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SalmonMax

[Mass Effect: Legacy] Character Generation Thread

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This is the thread where I will post documents relating to the rules for character generation in Mass Effect: Legacy. At this time, and until further notice, the rules are works in progress. They're not ready for detailed point breakdowns and haven't been weighed for mechanical consequence yet...they are provided to stimulate ideas for concepts, to introduce some of the game-specific rules and tools I'll be using, and to invite comment (in another thread that will be provided).

Just to be clear: Please do not post to this thread.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SETTING

...to see the way forward, one must know the path behind...

This is the recent history of the setting, from the perspective of Earth, for the purposes of player knowledge. Additional detail is available on request, or by accessing the Mass Effect Wiki article, which is very informative.

Up until the year 2156AD, the Earth is a familiar place to us. More advanced, and with space exploitation just starting to become viable, but recognizable to anyone from a modern, industrialized nation. Then, in 2156, everything changed forever.

Discovery of the Prothean Ruins.

A manned mission to Mars encountered the remains of an extensive underground complex of alien design and astonishing technology. Though it would take time to learn its secrets, it only took a heartbeat for all of humanity to learn once and for all that they were not alone in the universe...and that the other guy in the room was older, and much much more advanced. And he'd been watching us since we were taking our first steps.

The Systems Alliance is established.

The wealthiest and most advanced nations of the planet combined their resources in an ambitious project to rapidly develop space assets. A multinational military task force that was called the Sol System Alliance. Its first mission, using the first ship to incorporate the mass effect technology uncovered in the 'Prothean' (what the few translated records appeared to show the aliens' name for themselves as) ruin, was to investigate a reference in the translated data to something called a 'relay' on the outer edge of the solar system.

The Charon Relay is found, and activated.

And there, hidden in plain sight, was the gargantuan hulk of the Prothean Mass Relay in our home system. Neglected over the thousands of years of inactivity, it had fallen into orbit around Pluto and become encased in large chunks of ice. Until that moment, we had known it as 'Charon.' Now it was the Charon Relay. The crew of the ship, using fragmentary instructions from the Prothean data, managed to activate the relay, and use it to travel...almost instantly...all the many light years to the Arcturus solar system. A new era of travel had begun.

First Contact is made.

The Systems Alliance (renamed once humankind was in more than one solar system) began a campaign of exploration and colonization, turning on every mass relay they found with enthusiasm that ultimately proved reckless. An alien task force intercepted them at one of the relays in the same system as a new human colony at the planet Shanxi. The human forces attempting to activate the relay saw them as a threat to the colony. The aliens saw them messing with the relay, in violation of (unknown to humans at the time) interspecies law, and demanded they stop. The communications gap ensured that the misunderstanding was not solved before things degenerated to shooting. The victorious aliens then conquered and occupied Shanxi, fearing it might be a foothold of an invasion force. Thus started the First Contact War.

Peace comes.

The war was not long-lived. The Systems Alliance was outmatched in terms of numbers and firepower, but the human forces adapted new tactics and strategies quickly. The arrival of other aliens however stopped what might have been a much longer and costlier affair. Communication between the Systems Alliance and Turians was established, and a peace was brokered. Humanity learned of the existence of a coalition of alien races that had established a mutual government in a giant space station of Prothean design; the Citadel Council. They learned the Protheans were long dead now, but that their technology had propelled many other races into space, and provided them with an ideal location to establish a loose, centralized governing body. Humanity established an embassy on the Citadel, and entered into a (at times uneasy) partnership with the other races in Council-controlled space.

Humanity expands.

A 'golden age' of human advancement followed. Not that there weren't problems, but rather that humanity was up to the task. Technology and colonization advanced quickly...so quickly that other races were sometimes resentful. The turians in particular viewed the progression of humankind with suspicion, still nursing grudges from the First Contact War (the Relay 314 Incident, in Council parlance). Competition for habitable planets in an undeveloped area of space called the Skyllian Traverse led to a bitter rivalry, then enmity, with another race called the bataarians, who cut all ties with the Citadel when the Council refused to intervene to limit human expansion. The resulting cold war might well have turned hot...but a far worse disaster struck first.

The Geth attack.

A "species" of artificially intelligent robots called the geth invaded Citadel space and attacked the massive space station itself. Spearheading the assault was a capital ship of immense size and unimaginable power called Sovereign. The fleet normally protecting the Citadel had been drawn away by false intel to a neighboring relay, leaving the station's defenses hopelessly overwhelmed. The Systems Alliance Fifth Fleet, under command of Admiral Hackett, was able to mobilize and reinforce the Citadel in time to save the Council's flagship as well as the Council itself. By doing this and not focusing immediately and solely on Sovereign, the fleet incurred many human losses...but won the Alliance and humanity as a whole, immediate goodwill and trust that led to them becoming part of the Council governing body MUCH sooner than other client races ever would.

Evidence of a worse threat.

However, evidence was discovered that suggested that the capital ship Sovereign was not simply a ship. It was itself an artificial intelligence; a single sentient individual of ancient design and immortal constitution. The vanguard of an entire fleet of such beings who waited beyond the edge of the galaxy, and who...as a whole...engaged in a cycle where life was allowed to evolve, flourish, advance...and then was systematically wiped out, leaving only primitive life to begin the cycle anew.

The Reapers come.

Two years later, despite efforts to deny this evidence, the 'Reaper Theory' was proved correct when the alien fleet arrived. Despite warnings and proof, the Council and the Alliance were taken by surprise. The giant machines attacked homeworlds, including Earth, directly...ignoring or bypassing fleets set to intercept. Sovereign alone had nearly been a match for two fleet. En masse, the Reapers were utterly unstoppable.

A desperate fight.

The Alliance, its command chain shattered, was commanded by Admiral Hackett, who's fleet had not been at Earth when the Reapers hit. Rallying the Alliance's remaining ships, and using new data extracted from the Prothean archive on Mars, he ordered an ambitious project to begin...a Prothean superweapon that had never been completed that was called 'The Crucible.' Meanwhile, an Alliance operative traveled the galaxy in a stealth/recon frigate to unite support and raise a multi-race combined fleet that could challenge the Reapers and hold them off long enough to use the Crucible. In the process many things came to light...long festering wounds between species were healed, or at least set aside, and the geth themselves were revealed to be unwilling slaves of the Reapers, and once freed made peace with their nomadic, dispossessed creators the Quarians, and joined the fight.

