Battle Armor II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler

IDA_Guy

First Post
He Who Lives By the Sword
... Better Have Good Armor

The knights of the future may use different names – special forces, space marine, planetary exploration scout – but they still need the benefit of a good suit of armor. Here is the book you need to equip your futuristic heroes, from PL 5 to PL 8, with the defenses it takes to stand up to plasma rifles and laser weapons.

BATTLE ARMOR II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler includes:


  • Twelve suits of defensive armor for modern and futuristic campaigns, raning from Progress Level 4 to Progress Level 8.
  • Full head-to-toe illustration for every armor suit.
  • Standard armor equipment rules, as well as rules for new armor equipment and even brand-new weapons associated with some armor suits, and rules for buying high-tech versions of low-tech weapons.
  • Standard equipment and weapon loads for each suit.
  • As an added bonus, 12 Stand-Ins Printable Figures, ready to print and use in your own campaign.
Available at e23, RPGNow, and DriveThruRPG.
 
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GameWyrd

Explorer
"Bigger, Tougher, Cooler" ... since I'm a sucker for dashing straplines let's have another from Battle Armor: II. "He Who Lives By the Sword... Better Have Good Armor" Actually, I see that "Bigger, Tougher, Cooler" is emblazed into the title of Interactive Design Adventures's sequel to Battle Armor. This is just one of many products surface as a result of the latest flurry of activity from Interactive Design Adventures and weirdly it's not so far flung from the company's highly respected d20 were-creature supplement Lunar Knights. Power armour, as Owen Stephens (author) points out, is a return to the knight. Here we have the valiant warrior with some decent kit and skill is able to take on far more impressive opponents than just a mere warrior could.

For your US $5 you pick up twelve suits of battle armour. We've 20 pages to read through and that's because Battle Armor II (or Battle Armour if you want to faithfully translate the Japanese into international English *duck*) lavishes us with an introduction to equipment mounts, weapon mounts, gear web and ready racks. In addition to those extra bits of armour lingo we're told in a pleasantly upfront way that this supplement assumes armour is commonplace and useful. This is something than many d20 supplements don't like doing. It's too easy to twink if this is true. The Battle Armor in here will do more than just cripple your dexterity.

This supplement stretches over many PLs. That's Progress Levels - a way of measuring how advanced a civilization is. This is a supplement for d20 Modern or d20 Future. In fact The Cavalier is a suit of powered metal which was developed in the 1950s. It has an even earlier PL if you're using in a Pulp setting - which, to be honest, you'll likely to be doing.

Let's run through the twelve suits as there's not much else to do (if you're a power armour fan then keep reading and if you're not then I'm surprised you're still here).

The Ares is the fan-boy/author armour. It's super powerful but requires extra special hanger time. This is a classic campaign hook and a good one at that. It gives the players something better than their foes (helping them to be heroes) but they have to keep coming back to HQ. It's perhaps a shame that after the credits mentioned the suit that the power of the alphabet put it first in the PDF. I can't shake the feeling that it's an old favourite from someone's campaign setting which has just been sold to me.

The Berserker is a suit of armour rigged with chemical injectors. When the fighter commands or when his life signs say he needs it - the armour with zap him with lots of chemicals. Hence the name Berseker.

We've mentioned The Cavalier already so let's skipped to the computer hacking savvy Datasuit. Not that much in the way of shoulder mounted missile launcher here - instead we have a suit that's geared up to crack computer defences. I imagine you'd drop the wearer outside the Com station door and while their buddies fought off the defences the datasuit user would hack open the doors, etc.

There's the Extreme Programming Uniform and a lot of cleavage on display. It's worth noting that every suit of armour in the supplement has its own illustration (though it's a shame their not in colour). As it happens the Extreme Programming Uniform is supposed to be sexy - it was designed for deadly game shows where constants could die (but designed in a time before the return the blood sports)

... ah, here it becomes apparent that the PDF is written around a pseudo world history. Events happen and the battle armour makers respond. The battle armour makers create suits of powerful armour/weapons and events happen. You don't need to follow this timeline at all but it does succeed in breaking up the crunch with interesting ideas and I found the approach helpful. Thumbs up.

