Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Role as Race: Five-Man Band

by Alex Ross


Sometimes you’re going to have campaigns where everybody is playing a human. Sometimes these campaigns will be about science ninjas and/or martial artists who pilot super-cool vehicles and/or robots. Sometimes you want a little bit more to distinguish nearly-identical characters than just their choices of Hindrances and Edges.
 

(Sometimes they’re about teens solving mysteries, but the principle still applies.)

 


Let’s try something different. Let’s swap out the free Edge for being human for a small package of other bonuses (and balancing Hindrances) for a role or personality archetype that substitutes for race. These roles are based on the Five-Man Band archetypal structure.
 
The Leader
Some are born to lead, some have leadership thrust upon them -- but all Leaders display a talent for coordinating their teams. 
Examples: Freddy (Scooby-Doo), Ken/Mark (Gatchaman/Battles of the Planets), Akira/Keith (Beast King GoLion/Voltron: Defender of the Universe), Ayeka Masaki Jurai (Tenchi franchise), Ichiro Ogami (Sakura Taisen), Tamaki Suoh (Ouran High School Host Club), Erza Scarlet (Fairy Tail)
  • Natural Leader: Leaders begin with the Command Edge. All Leadership Edges utilized by Leaders apply to their Wild Card player character teammates. 
  • Paragon: Leaders are naturally talented and begin with a d6 in the two skills defining the setting’s genre (usually Fighting and Piloting for super robot pilots).
  • Sense of Duty: Leaders are driven by a personal vow to fulfill the mission of their organization whenever they can, plunging their teams into rescue missions and the like even against orders from higher up. All Leaders begin with a Vow [Major] Hindrance (or Curious for mystery solvers). 
 
The Lancer
Lancers are frequently resentful seconds-in-command, people almost talented enough to be leaders in their own right, but whose tendency to pursue their own agendas bring them into constant conflict with the official Leader. 
Examples: Shaggy (Scooby-Doo), Joe/Jason (Gatchaman/Battles of the Planets), Isamu/Lance (Beast King GoLion/Voltron: Defender of the Universe), Ryoko Hakubi (Tenchi franchise), Maria Tachibana and Sumire Kanzaki (Sakura Taisen), Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachin (Ouran High School Host Club), Gray Fullbuster (Fairy Tail) 
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Lancers begin with a d8 in Shooting and a d6 in whatever the second-most important skill in the genre is (usually Fighting or Piloting); this bonus may be substituted when a team has multiple Lancers (Sumire) or in settings where Shooting isn’t used (Gray), but their combat skills will usually revolve around range (like Shaggy, who subs in Fleet Footed and d6 Streetwise).  
  • Dexterous: Lancers are invariably swift and coordinated. Lancers begin with Agility at d6 and their maximum is d12+1 without buying additional Edges.  
  • In Over Their Head: Whether because the Lancer has deep-seated insecurities or because they’re just plain cocky, Lancers tend to act rashly when the odds are not in their favor. Lancers suffer from the Overconfident Hindrance (even Shaggy, who is more oblivious than anything but still lands in hot water). 
  • Rebellious: Lancers frequently clash with their teammates. One member of the team – usually the Leader – counts as an Enemy [Minor] for the Lancer in a rivalry that compels the Lancer to try to outdo this teammate or disobey orders.
 
The Mediator
The peacekeepers of their groups, Mediators form close friendships with all members of their teams, bringing everyone together (especially the Leaders and Lancers). They often find themselves the centers of love triangles.
Examples: Daphne (Scooby-Doo), Jun/Princess (Gatchaman/Battles of the Planets), Princess Farla/Princess Allura (Beast King GoLion/Voltron: Defender of the Universe), Tenchi Masaki (Tenchi franchise), Sakura Shinguji (Sakura Taisen), Haruhi Fujioka (Ouran High School Host Club), Lucy Heartfillia (Fairy Tail)
  • Compassionate: Mediators begin with Spirit at d6 and their maximum is d12+1 without buying additional Edges.
  • Really Can’t Help Being a Hero: Mediators are, if anything, even more driven to help than Leaders, acting out of their sense of compassion more often than duty. All Mediators begin with the Heroic Hindrance.
  • Unifier: Mediators begin with the Common Bond Edge. 
 
Powerhouse
They may not be the greatest fighter on the team, but the Powerhouse makes up for it with incredible toughness. They’re frequently also the bulkiest member of the team; even when they’re as slim as anyone else, they still have a hearty appetite.
Examples: Scooby (Scooby-Doo), Ryu/Tiny (Gatchaman/Battles of the Planets), Tsuyoshi/Hunk (Beast King GoLion/Voltron: Defender of the Universe), Mihoshi Kuramitsu (Tenchi franchise), Kanna Kirishima (Sakura Taisen), Mitsukuni "Honey" Haninozuka and Takashi "Mori" Morinozuka (Ouran High School Host Club), Natsu Dragneel (Fairy Tail)
  • Bad Habit: Powerhouses tend to suffer from some bad habit – laziness, competitiveness, or something similar – that reduces their esteem in the eyes of their peers. Powerhouses have the Habit [Minor] Hindrance.
  • Big Appetite: Even if they don’t pack on the pounds, the Powerhouse has an embarrassingly ravenous appetite. This counts as the Minor Hindrance Quirk.
  • Resilient: The Powerhouse gains a +2 to Toughness, either from increased Size or simply a Toughness bonus at the player’s discretion.
  • Strong: Powerhouses begin with Strength at d6 and their maximum is d12+1 without buying additional Edges. 
Prodigy
Less resilient than their companions but no less reliable, Prodigies display unusual talent in some key supporting talent central to the setting. They may not be the best fighters or pilots, but they’re the ones who keep the super robots running or heal their teammates’ wounds.
Examples: Velma (Scooby-Doo), Jinpei/Keyop (Gatchaman/Battles of the Planets – talented at Stealth), Hiroshi/Pidge (Beast King GoLion/Voltron: Defender of the Universe), Iris Chateaubriand and Li Kohran (Sakura Taisen), Kyoya Ootori (Ouran High School Host Club), Happy and Wendy Marvell (Fairy Tail)
  • Awkward: Prodigies either suffer the Bad Eyes [Minor] Hindrance OR from some personality issue like crippling shyness and annoying boisterousness that gets on others' nerves (-1 Charisma). 
  • Clever: Prodigies begin with Smarts at d6 and their maximum is d12+1 without buying additional Edges.
  • Technical Talent: Prodigies begin with either a d8 in one supporting skill or d6 in two; these will usually be skills like Healing, Investigation, or Repair.
  • Frail: A Prodigy either simply doesn’t have the combat prowess of their allies (-1 Toughness) or is physically smaller than them (Size -1) at the player’s discretion.

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