Character Creation

Cepheus Engine characters are rarely beginners fresh from the farm. There is no reason not to play a young and inexperienced character if you like, but since a broad range of skills is important to success in the game most players will want their character to be a little more experienced in the world.

All characters begin at the age of majority, typically 18. Having generated characteristic scores and background skills, the character should begin serving terms in his or her chosen career. Each 4-year term spent in a career gives the character more experience in the universe, generally in the form of skills. Generate the results of each term before proceeding to the next. At the end of a period of service, characters roll for benefits gained upon “mustering out” (i.e. leaving the service). They may then begin adventuring.

This section provides complete instructions for the generation of twenty-four distinct career paths.

Character Creation Checklist

  1. Characteristics
    1. Roll your six characteristics using 2D6, and place them in order on your character sheet.
    2. Determine characteristic modifiers.
  2. Homeworld (Optional)
    1. Determine homeworld.
    2. Gain background skills. Character gains a number of background skills at Level 0 equal to 3 + their Education modifier. The first two have to be taken from your homeworld (based on the world’s trade codes or law level); the rest are taken from the education list.
  3. Career
    1. Choose a career. You cannot choose a career you’ve already left except Drifter.
    2. Roll to qualify for that career, as indicated in the description of the career. If this is not your first career, you suffer a –2 DM for every previous career in which you have served.
    3. If you qualify for this career, go to step 4.
    4. If you do not qualify for that career, you can enter the Drifter career or submit to the draft. You may only enter the draft once.
  4. Basic training
    • For your first term in your first career, you get every skill in the service skills table at level 0.
    • For your first term in subsequent careers, you may pick any one skill from the service skills table at level 0.
  5. Survival
    • Roll for survival, as indicated in the description of the career.
    • If you succeed, go to step 8.
    • If you did not succeed, you have died. Alternately, events have forced you from this career. Roll on the mishap table and go to step 10 (you do not receive a benefit roll for this term.)
  6. Commission and Advancement
    1. You begin as a Rank 0 character.
    2. If your career offers a Commission check and you are Rank 0, you can choose to roll for Commission. If you are successful, you are now Rank 1 in your chosen career. Choose one of the skills and training tables and roll on it for an extra skill. Take any bonus skills from the ranks table for this career.
    3. If your career offers an Advancement check and you are Rank 1 or higher, you can choose to roll for Advancement. If you are successful, your Rank improves by one in your chosen career. Choose one of the skills and training tables and roll on it for an extra skill. Take any bonus skills from the ranks table for this career. You can roll for Advancement in the same term that you succeed in a Commission roll.
  7. Skills and Training
    1. Choose one of the Skills and Training tables for this career and roll on it. If you gain a characteristic improvement as a result, apply the change to your characteristic score immediately. If you gain a skill as a result and you do not already have levels in that skill, take it at level 1. If you already have the skill, increase your skill by one level.
    2. If your career does not have a Commission or Advancement check, you may roll a second time, choose one of the Skills and Training tables for this career (which may be the same or different from the first table chosen for this term.)
  8. Aging
    1. Increase your age by 4 years.
    2. If your character is 34 or older, roll for aging.
  9. Re-enlistment
    1. Roll for re-enlistment. If you fail, you must leave this career. If you roll a natural 12, you cannot leave this career and must continue for another term, go to step 5.
    2. If you have served a total of seven terms or more in character creation, then you must retire, go to step 10.
    3. If you wish to continue in this career, go to step 5.
    4. If you wish to leave this career, go to step 10.
  10. Benefits
    • If you are leaving the career, roll for benefits. A character gets one Benefit Roll for every full term served in that career. You also get extra benefit rolls if you reached a higher rank.
  11. Next Career
    • If you’re leaving your current career and your total number of terms in character creation is less than seven, you may go to step 3 to choose a new career or to step 12 if you wish to finish your character.
  12. Buy starting equipment
    • Purchase your starting equipment and, if you can afford it, possibly a starship.


Characteristics measure a character’s most basic abilities: how strong, dexterous, educated or intelligent he is. Characteristic scores influence almost everything your character does. Stronger characters can lift greater weights, more dexterous characters have better balance, and so forth.

Characters have six abilities: Strength (Str), Dexterity (Dex), Endurance (End), Intelligence (Int), Education (Edu), and Social Standing (Soc). Strength, Dexterity, and Endurance are called physical abilities, whereas Intelligence, Education, and Social Standing are loosely termed mental abilities. Each above-average ability score provides a bonus on certain die rolls; while below average abilities apply a penalty to some die rolls.

The six characteristics for your character are briefly described as follows:

  • Strength (Str) A character’s physical strength, fitness and forcefulness.
  • Dexterity (Dex) Physical co-ordination and agility, reflexes.
  • Endurance (End) A character’s ability to sustain damage, stamina and determination.
  • Intelligence (Int) A character’s intellect and quickness of mind.
  • Education (Edu) A measure of a character’s learning and experience.
  • Social Standing (Soc) A character’s place in society

Social Standing and Noble Titles

In a Cepheus Engine universe where characters of sufficiently high Social Standing characteristic scores are considered nobility, specific values of Social Standing are often associated with specific titles of nobility. The Titles of Nobility by Social Standing table captures some examples, but actual values may vary from universe to universe. Versions of these titles traditionally given to the female gender are provided in parentheses.

