Covenant Game Design: Damage Types and Tech Levels

(Don’t forget to tune in to the latest episode of the Radio Free Covenant podcast!)

We said last time that we would talk about the types of damage that your character can face in Covenant. Let’s do that now.
Your character’s armor has a rating just like their weapons. If they are hit by a weapon or any other damage source, then you subtract your character’s armor defense rating from the damage rating of what hit them. Your character takes the rest. If their armor’s defense rating is higher than the damage rating, you don’t take any damage.
The problem is that different kinds of armor have different levels of protection from different damage sources.
For instance, a Kevlar vest might protect you from being shot with a gun, but only partial protection from a laser. In fact, your character’s armor rating drops by half if they’re struck by a damage source for which their armor isn’t designed. To keep track of these, both damage sources and armor have damage types:

  • Kinetic Damage: Caused by something striking your character, usually at high speed
  • Inertial Damage: Caused by your character falling or being tossed around a vehicle during a fight or a crash
  • Thermal Damage: Caused by thermal energy being added to your character, usually by something burning like a torch, flare, or flamethrower
  • Cold Damage: Caused by thermal energy being taken away from your character, usually by something cold like liquid nitrogen
  • Electrical Damage: Caused by high-amperage electricity, like lightning or an electrical generator
  • Chemical Damage: Caused by chemically active or corrosive compounds, like strong acids and bases
  • Biological Damage: Caused by poisons and disease
  • Radiant Damage: Caused by radioactive materials
  • Psychological Damage: Caused by loss, trauma, or stress

Thermal and cold damage can also come from environmental sources. For instance, environmental thermal damage could come from exposure to a desert, while environmental cold damage could come from a snowstorm. This is important, because a character’s gear might react differently to environmental damage. A heavy coat might protect your character from the environmental cold damage of a snowstorm, but not from the cold damage of being splashed with liquid nitrogen.
We are also working with the idea of tech levels (TLs) for character gear, including armor and weapons. The tech levels are:

  • Tech Level 1 (TL1): Muscle-powered. The period ranging from the Stone Age to the Iron Age is TL1.
  • Tech Level 2 (TL2): Chemical-powered. Much of modern-day Earth is currently TL2.
  • Tech Level 3 (TL3): Fusion or antimatter-powered. This includes lasers, rail guns, warp engines, and Lorentzian distorters. A TL3 civilization is approaching or at Type I on the Kardashev scale – that is, it can harness all the energy available on a planet.
  • Tech Level 4 (TL4): Highly advanced technology powered by black holes, neutron stars, and other stellar objects, including hard light, programmable materials (or “smart goo”), and effective nanotech. A TL4 civilization is approaching or at Type II on the Kardashev scale – that is, it can harness all the energy available from a star or other stellar object.
  • Tech Level 5 (TL5): Technology so advanced that it’s hard to distinguish from magic. A TL5 civilization is approaching or at Type III on the Kardashev scale – that is, it can harness all the energy available in a galaxy.

Armor is designed for a specific tech level. For instance, plate armor stops swords and arrows (TL1) but not bullets (TL2), while a Kevlar vest will stop bullets (TL2) but not knives or arrows (TL1). Armor and damage sources interact this way:

  • Same Tech Level and Damage Type: Armor provides full protection
  • Different Tech Level OR Damage Type: Armor provides half protection
  • Different Tech Level AND Damage Type: Armor provides no protection

As you can see, tech levels add another level of complexity to Covenant. Only time and playtesting can tell whether they’re worth it. If they aren’t, they’ll be removed.
That’s it for now. Join us next time for a discussion of gender in the game.

Published by radiofreecovenant

A podcast about the science-fiction roleplaying game "Covenant" and the urban fantasy novel "Crossing the Line", soon to be published by Black Opal Books.

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