Really Wild West Technology and Equipment (for Starfinder)

In many ways, the Really Wild West setting of an 1890 where dwarves, elves, and kasatha have always been around, Martians attacked and died of plague, theosophy was right and magic and psychic powers are extant (if not commonplace), is the continuation of the Industrial Revolution into what may someday be known as the Age of Invention. We touched on some of the technologies at play in the original post for this setting hack, but some of those ideas call for expansion.

Technology has rocketed forward (in some cases literally) over the page 50 years, and society is permanently changed as a result. In 1856, Henry Bessemer found a way to turn molten iron into steel, and that created the material needed to build far more powerful forges and steam engines. The discovery of adamantine and other stellar alloys among the Martian machines made otherwise impossible creations possible, though at a high cost given Earth still has no way to mine those extraplanetary metals for itself. But anywhere a Martian expedition collapsed (often, though not always, self-destructing) or an old destroyed cigar-shaped transportation cylinder is found to have crashed, a “Mars Rush” of scavengers seeking working machines if possible, and just the rare stellar allows if not, make the old gold rushes look calm by comparison.

The telegraph made the world smaller and brought communication to a new speed, but it is the creation of the Babbage-Bell Grid, a series of wired analog computers and difference engines in the largest cities connected by Bell’s new data transmitter technology (though it is Elisha Gray who invented the switches to allow this communication to move quickly, and Bell stole the idea and patented it first). With the Babbage-Bell Grid, a small city or major town can afford just a Babbage node, no bigger than a church organ, allowing them to send complex data requests to a full-sized Babbage buildings hundreds of miles away, connected by the Grid.

Automotons, invented separately in Bohemia, Switzerland, and Japan (where they grew from the tradition of Karakuri puppets), continue to grow in complexity and utility. The use of difference engines, stellar alloys, and heat ray capacitors for power allows the creation of automotons that seem nearly self-aware, though the most advanced are generally capricious and require a single genius (normally a character with the mechanic class) to keep it operational.

Medicine has leaped forward. Germ theory, much studied after the fall of the Martian tripods, has gained nearly universal acceptance. Theosophic studies combining western theories with eastern techniques and psychic infusions allow miraculous serums and healing ampules that actually follow through on the promises of the previous century’s snake oil. Similarly the dedicated study and experimentation on theosophic abilities has allowed some practitioners to master high levels of psychic mastery and to develop specific mental exercises to produce and reproduce dependable, measurable effects common folk often call ‘spells’ (as ‘metatative ectoplasmic invocation techniques” doesn’t have the same snappy ring to it). Emotions and paranatural phenomenon can even be fused into weapons, equipment, and even crystals (allowing for the normal Starfinder Roleplaying Game rules for weapon fusions, magic and hybrid items, spell gems, and spell ampules).

Weapon technology has similarly seen vast improvements. Brass cartridge weapons are commonplace, though older percussion cap and some pinfire and needlefire weapons still see extensive use. Revolves are common, as are lever-action and even pump-action firearms. The first few automatic pistols have appeared, and the water-cooled Maxim machine guns are changing the face of war. Tesla and Tom Swift have advanced lightning guns, among other weapons, the German flammenwerfer and Chinese Pen Huo Qi both proved their worth against Martian tripods and have been much copied, and the Martian heat ray technology itself has been successfully mass-produced in Mexico.

Most equipment options are just normal Starfinder Roleplaying Game gear, modified as noted in the original post of the setting hack. But there are a few particularly Western kinds of gear, or logical extrapolations of the 1890s and weird science, which should be added to the setting.

Ammo belt 1 5 L
Ammo belt, masterwork 1 100 L
Battery belt 2 300 1
Block and tackle 1 5 4
Candle, wax, set of 5 1 1
Canteen 1 2 L
Compass 1 3
Lantern, oil, bullseye 1 2 L
Lantern, oil, hooded 1 2 L
Matches, box of 100 0 1
Rations, canned, 1 day 1 4 2L
Rations, fresh, 1 day 0 1 L
Rations, trail, 1 day 0 2 L
Sack, large 1 2 L
Sack, small 1 1
Steam engine, small 2 850 80
Tent, 2-man 1 5 4
Tent. 4-man 1 10 6
Tool, manual 1 5 1
Torch, set of 10 1 2 L
Watch, pocket 1 15

Rules for new equipment is presented below.

Ammo Belt
An ammo belt can be designed for bullets, hand-bombs, or dry cell batteries. It carries up to 3 L worth of such items (though their weight still applies to encumbrance normally). A character with a masterwork ammo belt with the necessary ammo can also reload a weapon as part of the same standard action as firing it once. If the character has Quick Draw, one a round they can reload a weapon without taking an action.

Battery Belt
While firearms remain more common than weapons powered through electricity drawn from dry cell batteries, the rapid increase in cell-powered devices in recent years (especially in Mexico) has resulted in a desire to be able to carry multiple batteries of various capacities connected together, with a single feed cable and adapter that allows different devices to be powered from the connected batteries.

