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Context

This technical article covers infantry weapons and armour in Mass Effect — the first game — adapted to the DC Heroes and Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition tabletop role-playing games.

For more context, see our general Mass Effect I setting article.


  • This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features non-canon hypotheses about in-game events and mechanics – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.

Small arms – overview

The guns in Mass Effect I are built around the Mass Effect – a tiny quantity of Element Zero controls the mass of the projectile. Slivers are shaved off a metal block by an internal mechanism, dumped into a mass accelerator, and given a much higher mass as they fly down the barrel.

These guns seldom have to be reloaded – though they’re given considerable mass, the slivers are tiny. However, shooting them generates a lot of heat and requires trigger control – sustained rapid fire will soon result in the gun shutting down to purge heat. There are no thermal clips yet – those appear in Mass Effect II.

For game purposes, we’re going to assume that Mass Effect are about twice as powerful as equivalent contemporary firearms. But the main advantage over firearms is that they do not use chemical propellants and conventional ammunition.

In terms of personal encumbrance, holding power and autonomy, adaptability to extreme and alien conditions, and most of all logistics and supplies, this is a huge development for infantry.

Mass Effect 1 guns in folded and combat mode

Between omni-tools and having sort-of-unlimited ammunition, small infantry units — company-level and below — are much more able to operate on their own.

Full maintenance requires specialised training and a dedicated computerised bench. The guns seem highly reliable though, except perhaps if they are repeatedly forced to shut down from overheating.

Like most modern equipment, weapons are recyclable. By entering special self-destruct sequences, they dissolve into omni-gel.

Packing

Thanks to the Element Zero within, firearms are very light – and they are advanced enough to be partially collapsible. When the safety is switched off, guns telescope out by about 30% in the soldier’s hands to adopt their combat size.

This makes it trivial to carry multiple weapons, and Shepard and her crew use the distinctive Marines Special Forces (MARSOC) webbing where each trooper carries 4 guns –

  • Pistol high on the hip.
  • Precision rifle on the back’s right side.
  • Assault rifle on the back’s left side.
  • Shotgun on the small of the back.

Even operatives who are not trained with most of these weapons will carry them all, since they mean little extra encumbrance and a gun is better than no gun.

Racking up the firepower

Weapons can accept upgrade modules, which are much like modern rail-on accessories, and specialised ammunition blocks, which give special properties to the slivers fired by the mass accelerator. This allows for adapting the weapon to a mission. Many upgrade modules can even be produced in the field using an omni-tool, provided that one has the proper libraries.

Weaponry and upgrades modules can be extremely expensive, in good part due to the Element Zero they use. Almost all military forces use baseline, mass-produced models with little E0 – but there’s a market for higher-end models. These cost months, years or even decades of pay for a private, and law enforcement agencies usually restrict sales of top shelf armaments so they won’t be outgunned by criminals.

Commander Shepard takes cover behind a low wall

Higher end weapons are markedly more powerful than basic weapons using very little Element Zero. They also come with targeting computers and target recognition software, which edit out factors such as darkness, particles in the air, recoil, projectile drop, variant gravity conditions, dense atmospheres, etc.

Since their projectiles fly faster and truer due to greater speed and mass, the expensive models are close to point-and-shoot use.

Based on the game’s HUD, it seems that guns can be plugged in to display information. One presumably plugs them in their omni-tool which processes the data then relays it to the armour’s visor or some other convenient display.


Small arms – game statistics

The weapons used by Shepard’s commandos after she becomes a Spectre are special-issue ordnance and much more powerful than run-of-the-mill Mass Effect-based firearms. These are about as much gun as you can build at this technology level, and are not commercially available to any customer.

Spectre-grade weapons can also be optimised in such a way as to negate the risks of weapon shutdown due to overheating, if needed.

For reference, we’ll list basic Alliance firearms compared to guns reserved to Spectres (the latter are noted with the “HM” armour reference). Most firearms will have stats similar to Alliance guns, Spectre guns are markedly above everything else, and various expensive firearms can be easily placed between the two.

Mass Effect 1 assault rifle

Lancer assault rifle

Our assumption is that these weapons are significantly more powerful than modern weapons – by about a factor of two.

