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Old Mar 22nd, 2012, 05:28 PM
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OOC: building the Magi-Tech system

I'm working on building the mechanics for the steamworks in the setting as there are a number of different mechanics that I like along with my own ideas. I will add links to this thread as we move to different areas.

 


 


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Old Mar 22nd, 2012, 05:29 PM
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New Skills

Steamworks skill: Craft(Steamworks)
This skill will be used in a manner similar to both the regular Craft skill and Spellcraft.


Changed skills. See post 1.

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Old Mar 22nd, 2012, 05:50 PM
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Magi-Tech Engines:
The powering options are going to be based on the engine used. Additionally, all engines require maintenance.
EnginesEngines are used to power scientific and Magi-Tech devices. Each device of this sort will note what size engine is necessary to power it, though this may not be a possible engine. If an engine smaller than Tiny is given, it is to note how many of these devices can be powered off a tiny engine. Most engines require fueling, based on its type, and all engine require maintenance on a weekly basis. An engine can cumulatively power up to four devices that require an engine one size smaller. Additionally, if there is a critical failure while using the device, it may need immediate maintenance using it regular maintenance DC as the base.

Critical Failure:
Critical failure range (CFR) will be given for the device and for the engine; if one fails then roll for the other at double the secondary part's range. For every size difference, there is a modifier of + or -1 to the critical failure range; +1 if the secondary is smaller, -1 if the secondary is larger, to a minimum of 1.
Example: Jak fires a rifle with a steam discharge device (CFR 1-4), rolling a 2. Now, he must roll another d20 to see if the Tiny coal engine (CFR 1-4) powering it suffers backlash. As it does not have a protective coupler (reduces secondary CFR to 1/2 base), the engine has a modified cfr of 1-8. Since the engine is one size category larger than the steam discharge device requires (Diminutive), it takes a -1. The final critical failure range for the engine is 1-7.
If there was a protective coupler between them, this range would be 1 [(4 * 1/2] -1).


Current Engine Types:

Coal:
Primarily uses coal for steam power. This engine is easier to build, coal is relatively easy to find, and magic is not needed to power it. Other things can be burned in it with varying degrees of efficiency. CFR for a coal engine is 1-4.

Arcane:
This engine is ran through magic. There are currently three types fo Arcane Engines: Standard, Consumptive, and Eternal. In spite of the naming convention, there are both arcane and divine versions of this engine. A Standard arcane engine is fed through spells cast on the engine (see table below). A Consumptive Engine runs off magic items for a number of days equal to 1/2 caster level squared, though each increase in size category above Tiny decreases the time by 1/2. Eternal Engines do not require refueling, though maintenance is still necessary. CFR for an arcane engine is 1-2.

Standard
SizeStandard  
 Opt 1Opt 2Opt 3Opt 4
Fine1(th)-- 
Diminutive2(th)1/2  
Tiny3119
Small42416
Medium54925
Large681636
Huge7162549
Garg8323664
Col9644981
Opt 1: 1 SL/day; heavily unbalanced at high levels
Opt 2: 1 at Tiny, double per size up; bigger is better, but size restriction balance?
Opt 3: 1 at Tiny, Square each size higher; as Opt 2, but less so
Opt 4: size category squared; as Opt 3, but low levels very expensive

Consumptive
SizeConsumptive (days)
 CL1CL7CL13CL19
Fine ---
Diminutive23298200
Tiny11649100
Small1/2824.550
Medium1/4412.2525
Large1/826 1/812.5
Huge    
Garg    
Col    

Necromantic:
A Necromantic Engine is powered by souls and death. A living creature that is fed into a Necromantic Engine powers the engine for 1 week per HD for creatures with an Intelligence less than 3, 2 weeks per HD for creatures with an Intelligence of 3 or higher. The creature remains alive until the last HD is gone, losing HD at the respective rate as their soul is consumed. Each increase in size category above Tiny decreases the time by 1/2. CFR for a necromantic engine is 1-4.



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Old Mar 23rd, 2012, 02:58 AM
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I have a lot of questions and comments and suggestions on this...

Please note I have not read through all of steam and steel, just peeked at it.

1) What is "maintenance"? Is this a skill check? A gp cost per (unit of time)? What are the penalties if maintenance is not achieved? (Increase to CFR seems likely). This option might be mitigated by ranks in the steamworks skill, offering better skilled creators the option to reduce maintenance, ie, reduce total maintenance price per (time unit) by X% for every rank in steamworks of the inventor or reduce DC skill check by 1 for every X ranks of steamworks of the creator. (craftsmanship having an impact here). For this game I recommend Maintenance be an off camera time commitment with the cost of an alchemist kit used in the same fashion a gunsmithing kit might be used.

Fixing an item with "broken" condition is suggested to mimic magic items in that it's 50% item cost (reduced in final cost by skill ranks over requirement, see below in item cost calculation).

2) Fuel? I recommend against defining engines as coal and instead defining them in terms of GP cost per (unit of time). Fuel is a component and largely, according to the inventor, especially concerning high fantasy items, might be dragon tears or sawdust or steam or coal, or anything according to the inventor whimsy. A particularly awesome sci-inventor might even craft a mobile silver time machine that runs on refuse... Plus you have to remember that for engines that are fine sized... where are you even going to have a coal chamber? It's too small to realistically house fire or coal. As such, just list as gp cost per month and leave the actual substance to the whim of the inventor (which can be defined if desired or left obscure depending on GM style, though this potentially leads to an exploit resulting in GP imbalance; lets say it runs on dragon blood rather than 100 gp per week and we start hunting dragons to keep fuel costs down, on the other hand, if you don't name it, you can't withhold the component as a potential plot hook). The cost should scale with the CL of the item VS engine size (higher CL and smaller size being more expensive). This only applies to standard engines, arcane engines are entirely different. This option might be mitigated by ranks in the steamworks skill, offering better skilled creators the option to reduce price, ie, reduce total fuel price per (time unit) by X% for every rank in steamworks of the inventor (craftsmanship having an impact here).

