Gear: Tools

Tool Kits

  • Basic Tool Kit: Pliers, hammers, awls, fasteners, screwdrivers, etc.

    Mass: 5 kg
    Price: $10

  • Electronics Kit: Tools for diagnosing and repairing electronic devices.

    Mass: 5 kg
    Price: $40

  • Electronics Workshop: Provides a +2 quality bonus for diagnosing and repairing electronic devices.

    Price: $500

  • Mechanic Kit: Basic tools for repairing various engines and machines.

    Mass: 8 kg
    Price: $40

  • Mechanic Workshop: Provides a +2 quality bonus for repairing engines and machines.

    Price: $500

Economics and accounting of robot factories

Automated robot factories are a major part of the economy of the Verge. They mass produce goods cheaply and efficiently, bringing down the price of products and allowing everyday people to live a life of plenty. Still, with reconfigurable robot factories available, one might wonder why anyone would pay retail prices rather than investing in a factory?

The reason is that there is a lot of extra overhead involved with running a factory, and the cost of lost opportunities. A full sized, dedicated factory can take advantage of economy of scale, specialization, and the choice of locating closer to sources of necessary resources (electricity, feedstocks) in order to cut down on the cost of production.

The benefits of robot factories are two-fold. First and most obvious, they eliminate the cost of production labor. Second, they flatten the supply chain. In an early 21st century automobile production plant, parts and supplies account for some 50% to 60% of the final purchase price of the car, but the cost of raw materials – the steel, aluminum, plastic, rubber, glass, etc. – is closer to 10%. The difference is that the auto makers don't make all their own parts; they buy screws, seats, microprocessors, and so on from other vendors. Each of these parts have their own mark-ups, transportation, finance, and overhead costs. A robot factory can make all the parts from basic feedstocks in situ. This increases efficiency, eliminating the cost of transportation, advertising, taxes, and dealer mark-up from the cost of getting those parts. Of course, each of those parts will also have their own overhead in the forms of administration, maintenance, and so on that the factory now needs to account for. Fortunately, automation helps with all of that as well, with robots and AI expert systems unloading much of the work from harried administrators, maintenance workers, and support staff. The purchase price floats downward to pass these savings on to the consumer, allowing a moderate profit margin to the producer. High rates of production enabled by the robot workforce allow even a small profit margin to give a reasonable return on investment. A breakdown of the components of the cost of a consumer item from a Verge industrial factory might look something like:
Verge Republic automated production cost breakdown
Feedstock 70%
Maintenance, repair, operations 5%
Warranty 2%
Depreciation, amortization 2%
Research and development 3%
Corporate overhead: general and administrative 5%
Advertising 2%
Transportation 2%
Retail mark-up 4%
Profit margin 5%
(Depreciation and amortization assumes a 30 year factory lifetime.)

Medium scale factories cannot compete in terms of mass production. A small business running a garage fac will survive on flexibility, offering bespoke parts to clients who need specialized products, or serving the needs of remote communities far from the wormhole network. They get a small benefit for not needing R&D, if they only sell locally they can cut down on the cost of transportation and retail mark-up, and if they are the only fac in a town where everyone knowns everyone they can skimp on advertising as well, but lack of economy of scale, the cost of flexibility to create anything, and being located farther from feedstock supplies increases the ratio of capital cost to production rate. Such a small business still has to pay for maintenance and overhead – accountants, sales, legal, and so on – and with a more complex factory to support re-configurable manufacturing the relative cost of maintenance to production rate goes up as well. In general, expect goods produced by garage facs to cost an extra 10% over the listed retail price, or 20% if the fac relies on locally produced feedstock. A garage fac may also not have access to the latest designs (which will be proprietary), so many goods will be lower performance than their more sophisticated cousins available in more connected areas. Alternately, advanced designs might be available but under patent protection, allowing second-party manufacturing with the payment of a royalty; this will increase the cost further – for game purposes, assume to 20% over the listed retail price.

Small scale factories are the province of hobbyists and the average homeowner. The availability of pack facs is eating into the market for small goods, but for the most part even small factories represent a significant sunk cost that pre-empts spending that money on other goods and services that could improve one's lifestyle. A pack fac would make sense for a farmer in a rural area who needs to be able to improvise irrigation fittings or connectors for repairing his robot tractor engine, but for an urban professional the money is better spent paying other people to do that sort of thing for him. Pack and cabinet facs are used extensively for weaving clothing on demand, to allow for perfectly tailored items. A clothier business is likely to own a cabinet fac for on-demand weaving of garments incorporating their signature and brand styles for their customers.

