Weird Science (Action)
|Heroic Action Role-Play|
This is a Metatradition; a tradition that is very wide and non-specific. Each metatradition has many orders, sects, and secret societies that see each others as rivals and believe they alone hold the key to true understanding. Some settings might include magical traditions that are this generic, but in most cases the actual traditions that player characters belong to are much more specific.
It is not a given that technological development proceeds like it does in our world. Other settings might have artificial clockwork intelligences, steam-powered spaceships, mirror-array beam cannon and other possibilities. Weird science is based on the premise that a genius can invent technological marvels way ahead of their time, things that in our world require a great deal of infrastructure.
Weird science is capable of anything the GM allows it to do, but it needs to work trough gizmos and devices. These are often huge; weird science favors enormous robots, steamships, rail cannon, and other industrial marvels. Use the Tinkering rules for most such projects.
Weird Science is strictly Technological, even if it is not the technology we are familiar with.
In weird science, certain methods might be related to some effects or Forms and not apply to others. This has to be negotiated with the GM on a case-by-case basis. Foucs gained from such a limited method would only apply to powers related to that method.
Your power draws attention. Your powers have side effects; they either have distinct and visible physical side effects or send shivers down the spines of people all around.
Whenever you use your power, it is obvious to everyone within ten meters times the sum of your and their Mind attribute that something odd is happening. This does not spoil illusion or invisibility; people can tell something is happening, but not exactly what or where. It is likely to make them more wary, however. Characters of your origin can sense your power ten times as far away. For those related to you, this sense can extend all the way across the world.
Trigger Action (Focus)
When others are watching you do power and their auras resonate with yours, your power increases. Whenever there are a dozen or more spectators who can see you use powers you can focus. Spectators are those who are not involved in the action - either because they were unaware of your presence before your power called their attention, or because they are bystanders.
Contagion is the magical theorem of like attracts like. By manipulating a symbol, you can affect the real thing. You use this principle in all your power. Generally, it is sufficient to have rough substitutes; a person is symbolized with a small doll, a rock with his name on it or a rough image.
You need your props in order to work power. These props are simple and easily improvised. You must also have some kind of link to your target; you usually arrange this by putting a name or symbol on a blank prop you are carrying. This takes no extra time, but requires that you have such a prop and an exact visual description of the target.
You can use a Limit Break on those you have you have a personal object or former body part from; others are unaffected. Any such items you have against the target are consumed in use.
This kind of side effect could be associated with effects on the body.
Your powers derive from an secret innernature shocking to common sensibilities. As you use your powers, your power origin becomes shockingly obvious, making people shun and dread you. Typical examples are necromancers and demonologists turning into the monstrosities they control, androids losing their skin to expose the machinery below, or energies bleeding out in a frightening display.
Degeneration is measured in points; each time you take a Hit, roll a snake eyes or boxcars, use a Finisher, or use a Limit Break result when using a power, you gain one degeneration point. All Charm checks (but not defense values) suffer a penalty equal to the number of degeneration points you have. When you have degeneration points equal to your Mind, you are no longer recognizably human (or whatever creature you normally look like); sensible people will run from you. In more tolerant settings, your degeneration becomes more disgusting so that they still break the mold of "normal" sufficiently to have you ostracized.
This is a side effect of your powers; it never prevents you from using your powers, except that powers cannot hide your degeneration and Charm powers suffer the penalties mentioned.
Degeneration points reset to zero each game session. Full degeneration can be overcome/adapted to given time and care; this usually only happens between stories or when you take a time out from adventuring, not at the end of each session.
Trigger Action (Focus)
You can focus at will as your current degeneration points are less than your Mind. Doing so gives you a degeneration point.
This kind of side effect could be associated with weird medicine.
Echoes add chance to your powers, and this does not stop at the effects you produce consciously. This can be because your powers affects the world in a very fundamental way, a form of backlash, a result of your rampant subconscious, or simply the workings of blind chance.
Your powers are subject to chance and strange effects occur around you constantly. What these side effects are can vary from time to time or have a set theme, as decided when you take the limitation. They are often origin-based. Echoes manifest spontaneously and outside your control. They are noticeable, and can give people in the know information they would not otherwise have. Technological powers cause technological side effects, such as brownouts or glitches. Mystic powers have effects similar to the ones you produce yourself. Echoes are generally funny, in a sadistic kind of way; they never obstruct the story, but can create setbacks and hindrances for you and (rarely) your friends. They are a great plot device for the GM to use when you are taking too much camera time or are using your power for tasks that should be role-played.
