The Well-Dressed Hero

   With the exception of James Bond and (to some extent) Stargate SG1, most of the metahumans, star travelers, secret agents, and other high-tech heroes that you see running around in comics, movies, and television series, seem to make a habit of battling terrible foes, visiting strange planets, and strolling into unknown (but generally awful) situations in ordinary clothing, and without much in the way of equipment.

   Why do they do that when they could just as readily wear, at a minimum, some light tailored body armor, carry a few useful gadgets, and have a much better chance of coming back?

   Darkwolf concluded that it was just because they didn’t know a good tailor.

   Being a superhumanly brilliant scientist-engineer, he created an automated tailoring system for his superhero team, the Knight-Errants – and added a bunch of useful options to their costumes to help out a bit.

   Those Marvel Super Hero costumes proved so popular that versions (usually labeled “Smartclothes”) have wandered over into Champions, Rifts, d20, Aberrant, Trinity, and several other game systems over the ensuing years.

   Since I’ve recently been reminded of those long-ago games, here we have the…

   Knight-Errant Costumes:

   Standard Knight-Errant costumes are computer-tailored according to the specifications provided by the systems user and normally include three special functions, two kits, and four minor devices as chosen by the wearer / designer as well as the standard-issue Transceiver and Auto-medpack. Please note that the tailoring programs are set to conform to accepted standards of public decency; if you wish to disable this feature select “private wardrobe” on the main menu, please don’t hack the system.

Special Functions: Kits: Minor Devices:
Bio-enhancement Artists Kit Binoculars
Body Armor Chemical Testkit Blade
Chameleon Web Civilian Clothing Flechette Gun
Converter/Projector Criminology Kit Linecaster
Holographic Imager Disguise Lockpicks
Mask Electronics Tools LR Transceiver
Microcomputer Escape Kit Oxygen Mask
NBC Seal Espionage Kit Pocket Parachute
Optical Scan First Aid Kit Pocket Torch
Power Adaption Magicians Kit Penlight
Power Nullifier Multiscanner Sewing kit
Psi-screen Photographers Kit Spray Tube
Remote Modem Pocket Computer Stimpills
Repulsion Field Pocket Toolkit Super glue
Sensor Web Restraint Kit Swiss Army Knife
Skintight Survival Pack Towel
Tactical Display Thieves Kit Translator
Wrist Blasters Weapons Pack Wire Saw

   Special Functions:

