Crafting Ruleset: An outline.

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Crafting Ruleset: An outline.

#1 Postby robert4818 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 12:36 pm

My group is getting ready to run some Savage Worlds Iron Kingdoms. Of course Mechaniks, Tinkerers, Bodgers are all an integral part of IK, but for the most part Crafting is not a part of SW.

While AB: Weird Science can fill in for some things, It can't for others. I've done some digging, and I can't find a decent set of crafting guidelines for SW. There is a set Wiggy came up with for the fantasy toolkit, but it doesn't quite work for what I want, as its focused on creating magical items.

So instead, I decided to take a look at Dramatic tasks. They were close, but something wasn't quite there. I finally settled on using Reality Blurs "Extended Trait Checks". They work alot like dramatic tasks, but there's no artificial time limit.

Extended trait checks work on the following paradigm.

You decide (as a gm) the difficulty of the task, which is a modifier on check rolls ranging from No Roll Needed to +2 to -3. You then decide on the number of successes needed (1-4) to achieve a win. Then you assign a time range for each check. (I.E. 1 check = 1 hour). Each success and raise nets 1 success tally, each failure results in no net gains. A critical failure results in a tally wipe.

This is the paradigm I'm using for a crafting system. Each game will end up with its own variation on this, so this will be a rough framework.

As with most crafting systems, a player needs to come up with 1/2 the cost in raw materials. Though the GM may allow a streetwise/persuasion roll to lower this cost through bartering.

First the GM needs to decide on an appropriate skill for the crafting. (This could be a "Craft: ____" or a "Knowledge: _____" or even "Spellcasting/Repair".

If you are making something from the book, here's my guidelines. The first thing to figure out is the complexity. In this case, I assign a complexity of 1 for every $100 in the price, rounded up. So, a motorcycle that costs $3000 dollars has a base complexity of 30. A derringer, with a price of $150 would have a complexity of 2.

The Base time interval for this check is 1 day. If this seems too short or too long, don't worry we'll deal with that in a second.

Next, assign the difficulty. Use your best judgement here. I recommend assigning a range between -2 and +2 depending on how long you think it would take a person of average skill to create this object in "complexity x days".

Now the player can adjust the difficulty by either lengthening or shortening the time between checks.

The time periods are:

30 min
1 hour
4 hours
1 day (8-12 hour days assumed from this point forward.)
1 week
1 month
6 months
+ 6 months

For each shift up or down, shift the difficulty +/- 1. It gets harder to work faster.

Cooperative Checks. Cooperative checks may be made on this roll as normal. If an assistant rolls a critical failure (or a result of 1 or less if an extra) on the roll, it applies a -1 penalty to the main roll as they are more in the way than helping for that period. Assistants are assumed to be working just as long as the primary.
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So, lets make our Motorcycle. Base Cost $3000. Raw Material Cost 1500.
Complexity 30. Skill needed "Know: Mechanics"

I as gm figure making a motorcycle from "scratch" is difficult to do in 30 days. (Complexity 30 x 1 day) so I assign a -1 to the check difficluty.

The player, wanting to get rid of the penalty, ups the time interval to 1 week. He has two buddies helping him. The player is a wild card D8, the assistants are extras D6.

The first roll, the assistants roll a 5 and a 3. This gives the player a +1 to his roll. He rolls a 7, with the +1 thats an 8 which is a raise.

The player nets 2 successes on this weeks worth of work. Only 28 left to go.

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#2 Postby robert4818 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 12:41 pm

If you want to go with something more scrap built, then you as GM have a bit more work to do.

If its something comparable to a standard piece of equipment. (A different type of gun, a modified vehicle, etc.) Then Figure using something equivalent.

On the other hand, if this is something like a fully custom vehicle, a mech, drone, etc I suggest the following.

First get a copy of Wiggy's Sci-Fi Gear toolkit. It has a great system for "building" (rules /cost wise) lots of custome equipment. You may need to modify prices to fit your campaign.

Have the player assemble the piece of equipment rules/cost wise, then figure out the complexity of the machine. A base chassi should have a difficulty of 0. However, parts and equipment can easily modify this number to a -2 or worse. Use your judgement (or assign ahead of time).

Then use the rules from above.

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#3 Postby Zero Mostel » Wed Dec 21, 2011 3:00 pm

I think in general this works. The SF toolkit is still lacking such things as this article is talking about.
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#4 Postby robert4818 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:41 pm

Zero Mostel wrote:I think in general this works. The SF toolkit is still lacking such things as this article is talking about.


The toolkit is great for DESIGNING your own stuff. And its a great place to start

:) On the downside it has no rules for actually constructing it.

BTW, love the Forum handle. The original Producers is still one of my favorite movies.

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#5 Postby amerigoV » Wed Dec 21, 2011 5:18 pm

You might grab Iron Dynasty by Reality Blurs. Aside from being some cool Japanese Fantasy/Steampunk, it does have a Ganso (tinker) class that can be used to build all sorts of stuff. They have some nice customized Edges that might help you out.
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#6 Postby robert4818 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:06 pm

amerigoV wrote:You might grab Iron Dynasty by Reality Blurs. Aside from being some cool Japanese Fantasy/Steampunk, it does have a Ganso (tinker) class that can be used to build all sorts of stuff. They have some nice customized Edges that might help you out.


