Getting technical with the mechanical
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
At one point or another in a RPGer’s life, they start to delve into the dark abyss that is science-fiction fantasy. It’s actually pretty difficult not to. In a world where magic can make literally anything possible, the lines between fantasy and science-fiction are a bit of a blur. One of the most common blurred lines is machination or mechination.
Ever since the idea of automatons, humanity has played with the idea of creating idle-minded labourers capable of completing assigned tasks. Introduce the concept of magic and suddenly the idea evolves to a whole new level. Plenty of popular games have dabbled in, and even centered, their stories on this concept. From Final Fantasy’s “Machina,” to the Elder Scrolls’ “Dwemer”—there are plenty of mainstream examples that you can borrow inspiration from to help improve your design.
Having an origin for your machines is a key. Who created them? How? Why? Was it the Dwarves who smithed the first set? Were they created by an ancient race that no longer inhabits the world?
Another important factor is the level of sentience that they automatons have. Are they simple creations made for tasks such as cleaning? Or are they a fully sentient race made from a magical metal that was imbued with life somehow? Maybe a middle ground where the machines are intelligent enough to complete complicated tasks, but can only follow orders?
Two of the more relevant questions to your world are how common are the automatons and how likely is your roaming band of troublemakers going to run into these creations?
Something beautiful about small things such as machinations is that they don’t have to have too deep of a backstory—unless your adventure is based off them, then it might be a good idea to figure out the essentials. If they simply exist, it could just be that they are the creations of an ancient race, and all they do is maintain cities. Only if your adventurers decide to really dig into them do you have to figure things out. But any decent Game Master should be able to keep their party off the beaten path if there’s a different story at play.
Whatever you choose, remember that you have creative freedom here. They could be whatever you want. While there are examples of mechinations, you have the final creative say. If you do choose to incorporate machinations, just remember, if it can be created, it can always be recreated…