You can suggest echoes, or your game master can invent them. If you invent funny and annoying echoes, the game master will probably go easy on you with his own. In either case, it is the game master that has the final word on what happens.
Echoes makes small odd things occur around you, but this is mostly flavor, tough they can sometimes provide clues to enemies or distractions to you. When you use your powers in obvious ways, they manifest more strongly; on a Snakeyes roll when using obvious powers you suffer a Setback from your echoes. This Setback often mimics the power you were using, escalating or reversing it, or changing targets. As setbacks go, this is usually pretty mild.
If you invent a creative echo, you can focus. Alternatively, you can ask the GM for an echo, in which case it might be slightly more severe for making him think one up on his feet. In either case, it is an unusually mild Setback and usually manifests at the end of the round - after you've had a chance to use a Limit Break.
Blind seers and lame but magically powerful smiths are a staple of legends. This is also something the GM can impose temporarily on players, due to damage or other complications of limited duration. Perhament handicaps should be left for the player to decide.
You have some physical handicap that is tied to your power. Perhaps you developed your power to make up for the handicap, or it is a side effect of having acquired the power. You can even have several handicaps if you like. Some examples:
- Blind - Still has a general awareness of moving creatures within Mind meters.
- Deaf - You cannot hear spoken conversation and are easily surprised. The perception element of all your skills are equal to your Mind, but you can use the perception element normally with actions, including as an active defense.
- Lame - Prevent movement as a part of normal basic actions. On a full move action, you can take a normal move instead of a full move
- Crippled arms prevent most physical manipulation and the use of weapons and implements.
- Mute - Prevents mundane speech. Make sure to enforce this strictly.
- Albino - Highly sensitive to sunlight, imposing visual penalties and causing Hits with extended exposure. Looks spooky.
The handicap does not limit your power, instead the handicap itself is limiting. Your powers develop at the price of your physical prowess.
Whenever your handicap causes you acute problems, actual penalties, setbacks, or damage, you can focus. Willfully provoking your handicap does work, but the situation must actually cause you some penalty or discomfort. Using powers to overcome your handicap prevents you from using it to focus, but often powers will only negate part of the handicap, in which case you can still use the remainder to focus.
Brian is lame, but has the magical ability to hover. He needs to kick a fallen branch out of the way to clear a path for his friends. Since he cannot, he can focus, despite that Hover negates most of the penalties of being lame.
Iron impairs your power, possibly for one of the following reasons. The strength, versatility, and magnetic properties of iron makes it very important to technology, which is opposed to magic. Fey abhor Iron, seeing it as a manifestation of human encroachment. Alchemists claim iron is an impure element, easily corroded, the opposite of gold. Iron is highly magnetic. Encasing something in a cage of iron insulates from all electromagnetic fields, hindering many technological devices. Science offers another theory: nuclei of iron have some of the highest binding energies per nucleon. In other words, you cannot gain energy by transmuting iron into into anything else. Iron is the end of the road; no further transmutation is possible unless you put in a vast amount of energy. Whatever the reason - you probably don't even know why - iron impairs your powers.
Iron susceptibility is common among mages. Many magical creatures can be hurt by iron weapons. Part of it's function lies in that it is very common and well known; everyone knows you can stymie a mage by making them hold a naked blade or wear an iron collar.
Your powers are impaired by iron and iron derivatives, such as steel. You cannot use powers while in direct contact with iron or encased in iron, such as when wearing steel armor or inside a car. If you wish to use iron tools or weapons you must ensure that they don't get into direct contact with your skin; gloves, elaborate hilts and handles, and coverings such as gilding or tin coating are commonly used to overcome this. You can wear steel armor as long as it has been properly gilded; the noble metal negates the influence of the base iron. Of course, gilding is expensive, attracts attention, and is quite fragile meaning it can be accidentally scraped off.
When not wearing any iron you can use a Limit Break as if you were focused. A creature wearing metallic iron and Angels, Demons, Devils, Robots, Spectres, Undead, Virtues, and Whimsies are immune to such a limit break. In ^Blacksmith, Clockwork, Coal, Combustion, and Electronic societies, most civilized folk carry some iron object, such as a belt buckle or a tool. Wild animals and monsters very rarely do.
