Archive for January, 2023

New Personal Armor for Future d20

January 8, 2023

At the time of this post, there’s currently a great deal of uncertainty around what’s going to happen with the Open Game License v1.0a, which is the version used for most of the d20 System’s life. While I won’t get into the specifics of the current upheaval – there are a lot of other places covering the drama – it did remind me that I wanted to dust off the following article, which is a piece of Open Game Content that I wrote for a now-defunct Modern d20 e-zine. Correcting a few errors that slipped into the original piece, I’m now presenting it here for all those who might have some use for it.

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Open Game Content: Except for material designated as Product Identity (see above), everything in this Intelligence Check article beginning with the “Armors of the Future” header and ending at the Open Game License Version 1.0a listing below, is Open Game Content, as defined in the Open Gaming License version 1.0a Section 1(d). No portion of this work other than the material designated as Open Game Content may be reproduced in any form without written permission.

Armors of the Future

Each new age of the future is defined by the new technologies it masters. And each new technology is most widely applied to the art of warfare. Advancements in fusion, gravity, and energy weapons create a need for greater defense. In response to this, new materials and techniques are created to create stronger and more protective armor…for vehicles.

Each era of the future introduces new forms of mechs and starships, each with a bewildering new array of armors and gadgets that can be used to increase their ability to protect their operators. But what about the people who operate without a vehicle? If powerful substances such as neutronite or neovulcanium can be developed to protect a mecha or a starship, why can’t it be made into a suit of armor for an individual as well?

Now it can. This article takes the mecha and starship armors presented in the Future d20 rules and adapts them for personal use. Each of these is a suit of armor meant for a single person to wear, and follows all of the armor rules laid out in the Modern d20 and Future d20 rules. Give yourself the same defensive options a starship has using these future armors.

Archaic Items and Pricing

All of the new armors listed here are either tactical or concealable. However, for characters from planets or times with more advanced technology, they’re relics. For characters of a given Progress Level, any item 2 or more Progress Levels lower than their native PL should be considered archaic.

The Future d20 rules suggest that, for items from a lower Progress Level than the current Progress level, a cumulative -2 should be given to the item’s Purchase DC. However, that doesn’t reflect the rarity of these older items. When new technologies are developed, obsolete ones are quickly abandoned, and such items become harder to find. If you wish to emphasize that finding items from a lower PL is difficult, instead you should add +2 to the Purchase DC of an item for each PL lower it is than the current PL.

PL 5

Duraplastic Breastplate

This single piece of hardened polymers represents the cutting edge of lightweight body armor for the Information Age. Lighter than similar armors, it also gives less flexibility.

Alumisteel Suit

Designed for more complete protection than tactical vests, this armor comes with a large vest of alumisteel to protect the torso, along with separate pieces for the wearer’s upper and lower arms and legs.

Alloy Armor

Made from the same material as space shuttles, this is nothing less than a modern version of plate mail. This is usually worn by soldiers who must blaze a trail into extremely hostile terrain.

PL 6

Resilium Defensive Wear

This armor is essentially a suit of light combat armor with resilium alloy replacing the interior armor. It does not, however, include a helmet.

Polymeric Shirt

This shirt is made of carbon-fiber polymers, covering the wearer’s torso and arms. Specially-weakened polymers in the shoulders and elbows allow almost all of the wearer’s upper body to be protected by a single piece of armor, without needing multiple parts.

Vanadium Covering

Interlocking plates of vanadium cover the wearer’s torso, limbs, and head. Lighter polymeric materials are used for the joints, granting the wearer full-body protection.

Duralloy Plate

Much like alloy armor, this is a total-body covering of extremely thick armor, meant to offer extreme protection. It is slightly lighter than alumisteel, allowing greater freedom of movement and flexibility.

PL 7

Cerametallic Armor

A simple torso and helmet combination, cerametal armor offers excellent protection against most attacks, while still being relatively light and cheap.

Deflective Suit

A deflective suit is composed of shiny polymers, formed into a hooded shirt and pants that are worn over clothes. The suit is tight, but stretches, so it always hugs the wearer’s form. Deflective armor is highly resistant to energy, but offers relatively poor protection against physical armor.

Neovulcanium Gear

This suit of powered armor is made of neovulcanium, granting it extreme protection at the cost of a high degree of mobility.

Crystal Carbon Covering

Crystal carbon is a near-diamond hard substance that is as strong as neovulcanium while being lighter to carry. Because a suit of crystal carbon covering must be specially “grown” for the person wearing it, it is extremely expensive and hard to acquire. This armor has the ultralight composition gear.

