Where Do Artificers Belong?
Posted by docryder
There are times when the tool is irrelevant. For example, yesterday (Saturday, as I am writing this) was a workday for me. Most of my time was spent driving, and when I wasn’t driving, I wasn’t really doing much else. On one trip back, there was too much glare for me to read my iPad, which pretty much excluded anything else. On my last trip, I was crowded into a back seat, on top of the axle. Too crowded to type, too bumpy to read without getting sick. Those conditions would have been impossible to work with just about anything. So, yesterday was a lost cause, except for brainworking.
But the week was not a loss. I got a lot of typing time in, retyping more of those old notes. I’ve been making decent process, but I’m not retyping every day. However, as I wrote above, I am thinking about things. I had some shower ideas, but they got overwhelmed by thoughts on Artificers (or Wyrd-technologists).
The StarSea setting has a lot of concepts from D&D 4E; one of those is power sources, another is roles. I want my players to have a more focused number of niches pre-planned. In the modern military, you have specialties, so the idea isn’t necessarily unrealistic. I think there are a lot of folks out there in the gaming community who didn’t like the roles and their association to MMOs. I had no real opinion on the MMO linkage, as I’m not an MMo player, but in my experience, roles have been part of D&D for a long time. However, I think some of the 4E designer choices were questionable.
For example, the “Leader” role. One, the name is largely a misnomer where powers are concerned. In reality, they’re healers. A couple of the leaders, especially the Warlord, have powers that move their allies, which to me would more say leader. Some of them have decent access to social skills, but the classes in question are rarely party leaders in the games I usually see played. A “face man” role is almost needed, separate from the healer role.
The Artificer class is lumped in with the leaders, another Arcane Leader alongside the Bard. I re-read the first few levels of the class this week, after some remarks at our Living Forgotten Realms game this Wednesday, and listening to the Critical Hit podcast this week. I’ve been tempted by the class for a long time, but I think in re-reading it, I’d never play it again in a game. The powers I was reading just do nothing for me.
However, I still like the concept. My favorite Tradition in Mage: the Ascension was the Sons of Ether (soon to be the Society of Ether in the 20th Anniversary Edition). I’ve always liked gadgeteers in superhero games, even if I rarely played them. I like the idea of there being folks in my setting who specialize in creating and maintaining these sorts of items. It makes sense. But how do these people fit into the grand scheme of the orders?
The orders will have specialties within squads of knights (PC parties), which will include guardians (defenders), infiltrators (strikers, for the most part), healers, and battlefield manipulation (controllers/artillery). I thought about a social specialty, but FATE is a more socially-oriented game than D&D is in general, and I’d rather play to that than resist it.
So, I’m left wondering where the Artificers fit in. Are they one of the five mentioned above, or are they separate. Right now, I’m leaning towards a separate role. However, I’m also considering making them a neutral faction. Way back in the history of gaming, there was Mekton, a game of giant robots. In the sample setting in Mekton II, there was a society of mek jocks who owed no allegiance to the two warring factions in the game, and whose technology was superior to either side. That setting element inspired a land that I’ve used in a couple of the settings that I’m working into the StarSea called Spyre, a land of technologically advanced people who usually remain neutral. However, this time, my thinking is that the Artificers could be more like “Lords of War,” selling their technology to both sides of the battle, so to say. A very mercenary point of view for my wyrdtechs.
Part of me likes the idea, and part of me doesn’t. I want each faction to have it’s own technological style, which really wouldn’t exist if one group is building all the tech. And I want PCs to be able to operate their own gear, rather than depending on outsiders (who would likely be NPCs, which is more work for the DM, if the players don’t choose to link to necessary NPCs).
However, I do like the wyrdtechs having different positions in the factions. For example, the “techno-priests” of the Divine faction might be outsiders considered nearly heretical, but tolerated, while the Arcane “techno-wizards” hold the kind of dark power the mercenary Artificers do. Psionic wyrdtechs would simply be folks with specialized knowledge, contributing to the advancement of the entire society, and Primal wyrdtechs might be considered quite mad, but too dangerous and helpful to ignore or exile.
All this has been rambling through my mind, and I’m not sure exactly which direction I’m going to hammer these guys into. I particularly favor the last one, but I need to get a little further along in my completion of the setting before I can answer these questions. In fact, my mind if bubbling up a compromise right now, in which there’s a neutral college of wyrdtechs, but each tech himself has his own loyalties, which brings me back to a state more like my original concept of Spyre.
Anyway, it’s getting late, and I have to work tomorrow, so it’s time to wrap this up. Later.