The Fallour Armor is rather topical as it's a response to the increasing threat of terrorists. Nothing can withstand the force of a nuke going off nearby but dirty bombs which can be packed into a suitcase are another matter. The Fallour Armor was designed with that in mind. It's perhaps the first of the niche-gimmicky armour in the PDF as I'm sure many of the other armours are also radiation proof.

The Gatecrusher is a hugely armoured and equipped stomping suit of armour. It's the successor to the Marauder which was introduced in Battle Armor I. This armour can channel most of its resources into a single punch designed to knock out powerful static defences. In theory this leaves the armour weak for a little while but in practise it's killed every foe nearby already!

The Myrmidon Powered Armour was designed by those lot in the Moon and Mars in their attempts to keep up with Earth scientists. I know, I know, before we mock those lot on the Moon I think we have to attempt that the Myrmidon is an effective suit! The theory is that it specialises only in lifting and hitting things but in practise (and given its armour) this simply makes it an incredibly effective armour.

The O.G.R.E. suit is technically a robot (it has its own strength score) but a deadman switch means (in theory, of course) that it can only be active when there's a pilot. This is a walking tank. It's a walking tank that's been programmed to do whatever it's told even if this means its own death.

The Outlander Insertion Armor raises a few eyebrows by way of its illustration. This does not look like power armour to me. This looks like a scout with some leather straps and metal plates. Nevertheless this suit of mobile and camouflaged armour has a respectable armour class.

The Powered Battle Dress has nothing to do with going to the prom. No. Instead this suit of armour was the first (in this mock timeline) to be developed for vacuum-ready combat (space).

The Quarantine Enforcement Rig is my least favourite. It's designed to help soldiers patrol a quarantine zone. Get this; it's especially resistant to cuts and scrapes! As if the other suits aren't! Ha! My laser rifle might be useless against you but this pair of blunt and rusty scissors will surely find a way past your defences. Crap.

The "surprise" bonus at the end of the PDF is the inclusion of twelve (sadly black and white) paper miniatures of these suits of armour. Cut them out and fold them up and you've battlemap pieces to move around. These minis are perhaps better suited to the fantasy or modern setting where movement is limited. Modelling a fight were power armoured combatants can leap great distances is tricky. Nonetheless the paper minis in here do help Battle Armor II prove its worth.

In conclusion - Battle Armor II does what says on the tin. What it looses in unoriginality and sheer weight of crunch it makes up for in professional touches. (An equipment dump of jazzed up armour isn't that original.) It's one to consider if you want battle armor in your game. Yeah; it's a bit of a no brainer.

* This Battle Armor II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler review was first published at GameWyrd.
 

Anio

First Post
Battle Armor II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler - review by Jason Lund (Anio)

Battle Armor II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler (BA2) is a 26 page PDF (including 1 full colour cover page, 1 credits page, 1 table of contents, 1 page paper cut-out figures, 1 OGL page and 1 back cover page) written by Owen K.C. Stephens for Interactive Design Adventures. This is the second in their Battle Armor line that details a range of armour meant to bring a re-imagining of the iconic knight into the D20 Modern and D20 Future games.

This product details twelve battle armours and three associated pieces of equipment that range from PL 4 to PL 8. Each suit of battle armour begins on its own page and is at least one page in length, with a drawing of each suit taking up roughly half of a page each.

BA2 begins with four good content pages that provide the standard definitions for the range of battle armour, including the types of materials used in their construction, how equipment is built into or onto the armours and how battle armour may (or may not) affect CR. These definitions are general enough to cover all of the armours, without losing the detailed flexibility required for individual suits, and provide a common ground for a DM interested in developing their own battle armours. I am glad that the author chose to go this route rather than rehashing the same text for each type of battle armour because, as noted by the author, these standard definitions are included at the beginning in the interest of saving space.

The real meat of BA2 doesn't begin until page eight, but is worth the wait. Complete statistics for each battle armour, including Defense, Movement rates, Dexterity modifiers, Abilities, Progress Level and Purchase DCs, are provided. Each armour type also has a description of its development history, in some cases going so far as to describe how each suit is developed and used at various Progress Levels. This is a nice touch and generally improves usability, especially considering that D20 Modern and D20 Future campaigns are run at a variety of technological levels. The battle armour descriptions further explain the various abilities, with abilities such as Unlimited Life Support and Force Fields firmly pushing these battle armours from science fact to science fiction.

