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Energy Drain

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#1 Cymbel



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Posted 15 January 2013 - 10:19 PM

A recent DH game I joined is heavier on the survival horror aspect and for that reason the GM is having our gear lose power with each use. He gave glowglobes a runtime of 1d3 Hours before a recharge and flashlights a time of 1+1d5 hours (but they have a smaller but longer area of illumantion) but need disposable power batteries, so cost more in the long run.

The thing is, what about items like Pict Recorders, Dataslates, Photo-Visors, Auspexes, red dot sights and so on. How long of a charge would these items have? How can we recharge them? Does anyone have ideas to make our use of them sparing, but not feel crippled about worrying to use them.

#2 Darth Smeg

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 12:33 AM

Modern cameras, pads and e-bookreaders already have battery capacity of days if not more, so I really wouldn't bother unless you are spending extended amounts of time away from modern civilization.

Even so, the Imperium has access to self-charging tech (I believe las-charge packs will re-charge themselves if left alone for 24 hrs?),  so it only becomes an issue for devices that are actively used intensively, for extended periods of time. 

Ie, an auspex/scanner or photo-visor used non-stop for a day or more, perhaps.

This may finally make the Luminen Charge Talent worht the XP :)

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#3 Cymbel



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Posted 16 January 2013 - 08:43 AM

I understand what you mean, but this is part to represent us being away from power grids and civilization and part to help with the horror atmosphere, making us use our gear less often, for fear of it running out of power when we REALLY need it, like why he turned the glow globe from 1d5 hours to 1d3 hours. So any guideline which still makes our gear useful, but not wanting to always turn on PhotoVisors or have the Auspex always running (to prevent sneak attacks) would be great, as well as rules for recharging them with power packs or such.

On a side note, lasgun powerpacks store heat, whether it be gotten electrically (as normal), lying out in the sun (used here and there) or the rarer option of tossing it in a fire (which ruins the pack, but a ruined pack can be better than no shots at all). Also, there is an extra balance with Las VS SP, Las packs hold more, can be recharged, but finding recharging spots can be hard, while SP is more common right now, but sells for a higher price, so either way we have to conserve ammo.

#4 Alekzanter



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Posted 17 January 2013 - 07:34 AM

I don't know how organized your character sheets are, but my players usually have everything they're carrying one item to a line (most write with tiny lettering). I do the same with my own character sheets. Rather than coming up with time limits or lengths of time that charges last, it could be done on a die-roll-per-use basis. Each item could be given a target number, between 3 and 10. Devices that are more sturdily constructed would have a lower target number (Photo Visors a 4, Data Slate a 3), and items constructed with smaller circuitry or intricate lenses (such as a Red-Dot Sight) might have a higher target number (in the case of the Red-Dot, 5, while a Pict-Recorder might have a 6). Things like Chainsword…do you want them to run out of juice? Do they run on internal combustion? A Chainsword might have a target number of 2. Micro Beads, although small and intricate pieces of equipment, might have energy cells that recharge themselves from the heat of the body they are in contact with (when the Acolytes split up…and they will split up…they being unable to communicate with each other makes the GM's job soooo much more difficult).

Each time an item is used you put a "tick" mark, or check, next to the item. The first tick corresponds to the item's target number, so one tick on the Photo Visor indicates 4, and each tick after the first raises the target number by one, so a second tick on the Photo Visors would be a 5, a third tick would be a 6, and so on. Each time the item is used the player rolls d10, and the die roll must equal or exceed the target number, otherwise the battery/light cell/fuel cell/whatever cell has run its course. To prevent the crap-out of first-time use drains you could go a bit farther and subtract the target number from 10 and the remainder equals the number of uses (investigative scenes/encounters) the item has before it starts to put a strain on its energy reserves. Later, when this reserve has been used, and if the target number isn't met the item will function for that one instance (Red-Dot for that Turn, Data-Slate long enough to record specific info or  an Auspex long enough to check for anomalous energy reading/radiation) OR the item may continue to operate for that one investigative scene/encounter, as the GM sees fit to judge.