Loss of Control
You are channeling powers beyond your control: sometimes these powers take you over and force you to go wild. You must specify the nature of the power you are connecting to, as this will influence how you focus and what happens when you lose control. In general, this amounts to a specific vice; focusing means tickling this vice, loss of control is when you are overwhelmed.
The actions you do when you lose control can be nonsensical or even destructive. You lose sight of your normal goals and live out your vice in an immediate and direct way. Such actions can indirectly benefit your normal cause, but you pursue them beyond what is reasonable and productive.
You risk losing control in certain situations, especially when doing things somehow relevant to the nature or source of your powers. When you roll Snakeyes on any task, the GM proposes an action your powers tries to force you to do. The GM can also make one such proposition of his own per scene. You can agree, and behave as suggested. In extreme cases, the GM might even take temporary control of your character. If you resist, you lose access to your powers for the rest of the scene.
When doing the type of actions you do when you lose control, you can focus. This can either be because because you gave in to the GMs suggestion or because you came up with a course of action the GM agrees is in accordance with your vice. When you are taking the initiative and choose to skirt the danger, you have to continue to act out your vice until it plays itself out, or risk losing your powers.
This kind of side effect could be associated with weird medicine.
Manual of Power
Your powers are recorded in some kind of manual, tome, or device; a large but portable object that you need to occasionally check up on in order to use your powers. Notice that a manual of power can itself be an implement, usually a Tome. If your power manual is lost, you can replace it, but that is a major undertaking and only happens between adventures; you are usually better off trying to find it again.
You need to spend an hour with your manual before each session, keeping your powers up to date. If you fail to do this, you suffer power failure. Note that you need not carry your power manual on your person, you only need to consult it once per session.
Basic Action (Focus)
You can use your manual of power to focus, but this is a Basic Action for you. You must actually carry the manual to do so.
Mark of Power
Your power has left its mark on you and you draw power from this monstrous nature. This can be a demonic or angelic form, sharp claws, obvious cybernetics, huge green muscles, or some other distinctive appearance of your choice. You look quite out of the ordinary and are likely to attract attention and be recognized. It is possible but difficult to disguise this, and it is always visible on close inspection.
If you are transformed into a mundane shape, you lose your powers. Mere illusions won't do, it has to be a physical change. The most radical variant of this is if powers are used to alter your shape, but failing to maintain your supernatural form also triggers power loss. If your form depends on powers, such as Mutations or Cybernetic Implants and these are dispelled, all your powers fail. If you are constantly in disguise for long periods, your powers will gradually weaken, tough you get plenty of advance warning of this.
This kind of power loss has a duration based on the extent of the change; minor changes can cause a power loss for the round, while greater changes can cause power loss for a scene or even one or more sessions in extreme cases.
When an NPCs reaction towards you changes significantly because of your appearance, you can focus. This creates the odd situation that you can often focus in less important confrontations on the street, but rarely when faced with cool villains - unless they have a particular prejudice.
This kind of side effect could be associated with weird medicine.
Hi-Mi-Tsu! - Xellos, the Mysterious priest, Slayers
You have some secret that must not become known. A magical secret can be almost anything. A technological secret is a wavelength, passcode or other sensitive data that is easily used. It can be nonsense, such as a particular number or the name of some higher being or your own secret name. It can be some fact about you, such as that you are a woman, your exact age or that you are the descendant of Zeus. It cannot be something people would ordinarily say; people will not accidentally blurt out your secret unless the GM is using this as a plot device.
It is possible to find your secret through research or investigation, but this is always an important story development and should have its own dangers and drama. You might intuitively feel when someone is close to discovering your secret, which often leads to dramatic confrontations at the point of discovery.
Anyone who finds out your secret can use it to blackmail you and to gain dominance over you, as you cannot effectively use your powers against them. If your secret ever becomes common knowledge, you are doomed. But this should never happen if you play your cards right; the GM can invoke this as a plot device, but as long as you play along, no villain would waste the hook he has on you by publishing your secret.
The Naming and Power Secret methods are linked; naming magicians often have their own name as their secret.
Anyone stating this secret in your presence negates your powers for the rest of the scene.
Whenever your secret is in immediate danger of being discovered or used, you can focus. This means that an involving secret is much more useful than an obtuse one.
