Monday, January 20, 2014

Pairing It Down: The Doctor - Sonic Boom

By Kiel Howell
     Why, hello there dear readers! Greetings and salutations. This week’s theme here at The Flying Pincushion is Doctor Who.

     This is starting to feel like a weekly thing but I need to confess something to you. I have never, up until 10 days ago, seen a single minute of Doctor Who. I know, I know, revoke his nerd card! In these last 10 days I have watched 30 episodes and found a new show to love and analyze to death.

     Before I get to what I’ve paired down, let me tell you a quick story about my introduction to Doctor Who. I asked a coworker and fellow nerd friend of mine about the show. His face lit up with an intensity rarely seen outside of a Con hall and he began to spew forth facts, likes, and dislikes about the show and its various incarnations and actors. I had the rare (for me) experience to be on the other side of a fanboy discussion...the side that has no vested (at that point) interest or knowledge in the topic at hand. It was refreshing and cheering to experience that love for something from the outside. Which, incidentally, is an important aspect of the Doctor character and how he enjoys seeing the universe through his companions’ eyes.

Now, on to the pairing!

     What is the most recognizable thing about the Doctor and the show? The TARDIS? Very likely, but I want to go a little deeper. The sonic screwdriver! I’ll be honest and say that my first instinct was to simply stat up the sonic screwdriver. A quick chat with one of my editors, thank you J-Man for the impetus behind this idea, and I quickly rewrote much of this to stat out the process for sonicing an item.

     Why is this a good idea? Well, that’s subjective, but a spot in Series 1 Episode 10 (on Netflix) struck me. Captain Jack, Rose, and the Doctor are running through a building and Captain Jack uses his sonic gun he stole, and the Doctor pulls out his sonic screwdriver. After a very amusing exchange about what it is, Captain Jack says, “Who sonics a screwdriver?!”

What a lovely question!

     It is a good idea when building a world or a game system to have a process, a magic spell, or a deck of cards that allows someone to customize items, equipment, or both. So let’s get down to it!

     What is the process of sonicing a tool? Well, judging by what I’ve seen it is the process of altering a tool’s function to allow it to do multiple (and possibly unrelated or at best loosely related) things all while removing the need to have the tool interact physically with the target. It sounds an awful lot like putting special abilities like flaming or fortification or a +X on a weapon or armor. Alright then, we’ll build a set of properties that can be added to tools to represent sonicing it. I’ll also modify item creation by giving each ability a flat price, even to add abilities multiple times it will only cost the flat price again.

Double current tool value
Doubles the hardness and hitpoints of the tool.
Extra Power Reserve
1,000 gp*

*per power reserve
Allow extra 5 uses before needing to recharge the unit.
Memory and Recall
10,000 gp*

*per additional memory slot
Store the last thing done with the tool and reverse that action upon pressing the recall button or switch.
750 gp
Shrink the entire package down to handheld size. Does not reduce any effectiveness and increases power efficiency by 33% (rounded down)..
Non-Physical Interaction
1,500 gp
This special ability allows a tool to perform its functions without physically touching the target with a range of 5 ft. The range increment can be increased 5 ft. by doubling the base price of this special ability. The tool can be used 5 times before needing to be recharged.
Pocket Protector of Holding, Type I
1,000 gp
Holds up to 3 hand sized tools in a small extra-dimensional space located inside a pocket on your clothing.
Pocket Protector of Holding, Type II
5,000 gp
As the Pocket Protector of Holding, Type I but holds up to 10 hand sized tools.
Universal Adapter
5,000 gp*

*per additional interface
This special ability allows a tool to interface with anything. Different sizes and shapes, analog or digital, electronic and mechanical—any method of interface is accommodated with this special ability.

     Now obviously this is only a short list and it doesn’t really quite fit a sonic screwdriver...but the makings are there! Let’s build a soniced tool using this table. And in the spirit of the Doctor, this will be a little whimsical with a nod to what it borrows ideas from (in this case the wondrous item template from Paizo).

Sonic Toothbrush
Aura moderate universal; CL 8th
Slot —; Price 29,000 gp; Weight 0.5 lbs.
This hand sized cylinder has a thick round bottom and a tapered off top. One button adorns it near the center of the bottom section.

The sonic toothbrush is a toothbrush that has been modified with the durability, miniaturization, non-physical interaction, and universal adapter special abilities, with the durability special ability applied last. This allows the toothbrush to brush, floss, and an application of mouthwash to any creature’s mouth within 5 ft. regardless of size and shape. Using the sonic toothbrush on oneself gives a +5 to diplomacy checks.

Requirements Craft Sonic Tool, 5 ranks in Craft (Tool); Cost 14,500 gp

     There we have it! One sonic toothbrush from our newly minted table of tool special abilities. I challenge you, the reader, to leave new entries for the table, a tool crafted from the special abilities, or just your thoughts on Doctor Who in the comments. Until next time in which we tackle the classic Dante's Inferno.


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