Character creation in the Star Wars RPG
By Rob Lucas
For beginner PCs who don't even know what "PC" stands for, or vets who have been gaming since they were in diapers (and are again), everyone can use a few tips.
Rule one: Be prepared -
When possible make your character before the game. This saves a lot of time spent in character creation that could be spent playing. Other players who already have their characters made will thank you for it. Also, the GM will be able to come up with something for your character ahead of time, which will put you more into the game, and hopefully make the adventure more interesting for you.
If at all possible, and if your idea is strong enough, make your character before you even stat him. Most of the strongest characters played were the ones whose players knew exactly what the character did, where he came from, what his goals and abilities (roughly) were -before- he even went into the whole dice distributing process and so on.
Rule two: Do your homework -
Create as much background information as possible. Obviously, if your character is just a quickie made up for an impromptu mission, you're not going to want to put that much time and effort into it. However, if your GM likes the long story arc, the more detailed your character background is, the easier your character will be to play.
Who are his friends? Enemies? Family? Why does he do what he does (IE - bounty hunter, smuggler, etc.) What makes him who he is? The more that you have about a character, the easier it is for other players to interact with him as well.
Also - always, -always- keep in mind that your character is in the persona, and not in the stats. The more you are familiar with that persona, the easier the stats will come, or the less they'll matter, or both.
Rule three: Stats are CRAP!
The character is in the CHARACTER, not in the STATS. Yeah, I know I just said that, but it's important. Never waste game time debating game mechanics such as: "Oh, well - I only have this many dice in this skill, but if I use this skill I don't do as much damage, oh, what weapons am I carrying, where did I put that equipment sheet?"!!! Forget the stats - Do the action that first comes to mind, no matter how silly. 'I jump on the table, swing from the light fixture and kick the Gammorean right in the snout!' Give the sheets to your GM. A character is just that, a Character. Play the character.
Rule four: Fun is the name of the game (part two) -
Have fun. This is the most important thing. Tell jokes, do cool things, laugh at other people's jokes, make fun of the bad guys(not the GM), make a character you will enjoy playing, and if you don't, play him differently. Don't worry if this fun slows the game down a bit, so long as it's not too much, or in the climax, go with it. Remember - having fun is what you're there for. This also means don't get in fights with the other players, or GM. This shouldn't be mistaken for IN character arguments - those can be fun. But if the GM is running the rules poorly, or the other players are getting on your nerves, don't argue, go with it. Just try to have fun.
Rule five: So tell me again, just WHY are you here?
For God's sake, if you really don't want to play, DON'T PLAY. An uninterested player can ruin a gaming session just as badly as a munchkin can. A disruptive player can affect the other players as well. The point of getting together to role play is just that - to role play. If you're just going to go munch on chips and play video games, don't bother leaving home. (Guys - this applies to tag-along girlfriends, who don't really get this 'gaming' thing and are just there to be with their man. Leave 'em at home.)
Rule six: Ham it up, fuzzball -
Don't be afraid to role play, and don't always do what is best for the character. Remember there are no winners or losers. If you think something might get your character in trouble, but you know he would do it, then do it. The GM will know you are role-playing, and that you are trying to have fun, and although you might get into trouble from something, he won't kill your character for it. Don't spend all your time looking for fights, you can have a lot of fun just talking to NPCs, trying to track down that data disk, gambling at the local bar, or throwing party's in the Tech's garage.
However, this is not a condition that you can immediately assume. Your GM may be a total blind dumbass. He might just kill you off, because he thinks you're being stupid. Nevertheless, it is important to not be afraid to role-play -despite- the GM, especially for the sake of the other players involved. You want to be interesting to work with, because even if your GM is somewhat mediocre, your fellow players will remember the time they had with you and have fun anyway. And you'll have fun entertaining each other, of course. I mean, everyone will remember the session where you played up to the hilt, and went out in a blaze of glory charging that Star Destroyer in your Ghtroc 250 high-orbital airspeeder.
Rule seven: Be Like Jackie -
Do cool stuff. When you are in a fight, don't just pass the rounds with the regular, "I shoot and dodge", think creatively. Grab one of the bounty hunters attacking you and jump out of the miles high train, using his jet pack to fly to safety. Use con not only to stop a fight from happening, but in the middle of it, to get an advantage. Use all the weapons you can find, even tables, chairs, fridges, dantic mugs, your signature Cowboy Hat, cats, etc. When you are trying to sneak into an Imperial installation, or whatever, don't just go in the front door and start shooting, think of plans. They don't even have to be very good. When your nemesis attacks your group with a bunch of his henchmen, take him on yourself, even if that means you have to jump him and trigger his jet pack so you go flying high above the fight with him (and your friend is left facing 10 bounty hunters). Throw your dantic in the Imperial governor's face, even though you know he'll unleash his stormtroopers on you (unless you know you can't get away). Whatever, just don't let it get boring.