  • Bioenhancement: These systems are designed to improve (really) lousy attributes. Sadly, they can only boost one attribute (Agility, Strength, or Endurance), the improvement is only two ranks (to a maximum of “excellent”), and the attribute it helps must be selected when the costume is designed. This can be taken twice – if a character is that badly off.
  • Body Armor: Offers good (10) protection from physical attacks and excellent (20) protection against energy damage, including heat and cold. This can be upgraded to the remarkable (30) level if the user doesn’t mind wearing obvious armor.
  • Chameleon Web: Lets the user alter the color(s) and/or details of the costume. While this is normally limited to a dozen or so preprogrammed selections, adding the micro-computer system lets you program “on the fly” or set it to “merge” with the background. This isn’t invisibility, but it is roughly equivalent to “good” stealth.
  • Converter/Projector: This system must be tailored to the user, since it is designed to extend the range of his or her powers. In essence, it generates a beam which acts as a “carrier” for one of the users energy-based powers with a range of about three areas. The converter function may come into play if the user lacks an appropriate power. In this case, the unit can be set to convert energy from another ability into physical form. In all cases, both the input and the output forces must be specified in advance.
  • Holographic Imager: Due to the amount of data storage and processing power required, this can project a maximum of two preset images, usually a civilian identity and the “hero in costume”. It’s often used by those with blatantly nonhuman appearances or those who want to conceal both their “heroic” and civilian identities.
  • Mask: A circuitry web that conceals the wearers paranormal abilities – within limits. Any which involve gross physical modifications (Look kid, you turn into a dragon. It can’t hide that.), “noisy” external manifestations (It will hide your ability to throw lightning bolts madam – but the attacks are kinda obvious.), or which are at or above the “unearthly” rank (Look, Galactus baby, stealth is not your thing, kapeesh?), can only be partially concealed at best. Within these restrictions, it is fairly reliable at deflecting technological scans, making the wearer “look” like a baseline human. It is less reliable against superhuman abilities and ineffective against magic.
  • Microcomputer: Acts as chronometer, calculator, mini-recorder, and pocket secretary. It is capable of running a fair selection of programs (including video games), but has relatively limited memory space. It is most useful in conjunction with additional microelectronic systems.
  • NBC Seal: This “system” requires the use of an oxygen mask to be fully effective, but can be handy without one. The costume is impervious or resistant to most chemicals, microorganisms, and moderate levels of nuclear radiation. Where relevant, this is equivalent to Rm/Ex/Gd protection, increased to In/Am/Ex with an oxygen mask.
  • Optical Scan: This straightforward visual enhancement circuit can only be used on a costume which includes some form of mask, but is otherwise simple enough. It supplies “good” IR and UV vision, as well as providing “excellent” protection from visual and sonic attacks.
  • Power Adaption: The classic “unstable molecules” bit, wherein the costume adapts to any weird powers its wearer possesses. This counts as a system since it makes it much harder to incorporate other items.
  • Power Nullifier: This is usually reserved for people with uncontrollable powers – but anyone can have it if they really want it. The circuit is individually tuned, and will have no effect on anyone else. It can be overridden by a strong, conscious, effort to use your power(s), or simply switched on and off.
  • Psiscreen: A basic electronic psiscreen, providing Ex protection from mental attacks. It cannot be expanded to protect an area, but is otherwise identical to the power.
  • Remote Modem: Unlike the version which comes with the microcomputer, this is an advanced gadget capable of high-speed data transmissions, linking into electronic systems within one area, and maintaining a simultaneous link with a remote “friendly” mainframe and local system. It’s a good way to tap computer systems, get quick readouts of public information, and get some help from your friendly “local” hacker back at home. Breaking computer security or almost any circuit override requires a reason FEAT roll, normally at -3 CS, -1 CS if using a pocket computer instead of the microcomputer listed above.
  • Repulsion Field: This circuit generates a low-powered electrostatic “force field”, channeled through the fibers of the costumes outer fabric. In practice, this makes the user extremely “slippery”, giving the user a +3 CS on any attempt to escape from being grappled or entangled. The field can be used offensively by increasing its intensity to the point of inflicting good electrical damage to anyone touching the user.
  • Sensor Web: This system includes the powers of energy detection, environmental awareness, and life detection, if in a limited form and at only “typical” rank. Analysis is possible – but the user must ask specific, and relatively simple, questions, at a rate of two per round. The system will trigger an automatic warning of dangerous conditions (high radiation levels, airborne toxins, and so on) – but otherwise must be consciously directed.
  • Skintight Another classic. “Costumes” tailored using this “system” are those minimalist, clinging, things with no visible means of support, body stockings, and so on. All of these should, by rights, get shredded in fights, offer less pocket space then swimming trunks, make their wearer look ridiculous if he/she is half a pound over- or under- weight, pinch, only look good on professional models, and take several people to get on and off – but the tailoring program manages somehow. It does, however, complicate its job enough to make it harder to incorporate other items.
  • Tactical Display: This electronic package operates as an inertial locater, map display, and monitor. It “picks up” sizable living things, major energy sources, walls, and so on, within two areas with “excellent” ability – but is generally incapable of fine discrimination. As a rule, it displays local structures (blue), “friendly” (transceiver coded) life forms (green), “threatening” (displaying major abilities, size, weaponry, or power armor), living things (red), and “other” life forms (yellow), and major machinery or energy sources (white). Sadly, all this useful data comes in the form of little colored dots on a sketchy map. The overall effect in combat is a +1CS (“amazing” maximum) on the users intuition. Outside combat, it’s mostly good for finding things.
  • Wrist Blasters: These are designed for the occasional “trained normal” hero, the people with lots of skills but no actual powers beyond decent attributes. These gadgets are tuned to the users individual bioenergy fields, which they amplify and project as electrical or concussive bolts. Such attacks have a range of two areas and inflict damage of up to the users endurance rank. Due to their link with the users personal energies, such blasters can be used to develop power stunts. The wristlets also contain some six other small compartments which may be used for additional weaponry, devices, or gear.

   Pocket Kits:

