Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Stepping Out of Your Tech Level

A long time ago I was an art major. Life happened and then I was a teacher (not eating will do that to your career plans. Recently I began drawing again. Only I jumped from Tech 1 (paper, pencil) to Tech 8 (iPad!)

Making a tech jump like that is a bitch. I really don't know how these science officers on tv shows back engineer fantastic xeno tech AND wind up using it like experts.

Let me say drawing on a tablet is quite fun. In fact I have several drawing apps. I use different apps for different kinds of drawings. The app with object based drawing is great for drawing things like deck plans. Draw a console and save it. Then clone fifty for the bridge of your star juggernaut. The other apps have different brushes and amenities that may apply to am image I'm trying to do.

But I'm not an expert. Transferring images between the apps is still giving me fits. But there's a more telling issue of control. The tablet and the stylus are too damned slippery. The control is not as easy as a sharp pointed pencil. I'm sure I'll get used to it. The benefits certainly make learning more worthwhile.

But what I'm taking away from this is having high tech goodies dumped in a character's lap is not always a good thing. If your man is used to a bolt action rifle handing him a pulse rifle may not be a good idea leading to sprays of uncontrolled automatic fire, shot up cooling pipes and reactor going critical. A laser rifle might be more problematical. Dies he know not to look when he pulls the trigger or at least wear those funny goggles. Will he flinch when the anticipated kick doesn't come? Does it even feel right in his hands or too light (no pun intended) and balanced oddly?

Referees in Traveller may impose a negative modifier for using equipment of a higher or lower level than you are used to. Probably the worst case scenario is using computers (where does the holo cube go? There's just this stupid slot!) But remember computers control a great many things at higher tech levels. There's really no had and fast rule for minuses. It depends on the sort of setting you want to run -1 per level of difference works. You might add another -1 for big breakthroughs. An aviator from a TL 6 world could fly a TL 7 plane at -1. He could fly a TL 8 air/raft at -3 (-2 for TL difference and -1 because gravity control is a big step away from props and turbines.) As he works with the air/raft he will reduce the negative and eventually use his full skill level. The referee may award him air/raft-0.

In Risus terms you might give higher TNs for people working outside their Tech Level. A high tech piece of exceptional equipment might not work as effectively at first as it will when the user gets some experience with it. If you were using Risus for Traveller (look it up on Risusiverse: Travelling Heavy) our air/raft allow the TL 6 aviator to fly but he'd have his cliche halved for not having his usual tools (no props!) As he learns the ins and outs  he'll find the air/raft adds one, two or more dice for team up situations.

I thimk my mod is down to -2 rightnow