Don't limit the nature of your actions to things covered under the mechanics of the game. Make your GM really work - most of them even enjoy it. "Um, how much damage will he take if I shove his face into the autochef and ask it for pot roast?" You know, stuff like that. Stuff that is definitely not in the books. Stuff that no one would ever publish.
Rule eight: For god sake, be fascinating -
Make interesting characters. Sure, bounty hunters, smugglers, brash pilots, gamblers and the rest can be fun, but they get sort of boring after a while. Why not try a Used Repulsor Salesman, a Space Taxi Driver, a Disbarred Lawyer, a Holo-tech, or a Fireman. Think of someone cool to play, and then play him. That doesn't mean never play the templates in the book, but if you do, come up with a twist. Want to play a gambler, make him a cowboy who sleeps 'till noon and parties all night long. Want to make a cyborged pirate, make him ingenious, and over confident, never shying away from a challenge. He gets blown out of the sky by a Nebulon-b frigate? No problem, time to go out in his vacuum suit and take it over. He faces down a fleet with an interdictor, and a bunch of other capital ships in his Corellian corvette? No problem, some quick thinking will get him out of that one too.
Make your characters 3-dimensional. All people have good points and bad points; no character should be only good or only evil. Your Jedi character might have a genetic tendency toward a bad temper, or still harboring thoughts of revenge against a certain group/race for the deaths of his parents. On the other hand, you imperial officer may have a strong sense of honor. What happens when this sense of honor conflicts with imperial orders?
Rule nine: Brazen theft is your friend -
When creating the character, don't be afraid to steal archetypes shamelessly. Some of my most successful characters were originally based on other characters - Indiana Jones, Ace from Doctor Who, A-Ko Magami from Project A-Ko, Jackie Chan, and Dr. Peter Venkman. Now this does NOT mean that you should play a carbon copy of the character - it means that you should use it as a springboard for your ideas. Instead of limiting yourself to the confines of the original concept, take the character and put your own twist on it. Switch the gender around, change the occupation, come up with a completely different name. Make it your own instead of a clone.
Rule ten: Dont be afraid to try new things -
Experiment with the new character. Do something you wouldn't possibly dream of in real life. Are you quiet and reserved in the real world? Play a wild and crazy guy. Are you male? Try playing a female for a change. Go out on a limb.
Rule eleven: Embrace the evolution -
Characters are always under constant development - so don't be locked into one concept forever. Characters are a natural, fluid creation - and they have a mind of their own. They will grow and change in a way that the player will NEVER suspect. To try and force them down into one set archetype is really stifling the character.
Also - don't be afraid to talk to your GM about stat alteration in play if you find out that your character doesn't match up to your original plans. Stats are always second priority to role-playing. If your character, for example, originally was statted for high Willpower, but in your role-play you find that he's become a kind of kleptomaniac, or ends up indulging his urges, talk to your GM about lowering it. You don't want inconsistency between role playing and stats, but neither should you hinder or restrain your role playing for the sake of your stats - unless, of course, you're doing it on purpose.
Rule twelve: These are not the archetypes you are looking for. . .
Avoid classes. Classes are excellent to get characters off the ground (brash pilot, smuggler, and young Jedi being the foremost), but you should start deviating from them ASAP. Star Wars defies classes - you can't just call Leia a senator, nor can you just call Han a smuggler. And Luke is CERTAINLY not just a Whining Farmboy. These people are combinations of all sorts of things - one or two traits may stand out, but they all are blended together during game play. If you role play these characters well, you will have a great time - I daresay you might have a better time that you would if you were just playing a smuggler template straight out of the rulebook.
Rule thirteen: A Picture is worth a thousand character points -
Visual aids are wonderful things - giving both players and GMs something to hook onto. Try to find a picture for your character. Just visit the Actresses and Actors section on Yahoo or some other search engine. If you have a paint program like Paint Shop Pro, a little doctoring can remove 20th/21st century tell-tale, and swords can be turned into lightsabers. If the character is based on a comic character, buy the comic, cut out a picture of the character and attach it to your sheet. If you can draw, then do so. Role playing games may be in-your-head gaming but a little jump start can do no harm.
Rule fourteen: Carpe deium - uh, whatever. . .
If you've got a story idea you want to see your character go through, try and make it happen yourself. Don't wait for the Gamemaster to make something up for you. If you keep trying to start your own little rebel army, sooner or later the GM is going to have to work it into his grand schemes. And GMs like it when players take an active interest in the campaign universe. Failing that - TALK to them, and tell them what you want to see. It's everyone's game - you, the GM, the other players. Tell the story together.
Special thanks to McCool, Nancy Tribley, Simon Holden,
Landon C. Darkwood, Armage Bedar
and everyone on the SWRPG mailing list for help putting this document together.