Armor in Mass Effect can be created using the rules on Page 134 in the Bulldogs! rule book although many of the base assumptions are a bit different. Most armors in Mass Effect use Kinetic Barriers for additional protection. These shields can be compromised by damage from firearms (rapid firing weapons are especially effective), Tech Talents like Overload and even melee attacks if they are powerful enough.

Armor is protective body covering intended to prevent injury in combat, and is differentiated by species. Turians, krogan, quarians and humans all have specific types of armor; asari use human armor. There are, however, three general armor categories. These rate armor based on the protection it provides. Armor can be customized with upgrades to give better shields or health regeneration, improve cool down times for tech abilities, or protect against melee attacks depending on individual preference.

Medium to heavy armor—and almost all turian and krogan armor—is classified as ‘hard-suit’ because it uses thick ceramic plating to protect non-flexible parts of the body. Each set of armor, regardless of its weight, has a kinetic barrier generator and an onboard computer that can give readouts on the environment, liaise with terminals to download data, and check local wildlife against the xenobiology database.

All armor starts with the Enviro-suit improvement but doesn’t always have Shields.

All armor can take one or more consequences for a character to reduce stress to their Physical Stress Track. Additionally Armor absorbd 1, 2 or 3 points of stress per attack depending on it’s type. If all of an armor’s consequences have been taken then it no longer absorbs stress.


Base armor penalizes certain actions because of its mass. Athletics, Alertness can be reduced up to -3 depending on the type of armor. These penalties due to Bulk can be mitigated with improvements at the cost of 1 per improvement per skill penalty reduced. Each improvement must be purchased separately for each skill’s penalty that is reduced. So reducing the bulk penalty to both Alertness and Athletics would be two separate improvements.


All Biotic Powers and Tech Talents in Mass Effect have a Recharge Time. The sum of the Bulk of a character’s weapons and armor is added to a Power or Talent’s Recharge time and that determines how many rounds it takes for the character to be able to use another power.



Armor: 1 Mass: 0 Bulk: 2 Cost: 1

NOTES: provides 1 point of protection and an additional Mild Consequence but penalizes any Athletics, Alertness by -1 because of its Mass. It also increases the Recharge time of Tech and Biotic Powers by 2 because of its Bulk.


Armor: 2 Mass: 1 Bulk: 3 Cost: 2

NOTES: provides 2 points of protection and two additional Mild Consequences but penalizes any Athletics, Alertness by -2 because of its Mass. It also increases the Recharge time of Tech and Biotic Powers by 3 because of its Bulk.


Armor: 3 Mass: 2 Bulk: 4 Cost: 3

NOTES: provides 3 points of protection an additional Mild Consequence and an additional Moderate Consequence but penalizes any Athletics, Alertnessby -3 because of its Mass. Because of its Bulk Biotic and Tech Talents have their Recharge times increased by 4.



A Shield Generator can be purchased separately from Armor. They do not automatically provide the Enviro-suit improvement (although it can be purchased separately) and the only Improvements available for Shield Generators are Shield Enhancements. Kinetic shields do not penalize the wearer due to bulk as armor does. Only one generator can be worn at a time. Kinetic Shield generators provide a defend bonus against physical attacks of +1, +2 or +3 depending on the class of shield. This bonus can be negated by rapid fire weapons, Disruptor Ammo and Tech Powers.

Guns with Autofire that are focused directly at a single target reduce the bonus by 1 per level before the die are rolled. Autofire weapons do not get the damage bonus normally available for focused fire on a single target unless shields are down.

Disruptor Ammo is very effective against shields and reduces the defense bonus by 1 as well. Overload and Energy Drain can negate shields as well. See their individual entries for the effects.

Shields also absorb stress as a special consequence called “SHIELDS DOWN”. This Consequence must be taken every time a target is hit by an attack and it does stress to them. The amount of stress absorbed depends on the level of consequence that is taken and is limited by the class of shield generator the armor has. Light shields can absorb up to 2 stress as a Mild Consequence, Medium shields absorb 4 points as a Moderate Consequence and Heavy shields up to 6 stress as a Serious Consequence. Kinetic shields will not provide any bonus to defense rolls until the SHIELDS DOWN consequence has been removed.

This can only be done in one of two ways:

A character can perform the maneuver “Taking Cover” with Alertness and if they don’t take any damage for a round they will fully recharge their kinetic shields. The difficulty of the Alertness check is determined by the GM based on the prevailing conditions of the zone the character is in. A warehouse floor with lots of cover might be a difficulty of 1 while an empty field might require a roll of 5. The character will also gain the Full Defense bonus of +2 to their Athletics rolls while taking cover.

Secondly, if a character is desperate enough, they can spend a FATE point with a Free Action fully recharging their shields.

For example:

A Geth Soldier with a Pulse Rifle (Autofire x2) attacks an Alliance Marine with Heavy Shields. Normally the kinetic shields would provide a bonus of +3 to the marine’s defense roll making him a difficult target. However, the rapid fire assault rifle reduces that bonus to +1. If the geth was using Disruptor Ammo then the marine would receive no benefit from his shields other than the fact that the focused fire does not do extra damage. The attack results in 3 points of stress. The hapless marine takes a Moderate Consequence of “SHIELDS DOWN” which absorbs all the stress from the attack. Realizing that he is in trouble the marine decides to use his turn to “TAKE COVER”. The battle is taking place on a cluttered street and the GM rules that he will need to make an Alertness roll of Fair +2 to find adequate cover. If he succeeds and isn’t hit by any further attacks (he gets a +2 Full Defense bonus to help with that) his shields will be recharged.


