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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    The title is very direct because I couldn't think of anything clever.

    In short, I'm designing a game that will feature a class known as the Specialist that will focus on technology and supporting their allies with their gadgets. Specialists will be able to create items prior to battles and jury rig things during combat. These craftable items will be unique to Specialists. (No other class can make them and they can't be bought.)

    Now what I'm having difficulty deciding on is whether or not these gadgets should be able to be given to party members to use. I'm partially against the idea because I don't want Specialists to simply be walking factories that deck the party out with the best grenades and poisons. At the same time, it's sort of difficult to explain such a mechanic logically.

    I've considered a system where Specialists could develop technology in one of three categories: Prototype, Stable, or Peculiar.
    Prototype technologies are easy to make and can only be used by Specialists.
    Stable technologies are hard to make and can be used by anyone.
    Peculiar technology is the hardest to make and can only be used by the one that created it.

    By this system, not everything could be made Stable, and the ability to make something Stable would come several levels later than the ability to make it as a Prototype.

    I've come to you all for opinions on a mechanic like this. Thank you for your time and contribution with this mechanic if you choose to reply.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    This sounds a LOT like the pulp scientist class from d20 Modern's d20 Past supplement. That class's inventions by default are only usable by the character. But with a feat and a cost in something or other else, it can be made usable by other characters.

    tbh, I'd err towards keeping these inventions to the inventor only, in order to provide niche protection.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Your Prototype, Stable, or Peculiar set up makes a lot of sense.

    I would go with that or with a set up that a Basic item is cheap and can only be used by the Specialist. Standard items are more expensive or weaker but can be used by anyone. A Basic item could be upgraded to a Standard item at anytime as long as the standard construction rules are followed. That would let the Specialist to give away the tech that she is replacing for better tech. ("Hey would you like my old pair of range-finding binoculars? I added buttons so that you can understand how to use it.") This allows you to just make the one list of equipment and have the flat +20% cost or -3 damage or whatever. You could still go through and label some items as Peculiar or have another flat bonus that can be applied to a basic item that makes it Peculiar. (With the limitation that an item can only ever have one upgrade)
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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    I don't think they can be shared without training time. Imagine giving a German WW2 grenade to somebody who knew nothing about them. Would that person pull the pin and toss it? Or point it at the enemy and pull the pin?

    Most technical gadgets require training time - even from people who understand their function. New recruits practice with rifles, pistols, grenades, tanks, etc. before they use them in the field.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Personally, Id add "unreliable" where anyone can use it but it breaks after one encounter.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Perhaps a slowly increasing Use Magic Device check that, if failed, causes the device to fizzle or, if failed by more than a certain amount, deactivates it for the encounter?

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    In GURPS you have people who can become gadgeteers.

    Sure they can make toys for everyone but mostly they are restricted by time and money. And their toys may end up exploding in your face as their gadgets are often untested prototypes.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    This is one of those things where the decision depends on your design principles. From a simulation perspective just about everything should be sharable, with actually being able to use it taking a variable amount of specialized training and practice; exceptions could exist because of things like security systems on the device designed to not let it be used except by certain people. From a more gamist perspective where you want to prioritize class balance, restricting them to the character makes more sense (though there are other methods there).
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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    But with a feat and a cost in something or other else, it can be made usable by other characters.
    I would recommend against charging the inventor a "feat tax" to let someone else gain the benefit of his abilities. If anything, make other characters take a feat to represent the specialized training they need to operate cutting edge inventions.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    I'd err towards keeping these inventions to the inventor only, in order to provide niche protection.
    "Niche protection" is the term I was trying to think of for this situation. I definitely want the Specialist's gadgets to provide more power exclusively to the Specialist than others.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    I'd want to make it so the shoddy and rushed nature of these contrivances means they only make sense to the creator, although others sharing his talents might be able to use it after some study. You slap something together in 5 minutes, even if it somehow works, it's not going to be intuitive or easy to use as something a company put thousands of hours into testing. It will most likely be full of bugs, malfunctions, and quirks that the creator can only hack his way past because he has a deep understanding of it that's difficult to explain to others. For fairness' sake, you might allow the creator to attempt to teach another how to use it and give that person a sizable failure chance with it.