Table: Titles of Nobility by Social Standing
Social Standing Title of Nobility
10 (A) Lord (Lady)
11 (B) Knight (Knightess, Dame)
12 (C) Baron (Baroness), Baronet
13 (D) Marquis (Marquesa, Marchioness)
14 (E) Count (Countess)
15 (F) Duke (Duchess)
16 (G) Archduke (Archduchess)
17 (H) Crown Prince (Crown Princess)
18 (J) Emperor (Empress)

Psionic Strength, the Seventh Characteristic

Within the Cepheus Engine, characters can sometimes have a seventh characteristic score. When a character learns psionics, they generate a Psionic Strength characteristic (abbreviation Psi), which powers their psionic talents. This characteristic cannot be rolled or bought during character creation without the Referee’s permission. For more information on this topic, see Chapter 3: Psionics.

Generating Characteristic Scores

Generating characteristics scores is fairly straightforward. Roll your six characteristics using 2D6, and record them in the standard order: Strength (Str), Dexterity (Dex), Endurance (End), Intelligence (Int), Education (Edu), and Social Standing (Soc).

Optional Rule: With the Referee’s approval, roll 2D6 six times, and assign the results to the six different characteristic scores based on a particular character concept. For example, if you picture your character as a highly-educated researcher, then you might assign your highest result to Education, and assign your second highest to Intelligence.

Characteristic Score Limits: For player characters, a characteristic score may not typically exceed a maximum of 15, nor may a score drop permanently below 1 except under certain circumstances.

Characteristic Modifiers

Once you have assigned your characteristic scores, you can determine your characteristic modifiers. These modifiers are applied to any check when you do something related to that characteristic. An ability score modifier is calculated by dividing the ability score by three, dropping all fractions, and then subtracting two, so that the average characteristic score of 7 has a DM+0. Thus, a characteristic value of 2 or less has a modifier of DM-2, characteristic values of 3 to 5 have a modifier of DM-1, and so on. The Characteristic Modifier by Score Range table provides a synopsis of these modifiers, already calculated for you.

Table: Characteristic Modifier by Score Range
Score Range PseudoHex Characteristic Modifier
0 through 2 0-2 -2
3 through 5 3-5 -1
6 through 8 6-8 +0
9 through 11 9-B +1
12 through 14 C-E +2
15 through 17 F-H +3
18 through 20 J-L +4
21 through 23 M-P +5
24 through 26 Q-S +6
27 through 29 T-V +7
30 through 32 W-Y +8
33 or higher Z +9

Altering Characteristic Scores

Over the course of play, your character’s characteristic scores may change for the following reasons:

  • Aging can permanently lower physical characteristic scores.
  • Physical damage, such as from combat, falling, disease or poison, temporarily lowers physical characteristic scores.
  • Mental trauma, such as head injuries and psionic attack, temporarily lowers mental characteristic scores.
  • Certain medications, psionic enhancements, and other scenarios can temporarily or permanently enhance specific characteristic scores.

Whenever a characteristic score changes, you will need to determine the new characteristic modifier.

On Gender and Race

The core Cepheus Engine rules make no distinctions between different members of the same species, regardless of gender or race. In the realm of classic science fiction literature, heroes came in many different flavors and capacities, and were generally unhindered by their gender or the color of their skin.

Alien species may have additional gender choices that can impact a character’s characteristic scores and grant specific abilities or traits based on gender selection. For example, if an insectoid species has four genders (queen, soldier, worker and drone), each might grant different characteristic bonuses or penalties that impact character creation. The definition of alien species lies in the realm of the Referee’s powers of creativity, as befits the nature of their campaign and universe.

On Alien Species and Social Standing

Alien species may have different criteria for Social Standing: Caste or Charisma. When dealing with a race that has a different concept of Social Standing, all DMs from Social Standing or its alien equivalent – whether positive or negative – are halved.

The Universal Persona Profile (UPP)

The Cepheus Engine utilizes a concise format to encapsulate data on an individual character’s characteristic scores in a manner that, with a little practice, can be quickly and easily read. The specifics of the Universal Persona Profile can be found below:

123456, or 123456-7 for psionic characters

The Explanation

The numbers represent the position of a pseudo-hexadecimal notation of an individual’s characteristic scores. These scores are, in order:

  1. Strength (Str)
  2. Dexterity (Dex)
  3. Endurance (End)
  4. Intelligence (Int)
  5. Education (Edu)
  6. Social Standing (Soc)
  7. Psionic Strength (Psi)

For example, if a character has the following characteristic scores:

Strength 6, Dexterity 8, Endurance 7, Intelligence 11, Education 9, Social Standing 12

Then the character’s UPP would be 687B9C. If the character later tested for Psionics, and ended up with a Psionic Strength of 4, the UPP would then become 687B9C-4.

Universal Character Format

The following format is used to represent a character’s basic game statistics in the Cepheus Engine rules.

[Character Name, with rank and/or noble title, if appropriate][Character UPP]Age [Character Age]

[Character Careers, with terms listed in parentheses]Cr[Character Funds]

[Character Skill List, in alphabetical order, with skill levels listed after skill names]

[Species Traits, if not human; optional]

[Character Equipment, if available; list only significant property]

Here is an example of a system-wide human celebrity that has been entertaining his holovid fans for almost two decades with his heroic action movies:

Bruce Ayala786A9AAge 38

Entertainer (5 terms)Cr70,000

Athletics-1, Admin-1, Advocate-1, Bribery-1, Carousing-3, Computer-2, Gambling-0, Grav Vehicle-0, Liaison-2, Linguistics-0, Streetwise-0

High passage (x2)

Background Skills

Before embarking on your careers, you get a number of background skills equal to 3 + your Education DM (1 to 5, depending on your Education score).

Homeworld Skills

Growing up on your homeworld gave you skills that depend on the planet’s nature. You can select any skill that matches your homeworld’s planetary description and trade codes. If you came from a planet already established in the Referee’s universe, then consult those sources for the planet’s description.

