Brennus Files 11: Gadgeteering 2.0

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Like any kind of power, gadgeteers can be hard to classify, since each one is different in their own way, but there are certain patterns that can be observed. They’re not hard categories that every power has to fit into, but they can be useful as a guideline to understanding a gadgeteer’s process.

Gadgeteers usually manifest at the end of a string of challenges, often failed or barely passed, then confronted with one final, greater challenge or success; at this point, whether they accept reality and press on or reject it and flee inwards may decide whether they go down the path of the contriver or the gadgeteer.

Case Study ‘Peregrine’: Layla manifested after the plane she was on crashed on a remote island in the Atlantic, leaving the teenage girl as the sole survivor of her flight, and bereft of her glasses on top of that. Half-blind, she established a camp, then went to work using technical knowledge gained from several special courses at school to scavenge parts from the plane and the cargo, trying to build a long-range communication device. After two weeks of work, numerous set backs and her rations running out, she had one finished and tried turning it on… but her limited eye sight had caused her to overlook several important details in the wiring, which caused the machine to burn out uselessly, damaging several vital, irreplacable components.

First of all, every gadgeteer has a focus. Actually, every power has it, but it’s most obvious with gadgeteers and contrivers (next Brennus File will be on contrivers). This focus is the axis of their power, and what most people think of when they try to classify a gadgeteer, but it’s not the only thing.

Foci can run the gamut from simple, clear ones (heat-based melee equipment) to the strange and abstract (man-machine integration, countdown, automation). Usually, more abstract ones are more ‘powerful’, meaning if someone with the ability to perceive powers looks at you, they’d see a bigger power there, but it’s not universal.

Usually, they can be broken down along the lines of:

  • Field gadgeteers: those who have a certain field which they focus on and are mostly limited to working within said field, only branching out with a lot of effort, but can do amazing things within. The most common type of gadgeteer.
    • Polymnia: works with sonics, and only with sonics. Every other field she touches on is adapted to her focus.
    • Hotrod: multi-purpose vehicles and vehicular weaponry
    • Cartastrophy: originally Four-Wheeled Vehicles, has branched out into vehicular power armour.
  • Approach gadgeteers do not have one specific field, and are able to work within several of them, branching out relatively easily; their gadgeteering is instead governed by the approach they take, a certain theme or recurring element.
    • Tick-Tock: everything she makes has a timer as part of its function.
    • Boom-Boom: it all blows up. Often repeatedly.
  • Hybrid gadgeteers are where the lines get blurry, as they seem mix the strengths and weaknesses of both, in various ways, with no clear distinction between their field and their approach.
    • Sovereign: Automation.
  • Free gadgeteers, who can invent anything, in any field, given sufficient time and materials, though usually with some manner of large drawback, often tied into the vastness of their power.
    • Su Ling: could make anything, but everything she made escalated into the megascale. She sat down to fix her village’s sole microwave and ended up constructing a factory which turns raw matter into food. She wanted to build a telescope for her younger siblings to stargaze, yet ended up with a laser cannon which burned a canyon into the moon that is visible from Earth. Had a secondary power which allowed her body to produce rare and valuable materials required for her construction process (very painfully and beyond her control).

Case Study ‘Peregrine’: Layla’s power gave her two inter-connected foci, and she works best while working in the intersection of the two. Her foci are ‘Flight’ and ‘Sensory’.

Beyond this, gadgeteers are often split into combat/non-combat ones, though this distinction is mostly just used for teams in the field to set their priorities.

While there are some gadgeteers who are strictly locked into only creating combat equipment, and some who can’t make anything for combat at all, in most cases, it is more fluid than that.

So why don’t gadgeteers just stay in their lab and make equipment for normal people or for other metahumans to take into battle? Why not keep these valuable force multipliers safe in your base and have them crank out force-fields, laser guns and power armour?

Simply put, a gadgeteer needs to test. They need to see their creations in use, live, in whatever environment they were made for, in order for their power to properly improve on them. If a gadgeteer makes something for combat, then, unless he does not wish to improve on it any more, he has to be there and see it used in combat. While another person could use their equipment with them standing by and observing (they do need to be present, in most cases, as their power is watching with more than just their senses), that would leave the gadgeteer rather defenseless. Furthermore, not everyone can use a gadget to its fullest capability and only seeing half of your variable plasma gun’s potential come into play defeats the point of putting it to the test in the first place.

Case study ‘Peregrine’: Having escaped the island using a hand-made, solar-powered glider and flight goggles with navigation equipment built in, Layla returned to her home country of Scotland, where she chose to take on the name Peregrine and become a superhero. To do so, she developed combat-worthy equipment, specifically a rifle meant to drop stunning payloads from above on opponents, specced to be most accurate during fly-by attacks, as well as a winged jetpack to enable the full use of her weapon, and provide the much-needed mobility. In order to further improve on these first, rather crude creations, she’s going to go out and test them in combat against a local clan of criminals, among them one metahuman. No one but her has the necessary sense of balance and eye for air currents needed to fly her jetpack without crashing, and aim her gun properly during the high-speed strafing runs which it works best in, even where they to wear her high-spec visor.

And as for those gadgeteers who’re fine with not improving their technology, always just replicating the same old piece of equipment, never innovating…

Well, that’s a fast track towards dropping your Synchronization with your Tenant way, way down.

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12 thoughts on “Brennus Files 11: Gadgeteering 2.0

  1. Okay, Tenants and Synchronization are definitely important concepts, but unless I’ve missed something big they were only rumor and vague allusions to unsupported theories until now. This is talking like they’re solid common knowledge, or at least the primary accepted theory in academia.

  2. Wow, guess that more than answers my question.

    Hope we will get the next chap soon too.

    Just wondering, am I completely wrong if I call Basil some sort of a Hybrid-Free Hybrid? Would make sense considering how he can make pretty much anything given enough time and resources with the drawback that his ability only gives him the necessary knowledge to overcome a Problem instead of doing everything on its own.

  3. Now, how is it that the Automation specialist is the only one to build force fields? The Arc cannon looked familiar to Brennus, and Macian had a personal force field, both of which make sense for an electromagnetic focus… Did Sovereign actually just copy and mass produce Macian’s designs? Ooh, maybe it was a tech trade, force fields in exchange for AI maybe?

    • My understanding (possibly mistaken and may actually be based on a character from a different web-serial) is that Sovereign specializes in _robots_ specifically, sort of like the Crimson Goblin, only vastly more effective because he’s a Gageteer rather than a Contriver and can build robots to build factories to build robots….

      If his power does work like that, then he might have a hard time designing such advanced items not integrated into and dependent on the construction of a robot. We have no evidence that Sovereign’s force fields can be scaled down below the processing capacity and power supply of the Subjecators, as far as I remember.

      • he only specialises in robots insofar as they’re a very natural result of his focus on automation (creating Automatons, heh).

        He does have an easier time creating stuff that works on its own rather than handheld or otherwise personal equipment, that’s true.

        Though anyone who underestimates his threat level when fighting on his own is in for a rude awakening.

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