On the skill die roll, A natural ‘2’ implies the item is broken or damaged, while a natural ‘1’ usually means that someone is going to get hurt! All gadgets are assigned a difficulty class which measures the complexity involved in deploying and understanding the invention, item, relic or artifact. Difficulty class is not solely based on technological sophistication, but ease of use; therefore, an assault rifle has a lower DC than a musket which requires 13 steps to load and fire.
“There had been but three others cut from the mother stone . . . Should you come within fifty feet of any of these three you will fill a rapid, prickling sensation in the finger upon which you wear this ring. He who wears one of its mate will experience the same feeling . . . Should another wearer of these gems call upon for you for aid do not deny him.” (WM, IX)
Gadgets are unique. Ideally, in any given campaign, the player’s party should only possess one of a specific gadget (i.e., a holy icon or a heavy blaster). Uniqueness does not imply that a particular invention or relic does not exist anywhere else on the Red Planet or the Universe, but uniqueness means that the referee or game master should strive to limit the player’s party exposure to special equipment. Gadgets lose their pizazz if every member of the party is outfitted with the item. The movie Star Wars would lose its charm, if all the protagonists were brandishing glowing +5 swords.
Once correctly identified, many gadgets wil be restricted to specific character vocations or races. This helps to maintain verisimilitude and encourages the player’s to select a balanced and diverse party. After all, “I am a fighting man, not a scientist.” (WM IX.)
Creating and recharging gadgets also falls under this skill; the time consumed, cost and difficulty of this process will be determined by your game master when your character is of sufficient power or level. Recharging DC for a magical item = 12 + Spell Level of magical effect; i.e., DC 13 to recharge wand of trap finding (12 +1), and DC 16 to recharge a rod of reincarnation (12 +4). Recall that good priests cannot create or use items of black magic.
When using a magical rod, staff or wand, if character rolls natural ‘1’, the item is out of charges and will take d6 days of suitable enchantment, mediation and/or supplication before it becomes reusable or fully charged. When using a rod or staff (not wand); on a natural ‘2’the item is stunned and it takes one day before being able to function again.
“He selected four equilibrimotors and adjusted them upon us. They consist of a broad belt… these are filled with the eighth Barsoomian ray, or ray of propulsion, to just about equalize the pull of gravity … Permanently attached to the back of the belt is a small radium motor, the controls for which are upon the front of the belt. Rigidly attached to and projecting from each side of the upper rim of the belt is a strong light wing with small hand levers for quickly altering its position.” (MM VII)
Inventions and artifacts are high tech equipment that are in the possession of a scientist or that are found in the ruins of an ancient civilizations or remote installations. Those inventions and artifacts that aren’t liberated from mad or degenerate scientists have conveniently survived the power of entropy and decay and are usable by characters fortunate enough to discover them. Ancient inventions, artifacts or relics have survived the millennia since the Golden Age of Barsoom by being stored in stasis boxes; vacuum-sealed, aluminum containers lined with chemicals to prevent humidity and bacterial growth Stasis boxes greatly delay the effect of time, rust, erosion and entropy if unopened.
Red Planet is not a high fantasy, but your GM may use handwavium and technobabble to justify the inclusion of numerous inventions, items or relics. These rules do not contain an extensive listing of gadgets as a competent GM should be able to draw from 35+ years of pen & paper roleplaying game rules, guides, supplements and accessories to create interesting rewards and treasure items.