Table: Homeworld Skills by Planetary Description
Descriptor Skill
No Law Gun Combat-0
Low Law Gun Combat-0
Medium Law Gun Combat-0
High Law Melee Combat-0
Table: Homeworld Skills by Trade Code
Trade Code Skill
Agricultural Animals-0
Asteroid Zero-G-0
Desert Survival-0
Fluid Oceans Watercraft-0
Garden Animals-0
High Technology Computer-0
High Population Streetwise-0
Ice-Capped Zero-G-0
Industrial Broker-0
Low Technology Survival-0
Poor Animals-0
Rich Carousing-0
Water World Watercraft-0
Vacuum Zero-G-0

Primary Education Skills

A formal education gives you a basic level of competence in various sciences and academic disciplines. Any character may choose from the following list:

  • Admin-0
  • Advocate-0
  • Animals-0
  • Carousing-0
  • Comms-0
  • Computer-0
  • Electronics-0
  • Engineering-0
  • Life Sciences-0
  • Linguistics-0
  • Mechanics-0
  • Medicine-0
  • Physical Sciences-0
  • Social Sciences-0
  • Space Sciences-0


Characters in the Cepheus Engine do not start at the age of majority and jump immediately into play with only their background skills. Instead, characters gain experience by pursuing one of twenty-four different careers. The random nature of career paths (also known as prior history or prior careers) leads to characters of all levels of experience, and from all walks of life. A character gains more skills the longer they stay in character creation, but not without risk of aging. Player choices will have great impact on the final disposition of a character.

At many points during a career, a character will have to make a throw of some sort. Most of these throws are characteristic throws – roll 2D6, add the DM from the listed characteristic, and try to get a total higher than the listed value. A throw of Int 8+ means ‘roll 2D6, add your Intelligence DM, and you succeed if you roll an 8 or more’. A few throws are skill checks, where you add any levels in that skill and the DM from an appropriate characteristic, if specified. For example, a throw of Gambling 8+ would mean ‘roll 2D6, add your Gambling skill and the DM from an appropriate characteristic such as Dexterity, if specified, and get over 8′.

Career Descriptions

The following twenty-four career paths are detailed at the end of this chapter:

  • Aerospace System Defense Member of a planetary armed military force operating within a world’s atmosphere and close orbit. Also known as the “planetary air force”.
  • Agent Individual that secretly collects and reports information on the activities, movements and plans of a political or corporate enemy or competitor. Also known as a spy or intelligence operative.
  • Athlete Individual that has achieved celebrity status for their proficiency in sports and other forms of physical exercise.
  • Barbarian Individual from a primitive world (TL4 or less) capable of surviving on their world without support from a technologically advanced civilization.
  • Belter Individual that explores asteroid belts in search of mineral deposits and salvageable material for profit.
  • Bureaucrat Official in a government department, charged with following the details of administrative process.
  • Colonist Individual that moves to a new world or settles in a new planetary colony.
  • Diplomat Individual that is appointed by a planetary or interstellar government to conduct official negotiations and maintain political, economic and social relations with another polity or polities.
  • Drifter Individual that continually moves from place to place, without any fixed home or job.
  • Entertainer Individual that has achieved celebrity status for their proficiency in publicly entertaining others.
  • Hunter Individual that kills or traps large game, almost always large terrestrial mammals, for meat, other animal by-products (such as horn or bone), trophy or sport.
  • Marine Member of an interstellar armed military force trained to serve in a variety of environments, often carried on board starships as an adjunct to an interstellar navy. Also known as the “space marines”.
  • Maritime System Defense Member of a planetary armed military force operating within and on the surface of a world’s oceans. Also known as the “planetary wet navy”.
  • Mercenary Professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign military force or perform a specific military action.
  • Merchant Individual involved in wholesale interstellar trade, particularly between individual worlds or polities.
  • Navy Member of an interstellar armed military force that conducts military operations in interplanetary or interstellar space. Also known as the “space navy”.
  • Noble Member of an elite upper class, having high social or political status.
  • Physician Individual that is skilled in the science of medicine and is trained and licensed to treat sick and injured people.
  • Pirate Individual that attacks and steals from interplanetary and interstellar ships in space.
  • Rogue Individual that makes their living through illicit means.
  • Scientist Individual that is engaged in and has expert knowledge of a science, especially a biological or physical science.
  • Scout Member of an interplanetary exploratory service, surveying unfamiliar territory in space.
  • Surface System Defense Member of a planetary armed military force operating on the non-hydrographic surface of a world. Also known as the “planetary army”.
  • Technician Individual that is skilled in mechanical or industrial techniques or in a particular technical field.

Qualifying and the Draft

The Qualification check determines if you can successfully enter into your chosen career. Military careers use Enlistment as the description for this roll instead of qualification. If you fail this check then you cannot enter your chosen career this term. You must either submit to the Draft or take the Drifter career for this term. You suffer a DM–2 to qualification rolls for each previous career you have entered. Once you leave a career you cannot return to it. The Draft and the Drifter career are exceptions to this rule – you can be Drafted into a career you were previously in but got ejected from, and the Drifter career is always open.

Table: The Draft
Roll Draft Career
1 Aerospace System Defense (Planetary Air Force)
2 Marine
3 Maritime System Defense (Planetary Navy)
4 Navy
5 Scout
6 Surface System Defense (Planetary Army)

Terms of Service

Each step through the cycle of resolving your career path, you will go through a term of service that lasts approximately four years long. This adds four years to the character’s age. Each time the character reenlists, or enters into a new career, it is for another term, or four additional years of service.