A battery belt is similar to an ammo belt, but is designed to carry, and connect, multiple batteries. It can carry up to 9 batteries of L bulk or less without increasing its own bulk. Linking a battery to the belt is a move action. The belt has a single output cable designed to plug in to any electric-charge driven device. This takes the same action as to reload a weapon (normally a move action). Any device plugged into the battery belt can use charges from any of the batteries in the belt, even if the device normally uses a different capacity of battery.

Block and Tackle
A block and tackle allows you to pull a rope 10 feet to move a secondary rope 5 feet with twice as much fore. A successful DC 10 Engineering check and one minute allows you to rig a block and tackle to you can use it to life twice as much bulk, or gain a +5 circumstance bonus to a Strength check, but performing such tasks take twice as long as usual.

A candle is as easy to light as a torch, and burns as well as a match. It increases the light level by 1 step in a 5 foot radius, but is easily blown out by wind, rain, or being dropped. It burns for 6 hours.

A canteen is a water bottle made of cured leather or steel, generally with a cloth covering both to pad it for protection and so the cloth can be soaked with water, which then evaporates and cools the canteen. It carries two quarts, the minimum most people need to drink each day.

A comas points north. A character with a compnas trained in Survival gains a +2 bonus to Survival checks to orienteer.

Lantern, oil, bullseye
A bullseye lantern increases the light level by 1 step in a 60-foot-cone. It burns for 1 hour on 1 pint of oil.

Lantern, oil, hooded
A hooded lantern increases the light level by 1 step in a 30-foot-radius. It burns for 1 hour on 1 pint of oil.

Matches, box of 100
A match can set easily flammable materials on fire as a standard action.

Oil, pint
One pint of oil, normally in a flask or leather bladder. As a standard action you can coat an adjacent object, which then if exposed to flames must make a Fortitude save (DC 20 + item level or caster level of flame source) or gain the burning condition. You can also throw oil at targets as improvised thrown weapons, which do 1 point of damage and coat them in oil.

Rations, Canned
Canned rations include canned meats, fruits, and vegetables, pickled items including eggs and fish, jams, jellies, canned cheeses, honey, foil-wrapped chocolate (in small quantities along with other canned goods), condensed or evaporated milk, bottled cooking oil, and even entire canned hams or turkeys. Canned rations last 1-4 years as long as they are undamaged, and have a 50% change of spoiling each year thereafter.

Rations, Fresh
Fresh rations can include both cooked foods and raw ingredients to make food, such as butchered meats or entire small game, breads, flour, butter, medium or soft cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and so on. Food hunted or foraged with the Survival skill counts as fresh rations. Fresh rations last for 1d4 days, and have a 50% chance of spoiling each day thereafter. Fresh food can count toward have the UPB cost of making canned or trail rations (with the other half being preserving agents or canning supplies).

Rations, Trail
Rail rations include such things as hardtack, crackers, hard cheese, dried soups, dried beans, dried pasta, grains, coffee grounds, tea, jerky, dried fruits and vegetables, fruitcakes, salt pork, and smoked fish. Trail rations last for 30 days, and have a 50% chance of spoiling every 30 days thereafter. Trail rations cannot be consumed for more than a day without water, which are not included in this weight or cost.

A small sack can carry roughly 2 bulk of materials, and a large sack 10 bulk. Bulk in a sack counts against the bulk total of a character carrying it.

Steam Engine, Small
A small steam engine is often used to run other machines, such as pumps, drills, power hammers, mills, and lathes. Weighing more than 800 pounds, these devices must be moved by wagon or train, and are generally only available to large, well-funded expeditions or companies in towns and cities. A successful DC 15 Engineering check can rig a steam engine to perform a simple, repetitive task, allowing it to apply a 24 Strength to that task. It consumed 10 pounds of coal per hour of operation, or double that weight in fuel if burning wood.

Tents are made of waterproof canvas, and include the ropes, poles, and pitons needed to set the up.

A tinderbox contains flint, firesteel, and tinder (generally hemp fiber, but other materials are possible). Equipped with a tinderbox, a character can create fire in 1 round with a DC 15 Survival check (or, in most cases, automatically by taking 20, but that takes 2 minutes).

Tool, Manual
A manual tool is a crowbar, pickaxe, shovel, hoe, or other sturdy device designed to aid in manual labor. A manual tool grants a +2 circumstance bonus to ability checks and skill checks it is well-suited to perform and (at the GM’s discretion) may cut the time required for such tasks by 50%. Manual tools can also be used as clubs (though some may do piercing or slashing damage, at the GM’s discretion).

A torch increases the light level by one step within 20 feet. It burns for 1 hour. A torch can be used as a club, but half the damage it does when lit is fire damage. As an open flame, a lit torch allows an Intimidate check as a standard action to demoralize one animal no larger than Large within 10 feet. A demoralized animal generally does not attack unless it has some primal drive to do so (such as great hunger, protecting its young, a need to flee, or combat training).

Watch, pocket
A character with a pocket watch is assumed to know what time it is, and if they keep it in hand need not make any checks to determine when an exact number of seconds, minutes, or hours have passed. If they are trained in Survival, it gives them a +1 circumstance bonus to Survival checks made to orienteer or predict weather.


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About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at

Posted on January 17, 2018, in Anachronistic Adventurers, Microsetting, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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