The technology for micro-fabrication is advancing rapidly. Many fear that this technology will soon produce a market disruption as affordable pack facs and cabinet facs allow everyday people to competitively produce their own goods rather than purchasing them from vendors. The nature of the subsequent shock to the economy and resulting unemployment and obsolescence of very expensive capital cannot be easily predicted.

Automated Factories

Much of the manufacturing of the Verge is done by specialized robotic equipment which cut, drill, manipulate, orient, and grow on material via additive manufacturing (where 3-D printers stick new material onto an object to grow it into a useful, finished form). Smaller versions of these robot factories (facs) are used by hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers for fun or home projects.

Small scale facs are capable of printing with plastics, composites, nano-composits, metals, and metamaterials, sintering feedstock together or growing material with self-assembling solutions.

  • Pack Fac: A complete portable micro-factory that folds up into the size of a suitcase or frame backpack, usually with carrying straps to make it more portable. It acts much as a combined CNC multi-axis milling machine, lathe, drill, and cutter combined with a multi-material heterostructure 3D-printer and electronic chip fabricator packaged into a convenient and portable size. Robot arm positioned CVD heads can lay down films of advanced materials (such as carboplast) to build up structures layer by layer. Light-weight, high-strength structures are often formed by weaving an underlying form from spools of carbon nanotubes (carboweave) and then cementing it together with CVD-deposited carboplast cement. It is not capable of chemical synthesis, requiring all basic materials it is working with to be provided as feedstocks. If provided with self-assembling nanoparticle feedstock, it can use directed self-assembly to grow desired forms.

    Electronics fabbed with a pack fac will not be up to the latest technological standard – apply a -2 to any score associated with the electronic functions (Speed and Memory scores of computers; Senses: Heightened Vision, Senses: Night Vision, Senses: Focusing Vision, Senses: Glare Suppression, and magnification scores for cameras; and so forth).

    The pack fac is designed to be rugged and to operate with minimal maintenance, perfect for homeowners and hobbyists who just want a reliable machine without having to do fiddly repairs. Given suitable feedstocks, it can create complex objects at a rate of $0.1 per kilosecond (15 minutes), including both structural and electronic components. Feedstocks and overhead cost 90% of the commercial price of the finished object. Simple, monolithic items can be milled from solid blocks (including locally sources material, such as wood and stone) much more rapidly, at a rate of approximately 1 kg per 100 seconds (minute and a half).

    Producing objects from already-available CAD files (such as those publicly available over the internet, purchased from on-line vendors, hacked, or obtained by industrial espionage) does not require a task check to make the object if the object can be made by the fac. Producing your own CAD files requires a Smarts + Design skill task roll, with a time required and DC that varies depending on the complexity of the object. Assembling multiple printed parts into a working object requires a Smarts + Fix and Build skill task check – this is required if the final object is larger than 1 m × 30 cm × 30 cm; the maximum dimensions the pack fac can handle. Using printed parts to repair an already existing object also requires a Smarts + Fix and Build skill task check.

    Power: 2.5 kW
    Mass: 20 kg
    Price: $3 k

  • Cabinet Fac: This is a larger version of the pack fac, an automated mini-factory the size of a large cabinet or sofa. It manufactures products at a rate of $1 per kilosecond (15 minutes), or 10 kg per 100 seconds for milling monolithic items from pre-supplied material blanks. The maximum size of individual components it can handle is 2 m × 1 m × 1 m. It otherwise uses the rules for a pack fac.

    Power: 25 kW
    Mass: 200 kg
    Price: $30 k

  • Garage Fac: A larger robot factory set-up that can fit in a large room, basement, workshop, or garage. It has a micro-foundries and chemical reactor to produce carbon fiber, metal alloys, advanced polymers, adhesives, ceramics, nanoparticles, and crystals. An advanced CVD chamber allows atomic scale deposition of exotic carbon allotropes – such as carboplast, fullerines, chirality-specific single- and multi-walled carbon nanotubes, shatterplate, and bulk diamond crystal. Electronics molecular assemblers allow more sophisticated electronics circuits than can be printed with pack facs and cabinet facs; garage fac electronics do not suffer from reduced performance. Necessary feedstocks include base elements (including common metals, like gold, copper, steel, silver, and aluminum), methane for running the CVD chamber (for creating carbon allotropes – other materials may need different feedstock gases to be CVD deposited), and complex materials with difficult-to-reproduce atomic structures such as superconductors.