BA2 runs the full gamut of the battle armour genre and is rife with homages, with 1950s sci-fi battle armour pieces such as the Cavalier crafted in the style of Ironman and The Rocketeer, or the Gatecrasher and O.G.R.E battle armours that are easily at home in a mecha or battle suit anime. Most of the battle armours are directly designed for front-line combat, though without losing focus, the author also provides pieces such as the Datasuit for which the description of "battle armour" is something of a misnomer. Clearly, the range of battle armour uses is broad and several of these twelve suits could find use in a D20 Future game. The battle armours are as follows:

* ARES Combat Suit, the Advanced Reconnaissance/Environment Suit (ARES), built around flight, mobility and data collection,
* Berserker Bio-Arsenal, built around a simple medical sensor tied to two chemical injectors, one that goes off automatically if the wearer’s vital signs drop, the other triggered on command to flood the wearer’s system with performance enhancing pharmaceuticals,
* Cavalier, an early attempt at powered battle armour designed in the 1950s Ironman-style,
* Datasuit, a futuristic lightweight suit designed for battlefield computer experts,
* Extreme Programming Uniform, a lightweight stylistic suit of armour designed for use in futuristic, televised, blood sports. This is a particular favourite of mine, both for the flavour and for the design,
* Fallout Armor, a middleweight tool-suit designed for operatives working in an irradiated zone,
* Gatecrasher, intimidating heavy combat armour designed for the plasma rifle-toting frontline soldier of the future,
* Myrmidon Powered Armor, a heavy duty, strength-enhancing suit designed for the maximum survivability of a soldier,
* O.G.R.E., Ordnance-Geared Robotic Exoskeleton, a suit of powered armour designed to turn the wearer into a walking tank,
* Outlander Insertion Armor, a lightweight suit designed for missions sending the genetically engineered soldier deep into enemy territory. This is another favourite of mine, with the drawing looking like a survivalist human wearing a Predator suit (of the Predator movies),
* Powered Battle Dress, middleweight flight armour designed as vacuum-fighting armour, EVA gear and as a sealed environmental suit,
* Quarantine Enforcement Rig, a suit designed to protect the wearer from bio-weapons and to them to police and survive in quarantine zones.

The three pieces of complementary equipment, the infection scanner, the linkpistol and the neural hookup, are each matched to particular battle armours and dovetail nicely into each suit concept.

The artist, M. Newell Curlee, is clearly a fan of the genre: black and white representations of every piece of battle armour and associated equipment cover the range of battle armour styles, from the high-tech Ironman-look-alike Cavalier powered battle armour to the Voltron-like O.G.R.E. armour. The only poor piece is the drawing for the linkpistol that looks like a simplistic, overly cartoony ray gun, but this does not matter when the core of the product has been drawn so well. A dozen printable stand-up figures are included as a nice little bonus at the end of the product. I really like value-adds like these, especially for a concept as specific as futuristic battle armour.

The cover and back pages are not printer-friendly, are likely to use a lot of printer ink and give the impression that BA2 was designed as a physical book. The editing is good, though the layout is in a two-column format with bordering and white spaces that further give the general impression that it was designed as a physical book rather than with the PDF market in mind. Another indicator that this product was not designed with the PDF market in mind is that it does not have bookmarks. Given its size and the number of individual components, I really expected good bookmarking for the entire product rather than needing to flick back and forth between the table of contents and the various battle armours.

Summary

Battle Armor II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler is a good homage to the battle suit genre and sure to find use in several D20 Future or D20 Modern games. As an homage, some of the ideas are less than original, but the broad and evocative range of battle suits runs the gamut of science fiction. The black and white artwork is very well suited to the battle armours and the inclusion of printable stand-up figures is a nice little value-add to the product. As a PDF, however, this product falls short. The front and back covers are not printer-friendly, the layout is more suitable to a physical book, the PDF does not include bookmarks and it is not screen-friendly. I would give Battle Armor II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler a four star rating if it also included a PDF version more suitable for computer use, but drop it back to three stars for "forgetting" that it is a PDF and not a print product. Despite this, the content is good and should be very easy to drop into a game.