A costly victory.

It all ended in a burst of energy from the Crucible that erased the minds of the Reapers wherever it went, reducing them to inanimate hulks. Docked to the Citadel; the nerve center of the mass effect relay network (which had been moved to Earth by then), the Crucible spread this energy release throughout the known galaxy...and the Reaper Cycle came to an end. The cost was incalculable. Earth had suffered greatly during its time of occupation. The entire bataarian Hegemony had been completely wiped out. Palavan, the world of the Turians. Thessia, the homeworld of the asari. Innumerable colonies of all the species. All little more than ashes and a few survivors.

Worse still, the release of energy overloaded the mass relays, and destroyed them. Every world was now on its own. The Citadel itself was gutted, though not totally destroyed, by that event.

20 years later

Very little is known of what happened since the mass relays were destroyed. Faster than light travel is still possible, but only with a very limited range and speed. Earth has been engaged in reconstruction, in the wake of total destruction of its industrial centers, and a staggering amount of depopulation. The Reapers had been 'harvesting' human survivors by the millions...for purposes that are still publically unknown.

The survivors of the multi-species coalition fleet have joined with the Systems Alliance now under a new treaty that establishes the Joint Provisional Command; a military organization that allows the alien races and Alliance to collaborate without absorbing one another. For several years Earth was under martial law out of simple necessity; the Alliance and JPC were the only social structures left intact. Now a democratically elected Civilian Council exercises authority over civilian legislation, and a Civil Court exists alongside the Military Court to try cases. The executive is still military, with the Alliance's High Commander also serving as the chief executive.

Carefully, cautiously, the Reapers' carcasses were investigated. They used a process called indoctrination to gradually take control of organic minds via a process of energy fields, subsonic harmonics, and conditioning responses. Even with the Reaper intelligences destroyed, they were dangerous. However, precautions were developed, and the technology of the Reapers examined. Their power sources and advances to conventional mass effect technology led to a new ship...the Excalibur.

Crewed by an elite, multiracial crew, the Excalibur's first mission is to re-establish contact with the colonies that could not be reached until now, and eventually with each race's homeworlds as well...to offer support, and hope, and bring news back to Earth of how the galaxy fares.

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Quick Glossary:

Asari

Biotics

Citadel

Citadel Council

Crucible

Element Zero (Eezo)

Genophage

Krogan

Mass Effect

Omnitools

Quarians

Reapers

Relay

Salarians

Turians

Virtual Intelligence

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CHARACTER CREATION

Step 1: Concept

Step 2: Choose Race

Step 3: Choose Training

Step 4: Choose Gear Package

Step 5: Optional: Choose Biotic/Engineering Template

Step Zero: Nitty gritty

System is Mutants & Masteriminds 3rd Edition.

PL is 7, you have 105 points. I MAY kick it to 8/120...but I'd much rather kick it up than down, so we'll start with this and see how it goes.

CONCEPT

Who is your character? How did he or she come to be? What does he or she want to accomplish, or become? The character's concept is the 'story' of your character, and comes first because it will guide and inform the mechanical choices that define your character within the game system. Since none of us are RPG newbies here, I won't belabor the definition. There's just one 'rule' for concept:

Talk to me about it. I like accommodating players and unless an idea will definitely detract from the game experience, I will try to find a way to include it. Want to be an unlisted race? Want some kind of weird, nonstandard training? Experimental prototype gizmo? We'll talk.

Characters aren't the only thing that have concepts though; the game itself has one too. This is important because it forms the 'foundation' from which individual characters spring from. To that end, here's a quick, semi-detailed Game Concept:

What Is The Game?

You play the crew and mission specialists of the Excalibur, a newly made starship that tests the limits of new technology, new soldiers and crew, and new political alliances. The Excalibur is classified as a 'light cruiser,' and carries 210 men and women of every species and background. Its mission is to test and refine the technology it was created with; re-establish contact with colonies and homeworlds in the wake of galactic devastation; open channels of trade and diplomacy; assess damages and needs; offer support where possible. The PCs will be the officers and critical personnel who's actions and decisions shape the future of the ship, its mission, and the galaxy itself.

What Led Up To This?

As far as most PC's are concerned, the most crucial point was 20 years ago, when the gigantic machines known as 'Reapers' attacked the galaxy en masse. Everyone in the game will be touched by that conflagration, even if they were born in the years following it. Though it's referred to as a 'war,' the overwhelming technology and sheer power of the Reapers made it something less; a ruthless harvesting. You are very likely one of the following: A human survivor of the Reaper occupation of Earth, or one of their children; a human or alien veteran of the Battle of Earth or one of their children.

If you were on Earth when the Reapers came:

Perhaps you managed to connect with the Resistance movement. Perhaps you simply kept to yourself, or organized your own band of survivors and kept ahead of the biomechanical horrors that the Reapers flooded the planet with...avoiding the cities, constantly moving, always dealing with the threat of indoctrinated infiltrators. Then, a miracle happened. The Alliance returned to Earth with a fleet. For the first time, this wasn't just grim survival, but an actual war. You were there when the Reapers fell. You watched their mile-high bodies collapse to the ground. It's a sight you'll never forget.

If you were collected, you were brought to a holding facility. These were usually human-made structures repurposed by inhuman conquerors. Convention centers. Stadiums. Malls. Anything made to hold a lot of people for a relatively short period of time. Inside the holding facility you were under constant guard. Machines made from cybernetically augmented corpses, both human and alien, patrolled. You were housed with no regard for privacy or comfort, and only minimal food, water and sanitation to ensure you did not die. Fights were brutally suppressed. Resistance was met with deadly force. This included attempts to organize. You never knew who was a captive, like you...and who had come 'willingly' after being indoctrinated. Say the wrong thing to the wrong person, and it's all over. Paranoia. Desperation. Humiliation. Despair. Suffering. You may have hoped to be in the next batch of people taken away in the night. But then a miracle. Gunfire outside, and shouting. The roar of engines and heavy weapons. The walls came crashing down! The Alliance, and the armies of the fleet, had broken through and liberated your camp. Food and water. Medical help. Most of all; hope. Only hours later, from the vantage point of one of the foothold bases, you watched the indestructible juggernauts themselves fall to the earth, bathed in mysterious red fire. The war was over. You'd made it through.

