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Old 10-27-2017, 08:57 PM   #1
John_A_Tallon
 
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Default Polycarbonyl Explosive: REF 1.9 at TL8

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This one isn't written to quite the same standard of rigor as the palladium glass alloy one. In particular the production rates and operating costs for the job roll are just in "good enough to game with" territory. The CO poisoning effects may also need tweaking, but they're consistent with my research into the effects of acute carbon monoxide poisoning.

Code:
TL  Type		     REF	Description
8   Polycarbonyl explosives  1.9	Carbon monoxide polymer
Polycarbonyl Explosive

In 1947 R.J. Mills' experimentation with carbon monoxide revealed that at pressures above 5.2 GPa it can form an explosive polymer which remains stable when brought back to standard atmospheric pressure. The material's metastablity was a curiosity that was largely prohibitively expensive to research further until advances in materials research made anvil presses more common in laboratories in the 1990s.

This explosive can be produced as early as TL6, but the extremely high pressure requirements impose a high cost in production equipment and limit the yield of each production run to minuscule quantities. The material is solid and yellow to dark red in appearance, and will darken and become glue-like in consistency with exposure to atmosphere. With exposure to humidity or upon being dissolved in water it develops an acrid smell identical to human vomit. Aside from heat, the only by-products of the explosive are glassy carbon and carbon dioxide. The pure material can be detonated with a laser initiator or by more traditional detonators.

The sensitivity and energy content of polycarbonyl explosive can be tweaked during the production process. With three hours of work and a successful Chemistry roll, impurities can be introduced that allow the REF of the compound to be set to any value less than 1.9. On a failed roll the REF is set to whatever the GM likes. On a critical failure the compound explodes! Impure polycarbonyl will leave traces of whatever doping agent was used.

The high price of the material is entirely because the very same presses that can make it can also make gem quality diamonds (which, being neither dangerous nor illegal, are a safer way for a press owner to make a profit). Enterprising adventurers can use Chemistry or Electronics Operation(Scientific) to operate an anvil press to make their own. On a critical failure there is a mishap that results in the press being damaged (1d x $5,000 in repairs required) or a leak of toxic gas (acute carbon monoxide poisoning: immediately roll HT-2, on a failure suffer the Seizure incapacitating condition (p. B492) for 20-HT seconds; furthermore roll each second at HT-2, on failure take 2 points of toxic damage).

Anvil presses can be purchased on the open market for $150,000 and require a steady supply of electricty and maintenance by a skilled mechanic to keep in operation. Tanks of gaseous carbon monoxide of high purity can be purchased from industrial suppliers for $60 and can provide enough gas for 8,000 grams. Alternately the gas can be generated chemically using materials worth about $1 per production run. Electricity and maintenance on the press costs $1,500 each month. This can be cut in half if the player succeeds at a Mechanic(Industrial Presses) job roll (thus making running the press their full time job).

The price of polycarbonyl at TL6 is $3,000,000 per pound. The introduction of cheaper anvil presses in TL8 like the BARS press (Беспрессовая Аппаратура высокого давления) brings the price down to $1,400,000 per pound. If produced by a business that doesn't care about the opportunity cost, the price is $3,000 per pound. Typical production runs take four hours and yield about a gram per press. One gram of polycarbonyl explosive does 1d-1 damage. One pound does 4dx4 damage.

Last edited by Andrew Hackard; 10-28-2017 at 12:09 AM.
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Old 10-28-2017, 07:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: Polycarbonyl Explosive: REF 1.9 at TL8

That is truly bizarre. it's not worthwhile for any normal use of explosives, but the Mad Science applications are fascinating.
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Old 10-28-2017, 08:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: Polycarbonyl Explosive: REF 1.9 at TL8

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Originally Posted by John_A_Tallon View Post
The price of polycarbonyl at TL6 is $3,000,000 per pound. The introduction of cheaper anvil presses in TL8 like the BARS press ... brings the price down to $1,400,000 per pound. If produced by a business that doesn't care about the opportunity cost, the price is $3,000 per pound. Typical production runs take four hours and yield about a gram per press.
This means that it isn't TL8.
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Old 10-28-2017, 08:26 PM   #4
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Default Re: Polycarbonyl Explosive: REF 1.9 at TL8

Isn't that about the cost of a kilo of plutonium 238 now? Is that not TL 8?
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Old 10-28-2017, 09:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: Polycarbonyl Explosive: REF 1.9 at TL8

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Isn't that about the cost of a kilo of plutonium 238 now? Is that not TL 8?
A kilo of plutonium 238 is a really overpriced poison. A nuclear explosive has an REF of significantly more than 1.9.
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Old 10-28-2017, 09:17 PM   #6
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Default Re: Polycarbonyl Explosive: REF 1.9 at TL8

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Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
This means that it isn't TL8.
It's not TL8 in the sense that it isn't a product that is ever likely to be produced in bulk or available in any markets at TL8.

It is TL8 in the sense that it can be procured - and not even at all that heroic lengths.

While formally the definition owes more to the former, in many respects the latter is both more important and more characteristic of how TL is actually used. Plenty of things listed at TLs only existed as low-production prototypes, after all...
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Old 10-28-2017, 09:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: Polycarbonyl Explosive: REF 1.9 at TL8

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Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
A kilo of plutonium 238 is a really overpriced poison. A nuclear explosive has an REF of significantly more than 1.9.
What was your reasoning for why something is or is not TL 8 then? I thought it was price per pound.
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Old 10-28-2017, 10:49 PM   #8
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Default Re: Polycarbonyl Explosive: REF 1.9 at TL8

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
What was your reasoning for why something is or is not TL 8 then? I thought it was price per pound.
An explosive that can only be made slowly in small quantities with lab equipment at prices orders of magnitude more than say RDX with only 30% more energy isn't a practical mature technology, it is a laboratory prototype.

If you go with the $3,000/lbs figure as a suggestion of industrial production costs, that suggests a TL9 cost of $1500/pound, and a TL10 cost of $750/lb, which is closer to reasonable.

Last edited by sir_pudding; 10-29-2017 at 03:15 AM. Reason: Math...
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Old 10-29-2017, 01:08 AM   #9
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Default Re: Polycarbonyl Explosive: REF 1.9 at TL8

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Originally Posted by John_A_Tallon View Post
The high price of the material is entirely because the very same presses that can make it can also make gem quality diamonds (which, being neither dangerous nor illegal, are a safer way for a press owner to make a profit).
Not really considering that the diamond market is a monopoly and De Beers has more diamonds than they could sell in 100 years.
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Old 10-29-2017, 01:23 AM   #10
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Default Re: Polycarbonyl Explosive: REF 1.9 at TL8

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Not really considering that the diamond market is a monopoly and De Beers has more diamonds than they could sell in 100 years.
De Beers market share has plummeted in very recent years, but in any case no they do not control the jewelry outlet market and the only way they could strictly prevent synthetic diamonds from being sold would be undercutting prices - which is antithetical to their basic business model.

Not that they aren't actively working on keeping synthetics from being treated as socially valid substitutes to mined stones.
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