3) Critical Failure Range? If something fails what does that mean? Are we using the malfunction table on page 19 of steam and steel? I'm not quite familiar on how to calculate CL for a custom item or entirely clear on this CFR stuff as a result.

I also recommend this replace any other critical failure of any item, such as a gun with a backfire or critical arcane spell failure as this will lead to multiple failure types any time a one is rolled that very well could be catastrophic to a PC or NPC when multiple crit fails start stacking. What this means is that any given device is "1 kind of thing" Either it's enchanted, or it's steamworks, or is a gun or it's a, b, or c, but it only fails one particular way. The exact type is determined by the crafting skills and feats used to create it.

4) Quality of Construction & Technology? I recommend this table from page 39 of steam and steel, this allows various kind of inventions based on qualities affordable to the inventor at the time. This should also adjust CFR. What this means is dumping more GP in makes an item less likely to fail.

5) Calculation of cost... all of these rules are meaningless if we don't have a GP cost to create an item.

Enchanted items are the root price at 100% cost

Suggest reduction of X% of final gp cost (probably 1%) per rank of steamworks over the minimum to craft the item (ie the rebreather requires steamworks 3, having steamworks 6 ranks would indicate -3% to final cost paid, not item value though), again, indicating craftsmanship and scientific theory having it's place VS enchantment.

Alchemy/Science Engines: At present the suggested rate is 50% cost to "enchant" an item for a straight "alchemical/science" engine. These engines run on a GP cost per month and have the advantage of not being enchanted so they firstly can a) recieve up to +10 of enchants on them, as well as +10 of steamworks bonuses, and b) do not malfunction in dead magic zones or as a result of dispels, etc., however, as a mitigator, these items do require maintenance and fuel, where enchanted items do not. These items also do not require caster levels to create, nor use magic device checks so long as they are correctly identified. Further, they are great for stealth ops for rouges who need powerful items that don't give off a magic aura.

Necromantic Engines: These engines do not have blood drinker or soul drinker listed, I would recommend adding these types but have an automatic requirement of evil alignment to use or create any necromantic engine, offering sever alignment penalties and requirements of penance for classes that may apply to. Necromantic Engines actually pose a significant benefit to any evil enough to wield them, so I would jack the price to say 75% of enchantment cost as the only mitigator here is willingness and requirement to pursue bloodshed, which isn't much of a requirement to an evil character to begin with, though it still presents a hassle of sorts.

Arcane Engines: I can't speak to calculate this yet because I'm entirely confused by the language and charts, and this is exactly what I intend to create, so it's important to understand this.

Firstly, I don't even get what "consumptive engine" means... runs off of magic items? I don't get what that means...

Secondly, eternal engines with no maintenance or fuel cost should be 125% GP cost of enchantment because they can be crafted with a single skill and feat where enchantments require a feat for each type of item (rings, wonderous, wands, etc.) providing greater access to the inventor (a good choice, but a significant benefit over enchantment). To mitigate the access benefit GP cost is increased by 50% for eternal, no maintenance engines. This essentially is equivalent to enchanting an item as it has no differential mitigators, such as stacking on extra enchants (not possible, +10 total for these items unlike straight science/alchemy items) and they can be dispelled (recommend a modifier for magi-tech devices though, such as a standard flat +3 to resist or so due to being partially mechanical). Unlike enchantments though, these cannot be stacked on clockwork bonuses.

Thirdly, I really don't quite get the charts, as in what you wrote is total greek to me... can you explain how to make an item step by step with your system, in this case lets try one that Oz will be using...

RebreatherAura faint conjuration; Slot face
Price 2000 gp; Weight 1 lb.

Description
A mask that covers the lower part of the face, with a round filter sticking out to the front. While wearing a rebreather, you gain a +5 bonus vs. airborne stench attacks and inhaled poisons/gas/etc. Cost 2000gp (1000gp to create)

Special
Purely scientific version is available. It has no aura and works in non-magical areas. The cost is ?50%?, but will require filter changes.

Magic Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Items, Craft (clockworks) 3 ranks; neutralize poison; Cost 1000 gp

Science Construction Requirements
Rebreather: Craft (clockworks) 5 ranks; Cost 500 gp
Filters: Craft (clockworks or alchemy) 8 ranks; Cost 12.5 gp


Also the filters, those are 8 ranks to produce and 12.5 gp to create... but... how often do they need changing and I'm assuming full price is 25 gp.

Now lets call this a magi-tech item instead... how many spell levels does it eat, how often and what's the new price range to buy and to craft?

I can't quite figure out how to price magi-tech item hybrids because I'm not sure what the expensiveness of the spell levels works out to be. If the spell levels dumped in is higher it should be cheaper, if it's lower per CL of item it should cost more GP.

Spells powered also need to be charged by someone capable of casting at the highest CL on the device, otherwise it's an advantage and GP price should be increased (this is similar to a staff ability to recharge).

GP Cost Calculation Concerns for Arcane Engines:
What needs to be sought after is a balance between the renewable resource of spell levels (that don't cost GP) VS the disadvantage of loss of spells per day (a major detriment to a caster, particularly non-wizards) VS you must be a caster or have access to a caster with spell levels to burn to fuel this item (disadvantage) VS any maintenance (whether it is skill or GP based) VS cannot stack additional enchantments (arcane engines take slots for BOTH science and enchantment bonuses, so the item is +10 max) all factored against the standard cost of enchantment.