If you were in the Battle of Earth:

You thought you'd seen war before, or at least trained for it. You knew how to hold your weapon, and how to shoot. You knew the intricate systems of your armor, how to balance its barriers, how to set the threshold of its activation. You were a soldier, or thought you were. The Reapers showed you how wrong you were. To them you were meat. You watched shells that would gut a planet cascade harmlessly off their barriers. You saw the mightiest dreadnoughts that the galaxy could bring to bear eviscerated by beams of energy. You fought the mechanically violated bodies of your own people when they breached the hull with carrier pods. You watched this planet burn with fires big enough to see from orbit. But it wasn't for nothing. The plan worked. It may have cost you your ship, your friends, and God knows what else...but it worked. You were there when the Crucible fired. You saw a light that wasn't light, felt it pass THROUGH you and pass you over. Saw it burn the Reapers from the sky. It would never have happened if you hadn't been there to hold the line, and that's something no one can ever take from you.

If you were born after the Battle of Earth:

You've seen video of Earth from before the war. Clear skies. Shiny cities. LOTS of people. It's not like that now. The soot from all the burned cities is thinner now than when you were growing up, and you get blue days sometimes, which is nice. You grew up in one of the five Reclamation Zones. New York, Vancouver, London, Cairo and Beijing. Each selected for accessibility, access to arable land and fresh water, and amount of salvage in proximity. Each Reclamation Zone is more than just the city it was named for...they spread out to neighboring areas as well. You've read about things like 'segregation' and 'unemployment' but they're hard to fathom. You've lived around nonhumans your whole life. They're not even 'alien' to you...hell, you grew up playing with turian and asari kids, and making fun of the quarian kid because his mask made him look weird. And work? There's ALWAYS work. Everyone over twelve has provisional duty, and by eighteen you're on full assignments. If you don't sign on with a company for contract work, then you're either in the military or on Public Assignment. Everybody works, no exceptions.

What kind of work? Well, provisional duty was mostly the kind of unskilled labor you can get kids to do, and it's only for an hour or so a day, getting longer as you get older, but emphasis is still on education. Schooling is separated into "primary" education which is focused on creating a foundation of knowledge in all subjects and is roughly analogous to K-12, and "secondary" education which is vocationally focused and is analogous to college-level learning. You start secondary education at 16 (for humans), and it overlaps for a year with primary, with coursework helping to ease the transition. By the time you finish secondary ed, you have a job waiting for you no matter what your final vocation is. Most are done with secondary ed by 18...long graduate programs aren't common. There's a definite "learn on the job" mentality, as the Reconstruction cannot wait for a skilled workforce.

The government is big. Utilities, health care, education...it's all from the state. Small business is pretty much a thing of the past. Too much work to be done for someone to sit in a Ma & Pa diner, spinning their wheels for people who are just as happy with a state ration or maybe forking out a little extra for a nice restaurant. But the first elections since the Battle of Earth were held two years ago, and now you're finally old enough to vote in the next ones. The treaties for the planetary Joint Provisional Command were signed, and there was a big block party to celebrate that one. Things are definitely looking up for the Big Blue Marble. By the efforts of your families, your communities, and you...the Earth will flower again.

Where Will It All Go?

At least to begin with, this game will be measured in 'episodes.' The mission of the Excalibur is ongoing, and it's designed to operate independently for long periods of time. You won't be using Earth as a hub of operations, in other words...and you won't be getting frequent orders demanding that you do things (though that can happen from time to time). I don't have a giant overarching plotline in mind. I expect one will emerge eventually, but what it is depends a lot on you guys. How you act, how the galaxy reacts, and how you react to that...these things will cause larger scale patterns to emerge, and give opportunities for larger scale plots. There will be diplomacy both above and below the table, there will be combat, there will be environmental struggles and conditions, there will be ancient mysteries and brand new threats. Exploration will be a major motif, as the galaxy's had 20 years to change, and new worlds never part of the relay network are now open for visitation. And on top of it all, various factions both open and clandestine will be seeking to have a role in Excalibur's activities...knowing full well how central its actions will be.

RACE

Humans aren't alone in the galaxy, now more than ever. At the Battle of Earth, all the starfaring races of the galaxy gambled with their last forces in one titanic brawl against an unstoppable foe. When the mass relays were destroyed, they threw in their lot with humanity to recover the Earth as well. Now they have a place there. The Earth is no longer for humans only.

Humans

Easy enough; no major physical changes from the delightful people you all are. Human culture has evolved through time and exposure to other cultures, and now...through near-annihilation. Human beings in the Reconstruction era tend to be more cosmopolitan than at any other time. Racial mixing in the Reclamation Zones means that children of all major races mix freely. Older humans, born before the war, may harbor some of the racial thinking that was common in that time, though the Battle itself was enough to drive that from many of the people who were there for it. All the major religions exist, but religion in human culture is considered a private, personal thing and rarely discussed outside of one's friends and family.

Asari

The asari were once the dominant species in the known galaxy. With blue pigmentation and a crest of fleshy, immobile 'tendrils' where human hair would be, the asari are otherwise almost identical to human females in appearance. The oddity of this is not lost on xenthropologists and conspiracy theorists. Internally there are many differences, of course. The asari are notable for many features. They almost all have biotic potential, though those born away from Thessia still require exposure to Element Zero while developing to realize this potential. They are the only true monogendered species known to science, and have a unique system of reproduction that is not quite sexual OR asexual but instead combines aspects of each.

