View Full Version : Sci Fi in D&D (Ongoing Discussion)

2009-12-21, 11:53 PM
The New Skills

UTD, Tech Craft and Knowledge: S&T - here's how I'd put it. Eventually we can make it 'official' once we've eliminated any confusion. :smallwink:

UTD applies whenever a tech device is complicated. Other times, a device merely involves familiarizing yourself with it (which depends on character background), trial and error or an instruction manual.

Tech Craft is required to understand how a device works, or to recognize what caused an effect (say you see an explosion... you might recognize that it came from a phosphorus grenade with a Tech Craft check versus the design DC of the item). Tech Craft can also be used to design items, assuming you have enough XP and time. Assuming you have the right materials, and the associated craft skills, you may also build a device you've designed (this is why engineers hire others to physically build stuff for them; they don't have enough skill points to go around). Designed items usually come in blue prints which can be copied and function much like scrolls for custom spells (except they don't 'activate'; they're mundane and must be studied, usually reducing the time it takes to craft a given item, since then you don't have to draw up blueprints for it and spend XP, etc.).

NOTE: The act of copying a blue print does not require a Tech Craft check; instead, it's a Knowledge: Science and Technology check to interpret what it means.

Finally, you can determine the inner workings of a machine with tech craft. Succeeding on a DC to observe the item gives you a circumstantial bonus to Craft checks made to repair the item. This only applies to mundane (non-magical, non-psionic) items.

Knowledge: Science and Technology is there to cover all bodies of science (so none of that knowledge: earth and life sciences/physics/etc. bogus, although we might have to include some logic for why scientists specialize and not simply do everything willy nilly in this universe - maybe a given character will have a repertoire for a body of knowledge in the 'science' category). A high enough check can give a bonus to Tech Craft checks to design an item or Use Technological Device checks to use an item. It can also assist in other checks such as appraise, and disable device.

Finally, blueprints can be interpreted with Knowledge: Science and Technology - the DC depending on the complexity of the blueprint. Knowledge: Science and Technology can also tell you if the blueprint would help build something that actually works (or if its a bad copy/completely faulty/designed by a poor engineer, etc.).

More about science 'specialization' - Since skills like 'Knowledge: Architecture and Engineering' and 'Knowledge: Nature' will still exist, science and technology won't include them as part of the character repertoire.

Blue Print 'Level' - What determines blueprint level? Perhaps the cost to build the item after wards? The amount of XP that went into the design phase?

As far as familiarizing oneself with technology, someone from the standard D&D setting might not know right away how to turn on a computer (Zoolander, anyone?).

In a nutshell -

Use Technological Device: Find out how to turn on a computer.

Tech Craft: Design a Computer from scratch. Observe a computer and recognize how all the internal parts go together to make it work.

Knowledge (Science and Technology): Understand the underlying theories and equations that the design of a computer depends on (not necessarily remember, but can recognize them when reading them). Can interpret the blue prints for the design of a computer and instruct others on how to build one.

The same things could apply to computer soft ware. Coding a program is Tech Craft. Hacking on a whim or time limit (pretty much impossible without the aid of some kind of software in real life) is Use Technological Device. And Knowledge: Science and Technology is the ability to interpret and explain each of the modules of the software and how it all goes together.

Realistically, you can be one guy without having a clue how to be the other.

Advance in Power in other ways (besides HD)

Sometimes a man acquires experience in other ways besides combat. As D&D stands, XP means levels, which means increased HD. Increased HD means, quite simply, increased ability to take on damage before death.

How can a person, for example a scientist, whom has acquired XP for his accomplishments and ways of influencing the world, shrug off damage if he's hardly ever been outside?

Thus, I propose an alternative to acquiring HD.

At the player's option, they can acquire additional class features as opposed to HD. Note that their level still increases and counts towards their ECL.

Example HD Substitute Abilities

Improved Snipe -
Prerequisite: BAB +1, Proficiency with a rifled firearm

Receive a +2 bonus to ranged attacks when attacking while sighting through a scope. This bonus stacks with all other modifiers.

Skip Shot
Prerequisite: BAB +8

By taking a -2 penalty to attack with a firearm and reducing the damage by one die, you may ignore cover between you and your target. This attack may only apply if there is a relatively smooth surface of at least 10ft. between you and your target.

Alternatively, if you are wielding a weapon with explosive ammunition you may fire at an opponent's feet. Opponent takes a -2 penalty to reflex saves to avoid the explosion. This affect can only apply to one opponent at a time.

Parabolic Shot
Prerequisite: BAB +6

You may fire your shots in a curving arc allowing you to ignore cover from one direction (left or right of the shooter). Your line of effect curves, ending at an angle of 45 degrees, with end point being the attack's maximum range for the increment it arrives at (as such, obstacles do not affect the steepness of a curve).

NOTE: If the GM is big on math, this attack can also apply vertically, curving over elevated obstacles to affect targets on the other side.

Skill Savvy
Prerequisite: Ranks in at least six separate skills.

Receive 6 additional skill points.

Learned Initiator
Prerequisite: Must know how to ready and initiate at least three Martial Maneuvers.