In DC Heroes

DCH Kessler-I General Service Handgun [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, R#04, Drawback: Overheat].
DCH HMWP Master Spectre Pistol [BODY 05, Projectile weapons: 07, R#02, Advantage: Targeting 2, Drawback: Overheat].
DCH Storm-I Crew Shotgun [BODY 03, Shotgun blast (Range 03): 08, R#04, Drawback: Overheat].
DCH HMWSG Close Quarter Weapon [BODY 05, Shotgun blast (Range 03): 11, R#04, Advantage: Targeting 2, Drawback: Overheat].
DCH Lancer-I General Issue Assault Rifle [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 07, Telescopic vision: 01, R#04, Advantage: Autofire, Drawback: Overheat].
DCH HMWA Master Spectre Assault Rifle [BODY 05, Projectile weapon: 10, Range: 07, Telescopic vision: 01, R#02, Advantage: Autofire, Targeting 2, Drawback: Overheat, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead].
DCH Avenger-I Squad Marksman Rifle [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 06, Range: 09, Telescopic vision: 03, R#04, Drawback: Overheat, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead].
DCH HMWSR Master Spectre Long Rifle [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 11, Telescopic vision: 04, R#02, Advantage: Targeting 2, Drawback: Overheat].

Sniper over an alien valley

In DC Adventures

M&M Kessler-I General Service Handgun — Ranged Ballistic Damage 4 (Quirk – Overheat).
M&M HMWP Master Spectre Pistol — Ranged Ballistic Damage 6 (Quirk – Overheat), Precise Attack 2 (Ranged – Concealment, Physics).
M&M Storm-I Crew Shotgun — Shotgun Blast 7 (Quirk – Overheat).
M&M HMWSG Close Quarter Weapon — Shotgun Blast 10 (Quirk – Overheat), Senses 5 (Extended Visual, Counters Visual Concealment 4 (lighting, visual clutter, fog/gasses/vapour)), Precise Attack 1 (Ranged – Physics).
M&M Lancer-I General Issue Assault Rifle — Ranged Ballistic Multiattack Damage 6 (Quirk – Overheat), Senses 1 (Extended Visual).
M&M HMWA Master Spectre Assault Rifle — Ranged Ballistic Multiattack Damage 9 (Quirk – Overheat), Senses 5 (Extended Visual, Counters Visual Concealment 4 (lighting, visual clutter, fog/gasses/vapour)), Precise Attack 1 (Ranged – Physics), Ranged Attack 1.
M&M Avenger-I Squad Marksman Rifle — Ranged Ballistic Damage 5 (Quirk – Overheat), Senses 1 (Extended Visual), Ranged Attack 1, Improved Critical 1, Improved Range 1.
M&M HMWSR Master Spectre Long Rifle — Ranged Ballistic Damage 10 (Quirk – Overheat), Senses 5 (Extended Visual, Counters Visual Concealment 4 (lighting, visual clutter, fog/gasses/vapour)), Precise Attack 1 (Ranged – Physics), Ranged Attack 2, Improved critical 1.

Overheating in game terms

“Overheat” is a four-point Drawback (the equivalent of Ammo: 10) in DC Heroes, and a Quirk in DC Adventures. It means that the weapon cannot be fired continuously for too long, and the shooter must exercise fire discipline.

Trained soldiers will not generally encounter problems as they drill to fire in controlled bursts and monitor the heat output, but amateurs and people with temper issues can easily have their gun shut down to purge heat.

Even professionals will run into problems in specific situations, such as being rushed by hordes of radioactive zombies .

Whether a gun is about to shut down from overheating is left at the GM’s judgement – to avoid having to track numbers. If a gun does overheat, it shuts down for three Phases/round then automatically comes back online.

Advanced targeting

DCH In DC Heroes, Targeting is an Advantage that eliminates a CS of penalty to ranged attacks caused by poor conditions (lighting, Darkness, Fog, visual clutter and concealment such as foliage, unusual gravity, atmospheric density and conditions (such as rain and wind), range, etc.). Targeting 2 removes 2 such CSes of OV increase when taking a shot.