Asari have three distinct phases of life that they go through. These phases are very broad, and general though...individual variation is still MUCH more important in determining any one asari's mindset and behavior. Even so, there are undeniable patterns that exist. Young asari who have not yet had children experience intense curiosity and a desire to learn and explore. They are also more aggressive than at any other time in their lives. Often called 'maidens,' these asari crave experiences and follow their passions. Uninhibited and often in need of money to fuel their drives, asari in their maiden stage are one of the main sources for the stereotypes about promiscuity and sex industry that bedevil the species. At some point in their lives, usually but not always around when they become pregnant for the first time, asari feel an instinctive urge to settle down and create a secure home. Their behavior shifts towards more nurturing, aggression turns to defense, and they enter the 'mother' stage of their life. Asari in the mother stage tend to have single partners, or at least only one partner at a time, for long stretches. Finally, after centuries of life, the asari will enter the 'matriarch' stage. An asari matriarch takes on roles of leadership in the community, bolstered by her long years of experience and the untold contacts made during that time, to become a political mover and shaker.

Asari, because of the unique method by which they reproduce, are capable of 'mating' with almost any species, and any gender. The offspring they produce is always full asari however. Their long, 1000+ years, lifespans mean that they outlive their partners. They have a cultural bias against asari-asari pairs, and the offspring of such unions are sometimes given the derogatory epithet "pureblood."

Culturally, the asari favor diplomacy over aggression, cooperation over competition, and are renowned as peacemakers and dealmakers. This is in spite of, or perhaps because of, their formidable military technology and martial tradition. They are not an exceptionally religious people, but in the past they have worshipped a goddess called 'Athame,' and references to her still pepper asari institutions and language.

In game terms asari have immunity to age, but I don't really see that as giving an advantage, so I can't see why it should cost even one point. They also have an ability called Melding, which allows them to synchronize their nervous systems to another being's. While melded, the asari and the target become one mind, one set of perceptions, and one set of memories. It is used primarily during mating, but can be used for communication as well. Melding requires significant effort on the part of the one initiating the bond and can be exhausting.

Melding: Mental Communication 1 (Special: Touch only, Rapid) 3pp

Turians

Of all the aliens that once comprised the Citadel Council, the previous galactic government humanity was part of, the Turians have had the most antagonistic relationship with human beings. The First Contact War was fought between humans and turians, and despite being a misunderstanding, and despite coming to a peaceful conclusion, both sides still have vets with bad memories of one another. Culturally, the turians are conservative and hierarchical. They respect authority, honor and integrity. They were once the "police" of the galaxy, and possessed the most powerful military fleet known.

The most noteable feature of the turian race, biologically, is that they have dextro amino acid chirality; the reverse of most other species in Council space. This limits their options as far as colonization and food production go, though they are not adversely affected by exposure to levo-chirality life. Turians have a hard, thick, shell-like skin, but do not have exoskeletons. Their skeleton is internal. Males have a nutrition-storing 'hump' similar in some ways to the Krogan hump, but smaller.

Palaven, the turian homeworld, has a weak magnetic field. The surface is subjected to unusually high radiation from its sun therefore, and life has adapted. Turians have a thin metallic substrate in their thick skin, making them resistant to radiation. In game terms this is essentially an Immunity to EM radiation for 1 point. Players may also, optionally, purchase 1 or 2 ranks of Protection to represent their tough, metal-laced hides. This Protection will -not- stack with the bonus from wearing armor though.

Salarians

Salarians are an amphibious species native to Sur'kesh. Sometimes referred to by racists as 'frogs,' both from their evolutionary background as well as their large, widely-set eyes and thin, wide mouths. Salarians tend to be tall and very thin, with spindly limbs. The possess a strong resemblance to old Earth stories of 'grey' aliens, leading some to speculate that they may have visited Earth previously. The Salarians deny this rumor.

Culturally, the Salarians operate in large extended families called clans. They keep exhaustive records of their genealogies, and while they lack any kind of individual sex drive, the politics surrounding reproduction is one of the driving forces in their society. Children are hatched from eggs stored in community clutches, and tended by clan employees. They are cared for communally, and most find out who their parents are by reading the genealogy rather than actually meeting them. They value community, ingenuity, and precision.

With their rapid metabolisms and exceptionally fast-operating nervous systems, Salarians are renowned as scientists, engineers, inventors, and spies. They have 2 ranks in Quickness that only affects mental tasks. This costs 1pp.

Quarian

Humanoid aliens from Rannoch, the Quarians are best-known for being the inventors, and nearly victims of, the Geth; a series of sentient networked intelligences that drove them from their homeworld and forced them into space to live for 300 years as a nomadic ramshackle fleet. In the months after the Reapers invaded, the Quarians were able to settle their differences with the Geth and turn on a common foe; the Reapers. While the civilians resettled on Rannoch, the military component of the Migrant Fleet, one of the largest (by sheer numbers) fleets in the galaxy, came to Earth to assist in the battle. It's a good thing they did. The Quarian "liveships," once the titanic houses for their race, were converted to dreadnought-scale weapons for the fight. Now they've been repurposed yet again to provide the quarians and turians with the dextro-amino acid food they need to survive.

Life on Rannoch evolved with an unusual degree of symbiotic relationships. The quarian people were once nomads, and their bodies adapted to carry seeds for several native species of plant as they traveled over the surface. In this they functioned in some ways like honeybees, ecologically, but on a larger scale. This gave them unique challenges when leaving Rannoch, because their bodies...never having had to deal with hostile pathogens and evolved to accept and "welcome" seeds and other foreign contaminants...were utterly vulnerable to diseases and pathogens that were rampant in the rest of the galaxy. This led to the by-now iconic survival suits that are universally associated with their species.

In game terms, ALL quarians MUST have an item of equipment that provides Immunity to suffocation and disease. This costs 2pp if it's all they have, or adds 2pp to the cost of any armor they have (unless the armor already includes those features).

Krogan

Incredibly durable, incredibly dangerous, the Krogan from Tuchanka are legendary for first overcoming the biggest threat to the galaxy (prior to the Reapers), and then BECOMING the biggest threat. For centuries they were hobbled by the genophage; a virally induced genetic mutation that the Salarians created and the Turians, in desperation, deployed. The cultural devastation from the sudden drop in their fertility caused the krogan to degenerate into a race of mercenaries and outlaws. The genophage was cured however, as part of meeting the conditions for their participation in the campaign against the Reapers, and there is hope of a new beginning for their species.

