Improvised Electrical and Mechanical Equipment

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Improvised Electrical and Mechanical Equipment

We all know the Mechanic and Electrician skills need a swift kick in the pants, but the problem seems to be that there aren't enough components available to make crafting mechanical and electric devices plausible. Another major issue seems to be the lack of electricity to power batteries. Both of these problems could be solved if we figured out a way to make an improvised generator of some sort that required one of these skills.

For the generator to "feel" right it needs to be simple enough that a survivor could figure out how to create it without the instructions right in front of him, but it also cannot use anything that would be incredibly difficult to find in a well looted urban wasteland. It would be something that feels improvised or mcguyvered by someone who knows how a generator works (hence the electrician or mechanic skill)

I searched around for improvised or simplistic generators and chargers, and tried to avoid anything too complex like solar chargers.

The universal charger used in Metro 2033 (made from a sewing machine motor, some copper wire and what appears to be spare parts from other machines) http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100417002634/metro2033/images/8/8f/Universal.jpg
A 12th grade science experiment on how to make a really simple generator: http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/12th_grade/powerful_explor/physics/homemade_generator.html
and bicycle bottle dynamos, used to power bicycle lights using the motion of the wheels. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottle_dynamo

basically to make a charger or generator we need copper wire, a magnet, something sturdy to hold it in place and something to create motion like a crank, peddle, lever or wheel.

Copper wire or magnets could be included in a new item called Electrical Scrap, which can be acquired from breaking down electrical equipment like flashlights, iSlabs and night vision goggles. For the lever/sturdy thing to hold it in place we could add metal pipes into the game, it would be realistic to be able to find broken pipes anywhere in the cities and urban centers. Pipes could be used as blunt weapons or as a tube for making improvised guns.

The charger would be made of a pipe, maybe a tin can, lots of electrical scrap, some small parts, string and a multitool. it would also need Electrician, Mechanic or both.

other improvised equipment could include:

improvised taser: a flashlight, some electrical scrap, a multitool and electrician. The taser would use batteries like ammo and it wouldn't kill or even injure enemies, instead it causes them to fall and be stunned for several rounds, long enough for you to get away or beat the crap out of them.

Stun Baton: same concept only using a pipe, this would do actual damage since you are hitting them

Zip gun: Metal pipe, 6 small parts, multitool, mechanic, ranged. It can hold one round of any ammo at a time but breaks with only a couple of shots.

Improvised Grenade: empty can, 6 nails (new item), 4 small parts, medium string, lighter, shotgun shell, mechanic. Deals massive damage to multiple opponents and yourself if you are too close, the lighter is not consumed on use and instead is used to light the fuse.

Spiked Club: stick, 4 nails, melee. More damage than a stick, and bleeds

Spike trap: a few sticks, nails, small parts, medium string, multitool, mechanic, trapping. Works like a sound trap in that it will wake you up if an intruder attacks while you sleep, except they will also start with some wounds.

In regards to chargers, a thread where you also seem to actually suggest chargers based on the same reference - linked for the sake of other, connected ideas and balance of such, as such charger could be quite overpowered.

As for the other stuff. Most ideas seem quite nice, though a few things I'd like to comment on:

Given how easy the improvised taser and stun baton seem to be made, they seem somewhat too strong by comparison with regular weaponry. I'd like to make sure that they wouldn't hold much charge and they would be too weak to stun things of bigger mass than humanoids, at least with a single stun-attack, so you won't just simply taze things like dogmen nor you will be able to knock them out with a single tap of a stun baton.

Spiked club seems to be rather primitive. Hell, I'd be able to make such IRL and I don't consider myself proficient electrician/mechanic nor I am hardened fighter. In fact, boards and baseball bats with some nail driven through them strike me as some of the most common and 'traditional' improvised weapons and I don't think making such should require any trait. But a good addition to the game, otherwise.

Spike trap I personally think should require just trapping, which is a skill about trapping creatures and then preparing corpses, so we can assume the very basics necessary to make such device could be put in there.

Personally, the most fitting use of mechanic/electrician traits I'd see in events and I hope soon there will a bunch of such. Not to say there shouldn't be crafting recipes - it's just that I think that creating devices outside of 'improvised gadget/jury-rigged equipment' class may be a bit too much for regular scavenger/survivalist, even with materials and some know-how.

