[Let’s Study Atomic Robo RPG] Part 4b: Doing Science! Invention

Happy Monday everyone, hope you all had a good Father’s Day. Today’s article tackles the other half of the doing science chapter, and covers a topic that is near and dear to my heart: Invention!

Given that Atomic Robo is all about Action Science, Invention is a big part of the game. Whether it’s jury rigging a makeshift jetpack of coming up with some sort of improvised lightning gun, Action Scientists are known to build the right tool for any situation.

Creating an invention in Atomic Robo happens in five steps:

Determine its function

As with all good building procedures, one must first indentify what the invention is meant to do before proceeding. This definition becomes the invention’s function aspect.

Define its capabilities

Time to transform that function into actual mechanics. This is as easy as just putting together a stunt benefit, much like in Mega-Stunts. The number of benefits the invention has makes it harder to build.

Put it together

Making a roll with the applicable Science skill, the Action Scientist attempts to assemble the said invention. Each benefit it has adds a +2 to the difficulty.

Interestingly enough, Action Scientists cannot fail to make an invention. Instead they note if the roll is a failure, a tie, a success or a success with style.

Pay for it

Paying for the construction comes from what complication or conditions need to be resolved to make the device happen. Samples of a catch include the need for Time, Materials, Help, a Laboratory, Attention or a Glitch. Each stunt in the invention has a catch, and who determines the catch depends on the outcome of the earlier roll in the previous step.

Determine its flaw

Each invention also has a flaw in addition to the catches that need to be resolved in its contruction. The GM is the one responsible for defining the flaw, which becomes the device’s flaw aspect. These range from things like “Weighs a Ton” to “Massive Power Requirements”

I have to admit that the Invention rules for Atomic Robo are by far one of the simplest and most entertaining I’ve seen. The rules reflect the intent of the activity with without losing sight of the fun factor. There’s an elegance to the mechanics, and I certainly enjoy how creating an invention is not a pass / fail issue as much as how many plot hooks it can generate upon creation.

Tomorrow we’ll start tackling how to run Atomic Robo, as well as the other chapters to support GMs looking to run this game.

If you’d like to follow along, the PDF for Atomic Robo can be found in DriveThruRPG for $11.99

2 thoughts on “[Let’s Study Atomic Robo RPG] Part 4b: Doing Science! Invention

  1. I realized recently that Mike Olson did both the Atomic Robo RPG (and presumably the Hardware/Invention rules) and the Asset rules for Jadepunk, which is probably why they share similarities with each other (and are both awesome and excellent story generators 🙂 ).

    1. I’m definitely enjoying the Invention and Brainstorming rules as they’re a refreshing change of pace from the usual mechanics that simulate, but don’t entertain.

      Hmm… that’s something worthy of it’s own blog post eventually. 😀

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