    A garage fac can be run and operated by one person, and re-configured to produce nearly any mechanical or electronic product at a rate of $100 per kilosecond (15 minutes) with access to appropriate feedstocks. Between the feedstocks and overhead, production of an item costs 80% of its retail price.

    Run as a small business, a garage fac will require the equivalent of six employees (including the machinist who runs the fac), although some of this is work sub-contracted out to other businesses in the community (legal advice, staffing services, janitorial work, etc.). This gives an overhead of $15 k per Megasecond (about $500 k per Earth year).

    Power: 500 kW.
    Price: $2.5 M

  • Dedicated Industrial Factory: A full size, automated factory designed to produce one kind of good at low cost. Centralized production of all components from basic feedstocks allow increased efficiency of production. It occupies a large building, and requires a staff of 40 sapients to manage its robot workforce. The dedicated factory can be moderately re-configured – it can be set up to produce different models of the same basic type of product – but is not flexible enough to produce entirely different kinds of product.

    With access to the appropriate feedstocks, it can build products at a rate of $6 k per kilosecond (15 minutes). The cost to produce an item is 75% of the commercial price of the finished object; 70% of that is feedstock; the rest is consumables (water, electricity, compressed gases, etc.), and parts and labor for its maintenance, repairs, and operations. The staff require salary, benefits, and overhead amounting to an additional $100 k per Megasecond (12 days, approximately $3 M per Earth year).

    The listed staff requirement is just for operating the factory. A factory unit of this size usually also employs supports about 200 staff working in administration, legal, advertising, human resources, research and development, accounting, and other support positions, with a fully burdened cost of employment of $500 k per Megasecond (about $16 M per Earth year).

    A well-managed factory can expect a return on investment of $350 k per Megasecond. This basic factory unit can be scaled up – a large production plant might have 20× the production rate, with an associated 20× the operating cost, labor, number of employees, and profit.

    Power: 20 MW
    Price: $100 M

  • See also: Biosynthesis Reactor

Affector Screen Tools

Gummis, Mants, and others with industrial societies based on the ancient tech of the Antecessors make extensive use of affector screens for their tools. Here are a list of some of the basic varieties, to give a flavor for what they can do.

Miscellaneous Tools

  • Attacher: A device that attaches two carboweave threads into one, by literally growing their nanotubes together. It can work on many threads in parallel, attaching carboweave yarns, cords, ropes, and fabrics.

    Mass: 0.3 kg
    Price: $4

  • Bonder: A CVD probe and vapor source for joining carboplast components together.

    Mass: 1 kg
    Price: $15

  • Duct Tape: A roll of utility tape for impromptu adhesion. The listed roll has 60 meters of tape.

    Mass: 1 kg
    Price: $0.2

  • Gecko Pads: A pad coated with reversible gecko dry adhesive. It will stick to nearly all surfaces, can be easily un-stuck and re-used, and the adhesive is self-cleaning. Gecko pads come in many sizes, the listed stats are for a box of 10 cm × 10 cm pads. Other common sizes are 30 cm × 30 cm, 10 cm × 1 cm, and 5 cm × 1 cm. The pads may be single or double sided. Mass and cost for a box remains the same, but the number of pads in the box scales with the area of the pads.

    Mass: 0.4 kg for a box of 50.
    Price: $0.3 for a box of 50.

  • Multi-Tool: A foldable pocket tool containing pocket knife blades, a saw, a file, pliers, screwdrivers, scissors, an awl, a bottle opener, and other assorted useful tools. The knife blade can be used as an improvised weapon.
    (size +0)
    (size +0)
    swing, 1HSlash+2½ RS+4½+0+0+0-20.15+1-2½-6
    thrust, 1HPierce+4½ RS+1½+0+2+0+0

    Mass: 0.3 kg
    Price: $5

  • Super-Soldering Iron: A tool for forming superconductive connections between superconductors, such as superconductive wires or terminals.

    Mass: 0.7 kg
    Price: $10

Tools as Improvised Weapons

If you happen to find yourself in a garage, workshop, or kitchen when suddenly you are unexpectedly attacked by terrorist rebels, alien prawns, mobsters, Transit Law, a Squirm infestation, or just a grizzly bear, it is handy to know what implements you can use to defend yourself. Of course, there's nothing to prevent you from carrying a meat cleaver or metal pipe with you into the field if that's what you want to use to apply a bit of smackdown to the other guy.