Other optional element:

It makes sense reusing components is a good idea, I propose adding the following from magic item creation:

Quote:
Adding New Abilities
Sometimes, lack of funds or time make it impossible for a magic item crafter to create the desired item from scratch. Fortunately, it is possible to enhance or build upon an existing magic item. Only time, gold, and the various prerequisites required of the new ability to be added to the magic item restrict the type of additional powers one can place.

The cost to add additional abilities to an item is the same as if the item was not magical, less the value of the original item. Thus, a +1 longsword can be made into a +2 vorpal longsword, with the cost to create it being equal to that of a +2 vorpal sword minus the cost of a +1 longsword.

If the item is one that occupies a specific place on a character's body, the cost of adding any additional ability to that item increases by 50%. For example, if a character adds the power to confer invisibility to her ring of protection +2, the cost of adding this ability is the same as for creating a ring of invisibility multiplied by 1.5.
Unlike enchants though, these items can be completely reforged with new abilities entirely (but must be still the same base type), meaning a +1 flaming longsword can now have it's cost directly applied to a Vorpal Luck blade (no flame). It is assumed in such a case though, that components will have to be swapped for items of equal value at a component market.

Why Enchant?

With all this talk of engines and such it's easy to lost sight of why enchantments are so great... because they always work, they don't need fuel or maintenance and specifically don't require engines, which while you're talking about maybe making a semi-conductor off of a massive engine in a mountainside to power a dwarven town, that's all well and dandy, but wouldn't a straight up continuous lightning enchantment on a stone be far more convenient?

Enchantment, while more expensive has a ridiculous amount more utility and is especially more convenient for higher level enchantments making enchanting still a viable character path, but the new technological advancements do seem to make the long term career path of being an enchanter, less appealing to the young who want the tech they want right now (ie steam is more convenient at lower and early mid levels because it's cheaper and easier to produce, but also disposable and non-renewable).

You also have to remember the significant potential of steamworks items with +10 worth of abilities built in and then stacking on +10 enchants onto that... while the resources to make such items is ridiculous, so is the application...

Imagine if you will +10 adamantine clockwork golems with another +10 of enchants stacked on them for an unstopable army of doom with no alignment that simply follows the commands of the creator unquestioningly... But to do that, you'll need a steamworks engineer AND a dedicated enchanter

So all in all, Enchantment is still a viable class and in some ways improved by the new tech...

Last edited by WoLT; Mar 23rd, 2012 at 03:26 AM.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2012, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WoLT View Post
I have a lot of questions and comments and suggestions on this...

Please note I have not read through all of steam and steel, just peeked at it.

1) What is "maintenance"? Is this a skill check? A gp cost per (unit of time)? What are the penalties if maintenance is not achieved? (Increase to CFR seems likely). This option might be mitigated by ranks in the steamworks skill, offering better skilled creators the option to reduce maintenance, ie, reduce total maintenance price per (time unit) by X% for every rank in steamworks of the inventor or reduce DC skill check by 1 for every X ranks of steamworks of the creator. (craftsmanship having an impact here). For this game I recommend Maintenance be an off camera time commitment with the cost of an alchemist kit used in the same fashion a gunsmithing kit might be used.

Fixing an item with "broken" condition is suggested to mimic magic items in that it's 50% item cost (reduced in final cost by skill ranks over requirement, see below in item cost calculation).
Maintenance would be a Craft(steamworks) skill check. Some maintenance would require additional materials, some would not as defined by the engine or device. Not maintaining would degrade the object as defined in the engine or object. Failing a maintenance check would cause immediate degredation, and/or a second check with cost to fix, and/or breaking.

Quote:
2) Fuel? I recommend against defining engines as coal and instead defining them in terms of GP cost per (unit of time). Fuel is a component and largely, according to the inventor, especially concerning high fantasy items, might be dragon tears or sawdust or steam or coal, or anything according to the inventor whimsy. A particularly awesome sci-inventor might even craft a mobile silver time machine that runs on refuse... Plus you have to remember that for engines that are fine sized... where are you even going to have a coal chamber? It's too small to realistically house fire or coal. As such, just list as gp cost per month and leave the actual substance to the whim of the inventor (which can be defined if desired or left obscure depending on GM style, though this potentially leads to an exploit resulting in GP imbalance; lets say it runs on dragon blood rather than 100 gp per week and we start hunting dragons to keep fuel costs down, on the other hand, if you don't name it, you can't withhold the component as a potential plot hook). The cost should scale with the CL of the item VS engine size (higher CL and smaller size being more expensive). This only applies to standard engines, arcane engines are entirely different. This option might be mitigated by ranks in the steamworks skill, offering better skilled creators the option to reduce price, ie, reduce total fuel price per (time unit) by X% for every rank in steamworks of the inventor (craftsmanship having an impact here).
Redefine the first category as Burning or something similar. Coal would be one time, and there could be a few others with advantages and disadvantages. I absolutely do not want to put it in terms of GP costs as 1) market fluctuate, 2) the could find some, 3) they could bargain it down, and most importantly 4) it is not RP/IC. They can create engines that run off anything (thus change the base category).

Quote:
Originally Posted by me
Each device of this sort will note what size engine is necessary to power it, though this may not be a possible engine. If an engine smaller than Tiny is given, it is to note how many of these devices can be powered off a tiny engine.
The part that I forgot to put in there is that devices smaller than Tiny are not normally possible. A feat would be required for creating a Diminutive engine. Additionally, we might limit engine size to Huge without a feat.

Quote:
3) Critical Failure Range? If something fails what does that mean? Are we using the malfunction table on page 19 of steam and steel? I'm not quite familiar on how to calculate CL for a custom item or entirely clear on this CFR stuff as a result.

