Pages 65 to 70 of the Player's Book lay out the basic rules for building things. To be honest, they're not very good rules. The following system should work much better.
In order for a character to be able to design or modify gadgets, she must have the Gadgetry talent. Other talents, such Engineering, various scientific skills, and Repair/Tinkering are also helpful, but not necessary. All column shifts granted by relevant skills are cumulative.
Step One: Determining Basic Concepts
All gadgets have at least one ability score: Material Strength. Depending on the nature of the gadget, it may have other ability scores as well. For example, a crane would have Strength. A computer would have Reason. The gadgeteer determines what ability scores the gadget has and sets the rank of each according to her own specifications.
Powers and Talents
A gadget can also have powers and talents appropriate to its function. A car, for example, would have a power rank for land speed. A gun would have a power rank to determine its damage and range. A computer could be programmed with information about biology. In all of these cases, the gadgeteer determines at what rank the power or talent functions. This is the one instance for a talent actually has a rank instead of granting a column shift bonus.
Takeable or Not
The gadget can also either be taken away in combat with a Grabbing attempt, or it cannot be taken away in combat. This affects the total cost of the gadget. Gadgets that can be taken away in combat have their basic cost doubled. Those that cannot be taken away in combat have their basic cost quadrupled.
Extended Gadgetry Example, Part 1
Gizmotron is working on two new gadgets. The first is a jet pack. Gizmotron decides to make it out of steel, granting a Material Strength of Remarkable (30). Furthermore, he want to fly at about 150 miles per round, which would be Excellent (20) power rank Flight. Finally, the jet pack cannot be taken away in combat.
Gizmotron is also designing a new pistol. He is making it out of high strength plastics, for a Material Strength of Good (10). Not wanting an ordinary pistol, he decides this new firearm will have Incredible (40) Sonic Control powers. Finally, the pistol can be taken away in combat.
Step Two: Determine Karma Cost of a Gadget
The gadgeteer pays for the ability scores and power ranks of the gadget with Karma. The basic cost is determined as explained under Character Creation above. Bonuses and limitations affect the basic cost as normal. In no case, however, can limitations reduce a gadget’s basic cost below the value of its highest ranked ability score, power, or talent.
Gadgets that can be taken away in combat have their basic cost doubled. Those that cannot be taken away in combat have their basic cost quadrupled.
The total cost represents the amount of Karma that must be spent in order to begin construction. It is not necessary that the gadgeteer herself spend this Karma. Other characters can contribute Karma towards gadget construction.
Extended Gadgetry Example, Part 2
Gizmotron’s jet pack has a Material Strength of 30 and Flight of 20. The basic cost is 60 Karma points (30 for Material Strength and 30 for Flight). The total cost is 240 Karma points.
The pistol has a Material Strength of 10 and Sonic Control of 40. The basic cost is 60 points (10 for Material Strength and 50 for Sonic Control). Since the gun can be taken in combat, it’s total cost is 120 Karma points.
Finally, Gizmotron has Engineering talent. He has spent two weeks and 10 Karma points on detailed schematics for his gadgets. This will pay off later, giving him a +1CS on all FEATs involving purchasing parts and building the gadget.
Step Three: Purchase Parts
Next, before actual work can begin, the character must buy the parts needed. This requires a Resource FEAT versus gadget cost intensity. The gadget cost intensity is equal to the gadget’s highest ranked ability score, power, or talent, plus 5 for each additional ability score, power, or talent.
If the gadget cost is higher than the character’s Resource rank, she cannot afford the gadget. Fortunately, the character has some options. She can get a business partner, whose Resource rank must be within column shift of her own. The purchase can then be attempted at the higher resource rank +1CS. If this is not good enough, she can try to get a bank loan (p. 19, Player’s Book). Finally, if the character has good enough contacts or a Rich Family/Friend, someone else might foot the bill entirely, assuming the contact’s own Resource rank is sufficient. In any case, Karma can be spent to improve chances of success, as normal.
If the Resource FEAT fails, all is not lost. The character can try again in one week (p. 18, Player’s Book).
Extended Gadgetry Example, Part 3
The highest rank of Gizmotron’s jet pack is Remarkable. It has one other rank (for Flight), which adjusts cost to Remarkable (35).
The highest rank of the pistol is Incredible. It too has one other rank (for Material Strength), which raises cost to Incredible (45).
Gizmotron’s Resource rank is Excellent, modified by +1CS for taking time to draw up plans using his Engineering talent. He can afford the jet pack, but will have to make a yellow FEAT to swing the purchase. He cannot, however, afford the pistol. Fortunately, Gizmotron has high level contacts in the Army. He approaches his contacts and convinces them to use their Monstrous Resources to fund the development of the pistol.
Financing resolved, Gizmotron goes shopping. He makes his own FEAT roll by spending Karma, costing him an additional 15 Karma over and above what has already been spent. The Army comes through with their end of the deal as well.
Step Four: Building the Gadget
So far, the character has designed the gadget, paid the total cost in Karma, and made the relevant Resource FEAT. Now it is time to actually get started building the gadget. Material Strength is always the first facet built of any gadget. Installation requires a Reason FEAT against an intensity equal to the rank of the facet currently being installed. This Reason FEAT occurs at the end of the time needed for that facet (see below). If the FEAT fails, the character can start over again, but there is a special 10 Karma point failure fee that must be paid before work can continue. There are also three areas to pay attention to here.
