|time to leave reality behind for a little bit|
Thinking back to our Thermal Engine example, let's not have it specifically require a Combustion Core and an Engine Block. Thinking on the gameworld logic of the crafting recipe, let's say that it instead needs (something very hot) and (some kind of machinery).
So instead of:
[Thermal Engine = Combustion Core + Engine Block]
[Thermal Engine = HEAT + MACHINE]
Here we've broken the individual ingredients down into intrinsic, thematic concepts. This allows us to turn a piece of information that would have to be formulaically memorized/recorded into a piece of information that is simple enough to intuitively make sense. It also gives the players a lot more freedom to craft what they need using the things they find. Now players could use such wild and wacky things as a canister of lava, a fire elemental heart, or a tiny baby sun instead of a combustion core to fulfill the [HEAT] requirement.
-A Thermal Engine would salvage into [HEAT + MACHINE].
Crafting a Crafting System
-For example, a scifi game about building machinery and robots might boil down to:
[ENERGY, COMBUSTION, FORCE, AI, CHASSIS, LOCOMOTION, WEAPON]
and a recipe for a Heat Beam might be [ENERGY+COMBUSTION+WEAPON].
-A game about frankenstein-esque biomancy might boil down to:
[BLOOD, HEART, BRAIN, ARM, EYE, LEG]
and a recipe for a Mobile Cranial ObServitor might be [BRAIN+EYE+LEG].
-A game about building arcane spells might boil down to:
[SUN, MOON, STAR, EYE, BLOOD, HOLY, CURSED]
and a recipe for the ritual of Beckoning Blessed Celestial Intelligences might be [STAR+BRAIN+HOLY].
This will likely be part 1 of a series expanding on this base system.