By way of example:

Red-Dot Sight (5)- x x x x x / x x x x x x
Chainsword (2)- x x x x x x x x / x x x x x x x x x 

You color over an x each time the item is used. The first ticks indicate the energy reserve, so no die roll is required, they are just marked over each time the item is used (perhaps by investigative scene or encounter rather than each individual flip of a switch), and the next set of ticks indicate an increasing drain on the items energy cell, so in the case of the Red-Dot the first tick needing a d10 roll of 5+, the next a 6+ and so on to 10. Once an item reaches the end of its reserve it may or may not operate properly, so each time the target number is a 10 (like furiously shaking the failing flashlight, over and over and over…) until the item has been recharged (anything with a target number of 1-5 needing a Challenging (+/-0) Tech-Use Test (and Luminen Charge would suffice), a target number of 6-9 requiring a Difficult (-10) Tech-Use Test (requiring a steady and regulated power supply, like from alternator/generator of a vehicle that is running), and anything with a target number of 10 requiring Hard (-20) Tech-Use Test, and must have a properly "sanctified" power source as its recharge supply. Failing that, each 2 shots from a Las Cell, any Las Cell, reduces the tick marks by one. Just some food for thought. Come to think of it, there might be something in this for those poor chums of us in the GM pulpit that bemoan PCs in Power Armour…

Just hoping the die roll comes up high enough to allow an item to operate might create some added tension, and thus more immersion. Perhaps.

I quite like the idea, myself. Once I have the 'Macharian Handbook: An Acolyte's Guide to the Galaxy of Guns' and the 'Macharian Handbook: Tools of the Trade' I may be going through and assigning target numbers to…well, everything that uses energy. Except I may change the reserve numbers on things like Chainswords, Power Axes, etc. Or not.

spiraculum inspiratione 

#5 Cymbel



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Posted 17 January 2013 - 12:00 PM

That is a great idea, it sounds a bit too complicated, but really close to a perfect way of doing it. One problem I see is the constant tracking and the rolls and numbers, granted you do need some, but also don't want their gear crapping out really early and wasting their cash, but neither do you want someone keeping stuff always on so they get the bonuses constantly. Also, I think a real big thing is quality, Poor Quality items would FEEL like they were that, running out of power and such, while GQ could have something like reliable or such, BQ could use body heat to supplement its power or one of those shake generators, a solar panel to get power from light or sunlight. But an optional power mechanic would be great and the increasing chances of failure would add some great tension and keep folks from treating gear as free stat boosts or not turning off, though again, making them TOO likely to fail would make players feel their gear is useless.

Edit: The GM for the horror DH game would prefer charges for item, also he noted an IRL Red Dot Laser Sight (not a reflex sight) would have full power for a week at least and up to a month of power. Currently he is using an arbitrary system where power drains without any of our knowing and then we have no clue before it runs out of power, which is less than ideal

#6 Alekzanter



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Posted 18 January 2013 - 04:14 AM

I agree that my suggestion adds more than a little record keeping. It also requires the GM to spend some devoted time to assigning values to powered items. I tossed and turned all night, the idea grumbling about in my head. And I hadn't even given any thought to Craftsmanship. But if a GM, any GM, wants to add a sense of "don't fail me now" to the scenario it's going to require extra effort on the part of the Players and the GM. It would be effort well worth the time spent.

All Power Checks use one d10.

Rather than basing an item's energy reserve on it's general design and function, requiring the GM to assign individual values to every powered item, perhaps Craftsmanship could be the basis for assigning values.

Poor = 6+
Common = 5+
Good = 4+
Best = 3+

Then, depending on the level of tension the GM wants to set for an encounter or investigative scene, taking into consideration the function and purpose of the device(s) being used, the situation and the experience of the Acolyte(s), he/she could assign modifiers, much the same way as he/she would assign Difficulty Levels for Tests.

