This week's newsletter talks about the engineers themselves, how to find them, how they live, what are the new types of weapon modifications and how to obtain them.

Who are the engineers?

Engineers is an all-encompassing name for a disparate group of people that exist on the outskirts of civilised society. They shut themselves away, coming up with weird, amazing, and often useful contraptions. Some of these modifications are even safe to use. Many of the engineers are those that rebelled in their earlier years, but now support those with similar inclinations to themselves.

They are inveterate tinkerers, coming up with all sorts of at times outrageous modifications to what would otherwise be standard pieces of equipment. Such engineers have existed since the beginning – when humanity first started using tools. Whether it is attaching a bit of sharpened flint to a wooden stick for better mammoth-killing, a longer bore cannon with extra charge on an ancient earth sea ship, or a modified waste gate in a turbine on a Huey helicopter to get that extra power boost in battle, engineers have existed through the millennia.

They are often contrary people with strange requirements, and the thirty fourth century is no different. If you’re careful and gain their trust and respect, you too can benefit from their tinkering – but be aware, no two modifications are exactly the same.

Tod 'The Blaster' McQuinn

Tod McQuinn earned his nickname ‘The Blaster’ from a successful season in the CQC Arena. Since then he's garnered further fame as a bounty hunter, flying a Fer-de-Lance with seriously overpowered multi-cannons. He's always happy to help fellow bounty hunters. For his current venture he's teamed up with some of his old CQC friends to form a custom modification enterprise. 

The Dweller

Hidden Engineers base

The Dweller is a mysterious contact in the Aganippe underworld. No-one knows his background, and he and his small group of mysterious like-minded individuals closely guard his identity, and that of their best customers. He is renowned for custom modifications for local criminal elements. He is known to help outsiders who have the right contacts and operates an extensive workshop facility. They are also said to grow their own variant of Onionhead for private consumption. Rumour has it they did a deal with Georgio Algeria or one of his entourage to help them in their fight against the Federation.

How do I find an Engineer?

Gaining an Engineer’s services requires establishing a relationship with them. Players will gain knowledge about the first few from public sources. Other engineers will reveal themselves through invitation – particularly from other engineers, once you establish a good reputation with them.

Each Engineer has a different background, and that will affect the commanders he or she will deal with. Some will look into the commanders' background – see if they’re an explorer perhaps – before they’ll deal with them.

These prerequisites vary across commander’s roles. For example, in the The Dweller’s case he deals with criminals, or those at least familiar with the underworld, so you will need to have knowledge of a number of black markets.

Once you have passed the requirement test, the engineer will invite you to their base. At this stage their location will also be added to your galaxy map and you will have permission to land there.

Once invited, you have to complete an initial contract to use the Engineer’s services. Again this relates to their personality and often feeds into their specific activities. For example Liz Ryder loves explosives and is currently amassing enough land mines to destroy a small moon. Whether that’s what she actually plans to do with them is anybody’s guess! These initial contracts can be physical items, like the land mines, but can also take a more intangible form like combat or bounty bonds to prove that you’re worth dealing with.

Where do engineers live?

Engineers each have their own surface bases. These are quite different from surface starports. Many began as secret bases, embedded deep in the rock, but as their bases grew they became bigger and bolder, in some cases smelting their own ore – something very hard to hide from space! They each have their own jurisdiction, and it’s a good idea to not commit crimes in their areas - their willingness to work with you is reputation based, remember.

How does Engineer crafting work?

When the initial contract has been fulfilled, the Engineer will let Commanders make use of their particular services - the basis of which are the upgrades that they can provide. Typically these are focused on their individual specialisations, although some also offer low grade upgrades for a wider range of weapon or module types.

Hidden Engineers base

All upgrades come in up to five different grades – as you develop your relationship with the Engineer they will give you access to higher and higher grades of upgrade. Building your reputation will also make the Engineer more likely to tip you off about other Engineers in their network.

Each upgrade consists of a blueprint which contains the items or information that the engineer requires to complete that upgrade. Some of these items relate directly to the upgrade, but others are for the engineer’s own benefit or secret project. 

The blueprint defines the changes that will be applied to the weapon or module being modified. These changes have positive and negative consequences, and the Engineers trade is more of a black art than a science, so results can vary with each attempt. There is a small chance that the engineer pulls something special out of the bag and is able to add a special effect, which can add specific abilities to the upgrade, like the special weapon effects we’ve shown in recent newsletters.

Assuming that you’re happy with the result this upgrade will be fitted, or you can choose for the engineer to abandon the upgrade and try again, as long as you have the required resources.

What else do Engineers do?

As well as crafting upgrades, some have their own stock of specialist equipment, such as Professor Palin and his recent development of the corrosion resistant cargo racks that can safely carry the elusive alien artefacts – that were developed with the support of Commanders in the recent community goal.

We’re sure you’ll develop a great relationship with one or more of the Engineers, and we’ll see many great new weapon variants spread through human space and beyond in the next weeks and months.