Roleplayer #28, April 1992

I Laugh At Your Puny Blasters!

Ultra-Tech Armor

by David L. Pulver

For those players and GMs who want more variety than monocrys and reflex armor for their starfaring characters, here is a wider selection of body armor for TL8 to TL15. This article should solve the much-asked riddle of "Why does the light, medium and heavy body armor in Basic Set have no equivalent in the advanced combat system?" It also provides some TL15 armor for those GMs who like Precursor artifacts and want something more advanced (and less unbalancing) than force screens for their PCs to struggle over.

Ceramet (TL8) or BPC (TL9-10) Inserts

Similar to modern steel and ceramic inserts used in Kevlar armor, these torso plates are designed to fit in pockets or be strapped onto heavy monocrys or the TL10 exploration suit. They increase heavy monocrys or exploration suit armor protection to DR 40 vs. attacks to locations 9-11 and 17-18; they have no effect on attacks against other lo-cations. Separate inserts must be used for the front and back of armor; each weighs 8 lbs. and costs $250 at TL8, 4 lbs. and costs $125 at TL9, and 2 lbs. and costs $50 at TL10+. The inserts are LC 2.

Light Body Armor (TL8+)

Worn by people who want somewhat better protection than ablative armor or monocrys but can't afford the weight or cost of Combat Infantry Dress, this is a thick compound-fiber jacket with armorplas inserts and monocrys sleeves and gloves provides PD 4, DR 20 protection to the torso but only PD 2, DR 15 (PD 1, DR 2 vs. impaling) to the arms (6, 8) and hands (7). The head is protected by an open-faced armorplas helmet ($150, 2 pounds on its own) giving PD 4, DR 15 protection to locations 3-4 and (from rear only) to 5. The legs are protected by PD 2, DR 15 monocrys pants (only PD 1, DR 2 vs. impaling attacks). Boots (location 15, 16) provide PD 2, DR 10(5 lbs., $70). Add DR 5 (except vs. impaling attacks to the limbs) per TL after TL8.

The full suit is 22 lbs. and $270. Jacket with gloves (12 lbs., $200), boots (3 lbs., $70), pants (5 lbs., $100), and helmet ($150, 2 pounds) are available separately. Light Body Armor is Legality Class 3.

Medium Body Armor (TL8+)

This is a full-body suit of articulated plastic combat armor. Manufactured out of advanced zero-gee composites and synthetics, MBA is a far more expensive but lighter-weight alternative to TL8 Combat Infantry Dress. It is proof vs. chemical and biological attacks and fallout, and unlike CID, its expensive one-piece design enables it to be pressurized for vacuum operation with the addition of a set of air-tanks. It is worn by individuals who don't need the full protection – and weight – of combat infantry dress but do require pressurized armor that is tougher than a civilian vacc suit. Commando troops, planetary militia, orbital defense forces, and vehicle crews tend to use medium body armor. It is also often the basis of powered suits used by supers.

Protection is provided by a rigid armorplas cuirass giving PD 6, DR 25 on the torso (locations 9-12 and 17-18), while armorplas plates with flexible articulated joints give the arms (6, 7, 8), legs (12, 13-14), and feet (15-16) PD 4, DR 15. Except for removable gauntlets and helmet, the suit is all one piece (the rear of the cuirass clamshells, and you climb in or out). The helmet screws onto the cuirass, and is identical to the Combat Infantry Dress helmet, giving PD 4, DR 18 (visor is DR 10), and includes 128-channel radio, HUD, thermal sight, and CBR protection. Add DR 10 to all locations per TL after TL8. Since Medium Body Armor is non-metallic, it does not provide PD 8 vs. disruptor fire.

Medium Body Armor can be given the same armor accessories (e.g., Chameleon surface) as Infantry Combat Armor. The full suit is $1,520 and 22 pounds, and Legality Class 1.

