FORGOTTEN FUTURES
THE SCIENTIFIC ROMANCE ROLE PLAYING GAME

RULES - A GALLERY OF GADGETS

By Marcus L. Rowland
Copyright © 2005, portions Copyright © 1993-2002



Back to game index - Back to main index

Back to It's A Kind of MAGIC...

This document is copyright, but you are encouraged to make copies and print-outs as needed. You may make modifications for your own use, but modified versions MUST NOT be distributed. If you find any of these files useful you are asked to register.

The first release of these rules was originally converted to HTML by Stefan Matthias Aust, to whom many thanks.

This copy of the rules has been split into several separate files. A version consisting of a single large file is also provided. These documents should be accompanied by several files including larger versions of the game tables and a short summary of the main rules for the use of players.


Contents

APPENDIX - A Gallery of Gadgets

MOST of the source material for this game has its roots in Scientific Romances, the predecessors of science fiction. It's a genre that tends to emphasise weird science and technology, so most of the worldbooks and adventures have included examples. Here are a few; rules for designing them, and many more useful(?) gadgets, can be found in the rest of the material published for the game.

Postal Packet 162
A fast metal-hulled lighter-than-air airship from the world of Kipling's Aerial Board of Control, Postal Packet 162 is owned by the Post Office and used to transport the transatlantic mail. It is essentially a featureless cigar-shape with a detachable carriage holding mail and several sorting clerks who organise the mail in flight. See FF I for the background, details of the propulsion system, etc.
  • Length: 240 ft (72m), Maximum Width: 37 ft (11m), Length / Width Ratio: 6:1
  • Lift: 5.5 tons, Maximum Speed: 230 MPH, BODY: 40
  • 3 x 500 HP (1,500 HP) standard turbines, cost £6,300, Gas cost £190, other components £2,800, Total £25,625
  • Uninsured, risk carried by G.P.O.
The Astronef
The Astronef is a spacegoing yacht built to accommodate two (or possibly more) passengers in luxury. It has three decks, the upper of which is glass-domed. It flies by the "R" or "Repulsive" force, one of the components of gravity; essentially it presses against the nearest planets, and uses the push to accelerate. See FF II for background, engine design, and other rules.
  • Yacht, owner Lord Redgrave, completed 1900
  • British, base Smeaton, Yorkshire
  • Equipment: Control room, 100 cubic yards 1st class passenger space, 1 x 3rd class cabin, galley, air lock, supplies (26 weeks), 4 x Pneumatic Cannon, 4 x Maxim guns, forward ram, 1 pair atmospheric engines, 1 pair Redgrave Standard developing engines, 2 x searchlights, telescope, 2 x Breathing dress
  • Hull cigar-shaped, standard plate / armoured glass
  • Volume 245.4 cubic yards, mass 99.6 tons, BODY 75
  • Atmospheric speed 138 MPH, difficulty modifier -1
  • Engine crystals £20,833 (x2), service life 16.6 months, max 5g
  • Engine cores 1 year capacity, recharge cost £7,402
  • Cost £177,082, operating cost Ł3,116 per month.
This luxurious space yacht carries supplies for three occupants for half a year. She was the first spacecraft and is not fitted with a lifeboat (since there was no-one to rescue the occupants). The Astronef is cutting-edge technology for its day, a sleek agile craft with good handling in the air and in space.
The Redgrave Patent Breathing Dress
Unless they are passengers on the largest liner, all spacefarers inevitably spend some time in breathing dress, or space suits. The design that follows was described in the source material for FF II, and has since also been used in Mummies, The Next Generation and FF IX.
  The Redgrave Patent Breathing Dress resembles a diving dress but is much lighter, made of asbestos-cloth lined with rubberised fabric and padded with quilted cotton or lambswool. The helmets are aluminium covered with asbestos, and contain a small telephone. There is a lantern on the chest plate; some models also have helmet lamps. The backpack contains equipment to regulate and recycle liquefied air, released from a cylinder below the pack. Efficiency is very good, with endurance measurable in days. The pressure of air inside the helmet regulates the supply. An airtight collar stops air circulating into the dress, to prevent the material tearing or ballooning until it is impossible to move, but the interior of the suit is not a complete vacuum; a little air is bled in to maintain partial atmospheric pressure and protect the skin and body from vacuum-related injuries such as ruptured veins.
