Thursday, February 1, 2024

Tech Paradigms in the Grand Cluster

The Grand Cluster , the setting for Called from Exile, hosted a wide variety of technology: almost the entirety of the ultra-tech book exists in there somewhere. But I didn't want characters to be using all of it, because the point was to have lots of homages to various science fiction settings next to each other and interact with each other, and I wanted the PC's to feel that.

So the base TL was 10, but access to most technology had to be purchased with "technology points". These didn't raise player's Tech Level so much as control what genre of science fiction they could buy gear from. I let them choose a ranged weapon class for free (lasers is a class, slug throwers is another, force beams is another), as well as a specifying what their typical comms/computer interface looked like. For most other PC-style gear, they needed to select options with technology points. This was a player decision, but it was about their home culture as much as it was about them.

Each player got 10 tech points, and could buy up to 5 extra tech points for [4] points each, or sell them back for [-1] point each. I think most players spent around 12 tech points.

This list is probably not comprehensive, but its close, and I told them if there was superscience or radical tech that they didn't see, to ask about it and I'd come up with a cost.

A few items deserve explanation: "Access to Infinity" was for psionic blades that ignored armor, Meson beams, or known space indestructible hulls. I wanted to charge a little extra for it, but I also wanted to encourage it and warn players it could show up in the game.

"Internet Competency" is really expensive. The reason for this was because I wanted someone able to function in a cyberpunk world to be special. Knock-off Jedi and Klingons really don't fit in information heavy worlds, and a lot of powerful sci-fi franchises just don't have an internet equivalent. We had one player take it, and he got to have the niche of computer nerd. There is a case for dropping it to (3), but I wouldn't go lower than that. 

Reinforced Blades means blades that can stand up to a Force-blade or Ethereal blade. Usually this also means they're hyperdense. This was a fairly popular choice.

Here is the list we used:

  • Body Armor (1)
  • Power Armor (3)
  • Force Shields - personal (2)
  • Force Shields  - vehicular (2)
  • Secondary Weapon Type (1)
  • Superscience Weapon Type (1+)
  • Vibroblades or reinforced Blades (1)
  • Force Blades (2)
  • Etherial Blades (2)
  • Access to Infinity (DR, Armor Divisor, etc) (2)
  • Psionic Detection and Simple Manipulation (1)
  • Light Powers (Psionics/Racial/Cybernetic under 25 points) (1)
  • Heavy Powers (Psionics/Racial/Cybernetic over 25 points) (2)
  • Multiple Powers (more than one of Psionics/Racial/Cybernetic) (1)
  • Psi Amplifiers (3)
  • Internet Competency (4)
  • Drones (1)
  • Rapid Stationary Medicine (1)
  • Performance Boosting Drugs (1)
  • Rapid Mobile Medicine (2)
  • Rapid on-demand manufacturing (2)
  • Contragrav Drives (1)
  • FTL communication (1)
  • Superscience sensors/spygear (1)

I really like how this turned out. Maybe my players played along, or maybe it just turned out really well. They bought what they needed for their concept, and maybe added one or two more because the option looked cool or useful. We ended up with a lot of really divergent sci-fi concepts, which was really cool. Its not very often that you need to manage kitchen sink options for a campaign, but I really liked how this turned out, and I'll use it again in a heartbeat if I ever need it. I hope someone else finds it useful as well.

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