Monday, June 17, 2013


At one time The Known World was a steampunk campaign. Primarily because I like impossible retro tech and monocles and am fascinated by Nikola Tesla and his zany ideas fore wireless energy, death rays, and earthquake machines. It isn't really, nor was it ever, steampunk. It completely lacked the punk element. The players were never ostracized fringe elements rebelling against the establishment in The Rebellion Arc. They were thugs and killers that helped to put an establishment into power and stuff. Anyway, I still use the word steampunk, but it is kind of a catch all term for impossible technology and my upgrade system. Basically it is The Known World's non-magical magic loot. People gripe about not getting magic loot and feeling like they don't have enough cash. But what can I do? Magic explodes, and street toughs don't carry 5000 marks and the keys to a steam lorry on them. Find a way around it. No one has ever said, "Clint, we've got cash but no loot. Can we ride to Port Brass and load up on gadgetry?" Port Brass is the most modern city in Kusseth, and I've said so before. It is where all of the steampunk is. It is where you can buy or steal the majority of the steampunk. Nope, it's always "We don't have any magic loot and are underpowered, it's not fair." with no opinion on what they want to do or where they want to go.

The steampunk substitute system replaces magic items and is far more readily available than magic loot is in a regular campaign. You can electrify weapons and gain energy resistance bonuses to armor and give anything you want the keen property and make your armor have a higher armor bonus and your weapons have an enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls. It all just uses different names and has a lower cost than magic stuff. To buy a fiery sword in Pathfinder costs like 8300 gold. To buy a fiery sword in The Known World costs 2000 marks. To buy a +5 magic revolver costs 50300 gold in Pathfinder. In The Known World it costs 15150 marks. Ridiculously cheap in comparison, no?

That cost reduction comes with a price though. Steampunk gear isn't magic, so it doesn't penetrate damage reduction and it is less durable than magic items. Upgrades that would make a weapon weigh more, do. Some stuff also has a drawback or risk when used. For instance, the steampunk version of the shocking burst property (18300 gp/6000 mks) has a chance of zapping you while you wield it, but only on a critical failure on an attack roll. It's not any more realistic than just saying magic did it, but saying you have a non-ferrous reverse polarity magnetic field generator on is a lot more fun than saying your shield gives you the Deflect Arrows feat because, magic. Not that the generator just gives you a feat, it does more than that. 

Most "steampunk" gear, like the savage blade or the gyromagnaccelerated needle pistol or the KMT RDHSR Mk I requires an exotic proficiency to use or wear, unless its just basically a weird hat like the phrennoaccelerometer. Back when we played in The Known World with 4th Edition rules, there was also a strong tincture and snake oil salesman wonder powders and serums and such element to the steampunk nature, for instance: Johnson's Cherry Flavored Epinephrine Shot and Johnson's Equally Flavorful Numbing Opiate Candies. One granted a speed and initiative bonus, the other gave you extra hit points like a Barbarian gets when they rage (i.e. they go away when the effect ends, potentially putting you down). No one ever actually snagged any of the stuff though, so I stopped wasting space in scenarios with the inventories stores that sold that stuff. Guys, I even composed fanciful descriptions for these goods, as if I were selling them out of a wagon and such. There was effort put forth and you pooped all over it.  Wounded! Wounded I am! Anyway, there is no Craft (Steampunk) skill. Craft skills already exist for everything. Is it a weapon? Use Craft (Weaponsmithing). Is it a chemical or powder? Use Craft (Alchemy). Only difference is that "steampunk" stuff generally has a higher DC than normal gear you'd make with the skill. Exotic melee weapons have a Craft DC of 18, crafting a savage blade (chainsword), has a DC of 20 and is more expensive than a bastard sword. 

So this "technology" is more common, yes. That doesn't mean it is in every general store. Most of it is expensive to make and maintain, so it sits in big main cities in some workshop with some crazy mechanically inclined guy cooing over it and polishing its various brass components. It's still somewhat restricted, as you have to kind of be in the right area, but most cities in Kusseth have industrial areas where these kind of workshops exist. Port Brass is a dogdamn hive of these kinds of places. Don't get me wrong, some of it is pretty restricted. You're not going to find lightning driven armor anywhere for sale, at least not legally. But, you know, adventurers have a long history and tradition of killing people they're not supposed to and getting a hold of things they shouldn't. 