  • While it is possible to put on a breathing dress in minutes, fittings can take several days. They must be precisely tailored to the wearer's body, and repeatedly tested before they are worn in a vacuum. Long underwear is essential to prevent chafing. For prolonged use it is advisable to wear elasticated underclothes, which help maintain the body's internal pressure.
  • While the air supply is measurable in days, these suits have no plumbing or drinking water - without them maximum endurance is probably six to eight hours.
  • Breathing dress reduces the Effect of all blunt weapons by 3, of all sharp weapons by 2. Since the helmet is isolated from the body, the wearer does not automatically suffocate if the suit is damaged, but any damage which actually rips the suit is automatically made worse if there is no air; flesh wounds become injuries, injuries become criticals, and criticals become kills. Double the difficulty of first aid if a suit is ripped. The helmet windows have BODY 3 for purposes of resisting damage.
  • Because breathing dress is made of asbestos fibre, it gives some limited protection against fire. Reduce the Effect of all fires by 4 for 1D6 rounds.
  • The backpack has BODY 4. It contains lead-acid batteries, soda lime and other air purifying chemicals, and is linked to a supply of liquefied air. Any damage which affects the pack is likely to have catastrophic results, as the acid reacts with the soda lime or eats through a pipe.
The Carnacki™ Electric Pentacle
An efficient defence against Ab-natural entities (see FF IV), considerably improving on the protection offered by a pentacle alone, developed after disappointing experiments with "bare" pentacles and manufactured under license by the Radium Patent Light Company (RPLC Ltd.) of London. Purchasers included Aleister Crowley and the Psychical Research Society.
  The pentacle is an arrangement of mercury discharge tubes wired in parallel, powered by a group of lead-acid accumulators (rechargeable batteries) with an induction coil used to boost the voltage. Induction coils were noted for their noise (a loud buzz), unreliability, and smell of ozone. Carnacki overcame the first and last of these problems by keeping the induction coil in a box surrounded by layers of asbestos wool and absorbent charcoal; the reliability problem could only be overcome by careful maintenance and adjustment.
  • The kit sold commercially has forty tubes and holders, and is supplied with assembly instructions, four spare tubes, accumulators and an induction coil. It costs £24 19s 11d and weighs 23 lb including the cases.
  • There is room for one man inside the pentacle, seated on the accumulator box or the floor.
  • Larger pentacles can be assembled by plugging two or more kits together; Carnacki used as many as four on occasion.
  • An ordinary chalked or drawn pentacle adds +1 to the Effect of any spell or ritual defending against a purely magical or supernatural attack
  • The Electric Pentacle raises this to +4 when live, +1 (simply by the presence of an object in this shape) when switched off.
  • Optionally it also defends against mind control via psionics, telekinesis, etc.
The Psychic Idealiser
Designed as a means of making thoughts visible, the Psychic Idealiser is in fact a means of travel to parallel worlds, invented accidentally by the eccentric philosopher, phrenologist and scientist Dr. Pyotr Plokta (of Utrecht, the Sorbonne, and Imperial College, London) in 1898, as part of an abortive search for the Platonic Ideal.
  The main components are a helmet bearing hundreds of fine wire coils arranged around the appropriate "faculties" of the head, mapped by careful phrenological probing. The coils connect to antennae arranged around a circular glass cylinder with a flexible diaphragm at its base, containing a quantity of fine powdered magnesium, an extremely light metal, electrified by a Wimshurst machine. The volunteer is instructed to meditate upon some common object, such as a chair, and try to visualise it in its Ideal form. As he does so a clockwork mechanism vibrates under the diaphragm, throwing the dust into the air of the cylinder.
