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Author Topic: Steampunkin'  (Read 2008 times)
TheAuldGrump
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« on: July 05, 2007, 02:16:06 AM »

Hmmm, I have been running a steampunkish setting for a while, and have been kind of avoiding any huge changes to the Spycraft rules - aside from a few Expert classes and the addition of magic (okay, that is a big change) the only change has been to up most Gadget picks to the next size category, and to remove some of the more obvious anachronisms.

Things that I want to add are the loss of limbs and the use of prosthetics, and I really need to sit me down and start work on that. In particular I want prosthetics to be a trade-off rather than the gleaming gear in Cyberpunk. And the loss of limbs is something that some folks risk all the time in the course of their professions. (Railyard work in particular - pinching a finger between two freight car couplings was not at all fun. And as for artillery....)

Any suggestions? Any gear that you think is a must for the setting? Any ideas on the loss of limb and sanity?

The Auld Grump
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2007, 03:32:33 AM »

Well loss of Limbs should really use the table of Ouch. Perhaps give 'Maimed Limb' a check or chance to result in irreparable damage to the limb. 'Brain Damage' or 'Internal Rupture' results could be amended or have a chance of being amended to account for eye damage (perhaps the Wis penalty could be assumed to be eyes as Wis is largely perception which is largely vision).

Prosthetics, as a minimum have it count as gear, probably something like:
Caliber I: Very basic, requires a hefty power source (perhaps something like a warcaster backpack from Iron Kingdoms/Warmachine - but chunkier and weightier) and gives a -2 penalty to appropriate checks
Caliber II: Powersource but no penalty
Caliber III+ This is where you finaly start adding bonuses, probably go for specific checks rather than broad attributes: i.e. the traditional strength enhanced arm would add to Power Lifting, Smash & Grapple checks.
Bonuses to combat damage, I'd probably have the arm count as if using 2 arms, swinging weapons tends to be more an upper body movement than pure arm strength in my (admitedly limited) experience.

Just random thoughts when I'm supposed to be working.
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TheAuldGrump
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2007, 10:32:58 PM »

Well loss of Limbs should really use the table of Ouch. Perhaps give 'Maimed Limb' a check or chance to result in irreparable damage to the limb. 'Brain Damage' or 'Internal Rupture' results could be amended or have a chance of being amended to account for eye damage (perhaps the Wis penalty could be assumed to be eyes as Wis is largely perception which is largely vision).

Prosthetics, as a minimum have it count as gear, probably something like:
Caliber I: Very basic, requires a hefty power source (perhaps something like a warcaster backpack from Iron Kingdoms/Warmachine - but chunkier and weightier) and gives a -2 penalty to appropriate checks
Caliber II: Power source but no penalty
Caliber III+ This is where you finally start adding bonuses, probably go for specific checks rather than broad attributes: i.e. the traditional strength enhanced arm would add to Power Lifting, Smash & Grapple checks.
Bonuses to combat damage, I'd probably have the arm count as if using 2 arms, swinging weapons tends to be more an upper body movement than pure arm strength in my (admittedly limited) experience.

Just random thoughts when I'm supposed to be working.

Pretty close to what I have been toying with - it was easier in OGL Steampunk, where I could graft on the entire system for limb loss - SC 2 already has the table of ouch. Smiley I would actually give the lowest grade of prosthetic a Dex penalty rather than any bonus, with better grades giving a bonus as well as the penalty - so you might get one that grants the user a Str bonus of 2 and a Dex penalty of 2 as well. The structure for the limb is likely to go quite a bit further than merely the arm - as you mentioned it might be akin to primitive Warcaster armor - so it reinforces the upper body strength as well as the arm.

I may hold off until Shatterpunk makes its appearance, and modify the rules for prosthetics from that. That is, assuming that it does have rules for prosthetics.

The Auld Grump
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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2007, 03:50:21 AM »

You could even just rip out the table of Ouch completely and replace with your own.
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2007, 12:12:41 PM »

What about removing the whole aspect of magic from Steampunk? Doing it that way allows you to keep the Table of Ouch and still work on rudimentary mechanics limbs.
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2007, 12:53:03 PM »

I'd go away from a sanity system tied to limb replacement unless folks are going to go into the realm of actual augmentation, then that can be used to balance cost but I've never been a huge fan of it.

"steamware" should have some huge social stigma with it unless its commonplace to see folks with modifications. I'd say the other major drawback would be the unpredictability of the devices of the day or with that setting. Most of that is custom and prototype work so it has bugs or require constant adjustment to keep it working. Alot of that can be played in downtime but something can be used to handle critical failures.

Just thinking off the cuff while on lunch.
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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2007, 12:58:32 PM »

If I may recall Global Frequency for a second, the point was made that a superstrong bionic arm would be useless without corresponding reinforcements to the skeleton and muscles it attaches to. The "full borg" conversation shown there was anything but pretty, radically reengineered to be able to operate its cybernetic limbs.

Choice quote:

"I have a wire in my brain that simulates sexual pleasure when I kill."

