The Expanse Roleplaying Game takes the popular science fiction universe of The Expanse fiction series by James S.A. Corey (starting with the novel Leviathan Wakes) and brings it to tabletop gaming using the Adventure Game Engine or AGE System. You may well have heard about The Expanse RPG during our wonderfully successful Kickstarter, and may have even backed it then. In that case you have our thanks and the opportunity to check out a lot of existing previews. There’s also The Expanse Quickstart available to download for free. Now that the game is also going into pre-orders, we’re going to preview a few more things to give you a look at what you can expect from it.
We’re creating an Expanse character for a game set in the Belt and the outer planets, and want someone with some experience aboard ships and stations. Let’s also focus on a character with some technical skills.
Starting off our character, we make nine 3d6 rolls on the Determining Abilities table, giving the character the following scores: Accuracy 2, Communication 1, Constitution 0, Dexterity 2, Fighting 1, Intelligence 1, Perception 2, Strength 3, Willpower 2. Since we want more of a technical character, let’s swap the rolled Strength and Intelligence scores, for Intelligence 3, Strength 1 (you get the option of doing that).
Since our game takes place out in the Belt, we decide to go with a Belter origin, although some of the characters may have different origins. We take note of the Belter traits; hopefully, the characters won’t be spending much time in normal gravity environments like Earth, Belters are hindered, even restrained, in heavier gravity.
We roll 2d6 for our character’s social class, getting a 6. Consulting the Belter column of the Social Class table, that indicates Lower Class.
Rolling a die on the Lower Class Backgrounds table, we get a 5 for Urban. Looking at the background, we give our character +1 Dexterity and choose the Misdirection talent, feeling like our techie is more cunning than athletic. Then we roll once on the Urban Benefits Table, getting an 8 for +1 Perception. Looks like we’re right!
Looking at the Lower Class Professions, we immediately knows that we want Technician and choose that with the GM’s permission rather than bothering to roll. Looking at the description, we give our character the Intelligence (Technology) focus and the Novice degree in the Hacker talent.
Looking over the drives, there are several appealing ones. Unsure which to choose, let’s roll randomly: We get a 5, indicating Column 2 on the Drive table, and then a 4, giving us Rebel, suggesting this character is a nonconformist who has gotten in trouble in the past. That fits. From this drive, we choose Improvisation to add to the character’s talents and Reputation for our improvement.
Our lower class Belter technician has Income 2, not an extravagant lifestyle! It’s pretty clear the character just makes ends meet, and can be described as struggling. The character lives a lifestyle of cramped quarters and eating mostly kibble and cheap noodles, but does at least have essential technical tools and equipment, which are part of the starting character’s package.
So our character’s starting Fortune is 15, unmodified because we applied the improvement from drive to Reputation. The character’s Dexterity is 2, giving us Defense 12 (10 + 2) and Speed 12 and Constitution is 0, so the character has Toughness 0. Sounds like our Belter techie is going to want to stay off the front-lines in a fight!
Consider who our Belter techie is. Let’s say that she came up from a lower class background but her smarts and technical savvy helped her to make it. Unfortunately, she occasionally needed help from less than legal elements to get what she needed for her education and repaid them with the occasional favor. Now she wants to get out from under the thumb of said criminal elements and go legit, but opportunities are thin. Longer-term, she wants to change the system that kept a smart Belter kid from realizing her potential without having to work the black market, although she’s not sure that she agrees with all of the OPA’s politics, particularly the more radical or violent factions.
As a low-class Belter and hacker, our character has plenty of opportunities to make both friends and enemies. She may know fellow Belters, have run into characters with lower class or criminal backgrounds, or who worked security or some other job that brought them to her part of the station. As a hacker, she may know some characters from online interactions, maybe some who think she is someone else entirely, such as corresponding with another character with mutual interests, who doesn’t yet know their friend is a Belter with no formal education.
We work out some more details of our character: We decided somewhere along the line that she’s a woman. Since she’s a Belter, we decide her heritage is a combination of Korean, Indian, and Brazilian in her more recent ancestry. Searching some online resources for suitable names, we come up with Isabella Anika Moon, known to her friends as “Izzy,” who is ready for her first adventure!
Steve Kenson has been an RPG author and designer since 1995 and has worked on numerous book and games, including Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom City, and Blue Rose for Green Ronin Publishing. He has written nine RPG tie-in novels and also runs his own imprint, Ad Infinitum Adventures, which publishes material for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying. Steve maintains a website and blog at www.stevekenson.com.