Basic Training

On the first term of a new career, you gain Basic Training as you learn the basics for your chosen career. For your first career only, you get all the skills listed in the Service Skills table at Level 0 as your basic training. For any subsequent careers, you may pick any one skill listed in the Service Skills table at Level 0 as your basic training.


Each career has a survival roll. If you fail this roll, your character is dead, and you must create a new one. A natural 2 is always a failure.

Optional Rule: With the Referee’s approval, you can keep the character that fails a survival roll and roll on the Survival Mishaps table instead. This mishap is always enough to force you to leave the service after half a term, or two years of service. You lose the benefit roll for the current term only.

Table: Survival Mishaps
1D6 Mishaps
1 Injured in action. (This is the same as a result of 2 on the Injury table.) Alternatively, roll twice on the Injury table and take the lower result.
2 Honorably discharged from the service.
3 Honorably discharged from the service after a long legal battle. Legal issues create a debt of Cr10,000.
4 Dishonorably discharged from the service. Lose all benefits.
5 Dishonorably discharged from the service after serving an extra 4 years in prison for a crime. Lose all benefits.
6 Medically discharged from the service. Roll on the Injury table.

Commission and Advancement

Within military careers, a Commission check represents an opportunity to join the ranks of the commissioned officers. In non-military careers, the Commission check represents an opportunity to gain a position within the hierarchy common to your chosen career. Some careers do not have an established hierarchy, as such, and so do not offer Commission checks. A character that succeeds at a Commission roll becomes a Rank 1 officer in that career, and uses the officer Rank table from then on. In addition, you gain an extra roll on any of the Skills and Training Tables for this career. A character may attempt a Commission roll once per term, and trying for commission is optional. A draftee may not attempt a Commission check in the first term of service.

Each career that has a commission check also has an Advancement roll, representing your character’s ability to advance with the ranks of your chosen career’s hierarchy. If you are Rank 1 or higher, you may attempt an Advancement roll each term. If you are successful, then you move to the next rank and gain an extra roll on any of the Skills and Training Tables for this career. You also get any benefits listed for your new rank. You may only attempt to advance once per term, and you may attempt to advance in the same term in which you are commissioned.

Commissions and advancement are not available in the Athlete, Barbarian, Belter, Drifter, Entertainer, Hunter and Scout careers.

Skills and Training

Each career has skill tables associated with it – Personal Development, Service Skills, Specialist Skills and Advanced Education. In each term you spend in a career, pick one of these tables and roll 1D6 to see which skill you increase. You may only roll on the Advanced Education table if your character has Education 8+.

Because the Athlete, Barbarian, Belter, Drifter, Entertainer, Hunter and Scout careers do not have commission or advancement checks, characters get to make two rolls for skills instead of one every term.

Cascade Skills

Some skills are “cascade skills” meaning that they have specializations – specialized forms of that skill. When a cascade skill is selected, the character must immediately decide on a specialization. Each cascade skill will list one or more specializations that may be chosen from. Upon taking a level in a cascade skill specialization, all other specializations of that skill without skill levels are treated as Zero-level skills. A character may have multiple specializations in a skill, such as Natural Weapons-2 and Slashing Weapons-1, under Melee Combat.


Characters that are wounded in combat or accidents during character creation must roll on the Injury table.

Table: Injury Table
1D6 Injury
1 Nearly killed. Reduce one physical characteristic by 1D6, reduce both other physical characteristics by 2 (or one of them by 4).
2 Severely injured. Reduce one physical characteristic by 1D6.
3 Missing eye or limb. Reduce Strength or Dexterity by 2.
4 Scarred. You are scarred and injured. Reduce any one physical characteristic by 2.
5 Injured. Reduce any physical characteristic by 1.
6 Lightly injured. No permanent effect.

Injury Crisis

If any characteristic is reduced to 0, then the character suffers an injury crisis. The character dies unless he can pay 1D6x10,000 Credits for medical care, which will bring any characteristics back up to 1. The character automatically fails any Qualification checks from now on – he must either continue in the career he is in or become a Drifter if he wishes to take any more terms.

Medical Care

If your character has been injured, then medical care may be able to undo the effects of damage. The restoration of a lost characteristic costs Cr5,000 per point.

If your character was injured in the service of a patron or organization, then a portion of his medical care may be paid for by that patron. Roll 2D6 on the table below, adding your Rank as a DM. The result is how much of his medical care is paid for by his employer.

Table: Medical Bills
Career Roll of 4+ Roll of 8+ Roll of 12+
Aerospace System Defense, Marine, Maritime System Defense, Navy, Scout, Surface System Defense 75% 100% 100%
Agent, Athlete, Bureaucrat, Diplomat, Entertainer, Hunter, Mercenary, Merchant, Noble, Physician, Pirate, Scientist, Technician 50% 75% 100%
Barbarian, Belter, Colonist, Drifter, Rogue 0% 50% 75%

Medical Debt

During finishing touches, you must pay any outstanding costs from medical care or anagathic drugs out of your Benefits before anything else.


The effects of aging begin when a character reaches 34 years of age. At the end of the fourth term, and at the end of every term thereafter, the character must roll 2D6 on the Aging Table. Apply the character’s total number of terms as a negative Dice Modifier on this table.

