Mekton Zero Dev Notes Volume 2: On Story
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.