Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ad Astra equipment

In any AD ASTRA game, equipment is going to be an important component of the game. All characters begin with a certain number of credits: 1,000 + 3d4 x 100.  Characters with the Psionic weapons ability receive 3d4 x 100 credits (but start play with the ability to manifest psionic weapons.)  Characters with the Nobility Affinity start the game with 2,000 + 3d4 x 200 credits.

Characters use this starting wealth to purchase starting equipment. During the course of play, additional wealth and equipment will no doubt fall into the character's hands. It's often a fine line to walk between an overly generous Monty Haul GM and an overly stingy Mr. Scrooge one. As the GM, try to use swashbuckling fictional source material to be your guide when it comes to what kind of equipment and wealth a character should be expected to possess and use. You may be surprised to find that it's more generous when viewed that way than you think.

Melee Weapons
Weapon Damage Cost Comments
Knife 1d4 25
Mace 1d6 15
Sword 1d8 60
Staff, spear or pike 1d6 65 Can reach targets that shorter range weapons cannot, at GM's discretion
Radium blade1d10 250 An electrified weapon that has energy rushing along the blade to do additional damage
Electrostaff 2d8 3000 Includes an electric charge at either end that shocks targets hit for more damage.
Radium ax1d12 500
Psionic weapon 2d8 special Can only be used by characters with the psionic weapon class ability.

Ranged Weapons
NOTE: Rifles and larger weapons incur a -3 penalty if fired while in melee; they're simply larger weapons that are not meant to be used at close range effectively.
Weapon Damage Cost Comments
Pistol 2d4 250 Fires a solid projectile, i.e. a bullet
Radium Pistol 2d6 500 Fires a short blast of plasma
EMP Pistol DC 15 250 Does not do normal damage, but cuts power to robots and other electronics
Heavy radium pistol 2d8 750 A more powerful, but larger and bulkier version
Radium carbine 2d8 900 Standard issue military weapon
Rifle 2d8 30 Fires a solid projectile, i.e. a bullet
Radium Rifle 2d8 1000 Fires a short blast of plasma
EMP Rifle DC 20 800 Does not do normal damage, but cuts power to robots and other electronics
Flamethrower 3d6 1000 Short range only; usually within about 30 ft.
Heavy Radium Rifle 2d10 1500 Quite large and unusual weapon
Radium Cannon 2d12 3000 Usually mounted on a tripod, but can be slug and carried like Jesse Ventura with a minigun
Heavy Repeating Cannon 3d10 4000 Can be used to target up to 3 opponents in one round, but if so, splits the damage dice, i.e. 1d10 to target 1, 1d10 to target 2, 1d10 to target 3. Can also, of course, apply all damage to a single target.
Missile Launcher 6d6 5000 Can be shoulder fired, although it makes for an interesting touch to integrate it to armor and fire it from a backpack.

Grenades are thrown via a ranged attack. Because they are somewhat imprecise, a direct hit is not necessary—any attack that misses by less than 5 is considered "close enough." Grenades might also hit more than one opponent if they are bunched closely enough, at the GM's discretion.
Weapon Damage Cost Comments
Frag Grenade 3d6 200
EMP Grenade DC 20 300 See discussion above on EMP damage

There are so many types of armor in the AD ASTRA universe, that I will make no effort to categorize all of them. Rather, armor is a customizable commodity; you spend your credits and get the bonuses and advantages that you pay for.

A few other notes about armor:
  • Light armor has an armor bonus of +1 to +4.
  • Medium armor has an armor bonus of +5 to +7.  Any stealth rolls in medium (or heavier) armor and any psionic power use will have a -5 penalty to the DC when used in armor this heavy. 
  • Heavy armor has an armor bonus of +8 or greater. Very few characters in AD ASTRA ever wear heavy armor (except for some robots) as not only does it increase the penalty noted above to -8, it also invalidates the DEX bonus to AC that characters normally get. It's just too big and bulky! If you feel like you need it, you probably need to talk to your GM about why the campaign is so hard and non-swashbucklery.  Either that or you’re playing an unusual character who is not hampered by any of those drawbacks, like a soldier bot.
  • Armor is expensive! Only fairly successful characters or ones issued military gear tend to have really complicated armor. That said, for characters who want to have it, GMs should keep that in mind and make it available. Level 1 characters, though—probably not going to start out with Cilindan commando suits anytime soon.
  • Weapons can be added to most armors for the cost of the weapon +50 credits to integrate it to the armor. This bonus makes sure that you cannot be disarmed by any means (other than breaking your armor, I suppose.) Cilindan commando armor would have an integrated radium pistol on one arm, flamethrower on the other arm, and missile launcher on the back, for example. To create the same thing, buy the Cilindan commando suit armor bonus (+6) below for 5000 credits, pay for the three weapons (500, 1000, and 5000 credits respectively), and pay 50 credits each to integrate the weapon into the armor. The total value of a typical Cilindan commando suit would therefore be 11,650 credits.
Armor Bonus Cost Comments/Examples
+1 500 Ballistic mesh suit
+2 1000 Light helmet thick ballistic mesh suit
+3 1500 Ballisticsuit with a few metal or ceramic radium-shielded plates
+4 2000 Combat bot armor
+5 3000 Military grade soldier's armor of metal or ceramic plate
+6 5000 Cilindan commando suit
+7 8000 Commando bot armor
+8 12,000 Soldier bot armor
+9 20,000 Super heavy soldier bot
+10 30,000 Unreasonably heavy armor

There are a number of other enhancements that can be added to armor besides simply the armor value. Some of these can also be purchased as stand-alone items, rather than built into a suit of armor, but if integrated they incur a cost of +25 additional credits for the integration. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, and many other items can be invented or used as needs dictate. This list is based on effect rather than item; more than one item could conceivably have the same effect, but mechanically it would be the same.

