Technomancers of the Really Wild West 5: Teslics
Posted by Owen K.C. Stephens
Not so long ago I noted on Facebook and Twitter that in the Really Wild West, the most common kinds of technomancers are Cartogramancers, Edisonades, Lovelacers, Telethurges, Teslics, and the Prophets of John Moses Browning.
I thought it might be fun to examine those ideas, and we’ve gotten to the Teslics.
Teslics are technomancers who attempt to reconcile the weirder scientific theories of mechanic Nikolai Tesla with their theosophic technological equivalents. Though Nikolai Tesla is a relative newcomer to the technological world stage, Tesla’s AC system and motors driven by it were adopted by Westinghouse in 1888 (following a war of publicity with Thomas Edison) giving Tesla international attention.
When Tesla claimed to be able to communicate with spirits of the dead in 1889, and that they warned an invasion from another planet was imminent, numerous serious researches and companies wrote him off. When he revealed he was boosting his own intelligence with the applciation of electircal current through an implant, there was serious discussion of having him committed.
When the Martians invaded, and tesla proved able to intercept their communications, predict their movements, and was the first to begin understanding their technology, all that changed. The US War Department has since given him nearly unlimited funds and facilities, and his Grand Street Laboratory in Manhattan has rapidly expanded to cover most of a city block. As a result, Tesla’s creativity has exploded.
Spirit phones. Cosmic auras. Teleforce. Broadcast energy. Death rays. Polyphase converters. Oscillating generators. Radiant energies. Remote controls. Magnifying transmitters. Tesla creates ideas in frenzied dashes of invention, rushing from one concept to another and forgoing sleep in favor of direct electric stimulation of his body. Some ideas he completes, and can be put into near-immediate use. Others are barely described at all, with little more than a single working prototype and a few scrawled calculations and theories. All efforts to bring tesla back to flesh-out his more esoteric concepts fail, and the War Department is so desperate for the inventions he completes–which they believe will be crucial in predicting and possible preventing a second War of the Worlds–they refuse to cut off his support.
After some weeks of having top-secret panels try to make sense of the fragmentary advances in technology Tesla has already abandoned for new ideas, the War Department generally leaks what little is know to private think tanks, and over months they become more widely disseminated. While dedicated mechanics and engineers attempt to recreate the pure-science answer Tesla has clearly discovered, some going to far as to install electric “exocortex” stimulators in their own brains, some technomancers seek to bypass the need for understanding the core principles of these technologies by building theosophic, sympathetic magic answers that can create the same end result without knowing exactly how it is done.
Teslics are often considered to be toying with forces no mortal mind can comprehend, and thought of as likely to become unreliable and possible even dangerous with little or no warning. At the same time, a Teslic’s willingness to risk their mind to unlock some discovery that might help the Earth defend itself from Mars is also seen as crucial on a grand scale, even if most people prefer Teslics do their crucial work far, far away.
Technomancer Alternate Class Feature: Teslic
Theoretical Theosophy: One spell known of each spell-level the technomancer can cast is randomly determined, representing what concepts the technomancer doesn’t quite understand they have managed to temporarily lock into a theosophic frame. However as the stars alignment changes, planets move, weather patterns shift, and the technomancers own understanding of the universe evolves, the tehcnomancer can loose the ability to use an old random spell, and can a new spell in its place.
Normally the randomly-selected spells shift once per month, and each time the technomancer gains a new technomancer level. These spells may be drawn from any spellcasting class (roll 1d10– 1-3 random mystic spell, 4-6 random technomancer spell, 7-9 random witchwarper spell, 10 technomancer may select a spell from any class allowed in the campaign). The random spell is always of the same level as the spell it replaces and one the technoamncer can use (for example, if a personal spell only functions with some class feature he tecnomancer lacks, a different random spell is selected).
Additionally, the technomancer may select one spell known at each spell level that is drawn from the mystic or witchwarper spell list. These may be any spell of the same or lower spell level. The technomancer may never select more than one such off-class spell known at each spell level in this manner (such as if they later swap out spells known upon gaining a level). However, the spell-per-spell-level-known that is selected randomly does not count against this limit.
Teslic Magic Hacks
The following magic hacks are available for selection by Teslics, beginning at 2nd level.
Broadcast Magic: You can attune a number of technological devices equal to your key ability bonus. This takes an hour, and they remain attuned until you attune new items in excess of your maximum. When these items are within short range (25 feet +5 feet/2 levels) and within your line of sight and line of effect, as a move action you can make them the origin point of a spell you cast that has a range greater than personal. You must cast the spell by the end of your next round to do this.
Teleforce: If you cast a damaging spell with a casting time of 1 standard action or less as a full round, you can change the type of damage it deals to be bludgeoning damage, and it becomes a force effect. If you cast the spell using a spell slot one or more levels higher than normal, you can also force the target to make a Reflex save (at the DC for a spell of the level of slot you used) or be pushed back 5 feet for every point by which it fails its save, and knocked prone.
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About Owen K.C. StephensOwen 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 https://www.patreon.com/OwenKCStephens
Posted on November 24, 2020, in Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged Class Options, Game Design, gaming, Geekery, PC Options, Really Wild West, Starfinder, Technomancer. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.