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Gadgeteering Rules for Legend

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#1 p_clapham


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Posted 26 June 2014 - 09:42 PM

As part of my pulp project I started putting together some initial rules for gadgeteering. This is what I have so far.

Gadgeteering works mechanically like sorcery. Rather than having a magic point cost, what the character invests instead is time. Each magic point you'd spend under the sorcery rules translates into one week spent working on the device.

In place of the Manipulation skill you instead have the Fringe Science skill. In place of Grimore you have one of the following skills: Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, or Physics. Each skill not only determines the intensity of the Innovations, but what kind of devices your character can build. A scientist with engineering will be hard pressed to create a clone of someone, while a bio-engineer will have a tough time whipping up a death ray.

Innovations are the "Spells" of gadgeteering, the special effects a scientist pours into his device.

For the Manipulation table on page 192, I simply cut out the reference to the POW attribute, and made the modifier 10. So a deathray with no points of "manipulation" in duration will have enough juice to last for ten minutes. For duration I decided to have the clock start ticking once the device is activated.

Here is a example device

A death ray with Damage, Armor Piercing, a range of 50 meters, and a battery life twenty minutes will take six weeks to construct, and require a Fringe Science score of 60% or greater.

It is still a work in progress, I'm tempted to mess around with the manipulation table a bit. I don't really like the idea of a armored shirt having a duration, so I may add a permanent duration at a steep manipulation cost.

#2 soltakss


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Posted 27 June 2014 - 11:30 AM

Sounds interesting.

What about malfunctions? The difference between gadgeteering and manufacturing is that gadgeteering is notoriously unreliable. You need some kind of malfunction table/chance.

You probably need something to show how long something takes to design/make.

Then there is a game balance issue. If a gadgeteer makes a Death Ray, what is stopping him from making 100 Death Rays? Is that a problem or just a natural consequence?
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#3 clarence



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Posted 27 June 2014 - 06:04 PM

Very good concept! Looking forward to seeing more.

#4 seneschal


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Posted 27 June 2014 - 07:33 PM

Re: 100 death rays. It is a pulp convention that the Big Bad (or a hero like Doc Savage) makes only one prototype of his super weapon, usually because it is huge, expensive, complicated to operate, and requires constant tweaking. Don't think the Red Skull's portable Hydra disintegrator rifles from the first recent Captain America movie. Think the massive Death Ray(s) from numerous movie serials of the 1930s and '40s and the 1934 feature film Chandu the Magician. Such a gadget takes months to assemble, is packed with banks of delicate vacuum tubes and bulky manual switches and bus bars, and requires a staff of henchmen engineers to maintain. Sure, Baron Evil can threaten the world, but he can't simply pack up and relocate if the heroes figure out where his secret (or not-so-secret) base is. That's why Superman, the Masked Marvel, or Our Valiant Player-Characters can always find him and smash the works before he vaporizes Cleveland. By the same token, a hero inventor's wonder gizmo is equally easy to find by would-be villains who want to wreck (or steal) it. They'd have to seize the plans or a major component. The entire device would take a squad of semi-trucks to cart off.

#5 Mankcam


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Posted 27 June 2014 - 10:48 PM

I once ran a fantasy game which had a Gadgeteer instead of a Magician, and I just replaced the spell foci with an invention, and the PP cost came from a supply of Power Crystals used to fuel the devices. Instead of a casting skill we just called it Operate, and he had Knowledge: Weird Science as a Knowledge skill. It worked okay, and for fumbles I just rolled the usual Fumble Table and adjusted it on the fly to suit the situation. It worked okay but if I was to do it again I would look at a Mishap table from other games which have Steampunk inventions and adjust it to use with BRP. I like the idea of renaming spells as Innovations, that has a good feel to it.

Not sure how you get around the 'one-off invention' vs 'manufacturing' issue. In my game I just ruled that there wasn't enough technological resources at that stage to move into manufacturing. I will follow your ideas here with interest, as my troupe wants to return to that game one day and I may want to tweak the whole weird science thing a bit better.

It is very likely that Clockwork & Chivalry can be useful here. I have the pdf of it but haven't had time to peruse it to any great length, so that's reminded me to do so. I would like to be more or less consistent with a published set of BRP rules next time I use steampunk inventions, but I need to see if C&C clockwork inventions etc could be ported over to my previous setting or not.
From memory there was a whole chapter devoted to creation of Clockwork inventions and operation of such, including Mishap Tables and effects. I think I will definitely peruse that to good extent before I return to my setting, as in my experience it is better sticking to published rules. The good thing with BRP is that you can often port rules between the game settings and they work fine.

However I will watch your thread with interest in any case, as you seem to have developed rules that were very similar to mine, and I'ld like to see how it goes

Edited by Mankcam, 27 June 2014 - 11:04 PM.

#6 p_clapham


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Posted 28 June 2014 - 07:38 PM

As far as mass producing deathrays, that wouldn't really be feasible for the player characters. Each deathray takes the same amount of time to create. A arch-villain with a bunch of scientists and engineers could manufacture deathrays on a mass scale for world domination schemes.

I had forgotten about the Science-Sorcery rules from Hawkmoon. Quite a few of the "spells" will work well as innovations for the system, as well as the Artifact rules. A flame-cannon works perfectly as a gigantic deathray.

#7 p_clapham


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Posted 29 June 2014 - 07:42 PM

Another rule I am considering, each Innovation or spell requires specific science skills. For example Clone requires the character have both Engineering and Biology.

Edited by CthulhuFnord, 01 July 2014 - 04:37 AM.