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I was researching equipment and augmentations for my backup character. He's an SRO exocortex mechanic. I wanted to have an integrated longarm on his arm or shoulder, but I didn't like the only integrated longarms available. I can simulate the effect with a Tactical Scaffold (Armory, 85), which is fine.
While I was mulling that over, I did what I always do in any roleplaying game I play; I looked to see how much I can save (my current character, and my backup) by crafting their equipment. Nada. I've never seen that in a d20 game before. (Maybe I'm just sheltered?) Instead of a reduced cost, you get a higher quality item (only in artisinal, small batch runs). Faster to repair (due to the refined design), and more durable (built rugged for the adventuring lifestyle, by an adventurer; +2 to the item level when calculating hardness, hit points, and saving throws).
These two things got me thinking. What if you could add a special quality to a weapon you craft? Why not add upgrade slots to armor when crafting, too? Of course, neither of these come without a cost. Since crafting doesn't decrease the credit cost of the item, it shouldn't increase it, either. Instead, there should be benefit swapping. What I came up with was an initial penalty to choosing this option, then a trade that can be made, and finally limitations.
Character-crafted items are of higher quality than their mass-produced counterparts. Certain design flaws are corrected in crafting, and the manufacturing defects of mass production are avoided. These items take half the time to repair, and their durability statistics (hardness, hit points, and saving throws) are calculated as if the item were two levels higher than an identical mass-produced item.
Alternatively, when crafting a weapon or armor, you may reduce the level at which its durability statistics are calculated in order to add other features. If you are crafting a weapon, you may add an additional weapon special quality for each effective level you forfeit. If you are crafting armor, you may add one additional armor upgrade slot for each effective level you forfeit. Weapons cannot gain qualities their class cannot have (such as sniper for non-sniping weapons, or operative for non-melee weapons), and the item cannot have its effective level reduced below normal for the item. Modifying a weapon or armor in this fashion increases its complexity, causing the item to lose the character-crafted benefit of being repairable in half the time that a standard item of its type requires.
So, the initial price you have to pay is the repairing speed. You still corrected the mass produced version's design flaws, but you also added new features, increasing the complexity of the design, canceling out the benefits of fixing those design flaws. Then you have to pay for the alterations with the bonus effective levels used to calculate durability. Instead of shoring up mass-production weaknesses, you instead chose to alter the design. It's not more fragile than normal, you just focused more on adding features than avoiding the same manufacturing defects mass production can cause. And finally, the limitations. You only have two bonus levels of durability to trade, and you can't give cross-classification special qualities to your weapon. (There was never the worry about adding the ability to use other armor weight class upgrades to your armor, such as an autoloader to light armor, because I chose the ability to add slots, not other new features.) You come out losing one more benefit from making this choice than you gain, but for some, it could be worth it.
It might not be attractive to everyone, but I like it, not least of all because it would allow my SRO to integrate any longarm or melee weapon he chooses. He could emulate the Assassin Robot (Alien Archive 2, 108). Microserrated longsword, advanced semi-auto pistol, and advanced shirren-eye rifle, all integrated, all retractable when not in use. None of those weapons normally have the integrated weapon special quality, so this is a special case. I think we should be able to choose those weapons for integrating into our SRO characters or armor, too.
I wrote this up in an email to my GM (making it clear it wasn't an ask). I liked it so much, I thought I'd share. Feel free to use it, or modify it for your own uses. It's just an idea. I hope some of you enjoy it, find it interesting, or find it inspiring!