G.G. Locksmithing Tools

I feel like these (requires stealth and larceny and makes the time 30 seconds) are outperformed in every way by the lockpoppers (requires Criminal influence to purchase, but just larceny to use and makes the time 5 seconds), with the exception of the PFA ability.

I’m not sure if this item was intended to just be used for the PFA ability, or if there’s an oversight on making a superior item for the buylist.

Currency is meant to be a bit more limited that Scrap. Local chapter economy will determine which gets more use.

Though it does seem like they are meant more for the PFA ability.

I hadn’t thought about the scrap being meant to be the more affordable option, but I did just realize that these are probably meant for people without the criminal influence to buy it off the list. Following this up with the fact that I’m not complaining or asking for change, just discussing the differences

2 Likes

I mean, I’m not sure this actually susses out, though? At least not any more. That might’ve been the way that it was originally intended back when 3.0 was first released, but it’s definitely not the way that it’s manifested in the current economy literally anywhere that I’m aware of, and I’m not sure it’ll ever actually get there again thanks to recent changes and player inertia.

To explain, buy lists are, at least to me, intended to be highly profitable exchanges (by which I mean you are getting more value than you are putting in every time you do one of the purchases; they are not simply “break even” 1:1 conversion of currency value to something else; if this is up for debate, I’m more than willing to engage in that, as well). In the new TC buy lists, you get to purchase Basic Scrap at 2 per 1 currency. Assuming a general 50% value discount (e.g. you’re spending half as much as the value that you’re getting), 1 Basic Scrap seems to be intended to be worth roughly 1 local currency.

I understand that “local chapter economy will determine which gets more use”, but because there is a quite literal, rule driven way to directly convert money into basic scrap (and 2 step process to convert mind into herb via Basic Agriculture into uncommon/rare scrap via TC), I’d venture to say that the Scrap is, based on the default player-controlled ways to access resources, worth equal-to- or more-than- local currency (the most common mind-to-currency conversion rate I’m familiar with is 3 currency to 5 mind; I’ve also seen 1:1, but much less often; as stated before, Basic Scrap is worth roughly 1 based on the TC buy lists while TC skill usage would indicate that Uncommon and Rare, which are, imo, equally accessible since they just require Basic and Proficient, intended to be worth at least 3 currency each).

This is where you get into the generally ridiculous prices for many of the single-use crafted gizmos (like the GG Locksmithing Tools). Without even getting into the cost of the materials themselves, simply having to spend mind to get the item crafted (once again, most common conversion rate I’ve seen is 3 currency to 5 mind) makes it significantly more expensive than the buy list purchases (and the lock poppers are also better since they reduce the time to 5 secs rather than 30). If all you were doing was paying the mind cost to create the tools, you’d be paying 3, 9, and 18 currency, respectively (which fits in line with the general “50% value discount” that the buy lists seem to espouse; 2/10/20 would be the “perfect” point). However, the resource costs make that significantly more (Conductive Metal costs 5 mind but, since Trailblazing is a once-per-event rather than at-will resource gain, it gets a scarcity mark-up to roughly 6 currency; Basic, Uncommon, and Rare Scrap are priced at 1/3/3, as previously calculated), with final prices for Basic Locksmithing Tools at 11 currency (3+6+2x1), Proficient at 23 (9+6+2x1+2x3), and Master at 38 (18+6+2x1+2x3+2x3).

So you end up paying 11 times as much for the Basic Locksmithing Tools as the Basic Lockpopper, 4.6 times as much for the Proficient, and 3.8 times as much for the Master. For an item that is, explicitly, worse (30 seconds rather than 5 seconds). The only benefit that the Locksmithing Tools have is the PFA ability (which is, ironically, for the Stealth PFA rather than the Larcency PFA; according to the database, the Locksmithing Tools require Stealth to use in general and Larceny to use at each level; since the Lockpoppers require Crim and Larceny, the Locksmithing Tools aren’t even “easier” to use in the sense that they only require one skill since you still need a combination of two skills to use them).

This moves into one of the general gripes I have about the blueprints for single-use items (traps are included in this): because they follow the same resource consumption paradigm as reusable items, they are profoundly expensive, which means that very few people ever use them (especially given how you can often accomplish the same effect just as easily and for significantly cheaper by using a buy list item; the buy list item is often priced appropriately for the benefit of the effect, but the crafted items, thanks to the crafting requirements that seem selected more for verisimilitude than game mechanics, are prohibitively expensive). A similar example of this occurs with the Moulen Rouse Camouflage (at the Proficient level, you’re spending ~35-45 mind, 15 mind to craft, 10 mind for Plastics, and 5 mind each for the Uncommon Herb; Basic Herb is 0-5 mind depending on whether you’re Foraging or Agriculture; and all it does saves 9 mind, since you’re spending 1 mind to get an hour of disguise, which would normally cost you 5 mind twice).