M&M In DC Adventures, Precise Attack (Physics) works like other Precise Attack Advantages. It compensates for attack penalties caused by physical conditions – such as a dense atmosphere, a gravity not close or equal to 1, strange magnetic fields and the like. This is chiefly useful to fight in space and on alien worlds.


Small arms – upgrades

ME1 weapons and ammunition modifications do not fit well with either DCA or DCH – the effects are too minor and specific. Furthermore, the concept of speciality ammunition is difficult to reconcile with tiny slivers of metal granted high speed and mass, and unlike video games pen-and-paper RPGs can just make up new guns as needed.

However, some players may be willing to put up with the extra complexity and marginal effects for a bit of extra flavour — or some GMs may want weapons mods to have dramatic effects than they do in the game.

Here are some possible approaches in DCA and DCH. Generally, these would have low Ranks/APs — notably less than the gun’s main Power — and significantly slow the game’s pace, since this is a lot of things to resolve for a single shot.

Mass Effect 1 sniper rifle

Mantis sniper rifle

Specialised ammunition in DC Heroes

DCH Armour-Piercing/Tungsten ammunition. Doesn’t translate as such as even the largest (+25%) bonus is too small, but you may wish to introduce actual armour-piercing (as opposed to synthetics-defeating) ammunition. See Weapons locker – Modern firearms v2 (part 5) on writeups.org.
DCH Anti-Personnel/Shredder round. Doesn’t translate either, and more conventional anti-personnel ammunition would make little sense – all military forces are armoured.
DCH Incendiary/Inferno rounds. Combined Use with a bit of Flame Project and Stagger (resisted by Flame Immunity). Note that the Flame Project part is resisted by kinetic shields.
DCH Cryo/Snowblind rounds. Combined Use with a bit of Ice Production (cold damage only) and Stagger (resisted by Cold Immunity). Note that the cold damage part is not something that can be resisted by kinetic shields.
DCH Explosive rounds. Will confer a 0-APs Area of Effect to the round, but the weapon will quickly overheat.
DCH Chemical/Polonium rounds. Combined with a very minor Poison Touch Power.
DCH Hammerhead/Sledgehammer rounds. Combined with Stagger APs and a few Poison Touch APs.
DCH Phasic/Proton rounds. Lowers APs by two, but bypasses kinetic shields since it is an energy bolt rather than a physical projectile.
DCH Radioactive rounds. Combined with a bit of Neutralise (Biotics).

Specialised ammunition in DC Adventures

M&M Armour-Piercing/Tungsten ammunition. Doesn’t translate as such as even the largest (+25%) bonus is too small, but you may wish to introduce actual armour-piercing (as opposed to synthetics-defeating) ammunition. See Weapons locker – Modern firearms v2 (part 5) on writeups.org.
M&M Anti-Personnel/Shredder round. Doesn’t translate either, and more conventional anti-personnel ammunition would make little sense – all military forces are armoured.
M&M Incendiary/Inferno rounds. Linked with a bit of Ranged Fire Damage, plus an Affliction (Dazed/Stunned, Limited Degree, resisted by Dodge and later by Toughness, as the target has to put out the fire). Note that kinetic shields work against these rounds.
M&M Cryo/Snowblind rounds. Linked with a bit of Ranged Cold Damage and either the same Affliction as for incendiaries, or Dazzle. Note that the Ranged Cold Damage is not blocked by kinetic shields.
M&M Explosive rounds. Will confer a Burst Area 1 to all but one Damage Rank of the round, but the weapon will quickly overheat.
M&M Chemical/Polonium rounds. Linked with some Ranged Poison Damage with a secondary Effect
M&M Hammerhead/Sledgehammer rounds. Linked with some Ranged Poison Damage with a secondary Effect, plus an Affliction (Dazed/Prone, Limited Degree, resisted by Dodge). The Affliction will have Ranks in the vicinity of the weapon’s Damage Rank.
M&M Phasic/Proton rounds. Two less Ranks of Damage than with normal ammo, but changes the Descriptor to Energy – which means ignoring kinetic shields.
M&M Radioactive rounds. Linked with a bit of Nullify (Biotics).