  • Artists Kit: This kit contains paper, pencils, pens, packets of paint, brushes, pastels, or whatever else the user decides to put in. The “standard” high-tech variant includes paper, a multi-pigment wand with a great variety of tips, fixative spray, a laser microscriber, an adjustable pencil, a paper processor, and various refills / minor devices. With practice, this kit can be substituted for a wide variety of other artists gear with superior results. With a few modifications this package can also be used to forge documents at (Agility + 1CS).
  • Chemical Testkit: A selection of instruments, probes, testing chemicals, analyzers, and a microcomputer, allowing the user to analyze chemical traces, run comparisons, and check for contaminants, as well as whatever else the user can talk the GM into. Sadly, this is not a mad scientists laboratory – the user is subject to a -5CS when trying to use the kit for purposes other than running tests.
  • Civilian Clothing: This is not so much a kit as it is an alternative, an especially-designed and manufactured set of clothing which can be readily packed into an extremely small space – without becoming unwearable. It’s handy to have if something nasty happens to somebody’s costume, but is more often used by those with tight schedules (or busy social lives).
  • Criminology Kit: A “pocket detectives” kit, including a selection of small items to help analyze and preserve any physical evidence. It includes specimen vials, tweezers, fingerprint powder, a magnifying glass, a DNA “analyzer”, thermometer, voice printer, ballistics analysis, jewelers loupe, spray-on plastic foam (for making casts), a simple camera and film, mini-recorder, sketching materials, stopwatch, a “sniffer” wand (detects traces of several common chemicals used in arson, explosives, gunpowder residue, and so on), a halogen flashlight, and a blood typer.
  • Disguise Kit: This is essentially a high-tech variant on the classical stage makeup chest, the major difference being that it only comes off using solvent. Other, minor, improvements include “natural” feel, adjustable color(s), improved hair dyes, a microcomputer mirror which supplies directions, colored contact lenses, and so on. Disguises applied using this kit are usually of the Ex or Rm ranks, but this can be modified by the users personal talents.
  • Electronics Toolkit: Contains a variety of miniature tools and components needed for electrical/electronic work, including a; mini-laser cutter/soldering iron, multi-meter, frequency generator, mini-oscilloscope, patchcords, wire, solder, watchmakers tools, chip puller, small pliers/wire strippers, razor, magnifier eyepiece, etcetera.
  • Escape Kit: This “kit” includes a selection of hidden devices built into the users costume as well as some more obvious items in a packet. A body search will reveal the packet, but the concealed items are likely to pass casual scrutiny. Between the lock picks, wire saw, explosive and/or corrosive pellets, electronic scrambler, and other items, the user should have a good (green reason FEAT) chance at escaping from imprisonment, even barring the use of other equipment or powers.
  • Espionage Kit: A kit sure to delight the heart of any junior spy, including a selection of tracers, bugs, wire- taps, and contact microphones, tempest monitor, telephone scrambler, mini-camera, parabolic microphone, bug detector and jammer, white noise generator, knock-out drops, tracing powder and detector, mini-laser drill/microphone, RF tracer, voice mask, needle launcher, and sodium pentothal. All of this stuff fits neatly into a small pocket kit – possible only because such gear is tiny to begin with.
  • First Aid Kit: Despite high-tech, miniaturization, and user-friendly design, this is still only a pocket kit. It is useful to a physician (+1CS), and lets almost anyone use the equivalent of the “first aid” talent, but simply does not contain the necessary supplies, tools, and drugs needed for major interventions. The “advanced” version does, but counts as a second kit. The “advanced” kit should only be employed by those with good medical skills, as the drugs, instruments, antitoxins, and implements, it contains can be quite dangerous in unskilled hands. Applied correctly, it allows an extra “recovery” each day, lets the user roll a reason FEAT roll to counter toxins and diseases, and so on. All such rolls include the +1CS from the basic kit.
  • Magicians Kit: The contents of this “kit” are usually specified by the user, but the “generic” version contains such “common” ritual items as; chalk, herbs, soft candles (usable as either candles or a supply of wax), an incense burner, tarot cards, oil, a shallow dish, a silver blade, string, a pendulum bob, some rock salt, a silk cloth, and a variety of other minor supplies. None of this stuff is of any real use in higher sorcery – but it will allow the user to work a wide variety of minor ritual magics (Fb to Typ effects) and is of minor utility (+3% on the roll) in more important ritual undertakings.