  Plokta hoped that the dust would be controlled by the amplified brain waves of the subject, momentarily adhering to form a crude replica of the Ideal object. Eventually he obtained a fuzzy image of Wren's original design for St. Paul's Cathedral, which differed in many details from the version built. During the next experiment, with more power, he and his assistant suddenly found themselves standing in the plaza in front of the revised cathedral, wearing strangely old-fashioned clothing and with blurry double memories of two lives; their lives in the world where Plokta invented the machine, and in this new world, in which Britain was at war with France and medicine was still waiting for the discovery of germ theory. It was obvious that their personalities had somehow transferred to the bodies of their equivalents in the new world.
  Plokta built another machine, hoping that they might return to their original world. In the next St. Paul's Cathedral was much as they remembered, but London was criss-crossed with elevated railways and everyone spoke an Americanised form of English. Neither could stand the pace of this new society, so they built another machine and tried again. And again... Now, a score of worlds later, Plokta has established the basic principles of dimensional travel:
  • You can't take material things with you; knowledge is another matter. In the fifth world nobody had invented photography; Plokta's assistant took out patents and settled there. Plokta sometimes gains new skills as he moves to a new world; for instance, he has picked up several languages his alter egos learned before he took over.
  • You can't go back. Plokta has repeatedly tried to return to his original world, or any of the other worlds he has visited. It doesn't work. He believes that the body he leaves behind dies when he transfers to a new world, making it impossible for him to return.
  • You can only travel to a world where you already exist; on one occasion one of the "guinea-pigs" didn't make contact with Plokta after an experiment, and it subsequently emerged that he had died as a child.
  • The more people involved, the better it works; with one or two people using the equipment, it may take a dozen tries; with several, it usually works the first or second time. Everyone within a few feet of the equipment transfers to the new world.
  • Some users forget their change of world within a few minutes. Those who arrive in a better situation than they left are most likely to forget their origins; for example, one subject was a poor clerk with an unhappy marriage in the world he left, a happily married banker in his new identity, and soon forgot his "original" past.
  • Plokta often notices that the date and time differ by hours, weeks, or even years when he arrives in a new world. He often arrives months earlier than he left - but the history of the worlds involved has been so different that he has rarely been able to take advantage of his knowledge of the future. He is aged appropriately for the date; 40 in 1898, 49 in 1907, and so forth.
  • Building a new machine is always expensive and difficult; it should take a minimum of 2-3 weeks, and parts must be hand-built to order. Costs vary wildly in different worlds.
  • Practice makes perfect. As Plokta travels he finds it easier to visualise features of the world he desires; but anything he doesn't imagine seems to be entirely random. Generally speaking, he seems no closer to any Ideal.
  • Simple changes work best. If a complicated feature is imagined, it tends to be incomplete. A simple feature is most likely to work as planned.
Plokta has now perfected the technique of settling in a new world, raising funds to buy the equipment for another jump, recruiting a few "colleagues" for his next experiment, and travelling on again. He still hopes to find the Ideal eventually. For more on the Idealiser, the worlds it visits, and its effects see FF V.
The Aerophane
A semi-rigid airship consisting of a large fish-shaped canvas "envelope" filled with several ballonets of hydrogen. A skeletal metal "car" or gondola below the gas bag carries three passengers, a small petrol engine, and up to a ton of cargo. It literally swims through the air, using two rippling wings of canvas and metal struts for forward (or backward) motion, several steerable sails, and a fishlike tail to steer. It is designed to carry special bombs to precipitate rain and disperse smog. See FF V for more on the circumstances that led to its use.
