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Weird Science- why take it?

 
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Phantomdoodler

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:36 pm    Post subject: Weird Science- why take it? Reply with quote

So I am just starting a LOA campaign and one of my players has chosen the Weird Science talent since he is playing a classic mad inventor. Now that I have looked into the rules, there seems to be a problem:

1. If you take the Weird Science talent, you can create a device - this costs money, resources and time to plan and construct. After building your fabulous device, after several weeks, you finally get your artifact, but cant use it until you pay the experience points.

2. You buy the Artifact with experience points. This costs you no money, time or the need for other talents or skills.

Am I missing something here? As the rules stand, there is absolutely no point in putting the effort into creating your own Artifact - you may as well just pay for it with experience points.

I have a possible fix to this. If you need an artifact, there are three choices:

1. Get a sponsor to provide one (as with the Globetrotting Guide to Expeditions). This requires some level of charm and influence, the artifact is only lent to the players for a specific mission, and if the artifact is broken or damaged, you will annoy your sponsor.

2. Buy an Artifact with experience points. This is expensive, but requires no skills or talents. If the Artifact is destroyed, however, those points are lost.

3. Construct your own. This requires the Weird Science Talent, take time and will require various skills and expenses, using the Weird Science rules. After completing a device, the player can use it for an adventure for free, afterwards it will break down and need to be rebuilt. Essentially the player will need to repeat the construction phase again in order to use it for another adventure. Or the player can start to invest Experience points in it - when it is bought , the item no longer needs to be rebuilt. Even if the artifact is destroyed, since the inventor created its, they can just repeat the construction phase. This may mean some time for larger artifacts, but at least the experience points are not wasted.

Using these rules, the main advantages of taking the Weird Science Talent is that you dont need all the experience points up front to purchase the artifact, and you dont lose any experience points if the artifact is destroyed. The disadvantage is that the process is costly in money and time, and requires the player to purchase several talents and skills.
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TAG Wiggy

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Weird Science- why take it? Reply with quote

Hi Phantomdoodler,

Welcome to the forums!

Phantomdoodler wrote:
2. You buy the Artifact with experience points. This costs you no money, time or the need for other talents or skills.


If you have a Patron who's a weird scientist, this is indeed a good way of getting artifacts. Otherwise you'd have to explain how and why a character gained such a device. It's the same with most Resources. Just picking Wealth during play needs as explanationas to the sudden source of income, a would mysteriously gaining a Patron out of the blue.

One could argue (though it's not stated in black and white -- GM choice) that even repairing weird science requires the Weird Science Talent.

It's also one reason we aded in the option of begging a device from a League (Globetrotters' Guide to Expeditions), and listing which artifacts Leagues might have access to (Globetrotters' Guide to Weird Science).
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Phantomdoodler

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

I still think that an inventor also having to buy the device with experience points first, just like a resource, makes their skills a little redundant. Wouldnt such a character just buy all they artifacts they need with experience points, justifying this to a Gm that they have a few devices they are working on, negating the need to actually construct it and make the required rolls.

Or are you saying that players cannot take the Artifact resource unless they have a wealthy patron inventor, or have access to the Weird Science Talent (or know a player who does). In other words, unless you are lent an item from a wealthy patron, the construction rules have to be used - you cant simply spend experience points and get the item. That would make Artifacts pretty rare, which seems apt. I do like the idea that Weird Science could be used to repair an artifact (and thus meaning your precious experience points are not wasted when it explodes. It just takes a little effort to reconstructed it).

By the way, thanks for a fantastic game. I have 6 players chomping at the bit on this game, which doesnt happen that much these days. I think , aside from being built on a solid rpg system, the amount of plot seeds and scope for adventure is what I was most impressed by - I think its almost impossible for a gm not to come up with ideas for scenarios (something the Adventure! storytelling game could have done with a lot more with)

Incidently, have you ever thought of running LOA for a Dr Grordbort game? I know the technology is a little more advanced, but looking through your excellent Weird Science supplement, it wouldnt be difficult to build an Ether-oscillating rifle (hideous damage but likely to rend you sterile if it overheats.) I may have to play with that.....
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TAG Wiggy

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phantomdoodler wrote:
I still think that an inventor also having to buy the device with experience points first, just like a resource, makes their skills a little redundant. Wouldnt such a character just buy all they artifacts they need with experience points, justifying this to a Gm that they have a few devices they are working on, negating the need to actually construct it and make the required rolls.


Most certainly a valid way of making Artifacts more generally available during an adventure. For instance, the party may need a device to help them, but not have one available. The weird scientist could, with GM approval, spend some XPs and proudly proclaim, "Luckily I finished my latest invention yesterday evening, isn't it?" Doesn't really work with mole machines -- bit hard to carry around. Smile I'd certainly be okay with that 9 times out of 10 (the 10th time being the "adventure-busting artifact" suddenly dreamt up).

Another option is to halve the XP cost of home built items -- this could represent spare parts from other projects, visits to the scrapyard, donations from family and friends, etc. Maybe even sponsors. Imagine a huge rocketship with "Dunlop Tyres" or "Heinz Soup" painted on the side. Smile Or one shaped like a Coca-Cola bottle. Very Happy

Quote:
Or are you saying that players cannot take the Artifact resource unless they have a wealthy patron inventor, or have access to the Weird Science Talent (or know a player who does).