So, er, yeah, he was a cyberpsycho.

What I do think is a good idea is taking subdual damage when you use the special abilities of your cyberlimbs. Using it puts a strain on your body that is not to be underestimated. Alternatively, Vitality costs for using, but at that point it starts to look like a more gear-based Psionics system. Which wouldn't be a bad idea, I believe.

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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2007, 10:25:59 PM »

If I may recall Global Frequency for a second, the point was made that a superstrong bionic arm would be useless without corresponding reinforcements to the skeleton and muscles it attaches to. The "full borg" conversation shown there was anything but pretty, radically reengineered to be able to operate its cybernetic limbs.

Choice quote:

"I have a wire in my brain that simulates sexual pleasure when I kill."

So, er, yeah, he was a cyberpsycho.

What I do think is a good idea is taking subdual damage when you use the special abilities of your cyberlimbs. Using it puts a strain on your body that is not to be underestimated. Alternatively, Vitality costs for using, but at that point it starts to look like a more gear-based Psionics system. Which wouldn't be a bad idea, I believe.

Gatac

Not particularly either Steampunk or Scientific Romance in feel though.  It might work for something more supers-like though.

This is off the top of my head, and drawing from what I've been playing around with for the Fantastical Scientific Romance I've been working on...

The effect of the prosthetic should determine how you handle it.

  • Those that give penalties: Nothing.  But they are cheap.  And they don't breakdown.  Peg legs, hooks, glass eyes, etc.  (But generally speaking, not eye patches.  See below)
  • Those that have no effect on statistics or abilities don't need any thing beyond cost to balance them.  These should also be available in dark, rusty iron dripping hydraulics and leaking steam up to shiny brass and glass.  But they are just special effects.  Luke or Anakin's hands are examples of these.  For most Steampunk or Scientific Romances or (dare I say it) Pirate settings, Eye patches fall here.
  • Fancy gizmos, marvels of the mechanical and medical arts that grant bonus to stats.  These are gadgets.  They must be aquired like any other gadget.  If your character doesn't have or spend enough gadget picks for the uber powerful arm of Dr Munch it becomes a special effect and does nothing.  This should probably be an all or nothing thing, and can only be done during intel.

Following that, the other things to look at... All of these are major surgery.  Assume PCs always survive and heal up properly, but the very real  dangers involved make most people with a choice avoid them.  Add circumstance bonus and penalties to social skill and disposition checks as desired, the prosthetic bearing person is... different.  How this actually manifests depends on the injury, the quality of the prosthetic, the people the injured person is interacting and the story behind it.  Also, the mechanical sort could easily be broken by a critical failure on any roll involving the part.

Rough and distinctly needing codification to fit with Spycraft's design theory (too much is loose and arbitrary at the moment), but it's what I have at the moment.
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TheAuldGrump
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2007, 11:39:20 PM »

I'd go away from a sanity system tied to limb replacement unless folks are going to go into the realm of actual augmentation, then that can be used to balance cost but I've never been a huge fan of it.

"steamware" should have some huge social stigma with it unless its commonplace to see folks with modifications. I'd say the other major drawback would be the unpredictability of the devices of the day or with that setting. Most of that is custom and prototype work so it has bugs or require constant adjustment to keep it working. Alot of that can be played in downtime but something can be used to handle critical failures.

Just thinking off the cuff while on lunch.
The sanity loss would be tied to losing the limb, not getting a replacement - most likely Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Soldier's Heart, Shell Shock, etc.) In other words Stress Damage. Smiley Recovery would neither be hindered nor aided by the replacement of the limb. This would be a modification of The Table of Ouch rather than a gear related rule.

Social stigma is a factor, if nothing else having 'steamware' subtracts from any attempts to Blend. People remember folks with prosthetics. People with oversized mechanical claws tend to stand out in the crowd for some reason....

My current means of handling 'bugs' is to have a roll when stressing the device, if a 1 (or sometimes a 1 or 2) is rolled then it may be activated as a critical failure in much the same way as weapons malfunctions.

At best, barring Gadget picks, prosthetics allow a trade off, loss of two points Dex for one point of Str (allowing for a stronger grip, not whole body strength). That kind of thing.

Mind you, in the current group no one has lost a limb... yet. (Actually, this group is a lot more cerebral than expected - genteel investigators rather than hard boiled detectives and spies.)

The Auld Grump

*EDIT* One possible result of Stress Damage from the loss of a limb is addiction - at a time when cocaine and morphine could be purchased over the counter, but aspirin required a prescription....
« Last Edit: August 27, 2007, 11:49:37 PM by TheAuldGrump » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2007, 03:21:33 PM »

sounds like you are going in the right direction.

Steampunk with steam limbs has never been a favorite trend of mine with the genre but it does have its place. Would be curious to see how this plays out in your game.
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« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2007, 05:29:35 PM »

I'm sure you know of the Girl Genius webcomic if not here is the link.

Agatha (and Phil Foglio) rocks on toast!

http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/

James Bolivar DiGris
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