  • Aerophanes have a maximum speed of 20 MPH, handle very poorly (especially in wind), and are unsteady in turbulent conditions. Fortunately these problems are rarely a factor when they are used; dense smogs only occur if there is little or no wind.
  • Each craft carries 25 5lb charges of a new (and highly secret) explosive compound which precipitates rain by shaking it from the clouds. Charges are lowered into the clouds on a wire and detonated electrically. They are generally stable, but may be set off by fire or strong impacts.
  • Length: 150 ft, Maximum width: 30 ft (excludes wings), Lift: 1.2 tons, 1x 5 HP engine, Speed: 20 MPH
  • Gasbag BODY 10, Gondola BODY 6
  • Add 2 to the Difficulty of Pilot skill rolls while flying an aerophane.
  • The explosive charges are optimised to produce the loudest possible explosion and shock wave to "shake" rain from the clouds.
    Rain Bombs, Effect 12, Radius 10 ft, A:B B:KO+F C:KO+I
Radium Healing Rays
Healing rays are used to speed the body's own repair processes. The treatment time (in hours) is their Effect, attacking the recovery Difficulty of the injury, any success halves the recovery time. For more on this and other rays see FF VI.
  • The cumulative time of all treatment within the last month also attacks the BODY of the patient, with the following results:
    1. No effect
    2. F (Severe sunburn which cannot be cured by the ray)
    3. I/C (radiation burns which cannot be cured by the ray)
    On a 12 the device burns out and treatment must be stopped.
  • The referee must keep track of treatments to assess any damage.
  • If adventurers rely on the ray and taking too many risks, it may be advisable to extend the cumulative period to six months, a year, or even the lifetime dosage.
  • Optionally the ray operator and anyone else in the room must also make the cumulative roll, but Effect is halved.
Ariel-Class Æronefs
The Ariel and her sister-ships are æronefs, heavier-than-air flying machines built in 1900 by The Terror, an anarchist group dedicated to the overflow of the Tsar and creation of a socialist Utopia. They are built largely of aluminium, with some wood and other metals used where necessary, and designed primarily for war against ground forces, balloons, and other greatly inferior foes. Their primary advantage is Arnold's fuel, an incredibly powerful binary chemical which powers the engines and can give astonishing power-weight and fuel-distance ratios, and is also usable as a powerful explosive. For more about The Terror and its technology, use in combat, etc., see FF VII.
  • Length: 70ft,, Width 12 ft. wide, with air-planes (wings) 24 ft. wide to either side of the hull and running its length.
  • Three masts with fan-wheels (vertical propellers). Four engines. Seaworthy hull with ram.
  • Forward cabin for six men, saloon on deck, and six single cabins aft. Controlled from a conning tower forward and a wheel house aft.
  • 6 crew, 6 officers, wardroom for 12, galley, 7 tons cargo
  • Four pneumatic guns, two in the bow and two in the stern, with a range of 6 miles. 400 rounds ammunition, small arms, searchlight.
  • 120 MPH, range 12,000 miles, maximum lift 45 tons on fans. Altitude: 3000 ft. cruising, 5000 ft. on fans, 7000 ft. on fans and wings with full emergency power.
  • 30 tons loaded weight, 24 BODY. Cost is 1248 Man-Days, the currency used by The Terror.
  • Shells (Arnold's explosive) 15ft burst radius, Effect 20, A:I B:C C:K
The Amulet, Magical Time Machine
The Amulet is primarily a transport device, but can only take travellers to a place or time where they might be able to find its missing half. Since its existence spans several thousand years this allows plenty of scope, but once complete it loses this ability. When activated (by holding it in the direction of the rising sun and reciting the name inscribed on it, "Ur Hekau Setcheh") the Amulet grows to archway size, allowing travellers to walk to the past or future. For more on this and other magical devices see FF VIII
  • Users must state a destination (such as Atlantis) and time then pass through in order of age, the eldest first.