Learn one additional Martial Maneuver. This does not increase the number of maneuvers that you may ready or initiate.


Making Money with Reputation

In the modern world of business, reputation is everything. While it has a minimal affect in most D&D settings, the information high way makes it absurdly important in modern ones.

Business is determined by association. To keep a business running, you need to hire people. Thus, occupations by association are created. The hired make money for the business with profession checks. The host of the business is the person that does the most work, and as such most likely has the most ranks in whatever related profession (most likely the most integral task or an executive position like CEO) the business needs. The reputation of the business can affect how much money this person makes as it does every other employee of the business - however, most other employees most likely have a payment plan and the money they earn from their own profession checks go straight into the business' coffers.

If the person is running a solo business however, something that often occurs in modern life, than the money they make with their profession check depends on their reputation (in addition, there is usually no payment plan for themselves unless they get lucky with a contract; something that is mostly conducted via roleplay and circumstance). Their reputation and the reputation of their business are one and the same in this case.

Ordinarily, profession makes you money on a weekly basis, according to SRD. The money you make (determined by lack of a payment plan, contract, etc.) is half of what you roll on your profession check. Additionally, all professions make you equal money, no matter what you do.

In the modern world, different professions require degrees of experience and education. Having ranks in a profession assumes that you are both experienced and skilled at the given profession. There is no mechanic for education or experience in D&D beyond background and XP, and thus that can be ignored.

It's also up to the GM to determine how much your character gets payed, say, if he is a doctor. He certainly gets the same amount if he were a garbage collector. Seeing as both professions cost the same amount of skill points however, the GM can simply roll with the idea that it's easier to get hired as a garbage collector than as a doctor - and then to off set that, the doctor usually works contract and reputation, and ultimately gets payed more, almost by default.

In the modern world, reputation has many levels and layers. Some people fail to recognize media celebrities but are in the swing of things with the latest inventors. Even so, reputation is still a linear value for this mechanic, and what a given character recognizes (and the DCs as such) depends on their background.

Depending on how high your reputation is (not including circumstances such as contract), you can go from earning half your profession check to 4x your profession check or even 100x your profession check. At GM discretion, this may also depend on external variables, such as the population of an area and outside competition relative to your business.

Current Question: Should there be a solid way to establish reputation in a Sci Fi/Modern setting?

Refluffed Class Samplings

Barbarian - Even in a world of globe spanning cities, there are still those that live by the philosophy that a tough, savage attitude will help you adjust to the media bombardment of civilization, or survive in the drug riddled streets, or the blood drenched regions of third world countries.

Many barbarians belong in the criminal element, and make up the muscle of any given job, but some are also commandos in military operations. Due to the fact that they deliberately live a harsh life style, or have gone through special mental conditioning.

It's clear that barbarians are the toughest among us. Some live in the wilderness for months or years on end. Barbarians generally have a host of 'street smarts', giving them 4 + int skill points instead of the lowest common denominator. Their savage, necessary way of adapting to any combat scenario has given them such abilities as rage and uncanny dodge. Totem variants are now considered 'Instincts'.

NOTE: Illiteracy is no longer a class feature for barbarians, however it can still be taken as a flaw.

Fighter - Fighters condition themselves for combat, whether it be war, self defense, or sport. Many fighters are soldiers, specializing in a given style of combat with a given style of weapon and armor. Other fighters learn how to operate equipment that others can't match.

New Variant: Replace Ride with Pilot, and Handle Animal with Use Technological Device.

War Blade - Much the same as the fighter, except war blades take more from specific martial arts, both of the past and present.

Sword Sage - The sword sage is a quick martial artist and a powerful warrior, much valued in the same way as the war blade.

Crusader - Religion and faith still have prescience in an industrialized, reasoning world. For whatever reason, crusaders fight along others, be they soldiers or warriors from other walks of life, to inspire and keep morale.

Marshal - Commanders are needed to lead armies. Even in an age of robots and push-button destruction, a voice is needed to direct it all - or at least tell people what to do.

Psion - In a world of psychic influence, some have learned to control and manipulate it. Psions grow their abilities from a given discipline.

Psychic Warrior - Some people choose to combine psychic power with martial prowess.

Wilder - There are those that are natural born hubs for incredible psychic power. Although there is only a small list of powers that they have control over, their mere emotions can accelerate them to high levels.

Soul Knife - Some psychics specialize in the art of attacking the enemy's soul, for the soul is always vulnerable, even if the body may not be so.

Rogue - Rogues are professionals of many things. They're the guys that can do anything for any organization and are often highly valued as artisans of their work. Assassins, spies, saboteurs, special forces squad - much makes up the rogue's repertoire.

Factotum - Some people are geniuses and professionals at everything they do. For these savants, what matters is improving this skill.

Monk - Trans humanists or students of Zen, monks have found their niche in the industrialized mega cities of modern age. Combining martial arts with technology or meditation, monks make for daring foes.

Ranger - Men of the wilderness, or of the cities (depending on the variant), Rangers are decent survivalists. If a mission involves traveling deep into enemy territory, rangers are much valued. Technology isn't always dependable - after all, machines can break. Note that rangers will depend on the non-spell casting variant.