Mass Effect 1 pistol

Predator heavy pistol

Weapons upgrade

These are almost all fiddly adjustments to heat dispersion and recoil compensation – notions that do not work in either DCH or DCA.

Combat sensors work fine, however, and can be considerably more detailed than in the video game. Element Zero sensors (indicating weapons), life detectors, movement detectors, kinetic shield detectors, radar, lidar, etc. can all be brought into play (in DCA through various Senses effects, in DCH through various Detects, Life Sense, Radar sense, etc.).

Conversely, enemies with ECM such as geth hoppers can go for various subtle (Obscure in DCH, Concealment in DCA) and forceful (Neutralise/Nullify) attempts at denying sensors to the enemy.

Optical systems (such as night vision) are also curiously absent from Mass Effect. See our Modern Firearms part 5 article for modern systems that should logically exist in the Mass Effect universe.


Body armour – overview

Body armour can be envisioned as providing 5 layers :

  • Ballistic body glove.
  • Emission shielding.
  • Tactical augmentations.
  • Armour plating.
  • Mass Effect kinetic shields.

Emission shielding and kinetic shields will be covered in their own, separate sections.

Ballistic body glove

The ballistic body glove is like an advanced, full-body version of modern soft body armour. It is intended to protect against incidental impacts (such as shrapnel or light handgun rounds), the elements (including flames, radiation, etc.), and meliorate the effects of larger impacts to make medical intervention easier.

Ballistic body gloves exist in standard sizes, and curvaceous soldiers sometime complain about them being embarrassingly tight and hugging – even compared to the very tight clothing in prevalent use among Council species.

Tactical augmentations

Tactical augmentations are like weapon upgrades – “plug-ins” inserted into an armour suit. Standard suits have several networks of micro-capillaries built in, and augmentations can pump specialised liquids, gasses or gels through these circulatory systems to help protect against specific hazards.

The three weights of Colossus armor in Mass Effect 1

Typical plate loadouts for, from left to right, heavy, medium and light configurations of a Colossus armour.

Armour plating

Armour plating is fitted over standard mountpoints on ballistic body gloves, as individual plates protecting a body part. These are robust, and the heavier and thicker armour plates can reliably defeat standard-issue small arms.

However, a high-quality, comprehensive set of plates is very expensive, very heavy, very hot and requires a lot of experience to properly mount, maintain and repair.

Wearing full plating in a combat situation requires exceptional fitness, a lot of experience (as the heavier, larger plates start interfering with movements) and a specialised body-building regimen.

Soldiers joke that running around in heavy armour would be a perfectly valid Olympic event (which, for once, is not an exaggeration), and few troopers actually wear it outside of exercises.

Some plug-ins use the capillaries and flows of liquids to act as a sort of exoskeleton and amplify the wearer’s strength, but it actually ends up being more demanding on the wearer, who has to precisely control every movement they make.

Thus, body armour is often set in “light” or “medium” loadouts, only using some of the lighter plates. It is now common for manufacturers to market only a common light or medium armour plates loadout to reach customers who are not going to use the full, heavier plates set and are reluctant to pay for those.

Other functionalities

Hardsuits include protected housing for an omni-tool, magnetisable sole to walk on spaceship hulls during EVA, and medical systems to stabilise and minimise wounds. The later is not always popular (most systems have a tendency to ooze medi-gel on you at the least provocation) but is apparently very efficient at saving lives, limbs and organs.


Body armour – emission shield and kinetic shields

Emission shielding

It is possible to attack the workings of weapons and armours through electronic or biotic means. In both cases, the attacker generates a Mass Effect field to trigger unwanted reactions in the Element Zero powering enemy equipment.

Emission shielding (or “Hardening”) is here to lessen the impact from these assaults – apparently there’s no way to entirely block them. The real defence is that the Mass Effect generators can be rebooted fairly quickly, but unless some high-quality armour is beset by a low-powered assault, the disruption attack will likely succeed to some degree.

Emission shielding also protects the equipment of the armoured person — such as weapons — which implies that it’s an aura around the person, like a Mass Effect kinetic shield. Furthermore, hardening seems to play a role in defending against raw Mass Effect force assaults, such as telekinetic force (though it’s hard to tell in-game).

