Eclipse – Arcane Smartclothes

Something I have been curious about, how would you represent Smartclothes in a normal d20 quasi medieval setting? I know most of it could be built as a set of Innate Enchantments, but I would be curious to see you do a more involved version, likewise how things like a computer, HUD or Sensory and Communication systems would work.

-Brett

On the conceptual level that’s pretty awkward. Smartclothes are basically a bit of transhumanism; in the Federation-Apocalypse setting pretty much every character from Core or involved with Core wears them at virtually all times (even if sometimes set to “unobtrusive wristbands” or some such) – and so has a bunch of high-tech functions that are effectively built into their “skin”. Everyone is constantly on the network. They have enhanced senses, near-instant access to communications and tremendous amounts of information, and they’re constantly being monitored. (A setting where children can build city-destroying weapons in their clubhouses can’t afford to let anyone go unmonitored – or leave any mental problem untreated – for long). They’re even protected in a wide variety of ways. Someone without Smartclothes… is looked at like we’d look at someone with no hands. They’re a basic part of life that everyone takes for granted, just as they take being able to mix virtual and physical reality on a whim for granted.

Now, according to the description of Smartclothes… “Smartclothes count as normal clothing, but can alter their fit, style, and color in a variety of ways and provide personal-computer and HUD functions, visual enhancements (IR, UV, Low-Light, Magnification, and Flash Suppression), personal and environmental monitoring, protection from various injuries, useful skill enhancements, communications, some emergency medical treatment, and limited life support (12 hours of air, comfortable from arctic to tropical desert temperatures, and limited space-survival functions). “

There have been superheroes with a lot less than that in the way of useful powers.

Transferring that into a basic, quasi-medieval setting directly will turn the entire setting upside down. Politics, taxation, religion, warfare, taxation, trials, crime… Every facet of life is going to be altered beyond recognition.

A few suits – perhaps used by the nobility – likely won’t have such drastic effects on the general populace, but they’ll effectively divide humanity into two separate species – Homo Sapiens and Homo Nobilis. If that’s what you want, there’s no need to adapt the information on Smartclothes at all; just call them mysterious artifacts and keep the game statistics just the way they are.

Converting things is a little – but not all that much – trickier. For a basic quasi-medieval setting…

A Personal Computer can provide the user with information and search databases (a bonus on knowledge skills), help with mathematics and make it easier to write (bonuses to relevant skills again), play games (no real game effect), and increase productivity in a number of other ways. It can carry out a limited set of instructions even when you’re not paying any attention to it.

So it’s a very versatile tool with some ability to act on it’s own.

In medieval terms that makes it a Companion – most likely a Familiar (6 CP) with a Template of +2 or more levels (6+ CP). To keep it out of harms way – since smartclothes are virtually never damaged – we’ll make it incorporeal and presume that it hides inside it’s master. Throw in…

  • Assistant (Successful “Aid Another” attempts provide a +4 bonus rather than +2, 6 CP).
  • Immunity/Being unable to “take 10″ on Aid Another checks (Common, Minor, Major, 6 CP).
  • Immunity/Having to specify how it’s Aiding it’s owner (Common, Major, Major, 9 CP).

And there you go – although that’s three natural-law immunities, which is likely to make the end result more than a bit silly.

Access to the Network is a bit harder… However, the network only (a) stores a lot of information (an effect covered by the bonus on skill checks) and (b) allows quick communications. Our companion-creature will need an immunity to having to actually be in touch to pass information on to other, similar, entities. (That’s Common, Minor, Great – or 12 CP). To make sure that the user can talk over those links we’ll want Mystic Link with Communications, Specialized/no range (3 CP).

The HUD is basically just a data interface; even the sensory boosts are just more data. The information comes in the form of skill boosts already – while most of those sensory boosts are pretty much meaningless in a quasi-medevial setting. Instead the Companion will have to provide some nightsight, detect magic, and similar abilities – probably by being a familiar sharing a small suite of Innate Enchantments. That can cover a lot of the minor functions too. That’s some Innate Enchantment (Spell Level 0 or 1, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x 2000 GP, Personal-Only x.7 = 700 GP value per cantrip or 1400 per first level spell). Low-Light Vision (1400 GP), Read Magic (700 GP), Detect Magic (700 GP), and Know Direction (700 GP). That’s 3500 GP worth of Innate Enchantments – but there will be more later, so calculating the character point cost can wait a bit.

  • Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Major, Epic, Specialized and Corrupted/only
    protects innate enchantments in this template, 9 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers level zero and level one effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover the innate enchantments in this template, 1 CP).

