Friday, December 11, 2015

Sorcery Gadgets versus Metatronic Generator Gadgets

I like Sorcery Gadgets. The system is extremely straightforward, it's easy to see how long it takes to make something, and to understand options to speed up crafting and pricing. Metatronic Generators are a slightly older, but a very popular alternative. It easily translates character points into dollar amounts, but beyond that, I get confused. Both systems are based on converting Powers to items, so they have a common popular framework for developing abilities. In this article, I will take a look at what it takes to create a simple item using both systems.

A Power

Let's create a simple power, a very simple power. This article isn't meant to go into the intricacies of creating complicated powers, so we will make something simple. Let's say this power is a buff for 5 lifting strength. Normally, in Sorcery, this buff is statted as an affliction, but for the sake of a piece of equipment that grants the user this buff, it is simply the buff piece of the equation. So the complete representation in Sorcery form is:
Statistics: Lifting ST 5 (Sorcery -15%) [9].
Great. Simple. Now let's do the same thing for Metatronic Generators.
Statistics: Lifting ST 5 (Superscience -10%, Apparatus +0%) [9].
Great. Simple. Due to rounding, even though the sorcery version is normally a little cheaper, they are both the same price in character points.

A Host Item 

Typical Power Glove
So, I have done a ton of rings recently, but let's say the item this time is a super-powered gauntlet that just makes lifting things easier. For magic, this makes sense, for gadgeteering, it makes slightly less sense, but bare with it for the sake of illustration: if we make these two items similar sizes, it makes comparing apples to apples easier.

Sorcery Crafting

A gauntlet doesn't exist explicitly in the convenient list of form modifiers, so we will have to reverse engineer this ourselves. A gauntlet...
  • Is difficult to steal while actively worn and requires force. (-10%)
  • Would be cool if it were slightly bigger, so let's say it nearly goes all the way up to the elbow, meaning SM -6 (-10%)
  • Kinda also works as a piece of armor, so it is a little durable, but also a little heavy. Let's say 2 lbs, and 4 DR, just like the nominal gauntlets in basic set. (-15%)
All of this adds up coincidentally to the same object modifier as a ring, or 0.65. So from 0.65 we can get the enchantment points required to make this gauntlet by multiplying the cost of the advantage it bestows. 8.5 (rounding up to 9) * 0.65 = 5.78. We can round that up to 6.
A gauntlet is $100, which is above the minimum $50 needed to hold all that enchantment.

The labor to enchant will require someone to sacrifice at least 10% of the EP value in Character Points, rounding up, or 1 in this case. If a player wants to do the enchantment, they will need to gather the additional 5 EP over a course of one month with a little luck or some help. So this method means that a gauntlet costs 1 CP, $100, and about a month of labor.

If someone wants to commission the enchantment of a gauntlet, it will cost (At TL3) 6*$320.00 or $1,920.00 for the outsourced labor, and still take about a month. The total cost to the character is $2,020.00, and a month.

If a character wants to buy it outright, they will probably need to pay $1,920*2 (profit margin that a re-seller lives on) + $100 (cost of gauntlet) or $3,940.00. Very good negotiations might bring that price down to $2,364.00

In the case of the latter two. The GM might want to require the player to pay 6 Character Points (the same as the 6 EP) to make the item signature gear.  This is up to the GM.

Metatronic Generator Crafting

So, referring back to sorcery crafting, we still would have needed to calculate some parameters of the object. This gauntlet we decided is SM -6, and weighs about 2 lbs, but if we look at the Metatronic Generator table, we are now in an awkward spot because those values collide. Let's just go with the SM -6 here. At TL 8, 1 CP costs $3,000.00, but to bring this down to TL3 prices, we divide this by 20 (the ratio of TL8 starting wealth to TL3 starting wealth.) So, $150 a point. Additionally, let's opt for the self powered version, which mandates doubled price, so $300/point.
This gauntlet on average costs about $300*9 = $2,700.00 in TL3. This version doesn't include the slightly small boon of being a functional piece of armor like the Sorcery gauntlet, but that's OK. Now the complicated part is trying to figure out the crafting time for designing this gauntlet. I am going to refer to Basic Set - Campaigns, and Dungeon Fantasy 4: Sages to figure this out.
According to Dungeon Fantasy, the artificer using Quick Gadgeteer is going to need to start with an object that resembles what he needs. So maybe a gauntlet works. A gadgeteer rolls against an Engineering skill (specialty "Gadgets" for Dungeon Fantasy) with a penalty of -1 for every $250 of final item value. This is a penalty of -11! But this is countered by two assumptions:
  1. Dungeon Fantasy Gadgeteering assumes a single-use item, which means we could divide the price of the item by 5, so a penalty of -3 to make a jury rig that can increase basic lift for one use (might help to put some extended duration modifiers on the original power if you hope to use this for any great length of time)
  2. Quick Gadgeteering is on a scale of minutes, not months, so we could potentially reduce this penalty by taking a lot of time. If we take the most extra time possible to invent this object, we can reduce the penalty to -6 for something that takes 150x1d6 minutes, so a range of 2 and a half hours to nearly two days. This is still a pretty challenging penalty, but at a very much reduced time requirement. 
In the basic set, extra time multipliers are explained in Campaigns on page 346. They end at 30x time listed above for a +5. Extrapolating further, we could try to calculate the bonus given for working on a month scale. Assuming normal 8-hour days, there are 240 potential working hours in 1 month. If we go out to 480x time, we could invent things with a +9 modifier if we changed the roll to 40x1d6 hours.


The Sorcery version in this example would require 1 FP an hour to keep active, very simple and straightforward. The Metatronic Generator would require a skill roll against Electronic Operations (Metatronics) every minute. Neither is especially complicated and both have benefits and drawbacks.


I think the Sorcery system is good if crafting statistics are important to you. The Metatronic system is cheaper, but seems to require some interesting teasing of the rules to get crafting metrics out of them. In terms of very high valued items that require large efforts, Sorcery seems more reliable, but in terms of very quick turnarounds on cheap or one-use items, gadgeteering wins. I personally like that although both have the same end goal, the difference between a sci-fi gizmo creating scientist and a fantasy wizard tinkerer plays out differently and doesn't feel like a copy/paste of the mechanics. Metatronic Generators also do not, by default have a game balance mechanic built in like Sorcery's implied use of signature gear for enchanted equipment, but the one used for sorcery could be applied to Metatronic Generators pretty easily if this concerns the GM.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...