Cosmic Power For Super Gadgeteers

Return to GURPS Resources

In the comics, four-color inventors habitually emerge from their laboratories holding devices that break multiple laws of physics. While the Invention and Gadgeteering rules are just fine for plausible scientific creations, many "super gadgeteers" will need to go beyond such mundane limits. This is the realm of "super gadgets" (appropriate advantages with one or more of the Gadget limitations), devices which cost character points, but can produce effects that no high-tech device can.

The simplest way to handle this is with Modular Abilities -- Cosmic Power to be specific, though several modifiers will be necessary to tweak it to serve our purpose. Some ground rules:

  • The super gadgeteer creates a new gadget by rearranging the points in his Cosmic Power to "buy" the ability (as a mental or physical advantage, with at least one Gadget limitation). If he has no points available, he can free them up by disassembling any of his existing "super gadgets" (cannibalizing them for parts) as part of the creation process. If something interrupts him before the new gadget is complete, he won't have access to the old gadget or the new one -- both will still be in pieces on his lab table!
  • Rearranging the points in your pool requires you to be in an appropriate laboratory. For most people, this means a production-grade lab. Gadgeteers can get by with any electronics laboratory, as long as it's fully stocked with modern gear. Quick Gadgeteers can work out of an auto shop, Radio Shack, etc., as long as the GM agrees that the parts available match the concept of the gadget; this requires at least a modified Scrounging roll (see p. B476-477).
  • Every new advantage (whether part of the same gadget or several different ones) requires either a fixed or a variable amount of time to create (see below). This is part of the limitation and cannot be reduced! If anything interrupts the inventor in the middle of this, the time is wasted and he must start over. At the end of this time, the GM should secretly roll against the inventor's IQ. On a success, the gadget is fine; rearrange the points in the Cosmic Power accordingly. On a critical success, the GM should throw in a bonus (such as a free Perk or small enhancement). On a failure, it didn't work -- try again. On a critical failure, the gadget seems just fine, but it will backfire horribly at the worst possible moment before breaking down completely.
  • Super gadgeteering is intense. As a general rule, creating a new super gadget should drain serious power from the local electric grid, require expensive components, emit noticeable waves (whether radiation, electricity, radio, or something else) like a beacon, or whatever else seems appropriate to the GM. Neighbors will look up from their papers and mutter, "That crazy old coot must be in that lab of his..."

This is most easily represented by combining the appropriate modifiers into a new limitation:

Special Limitation for Cosmic Power

Gadget Pool: The points in your pool can be used to create "super gadgets", subject to the rules above. The value depends on the amount of time required to add a new advantage to your Cosmic Power pool. The GM should decide in advance whether to use the fixed or variable time given; in the latter case, he should roll the required time secretly before the engineer begins. This limitation may not be compatible with other modifiers; see its component pieces (below) to judge. It specifically may not be combined with any Gadget limitations.

Fixed TimeVariable TimeValue
1 minute(2d-1) x 10 seconds-0%
10 minutes3d minutes-15%
1 hour(2d-1) x 10 minutes-45%
8 hours3d-2 hours-60%

Add an additional -50% if the pool can only build gadgets based on Physical advantages, or another -100% if limited to only Mental advantages.

Of course, Gadget Pool is based on Immediate Preparation Required (from my House Rules), plus the following modifiers: Accessibility, Only in a Laboratory, -30%; Limited, Focus, Superscience Gadgets, -5%; Limited, Traits, Advantages with Gadget Limitations, -20%; Nuisance Effect, Varies, -5%; Physical 2, +100%; and Requires IQ Roll, -10%, which sum to +30%

The Accessibility applies equally to inventors, Gadgeteers, and Quick Gadgeteers; all that changes is the definition of what a "laboratory" is for each one. This is part of what the Gadgeteer advantage grants them, and thus does not change the point cost. The Limited modifiers restrict the inventor to only advantages which make sense as superscience gadgets, which will exclude anything the GM considers purely supernatural. Nuisance Effect represents the noticeable energies released or the consumption of power or money.

Return to GURPS Resources