Defense Bonus: +1 Consequence: Mild Cost: +2


Defense Bonus: +2 Consequence: Moderate Cost: +3


Defense Bonus: +3 Consequence: Serious Cost: +4


The armor upgrades on page 135 are available in addition to following:


Reduce the penalty to Athletics because of Mass by 1 per Resource Point spent to a maximum of the total for the armor.


Reduce the increase in recharge time to Tech Talents and Biotics because of Bulk by 1 per Resource Point spent to a maximum of the total for the armor.


Reduce the increase in recharge time to Tech Talents and Biotics because of Bulk by 1 per Resource Point spent to a maximum of the total for the armor.


Below is a sample of Aspect Upgrades (see Bulldogs! page 135) available to add to armor. Each one adds a cost of +1 per improvement. They can be invoked and compelled just like any aspect. Please note this list is not exhaustive.



This prototype armor upgrade combines multiple technologies to maximize the wearer’s physical abilities and athletic prowess. This is an Aspect that can be invoked for a bonus to Athletics skill rolls. It is a complication to use in microgravity due to exaggerated movements.


Motorized support built into the armor allows the user to maximize combat prowess during extended engagements. This Aspect can be invoked for a bonus to Endurance skill rolls for the purposes of resisting fatigue. It can be compelled as a complication to Athletics.


The Exoskeleton increases the strength of the wearer, allowing them to deliver powerful blows in combat situations. It lacks overall reinforcement and does not grant greater lifting strength. It adds a great deal of bulk to armor. Making it a Complication for Athletics rolls.


Reinforced motorized joints increases the lifting capacity of the wearer, allowing them to move great weights. Mechanical augmentations often add a great deal of bulk to armor. Making it a Complication for Athletics rolls.



This Augmented HUD models optic display interfaces with most small arms’ auto-targeting software, linking hand and eye for improved accuracy. The display can be a distraction though.


By detecting the focal point of the wearer’s eyes and enhancing the image at that location, the visor helps direct a shot from an omni-tool exactly where the wearer is looking at the cost of reduced peripheral vision.


The biotic interface uses an efficiency algorithm to balance processing power for biotic amps and a heads-up display and voice command software allows users to micromanage the systems, reducing the cool-down period between energy expenditures.



Hardened ceramic plates can be applied to body armor suits, increasing their effectiveness. This is an Aspect that can be invoked for extra Armor protection reducing a weapon’s armor penetration by 2 for an attack. It can compelled to constrict a wearer’s movements or Athletics checks.


Ablative coating is designed to chip away when impacted, redirecting the energy of incoming projectiles away from the body. This can be invoked for extra Armor protection reducing a weapon’s armor penetration by 2 for an attack.. It can also be compelled to say that the armor is thinner in a certain area leaving the wearer exposed.


Advanced firewall technology provides protection against tech attacks. This Aspect can be invoked for extra protection against tech attacks. Because of the extra complexity it requires extra maintenance. This causes complications if the wearer wishes to use tech talents.


A complex filament network of element zero microcores into the armor provides maximum protection for the user against Biotic Attacks. Because of the delicacy of the filaments they are relatively easy to damage. It can be compelled as a complication to Biotics.


Installing micro-gravimetric emitters into a combat suit artificially increases mass, providing protection against concussive force delivered by explosives, high impact ammo and biotic attacks such as Lift or Throw. It makes lifting weights more difficult though.



Microprocessors wired into a combat suit can monitor vital functions and release small, localized doses of medi-gel to accelerate the healing process.


Specially-sealed body armor provides increased protection against radiation, gases, and a host of other toxins. Wearing armor with toxic seals can impact long term performance in combat due to fatigue.


Metabolic Enhancers monitor the wearer’s vital systems and release genetically engineered stimulants to maximize reaction times. Stimulants can make the user a bit hyper and easily distracted during long employments.



To generate kinetic barriers, combat suits rely on capacitors to store energy from a generator. The greater the capacitor storage, the more potent the barrier. It also makes the target more noticeable to sensors due to a greater power signature.


Varying shield modulation makes it more difficult to bring down using Tech Talents like Overload or Shield Drain. The fluctuating frequencies can cause interference making it more difficult to utilize Tech Talents for the wearer of the armor.


A secondary power source increases the rate at which a combat suit’s kinetic barrier capacitors can be replenished. This aspect can be invoked when attempting the “Taking Cover” maneuver with Alertness to recharge shields. The extra capacitors can be vulnerable to attacks however.

Author’s Note:

I decided to utilize the armor upgrades found in Mass Effect 1 as opposed to its sequels. This allows for more variety and flexibility to me. That isn’t to say that a player couldn’t create Cerberus Armor or Inferno Armor using some or all of the ideas presented. In fact Mass Effect 2 & 3’s modular armor could be simulated quite easily by adding some of the aspects with a simple name change. For example a Capacitor Helmet might offer the same benefits of the Shield Regenerator aspect but making it more difficult to hide (you would have to be blind to miss the blue glowing helmet) while the Ariake Technologies breastplate might be the equivalent of the Exoskeleton aspect.



Mass Effect: From the Ashes HumAnnoyd