The Iron Men of the Eclipse

Iron Man is another problem. Looking at the Marvel Wiki, he’s had more than fifty different suits of armor – eighty if you count what-if, alternate dimension, and other versions – most of them with many undefined capabilities and not a few of which were stored inside his body. There have been many different control systems, and some just turn him into a super-cyborg and are never “taken off”. Others go running around on their own or can be remotely controlled. And, of course, other people – like James Rhodes and Doctor Doom – have been “Iron Man”, not to mention all the alternate-dimension versions and the suits of armor he’s handed out to other characters.

So neither the armor, the wearer (if there even is one), nor the history are consistent. Iron Man isn’t a CHARACTER, he/she/it is a FRANCHISE.

So we’ll have to make some assumptions here.

We’re talking about Tony Stark. He’s a Superhero in a superheroic world, so the Superheroic World Template applies and he’ll be spending 24 CP on the Four Color Package. His four-color minor bonus is Immortal Vigor (for some extra hit points),

Now Tony does have some innate superhuman abilities.

  • He’s super-intelligent.
  • He gets bonuses on high-tech skills.
  • He is unreasonably durable for a human (armor can’t protect you against g-forces and massive bodywide impacts; you just get crushed against the inside of it).
  • He can produce high-tech gear with logically insufficient tools and materials, although he does need a workship of sorts.
  • He can analyze technology with very little in the way of instruments or time.
  • He can get absurd amounts of work done in very little time.
  • Sometimes – through one means or another – he has cybrenetic telepathy.
  • Sometimes (albeit certainly not always) he has regenerative powers.

OK, so it’s Inherent Spell I, II, and III (Group Skill Bonuses, Boosted Intelligence, a specialized version of Fabricate, for a total of 18 CP). He has some Damage Reduction (6 CP) worth, and an Occult Sense (6 CP) for how technology works. In much later adventures / at much higher levels he adds Inherent Spells IV and V to give him Cybrenetic Telepathy and Long-Term Regeneration – but our initial cost is 30 CP.

Next up, we have his Armor.

The really cheap way to build Iron Man (not unexpectedly) requires one of the few things on this site I’d call an exploit: You just take:

  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (four floating CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/: only to build “power armor”, can only be changed in a laboratory or machine shop (4 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized in making Power Armor Only, Corrupted / requires the use of a lab, a machine shop, and various high-tech supplies (2 CP).

Now you basically build Warlocks package as a Relic.

  • Arc Reactor Power Surge: Natural Magic(s): Reality Editing and Spell Enhancement, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to affect his innate enchantments / technological gear, only to amplify the effects, effects are fixed with each one of his abilities, only gets (Int Mod) boosts per system, effects are low mana cost but of brief duration; in effect (and to avoid assigning and then tracking a wide variety of durations) he simply gets to allot (Con Mod x 3) Booster Points between his various abilities each round (8 CP).
  • Advanced Tech: Innate Enchantment can normally be used to buy the equivalent of mundane equipment – but it’s rarely worth bothering with in fantasy based games. With a 1-to-20 GP-to-Credits conversion ratio and both d20 Modern and Future in play however… mundane equipment is suddenly a LOT more attractive. Still, even superheroes don’t automatically have access to super-technology, so I’m going to treat having access to the d20 Future lists to “buy” stuff from as a an Immunity / normal limits on equipment availability (Very Common, Major, Great (for +4 Tech Levels over the usual PL4 base), Specialized and Corrupted / only for Innate Enchantment purposes, any systems that require ammunition or fuel must have it supplied by normal purchases, 10 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (up to 11,500 GP / 230,000 Credits base value), Specialized for Reduced Cost / the armor can be disabled or remote-manipulated by enemies, has an unstable AI which can run amuck, takes damage when the user is struck by a major attack (gradually degrading it’s systems) and especially powerful attacks can cause it to shut down entirely until rebooted (6 CP). This is how Warlocks power package works, and it’s a perfectly fine version to start with.

In any case, that’s 24 CP, making his armor a four-point relic – exactly what’s available.

Now, for each version of his armor… just buy necessary innate enchantments and modern / future gizmos. Pick the upgrades for when he channels more power into them, and you can build all the different suits of armor that you please.

And that lets you buy a decent suit of “Iron Man” armor as a single feat. Of course, if you allow this for one character… you’ll have to allow it for everybody. Now I’ve actually played in such a game – a long time ago under the old Marvel Super Hero rules – where Tony Stark (as an NPC) joined our group and made booster armor for every player character. Somehow it wound up evening out the randomly-rolled power differences between the characters a great deal. Tony was never any help otherwise though; he kept over-designing his own armor and having it stolen, or running amuck on it’s own, or otherwise becoming a part of the problem.

You don’t want to do that? Good for you; this is why this is labeled an Exploit. To create a much more reasonable method…

Iron Mans Armor is usually subject to one or more of the following limitations. Applying one counts as Corrupted two counts as Specialized, and applying all three counts as Corrupted and Specialized. While the same limitations apply to each power in a suit, the effects can differ – some powers may have increased effects, others will have reduced costs, others may have some of each.