Other than that, good thinking, but I am not sure if this stuff shouldn't be just a part of 'Recipe ideas' thread.

The spiked club idea is just there for use of the nails, it doesn't have anything to do with mechanical or electrician, I just figured if you introduce a new item it should have more used than just mechanics/electricians only.

In regards to balance issues with chargers, I think the complexity of the device would mean it would break down rather quickly without repair. Another way to balance it would be that it required fuel, like a generator...but that might not be until gasoline is added.

I agree that there need to be more events that use these skills but the skills themselves should not be limited to just events. When you make your character you weigh out each skill against each other based on what will help you survive the most. Events are usually one time occurrences that require you to be at a certain location. its possible, hell its common for someone to die before they even reach any major event outside of the encounter in the Cryo Lab. All the other skills are useful because they provide bonuses outside of events, and lets face it with a skill called mechanic or electrician it should be assumed that you can create something, or at least fix something with that knowledge.

The spike trap is assumed to be mechanical, like a bear trap. if it was a pit or something simple then I could understand just using trapping.

The taser would definately do jack against a dogman, other than transform it into a pissed off dogman. I also like the idea of them having limited charge, they should be used as a last ditch effort and not be heavily relied on.

After reading this post yesterday I've dived into Youtube to check how this whole "scrap generator" would work (cause, ladies and gentlemen, if something can be built at home/garage, there is someone on the YT bragging about how he made it).
It seems there are few methods of building a generator out of old motors (from washing machine or such device) but a thing build from scrap go into two categories:

- science project toys (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmo7UUma1ko) that would not power a single light-bulb correctly;

- actual generators made to power stuff (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbpRdme4Tpg) that seem to bulky and time consuming to make (guy in that video mentions it takes him two weeks to build one) to be of any use for homeless scavenger;

In addition, being, at one point in time, proud owner of a old-school soviet-made hand crank powered flashlight, I can tell for a fact that you wont power a teaser, yet alone hypothetical laser rifle, with that thing :D

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Oh, and aren't teasers, those that shoot cables over distance, a one shot only devices? If yes, that would take care of balance issue - one shot over short distance and loosing charge regardless of hit or miss seems fair for a chance to stun a human completely for a few turns.

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Also, most new recipes for Mechanic skill would still demand a few hours (turns) to complete.
Items like rat traps (self-closing cages), improvised crossbows or bear-traps, could be made in couple of hours time, I believe. But it don't fit too well into NS crafting system that is composed of items made in few minutes max. To counteract that, a system of half-products could be presented.

For example - to make an improvised bear trap one would have to:

- make a mechanism, out of small parts and car spring for example, using multitool (5.0 time units, 1 turn/hour)
- make the jaws, out of sheet metal, using hacksaw and multitool (5.0 time units, 1 turn/hour)
- put mechanism and jaws together, using multitool (2.5 time unit, half a turn/hour)

But to make that work a lot of new items would have to be created, materials and tools, as well as the half-products and finished items themselves. But that would make crafting with Mechanic fun (in my honest opinion).


<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

In regards to hand-cranks, you're right that ones directly powering devices wouldn't probably do well, but some used for recharging batteries over prolonged period of time could work - if there would be finite number of charges before battery becomes completely worthless and if it would take some time/effort to make/acquire/buy and use such.

As for tasers, I was under the impression he meant the handheld kind you press against the opponent - those can be be successfully activated a few times, though of course they're melee-only.

I am not sure about prolonged time needed to craft some stuff, not without a need to introduce some sort of system tracking percentage of recipe done - otherwise, many characters may have hard time actually producing some things (weaker characters in makeshift shelters, somewhat hungry, cold etc wouldn't be able to make a trap to save themselves as their time unit 'allowance' would be under 5).

Thanks for clarification, regarding the club, for example, Stalington.

Isn't that the whole point of introducing bigger crafting projects - to make them harder, more challenging to complete?

After all, people (including me) would like to see some "real" vehicles like quads or motorbikes, not to mention a car, that would demand much longer periods of work to put back to work. And introducing some intermediate level recipes, to be, possibly, created later in the game would be a good idea. Unless we move into fantastic, but boring and dull, land of "ten minutes of work to fix a car that have been abandoned for the last ten years".

