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Power Armor: Dex or Mech?
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Ninja-Bear
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2021 1:27 am    Post subject: Re: Power Armor: Dex or Mech? Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
I've never felt that Power Armor Operation really fit into the Mechanical skill category. Every description I've ever heard of power armor involved a suit that sensed the wearer's movements and augmented them via its own servos / musculature. That's a lot different from sitting in a ship or speeder's driver's seat, manipulating a steering yoke or whatever. To me, Power Armor seems much more a Dexterity skill.

Also, on a related note, if Power Armor is moved to Dexterity, would it be a better fit as a regular skill or as an Advanced Skill. And, if an Advanced Skill, what prerequisites?


I would say that it’s Power Armor is fine in Mechanical. If you ever look at other games, what’s in Mechanical is almost always under Dexterity. Star Wars is unique (at least under the games I own) whereas things like this and Technical is a separate skill/attribute.
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Whill
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2021 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I made it an advanced skill that has attribute prerequisites of Dexterity and Mechanical.
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2021 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you read Heinlein's Starship Troopers? He has a section where he speaks in detail on how a power armor interface could potentially function.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2021 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, I haven't read that book. I saw the movie in '97 and have almost no memory of that.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2021 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The movie had very little in common with the book, with the book being superior in every respect. I’ll see if I can find the appropriate passage and copy/paste here.
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2021 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
The movie had very little in common with the book, with the book being superior in every respect. I’ll see if I can find the appropriate passage and copy/paste here.



The third film, Marauders, had power suits..
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
The third film, Marauders, had power suits..

I didn't even know there were sequels until today, but I see they're non-theatrical sequels.

CRMcNeill wrote:
The movie had very little in common with the book, with the book being superior in every respect.

I didn't expect otherwise because that often seems to be the case for films adapted from books. I only mentioned the movie because it was my only frame of reference.

CRMcNeill wrote:
I’ll see if I can find the appropriate passage and copy/paste here.

That would be cool. Thanks.
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MrNexx
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2021 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've got it. Will edit this post.

From Chapter 7

Quote:

But I do want to mention a little about powered suits, partly because I was fascinated by them and also because was what led me into trouble. No complaints -- I rated what I got.

An MI lives by his suit the way a K-9 man lives by and with and on his doggie partner. Powered Armor is one-half the reason we call ourselves "mobile infantry" instead of just "infantry." (The other half are the spaceships that drop us and the capsules we drop in.) Our suits give us better eyes, better ears, stronger back (to carry heavier weapons and more ammo), better legs, more intelligence ("intelligence" in the military meaning; a man in a suit can be just as stupid as anybody else--only he better not be), more firepower, greater endurance, less vulnerability.

A suit isn't a space suit--although it can serve as one. It is not primarily armor--althought the Knights of the Round Table were not armored as well as we are. It isn't a tank--but a single MI private could take on a squadron of those things and knock them off unassisted if anybody was silly enough to put tanks against MI. A suit is not a ship, but it can fly, a little--on the other hand, neither spaceships nor atmosphere craft can fight against a man in a suit except by saturation bombing of the area he is in (like burning down a house to get one flea!). Contrariwise, we can do many things that no ship--air, submersible, or space--can do.

...

No need to describe what it looks like, since it has been pictured so often. Suited up, you look like a big steel gorilla, armed with gorilla-sized weapons. (This may be why a sergeant generally opens his remarks with "You apes — " however, it seems more likely that Caesar’s sergeants used the same honorific.)

But the suits are considerably stronger than a gorilla. If an M. I. in a suit swapped hugs with a gorilla, the gorilla would be dead, crushed; the M. I. and the suit wouldn’t be mussed.

The "muscles," the pseudo-musculature, get all the publicity but it’s the control of all that power which merits it. The real genius in the design is that you don’t have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin. Any sort of ship you have to leam to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking. Even riding a bicycle demands an acquired skill, very different from walking, whereas a spaceship oh, brother! I won’t live that long. Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians.

But a suit you just wear. Two thousand pounds of it, maybe, in full kit — yet the very first time you are fitted into one you can immediately walk, run, jump, lie down, pick up an egg without breaking it (that takes a trifle of practice, but anything improves with practice), dance a jig (if you can dance a jig, that is, without a suit) — and jump right over the house next door and come down to a feather landing.

The secret lies in negative feedback and amplification.

Don’t ask me to sketch the circuitry of a suit; I can’t. But I understand that some very good concert violinists can’t build a violin, either. I can do field maintenance and field repairs and check off the three hundred and forty-seven items from "cold" to ready to wear, and that’s all a dumb M. I. is expected to do. But if my suit gets really sick, I call the doctor — a doctor of science (electromechanical engineering) who is a staff Naval officer, usually a lieutenant (read "captain" for our ranks), and is part of the ship’s company of the troop transport — or who is reluctantly assigned to a regimental headquarters at Camp Currie, a fate-worse-than-death to a Navy man.

But if you really are interested in the prints and stereos and schematics of a suit’s physiology, you can find most of it, the unclassified part, in any fairly large public library. For the small amount that is classified you must look up a reliable enemy agent — "reliable" I say, because spies are a tricky lot; he’s likely to sell you the parts you could get free from the public library.

But here is how it works, minus the diagrams. The inside of the suit is a mass of pressure receptors, hundreds of them. You push with the heel of your hand; the suit feels it, amplifies it, pushes with you to take the pressure off the receptors that gave the order to push. That’s confusing, but negative feedback is always a confusing idea the first time, even though your body has been doing it ever since you quit kicking helplessly as a baby. Young children are still learning it; that’s why they are clumsy. Adolescents and adults do it without knowing they ever learned it — and a man with Parkinson’s disease has damaged his circuits for it.