I also recommend this replace any other critical failure of any item, such as a gun with a backfire or critical arcane spell failure as this will lead to multiple failure types any time a one is rolled that very well could be catastrophic to a PC or NPC when multiple crit fails start stacking. What this means is that any given device is "1 kind of thing" Either it's enchanted, or it's steamworks, or is a gun or it's a, b, or c, but it only fails one particular way. The exact type is determined by the crafting skills and feats used to create it.
The table has not been written yet, though the original idea was to base it off Steam & Steel. The failures will be based on engine type.

Quote:
4) Quality of Construction & Technology? I recommend this table from page 39 of steam and steel, this allows various kind of inventions based on qualities affordable to the inventor at the time. This should also adjust CFR. What this means is dumping more GP in makes an item less likely to fail.
Masterwork type items being possible is always assumed. Also, different material and feats would allow for better creation. MW option need to be included (reduces CFR by 1), but the other feats and materials would be separate rules.

Quote:
5) Calculation of cost... all of these rules are meaningless if we don't have a GP cost to create an item.

Enchanted items are the root price at 100% cost

Suggest reduction of X% of final gp cost (probably 1%) per rank of steamworks over the minimum to craft the item (ie the rebreather requires steamworks 3, having steamworks 6 ranks would indicate -3% to final cost paid, not item value though), again, indicating craftsmanship and scientific theory having it's place VS enchantment.
I was planning on making the cost calculations the last thing figured since they are the easiest and most adjustable.
Crafting is a crafting roll, so better rolls mean you finish faster. No cost reduction without special items, feats, materials, etc.
Quote:
Alchemy/Science Engines: At present the suggested rate is 50% cost to "enchant" an item for a straight "alchemical/science" engine. These engines run on a GP cost per month and have the advantage of not being enchanted so they firstly can a) recieve up to +10 of enchants on them, as well as +10 of steamworks bonuses, and b) do not malfunction in dead magic zones or as a result of dispels, etc., however, as a mitigator, these items do require maintenance and fuel, where enchanted items do not. These items also do not require caster levels to create, nor use magic device checks so long as they are correctly identified. Further, they are great for stealth ops for rouges who need powerful items that don't give off a magic aura.
Enchantment is for magic only, but magic enchantments can be added.
I was planning on working on steamwork items after dealing with the engines.
Cost for steamwork items will likely be lower than 50%, but engines will cost more. Don't worry, we can/will adjust what you have on your sheet as we go to compensate.
Most items with an engine, unless specially made, would not be good for rogues as they are loud.

Quote:
Necromantic Engines: These engines do not have blood drinker or soul drinker listed, I would recommend adding these types but have an automatic requirement of evil alignment to use or create any necromantic engine, offering sever alignment penalties and requirements of penance for classes that may apply to. Necromantic Engines actually pose a significant benefit to any evil enough to wield them, so I would jack the price to say 75% of enchantment cost as the only mitigator here is willingness and requirement to pursue bloodshed, which isn't much of a requirement to an evil character to begin with, though it still presents a hassle of sorts.
Evil act to create, evil act to use, but not alignment requirements. EW is fuzzy alignments, largely because I think they are ridiculous, inaccurate, and largely detrimental to RP.
Adding Blood and Soul drinker is a good idea.
The largest advantage to this is a very available fuel source. A souldrinker will be more powerful but require a soul (i.e. living or similar), while a blooddrinker can be corpses.

Quote:
Arcane Engines: I can't speak to calculate this yet because I'm entirely confused by the language and charts, and this is exactly what I intend to create, so it's important to understand this.

Firstly, I don't even get what "consumptive engine" means... runs off of magic items? I don't get what that means...

Secondly, eternal engines with no maintenance or fuel cost should be 125% GP cost of enchantment because they can be crafted with a single skill and feat where enchantments require a feat for each type of item (rings, wonderous, wands, etc.) providing greater access to the inventor (a good choice, but a significant benefit over enchantment). To mitigate the access benefit GP cost is increased by 50% for eternal, no maintenance engines. This essentially is equivalent to enchanting an item as it has no differential mitigators, such as stacking on extra enchants (not possible, +10 total for these items unlike straight science/alchemy items) and they can be dispelled (recommend a modifier for magi-tech devices though, such as a standard flat +3 to resist or so due to being partially mechanical). Unlike enchantments though, these cannot be stacked on clockwork bonuses.
Comsuptive: consumes a magic item to run. You place a magic item in the chamber, and it destroys that item for fuel.

Eternal engines would still have a maintenance, just no fuel. You also need to be able to create the items that they run. The cost for Eternal Engines would be high, as well as requiring special comonents.

Charts: give several options for Arcane engines, and I need opinion on the best option. For the Standard chart, each column is an option on the rule (I fixed the column headers). This shows how many Spell Levels worth of magic must be cast in the Chamber to function for a day. I am personally leaning toward option 2 or 3, unless someone can think of another equation that is reasonable. The Consumptive chart shows how many days a magic item of a specific Caster Level will power an engine; wands and scroll will not be allowed or will have their own rules - likely using the Standard Arcane Engine chart.

For reference a normal engine will power:
Diminutive: equivalent CL 1
Tiny: equivalent CL 5
Medium: equivalent CL 9
Large: equivalent CL 15
Huge: equivalent CL 20

These numbers are a suggestion for now.

Quote:
Thirdly, I really don't quite get the charts, as in what you wrote is total greek to me... can you explain how to make an item step by step with your system, in this case lets try one that Oz will be using...

RebreatherAura faint conjuration; Slot face
Price 2000 gp; Weight 1 lb.

Description
A mask that covers the lower part of the face, with a round filter sticking out to the front. While wearing a rebreather, you gain a +5 bonus vs. airborne stench attacks and inhaled poisons/gas/etc. Cost 2000gp (1000gp to create)

Special
Purely scientific version is available. It has no aura and works in non-magical areas. The cost is ?50%?, but will require filter changes.

