“Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, Princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money!”
–Han Solo, Star Wars: A New Hope
Some characters are destined to become legends in the war against Imperial oppression. Some are more inclined to maintain low profiles as they amass private fortunes. Others are bound to race through the stars just to stay one step ahead of disaster.
In a Star Wars®: Edge of the Empire™ roleplay campaign, you’ll take the role of a character that operates in some of the grittiest locations in the Star Wars galaxy. You may help smuggle stolen medical supplies to remote systems. Perhaps you’ll team up with disgraced Imperial officials, or double-cross a Hutt crime lord and pay low-life informants good credits to stay ahead of the bounty hunters sent to capture you.
Edge of the Empire presents a fantastic array of potential adventures limited only by your imagination, but before you battle your first stormtrooper or step foot aboard your first starship, you must first create your character.
In earlier previews, designer Jay Little explained how both the game’s custom dice system and its Obligation system were created to promote the immersive narratives of Edge of the Empire. Painstaking efforts have been taken to ensure that the game’s adventures allow players to experience the twists of fate, the high tension, and the comic relief that replicate that “Star Wars feeling” of the original movies.
Of course, no single part of a game is more central to a player’s experience than his character. Accordingly, the character creation process in Edge of the Empire was designed not only to be easy to follow; it also helps you develop your character’s background and presents you and your GM with ways to tie your character to his campaign world.
Today, we’ll begin walking through the ten steps of character creation. As we do, we’ll build a quick-witted scoundrel well-suited to navigating the trickier social situations likely to manifest in the shady locations of Edge of the Empire.
Step One: Determine a Character’s Concept and Background
Every character starts as an idea. Do you want to play a dashing scoundrel of a smuggler, a gifted Rodian mechanic and pilot, or a mercenary whose reputation for lethality precedes him? Before you start writing down any numbers, you are encouraged to take a few moments and think about the character you want to build and where that character came from.
For example, we want our character to be a sly and cunning scoundrel. We’ll imagine our friends are creating combat-focused mercenaries and ace pilots. One of them is creating an R2 droid who should excel at slicing through security systems to steal data or trigger different devices. While Edge of the Empire doesn’t confine characters to their primary roles, we decide that we’ll balance our group a bit more by creating someone more adept in social situations. We want our character to be a fast-talking, silver-tongued trickster; he’s not so much a charmer as he is a convincing liar.
Also during this state, we want to consider what made our character the individual he is today. No person springs into being fully formed. Individuals are influenced by lifetimes of decisions and circumstances, and we decide that our character begins the campaign having spent the long years of his youth learning the skills that he needed to survive in some of the galaxy’s toughest neighborhoods and darkest alleys.
We’ll presume that such a character would naturally be excited by promises of fame and fortune, and these are likely the motivations that spur him to go on larger adventures. Of course, he knows there are risks involved, but his whole life has been filled with risks. He’s probably not too intimidated by them. In fact, we decide he’s probably a little cocky, having spent his whole life outwitting others, and his overconfidence may be his greatest weakness.
Step Two: Determine Starting Obligation
Obligation in Edge of the Empire represents the debts your character owes. As addressed in an earlier preview, Obligation is a vital aspect of every character. Your character’s Obligation can have very tangible effects on his development, and each character starts with at least one Obligation.
While it’s possible to work with your GM to choose your Obligation, we decide to determine our Obligation randomly by rolling percentile dice and then consulting the Obligation chart (pdf, 136 KB). We get a result of “47.”
“Debt: The character owes someone a great deal, whether that debt consists of money or something else. Perhaps the PC has a huge gambling debt to a Hutt, is indebted to the Czerka Corporation for his starship, owes a wealthy family for patronage, or has some other serious financial obligation…”
If our character had a starship, he wouldn’t likely need to live a hardscrabble life in the backstreets and alleyways for as long as he has, so that angle is out. Likewise, we don’t feel it makes much sense that he’d owe a wealthy family for patronage. However, it’s not unreasonable that our cocky trickster would have managed to get himself into debt while gambling. In fact, it makes sense that our liar may have even tried to cheat while gambling and got himself caught. Now, in order to escape punishment, he’ll have to repay a debt of rather unreasonable proportions.
Step Three: Select Character Species
The galaxy is a crowded place, full of numerous sentient species that all have their own unique abilities and beliefs, and your choice of species will help determine your character’s idiosyncratic abilities and characteristics. Those, in turn, will influence your next step in character creation, the selection of careers.
Your choice of species determines your character’s initial ratings for characteristics like Brawn and Cunning, and it also determines his starting experience points (XP). It also provides default wound threshold and strain threshold values. Once selected, your character’s race can never be changed.
The Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook provides rules for eight different species: Bothan, droid, Gand, Human, Rodian, Trandoshan, Twi’lek, and Wookiee. In addition, to the rules associated with the different species, the Core Rulebook provides snippets of flavor text that offer additional insight into their cultures.
When most people think of Rodians, they think only of Greedo, but there’s more to the species.
As we read through the Core Rulebook’s description of its eight playable races, we’re inspired by the descriptions of Rodia’s history of violence. It’s just the sort of place we imagine our character could call home. There, with a host of violent Rodians ready to turn against him at a moment’s notice, a scrawny character would need to be able to think a couple steps ahead of his opponents at all times.
Our character, then, becomes a Rodian, and the choice comes loaded with several species-specific abilities.
These are our base characteristics and abilities, and we’ll be able to adjust them later as we continue.
Steps Four and Five: Choosing a Career and Specializations
After choosing a species, you choose your character’s career and his starting specialization. A career remains with your character permanently, while your starting specialization may simply be the first of many he assumes over the course of his story. Both are critical choices as they establish your character’s history and his potential future.
The most important difference between your character’s career and specialization is the obvious one: specializations are areas of particular focus for an individual following a career path. For purposes of story and roleplaying, however, it is important to more deeply consider the distinctions of these two character elements.
Your character’s career sets him along a certain path or way of life and defines his overall and ongoing commitment to that path. His career is more than just what he does for a living; it is his way of life. It encompasses his goals, his passions, his training, and his destiny. Areas of focus may change over time, and what your character does to make ends meet may alter drastically over time, but at his core, your character will never truly abandon his choice of career.
Within each career are a number of specializations. These are more focused than careers, and each provides a range of special abilities called talents, which offer unique advantages and allow characters to approach situations differently. Specializations and talents relate specifically to the abilities that your character is likely to use each day, and you might choose your specialization based upon the type of work that led your character to begin adventuring or based upon the type of work he does each day to earn his keep.
You can choose a specialization from outside your career, but to do so, you have to pay extra experience.
We’ll apply our Rodian’s career and specialization in our next preview, and we’ll see him become more and more distinctive and well-rounded as we finish walking through the ten steps of character creation. Until then, share your ideas for Edge of the Empire characters with other members of our community forums!