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Old 01-23-2020, 01:46 AM   #1
43Supporter
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Default Whats In Your... Toolbox?

(I was considering "Whats In A Toolbox", but I'm not sure how Shakespeare refs would go over in these parts. :) )

Discussion elsewhere has led me to wonder: What-all do players think comes with the various Mechanical Repair Devices in _CW_?

I come from a Writer background -- I write stories. One of the first "rules" we're taught is "fiction has to make sense". Thus, one does have to set limits on what a thing in a story (and _CW_ is a story, of sorts) can do. To that end, then, running down the list of Repair Devices:

Mini-Mechanic: Includes all the stuff one might find on the larger pre-Spinout "Swiss Army Knife" -- 1-2 blades; saw; flathead and Phillips screwdriver heads (but only one size of each); can openers; wire bender; awl punch; maybe a wrench or similar device. Can't do any welding or such with it, as it's too small, and has no electrical power; also, no storage space for adding items after-the-fact.

Tool Kit: Briefcase-size; includes all the stuff listed above, but with several different sizes of screwdriver heads (of all types -- flat; Phillips; hexagonal) and other tools; plus possibly wire strippers and other "specialty" tools, or space to include same, if the Mechanic desires. Still no capability for welding or similar, though a Mechanic might well add a bottle of industrial-grade adhesive if he desires. Also, space inside the case might be used to store small bags of random fasteners (bolts, nuts, screws, and such); and possibly some *very* small bits of scrap metal or plastic (nothing much bigger than a flattened soda can).

Portable Shop: *Now* one is talking Serious Equipment -- in addition to all the items aforementioned in the Tool Kit, one can include a small jack and stands for getting under a vehicle; a small welder with powerpack (fuel, or electric), some sort of powered cutter (maybe using the same powerpack as the welder?), and enough spare space and weight to have some patching materials and replacement wiring, as well as more-than-enough fasteners.

I probably missed a couple tools; this is just what I could think of on short notice. Anyone else with a thought on the matter?
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Old 01-23-2020, 01:33 PM   #2
J. Roberts
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Default Re: Whats In Your... Toolbox?

How about electronic diagnostic tools? Is there an ODB2 standard in the CW world, or does every manufacturer have their own arcane system of diagnostic codes for the myriad of computers in their vehicles? Can I replace the factory firmware with my own custom build that trades safety for performance?
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Old 01-23-2020, 02:10 PM   #3
kjamma4
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Chicagoland Area, Illinois
Default Re: Whats In Your... Toolbox?

Duct tape and WD40
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Old 01-23-2020, 03:10 PM   #4
Galfridus
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Bedford, MA
Default Re: Whats In Your... Toolbox?

Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Roberts View Post
How about electronic diagnostic tools? Is there an ODB2 standard in the CW world, or does every manufacturer have their own arcane system of diagnostic codes for the myriad of computers in their vehicles? Can I replace the factory firmware with my own custom build that trades safety for performance?
Given that everything seems to interoperate (no issues with different ammo sizes, weapon mounts, tires, etc.), it would seem reasonable to posit a fairly standardized diagnostic system for electronics.

As for firmware flashes, personally I would rule that CW equipment already pushes components to the envelope (so no "sport mode" acceleration option), but in true 80s tradition, an NPC "hacker" might be able to get amped up (and oddly non-reproducible) equipment, or take over PC vehicle computers, to make for a memorable encounter.

(Even if this stuff was revisited, I don't think I would want ELINT and cyberwarfare to overshadow shooting cars with guns with guns.)
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Old 01-23-2020, 03:54 PM   #5
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Default Re: Whats In Your... Toolbox?

kjamma4: Quite correct -- I looked at my own toolboxes (note plural), and managed to overlook the can of WD-40 and half-roll of The Handyman's Secret Weapon therein. Careless of me.

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Originally Posted by Galfridus View Post
Given that everything seems to interoperate (no issues with different ammo sizes, weapon mounts, tires, etc.), it would seem reasonable to posit a fairly standardized diagnostic system for electronics.
That's been my assumption, as well -- I think I've told the tale of having to replace a broken toilet seat, and learning the spacing of the attachment points is standardized; I kept thinking, "Oh, to have been at *that* negotiating session". :)

This also leads into a side discussion: "What exactly does the die-roll mean, in terms of the Narrative?" For my part: I've assumed a successful roll means "one has, or can find lying around nearby, sufficient bits to cobble together a repair sufficient to get one to the next truck stop (where the Mechanic on duty will have a conniption fit on seeing what's been done :) )", while a failed roll means "[CENSORED], the 10mm socket's wandered off *AGAIN*!", or similar. (Again: I come from a Writing background; and "the fiction has to make sense [internally]". So, these things do have to have definition, and limits.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galfridus View Post
As for firmware flashes, personally I would rule that CW equipment already pushes components to the envelope (so no "sport mode" acceleration option), but in true 80s tradition, an NPC "hacker" might be able to get amped up (and oddly non-reproducible) equipment, or take over PC vehicle computers, to make for a memorable encounter.
Or end up with the situation facing the attackers in the "Flaming Idiots" scenario, where the HRTCs on the van are playing up (every time a weapon is fired using the HRTCs, the To-Hit can be anywhere from +2 to -2).

