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,
Cody here! I’ve managed to un-glue my face from my layout monitor for a little bit to write another dev note! I don’t have a lot to talk about as far as system at the moment but I can say that we are so deep in layout that I think I see glimpses of light at the other end. Months of changing border colors and retyping introductions and we’re almost there! In the mean time we’ve been hard at work in the last stages of layout and writing the last lore bits. We’ve sent out play test pamphlets to a lot of wonderful people around the globe to get their input and have them try their best to break and exploit the system. So far, feedback has been very positive and our brave play testers are generally having a great time. Like I said, past that I don’t really have a ton to say at the moment. Layout tends to be a long and boring process. We did get to go to Pyrkon in Poznan, Poland where we met up with a bunch of great people and got to do a Q&A with the fans over in Poland. The convention was amazing and I’d go back in a heart beat. Anyhow, it’s time for me to go back to the dark pits of the Talsorian Layout Dungeon. If everything goes smoothly, I’d like to get on some time late next week and do another dev note about our progress and where we are at the moment. Until then, best wishes to all!
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.
We’re two weeks into 2017 and nothing’s exploded at Talsorian, which is nice. We had a bit of a rough December, with half the staff falling prey to a nasty flu but we’re back on our feet and hating life a little less! Work on Witcher continues and I wanted to get on and talk a bit about Nilfgaard.
In the process of writing the PNP RPG for the Witcher we’ve discovered there are a lot of mysterious places in the Witcher world and not all of them are meant to be that way. Looking through all the material we have to draw from, it became obvious pretty soon that most of the vast expanse that we call Nilfgaard is reasonably uncharted. Very few cities are mentioned, only 8 or 9 people are ever mentioned from each vassal state, their religion and cultures are almost unknown. We’re aware that there have been more in depth explanations, such as the old PNP RPG that was only released in Polish, (to my knowledge), but unfortunately those aren’t included in our list of sources we can draw from. So the vast majority of the land is essentially unknown.
Obviously this isn’t the way it will be in the final product. Not only would it be foolish to leave so much of the known world vague but we want players to be able to play Nilfgaardian/Vassal State characters. There’s a lot to be said for being a Nilfgaardian spy, a Mettinese cavalryman, etc. And considering the reasonably small time line of Nilfgaardian expansion, characters in their 30 or 40s who come from vassal countries like Angren, Nazair and Mag Turga were alive before they were absorbed into Nilfgaard allowing for interesting plot points.
So we’ve been collecting all the information we can find about Nilfgaard, the Great Sun and all of the Nilfgaardian Vassal States. We’ll be working with experts at CDPR to build accurate lore and interesting descriptions for these vast areas. Our goal is to create a fully fledged game where you can set your campaign anywhere from the top of the North to bottom of Nilfgaard and have enough information to run an interesting game.
Hey there everyone! Things are progressing smoothly over here and the book is coming together nicely. I though I’d sit down and write a Dev Note on the thing I’m sure a lot of people have had questions about: Witchers as player characters.
We’ve put a lot of thought into this topic because it comes with a few difficult issues. The greatest of these issues is of course balancing the Witcher class with the others so that it doesn’t overshadow everything else. In the books and the video games Witchers are very much the focus and it shows. Counting up all the things witchers can do gives you a large list of racial abilities, special skills and faction affiliation bonuses. It can be difficult to balance a player who starts in such a, technically powerful position. The second problem is keeping true to the narrative of the Witcher novels and video games. In keeping with the novels, and to a lesser extent the video games, Witchers are an endangered species. In total there are probably only 10 or 12 left in the entire known world and in the books it’s dubious whether there are even that many. Witchers also haven’t been made for many decades meaning that you won’t be playing a young man fresh out of Witcher training. The third problem is that it’s hard to capture the life of a Witcher in standard character creation. Witchers are incredibly long lived and have lived through most of the historical events of the known world. They’ve hunted hundreds of monsters and have hundreds of stories to tell.
