Clippings: Other Dust and Item Creation

The upcoming standalone Other Dust is a post-apocalyptic game set in the ashes of Terra after the cataclysmic destruction unleashed by the Scream. It has been two hundred years since the Mandate fell in dust and radioactive flames, and now the PCs are among the handful of savages, scroungers, and hard-bitten survivalists who struggle to make something better out of the welter of chaos and nanomutation that infests humanity’s birthplace. While the basic game system of Other Dust is identical to that of Stars Without Number, the genre requires a few supplementary rules to help cover situations common to such a desperate situation. Aside from hunting and foraging guidelines and rules for starvation, thirst, and nanoinfection, equipment is much more important in a post-apocalyptic setting than in the default space-operatic world of Stars Without Number.

In a savage hellscape of radiation and cannibal mutants, you don’t just buy a new spear when your old one is broken in the guts of a runaway warbot armature. Reliable vendors of reloaded ammunition and refurbished power armor are also in short supply. Some of the richest or most secure Enclaves might have such peddlers, and it might be that you’ve got enough food or technology to convince them to part with their wares, but often as not you’re going to need to either salvage your gear from your enemies, get it from grateful allies, or build it yourself. Below the cut, you’ll find an the current draft rules for scroungers and survivalists who want to put together their own gear.

Creating Goods
Skilled artisans can create gear out of spare parts. Creating goods usually requires, at a minimum, a workshop of the appropriate tech level. Creating a TL 0 workshop may require nothing more sophisticated than unpacking your toolkit and clearing a space on the ground. Building a facility capable of brewing Old Terran stims, on the other hand, is liable to require finding or salvaging a structure from Before. The GM makes the final determination as to whether or not a given facility is sufficient for creating a given type of equipment.

Once a workshop is built or found, the artisan can assemble salvaged parts into the desired gear. Two units of spare parts are necessary to build ammunition or type A energy cells, four units of spare parts are necessary to build hand-held equipment, ten units are necessary to build a suit of armor, and as many as thirty units are necessary to build a small vehicle or other large object from scratch. GMs may require that the spare parts have something to do with the finished product to prevent a cache of useful knapping flints from being turned into finished flasks of lamp oil, but this degree of specificity is usually not necessary, and it’s easier to leave the exact nature of “spare parts” as something vague.

As a general rule, a crafter must have an appropriate Tech skill at a level equal to the tech level of the object to create it without plans. Manufacturing handbooks and schematics can grant an effective skill level bonus toward creating the objects they describe; a repair and maintenance manual dealing with the Helios-model laser pistol might grant an effective +1 Tech/Postech for purposes of building those pistols, while a complete manufacturing schematic would grant as much as +3. When multiple guides are used, only the best adds to the crafter’s effective Tech skill. Guides can, at best, only double the user’s effective Tech level as a certain minimum level of expertise is necessary to understand the instructions they provide.

Construction of a object generally requires one day of work per tech level, with a minimum of one day. Bullets, arrows, or bolts can be fashioned in batches of twenty. Pharmaceuticals generally cannot be created more than one dose at a time without locating special batch processing equipment, and industrial-scale manufacture of any type of gear will require its own set of complex and bulky equipment. The total time required to build something is divided by the number of techs working on the project, provided all of them have sufficient skill. Multiple techs can share the same guide materials.

These construction times and guidelines assume that the crafter is using salvaged parts to assemble devices rather than attempting to create the materials and components from scratch. In many cases, creating the microfibers, chip interfaces, refined alloys, and memory plastics involved in high-tech spare parts is essentially impossible for all but the tiniest fraction of enclaves. The practicality of extracting the equivalent of spare parts out of a natural resource or manufacturing facility is up to the GM.