Physically, the krogan are huge...thickly built and tall, with strength and mass far above those of other species. They possess thick, leathery skin and a partial carapace that covers their backs and becomes a frilled bony crest atop their heads. With their vaguely reptilian appearance, some racist humans call them 'turtles' or 'lizards.' They possess a remarkable regenerative property as well. All part of surviving the native environment on Tuchanka, where scarce resources has caused life to develop for a level of competition and predation unheard of on any other major species' homeworld. Culturally, the krogan organize into quasi-tribal groups called clans. They are as ruthlessly competitive as everything else on their planet, valuing strength, endurance and brutality.

Note: All krogan females are on Tuchanka, so the krogan on Earth cannot reproduce. No baby turtles to start out with.

In game terms, krogan should purchase high Strength and Stamina, and may also purchase up to 5 ranks of Protection that do not stack with worn armor. They are not affected by armor with the Heavy Armor complication. They heal quickly, and may purchase 1 rank in Regeneration if desired...this represents an ability to heal beyond even what most krogan have.

Drell

Only a few drell made it to Earth, along with the ships sent by their patron race, the Hanar. Drell are somewhat humanoid reptilian sentients that were rescued from the environmental collapse of their homeworld by the Hanar and have lived with them ever since. They are considered a client state of the Hanar, and never had any representation of their own on the Citadel Council. They perform the roles in society that a Hanar's physiology makes them unsuitable...one of which is combat.

Drell have a rate of biotic births slightly higher than humanity; their bodies seem to adapt well to the presence of eezo. They tend to train as commandos and for special operations, as Hanar military doctrine uses drones for brute force scenarios, and there are not enough Drell for them to fight battles of attrition. Their culture is highly religious, with a polytheistic pantheon of nature-themed deities that they pray to.

The drell have an unusually powerful memory, in which they can go back and re-experience memories when they wish to. In game terms, they have the Eidetic Memory advantage, costing 1pp.

TRAINING

Overview:

Training templates consist of suggested skills and feats that represent training in the desired field. They are not binding in that one does not necessarily have to take all of the components of the template. This could represent nonstandard training, or not learning all one's lessons, or anything else you and the GM decide. In all cases each skill or feat is purchased at one point (skill point for skills, character point for feats) unless otherwise noted. In general if a skill is listed at more than 1 rank, it's a 'core skill' and a signal to buy it up because a lot of the template's functionality is based on it. Skills and feats not part of the template can be purchased normally as well, representing cross-training and personal education and hobbies. Not all characters need training templates, especially if they were not part of a standard training or education program. Talk to the GM in these cases to work out what skills are appropriate.

Soldier: You are a grunt; an infantryperson in one of the major military forces now on Earth. You were trained to take orders, not give them, and your job is in the muck, not on a shiny ship...but you and your gun are what take and hold ground, and your blood is what wins wars. HOOAH!

- Skills: Athletics, Perception, Vehicles, Expertise (Military), Close Combat (favored weapon), Ranged Combat (favored weapon)

- Feats: Close Attack, Ranged Attack, Benefit (Military NCO Rank), Teamwork

- Total Cost: 7pp

Officer: You are a 2nd Lieutenant (or better) in the army or marines, and are being groomed for command. You may or may not lead from the front, but above all you lead. You make the decisions that your men live and die by, and just might win...or lose...the war.

- Skills: Perception, Deception, Intimidation, Persuasion, Insight, Expertise (Military)

- Feats: One of: Inspire or Leadership, Teamwork, Benefit (Military officer rank, 2pts)

- Total Cost: 7pp

Fleet Officer: You are a 2nd Lieutenant (or better) in one of the aerospace navies. You perform vital shipboard duties, including the coveted position of pilot. Unless you're a Commander or above, you're probably not in charge of other soldiers, but your skills are the only thing standing between you and your crew...and the cold, hard void of space. Keep them strong.

- Skills: Perception, Expertise (Military), Two of: Technology, Vehicles, Ranged Combat (Starship weapons)

- Feats: Benefit (Military officer rank, 2pts)

- Total Cost: 3pp

Commando/Special Operations/Special Tactics: In every war, cold or hot, there are missions no one can know about that demand soldiers who can operate with autonomy and secrecy. The conditioning and training make this lot an exclusive and feared group. Whatever the situation, they have the skills and training to deal with it.

- Skills: Athletics, Expertise (Military), Perception, One of Persuasion or Intimidate, Stealth, Technology, Treatment, Vehicles

- Feats: Close Attack, Ranged Attack, Benefit (Military officer rank), Teamwork, Jack of all Trades

- Total Cost: 9pp

Technical Specialist: Any chimp with an omnitool can fix a hull puncture or email their family. YOU can make that orange hologlove stand up and dance. Folks sometimes call you 'engineers' but you're so much more. You don't just USE technology, you KNOW it; the way most people know themselves. The chaos math of a quantum computer, the purr of power relays, the coruscating blue glow of a mass effect core...and of course your best friend...Omnigel. Let the soldiers have their guns, the officers squawk over their Entanglement Communicators. When they want more, or something breaks down, THEN who's skills save the day?

- Skills: Expertise (Engineering), Investigation, Technology (2 ranks)

- Feats: Improvised Tools

- Total Cost: 3pp

Scientist: Knowledge is power. The essential truth of that statement carried human beings from protosapient primates to a galaxy-spanning power in just a few thousand years. You are one of the torchbearers, whose knowledge illuminates the mysteries of the cosmos. You don't just parrot back what we have learned though; you also seek out new information, new facts. Through research and field studies you can redefine entire paradigms, and change not just the present but the future.