Just saying that's it's left open for a GM to enforce as he wishes. I can imagine some groups where weird science is rare -- unless you can build it yourself or buy a Patron weird scientist, devices likely don't exist. Others, though may favor more prolific weird science, which you can buy "off-the-shelf." By not having a firm rule either way on the Artifact Resource, we're trying to please everyone. Smile

Quote:
By the way, thanks for a fantastic game. I have 6 players chomping at the bit on this game, which doesnt happen that much these days. I think , aside from being built on a solid rpg system, the amount of plot seeds and scope for adventure is what I was most impressed by - I think its almost impossible for a gm not to come up with ideas for scenarios (something the Adventure! storytelling game could have done with a lot more with)


Glad you and your group are chomping at the bit. It's not easy (or cheap) to produce full length adventures week after week, so it's important to us our books have loads of seeds and ideas in them to help out GMs short f time or in need of a creative nudge.

Quote:
Incidently, have you ever thought of running LOA for a Dr Grordbort game?


Best I go and research this Dr. Grordbort, methinks. Smile
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Phantomdoodler

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do like the idea of half the experience cost (actually I was going to suggest that) - it would definitely make the mad scientist a little more useful. Possibly, for "I have the very thing" moments, a character could spend 1 style point for a Rank 0 artifact, or 2 Style points for a Rank 1 artifact, to temporarily acquire a device - or scrounge it together from available technology. The device would only last for a scene before exploding or breaking down, but it would be cool to have that available. Or maybe if thats a little powerful, That could be a new Talent:

I Have the Very Thing!
Prerequisite: Weird Science
Benefit: For the cost of 1 Style point, you just happen to have any Rank 0 Artifact on your person. It must be small enough to fit in your pocket or backpack, unless you have access to a laboratory or workshop, and lasts no more than 1 scene before exploding or collapsing. If the item is a disposable item, such as a pill, then you have just one dose.
Advanced: This talent may be taken up to three times, each time increasing the Artifact Rank limit by 1. You must , however spend 1 additional Style point for each Rank of Artifact you wish to have (A Rank 2 Artifact would cost 3 Style points to have on hand) and the usual size limitations apply.

Dr Grordbort is pretty amazing, and already has plenty of visual goodiness (its designed by a Weta character designer)- Take LOA, and mix it with Flash Gordon and even more tongue in cheek, and a heavy dose of satire. So Big Game Hunters on Venus arm themselves with disintegrator rifles capable of obliterating diplodocus sized creatures in one blast, while half-crazed scientists like Dr Grordbort, invent even crazier inventions...
Add a few rules for aliens, and space combat, and LOA would be perfect
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Runeslinger

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is an interesting idea for a Talent!

I had trouble similar to yours with the idea of spending XP for inventions in games as far back as Shadowrun 1st Ed. but eventually came to see it differently.

During the invention process the character is choosing to develop in a very specific area and is actually bringing something wholly new into the game. Some might go to the gym to get fitter, the scientist goes to the lab to build a steam-powered exoskeleton.

XP costs for invention represent the investment of knowledge, time, and effort into development. Once designed, the device is something the character can build or repair with their skills, and having it expands their abilities in new and unheard of ways. That this may also cost an investment of resources simply stands to reason; there are material costs for material things. Likewise, going to a college course in downtime no doubt comes with costs as well, albeit not explicitly nor exhaustively laid out in the rules. Ubiquity does love to suggest and support play rather than limit and prescribe methods.
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Phantomdoodler

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have absolutely no problem with players paying XP for artifacts. I think my main point is that you can do that anyway as a resource, without the need to acquire the Weird Science talent. Essentially, my Mad scientist character could simply invest those points in a level 1 artifact, rather than buying Weird Science, and actually have a device to start with. I think Weird Science definitely needs a little boost to make it worth while. Such as paying half cost for artifacts, or being able to repair and rebuild broken artifacts, rather than lose the XP devoted to them.
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Wolfe1759

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The way I intend to run Weird Science is that having the WS talent allows the character to reassign the experience points they have invested in current WS inventions to the new invention they have just created. The old invention which had previously utilised the experience points is now unavailable to the character (they salvaged it for bits, sold it to fund the new invention etc.)

In effect having WS allows you to invest your XP into a pool (a Resource - Artifact (Wierd Science) probably renamed as Inventions) which you can draw on to fund current or make new inventions.

Or to put it another way your mad scientist character will have the Talent - Weird Science and will also have the Resource - Inventions with the level of this resource determining the the maximum number of Artifact levels worth of WS items that the character can have at any one time.

For example your very experienced Weird Scientist has accumulated a pool of 75XP of WS Artifacts and currently is the proud possessor of a Mole Machine, the Mole Machine isn't likely to feature in the next adventure so the character (probably between scenarios) spends the time and makes the rolls to invent an Advanced Diving Suit and a Lunar Transmogrifier which he now possess (with no additional XP expenditure by the player), the Mole Machine unfortunately got buried under a massive cave in with the Weird Scientist making a miraculous if rather muddy escape.
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