2009-12-22, 09:46 PM
Excellent. This is really shaping up.

You're No-HD Advancement is a neat idea. I think templates would be the best method of determining improvement. You could make a +1 LA, +1/2 CR template that provides numerous bonus feats, and possible a few other special abilities.

As far as reputation goes, I have no experience. In my past games, we were trying to stay below the radar, not spread word of our accomplishments (which were not terrible noble). You should look at Unearthed Arcana.

I'm still working on magic to technology conversion, but I'd be happy to have your help. I think there should be a descriptor. Rather than (Su) or (Ex), it could be Technological (Te).

I'm still working on turning meldshaping into nanoaugmenting. I'm not terribly eager to code those tables. I still have nighmares about the last two classes I posted.

2009-12-24, 01:26 AM
I think there should be a descriptor. Rather than (Su) or (Ex), it could be Technological (Te).

That's a good idea if your still considering 'anti-tech fields'.

As far as my game goes, I'm planning on including anti-tech psi powers, but I might not have anti-tech fields available for cheap considering the martial types will depend on technology (hopefully that will balance out non-maneuver martials with psychics). Also, the game will change a bit from standard D&D fair (there will be tougher monsters that require strategy, or technology to defeat).

2009-12-29, 02:55 PM
That's a good idea if your still considering 'anti-tech fields'.

As far as my game goes, I'm planning on including anti-tech psi powers, but I might not have anti-tech fields available for cheap considering the martial types will depend on technology (hopefully that will balance out non-maneuver martials with psychics). Also, the game will change a bit from standard D&D fair (there will be tougher monsters that require strategy, or technology to defeat).

I do indeed plan on including anti-tech field spells and powers, as well as anti-supernatural tech devices.

Strategy-based D&D encounters?! YES! Finally! I fully support your decision, however, you'll still need some method of gauging difficulty and rewards. Do you have any of the Eberron books? I think some of them discuss that type of encounter.

2009-12-29, 03:38 PM
Oooo... lets make another sci-fi setting. Set in the year 20,136 or there abouts, earth is mainly desert or reforested areas, with the human population under 1 billion. Most humans have moved of to other worlds with the help of a warp drive, with the weakest making ships able to cover 10 lightyears per week.

Dwarves, elves and halflings are the ofspring of humans who colonized planets before terraforming was available. Gnomes are the result of halflings using genetic engineering as so to create a caste that could use the magic flowing around their world, as the elves changed their entire people.

Psionics is there, of course. Humans are the race with the most affinity, and that is all I'm saying. I'll need stats for ship to ship fighting and boarding action, but I can make that up.

2009-12-30, 11:29 PM
That. Sounds. AWESOME.

I will happily share my sci-fi with you (credited to me, please). Would you be so kind as to return the favor?

What about half-orcs? Perhaps they are a warrior/bodyguard cast genetically engineered by unscrupulous humans. Where do fantastic creatures such as dragons and outsiders fit in? If you aren't sure, I have a suggestion:

A psionic/magical phenomena caused people's thoughts, fears, and dreams to take physical form. The dwindling humanoid population is constantly threatened by the monstrosities they gave live to. As a result, adventurers are vital to the survival of human(oid)anity.

2009-12-31, 04:45 AM
First of, any of my fluff is free for stealing, but I am not good at class fluff and the rest, I'm best with general background. I'll be drafting up rules for ship to ship combat after I've listed the new classes and the changes to exsisting classes, and you can take and modify them.

The multiple planets part of the setting lets DM's throw whatever they want at their players: dragons originated on a certain planet, but certain corperations captured them and thenreared their young, only to sell them off for use as mounts. After years of genetic engineering most dragons have intelligence scores below 10, many below 5, grow to adult hood in a couple of years, and breed faster than anything else. This way the demand for dragon mounts can be met using a single planet.

The dragon thing is serious. However, dragon-riders are shock troops, it is other arial animals who are front-line air combatants.

I'll need an A20 conversion of this setting, but that should be simple.

2010-01-01, 12:52 AM
I'm good for fluff, but I definitely need rules for things like spaceships, electricity-powered techology and whatnot.

I do find your fluff quite intriguing. How did the humanoids manage to steal dragon eggs/wyrmlngs?

2010-01-01, 06:20 AM
I'm good for fluff, but I definitely need rules for things like spaceships, electricity-powered techology and whatnot.

I do find your fluff quite intriguing. How did the humanoids manage to steal dragon eggs/wyrmlngs?

After the Heretic and the soldier I am going to be creating the rules for weaponry anf powered armour (largely stolen from the Starship Troopers RPG). Ships will come later, and I feel as if an anti-technology field is in order, so that the federation has to train their soldiers with swords and shields.

How did they steel the dragon eggs or wyrmlings? They studied dragon lairs and worked out when the dragon would be gone for longest (when they go hunting, due to flight speeds the wait is about half an hour). They then sent in people to grap eggs and others to capture wyrmlings. Only 8 eggs and 16 wyrmlings were ever taken, the rest were bred of world.