SW - Character Building Resources
Steps to Build a Character
Step 1: Determine Background
A character’s background, or backstory, is the tale of that character’s past and usually explains how he came to be a part of the adventures that are about to unfold. If a player chooses to be a laconic starfighter pilot, what’s his story? Did he once fly for the Empire? Did he see or do things that haunt him to this day? Is that why he’s so terse and distant from others? Or did he fly for a freighter company until it was ruined by Imperial trade policies and now is flying with the Rebellion to get some payback?
A character could have any number of stories, all of which help to inform the player about how to craft the character from this starting point. A backstory also serves to help the Game Master figure out the best way to introduce and involve the character in the story.
Step 2: Determine Duty
Hand-in-hand with a PC’s background, his Duty to the Rebellion is a driving part of his role in the campaign. While it’s true that the Player Characters can be said to have an overall duty to fight the Empire and restore the Republic (though not all of them might agree on the second point), each PC has a specific expression of the larger goal. Some are oriented toward ensuring the Alliance’s technical or space combat advantages, while others are focused on destroying Imperial assets or recruiting new allies. Whatever this Duty is, it has a strong impact on both the individual’s and the group’s relationship with the Alliance, and it influences the character building process.
Step 3: Select a Race
The immense diversity of sentient life in the galaxy is one of the greatest strengths the Alliance has over the human-centric Empire. Many species have suffered terribly at the hands of xenophobic Moffs and governors, turning more and more of them toward the Alliance to offer the support and resources of their people and their planets. The selection of a species establishes many important core aspects of a Player Character, including initial ratings in the characteristics of Brawn, Agility, Intellect, Cunning, Willpower, and Presence; starting wound and strain threshold values; special abilities innate to the particular species; and the initial pool of experience points the PC has to spend on further development during character creation.
Steps 4 and 5: Select a Career and Specialization
The choice of a career establishes the central focus of a character’s training, education, and professional experience. While not particularly limiting, it does establish what kinds of skills and talents are going to make the most sense for the PC to possess, as well as the role the character is most likely to excel at in a group. Players should think of a career as an archetype that forms the initial framework upon which the rest of the PC is constructed. One of the most important things the career choice does is establish which eight skills are considered career skills for the Player Character. Each of these eight should be marked on the character sheet accordingly, as they are easier to improve than other skills as the PC gains more experience. As soon as a career is selected, the player may select four of those eight skills in which to gain a free initial rank; no skill may be selected more than once.
If a career is the initial framework for a Player Character’s construction, specializations can be viewed as the materials added to the framework to fill it in and give it detail and distinction. Associated with each career are three or more distinct specializations, each possessing unique aspects and—more specifically—a unique talent tree, which addresses the truly special things a PC can do for himself and his team. After selecting a specialization, the player should take note of the specialization’s four additional bonus career skills. Any that are not already included on his career skill list should be added to the PC’s total list of career skills. The player then selects and gains a free rank in two separate skills from the bonus career skill list. If the specialization skill list repeats a skill from the career skill list, the player may invest another rank in this skill for a total of two ranks in that skill. In any situation that allows a player to select more than one specialization at creation (whether from using experience points or by some other means), he can select only one specialization from which to choose his two free ranks in two bonus career skills.
Step 6: Allocate Experience
The selection of a species established an initial pool of experience points that act as a kind of currency. This currency can be spent on making improvements to the PC by upgrading characteristics, increasing ranks in skills, acquiring talents, adding new specializations, and increasing his Duty value. All of these choices create numerous combinations, so even two Player Characters with the same species, career, and specialization choices might end up significantly different from one another.
Step 7: Determine Derived Attributes
This is one step that must be done in order; certain statistics cannot be established and recorded until after the initial pool of experience points is spent. There are four derived attributes: wound threshold, strain threshold, defense, and soak value.
Step 8: Determine Motivation
While a Player Character’s Duty establishes what the character must accomplish on behalf of the Alliance, Motivation determines why the PC is determined to do it. Does the character fight the Empire because he believes the New Order’s policies are morally wrong? Or is he looking to take vengeance upon the Empire’s minions for the wrongs they’ve committed against his people or the ones he loves?
Motivations should derive directly from the background the player has crafted for his PC. In fact, though it is possible to roll randomly on the charts in the Motivation section, players should seriously consider the specific relationship between their background, their Duty, and their Motivation. They might find it more internally consistent to select Motivations that best fit the story they’ve already begun to tell.
There are three general categories of Motivation: Belief, Connection, and Quest. Each of these Motivations has a list of specific manifestations. Additionally, with the Game Master’s permission, a player may create his own Motivation and specific details.
Motivation has an important value to the PC; playing while keeping within the Motivation may gain the Player Character bonus experience points at the end of a session. This is a pretty hefty encouragement for the player to choose a Motivation that will be comfortable to roleplay on a regular basis.
Step 9: Choose Gear and Appearance
With everything else figured out, including species, career, specialization, and derived attributes, the players can now delve into more descriptive details about their characters. This includes basic biographical data like height, weight, eye color, hair (or tentacle, or horn) color, type of skin, homeworld, and so on. Naturally, all of these aspects should tie directly into the background and other key choices the player made for the PC.
As for starting gear, . Once the PC begins going on missions for the Rebellion, he might be granted additional gear to carry out those missions (though the PC might not always be allowed to keep such gear).
Step 10: Acquire Rebellion Resources
Though the Alliance to Restore the Republic is strapped for resources to support its struggle against the Empire, it is not bereft of assets to assign toward its goals. Groups of agents such as the Player Characters are often given access to resources that will help them take on the Empire more efficiently.
At the beginning of the game, the Game Master can allow the PCs to select a ship for their use, or even a few starfighters, if appropriate. Alternatively, the GM can instead provide them with other resources (while replacing their exclusive use of a ship with other transportation arrangements). This includes an additional allotment of credits they can spend to obtain extra gear, as well as some form of base of operations.