Table: Aging Table
2D6 Effects of Aging
-6 Reduce three physical characteristics by 2, reduce one mental characteristic by 1
-5 Reduce three physical characteristics by 2.
-4 Reduce two physical characteristics by 2, reduce one physical characteristic by 1
-3 Reduce one physical characteristic by 2, reduce two physical characteristic by 1
-2 Reduce three physical characteristics by 1
-1 Reduce two physical characteristics by 1
0 Reduce one physical characteristic by 1
1+ No effect

Aging Crisis

If any characteristic is reduced to 0 by aging, then the character suffers an aging crisis. The character dies unless he can pay 1D6x10,000 Credits for medical care, which will bring any characteristics back up to 1. The character automatically fails any Qualification checks from now on – he must either continue in the career he is in or become a Drifter if he wishes to take any more terms.


While using anagathic drugs, the character effectively does not age – add the number of terms since the character started taking anagathics as a positive Dice Modifier to rolls on the aging table. If a character stops taking anagathics, then he must roll immediately on the aging table to simulate the shock that comes from his system beginning to age again.

The risk of trying to obtain a reliable supply and the disruption to the character’s biochemistry means the character must make a second Survival check if he passes his first Survival check in a term. If either check is failed, the character suffers a mishap and is ejected from the career.

The drugs cost 1D6x2,500 Credits for each term that the character uses the drugs. These costs are paid out of the character’s eventual mustering-out cash benefits. If the character cannot pay these bills, he goes into debt.

Reenlistment and Retirement

At the end of each term, the character must decide that they wish to continue on their career path or if they wish to muster out. If continuation is desired, the character must make a successful Reenlistment check as listed for their current profession or service. If the character rolls a natural 12, they cannot leave their current career and must continue for another term. If the check is not successful, then they cannot reenlist and the character must leave their current career.

A character that has served 7 or more terms in character creation must retire and cannot undertake any more prior experience, unless they roll a natural 12 during Reenlistment and must serve another term of service.

Optional Rule: The Referee may want to change the maximum number of terms spent in character creation from 7 to something else. For example, the Referee may feel that characters built up to a maximum of 3 or even 4 terms are in the prime of their life, but not so experienced that they won’t take up adventuring opportunities as they are presented.

Optional Rule: In some universes, the Referee may elect to totally remove the maximum number of terms spent in character creation.

A character who has served 5 or more terms in a single service receives a yearly retirement pension, even if he or she later becomes an adventurer.

Table: Retirement Pay by Terms Served
Terms Annual Retirement Pay
5 Cr10,000
6 Cr12,000
7 Cr14,000
8 Cr16,000
9+ +Cr2,000 per term beyond 8

Mustering Out Benefits

Characters who end their careers receive one benefit per term served in which they did not lose benefits. An additional benefit is gained if the character held rank O4, and two for rank O5. A character with rank O6 gains three extra benefits.

Cash Benefits

Up to 3 benefit rolls can be taken on the Cash table. All others must be taken in material benefits. Characters with Gambling skill or who have retired gain +1 on Cash Benefit rolls.

Material Benefits

Material benefits may be characteristics alterations, passages or ship shares. Membership in the Explorers’ Society is possible, and subsequent receipts of weapon benefits may be taken as skill levels instead. Note that characters of rank O5 or O6 gain +1 on Material Benefit rolls.

  • Courier Vessel: The character considered to be on detached duty with the scout exploration service, and has been granted the use of a surplus 100-ton TL9 Courier starship on a reserve basis. The scout exploration service also provides free maintenance and fuel at any scout base. All other ship expenses are the responsibility of the character. While the character is at liberty to use the vessel as they see fit, the vessel still belongs to the scout exploration service, and thus cannot be abandoned or sold without consequences. In exchange for the use of the ship, the character and the ship are both considered to be available to return to active duty at a moment’s notice, should the scout exploration service have need.
  • Explorers’ Society: The character is a member of the prestigious Explorers’ Society. The Explorers’ Society will provide members with a free high passage ticket every two months, plus access to the Society’s information network and Society-run resorts. This benefit can only be received once; any further receipt of this has no additional benefit. After character creation, characters may purchase membership into the Explorers’ Society. A successful application for lifetime membership requires a Routine (-2) Admin check modified by the character’s Social Standing, and if accepted, a payment of Cr1,000,000. Failure on the application process indicates the character has been black listed. If a character has been black listed, the Explorers’ Society will no longer accept membership applications from them. Membership is non-refundable and non-transferrable.
  • Passage: The character has a single ticket of the type named (low, mid, high) for travel on a starship. It is good for one Jump to any destination.
  • Research Vessel: A scientific foundation, an interstellar corporation or some other equally affluent patron has granted the character the use of a 200-ton TL9 Research Vessel. All ship expenses, other than annual maintenance, are the responsibility of the character. This ship still belongs to the patron, and therefore cannot be sold or abandoned without consequences.
  • Ship Shares: Ship shares may be received as benefits. Each ship share is worth approximately Cr2,000,000 toward the purchase of a vessel. A starship can be purchased for one-fifth of its base value with a 40-year loan attached to it. For every one-fifth of its base value that is paid to the bank in either ship shares or cash, the period of the loan is reduced by ten years. Ship shares may not be redeemed for cash.
  • Weapon: The character leaves the service with an appropriate weapon (gun or blade). Once a weapon is taken as a benefit, additional receipts of the weapon may be taken as skill in that weapon instead. An individual is always free to take additional physical examples of the weapons instead of skill levels, if so desired.

