My proposal regarding Power Armor

Hello all! I’m new here! Been lurking for about a year and a half, following the git, but I have no idea how to code so I came here to give you my proposal. I apologize ahead of time if my formatting is a little weird here, I don’t write much so my ideas might be a little hard to follow at first so bear with me.

Obviously Power Armor as it stands now it a bit unbalanced, being nigh-invulnerable and easy to keep powered (especially once the UPS bionic and a decent source of power are had). I propose that we deal with this in a few different ways all at once. In my vision:

  1. Advanced power armor should be run on internal reactors which can run independently for years or decades, with waste heat being the primary limiting factor. They could be run continuously for a couple hours perhaps, but the waste heat should take weeks to radiate away without some sort of advanced coolant (which could in turn be converted to highly radioactive waste that the player has to deal with).

  2. With the right recipes and skill, power armor could be jury-rigged (or designed in prototype) to run on other power sources, at an incredibly inefficient rate. Sucking down bionic power, UPS, even vehicle power (I’m envisioning highly modified Power Armor hooked up to a truck with jumper cables). Perhaps with sufficiently high mechanics, electronics, and fabrication skill, one could acquire or craft the sorts of advanced motors, sensors, and computers necessary to create an almost entirely home-built suit of power armor, albeit with steel plates instead of suparalloy and incomplete coverage of joints and such. (bear in mind, as it stands now a high level character can craft self-installing bionics and manhacks from scrap)

  3. Power armor should be balanced primarily by the difficulty of keeping it powered. There has been some talk of changing it to a sort of Fallout model where they would basically be powered by rare loot items. Personally, I think it would be more interesting to have a varied system of crafting and maintaining, with the most advanced armor being difficult to find and maintain and nearly impossible to repair, and the more common stuff simply having distinct disadvantages like noise, incomplete coverage, malfunctions, inefficiency of resource usage, and general fragility (Your armor should not be able to tank a .50 cal with no problem unless it’s made of advanced materials).

The fantasy is to have a crafted suit of power armor running on a diesel generator strapped to the back. Incredibly loud, coughing out exhaust, fairly encumbering even with the mechanical assistance of the servo motors, nigh immobile when not running, very difficult to take on and off, guzzling fuel at ridiculous rates, yet incredibly cool and not entirely unrealistic considering the setting.

  1. Increasing downtime doesn’t sound good to me. It’s hard to get a balance between “doesn’t matter” and “makes it useless”, as different playstyles affect it significantly.
    Pollution isn’t player’s problem.

  2. Bionic power is pretty much free at high levels at the moment and so can’t be used for balancing.
    UPS can be drawn from bionic power.
    Vehicle power could be interesting. It would result in “power knight” dragging a cart of storage batteries. Or even a whole generator.
    No crafting power armor in mainline. It would be OK as mod content.

  3. Not sure if repair problems are a good idea. It sounds like it would turn the whole armor into something too good to use for general trash cleanup, but an instant win against powerful stuff.
    Noise sounds like a good disadvantage.
    Incomplete coverage wouldn’t work with current coverage system, which assumes that uncovered parts are naked. As a result, you could tank a .50 one time, then randomly have it tear your arm off. We’d need a better system that would allow for weak spots with different (but non-zero) armor values.
    Malfunctions would be good as something permanent, not “armor suddenly locks, you get overwhelmed by weak trash and die”. That is, malfunctioning cooling system making the armor unusable for more than 5 minutes, faulty controls slowing down all actions by 50%, bad servos causing huge encumbrance on some body parts, broken lenses greatly reducing vision range in all cases etc.

Diesel generator strapped to back sounds like mech thing, not power armor. Diesel generator dragged behind, connected to the armor with a long jumper cable - now that sounds doable.

I appreciate the response. I suppose I wonder about the role that Power Armor is intended to play once the balance problems are dealt with. As I understand, power armor in the setting is designed to be generally deployed on the assault from trucks due to their short range. The role I am envisioning is similar to that, with a late game (or very lucky mid-game) player keeping a suit in the back of the truck or in the garage to be deployed on short-range missions where either significant hordes or large scary enemies need to be engaged directly. Such battles would often result in some kind of damage to the suit that must be repaired or otherwise dealt with and/or consume some sort of resource, and that sort of downtime would be the primary thing preventing one from running around in power armor all the time.

  1. As it stands now there is essentially no downtime for a sufficiently advanced player, my main character right now wears a suit of power armor and a hauling frame literally all the time, powered by two by fours and booze.
    I see coolant as a significant mechanic regarding the advanced power armor, essentially working as “fuel” for the internal reactor, perhaps with a less efficient craftable version and/or an advanced lab-only high efficiency version. Waste heat would also radiate away over time (Basically, reactor coolant would be to cataclysm as “fusion cores” are to fallout, only with more flexibility regarding playstyles so that it doesn’t just become another piece of loot for the Mad Max smash-and-run players to stack).

Yeah, that’s why I wonder about the intended role of power armor. I envision it indeed being the sort of thing you might think twice about bringing out for trash cleanup, that way it doesn’t dominate the game once it’s acquired. You might bust it out to assault a building guarded by Hulks and Necros, but for general scavenging you’d wear something a bit more reasonable and less resource-intensive.

  1. Having both coolant and power sources sounds like a lot of maintenance to me. Lot of maintenance can lead to tedium, of which we have a surplus as of lately.
    Why not just have the power sources be the limit? Plutonium cells are uncraftable at the moment. Having to drag a whole stack of batteries behind self would heavily limit the available tactics, meaning it wouldn’t replace the cells.
    Once CBM power gets dealt with, that is.

  2. I don’t like the idea of piling up maintenance problems to balance things.
    I’d prefer it if the power consumption itself was enough of a problem. Say, walking around wouldn’t consume too much, but using full strength would.
    Then allow zombies to rip the jumper cables off with their attacks, to prevent the vehicle power variant from being too useful for trash mopping.

Again, I can’t code any of this stuff, so I’m just sort of spitballing here.

Oh no I don’t mean both, “internal reactors” would be the primary power source for either all milspec power armor or just some advanced varieties. They would not consume power in the traditional sense as the internal reactor would supply all the power they could ever need. The primary limitation for these systems would be the accumulation of waste heat, which would require (possibly craftable) coolant or else need to shut down and radiate heat for an extended period of time to function. These armors could be jury-rigged to strip out the internal reactor and power it using an alternate method (like jumper cables or high capacity batteries or what have you).

Good point! I guess I like the idea because I feel more crafting and variation on late game content in general could help make the late game more fun and less snowballish. I feel like (on my character) the power armor is such a significant factor that it deserves more consideration than it currently does. Even with the CBM power system fixed, power armor’s role in the game basically amounts to perfect armor that requires you to loot extra hard to keep it running. Seems like a more robust system could make it more interesting.
I think anything so powerful as power armor should have some character. Its as powerful as any bionic or mutation, and those both require significant consideration (or at least when balanced as intended they do). But I absolutely agree that any new system should not be tedious, it should provide options and content.