Chapter 41: Outline of TOYS

A toy is any item which originates from the Technological Object Yield System—TOYS for short. These items are predominantly equipment such as: sensors, grenades, batteries, computers, robots, bandages, pharmaceuticals, vehicles, and spare parts. The toys range from the completely useless (items that do no more than go whiz and click), to the seemingly all powerful (warbots and androids). The equipment is usually inanimate, and subject to the persona’s whims, however it can also be slightly more sentient, giving its owner the odd disciplinary problem. The words toy, artifact, equipment, item and tech are used interchangeably and mean the same thing: a technological device 

Toy Story

Every artifact that arrives into the persona’s hands should come with some story to justify its arrival. The toy may only warrant a quick excuse, one to be forgotten amid the details of an ongoing campaign, or the item may have such an elaborate story woven around it that the artifact becomes the campaign. Rolled toys have two main categories: they either start out with new personas, or they are found later out as treasure. Those toys which start out with newly created personas may be found, stolen, or inherited. Treasure can be found while scrounging, or it can be awarded by referee personas as payment for special tasks. These are just some of the more obvious, and less exciting, stories that can accompany pieces of equipment.

Nature of Toys Rolled

The equipment lists are very random, and they include some items that cannot be classified as equipment, like Treasure and Random Junque. Toys range from the very useful to the very useless; from the complex to the facile; from the fail safe to the deadly. If the players never know what to expect from a new piece of equipment, the TOY system is being run expertly.

The technological object yield system (toys) can generate excellent pieces of equipment as well as items designated for the more industrious players (read junk). Personas can also collect equipment completely unrelated to their class. E.g., a veterinarian could roll an indiscriminate killing devices such as a bombs or a Spinning Wheels of Death. Mercenaries may find themselves in possession of junk such as biological computers, or cloning tanks.

To further add to the unlikelihood of players getting several pieces of class-related equipment is the ruling that whenever a player rolls an item related to her persona’s class, she must stop rolling for toys. If a mercenary gets a gun on the first roll the player stops rolling for toys; if a veterinarian gets some pharmaceuticals on the second roll the player stops rolling for toys; if a mechanic gets a vehicle, it is automatically the player’s last roll.

The challenge here is obvious—personas will tend to collect equipment unrelated to their profession. The main benefit this has is that it forces the expedition to work together from the very beginning. Weapons will have to be distributed to the combat classes, medical equipment to the vets, and unidentified equipment to the mechanics.

Why Give Out Toys?

Some of the more sadistic, or stingy, refs cringe at the thought of giving personas unearned equipment. Some of the reasons for giving the personas start up toys are given here, in the hopes of converting such refs. Firstly, EXP is a technological role playing game, and starting the personas off with some unidentified random equipment can spice things up considerably. Secondly, equipment is desperately needed to enhance expedition strength. Although not all equipment makes the expedition stronger. EXP’s combat system is reasonably detailed, and it is equally ruthless to both personas and their opposition. Without medical equipment, weapons, or other special devices, the players will spend more time creating new personas than developing interesting ones. Note that if the players find their personas completely unequipped at some time in the campaign, that is part of the story. There is no artifact stork that will appear to drop off some Flotto rifles to the mercenary at the last minute. It is up to the players to play their personas out of whatever situation they played themselves into. Thirdly, technology is fun. The TOY system can generate very bizarre, and often humorous, pieces of equipment.

Generating Startup Toys

The player makes all the die rolls, and the referee tells her which dice to use. Obviously, this does not apply to toys being rolled by the ref for a scenario. The ref records all pertinent information in secret, not revealing or hinting anything about the toy (an alloy-clad poker face must be maintained at all times).

The first step is to record the name of the player’s persona, date (real time date), and a fictitious serial number. The serial # gives the ref immediate access to the item in her toy book. A good format for recording toy information is shown above on the FIgure 41.1: Example Toy Record.

Temple Trouble by H. Beam Piper. Illustrated by Rogers. Astounding Science Fiction April 1951

TOY System Checklist

How to use the Technological Object Yield System
1)Roll Basic TOY TypeSee Toy Type
2)Roll Specific TOYSee Chapters 42 through 54
3)Roll Support EquipmentSee Chapter 55
4) Roll Tech Level of TOYSee Chapter 56
5)Last TOY (class specific)Table 41.2 Class Related TOYS.

If the player has rolled Random Junque, it does not count as a roll. It is not usually necessary to record random junk, unless the players have been mislead into believing that it is something useful. Insignificant amounts of treasure need not be recorded, but information treasure, and special substances (whose value the players do not know) should be recorded.

If an artifact type has been rolled, the referee should secretly record it, and proceed to that toy table (guns, medical eq. etc.).

1) Basic TOY Type

This is the chapter in which the referee can find the artifact that the player has rolled. Not much can be done to preserve the secrecy of artifacts if the player has this table memorized.

