How do you handle levels/qualities of technology?

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
July 14, 2016 - 6:23am
There is a passing reference in KH as to how with modern construction techniques and miniaturization it is possible to surpass the limits of the canon rules (regarding ship construction).

That got me to thinking.  Isn't that generally true for technology?  Some are as archaic as dinosaurs and others are bleeding-edge.  How to quantify this for the game?

I've started roughing out a few ideas.  Keep in mind this is VERY WIP  at this point:

ARCHAIC
Mass:         +45%
Capability:     -45%
Cost:         GM discretion
Availability:     GM discretion

No one uses this tech anymore except hobbiests unless they simply cannot obtain better.  Examples: pre-20th century technology after about 1950.

OBSOLETE
Mass:         +30%
Capability:     -30%
Cost:         GM discretion
Availability:     GM discretion

Technology that has fallen out of common usage.  You'll probably have to find it and restore it or have it special built for you. Examples: pre-1970s technology in 2016

OUT-OF-DATE
Mass:         +15%
Capability:     -15%
Cost:        
Availability:    

Older but still-servicable technology.

BASIC
All attributes as given in AD/KH

Current generally available products.

STATE-OF-THE-ART
Mass:        
Capability:    
Cost:        
Availability:    

The best commercially-available product.

ADVANCED
Mass:        
Capability:    
Cost:        
Availability:

Cutting-edge technology representing the pinnacle of current development.  Usually found coming out of corporate R&D labs or used by the military.   



Comments:

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
July 14, 2016 - 6:43am
Quote:
There is a passing reference in KH as to how with modern construction techniques and miniaturization it is possible to surpass the limits of the canon rules (regarding ship construction).

I believe this was in reference to warships and not ships in general, which is probably why all the warship stats were hand waved by the writers and never thoroughly detailed like the civilian ship rules are.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

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ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
July 14, 2016 - 8:51am
^Yes, it was.   The broader concept itself is valid, however.

Stormcrow's picture
Stormcrow
July 14, 2016 - 9:25am
I can't imagine that this would be practical to use. If players get hold of an old ship, its downgraded stats can just be handwaved by the referee. If they're dealing with new ships, the standard rules apply. Military ships come in standard models out of the players' control, so you don't need to use the construction rules for them.

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 14, 2016 - 9:51am
Stormcrow wrote:
I can't imagine that this would be practical to use. If players get hold of an old ship, its downgraded stats can just be handwaved by the referee. If they're dealing with new ships, the standard rules apply. Military ships come in standard models out of the players' control, so you don't need to use the construction rules for them.


Well, actually, this idea of old equipment to the Alpha Dawn side too. Especially when it comes to all of the fan-created equipment that's been published in Frontier Explorer and Star Frontiersman. When does certain weapons, robots, and other gear become available?

Yes, with KH, downgraded stats can be "hand waved" by the referee.

Granted, military ships are "out of the players' control" though they are not outside of the referee's control and it would be good to have some sort of rules about how to design those.

In the Projects section, I have noticed a few efforts at reforming the Knight Hawks rules to deal with things such as the actual number of engines needed for different hull sizes, and increasing the cargo units available as the hull size increases. But, if I remember, those fan-rules are a bit incomplete.

Personally, I like the idea of having a separate Void engine/device to initiate a jump rather than this mystical idea of automatically entering the Void when you reach 1% of light speed. And I like the Alpha Dawn idea of it takes one day to travel one light year.

I understand those who like the idea of having an instantaneous jump from one system to another... after going through enormous amounts of calculations... There's a case where better technology should shorten the time it takes to make jump calculations, while in the past it may have taken longer...

Oh well, to each there own. 
Joe Cabadas

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
July 14, 2016 - 3:32pm
My observation was about equipment in general.  The spaceship example was just what triggered the observation.

Take the case of a laser pistol.  The PCs find an outmoded laser pistol somewhere (wreck, pawn shop, remote colony, etc).  How does it differ from a current technology one?  Shouldn't the fact that this particular pistol was made 100 years ago have an effect on it's attributes and abilities (bulkier, does less damage, shorter range, etc).  How do you quantify that in terms of game mechanics.

