Aliens & Asteroids: OSR-style Scifi Armor

Though my time these days is split three ways creatively (the Zhilin campaign for the Lost Age, an upcoming project I can’t talk about yet, and Aliens & Asteroids), I have been writing quite a bit about A&A in recent days as I read a great book of short stories (Aliens: Bug Hunt) — some amazing inspiration.

So it got me thinking about modernizing some armor. In Mazes & Perils and other old school D&D-based games, armor is pretty static. We have a static Armor Class value for it and that’s about it. Well, way back with the old Moebius Adventures system, we had the idea that armor itself has a certain amount of damage it can take before it gives up. And I want to bring that idea into A&A to see how it plays out.

Combat Armor

Let’s take a combat suit that a Space Marine would wear into combat in many different situations. If they charge into combat and there’s breathable air, they don’t need a sealed system, so we’ll start there. Air complicates things and I have some ideas on that as well — but for another time.

If a suit of Combat Armor is roughly equivalent to Chain Mail in Mazes & Perils with an AC value of -4 [+4], let’s say that it gives the PC an AC of 14 if we’re using ascending values.

Now let’s give it some temporary HP and a certain amount it can absorb in any given attack. For simplicity, we’ll say that the “absorption rate” is equal to the AC value. In this case, that means that the armor will absorb at most 4 points of any attack before it hits the PC. And we can give it 14 temporary HP, again simply taking the base AC value (10 + 4). We’ll call those “Armor Points” or “AP.”

If your PC has 6 HP and his or her armor has 14 AP, that can be the difference between life and death.

Now add to that the fact that the armor can be “recharged” on a base or in certain drop ships or shuttles in an 8 hour period, just like the PC can heal. This makes the armor a soldier’s best friend.

Play Example

Let’s say we have a 1st level Space Marine PC with the following details:

  • HP: 8
  • Combat Armor: AC 14, AR 4, AP 14
  • Pulse Rifle: d6 damage, 20 rounds

And let’s say he’s going up against an escaped criminal who is running around on a moon trying to evade capture. The moon has some atmosphere (thanks to terraforming) and 3/4 Earth gravity.

If they have a shootout, it might look something like:

  • Round 1: Marine shoots at criminal, misses.
  • Round 1: Criminal shoots at Marine. Hits. Does 4 points of damage. Marine armor drops from 14 AP to 10 AP but the PC is unscathed.
  • Round 2: Marine shoots at criminal, hits. Does 2 points of damage. Criminal wounded.
  • Round 2: Criminal shoots at Marine. Hits. Does 6 points of damage. Marine armor drops from 10 AP to 6 AP and PC takes 2 HP, dropping him to 6 HP from 8.
  • Round 3: Marine shoots at criminal, misses.
  • Round 3: Criminal shoots at Marine. Hits. Another 6 points of damage. Marine armor drops from 6 AP to 2 AP and PC takes another 2 HP, dropping from 6 HP to 4.
  • Round 4: Marine charges at criminal, does 3-round burst. Hits. Three shots at d6-1 each or 3d6-3. 12 points of damage. Criminal goes down.
  • Round 4: Criminal dies.

After the battle, the Marine is at half HP (4/8) and his armor is quite low (2/14 AP). One more shot and it would stop protecting him in combat.

When the armor is out of AP, it would get a “Death Save” of sorts  as to whether it would be repairable once out of combat. Three failed Death Saves (PC rolls a 10 or less on a d20) and it is unsalvageable.

Seeking Feedback

What do you think? Is this a good approach? It’s a little OSR mixed with more modern D&D ideas I think, which isn’t a bad thing. But I think the extra level of detail for the armor makes item recovery and repair that much more important in the long run — just as it would be.

Plus, I wonder if magic armor might work in a similar way in Mazes & Perils. Hmmmm…

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