Monday, December 1, 2014

How Does This Thing Work? Device Complexity In Delving Deeper.

Like many folks, I've spent the past week with the new Metamorphosis Alpha 1e oversized hardcover, and my thoughts can be summed up with two words: "fuck" and "yeah." While I'm too young to have been exposed to MA 1e the first time around, the game definitely hits a sweet spots with me, but I don't expect that to surprise anyone. The thing that reading MA reminded me, though, was that it had been a part of my plan all along to have weird science artifacts and incomprehensible space tech littered throughout my Quasquetherion/Hyperbarbaria campaign. 

Coming up with strange tech and illogical devices isn't my problem. That's kind of my gig. Rather, what I want is a system for sorting out the tech artifacts that's consistent with Delving Deeper (Hyperbarbaria's game system) and my general ideas of simplified game probability that I occasionally warble about here on the blog. In short, a d6-based system that keeps things simple and straightforward.

Device Complexity

For this system, we'll assign each device a Complexity class. Complexity class A is the most complex, then class B, then class C. This system could conceivably be extrapolated out to more or less complex devices, but for my purposes, Complexity classes A, B & C will do what I need them to. Further, there are two types of experimentation: spontaneous (finding a device, trusting to luck and giving it a go on the fly) and cautious (taking at least one turn to experiment with the device). 

  • Complexity A - Most complex. Lots of buttons, dials, knobs and few labels or in an unknown language. 
    • Cautious Experimentation: 1-in-6 chance (6 on 1-6).
    • Spontaneous Experimentaion: Roll 1-6 on the table below.
      • 6 - Possible success. Re-roll the die; on a 4 or better (4+), the character successfully uses the device. Otherwise, there is no effect.
      • 4-5: No effect
      • 1-3: Misfire. 
  • Complexity B - Moderately difficult to suss out the device's function. Some dials, knobs and switches; if there are any labels, they may be diagrams and have few confusing symbols. 
    • Cautious Experimentation: 2-in-6 chance (5+ on 1-6)
    • Spontaneous Experimentation: Roll 1-6 on the table below.
      • 6 - Success
      • 3-5: No effect.
      • 1-2: Misfire.
  • Complexity C - Relatively simple device to make sense of. It will still have some buttons or switches or the like, but the function of the machine is fairly obvious or made evident by diagrams on or near the device. 
    • Cautious Experimentation: 3-in-6 chance (4+ on 1-6). 
    • Spontaneous Experimentation: Roll 1-6 on the table below.
      • 5-6: Success
      • 2-4: No effect.
      • 1: Misfire. 


The Judge/Referee/DM should adjudicate any misfire result rationally. Bombs blow up, robots go berserk, lasers zap people's faces off. Stuff like that. If you've got a few thoughts about how absolutely screwy it could go, an impromptu table could be drawn up really quickly along these lines (roll 1-6):
  • 1: Worst result.
  • 2-5: Not-so-bad but not-that-great result.
  • 6: Best result


If the PCs have any reason that they may be more likely to succeed at a Complexity check, the DM may allow the player to roll additional dice. In such a case, take the higher die roll. For example, a magic user who spends much of his time researching such devices may be at an advantage and get to roll two dice. Similarly, the DM may award additional dice for a high Intelligence or Wisdom score. The DM should be careful not to award too many dice in this manner, however, and trivialize the die roll. 

Time Taken & Attempts

Spontaneous experimentation may be attempted during a normal combat round. Cautious experimentation takes at least 1 turn for Complexity C devices, 1 hour for Complexity B devices and 8 hours for Complexity A devices. One attempt may be made per device every hour for Complexity C devices, every day for Complexity B devices and every week for Complexity A devices. Taking additional time beyond what is required (and perhaps even doing research on the device) may allow additional dice as mentioned in "Bonuses," above. 


A character must accrue at least one success per function of the device. Thus, devices with multiple effects require users to accrue successes with each function.