The score in Hardening is added to any resistance value of the armour-wearer against Mass Effect-powered assault, whether of an electronic or a biotic nature.

DCH In DC Heroes Hardening is an RV-boosting Power like Flame Immunity or Cold Immunity.
M&M In DC Adventures this is a Protection effect with a Limited 3 Flaw (only protects against Element Zero disruption).

Note that in either game, Hardening scores will be low.

Kinetic shields overview

Kinetic shields are deployed invisibly around the wearer. Their power is chiefly determined by the amount of Element Zero in the suit. On a solid hit, the shield can be seen working as space itself ripples and glows around the impact.

Commander Shepard and Lieutenant Alenko on Eden-Prime

From context, it seems that what kinetic shields do is strip incoming objects of their mass as they enter their Mass Effect field, leaving them to impact with negligible energy. The process seems to work much better on mass that has been increased by the Mass Effect than the “native” mass of the object.

Thus, Mass Effect-based shields have the following limits :

  • They can only affect so much non-enhanced mass at once – presumably a few hundred grams for a suit of body armour’s shield (mass at rest, at 1G, before Mass Effect augmentation is applied). They thus excel against bullets, projectiles from Mass Effect-based personal weaponry, and presumably arrows and the like, but won’t have much of an effect against a larger projectile like a cannonball.
    On a vehicular level, this is presumably why large spaceships such as dreadnoughts are valued, since one imagines that they can shoot projectiles that are too large for the shields of smaller ships to handle.
  • As a consequence, melee attacks will not be affected by a kinetic shield, unless they are delivered by Tinker Bell . A soldier hitting with the stock of their rifle is way too much mass for a personal kinetic shield to handle.
  • Shields can only generate so much power at once – nullifying mass degrades their integrity, though the shield will rebuild capacity over time. Thus, gunfire that doesn’t penetrate the shield right away will weaken it, and sustained fire will generally end up overwhelming it. One big hit by a powerful projectile may consume all your shield’s energy at once.
  • As a result, a common doctrine is to take cover once your personal kinetic shield has been weakened, to let it rebuild capacity. Firefights tend to feature furious action, interspersed with lulls as opponents manoeuvre under cover as their shields recover. If one side has the upper hand, they may instead wish to seize the moment as they have healthier shields than their battered opponents do, and move in.
  • Impacts that are too heavy for the shield to absorb will not weaken kinetic shields. Presumably there’s a safety of sorts that prevents then from burning out futilely against heavy objects, letting it pass through unimpeded.
  • Slow collisions will also pass through a shield. For instance you can sit on a chair with your shield on since this is a slow impact – the chair will not have its mass nullified and fly away. And it’s too heavy for a personal shield to affect, anyway.
  • Energy attacks will ignore a shield since they don’t have mass. This is what specialised ammunition such as photonic rounds and Snowblind rounds rely on. However, this ammunition is inefficient – the Mass Effect universe seldom features energy weaponry.

Ashley Williams maintaining mass effect shotguns

Kinetic shields game statistics

In order to keep things simple, the rules in this section depict a slightly different behaviour for kinetic shields between DC Heroes and DC Adventures as they are integrated in the logic of each system.

DCH The MEK Shield Power in DC Heroes
Physical Power
Link: Body
Range: Self
Type: Auto
Base Cost: 5 + (RV*5)
Factor Cost: Equal to the RV minus two

MEK Shields (Mass Effect Kinetic Shield) automatically defend against ranged Physical Attacks with a mass-at-rest of, arbitrarily, less than 400 grams (14 ounces). They do not normally offer protection against other attacks.

MEK Shields have a fixed RV against these attacks, which is listed in the name of the Power. For instance, a MEK3 Shield Power always has a RV of 03, whereas a MEK7 Shield Power always has a RV of 07.

The APs of Power act like Damage Capacity – these are the “hit points” of the kinetic shield, its BODY Condition. Once the Current Condition of the shield has been reduced to 0 it stops protecting. The attack that reduced the Shield to zero can attack what the shield protected, but its EV will be reduced by as many APs as the RAPs it inflicted to the Shield.