In general (I would venture to say “universally”, even), the single-use non-healing/recovery items (gizmos, traps, poisons; I did a whole thing on the economics of poison about year ago and, while they’ve gotten better, I doubt they’re anywhere near what people would consider “cost-effective”, especially compared to the Crim Inf options) would benefit significantly from being reduced to a single level. You don’t need 3 levels of traps or 3 levels of locksmithing tools; it just ends up needlessly complicating things and the need for compounding construction costs and materials just makes them too expensive to bother crafting or using. Conversely, don’t add any additional materials to the construction cost or reduce the mind cost and time costs to increase it to proficient or master (or follow a similar paradigm as Culinary, which is all one-use items anyways). Or, you know, give it more than one use (I can 100% see a disguise kit getting 5+ uses, and while it makes some sense that a Lock Popper is consumed upon use, since I imagine it being some kind of chemical charge, I find it strange that artisanal Locksmithing Tools aren’t robust enough to last more than 1 use).

TL:DR
Unless you’re using an extremely high valuation of currency or precipitously low value of scrap and herb that doesn’t match any economy that I’m familiar with, the costs of constructing the single-use gizmos is prohibitively expensive, even when you factor in how cost-effective buy list purchases are supposed to be. They need to be made cheaper, have more uses, and/or have a single level of crafting with multiple levels of usage.

2 Likes

I can quibble with your math a bit (I generally see 2 currency for 5 mind, but people around here also charge for the crafting time, so we see similar final costs), but the general gist of your post is quite right.

The only exception is that you’re undervaluing the PFA abilities on single use items. That’s the only power that they’re ever used for, so it simplifies the math if you think of them item as only having the PFA ability. So the “Shadow Papers” (common name, technically superior moulin ruse camouflage), give you a 24 hour disguise. That’s what they do.

Similarly the “Shadow Bomb” (common name, technically Superior G.G. Locksmithung tools), give you a bomb that happens to require Master Larceny to use (because all locks I’ve ever seen are master).

At that price, they’re cheap compared to the Brain Disorientah, and other similar one use big effects, but smaller scale, which seems about right.

The pattern seems to be that they’re priced assuming you’ll be using the PFA ability.

In any case, you’re spot on that the buy lists allow you to roughly 2x your money, and that the items there are very much better bang for the buck, and that crafted poisons are pointless due to the high costs.

I think you and I tend to disagree when we debate things. I wanted to call out this wonderful moment when we see eye to eye. You’ve nailed it.

Now, I’m not an econ math person, so I’m fully aware I might be missing something, but I actually slightly disagree with a concept here: the “it’s priced so it’s used at the Master level” thing. In the case of the camo, I would say that the Proficient benefit isn’t that it extends the use of disguise, because you’re right, it doesn’t save mind. It does what brews or meals do, and puts that use of mind into a different 12s. It’s effectively a mind bank, or a way to community-source mind required for a thing so a player has more access to mind during an important moment. It can also assist in places where people do not have the appropriate skills (again, thinking of the camo).

Granted, the camo or restorative items are the only things I can think of for that off the top of my head. The locksmithing tools are strictly worse than lock poppers but lock poppers are theoretically (though only theoretically, in my experience) harder to get, to use the above example.

But again, I realize I may be missing something.

While the original intent of meals was to bank mind for future need, the most recent blueprint update has shifted that paradigm to a net-gain model (literally every mind refresh meal can provide more mind than they require to create; the only meal that doesn’t is the Ampheta Ration, and only if you don’t use the Deep Cholesterol Fry and are pricing Basic Herb via Basic Agriculture). Brews are closer to the “banking for future need” model: the St. John’s Recovery brews are less than perfect efficiency (depending upon how you price Basic Herb; if you price it via Basic Ag, it’s a net loss at every tier; if you price it as equal to Basic Scrap, it either break even or is slightly positive) while the Lineage-specific Recovery brews are perfectly efficient (Basic tier costs 20 mind and generates 20 mind; Pro tier costs 40 mind and generates 40 mind) or mind-profitable (Master tier costs 60 mind and generates 80 mind).

