Yet another port from Dungeon World are character features. Features are a quick way to add a distinctive flair to your character’s appearance and perhaps mannerisms. Features are best added into a game at the very beginning, however there is no penalty to integrating them mid-campaign. Players may choose a set of feature descriptors based on any one of the Careers or associated Specializations their character has access to and may change their feature descriptors when an appropriate milestone has been reached in the story, such as gaining access to a new Specialization. Each set of descriptors is grouped into three’s, allowing players to make an interesting decision about their character without being overwhelmed by a myriad of options. The descriptors used are also purposefully vague enough to be applied to any number of myriad alien Species, but still carry enough detail to be meaningful.
For each category, choose an option for your character, or make one up that sounds way cooler; this is not a comprehensive list.
This method of assigning features to a character ties those features into the character’s Career in lieu of the character’s Species. I thought long and hard on this decision and came to it purposefully. Describing one’s eyes, hair, etc. in terms of their Species may be interesting to some, that kind of technical detail doesn’t add much to the story and doesn’t tell us anything interesting beyond a minor anecdote. I’ve never cared if your wizard has grey eyes or blue eyes, so I’m not going to start caring about the shade of green of your Rodian’s skin. I do, however, care about how your character takes care of themselves and what feelings their features project onto others.
Another useful game element ported over from the *World series of roleplaying games, Bonds help your Star Wars roleplaying characters, of any system, form a more cohesive and meaningful team. In contrast to the original games’ layouts, Bonds in Star Wars are connected to your character’s Species, further reinforcing what is, for most Star Wars roleplaying games, an element with little overall impact outside of the aesthetic.
Find your character’s Species and write down their Bonds on your character sheet. At any point during play that feels appropriate, establish a Bond with another character and write down his or her name in the blank. Bonds are generally formed with another player character, but can be formed with powerful NPCs as appropriate. Bonds should normally be established early on in a campaign, but can be added in with minimal fuss to an already established Crew. This list of Bonds is limited and, quite frankly, derivative. Get creative and describe new Bonds for your character that you think are important to the story. Also, don’t be afraid to take a Bond that is shown in the list of another Species. This article is a suggestion and a starting point; it doesn’t dictate how your character feels.
For Galaxy Masters, keep an ear out for when your players use their Bonds to help develop and enrich the roleplaying atmosphere in your game in a meaningful and interesting way. Also, listen for how these Bonds can be used to your advantage, inspiring plot devices for you to use that, by their very nature, you already know some of your players are interested in. Reward and encourage such activity with a minor boon that makes sense to you in the fiction; such as a +2 to a die roll, a added Boost die, or an extra couple of experience points. Characters with Bonds have a special connection that affects how they interact with each other.
Gaining new power and abilities through accumulating experience points and raising in level is perhaps the oldest form of motivation and meaningful progress evident in roleplaying games. New things are fun and a character rising in skill can feel like a tangible reward and a sign that you are doing well in the game. Compared to some other roleplaying games, FFG Star Wars is very nebulous in its guidelines for handing out experience points, with a wide range of values automatically distributed without qualification and arbitrarily set by the Galaxy Master. While I do appreciate the design intent of simplification, I feel that the games I tend to run deserve a more rigid set of incentives for advancement. Taking a cue from some more experimental indie RPGs (Torchbearer and Dungeon World), I’ve put together some solid guidelines as an alternate method of awarding experience points and incentivizing good roleplaying.
The Galactic Empire rules its subjects through uncompromising laws. Frequently, your player characters will encounter, or become, special Imperial citizens that have been accused of a heinous crime. These crimes all represent cases that are somehow unique, with the details of the circumstances left open to fit the needs of the Galaxy Master’s story.
Each crime has a Perpetrator, an individual suspected to be the head of the offense or perhaps merely a scapegoat. A suggested list of misconduct is then provided to describe the Crime for which this character stands accused.
Each wrongdoing here is consider a grave felony and with comes a Punishment designed to instill abject horror in any would-be felons. When the player characters get involved with this crime, and surely they will, a complication or wrinkle will be brought up that may make them question their previously held values. The Motivation behind the crime, why the perpetrator committed such an act, should come as some sort of surprise or revelation, a most excellent way to introduce ethical and moral decisions onto the players at your table.
Roll randomly (d10) on the charts below or choose the grim sentence of your own volition.
When designing a Crime & Punishment, it may be helpful to also envision the associated Trial to go with it.