Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why have high-tech Jack armor?

Armor TL Modifications for CT

It is common in the development of a technology that its earliest incarnations are bulkier, more expensive, and less efficient than later 'upgrades'. In High Guard, there is a progressively lower cost in credits and tonnage to apply a given level of armor to a ship. Although the Traveller Book does not discuss this, It makes sense that for personal combat equipment there can be a similar decrease in cost & weight as technology progresses.

Here I'm going to talk about upgrading PC's armor, by speculating on increases in function at higher tech levels. For simplicity's sake I am not going to introduce any new armor types – everything will reference the standard armor 'types'.

"Man, nothing's gonna hurt me in this suit. Wait, why can't I move my arms?"

There's an article in Dragon magazine which recommends tech level improvements to standard Traveller gear. The general concept as I recall it is for each TL past introduction, discount 5% from one of various factors – weight, price, effectiveness, size; to a maximum reduction of 99%

I have always understood the two sub-types from Bk4, Flak Vest (Cloth+1) & Cbt Env Suit (Cloth-1) as being slightly worse & slightly better respectively. So there is canon grounds for modifying and bettering personal armor.

But if there's Combat Armor at TL 11 why bother improving Jack armor?

This does require a little explanation. What if cultural or legal rather than practical factors are responsible? A civilian on a TL-15 planet may not be permitted by law or society to walk about in hardened armor or Battle Dress. But a bodysuit or jacket that is tougher than it appears to be can provide a level of protection while being unnoticeable and non-provocative, and therefore legal and acceptable. The Law Level tables only mention guns specifically, but restricting armor ownership makes sense as well. A man in Battle Dress is dangerous and hard to stop, even if he is weaponless.

How to make it work?

An overall DM of -1 combined with the existing table DMs should 'cost' at least 25% of available bonuses. Targeted DM's (versus specific weapons) can cost 5 (melee) or 10 (firearms) or 15 (energy weapons) percent.

Armor-TL      Weight Cost      Protection
Jack-1          1 kg      50        Melee
Mesh-7         2 kg      150       Melee, light guns
Cloth-6         2 kg      250      guns
Reflec-10      1 kg     1500     energy weapons
Ablat-9         2 kg      75        light guns, energy weapons

Here's an example of TL-9 Jack armor:

TL9-TL1=8, 8*5=40, so a total of 40% reduction. This could work out at an additional -1 defense DM, and 15% less weight. (850 g, down from 1000 g) price remains unchanged, but it's now a better deal as it's lighter and more resistant to weapons.

For the purposes of this project, let us consider each armor type as being not just one specific thing, but as an approach to personal protection.

Jack-class armor is clothes-like first and protection second. It is flexible, comfortable to wear and is meant to be subtle. This is low-level protection not meant for serious regular combat use.

Mesh-class armor is still clothes-like, but less so. It's heavier and with non-fabric components. This is armor that looks like armor, unless an effort is made to disguise it, like lining a coat with it.

Cloth-class armor is not clothes-like without serious and costly effort to hide it. It is of semi-rigid to rigid construction that is intended for regular combat use.

Reflec and Ablat are anti-laser armors, so do not need to be rigid, but rely on non-woven reflective components, so are in effect semi-rigid at best. Ablat is more bulky, so would only be clothes-like as outerwear such as cold-weather clothing. Reflec works best as a bodysuit arrangement which can be comfortable to wear but still noticeable.

Combat Armor or Battledress is full-on military armor, and has canonical tech-level improvements (see Striker), so it will not be dealt with here.

The real point of modifying armor is having another way to make the Traveller universe less generic in its equipment and gear, and better model the differences in tech levels. 

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