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Originally Posted by Galfridus View Post
(Even if this stuff was revisited, I don't think I would want ELINT and cyberwarfare to overshadow shooting cars with guns with guns.)
Programming like that is a lot harder than most folks realize; it would not be possible in the time available to an arena duel or typical road encounter. The result would be something closer to the "FI" situation described above; the programmer won't know if he was successful without a "bench test".
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Old 01-24-2020, 01:56 PM   #6
swordtart
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Default Re: Whats In Your... Toolbox?

Given the amount of plastic in CW vehicles - glue, lots of glue.

I am inclined to agree that the "spares" element of any tool box will be enough to get you home after a jury-rig roll. You can probably get away with some replacement wire, crimp connectors, epoxy glue, epoxy putty, cable ties. Some electrically conductive glue would probably enable some simple short term fix.

I'd say the mini-mechanic is more like a leatherman than a swiss army knife (probably with a universal socket). As it is 1 GE it can be a bit chunkier and probably comes wrapped with some epoxy, crimp connectors and maybe some low temperature solder (the type you melt with a match) within the 1 GE bundle.

I would also suggest that as even someone with no mechanic skill can salvage tyres and ammo with little difficulty and no tools, there is probably a 2 ton jack of some sort and a tyre iron stowed within the basic chassis of all vehicles. That tool can also be used to open up the ammo ports.

As the tool kits get larger you can add more specific single size sockets rather than rely on universals. Add in a proper soldering iron, hacksaw, a hammer an multi-bit screwdriver and a couple of full sized screwdrivers (for extra leverage). The jacks would also get better and in the larger kits probably be supplemented with snatch blocks or a chain winch.

Of course unless you flesh out the mechanic and repair system this is all fluff. There is no basis in reality as you have no baseline to work from. For example, in real life we have a plethora of bolt sizes (metric, and a whole aft of different imperial ones). In CW they may have been reduced down to a few standard ones (like these days all wheel nuts are of a standard size). Or there may be even greater variety as the the vehicle manufacturers try to build in dependency with propriety fixings. Panels may be fixed with bolts, single use rivets, or the rubber latches custom cars often use. Indeed the cheaper the car, the more single use fixtures may be used (to drive the service price up).

In my experience you can tell a lot about a man from his toolbox and we all have our own "must-haves" generally driven by the last time we spent an entire weekend unable to make progress because we didn't have the vehicle specific left-handed flange bolt extractor that our vehicles manufacturer decided to make essential to discourage "unauthorised" maintenance activity. For years my tool kit carried a specially bent screwdriver that I only needed for my old VW.

These days, Torx is fairly common, but back in the day to service an Apple Mac classic you needed an 18" long T15 driver to undo the screws under the carrying handle. RS didn't carry one and the only way to get one at the time was to take a maintenance course run by Apple. I ended up having a 6" driver cut in half and an extension bar welded in. Even then many of the electronic components inside the Mac were non-preferred values. I spent many hours jury-rigging near fit components to get them back on line.

Last edited by swordtart; 01-24-2020 at 02:01 PM.
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Old 01-24-2020, 03:17 PM   #7
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Default Re: Whats In Your... Toolbox?

Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
I'd say the mini-mechanic is more like a leatherman than a swiss army knife (probably with a universal socket). As it is 1 GE it can be a bit chunkier and probably comes wrapped with some epoxy, crimp connectors and maybe some low temperature solder (the type you melt with a match) within the 1 GE bundle.
"Low-temp solder" is a new on on me -- shall have to add it to the list.

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Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
I would also suggest that as even someone with no mechanic skill can salvage tyres and ammo with little difficulty and no tools, there is probably a 2 ton jack of some sort and a tyre iron stowed within the basic chassis of all vehicles. That tool can also be used to open up the ammo ports.
[nod] Some sort of wrench will be necessary to remove nuts, esp. ones covered in road grime and rust (BTDT). This is also where that can of Penetrating Fluid comes into play (pardon the pun).

Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
Of course unless you flesh out the mechanic and repair system this is all fluff. There is no basis in reality as you have no baseline to work from. For example, in real life we have a plethora of bolt sizes (metric, and a whole aft of different imperial ones). In CW they may have been reduced down to a few standard ones (like these days all wheel nuts are of a standard size). Or there may be even greater variety as the the vehicle manufacturers try to build in dependency with propriety fixings. Panels may be fixed with bolts, single use rivets, or the rubber latches custom cars often use. Indeed the cheaper the car, the more single use fixtures may be used (to drive the service price up).
That is part of the idea of this thread -- think of it as "Chekhov's Gun" for Repairs: In order for the Player to be able to use an Item in the game, the Writer has to show the item being able to perform the task in the instructions. From there, one can more-firmly define other aspects of the game, and avoid some of the problems depicted in Finer Gaming Comics. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
In my experience you can tell a lot about a man from his toolbox and we all have our own "must-haves" generally driven by the last time we spent an entire weekend unable to make progress because we didn't have the vehicle specific left-handed flange bolt extractor that our vehicles manufacturer decided to make essential to discourage "unauthorised" maintenance activity. For years my tool kit carried a specially bent screwdriver that I only needed for my old VW.

These days, Torx is fairly common, but back in the day to service an Apple Mac classic you needed an 18" long T15 driver to undo the screws under the carrying handle. RS didn't carry one and the only way to get one at the time was to take a maintenance course run by Apple. I ended up having a 6" driver cut in half and an extension bar welded in. Even then many of the electronic components inside the Mac were non-preferred values. I spent many hours jury-rigging near fit components to get them back on line.
I can so attest -- and the people I knew growing up had "tools to make tools", as they tended to drive cars which Weren't Common Over Here (Triumphs; Morgans; Austin-Healeys; Lotuses; Citroens; Peugeots; you get the idea :) ), and so ordering tools from overseas was Expensive and Difficult; easier to find one example (or even a drawing), and make one's own. These guys put humans on the Moon.... >;)
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Old 01-25-2020, 03:47 AM   #8
swordtart
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Default Re: Whats In Your... Toolbox?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 43Supporter View Post
That is part of the idea of this thread -- think of it as "Chekhov's Gun" for Repairs: In order for the Player to be able to use an Item in the game, the Writer has to show the item being able to perform the task in the instructions. From there, one can more-firmly define other aspects of the game, and avoid some of the problems depicted in Finer Gaming Comics. :)
Yes. my point is that until you decide the plot needs to have a gun fired you wont know if you need a gun on set (let alone what sort of gun).

As the nature of tools is left vague in CW you need to rely on the description of mechanics activities to infer what you need. As those rules are also vague you don't really have anything to go on.

If you start by defining the tools you need to make sure that you do not exclude any of the mechanic activities that might be needed in order to conform to the rules.

Basically the only things we know are that you can repair component X, Y Z. You could perhaps start with what you know about the components (which is also intentionally vague). If you make arbitrary decisions you start changing what is possible.

Example. An unskilled person can salvage any component other than radio, plant or computer from a wreck with nothing more than a mini-mechanic (OK it needs a 12, but it is possible). As these are all electronic components it implies that the mini-mechanic isn't suitable for removing electronic connections intact. It might be safe to assume therefore that the larger kits have some dedicated electronics tools (multi-meter, soldering iron etc).

This starts to look like a system except that the lack of tools doesn't prevent a really good mechanic from doing anything that they could achieve if they had the tools, it just takes them longer (and not necessarily that much longer).

I don't care how much of a Mech God you are I don't see how you can salvage a truck plant with your bare hands, yet a Mechanic +3 has a better than 50:50 chance of achieving exactly that in half an hour.

The rules talk about improvised tools and I think the pocket knife they are talking about is probably a swiss army knife we discusses up-thread - further reinforcing the idea that the mini-mechanic is a bit more than that. You can argue that the Uber-Mechanic has so much experience he is capable of improvising jacks from rocks and tree trunks, welding using car batteries and coins etc. He is basically MacGuyver (even BA in the A-team generally had a shop available to "improvise" his tank out of a bulldozer). I am not sure that it is possible to make that sort of situation credible and in trying you'll just break other things.

I have been trying to rationalise the mechanic and salvage rules for the best part of 30 years on and off and I have concluded that the only way to make the bits fit together is allowing plenty of wiggle room between them. The more you tie down, the less they work. Unless you are intending to toss them out completely just use the rules as written and gloss over the detail.

Focus on the story and not on the set design.

You might want to do this level of restructuring if you have a campaign where salvage and repair is the story. I did this with my F1000 circuit where all cars and equipment had to come in under $1000. You can only do this if you use damaged and jury-rigged components by default, you need to fix things yourself between fights as the rewards are so low, but at least it isn't as lethal as Am-Night. We also had a close focus on between fight expenses (accommodation etc.). It worked, it was CW, but it also needed to be isolated from the normal CW world as otherwise you would have no incentive to stay there (so we had it geographically, culturally and socially isolated).

Last edited by swordtart; 01-25-2020 at 04:04 AM.
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