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Repair and Science Conundrum


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First question: Can you use repair multiple time to get an item back to full functionality?

 

Then,

For my Scifi (Master of Orion) setting I am working on my tech tree. And I plan on using INT to learn discovery, much like INT is used to learn spell in fantasy game. A repair without the appropriate Tech known will be hard (skill%/2), if lower level than known or impossible.

Now I wonder how science and learned tech could work together?! (particularly when one does NOT know the relevant discovery) Is science even useful for the average adventurer?!  😮

I am thinking science could be used for:
- one off repair (no retry)
- identify the principle (i.e. needed tech to be known)

A bit mild... any other idea to make the skill more interesting?
I was thinking  to use it to build prototype, somehow... but It should clearly work less well than repair to make a fully functioning item. Not quite sure how to go about it...

Also what skill should I sue if one want to build a new something... It's not repair but it's close.. it's also close to science...

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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Sarah Newton's adventure "Escape from the Slavelands" in BRP Adventures has a system to figuring out unidentified tech. This is a BRP adaptation of a Gamma World thing iirc, but might work well for what you are doing.

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3 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

First question: Can you use repair multiple time to get an item back to full functionality?

I'd say possibly. Think of a car. If a mechanic messes something up, he can try again. It will probably require some new parts and cost a bit more but eventually, it can be repaired, if he is competent. Now there might be a point of diminishing returns - for example no one is going to go into a machine shop to fabricate new parts for a broken down truck, when they can buy a newer (and probably better) truck for a tenth of the price. 

In game terms I suggest:

  • Give each repair task a difficulty (any modifiers tot he repair roll) AND a complexity (number of successes required to complete).
  • Let character make repair rolls and accumulate successes (specials count as two success, crticals could count as 1d6+2 success or some such). Fumbles result in setback and either undo all the successes accumulated so far, or increase the complexity by 3d6 or some such, and/or up the difficulty level. 

Note that this approach would allow for multiple characters to combine their success on a project and for one character to botch up a project for everyone else ("Hey Phil, where did you put those screws for the intake manifold?").

3 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

 

Then,

For my Scifi (Master of Orion) setting I am working on my tech tree. And I plan on using INT to learn discovery, much like INT is used to learn spell in fantasy game. A repair without the appropriate Tech known will be hard (skill%/2), if lower level than known or impossible.

Now I wonder how science and learned tech could work together?! (particularly when one does NOT know the relevant discovery) Is science even useful for the average adventurer?!  😮

I am thinking science could be used for:
- one off repair (no retry)
- identify the principle (i.e. needed tech to be known)

A bit mild... any other idea to make the skill more interesting?

What if a special success on the Science roll gave a skill check to the Tech/Repair skill as well? 

Fopr example, a PC discovers some sort of hovercar on a planet, and looks it over. She rolls a special success on her Science roll to figure it out, and gets a check in her tech skill as she now understands something about hover tech.

 

3 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:


I was thinking  to use it to build prototype, somehow... but It should clearly work less well than repair to make a fully functioning item. Not quite sure how to go about it...

Well, if you use the difficulty/complexity model I posted above, then the science roll could set the difficulty for the tech rolls and/or adjust the complexity. For instance a failed roll might make the tech roll hard, a success might make it normal, a special might make it easy and so on.  That would make Science very important.

3 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Also what skill should I sue if one want to build a new something... It's not repair but it's close.. it's also close to science...

You could just use a Fabricate, skill and make repair, design, prototype, etc.specialties of it. Realistically someone how knows how to design an airplane knows enough to build or repair one.

 

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2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

I'd say possibly. Think of a car. If a mechanic messes something up, he can try again. It will probably require some new parts and cost a bit more but eventually, it can be repaired, if he is competent. Now there might be a point of diminishing returns - for example no one is going to go into a machine shop to fabricate new parts for a broken down truck, when they can buy a newer (and probably better) truck for a tenth of the price. 

In game terms I suggest:

  • Give each repair task a difficulty (any modifiers tot he repair roll) AND a complexity (number of successes required to complete).
  • Let character make repair rolls and accumulate successes (specials count as two success, crticals could count as 1d6+2 success or some such). Fumbles result in setback and either undo all the successes accumulated so far, or increase the complexity by 3d6 or some such, and/or up the difficulty level. 

