The Workshop: Three Character Options

I don’t get to game as often as I’d like. And when I do game, I’m often in the role of GM by virtue of being the one with the story to tell and the knowledge of the system to back it up. So because of that, I rarely get to play a character for more than a random one-shot here and there. This makes Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars game a bit of struggle to keep up with because as much as I love running it, there are so many wonderful specializations out there that I want to play. And the more they introduce, the more there are that synergize in exciting and sometimes unexpected ways with each other. And so, in buying the books and reading the new specializations, I conceptualize more and more character ideas using multiple specializations from various careers that sound like a heck of a lot of fun to play. Instead of giving you three different character builds, I figured I would give you a quick look as to why I feel that these combinations would be fun to play. There’s not a lot of build advice beyond the very general, but the focus is not to help you build a character, but to show you why these specializations work well together (and also not to step on the toes of Scott’s wonderful Path Less Traveled series where he discusses these specializations and various synergies more in depth).   

The Ultimate Wheelman
Operator/Driver (Bounty Hunter/Explorer)

This one is weird for me, because pilots aren’t typically my favorite character to play. In fact, they rank somewhere near the bottom. They’ve never spoken strongly to me. However, this combination of specializations gives you access to a dizzying array of talents that can be useful while piloting either a speeder or a starship. Defensive Driving and Offensive Driving are a wonderful pair of talents that can come in incredibly handy during a dogfight, making sure you keep the advantage on the enemy ship. It can be an expensive maneuver, especially if you have a ship with a low system strain threshold, but if it keeps you in the air against an Imperial Ace, it might just be worth it. A combined four picks of Skilled Jockey means you can handle even the least maneuverable of vehicles like they were swoop bikes or A-Wings. Driver gets you the entire line of Full Throttle talents and two picks of Gearhead meaning you can keep up the maintenance on the vehicles you keep pushing to their utter limits (as well as access to the Mechanics skill to make the most of it). Operator gives you the Shortcut and Improved Shortcut talents which let you gain and keep the edge in the inevitable speeder race you’re going to become involved in. You have some neat tricks that you can pull with any pilot-controlled weapons and one pick of both Galaxy Mapper and Planet Mapper mean you can find where you need to go and get there in the most efficient way possible.

Now, while this combination allows the character to turn even a cargo delivery speeder into a high-performance vehicle, it doesn’t offer much in the way of anything outside of the cockpit beyond the Career skills provided by either the Explorer or the Bounty Hunter, so it depends on how your see your character contributing to the group outside of a vehicle which Career you choose to take. Bounty Hunter will get you more combat ready skills like Ranged (Heavy) which uses the same characteristic as both your Piloting skills. Explorer gets you a few Knowledge skills and some Survival ability. There’s no bad option, just make sure you take that into account when you first make the character.

Justice on Any Frontier
Marshal/Skip Tracer (Colonist/Bounty Hunter)

This combination really lets you double down on the investigatory side of bounty hunting. Like the Lawman archetype below Cunning, Willpower, and Presence are going to be your heavy lifters. Unlike the Lawman, you aren’t going to have a lot of combat tricks beyond what your skills provide you. Instead, this combination allows you and your allies to mercilessly pump a target for information with multiple picks of both Good Cop and Bad Cop and then doggedly run down those leads. Unrelenting Skeptic from the Marshal tree along with a pick of Nobody’s Fool from Skip Tracer makes sure that you aren’t getting lied to. And the Skip Tracer’s Informant talent means if worse comes to worst, you can still find some information on your target or objective.

Like the Ultimate Wheelman, your choice of starting career is dictated by your desired skill list. Colonist gets you access to more social skills and Bounty Hunter gives you a few combat skills beyond the Marshal’s Ranged (Light). I would personally go with Bounty Hunter for the additional combat skills and some piloting ability. You can afford a small XP tax on some of the social skills. In exchange for that, you get access to the Always Get My Mark signature ability.

The Lawman
Marshal/Gunslinger (Colonist/Smuggler)

This character is your classic sheriff from any Western movie. It makes you incredibly capable of keeping the peace in both the social arena and when blasters need to be pulled. Unlike some of the other combinations out there, there isn’t a whole lot of overlap between the two specializations, but I think they work all the better for it. This character is primarily going to be a social character, starting with the Marshal and picking up the Gunslinger later, and unlike a lot of other gunslinger characters, he’s not going to focus on Agility. You aren’t a trick shooter. Instead, Cunning, Willpower, and Presence are going to be his heavy lifters allowing you to roll more dice with all of the social skills that you’re going to be trained in.

However, despite the heavy use of social skills, there are a good number of tricks in the Gunslinger talent tree that allow you to be ruthlessly effective when it comes time to take down an outlaw or two in a shootout. You’re at your best in the first round of combat, and your high Willpower (and therefore higher Strain Threshold) let you leverage your ranks in Rapid Reaction to make sure you do go first in a combat situation. You are also trained in both Cool and Vigilance with this build, so it shouldn’t matter what kind of combat situation you’re looking at. Going before an opponent lets you utilize two picks of Quick Strike. Sorry About the Mess reduces the cost of critical hits against targets that have not acted yet in combat, which are then further improved by several picks of Lethal Blows. Marshal does give you two picks of Point Blank, and the Gunslinger does cap with a pick of Deadly Accuracy at 25 XP, both of which make up for your smaller dice pools with pistols due to your lower than average Agility. Last but not least two picks of Toughened and two picks of Durable let you eat an occasional blaster bolt and still walk away. That said, your main focus isn’t combat, and you lose some effectiveness in more drawn out battles, so it behooves you to keep the rest of your team nearby.

Now, despite your social focus, you’re not going to be the best at all of the social skills, but the Good Cop and Bad Cop talents allow you to work very well with another character who may be better trained, upgrading their dice pools when pumping a suspect for information, and Leadership as a career skill makes you a natural for leading a posse of townsfolk when the shooting starts.

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Ben Erickson

Ben Erickson

Contributing Writer for d20 Radio
A long time gamer and even longer time 'designer,' Ben has been doing system tinkering and creation since grade school. He was introduced to the world of gaming through the boxed introductory set of West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game. Apart from game writing, he enjoys dabbling in other forms of writing, from short stories and poetry to (more recently) song lyrics. You can also find him trying to keep up on the latest books, movies, and television shows (a task that grows more and more daunting each year).
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