The Life Support functions are pretty important in the Federation-Apocalypse setting, where starting characters may find themselves having to spacewalk to repair their ships hull, explore a planet with a high-temperature toxic atmosphere, and venture underwater to salvage an equipment package that was lost in three hundred feet of water – all on their first adventure. In classical medevial d20 putting something in an impassible or lethal environment is a notice that says “keep out until you’re high enough level to handle this”. I think that simply leaving out most of the life-support functions is the best way to remain true to the original concept.

As for the secondary functions…

  • Smartclothes count as normal clothing, but can alter their fit, style, and color in a variety of ways. “Modify Clothing” (clean, dry, mended, suitable for various kinds of weather or social situations) is, at best, a level one spell. That’s another 1400 GP worth of Innate Enchantments.
  • Flash Suppression is a minor protective charm providing a bonus on saves against bright light. That’s pretty specific. I’m going to call it level zero for a +4 bonus, or another 700 GP worth of Innate Enchantments.
  • Personal Monitoring can be handled by any Companion – so it’s a freebie.
  • Environmental Monitoring isn’t needed for things like “it’s hot”. It’s needed for subtle, invisible, environmental dangers – radiation, carcinogens, hormone-imitating biochemicals, subtly toxic contaminants which may take years to take effect, dangerous microorganisms, and so on. Of course, in a classical medevial d20 setting… most of those don’t exist. All that’s needed here is Detect Poison (that may be pretty handy for the nobility, 700 GP).
  • Smartclothes provide a moderate armor bonus. That’s Mage Armor – and 1400 GP again.
  • Smartclothes provide limited damage reduction. For this I’d recommend using Flesh Ward (Conjuration Variant) at L1/reduces five points of damage per physical (or force) attack to non-lethal damage. That’s another 1400 GP.
  • Smartclothes provide limited energy resistance. That’s Resist Energy (5) and another 1400 GP.
  • Smartclothes have some medical skills. That could be a spell, but it seems more appropriate to just give them some points in Heal. Say… +5 SP worth (5 CP).
  • Smartclothes provide a small bonus to hit with (somewhat expensive) ranged weapons. That will translate to Weapon Mastery with “Point and Shoot Weaponry” – crossbows, small firearms, and similar weaponry. That’s a +2 bonus to BAB with such weapons for 1400 GP.

That’s a grand total of 11,900 GP worth of Innate Enchantments – at a net cost of (13 CP).

So: we need a companion with a template including:

  • No Strength / Incorporeal (0 CP).
  • Assistant (6 CP).
  • Immunity/Being unable to “take 10″ on Aid Another checks (Common, Minor, Major, 6 CP).
  • Immunity/Having to specify how it’s Aiding it’s owner (Common, Major, Major, 9 CP).
  • Immunity/having to actually be in touch to pass information on to other, similar, entities. (Common, Minor, Great – or 12 CP).
  • Mystic Link (with owner) with Communications, Specialized/no range (3 CP).
  • Heal: +5 Bonus (5 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (Spell Level 0 or 1, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x 2000 GP, Personal-Only x.7 = 700 GP value per cantrip or 1400 per first level spell).
    • Detect Magic (700 GP)
    • Detect Poison (700 GP).
    • Flash Suppression/+4 circumstance bonus on relevant saves (700 GP).
    • Flesh Ward (Conjuration Variant)/reduces five points of damage per physical (or force) attack to non-lethal damage (1400 GP).
    • Know Direction (700 GP).
    • Low-Light Vision (1400 GP)
    • Mage Armor (1400 GP).
    • Modify Clothing (clean, dry, mended, suitable for various kinds of weather or social situations, 1400 GP).
    • Read Magic (700 GP)
    • Resist Energy (5 points worth) (1400 GP).
    • Weapon Master/Point-And-Shoot Weaponry (+2 to BAB with such weapons, 1400 GP).
  • That’s 11,900 GP worth of Innate Enchantments – or (13 CP) worth.
  • Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Major, Epic, Specialized and Corrupted/only
    protects innate enchantments in this template, 9 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers level zero and level one effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover the innate enchantments in this template, 1 CP).

That comes out to 64 CP – a +2 ECL template.

So; all we need is Companion (Familiar, 6 CP) with a +2 ECL Template (6 CP). Since Smartclothes could slither around on their own, using a CR 1 or less Constrictor Snake is appropriate. Being incorporeal they can technically hide “inside” their owner when “being worn”, thus being as immune to damage as Smartclothes usually are.

Is this kind of cheesy? Oh yes indeed; this is VERY cheesy – but if everyone is getting smartclothes for free (as part of a world law, or campaign template, or Atherian-style Birthright, or some such) then the cheese level is irrelevant. If you’re only letting a few people have them – well, you’ve just granted that group a major advantage. Whether that will matter any more than the massive advantages that player-characters normally have over random peasants is up to how you run the game.

 

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