  • The armor is external, extremely obvious, and quite well known. It cannot be worn in normal social situations, and must be transported and donned before use, and occasionally runs short of power.
  • The armor can be disabled or remote-manipulated by enemies and has an unstable AI which can run amuck.
  • The armor takes damage when the user is struck by a major attack, gradually degrading it’s systems. Especially powerful attacks can cause it to shut down entirely until rebooted.

Each power in the armor can be affected by these restrictions differently, resulting in a vary large number of possible armors. Early versions – while Tony was lower level and had fewer points to invest in his armor – mostly used Reduced Cost, resulting in weaker armor. Later versions usually went for increased effect, although this seemed to hit an upper limit somewhat below characters like Thor or the Hulk. The very latest versions seem to have gone for dropping the “external” limitation – making it slightly weaker and more expensive (thus sopping up the points that come with an increase in level) and making Tony into a cyborg rather than a power armor user.

Personally I think that loses a lot of what makes Iron Man Iron Man, but I suppose that – after more than fifty years of appearances – a change-up is pretty inevitable.

To make things fully modular, the points come from Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (6 CP per incidence), Points are only usable to buy armor functions, can only be changed given time in a workshop or lab given hours, days, or weeks to work (depending on the extent of the changes being made). Since this means that the maximum cost of any given function is 6 CP, the armor has upper limits – which is why Tony has never been able to do more than delay Marvel’s upper-level powerhouses.

Over the years, as Tony has gone up in level… he’s bought more incidences of Double Enthusiast – allowing him to add more functions and to go for “Increased Effect” as opposed to “reduced cost”. Thus early versions were relatively weak and had few special functions, while later versions were more powerful and versatile.

The usual list of armor functions includes:

  • Damage Reduction. Iron Man usually isn’t all that hard to hit (if he was, he couldn’t show off his mighty armor), so his defenses are best represented by Damage Reduction.
  • Flight. This is usually fairly high speed, but the Four Color Template handles that.
  • Superhuman Strength. While on the high side, this never really reaches the level of the major “strength” characters – if only so as to leave them something to do.
  • Concussive Energy Blasts. These are probably at about the 10d6 level, since they usually seem pretty comparable to everyone else’s default powers.
  • A “unibeam” – originally a very bright floodlight/spotlight//laser, now occasionally used for almost anything.
  • Universal Energy Resistance (most often the Dragonstar variant that includes Life Support, b ut if it’s less stressed in this version Air Bubble can go in the Innate Enchantment, below)).
  • Navigation, communication, sensory enhancement/protection, and related electronic functions. Honestly, on this stuff… I’d just go for a bit of Innate Enchantment and given him the equivalent of a smartphone, GPS, nightvision/flash goggles, sound suppressor earphones, and similar junk. It’s all cheap enough that a point or two should do it.
  • Most external suits also have some “theme” – deep space operations, stealth, or whatever – and a few special functions for it. Quite a few of the modern ones come with a cloaking system as well – basically invisibility, if usually only versus electronic sensors. Self-repair is kind of optional given that damage to the suit is basically a special effect – but it can easily be quantified if you wish.

Most of this can be covered by Mana-Powered Inherent Spells (I-III usually) and a bit of Reflex Training to let him activate more than one personal-enhancement effects at a time. That, of course, means that it will often take several rounds to fully don / activate the armor from scratch – although functions will come online as they are powered up. That too works nicely with the usual portrayal in the comic books.

To buy all this at current levels… we’ll want at least 10 instances of Double Enthusiast (60 CP), that Reflex Training (6 CP), a bit of a Mana Pool for emergencies to represent the ARC reactor reserve (12 CP plus recharging with Rite of Chi and Bonus Uses only for that, 6 CP), At earlier levels? It’s slower to put on (dump the reflex training), he has no special power reserve, and he has a LOT fewer points invested – possibly as few as ten to twelve. His Mark I suit will be weak and primitive, but it will cover everything it needed to.

As for the rest of his points… some knowledges and technical skills (adept and fast learner will help), hit dice, privileges, favors, and connections, and – as TommyNihil suggested – the “Mad Science” version of Occult Ritual.

Iron Man won’t actually have the raw power of many characters of similar level, but there is something to be said for enormous versatility.

There aren’t that many “Iron Man” style characters on the blog – most of them are more “fantasy” themed – but there is Doctor Wrath and Tomonoko (“Tomo”) Sayuki, both Power-Armor types. There are several cyborgs and a couple of mecha pilots too, but those don’t really fit the theme as well. There’s Jarvain Michell and his Mecha, Gar Ashwood, a Pathfinder/Dragonstar Soulmech Gunslinger-Detective, Jamie Wolfe – a MLELF Cyborg Super-Soldier, Kristin Stanwell. A cyborg firearms expert, the various How to build Terminators (Basic Builds, Power Sources, Explosions, and Robot Buddies), Garm, and Adam, Praetorian Nightmare: a melee death-machine nightmare for entire high-level parties.

And I hope that helps!


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