Heavy Body Armor (TL9)

Heavy Body Armor is heavier than CD or Medium Body Armor but lighter weight (and somewhat less protective) than Infantry Combat Armor (UT57), because it makes more use of expensive plastics and composite materials. Like Medium Body Armor it is all one piece (except helmet and gauntlets), and the suit is fully sealed vs. chemical, biological and radiological attacks. It is suitable for vacuum operation with the addition of a life support pack (2.5 lbs., $750) and air tanks.

The torso protection consists of a rigid BPC and armorplas cuirass giving PD 6, DR 50 on the torso (locations 9-12 and 17-18), while BPC platelets and composite fibers cover the arms (6-8), legs (12, 13-14), and feet (15-16) with PD 4, DR 40. The combat helmet protects the head with PD 6, DR 50 except the visor (location 5) which is PD 4, DR 40. The hands (7) and feet (17, 18) are PD 3, DR 25. Add DR 15 per TL after TL9. The helmet screws onto the cuirass, and is identical to the Infantry Combat Helmet (UT57) including short-range scrambled communicator, multivisor, and holographic HUD.

Heavy Body Armor can be given the same armor accessories as Infantry Combat armor. The full suit costs $2,520 and weighs 52 pounds. It is Legality Class 0.

Stealth Exosuit (TL9)

This is a very low-bulk powered exoskeleton that can be concealed under normal clothing or non-rigid, non-skintight suits of armor (Light Body Armor, Ablative Armor, Reflec or Monocrys). Due to its miniaturized construction (using the same cybernetics systems used in bionic limbs) it is less robust and more expensive than normal heavy-duty exoskeletons, but, thanks to TL9 technology, it is much lighter. However, it's quite expensive!

All Stealth Exosuits must be fitted to specific users – refitting one takes a successful Mechanic/TL9 roll and at least 2 hours. It takes one minute to put it on or remove it. Noticing someone is wearing a stealth exosuit is easy if they are in light clothing (Vision+2, since the ribbing on the suit shows through), but harder (Vision-2) if they wearing heavy clothing or armor.

A typical Stealth Exosuit is $60,000 for ST 15. ST may be increased up to 20 at a cost of $15,000 per point. ST 20 is the maximum at TL9 (add 5 to this maximum per TL over 9, but above ST 20, cost is $30,000 per point). A ST 15 suit weighs 30 pounds, plus 2 pounds per point of ST from ST 16 to ST 20, and 4 pounds per point of ST over ST 20. Halve the cost and mass at TL10, and again at TL11+. The suit runs for a week on a D cell.

The suit provides no PD or DR; it is Legality Class 5.

Bioplas Armor (TL10)

Bioplas armor resembles a skin-tight body stocking, and is made of living electrically-active bioplastic (UT71). It is light enough to be worn under normal clothing, although it sometimes is worn as clothing on military starships, space stations, and the like. It also "breathes," making it very comfortable to wear.

Bioplas armor has PD 3, DR 15. As with other equipment made of bioplastic, bioplas armor that has access to moisture and heat (e.g., from sweat and body heat) can regrow itself, healing rips and tears. Bioplas counts as non-rigid: that is, every "6" rolled on damage from a crushing attack will do a minimum of 1 point of damage if the damage otherwise fails to penetrate DR.

A full suit covering the entire body except for the head weighs 3 lbs. and costs $2,000; a vest weighs 1 pound and costs $800.

Bioplastic Combat Suit (TL10)

The military version of the exploration suit, this is a flexible skintight multiweave suit of bioplas, monocrys and woven durasteel mesh armor. An intermediate step between light combat armor and an exploration suit, it is usually used by special forces soldiers, combat pilots, Patrol officers, mecha jocks, techno-ninjas, and the like.

The BCS covers the whole body and provides PD 3, DR 45 (just enough to stand up to the 10d+10 from a TL10 heavy blaster pistol). It comes with a hood and face mask; only the eyeslits (-10 to hit) are vulnerable, and even these are protected by transparent bioplas membranes with PD 2, DR 15. It is self-repairing, watertight and self-sealing. The mask contains a sophisticated biological CBR filter that excludes most chemical, radiological and biological contaminants and polluted air. There is always a chance that an exotic airborne hazard will get through the CBR filter, though, unless it was specifically designed with that hazard in mind. The careful user will inquire before blindly trusting his filter on a new planet.