Review by Jason Lund (Anio)
 
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haakon1

Adventurer
Is it PDF only? I wonder, because it sounds like the illustrations would be better printed.

Sounds like good treasure for the Barrier Peaks . . . :]
 

Anio

First Post
Battle Armor II - available in print ?

haakon1 said:
Is it PDF only? I wonder, because it sounds like the illustrations would be better printed.

Sounds like good treasure for the Barrier Peaks . . . :]


It looks like BA2 is PDF only. I checked Interactive Design Adventures' site and there's no indication of the product at all, let alone if it's in print. I've had a look around at a few online RPG shops and haven't been able to find a print version of this product. I also checked on RPGNow, but it's not available as a Print on Demand product either.

If you're happy to convert D20 Modern/Future to D20 "Fantasy", then at least some of these battle suits should work for Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.
 

danzig138

Explorer
Battle Armor II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler
Interactive Design Adventures (IDA)
Authors: Owen K.C. Stephens
Page count: 26 (including front and back covers, credits, OGL, and stand-ups).
Price: $5 at RPGNow

Battle Armor II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler is a book of power armor. It presents a dozen suits of powered armor ready for insertion into a d20 future-style game (or a d20 pulp-style game). In addition to the armor, there are a handful of new items and weapons available as well.

Battle Armor II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler begins with an introduction that compares battle-armored warriors to the knights of old. It also includes a tip on keeping the balance between the units in the book and other armor types in a game.

Following the introduction is a section on definitions specific to the document. This includes notes on composite materials for armors, increasing the cost of futuristic versions of older weapons, and details specific to the armor units (accessories such as weapon and equipment mounts).

After this are the explanations for the entries in the armor descriptions (Defense, armor check, move, and such). This also includes a brief sidebar on CR adjustments for foes garbed in power or battle armor.

Battle Armor II presents each unit in a full-page format, with some taking multiple pages. Each has standard entries, such as Defense, movement rate, max Dex, armor check, etc. Each suit of armor has an "Abilities" entry – this details the special items and functions of the armor. If a type of armor provides low-light vision, darkvision, environmental support, unique equipment, and so forth, it is listed here, with some entries explained further in the armor text.

Each unit lists a power source with duration. This is a good feature. I've seen more than a few games where the power armor units all effectively have an indefinite power supply. Some of the units in Battle Armor II have these indefinite supplies, but others have a limited amount of juice, like the Cavalier with its 6-hour battery.

Each armor unit includes a Progress Level, Purchase DC, and background information, along with text explaining additional or unusual capabilities. The background information can be altered, ignored, or used as is with little effort. Game masters should have an easy time adjusting the details to pit their particular worlds.

A note about Strength augmentation: Many of the units in Battle Armor II provide the wearer with augmented Strength. This comes in two types – a fixed Strength, or a boost. A suit with a fixed Strength might provide a score of 20. The operator might have a Strength of 10, or a Strength of 30, but while using the armor, his Strength is 20.

A suit that provides a boost increases the operator's Strength by the listed amount. For example, a suit might provide a +4 Strength bonus. Thus, an operator with as 10 Strength functions as if possessing a 14 Strength while wearing the armor.

This is a good idea – I've always thought that power armor should have this distinction. However, this needs additional rules. For instance, if a suit provides a +4 bonus to Strength, what is the maximum Strength it can achieve before suffering damage? A +4 bonus used by a 10 Strength character isn't going to put much strain on the armor system, but put that +4 bonus on a creature with a Strength of 30 or 40 (probably not likely to happen, but it should be accounted for) and I imagine the system will strain when the full Strength is tested.

To go right along with that, what is the upper limit on a suit with a fixed Strength? If a suit has a Strength of 20, and you have an operator with a Strength of 40, then when he goes to perform a feat of Strength, his muscles are going to fight those of the suit. I'm working on the assumption that characters with the applicable armor feats know how to not strain their systems, but what about the non-proficient? Regardless of proficiency, this needs rules. A note – I do not have Battle Armor, so perhaps this is covered in that product. If so, a reference is in order.

