Machinists are the keystone on which The Third Law stands. Unlike many other tabletop miniature games, you 'the player' are not represented on the tabletop. The Machinist is your General, your Commander, but there is no minature on the battlefield. Instead you drive your Wreckers remotely, riding The Grid from a control pit established at opposite ends of the battleground.
Machinists are the celebrities of the World After. They are few in number and their remarkable mental gifts mean that they enjoy a lifestyle far beyond the imaginations of the downtrodden remnants of humanity. The ability to drive multiple Wreckers simultaneously is extremely rare, perhaps one in one hundred thousand individuals has the capacity to achieve this. To then drive those Wreckers in combat, absorbing and overcoming violent control feedback, viral strikes and Node damage is a precious talent. The large majority of factions now have rigorous processes in place for identifying and recruiting potential Machinist talent and in the ghettos and shantytowns children dream of an escape to a life of untold luxury.
The 'Drive' technology that allows Machinists to control Wreckers was central to the Robot Revolution of the World Before; across the globe, technology companies competed for our business with more efficient interfaces, elegant designs and cheaper robots. Humanity wandered willingly into a sedentary existence where robotic surrogates cleaned our houses, made our food and even went to work for us. The discreet devices that hung from every temple became commonplace and it was not surprising to see children playing with robotic companions. Willingly we sacrificed our autonomy and independence on an altar of consumerism and apathy.
Now the robots lie dormant. Dust gathers on the shoulders of our machined servants and as time passes they slip into rusted memory. It is only through the imposed Peace that the factions have been forced to find ways to power these avatars of metal and oil. The Machinists are the key. The Empyrean's edict is absolute; no human will die by human hand, enforced with the iron authority of technology no faction can hope to emulate. Through secretive, ritualised combat the factions now determine control of priceless fossil fuels, establish status and influence and seek to rule. From their city in the sky, the Empyrean look on; amused and entertained in equal measure by the machinations of a species they have stranded in a fallen world.
The Role of a Machinist
The first step in building a Wrecker Array in The Third Law is Machinist selection. Every faction has a number of these talented individuals to choose from and each one provides a range of different options and abilities that can influence the outcome of a battle.
Victory in The Third Law goes to the Machinist left conscious at the end of a battle. To this end, every Machinist has a damage threshold, a level of feedback that they can endure before they are incapacitated. Feedback is suffered from the temporary loss of Wreckers, via Nodes under the control of their opponent and by direct Machinist attacks launched through The Grid. Minimising the feedback you endure whilst inflicting it upon your opponent is the key to winning.
The choice of Machinist can also impact Array selection, available upgrades, the Subroutine pool and the performance of Wreckers in battle. Some Machinists will specialize in using certain Wrecker types or makes and may bring bonuses or penalties depending on your choices. Machinists themselves have specialisms; the upgrades available to an Engineer are very different to those of a Programmer and will influence the game in many different ways. Custom code, critical damage effects, initiative; all of these are determined by the Machinist.
As we begin to reveal the mechanics of Subroutine management, movement, combat and Node control the primacy of the Machinist will become more and more apparent. For now we encourage you to go and read about Arthur, Kovak and Major Orlena, much can be gleaned about their talents and abilites from the background stories already previewed.