Career Tables

  • Athlete-Bureaucrat
  • Colonist-Marine
  • Maritime Defense-Physician
  • Pirate-Technician
Career Athlete Aerospace Defense Agent Barbarian Belter Bureaucrat
Qualifications End 8+ End 5+ Soc 6+ End 5+ Int 4+ Soc 6+
Survival Dex 5+ Dex 5+ Int 6+ Str 6+ Dex 7+ Edu 4+
Commission Edu 6+ Edu 7+ Soc 5+
Advancement Edu 7+ Edu 6+ Int 8+
Re-enlistment 6+ 5+ 6+ 5+ 5+ 5+
Ranks and Skills Athlete Aerospace Agent Barbarian Belter Bureaucrat
0 [Athletics-1] Airman [Aircraft-1] Agent [Streetwise-1] [Melee Combat-1] [Zero-G-1] Assistant [Admin-1]
1 Flight Officer Special Agent Clerk
2 Flight Lieutenant Sp Agent in Charge Supervisor
3 Squadron Leader [Leadership-1] Unit Chief Manager
4 Wing Commander Section Chief [Admin-1] Chief [Advocate-1]
5 Group Captain Assistant Directory Director
6 Air Commodore Director Minister
Material Benefits Athlete Aerospace Agent Barbarian Belter Bureaucrat
1 Low Passage Low Passage Low Passage Low Passage Low Passage Low Passage
2 +1 Int +1 Edu +1 Int +1 Int +1 Int +1 Edu
3 Weapon Weapon Weapon Weapon Weapon +1 Int
4 High Passage Mid Passage Mid Passage Weapon Mid Passage Mid Passage
5 Explorers’ Society Weapon +1 Soc +1 End 1D6 Ship Shares Mid Passage
6 High Passage High Passage High Passage Mid Passage High Passage High Passage
7 +1 Soc Explorers’ Society +1 Soc
Cash Benefits Athlete Aerospace Agent Barbarian Belter Bureaucrat
1 2000 1000 1000 0 1000 1000
2 10000 5000 5000 1000 5000 5000
3 20000 10000 10000 2000 5000 10000
4 20000 10000 10000 5000 5000 10000
5 50000 20000 20000 5000 10000 20000
6 100000 50000 50000 10000 20000 50000
7 100000 50000 50000 10000 50000 50000
Skills and Training
Personal Development Athlete Aerospace Agent Barbarian Belter Bureaucrat
1 +1 Dex +1 Str +1 Dex +1 Str +1 Str +1 Dex
2 +1 Int +1 Dex +1 End +1 Dex +1 Dex +1 End
3 +1 Edu +1 End +1 Int +1 End +1 End +1 Int
4 +1 Soc Athletics +1 Edu +1 Int Zero-G +1 Edu
5 Carousing Melee Combat Athletics Athletics Melee Combat Athletics
6 Melee Combat Vehicle Carousing Gun Combat Gambling Carousing
Service Skills Athlete Aerospace Agent Barbarian Belter Bureaucrat
1 Athletics Electronics Admin Mechanics Comms Admin
2 Admin Gun Combat Computer Gun Combat Demolitions Computer
3 Carousing Gunnery Streetwise Melee Combat Gun Combat Carousing
4 Computer Melee Combat Bribery Recon Gunnery Bribery
5 Gambling Survival Leadership Survival Prospecting Leadership
6 Vehicle Aircraft Vehicle Animals Piloting Vehicle
Specialist Athlete Aerospace Agent Barbarian Belter Bureaucrat
1 Zero-G Comms Gun Combat Gun Combat Zero-G Admin
2 Athletics Gravitics Melee Combat Jack o’ Trades Computer Computer
3 Athletics Gun Combat Bribery Melee Combat Electronics Perception
4 Computer Gunnery Leadership Recon Prospecting Leadership
5 Leadership Recon Recon Animals Sciences Steward
6 Gambling Piloting Survival Tactics Vehicle Vehicle
Adv Education Athlete Aerospace Agent Barbarian Belter Bureaucrat
1 Advocate Advocate Advocate Advocate Advocate Advocate
2 Computer Computer Computer Linguistics Engineering Computer
3 Liaison Jack o’ Trades Liaison Medicine Medicine Liaison
4 Linguistics Medicine Linguistics Leadership Navigation Linguistics
5 Medicine Leadership Medicine Tactics Comms Medicine
6 Sciences Tactics Leadership Broker Tactics Admin

Final Details

It takes more than a set of characteristic scores and skill levels to create a fun character. By adding some final details at the end of character creation, you might find the experience of playing the character far more rewarding.


At the very least, every character needs a name, preferably one that fits the style of your gaming group and the Referee’s universe. Consider choosing a name based on actual “real world” names, on fictional characters or one you’ve simply made up entirely. If you are stuck, try choosing two of your favorite science fiction characters, and taking parts of each of their names to create a unique name for your character.


In most games, that means choosing either male or female, but some Referees or universes may offer other options. There’s nothing that says you have to play a character of your own gender. Many consider it a roleplaying challenge to try to portray a different gender in a realistic manner.


Choosing details such as your character’s height, weight, hair color, wardrobe preferences and so forth make it easier to describe your character, which helps everyone visualize your character in their minds as they play. Distinctive features often give your character a way of standing out.

Personal Goals

Time and experience has shown that characters with personal goals are far more rewarding to play in the long run. A personal goal should be something that takes more than a single adventure to resolve. Good examples might include learning the secrets of ancient civilizations, mastering the psionic arts, or securing political power. Personal goals often provide the Referee with an opportunity to develop story arcs based on that character, because the goals inform the Referee about what the character (and presumably the player) is interested in pursuing. It’s okay if the character’s goals change over time. In fact, that’s a great sign of character growth and development.

On Alien Species

Humans are assumed to be the standard species defined in these rules, and thus have no special abilities or disadvantages to distinguish themselves as a species from the basic rules assumptions for characters.