Magic Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Items, Craft (clockworks) 3 ranks; neutralize poison; Cost 1000 gp

Science Construction Requirements
Rebreather: Craft (clockworks) 5 ranks; Cost 500 gp
Filters: Craft (clockworks or alchemy) 8 ranks; Cost 12.5 gp


Also the filters, those are 8 ranks to produce and 12.5 gp to create... but... how often do they need changing and I'm assuming full price is 25 gp.

Now lets call this a magi-tech item instead... how many spell levels does it eat, how often and what's the new price range to buy and to craft?

I can't quite figure out how to price magi-tech item hybrids because I'm not sure what the expensiveness of the spell levels works out to be. If the spell levels dumped in is higher it should be cheaper, if it's lower per CL of item it should cost more GP.

Spells powered also need to be charged by someone capable of casting at the highest CL on the device, otherwise it's an advantage and GP price should be increased (this is similar to a staff ability to recharge).
We haven't started looking into item creation yet. The magi-tech version of the rebreather would likely use a Fine or Diminutive engine.

[quote]GP Cost Calculation Concerns for Arcane Engines:
What needs to be sought after is a balance between the renewable resource of spell levels (that don't cost GP) VS the disadvantage of loss of spells per day (a major detriment to a caster, particularly non-wizards) VS you must be a caster or have access to a caster with spell levels to burn to fuel this item (disadvantage) VS any maintenance (whether it is skill or GP based) VS cannot stack additional enchantments (arcane engines take slots for BOTH science and enchantment bonuses, so the item is +10 max) all factored against the standard cost of enchantment.[quote]
You don't need to be a caster, just be able to use spells on the Fuel Chamber - a wand or scroll would work. Bonses will stack (circumstance and enchantment), but it will cost more to enchant an engine.

Quote:
Other optional element:

It makes sense reusing components is a good idea, I propose adding the following from magic item creation:



Unlike enchants though, these items can be completely reforged with new abilities entirely (but must be still the same base type), meaning a +1 flaming longsword can now have it's cost directly applied to a Vorpal Luck blade (no flame). It is assumed in such a case though, that components will have to be swapped for items of equal value at a component market.
Reusing items would make some of the cost of reused items for offsetting the "raw" material cost, which is always required for crafting items.

Craft(steamworks) or Disable Device at 10+Maintenance DC will get 1/3 base cost with of materials that can be reused.

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Old Mar 24th, 2012, 02:28 AM
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Maintenance would be a Craft(steamworks) skill check. Some maintenance would require additional materials, some would not as defined by the engine or device. Not maintaining would degrade the object as defined in the engine or object. Failing a maintenance check would cause immediate degredation, and/or a second check with cost to fix, and/or breaking.
Perhaps for game balance auto degradation may end up making sense, but for realism, a failed maintenance check should result in increased CFR. If you do a brake job on your car and put it back together wrong, the car still functions, likely even the brakes... for a while. I believe a confirmed crit fail would be more likely to cause auto-degradation. Even for sensitive things like circuit boards (I'm a former circuit board tech) it can still function when failed maintenance occurs. Further, maintenance is generally performed off camera, and frequently by taking ten. Generally speaking, high end operators/inventors shouldn't be screwing up routine maintenance without some heavy modifiers in place (drunk while being threatened at knife point). Everyone makes mistakes sure, but over a certain point, especially if it's a top quality item that shouldn't need much maintenance, seeing auto degradation seems like a steep penalty.

Also, I think the regimen for maintenance needs to be defined based on the engine in question, which should have something to do with the craftsmanship and cost that went into the item, ie, better quality items needs less maintenance. This needs to be defined thoroughly because maintenance is one of the key drawbacks to using this VS enchanting and will have a significant impact on what the final price should be.

It should be noted if the items are too dangerous and unstable, it doesn't matter how cheap they are, they won't be feasible to adventurers, thus the goal should be to find a balance in there that makes them inconvenient VS enchanted items in a way that makes a suitable price break, otherwise the tech isn't feasible.

Quote:
Redefine the first category as Burning or something similar. Coal would be one time, and there could be a few others with advantages and disadvantages. I absolutely do not want to put it in terms of GP costs as 1) market fluctuate, 2) the could find some, 3) they could bargain it down, and most importantly 4) it is not RP/IC. They can create engines that run off anything (thus change the base category).
I would call it a "science" engine. That makes it reduced to a mundane fuel, but I would still think it's fair to at least estimate to players what the costs associated with the item are, because if you don't there's again, no way to tell what the calculated inconvenience is, and thus you can't accurately set the price break VS enchanting.

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Additionally, we might limit engine size to Huge without a feat.
I don't think I'd allow engines at all without a feat. Turning a wrench properly and assembling a standing item is a skill, engines are more into feat territory. Consider that engineers that design engines go to school for 4 years or more generally. While some people don't and have an innate understanding, they are likely just people that took the feat

What this means is that while maintenance can be performed on the item with steamworks skill, and you could assemble such an item if you bought the engine separate, crafting an engine, I think, should require the feat you've created.

Quote:
I was planning on working on steamwork items after dealing with the engines.
If I'm understanding you correctly, some of these items don't need engines?

Also, I was thinking the arcane "engines" typically operate more like batteries... a maelstone(from GURPS anyway) is a typical example of this. It's a quartzlike stone that holds a magic charge. In this case you'd use it to power the item rather than a typical fuel. Generally you'd recharge such an item with spells.

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Comsuptive: consumes a magic item to run. You place a magic item in the chamber, and it destroys that item for fuel.
When and why would you ever do this? I'm not seeing this as an efficient use of a magic item... It seems like in all cases you could take an enchanted item, sell it for market value and power an item with the gold you gained, whether it's arcane, science or whatever...

