Tech that automatically does stuff

Probably an incredibly obvious answer in the book somewhere, but I’m wondering how one deals with tech that automatically does something in response to something else.

Example from my game:

The commune governor has an “eye in the sky” type device that listens to telecom traffic and routes/records calls made either by important people and/or using certain keywords. The net effect in the game is that, every time anyone uses a cell phone to call someone, the device attempts to pick up the signal (a Signals vs. roll).

Since it’s cool and it’s opened up a lot of good gameplay, we’ve all agreed to let it be (he paid like 4RPs for it pre-game; I should write it up and post it here). Rather than it being a Signals booster for someone else, it has its own Signals skill via “automated”. Is that adequate?

Basically what it feels like it should be is some kind of Instinct-level ability that devices should have, i.e. “If such-and-such characters make a call, attempt to intercept and record it.” Since my device is using automated Signals and not acting as a Signals bonus, it does not feel right budget-wise to make the PC take it as an Instinct.

I can see this behavior showing up in the game in all kinds of ways. It’d be like having a verrry special-purpose NPC, I suppose. Maybe we should have given the device the Perception tech stat?

EDIT: I’m now rereading the “Technological Skill” entry and it does appear to address the issue of performing skills automatically. It it generally agreed that this includes doing stuff in response to other stuff? Would, say, intercepting calls in the above example cost Building rolls? Or should tech skills be thought of more in Instinct-type terms?


This is not an official answer, but the slick way to do it I think is to treat it like an instinct: It costs building scene rolls, but only when you want it to. You just get calls unless someone wants you to not get a call. They challenge you and it’s a builder roll.

However, that’s a pretty powerful effect on the game, to have all calls automagically intercepted. Mad love if your game is about paranoia and subversion, but otherwise something else might be more appropriate.

Well, in the game the guy doesn’t actually get the call, but the gizmo gets a chance to make a versus Signals roll to get the call. He’s also letting me use the caller with the highest Signals make the roll versus the gizmo’s own Signals score.

I had a weird thought that perhaps Tech Instincts could be bought like a technological trait (but I have no idea how to price that). Or perhaps you get one for free – focused precisely on the skill in question – if the gizmo’s tech skill is 3+. Or if its tech trait (Per or Will) is 3+, that would allow it to have a more AI-like instinct.

Hm. Any other thoughts out there?


Dammit. My posts aren’t getting marked as “new” by the system. :-((

This is a bump.


I maybe I’m not reading it carefully enough, but it sounds like you’ve created a valid piece of tech. Vs Signals test to capture transmissions. If it feels abusive, have it absorb a building roll when it comes into play.


I guess I’m more concerned about the scene-budget implications of granting Instincts-style behaviors to tech. Is it abusive to, say, build an automated cannon that fires on everything within range? Without using a roll or a conflict? How about every target that’s not putting off an IFF signal?

Again, in our own game the Signals interceptor is all good and we’re pleased with the results. But, you know, precedent sometimes produces unintended consequences.


Ooh…looking through the Tech Burner again, I think I may have come up with the “correct” way to price reflexive technology:

Affects Everyone On The Opposing Side (+6).

We didn’t at all price the Eye in the Sky that way, but in retrospect I think that would be the “right” way to build it.