The definition of alien species lies in the realm of the Referee’s powers of creativity, as befits the nature of their campaign and universe. This System Reference Document offers the following examples of alien species in an effort to demonstrate common archetypes found in many forms of classic science fiction. Some universes only have humans, while others have hundreds of alien species that characters can encounter. Your Referee is the final arbiter on whether these or any other alien species are present in your campaign.

More specific information on the creation of alien species can be found in Flynn’s Guide to Alien Creation, a supplement published by Samardan Press.


Descended from Omnivore/Hunter flyers, Avians are a small winged sentient race capable of flight on smaller worlds. Avians are a homeothermic, bi-gendered species averaging 1.2 meters in height with a wingspan over 2.5 meters long from wingtip to wingtip, and have a typical mass of around 35 kilograms. The natural aptitude of the Avian race toward exceptional spatial awareness, both conceptually and physically, immediately lends itself to Piloting and Navigation.

Game Mechanics

Avians have Weak Strength (1D6), Notable Dexterity (3D6) and Weak Endurance (1D6). Avians also have the Flyer (9m), Low Gravity Adaptation, Natural Pilot, Slow Speed (4.5m) and Small traits. This winged race reaches maturity at 22, starts aging at 46, stands 105+(2D6x2) centimeters tall, and have a mass of 20+(2D6x2) kilograms.


Espers are humans or near-human humanoids that have embraced the commonplace usage of psionics. Espers tend to be tall and slender in build, and their aloof and detached nature makes them inscrutable to other humans not of their culture. As a race, they have a tendency to be more mystical or philosophical than other species.

Game Mechanics

Espers follow the standard rules for human characters. In addition, Espers possess the Psionic trait.


Descended from Carnivore/Chaser stock, the Insectans are an insectoid race that is hard for most other races to understand. Averaging 1.8 meters in height, and massing around 90 kilograms, the poikilothermic Insectans are very community-conscious, putting the needs of the “colony” before the needs of the individual. They have a very limited ability of individual identity, and more often consider themselves as an extension of the “queen.” With improved nutrition impacting intelligence, as well as exposure to other cultures, a growing minority of Insectans have begun to establish a stronger sense of a personal Self, but remain heavily influenced by their communal instincts. Insectans often serve the greater whole of interstellar society in service-oriented roles, depending on their particular gender, those being “worker” (sterile female), “soldier” (sterile female), “drone” (fertile male), or “queen” (fertile female). While there is little in the way of gross anatomical differences between the genders, carapace coloration and bearing help non-Insectans distinguish one from another.

Game Mechanics

Insectans have Notable Dexterity (2D6+2). Insectans also have the Armored, Bad First Impression, Caste, Cold-blooded, Fast Speed (9m), Great Leaper and Hive Mentality traits. Insectans reach maturity at 18 and start aging at 34 (much like humans), stand 160+(2D6x5) centimeters tall, and have a mass of 60+(2D6x5) kilograms.

NOTE: Insectans have a different characteristic score called Caste, which replaces Social Standing. Caste is generated in the same manner as Social Standing. All modifications to Social Standing referenced in the character creation process impacts Caste equally.


Genetically manipulated from pure human stock to life on a waterworld, Merfolk bear less and less resemblance with their genetic ancestors with each passing generation. The changes in skin coloration toward pale greens and blues, combined with the presence of their gills, webbed appendages and a thin layer of protective blubber give the Merfolk a somewhat amphibian appearance.

Game Mechanics

Merfolk possess the Amphibious, Aquatic, Natural Swimmer and Water Dependent alien traits.


Bearing a strong saurian appearance, the Reptilians descend from homeothermic carnivorous chaser stock. Their scales tend to be brilliantly patterned, particularly among the males of the species. Standing approximately 1.9 meters tall, with a mass of 85 kilograms, the Reptilians still bear many of the features of their saurian ancestors. Reptilians are driven by a strong sense of territoriality and a primal need to hunt. After discovering Jump Drive, the Reptilians found themselves with entire new worlds to claim.

Game Mechanics

Reptilians have Notable Strength (2D6+1), Notable Dexterity (2d+1) and Weak Endurance (2D6-2). Reptilians also possess the Anti-Psionic, Fast Speed (9m), Heat Endurance, Low-Light Vision, Natural Weapon (teeth) and Low Gravity Adaptation traits. Reptilians reach maturity at 22, start aging at 42, stand 155+(2D6x5) centimeters tall, and have a mass of 50+(2D6x5) kilograms.

Alien Species Trait Descriptions

Many of the races in this section possess unusual racial traits, which are described below.