Also, right now it takes one time-unit to make a single arrow, five per hour for a healthy character and people still call archery too good and unbalanced. And I assume archers want to make themselves some ammo sooner in the game rather then later. So, if incentive is worth the time, people will find the time.

But you are right, in the end one cannot implement bigger projects without some system to track down progress. And I think that without more complicated, multiple-stage recipes, Mechanic skill won't be much more useful.


<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

Bigger projects could be done with repairing: It takes 1 move to create the item, but it only has 1% condition. A second recipe could then increase the condition by 1% per move.

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

After all, people (including me) would like to see some "real" vehicles like quads or motorbikes, not to mention a car, that would demand much longer periods of work to put back to work.

I don't have issue with this, nor I do have issue with projects generally taking quite some time. What I was not fond is the idea of any particular step taking more time units than some characters can have at all, unless they are quite well-fed, in comfortable environment, healthy and spending the whole turn on the particular project without even a chance for a break.

Also, right now it takes one time-unit to make a single arrow, five per hour for a healthy character and people still call archery too good and unbalanced.

From what I read, archery is too good for things largely unrelated to crafting - especially stuff like being able to retrieve arrows in the fight, bows working relatively fast, allowing almost a barrage of arrows should one have enough of them (or just frequent shots with arrow retrievement). Some of those things are supposedly to be adjusted, so it should be better soon.

Glad we agreed on some progress track - be it through devices requiring sub-recipes for parts to be completed or general percentage (for the longer-ter projects, eliminating the time units issue). I do hope to see some more advanced equipment available to tech-wiz characters (though building hi-tech vehicles and weaponry would be a stretch, I'd prefer just repairing some and upgrading others). Though I cannot say that mechanic trait wouldn't be useful without such - we simply need more events benefitting from it.

One problem is that currently, if a player has 0.01 moves left he can still craft something that actually needs 1.00 move to make. If there were recipes with 5 moves people would just spend up to 4.99 moves doing something else and then do a one hour task in a few minutes or even seconds.

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

What I was not fond is the idea of any particular step taking more time units than some characters can have at all, unless they are quite well-fed, in comfortable environment, healthy and spending the whole turn on the particular project without even a chance for a break

I did kind of skipped over that issue, but here's why:

Being simply hungry, thirsty, shivering or tired (or even all those things at the same time) does not hinder your time-units pool. The states like starving, dehydrated, freezing or weary do, and I just assumed that person hallucinating from thirst or too starved to walk at any decent pace is simply not capable of working on re-assembling of an old car engine (but still can tie two rags to a stick and make a splint).

Same deal with blind status - no light, no working on complex machinery.

But then there are things like over-encumbered or bare-foot that were clearly made with hindering travel speed only in mind. While both easy to remove, I can see how not being able to fix stuff because you don't have one boot on might confuse a lot of people. But Dan already said he is thinking on a way to solve that issue. As a digression I would like to suggest a resolution - those two states working other way around, instead of lowering time-units pool make them cause moves to cost more (bare-foot +1, over-encumbered x2). Forests and hills already do that, so no new mechanics are really needed.

So that thing solved would mean that anyone, who is not on the verge of dying of something at the moment, would be able to participate in those works of larger scope.

@Malacodor
I am not sure that repairing like that would actually be a good idea. There have to be a new property for each repairable item named after that item (that already collides with recipes like rifle or shotgun right that use such properties now) and a new recipe for each. Also crafting item into itself, with stats changed, could probably case some issues. Not to mention a horror of a quick recipe list expanded by tens of new links.

EDIT: You are right crafting time rounding down instead of up is an issue. It is a problem right now and have to be fixed as 0.01 of unit equals roughly 7 seconds for healthy man, and you can finish up a 12 minute task in this time.


<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

Please don't sabotage my attempt to give Dan another reason to implement a repair system. ;-)

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

Hand crank powered generators: With a cost of 1 move per charge it wouldn't be overpowered, I think. Charging batteries for a full turn would provide light for max. 5 turns.

Tasers: A Taser transforms 1,5 - 12 V to 10 kV (voltage multipliers are relatively easy to make: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltage_multiplier), so it can be powered by a simple battery. However, improvising a mechanism that reliably shoots the electrodes and actually hits the target seems to be the bigger problem.

