Device Design

Engineers can tinker to improve or change the workings of any device. There is an array of possible improvements, which include:

  • Additional Capability
  • The device can now do something else of roughly the same scope. A car might also be able to be a boat, for example, or a gun might be able to shoot a grappling hook. Alternately, it may be able to do something normal but do it exceptionally well (so that a technology works like it does in the movies rather than real life).
  • Alternate Usage [2]
  • The device allows skills to be used differently. For example, a medical tissue scanner might allow a doctor to use Medicine to examine a crime scene instead of Investigation.
  • Armed
  • Adds guns or blades to a device that would not normally have them, allowing its use with the Firearms or Weapons skill.
  • Armored
  • A device may be given a point of armor, meaning that any time it is hit for one point of stress, the damage does not roll up even if that box is already checked off (it does not prevent the stress, just the roll-up).
  • Craftsmanship The device gives a +1 bonus to any effort using it (usually only to one skill, if the device supports the use of multiple skills). This improvement may not be taken more than once per affected skill.
  • Hair Trigger
  • This is mostly only applicable to explosives. A bomb with a hair trigger has no delay – it blows up as soon as it’s thrown. The bad news is that Hair Triggers can be a bit tricky, and there’s a chance of it blowing up in your hand. Failing the throw means that it explodes at the thrower’s feet! Also, if a character carrying a hair trigger device takes any physical stress or consequences, he must roll a die, and on a -, it explodes.
  • Independent
  • The device has some manner of autopilot and is able to act independently in a very limited fashion.
  • Conscious [2]
  • Like independent, but the device is capable of basic reasoning, and can interpret simple commands. This is not true AI, which is both nearly impossible and forbidden by the Big Two.
  • Integral
  • This device is physically part of the character’s body – a cybernetic implant, a genetic enhancement, or an inborn ability outside of the capabilities of a normal human.
  • Miniaturization
  • Something that’s not normally portable can now fit in a large set of luggage, while something merely large can now fit in a wristwatch.
  • Maximization
  • The inverse of miniaturization: Sometimes you just need something to be BIG! This improvement is used to alter an item for circumstances when size will truly matter, such as a weapon that can’t possibly damage its intended mega-monster target without being very large, or a car that’s actually house-sized and able to transport a huge number of passengers.
  • PL 6
  • The device includes technology from Progress Level 6.
  • PL 7
  • This is like the PL 6 improvement, but extends to any technological effect which could be achieved with technology from Progress Level 7
  • PL 8
  • Like the PL 6 Improvement, but this allows for scientific advances from Progress Level 8.
  • Rugged The device has 2 extra boxes of stress capacity over the default, which is usually 3. May be taken multiple times.
  • Special Effect [2]
  • A device may now operate on different principles, like a car that runs on water or a medical kit that can repair robots. The game benefit of this will depend highly on the specifics.
  • Upgrade
  • A specific improvement, granting a +2 bonus to some fairly specific use for the thing. A car, for example, might get a +2 in a swamp or a +2 on the straightaway.

[2] (1, 2, 3, 4) Requires that the engineer also have a “PL 6 Science” stunt or co-inventor (see page XX) to justify the effect.

[3] Requires a “PL 7 Science” stunt or co-inventor. To improve an item (rather than create it from scratch), start with the base difficulty to create the device based on the item quality, as before.

Next, determine how many improvements you want to make. Each improvement increases the difficulty (and required workshop quality) by one. Each improvement takes approximately 8 hours to implement.

If the player is willing to increase total time to improve the item by one increment on the time table (page XX), he gains a +1 bonus to the roll; increasing it again results in a +2 bonus, and so forth. This bonus doesn’t reduce the requirements for the workshop, however; that’s still based on the quality of the item (and thus the difficulty target). The player may also reduce the time spent; if less total time is spent improving the item, each step faster on the time table imposes a -1 penalty to the roll.


Equipment that characters make can be expected to last for the duration of a single adventure, but is assumed to be lost, deconstructed or otherwise removed from play between adventures. Failure on the roll is subject to the rules for “taking your time” (page XX) in order to retroactively succeed.

Personal Devices

Characters are able to buy personal devices as stunts. Devices bought this way generally start from a baseline item of any sort, with three improvements applied. Cost factors are set aside since the device is getting “paid for” in terms of stunts. Alternately, the player can take multiple devices and spread those three improvements among them. The GM and player may work together to create new improvements that fit the concept of the device.


Personal devices can be taken away, destroyed or lost over the course of an adventure unless the character also has an aspect for the device. However, the GM should assume that the character recovers or replaces the device between adventures. If the character has an aspect for the device, the GM may, at his discretion, allow the player to invoke the device’s aspect to make a declaration that he’s recovered the device fortuitously during the course of play. Devices that are tied to aspects in this way become central to the character’s story and, as such, should never be taken away from the character for too long.

Personal devices can use improvements which require advanced science. If the player does not have the PL 6 Science stunt, he must apply “Uses PL 6 Science” (at the cost of one improvement) before applying the PL 6 improvements themselves (so a device may have two weird improvements for a total cost of three improvements).

Personal devices can also use improvements which require advanced science, subject to much stronger GM scrutiny. If the player does not have the PL 7 Science stunt, he must apply “Uses PL 7 Science” (at the cost of two improvements) before applying mad science improvements.

Universal Devices

Characters can also take unspecified devices as stunts. This is useful for characters who are likely to carry around a variety of devices and need to pull out just the right thing for the occasion. These sorts of devices are called universal devices (page XX).

When a character begins an adventure, his device doesn’t need to be defined. Instead, at the point where he decides he needs it, he reveals the device, which can have two improvements. If a character has multiple stunts, they can combine them to make one device with many improvements. Once the character has declared the device, he has it for the rest of the adventure.

If the character wishes to introduce something a little more dramatic, he may instead introduce a wonderful toy.

  • Those Wonderful Toys: Devices as Effects

Sometimes a device is a “fast forward” button that, when used, effectively allows the characters to skip to the end of a scene, perhaps by being exactly the right thing to get past a lock, or releasing gas at just the right time to incapacitate the guards.

Instead of pulling out a device with improvements, an unspecified device can be used for a specific effect, which is usually enough to simply bypass any challenge, or at least radically redefine it. This is a one-shot effect, trading off a more potent effect for being able to use it only once. These effects are always subject to GM veto.

Device Design

Crosstime gremlin1384 gremlin1384