Game: Battle Armor II: Bigger, Tougher, Cooler
Publisher: Interactive Design Adventures
Review Dated: 25th, July 2005
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
“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.