The technologist feat converted to 5e and my specific campaign needs.  The idea of Cyphers I “stole” from Numenera

You have a knack with machines and gain the following benefits:

  • You automatically identify technological items with a Craft DC less than or equal to 15.
  • You gain advantage to identify and figure out how to use any technological item with a DC above 15.
  • You gain Intelligence (Cybertheurgy) as a class skill.  If you already have this skill from another source you gain specialisation and can add double your proficiency bonus.
  • You no longer suffer disadvantage when making any technology related check.
  • Gearhead is required to correctly identify and use technological devices.
  • The feat also allows you to scavenge working bits and pieces from destroyed, damaged or malfunctioning technological devices.  These items are called cyphers and are one shot technological items.  Make a single DC 15 Cybertheurgy check.  Success means you managed to recover at least 1 cypher.

Cyphers are one-use, cobbled together bits of technology that characters frequently discover and use. When the PCs come upon an old device, defeat some artificially enhanced or designed creature, or simply sift through the ruins of the past, they can scavenge a handful of new cyphers.

Because the technology of the past is unknowable, cyphers are often determined randomly. A DM, however, can place them intentionally as well. They’re one-use cool powers that can heal, make attacks, or produce effects like nullify gravity or make something invisible. The sky’s the limit. But they’re always consumed when used. And they cannot be hoarded. Collecting cyphers together in one place, or carrying many on your person can potentially have a detrimental effect–from the long term (illness) to the short (explosion!). So essentially, characters only carry a few at a time. However, they are found with such regularity that players can be pretty free with their use. There will always be more. And they’ll have different benefits.

This means that in gameplay, they’re less like magic items and more like character abilities that the players don’t choose. Which leads to really fun game situations where a player gets to say, “well, I’ve got an X that might help in this situation,” and X is always different. X might be a bomb, a short range teleporter, or a force field. It might be a powerful magnet or an injection that will cure disease. It could be anything. Cyphers keep the game fresh and interesting. Over time, characters can develop the know-how to be able to safely carry more and more of these, so they really do end up seeming more like character abilities and less like gear.

A character may only carry two cyphers at a time.


7 thoughts on “FEAT: GEARHEAD

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