Kitchen Tools

(size +0)
(size +0)
Cast Iron Panswing, 1HSmash+3 RS+2+0+0+2+0+
 swing, 2HSmash+4 RS+2+0+0+2+0+2
Chopping Knifeswing, 1HHack+2½ RS+4+0+1+1+
Meat Cleaverswing, 1HHack+3 RS+4+0+1+0-½-5
Steak Knifeswing, 1HSlash+2½ RS+5+0+0+0-½-6
 thrust, 1HPierce+4 RS+1½+0+1½+0+0

  • Cast Iron Pan: A heavy iron cooking pan. Really hurts when you get hit in the face by one.
  • Chopping Knife: A kitchen knife for chopping up meat and vegetables.
  • Meat Cleaver: A kitchen tool for chopping through meat, joints, and bones.
  • Steak Knife: A dining knife for sawing through meat.

Workshop Tools

(size +0)
(size +0)
Circular Sawswing, 1HHack2d6 -4 RS+5+0+4+0+0-10.221.5+2+0-5
Claw Hammerswing, 1HSmash+3 RS+1+1+0+00.30.450.1+2-1½-4
Electric Drillthrust, 1HPierce2d6 -4 RS-2-6+4+0+0-
Framing Hammerswing, 1HSmash+3½ RS+1+1+0+
Metal Pipe, 30 cmswing, 1HSmash+2 RS+1+0+0+1+0+½-4
Metal Pipe, 60 cmswing, 1HSmash+2½ RS+1+0+0+1+2+2½0.610.05+1-1½
 swing, 2HSmash+3½ RS+1+0+0+1+2+1
Metal Pipe, 90 cmswing, 1HSmash+3 RS+1+0+0+1+2+3½0.81.50.08+1
 swing, 2HSmash+4 RS+1+0+0+1+2+1
Metal Pipe, 120 cmswing, 2HSmash+4½ RS+1+0+0+1+3+4½1.220.1+1+0
Metal Fence Postswing, 2HSmash+4½ RS+1+0+0+1+4+51.520.08+1+0+1
Pickaxeswing, 2HPierce+7 RS+1+2+1+1+413.50.2+2+0
 swing, 2HPierce+6½ RS+2+0+1½+1+1+2
Pipe Wrenchswing, 1HSmash+3½ RS+1+0+1+½
 throw, 1HSmash+3½ RS+1+0+1n/a+2
Pipe Wrench, Bigswing, 1HSmash+4 RS+1+0+1+00.351.50.5+2-3½
 swing, 2HSmash+5 RS+1+0+1+0+2
Pipe Wrench, Hugeswing, 2HSmash+5 RS+1½+0+1½+0+20.52.51+2-2
Spadeswing, 2HSlash+4½ RS+3+0+0+1+3+4½1.220.1+1+0

  • Circular Saw: An electric cutting saw. If used against an immobile object, it will deliver Pen 7, Wound 5 hack damage per combat round and Pen can accumulate from action to action until the object is cut through; or excess Pen can be traded for increased Wound to cut through thin or flimsy objects faster (every RS Pen is decreased Wound increases by the same number of RS). If used in melee combat, it has -2 to hit because of its clumsy handling.
  • Claw Hammer: A carpentry hammer for driving and pulling nails. It can leave a nasty bruise and broken bones when swung in anger.
  • Electric Drill: For making holes in things. If used against an immobile object, it will deliver Pen 8, AP -6, Wound -2 Pierce damage per combat round and Pen can accumulate from action to action until the object is drilled through. Listed damage assumes a large bit, smaller bits lead to lower Pen and Wound. If used in melee combat it has a -2 to hit.
  • Framing Hammer: A bigger, heavier version of the claw hammer.
  • Metal Pipe: A metal tube, usually used for plumbing. Has threaded ends and may or may not have a nut screwed on one end.
  • Metal Fence Post: An aluminum post used to hold up chain link fences. Makes a mean staff.
  • Pickaxe: A tool for breaking up rock and chopping holes in dirt.
  • Pipe Wrench: A wrench for loosening or tightening pipe connections and nuts. Makes a nasty club in a pinch.
  • Spade: A shovel for digging holes in dirt.

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