- Skills: Expertise (pick a science, at 2 ranks), Investigation, Technology

- Feats: None

- Total Cost: 2pp

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Gear and Equipment

In an age of technology, what a character can do is in large part related to what kind of equipment they have. Equipment costs character points to have in use, but the points spent on equipment are more fluid in nature than those spent on other things. Character points can purchase 'Equipment Points' on a 1 to 1 basis, effectively creating a separate pool that can be used to pay for different pieces of equipment. For simplicity's sake, I've organized some templates to reflect several types of standard issued gear. Spent the points on one of those and you need never look at the customization options again. They're all perfectly serviceable. If you like tinkering, you can use the templates as starting points, but make changes, add or subtract modifications, or in general have as much control as you like (all with GM approval of course). This reflects the ease of gear customization in an era where just about anything can be spot-manufactured to desire. For purposes of the game, equipment is divided into Weapons, Armor, and Personal Gear.

The templates are designed to fit into 20pp, 30pp, and 40pp allocations. They don't use every single pp in the allocation, to make room for some modifications or other miscellaneous items the PC may want to tote around.

Weapons

Weapons are bought as arrays, if you have more than one. This means you could have, say, a submachine gun and a pistol, but the cheaper of the two will only cost 1 point more. In general all personel are encouraged to select a sidearm at the very least. Those who have extensive biotic or tech templates may rely on their other abilities, but possessing a lowly pistol is still wise.

Most weapons do not have tracked ammunition. They all come with the Complication: Requires thermal clips. Because thermal clips are standard and ubiquitous, characters are assumed to have sufficient for their needs in most circumstances. When a shortage takes place, affected characters will receive a Hero Point for their trouble. Squad support, or 'Heavy' weapons are an exception to this. They have a very limited number of uses and require special circumstances to reload, and this is factored into their cost.

In deciding what weapons belong on the list, I went with what weapons I thought had sufficient distinction to differentiate them. Most of the lists fit into the pattern of, "basic weapon of type" "basic weapon with a little extra" and "advanced weapon of type." Note that the fluff surrounding specific weapons is fluid. If you buy a basic pistol and want it to be called a Zutan Popgun instead of a Predator, hey, that's cool. I used names from the game as examples to help with lore. However, if you're familiar with the games, bear in mind that the ability of the forces on Earth to manufacture weapons was not a huge priority (hence a lot of familiar names on that list, despite the elapsed time), and a lot of weapons that appeared in the game were rare, prototype, or even unique weapons for which no manufacturing template exists on Earth. Talk to me if you want a weapon that's not on the list and that has a significant mechanical difference from the ones that are.

Weapons, and equipment in general, is not limited by PL limits on damage modifiers or toughness save bonuses.

Armor

Armor has two components, the physical hard or soft suit, and the kinetic barrier. Biotics often choose to supply their own kinetic barriers via their powers, but this is not required. Doing so reduces the cost of the equipment, but increases the cost of their biotics template. The mechanics of the barrier are unchanged. It is possible, but uncommon, to leave off the Kinetic Barrier enhancement and either take Impervious instead (this reflects purely material armor, like a reinforced hardsuit) or simply rely on the armor's toughness save bonus. Note that any personal armor with the Impervious mod also acquires the 'heavy armor' Complication, which can kick in when mobility is interfered with. It's also possible to have both impervious AND a kinetic barrier, but this would represent an extremely high level of protection that is very expensive and of custom manufacture.

Personal Gear

The omnitool is the only piece of personal gear that absolutely cannot be done without. A standard omnitool has a small suite of useful functions and has an in-game cost of 1pp to reflect their economy and ubiquity. The special omnitools used to acquire 'tech powers' are purchased via the appropriate template, and all of them include the standard omnitool suite of abilities in addition to their more advanced capabilities.

Characters can have other items too if desired. Use the Equipment table in the M&M book as a guide, but talk to the GM if you have a specific item in mind.

Weapons

Pistols

6pp M-3 Predator, Dmg +4, ranged, easily removable (-2)

7pp M-5 Phalanx, Dmg +4, ranged, Accurate 1, easily removable (-2)

8pp M-6 Carnifex, Dmg +5, ranged (easily removable -2)

SMGs

8pp M-4 Shuriken, Dmg +4, multiattack, ranged, easily removable (-4)

11pp M-9 Tempest, dmg +5, multiattack, ranged, easily removable (4)

9pp M-12 Locust, dmg +4, multiattack, ranged, accurate 1, easily removable (-4)

Shotguns

8pp M-23 Katana, dmg +7, ranged, reduced range 2, easily removable (-4)

11pp M-22 Eviscerator, dmg +8, ranged, reduced range 1, easily removable (-4)

9pp M-27 Scimitar, dmg +7, ranged, reduced range 2, accurate 1, easily removable (-4)

Assault Rifles

12pp M-8 Avenger, dmg +6, multiattack, ranged, easily removable (-6)

12pp M-15 Vindicator, dmg +6, secondary effect, ranged, easily removable (-6)

14pp M-76 Revenant, dmg +7, multiattack, reduced accuracy, easily removable (-6)

9pp M-96 Mattock, dmg +7, ranged, feature: reliable, easily removable (-6)

18pp M-37 Falcon, dmg +8, ranged, burst area, ricochet, easily removable (-7)

Sniper Rifles

20pp M-92 Mantis, +10, extra range, ranged, long reload

30pp M-98 Widow, +12, extra range, ranged, penetrating 6, long reload

24pp M-29 Incisor, +8, secondary effect, extra range, ranged, long reload

15pp M-112 Raptor, +7, extra range, ranged

Heavy/Squad Support

M-622 Avalanche, cold damage

M-920 Cain, giant one-shot explosion

M-451 Firestorm, flamethrower

M-100 Grenade Launcher, larger burst and more damage than Falcon, ricochet

Hydra Missile Launcher, small burst and penetrating

M-490 Blackstorm, mass effect field crunch

Arc Projector, electric damage/shield overload

Armors

Light, +6 (kinetic barrier 4), immunities: breathing, removable (-2) 9pp

Medium, +8 (kinetic barrier 6), immunities: breathing, radiation, removable (-3) 13pp

Heavy, +10 (kinetic barrier 8), immunities: breathing, radiation, removable (-4) 16pp

New modification:

- Kinetic Barrier: A variant of Impervious, Protection with the Kinetic Barrier modification can completely stop

a limited number of attacks; weakening each time. Incoming attacks are reduced in rank by the barrier rating. If an

incoming attack has ranks equal or less to the Kinetic Barrier rank, it does not force a toughness save. The kinetic

barrier temporarily loses 1 rank for each hit that does not penetrate, or 2 ranks for every hit that does. Lost ranks

regenerate at 1 per turn, starting the second consecutive turn in which no attacks hit the protected character (whether

or not they penetrate). Kinetic barriers add 1 per rank to the cost of Protection. Ranks of the Phasic enhancement are

not reduced by kinetic barriers. Penetrating has no effect on Kinetic Barriers.