  • Multiscanner: This kit is actually a calculator-sized instrument package able, in skilled hands, to duplicate a wide variety of detection powers – notably; Energy and Life Detection, Environmental Awareness, and a limited version of Penetration Vision (only to determine internal structures of objects). These operate at three ranks below the users reason rank – reflecting the users ability to operate the unit and interpret the results. Skills will modify any required FEAT rolls but don’t alter the basic rank.
  • Photographers Kit: While this little kit does include a still camera and a tiny developing system, it’s primarily devoted to digital audiovisual recordings, suitable as-is for image enhancement and computer analysis. It includes a variety of telephoto, wide-angle, and exotic lenses, as well as a tiny color printer. It is even capable of low-light, thermal-, micro-, and underwater photography. This is all stored on non-volatile memory chips, allowing a total of about 48 hours worth of recorded material.
  • Pocket Computer: About the size of a common paperback book, this device is a high-powered personal computer and pocket secretary. It’s only real problem is that the keyboard is too small for easy manipulation. In game terms, it has Gd reason, Ex material strength, a cellular link / modem, and almost unlimited optical / holographic memory. It is often combined with the remote modem system (Q.V.) as the range and power of its internal transmitter is severely limited. It can also be linked with the usual transceiver or the microcomputer system, allowing the user to call up special functions without bothering to get it out.
  • Pocket Toolkit: Contains a selection of small tools, suitable for a wide variety of minor mechanical repairs and tinkering. The assortment includes a set of “watchmakers” tools, a laser torch, an adjustable wrench, small pliers, sonic cleanser, a mini-drill (with various attachments), a jewelers lope, files, screwdrivers, and a memory metal bar (usable as a prybar, hammer, axe, saw, wrench handle, and several other tools) as well as a small assortment of other small tools and supplies. While a poor substitute for a full-sized tool chest, this is far better than nothing.
  • Restraint Kit: This kit contains a variety of devices designed to restrain people. It includes several sets of handcuffs (Mn material), knock-out drugs (relatively slow acting, but of Am effectiveness, duration of about twelve hours), inhibitor and nullifier bands, a blindfold, some duct tape, and a gag.
  • Survival Pack: Nutrient tablets, two “space blankets” (also usable as tarps or sleeping bags), distress beacon, signal mirror, wire saw, pen-type flare launcher (and six flares), full condenser/heater flask, water purification, stimulant, salt, and pyroconcentrate tablets, fishhooks and line, lighter, compass (cover acts as a magnifying lens), penlight, cord (500 Lb test), 12 pencil-sized steel pegs, gloves, sunglasses, sewing packet, survival manual, three filter straws, monocular, a memory-metal bar (usable as a hammer, axe, small shovel, knife, saw, .22 rifle barrel and stock), 50 cartridges, and the .22 firing mechanism. The lid functions as a small, collapsible, cooking pot. This should suffice for forty-eight hours of so even under arctic conditions, for considerable periods in more benign environments.
  • Thieves Kit: This is a kit to delight the larcenous, containing a sophisticated selection of; lockpicks, alarm detectors, electronic jammers, beam diverters, safecracking gadgets, a microlaser drill, climbing gear, miniature tools, jumper lines, a small prybar, some plastique and a detonator, a powerful magnet, a penlight, a glass cutter, superglue, gloves (monogram optional), IR goggles, twelve drugged darts (In intensity knockout drug), and a variety of other small devices.
  • Weapons Pack: This “kit” includes a set of concealed weapons permits, as well as a variety of weapons. The mix includes a set of sixteen Mini-grenades (2 each; tear gas, knockout gas, smoke, flare, incendiary, concussion, fragmentation, and entangling. These affect a 20 foot radius and have “incredible” effectiveness unless otherwise specified), a set of filter noseplugs, two Knives, a Blaster Pistol (Rm (30) damage, energy/force), a Garotte Reel, a Hand Flamer (3 shots, 30 foot range, single target – otherwise as per standard flamethrower), Karatends (“Gloves” which stiffen on impact, Rm material strength, treat as blunt weapon in HTH), and seven Shuriken or Magnabolos (In entanglement). Those who don’t want to be walking arsenals need not take the entire package.

