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Old 03-07-2014, 11:03 PM   #1
Infornific
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Default Captain America Falling

Just saw an extended promo clip for the new Captain America movie. It opens with Captain America jumping out of a plane without a parachute and doing a dive into the water by a ship. He survives because he's the gosh darn Captain America but it got me thinking just how superhumanly durable you'd need to be to succeed at such an attempt.

I could try to precisely calculate GURPS mechanics for this but instead I'm going to cheat a little. I'll use high diving champions as a comparison. Male competitive high divers jump from about 89 feet up and hit the water at about 90 kph or 55 mph (See this Reuters story for details.) Wikipedia reports higher dives for record jumps but a lot of those report significant injuries as well. Cap's supposed to get on a boat and beat up some mercenaries right after the dive so he needs to be relatively intact and not just survive. Anyway, this suggests a baseline for what is doable. Since Captain America has (in GURPS terms) a ridiculously high DX we'll assume he has skill comparable to a world class high diver. But how fast would he be hitting the water?

If wikipedia can be trusted, terminal velocity for a human is about 120 mph in bell flop position and up to 200 mph for a more streamlined position. Cap starts his fall in belly flop position but ends in a feet first dive. So he probably hits the water going faster that 120 mph but if he changes position at the last moment would hit at less than 200 mph. So he's hitting the water moving at a minimum more than twice as fast as a world class high diver and possibly close to four times as fast. Since damage in GURPS scales directly with speed, Cap would need four times the hit points (with the Massless modification) or Injury Tolerance (Damage Reduction) 4 to deal with the fall about as well as a real world high diver does with his dive. I'd round it up to Injury Tolerance (Damage Reduction) 5 to give a margin of error. Just in case anyone wants to stat up the Marvel movie superheroes.
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Old 03-07-2014, 11:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: Captain America Falling

IT:DR 5 certainly makes sense, considering all the other beatings he takes throughout those movies. Alternately, he may have a sizable regenerating Ablative DR or Vitality Reserve, letting him absorb a lot of damage but be ready to go again shortly afterward. Or this could be an example of the Flesh Wounds cinematic option, expending a character point to survive a dangerous but dramatically-appropriate ordeal.
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Old 03-07-2014, 11:44 PM   #3
scc
 
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Default Re: Captain America Falling

The Cap has traditionally worn chain mail under that colored suit (In fact from what I've been told originally he just wore the chain mail, the colored suit came later to make him easier to draw). Now at our TL the max DR chain mail can give is 18, that can probably explain how he did that
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Old 03-08-2014, 12:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: Captain America Falling

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The Cap has traditionally worn chain mail under that colored suit (In fact from what I've been told originally he just wore the chain mail, the colored suit came later to make him easier to draw). Now at our TL the max DR chain mail can give is 18, that can probably explain how he did that
Where do you get the concept of DR 18 chain mail? I don't think even the notoriously broken rules in High Tech get you more than DR 12 (there was some experimentation with bulletproof chain mail early in the 20th century, but it didn't work).
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Old 03-08-2014, 12:13 AM   #5
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Default Re: Captain America Falling

Mail is flexible with poor protection against crushing damage, so wouldn't help that much against water. Especially since OP described feet first diving. I doubt anyone wears mail on their foot soles.
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Old 03-08-2014, 12:16 AM   #6
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Default Re: Captain America Falling

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Where do you get the concept of DR 18 chain mail? I don't think even the notoriously broken rules in High Tech get you more than DR 12 (there was some experimentation with bulletproof chain mail early in the 20th century, but it didn't work).
I don't think anyone has ever made mail with the most effective steel TL 8 can offer.
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Old 03-08-2014, 12:21 AM   #7
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Default Re: Captain America Falling

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I don't think anyone has ever made mail with the most effective steel TL 8 can offer.
People have made plates of the most effective steel TL 8 can offer, and there's not any reason to expect mail to be more weight-effective than plate.
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Old 03-08-2014, 12:24 AM   #8
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Default Re: Captain America Falling

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Where do you get the concept of DR 18 chain mail? I don't think even the notoriously broken rules in High Tech get you more than DR 12 (there was some experimentation with bulletproof chain mail early in the 20th century, but it didn't work).
That's the highest DR TL 7 Steel can offer when used in armor in Low Tech II
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Old 03-08-2014, 12:32 AM   #9
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People have made plates of the most effective steel TL 8 can offer, and there's not any reason to expect mail to be more weight-effective than plate.
I thought most bullet resistant plates were ceramic rather than steel.

Also, mail has different properties to plate so might very well require specialized research and materials. I don't know though.
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Old 03-08-2014, 01:04 AM   #10
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Default Re: Captain America Falling

In GURPS, a successful (DX-based?) Swimming roll negates all damage from falling into water (p. B431), so it's not necessary for Cap to have more HP or IT:DR. The diving roll is at a penalty for velocity, which will be either -9 for a spread-eagled fall at terminal velocity or -10 for a terminal velocity swan dive. The Swimming roll for a 55 mph dive is -7, so either seems likely to be within Cap's capabilities (though to do it that confidently implies a DX-based Swimming skill in the high 20s).

Last edited by munin; 03-08-2014 at 01:53 AM.
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