Have the book. Reading through it, it doesn't quite reach the same concept. Like the fantasy toolkit it provides rules for "Magic item creation" but isn't really about building things.

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#7 Postby steelbrok » Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:46 am

I like the idea of adapting the dramatic tasks this way

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#8 Postby Sitting Duck » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:43 am

The invention rules in Space 1889 might be a better fit.
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#9 Postby robert4818 » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:17 am

steelbrok wrote:I like the idea of adapting the dramatic tasks this way


There's a subtle difference between Dramatic Tasks and the Extended Trait Check that I'm using.

A dramatic task is a countdown clock, which needs X successes before failure occurs.

The extended trait check is an open ended check that needs X successes. Sometimes there's a deadline on it, sometimes (as in crafting) there is not.

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#10 Postby Clint » Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:00 pm

Sitting Duck wrote:The invention rules in Space 1889 might be a better fit.


I'd suggest looking at these as well. They are similar to what you have, but I think the playability and balance may be preferable.

As it is, taking extra time is impractical. The game can't be put on hold for 30 weeks or worse 30 months (for a +2 bonus) just so one player can build a single invention. And if the character can still participate in the game (which presents other issues), is the actual story going to go on long enough for them to see the fruit of their labors so to speak. In short, yeah, they could build a motorcycle like that but the campaign would be over before it was finished.

On the flip side, taking less time isn't balanced by the penalty. Say the character wants to make a firearm. The most expensive blackpowder one is $300, so that's complexity 3. Even if the GM says it's a -1 (despite not being as complex as a motorcycle), the character may as well drop it to 30 minutes because he gets so many extra rolls that the penalty is more than negated.

Even with a d8 skill and a -4 penalty, about 1/4 of his rolls will succeed, so he'll build a gun in around 6 hours. And that's without an assistant. Heck, if he has an Edge granting a +2 to the needed skill, he can do it in 3 hours. Give him a couple of assistants (PCs with just 1 point in the skill will do), and he can reduce both of those times even more.

The point is, once you get away from days as the time increment, the effect on game balance or playability is noticeable.
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#11 Postby robert4818 » Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:31 pm

Clint wrote:
Sitting Duck wrote:The invention rules in Space 1889 might be a better fit.


I'd suggest looking at these as well. They are similar to what you have, but I think the playability and balance may be preferable.

As it is, taking extra time is impractical. The game can't be put on hold for 30 weeks or worse 30 months (for a +2 bonus) just so one player can build a single invention. And if the character can still participate in the game (which presents other issues), is the actual story going to go on long enough for them to see the fruit of their labors so to speak. In short, yeah, they could build a motorcycle like that but the campaign would be over before it was finished.

On the flip side, taking less time isn't balanced by the penalty. Say the character wants to make a firearm. The most expensive blackpowder one is $300, so that's complexity 3. Even if the GM says it's a -1 (despite not being as complex as a motorcycle), the character may as well drop it to 30 minutes because he gets so many extra rolls that the penalty is more than negated.

Even with a d8 skill and a -4 penalty, about 1/4 of his rolls will succeed, so he'll build a gun in around 6 hours. And that's without an assistant. Heck, if he has an Edge granting a +2 to the needed skill, he can do it in 3 hours. Give him a couple of assistants (PCs with just 1 point in the skill will do), and he can reduce both of those times even more.

The point is, once you get away from days as the time increment, the effect on game balance or playability is noticeable.


:) Thanks for the feedback. As I said, these are a rough outline.

My opinion is that there is a certain level of GM fiat built into the rules. Though I didn't state it exactly.

I.E. It simply may not be possible to create something at a short time interval. The GM may rule that its simply not possible to create a Motorcycle at 30 min intervals. This was mainly added in to accomodate the potential for using craft rules for things that might take no large amount of time to build. Though I guess such things might simply best be made with a single crafting roll.

Your character may be doing an extended trait test of 1 week, only to be able to test every 3 because of adventuring.

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#12 Postby Clint » Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:51 pm

robert4818 wrote:Your character may be doing an extended trait test of 1 week, only to be able to test every 3 because of adventuring.


Just realize that exacerbates one side of the playability issue. If he can only roll every 3 weeks for something that averages 30 weeks to make, then it would take 90 weeks of time to build the item. That's almost 2 years in game. It's unlikely the campaign will actually run that long. The player will end up making a roll every 3 weeks for something they never get to use.

On top of that consider this, how long would it take the character to just get the money to buy the item instead of build it? All he needs is $50 for each 3 weeks it would take to build the item. Barring Poverty, I can't see 3 weeks of adventuring resulting in less than $50 of spending money.

Again, all the issues I mentioned can be resolved by just keeping the increment in days and removing the longer or shorter increment option.
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