Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Inventor: An Expert Character Concept for 3.5E Games


Today is a special day here around Daddy Rolled a 1, but I’ll save that for a second post. In the meantime, this morning when I greeted my Alexa device with “Good Morning,” I learned that it was “Inventor’s Day” celebrated in honor of Thomas Edison, born on this day in 1847. Given that, I thought it was time to get back to my “Experts & Specialists for 3.5 / LotFP / B/X-OSE games, as the next Expert I intended to feature was an Inventor.

Way back in 2004-2005 when I was working on my 3.5 era Experts book, I was finding a lot of the expert character concepts a bit mundane, and I was looking to add some more excitement. That’s why I created ones like the alchemist apprentice and the demolitionist in addition to more standard experts like historians, herbalists, scribes, and stone masons.

The very last one I created was an inventor concept, and it was this specific concept that honestly de-railed my efforts to finish the book, as I began doing tons of research and spending way too much time trying to figure out how to design the game mechanics behind cool, but slightly goofy, inventions. I have pages and pages of notes on working out the costs, craft DCs, and effects of dozens and dozens of different inventions, and I kept changing and revising them over and over to the point that I ended up never finishing the rest of the chapters and I stopped working on it because I felt that I just wasn’t handling the inventions “right.” I wanted my book to “the main source” for fantasy inventors for 3.5 era games, but I really didn’t have the resources nor, most likely, enough rules expertise, to make it so.

However, I do think there were a lot of neat ideas for my inventor concept, so I’m going to post what I had below for 3.5 games. I’ve been working the past week or so to translate these for both B/X – Old School Essentials and Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but they’re not quite done yet. However, I couldn’t pass up posting something for “Inventor’s Day,” so enjoy the 3.5 version.

As always, please do let me know your thoughts on the class, and any suggestions you have.

Conrad von Soest [Public domain]
INVENTOR

An interesting combination of arcane craftsman and scientific engineer, the inventor melds the art of magic with the practical knowledge of science to craft fantastic contraptions capable of performing all manner of different tasks.  While most of her inventions are quite odd and may not seem to have a purpose, every once in a while, the inventor is able to devise something that is a genuine help to herself or to her adventuring party.  Once in a great while, the inventor may even stumble upon something so unique that it benefits society as a whole.

Much of the inventor’s work involves either improving or taking apart devices that have been created by someone else.  For every weapon, magic item, piece of armor, or type of equipment that exists, the inventor is certain that she can make it better, stronger, or faster.       

Adventuring: Like many of her comrades, the inventor may start out adventuring simply to seek fame and fortune, hoping to earn enough money to create new and impressive contraptions.  Some also hope to interact with other inventors and happen upon even more novel ideas for new inventions.  With her scientific knowledge of chemistry and physics combined with mechanical craftsmanship and an overactive imagination, the inventor makes an excellent addition to most adventuring parties. 

Role-Playing:  While she is skilled at many things, the social graces are somewhat unknown to the inventor.  She is most likely unaware that her constant tinkering on her comrades’ weapons and equipment without their permission is incredibly annoying.  With her focus being on creating new inventions, she can become distracted easily and is not the best at taking direction or at completing tasks not directly related to finishing her inventions.  However, she is confident, and will always be certain that she has “just the right thing” to accomplish any task that her party may face. 

3.5 Edition Version
Bonuses:  An inventor automatically gains the Craft Intermediate Invention feat for free, and also gains a +2 bonus to all Craft (mechanism) checks.  Additionally, when attempting to use a device created by someone else, the inventor gains a competence bonus equal to one-half her expert class level to her Intelligence check to attempt to operate the device. 
Penalties:  As mentioned, the inventor is not the most social of individuals, and must take a -2 penalty to all Diplomacy checks that she makes due to her eccentric personality.  Additionally, using imagination to alter science in new and bizarre ways does not lend itself to an orderly way of living.  The inventor may not be Lawful in alignment. 

Skills:  Appraise, Craft (blacksmithing or metalsmithing), Craft (mechanism), Disable Device, Knowledge (architecture & engineering), Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (clockworks), Open Lock, Use Magic Device, Use Rope

Options: For a less arcane inventor, the player may wish to trade out Knowledge (arcana) for Knowledge (metallurgy).

Special: In certain campaigns, access to the Craft (mechanism) skill may be limited only to inventors. 

NEW SKILLS
Craft (INT)
New Use: Mechanism (Trained only).  This skill enables the character to create various devices, items, and gadgets from scratch.  The majority of the mechanisms created using this skill would involve moving parts, clockworks, and other more advanced technology that is accessed through the use of special feats [there was a note at this point referring to the chapter on Feats later in the book; I’ve re-produced some of them below] in combination with ranks in the Craft (mechanism) skill. 

