The Path Less Traveled is a 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, skills and talents, how to incorporate them into a campaign, and perhaps some uses which are not always obvious at first glance.
Today I’ll continue my examination of some of the more obscure or less-used specializations in the Star Wars RPG lines by Fantasy Flight Games by diving into the requests. This next request is one I think definitely gets a “meh” response from readers of the Age of Rebellion core rulebook. It has at my table. But, as is the aim of this series, I’ll attempt to show how any specialization, with the right usage, can become an epic character in the Star Wars world. So without further ado… a look at Age of Rebellion’s the Quartermaster.
When you build a character, unless going for a specific character concept, you generally want to look at ones that have starting characteristic strengths that fit your chosen career and specialization. Being part of the Diplomat career, Intelligence has got to be one of your focuses. The next characteristic to focus on is a tie between Cunning and Presence, depending upon the focus of the character you are going for. So what species should we consider that have a high Intelligence along with a high Cunning and/or Presence?
First, the Drall can make a fantastic Quartermaster. The only Species that starts with a 4 in Intelligence and 2s in both Cunning and Presence. After that, the Neimoidian and the Muun have 3s in both Intelligence and Cunning. The Cerean, Chadra-Fan, Duros, Elomin, Ishi Tib, Lannik, and Sakiyan all have 3s in Intelligence and 2s in Cunning and Presence as well, so all can easily be considered for a great Quartermaster.
Let’s next look at why these particular species are important and dive into the skills and talents that a good Quartermaster has at his or her disposal.
Skills and Talents
The Quartermaster is part of the Diplomat career, giving them Charm, Deception, Knowledge (Core Worlds), Knowledge (Lore), Knowledge (Outer Rim), Knowledge (Xenology), Leadership, and Negotiation as career skills. This gives you a social character with a real focus on Intelligence. This is why Cunning and Presence are important for a Quartermaster. When choosing a Quartermaster, the character gets to add Computers, Negotiation, Skulduggery, and Vigilance to their career skills. Just upon viewing this list of skills, you have a character that is basically a rival to any Smuggler build. All the knowledge skills ensure that the PC will always understand where he is and background information to help the group. He’ll always know where to find people to get what the group needs. Then, he has many of the social skills as career skills so he can wheel and deal in any situation. Add Computers and Skulduggery and you have a character that can simply take what he needs, even without asking.
Taking a look at the Quartermaster talent tree, you’ll find what I consider three paths down and through the tree. A left path, a middle section, and a right path. Starting on the left path, going down the first column, the talents here are some initial social talents like Know Somebody and Smooth Talker, along with Grit, and Dedication at the bottom. You find Natural Negotiator at the end of the path as well. On the far right, you have what I consider the combat path…talents that assist you in a fight. You’ll find more Grit and Toughened ranks here, as well as Superior Reflexes and Intense Focus. All these skills should help keep you upright when your team gets into a scrap.
The middle is the unique aspect of the Quartermaster tree. It’s almost walled off from the rest of the tree, as the middle two columns only connect to the left column, and do not connect to the bottom row. It’s this area which is full of the signature talents for the Quartermaster. They’re also expensive to get to as you need to head to the bottom of the left path and then over and back up. First up, a couple ranks of Sound Investments are here, guaranteeing some credits coming in no matter what at the start of each session. Greased Palms is a great narrative talent that lets you pay money to make social checks either as you pay off your target. Wheel and Deal and Master Merchant let you buy for less money and sell for more money. That brings us to what I consider the big Quartermaster talent in the tree: Bought Info. This fantastic talent lets you spend 50 credits times the difficulty of a Knowledge check to automatically pass the check with one success. I love that talent. Got a Daunting Knowledge check to find your target in an investigation? Just pay 200 credits and you don’t even have to roll the dice. The trade-off is that you lose the opportunity to gain Advantages or Triumphs on the check. But when success is critical, you can leave your Destiny Pool as it is and pay for a successful check. If you have two ranks of Sound Investments, you get 200 credits per session anyways so the cost to use Bought Info at least once is given to you each session.
So if you’re a Quartermaster, what specializations can you pair with it to build a strong character? Well the beauty of the FFG system is that any specialization can help build a strong character, but which ones to me really sing? First, a Quartermaster/Smuggler is a very strong build. Not only do you have the abilities of a good Smuggler, but you can now buy people off, find things cheap, and stay up better in a fight. The combination and Knowledge skills of the Quartermaster can make for a really potent build. Any of the specializations in the Smuggler career can be really intriguing combos. The Thief specialization is really interesting with a Quartermaster to me. Taking a Quartermaster’s ability to find and track down equipment and supplementing it with Black Market Contacts and Hidden Storage is really intriguing. Furthermore, you can supplement the Quartermaster’s skulduggery tendencies with the Thief’s Stalker, Bypass Security, and Master of Shadows talents.
Any of the Intelligence-based specializations are intriguing too. For example, the Scientist combining with a Quartermaster. You could max out your Knowledge skills and talents, while adding the ability to acquire, buy, and find out things well. Adding the Skulduggery of a Quartermaster and you can give your Scientist great thieving abilities as well, while giving your Quartermaster the ability to mod equipment and tinker with the things he or she acquires.
Some great narrative pairings could be the Rigger, Outlaw Tech, or just announced “Shipwright” from the upcoming Fully Operational Engineer’s Sourcebook. These specializations focus on building things, modding ships and weapons, and building tricking out their ships. Imagine pairing these with a Quartermaster. The ability to procure the right materials is a big part of crafting rules in the system. The Quartermaster build can make you not only great and building things, but finding the materials and components needed to accomplish the task in the first place.
While those are some of my favorite combos, any character that you would like to get a jump in their Knowledge check abilities, procure items, and pay for information, don’t forget the Quartermaster!
Working a Quartermaster Into Campaigns
There’s one main thing to address when introducing a Quartermaster into your campaign, and that is to allow for the Quartermaster’s skills and talents to acquire supplies, weapons, and armor for the group. The reason I bring this up is because in my current campaigns, I would be shortchanging a good Quartermaster. I get to play every week with two campaigns, and that’s great. But we have a very short amount of time. We have just one hour for one, and two hours for the other. So when we sit and play we just jump right in. No upkeep, no discussion. So the PC’s never think to buy anything, acquire anything, hunt for anything, etc. They just play. So, I have had “upkeep days” where I let them go shopping. But if I had a Quartermaster in the group, I would need to abandon this and narratively build supply acquisition into the campaign story. Otherwise, I would really be wasting a lot of what the Quartermaster worked to build. So, if you’re a GM and have a Quartermaster in your party, make sure to make the acquisition of items, supplies, etc. a narrative element to allow the PC’s skills to really shine.
If you’re playing a Quartermaster character, you need to make sure you are focusing part of your efforts on party equipment, resource acquisition, and supplies. Always keep any eye out for opportunities to help your party get better weapons and gear, new contacts, and specialized gear that is generally very difficult to acquire. Think of ways to help buy the team out of trouble sometimes, and use your knowledge to gain information. Sometimes, if parties are focused on being simply combat-focused, these things become forgotten.
For example, in one campaign I have an Outlaw Tech/Cyber Tech character. Her concept is fantastic. But when we play my friend often forgets her talents and concept, just goes along for the ride, shoots at things she needs to, and that’s all. Her entire character concept is largely ignored by her. So if Quartermaster is the way you go, that’s awesome, but be prepared to work the things that make you awesome into your play style.
So next time you want to make a character that knows folks and can acquire some amazing weapons and gear for the team, look away from the Smuggler and glance over at the Quartermaster. You might be glad you did!