Personal Gear

Standard Omnitool, 1pp

- Computer

- Communicator/remote control

- Recording device

- GPS (on worlds with satellites or networks)

- Counts as mini-toolkit

Gear Templates

Light Assault (16-18pp)

- Pistol (6-8pp)

- Light armor (9pp)

- Standard omnitool (1pp)

Standard Assault (24-29pp)

- Assault Rifle and backup weapon (10-15pp)

- Medium Armor (13pp)

- Standard Omnitool (1pp)

Heavy Assault (37+pp)

- Squad Support weapon or sniper rifle, and assault rifle (20 or more)

- Heavy Armor (16pp)

- Standard omnitool (1pp)

Add-ons - Special sub-templates that can be added on to existing items to reflect special training or occupations. In many cases these modifications are not generally available to just anyone; requiring specific military clearance or similar. Talk to me if you want one of these, but do not have a military rank.

"Officer" Add-on

- Communicator is Subtle (encrypted), has Extended range, and Pierces radio concealment, +6pp omnitool

"Recon" add-on

- Super Senses, add 8pp to omnitool

-- Radio, acute, analytical, tracking, extended (4pp), allows in depth reception, analysis and tracking of transmissions

-- Radio, radius, extended, accurate (4pp), a short-range radar

"Commando" add-on

- Add 1 rank of Subtle to weapons (1pp)

- Reactive cammoflauge/sonic dampeners adds 4 to Stealth skill (2pp added to armor cost)

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BIOTICS

When element zero is in the environment during an embryo's maturation, tiny particles of it can migrate into the fetus from the mother's body, where they lodge in the developing nerve tissue. This most often results in deformations and stillbirths. Sometimes though, the babies' body can adapt to its presence and form nodes of protective tissue around it. With artificial amplifiers to enhance the electrical signal of the surrounding nerves, and a great deal of biofeedback training and practice, these people can learn to stimulate the element zero in their bodies to create and control mass effect fields using the same principles that starships use to negate their own mass for travel.

These 'naturally occurring' mass effect fields and the individuals that use them are both referred to as 'biotic.'

Because of the difficulty and intensity of the training required to learn what combination of nerve firings generate what kind of mass effect field, most biotic powers fall into well-defined, standardized classifications. Individuals can attempt to invent new uses unique to themselves, but it can take years of practice to do, and success is not guaranteed.

In game terms, a biotic power is generally a Move Object effect, a Damage effect, Affliction, or a combination of these. Biotic powers are never Perception...the mass effect field is an actual physical phenomenon and must be directed to its target. Objects in its path will cause it collapse prematurely, so cover applies. Biotics are limited to PL in ranks purchased.

Here is a list of the abilities taught by standardized biotic academies and schools throughout Citadel space.

(note - still getting the builds tinkered out, but this is enough to get concepts started)

Master List: Biotics

Pull and Throw - Ranged Move Object

Warp - Ranged damage

Shockwave - Line effect damage + move object

Stasis - Affliction (paralysis)? Transform?

Barrier Field - Create (single object: dome)

Personal Barrier - Add ranks of Kinetic Barrier to your toughness

Biotic Strike - Damage, no range

Biotic Charge - Full Action, fast move power + melee damage

Biotic Nova - Damage, no range burst area + move object

Singularity - Move Object no range burst area (toward center), Afflict (incapacitated)

Biotic Techniques By Military MOS

Adept

* Singularity

* Pull / Throw

* Warp

* Shockwave

* Stasis

* Barrier Field

* Personal Barrier

* Biotic Strike

Vanguard

* Biotic Charge

* Pull / Throw

* Warp

* Shockwave

* Personal Barrier

* Biotic Nova

* Biotic Strike

Sentinel (partial package; combined with tech package to make a hybrid of the two disciplines)

* Warp (ranged damage)

* Pull / Throw (ranged move object)

OMNITOOL (TECH)

Watch for incoming blurb.

Master List: Tech

Incinerate - Damage, ranged, smaller Continuous effect

Overload - Nullify (kinetic barriers) and Damage to synthetic targets.

Cryo-blast - Ranged damage + affliction

Sabotage - Nullify (firearms) and Affliction on synthetic targets.

Omniblade - Damage, no range

Combat Drone - Summon Minion (Drone or Turret)

Energy Drain - Weaken Kinetic Barrier,

Portable Kinetic Barrier - Create (single object: dome)

T-TOC - Total Concealment, Normal and Infrared Vision

TAO - Another 'layer' of barrier, immunity to crits

Engineer

* Combat Drone

* Energy Drain

* Incinerate

* Sabotage

* Cryonic Discharge

* Portable Kinetic Barrier

* Omniblade

Infiltrator

* Tactical Thermo-Optic Camoflauge (T-TOC)

* Overload

* Incinerate

* Cryonic Discharge

* Sabotage

* Omniblade

Sentinel (partial package)

* Tactical Armor Overlay (TAO)

* Overload

* Incinerate

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FACTIONS

Politics didn't die just because Earth almost did. Here are some power players and what is publically known of their agendas. You may be aligned or opposed or neutral to their goals, but they'll have influence over you, and you over them. Faction enmity or allegience may be open or secret. If you want to discuss secret things, PM me.

Also, if you have an idea for a faction, please let me know! This list is not meant to be all-inclusive.