Table 41.1 TOY Type

Toys have types.
Die Roll (1d100)TOY TypeChapter
Die RollArtifactChapter
01-05ArmourChapter 42
06-07ArtilleryChapter 43
08BombsChapter 44
09-13Grenades/AerosolsChapter 45
14-26GunsChapter 46
27-37Medical EquipmentChapter 47
38-48Miscellaneous EquipmentChapter 48
49-65Miscellaneous WeaponChapter 49
66-75PharmaceuticalsChapter 50
76-85Random JunqueChapter 51
86Space VehicleChapter 52
87-95TreasureChapter 53
96-99VehicleChapter 54
00Ref's Own Table

2) Specific Toy

Once the TOY chapter has been determined, the referee proceeds to the chapter in question and rolls to determine the specific artifact the persona has acquired. For example, a visit to Chapter 45 Grenades/Aerosols could generate a specific TOY from a frag grenade to an anti laser aerosol. After the particulars of the device are read, and understood, the ref should record the item’s particulars on a TOY record sheet. Things like wate, experience point value, value, description, and other essential information. Ideally the referee should not have to refer to the hardware section again for that specific artifact. This kind of record keeping will speed up game play. 

3) Support Equipment

Once all pertinent information about the toy has been recorded it is essentially ready to join in the fracas. Many pieces of equipment have special supplies that are needed before they can function: guns need ammunition; detectors need batteries; vehicles need fuel; and robots need energy. Chapter 55: Support Equipment lists all the stuff needed for artifacts to work. 

Support equipment is any device which is ineffective on its own, but essential to the function of another toy. Examples of support equipment are: batteries, ammunition, fuel, and spare parts. Less dependent support equipment includes scopes, robot peripherals, and vehicle accessories. How stingy the ref is with the initial support equipment should depend on how powerful the device is. How easily replacement support equipment can be obtained should also depend on how powerful the device is. Whatever the ref decides should be in the best interest of an ongoing, fun, and challenging campaign for all.

4) Tech Level of Artifact

Tech level indicates how advanced the fabrication of the artifact was. More advanced civilizations would build items lighter, more durable, maybe simpler, maybe even recyclable. All the particulars of the artifact are based on Tech Level (TL) 10. Thus any device attributed to TL10 will remain unchanged. High tech level devices will weigh less, and can be worth more; low tech level devices can be heavier and worth less. Any changes to wate, experience point value, and eps value should be recorded at this point. Changes in tech level may also warrant a change in the item’s description. All technology in the book has been designated tech level 10 (TL10). The crazy variations in tech level (TL) arises from the  world’s endless cycle of technological advance and collapse. New and old artifacts exist togethe to  create the tech level madhouse that is EXP. For example, a biological supercomputer is powered by a malfunctioning steam engine, but the lousy power supply’s effects on the computer go unnoticed because the computer is only being used to play TV pong. For all the details of tech level refer to Chapter 56: Tech Level.

Table 49.2 TOY Tech Level

Determines how technologically advanced (or not) the toy is.
Die Roll (1d100)Tech Level RangeHow to Roll
Die RollTech LevelDie Roll
01-2401-10Roll 1d10
25-8010No Change
81-9510-1910 plus 1d10-1
96-9810-2010 plus 1d10
99-0020-2519 plus 1d6

If this randomness doesn’t suit your scenario, and your equipment is traveler-like’ (Ed. Note. catty comment about old school traveler removed for decorum)  simply allow players unlimited access to the tech book, and make adjustments to suit your tech level. The ref may wish to have had the item manufactured at a specific tech level(TL). If no tech level is specified for the device, then the TL can be determined by a roll of the decidice. Tech level is checked for each device that the persona has.  The campaign, milieu and story trump the TOYS. 

If you intend to deal with the tech level collage, as opposed to the tech level melting pot (as in Traveler), you are in for some eccentric, if not bizarre equipment. To protect the sanctity of the toy system, it is recommended that the players, ref included, accept whatever device the system produces. It is not as though bizarre equipment does not abound in our mundane world: there are at least 300 different patents for dog poop scoops on boring old earth.

5) Last TOY

How many toys is a reasonable number? After years of referee experience, it has been concluded by a consensus conference at the last Ref’s Cabal, that a maximum of 3 TOYS is the magic number. However, 3 rolls is very different from 3 toys. Artifacts from Random Junque (Chapter 52) and Treasure (Chapter 53) are not counted as TOYS. So a player may visit Table 41.1 more than 3 times. 

Class Limitations: Those equipment types which end a player’s toy acquisition are listed on Table 41.3: Class Equipment. There are several points about the table which require explanation. The first is that nothings are only allowed one roll on the Miscellaneous Equipment table. The second is that every class must stop rolling if they get a vehicle or space vehicle. Vehicles are not related to any specific class, but because of the effect they can have on a campaign they indicate a player’s last roll (two or three vehicles per player would definitely be a drain on the ref s resources). 

