A lot of gamers forget (or quite often never knew in the first place) that the dividing line between fantasy and science fiction used to be far more permeable than it’s generally considered to be today. Indeed, high-tech-versus-magic remains a sub-genre of its own today, though usually moreso in fiction than in role-playing games. However, we do still see technology creeping into our fantasy in tabletop RPGs, with all of the results that come from getting peanut butter in our chocolate.
1 With a Bullet Point: 6 Anachronistic Armors, by Super Genius Games, is a product that dives directly, albeit briefly, into this genre mashup. As the title suggests, it provides Pathfinder statistics for six kinds of armor (actually four kinds of armor and two shields) from contemporary Earth.
I had some reservations about this product before I looked at it. I was dubious that the author would simply assign statistics to these armors and shields that would put them on an even keel with standard Pathfinder defensive equipment. That would, in my mind, have defeated the entire point of making these anachronistic armors different – after all, contemporary armor and shields are supposed to be better than older ones, usually in terms of their level of protection versus their weight and bulk, and so just making them have parity with their “medieval” counterparts would have defeated the purpose of statting them at all.
Of course, these guys are called the Super Geniuses for a reason. Author Owen K. C. Stephens saw right through my initial concerns, and did indeed make these armors different, in a way that made them unique and desirable without being overpowering.
The key here is that, for the armors, the bonuses they grant against firearms are much greater than against other kinds of weapons. Indeed, not only does its AC bonus increase, but it makes the attack roll be normal, rather than a touch attach. That’s a HUGE benefit! One of the shields (the tactical shield) offers similar benefits; only the riot shield is not as effective against firearms, but does gain modest benefits against improvised weapons (as well as attacking with it).
That said, there were a few minor quibbles I had with the product. The ceramic armor, for example, apparently has an error in it in that, despite being medium armor, it doesn’t seem to reduce the wearer’s speed rating; there’s no text about that, so I presume it’s in error. Moreover, the armor has a drawback in that its ceramic plates can lose their protective value when damaged; I don’t disapprove of this level of simulationism, but rather wish that there was even a single sentence about what sort of Craft check it would be to make new plates – presumably it’s Craft (armorsmithing), but the DC would presumably be different (since you’re not remaking the entire armor).
That said, some small issues with one armor out of the six here is still a very high bar! Given that the product surprised me by dealing with the issues I was concerned about, and how small its few problems are, I can’t give this less than five out of five stars. If there’s any sort of way your PCs can get access to equipment from other times and places, they’d do far worse than to pick up some anachronistic armors.
[5 of 5 Stars!]