Rifts-Style Smartclothes

   After they first appeared in our Marvel Super Heroes game, Smartclothes migrated into quite a few games – and developed considerably along the way. Most other games called for far more standardized systems than a super-hero game, as well as considerably more detail. Given that those other games rarely went in that heavily for skin-tight costumes, most of the list of gear was relegated to more-or-less ordinary pockets and pouches or worn as accessories. Ergo, a lot of the options for having systems and kits “built-in” went away.

   In any case, here’s the slightly-later version for Rifts. For those who are looking, the d20 version is over here, and here are a few possible upgrades for it.

   “Smartclothes” weren’t designed as military or even paramilitary gear. They were designed for scientists, mountaineers, firefighters, chemical handlers, orbital construction workers, zoo workers, and anyone else who worked in a hazardous environment. Unfortunately, they were still a rare innovation even in England (“Clothes that make the man”, where they were invented) when the apocalypse came. Smartclothes are made of a network of programmed, microtronic, mega-damage fibers capable of taking on various functions and configurations. While they generate a low-grade parastatic force field, it’s primarily environmental, rather than a form of “armor”. Under attack, the suit dissipates what it can in the way of damaging energies, but any remainder is transmitted to the wearer without harming the suit. Sadly, thanks to the quasi-psionic linkage of the control links, killing the user usually damages or burns out the suits control system as well. However it works, the system is marvelously helpful and responsive. Annoyingly, attempting to wear it over MD armor beyond the lightest (E.G., a vest and such – a maximum of 15 MDC) disrupts the control links, while trying to wear heavy (MD) armor over smartclothes inhibits their operation.

  • Armor Value; Absorbs the first 6 points of MD from any assault. “Bursts” count as a single assault but, if it should somehow matter, “Volleys” do not.
  • Life Support; Two-hour oxygen supply, indefinite where reasonable (even if normally unbreathable) external environmental sources are available, including water-extraction. Indefinite comfortable tolerance of -60 to 120 degrees Celsius, short-term tolerance of up to -100 or +250 degrees. Excellent radiation shielding and full chemical/biological seal. Normal fires do no damage, but nuclear, plasma, and magical fires do full damage – less the “armor value”. The life support systems can be loaded with a small reserve of water (augmented by recycling of sweat and exhaled moisture) and a supply of nutrient tablets (sufficient for two weeks of bare survival) – but rarely is. Most people prefer to carry food and water if they need to.
  • Power Supply; Distributed ultra-density micro-battery storage system supplemented by solar and thermoelectric sources. These normally suffice, but an extremely hostile environment can drain the reserve within 48 hours. Fortunately for the would-be volcanologist and deep-arctic explorer, the power reserves can be supplemented with standard E-Cells.
  • Sensor Systems; Computer-processing of visual input is available, permitting IR/UV/Light-Amplification visual modifications – as well 300x magnification (telescopic or microscopic). The suit also includes a basic N/B/C environmental sensor system, and can be hooked to other, external, instrument systems. Flare protection and/or polarization is automatic – as is compensation for excessive environmental noise levels.
  • Electronics; Full personal computer, pocket secretary, short-range communication, and entertainment functions – all controlled and accessed via inductive neural link. Minor systems include an inertial locator and map-display system (for sportsmen), an emergency SOS beacon, basic bio-monitoring of the user, and the usual internal monitoring and maintenance functions. Offers a +35% on computer skills if used as an access terminal. Thanks to the suits variable configuration, any disk and any kind of access port can be accommodated.
  • Variable Configuration; Possibly the most interesting, and certainly the most unique, attribute of smartclothes is their ability to shift appearance and arrangement – swiftly reweaving themselves to meet the wearers needs from moment to moment. Color and texture are variable as well, making them a true all-purpose suit. The fibers can’t exert much force, but they can render themselves superbly rigid, and are incredibly tough. Besides the obvious applications of hidden pockets and “chameleon” tricks, the system subtly braces and supports the user (granting a +3 bonus to his / her effective strength), automatically bandages wounds (and acts as a cast – if necessary), locks on to surface irregularities (giving the user excellent traction and climbing abilities), and can even be deployed as a parachute for short periods. Individual fibers and bunches can even be used as probes and lockpicks – once again, given some re-programming to override those “civilian limitations”. Underwater, the suit enables dives of up to 600 meters and effectively triples the wearer’s swimming speed.
  • Self-Repairing; As “quasi-living” nanotechnological triumphs, smartclothes are extremely difficult to damage in any case – but if they are, the fabric can incorporate new fibers, scavenge the remains of old ones, and even slowly “grow” new fibers if enough of the suit remains to direct the process – and enough power is available.
  • Auxiliary Modules; As unique and flexible as they are, there are many things the basic fiber structure of the system cannot do. Hence the auxiliary modules – small, hard-system (Cylindrical, 12 MDC casings) supplemental systems. Known modules include:
    • Automatic Medical Pack. This handy system treats diabetes, allergies, shock, and so on, using a series of diagnostic probes and systems, an internal supply of various drugs, and an effective “paramedic” skill of 45%.
    • Communications. This unit provides long-range audiovisual and data communication links, along with frequency scanning functions and basic encryption and decryption functions – enough for civilian privacy, if not up to military standards.
    • Life Support. This module is primarily a 24-hour oxygen reserve and a miniaturized plant that will restock the supply when atmospheric oxygen (and power) becomes available.
    • Shield Generator. This module was intended for extremely dangerous jobs. It augments the parastatic field to the point where it provides a MDC of 15. Lost MDC is “regenerated” at a rate of one point per hour. Sadly, this limit is due to the limits of the fiber structure – not the module. This subsystem uses standard E-Clips (and has ports for two), each of which is good for 30 MDC points before being drained. The module will drain one first, and then indicate a need for replacement while using the other.
    • Thruster. This unit can provide a modest ion thrust, which the suit can direct as needed – providing excellent maneuverability under zero-gravity conditions. Sadly, the actual thrust provided is fairly small, so this is fairly useless under planetary conditions.
    • Water Reclamation. Originally used in space exploration, now mostly used in deserts. Recycles urine and other wastes – a prospect most users prefer to avoid if at all possible.
  • Other Data; The suits weigh about six pounds, but each module weighs about half a pound. On Rifts Earth smartclothes are usually only available in the British Isles – where the price varies drastically.

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