Neutronite Aegis

The neutronite aegis is the standard in tough armor for the Gravity Age. This powered suit offers considerable protection, at the cost of a moderate loss of speed, all at a reasonable price.

PL 8

Ablative Vest

An ablative vest is amazingly thin; it’s little more than a silvery, stiff shirt, and is easily worn under clothing to conceal itself. It offers an incredible amount of protection, particularly for covering such a small area.

Reactive Armor

Reactive armor consists of a cerametal chest plate and helmet, along with arm and leg guards, that have a tightly-compressed gas injected into small gaps in the material.

Nanofluidic Suit

This full-body armor is composed much the same way reactive armor is; overlapping plates of neutronite have a gel (actually tens of trillions of nanites) inserted between them. The nanites cushion blows and move with the wearer, boosting flexibility.

Megatanium Juggernaut

The megatanium juggernaut is the final line is protection. Two layers of neovulcanium with a ferromagnetized layer of crystal carbon between them allow for a level of defense that leaves the wearer all but invulnerable. Because the lightweight crystal carbon materials are magnetized, then work to offset the weight of the neovulcanium. This armor has the ultralight composition gear.

Strength of the Future

Looking over the new armors listed here, you may realize that, in terms of statistics, armors from one Progress Level are relatively the same as another. A vanadium covering, for example, doesn’t seem that much different than a neutronite aegis. However, given that the latter armor was developed in the future from the former, shouldn’t it clearly offer better protection?

In regards to weaponry from previous eras, it does. When weapons from a lower PL than a suit of armor are used against that armor, the wearer gains DR X/–, where X is the different in their Progress Levels. For example, while wearing a nanofluidic suit (PL 8), you would have DR 2/– against being hit with a laser pistol (a PL 6 weapon). When a weapon from a certain PL is used against armor from a lower PL, the weapon gains a circumstance bonus to the attack roll equal to the different in their Progress Levels. Using a laser pistol against someone wearing a duraplastic breastplate (PL 5), would have a +1 circumstance bonus to their attack roll.

If you’re using FX in your game, then consider altering the above rules slightly. Magic (or psionics) transcend the limits of the physical universe, and make it possible for even a primitive weapon to penetrate a powerful armor (or for a weak armor to resist a futuristic weapon). When using FX, armors of a higher PL than an attacking weapon gain DR X/magic. Likewise, weapons of a higher PL than the armor they’re attacking do not gain the circumstance bonus to the attack roll if the armor has an enhancement bonus.

ArmorPLSizeTypeEquipment BonusNonprof. BonusMax Dex BonusArmor PenaltySpeed (30 ft.)Speed (20 ft.)WeightPurchase DCRestriction
Duraplastic Breastplate5LightTactical+3+1+5-230 ft.20 ft.5 lbs.15Lic (+1)
Alumisteel Suit5MediumTactical+6+2+2-420 ft.15 ft.25 lbs.17Lic (+1)
Alloy Armor5HeavyTactical+10+3+0-1015 ft.10 ft.60 lbs.20Restricted (+2)
Polymeric Shirt6MediumTactical+4+2+4-225 ft.15 ft.20 lbs.15Lic (+1)
Resilium Defensive Wear6MediumTactical+5+2+3-320 ft.15 ft.30 lbs.16Lic (+1)
Vanadium Covering6HeavyTactical+7+3+2-615 ft.10 ft.40 lbs.18Lic (+1)
Duralloy Plate6HeavyTactical+9+3+0-815 ft.10 ft.50 lbs.20Lic (+1)
Deflective Suit7LightTactical+2/+6 vs. energy attacks+1+4-230 ft.20 ft.10 lbs.19Restricted (+2)
Cerametallic Armor7LightTactical+4+1+4-130 ft.20 ft.5 lbs.17Lic (+1)
Neovulcanium Gear7PoweredTactical+9+3+0-915 ft.10 ft.55 lbs.20Lic (+1)
Crystal Carbon Covering7HeavyTactical+9+3+0-720 ft.15 ft.45 lbs.21Restricted (+2)
Neutronite Aegis7PoweredTactical+7+3+1-620 ft.15 ft.55 lbs.16Lic (+1)
Ablative Vest8LightConcealable+5+1+5-130 ft.20 ft.2 lbs.18Lic (+1)
Reactive Armor8MediumTactical+6+2+2-425 ft.15 ft.22 lbs.17Lic (+1)
Nanofluidic Suit8HeavyTactical+8+3+2-520 ft.15 ft.30 lbs.21Restricted (+2)
Megatanium Juggernaut8PoweredTactical+12+4+0-1220 ft.15 ft.85 lbs.24Military (+3)


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