• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

Help with an inventory system

Octopus Prime

Retired User
So I've got this steampunk RPG, and being a steampunk RPG, it's very important that inventor/gadgeteer characters are fully-realized potential builds.
Key to this is having a system for pulling things out of your hat - your doctor has a vial of sleeping dust when he needs to drug a guard, your engineer has a tiny arc welder when she needs to seal a door. It gets rid of a lot of the tedious prep work of deciding what gadgets and gizmos you need to have a head of time.
Toward this end, tech characters have a pool of metacurrency - let's call it Resources - that they can spend to pull a single use portable item out of their hat. Every time they pull out an item, they tick off a Resources. Permanent items - your signature weapons and vehicles- have their own separate means of being tracked.
Where I'm currently hemming and hawwing is how to structure that metacurrency pool.

V1: Characters have a single pool that ties to their Wisdom (the stat that principally governs their technical skills). Both skills and attributes are ranked from 1 to 4, so the pool size would either be equal to Wisdom plus a skill, or 2x Wisdom.
V2: Each technical skill (there are three, by the way: engineering for gadgets, medicine for drugs and poisons, alchemistry for chemical substances) has it's own separate pool. These skills are -also- ranked 1 to 4.

V1 makes attributes more important and skills less so, V2 makes skills more important and attributes less so.

For what it's worth, there is also magic in this game, with it's own pool of metacurrency that is structured almost exactly the V1 system (you spend a point every time you activate a supernatural ability).

There are various special abilities that can be taken to essentially open up new types of pools; for example, one to let archers pull out trick arrows as they need them like Hawkeye. These would also be either linked to that same master resource pool (in V1) or it's own "arrow pool" (V2).

Instinctively, I like V2 better. It makes investing in skills feel more important, it limits spontaneous item creation only to those have invested in those skills.
The downside is that it's (potentially) more book-keeping. A heavy-duty combat/technology character might have to keep track of his gadget pool, and his chemical pool, AND his trick arrow pool, and so on. On the flipside, it's also potentially -less- book-keeping; a spy who put two points in medicine to have some drugs on hand only has to worry about those two points in his Medicine pool.
V1 naturally means everyone has some extent of a resource pool (attributes have a minimum value of one), which is a double-edged sword. If you're character isn't an inventor, what exactly are Resources spent on? It makes the Resource system closer to the magic system, which is good for simplicity, but also kind of makes inventors feel like another flavor of wizard.
I'm also considering a hybridized Resource system, wherein you have a pool of 1-4 general Resources based on your Wisdom score, additional pools based on each skill. This is probably the -most- book-keeping intensive version, but on the upside, it's flexible and keeps a balance of value of attributes vs skills.

I hope that made sense. Let me know your thoughts.

John Out West

Registered User
Validated User
It made sense, although it could have been worded better.

From what I can tell, both version are just a different flavor of wizard. You prepare gadgets (Spells) and have limited uses (Spell Slots). They literally pull these things out of their hat, like a magician pulls out a rabbit. The metaphor could not be more in sync.
From what i can tell, you have two goals: Make Inventors different from Wizards, and limit Bookkeeping.

If I were you, I would make all, or at the very least most, of Inventor's abilities passive and chosen at the beginning of the day, supplemented by active abilities. The doctor makes a enough poison to coat all of their weapons for the day, the engineer assembles a coal-powered hook-shot, and the alchemist destabilizes a jar of Element Air to create instant tornadoes. Now all the doctor's attacks have a poison effect, the engineer is able to zip to anywhere on the battlefield that he can grapple onto or grapple onto enemies and bring them towards himself, and the Alchemist has a reusable wind-based attack that controls the battlefield. Next day (Or with adequate time) they can change their loadout to better serve their needs. This system doesn't require bookkeeping, and the inventors don't resemble wizards.

That being said, if you're sticking with your current model, V2 makes the most sense. It basically functions on the Spell-Slot system, which is tried and true.

I hope this helps.


Registered User
Validated User
Just as a thought you could combine features of both systems so that players have a general pool keyed to their attribute, but the cost is determined by their skill level. So maybe alchemy costs 2 for a non-alchemist but 1 for an alchemist.
This system might inflate your numbers though.


Registered User
Validated User
A common pool where the skills buy access could make sense, especially if the skills are rolled. For non-inventor characters you could tie the rest of the inventory system into this and add a general preparedness skill. That will let you get totally ordinary items, where the tech characters have stuff that's a bit more specialized. Need a box of matches? Cool, roll Preparation, if you succeed mark off a resource. Need a vial of antivenom? Roll Medicine. Need a soldering iron? Roll Electronics.


New member
I think one of the ways in which Inventors could be different from magic-users is that Inventors could reuse their devices. (This would obviously require balancing how much resource each group gets and how often they get replenished.)

So once an inventor pulls out a gizmo, they have it for the rest of the scene, and can use it in different ways. So the alchemist pulls out a flask of strong acid and uses it to melt open a safe while leaving the contents intact. Later, the same alchemist tosses another vial of this acid at an armored enemy, stripping them of their armor and making them much more vulnerable. An engineer who welds a door shut with a welding torch can also cut use the same torch later to cut through some part of an engine. A doctor with knockout powder can later use a smaller dose of knockout powder as an anesthetic.
Top Bottom