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Charts: give several options for Arcane engines, and I need opinion on the best option. For the Standard chart, each column is an option on the rule (I fixed the column headers). This shows how many Spell Levels worth of magic must be cast in the Chamber to function for a day. I am personally leaning toward option 2 or 3, unless someone can think of another equation that is reasonable. The Consumptive chart shows how many days a magic item of a specific Caster Level will power an engine; wands and scroll will not be allowed or will have their own rules - likely using the Standard Arcane Engine chart.
I propose a different option. There are things I like about this, but things I don't. The key thing is, what if I want a high powered item with a smaller engine? Like say, the rifle for my character. The fuel shouldn't be directly linked to the engine size for arcane engines. Instead a smaller engine should be able to be accommodated for a greater cost and higher skill ranks needed to craft. If we use your table as a base, we could say, increase by 5% for ranking down, or decrease cost by 5% by increasing engine size, requiring that a smaller engine require an additional rank in skill over the current creation cost, allowing a maximum of 3 steps in either direction. This would not change the spell level requirement though, just the size of the engine (so you don't need a full backpack to use an item you'd prefer to be more portable, or spend less money and tote around a bunch of heavy gear).

I also recommend decreasing the rate of spending from daily to weekly, even if you increase the cost. Pumping in spells everyday is a severe handicap to any caster, especially one with very limited spells per day as it is

As it stands my character possesses a few items that are actually low level items and this will sap a ton of potential casting ability every single day without fail, as well as the ability to make any use of channel spell or rune bullet features. As the levels increase, while the character gets a few more spells (albeit very slowly) the gear won't be able to keep up with the level advancement I don't think, because it will be too expensive to power. That's why I recommend a weekly fuel structure instead. The idea would be that there is a capacitor type unit that holds a charge, you fill it up and as the last charge expires, the new charge goes into effect and then you can begin dumping spells for the next week.

The contrast here is that on some days with heavier combat the items will serve to gimp, where days with no combat the items will be powered for nothing. A weekly structure allows the burden to be spread out a little bit and frankly, improper planning can still lead to the character gimping themselves. Why this matters is because statistically speaking it's such a drawback to create the item, one might just be better off skipping these types of items entirely in favor of enchanted items that have no maintenance, no upkeep/fuel and no real problems associated with them. In order to make the tech viable it needs to be a comparable step between straight science and straight enchanting. It needs to be somewhere in between, and biting into spells to the extent that every single day the character automatically loses X spells is a pretty huge cost in comparison to say "coal". It should be inconvenient yes, but not so inconvenient the character loses equal capacity to power the item for using it, otherwise it's not a viable tech. The equivalent would be saying, here is your normal car that runs on gas, or your magic car that runs on your blood in an equivalent ratio to gasoline. At the end of the day it doesn't pan out and no one is going to buy the magic car. By spreading it out a little it eases a little of the burden posed.

The only disadvantage then, to using a coal engine, would be to have to carry coal, and since everyone has a bag of holding and coal is cheap, it's not really a disadvantage worth mentioning, but spells per day very certainly is. Spells per week, is a much easier burden though as generally combat doesn't usually occur at breakfast lunch and dinner every single day.


Further, what kind of action is channeling spell levels to power the item? (would recommend a standard action, just like casting a spell).

Quote:
but it will cost more to enchant an engine.
Why would it cost more to enchant an engine? I thought enchantment cost was simply components, and the components change with the enchantment, not what is being enchanted... right?

Last edited by WoLT; Mar 24th, 2012 at 01:51 PM.
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Old Mar 24th, 2012, 01:51 PM
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Edits added in italics to above post
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 01:59 PM
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Just noticed a small discrepency for powering items with spell levels that needs to be addressed:

Clerics and Sorcerers can cast infinite amounts of zero levels spells per day.

To counter this I propose that in all other cases 0 level spells count as 1/2 spell level, in the case of wizards, clerics, sorcs and anything else with infinite zero level spells, the charge is "time based" if using zero level spells (other spells operate normally). Something like 10 min channeling = 1 spell level from 0 level spell energy (maybe reduce that at later levels to keep balance?). This would greatly balance the problem of trying to balance the loss of spell levels for spontaneous casters who have less spell levels to afford to lose.

This also begs the question if the spontaneous casting magus has infinite zero level spells (would suggest yes to power the items)

Last edited by WoLT; Mar 25th, 2012 at 02:08 PM.
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Old Mar 26th, 2012, 01:26 PM
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Maintenance:
This is an argument of detail over simplicity of use.
A simple skill check (which wouldn't be too difficult most of the time), with basic consequence.

Cost of Fuel: Of course they can calculate the cost; amount of fuel it takes x the normal cost of the fuel. If coal costs 1 sp/lbs and the engine needs 10 lbs of coal per day, then it costs 1gp/day to run.

Engines:
It will already take a feat for each engine type. I thought I had mentioned that previously. Additional feats will be required for particularly large or small engines.


Quote:
If I'm understanding you correctly, some of these items don't need engines?
Correct in thinking some do not need engines: your rebreather is an example.

Quote:
Also, I was thinking the arcane "engines" typically operate more like batteries... a maelstone(from GURPS anyway) is a typical example of this. It's a quartzlike stone that holds a magic charge. In this case you'd use it to power the item rather than a typical fuel. Generally you'd recharge such an item with spells.
The setting is steamworks, thus engines. You are correct in how the engines are powered from my first post, but they are engines.

Consumptive
1. Because there isn't a city near as they are extremely rare.
2. A magic items has a significantly higher efficiency in power per size.

Engine Power
More powerful/efficient engines would be based on type. There will be a specific type (MW) engine that is more efficient, and likely a feat to increase that.
The mechanics need to be kept as simple as possible, overly complex rules make this a chore that is not worth it.

Weekly spending would not make sense for a number of the engines, particularly the pure science ones. Also, for carrying coal, the limits of the bag of holding would limit the amount of coal you could carry.

