Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wasteland Tech: Gadgets

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." 
-Arthur C Clarke

In a world where magic and technology have evolved side by side, what happens when magic is sufficiently understood to be indistinguishable from technology? When you go to buy a phone, do you buy the one that works on radio signals, or an embedded Communication spell? Does your gun run on the same old powder as we're used to, or is it a magical mass driver you dumped a tube of bullets into, or maybe a combination of magic and machinery?

Wasteland tech falls into four major categories.

Technological: The old fashioned way, how it works here is how it works there. It's easy to maintain by just about anyone with the skills, and isn't dependent upon ambient magic or anything else beyond maybe the power to run it.
Base cost, base availability

Magical: Sometimes the easiest way to get things done is to throw some magic at the problem. In the Wastelands and the areas that border them, magical effects can still outpace technological ones in some fields, but such devices are harder to mass produce, harder to repair, and may have spotty reliability if the local mana fluctuates. They're easily disrupted by the magical weirdness that is so common, and anti-magic fields and dispelling effects will knock them out, if not outright destroy them. With the availability of power and power-to-magic spells, they're at least reasonably affordable (usually roughly competitive with technological devices with comparable capabilities). Work wherever there's magic (a magic cell phone may have a standby time of forever in medium to high mana, but it's harder to recharge without someone who can charge a powerstone)
1.1x base cost

Magitech (Reliable): Magitech comes from blending magic and technology, as one might expect. This blend breaks things down into easy-to-make, easy-to-use functions, each part handled by magic or technology as is most prudent. However, the ease of tech comes at the cost of susceptibility to interference. The mechanical parts may jam, AND the magic component may be interrupted. Usually used to get access to relatively affordable stuff of slightly higher TL, or give some improvements where tech or magic alone can't (such as a tv/radio with improved antenna reception).
 .9x base cost, higher-TL penalties reduced to 1.25x

Magitech (Unreliable): Similar to reliable magitech, but not as well understood. If reliable magitech is carefully engineering components to work together, unreliable magitech is dumping a box of parts on the table and beating it with magic until the device does roughly what it's supposed to. Side effects are common, as the actual workings of the device aren't particularly understood. It does what it was made to, but the actual mechanism by which this is achieved is unknown, if not unknowable. Usually used for getting access to tech equivalent to several TLs higher, it can also be used in a pinch to make (mostly) workable gear without much to work with. Achieves the same effect as other gear for a good bit cheaper than other methods of production at the same level, but has extremely common side effects (which may be determined on on item creation or per each use, as is appropriate). They commonly explode when they break (or if you try to take it apart to figure out how it works).
.6x base cost, no higher-TL cost/weight penalties (increased side effects instead)

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