The Begman Soul is characterized by a near-religious belief that sufficiently thick Goggles will protect one from any type of Mishap, even one so ludicriously Comprehensive that the Victim may in fact be rendered entirely charred, save for the Area Protected by the aforementioned Goggles.
Certain heretical thinkers claim that Begman Science and Technology is really magic. These people are clearly delusional, and should be reported to the nearest office of the Ministry Of Tourism so that they may be given an all-expenses paid holiday to clear their minds. No, Begman science is SCIENCE! Here you will find details of the Tried-and-True Foundations of Begman Technology, as well as the research on the Cutting Edge of Development.
How, one asks, does a Begman Device function? This question is both simple and wrong. A Begman Device does not function at all without an adequate source of Power! Common sources of Power are:
- Waterworks. The original source of Power, mill-wheels drove many of the workshops that ushered in the Glorious Age Of Progress, and are still in use in some areas. However, the require placement near a river or stream, and are limited to large mechanical establishments. One cannot put a Mill-race in one's pocket, after all.
- Clockwork: In the search for more portable Power, early Artificers developed the principles of Clockwork. Using a tightly wound spring to power a regulated set of gears, Clockwork takes physical energy from whoever winds it and releases it in a controlled fashion over a long time. It is still popular in Devices, because a long history of improvements have made clockwork Power able to be made very small indeed.
- Steam: Currently the Power source of choice for Devices above a certain size, Steam is merely the use of coal or wood to boil vast amounts of water, channeling the pressure through valves and cylinders to drive Mechanisms. Steam is expensive due to its fuel costs, and produces vast amounts of smoke, heat, and waste water. However, it is also the most potent form of Power available to the working Engineer. The requirements of a boiler mean that Devices using Steam as a Power source have a minimum size of a large dog, and since the Power is generated at the time of use, there is a longer start-up time for such Devices.
- Pneumatics: Pneumatics is the storage of compressed air for Power. It has the inverse problem as Steam Power, in that the large it is, the more dangerous it becomes. A Pneumatic Tank the size of a man's forearm can explode with lethal force, yet only contains enough Power to fuel a cat-sized mechanism for a few minutes. However, Pneumatics can use many of the same Mechanisms as Steam Power, and the ability to store Power for a long time in a small Device is useful. Many thinkers expect Pneumatics to overtake Clockwork as the preferred portable Power Source.
- Galvanics: The newest, cutting-edge source of Power! Galvanic Science is no less than the ability to Generate and Capture Lightning in the form of Galvanic Fluid! Begma has begun full-scale experimentation with this Fascinating New Science, and has managed to begin using it to send Messages over long distance, via Telegrammatical Apparatuses. Unfortunately, the Galvanic Vessels used to store this Power are notoriously unreliable, even for Begma. As a result of this, it is forbidden to remove any Galvanic equipment from Begma - it is simply too unstable, even with the Knacks of the Engineers, to operate outside of Begma's unique environment.
Once a source of Power has been selected, that Power must then be applied to Mechanisms. Here are some common elements found in Begman Devices:
- Gears: The Quintessential Mechanism! Gears are used to convert between Speed and Torque, and can be used to take a fast, low-power source of Power (such as Clockwork) and convert it to a slow, high-power output. It can also take the high-power output from Waterworks or Steam, and convert it to a fast but weak output. If a Begman Device does not have gears, it's a good question as to whether or not it's a proper Device at all.
- Valves: Mainly seen in Steam-powered and Pneumatic Devices, these Mechanisms are used to route pressure in a system, as well as provide safety stops and regulation. When a Valve fails, the results are usually explosive.
- Punch Cards: A common method for Difference Engines to take input and output.
- Pistons: Much like Valves, these are common motive Mechanisms in Steam and Pneumatic power.
Below are listed some known Begman inventions, with brief descriptions.
- Pneumatic Crossboid: Made most famous in Amber as the preferred weapon of Addison Feldane, this is simply a crossbow-shaped bolt-thrower that uses a Pneumatic Tank rather than a torsion bow to provide the motive force. Early models had an Automatic Fire Option, but the results were too gruesome for general consumption.
- Difference Engines: The size of a small closet, a Difference Engine, properly maintained, can do the work of twenty men calculating by hand. Unfortunately, they are difficult to build, hard to maintain, and devlishly tricky to program. A good Difference Engineer is worth his weight in gold.
- Automatic Encalculator: A smaller version of a Difference Engine, the size of a hardcover book and suitable for small arithmetical calculations. Often used as training devices for Difference Engineers.
- Pneumautomatons: Pneumatic-powered constructs with rudimentary programmability. While they come nowhere near actual intelligence, they can be programmed to perform a set series of actions, and even some basic decision branching.