  • Amphibious: A member of this species is adapted to life underwater as well as on land. It can breathe underwater, or hold its breath for a long period (Endurancex10 minutes on average). Its Dexterity is halved on land.
  • Anti-Psionic: Members of this species are innately anti-psionic. The character’s Psionic Strength rating always equals zero, and they cannot be trained in psionics. In addition, the character cannot suffer the mental effects of psionics, including telepathy and psionic assault. A species cannot have this alien trait if they already have the Psionic alien trait.
  • Aquatic: The alien is adapted to life underwater. It can breathe underwater, or hold its breath for a long period (Endurancex10 minutes on average). If amphibious, its Dexterity is halved on land. If the species is not amphibious, then it cannot operate out of water without mechanical aid or telepresence.
  • Armored: The alien possess thick fur, scales, a bony exoskeleton or other natural protection that gives it one point of natural armor.
  • Atmospheric Requirements: The species requires an unusual combination of gasses to breathe, and cannot survive in most atmospheres without artificial aid.
  • Bad First Impression: Members of this species possess an almost universally unpleasant appearance or physical trait that invokes an instinctive reaction in races other than their own. Most races will automatically have an Unfriendly attitude towards these characters, although this is overcome after an individual has interacted with the character for a few minutes, based on the character’s personality and the circumstances of their interaction.
  • Caste: Members of this species have a genetic structure for social hierarchy. When dealing with races that use Social Standing or Charisma, all social attribute DMs, whether positive or negative, are halved.
  • Cold-Blooded: Members of this species are sensitive to cold climates. If exposed to extreme cold without protective equipment, the character suffers a DM–2 to initiative. The character suffers 1D6 damage for every ten minutes of exposure.
  • Engineered: The species has been altered by some external factor to adapt to changed circumstances or a different environment. Medical treatment of Engineered species by a facility of a lower Technology Level than that at which the species was created receives a negative DM equal to the difference.
  • Fast Metabolism: Creatures with a fast metabolism require more food than most species, and their life support costs are doubled. In combat, fast-metabolism creatures gain a +2 initiative bonus. Fast-metabolism creatures halve their Endurance for the purposes of determining fatigue.
  • Feral: Feral species are uncivilised, regardless of their technological knowledge. Feral species roll Education on 1d6 only.
  • Flyer: This species can fly using wings. Characters of this species gain the Athletics skill at Level 0 and can travel at a speed noted in their description. Flying creatures that are aloft must spend one minor action every round on movement or stall and fall out of the air. Winged flight is tiring and can only be sustained for a number of hours equal to the creature’s Endurance before requiring a like amount of rest.
  • Great Leaper: Members of this species can jump great distances. As a significant action, a member of this species may make an Athletics skill check. If successful, it jumps four squares, plus a number of squares equal to the Effect of the skill check. In addition, members of this species are treated as having the Athletics skill at level 0.
  • Heat Endurance: Members of this species do not suffer hourly damage from the effects of hot weather and exposure.
  • Heavy Gravity Adaptation: Members of this species evolved on a world with a higher gravity and do not have to acclimatize to high-gravity environments.
  • Hive Mentality: Members of this species are driven by a hive mentality, and often pursue actions that support the greater good of their current identified family group, even at the risk of their own personal safety. Characters must make an Intelligence check to avoid risking their own safety when doing so would help their family group. The difficulty of the Intelligence check varies based on the degree of perceived benefit to the family group (this is usually an Average task (DM+0), although circumstances can arise where the difficulty ranges from Routine (DM+2) to Difficult (DM–2).)
  • Large: The species is considerably larger than the average for sophonts. Large creatures generally have a Strength and Endurance of 3d6 or even 4d6, and a Dexterity of 1d6. Life support requirements for Large creatures are doubled. Some Large creatures are described as Huge. Attacks against Huge creatures receive a +1 DM to hit.
  • Low Gravity Adaptation: Members of this species evolved on a world with a lower gravity and do not have to acclimatize to low-gravity environments.
  • Low-Light Vision: Members of this species can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. They retain the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • Natural Pilot: Members of this species have an innate understanding of multi-dimensional space, and so receive a DM+2 to their Piloting and Navigation checks.
  • Natural Swimmer: Members of this species are natural swimmers and gain a +2 DM on all skill checks related to swimming.
  • Natural Weapon: The species has a natural weapon, such as claws, a strong bite or a poisonous stinger. Such weapons are usable at Personal range and deal +1 damage. The creature gains Natural Weapons at level 0.
  • Naturally Curious: Members of this species are driven by a natural sense of curiosity, and are easily dragged into any adventure. They have to check out everything and always want to know what’s behind a potential mystery. Characters must make an Intelligence check to avoid acting on their curious impulses. The difficulty of the Intelligence check varies based on the degree of perceived mystery (this is usually an Average task (DM+0), although circumstances can arise where the difficulty ranges from Routine (DM+2) to Difficult (DM–2).)
  • No Fine Manipulators: The species has no fingers or other prehensile appendages, preventing them from easily picking things up, pushing small buttons, reaching into tight spaces, and so on.
  • Notable (Characteristic): Some species are notably dexterous, intelligent, tough or strong. Characters from such races have a positive Dice Modifier when rolling for that characteristic (+2 unless otherwise specified), and their racial maximum for that characteristic is increased by the same amount.
  • Psionic: All members of the species are Psionic, and may determine their Psionic Strength and talents at the start of character generation.
  • Small: Small species generally have a Strength and Endurance of only 1D6, and a Dexterity of 3D6. The minimum size for a sophont is about half that of a human.
  • Slow Metabolism: Creatures with a slow metabolism require less food than most species, and their life support costs are halved. In combat, slow-metabolism creatures suffer a –2 initiative penalty.
  • Uplifted: This species was originally non-sentient, but has been raised to a higher intelligence by another species. Uplifted races generally become client species of their patron. Two common uplifted animals are apes and dolphins:
    • Uplifted apes have Notable Strength and Endurance (+2) but all other characteristics are Weak (–2). They have the Uplifted trait.
    • Uplifted dolphins have Notable Strength (+4) and Notable Endurance (+2) but Weak Intelligence, Education and Social Standing (–2). They have the Uplifted, Aquatic (fully aquatic, air-breathers) and No Fine Manipulators traits.
  • Water Dependent: Although members of this species are amphibious, they can only survive out of the water for 1 hour per 2 points of Endurance (after that, refer to the drowning rules).
  • Weak (Characteristic): The opposite of Notable (Characteristic), some species are weaker, less resilient or less well educated than others. Characters from such races have a negative Dice Modifier when rolling for that characteristic (–2 unless otherwise specified), and their racial maximum for that characteristic is decreased by the same amount.
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