"We Downloaded The Entire Gear Blueprint Library."

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bibliophile20 bibliophile20's picture
"We Downloaded The Entire Gear Blueprint Library."

So, I'm running an intro adventure for my usual group of players (Think Before Asking, if anyone's curious) and they love it--I'm going to be running a gatecrashing campaign in a few months for them.

However, there's an issue that came up during last Friday's session that I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on how to deal with it--there's no way that this has only happened to me.

The issue is, quite simply, my PCs are currently at large in the Saturnian system--an autonomist region. In preparation for the mission to Fornjot, they got their hands on a fabber (electronics specialty) and then downloaded the plans for a CM.

Then there was the Eureka moment for one of the PCs.

"Hey, Joe, you said that blueprints aren't restricted in anarchist habitats, right? That there are plans available for everything in the gear section available for free download?"

I nodded slowly, seeing where this was going.

"Well, cool. We're just going to download everything, just in case."

I sighed, being uncomfortable with the idea, but couldn't think of reasons why they couldn't right there on the spot, given anarchist attitudes.

So instead, rather than letting them download everything, I had them make a teamwork Research roll. The idea was, when they're on their mission, if they want to fab something, they have to make a roll against that number, to see if they managed to download useful plans that would be functional given local resources (lack of rare elements and so forth). Since they got a 92(!), that means that there's a damn good chance that they'll have what they need, which started tripping my Monty Haul sensors in worry.

So, as a makeshift solution to "We have all of the blueprints for everything!" issue, not the best. I've spent the last few days thinking it over and I've come up with a few more solutions to prevent similar shenanigans in the actual campaign.

The Seed/Leech Solution

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Anarchists may have public access to vast libraries of blueprints, but just because access to these libraries is "free" does not mean that they are without cost. Modeling off of torrent "seeds/leeches", having someone come in and schlurp down a full copy of a library of blueprints without giving anything back is looked down upon in anarchist circles.

In game terms, yes, PCs still need to use rep and networking to get access to the blueprints, which are not on some generic server, but being hosted by an actual person (of one variety or another) in exchange for the rep boost. Taking more than they give back results in a ding to the rep scores of the offenders. (Of course, attempting to hack the server and make a copy without compensation or thanks is still a possibility).

The Hand In The Nut Jar Solution

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Another related point that occurred to me involves the realization that, while many blueprints are developed by anarchists, for fellow anarchists, not all of them are. Many are still developed by the hypercorps, who are not above also hacking anarchist archives and either corrupting blueprints or inserting nefarious backdoors into them. Therefore, there is a constant hacking war going on, as the hypercorps try to corrupt the anarchist designs and the anarchists try to keep them clean and usable. This takes time, that most precious of commodities.

So, in line with the Seed/Leech Solution, just coming in and taking full copies of blueprints that some transhuman has spent considerable time making sure were clean and usable is still going to cost rep, while making sure that unverified blueprints are clean will take the PCs time as well, meaning that, either way, it's not "free", meaning that there is still a cost involved, which makes me happy.

The Butter Substitute Solution

Spoiler: Highlight to view
A more fully fleshed out thought to my original solution is, fine, the PCs have their mesh implants and maybe a couple of ectos packed full of every blueprint they could lay hands on.

However, there's considerable difference between using a fabber or CM on a hab and using nanofabrication in the field, and one of the biggest issues is lack of rare elements. Having a design that can make railguns/cornucopia machines/giant rubber swords/etc in the Martian Outback, surrounded by all of that handy oxidized iron, silica and other useful trace elements, is very different from designs that can make those same things on a small iceball, where the nearest heavy elements are already in use in one's gear.

Simply put, if the blueprint/recipe call for 211 g of thorium or 73 mg of uranium, then that blueprint isn't going to do anyone much use when those materials are unavailable. Now, the better blueprints will have possible substitutions, but there's only so much substitution one can do and retain functionality--engineering for these sorts of things is always about acceptable tradeoffs.


Therefore, I'm considering a houserule for finding raw materials for fabbing as follows:
Spoiler: Highlight to view
Whenever something is being fabricated, raw materials are needed. These materials can be gained in the following ways:

Purchased or acquired with rep; raw materials for an item cost one item category lower than the finished item, subject to the GM's approval (rare elements, such as radioactive elements or antimatter, will typically cost at the lower bounds of the same cost category in credits). Materials for trivial items can be acquired with "half" of a trivial favor--i.e. two items worth of trivial items can be acquired with a single favor.

Salvaged from existing items. Feeding an identical or related item into the fabber to be disassembled and reconstituted will usually suffice (as usual, subject to GM approval)

Scrounged from junk or the environment; this uses the Scounging skill (and adds a new specialty of "Raw Materials" to the skill). General rule of thumb is that this is a Task action, with a situational penalty based on the cost category of the item (Trivial -0; Low -1; Moderate -5; High -10; Scarce -20). Chemical sensors/spectroscopes will generally add bonuses.

