes. Then, if it’s a licensed product like Witcher, we send the final edit to CDPR. Who makes their own notes. Then back to Fran for a final, final pass.
When we say, “It’s in editing.”, there are a ton of steps we just don’t bother to tell you. Because they’re boring. But believe me, you’ll be glad we took the time to do them all.
Correction: This article was written by Lisa Pondsmith.
Lisa Pondsmith, contributing author to The Witcher TRPG, discusses the decision to create a genuine world experience for those both old and new to The Witcher.
We are working diligently on The Witcher Table-Top RPG. Right now we are putting in side bars, many of them quotes from my character, Brandon of Oxenfurt. He’s a crusty old historian at the University, but he knows a lot about a lot of things. His sidebars and the sidebars of Cody’s dwarf merchant character are there to put context around what could be long boring game passages. This is how someone inside the world relates to this topic. One of our primary challenges is to make the setting feel like Witcher, even for people who don’t already know what that world is like. The rules can’t always do that, so the side bars tell you what people sound like in the world and what they do. The reaction of Witcher fans during our demos at GENCON was very positive, but we try hard to write the game for the uberfan who’s finished every game and DLC, read the novels and short stories, got the T-shirt… and also the person who just picks the game up with no previous knowledge thinking “Well, this looks like fantasy.” Keep that in mind if we seem to be explaining too much.
By Lisa Pondsmith
How has the story developed in Mekton to become what it is today? Mike Pondsmith talks about voice, characterization, and history.
From the Thesis of Piers the Historian
Every year, a candidate who wishes to enter one of the Crafting Guilds must submit a final Thesis in his or her area of study. My craft being History, I was given the typical rote assignment; write a Thesis on the history of Algol and its relationship to the now long dead (we think) Bendari Spiral Empire.
We don’t get a lot of History candidates each year (in fact, it often takes a decade or more before the Guild Hall gets a new candidate tottering through its huge bronze and iridium doors looking for his or her Journeymanship), so over the decades, the History Thesis has become a series of rote exercises, with each candidate taking the safe path of regurgitating the musings of previous applicants.
For two hundred years.
In my case, it’s been twenty years since the last Candidate applied to the History Crafting Guild. So when it came time to write my Thesis; (which you are now reading), I decided that the Guild would probably be so delighted to have anyone applying that I could throw off the chains of the past like a wild eos and get down to writing something meaningful for a change. So instead of just spitting back the dry facts as everyone else has done for the past two centuries, I’m going to step off the proverbial cliff and write a serious and insightful analysis of Algol’s history and what it implies to the future of this mud ball we call home. In short, I’m going to ignore all the ponderous and stultified ruminations on the great heroes of our world and get down to what really happened and (especially) how the past 15 years have irrevocably changed things. Hopefully for the better.
Okay then, I’ll start by getting get this out of the way right now.
We have no business being here.
With this statement, I set out to turn the entire world of Mekton upside down.
See, the basic premise of Mekton has always been that the brave heroes of the Algol world were daring mecha fighters who landed on a distant world, colonized it successfully, and went on to spoil the whole thing by engaging in a senseless, useless war with big robots. But in Mekton Zero, the colonists of Algol are actually a ragtag bunch of unprepared, pampered nobles, rescued by a group of mercenaries on the losing side of an intergalactic war, who crash land in the most badly organized attempt to set up a colony ever. In fact, they don’t even set out to colonize Algol, a huge water world teeming with gigantic, immiscible life forms– no, they only end up stuck there because their Captain, in a desperate attempt to avoid utter annihilation, stops the oncoming Aggendi horde at the cost of their ride home. From then on, the epic tale of Algol is about a ragged group of survivors who have to huddle in heavily fortified stone cities just to keep the monsters at bay, until the rediscovery of a lost technology frees them to finally conquer their adopted home-world.
I picked the irreverent POV of the historian Piers—a character that goes all the way back to the original (and infamous) White Box Mekton that started the whole thing off—to tell this new story. But THIS Piers isn’t the noble, all seeing narrator of White Box. No, he’s an irritated, somewhat cynical graduate student trying to come up with a good thesis topic to pass his Boards. His not-impressed take on all the legends of Algol is perfect because it shows the other side of the story—the side that exposes that humans on Algol are a mistake to begin with, and that in order to finally flourish, they’re going to have to team up with an unexpected set of allies—the mechanical giants that will be forever after known as MEKTONS. It’s there to really show off the idea that this fusion of Man and Machine is the necessary component that allows Homo Algolensis to finally fit into a world where they weren’t meant to have a place.
It just took finding a way to be big enough to matter. And that’s the story we’re telling in Mekton Zero.
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.”
Hey there everyone!
We’ve been head down here at Talsorian for quite some time but I wanted to drop in and talk a bit about the project. I know people have been asking about a release date but I can’t clarify a release date for the book yet. We’re working with CDPR to make the best game we can and as they say “it’ll be ready when it’s ready”. I can say that we are deep in layout and have been working with CDPR to finish the Lore section of the book. It’s taken some time, to compile information from all around the franchise and clarify certain confusing contradictions but it’s all coming together nicely. In the next week I hope to get some free time to post a Dev Note about the Game Master’s Section, specifically the world states and how to integrate parts of the video games into your table top campaign.