For several months now, we’ve been playing in a regular Aliens & Asteroids game at my FLGS, and each character is very unique despite their chosen professions. That’s one of the nice things about this system. Character creation is not locked down once you select a career path.
Sure, you can follow the path and only take those traits as your character levels up, but why would you do that? Our characters are shaped by our experiences, just like we are.
Don’t believe me? Let’s go through a few examples so you can see what I mean at my own table. These characters appear every week in our ongoing campaign and have advanced through the ranks from level 1 to level 7 since August 2017.
We’ll start with the two NPCs that have accompanied our party since we began. Everybody needs a little armed backup, right?
1. Buddy Lindrick, NPC Space Marine Extraordinaire
Buddy has been a member of the team since the beginning and has a history of botching rolls in the worst places. On one planet there were “swamp anemones” that would paralyze you with a poisoned spine as they wrapped around your foot if you stepped on them. I think during one session he stepped on them frequently and had to be rescued more than once. He’s not that bright, but he’s always there and willing to lend a strong hand if you need it.
At 1st level he started out with the Sprinter and Guns traits. Handy in a firefight. But as those fights got tougher, we added a few other traits such as Hand-to-Hand, Melee, and Heavy Weapons. My favorite trait he took was “Hitting the Gym,” which bumped up his already high Toughness from 14 to 15. He definitely knows where the weight room is at.
2. Jennifer Yattara, NPC Badass and Knife Magnet
Jennifer, like Buddy, has been on the team since the beginning. She and Buddy are close. And she was a buttoned down soldier to start out, with Explosives and Guns at first level. If she couldn’t kill it with a gun, she figured she’d blow it up. And that was a pretty good approach for a while. But in one session, she began to see her own mortality a bit more clearly through the fog of war.
True story. In a battle with Dread-enhanced lampreys, the party faced a giant beast at least 3 or 4 meters long and nearly a meter across at the head. This thing was massive. And it was on a rampage. Poor Yattara was dangled off a rope in a cave underground and was chomped on by this thing. Buddy pulls her out, like a fish on the end of a line, and she’s wailing and screaming trying to get this giant sucker fish with teeth off of her. It had drawn her into its gullet until she was wearing it like a pair of pants.
Well, two of her party members — Dr. Stone and Commander Cantrell — decided they’d try to cut Yattara out of the fish with their combat knives. First, one tried to cut her out and rolled a critical failure, stabbing through the fish into the Marine’s leg. Then the other one tries to cut her out and ALSO rolls a critical failure, stabbing her other leg through the fish. Though they did eventually kill the foe, she never forgot being eaten alive by a giant fish and nearly losing her legs in the process.
So when she had an opportunity to do a Cybernetic Enhancement, she chose to replace her own legs with enhanced robotics so she would gain some Toughness and never feel that helpless again.
Both characters have bumped up their Toughness, but in very different ways!
Next time we’ll talk about Technician Samsonite and our medic, Dr. Stone, and some of their unique trait choices!