Deadlands: Biding Our Time for a Better Yesteryear
Revised Mad Science
This is where it gets a little deep. I don’t like the Mad Science rules in the book, so I’m scrapping them. In their place, I’m assuming that Mad Scientists can design with the best of ‘em, and build maybe half as well.
The Increased Power Points, Rapid Recharge, Improved Rapid Recharge, and Soul Drain Edges are of no value to Mad Scientists. The Power Edge gives a new Blueprint (at a cost). You also will want to know about some of the new and modified Edges.
You no longer have an independant Power Point pool. Instead, it’s unique to each Device. If you want to change that number, design a new one.
You don’t have Powers as a Mad Scientist. You have Blueprints. A Blueprint contains the schematics for a single Infernal Device or (if you have the Alchemy Edge) Elixir. It includes what Powers are in that Device and how many Power Points it has available. This does not give you the Infernal Device, it just gives you the ability to build it.
There are a few ways to gain new Blueprints. One is for the muse to strike. Inspiration comes in the form of a new Power Edge. This allows you to sit down and figure out a brand new Device. It also has bad consequences later on down the line, as inspiration leads to madness. Sorry, pard. This also has the limitation that all Powers in the Device must be equal to or less than your character’s Rank.
Fear not, though. There are other ways to walk down the path of progress. If you have an Infernal Device (or Elixir, again, if you’re an Alchemist), you can attempt to reverse-engineer it. This requires a proper engineering or chemistry kit, some time, and a roll of Weird Science. A -1 penalty is imposed for every Rank the highest-Ranked Power in the Device exceeds yours. If you succeed, you gain the Blueprint for that Device. If it fails, then it’s really sad and all, but you’re going to have to gain a Rank before you can try again. On a critical failure, the Device or Elixir is destroyed.
The third way is easy. If you find written plans for an Infernal Device or Elixir (once again with the Alchemy), you can pick it up and learn the thing by studying it for some time. Rolls are generally not required unless it’s confusing, disorganized, or encoded (so… usually you’ll have to roll).
Designing the Device
So, now you know how to gain a Blueprint. What’s on it? The first thing you need to know is what you want the thing to do. Understanding that will give you an understanding of the Powers that will go into it. There are three categories of Devices:
- Ghost Rock: Ghost rock Devices have Powers that are activated and sustained like ordinary Powers. They have a supply of Power Points fueled by ghost rock or by some special chemical innovation or other disposable part. A pound of ghost rock carries 100 such Power Points. It usually takes two rounds to refuel a ghost rock Device, but this can be shortened to a round with a succesful Repair roll.
- Ghost Steel: Ghost steel is made by using ghost rock as coke for the iron to make the steel. The Device doesn’t have to be made of ghost steel – the term is used to describe a Device with “infinite” function. It can either be activated over and over again or it is always working. Note that it is hypothetically possible for a Device to have both ghost rock and ghost steel Powers.
- Elixir: If you haven’t figured out what Edge you need before you can make Elixirs by now, go home. Elixirs are potions – you drink them, throw them at enemies, pour them on objects, or whatever. Elixirs are single-use and have a pre-defined allotment of Power Points. Every Power in them will spend them to activate and sustain, and the Elixir will keep going until it runs out of Power Points. Regardless of whether you want it to or not.
A Device has one or more Powers in it. Ghost rock Devices activate these Powers one at a time. Elixirs activate them simultaneously. A ghost steel Device might have Powers that work constantly, but if a Power must be activated then this is done individually.
It costs money to build a Device, and the first cost is for the Powers.
|Power Rank||Ghost Rock Power||Elixir Power||Ghost Steel Power|
The costs for Powers are modified by two factors.
Restriction: Powers that are restricted in some way might have their cost cut by as much as half. Thus, a power of telekinesis that only works on metal objects would probably cost half.
Subsequent Powers: Ghost rock and ghost steel Powers become more expensive for versatility. A Power costs half again its base cost if it is the second or subsequent Power on the list. Feel free to arrange this so that the Device is as inexpensive as possible.
If a Device has a restricted subsequent Power, the “half price” is figured off of the base cost. Thus, a restricted subsequent Power costs as much as it would have if it was an unrestricted first Power.
The capacity for Power Points costs money as well. For ghost rock Devices, this means a fuel tank that must be fueled (you don’t start with it filled up, pilgrim, sorry ‘bout that). For Elixirs, the Power Points are single-use (as are the Powers) and the Elixir simply possesses them. For ghost steel Powers, no Power Points are ever spent. Instead, you must pay a cost based on the number of Power Points it would cost to activate the Power.
|Power Point Type||Cost per PP|
|Ghost Rock Capacity||$15|
|Ghost Rock Fuel||$1|
|Elixir Power Point||$15|
|Ghost Steel Power Point||$150|
The only thing left is to know how your Device operates. If you’re using an Elixir, ignore this step – it takes one hand and, typically, one mouth to use it. Total up the price of your Device so far, and apply the modifiers below.
By default, a Device either requires two hands or is worn in place of armor. (Note that the fuel tank might be strapped to your back.) Note that you can only wear one kind of armor at a time, so if you’re using an armor-type Infernal Device you won’t be wearing anything else to protect your body.
Making the Device one-handed will increase the cost to 125%. Hands-free Devices (which are usually worn but don’t count as armor) cost 150%. Apply that, and you’ve got the final price of your gizmo!
Building the Thing
Building your Device is easy enough. You need to pay the cost you figured out above for raw materials, you need access to your tools and equipment, and you need time equal to one fifth the price of the Device (so a $450 Device would take 90 days to make). A Raise cuts this in half. In addition, up to four assistants (each of which must have Repair at least to D6) can help, dividing the total time by the number of workers.
Finally, you need to make a roll of Weird Science. If it succeeds, then the Powers are in there, and anybody can use the Device by using whatever Traits would be appropriate. Failure means you need to spend the time again but you can recycle the materials. Critical failure means the Device is ruined.
Raises might do any number of things. For each Raise, you may select one of the following things:
- The Device takes half as long as usual to make.
- The Device’s Powers gain the special effects of a Raise.
- The Device only suffers backlash on a Critical Failure, rather than on a Mishap.
Some Devices don’t have clear mishap situations. For instance, an Elixir might not explicitly have a roll associated with it. Generally, the Powers of a Device should be tailored to allow for the desired effects of the Blueprint and the need for the GM to have a way of smearing the faces of overzealous characters. As an example, the ghost rock coke used in Bulletproof Armor will ignite and explode if the wearer mishaps a Soak roll. Restorative Elixirs require Vigor rolls for Healing. All of these are examples of how a Power might be manipulated to allow for the trappings of the Mad Scientist.
Ghost Steel Mishaps: Ghost steel Devices are more stable than the others. Thus, mishaps with ghost steel might end in the destruction of the Device, injury to the wielder, and areas of pain, but they will generally be less severe than Mishaps with your everyday gizmos.
If you attempt to vend your Device, the “fair” market price will be at least twice what you paid for it. Increase this multiplier by one if you gained the Raise effects on the Powers, and by one again if the Device is stable enough to only backlash on a Critical Failure. Thus, the Device might fetch a price up to four times what you paid for it. On the other hand, unless you’ve got a well-known name, you’ll probably come off looking like a snake oil salesman.
El Cheapo Gizmos
Holy crap you’ve got sand. If you’re building your Devices on the cheap, cut the cost in half. Just keep in mind that mishaps occur on a roll of 1 or 2. If you score a Raise and you want to lower the chance of Mishap, then it drops to only on a roll of 1 rather than only on a Critical Failure.