As I slowly start work on my U.F.O./Space: 1999 home-brew TTRPG, From S.H.A.D.O. to Alpha using Free Leagues Publishing’s Year Zero Engine, I need to think about character archetypes and an initial skills list. Let’s see what I can divine by looking at the cast lists from the two TV series and several other Year Zero Engine titles.
Broadly speaking, characters appearing in both the U.F.O. and Space: 1999 TV series fell into several somewhat distinctive categories:
- Leaders – Commander, Administrators
- Scientists – Doctors, Professors
- “Operators” – Pilots, System Operators (some specialists), Engineers
- “Civilians” – Few in both shows, but usually family or background to an episode
Furthermore, most characters in both shows had very military-like backgrounds (S.H.A.D.O. in U.F.O., the International Space Commission in Space: 1999). I also don’t think one can ignore the seemingly obvious influence that Star Trek: The Original Series had on these two Gerry Anderson shows. The classic Star Trek character triumvirate (Leader-Scientist-Doctor / Kirk-Spock-Bones) would be very closely copied in Space: 1999 (Commander-Doctor-Professor / Koenig-Russell-Bergman).
The Technical Operations Manual for S.H.A.D.O [Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization] and Moonbase Alpha provide descriptions of uniforms which also helps define characters. Admittedly, the S.H.A.D.O. listing is a bit unhelpful because the uniforms are seemingly determined as much as by where one works rather than just what they do.
|High Ranking Officers||Command|
|SHADO HQ||Main Mission|
Twilight: 2000 – Roleplaying in the World War III that Never Was (Free League Publishing, 2021) and ALIEN: The Roleplaying Game (Free League Publishing, 2020) both use archetypes in their versions of the Year Zero Engine (YZE).
|The Civilian||Colonial Marine|
|The Grunt||Colonial Marshall|
|The Gunner||Company Agent|
Comparing the Moonbase Alpha crew uniform list (8 entries) with Twilight: 2000/ALIEN we get pretty close to a list of likely archetypes:
- Technical (such as computer specialists)
- Services (such as nuclear power plant engineers)
- Security (at least they didn’t wear red!)
- Administrators (usually interfering)
- Kid (rarely seen)
So let’s see how the cast of characters in U.F.O. and Space: 1999 would break out:
|Commander Edward Straker – COMMAND||Commander Paul Koenig – COMMAND|
|Colonel Alec Freeman – COMMAND/Pilot||Chief Medical Officer|
Helena Russell – MEDICAL
|Colonel Paul Foster – COMMAND/Pilot||Professor Victor Bergman – SCIENTIST/Civilian|
|Colonel Virginia Lake – COMMAND/Science||Chief of Recon Alan Carter – PILOT|
|Lieutenant Ellis Gay – COMMAND/Technical||Controller Paul Morrow – TECHNICAL/Pilot|
|Doctor Douglas Jackson – MEDICAL||Data Coordinator Sandra Benes – TECHNICAL|
|Captain Peter Carlin – PILOT||Asst Medical Officer Robert Mathias – MEDICAL|
|Lieutenant Nina Barry – COMMAND/Technical||Head of Technical Paul Kano – TECHNICAL|
|Lieutenant Ayshea Johnson – TECHNICAL||Chief of Security Paul Verdeschi – SECURITY|
|Lieutenant Keith Ford – TECHNICAL||Maya – SCIENTIST|
|Interceptor Squadron Leader Mark Bradley – PILOT|
The Free League YZE defines characters with four attributes describing basic physical and mental capabilities: Strength, Agility, Wits (alternatively called Intelligence), and Empathy. The YZE System Reference Document (SRD v0.9) gives users two options for how they want those attributes scored: Dice Pool (multiple d6) or Step Dice (polyhedral dice). Personally, I am more comfortable with the Dice Pool approach so I will use that for now.
The YZE has 12 Core Skills. Other skills may be added, but the SRD recommends no more than 16. Here is my first attempt at rectifying Core Skills with Twilight: 2000 and ALIEN in a first-stab at S.H.A.D.O. to Alpha.
|YZE Core Skills||Twilight: 2000||ALIEN||SHADO to Alpha|
|Force (STR)||Close Combat (STR)||Heavy Machinery (STR)||Force (STR)|
|Melee (STR)||Heavy Weapons (STR)||Stamina (STR)||Close Combat (STR)|
|Stamina (STR)||Stamina (STR)||Close Combat (STR)||Stamina (STR)|
|Marksmanship (AGI)||Driving (AGL)||Mobility (AGI)||Piloting (AGI)|
|Mobility (AGI)||Ranged Combat (AGL)||Piloting (AGI)||Ranged Combat (AGI)|
|Stealth (AGI)||Mobility (AGL)||Ranged Combat (AGI)||Mobility (AGI)|
|Crafting (Wits)||Recon (INT)||Observation (Wits)||Observation (Wits)|
|Observation (Wits)||Survival (INT)||Comtech (Wits)||Comtech (Wits)|
|Survival (Wits)||Tech (INT)||Survival (Wits)||Survival (Wits)|
|Healing (EMP)||Command (EMP)||Manipulation (EMP)||Command (EMP)|
|Insight (EMP)||Medical Aid (EMP)||Medical Aid (EMP)||Medical (EMP)|
|Persuasion (EMP)||Persuasion (EMP)||Command (EMP)||Persuasion (EMP)|
YZE defines Specialties (sometimes called Talents) as, “tricks, moves and minor abilities that give you a small edge…Specialties are more narrow than skills and give you a way to fine-tune your character.” For example, in ALIEN the Officer Archetype has Talents of Field Commander, Influence, and Pull Rank. However, in Twilight: 2000 the Specialties are tied to Skills, such as Medical with Specialties of Combat Medic, Counselor, Field Surgeon, General Practitioner, and Veterinarian.
This is going to take some more thought and consideration. Do I use Specialties has in Twilight: 2000 (narrow skills) or as in ALIEN (broader “character traits”)?
Feature image courtesy stick-man-11 on DeviantArt
Legalese: “This game is not affiliated with, sponsored, or endorsed by Fria Ligan AB. The Year Zero Engine System Reference Document is used under Fria Ligan AB’s Free Tabletop License.”
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