The primary function of the medium access control (MAC) protocol is managing access to a shared communication channel. From the viewpoint of transmitters, the MAC protocol determines each transmitter's persistence, the fraction of time it is permitted to spend transmitting. Schedule-based schemes implement stable persistences, achieving low variation in delay and throughput, and sometimes bounding maximum delay. However, they adapt slowly, if at all, to changes in the network. Contention-based schemes are agile, adapting quickly to changes in perceived contention, but suffer from short-term unfairness, large variations in packet delay, and poor performance at high load. The perfect MAC protocol, it seems, embodies the strengths of both contention- and schedule-based approaches while avoiding their weaknesses. This thesis culminates in the design of a Variable-Weight and Adaptive Topology Transparent (VWATT) MAC protocol. The design of VWATT first required answers for two questions: (1) If a node is equipped with schedules of different weights, which weight should it employ? (2) How is the node to compute the desired weight in a network lacking centralized control? The first question is answered by the Topology- and Load-Aware (TLA) allocation which defines target persistences that conform to both network topology and traffic load. Simulations show the TLA allocation to outperform IEEE 802.11, improving on the expectation and variation of delay, throughput, and drop rate. The second question is answered in the design of an Adaptive Topology- and Load-Aware Scheduled (ATLAS) MAC that computes the TLA allocation in a decentralized and adaptive manner. Simulation results show that ATLAS converges quickly on the TLA allocation, supporting highly dynamic networks. With these questions answered, a construction based on transversal designs is given for a variable-weight topology transparent schedule that allows nodes to dynamically and independently select weights to accommodate local topology and traffic load. The schedule maintains a guarantee on maximum delay when the maximum neighbourhood size is not too large. The schedule is integrated with the distributed computation of ATLAS to create VWATT. Simulations indicate that VWATT offers the stable performance characteristics of a scheduled MAC while adapting quickly to changes in topology and traffic load.