Welcome back to Card Catalog! I know this is a little late and thank you for your patience. I am going to return to the idea of taking once concept through three different games like I did for the 1 Archer, 3 Ways series of posts! This edition of Card Catalog, I will take one core concept and make that concept in three different systems to see what the system’s choices will do to that concept! Personally, I think it is fun and instructive to see how a character concept is changed or shaped by the mechanics of each system and the character generation system as well as advancing the character several levels.
I am not a game designer, but I appreciate game design as all tabletop role players should. Card Catalog looks not only at what sort of characters may inhabit each world, or system, but also shows how some of the character is shaped by the system. That is why the design and character note sections are separated out for each of the posts. As a periodic break from just taking the deeper dive into a single system or setting, Card Catalog will take the time to take one character concept through several different systems and settings. This time, we will connect the characters to some of the other Card Catalog series that we have already done.
The Concept – Cold as Ice Pilot
The Hot Shot Pilot tends to come in two particular categories – the rebellious and iconoclastic loudmouth versus the icy cold professional. This is the core character duality from Top Gun between Maverick and Ice Man even down to their names. This is difference between Han Solo and Wedge Antilles; I am going to work on a concept based on the latter. I admitted to loving Archers previously, and here I will again note my love of the pilot classes and abilities. I have loved the dog fighting movies and TV shows since I was a wee lad, and lament often the lack of sufficient starfighter combats in modern movies and shows. Pilots also are a type of character that can be hard to pull off and get to gel with a team or group because the piloting is so often a solo experience.
For this Pilot, I am going to focus on the star fighter and fighter ace style role. To add some flavor to the design and have a secondary way to work through the systems, this will be a current or former military pilot partially for build purposes and partially to make sure that the character is useful outside of the piloting role. If possible, I will make sure to focus on some combat capabilities to show this off. Personally, I like to have this kind of a secondary skill set or focus for most character to help me create and play a more three dimensional or fully realized character.
The three systems will be the Babylon 5 RPG, Starfinder, and FATE Core. Each subsequent post will focus on one system and making this professional and icy pilot to see what sort of mechanical choices happen and how it may change this core concept. If you want me to build a full legal as written Pilot from Star Frontiers, unlike the House Ruled version for the Bodaz G’lunk in Kratog, drop a comment here, on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, and we will come up with something.
M’Kal On’d – Level 6 Narn Officer (Pilot)
Babylon 5 2d Edition – Faith Manages
Babylon 5 has a class that specifically contemplates Pilots in the Officer Class so I knew that I would revisit it as one of the three Pilot builds here especially to compare and contrast with the Starfinder version. I’ll connect M’kal to the story I was using for the Nakir’s Zocalo Bar Happy Hour, but I am very interested in how the Officer (Pilot) Class channels the decisions for the build. It was probably the average of the three systems, with the ease of a specific class to choose from, but some complexity inherent in the OGL and d20 systems.
A Narn is great fun in Babylon 5 and it makes sense to add a Narn Fighter Pilot to the group as the timelines progress and the Narn Regime is conquered by the Centauri. I also considered a Centauri who had left behind the corrupt rule but settled for the rescued from a disabled fighter after a battle before the Centauri could put him into a prison camp Narn.
BABYLON 5 and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Copyright © 2006 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. The Babylon 5 2d Edition game is subject to the OGL and was published by Mongoose Publishing.
M’kal – Level 6 Ace Pilot Borais(Human) Soldier
Starfinder, as the descendant of the OGL and d20 games, shows where the last 15 years of game design have brought that style of system to compare to Babylon 5. One obvious part of the pilot build for Starfinder is the Ace Pilot Theme! Building off some of the story ideas from the Starfinder Card Catalog earlier, I am going to use the Soldier Class to build out an Ace Pilot here. The Icy Professional didn’t feel right for using the Envoy or Technomancer classes and the original Troublemaker Beta crew had an Operative as the pilot of the group, Chitter, so I wanted to mix it up. There were a huge number of options in this build and it was probably the most complicated to generate and advance. Starfinder provides a wealth of options and I certainly was able to think through ways to push M’kal forward.
I also used a species out of the Pact Worlds book that came out just to add some extra flair to the icy coldness. The Borais are partially Undead without the entire suite of Undead qualities, but are heavily found on Eox which I can tie into the Troublemaker’s story about the Elf-Bone Sage conspiracy in the character’s story.
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M’kal onDid – Gene Modified Human Pilot
I have not yet done a full Card Catalog write up on FATE, so I’ll cover the brief overview on the post. FATE provides a narrative based and collaborative roleplaying game where the straightforward mechanic is modified by Invoking “Aspects” that are short phrases that describe something about your character or the scene. In a lot of ways, just jotting down your character concept and their basic personality covers half of the character creation process. Since FATE Core is a setting agnostic system, I will probably return to the Sci-Fi setting I started to design to make this character for a full FATE Core Card Catalog sometime. THe design here was the easiest, but also the most finicky because I get caught up in tuning the character just right, but the way advancement works to switch some skills around or to change some of these Aspects allows for a great freedom. It is also important to note that Evil Hat is offering a FATE Space Toolkit book at DriveThruRPG right now – it is text only, but sales of the prerelease version will fund the art for the final version which will be offered as an update to your PDF if you get a copy. I … uh … may have moved the FATE Core character build to the end so I can purchase that to support Evil Hat and see if I need to update my build. While it has the least structured advancement, the straightforward choices made it easy to decide how to improve M’kal.
A genetically modified starfighter pilot, M’kal has found himself cast out of The Most Glorious Empire of the Expanding Reach for having a Heart to Big for His Own Good. His calm precision in the cockpit and on Vanguard Station can betray his unnatural abilities selling his services while this Cold War is One Mistake Away from Going Hot.