Character Creation Part 3
by Seth Glenn
Character Creation in Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG may seem overwhelming, however the steps provided in each of the three core rulebooks are laid out in an easy to understand manner. Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion and Force and Destiny all provide the same process with exception only to their specific setting and classes. In part three of this overview of the Character Creation process, we will discuss investing experience points, determining attributes and determining motivation. These equate to steps six through eight in the core rulebooks. While the mechanics of completing these three steps is not that difficult, they are extremely personal to each character and should be considered carefully. The player’s choices during these steps determine the dice pools for roles during gameplay as they are the stats driving the character forward into the narrative. We will see some examples before we are finished.
Investing Experience Points
Each Player Character has an amount of starting experience points determined by their species. Typical starting experience points range from 90 to 110, with most species averaging out at 100. There are a few exceptions, like droids who start with 175 experience points, but their characteristics (Brawn, Agility, etc.) are all set at 1, so it is expected that the player will invest in raising those to fit the career they chose. If a player wishes to use a species other than those found in the core rulebooks, they should check with their GM and look at the appropriate source books.
Character Creation is the only time that players can use experience points to raise Characteristics. The cost of raising a Characteristic 1 point is equal to 10 times the value that it is being raised. For example, if the Brawn characteristic were being raised from 2 to 3, then the cost would be 30 points(10 x 3). If a player wishes to raise a characteristic more than one point, each point value must be paid for separately. So if the Brawn characteristic were being raised from 2 to 4, it would cost 70 points(10 x 3 plus 10 x 4). During character creation no characteristic may be raised higher than 5.
A Character’s Skills are what are used for the majority of dice rolls during game play. There are many skills available to the player to choose from, though a characters species, career and specialization may grant initial ranks in certain skills. For example, the Technician Career grants an initial skill rank in Mechanics, while the Outlaw Tech Specialization adds an initial rank of Streetwise. These initial skill ranks are added at no cost to a Character’s initial experience points. These, among other initial skills, are considered a Character’s ‘Career Skills.’ In order to increase a Career Skills rank, players must spend 5 times the rank the skill is being raised to ( rank 1 to rank 2: 5 x 2 = 10 xp). A player may choose to raise the rank of any non-Career skill as well, but at the cost of 5 times the rank desired, plus 5 additional points ( rank 1 to rank 2: 5 x 2 plus 5 = 15 xp). Regardless of species or career rank bonuses, a Skill rank cannot be raised above rank 2 during Character Creation.
Talents are chosen from the Specialization Talent Tree. This is found in the description of each Specialization in the core rulebooks. Each Talent Tree has four columns and five rows. Talents in the topmost row cost 5 xp, with each row below costing 5 additional xp (row 1=5 xp, row 2=10 xp, row 3=15, etc.). Some talents are connected to others by lines, creating paths to more expensive talent choices. Players must start with a talent in the first row, and then may choose subsequent talents from the connected path. Each talent may only be purchased once. If it is a ranked talent, it will be described as such with abilities that stack, and future ranks must be purchased in order to move further in that path, increasing that talent’s rank. If the talent is not ranked, the player counts that talent as
already purchased, and may proceed to the next row or column available on the connected path. Talents may be purchased during Character Creation or during game play.
Acquiring New Specializations
When each player chooses a Career, they start with one Specialization. However, a play may choose to spend experience points on additional Specializations. This unlocks the included Talents for the cost of the added Specialization. The included Career skills in any Specialization added after the first, now count as Career skills for the character as far as cost, but the player does not get a free advance in those skills like they did in the initial Specialization. Players may purchase any Specialization from any Career, allowing for incredible Character customization.
The cost of a Specialization within the same Career costs 10 times the total amount of Specializations the character will have after the new one is added. So a 2nd Specialization within the same Career would cost 20 xp. A 3rd Specialization within the Career would cost 30. Purchasing a Specialization from another Career costs 10 times the total number of Specializations after the new one is added, plus 10 additional xp. So if the 2nd Specialization was from another career, it would cost 20 plus 10 additional xp for a total of 30 xp. Additional Specializations may be purchased during gameplay, after starting with the initial Specialization from the Character’s chosen career.
A Character’s Wound and Strain Threshold, Defense, and Soak values are all derived from players choices during Character Creation. A Character’s Wound Threshold is how much physical damage a character can take, and is derived from the Brawn rating plus the Wound Threshold determined by what species the character chose. A Character’s Strain Threshold is determined by the Willpower rating plus the chosen species Strain Threshold. Soak Value is equal to a Character’s Brawn rating, but may also be enhanced by clothes or armor the Character is wearing. Defense defines how hard a player is to hit during combat and is divided into ranged and melee defense. This rating is defaulted to zero, but can be enhanced by armor or finding cover during combat. Some talents can also affect a Character’s defense, Soak value, Wound and Strain Thresholds, but would cost the appropriate amount of xp as described accordingly.
While Obligation, Duty and Morality all define what a Character is doing, Motivation provides the why. This helps add flavor and define differences between characters that might be very similar up to this point. Motivation helps the player during role play and narrative, by providing some predetermined character traits and goals. Motivations can be focused on the individual or the group as a whole. Each Core Rulebook describes choosing Motivation in step 8 of Character Creation, and each book describes different types of motivation that might be more useful for the setting of each book. Edge of the Empire describes Ambition, Cause and Relationship as it’s three Motivations. Age of Rebellion looks at Belief, Connection and Quest as Motivation for joining the Rebels against the Empire. And lastly, Force and Destiny points back to Ambition, Cause and Faith as Motivation for Force users. See the appropriate descriptions listed in the Core Rulebooks.
Motivation can be determined one of two ways. If the GM allows it, players can craft their own Motivation. The second way to chose motivation is to roll on the provided tables. Each Core Rulebook provides a random Motivation table, and players may roll a D10 to determine which motivation with which they start. After choosing which type of Motivation, player can roll on that particular Motivation’s specific table to determine more precisely what Motivates them by using a D100. However the Motivation is chosen, Players and GMs can agree to change motivation during gameplay, or even have secret motivations known only to one player and the GM.
All these elements are present to help Players and the Game Master add variety and interesting plots to the story that the group is trying to tell. While assigning experience points, determining attributes and choosing Motivation may be the most challenging and monotonous part of Character Creation, they are vital as they define the mechanics and rolls that the players and GM will use for the length of the game. Check back next time as we look at the fourth and final Character Creation Overview as we look at character Appearance, Choosing Gear and Weapons, and Group Resources like a ship or a base!
May the Force be with You!