Effect Cost Comments/Examples
+1 to STR 2000 Certain powered armor, including that of soldier bots. Armor must be at least medium to have this bonus.
+2 to STR 5000 Comes with high value powered armor. Armor must be at least Heavy to have this bonus.
+1 to DEX 2000 Certain powered armor, including Cilindan commando suits. Armor cannot be Heavy and grant this bonus.
+2 to DEX 5000 Certain powered armor. Armor must be light armor to grant this bonus.
Perception affinity 2000 Sensor antenna and HUD
Computer affinity 2000 Computer inferface tool used by many mechanics robots or hackers.
Other affinity 2000 Various equipment could grant the effect of an affinity. Unless it's too good for some reason, the price is always 2000.
Individual shield 10,000 Able to be installed only on heavy armor or vehicles, so it is much more likely to appear on robots than organic characters. Energy shields provide Damage Reduction 10 against plasma weapons, meaning that 10 is reduced from the damage caused by any such weapon for each attack.

In addition, the following equipment can be installed into a suit, or used as is, for the price listed. For most of these the use is either obvious, or the GM can dictate what it is. These are meant to be examples, not an exhaustive list.

Item Cost Comments
Commlink 50 Necessary for communication when not in face to face conversation distance.
Signal Jammer 2000 Usually installed in vehicles or ships
Datapad 10 Data storage is cheap. Can contain any info the GM needs
Flashlight 5
Breath mask 500 Not suitable for the rigors of full vacuum, but works underwater, or in thin or poisonous atmosphere.
Space suit 2000 For use in space
Medical suite 50,000 Installed in buildings or larger spaceships. Could potentially be used to bring a "dead" character back to life. Really a plot device rather than a mechanical feature.
Jet pack 2000 Allows flight. Built into Cilindan commando suits
Utility belt 250 Some minor tools, as well as a cable and grappling hook. To use the cable requires a DEX + Physical check. If it is integrated into armor, you can a +2 bonus.

Let's see if I can pull all of this together, shall we? Here's an example. To create the classic fully-loaded Cilindan commando suit, you need to start with +6 Medium armor (5,000 credit base.) The commando suit has three integrated weapons, and each has a cost of 50 credits to install above the cost of the weapon itself. The radium pistol is therefore 550 (500 + 50), the flamethrower is 1050 (1000 + 50) and the missile launcher is 5050 (5000 + 50.) That brings the total for the armor so far to 11,650. Cilindan commando suits also grant a +1 to DEX (2000) and come equipped with scanners, which grant the Perception affinity (2000 + 25). This brings the total to 15,675. Adding in a commlink (50 + 25) a breath mask in the helmet (500 + 25) the jetpack (2000 + 25) and the utility cable (250 + 25), we get a grand total of 18,575 credits for a fully loaded Cilindan commando.

That's pretty pricey, but if you consider that we never see anyone in one who's conceivably lower than the mid-levels (and maybe quite a bit higher, for that matter) it can serve as a very rough guide of what a higher level character should be able to afford. I envision someone like an iconic Cilindan bounty hunter, for example, has the armor above, two heavy blaster pistols, his own small corvette or other personal space ship and is probably about a 7th or 8th level Soldier or Gunslinger.

As a very rough guide, a character should have equipment worth about his level x 3,000 or 4,000 credits to him, but that guide is meant to be very rough, and could vary considerably according to style. But keep in mind, that scrounging for equipment doesn't really ever seem to be an issue with any characters we ever see in the type of source material that this game is meant to emulate. This is one occasion where erring on the side of generosity will feel more true to the source material rather than erring on the side of stinginess. And that guideline isn't good for much other than a very rough estimate of how I personally would do it.

The converse consideration is that characters loaded down with tons of stuff doesn't really feature in swashbuckling space opera adventures either. A ship, maybe a speeder—these are big expenses, and where characters have them (as probably most should after a few levels) that makes loading up on armor or other equipment a bit more tricky. Another "sink" for credits besides ships and/or speeders would be a robot cohort, and robots can be pretty pricey if you load them up with gear and equipment. A standard repair droid can be created (as probably a 1st level expert and a ton of equipment listed here, including several affinity packages will easily be a several thousand credit sink. Depending on the format of your group of PCs, you might want to consider allowing the PCs to have a robot or two as a cohort, probably a couple of levels lower than the PCs, and probably not combat focused bots. An repair bot, for example, is an invaluable resource to the players, and frankly also to the GM, who can allow it to "soak up" all kinds of challenges due to their specialties, so the PCs themselves can just say, "R2, see what you can do with it" and expect R2 to provide some kind of solution.  Robot cohorts should cost 5,000 credits per level, plus whatever equipment they also have.

And finally, expensive gear like battle-suits, ships and Robots can get damaged, or even destroyed, requiring the PCs to spend their money all over again. Be careful about how you do this so the players don't feel like it's a punitive gesture, and you can get away with bleeding off accidentally overly generous credit allowances to replace a robot or fighter that got totally scrapped in a major combat.

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