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
July 14, 2016 - 3:53pm
I acutally like the way you were going with your initial post.  I've never really dealt with either significantly older or newer tech, but then I haven't run any long games that might have had to deal with it in a long time.

I would definitely make older equipment less efficient, accurate, etc.  How much would depend on age, manufacturer, etc.  I've acutally thought a bit about this and have considered tech development in the Frontier, and what species favors what types of weapons.  e.g. needlers were a dralasite stable, sonic weapons from the vrusk, and gyrojet weapons from the yazirians.  That isn't to say the others didn't have them but they were more prevelant for those cultures.  I've made the development of hand held laser weapons a relatively new development in the Frontier (hence their higher cost) and they have come from the interactions with the Sathar in the first sathar war.  Basically, while large (vehicle and ship based) laser weapons existed, the technology breakthrough to make small hand held ones that did enough damage came from reverse engineering sathar weapons captured during the ground war on Pale.  So if you found a 100 year old laser pistol, it would be of Sathar origin.

If I had a long running game that covered years, I'd slowly introduce new items with improvements but that's never really happened for me. 
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jedion357's picture
jedion357
July 14, 2016 - 5:09pm
The capability modifier? It's a negative for out of date to archaic. Is this a modifier for skill checks?

If so I'm not sure how much I like that. What if the capability modifier simply went in increments of -5 and you could trade out a -5 for increased wt, lower rate of fire, energy cap, range band reduction, etc

Of course a capability modifier makes sense on something like a computer where there would be lots of skill checks. 

Edit: actually a -5 modifier should just be one of a menu of capability modifications . Out of date has 1 grade of negative capability modifications, obsolete has 2 grades, and archaic has three, same in the other direction for cutting edge and advanced. For an obsolete equipment item simply pick 2 of the capability mods that seem appropriate and done. 

Of course you could apply this to something like the bow and arrow- treat the AD listing as archaic and give it it 3 improvements to make a modern basic bow. Do we apply these rule mods to something like a knife?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
July 14, 2016 - 7:14pm
Capability means different things from item to item. Using the laser pistol example, it would mean that the beam isn't focused as well so it has less effect over a shorter distance.  For a powerpack, parabattery, etc it could mean that they can't hold as much charge as they use older, less efficient engineering and materials.

For a toolkit, medkit, etc it might mean a skill check penalty, as the skill check itself assumes adequate tools that the user is familiar with.  Can you imagine a 21st century EMT or combat medic trying to path someone up with a WWI era corpsman's kit, or worse, a Civil War-era doctor's bag?

The amount of penalty is debatable.  I didn't want to overcomplicate things too much, so I did base -15/level out of date (simple scaling).  I thought about making it either simple geometric or accellerating (exponential).

As for your last bit, I prefer to treat the equipment in the book as the "baseline" and assume it is the common modern standard, made using contemporary materials and techniques.

For a bow: the basic bow would be equivalent to this:

An out of date or even obsolete bow would be something like the classic English longbow

An truly archaic bow would be something stone age, like this



ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
July 14, 2016 - 7:26pm
As for knives...that's a good question.

You could set it up as Stone (archaic), Bronze (Obsolete), Iron (Out of Date), Tempered Steel (Basic),  High-Strength ceramic (SOTA) and mono-edge (Advanced)

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 14, 2016 - 7:28pm
And then there could be more advanced tech for later games. Say, how about a beltpack that holds 60 SEUs but weighs only 3 kg. Or the Backpack is slimmed down to 5 kg for 100 SEU.

That would probably be post Second Sathar War stuff, however.
Joe Cabadas

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
July 15, 2016 - 1:47am
My system accounts for that

JCab747's picture
JCab747
July 15, 2016 - 6:20am
ChrisDonovan wrote:
My system accounts for that


Great!
Joe Cabadas

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
July 15, 2016 - 1:30pm
JCab747 wrote:
ChrisDonovan wrote:
My system accounts for that


Great!


Just start at Basic and go up a step or two.