jonlaw (jonlaw) wrote,

PDQ# Trek Character Creation (work in progress)

I have been inspired to try to post information about using PDQ# and Swasbucklers of the 7 Skies (S7S) as the basis for designing characters and adventures for playing in the Star Trek Universe. I am here going to post my initial proposal for character creation.

I cannot claim much originality in this. Of course, I would be nowhere without the creator of the PDQ# system and author of S7S, Chad Underkoffler. Further, Chad posted on his blog (here) the work of another genius Markwalt providing a first draft of a Character Creation system for Trek characters using PDQ#. He also posted characters descriptions , and actual play examples from Episode 1, Episode 2, and Episode 3.

This was nothing short of a bolt from the blue for me. But, I thought I would like to make a few changes, especially after I started reading the application of PDQ# in S7S. To be as generic as possible, I will make references to the free PDQ# publication, but some elements as I describe them for character creation and other issues in other posts, will require me to make some S7S references. I will try to be clear.

Obviously, if you are going to play a game in the Star Trek universe, you are going to have to decide between the game master and the players a number of basic issues like what era is going to be the setting for the game and what the general role of the players will be that will bring them together. Chad has some great general advice in this regard (PDQ# 16-17). My assumption to start with for these guidelines are that players will choose to play characters from the Federation, with all or the majority in Starfleet.

I also find useful a number of on-line references that are really quite fantastic: Memory Alpha (a Star Trek Wiki), Memory Beta (a non-canon Star Trek Wiki) and Ex Astris Scientia-Bernd Schneider's Star Trek. And, of course, with so many people who love Trek out there, you will find an almost endless source of Trek ideas, stories and resources out on the web. But those are my favorite so far.

I will also probably consult a scattering of previously published Star Trek RPG materials to which I have access. FASA started it all for me, and I have been able to look over offerings from GURPS (Prime Directive), Last Unicorn Games and Decipher, and there are vibrant RPG communities keeping elements of all those games alive. A Trek game has to be your own, but I am a big fan of begging, borrowing and stealing all that I can to make my life easier, get inspiration and get the job done as a game master, narrator, etc.

I must again acknowledge that this is inspired by and borrows from the work of Markwalt and his players as linked to here.

1. Choose a name, rank, and job on the ship. Good background information on these issues can be found at Memory Alpha: Starfleet Ranks, Starfleet organization, Senior Staff positions, and Federation Starships. These choices should help you start to put together your back story. The information about your past and how you got to where you are is going to be important to how you play and what your character can do.

2. Choose two or more Foibles (PDQ# 5; S7S 137-38).
A Foible is a failing or feature that presents opportunities for interesting failure. These should flow from and be interwoven into your character's background. All Starfleet crew and Federation employees should take the a Foible related to Starfleet Regulations(which includes the Prime Directive, but much more as well). Generally a second Foible should reflect the character;s personality and a third may be linked to cultural or species specific issues (Betazoid rituals, Vulcan Logic, etc). The cultural or species specific Foible could be generic ("Vulcan"), but the more descriptive flavor you give it, the more it can shape your character. For example, Spock and Sarek both come from the same Vulcan family, but I would think you could come up with very different Vulcan Foibles for them.

Some Foible examples:

Always helps those in need
Honest to a fault
Says what people don’t want to hear
Some social situation require nudity (Betazoid foible)
Klingon Idealist
Andorian honor code

3. Chosing Expertise (aka Fortes, see PDQ# 4-5, 7-9; S7S 132-37, 142-69).
(Note, PDF# and S7S use the term Forte and I am simply, based on my own foibles and desire for a more "in genre" term, changing the term Forte to "Expertise").

I. Pick a Motivation Expertise.

A motivation starts out at Good [+2] and serves as the primary reason you do what you do. These tend to be long term dreams and goals.

Some example motivating Expertise:

Explore the Galaxy
Heal People
Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations
Learn about other life forms
Bring honor to my planet and its people
To boldly go where no man has gone before

II. Pick a Past Expertise.

A past Expertise starts at Good [+2] and explains how you came to be here, what made you the person you are today.

Some example past fortes:

Brilliant Researcher of Interspecies Sociology and Psychology
Science wunderkind
Graduated with honors
Reformed master thief
Mister Fixit

III. Pick a Cultural/Species Expertise (compare S7S 184-86 (Nationality))

A cultural/species Expertise starts at Good [+2] and explains particular skills, connections and abilities that stem from cultural experience or inborn species characteristics, or a combination of both.

Failed student of Kolinahr
Exceptional Betazoid Telepath
Old country doctor
Masai Warrior Woman
Ambitious Kzin soldier

IV. Choose a Fleet Expertise (see "Swashbuckling Forte" PDQ# 5, 16; S7S 137, 186).

This replaces the Swashbuckling Forte in the PDQ# and S7S rules (Markwalt refers to it as Starship Forte in his writeup, but since I want to eventually use this to build non-Federation characters who may not even be on a starship as a usual base of operations, I choose the slightly more generic "Fleet" as my substitute for "Swashbuckling."

A Fleet Expertise begins at Good [+2]. This should be your area of expertise for your role in your organization, be that Starfleet, the Federation Diplomatic Corps, or whatever.


Seasoned Ship's Counselor
Tactical Leadership by Example
THE Captain
Command the troops
Phaser marksman
Master and Commander

V. Add more Expertise and/or increase your existing ones.

You have 3 additional Good [+2] ranks to create new Expertise or bump up your existing ones as high as Master [+6].

4. Add up to 5 points of Techniques (PDQ# 6; S7S 139-42, 190).

Techniques chained to a Fleet Expertise cost 1 point, chained to another Expertise cost 2 points, and unchained techniques cost 3 points.

5. Style Dice.

You get to start with 1 style die.

6. Write your background.

For me, the biography of the character is going to chart the penumbras of his or her expertise. It is hard to capture everything a character can or should be able to do in a word or phrase, but when read in context with a rich background, it makes sense and makes things all the more interesting. Obviously, a background can and should grow as you work with the character. However, the richer and more interesting your background is (as long as exceptional or extraordinary events and past achievements are cleared with your game master) the richer the character, and the more things you can do with your expertise.

One thing that I did like about the old FASA game, was that it provided Starfleet, Klingon, Orion and Romulan characters with a detailed history creation mechanism, with numbers of tours and assignments from education through early career that, while not making a story in and of itself, gives a structure to hang many interesting back stories on. I am working on a character sheet for Federation characters that will provide some options to sketch out the framework of professional education and career that will support some really interesting back story. But that will be another post.
Tags: friends, imagination, rpgs, s7s, star trek

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