Standard Arcane Engine: Small (Opt 2)
You would cast a level 2 spell to power up to 4 level 1-3 effects or 1 level 1-5 effect.
(making adjustments for weight, etc)

0 level spells: cannot be used. 10 spells x 0 level = 0.

Engine Enchanting: It costs more to enchant an engine/steamwork item for two reasons: OOC: balance; IC: having the enchantment apply to multiple parts. Most d20 enchantments are on simple items; even enchanting guns is only really enchanting the barrel to impart bonuses.

It is important to remember that magi-tech and steamworks are not well developed yet. IRL, when the engine was created it was still better to use horse.
Their lack of commonality and development are part of the reason they are expensive, like firearms.
Rifle: 5,000 gp for 1 shot, full round to load, 1d10 damage. Additionally, it costs 15 gp per shot for the ammo.
This steamworks is meant to be along those lines - though not as much.

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Old Mar 26th, 2012, 02:30 PM
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0 level spells: cannot be used. 10 spells x 0 level = 0.
just saying for purposes of standarad magic item creation they count as 1/2. In this case 10x0= 5.

Altering this formula to 10x0=0 does gimp these significantly in comparison to an enchanted object, making the concept very much less viable. While these may be cheaper to purchase... one has to wonder why not buy a wand of lesser fatigue 2k than a harness of healing serum made with Steamworks that's going to cost 1k and eat a spell per day, and that's just on the low end, at higher levels this gets worse...

Example: talking about eating 5 spell levels a day for say, 10k off the price of a 20k item, when 10k at level 9 is about 20-25% WBL, or 20-25% Spells per day (for a Sorc), and I'm fairly certain everyone agrees spells per day are far more valuable than gold. That's 20-25% of spells per day for roughly the equivalent of a flametongue enchant. That means you're losing 1/4 of your spell casting ability for a flametongue enchant (or equivalent) so you can save 10k up front, not to mention it also needs significant maintenance and fuel, plus likely makes some noise and has other complications which enchanted items do not. Now lets ramp this up to level 20 and see what happens... it's not pretty, see next post

I'm not trying to argue for more power for my character per se, but rather to make the end result of hybrid magi-tech items balanced and viable in comparison to current systems of enchanting and steamworks. The logical progression in my opinion is that Steamworks is straight science, has it's own advantages and flaws, as does enchanting, but magi-tech being a hybrid should sit somewhere in between them in terms of cost, maintenance and general hassle as well as ability.

The zero level spell fix causes the character to eat up time, just like they were preparing spells as a wizard, or if they are a wizard, eats up even more time (but they have more spells to burn so boo hoo for them), and there's only so many hours in a day. For example, my character would want to spend downtime working on inventions and such, which you can do on the road (crafting enchanted items is something like 2 hours a day on the road which actually takes 4 hours). Now lets say an hour of that is spent charging items... now all of a sudden his productivity for crafting is reduced to 75% increasing the crafting time by 25% which actually works out to be 10x times longer than standard item creation rather than 8x (standard on the road crafting). This makes an even more significant difference when you're talking about making higher powered items.

Other options would be to reduce spells per day cost under the current paradigm or find some other way to balance this, otherwise the tech itself isn't viable as steamworks and enchanting prove to be better options (conditionally). This would be different if say, scrolls and wands fell out of every dead orc's pocket, but I'm assuming that isn't the case as the post-apocalyptic vibe tends to breed an environment of scarcity, meaning that while the user can power things with their wands and scrolls, doing so is not good strategy as such items are more rare and spells per day are renewable, plus lets say wands are falling out of everyone's pockets... why not just sell them and get enchanted items instead as they are the preferred fix if not for their expensive cost?

Last edited by WoLT; Mar 26th, 2012 at 03:20 PM.
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Old Mar 26th, 2012, 03:13 PM
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Level 20 example (double posting because that was encouraged in house rules)

Luck Blade: cost roughly 143 k, or about 16% of WBL, now this is a CL 17 item, which you haven't accounted for engine size VS CL yet, but lets say it's a tiny engine, that means it takes the same spell power as a level 1 spell with a tiny engine... not exactly balanced... now lets say it takes a huge engine, which subsequently can't be carried by the character, again, not at all practical...

Lets say we base this off of the idea of consumptive chart just for the meantime since the above discrepancy isn't able to be calculated... meaning lets assume the more powerful the item, the more spell levels it should take to power... so if a CL 1 item tiny engine takes one spell level per day, a CL 17 should (logically?) take 17. I'd propose instead that a CL chart be used as I mentioned in previous incarnations, but even if it's not CL should be taken into account on some level otherwise you can power a level 1 spell and a level 9 spell with the same engine and spells per day, which is completely imbalanced making lower levels impossible to use such items and at higher levels you could use tons of said items.

But for now I'm calculating with 17 spell levels for the luck blade against a sorcerer (chosen because the spell progression is middle of the road on he higher end with wizards being higher up and Paladins being much lower, indicating a general consensus that classes with lesser spell abilities will be much less likely to use such hybrid items)... so we've got 54 spells to deal with at level 20, meaning a net loss of about 38.5% of total spell casting ability to save about 71k or 8% of WBL (severely imbalanced), plus lets not forget that this also requires extra maintenance, makes noise, etc.

Also, you mentioned some items not needing engines... how is that determined...?
and how would that make any sense given that arcane items require mystic fuel...? (otherwise they would function like enchanted items but be cheaper and thus break the system).
Why not craft all items without engines and skip all this trouble? (obviously not the viable solution but playing devil's advocate to show that the engines are highly impractical with RAW).

I have some ideas on how to correct these issues, but I've already posed them to you privately and I assume you had your reasons to reject them, or perhaps I can clarify them better?