    I'd also think a jury-rigged item would need constant maintenance or else it would quickly break down and become unusable. If you want to make something that is reliable, intuitive to use, and doesn't need the original designer tweaking it every five minutes, then it should cost a lot more time and money (for good working parts, quality materials, thoughtful and elegant design, and so on), and it should require specialized tools. Those tools could take the form of an immobile workstation, such as a lab, a forge, or a server room. And of course, if you're homebrewing something that's normally mass-produced in a factory, then buying the components alone could easily cost you more than the listed price. Even if the components are not expensive, it may take a considerable amount of time to construct it alone and by hand.

    Some things, of course, should require specialized components that cannot be improvised. That can give you an easy and sensible cap on the specialist's capabilities. Even the most brilliant mind can only do so much with household materials.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Put it this way. I am an IRL MS Excel superuser. I casually create spreadsheets that can be used to predict UK general election results. I've made a spreadsheet that replicates most of the details from GURPS Vehicles (a 128-page book of formulas, for gaming purposes), and another for Traveller's Fire, Fusion, & Steel.

    But re-using such a spreadsheet for the following general election, let alone giving it to another person to use, would be non-trivial tasks. Even trying to explain how to use it to another Excel user would take a good hour at least, with repeat warnings about which cells should be changed, which should not, which formulas need to be manually edited to test specific scenarios, and so on.

    So it might be with your character's inventions. It might in principle be usable by anyone, but good luck if you aren't intimately familiar with the workings.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    I'd want to make it so the shoddy and rushed nature of these contrivances means they only make sense to the creator, although others sharing his talents might be able to use it after some study. You slap something together in 5 minutes, even if it somehow works, it's not going to be intuitive or easy to use as something a company put thousands of hours into testing. It will most likely be full of bugs, malfunctions, and quirks that the creator can only hack his way past because he has a deep understanding of it that's difficult to explain to others. For fairness' sake, you might allow the creator to attempt to teach another how to use it and give that person a sizable failure chance with it.

    I'd also think a jury-rigged item would need constant maintenance or else it would quickly break down and become unusable. If you want to make something that is reliable, intuitive to use, and doesn't need the original designer tweaking it every five minutes, then it should cost a lot more time and money (for good working parts, quality materials, thoughtful and elegant design, and so on), and it should require specialized tools. Those tools could take the form of an immobile workstation, such as a lab, a forge, or a server room. And of course, if you're homebrewing something that's normally mass-produced in a factory, then buying the components alone could easily cost you more than the listed price. Even if the components are not expensive, it may take a considerable amount of time to construct it alone and by hand.

    Some things, of course, should require specialized components that cannot be improvised. That can give you an easy and sensible cap on the specialist's capabilities. Even the most brilliant mind can only do so much with household materials.
    I do intend for items specialists build to be reliable and durable to require costly tools/facilities, specialized materials, and some time. Jury-rigging will be for when they need something in a pinch and such items will only last for one encounter or scene.

    I intend for these abilities that allow for long-term fabrication of gear and fast, relatively inexpensive, use of gadgets to give specialists flexibility in their craft. I plan on allowing players who make specialists to specialize in either jury-rigging to play a sort of in-the-moment-focused combat technician or crafting gear more efficiently to focus on the long war of adventuring.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Well you could always design the class as a support, with the aim of aiding the other characters by providing nifty toys or specialized ammo and grenades.


    Or you could just put it like this. When a combat characters has spent a year salary buying a +3 Plasmacaster of Doom, he is probably not going to be happy when the Techie duct tapes a larger powercell to the thing, hooks up a couple of wires and mentions that he hopes it doesn't explode.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Personally I have no problem with a character being a walking factory, but then again I don't see a problem with a character having enough money to finance the team (in fact, a character I want to play is the guy with good face skills and access to lots of money because his boss is financing the team). That might be because I vastly prefer point-buy systems, so YMMV.