  • The Amulet vanishes and reappears in the hand of the youngest traveller once they have all passed through.
  • Users of the Amulet are able to understand and speak the language of any place it takes them.
  • No time passes in the present while users are in the past or future.
  • Once complete and perfect the Amulet will only allow perfect souls to pass through its arch, and they will not be able to travel through time. This power is used only once, to strip evil from two souls and unite them in one body.
  • BODY [3/15], MIND [3], SOUL [-], MAGIC [10], Linguist (understands all languages, cannot speak) [7], Scholar (History, Geography, etc.) [8], Wizardry [10]
    Wounds: The Amulet is made of some form of granite-hard rock, so is difficult to damage (the two BODY ratings given are for its normal size and its form as a stone archway). Nevertheless a determined attack with a hammer could destroy it in its small form; in its larger form explosives are probably needed.
Krupp Stahlwächter
The Krupp Stahlwächter (steel guard) is a Prussian automaton used to protect the Imperial Calculating Engines and other important facilities. For this important job the Prussians have takem the unusual step of adapting the "terrain" to the automata. Sites on which they are used are levelled and surfaced to a high standard, and in buildings ramps replace stairs. This allows the use of a wheeled design with very little ground clearance, the wheels being covered by armour plating. An aluminium chassis minimises weight and electric motors reduce noise. Generally considered successful, although they are slow to react and vulnerable to attacks which damage the "terrain" or push them over; they cannot right themselves. An unusual feature is the telescopic eye, which is moved in and out on bellows and improves the accuracy of marksmanship. The down-side is that the eye has a restricted field of view, so that the automaton is easily attacked from the side, although sites where this model is used are generally designed to limit opportunities for such attacks. For more on these machines and other automata see FF IX.
  • Military automaton with Swiss-made calculating engine, monochrome "eye" with telescopic lens, single arm, aluminium frame wheeled construction, electric powered, with armour steel casing.
  • BODY [4], MIND [1], SOUL [-], Athlete (running) [4], Brawling [4], Marksmanship [5 / 6 at long range only], Stealth [2]
  • Cost: £364, Weight: 236 lb., Carrying Capacity: 108 lb, Endurance: 5 hours, Reaction Time: 9 seconds
  • Maxim gun, 50 rounds, Armoured: -6 Effect to all attacks
  • Quote: "Stehenbleiben oder ich schieße!" (Halt or I fire)
  • German soldiers generally refer to these machines as Pfeffertopfsoldaten, literally "pepper-pot soldiers".
American Eagle (projectile spacecraft)
The American Eagle is a two-seater spacecraft designed to be launched to the Moon by the combination of a train-borne steam catapult and a rocket engine in a three-stage process; it's accelerated to the astonishing speed of 300 MPH by a special steam turbine train, then a steam catapult fires and boosts it to nearly 1000 MPH. As it leaves the catapult a supplementary or "booster" rocket ignites and delivers the remainder of the velocity needed to take it to the Moon. This is basically a "proof of concept" craft, which will be scaled up if it is successful, and if the first flight finds resources valuable enough to make another flight worthwhile. Of course this depends on the resources; if diamonds were found, for example, the craft is large enough for a considerable fortune. See FF IX for more on this and other projectile craft.
  • 2 x 4th class accommodation, supplies 2 x 1 week, hold 1.0 ton 3.0 Ydsł, landing gear, rocket / parachutes for return flight.
  • Projectile 10.6 tons, 31.0 Ydsł, £1,550, BODY 50
  • Booster rocket for above 58.3 tons, 106.0 Ydsł, £3,180, BODY 50
  • Launch train and catapult for above £170,500, expendables £1,700 plus booster.
  • 2 x vacuum suits, prospecting supplies, camera, etc.
  • Since there is no air lock the occupants must both wear vacuum suits if either leaves the vessel; in flight they must take turns on a bicycle generator to keep batteries charged for lighting and life support.

Continue to Sources


Revised and converted to HTML 23/4/98, Revised and updated 1/2005 - If you have any queries or comments on these rules please contact the author.