MEKx Shields regenerate their Current Condition at a rate of one AP per Phase.

MEK3 Shield is the normal level for body armour ; MEK7 Shield is suitable for a lightly armoured vehicle. The M35 Mako has APs in a MEK10 Shield (with a RV of 10). Battle tanks would presumably be about MEK13, and various sorts of spacehips have high-level MEK Shields. This chiefly represents the fact that, while light weapons will technically damage the shields, they rebuild capacity quickly enough to withstand such gunfire forever.

Note: The APs in MEKx Shields are generally high, since they correspond to “hit points” rather than traditional APs. As they fulfil a different role they do not exist on the same scale as, say, Energy Blast, and will often be the highest number on the character sheet. Campaigns that use house-ruled caps on APs for characters should keep that in mind.

Note: Since the Current Condition of the shield will vary a lot (unless it’s at max capacity and not being hit) players are encouraged to use 2d10 as a display of the Current Condition, or perhaps small solar-powered calculator displaying the current value if people tend to accidentally knock the dice off.

DCH MEK Shield Disruption in DC Heroes
Physical Power

Link: Strength
Range: Normal
Type: Dice
Base Cost: 5
Factor Cost: 1

Mass Effect features attacks that are specifically meant to disrupt Mass Effect kinetic shields – usually with a countering Mass Effect field. These are also handled in DC Heroes by a specific Power, called MEK Shield Disruption.

This Power damages the MEK Shield Power, lowering its Current Condition. It attacks the normal AV/RV for the MEK Shield being targeted – AV based on the wearer and circumstantial bonuses and penalties, RV based on the level of the shield (3 for a human-sized shield) and circumstantial bonuses and penalties.

If a MEK Shield Disruption gains enough RAPs to reduce the Current Condition of a MEK Shield to zero, the extra RAPs do not have any effect.

MEK Shield Disruption can use its APs as AV, even in campaigns where Powers are not generally assumed to be their own AV.

Mass Effect 1 shotgun

M&M MEK Shield (Defence) in DC Adventures
Action: None
Range: Personal
Duration: Permanent (when turned on)
Cost: 3 points per Rank

MEK (Mass Effect Kinetic) Shield protect against small, fast projectiles – arbitrarily 400 grams (14 onces). The Descriptor of such attacks is usually Ballistic, but some use another Descriptor (for instance a crossbow bolt with Piercing would probably be handled by a MEK Shield) and some Ballistic attacks are too large for a human-sized MEK Shield to stop.

MEK Shields do not work against melee attacks unless they’re delivered by minuscule creatures at great speed.

A MEK Shield can absorb has many degrees of failure on your Toughness defence has it has Ranks. For instance, a MEK Shield with three Ranks could absorb an attack where you failed by three (one degree of failure), then another attack where you failed by seven (two degrees of failure).

Absorbing degrees of failure on Toughness rolls depletes the shield – so in our example 3-Rank shield absorbing 1 degree of failure becomes a 2-Rank shield, then an inactive shield after absorbing the next two degrees of failure.

MEK Shields recover Ranks over time – keep your head down, avoid getting hit and let the generator rebuild capacity. In game terms, you can spend either a Move Action or a Standard action to recover one Rank of MEK Shield during a given round.

As long as one Rank of MEK Shield is active, you are considered to have the Uncanny Dodge Advantage – though it only applies against the sort of attacks MEK Shields defend against.

EXTRAS
Alternate Descriptor: some sort of shields may defend against other sorts of attack – rather than defend against a set roughly similar to the Ballistic Descriptor. See our New Rules article for a hierarchy of attack Descriptors – an alternate type of shield would protect against something from the Limited 3 group.

FLAWS
Slow recovery: with this Flaw, the shield only regains one Rank per minute, though you don’t have to spend Actions for this recovery to take place (-2 cost per Rank)

POWER LEVEL CONSIDERATIONS
This unique mechanic is difficult to fit in the PL calculation without extensive playtests. For now we will treat each Rank as two Ranks of Toughness for the Dodge/Toughness PL number of our writeups.

This number is based on small projectiles being the most common form of attack in the Mass Effect universe, which is where our writeups employing this mechanic all exist.

