Bonds with Symbiotic Armor

Published January 21, 2014 by


Following contact with some strange numenera, your body became host to a symbiotic creature of unknown origins (nanotech, biotech, or alien bio-mechanical?) that acts as a living armor enhancing your physical prowess. Although the armor answers your call, the symbiotic creature’s will-to-live can compel it to temporarily assume control of your body.

When you have a living suit of armor at your summons, your sense of style is the least of your concerns. You still may prefer to wear light clothing that makes fighting within your symbiotic armor more manageable.

Anyone can bond with symbiotic armor, although glaives, and occasionally jacks, are the most likely characters to have the sort of combat training to optimize symbiotic armor.


GM Intrusion: You suffer psychological trauma during your berserker mode that prevents you from normally accessing your symbiotic armor. A foe has a device that strips you of your ability to call forth your armor.


Pick one other PC. That character was there when you first bonded with your symbiotic armor. They are afraid that the armor is affecting your personality and changing you into something else. Their presence reduces the difficulty task of regaining control from the armor’s berserker mode by one.

Minor Effect Suggestions:
Your armor kinesthetically learns from successful actions. You gain a +1 bonus to similar actions involving the same task (such as making attacks against the same foe or operating the same device).
Major Effect Suggestions:
Your armor becomes more efficient, and you gain a +1 to your Might Edge and Speed Edge for one round.
Tier 1:

Symbiotic Armor (1 Might point): You become encased in a living, symbiotic armor that you can call to your defense as an action. Symbiotic armor grants 2 Armor and does not reduce your Speed Pool, but instead reduces your Intellect Pool total by 3. While wearing the symbiotic armor, you are considered trained in the symbiotic armor and in Speed defense rolls. The symbiotic armor lasts up to one hour, but it can be dismissed at-will. The benefits of symbiotic armor do not stack with normal armor equipment. Action to initiate.

Special Berserker Mode: When you become debilitated, the symbiotic armor’s own self-preservation triggers a berserker mode, causing you to temporarily lose control. While in berserker mode, the character can take actions as if they were hale. In berserker mode, you gain +6 to your Might Pool, +1 to your Might Edge, +4 to your Speed Pool, and +1 to your Speed Edge. While in berserker mode, you can’t spend Intellect points for any reason other than trying to regain control over the armor and prematurely end berserker mode (a difficulty 3 task). In addition, you attack any and every living creature within short range that your symbiotic armor perceives as a threat. This effect ends if no combat is taking place within range of your senses. Afterward, you take a -1 penalty to all rolls for one hour and are unable to recall your symbiotic armor until you are no longer impaired. If you did not kill at least one substantial creature while in berserker mode, the penalty increases to -2 and affects all your rolls for the next 28 hours. Action to deactivate.

Tier 2:

Enhanced Movement: While wearing the symbiotic armor, you are treated as having an asset to all types of movement tasks (including climbing, swimming, jumping, and balancing). Enabler.

Living Weapon (1 Might point): You can shape one light or medium melee weapon of your choice from your symbiotic armor for up to ten minutes. You are considered trained in this weapon (even if you are not trained in other weapons of that type). After which time, or when you will it, the weapon is then reabsorbed by the symbiotic armor. Enabler to use weapon; action to initiate.

Tier 3:

Wings (4+ Speed points): Your symbiotic armor sprouts wings that let you fly for ten minutes. In terms of overland movement, a flying creature moves about 20 miles (32 km) per hour and is not affected by terrain. If you apply one extra level of Effort, you can carry a maximum of one other person with you. Action to activate.

Improved Armor: When you wear the symbiotic armor, you gain +1 Armor and reduce the armor’s Intellect Pool reduction to 2. Enabler.

Tier 4:

Regeneration: The symbiotic creature improves your physiological recovery. In addition to regaining points through normal recovery rolls, you regain 1 point of your Might Pool or Speed Pool per hour, regardless of whether you rest, until both Pools are at their maximum. Enabler.

Tier 5:

Improved Living Weapon: You either become specialized in your prior living weapon or you can choose one additional light or melee weapon of your choice for a second living weapon in which you are trained. If you choose a second living weapon, you can use an action to reshape your weapon between the two forms as an Intellect 2 task. Your living weapons now deal 1 extra point of damage. Enabler.

Tier 6:

Perfected Bond: You no longer need to be debilitated to enter berserker mode or to regain control while in berserker mode. While in symbiotic armor, you can access berserker mode as an Intellect difficulty 1 task. When berserker mode ends, you no longer take a penalty to your rolls. If you become debilitated, you only need to become at least impaired before you can access your symbiotic armor again. Enabler.

Improved Armor: When you wear the symbiotic armor, you gain +1 Armor and reduce the armor’s Intellect Pool reduction to 0. Enabler.

  • VoiceofReasonish

    I love it, has a Crisis kind of feel to it.
    I like the advancement with the tiers too, very well done.

  • Zak K

    I actually really like this idea. I’m personally a big fan of the whole “symbiotic organism that messes with your head” concept. However, I would like to suggest the possibility of increasing/modifying the difficulty level of getting out of berserker mode. Personally, I think that a level 3 Intellect task is a little low to retake control of a biomechanical symbiote gone blood-thirsty, as the initial percentage chance of beating such a check is 55%. That would mean that the character would be berserking maybe two rounds at a time on average, and would not have to spend effort to effectively fight back. If the character spends a level of effort, the chance of success is raised to 70%. Once the character reaches Tier 3 and is capable of expending three levels of effort, such a task can quickly become trivial. To top it off, the Intellect pool is not even touched by these abilities outside of getting out of berserker mode, so unless the character is using other Intellect-based abilities such as Esoteries, going up against an enemy that is forcing them to make a lot of Intellect rolls, or is often blowing Intellect points to smooth-talk his way around a problem, then they will often have a stash of Intellect points to get out of Berserker mode.

    I would suggest increasing the difficulty of getting out of berserker mode to a level 4 or 5 Intellect task. To be a little more flavorful, maybe the better solution would be a level 4 task on average, with the difficulty bumping up to a level 5 when a large amount of enemies are present. That way, the odds of successfully regaining control are only 40% unless the situation has hit the fan, in which case the odds of successfully regaining control are only 20%. In such a case, it would almost be required to expend effort to regain control of berserker mode, make it a very powerful and simultaneously very dangerous ability (which goes wonderfully with the overall concept of berserker mode). And with these levels, a berserking symbiote would be difficult to keep control of, but the power it brings you would make the risk worthwhile. Additionally, it would require the character to really work to keep the symbiote in check.

    Alternatively, it could be suggested that any attack that directly takes a character down the damage track (as in, “Make a Might Defense roll or move a step down the damage track”) could also trigger the possibility of a berserker mode activation. Maybe make it a level 4 task again. And then, when Tier 6 is reached, the difficulty of controlling the symbiote could be bumped down a peg or two.

    And actually, it would be a really tense experience if the character is affected by an attack that takes them a step down the damage track. Yeesh. One moment the giant crab monster of the hour slams their massive pincer into the character and crushes them into a wall. Might defense roll failed. Berserker mode roll failed. The villagers hear the angry squirming of the symbiote, the whirring of gears, the anguished grinding of metal. And then the claw starts slowly moving, the crab monster thriving in pain, as the berserking creature it attacked begins to pull its dug-in fists apart. The shell cracks, the monster screeches, the symbiote tears the claw in half like cardboard. And then the player gets this look in their eye that says, “The real fun is about to being”.

    Anyway, let me know what you think.