Last edited by WoLT; Mar 26th, 2012 at 03:20 PM.
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Old Mar 26th, 2012, 04:17 PM
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As I mentioned in my previous post, much of steamwork may not be balanced. It is an emerging technology and will not be as balanced just like the rifle in my example is not balanced per cost.
Wands and scrolls are easy to make, and magic is very common, so they won't be rare.
Why would someone use Magi-tech? The same reason the engine was built in the first place - potential. Also, anyone can use it. Magic can help in this kind of thing - perhaps even create a market for a general 'fuel' magic item to put in the burner...which would be kind of like the battery you mentioned.

The engine limitations are based on power output - a tiny engine can only put out so much power with its base structure. That is why there will be feats.

Some items logically don't need engines. The rebreather is a mechanism with a replaceable alchemical filter.

We can hold off on this until I put out some of the other stuff I am working on if you prefer, since it will handle some of it.

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Old Mar 26th, 2012, 04:57 PM
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That's fine, i just need this stuff to make sense before I can draft the character sheet properly.

My main issues are concerns about CL VS power required, why some things need engines and others don't, and spells per day to charge items and finally, how GP cost figures in at the end of the day.

Each of these has potential to be broken in either direction and I'd prefer to avoid that so that A) the character I'm playing doesn't end up underpowered and constantly playing second fiddle (not to mention why specialize in a non-viable tech?), and B) so the other characters don't end up in that position with magi-tech becoming too powerful... and while PF is inherently unbalanced by class tiers, I don't want to try and increase the total power gap and make the issue worse, which means trying to balance the system inherently against what's already there, which just seems like good practice to me.

Even though the magi-tech idea is new to the world, all that means setting wise is that it's not accessible, it shouldn't lead to further game imbalance, no? Otherwise we're just setting up larger power gaps later on that will eventually become issues.

The idea of it being new could simply be that firstly it's not accessible, and secondly, perhaps high end items of this type have yet to be invented, which is completely fine. That just means we won't find them as standard treasure, or on sale in the market, my character would have to invent the items to acquire them, which was the entire idea, but at the end of the day I still think my GP investment should be just as shiny as the next guy's, meaning the tech should be worth the cost ie: be comparable with price VS function.

I guess I just don't have a clear understanding of what you're looking to create, so I guess, yeah, I'll just wait

Last edited by WoLT; Mar 26th, 2012 at 05:01 PM.
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Old Mar 26th, 2012, 05:15 PM
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Regardless of what the "final" decision is, the system will be adjusted as I go since it is technically the playtest. So primarily I am looking to get this 'relatively' close mechanically, but maintain the entirety of the flavor as that is the most important part.

As for what needs an engine and what doesn't - just picture it IRL and ask if it needs power. The mask doesn't because its just an alchemical filter like normal gas masks, a self extending ladder would.

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Old Mar 26th, 2012, 06:10 PM
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Ah!

See that's the diference is the imagining of what constitutes an arcane engine...

To me, generally speaking, an "arcane engine" doesn't have moving parts (unless it really needs to for flavor), it has arcane compontents, but those components still require an "engine" to power them, in most cases a stone that glows with magic energy or to dip the device in dragon blood or whatever...

In this case the term "engine" is used as "powering the device" which is essential because if you don't have fuel and maintenance of some kind you have something that works exactly like an enchanted item but costs less, making the item entirely overpowered and obsoleting enchanting as a viable craft which should be incredibly off limits (enchanting is already incredibly powerful as an ability, making it worse should scare a GM).

Imagine instead that "arcane engine" just means "the magi-thing that powers the device" it doesn't need to have moving parts (it could, but that's more of a size VS RP VS player/GM Preference, and moving parts and larger engines that aren't mobile could be a decrease in say, GP cost, because it has an additional mitigator) and all magi-tech items require one... then we give them all a battery stone or something similar and that is charged with spells per day.

So here's the pitch:



This magic sword has an engine... the eye stone in the hilt is a magic stone, it is used to power whatever it does (probably viciousness by the looks of the sword).



This arcane engine, does have moving parts, is not portable and performs a very simple function of being a say, lets call it an omen machine of some kind... which is lets say, a CL1 LV 2 augury spell. Now lets put this same ability on a portable device and call it more expensive... and why is it more expensive than the bigger one... well because the smaller one requires more potent magical components that cost more...

See the magic stone on the sword, it's tiny, which means it needs to be capable of powering the same spell that a whole room sized machine does, and the room sized machine has a stone to power it too, but the difference is the stone is huge and very impure, making it cheaper



Now lets call this one a Magic Lightning Rod that powers an underground dwarven city...

Lets call this a level 5 CL 15 lightning arc (persistant), but also say, dependent upon sunlight (the beam from above), which requires special materials to resist damage (just throwing adamantine out there for now) from the arc...

So we can see from the size of the object it's a colossal sized device (planetarium size) and it probably costs a pretty penny being CL 15, but much less so than if we were to try and attach it to a ring...

which would be 90 million GP to enchant standard (half that for steamworks)... (or for twice that we can enchant the character with it by making it a tattoo and give them a body of pure lighting) but by increasing the size to collossal, non-portable, and adding special materials and a mitigator of required sunlight plus it needs to be powered by spell energy per day, we can significantly cut back on that cost and make such a machine realistically affordable, though it still won't be cheap... Such an item would probably be a world wonder for sure and would change the face of how the world worked as soon as the technology was made public.

Anyway, I'm not suggesting that these items do exist, but just trying to give a framework for which they could work in... ie, some hypotheticals allows us to manage how the rules could be handled, again taking into consideration, CL, Spell levels per day, Engine Size, and other problematic issues (portability, noise, maintenance, etc.)

Last edited by WoLT; Mar 26th, 2012 at 06:14 PM.
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