In a way, however, one problem sort of solves to the others. With the Witcher PNP RPG set in early 1272 we assume that all of the schools have stopped functioning decades, (if not centuries), ago and that no new Witchers have been made in that time. Though we have little information on schools like the Bear and Viper we assume they all went the way of the Wolf. We know that most of the Witchers have either been killed in their keeps or died at the hands of monsters or angry mobs. This means that those Witchers that are left are old Witchers who happened to be in the right place at the right time and managed to avoid enough trouble to still be alive.
When you set out to play a Witcher you are playing a character who not only exists, primarily, in a different world than the rest of the party, but is an old grizzled warrior who has been alive for decades upon decades, (perhaps even a century or two), and has lived the hardest life imaginable. To get this across players who make Witcher characters use a separate life path that clocks their life from when they were first taken into a school to the current day. It begins with your early training, (including your school affiliation and early training events), which is designed to give you a feel for how your characters life went before they took the trials to become a fully fledged Witcher. The rolls focus around how you were trained and how well your body took to initial mutation and eventually the Trial of the Grasses. Much like the rest of a Witchers life this section of the Witcher’s Life Path is high risk and high reward with one bonus based on your school and then a split between achievements and mishaps. The life path then jumps into your life as a Witcher, where you roll for each decade after you finished training. In this section your decisions to play it safe or take a risk effect your chance of positive and negative effects. The more risky your hunts and the more involved you got in current events the higher your chance of making powerful allies, gaining bonus knowledge on monsters and getting cool rewards is. However the risk of danger also goes up and the chances that you’ll make equally powerful enemies, suffer hindering wounds or loose the few people in your life you care about.
Over all the life path is designed to give you the feeling of being a Witcher and help you create the most authentic Witcher that you can.
Hello everyone! We’re back in the states and I wanted to share a bit of what we got out of our meeting with the Experts at CDPR! Lisa and I got to sit down with two of CDPR’s best sources on The Witcher and talk over some of our lore questions and some concepts on how we could make the PNP RPG as true to the heart of Witcher as we could.
In the end after a long meeting we decided on a few things that will definitely make the game feel just right. The primary concept we decided was to split the focus of the PNP RPG much more between CDPR’s video games and Sapkowski’s original books. From the beginning we had been taking information from all facets of the Witcher franchise, (except the movie, TV show and prior PNP RPG), but the focus had understandably been CDPR’s video games, especially The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. In our meeting we worked out that this could be not only limiting to the PNP RPG but also might make for a less unique RPG. It’s true that in trying to simulate the video games there was not only more of a “video game” feeling to the game but also an overwhelming sea of items, some with little variation other than statistics. It’s also true that, while absolutely mind blowing, the Witcher video games had to change some things in the world of The Witcher to make it play well as a video game. Things like the prevalence of monsters and the easy accessibility of items that were rare in the books, such as bombs, magical traps and silver weapons. In a video game the dark and unrelenting world of The Witcher novels is hard to transfer across verbatim but in a table top RPG it is much easier. Monsters can be rarer but much more dangerous and unique to the situation, certain gear can be harder to find but much more useful in a pinch and the world can be a bit more relentless, giving you more of the dark fantasy aesthetic that we all love from The Witcher.
But don’t worry fans of the video games, we are opting to take both the video games and the books in equal parts! The time line will remain the same and you’ll still have access to cool gear from the games. In the end it’s all a matter of balance. Trying to simulate the games we all love while also trying to stay true to the books that made those games possible.
Hey everyone! It’s been a while since the last update. We’ve been hard at work here at Talsorian working on Witcher. We recently finished a trip to Poland where we got to meet with experts at CD Projekt Red about the RPG! We sat down with them and talked over what fit well and what things we could change to make the PNP RPG feel just like the Witcher novels and games. It was a really productive talk and next week we’ll be putting up a Dev Note on a concept we’ve been working on.