Omni-toolsNote : at this point all of our Mass Effect articles are about the *first game only*.
Omni-tools are a sort of micro-computer worn on the wrist. When used, it displays a distinctive interface - an orange hologram around the user's hand and forearm that behaves like a tactile screen. There's apparently a "silent mode" where the user just hold their outstretched hand close to the side of their face and use their hand as a phone, radio or walkie-talkie, with no holographic display.
In most cases, omni-tools are used as glorified smartphones to telephone, display and transfer data, receive news, store data, etc. The interface seems very powerful, though, as users can perform operations very quickly - locating and sending a file on their hard drive in seconds.
Expert users will make it clearer why it's called an omni-tool. Advanced functionalities include powerful computing, an array of wireless communication functions that can be used for electronic warfare, numerous pieces of software to interface with nearly every piece of high-tech equipment (often sensors) and even a 3D micro-printer. The printer can be fed a raw material called omni-gel to print out small items (usually replacement pieces to perform repairs), or a wonder material called medi-gel to treat wounds. These functionalities are used by engineers, but also by soldiers, explorers, policemen, doctors, first-in colonists, emergency medical technicians, etc.
An omni-tool with appropriate software counts as proper equipment for nearly all technical skills, allowing characters to use those without penalties for lack of gear. Some uses may require a bit of omni-gel (for instance for a lock-picking skill), and medical use will definitely consume medi-gel.Basic omni-tool
In <i>DC Heroes</i>, a basic omni-tool used for communication will have these stats - [BODY 01, Data storage: 12, Radio communication: 13, Superspeed: 01, Limitation: Superspeed only for tasks involving processing information using the omni-tool].
In <i>DC Adventures</i> it is a Device with Radio Communication 3 (Rapid 2), Quickness 1 (Limited 2 to data management) and Feature 1 (data storage).
These stats represent the classic "user using at most 10% of the functionalities" phenomenon, and will work for most characters with an omni-tool. As usual, the communication score assumes the existence of relays, just like with cell phones.Expert omni-tool
An omni-tool used by an expert will have different stats, to represent power user functionalities, specialised software, custom programming, etc. Possibilities include:
-- The microfac/3D printer can print out small objects using omni-gel - presumably up to the size of a fork or matchbox. In <i>DC Adventures</i> this is Create 1 (Permanent, Innate, Precise, Subtle 1) ; in <i>DC Heroes</i> this is Fabricate: 01 (Limited to doodads, permanent, no maximum number). In both cases it is necessary to have a software library that includes the item you wish produce - for instance a spare pieces library for a range of products by a given manufacturer - and some omni-gel. Expensive equipment presumably come with a pieces library bundled in, and some libraries (such as bypass circuitry for electronic locks, which consume a lot more omni-gel than most applications) are presumably illegal.
Most uses of the microfac are to perform technical skills, but the Powers above represent making small tools (wedge, scalpel, a specific kind of screwdriver, a plug...) to DIY your way out of the sort of situations a RPG character ends in.
-- A trained person with emergency medicine and battlefield medicine software, plus a good reservoir of medi-gel, can go beyond the usual first aid. Medi-gel is a wonder product that cleanses, disinfects, glues (to form temporary sutures), insulates, clots, etc. and the omni tool can quickly form small surgical instruments to help deliver it right. In <i>DC Heroes</i> this is APs of Regeneration, Linked to the Medicine Skill of the user, Useable on Others and with an Ammo score ; in <i>DC Adventures</i> this is Regeneration with a Check Required (Treatment) Flaw and the Source (Medi-gel) Flaw.
Note that this simulates super-tech battlefield medicine rather than an instant, ranged, collective healing spell like in the video game.
-- Electronic warfare experts will add Powers to represent their ability to disrupt enemy use of the Mass Effect, by sweeping through counter-frequencies or some such technobabble. Presumably this requires specialised combat hardware and software (which the best experts will want to customise), and a non-trivial quantity of Element Zero. Abilities used in the game include :
-- Shut down Mass Effect-using weapons through overheating (see below for weapons and heat). This is a Neutralise (DCH) or Nullify (DCA) effect, but limited since all weapons can dump the heat and come back online within three combat rounds. </li>
-- Partially collapsing Mass Effect kinetic shield, whether artificial or natural. This is a specialised attack power against MEK Shields, see below. </li>
-- Creating a Mass Effect disruption zone that prevents biotics from using their abilities. Since it doesn't affect technology, it may create a mentally painful backlash as the biotic person harness their power. Neutralise (DCH) or Nullify (DCA), affecting all biotic powers in the area of effect, but with effects that last at most three combat rounds. </li>
-- Overloading an active Mass Effect generator - technological or biological - to force it to release a burst of concussive force. This is usually combined with another Mass Effect manipulation/disruption attack. This Bomb (DCH) or Burst-Area Damage (DCA) is not normally a powerful attack -- 6 APs/Ranks would be common.
-- Electronic warfare can also be used to perform more traditional actions such as jamming or hacking. In <i>Mass Effect</i> jamming sensors and communication is always an enemy action, and only one character has the skills to hack enemy machines and have them go berserk for a while. In a more open RPG environment, ECM and ECCM would presumably play a more important role.
-- Various bits of software and small bits of hardware can be added to an mini-tool, based on what you could use on a laptop, a smartphone, a rails-equipped gun, a multitool, etc. Random examples include map/navigation packages, tweaking the holographic interface so it can also be used as a good flashlight, translation software with voice recognition, basic sensors such as thermometers or telemeters, remote control interfaces for vehicles and weapons, a targeting laser for a distant weapons system, etc.