Some of the more interesting units are:

Cavalier: This pulp-style suit of armor resembles iron plates welded to a frame. In a pulp style game, this is something you might see on the villain's primary henchmen/enforcer or special government operatives. Despite its primitive appearance, this is an effective unit.

Datasuit: This armor provides minimal protection, but will see a lot of use with computer-based characters. The armor is essentially a powerful supercomputer that provides bonuses when interacting with other computer systems. It includes a unique weapon designed to provide access to isolated, physically hardened systems. This is one of the more interesting suits in Battle Armor II.

Gatecrasher: Skulls. This armor has a lot of skulls. The face is skull-like; there are skulls on the chest, skulls on the waist, and skulls on the knees. The Gatecrasher is a very stout, mean-looking suit of armor that provides superior protection, scares opponents, and is very good at breaking things. Things in this instance include buildings and vehicles. To top it off, it can fly. Not for long, but it can do it.

Myrmidon Power Armor: The description of the Myrmidon states that focuses on two areas – strength augmentation and survivability. This is a true statement. The Myrmidon provides more protection than the Gatecrasher, increases Strength, and allows for a 3d8 damage punch. It can also temporarily increase this damage to 6d8. The Myrmidon is not cheap, but if a group contains a Strength-based melee specialist, they would be best advised to pool their resources and get that man this suit. He will then break things good.

Outlander Insertion Armor: This is a light suit of armor with the primary feature of a displacement field. This makes it very difficult to strike the operator. While an interesting concept, I think this will see use more because people think it's cool, rather than because it's useful.

Stand-Ins: After the descriptions of the armor, there is a page with 12 Stand-Ins – little miniature-like paper figures, like those in the old MSHRPG. These have a front and back view, and can be printed (I assume cardstock would be the best choice), and used as minis. This little bonus also acts as a commercial for the company's full sets of Stand-Ins. These are for people who like their map egos to look cool and/or distinct; in my group, they would end up as scraps before a single session ended. These are probably useful as long as your group does not consist of mini-stomping barbarians.

Layout and Style
Battle Armor II uses a standard two-column format, with an Arial font – about 8 point. The text has a dense appearance but is still easy to read. As with many products, the outer margin of the pages has a design pattern of a sort that is maybe an inch wide. The inner margin is a little wide, even if the book is intended for printing. The space could be utilized more efficiently. There are a few typos in the text, but no major eyesores.

On page 19, the OGRE description ends with
"Sometimes, such long-forgotten suits manage to pop open when some local is under attack,"
It seems like there is more to this statement, but there is no additional text.


Art
The art in Battle Armor II is functional but uninspired. The front and back covers have colored art. There is one piece of colored art on the table of contents page. Other than these, the interior art consists of simple line drawings that clearly illustrate the armor. The art is generic – it lacks a distinct style, and resembles the art from The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe – the three-ring binder version.

Open Gaming
The art, graphic elements, and cover text is protected content. The stats, names, and descriptions of the armor units are open content. Battle Armor II has a simple and generous OGC declaration.

File Utility
Battle Armor II is an open document, allowing for copy and paste, page extraction, and so on. However, it lacks bookmarks, and even a small pdf should have bookmarks.

Conclusion
Battle Armor II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler has a nice variety of armor types, making it useful for several campaign models. It does a good job of using and expanding on the toolkit approach to armor and mecha in the MSRD. The formatting could be improved, the art could use some shading, and an editor should triple check it, but otherwise, it is a good product.
 

The Lost Muse

First Post
Disclaimer: This book was provided to me as part of the PDF Review Project.

Battle Armor II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler is an e-Book published by Interactive Design Adventures (IDA). The e-Book is 26 pages long: two pages are the front and back covers, one page is lost to the open game licence, one page for the credits, one page for the table of contents, and one page of printable stand-up figures, leaving 20 pages for Powered Armor. The layout of the e-Book is standard two column layout, with a few sidebars throughout the text. There is a border along the side of each page, but it does not look like it would take a lot of ink to print. The interior art is all black and white line art – again, very easy on the printer – and depicts the armor well enough to envision what it looks like. There are both men and women drawn using the armor, which is a nice touch. There aren’t any bookmarks in this e-Book, but the table of contents is comprehensive enough that they are not really necessary.