Limiting the number of Ranks to half the campaign’s PL would probably make sense if used in a game (and if you use it in a game, please tell us how it works for you).

ALTERNATIVES
Players unconvinced by this approach may prefer to use Protection, Limited 3 to Ballistic, Fades – at about three times the Ranks listed for MEK Shield. This is much simpler, but completely changes the distinctive tempo of a by-the-book Mass Effect gunfight with slowly regenerating shields.

M&M The MEK Shield Disruption Power in DC Adventures
This is a Damage Effect, but with a Limited 3 Flaw since it will only damage the target’s kinetic shield, not the target itself. Degrees of failure on the Toughness defence that exceed Ranks of Kinetic Shield have no effect.

Since this Effect doesn’t actually inflict damage it doesn’t count against PL restrictions – between this and the Flaw it can be had at a significantly higher Rank than straight Damage Effects.

Alien world with a red moon


Body armour – game statistics

Just like with the guns, we’ll review some baseline military hardsuits, and the top-shelf, very hard to procure and hideously expensive equipment used by Shepard and her operators. Other suits of armour can be placed between the two (or even slightly below the baseline, for cheap security armour).

The Hydra seems to be the standard Alliance body armour, with the Special Forces using the Onyx armour – though it has the same in-game stats. The super-high-end armour is the Colossus. Like with weapons, we’re assuming low Mass Effect equipment ranks for the baseline models.

In DC Heroes

DCH HYDRA LIGHT BODY ARMOUR [BODY (Hardened) 08, Cling: 04, Cold immunity: 02, Flame immunity: 02, Hardening: 01, Lightning immunity: 03, MEK3 Shield: 11, Radio communications (Booster): 01, Sealed systems: 11, Shade: 01, Skin armour: 03, Medicine (First aid): 02, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin armour only against Sharp Impact].
DCH COLOSSUS LIGHT BODY ARMOUR [BODY (Hardened) 10, Cling: 04, Cold immunity: 02, Flame immunity: 03, Hardening: 03, Lightning immunity: 04, MEK3 Shield: 16, Radio communications (Booster): 02, Sealed systems: 12, Shade: 03, Skin armour: 03, Medicine (First aid): 04, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin armour only against Sharp Impact].
DCH HYDRA MEDIUM BODY ARMOUR [BODY (Hardened) 08 /BODY/ 04, Cling: 04, Cold immunity: 02, Flame immunity: 03, Hardening: 01, Lightning immunity: 03, MEK3 Shield: 13, Radio communications (Booster): 01, Sealed systems: 11, Shade: 01, Skin armour: 03, Medicine (First aid): 02, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin armour only against Sharp Impact].
DCH COLOSSUS MEDIUM BODY ARMOUR [BODY (Hardened) 11 /BODY/ 04, Cling: 05, Cold immunity: 02, Flame immunity: 03, Hardening: 02, Lightning immunity: 04, MEK3 Shield: 18, Radio communications (Booster): 03, Sealed systems: 12, Shade: 03, Skin armour: 04, Medicine (First aid): 04, Recommended STR 02, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin armour only against Sharp Impact].
DCH HYDRA HEAVY BODY ARMOUR [BODY (Hardened) 09 /BODY/ 04, Cling: 04, Cold immunity: 02, Flame immunity: 03, Hardening: 01, Lightning immunity: 04, MEK3 Shield: 15, Radio communications (Booster): 01, Sealed systems: 11, Shade: 01, Skin armour: 03, Medicine (First aid): 02, Recommended STR 03, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin armour only against Sharp Impact].
DCH COLOSSUS HEAVY BODY ARMOUR [BODY (Hardened) 12 /BODY/ 05, Cling: 05, Cold immunity: 02, Flame immunity: 03, Hardening: 02, Lightning immunity: 05, MEK3 Shield: 20, Radio communications (Booster): 03, Sealed systems: 12, Shade: 03, Skin armour: 04, Medicine (First aid): 04, Recommended STR 03, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin armour only against Sharp Impact].

The Radio communications (Booster) notation indicates that the APs are added, using normal maths, to the APs of the omni-tool’s Radio Communications as it amplifies the signal.