So anyway, I'm done yammering about "steampunk" in my campaign world. Instead, I'm going to list some steampunk stuff I've come up with over the years. Mind you, this isn't normal stuff like analytical engines, trains, or stuff like that, this is the weird and neat stuff. Ok, fine, analytical engines aren't normal, but they existed. One did. Part of it. Fucking Babbage

Name: Johnson's Alchemical Restorative
Price: 80 marks.
Description: This brilliantly green colored serum is derived from certain herbal extracts of The Beast Lands and certain glands found only in the great beasts of that land. Utilizing these chemicals to augment a living patient's constitution allows them to heal rapidly from injury.
Effect: When imbibed as a move action, the serum restores 1d8+5 hit points. 
Drawback: Excessive consumption of this serum has lead to unexpected rapid growth of tissues and bone structure. Each consecutive dose of the serum after the first in a 24 hour period imparts a cumulative 10% chance of the patient increasing their size by one category when the serum is consumed, this confers a -1 to attack rolls, a -1 to AC, a +2 size bonus to Strength, and a -2 size penalty to Dexterity for 1 minutes. This rapid and uncontrolled growth is incredibly painful and taxing on the body and deals 1d4 points of damage to the patient's Constitution score. Anyone wearing medium or heavy armor who suffers from this side effect is dealt an additional 2d8 damage by the suddenly painfully restrictive armor they are wearing. Any armor or clothing worn by the patient gains the broken condition as well. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Alchemy)/25.
Magic Version: Potion of Cure Light Wounds.

Name: Johnson's Cherry Flavored Epinephrine Shot
Price: 250 marks.
Description: When injected into a living creature as a swift action, this chemical compound immediately fills the subject with industrious and useful energy and a puts a veritable pep in their step. Manufacturer's Note: Flavoring only relevant if injected directly into the patient's tongue. Suffice it to say that epinephrine is wholly foul tasting and our flavoring alone makes this chemical a worthy feat of science and industry. 
Effect: Once administered, this chemical grants a +4 circumstance bonus to initiative, a +1 bonus to attack rolls, a +1 dodge bonus to armor class, and a +10 ft. enhancement bonus to movement rates. The effects last for 7 rounds. 
Drawback: Patients sometimes exhibit jitteriness and anxiety while under these effects and take a -2 penalty to saving throws vs. fear effects. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Alchemy)/20.
Magic Version: Potion of Haste.

Name: Johnson's Equally Flavorful Numbing Opiate Candies
Price: 300 marks per tin. Tin contains 8 candies. 
Description: When these delightful cherry flavored hard candies are consumed by living creatures as a swift action, they fill the body with a fuzzy feeling of numbing calm, making the eater more resilient in the face of injury. 
Effect: Each candy grants the eater 1d10+5 hit points. These hit points are not temporary hit points and when the duration of the effect ends, they are subtracted from the current hit point total of the character. The bonus hit points last for 5 minutes. These hit points stack with each other, multiple candies may be consumed with the same swift action. 
Drawback: Opiates have a tendency to make the user sleepy and lethargic, those that consume the candies take a -2 penalty to saving throws vs. sleep effects, as well as the dazed, fatigued, stunned, and staggered conditions. Each candy consumed increases this penalty while it is in effect. If a character consumes more candies than his Constitution modifier, he must make a DC 15 Fortitude save every round to remain conscious. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Alchemy)/20.
Magic Version: Potion of Aid. 

Name: Non-Ferrous Reverse Polarity Field Generator
Price: 6000 marks. 
Description: This armor is actually a suit of padded armor (albeit with a -3 check penalty, rather than zero penalty, and weighing 25 lbs.) that incorporates a backpack festooned with cables and wiring. Sewn into the thick padding are various wires and emitters designed to project a magnetic field that repels non-ferrous metals. It should be noted that no one knows how magnets work. But, suffice it to say that the most brilliant minds of Port Brass are hard at work on the task of figuring it out.
Effect: When activated as a swift action, the marvelous backpack generates an invisible field of magnetism that is able to repel non-ferrous metals. Anyone attempting to strike the wearer with a non-ferrous metal object (whether it be a projectile or melee weapon) finds their momentum arrested by the field. The wearer gains a +8 deflection bonus to armor class from attacks made with non-ferrous metals (such as bronze, copper, lead, wolf-iron, silver, gold, etc). 
Drawback: It takes a significant amount of energy to reverse the polarity of the field, and each successive attack during a round strains the field. Every attack after the first by weapons composed of non-ferrous metals against the wearer reduces the deflection bonus by two points. If the deflection bonus drops to zero, the backpack shorts out temporarily and the polarity of the non-ferrous magnet returns to the normal state and provides a +2 bonus on attack rolls made against the wearer with non-ferrous metals until the backpack is repaired as if it had the broken condition. Removing and donning the suit takes two minutes, but may be expedited into a full round action at the cost of damaging the delicate wiring in the padding and increasing the repair cost by 25%. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Electrical) or (Armorsmithing)/25.
Magic Version: Shield of Arrow Deflection. 

