Gearsmith's Guide Teaser #1 - Clockwork Prosthetics

Announcing our next book, the Gearsmith's Guide!

Just like the Gunslinger's Guide, this will be a PDF-only release that focuses on a single profession. It will offer new rules specific to gearsmiths, a new short story, and a pile of historical and world background to incorporate into your character development. The book will be posted on DriveThruRPG and Studio 2 before the end of July, just in time for Gen Con! (Ask me for a look at the whole thing if you catch me there.)

In the meantime, we'll be posting a few teasers to let you know what will be in the book. For the first one, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of the thinking as to why we're doing the Gearsmith's Guide next as opposed to other worthy professions. There were definitely some compelling reasons to explore some of the others next, and arguably gearsmiths get some of the most detailed rules in the setting books. However, there was one glaring rules/flavor gap that showed up as a result of some of the work that happened in Steamscapes: Asia, and it ended up being the deciding factor that made the Gearsmith's Guide the best choice for the next profession guide. That gap was clockwork prosthetics.

Did you miss it? Well, James Ng's amazing cover art for Steamscapes: Asia clearly shows, if not a fully mechanical arm, at least an assist brace or harness. The short story, "Clockwork Glide" includes a character whose prosthetics are essential to the plot. Yet we didn't include rules for these things anywhere in the book. In a way, they acted as a teaser that these things existed in the Steamscapes world. So we decided to move forward on the Gearsmith's Guide so that we can make them available to players. Obviously there will be more in the book than just prosthetics, but it's important that we get them out there.


Here's a sample of the descriptive text, accompanied by a new illustration by Quinn Burrell.

Following the creation of fully functional artificial persons, many medical professionals started wondering how this technology might be applied to create only fully functional parts that could then be attached to live persons with missing limbs. Initially, the primary difficulty with this lay in the integration of mind and body. With both humans and automatons, the mind must first conceive before the hand may act. But no direct interface could exist between the living brain and clockwork appendages.

It turned out that the solution could be found within the problem. Automatons carry some of the computation of physical functions within the limbs themselves. In essence, the arms and legs of an automaton “know” how to perform many basic tasks. Once surgeons understood this, all that remained was to devise a means for the patient to instruct the limb to perform such a task. This is done through the use of “gestures” that signal the individual’s intentions to the artificial appendage. These must be developed on an individual basis, which makes the construction of an effective prosthetic a long and involved process for both the designer and the patient.