Firefly Friday: Starbuck

Hey folks! Sorry about the hiatus – even the most ambitious serials miss a step, am I right?

Before working up to the rancor elephant in the room, I figured we should swing back to a character who could drop right into a canon Firefly campaign without any fuss. You’re all familiar with Starbuck, I’m sure! Well if you aren’t, you frakking well should be. And you will be by the end of this post – we’re gonna dig right into how the various character traits can be used during game play to both benefit your dice pools and advance your game.

So just like with Starcraft, sitting yourself down to play in a Battlestar Galactica styled game isn’t exactly a huge stretch from the default Firefly flavor and scope. A lot of the setting-specific conceits like Cylons and Kobol mythology and all that can easily be handled by Distinctions, Assets, and Complications. There might be an argument to bring in the political Affiliations that I outlined for Babylon 5, but the factions and nuance don’t translate as well to BSG.

So just what is Kara Thrace, fleet badass, capable of? Let’s just scroll on down the Distinctions and see. Just in case you somehow missed this, Kara’s a Crack Pilot, with a couple of very useful Triggers. You’ll see I’ve checked by default a couple of Triggers – like I explained previously (but I think it’s important to repeat because it’s a game changer) that doesn’t mean you’re limited to the two Triggers you start with. In fact, the elusive FAQ clarifies that you can switch up your Triggers between every scene, as long as you don’t have more than your maximum active.

Where was I? Innovative Maneuvers! Every time you want to show that Starbuck’s aptitude with ships isn’t just training and practice, bring this out. She’s got a deeper connection with the craft than pretty much any other pilot on Galactica. She’s also… a bit of a showoff. Hold Tight captures that nicely. Take a short term drawback when you’re supremely confident (or desperate), and pick up a long term gain. This is clearly much more useful for Fly than Operate, for that big die. But don’t discount turning an Operate roll into a more likely Plot Point and a clutch d6 Big Damn Hero die.

Did I say “showoff”? It goes a bit deeper than that. Starbuck’s pretty well known as an Impulsive Hedonist as well. Every time you feel like mouthing off to Colonel Tigh, or challenging Doctor Baltar to a game of wits, grab that Plot Point from Cocky! Also, feel free to pour on the charm and bravado, even if you can’t back it up. You’re Confident, after all. Just know that the price for convincing your squadron to scramble against steep odds might be having to turn that d6 Overworked Squadron Complication into a d8.

Crack Pilot‘s Triggers were clearly about mechanical advantages, and Impulsive Hedonist brings in strong options for working with the narrative threads themselves. Secretly Spiritual kind of ties the two methods together. Both Triggers have great effects, and are applicable in a variety of situations – but even better, they flavor that situation deeply. You come up with a brilliant plan or solve a difficult problem while Lost In Prayer? Clearly this is the guidance of the Lords of Kobol that led you there. Let’s say that your broken leg is getting worse, but you manage to power through focusing on the task at hand because this is just another Test of Faith in a long history of them.

As we finish up, I want to call attention to a couple of choices in the Skill Specialties. Obviously, Kara’s Fly skill is through the roof, but there’s little she can’t do in a Viper. Why Vipers and not Starfighters? Well it’s apparent that even Kara has a period of getting used to flying the Blackbird. Also, Gambling is an interesting Specialty. It could easily fit in with Influnce or Trick – but I feel like neither of those fit Kara’s gambling style. It would all be the same dice anyway, but these are the differences that can set otherwise similar characters apart. And finally, Training is a legacy of her pre-exodus time, and likely to evolve into something like Military Command as she spends more time as CAG.

You don’t have to aim for a sweet spot between mechanics and story with your Distinctions. But you can see here just how effectively those interweaving threads can be in really pinning down exactly what makes a character who they are, along with how and why they do the things they do.

Catch us again next time, when we start our journey to a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

One thought on “Firefly Friday: Starbuck

  • October 28, 2017 at 7:52 am

    Love what your doing. Have you thought about making stats for crews like the Betty in Aliens: Resurrection or the Valkyrie’s crew in Titan AE or Deep Space Nine for a space station crew?


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