The Introduction talks about powered armor in d20 campaigns, and how many other books relegate armor to a less useful and often glossed over part of equipment, and then compares users of power armor to the ideal knights of the past. This is an apt comparison, and really helps to set the tone for the rest of the e-Book, and the light in which it is meant to be taken.

Next up is a list of definitions for the suits of Power Armor. Power Armor may be made from Composite Materials, which increase its durability, but are at the cutting edge of technology. Notes are given on increasing price as the progress level of any item increases. In addition, each suit has a load out of equipment that is always considered “in hand” and ready to use. A suit may also have a “gear web” for carrying extra equipment. As if that was not enough, each suit also has a “ready rack” which can hold one item. The ready rack essentially grants the quick draw feat for that particular item. Finally, there may be “Weapon Mounts” on each suit – the weapons mounted are always ready to use. The information on Composite Materials really reminded me of suits from RIFTS – and the explanation of Mega Damage – fortunately, there is no such mechanic in the d20 System.

Following the definitions, is an explanation of how to read each entry – this is definitely necessary, as the format diverges from the standard d20 explanations. Some notable information from this section: some armors slow characters down, while others have a set rate that they move at. Likewise, some suits augment their user’s abilities, while others work at a set level. It is good that not all of the Power Armor simply works at a set level, and the variety makes it easier for a GM to pick up this product and drop one or two pieces into an existing campaign without having to suddenly equip everyone with Power Armor to preserve game balance.

Next up there are 15 different suits of armor – I’ve only included reviews of four of them here because I think you should buy this book if you need Power Armor in your campaign.

The ARES Command Suit is one of the original Power Armors invented – available from Progress Level 6 – 8, it is able to fly, links up to outside sensors, has a force field, a decent weapons load out, and is able to run for an unlimited amount of time (although at PL 6 and 7 regular maintenance is required). The Purchase DC is sufficiently high to prevent most people from ever affording it, but most Players are not most people. Although not as effective at certain tasks as other Power Armor, the ARES is definitely well rounded. The story included in the description also gave me a few ideas for adventures, which any RPG supplement should strive to do.

Next up, the Cavalier. The Cavalier is an earlier PL suit than the ARES, available at PL 5 (or PL 4 for a pulps campaign). It is designed to “protect the user, and make him strong.” This is accomplished through micromotors giving the suit a fixed strength of 20, and DR 4/- against firearms. This suit has a 6 hour battery life.

Moving on, we have the Extreme Programming Uniform. This Power Armor is designed for contestants on reality TV – in a program where they hunt each other down and try to knock their opponents out with rubber bullets. Available at PL 5, and very inexpensive compared to other suits, this one is designed to make its wearer look good more than anything else (granting +1 to Charisma based skills). This is one of the female armors – and the picture depicts a woman with sizable breasts. As a concept, it is not one I would use in any campaign, although it is a little off the wall.

The Gatecrasher was also made “famous” in a broadcast; against three opponents of older power Armors in an illegal broadcast. As a heavy armor, the Gatecrasher is made to crack open static defences. It can charge a target using the power from several systems in concert, and deal 6d6 to an object ignoring half its hardness; however, the pilot takes a -6 to attack and defence while doing so. This armor may fly for up to two hours, and also has another system allowing the pilot to jump 40 feet at a time. Combined with unlimited endurance, the Gatecrasher is able to operate for long periods of time without refuelling. This suit reminds me a lot of the Glitter-Boy armor from RIFTS (although it does not have the big shoulder cannon, nor does it shine); however, the art looks a lot like Skeletor from the He-Man series.

I recommend this e-Book for anyone who likes power armor and wants to include it in their games – a few years ago I ran a Mechwarrior-based d20 Modern campaign, and would have definitely found a book like this one useful. While the art is good enough, some of it is kind of cheesy, and some of the histories for the suits assume a background that is not fully explained anywhere in the book. 3 out of 5 stars.
 

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