Commander Shepard, Wrex and Garrus about to enter a mine on an alien world

In DC Adventures

M&M HYDRA LIGHT BODY ARMOUR — Protection 5 (Quirk 2 – not against blunt and many energy descriptors), Immunity 5 (environment descriptors, Limited 1 to half-effect), Treatment 5 (+5) (Limited 2 to Revive and Stabilise), MEK Shield 1, Movement 1 (Wall-crawling, Limited 1 to magnetic surfaces).
M&M COLOSSUS LIGHT BODY ARMOUR — Protection 6 (Quirk 2 – not against blunt and many energy descriptors) (Extra – 2 Ranks of Impervious), Immunity 5 (environment descriptors, Limited 1 to half-effect), Treatment 8 (+8) (Limited 2 to Revive and Stabilise), MEK Shield 1, Movement 1 (Wall-crawling, Limited 1 to magnetic surfaces).
M&M HYDRA MEDIUM BODY ARMOUR — Protection 6 (Quirk 2 – not against blunt and many energy descriptors), Immunity 5 (environment descriptors, Limited 1 to half-effect), Treatment 6 (+6) (Limited 2 to Revive and Stabilise), MEK Shield 1, Movement 1 (Wall-crawling, Limited 1 to magnetic surfaces).
M&M COLOSSUS MEDIUM BODY ARMOUR — Protection 7 (Quirk 2 – not against blunt and many energy descriptors) (Extra – 4 Ranks of Impervious), Immunity 5 (environment descriptors, Limited 1 to half-effect), Treatment 8 (+8) (Limited 2 to Revive and Stabilise), MEK Shield 2, Movement 1 (Wall-crawling, Limited 1 to magnetic surfaces).
M&M HYDRA HEAVY BODY ARMOUR — Protection 6 (Quirk 2 – not against blunt and many energy descriptors), Immunity 5 (environment descriptors, Limited 1 to half-effect), Treatment 6 (+6) (Limited 2 to Revive and Stabilise), MEK Shield 2, Movement 1 (Wall-crawling, Limited 1 to magnetic surfaces).
M&M COLOSSUS HEAVY BODY ARMOUR — Impervious Protection 8 (Quirk 2 – not against blunt and many energy descriptors), Immunity 5 (environment descriptors, Limited 1 to half-effect), Treatment 8 (+8) (Limited 2 to Revive and Stabilise), MEK Shield 3, Movement 1 (Wall-crawling, Limited 1 to magnetic surfaces).

The Protection will work against Heat, Flame, Cold and Electricity, as the armours are thermally and electrically insulated. Other energy-based Descriptors (Energy, Biotic, Laser, Plasma, Telekinetic, etc.) will generally ignore the Protection.

The “environment descriptors” mentioned in Immunity are all forms of suffocation, disease, and environmental cold, heat, high pressure, glare/bright light, radiation and vacuum. Treatment is done by the suit’s Virtual Intelligence, and can be performed even if the wearer is unconscious – but it can only performed on the wearer.

Armor upgrades

As with weapons, many upgrades do not translate well or have effects too minor to be represented in DCA or DCH. However, some possibilities, particularly for the most expensive and powerful upgrades, are:

  • Medical systems – a more powerful wound treatment system built into the armour. Can add one or two APs/Ranks of Regeneration plus some Systemic Antidote (DCH) or Enhanced Fortitude (DCA). In DCH, Invulnerability (with a five minutes onset time) is also a definite possibility on the most expensive systems.
  • Kinetic systems – in the game those augment on-the-move accuracy, but the fluff indicates that the best such systems might provide APs of Acrobatics (Athletics) (DCH) or Enhanced Skill (Athletics) (DCA).
  • Strength systems – either /STR/ higher by one AP than the wearer’s STR (DCH) or Enhanced STR 1 (DCA). Combat exos will also add Joined: 01 (DCH) or a Feature (User’s mass considered one Rank higher against involuntary displacement) (in DCA).
  • Shield interfaces – simply add Mass Effect kinetic shields capacity.


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By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Mass Effect (first game).

Helper(s): Pawsplay and Jack of Spade for several bits of DCA mechanics ; Darci, Roy Cowan.

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