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

Perhaps if you fire the darts using a small crossbow would work, like the dartgun from fallout 3 or use pressurized air from a toy dart gun.

lol wat?

I agree that Electrician and Mechanics need to be made stronger. Here's an easy one- once there's some kind of smaller canned food item (like canned tuna or chicken or something), allow a Mechanics character to use a Multitool to punch holes in it and create an Alcohol Stove. Then you can burn antifreeze to cook your meals, without giving away your position the way a fire would. You could make the alcohol work like the old lighter fluid used to, so you can carry 20 drops or so in a pills bottle.

Electrician could be made stronger by allowing for the Cryo Chamber Light Fixture to recharge batteries via crafting. Why invent a generator when you already have a working electrical system around?

Metal pipes are a great idea. They could be like monkey wrenches, but with more range. A Mechanics character could use a rock or something to make a crowbar out of a pipe, as well.

Alcohol stove is quite an interesting idea. I am not sure about battery recharging though - may be somewhat overpowered as batteries should be luxury good outside of DMC proper. Same with the last idea - for me, needing to be mechanic to flatten some pipe with a rock is like asking to be accomplished chef to cut a slice of bread and spread butter on it or have a PhD degree in mathematics to notice when there's more than one item.

yes but when you do it with a mechanical skill you would know the right geometry and angle to up bring the maximum force to clear items
same with bread and butter, you a chef and you put the right amount of butter to complement the bread such as thick with a less butter to let it soak in to complement it.
(i did both jobs:) )

so it could be less helpful or in less better condition

And oldie and I would say goodie but not particularly

I am quite sure that you don't need to plot optimal angle etc for the aforementioned task. With such crude technique, a person with no technical aptitude would be sufficient, the difference between accomplished mechanic and random person neglible. Same with the bread and butter - no program of cooking education will deal with smearing bread slices to the degree of making noticeable difference for regular customer, especially since preferences regarding layer of butter on a slice of bread may differ between people.

That level of interaction with the environment requires just some common sense and no real theoretical preparation.

Though I assume you weren't completely serious.

you supposed right

but still people buy bread and butter sandwiches from a chef for more money

And oldie and I would say goodie but not particularly

I suspect that people who would consider being catered to by a real chef, wouldn't decide for bread slice with butter as the meal they'd want prepared at all.

Lots of things are possible for the average person- indeed almost all neoscav crafting is doable by the average person- but we want to balance the skills, right? So we pick stuff that makes sense and roll with it.

If you can bend a pipe without the help of a machine, it's not hard enough to be used as a crowbar.

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

Yeah, you would need to heat it in a forge to soften it enough. Using a pipe as a lever would be fine, but crowbars are made in a shape to be specifically helpful with opening things.

I was also thinking about Bangsticks. It's basically a chamber on the end of a stick or pole with a shotgun round inside it. When you thrust it against something, the shell goes off. Divers use them against sharks and I would think they'd be really effective and simple to make.

Ahem, May I suggest adding improvised batteries instead of recharging standard ones?
using some copper, zinc, cardboard and vinegar you can produce a crude battery, more layers of this setup produce more power, it's the first battery made if I'm not mistaken.
Also possibly the old acid batteries would be good to make, albeit bulky, and hard to produce in large supply.
it was a large glass container filled with acid and metals, unsure of the specifics as I can't find any info on them on the internet.
If you look on youtube you'll find a video made by the king of random on the subject of crude batteries.
I was quite surprised.

A.K.A DapperDogman. Smashing.
Do you like my mask? It's a cool new toy I found.

Are you thinking of the Baghdad Battery or Ledyen jars? Because the Baghdad Battery is big, fragile, and heavy as hell plus only makes about 1.4V for all of that effort, so you need a bunch of them to make enough power to charge something. Ledyen jars work by collecting static energy and you, again, need a bunch of them to generate a useable charge. Not to mention a reliable source of undamaged glass and silver foil and the knowledge of how to make them. Which your average modern day person - electrician skill or not - is not likely going to know how to do.

Crude batteries are heavy and fragile as well and the potential of something bad happen is way too high. I'd rather see more human powered type items - bicycles, hand cranks, etc - than modern outside electricity powered items, personally.