Name: Phrenoaccelerometer
Price: 6750 marks.
Description: This copper band encircles the wearer's head. Once securely in place, a bulky battery pack is attached to the circlet and activated. The interior of the circlet is lined with silver wiring and silver needles that conduct low intensity electrical current directly to the wearer's brain, stimulating mental acuity. 
Effect: Gain a +1 insight bonus on all Intelligence related skill and ability checks, Wisdom related skill and ability checks, and Will saving throws. 
Drawback: If the wearer fails a saving throw that results in taking electrical damage, he gains the stunned condition as the electricity follows the silver wiring directly to his brain and shorts it out temporarily. This condition lasts until the phrenoaccelerometer is removed or turned off.  If he successfully makes a saving throw against such an effect while wearing the phrenoaccelerometer, he gains the dazed condition for one round instead. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Electrical)/25.
Magic Version: Headband of Mental Prowess +2.

Name: Rapid Divestment Carry All
Price: 100 marks
Description: This intriguing device is a backpack covered in numerous pockets for storing items and includes a variety of hooks and loops gear may  be attached to. In addition, it has a half dozen padded straps that encircle the wearer's chest and shoulders and come together towards the middle of a wearer's chest and are attached to a single metal ring. 
Effect: Like a normal backpack, this backpack can hold about 2 cubic feat of material. Due to the excessive amount of straps and padding, the wearer's strength score is treated as +2 higher than normal when calculating carrying capacity. Additionally, the metal ring all of the straps are attached to has a quick release pin built into it that may be pulled as a free action to release all the straps and cause the backpack to fall to the ground, divesting the wearer of the encumbering backpack should the wearer suddenly need to be less encumbered. 
Drawback: None.
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Leatherworking)/15.
Magic Version: None.

Name: Rudo Holt's Sorcerous Destabilizer Field Emitter
Price: 3500 marks
Description: This strange device is about the size of a large chest and is covered with thick cables, strange glass tubes and protrusions of beltanizine and Merotethian obsidian. The device weighs approximately 60 pounds and is exceedingly fragile, a single blow to the object will make it unable to function until repaired. When activated, as a standard action, the device emits a field of sorcerous disruption out to a range of 30 ft. 
Effect: While the field is in effect, all spellcasters within the field must make a caster level check of 15 + the spell's level when casting spells or increase their misfire chance by 2% per spell level. 
Drawback: None.
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Electrical)/25.
Magic Version: None.

Name: Gambler's Hat
Price: 100 marks.
Description: This device typically has the appearance of a bowler, tri-corner, or top hat. Within the hat is a cunningly devised support structure that hold a single shot firearm primed and ready to fire, along with a trigger mechanism the uses a pulley system to allow the pistol to be fired by a switch that may be clasped in the wearer's hand. 
Effect: The firearm within the hat may be loaded with bullets, which deal 1d4 damage, has a 10 ft. range increment, and a 20/x3 critical statistic. Or, it may be loaded with shot, which deals 1d6 damage, has a 10 ft. range increment, a 20/x2 critical statistic, and has the scatter weapon quality and uses a 15' cone when used in that fashion. The device also has a +2 on Sleight of Hand checks to conceal it, +4 if concealed in a top hat. Anyone targeted by the hat that is unaware of its true nature is considered to be flat-footed when initiating the attack. 
Drawback: The device is somewhat inaccurate due to its placement on the head, rather than in the hand, and has a -2 penalty to attack rolls. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Gunsmithing)/20.
Magic Version: None.

Writing this post has given me some ideas, I think I'll have an additional post of steampunk related nonsense for Friday. Perhaps throw in some more weapons and armor while I'm at it. 

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