The ABCs of Scavenging

Nearly two years ago I blogged about an idea for combining pieces of salvage to make items for a post-apoc RPG.  I have yet to actually put the system into practice, but I’ve been toying with the idea off-and-on.

I like the idea of using cards to represent salvage (or pieces of salvage) which the players then combine to make useful items, such as weapons and armor.  For one, my players seem to enjoy using props like cards, and allowing them to combine into items lets them flex their imagination and makes for a neat little mini-game.

However, one thing I wasn’t happy about was a certain lack of structure to the system.  Technically, you could combine anything to make anything, even if it didn’t necessarily make sense, or was redundant.

So, I’ve been tinkering a bit and think I’ve hit upon an idea that adds a bit of structure to the system and yet is still fairly easy to implement and use:  The ABCs of Scavenging.

The basic idea is that you can combine up to 5 pieces of salvage to create an item, but you can only use 1 each of 5 different categories of salvage (labeled A, B, C, D and E):

A items are Attachments, purpose built by the Ancients to attach to a Base item; for example, attaching a scope to a rifle.

B items are Base items, things that are already inherently useful; examples include guns, baseball bats, helmets, chainsaws, computers, medkits and the like.

C items are Consumables, typically used with Base items; for example, bullets for guns, batteries for electrical devices, gas for chainsaws…even bandages for a medkit.

D items are Details, basically bling added to an item for personalization, or a psychological boost if you prefer; things like hood ornaments, lucky rabbit’s paw, a favorite sticker and the like.

E items are Extras, basically non-standard customizations to make Base items better; an example would be adding nails to a baseball bat.

An item requires, at a minimum, a B card to start.  After that, other categories of salvage can be added in any order provided there’s just one of each type A, B, C, D and E.  You could, for example, have A, B and E, but you couldn’t have A, D and E (missing B card) or B, D, D, E (only one D card allowed).  Note that it’s possible for some pieces of salvage to fall into more than one category as well, and can be used to fill in for one of the category slots.

It would be up to individual GMs to decide how strict, or realistic, they want to keep things.  For example, if you’re not concerned about the details, you could allow any combination of A, B, C, D and/or E; use anything to make anything you need.  But if you want a bit more structure and “realism,” you might, for example, insist that scopes can only be attached to ranged weapons (and not melee weapons, or armor for that matter).

So, one nice thing about this system is you can play around with it a bit.  For example, you could have a Vault Dweller class that can attach an extra A card to an item, so they could have an A, A, B, C, D, E item (max of 6 cards), or a Wastelander neo-savage class that substitutes bling (D items) for A, C and E items, allowing an B, D, D, D, D item for example.

Anyways, more details in a few days.  Cheers.


And here is Part 2.

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