One aspect of “old-school, rules-light, 2D6-based” sci-fi tabletop roleplaying games I really like is character generation. Using a life path system, characters are taken from age 18 to the end of a career. Some may even die is the process (after all, chargen is a game). Last evening I took the new Cepheus Light (Stellagama Publishing, 2018) out for a spin.
Cepheus Light (hereafter CL) uses a very streamlined, basic version of chargen. Unlike some other Cepheus Engine versions there are no stages of youth or schools or single-year resolution. Instead, characters roll for their six characteristics (Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Education, and Social Standing), determine their Homeworld Skills, and then enter their career. Career development is resolved in 4-year increments (one Term) with Survival, Skills, Advancement, Rank Skills, Aging, and Reenlistment determined. If the character successfully reenlists then they can do another Term or Muster Out to start adventuring.
A few notes on character blocks. Skill levels assume that “Zero-level” are not skilled enough to hold down a job but neither is the character unskilled and penalized in a task related to that skill (CL, p. 11). Recommended Zero-level skills are Athletics, Driving, Grav Vehicle, Gun Combat, Melee Combat, and Zero-G. Skill Level 1 is employable, Skill Level 3 a professional, and Skill Level 5 an expert (CL, p. 30).
In a short evening I randomly rolled up three characters. Let me tell you a bit about them:
Rand Ider Age 38 (5 terms), STR 6, DEX 6, END 11, INT 11, EDU 8, SOC 6. Athletics-0, Computer-1, Driving-0, Gun Combat-3, Gunnery-2, Jack of All Trades-1, Leadership-2, Medicine-1, Melee Combat-0, Piloting-1, Repair-1, Survival-1, Tactics-1, Zero-G-1.
Rand hails from a Frontier World where he learned survival (Survival-1). He enlisted in the Navy where he served five terms and rose to the rank of Commander (Rank 4) with a specialization in Gunnery (vehicle or ship-mounted weapons). In his fifth term, he barely passed his Survival roll and the Aging roll cost him -1 Strength and -1 Endurance. This sounds like he was injured in combat (that same term he got promoted and, in a twist of fate, gained Gun Combat-2 using both the term skill roll and promotion skill roll). Upon mustering out, he also gained +1 Social Standing; more evidence of some sort of combat action award. After mustering out Rand has a bank account of 52,000 credits and a Snub Pistol. He also earns retirement pay (10,000 credits annually).
Tecel Edic Age 30 (3 terms), STR 9, DEX 11, END 10, INT 8, EDU 7, SOC 7. Athletics-0, Driving-0, Engineering-1, Gun Combat-0, Leadership-2, Melee Combat-1, Repair-1, Survival-1, Zero-G-2.
Tecel grew up on an Inhospitable Outpost where he picked up the Zero-G skill. He attempted to enlist in the Marines but was rejected, although the Navy drafted him. He served three terms advancing to the rank of Lieutenant (Rank 2). He is well versed in Zero-G combat and knows his way with melee weapons. Upon mustering out he has 25,000 credits to his name and hold a Middle Passage voucher.
Vase Fre Age 34 (4 terms), STR 12, DEX 6, END 8, INT 8, EDU 7, SOC 4. Athletics-0, Animals-0 (substitute for Driving/Grav Vehicle), Gun Combat-1, Melee Combat-1, Recon-2, Repair-1, Science-1, Survival-3, Watercraft-1.
Vase left a Primitive Backwater planet and became a colonist. After four terms he had risen to the rank of a District Delegate (Rank 2) but sensed he was going nowhere. He was a bit of an outdoor survival nut (Recon-2, Survival-3) and when he mustered out he pocketed 10,000 credits, a Low Passage voucher, and kept a Tech Level 5 Rifle.
So what can I do with these three characters?
I envision that Rand, Tecel, and Vase have joined together into a small, freelance security team that can add muscle to traders operating along the frontier. Rand is the leader and gunslinger, while Tecel is the ship security specialist and Vase provides planetary support. Not all is great amongst the team; Rand is the “war hero” but actually lower than Tecel in social standing. Both have Leadership-2 and Tecel believes he would make the better team lead. Vase, the “simple” backwater planet guy, is definitely the “muscle” but he ain’t stupid either….
Using the CL rule book, I imagine these guys have been hired by a company that has several TL9 400-ton Subsidized Merchants (p. 120) that worry about piracy or planetside shenanigans and needs small “security” force. Next step will be to generate a subsector for adventuring….
Feature image courtesy ianotoole.com.