Each separate power, talent, and ability score takes on hour per point of rank to install. This time can be divided up in whatever way is desired.
A gadgeteer needs a lab in which to work. All labs have a Research rank (see Laboratory advantage above). The maximum rank for any gadget ability score, power, or talent is equal to the Research rank of the laboratory in which the work is being performed.
If there is more than one gadgeteer working on a project, there are two options available. First, the gadgeteers may split up the different tasks, thus cutting down on the time involved in construction. Second, the gadgeteers may work together on installing the same ability. This is only effective if the gadgeteer’s Reason ranks are within one column shift of each other. If this is the case, the construction FEAT is resolved using the higher Reason rank +1CS.
Extended Gadgetry Example, Part 4
Gizmotron has an Incredible lab, so he doesn’t have to worry about facilities. His Reason is Remarkable, modified by +1CS for using Engineering to draw up plans ahead of time. He decides to work on the jet pack first. He starts working on the main body, which has a Material Strength of Remarkable. After 30 hours of labor spread out over four days, Gizmotron makes a Reason FEAT against Remarkable intensity and succeeds. Next, he must install the Flight power. Another 20 hours go by, and Gizmotron makes a second Reason FEAT against Excellent intensity. He succeeds at this as well. After one week (for the plans), 50 hours of work, and 260 Karma points (240 for jet pack, 5 for plans, and 15 for Resource FEAT), the jet pack is complete.
Now Gizmotron is ready to build his pistol. Again, he starts with the main body, working for 10 hours. He easily makes the Reason FEAT afterward. The Sonic Control of Incredible will be hard part. Even with his Reason at +1CS, he still needs a yellow FEAT. Rather than risk wasting 40 hours, Gizmotron spends Karma (25 points) and succeeds after working an entire week. The Sonic Control pistol cost Gizmotron one week (for the plans), 50 hours of work, and 150 Karma points (120 for pistol, 5 plans, and 25 for Reason FEAT).
Modifying an Existing Gadget
A gadgeteer can add or raise an ability of an existing gadget. Steps one through three above are handled as normal. Reason FEATs during the building phase suffer a -2CS penalty because the character is attempting to modify the gadget to do something it wasn’t originally designed to do.
Repairing or Rebuilding Gadgets
A damaged gadget can be repaired either in the field or in a laboratory. If done in the field, all Reason FEAT rolls are made with a -2CS. If done in a lab, the lab’s Research rank limits its usefulness. Repairs on gadgets ranked higher than the lab are done as if in the field.
Each facet of the gadget that must be repaired requires a Reason roll against an intensity equal to that facet’s rank. It takes only one turn for each attempt. Karma may be spent as normal.
If a character wishes (or is forced) to rebuild a gadget, steps 1, 3, and 4 above all occur as normal, except for time, which is halved. Step 2 is different if the character still has the plans made using Engineering for the original gadget. In this case, Karma costs are one-half the original total cost. In plans do not exist or are not available, the total cost for step two is unchanged.
An omni-gadget is a gizmo whose exact function is not defined until the gizmo is actually used. A character with omni-gadgets on hand always seems to have just the right piece of equipment for the current situation. Engineering can be used to draw up plans for an omni-gadget.
All omni-gadgets have two ranks: Material Strength and Power. Both are purchased as normal for a gadget. Power has a base cost of 10 to get Shift-0, just as a standard super power. The basic cost of an omni-gadget is determined just like step 2 above, but the basic cost is always doubled to calculate total cost.
The Reason FEAT to install the omni-gadget’s Power rank is modified according to how versatile the omni-gadget is. Column shift penalties are cumulative.
|Omni-Gadget Mimics||Column Shift|
|FASE Ability Score||-1CS|
|RIP Ability Score||-1CS|
An omni-gadget only works for a number of turns equal to its Power rank. After this, the omni-gadget’s Power rank breaks and must be repaired. When activated, the character divides the omni-gadget’s Power rank between whatever abilities it can mimic that are desired.
Gizmotron also wants an omni-gadget. He decides it will have a Material Strength of Excellent and a Power rank of Remarkable. This yields a base cost of 60 (20 for Material Strength and 40 for Power), multiplied by two, for a total cost of 120 Karma.
Gizmotron succeeds in the Remarkable (35) intensity Resource FEAT to buy the parts needed. He then gets to work. Since he wants the omni-gadget to be able to mimic only powers, his Reason is reduced -2CS, but he gains a +1CS by following his plans (which also cost another 5 Karma). He succeeds in both Reason FEAT rolls and his new omni-gadget is complete.
Later, the evil Snow Queen encases Gizmotron in a block of solid ice. Fortunately for our hero, he had the foresight to build a defrost unit into his belt. Gizmotron activates the omni-gadget, deciding that it will have Remarkable heat blast powers. The ice melts and Gizmotron is free! The omni-gadget will function for a total of 30 turns as an Energy (Heat) Blast projector before its circuits overheat and the device burns out.
In general, everything described above applies to that character with the Magic power who has Gadgetry defined as the ability to make magical items. There are only two differences. First, instead of Reason FEATs, the mage needs to make Psyche FEATs. Second, normal Engineering talent is useless. The same bonuses can be acquired using the Occult Design talent instead.