Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Wiki-Showcase: the Scavenger 2.0

One of the requests I had for Tall Tales was an update to the Scavenger Template. This caused a bit of controversy, because the purpose of the original is as the Psi-Wars "tech expert."  The original complaint about the Scavenger template was that "the name was wrong," given that if you wanted to be a robot builder or a ship's engineer, "Scavenger" wouldn't be the first template you'd think of.  My counter to this is that the problem with the generic tech guy is that he needs a reason to get out of his lab.  I've seen many an "engineer" character who would rather downtime in their lab creating crazy gadgets than going on adventures that get them killed.  Whatever the tech-specialist was, he'd need to be practical on an adventure in some capacity.

I conceived of the Scavenger in this context. If you wanted to mess with cool technology, you need to go out into the world and find it.  This means you need to be good at adventurer and survival skills.  After all, your tech might be in space, or in some horrid, radiation-blasted wasteland.  "The Scavenger," then, makes a good adventurer. He's someone who knows of the dungeon you want to explore, can get you there, and has a reason to be there.

The problem, though, is that a scavenger isn't actually a tech-guy.  I dove into the After The End's take on the scavenger, and studied around, and what I came back with was that the idea of someone who goes places and finds stuff is solid.  You can actually create a neat blur of associated lenses and templates: sure, a junker, but also a ship salvager, or a ruin-delving archaeologist, or even an asteroid miner: they all tend to share similar skills, and might begin to blur together a bit as they start to do "a bit on the side." And they might use what they find to repair or rebuild machines, but they might also just sell them, or reasonably use them in weird, occult rituals.  They have some connection to the idea of a tech-expert, but it's not really their core mission.  So a lot of that was dropped, and we instead have this focus on "a guy who goes to old, out of the way places and finds stuff."

Is there room for a "tech-specialist" in Psi-Wars? In Star Wars, that "boring stuff" gets handed off to the droids, and we see it more front-and-center in Star Trek, which might suggest that it doesn't.  But Firefly had a dedicated engineer, Killjoys features a character who's very good at fixing machinery and getting along with robots (and cyborgs). As I watch the Psi-Wars community and the sorts of characters they seem to want to build, I find more of a push towards cyberneticists and engineers, so maybe there is room, but I'd need to think about how to keep them in the adventurer, rather than in their lab.

You can see the updated template here.

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