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, roles in a party, how to incorporate them into a campaign, and perhaps some uses which are not always obvious at first glance.
As I’ve played this amazing RPG now and had well over 100 sessions under my belt, I love seeing more and more character concepts at my tables. But because my campaigns are very long and such, my characters do not change very often. So, the ones I have at my table are the ones that I’ll be exposed to for the most part. So as I look for Specializations to review for this series, I often think of concepts I’d love to see played in person. The Warleader is definitely one of those!
The Warleader is a combat character to be sure, as well as a leadership type. But this leader isn’t like the others in the game lines. The Warleader leads by example on the battlefield, able to break down the fight and identify weaknesses in the enemies tactics. A Warleader can inspire by being reliable and one of the deadliest on the field when the fighting starts. The Warleader knows how to use cover, and can take advantage of special abilities behind it. The Warleader is also a ranged combat specialist and will not necessarily carry a lightsaber, despite being Force-sensitive. The Warleader can always put things together, connect the dots, and look at things how others have not.
Skills and Characteristics
Being part of the Guardian career, the Warleader starts out with Brawl, Cool, Discipline, Melee, Resilience, and Vigilance. As a Warleader he adds Leadership, Perception, Ranged (Light), and Survival. This group of skills makes for a very wide range of needed characteristics. Only Intellect is not among characteristics used by these skills. But, as Brawn makes up the most needed, be sure to have a high number in it for sure. As far as the other characteristics, Cunning, Willpower, and Presence are all needed equally among them, so let’s break down those three a bit more.
A high Presence makes for a traditional leader build, allowing him to use his Leadership and Cool to great effect. Cunning, on the other hand, is a characteristic needed by a couple talents in the Warleader tree. Willpower helps boost the player’s Vigilance and Discipline abilities, which play well to the Warleader’s ability in combat. Agility is the only characteristic that has only one skill, Ranged (Light), in the list, but as it’s the only combat skill in the specialization, you’ll want to keep ranks in it as well. So, with all this in mind, what species make a lot of sense?
Species that you’re looking for should have a high Brawn and at least 2s in all characteristics except for Intellect. As a result, the Aqualish and Lasat are the only ones that meet that requirement. However, depending on what you’d like the focus on the character to be, there are many more choices that might have a 3 in Brawn and a 1 in one of the other characteristics. This means that the Chevin, Weequay, Nautolan, Hutt, Trandoshan, Wookie, Elom, Nikto, Whiphid, and Besalisk could make great Warleaders. It’s the wide range of characteristics and skills that are spread out which cause the list to be quite long. So, examine those species and see which of the other characteristics besides Brawn and Intellect you’d like to focus on, and head that direction.
The talent tree for the Warleader is filled with special abilities that make the character lethal on the battlefield. The tree connects all the columns at many row locations, making it more like a checkerboard than have specific paths through the tree. So, we’ll just walk through the highlights of the talents that a Warleader can possess.
Prime Positions is a ranked skill, having two of them in the tree. It allows the character and any ally within short range, if he/she is in cover, to add 1 to their soak per rank. This narratively is explained by the Warleader being able to show his comrades where the best places to hide and conceal themselves are. There are two ranks of Suppressing Fire as well, which lets the character and any ally in short range spend an Advantage on failed combat checks to inflict one strain per rank on the target. This is very cinematic and narrative, and while a simple talent, is one of my favorites. Swift allows a PC no penalties when moving through difficult terrain, and a couple ranks of Uncanny Senses add a boost die to all Perception checks, allowing your Warleader to find weaknesses in his enemies during fights. Further helping a Warleader’s awareness is Sense Danger, which lets you, once per session, remove two setback dice from any skill check!
Prescient Shot adds a boost to all Ranged (Light) checks, further emphasizing the character’s reliance on smaller blasters than larger ones. Careful Planning is fun, letting a Warleader introduce a “fact” into the narrative, without using a Destiny Point! You can only use it once a session, but that’s very powerful in the right moment if the tide has swung against you. Next, we come to Coordinated Assault. Coordinated Assault is a maneuver, and lets a number of engaged allies, equal to Leadership, add an Advantage to all combat checks until the beginning of the next turn. There is only one rank in this tree but, if you manage to get another rank, you can increase the range of the talent. This, narratively, would be a Warleader gathering his team and giving them advice, pointers, and tactics as they go into battle.
Next we come to Forewarning, which is an action that lets all allies within medium range increase their defense by the PC’s Force Rating until they act, as the Warleader uses the Force to warn his team where shots and attacks are coming from. Another great talent is Clever Solution, which lets a PC, once per session, make a skill check using Cunning rather than the regular characteristic one would base the skill check on. This is one of those talents discussed earlier that uses Cunning, making it important to consider during species selection and character creation. Last we get to Prophetic Aim, which would help my son a lot in my games (haha). This talent lets the PC, if he has aimed before firing, not hit an ally engaged with his target if he rolls a Despair.
So as you can see, if you’re looking for a PC with a lot of leadership abilities on the battlefield, but not so much in the way of inspiring speeches and motivation, the Warleader should definitely be one to look to.
Specialization Synergy and Character Concepts
Warleaders synergize very easily with many, many other Specializations. Due to the wide range of combat abilities he or she possesses, adding just about any other combat specialization, or even leadership-based specialization, can make for a pretty potent build. Age of Rebellion and Edge of the Empire have many of these builds, and crossing the game lines is quite recommended if you have a Warleader.
Adding Sharpshooter to the character would make your PC able to hit just about anything, shoot further, and aim better than anyone, along with being a leader during combat. But also imagine the Strategist in an Age of Rebellion campaign. Imagine the abilities of the Warleader and now add on Mass Combat abilities and leadership to the mix. You could be quite the front line commander in that case!
If you put a Commando with the Warleader, you’d have a hand-to-hand expert that can take advantage of all the Brawn, letting you fight up close if you can’t keep your enemies at a distance.
These are a few of my favorites, and I can go on and on, but the point is that any combat/leadership-based Specialization will really hook up well with the Warleader.
So next time you want to build a leadership character, you might want to consider the Force-sensitive Warleader. You’d have a very unique and fun build to play at the table!