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MEKTON ZERO: The Designer’s Notes #2

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I keep getting people asking me if Mekton Zero means I’m throwing out Mekton Zeta and Zeta Plus. Which, to my mind is like saying, “Since you’re planning to add dessert to the menu, does this mean you’re going to give up eating anything else?”

So let’s get things clear from the start—Mekton Zero isn’t going to replace Mekton Zeta and Zeta Plus. It’s actually meant to enhance them. See, M-Zeta and Zeta+ are great construction systems. You can build freaking anything with them—I have seen hardcore gearheads make toasters with the system just to prove it’s possible. If the parts aren’t there in Zeta, you can even use Zeta+ to MAKE the parts you’ll need in Zeta. So it’s incredibly cool and flexible.

What it isn’t is roleplaying friendly.

I like to compare Zeta and Zeta+ to having to BUILD your car each morning before you go to work. Maybe you can do it; maybe you even LIKE doing it (my college roomie Phil was one of those kinds). But you’re going to be hard pressed to convince your significant other that this is a good idea (even Phil couldn’t convince his wife on this one, even though they met when he was teaching her auto shop class).

To really enjoy roleplaying with Mekton, you need the equivalent of cars that run reliably and are fun to drive. You also need a wide variety of cars just in case you need to do different things with them (my convertible sucks when I need to haul my kayaks, but my van sucks as a touring car). So one of the big points of M-Zero is that we make a LOT of “cars” for you to choose from; each designed using the same principles as Mekton Zeta (in fact, we include the M-Zeta stats right in the back of Mekton Zero).

You also need a car that is easy to drive. There’s a reason why manual transmissions are now the province of only hardcore autophiles– manual transmissions are a pain to master when you really don’t need that level of control. Likewise, tracking every system in a Mekton can get in the way of getting into that really intense combat where Lord Darkstar has just pinned your boyfriend’s mecha to the side of the volcano and you have only one shot left and you have to summon all your skill to blow the Shavian Delta’s beam saber out of its taloned manipulators… you get the idea. So Mekton Zero uses several tricks to simplify this process; a unified hit system derived in part from the Mekton SI system in the Mekton Referee’s Screen; several multi-layered damage systems that can be resolved by rolling dice instead of ticking off numbers, and an attack system that modularizes combat into “katas” that accurately reflect a series of actions in a single technique rather than a series of discrete moves. All of these changes are designed to speed combat and better simulate the action you would actually see in a real mecha anime show.

Mekton was, after all, designed to be a roleplaying game, not a tabletop wargame. So by adding a filter level to the original rules; the gaming equivalent of a simple programming language translating underlying binary code, roleplayers can now concentrate on the activities of roleplaying, not mecha building, mecha book keeping and tabletop wargame mechanics. Sure, you can still do all of that using Zeta’s original mechanics and just use all the nifty background stuff in Mekton Zero to put your wargaming in context, but if you’re trying to get players who aren’t serious gearheads to join your Mekton game, you’ll probably find that Mekton Zero is just what you’ve been looking for. You’re certainly going to have better luck than Phil did trying to convince his wife that he really needed to rebuild the engine in the family car everytime she needed to get to work.

Next: Pimp Your Mek; how Mekton Zero makes your Suit suit YOU.

4 thoughts on “MEKTON ZERO: The Designer’s Notes #2 Leave a comment

  1. If manual transmission is for the hardcore. Europeans must all be pretty damn hardcore. At least in Sweden where I can vouch for that automatic transmission is a rare sight indeed 😉

  2. Do you think you will revise either the ‘oid and/or the regeneration rules ? the Guyver regenerated after it was destroyed…regeneration prefererence like the female titan from Shingeki no Kyojin?Somethin about Aptom/boomer-like assimilating ability? bgc-like Electronic warfare?

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