Mekton

Tagged: Game

Role Playing Game (1984). R Talsorian Games (RTG). Designed by Michael Pondsmith.

Mekton is a game designed to simulate a very specific form of fiction, that of Anime series focusing on giant Robots, or Mecha. Prominent examples of the genre include {BUBBLEGUM CRISIS} (1987-1991), {MACROSS} (1982-1983), {GUNDAM WING} (1995-1996) and {MOBILE POLICE PATLABOR} (1989-1990). Mecha and their pilots share much with the Superheroes of Western Comics; everyday individuals are raised to near-superhuman status by their possession of a special robot, or by their exceptional skill in the cockpit. Mekton's tone is that of a loving homage to its source material; players are encouraged to adopt the dramatic conventions of Anime as well as its hardware, creating epic stories suffused with intense emotion. In this, Mekton differs significantly from its contemporary Battletech (1984), which places mecha-inspired fighting Robots within a Military SF milieu.

The original version of Mekton was perhaps more of a Wargame than an RPG. From the second edition, Mekton (1985 RTG) designed by Michael Pondsmith, a much greater emphasis was placed on narrative, though giant Mecha combat remains an important part of the game. There have been two further revisions: Mekton II (1987 RTG) designed by Michael Pondsmith and the much expanded Mekton Zeta (1995 RTG) designed by Mike MacDonald, Michael Pondsmith, Mark Schumann, Benjamin Wright. The rules contained in Mekton Zeta and its supplement Mekton Zeta Plus (1995 RTG) designed by Adrian Kaehler, Michael MacDonald, Benjamin Wright make up a remarkably complete and flexible system for constructing the player's choice of mecha, almost fetishistic in its level of detail, though perhaps somewhat complex to use. A wide variety of different types of mecha are available, including the eponymous humanoid forms, mechatanks, mechafighters (typically resembling small spacecraft) and mechabeasts.

A considerable variety of settings have been created for Mekton. Among the most significant are Starblade Battalion (1996) (see Cyberpunk) and Jovian Chronicles (1993 Ianus Productions) designed by Marc-Alexandre Vézina, a realistic Hard SF background focusing on a conflict between Earth and the inhabitants of space colonies orbiting Jupiter, much influenced by {GUNDAM WING} (1995-1996). A revised version of the latter sourcebook was released as a complete RPG using a different set of mechanics: Jovian Chronicles (1997 Dream Pod 9; rev 2003) designed by Philippe Boulle, Jean Carrières, Wunji Lau, Marc-Alexandre Vézina. Other milieux detailed for the game include Algol, a far future interstellar colony recovering from a dark age and isolated by hostile Aliens, and Imperial Star, which combines mecha with Space Opera in a romantically feudal Galactic Empire. [NT]

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