How boring is an equipment list? Ugh, it’s got to be the most tedious yet
necessary thing in a fantasy or science fiction RPG. Everyone (or close to everyone) loves the
little fiddly bits you get with a new supplement: new weapons, new electronics,
new armor types. Each new thing is just
a sight modification of the old stuff, but it’s still cool, right? Well, it’s not cool enough for me.
You know what I would like to see? Answer: an equipment list that sparks the
players’ imaginations and prompts new avenues of play.
For instance, how cool would it be if an
equipment list had five entries for Long Sword or Laser Pistol? What if each entry showed how the weapon or
item could be improved using different components or techniques for making
it? Even better, what if the equipment
list rules gave hints about how the characters had to quest to find the right
material, the right tinkerer, the right artisan, or whatever to make the weapon
something beyond its mundane, default entry?
So, take a laser pistol for
instance. A pistol might have 5
attributes: weight, hitting power, accuracy, durability, and other. The default material on the equipment list
would be the cheapest and least reliable material- you know, the kind of laser
pistol you would buy at the Wal-Marts of the future. Then, elsewhere in the equipment section, the
rules would give a list of materials that would reduce the weight of the gun,
increase its hitting power and accuracy, make it more durable, and the “other”
category in this case would be # of shots per battery pack.
In addition to the improved materials,
the rules would tell the players how they could fabricate the materials or how
to purchase/find the materials.
In a fantasy world, it would give names
of weaponsmiths, artists, alchemists, etc. where they could get the blade
sharpened to a keen edge, the pommel weight reduced to balance the weapon, or
magical enchantments to make it more powerful.
Equipment lists are so mundane in most
games, but I think they can add a lot of depth to a campaign if the designer
just takes the time to think about how awesome weapons are in the first place
and the different ways heroes in the stories we love to read have tried to make