The suit has feedback which causes it to match any motion you make, exactly — but with great force. Controlled force... force controlled without your having to think about it. You jump, that heavy suit jumps, but higher than you can jump in your skin. Jump really hard and the suit’s jets cut in, amplifying what the suit’s leg "muscles" did, giving you a three-jet shove, the axis of pressure of which passes through your center of mass. So you jump over that house next door. Which makes you come down as fast as you went up... which the suit notes through your proximity & closing gear (a sort of simple-minded radar resembling a proximity fuse) and therefore cuts in the jets again just the right amount to cushion your landing without your having to think about it.

And that is the beauty of a powered suit: you don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to drive it, fly it, conn it, operate it; you just wear it and it takes its orders directly from your muscles and does for you what your muscles are trying to do. This leaves you with your whole mind free to handle your weapons and notice what is going on around you... which is supremely important to an infantryman who wants to die in bed. If you load a mud foot down with a lot of gadgets that he has to watch, somebody a lot more simply equipped — say with a stone ax — will sneak up and bash his head in while he is trying to read a vernier.

Your "eyes" and your "ears" are rigged to help you without cluttering up your attention, too. Say you have three audio circuits, common in a marauder suit. The frequency control to maintain tactical security is very complex, at least two frequencies for each circuit both of which are necessary for any signal at all and each of which wobbles under the control of a cesium clock timed to a micromicrosecond with the other end — but all this is no problem of yours. You want circuit A to your squad leader, you bite down once — for circuit B, bite down twice — and so on. The mike is taped to your throat, the plugs are in your ears and can’t be jarred out; just talk. Besides that, outside mikes on each side of your helmet give you binaural hearing for your immediate surroundings just as if your head were bare — or you can suppress any noisy neighbors and not miss what your platoon leader is saying simply by turning your head.

Since your head is the one part of your body not involved in the pressure receptors controlling the suit’s muscles, you use your head — your jaw muscles, your chin, your neck — to switch things for you and thereby leave your hands free to fight. A chin plate handles all visual displays the way the jaw switch handles the audios. All displays are thrown on a mirror in front of your forehead from where the work is actually going on above and back of your head. All this helmet gear makes you look like a hydrocephalic
gorilla but, with luck, the enemy won’t live long enough to be offended by your appearance, and it is a very convenient arrangement; you can flip through your several types of radar displays quicker than you can change channels to avoid a commercial — catch a range & bearing, locate your boss, check your flank men, whatever.

If you toss your head like a horse bothered by a fly, your infrared snoopers go up on your forehead — toss it again, they come down. If you let go of your rocket launcher, the suit snaps it back until you need it again. No point in discussing water nipples, air supply, gyros, etc. — the point to all the arrangements is the same: to leave you free to follow your trade, slaughter.

Of course these things do require practice and you do practice until picking the right circuit is as automatic as brushing your teeth, and so on. But simply wearing the suit, moving in it, requires almost no practice. You practice jumping because, while you do it with a completely natural motion, you jump
higher, faster, farther, and stay up longer. The last alone calls for a new orientation; those seconds in the air can be used — seconds are jewels beyond price in combat. While off the ground in a jump, you can get a range & bearing, pick a target, talk & receive, fire a weapon, reload, decide to jump again without landing and override your automatics to cut in the jets again. You can do all of these things in one bounce, with practice.

But, in general, powered armor doesn’t require practice; it simply does it for you, just the way you were doing it, only better. All but one thing — you can’t scratch where it itches. If I ever find a suit that will let me scratch between my shoulder blades, I’ll marry it.

There are three main types of M. I. armor: marauder, command, and scout. Scout suits are very fast and very long-range, but lightly armed. Command suits are heavy on go juice and jump juice, are fast and can jump high; they have three times as much comm & radar gear as other suits, and a dead-reckoning tracker, inertial. Marauders are for those guys in ran ks with the sleepy look — the executioners.

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Last edited by MrNexx on Wed Jan 06, 2021 1:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2021 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
The third film, Marauders, had power suits..

Power suits should’ve been included from the beginning; they were an integral part of putting the “Mobile” in Mobile Infantry. The film would’ve been ten times better with humans in power armor suits slugging it out with bugs at close range.
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2021 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MrNexx wrote:
I've got it. Will edit this post.

Sweet. I was looking at having to copy/paste several pages over from my Kindle app...
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Incidentally, I have another Starship Troopers book...


It reads similarly to the solo adventures featured in various WEG material, and is designed around small unit command. I never really got into the game, but I may revisit it. It also has what I consider to be one of the more realistic depictions of MI Power Armor.
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Whill
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. In 4th and 5th grade, I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I collected the first 15 books in the series. The only one I still have is the original classic:



In junior high or high school my friend Mike had some more roleplaying-based versions that included dice rolls. I think they were called the Fighting Fantasy series.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was a fan of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, as well, and this book is more in line with the latter one you described. Combat is resolved with a pair of D6 and a series of result tables in the front of the book. Individual squads have stats that affect what table various results are rolled for, and some (such as Manpower or Morale) are raised or lowered by actions the reader (as the character of the sergeant commanding the squad) take between missions. In that sense, it's more in line with the various solo adventures WEG produced, in that it's in a Choose Your Own Adventure format, but with the combat choices made by the dice.
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