The Path Less Traveled is a semi-regular series in which I’ll be examining a single specialization from the Star Wars Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion/Force and Destiny lines of games. The purpose and hope is to take a look at a specialization that perhaps many players might overlook, or ones that are somewhat new to the game lines. We will look at strengths and weaknesses, synergies with other species and specializations, roles in a party, how to incorporate them into a campaign, and perhaps some uses which are not always obvious at first glance.
For this installment, we will be looking at a specialization that’s intrigued me since I saw it, the Performer from the Edge of the Empire Colonist career. The Performer can be found on page 30 of the book Far Horizons. It’s a spec that I would love to get on my table some day. When one looks at the talents and skills of the Performer, they’ll find a treasure trove to create a fantastic Star Wars character.
The Performer can appear to be a strange spec if you don’t dive deeply into it. Whenever my PCs would browse my books for character ideas, they stop at the Performer page and quickly bypass it. I think that at first glance players think two things. First, they think the performer means like a circus performer of some kind due to the artwork in the book by the spec. They think to themselves that a circus performer is the last thing they want to choose in a Star Wars setting. Second, they think that their specialization has to mean that they have to act like a performer in the game itself. One thing I try and remind players is that they can treat their character’s specialization as what their character used to be before the events of the campaign, and are now using his or her skills to their advantage. In other words, you don’t have to literally perform to be a Performer. Perhaps your PC Performer was once a magician, and uses sleight of hand or misdirection as part of their personality. What if he was a comedian and learned to wisecrack his way to getting groups of people to follow him or win them over. Or maybe he actually was a circus performer or a dancer, but can now do flips, jumps, and spins around his opponent as he fights hand-to-hand.
So now let’s look closely at this specialization.
The Performer is a character that could have adopted and trained under any category of performance or entertainment. Perhaps he was a singer or a comedian. He could have been an acrobat or a magician. As a result, the character has the following career skills at their disposal: Charm, Deception, Knowledge (Core Worlds), Knowledge (Education), Knowledge (Lore), Leadership, Negotiation, Coordination, Melee, and Streetwise. This means the character can be used as a wonderful social support character, or even an efficient combatant or leader. The player can make up any sort of fun background to determine which side of that coin they wish to play.
Performers also get a great variety of talents that support both the social aspect of the specialization as well as the physical side. The left side of the performer’s talent tree adds abilities to make the character fantastic at creating distractions, both verbally or with physical antics. Distracting Behavior and Improved Distracting Behavior allows the player to add threat to adversary’s checks by drawing their attention away. Smooth Talker allows the character to use triumphs to add additional successes to a chosen social skill. The best social talents, however, rest in Biggest Fan and Deceptive Taunt. Biggest fan allows you to turn any NPC into, literally, the Performer’s greatest fan, giving a fantastic narrative advantage in any situation. Deceptive Taunt forces any NPC to target the Performer, possibly saving the life of a colleague.
The physical side of the talent tree, the right side, has a great variety of physical talents to draw from. Dodge and Natural Athlete allow the player to both get out of the way of attacks and re-roll Athletics or Coordination checks. The best skill on this side is Coordination Dodge which allows a PC to flip, roll, or do something acrobatic to add failures to the combat check targeting them, equal to ranks in Coordination. So if a PC has three ranks in Coordination, that’s three extra failures to any combat check that might harm him.
The Performer could be a fantastic primary or secondary spec for any character. With the ability to be a strong social character and fighter both, there’s almost no combination of other specs that wouldn’t work well with the Performer. With Agility being a strong characteristic for any Performer, even without piloting, Ranged (Light) or Ranged (Heavy) being career sills, the Performer can be naturally proficient with any sort of firearms or inside any cockpit. Couple that with Melee and Coordination as staples of the specialization, and you can couple the Performer with any combat-focused specialization. Combine a Performer with any of the Hired Gun or Assassin specs and you can have a character adept in creatively taking out threats of all forms. A combination with any of the Soldier specs from Age of Rebellion would allow a Performer to create diversions and handle themselves in any fight in the war against the Empire.
Combining with your favorite Force and Destiny specialization and you can have a Force-sensitive PC that do all the acrobatics you’ve seen any Jedi do in the movies. What if your Performer was once a magician, but was really secretly using the Force to perform his tricks? With the Force being mythical after the fall of the Jedi, that’s something that could be interesting to play around with… a Force-sensitive in exile hiding his status with his act.
You could also couple the Performer with the Smuggler careers to create a fantastic character than can talk their way out of any situation and talk themselves into places they normally can’t get into. A Charmer or Gambler could be one of the most fantastic social characters to play when combined with a Performer by creating distractions, taunting, and misdirecting his enemies. Combine a Performer with a Spy, and you could have a covert operative who can use his Charm and performance skills to get into secure areas, and not simply sneaking around. A high Agility for a Performer could make the PC naturally good at Stealth as well for this combination.
With Agility being one of the focus Characteristics of any Performer, pair a Performer with any Ace specialization or Pilot or Driver spec and you can have a PC who is great in the air as well as on the ground. The Performer can use their taunting and diversion talents in a starfighter or over communications. A naturally high Agility could mean interesting Sharpshooter or Gunslinger character concepts. One might have to spend XP on combat skills that are non-career skills, but that can be a small price to pay for a powerful character. Plus when you combine the Performer with a combat or pilot-based specification, your combat skills could become career skills for you regardless.
I’ve never had someone choose a Performer in my games. In fact I’ve barely had anyone glance at it. I’m sure many groups have, but perhaps with a few more tips or synergy ideas for the specification, more will be apt to choose the Performer for their character. Do you play a Performer yourself? What’s your experience been? Have any fun characters with this spec in your campaign? Don’t hesitate and share your character ideas and experiences in comments.