Failure on these tests to acquire appropriate raw materials for the fabbed item means that either the item cannot be made, or requires substitutions for elements that are available locally. Modifying or selecting a blueprint for substitutions can be as easy as gaining a blueprint that already has a variety of acceptable substitutions and selecting one (recommend that these blueprints be one cost category higher than normal, due to their versatility) or programming a substitution into an existing blueprint. This second option is a Programming (Nanofabrication) Task action, with penalties depending on the intricacy of being fabricated being highly recommended. Failure means that the programmer is simply not up to the task.
Severe/Critical Failure indicates that the element(s) in short supply are too integral to the original design and cannot be substituted.
Success indicates a functional item, although due to the realities of engineering tradeoffs, a penalty for using that item is suggested.
Excellent/Critical Success indicates that the programmer managed to push off the design tradeoff, making an item that is fully functional, and perhaps even superior to the original design.

Side Note: While in the process of writing up this potential house rule, one thought did occur to me. I've seen considerable discussion on this forum regarding how the exponential growth made possible by the existence of freely available cornucopia machines "breaks" the game's economy. I happen to agree with this point, but wish to point to this house rule as a possible rules patch to at least ameliorate the issue--yes, exponential growth is still an issue, given unlimited resources, but, let's face it--the society in Eclipse Phase claims to be "post-scarcity", but actually isn't and there aren't any places with "unlimited resources". Metals, rare elements, volatiles... all of these and more are all scarce and not freely available. Therefore, using this rule to emulate if the raw materials are even available or usable could help solve or at least diminish that particular issue.

So, these are my potential solutions to combat the "blueprint archive of everything" issue. Thoughts/issues/ideas/concerns/etc?

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -Benjamin Franklin

Lilith Lilith's picture
You pretty much covered what

You pretty much covered what I would've done with your "seed/leech" and "nut jar" solutions. If I recall correctly, it's even mentioned in one of the books that hypercorps do specifically release bad fab blueprints for defective or otherwise undesirable goods, so that's an easy way to cover it. Plus there's always the issue of what fabbers the group is using. Not all fabbers are the same, and even if DRM isn't an issue (since DRM'd fabbers won't accept non-DRM'd blueprints) that doesn't guarantee that the plans are fully compatible — think along the lines of trying to run Mac software on a Windows PC. At the very least your PCs will have to do some InfoSec and Programming tests to get the plans working, which in turn adds in an additional time element that could be a factor depending on how quickly they need to get things done.

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
Not every blueprint has been

Not every blueprint has been tested. Any one can program their own blueprints, even inexperienced people. You're taking a risk if you download a whole bunch of blueprints without checking if they have been reviewed or tested first. Maybe they don't work. Maybe the plasma gun they have fabbed has a containment issue and is therefore prone to exploding when fired. Perhaps this issue is due to someone trying to get around the rare resources limit. Stuff like that. Unless they done something to verify that the blueprints do work, they will be doing the testing in the field.

Of course maybe this doesn't need to be a problem. Instead of worrying about them downloading all the blueprints that transhumanity has to offer, create a problem where their gear breaks down frequently, and in strange ways. Perhaps this happens frequently enough that the fabber can't keep up and the PCs need to spend some time fixing the damaged gear personally. Alternatively, the threats presented by the exoplanet could be sufficiently great that they will need a working batch of blueprints to even hold their own.

Another possibility is that the gate corp doesn't let them to go through with their blueprints and fabber. Many first in missions don't allow the people to go through with technology that, if captured, could be used to produce everything that transhumanity has to offer. Most notably is fabbers and gate control units. They are also not fond of letting people travel with data regarding transhumanity that could be used for tactical purposes, such as where our solar system can be found.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
While I agree with the

While I agree with the security concerns regarding dragging such stuff through a gate, note that part of the setting is that in some habs everything IS readily available of you have access to a CM and the energy and feedstock for it. There's nothing wrong with letting them have whatever they want - everyone else has it too!

cglasgow cglasgow's picture
Being fair, unless the

Being fair, unless the company is going to be searching your mesh inserts, they're not going to find the blueprints. You can carry the Library of Congress in those things.

Or, heck, just dump it all into a datablock, label it 'Portable SolArchive: Planetology 2', and dump it right next to 'Portable SolArchive: Planetology 1' (i.e., the genuine one)

kindalas kindalas's picture
Sturgeon's Law is my solution.

99% of everything is shit.

It goes for blueprints as well in the same way that a current fabricator or engineer could easily for get to write down a step because they just do it automatically so don't think to list it.

So of the "free" blueprints many need tweaking or fiddling to be able to make a "perfect" item.

So free still requires either a research test, a related hardware test and/or a programming test to sort/fix the "free" prints into useful blueprints.

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nick012000 nick012000's picture
Take a look at the Portable

Take a look at the Portable SolArchive from the Gear chapter of Gatecrashing. They've basically just created a Blueprint-oriented one, minus the AI that automatically updates it, and allows you to make a query based on its Knowledge skill of 60 rather than having to make a Research test every time you want to find something.

+1 r-Rep , +1 @-rep