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Arcane Mechanics, the McGuyvers of the Modern Magical World

I’m writing and running a Fate RPG set on a college campus that I call Brewed Awakening. One of my players expressed interest in playing an artificer (inspired by 3.5e Eberron), which we are currently calling Arcane Mechanics.

This is my first run at the rules for it.

Not familiar with the Fate RPG? Read the full rules here.

ARCANE MECHANICS

You are the McGuyver of the magical world. Your skills excel at the creation of magical items.

Prerequisite(s): 1-2 refresh, depending on the game—one in Brewed—and a high concept that declares you an Arcane Mechanic in some way, e.g. Grease Magus, Gypsy Jeweler, A Construction Warlock.

During play you may create items that grant magical effects provided that you have an adequate amount of time and materials to create them. You state the desired effect and the GM will set a difficulty for your Overcome roll. Depending on the effect this target number can be quite high and you may need to make multiple uses of Create Advantage to build your item.

Items that you create have a short lifetime, determined by you and the GM. Perhaps your ring of invisibility will only last until the wearer removes it or goes to sleep, or the Ram Man of Force will only knock down a single door. This is because infinite creation of items that never go away can be unbalancing to a game.

When squeezed for time—like in the middle of a fight—you may spend a Fate point to create a single use item that works for one turn. The precise boundaries of this effect depend on the circumstances, the scene, and common sense.

The build of magical items is basically the same as the Gadgets and Gear section from the Fate System Toolkit. Each item has a Function and a Flaw. Consider this the high concept and trouble aspect of the device. These are aspects and they may be invoked or compelled as any other aspect.

Items may also have their own Stunts, which adds to the difficulty of making the item. Items may also have additional Flaws to offset the difficulty of creating them (See Gadgets and Gear link above).

As an Arcane Mechanic, you may assign any single item you create a Stunt for free. Provided that you are between scenes you may move this stunt slot to another item for free. It does not have to be the same stunt.

You also begin each story arc (2-5 sessions) with one magical item already created. It’s a good idea to have it vetted by the GM before the game starts, or to have multiple options for GM approval.

Example

Tom McFixit has decided that he wants to start the story arc with a magical Cap Gun that fires condensed air at opponents.

Cap Gun

  • Function: Air bolt cap gun
  • Flaw: Unreliable paper caps

And since he has a stunt to assign for free and has no other items at the moment, he gives it the stunt:

FIRE ALL CAPS: Once per session you consume all the paper caps in the gun to create a series of loud bangs. Everyone in your zone, including you, gains the aspect “Deafened” for one turn.

Later in the game, Tom McFixit learns that the creatures they are hunting can only be hurt by blades. Since he can’t go around the college campus with a sword, he works in his lab to create the following (which would have a difficulty set by the GM and require an Overcome roll):

SATURDAY MORNING EXCALIBUR

  • Function: Toy sword that turns into a real sword
  • Flaw: Slow transformation (takes a turn to transform “Thundercats, thundercats, thundercats, HO!”)

And he builds it with the stunt: EYE OF THUNDERA: You gain a +2 to Quickly defend against magical attacks directed only at you as the sword helps to deflect it.

Now that the group is getting ready for the final battle, Tom McFixit decides to move his free Arcane Mechanic stunt from the Cap Gun to Saturday Morning Excaliber. He gives it the following stunt: BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL: You gain a +2 to Forcefully attack [a specific creature type] with the sword.

So now Tom McFixit goes into battle with his Cap Gun (which now has no stunt) and the suped up Saturday Morning Excalibur.