POLITICAL

Joint Provisional Command -

Citizen's Council -

Systems Alliance - The Systems Alliance rebuilt its headquarters in the Vancouver Reclamation Zone. It remains a military organization, having ceded civilian control to the Citizen's Council. Most human citzens of Earth regard the Alliance as being composed entirely of heroes, and public support is immense. Alliance officers don't let it go to their heads though, and never take advantage of the situation. Ever.

Asari enclave - There is a sizeable population of asari on Earth. Many dispersed into the Reclamation Zones, but about a third decided to create an area dedicated to asari tastes and culture. About the size of a city block in the Vancouver Reclamation Zone, this enclave now serves as a popular recreational area for all species, and houses the asari embassy on Earth. They offer traditional asari food, entertainment, and arts...as well as cultural education for both non-asari and asari born on earth. The asari living in the enclave have limited political autonomy, and practice the usual asari system of e-democracy, guided by matriarchs, to arrive at decisions and create policy.

Turian/Quarian enclave - The turians established a fortified enclave near the Bejing Reclamation Zone with enough territory to establish dextro-amino acid farms using seeds and cuttings from the quarian liveships. Though the quarians still live on their ships for the most part, they maintain their embassy alongside the turian one, and more recently a set of pressurized, sterilized ground structures were completed to allow some to take up permanent residence on the surface. Here, as always, the turians govern themselves with a military chain of command. The quarians continue their governance traditions as well, with each groundside structure being named and treated as a 'ship' for all purposes.

Krogan enclave - The krogan set up a 'foothold' called Little Tuchanka on the outskirts of the Cairo Reclamation Zone, where they'd have easy access to the unforgiving Sahara Desert, and could go hunting lions barehanded with a short shuttle hop. They grudgingly agreed not to seed Thresher Maws on Earth, and to strict limits on wildlife kills to preserve ecologies. They are among the busiest workforce on Earth, due to their incredible strength and endurance making them in high demand...and the dread of leaving them with idle time on their hands. The saying in Cairo is: "The only thing worse than an angry krogan is a bored one." The krogan survivors on Earth are all of the same clan, and their leader is conveniently present as well. They regard their time on Earth as temporary, since there are no females present to establish a population with. They fully expect the Excalibur to visit Tuchanka in its travels, and that they'll be returning there eventually.

Salarian enclave - The salarians maintain living quarters in the New York Reclamation Zone. Their unique reproductive needs (spawning pools and so on) and cultural desire for privacy from other races led them to request and be granted the use of one of the rebuilt skyscrapers there. Nicknamed 'The Salarian Brain Trust' by those living around it, they contribute to reconstruction largely with engineers and other intellectual pursuits. As such, there's not a lot of foot traffic in and out of the Trust, and no one really knows what they're up to in there. Which suits the Salarians just fine.

RELIGIOUS

Church of the Shepherd - Considered a 'wacko' cult by many, the Church still manages to attract a significant following among the devastated survivors of Earth. Organized by its two high priests, Conrad and Kelly Verner, the religious doctrine states that the widely renowned Alliance N7 marine Commander Shepard, renowned for her role in discovering the oncoming Reaper threat, helping to thwart the Reaper Sovereign at the Citadel, and then commanding the mission to unite allies for the Battle at Earth, is actually the reincarnation of the prophets of multiple faiths, sent to avert the Apocalypse. Tolerated for its emphasis on community harmony and reconstruction, it is nevertheless the policy of the Systems Alliance to categorically deny any metaphysical significance to the actions of its best-known former operative.

New Temple of the Goddess - A small, but growing, asari movement to renew the old faith and worship of the goddess Athame, or at least the principles she embodied. Interestingly, the New Temple has attracted a small human following, as an apparent extension of goddess-based worship that existed on Earth.

Shrine of the Enkindlers - The Hanar on Earth have erected a makeshift shrine to the Protheans, known to them as 'Enkindlers.' This is perfectly normal behavior for them, and was expected. What was not expected was for their faith to earn a smattering of converts from across racial lines. Especially among survivors from the Citadel, who claim that a living Prothean visited the station in the final days before the last battle, and offered words of encouragement and hope. The Alliance has stated that it has no information about any such event, though officials wishing to remain anonymous then pointed out that any such information, if it existed, would be classified regardless.

CLANDESTINE (Note, any affiliation with these groups is by definition secret; PM me)

The Shadow Broker - Somehow, against all odds, the Shadow Broker is still in business. The famous, and infamous, buyer and seller of secrets and facts has been confirmed to still maintain a tenuous network of agents and informants, and somehow stay in touch with them, at least on Earth. This has led some to speculate that the Broker may actually be located within the Sol system, though others point out that he may have the resources to operate entanglement communicators and relays to multiple systems. As always, facts remain elusive.

Cerberus - Cerberus began its life as an Alliance black ops program that went rogue. With clandestine support from highly placed wealthy humans that supported its human supremecist ideals, the organization became known as a terrorist group that conducted extensive research into human augmentation, and opposed what it viewed as 'anti-human' elements around the galaxy. During the Reaper invasion its absolute commander, known only as The Illusive Man, fell prey to indoctrination and led Cerberus to oppose and interfere with efforts to unite the galaxy in opposition to the threat, as well as to construct and use the Crucible device. It committed terrible atrocities in doing these things. The Systems Alliance was able to uncover the location of Cerberus' main base and led a devastating strike against it. This led to the facilities capture, and the uncovering of all Cerberus operatives and locations. Unfortunately, the Alliance did not have time to move against them before the Battle of Earth. Their disposition after 20 years is unknown, but Excalibur crew may encounter Cerberus operatives and assets in their travels. Standing orders are to capture and detain, and confiscate or destroy if necessary. These far flung elements are no longer part of a larger organization, however. Cerberus, as a cohesive unit, has been destroyed for 20 years.

Earth First - Sometimes disparagingly called 'Cerberus' baby brother,' this political activist group's fortunes declined drastically since the Reapers came. In the period of reconstruction, public will towards nonhumans was at an all time high, eroding this organization to its very core elements. Earth First is often criticized for its inflamatory statements, but they have no known ties to any terrorist groups, and have often denounced the methods of Cerberus (while maintaining sympathy for their motives).

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