help with iron

“Iron is a powerful tool of war. With it individual soldiers wield the destructive power of a squad of lesser equipped soldiers: they can withstand all but the most devistating attacks, survive crippling injury, carry heavy weapons and deploy with great rapidity and violence”

Okay, I made an Lord Pilot Anvil in a low tech world, but iron armor is making no sense to me!

I understand the whole feudal system associated with it corvus and crucius and all that, but it is the mechanics of the actual armor that I stumble with.

Now, there is a lot of stuff that I can understand just fine. Foam, Targeters, EVA, avatar, sheilded com, etc.

But there is a ton that makes no sense to me.

First off, Fusion pack

So there is this wonderful extremely high tech and compact power source…but it doesn’t really seem to relate to anything. Now, I can plug my power pack weapons into the suit itself, but why? If I run the weapon ‘empty’ can I just swap over to the power pack of my suit? It doesn’t really seem so, and with weapons that are ‘heater’ this is doubly a bad idea, as I could potentially destroy the armor.

maybe more importantly, power assist, how does that work game mechanics wise? I made my character strong in tactics and strategy and all that good stuff, so I had a nice amount of points in mental, but still a ton in physical, and I spread them around to make a well rounded character. I have power of 4. So, when I am wearing iron do I roll a die to see how much more power I have? Do I do this every time I try something, or just once during character burning? Or is it that power with an exponent of 4 means for most things related to power, I will be rolling 4 dice, so power assist means I get to roll one more dice.

Except that doesn’t make any sense with squad support weapons (a required skill you take when you become a lord pilot) that have the heavy trait. You aren’t rolling dice to count successes to see if you can lift them, so how does +1D apply?

Also, for a pretty average strenght of 4, just going to 5 doesn’t allow me to carry any different weapons, How does anyone manage to carry around a heavy laser? (except for Mukhadish).

How does this jive with the ‘flavor’ of an iron wearing lord pilot wielding the destructive power of a squad of lesser (anvil armored)troops. Do I have to go to 5 power plus 1 more from the suit just to lug around a fusior?

The final defind in game bit that makes no sense to me is the actual armor value itselt. Having an AT of only 4 doesn’t make it seem much better than anvil armor at all, especially as it is hard to see (oh sure, foam is nice to save you once your are damaged, but this uber armor should be keeping you safe!)

now, I am sure part of this is balance. I can imagine a player playing a standard anvil trooper, or a coprorate security head packing an assault rifle, it would be no fun for them if the enemy in iron was totally invulnerable…but still, just AV4? And then there is this funky hardened and shielded, that converts vehicle level damage to human level…but then why wouldn’t it knock down human level damage to irrelvant damage. Also, it makes more sense that some WEAKER guns are actually more effective than higher powered weapons vs iron. A guy with a rifle is more damaging vs iron than a guy with a PAc or the smart missle launcher.

Doesn’t seem that iron armor really does what it is supposed to. Am I missing something?

Hell, right now Iron seems to say to me ‘You’ll be only slightly safer than if you were in anvil armor, but it you get hurt we’ll heal you right away!..but you won’t do much more damage than a guy in anvil armor…plus you cannot see worth crap! Might as well have stayed home and watched the firefight on TV!’

Fusion Pack: IIRC this is mostly color, as below:

Power Assist: “1D” is how we write “Counts exponent as one higher” in BE. This is to distinguish between +1D, +1Ob, and the rarer 1s. So if you had Power 5 and you put on Iron, now you have Power 6.

Squad Support Weapons: These are the mortars and heavy machine guns of the Iron Empires. Anvil infantry carry these in two to three-man teams and mount them on tripods. Iron can just wave them around and snap off shots. This means that an Iron squad of six will have the proportionate long-range and anti-armor capability of five or six squads of Anvil Elite.

Power 4 w/Iron: This lets you use Assault Lasers. You can also use Fusors with a +2Ob penalty, though it’s not a great plan. You’re also only three tests away from Power 5, which will let you use the coveted Fusor.

Heavy Lasers: Use these with tripods or vehicle hardpoints.

Why isn’t Iron tougher: It is. Check out the Hardened and Shielded trait. If we both have H3, H5, H8, H10 tolerances, and you have Anvil and I have iron, then you go down from anything above H13, for instance an H15 or a V3 hit. I’ll go down if I take an H15, same as you, but that V3 gets reduced to an H3 and I don’t even have to mark it because my armored superficial tolerance is H7!