Your powers give hints about you. Anyone who sees or even describes your powers can recognize them, but this might not be connected to you unless you are publicly known as a power user. Maybe your fireballs have your personal rune emblazoned on them or your electronic remote-control signals are poorly shielded. This can be very dangerous in combination with methods like Astrology, Power Secret, or Naming.
The information contained in your power signature for enemies to learn must be fairly important, and the GM decides exactly what it is. If you or they use secrets or information in methods, such information is a good pick. Other possible secrets include embarrassing facts that give large bonuses on interactions stunts, blackmail material, codes that give access to your telephone, bank, or internet accounts, personal information about loved ones that can be kidnapped, or your True Name.
Anyone who knows your style can recognize your powers by sight. Know stunts made against you by someone who has seen your powers or their results have a difficulty equal to your Mind or Know, whichever is lower. You never suffer power loss from this limitation, but might clue others in on how to give you Power Loss.
You can focus anytime, but when you do all enemies get to do an immediate Analyze Weakness stunt without spending any shots.
You are dependent on an external supply of energy to work your powers. This could be an electric grid, the universal web of power, the stars being right, the mystic field of force that connects all life, or the attention and good will of a supernatural entity or god. This method tends to be universal; either everyone of a tradition uses it, or no-one does. This makes the method suitable for campaigns where mysterious and remote events dwarf the efforts of the heroes.
When you are out of contact or favor with your power supply, your powers don't work. There might be means for others to disrupt this flow of power, but mostly its something between you and your supplier. Unlike similar methods, this supply is either turned on or off at a remote location; it is not something you can carry an inventory of and use as needed, though there might be ways of getting around it.
Whenever you have been out of supply, your focus sharpens and you have an easier time focusing as your powers come back to you. This free focus lasts for about as long as the power interruption, measured in real-world time; if you were out of power for half a session, you can automatically focus for the remainder of the session.
You have a reserve of inner power, called mana for supernatural powers and by some technical term such as battery or capacitors for technology. You can use this reserve to fuel your power, but when you have done so you become weak and need to restore your power reserve afterward.
When you have used your power intensely, such as in a fight, you grow tired at the end of the scene. Once the fight is over, you cannot use powers until you have replenished your power; a short ritual taking about 15 minutes. Exactly what you do to recover power reserve depends on your power tradition; eating, meditation, prayer, reading, recharging capacitors or connecting to a power outlet are all examples. If there is a condition placed on your recovery that is out of your control, such as sunlight, use of a power outlet, or high wind, your recovery varies - it becomes 5 minutes with access to this recovery aid, 1 hour without the aid.
You can focus at any time. The first use is safe. Roll 1d6 when you focus this way. If the result is lower than the number of times you used this method to focus this session, the power limitation of Power Reserve kicks in immediately.
You use tools in your power; a variety of gizmos, diagrams, books, wands, sigils, dried insects, eye of newt, incense and so on. Depending on your tradition, your props have a theme: the props of a technomage are distinctly different than those of an alchemist.
You cannot use your power without your props. You need to resupply or build new props during downtime; this is not generally a hassle, but can make for nice cut scenes. In an emergency, you can usually whip up the prop for a specific power with a little scrounging and a few minutes of work.
You can focus by using your props, but it is a basic action instead of a trigger action, and you cannot move while using this action - tough you can still move later on.
Using props is pretty obvious, and stunts can be used to make you lose your props and thus the focus.
This is a defining trait of weird science; the result of your work is always some kind of device. You must have this method.
Physical activity can hinder mystical ability; energies that could have been channeled into the mystical are used for base physical body needs. By applying restraint, the distractions of the physical body are eliminated, which frees your power. For technological origins, the same can apply; nerves and brain capacity are re-routed from body control to power control.
Restraint in an extended sense can be considered costume as well. If you are a submissive you might also want the Power Submission limitation.
You must be physically restrained in some way or your powers become weaker. You cannot use Limit Break powers when not bound. Being bound involves at least one of the conditions below. You must be restrained in such a way that you cannot quickly free yourself; it should take at least 15 minutes for you to get free on your own, someone else can free you with a stunt. Note that it is possible, even encouraged, to use powers to overcome the handicap of restraints.
When you use your powers, there is a risk you will become further restrained; on a Snakeyes roll when using powers you must accept Power Loss or roll 1d6 for a random restraint, adding +1 for each previous restraint.Restraints last at least a scene, and often for the rest of the session. Physical restraint in Action does not completely prevent a hero from action, they impose handicaps to be overcome.