Note that this approach would allow for multiple characters to combine their success on a project and for one character to botch up a project for everyone else ("Hey Phil, where did you put those screws for the intake manifold?").

What if a special success on the Science roll gave a skill check to the Tech/Repair skill as well? 

Fopr example, a PC discovers some sort of hovercar on a planet, and looks it over. She rolls a special success on her Science roll to figure it out, and gets a check in her tech skill as she now understands something about hover tech.

 

Well, if you use the difficulty/complexity model I posted above, then the science roll could set the difficulty for the tech rolls and/or adjust the complexity. For instance a failed roll might make the tech roll hard, a success might make it normal, a special might make it easy and so on.  That would make Science very important.

You could just use a Fabricate, skill and make repair, design, prototype, etc.specialties of it. Realistically someone how knows how to design an airplane knows enough to build or repair one.

 

I would add one thing to this system.  Repair parts.  You can have a given repair or build need a number of repair parts based on the amount or percentage of damage the item has sustained.  Repair parts are specific so you might have:

Automotive repair parts

Small Arms repair parts 

Electronics repair parts 

These parts can be purchased, made (IF you have the machines to fabricate parts), or scavenged from damaged or old objects or vehicles.  The scavenged parts must come from the particular item in question (ie Electronics repair parts must come from computers, TVs, or other electronic equipment and Vehicle repair parts must come from a vehicle).   A fumble would consume the parts BUT NOT FIX the item.

We also used Building Units in my TRAVELLER campaign.  There were Light and Heavy Residential Building Units, Light and Heavy Industrial Building Units, and General Purpose Building Units (used for repairs to structures).  The players would make an Engineering skill roll to determine how many building units that they needed to build or fix something something.  A good Engineering roll could save you a lot of money [in the cost of building units] and time on construction.  

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21 minutes ago, olskool said:

I would add one thing to this system.  Repair parts.  You can have a given repair or build need a number of repair parts based on the amount or percentage of damage the item has sustained.  ding units] and time on construction.  

Yeah that makes sense. If damage is tracked in some way, the % of damage could be the % that you need spares, and the amount of spare parts on hand (times something) could be the % chance that you have what you need.

 

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Well I have to check the suggested book tonight when I get home... (at work now, oopsie)

But I got an idea...
I might go with Fabricate (xxx) and Science (xxx)

Fabricate will build & repair know and unknown tech (harder when unknown, i.e. not in tech using INT slots).
Fabricate would use repair part that have to be tailored for the device. Or scavenge other similar device (2 broken = 1 working)

Science could identify a device or phenomenon, and gather data. All not that much needed in play. It could also could help make part for any devices (again, harder if the tech is not now) (from part of same tech branch, i.e. biology, physics, power..) or from raw material in a lab / factory (conversion rate to the GM appreciation).

On one hand this feel a bit contrived... On the other had I think in game it would be fine... The ship will have part for its component, so o biggie... But sometimes they might run out (or be destroyed) or be in a primitive place, and they would have to work the science skill to make the part to build / repair the device they need, adding to the gravity of the situation...

How about that?!

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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Thought it further....

Parts + Fabricate skill to repair or build when the tech is known (using INT slot)
Parts + MIN (Fabricate, Science) / 2 to build or repair when the tech is unknow but below highest known

(note: MIN(skill1, skill2) is how skill are usually combined, like horseriding and fighting)

Parts + MIN (Fabricate, Science) / 2^N, to build or repair when the tech is unknow higher than highest know. where N is the tech level different between known and needed tech.

And science will be kept to not much use in game otherwise, except asking diagnostic question and answer and the occasional odd requirements...

Seems right...

As for making parts from raw material... MIN (Fabricate, Science), normal roll...

 

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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  • 4 weeks later...
On 10/14/2020 at 4:33 PM, Lloyd Dupont said:

...

Parts + MIN (Fabricate, Science) / 2^N, to build or repair when the tech is unknow higher than highest know. where N is the tech level different between known and needed tech.

...

It really depends how much you want to go over toward pulpy/heroic, vs. realism.
I wouldn't give any realistic chance to build/repair tech of a higher level than is known; brand-new engineering methods, materials, etc; new scientific breakthroughs... just, no.

