Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Zero-Gee Stormtroopers

First introduced in the Imperial Sourcebook, Zero-Gee Stormtroopers was a concept I quickly grew to love. It is about the only place I could consider allowing powered-armor in the Star Wars universe (without it severely impacting the 'feel' of the setting). The concept made sense to me—I could see heavily armed and armored suits being used in boarding actions in space. Afterall, you would want some heavy firepower to overcome internal obstacles, but you would need something that could fit down standard ship corridors. Thus, Zero-Gee troopers are like the 'tanks' of the marine infantry units. The weight and limited mobility of the suits are much less of an issue in the zero-gravity environment, and in cramped corridor combat, they couldn't be easily outflanked. So, it was all good.


(Fig. 1) My god, does the design for them look stupid. I mean seriously stupid. Who cares if they can blow you up or crush you with their claws, they just look downright goofy. I think it's the huge head portion of it that really gets me. The oversized 'eyes' of the suit just aren't positioned for the 'pilot' to see through, period. And the 'nose' vent or whatever the heck it is supposed to be? Well, it makes the thing look like a mildly angry snowman or jack-o-lantern. The overall blockiness of the design isn't doing it any favors, either. To me, it seems to hearken back to the old movie serials and the clunky robots made out of stove-pipes. Bleh.

(Fig. 2) In the Heir to the Empire graphic novels, the Zero-Gee Spacetroopers make another appearance. Though the idea of them was clearly taken from the RPG sourcebook, the artist evidently had the same problem with the look of the armor as I did. Thus was created a slightly more 'acceptable' version of the armor (now listed 'officially' as 'light' Zero-Gee armor). The body certainly looked a lot more mobile and a lot less silly. But the head was still a problem. The helmet is twice as wide as a standard trooper helm, with gives the 'mouth' looking grille a decidedly goofy appearance. Not to mention that the head looks entirely out of scale to the body. Again. Bleh.

Though I used to draw all the time, I haven't done much of it in the past ten or so years. And it shows. I have made several stabs at my own designs, but I have never felt my drawing skills were up to 'snuff' when it came to this kind of design. So it was that I found myself in the position of not liking what images were out there and not being able to do my own.

(Fig. 3) Well, thanks to the miracle of the internet, I have found a suit of armor that I think finally fits the bill for the Zero-Gee power-armored space trooper. I used my retouching skills to tweak the basic suit a bit—mainly condensing it so that it would seem feasible for a man to be inside the suit. What I like about the suit is: A) It looks badass, B) The helmet looks helmet-sized, and C) It looks like a person could actually move around in the suit a bit more than the big, clompy snow-man version. In any case, this is what I'm going to go with from now on in my campaign.

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