Scan the weapons list. You basically have to get up to an Assault Laser, Heavy Laser, or Fusor before you get a weapon that can deal more than a Superficial result to our guy on a Mark hit. If he’s just in Anvil, though, rifles and assault guns will do the trick, and a MPIML or PAc will kill him outright on an Incidental hit.

Oh, page refs. The Iron stuff is all on 544, the weapons chart is like 520 or something. You seem to have found it okay, but someone else might be lurking and wondering.

Thanks, Devin.

Steve, small things make a big difference in Burning Empires. A +1 Power or an increase of the AV is more important in game than it looks on paper.

Also, don’t neglect the iron’s avatar systems. Those are a huge boon and crucial for winning a firefight.

And check out the FF modifiers to dispo. Iron gets many considerations in there.


Of all the forum posts to spam…

That’s actually on topic… Colostrum is the technical, latin term for foam.

And it’s 100% natural.


I confess to some puzzlement over “hardened and shielded” myself, and since we have Chris Moeller on the thread, I figured this is a good opportunity to ask him:

The way hardened & shielded works in-game, as I understand it, means that Iron is much, much more effective against heavy anti-vehicular weapons than against anti-personnel weapons. As Steve says, someone with a regular sub-index Rifle, doing minimum damage of H5, is always going to hurt someone in Iron at least a little no matter how bad his Die of Fate rolls (H5 - AT4 = 1), whereas someone with a zero index MPIML missile launcher or a low index PAc, doing a minimum damage of V4, may well not penetrate at all (V4 stepped down to H4 - AT4 = zero).

Now, is this an artifact of the way the rules simulate Iron, or is Iron really that much more vulnerable to small-calibre weapons for some reason?

An H1 isn’t really a wound or an injury. It falls to the left of the Superficial wound tolerance. So I think you’re just looking at an artifact of the system.

Okay, so let’s assume both a Rifle and a PAc roll a 6 on the DoF. Then they’re doing damage of

Rifle: H13 - AT4 = H9
PAC: V10 stepped down to H10 - AT4 = H6

Applying that to an actual Iron-wearing Vaylen FoN from our Frostvar game, Siegfried, Lord Tyr:

Superificial: 3
Injured: 5
Maimed: 9
Mortal: 11

He’s only Injured by the PAc, but Maimed by the Rifle. In other words a Lee-Enfield is more dangerous to a man in Iron than a particle accelerator cannon. That seems odd.

Actually, that’s pretty okay for those specific two weapons. The PAc is like a squad support riot gun, remember? It’s actually not particularly designed to be better against armor than a rifle. If this were a fusor or a serious laser, then it’d be an issue.

In general, I think this is actually a similar case to the Kerrn in Iron problem: Yes, Kerrn in Iron could have mortal wound armored tolerances to the right of H16, but in practice the lifepaths prevent that. Yes, in theory, Iron gets hinky with high H-hits vs middling V-hits, but in practice the weapons table makes it work okay (with the exception of some of the weapons that have high-H Mark results and then like V3 Superbs. It is a little hinky that you want a Mark rather than a Superb from those weapons.)

I agree that being maimed by a rifle, but only injured by a SAW is kinda hinky.
In my game, I’d have the Hardened and Shielded trait also reduce the value of Human-scale damage by half. That way, at best, the rifle can only Injure you, just like the PaC does…

Hey Sydney, good to see you here.

Iron is not intended to have some weird Achilles heel to small-weapons fire. My sense of this discussion is that there may be odd moments where Iron plays out differently than intended. That’s fine by me. If we hit one of those moments in-game, we’ll work it out with a “no, that’s stupid, you take no damage” hand wave (maybe that’s anathema, I don’t know). If one of my players were trying to game the system, teching up an iron-killing sniper pistol designed solely to capitalize on this little bit of mechanical oddness, I’d object.

That’s my take on the mechanical side. From the point of view of canon (and I’m sure, Luke), Iron is what you expect it is from the description.


Iron’s not invulnerable to weapon’s fire. It keeps things interesting. Also, it works fine in play.

Hand-waving away the system?

I’m holding my fingers together in the sign of the cross right now! Hiss! Back, ye foul spawn of fiat!


Luke, Chris, thanks for your clarifications. Both of you know I’ve got an motive beyond gaming to get this kind of detail right, so I really appreciate it.