- Technician: Any Begman who can demonstrate sufficient aptitude with machinery can claim to be a technician. Repairmen, workshop assistants, and even skilled factory workers claim this title. This leads it to be a token, more than anything else, and does not carry a great deal of weight in Begman society.
- Engineer: The title of Engineer is more formal; in order to be acknowledged as an Engineer, a Begman must invent a Device of notable complexity. This invention is judged by the Committee for the Advancement of Knowledge, and if it is deemed sufficiently complex and novel, the applicant is granted the right to use the title of Engineer, to wear the silver gear, and to add 'AE' to their name, for Accepted Engineer.
- Artificer: To achieve Artificer rank is no small feat. Not only must one be an accomplished Engineer, one must do a very rare thing in Begma: one must invent a Device that functions perfectly. Regular maintenance procedures are acceptable, but the Device must be usable by the Common Man, and contribute significantly to the Advancement of Knowledge. Since these are fairly subjective categories, earning the rank of Artificer often involves a great deal of politics. Begmans who achieve this rank have the right to wear the golden gear, and may add CA, Certified Artificer, to their title.
(This information is an OOC overview of the gifts in the BEG tree, and their application to the game. Please note that as tokens generated with these Gifts are still subject to negotiation, and the guidelines below should not be taken as authoritative. In general, the more conservative the claims made in these tokens, the more likely they are to be accepted.)
- BEG-KN: The Begman Knack is the gateway Gift for Begman artificing. This is primarily a color ability, which involves the destructive analysis of mechanical devices. It's worth noting that while dismantling a mechanism with BEG-KN allows the character to understand the workings of an item, the Gift does not actually grant any ability to rebuild the item.
There are two tracks of Gifts in the BEG tree, which will be referred to as Operation and Construction.
- BEG-FX: The Begman Fix allows the character to fix almost any mechanical device - for a while. If a broken device is even nominally repairable, the character can get it operational again, at least for the duration of a scene. After that, it's broken again, and in such a way that repeated uses of BEG-FX no longer work. It must be repaired properly, if it can be repaired at all, after a Begman Fix has been applied to it.
- BEG-SP: The Begman Spark is not a common ability in Begma, and may in fact be a little too mystical in nature for some Begmans' comfort. Broadly stated, it allows the character to make a mechanical device operate in the way it was designed to, even if the character does not otherwise know how to use that device, and even if its operation is secret. Even the newest Begman invention can be operated by a character with the Spark, and mechanical obstacles such as locks and mechanical traps are no obstacle to a Begman in possession of the Spark.
- BEG-TN: Begman Tinkers are hobbyists and students, who have learned the basics of Begman invention, but have not yet reached the inspired heights of the Engineers. Devices created with BEG-TN are personal items, nothing larger than would commonly carried by a person. They are perfectly functional items, but they do not have any abilities above and beyond mundane items. For example, an Automatic Encalculator is no faster or more accurate than a clever mathematician with a slide rule and a pencil. In general, this is the gift used when you wish to make a device that has no special abilities, but has that special Begman flavor. The Pneumatic Crossboid is an example of this: it is exactly identical in function, speed, and power to a mundane crossbow, but it's a whole lot more Awesome because it hisses and vibrates and has Gears and Valves.
- BEG-CN: Begman Engineers move beyond the personal scale of the the Tinkers, and into the Great Works of Begman invention. Inventions can be improvised from available parts with an inspired genius, or large-scale works of great wonder can be created. The Difference Engines are an example of the latter, and a room full of them can replace an equally-sized room full of clerks and accountants. Much like Devices created by BEG-TN, the Devices of Begman Engineers are no more powerful than their mundane counterparts, but they are a lot more interesting. A character with this gift can claim the silver gear of an Engineer in Begman society, if they wish.
- BEG-CR: Begman Craftsmen are not satisfied with mundane abilities. This Gift allows the character to create tokens that grant abilities normally requiring a separate Gift, such as breathing underwater or fast movement. However, these Devices can only be used for one scene. After they are used, they break down, or run out of fuel, or some other occurrence that requires that the original creator of the token repair/refuel the Device before it can be used again. In addition, this Gift may not be used to create a bonus-granting token. A character with this gift can claim the silver gear of an Engineer in Begman society, if they wish.
- BEG-AR: Begman Artificers take the final step to perfecting the art and science of Begman invention. They can create tokens identical to those of BEG-CR, with one key difference: the Devices function as intended, and can be maintained and operated by anyone. The Artificer is no longer required to keep the Device in working order, and the token can be recharged by anyone. A character with this gift has earned the gold gear of an Artificer in Begman society, and is part of an elite order.