MASS EFFECT: OPERATION RESURGENCE
Armor is protective body covering intended to prevent injury in combat, and is differentiated by species. Turians, krogan, quarians and humans all have specific types of armor; asari use human armor. There are, however, three general armor categories. These rate armor based on the protection it provides. Armor can be customised with upgrades to give better shields or health regeneration, improve cooldown times for tech abilities, or protect against melee attacks depending on individual preference.
Medium to heavy armor—and almost all turian and krogan armor—is classified as ‘hard-suit’ because it uses thick ceramic plating to protect non-flexible parts of the body. Each set of armor, regardless of its weight, has a kinetic barrier generator and an onboard computer that can give readouts on the environment, liaise with terminals to download data, and check local wildlife against the xenobiology database.
Armor in Mass Effect can be created using the rules on Page 134 in the Bulldogs! rule book although many of the base assumptions are a bit different. Most armors in Mass Effect use Kinetic Barriers for additional protection. These shields can be compromised by damage from firearms (rapid firing weapons are especially effective), Tech Talents like Overload and even melee attacks if they are powerful enough.
Shields act as a kind of additional Stress Track that, unlike a Physical or Mental Track, is filled up from beginning to end as Stress is absorbed by it. Any time the Kinetic Barriers of a character are struck they are reduced by the amount of stress taken from the attack. They will stay at that reduced level until recharged or until they are reduced by further attacks. If the damage from an attack exceeds their capacity then the shields are down, no longer providing any protection until they are recharged.
This can only be done in one of three ways:
- By moving from cover to cover as a Supplementary Action (at a penalty of -1 to any other actions for that turn) a character can automatically regain 2 points of Kinetic Shields.
- If a character performs the maneuver “Taking Cover” with Alertness and doesn’t take any damage for a round they will fully recharge their kinetic shields. The difficulty of the Alertness check is determined by the GM based on the prevailing conditions of the zone the character is in. A warehouse floor with lots of cover might be a difficulty of 1 while an empty field might require a roll of 5. The character will also gain the Full Defense bonus of +2 to their Athletics rolls while taking cover.
- Finally, if a character is desperate enough, they can spend a FATE point with a Free Action fully recharging their shields.
All armor can take one or more consequences for a character to reduce stress to their Physical Stress Track. Additionally Armor absorbd 1, 2 or 3 points of stress per attack depending on it’s type. If all of an armor’s consequences have been taken then it no longer absorbs stress.
- LIGHT ARMOR (Armor: 1 Bulk: 1 Cost: 1) : provides 1 point of protection and an additional Mild Consequence but penalizes any Athletics, Alertness, Biotic or Tech Talent -1 because of its Bulk. Base cost Average +1.
- MEDIUM ARMOR (Armor: 2 Bulk: 2 Cost: 2) : provides 2 points of protection and two additional Mild Consequences but penalizes any Athletics, Alertness, Biotic or Tech Talent by -2 because of its Bulk. Base cost Fair +2.
- HEAVY ARMOR (Armor: 3 Bulk: 3 Cost: 3) : provides 3 points of protection an additional Mild Consequence and an additional Moderate Consequence but penalizes any Athletics, Alertness, Biotic or Tech Talent by -3 because of its Bulk. Base cost Good +3.
These penalties due to Bulk can be mitigated with improvements at the cost of 1 per improvement per skill penalty reduced. Each improvement must be purchased separately for each skill’s penalty that is reduced. So reducing the bulk penalty to both Alertness and Athletics would be two separate improvements. All armor starts with the Enviro-suit improvement and with Shields at 0.
KINETIC SHIELD GENERATORS
A Shield Generator can be purchased separately from Armor although they do not provide the Enviro-suit improvement and the only Improvements available for Shield Generators are Shield Enhancements. Kinetic shields do not penalize the wearer due to bulk as armor does. Only one generator can be worn at a time.
- LIGHT KINETIC SHIELD GENERATOR
(Shields: 4 Cost: +2)
- MEDIUM KINETIC SHIELD GENERATOR
(Shields: 6 Cost: +3)
- HEAVY KINETIC SHIELD GENERATOR
(Shields: 8 Cost: +4)
For example: Lt. Kaidan Alenko, wearing customized Medium Explorer Armor with Medium Shields (Armor: 1 Shields: 6 Bulk: 1 Cost: 4) is struck by a Batarian slaver firing an M6 Carnifax Pistol (Damage: 4 Penetration: 1). His defense roll garnered a Good +3 result which tied the slaver. The result is that he takes 4 stress. Luckily his shields absorb the full stress of the attack filling up the first 4 boxes on the Shield Stress Track. In the next exchange the batarian is lucky and causes 4 more Stress. The next 2 boxes of the Lieutenant’s Shield Stress Track are filled and his shields are down leaving two points of stress. The Penetration of the pistol negates Kaiden’s armor reducing it to 0 and Kaiden takes a point of stress to the second box of his Physical Stress Track. He could forgo his next action and try to make an Alertness maneuver to Take Cover and recharge his shields fully and gain a +2 to his defense roll but he instead chooses to return fire with his own weapon while moving from cover to cover as a supplementary action regaining 2 shields. The next exchange the batarian attacks again with Kaidan taking 6 more stress. Kaidan’s shields are down again and his armor is negated by the Carnifax’s Penetration so Kaiden would normally take 4 more stress. This would result in him being taken out. Not wanting to fall into the hands of a batarian slaver Kaiden decides to take a Mild Consequence to his armor of “Cracked Armor Plates” which absorbs 2 of the stress points. He decides that he will need to recharge his shields so he rolls his Alertness to Take Cover. The battle is taking place on a colony street and the GM decides that he will need to make an Alertness roll of Fair +2 to find adequate cover. Unfortunately for him the slaver decides to press his advantage and yet again ties the marine despite the bonus of +2 Kaiden enjoys on his defense roll causing 4 stress. Without shields to protect him and with a Consequence already taken to his armor Alenko is in a very desperate situation. His armor can absorb another Mild Consequence but that isn’t very comforting. He might need to consider spending a FATE point to automatically recharge his shields otherwise he might very well be taken by the batarains.