Table 41.3 Class Related Equipment

Which TOY types are associated with particular classes.
Persona ClassRelated Equipment
Persona ClassRelated Equipment
BiologistBiologist specified; or Vehicle
KniteKnite specified; or vehicle
MechanicMech specified; or vehicle
MercenaryAny weapon or armour; vehicle
NomadVehicle
NothingOne roll on Misc. Eq. only
SpieAny weapon; spie specified; vehicle
VeterinarianMedical or Vet equipment
AlienOnly if tool user;
RobotOne Random Junque roll only

Figuring Out Toys

As previously stated, the randomness of the equipment and the variations in the tech level make for an incredibly diverse array of items. This not only accounts for the more bizarre items, but it also accounts for the ignorance of the personas.

Figuring out equipment use and operation should be done via role-playing whenever possible. At times, however, equipment identification may be impossible to role-play, such as when: the device is beyond description (a vehicle’s instrument panel); the item is totally imaginary (a psionic helmet); the toy is so dangerous that subjective descriptions are too risky for the personas (a fusion bomb). When equipment identification cannot be role-played, use either the mechanic’s Performance Table (see chapter 14, Performance Tables), or the Artifact Identification Sys a dice game. The referee should interject, or add colour, to what is happening. The player should also be using descriptive speech. Remember that a player’s interest in the process can aid in her success.

No matter how a player manages to identify a toy—by its surroundings, its description, or just plain luck—that item is considered identified. Refs are allowed to give whatever hints they feel may help the process along. However, these hints should be modified with the knowledge that experience point awards for equipment are based on the equipment identification system, and referee hints may result in unworthy experience point awards.

The tactical and survival benefits of toys should be completely obvious. Mercenaries can always do with a bigger gun, biologists can use the help of computers, and spies would appreciate anything which functions without detection.

EXPS Awards: Personas also earn experience points for correctly identifying an object. EXPS are not earned until the toy is properly identified through any of the channels previously outlined. For more information about experience see chapter 15, Experience. Players who know what an artifact is/does, but whose personas are ignorant cannot collect experience for identifying the artifact. For the protection of the ref, no experience points can be gained through guesswork for any item that has been previously identified by another player in the expedition. All players must roll to identify previously identified items, if the referee deems necessary. Occasionally players will be forced to formally identify very complicated toys in order to be able to use them. This represents the figuring-out process. Whether or not they earn experience for tertiary identifications is determined by the ref.

Value Awards: The value of the object is listed in eps (electrum pieces, see chapter 23, Money). This value could be converted to the base denomination of your campaign’s currency. The value of an item is usually useless trivia until the persona wishes to sell the item. Toy sale is dependent on the campaign in which the personas are set. The campaign should determine demand for the item, market size, and any local laws regarding trade and technologies. The sale of toys should be role-played whenever possible.

Keeping Toys Records

If the players and/or ief decide to ignore TOY recording procedures disaster is sure to follow. First, much gaming time will be wasted leafing through the technology section—fun, but not gaming. Second, players, yes and even refs, may play equipment incorrectly. E.g., they may incorrectly assume they know what happens when an antimat pistol malfunctions. But when they turn to the book, and the truth is revealed, they wail, “I would have…”, “If I had known”, “that was my best persona”, or “You didn’t tell me that…”.

For players that are too lazy to record their toy info, a penalty should be meted out each time the game must be interrupted with reference work. An ExPs penalty may do the trick, increasing the artifact’s chance of malfunction, or rendering the device functionally inoperative (broken) until its functional parameters are recorded. Referee’s Toy Records: The referee’s book of toys should be as important, and as secret, as her campaign book of scenarios. For every relevant piece of equipment the toy type, and toy name should be recorded as well as the wate, experience points, and value. These details should also include an identifying description or serial number, functional information, and rulings that the ref has made about the device’s previous function.

This record keeping is not as overwhelming a task as it might seem. Remember that only relevant equipment need be recorded. Relevant equipment includes: powerful devices; devices unknown to the players; devices not completely understood by the players; and those devices which are complex to run.

Figure 41.1: Example Toy Record

  • Owner: Gilberne Freyte (canine) Date19/Oct/64 Serial#yrul2
  • Toy: Gun, #16 full-auto lazer rifle (flotto)
  • Wate: 4.0kg EXPS: 760 Value:
  • Tech Level: 19 (see below Adjustments)
  • Wate: 0.8kg EXPS: 1120 Value: 85000 (adjusted to tech level)
  • Support Eq.: 3 x Liquid batz.
  • Info: c, f, spec.; 120h 60; 3-30 MP; +50; malf. <30.
  • Desc: dark blue pipe with button and dial setting

Player’s Toy Records: The player’s responsibilities are similar to the refs, except that only information relevant to role-playing is stored. The item’s wate must be deducted from the persona’s weight allowance, the item’s experience point value added to the player’s ExPs total, and the value estimated at the time of sale. The player is expected to remember they are carrying equipment, and players designated to carry toys are expected to remember how frail the equipment is.

Damaged Artifacts: If the ref decides to pass out defunct, or partially broken, equipment the sadist should roll on the Extent of Damage table found in chapter 21 Equipment Damage.