- Gagging prevents mundane speech. Stymies all Charm and Impress checks.
- Handcuffing is when your hands are tied in front of you, but not so tightly as to make them completely unusable; you can still use one hand effectively, such as using weapons or tools of Small size or smaller.
- Hobbling indicates restrained legs, but not fixed to each other. It means you cannot move as part of a normal Basic Action, and can only move your normal move when you do a Full Move action or otherwise do an action that grants extra movement..
- Immobilized, stuck to something, alternatively on a short leash which prevents movement beyond one or two meters. If you are stuck to a creature whose Body is greater than yours, you are forced along as it moves, otherwise you are both immobilized unless you two cooperate.
- Bound Legs you fall prone and cannot stand unsupported, which prevents and hinders many actions as determined by the situation and stunt description. Your Move is reduced to 1. Swimming and flying creatures are entangled, with similar effects.
- Bound Arms prevent most physical manipulation and the use of weapons and implements. You can still use tackles and head butts for (Body +0) damage or a Tiny Ranged Weapon, but limited to Close range.
- Blinded restricts your awareness, giving you only a rough estimate of objects and creatures in a diameter equal to your Mind; you are insensitive to things beyond this range. Everyone has enough concealment to Sneak on you, and against creatures beyond your perception range, you have to use Reflexes rather than Recon for defense against Recon stunts.
- (or more) Hogtie A hogtied character cannot act physically and can only move one meter as a standard action; no movement is otherwise allowed. This also prevents all Defense actions.
You can focus when bound, but if you are not fully restrained, there is a chance the process will backfire. Roll 1d6 when you use this power. If you currently lack the type of restraint indicated by the roll, you are either thus restrained, or the focus fails. Which of these happens can vary depending on tradition, outlook, availability of restrains and even sometimes personal choice. If the focus fails, you cannot try again until the enxt round.
Pyrotesse has hands and legs bound uses this power. Since she lacks some kinds of restraint, she rolls 1d6, rolling a 5, adding +2 for her two current restraints for a total of 7, which indicates blindfolding, which she lacks. Since she has no blindfold and it just doesn't make sense for the scene, she is not blindfolded and focusing fails. She cannot try to use this method to focus again for the current round.
This might be relevant to fine motor control.
You have some unique item you must have to work your power. Talismans are reasonably large and obvious, like a staff, diadem, dowsing pin, special hat, gizmo or whatever. Without it, you are powerless. Unlike props, this is one specific item. Your talisman is a signature item; it will not disappear unless there is some plot-driven reason for it to disappear, and customs officials and other bystanders will generally ignore it. But its function is always apparent to others of your tradition and to everyone once you start using it for obvious effects. Those in the know might try to take it away from you.
This focus can be either destructible or indestructible. If it is indestructible, it cannot be replaced; you MUST get your unique item back. If it is destructible, it is still tough and hard to destroy, but it can be damaged, and you can replace it.
It takes a Basic Action and a Know roll against your Dodge to identify a talisman for what it is, except when you use it to focus whereupon it becomes obvious.
You suffer power loss when you are without your focus item.
Trigger Action (Focus, Combo)
When your focus item is directly involved in a successful use of your power, such as if you strike with your staff or throw your power diadem, you can focus. You can even do this as a combo with your Limit Break if the Limit Break itself fulfills the condition. This involves a bit of risk; you call attention to your talisman and could potentially lose it.
Your power is fueled by sexuality, both your own and that of your targets.
You must have regular sex to replenish your power. You must engage is some sexual activity each day (even if it is as modest as masturbation or sexual fantasies), and you must have a full-fleshed sexual encounter with a partner at least once a week.
Whenever you manage to create sexual tension you can focus. If this is with a friend, it must be a sexual act or a noteworthy development in your relationship. If it is with an opponent, a successful sexually-themed stunt involving Charm or Presence is sufficient.
This kind of side effect could be associated with weird medicine.
Your powers work best when you are in a trance, and you are aware even when asleep.
When you use your powers, you enter a trance until your next shot comes up. You cannot use Trigger Actions while in this trance. You do not sleep. Instead you trance as above, and you can still act in this trance.
You enter into a trance (as above) for the rest of the scene. You can break out of the trance trough conscious effort - a Basic Action.
This kind of side effect could be associated with weird medicine or with exacting controls.