    Now, in general, talking about realistic technology for a second, jury rigging a device takes minutes at the very least. If you know how the device is built. Building a device properly takes the following steps:
    1. Prepare your workspace, this is important so you don't spend 20 minutes looking for a resistor or half an hour waiting for the soldering iron to warm up.
    2. Build your device. I'm assuming you've already built a test version, if you haven't you'll have to repeat these steps several times.
    3. Test your device to make sure it works. This is very important, and can take a very variable amount of time.
    4. Did it work? If so, continue to Step 5, if not, back to step 2.
    5. Is it a horrible cludge of stuff because you kept changing it until it worked? If not, go to step 6, if it is go to step 2 and make a nicer one or proceed to step 6 if you're out of time.
    6. Profit!


    Taking off the top of the head calculations, this comes out at minimum a day of work for a device that you already have a design for. If you're making this thing up add at least a day, probably a week or more, for designing the thing and doing the calculations, plus probably weeks of iterations unless you have access to computer aided testing.

    Now, it is possible for me to design and build a climate monitor in a day, maybe two if I decide to use a PCB instead of mocking it up on a breadboard, plus likely a week to write the software. It will be really bad compared to the current versions, but as this is gaming we can let it be better.

    And that's my argument for why, from a simulation perspective, a walking factory should be viable.
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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Honestly, your mechanic sounds pretty viable, Jay. For fluff, it could be as simple as the MacGyver principle- sure, he can bash together, say, a lockpick, from a fork, a piece of gum, and three hairs, and it'll work beautifully, and if he's pressed for time/materials, he can cart the gooey, hairy fork-thing around and pop more locks with it, but how on Earth is anyone else going to know how to use that to open a lock? Most likely scenario is that they'd jab it at the keyhole, lose their grip, and end up with a gummed-up fork in their own hair.

    Or, if it's higher-tech- not sure from the first post- it could be a matter of 'make sure you jiggle this bit slightly when it makes that one funny noise, or you risk opening a hole in spacetime and being eaten by unspeakable things from beyond instead of teleporting like you're supposed to'. Or 'here, this overcharger should more than double the damage of your semi-automatic laser, you just have to make sure you never hold the trigger down for more than... ehhh, call it two seconds and a bit, you'll know it when the beam starts shading to puce... or it will melt.'

    Also, failure states don't need to be catastrophic- if they fail a check to use a prototype device, it could just be humiliating and/or amusing

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Savage Worlds has a similar concept you could look to with its "Weird Science" arcane background. The way they do it is that the devices can be passed around and used by other characters, but they use that character's relevant skill. Things like ray guns use Shooting, but more esoteric stuff uses the "Weird Science" skill, which only the Weird Scientist is likely to be any good at (and these unstable devices break down when you roll too low).

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay_Willynogs View Post
    "Niche protection" is the term I was trying to think of for this situation. I definitely want the Specialist's gadgets to provide more power exclusively to the Specialist than others.
    This can be relatively realistic. IRL, specialised devices require a lot of knowledge and training to use, especially if they are improvised. Ask to use a scientist's lab setup, which has been painstakingly calibrated, is stuck together with whatever was available, and which only they know how to use, and they will often laugh at you. I have heard of experimental apparatus ceasing to work having been carefully moved from one side of the room to another.

    We have got used to technology that has intuitive interfaces that anyone can use, but those intuitive interfaces are difficult and time-consuming to make. So yeah, it's perfectly realistic to restrict the Specialist's gear to the Specialist.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    So are you talking about a ''secret society'' that has special stuff or a class any PC can take?

    If they are a secret order, fine, they have special stuff the end.

    If they are a class......

    Well, you don't want one PC to get all the super special DM presents and the other PCs get nothing. So then you'd want 'anyone to use them'.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    I had a similar situation with my Inspired Inventor. My solution was to allow the Inspired Inventor to speed up activation (from a full-round to a swift) by spending an inspiration point, but others can't do that. Then, as the Inspired inventor gains levels, they can spend their inspiration points to help someone else activate it faster.