The point, in all of this, is that banking is, from what I’m seeing with the precedent of brews, supposed to be pretty close to perfectly efficient: you get pretty much exactly what you put in, if not a little more.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the only level of the Camo that provides a mind-banking mechanic is the Proficient level (Basic allows anyone to use Basic Stealth while in daylight and cover as long as they don’t move; Proficient allows you to disguise for an hour for 1 mind; Master allows you to spend 10 mind to disguise someone else for an hour; the value of Basic and Master is giving Stealth benefits to a character without Stealth, though you pay a massive premium for it) and you’re spending 35-45 mind in order to save 9 mind. Based on the precedent of brews as the default form of mind banking, the Proficient Camo is 4-5 times more expensive than it should be, especially considering that, for the just some of the materials costs and less time, you could just get a Basic St John’s Brew crafted and that’s useful in many more circumstances (since it’s mind that can be spent on anything rather than mind that’s “pre-spent” on cheapening a specific use of Stealth).

Suffice it to say, I can see why you’d think that the value would be in mind-banking: you’re spending resources to reduce the cost of something you’d use down the line. The problem is that the math just doesn’t add up in a way that would ever make it cost effective (and it’s not even close to the other “mind bank” option, i.e. brews).

For the camo, the mind costs are as follows:
Basic: Plastics (10 mind) + 2 Basic Herb (0-5 mind each) + Basic Crafting (5 mind)
Proficient: + 2 Uncommon Herb (5 mind each) + Pro Crafting (10 mind)
Master: + 2 Rare Herb (5 mind each) + Master Crafting (15 mind)

So you end up paying the following to get the relevant benefit:
Basic: 15-25 mind, without needing Stealth, to gain a single use of Stealth during daylight behind cover and without moving for 30 minutes (from what I can read, you still have to pay the 5 mind for Basic Stealth on top of this, but it’s not entirely clear).
Proficient: 35-45 mind, while requiring Pro Stealth, to pay 1 mind for an hour of disguise compared to 5 mind per 30 minutes (saves you 9 mind).
Master: 60-70 mind, while requiring Master Stealth, to pay 10 mind to Disguise someone else (that doesn’t need to have Stealth) for 1 hour (v 5 mind for 30 minutes, it’s basically a break even; however, the cost of the gizmo means you’re really paying 60-70 mind in order to be allowed to spend 10 mind for someone else that can’t spend it themselves).

(Note: Mind costs for crafting get expensive fast. Seriously, even if it required no materials whatsoever, you’d still be talking about 30 mind for any Master crafted item just from mind costs for crafting; it’s a “hidden-ish” cost that, since it’s not mentioned in the ingredients, gets forgotten a lot during pricing)

It’s for this reason that we posit that the only use intended use for the Camo is the PFA effect: the pricing is so high compared to the utility that the only time it’s ever really cost effective is when using the PFA (absolute perfect disguise that lasts 24 hours? oh yeah).

Of course, I think some of this is intended, seeing as I don’t think it’s desirable to allow wealthy characters to just spend their way into not needing Stealth (I 100% agree with the design paradigm that gear shouldn’t give you skills you don’t already have, which is why a bunch of gear was changed to improving a skill rather than giving you access to it, e.g. OOPH Barrier Shield), but I still posit that the price is way too high (especially since, in all cases, the “Stealth” that you get from the camo is a highly restricted form of Stealth that, for the most potent form, still requires you have someone with Stealth).

As to the availability of the lock poppers, I can understand the initial notion that they would be harder to get than the locksmithing tools, but that falls apart pretty quickly under any kind of scrutiny: the lock poppers only require currency (generally accessible) and Criminal, in addition to Larceny to use; the locksmithing tools require Conductive Metal (via Trailblazing), Basic/Uncommon/Rare Scrap (Trade Connections or Scavenging + Salvage), and Artisan (to actually craft said tools), while requiring Stealth in addition to Larceny to use. That’s a single additional skill v. 4 additional skills. Even when you consider that you can distribute 3 of those skills across multiple people for the locksmithing tools, you still end up with a huge accessibility problem with the locksmithing tools since they require so much. And that’s to say nothing of the difference in cost (and production time) that would also affect availability in the real sense.

The only time I could ever see the availability of the Lock Poppers actually being a concern would be if a game explicitly stated that possession of certain items (e.g. anything purchased from the Criminal Influence buy list) was illegal and carried penalties for being discovered by anyone as a means to discourage people from using and/or carrying it. In this context, the locksmithing tools have the advantage of legality, though I’m not aware of any game that does this (it’s a very interesting concept that I fully support, however; I’m all for making Criminal Influence actually Criminal, though that might impede some peoples’ fun, especially since the LC v CC population difference means that you’d basically require LCs to act as police on other LCs for a majority of your enforcement which leans hard into CvC).

3 Likes