The Scorpion and the Frog
Gear, Tech Levels and Legality Classes
Every GURPS game is set at a particular Tech Level, which is fairly representative of real-world history. The overall TL of my game is 5, but it does vary by field of study, which I’ll discuss below.
To show variance between fields of scientific study, these TLs are written in the TL x+y notation, which separates technological advancement by field of Research. The variable x is the minimum TL where Sharn’s technologies do not diverge from real-world history. The divergence factor is represented by adding the variable y, which gives the effective TL of that techno-industrial field when powered by Eberron’s magitech. Add x to y to get the effective TL of that field. It’s reasonable to assume that innovations of a TL greater than x, but not greater than the effective TL are widely understood and used, but require a form of magitech to power them. Examples of divergent technologies are noted in parenthesis.
For an example of what all that means, we’ll look at transportation in Sharn. Sharn’s ‘Transportation’ TL is 4+2. TL 4 is representative of the Age of Sail in our history— around the early 16th century—and describes the usage of three-masted sailing ships, astronomical navigation, and stagecoaches. These exist in Eberron as they did in the real world, with little to no magitech involved in their functioning. However, Eberron also has a railway system equivalent to TL 6, which is representative of the Industrial Revolution in real-world history. Since Sharn’s effective Transportation TL is 6, and x is 4, we can assume that the people of Sharn are well-accustomed to the transportation technologies of TL 6 and below, but those above TL 4 require magitech to function.
This is primarily important when purchasing equipment like weapons and armor. The weapons and armor of Eberron are set to TL 4^, which means that you’ll only be able to purchase gear from the equipment chapter that’s available at TL 4 or below. If you’re looking to buy a vehicle, however, you can purchase things up to TL 6, since that’s the total transportation TL.
The ^ denotes rare and powerful technologies in the noted field that don’t have a practical real-world equivalent. It is unlikely such devices will play a significant role in the game.
On a thematic note, Eberron’s divergent technologies are almost entirely powered by summoned, bound elemental energies. In effect, just about any power supply in Eberron has a self-contained portal to an elemental plane. These energies are near perpetual, and quasi-intelligent but sub-sapient in most cases. Large, self-powered vehicles and crafts, however, require enough energy bound to a small enough area that they form a sapient creature, which can be quite dangerous if its containment system is damaged. Elementals created this way are not inherently hostile, but as sapient entities each has its own personality that can not be easily predicted or, outside the confines of the power system, controlled.
Transportation: TL 4+2 (Bound Elemental Ships, Lightning Rail, Sky Taxi)
Weapons and Armor: TL 4^ (Steel weapons, chemical firearms a hobby, military superpowers utilize magitech siege engines)
Power: TL 4+2 (Bound Elementals in Manufactory Engines and Power Plants, household magi-power lines similar in most respects to modern AC electricity)
Biotechnology/Medicine: TL 4+1 (Powered microscopy, academic institutions for the advancement of healing magic, and study of the supernatural in theology)
Most people these days don’t walk around with weapons, except maybe Skylar. It’s much more common here, but there are laws governing what type of weapons you can carry and where. This is represented by their Legality Class, which you’ll also find in the equipment chapter. It’s divided into 5 levels, which are approximately as follows:
Anything that’s LC 4 is considered “open.” You may carry them freely in public, but it may still be inappropriate (imparting a reaction penalty) if it’s legal.
LC 3 spells, weapons and other possessions require a license and registration with local courts. Usually these aren’t more difficult than getting a driver’s license, but it’s really a case-by-case basis. You can expect open carry of LC 3 items to be conspicuous, but not necessarily worrisome to people around you.
LC 2 Items are restricted