    Also, their inventions are inherently unstable and require their inventor to work on them every day, and they can only maintain a certain number. That makes them impossible to sell and reduces the likelihood the entire party will get decked out.
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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    I'm reminded of tinkers from Worm. They could make gear for the rest of their team, but since their gear tends to break down easily and only they can fix it, if they did they wouldn't be able to do much else.

    Limit the amount of gear the Specialist can create through similar maintenance justifications, and let them decide if they want to give all their class features away and play mechanic.
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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Isn't one of the strong points of technology that it's accessible to almost everyone? And also one of its disadvantages?

    Broadly speaking, anyone should be able to use a gadget. That is, unless one or more of the following situations apply:
    - It's part of the user, like cybernetics
    - The main user has security measures that prevent it from being used by anyone else
    - The use of the device requires special training

    For example, in Savage Worlds anyone can use a ray gun that someone has put together with Weird Science, as long as they have the Shooting-skill. However, not everyone can use the more esoteric devices, such as a deflection belt or optic camouflage that grants invisibility, both of them requiring an activation using Weird Science-skill.
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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Generally, I'm of the opinion that it generally shouldn't be the case.

    If you wanted to make a specialist kind fo tech-heavy character, what you should generally do is make the tech useful for anyone to use... but give the Specialist bonuses on using things they've created so they're the best at using their tech. Like, any tech that's a generic bonus? (including basic modifications on more normal tech) Double it for the creator. New kind of weapon? It's exotic, and the specialist gets free proficiency. Grenade? Empowered.

    Just make the base numbers less impressive, balance it so that you assume the specialist bonus, then go ahead and chop off a third of the usefulness for non-specialists and make that the baseline. And maybe allow non-specialists to buy specialist bonuses with specific things (like exotic weapon proficiency), to reflect them training in the use enough to be as good.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raimun View Post
    Isn't one of the strong points of technology that it's accessible to almost everyone? And also one of its disadvantages?
    It depends on the technology - which is a very broad term. There are things which are pretty intuitively usable, and there are things which require extensive training.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    I'd leave it up to the Specialist that creates an item to decide whether or not to share it with the rest of the party. And the Specialist should be able to make that choice on a case-by-case basis.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    If a gadget is paid for with character points, or some other resource that isn't easily renewed, you can simply let the player decide whether or not to share. If they do share, they'll be helping another PC at the cost of weakening themselves, so it won't make the party any stronger.
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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Put me down for the training option. If you are concerned about balance, they have to invest a part of their character to share. If it is a play style thing, it lets the characters themselves decide what to do and how they wish to enjoy the game.

    Also, I think it would be hilarious if their enemies stole their things or picked up failed ones from the battlefield and used them against the party. Tee hee. It also rewards making complicated items, as the enemy just can't steal it or use it against the party.
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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    If a gadget is paid for with character points, or some other resource that isn't easily renewed, you can simply let the player decide whether or not to share. If they do share, they'll be helping another PC at the cost of weakening themselves, so it won't make the party any stronger.
    It depends on how many gadgets there are. If this lets more than one gadget get used simultaneously, it could make the party stronger.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    I'm building a class for 5e called the Gadgeteer that can run into this very issue. The easiest way, for my game, to handle it is to say that only the Gadgeteer is or can be proficient with his gadgets: another character could pick them up and use them, but always at a penalty.

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    Default Re: Should unique gadgets be shareable among the party?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    It depends on the technology - which is a very broad term. There are things which are pretty intuitively usable, and there are things which require extensive training.
    That said, with rare exceptions, the end user never needs to know enough to invent it again

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    It depends on how many gadgets there are. If this lets more than one gadget get used simultaneously, it could make the party stronger.
    It depends more on the kinds of gadgets. Powered armor and laser guns can already be used simultaneously..
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