(Using the Difficulty descriptions already provided in the Core Rules for ease of translation)
Very Hard: -3
Hard: -2
Difficult: -1
Challlenging: +/-0
Ordinary: +1
Routine: +2
Easy: +3

This modifier could then be further adjusted if a PC has the Tech-Use Skill (or similar): Failed Tests would not affect the operation/use of the device unless failed by more than 3 DoF, and then only resulting in a -1 Power Check penalty modifier. Each DoS adds +1 bonus to the "Power Check" (?) roll, up to a maximum bonus of +3. In these instances, such Tech-Use Test could be considered Free Actions, based upon the PC's familiarity with his/her own gear.

No Power Check score may be worse than 10+ or better than 2+. After all, there has to remain some level of stress, even if it is quite small. 

Rather than concerning oneself with the need to recharge items, it can be assumed that all but the most specialized gear (such as Portable Cogitators) have a self-regenerating energy cell. If the encounter or investigative scene is meant to be nothing "special" then items can simply function as they were designed to do so, as needed. Power Checks may subtly increase in Difficulty once the GM decides to ramp up the suspense and tension. A Tech-Priest with Luminen Charge might be considered as constantly mindful of his/her gear's readiness, providing a +2 bonus modifier to any and all Power Checks made by the Tech-Priest. Technical Knock could be used to prepare the Machine Spirits of items, awakening them for operation, providing a +1 Power Check bonus modifier; with the use of this Talent the Tech-Priest may awaken the Machine Spirits of gear owned by others, preparing a number of items equal to his Intelligence Bonus per day, each item requiring the very minimum of a Full Action. At the GM's discretion, an additional bonus modifier of +1 might be gained if the Tech-Priest offers proper observances to the Machine Spirits, requiring approximately ten minutes per item and the application of Sacred Oils/Unguents/Incenses. Preparations last no longer than one day; Machine Spirits don't like to be taken for granted.

Example: Orpheo and his companions are skulking through the undercroft of an abandoned church. The church sits far out in the wilderness of the moors, a region of unnatural chill, dense fogs, and ill reputation. The unnatural chill has seeped into the undercroft, wracking Orpheo and his companions with juddering shivers, even through their protective clothing. Orpheo hears a low growl, but before he can call out a warning to his companions he is toppled over by the lunging hulk of the dreaded Moorhound. In a desparate gambit to drive the creature off himself, Orpheo thumbs the power stud on the grip of his trusty Chainsword and takes a hurried swipe at the creature's snarling muzzle.

"Trusty" Chainsword (Good Quality Craftsmanship) = 4+
Unnatural chill/ill reputation of the moors: -2 Power check modifier
The situation is grim, but not unexpected: Ordinary (+1) Difficulty modifier 
Orpheo's Tech-Use Skill (Trained, 33): Test result of 12, 2 DoS (a Free Action, therefor unable to alert his companions to the sudden attack)

The Power Check on Orpheo's trusty Chainsword is now a 3+; he rolls a 5, and with his Chainblade chiming around its well-oiled gears, its motor revved to a keening pitch, Orpheo catches the Moorhound a glancing blow along its flanks. It is not enough to seriously injure the beast, but Orpheo has driven it from atop himself, and now stands, his stance wide and balanced, the throaty purr of his Chainsword vibrating the close air of the undercroft as the beast menacingly prowls back and forth within the dark shadows, nothing visible of it except for its gleaming red eyes…

As a final note: Just because an item "fails" doesn't mean it's useless. Subsequent Power Checks (which really are outside of the normal structred time and therefor are a game mechanic requiring no time…other than for the beneficial uses of Tech-Use/Luminen Charge/Technical Knock) would grant a cumulative +1 bonus modifier each Round, to a maximum of +3, so that eventually a panicking PC has finally shaken and cursed his gear to life, and thus possibly aiding the preservation of his/her own hide.

This method is simple compared to my previous suggestion, not unduly compliated, but still something toward added tension or suspense.


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