   Other pocket kits can be included on request, but must be designed and specified by the user.

   Minor Devices:

   The various “minor devices” are metal cylinders, about the size of a penlight or small flashlight. The Flechette gun is usually an exception to the rule, as a cylindrical version is a bit clumsy to handle. The list is not exhaustive, but should cover most requests.

  • Binoculars: A high-quality set of optical binoculars, with a variety of magnification settings from 20 to 200x. Variations are available for those characters with exotic visual senses. The monocular version also functions as a magnifier/microscope, with a similar magnification range.
  • Blade: Since these are made of “memory” material, the exact form is irrelevant. Great sword, scimitar, dagger, kris, spear, nunchaku, or whatever, as the costumes user/ designer desires. All have monstrous material strength and collapse into the standard metal cylinder form. Permanent versions are available. These are designed to conduct any applicable power that the user possesses.
  • Flechette Gun: This pistol fires razor-sharp, teflon-coated, “darts” rather than bullets. While these inflict no real damage, they ignore the first 20 points of armor. Drugged darts carry a remarkable intensity knockout drug, while explosive darts inflict remarkable damage. The gun has two twelve-shot magazines and a three area range. The user may switch between magazines at will. This weapon is virtually silent, although the explosive darts are noisy.
  • Linecaster: A linecaster “spins” a monofilament line from fast-polymerizing chemicals with a reaction pressure capable of hurling the resulting line a hundred feet. Due to incomplete boundary polymerization, the resulting line is extremely “sticky” for several seconds afterwards. The line has excellent material strength and is often used to tie things together, swing from, climb, snatch things, or tie people up.
  • Lockpicks: This “gadget” contains a modest selection of tools for opening locks and other small tasks. It is not a substitute for a full toolkit and isn’t very versatile, but it is a lot better than a bent paperclip.
  • Long Range Transceiver: This module is designed to be used in conjunction with the costumes standard transceiver links, but can be used alone. It extends the usual 25-mile range of the standard links to 2500 miles (or more if satellite relaying is available).
  • Oxygen Mask: A simple pull-out mask and oxygen flask, capable of supplying oxygen for 30 minutes of activity or several hours of quiet. Combined with an armored costume (Q.V.) it lets the user function under space conditions and provides excellent defenses against biological and chemical “attacks”.
  • Pocket Parachute: This one-shot gadget is the perfect present for people who are afraid of heights. While it’s far too thin and filmy to repack, it will reduce the damage from a fall to the “typical” level – or to none at all if an agility FEAT succeeds. It is normally triggered by the user, but automatic versions are available for the really worried.
  • Pocket Torch: Depending on how you adjust this handy gadget, it can serve as a; lighter (Fb), handwarmer (Pr), torch (Typ), flare (Gd), fire-blade (Ex), blowtorch (Rm), welding torch (In), or bomb (Am). Since intensities above Ex are achieved by tightening the “focus”, only the fire- blade is really suitable as a weapon. Using it as a bomb is an exception, but is obviously a once-off.
  • Penlight: A sophisticated flashlight, with adjustable intensity and dispersion. Maximum intensity is incredible, maximum range is four areas. It can also be triggered in “strobe mode”, generating a flash of amazing intensity, or set to project infra-red or ultra-violet light.
  • Sewing Kit: A small canister holding needles, thread, patches, safety pins, adhesive, velcro, and any other minor supplies needed to make basic repairs on costumes. One of those handy items which can really save embarrassment.
  • Spray Tube: These tubes project a high-pressure spray of whatever the user had them loaded with. They normally contain enough paint/extinguishing foam/lubricant/foaming paste/glue/entangling strands/whatever to coat three man-sized targets.
  • Stimpills: Are simply powerful stimulants, most often used to keep awake. A tablet every eight to twelve hours will keep the user awake and alert for anything up to six straight days – although he’s likely to sleep for sixteen hours afterwards. A three-tablet dose increases the users FASE attributes by one rank each (Un. maximum) for around half an hour, after which the user suffers the loss of an endurance rank which must be healed normally. Doses above this level are obviously possible – but their effects are determined by the GM.
  • Superglue: Fairly straightforward, this stuff can be sprayed, smeared, dripped, or otherwise applied, to stick things together with incredible strength. Fortunately for the users, this gadget also includes a supply of solvent.
  • Swiss Army Knife: The large economy size, high-tech, version, perhaps, but still the same idea. Lots of basic, simple, tools packed into a small space.
  • Towel: Equally appropriate for the character who has everything and the one who has nothing, a towel may (or may not) be the most useful thing ever invented. Why, or why not, is up to the game masters sense of humor…
  • Translator: Unlike the “universal translators” listed in the players handbook, these can only handle six preset languages. While they have a fair vocabulary, specialized terms may not be in the database, and occasional mistakes may occur. They are normally linked with the transceiver system, since otherwise you have to get out the earplug and throat-contact microphone.
  • Wire Saw: This is made of monstrous material, and is effective against materials of up to amazing strength. It may take quite a while, but it will work. It can also be used as a whip, garrote, cable, restraint, or whatever.

   All Knight-Errant costumes also included a transceiver link and an auto-medpack.

  • The Transceiver Link acts as a communications link, as an emergency beacon, and as a locater. A small module with identical functions is issued for all members to carry in “civilian” identities for emergencies on either end. The link is scrambled at the remarkable rank, mainly to avoid simple listening-in.
  • The Auto-Medpack monitors the users physical condition and vital signs, applying any necessary medication from its internal supplies. On its own, it has the equivalent of Ex medical skills and competently tracks and treats such ongoing conditions as diabetes and allergies. Other medications, such as minor stimulants, are available on demand. The auto-medpack is usually tied to the costumes transceiver link, allowing the “team leader” to track his teammates current condition. The system will sound an alarm and transmit an emergency signal if the users life signs indicate serious injuries.

   Hm… That twenty-five year old file has held up surprisingly well – although in some cases that’s because the capabilities of various electronic items are noted in game terms rather than in actual technical terms.