Saturday, April 27, 2013

117: Knapping

ENTRY 117: Knapping

One of the great successes of the relicteurs is the revival of traditional knapping techniques, which in recent months have seen a tremendous revival thanks to the livecast survivalist adventures of Regina Rex, Gatecrasher and her trademark blue obsidian-tipped weaponry. Material scientists eager to capitalize on the sudden interest have designed maker-fabricapable synthetic materials whose fracture and stress lines are particularly suited to knapping, and these “blank bricks” are the foundation material for all manner of hand-crafted knapped blades in habitats throughout the solar system. Of course, many knapped blades are of limited utility—it takes considerable skill and the right materials to achieve a sharp, precise edge, and knapped blades are notoriously fragile and low-tech compared to blades made from metal, plastic, ceramics, or composite materials. Social trend-spotters are of the opinion that knapping is probably nothing more than a fad which will burn itself out in the next few months, though the products and technology will persist for years.

While the activity lasts, however, there are money, favors, and rep to be had. Many social networks are besieged with requests for choice knapping materials, from the high-density briny sheet-ice that forms in the Yukata Trench on Europa to the exotic “rainbow glass” found in the Al-Bakri crater, formed from multiple successive pre-Fall nuclear launches. The so-called “micro-knapped” blades from the Belt are considered the most desirable by collectors that prefer workable weapons, having been crafted using traditional techniques as applied by the latest high technology: artificial high-density glass refined to a near-monomolecular edge using micro-manipulators and nanovision magnification, with reinforced hand-carved artificial diamond stabbing points; each blade can take up to 100 transhuman work-hours depending on size and additional artistry.


The applicable skill to create an object is Hardware: Knapping, which applies to all materials (glass, stone, composites, etc.) and technologies, and follows the rules for Hardware skills in Eclipse Phase, p.179. A benefit of knapping techniques is that they are largely designed for minimal tools in sparse situations, and there are currently a surplus of help manuals and skillware available on the Mesh through relicteur networks: effectively, as long as a character has a Mesh connection they can have download Hardware: Knapping 40 skillware and receive a +20 modifier for the extensive online assistance, sufficient to manufacture a weapon from a “blank brick” or sufficiently large piece of glass in 1-2 hours.

Knapped blades are sharp (-2 armor penetration), but the edges are fragile, often dulling and chipping easily in combat, and are generally considered disposable weaponry. When a knapped blade breaks is left up to the gamemaster, and should probably depend on how the PC uses it—trying to cut through hard substances is likely to render a glass knife useless, but a glass-tipped surgical scalpel used only against soft tissues can retain its edge for years. Knapped blades use the Blades skill.

Armor Penetration (AP)
Damage Value (DV)
Average DV
Knapped Blade
2d10 + (SOM ÷ 10)
7 + (SOM ÷ 10)
Microknapped Blade
2d10 + 1 + (SOM ÷ 10)
8 + (SOM ÷ 10)

More exotic knapped weapons might exist—needlers that shoot micro-knapped crystal spires hand-carved by diligent, worshipful AGIs and suchlike—but such technologies are generally little more than expensive (if occasionally deadly) toys considering monomolecular wire and other more practicable alternatives exist.

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