Below is a sample of Aspect Upgrades (see Bulldogs! page 135) available to add to armor. Each one adds a cost of +1 per improvement. They can be invoked and compelled just like any aspect. Please note this list is not exhaustive.
This prototype armor upgrade combines multiple technologies to maximize the wearer’s physical abilities and athletic prowess. This is an Aspect that can be invoked for a bonus to Athletics skill rolls. It is a complication to use in microgravity due to exaggerated movements.
Motorized support built into the armor allows the user to maximize combat prowess during extended engagements. This Aspect can be invoked for a bonus to Endurance skill rolls for the purposes of resisting fatigue. It can be compelled as a complication to Athletics.
The Exoskeleton increases the strength of the wearer, allowing them to deliver powerful blows in combat situations. It lacks overall reinforcement and does not grant greater lifting strength. It adds a great deal of bulk to armor. Making it a Complication for Athletics rolls.
Reinforced motorized joints increases the lifting capacity of the wearer, allowing them to move great weights. Mechanical augmentations often add a great deal of bulk to armor. Making it a Complication for Athletics rolls.
AUGMENTED HEADS UP DISPLAY
This Augmented HUD models optic display interfaces with most small arms’ auto-targeting software, linking hand and eye for improved accuracy. The display can be a distraction though.
By detecting the focal point of the wearer’s eyes and enhancing the image at that location, the visor helps direct a shot from an omni-tool exactly where the wearer is looking at the cost of reduced peripheral vision.
The biotic interface uses an efficiency algorithm to balance processing power for biotic amps and a heads-up display and voice command software allows users to micromanage the systems, reducing the cool-down period between energy expenditures.
Hardened ceramic plates can be applied to body armor suits, increasing their effectiveness. This is an Aspect that can be invoked for extra Armor protection reducing a weapon’s armor penetration by 2 for an attack. It can compelled to constrict a wearer’s movements or Athletics checks.
Ablative coating is designed to chip away when impacted, redirecting the energy of incoming projectiles away from the body. This can be invoked for extra Armor protection reducing a weapon’s armor penetration by 2 for an attack.. It can also be compelled to say that the armor is thinner in a certain area leaving the wearer exposed.
Advanced firewall technology provides protection against tech attacks. This Aspect can be invoked for extra protection against tech attacks. Because of the extra complexity it requires extra maintenance. This causes complications if the wearer wishes to use tech talents.
A complex filament network of element zero microcores into the armor provides maximum protection for the user against Biotic Attacks. Because of the delicacy of the filaments they are relatively easy to damage. It can be compelled as a complication to Biotics.
Installing micro-gravimetric emitters into a combat suit artificially increases mass, providing protection against concussive force delivered by explosives, high impact ammo and biotic attacks such as Lift or Throw. It makes lifting weights more difficult though.
FIRST AID INTERFACE
Microprocessors wired into a combat suit can monitor vital functions and release small, localized doses of medi-gel to accelerate the healing process.
Specially-sealed body armor provides increased protection against radiation, gases, and a host of other toxins. Wearing armor with toxic seals can impact long term performance in combat due to fatigue.
Metabolic Enhancers monitor the wearer’s vital systems and release genetically engineered stimulants to maximize reaction times. Stimulants can make the user a bit hyper and easily distracted during long employments.
To generate kinetic barriers, combat suits rely on capacitors to store energy from a generator. The greater the capacitor storage, the more potent the barrier. It also makes the target more noticeable to sensors due to a greater power signature.
Varying shield modulation makes it more difficult to bring down using Tech Talents like Overload or Shield Drain. The fluctuating frequencies can cause interference making it more difficult to utilize Tech Talents for the wearer of the armor.
A secondary power source increases the rate at which a combat suit’s kinetic barrier capacitors can be replenished. This aspect can be invoked when attempting the “Taking Cover” maneuver with Alertness to recharge shields. The extra capacitors can be vulnerable to attacks however.
Author’s Note: I decided to utilize the armor upgrades found in Mass Effect 1 as opposed to its sequels. This allows for more variety and flexibility to me. That isn’t to say that a player couldn’t create Cerberus Armor or Inferno Armor using some or all of the ideas presented. In fact Mass Effect 2 & 3’s modular armor could be simulated quite easily by adding some of the aspects with a simple name change. For example a Capacitor Helmet might offer the same benefits of the Shield Regenerator aspect but making it more difficult to hide (you would have to be blind to miss the blue glowing helmet) while the Ariake Technologies breastplate might be the equivalent of the Exoskeleton aspect.