The armor counts as non-rigid: that is, every "6" rolled on damage from a crushing attack will do a minimum of 1 point of damage if the damage otherwise fails to penetrate DR.

The BCS can be fitted with a variety of accessories: for normal cost and weight, it can have Laser Sensors, Intruder and Chameleon modifications added to it. With an environmental pack (use the stats for the reflex vacc Suit modification) it can operate as a vacc suit. At TL11, BCS is largely replaced by the Cybersuit, but is still available as a cheaper alternative. The suit gains DR 15 per TL after TL10. In addition, the TL11+ version of the suit has the special abilities of the TL11 Biosuit and can be fitted with a superconducting layer for the usual extra cost.

The BCS is Legality Class 2. It weighs 20 lbs. and costs $8,000.

Ergsuit (TL15)

An ergsuit resembles a belt of metal disks. When activated, it surrounds the user with a shimmering silvery skin-tight force field. The belt must be worn next to the skin, and the field may not be activated if the user is wearing clothing or armor, or using any other kind of force-field.

The ergsuit absorbs both electromagnetic and kinetic energy, including bullets, beams, punches, falls, etc. (it has no effect on disintegrators and tachyonic disruptors). The suit can absorb 600 points of damage (do not apply damage modifiers for impaling or cutting weapons). When the suit is full, damage goes to the user. The suit reduces its absorbed damage by up to 5 hits per turn, reradiating absorbed energy as neutrinos. The suit cannot be removed or turned off until all damage has been reradiated. The disadvantage of an ergsuit is that when reradiating energy, it is an electromagnetic beacon (+1 to detect with radscanners or the like per hit it reradiates).

The ergsuit's field filters out harmful gases or toxins. It cracks sunlight and exhaled carbon dioxide to produce breathable air and keeps the user at comfortable temperature regardless of the external environment. The user can excrete through the field, but will need to turn off the field to eat. It provides a radiation PF of 1,000. Pressures under 100 atmospheres or temperatures under 7,500 are ignored. For pressures over 100 atmospheres or temperatures over 7,500 F, divide the external pressure or temperature by 100 to determine what the wearer experiences through the ergsuit.

The ergsuit's field acts as an antennae for sensors and emitters mounted in the belt-generator and to conduct direct neural-induction commands from the user's skin back through to the generator. These sensors enable the wearer to use his normal senses through the field, and provide the benefits of a Multiscanner (UT60, functioning as if TL11), Sensor Visor (UT78), holographic HUD (UT49), and scrambled Short-Range Communicator (UT30). The ergsuit generator also incorporates a holographic and distortion belt function (UT85-86), which can be used even when the ergsuit's field is not activated. This is a convenient way to preserve the wearer's modesty.

A military ergsuit has the ability to reradiate 120 points of damage per turn in a coherent beam of gamma-ray photons or gravitons. A photonic beam has SS 0, Acc 15, RoF 4. It does 1d (5) damage per 30 full damage points expended (use laser autofire rules). ½D is 200 per die, Max is 400 per die. A gravitic beam has SS 0, Acc 10, RoF 1, and does 1d crushing damage per 10 damage points expended. It inflicts normal knockback damage, but actual damage is halved after DR. ½D is 5 per die, Max is 10 per die.

An ergsuit costs $100,000 and is Legality 2 at TL14. It weighs 4 pounds and uses 3 C cells, which can turn on the field six times (once on, it requires no power). Military ergsuits are 5 pounds, $120,000, Legality Class 0.

Non-Rigid Armor in Ultra-Tech

Here is a suggestion for GMs using the advanced bioplastic and energy cloth armor described in GURPS Ultra-Tech. The TL10 exploration suit and reflex armor and the TL11 biosuit and energy cloth should also count as "nonrigid" just like the bioplas armor described above and TL8's monocrys: that is, every "6" rolled on damage from a crushing attack does a minimum of 1 hit even if the damage does not penetrate the DR.

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