 

Nikola Tesla was brilliant.

But he would have zero chance to repair a problem with a Tesla-brand automobile.

 

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One trope of Master of Orion is that if one successfully capture an enemy ship, one *might* be able to reverse engineer it... (if they have any unknown technology, including advance tech)
Wanted to introduce that at the player scale! :)
In the unlikely case it happens to them! :)

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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I'd think it depends upon what the "tech" consists of...

Consider what would happen if a pair of modern FRS handheld radios appeared in a WW-2 electronics laboratory.

Sure, they'd likely figure out that these are moderate short-range fully portable radios (and since they operate on AA batteries there isn't any problem of a power-supply). They might be surprised at the frequency of operation (I'm assuming they may have a frequency counter that can reach the 500MHz range) -- remember, at this point in time AM broadcast is low HF band (540kHz to 1.6kHz), TV low-band is around 70MHz, modern FM is 88-108MHz, but the first allocation was only around 42-50MHz. Usable radios in the 460MHz range were unheard of (even RADAR was only up to the VHF band, not UHF).

Problem -- now that they know such is feasible... Reverse engineering is going to be mostly impossible. We are still half a decade away from simple semi-conductor transistors... Even if they can somehow open the IC packages and study the circuitry under microscopes they won't be able to reproduce it. Making precision coils/inductors and capacitors (maybe even resistors) of a size compatible with the frequency will be nearly impossible -- the common HF gear can be "adjusted" by physically stretching or compressing coils that are 6-10 inches in length with maybe a 1/4 inch gap between turns. A coil smaller than a pencil eraser is something else entirely.

Edited by Baron Wulfraed
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3 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

One trope of Master of Orion is that if one successfully capture an enemy ship, one *might* be able to reverse engineer it... (if they have any unknown technology, including advance tech)
Wanted to introduce that at the player scale! :)
In the unlikely case it happens to them! :)

It's your game; run it as you'd like.  But as I said:  this is the stuff of pulp, of heroics.  The JamesBond / JasonBourne of scientists and of engineers.

Reverse engineering means you get your best engineers -- working in teams -- doing disassembly & analyses; and when they find something anomalous, they call on the best scientists, who work in teams, to figure out what physics the engineering is based upon.  In other words, this is a major undertaking that needs a gov't or very-large corp or similar-scale group, in order to do the thing.  And when ordinary (as @Baron Wulfraed says) regular "electrical" stuff & very-early electronica meets modern electronics...  Well, then there's a problem.   Similarly when component-based electronics meets integrated circuits.  Now they're talking about quantum computing, which would have mystified the 1960's folk trying to figure out how the damned things FUNCTION.

Going back to Tesla.  A simple LED -- a diode, a basic electronic component.  He hasn't any of the tools he'd need to figure out the principles by which it operated.

Now, capturing a *research* vessel... with scientific libraries...  THAT might be different !   😁

That being said... if it's a feature you want in your game, then I think you should include it!

Edited by g33k
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g33k you make some good point...

an idea comes to mind, if I make it a conflict (in fact it was my proposition :P )  with a very high value (say the MoO research cost / 10, like 400) with a penalty to player roll... it becomes.. while theoretically possible, quite very unlikely...

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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12 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

g33k you make some good point...

an idea comes to mind, if I make it a conflict (in fact it was my proposition :P )  with a very high value (say the MoO research cost / 10, like 400) with a penalty to player roll... it becomes.. while theoretically possible, quite very unlikely...

If you want to keep the realism-factor higher, but still make this something the PC's can get/have, I'd suggest:

  • Give them a functional *ITEM* (or more than one) of the higher tech.  You don't have to be able to engineer it from scratch to use it once made!  Henry Ford would need only a bit of training or practice to drive most modern sedans.  Neolithic tribes began using guns as soon as they captured them from invaders.  Etc.
  • Give them a secret backchannel to get early-access prototypes of govt/corp tech that was reverse-engineered from found Ancient-tech or captured Alien-tech; maybe they were the original finders/capturers, and the program doing the reverse-engineering decides the adventurers are thus the obvious crash-test dummies for field-testing...
  • Give them a chance to steal a prototype; maybe they were "involved" in a massive reverse-engineering project (as above), but weren't in-line to just be given it... so they just take it?

And so forth...

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