Doomsday Hood
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Basic Information

The Scape CBRN30, also known as an Escape Hood (and called a Doomsday Hood by the news reporting on their use by U.S. Congress in early 2021), is a transparent emergency hood. It works like a gasmask, but has a number of advantages that most gasmasks don't.

Properties and Benefits

What makes them cool, and better than a traditional gasmask? Glad you asked.

It's a "foolproof" and easy-to-use hood that seals over your entire head. It goes on fast, and most of the danger of someone in a panic failing to put theirs on correctly is mitigated. When you crack open the box it comes in, it turns on automatically. The hood goes over your whole head, and rests on your shoulders. It's baggy, quickly fills with air and has higher pressure inside it than outside — so even if the seal isn't perfect because you had long hair or weird clothing or an atypical body shape, particles in the environment are pushed out and away instead of being sucked in.

It has a nice little red light that lets you know its working, so you can easily check your own status and check on your nearby allies as well.

It has both a carbon filter and a HEPA filter, to catch a wide variety of particles. One article says it protects against ammonia, anthrax, chlorine, mustard gas, sarin gas, and tear gas, and various other chemical, biological, and under the right circumstances even some nuclear dangers such as radioactive dust from fallout. At least one model includes a catalyst to convert dangerous carbon monoxide into the less dangerous carbon dioxide, as well. For those bailing out of older buildings, these will also exclude asbestos dust.

It's also transparent (and like I said, big and baggy). It doesn't impair your field of vision, or greatly limit your ability to turn your head, so no or few penalties to perception checks. It also doesn't hide your face at all, so a group of people wearing them can still tell friend from foe. That also means it probably doesn't inflict a charisma penalty the way a dehumanizing opaque mask might. It also doesn't require the close, face-fitting seal that most mask respirators demand, which means that it can fit a wide range of facial shapes and tolerate the presence of facial hair.


And what's the downside?

It won't protect you from things that can penetrate your skin below the neck, such as radiation or contact poison. Just stuff that tries to damage your eyes, or enter your body via your mouth or nose. It will probably still reduce your exposure to other things (as some of the most vulnerable parts of your body are covered), but your safety is not guaranteed.

It's a short term solution, only rated to protect you for about a half an hour. Perfect for a quick escape, but not suitable for long-term exposure. (Those 30 minutes may be the difference between life and death - most workplaces aim to evacuate completely in five minutes.)

It's pretty expensive for a disposable item. Sometime after 9/11, the US Government bought 20,000 of them at about $580 apiece. Player Characters probably don't need thousands of them, so they should probably expect to pay a good bit more per unit.1 There's also plenty of scope for lower spec devices at a lower price, either with a lesser range of protection or lower duration.

It occurs to me that the little red light may be enough for the GM to assess a penalty to your stealth checks if trying to sneak away from a threat in the dark. More realistically, rather than apply a penalty, it just might to cancel out or reduce the bonus normally gained by being the dark.

See Also

Ultimately this is just an upgrading of the Smoke Hood concept that was first invented in 1912 by Garrett Morgan (and which was also the predecessor of the modern gas mask). Simply the application of modern materials and engineering to a concept more than 100 years old.


Game and Story Use

  • They or something like them are likely to be brought in to play if a riot, revolution, dirty bomb, gas attack, or other horrific disaster strikes anywhere that important members of any major government are located. Which is a pretty common scenario in games set in the modern-day.
    • First responders may have a supply of them on hand for emergencies. This is especially likely in a capitol city, or other place with the proper mix of being: well-funded, vitally important, and expecting trouble.
  • More generally you can add them to your equipment lists for games set in the modern era, especially if the PCs work for a government agency or other patron that can place a large order.
    • It's the sort of thing that belongs in the go bag of a Player Character that needs to be ready to bug out at a moment's notice, particularly if you have unscrupulous enemies likely to use drastic weaponry.
  • Could be a nice bit of treasure if you explore a bomb shelter or survivalist bunker after the end.
    • Being a 30-minute protection against the harshest nastiness of the post-apocalyptic wasteland means they may fill a role akin to a potion or other consumable treasure.
    • A character with the proper tech skills might be able to repair and refresh them so they function longer. (No guarantees on the effectiveness or safety of said activities.)
    • Good for a one-off crossing of a contaminated compartment in a bunker complex.
  • In civilian life, these will be most commonly located around bulk chemical storage and/or heavy refrigeration plant (which, these days at least, tends to be full of ammonia). These will be designed so that staff caught in the area during a release can escape to a safe location - cleanup and control will be done with much heavier equipment. They will probably not be found around drench firefighting equipment as that tends to work by displacing oxygen rather than contaminating the air, and these hoods cannot provide additional oxygen.
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