Monday, 2 April 2012

A to Z: B is for Battledress

Imperial Stormtrooper from Star WarsIn yesterday’s post I wrote about Star Wars and Traveller – a story of adventure, and a set of rules that allows a group of people to communally tell a story through what is essentially a game of “let’s pretend”.

One of the iconic images from Star Wars is that of the Imperial Stormtrooper – the foot soldier of the “evil” Empire. Ironically, one of the iconic images from Traveller is that of the Imperial Marine, the rapid reaction force of the Third Imperium (the “good” guys – unless you run a Traveller game where the Imperium is not so benign).
Imperial Marine from Traveller
The Stormtrooper wears what is defined in Traveller terms as Combat Armour – unpowered, full-body armour that may be pressurised for vacuum or low air pressure operations. The Imperial Marine can either be equipped with Combat Armour or, more likely, Battledress – the powered version of combat armour.

Battledress functions very much like an exo-skeleton, enhancing the strength of the operator. This is very useful when the marine is using heavy energy weapons such as the PGMP-13 and the FGMP-14 ("Plasma Gun Man Portable" and "Fusion Gun Man Portable") as the Battledress essentially becomes the gun mount, locking off and absorbing the recoil of these very powerful weapons as they fire.

Battledress is also known as Power Armour, or Dreadnought Armour, or Battle Suit, though not by Imperial forces and, as such, is used by various non-Imperial polities, where they can afford it, and where their technology is sufficiently advanced to micro-engineer the actuators and servos required to cause the suit to both follow and enhance the operator’s movements.

One of the best descriptions of the use and servicing of Battledress I can recall occurs in C. J. Cherryh’s novel Rimrunners, and is well worth reading, both as a novel in its own right, and as an insight into what life as a Marine might be like on board a starship in a shooting war.