Devices are arranged according to their complexity level (Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced).  A character who buys ranks in Craft (mechanism) can make Simple devices as per the normal rules for the Craft skill.  In order to create Intermediate, Advanced, and Clockwork items, characters will need access to particular feats.  [again, there was a note to refer to chapters on both Feats and Inventions & Devices for more information] 

FEAT: Clockwork Genius (General)
You have reached the pinnacle of clockwork construction – the mastery of huge clockwork devices that can run for weeks or longer on a single winding of their gears. 
Pre-Requisites: Clockwork Master, Craft Intermediate Mechanism, Craft Advanced Mechanism, Craft Clockwork Mechanism, Craft (mechanism) 15+ Ranks, Intelligence 18+
Benefits: This feat allows the character to create clockwork devices of size huge.  Additionally, the character is so well-versed in the creation of the actual mechanism driving the device that he knows how to increase the amount of time the device will run before it needs to be wound again.  Clockwork Geniuses may increase the operation time of their clockwork devices by 25%. 
Normal: Without this feat, the largest size clockwork device that can be created is size large.

FEAT: Clockwork Master (General)
Your skills in designing and building clockwork devices are near-legendary.  You have mastered the ability to create very tiny clockwork devices as well as larger sized contraptions.  
Pre-Requisites: Craft Intermediate Mechanism, Craft Advanced Mechanism, Craft Clockwork Mechanism, Craft (mechanism) 12+ Ranks
Benefits: This feat allows the character to create clockwork devices of fine, tiny, medium, and large sizes.
Normal: Only size small clockwork devices can be constructed with the Craft Clockwork Mechanism feat. 

FEAT: Craft Advanced Mechanism (General)
Your mechanical creations are highly sought out by the rich and powerful, not only for their advanced designs but for their artistic expression.  Many seek to understand the underlying mechanical properties behind your designs in order to replicate them.
Pre-Requisites: Craft Intermediate Mechanism, Craft (mechanism) 6+ Ranks
Benefits: This feat allows the creation of any advanced inventions as noted in the Inventions and Devices chapter.  Advanced devices take two hours for each 1,000 gold pieces in the market price of the item to create.  The inventor uses up half of the market price of the item in raw materials.  With this feat, the inventor can also repair any advanced devices that have taken damage.  With 2 hours of work, the character may repair up to 20 points of damage by expending 20 gold pieces per point of damage repaired.  See the Inventions & Devices chapter for a list and description of advanced devices. 

FEAT: Craft Clockwork Mechanism (General)
Clockworks represent the pinnacle of the inventor’s craft - the creation of mechanical items that work under their own power.  Inventors with this feat are often referred to as clockwork mechanicians and in certain circles they may even be held in as high esteem as wizards.
Pre-Requisites: Craft (Intermediate Mechanism), Craft (Advanced Mechanism), Craft (Mechanism) 9+ ranks.
Benefits: A person with this feat can use the Craft (mechanism) skill to create any clockwork device whose prerequisites he meets. Creating the gear mechanism for the clockwork device takes one day for each each 2,000 gold pieces in its market price. The inventor must also use up raw materials costing half of this price (see individual clockwork device entries in the Inventions & Devices chapter for details).   
This feat also allows a person to repair any clockwork devices that have taken damage.  In four hours of work, the person may repair up to 20 points of damage by expending 25 gold pieces per point of damage repaired. 

FEAT: Craft Intermediate Mechanism (General)
Intermediate mechanisms represent the first step beyond the simple devices which anyone with the Craft (mechanism) skill can create.  Your skill with designing and crafting various devices has gained you some notice, but also increases the pressure as people are eager for more. 
Pre-Requisites: Craft (mechanism) 3+ Ranks
Benefits: This feat allows the creation of any intermediate inventions as noted in the Inventions and Devices chapter.  Intermediate devices take one hour for each 1,000 gold pieces in the market price of the item to create.  The inventor uses up half of the market price of the item in raw materials.  With this feat, the inventor can also repair any intermediate devices that have taken damage.  With 1 hour of work, the person may repair up to 20 points of damage by expending 10 gold pieces per point of damage repaired.  See the Inventions & Devices chapter for a list and description of intermediate devices. 



That’s all for today (on this topic). I have a whole other section on Inventions & Devices, in 3.5 rules, that I’ll post later this week, along with the versions for B/X – Old School Essentials and Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Happy Inventor’s Day!

Hanging: Home office (currently) and at a local beer pub (yesterday when I began copying over my text from my old notes), both on my laptop
Drinking: Yesterday at the pub I had a Radioactive Fallout (New England Style IPA) by El Segundo Brewing Company; today I'm drinking tap water at home
Listening: "Sweeter Love," from the album "Beautiful Tomorrow" by Blue Six

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