Character Creation

  1. Choose your Affiliation (Assign d6, d8, and d10 to Solo / Buddy / Team as appropriate).
  2. Choose your Species.
  3. Choose your Class.
  4. Choose three Distinctions (related to your Species, Class, Theme, or Goal).
  5. Choose one Morality Distinction (Paragon or Renegade).
  6. Choose one Specialty at Knack (d6).
  7. Add one extra SFX or one extra Power (at d6) to one of your power sets.
  8. Choose your Milestones (related to Species, Class, Theme, or Goal).
  9. Choose your name.


Species

Asari

Barrier d6, Biotic Resistance d8, Enhanced Reflexes d8

SFX: Focus. Replace two dice of the same size in a pool with a single die +1 step up.

Limit: Superiority. Shutdown Asari and gain a PP when confronted with something that affects your sense of being the most evolved race in the galaxy. Recover when no longer afflicted by it.

Gain Biotic Knack.

Drell

Eidetic Memory d8, Enhanced Reflexes d8, Enhanced Strength d6

SFX: Impossible Accuracy. Spend 1 PP to re-roll any attack action, adding in Eidetic Memory.

Limit: Desert Dweller. Shutdown Drell and gain a PP when in an excessively humid environment. Recover when no longer afflicted by it.

Gain Covert Knack.

Elcor

Enhanced Senses d6, Enhanced Strength d10, Environmental Resistance d6

SFX: Immovable Object: Spend 1 PP to re-roll any defensive action, adding in Enhanced Strength.

Limit: Slow. Convert Enhanced Strength into a Complication and gain a PP. Recover on Opportunity.

Limit: “Insincere Apology: Your loss is my loss.”. Count 1s and 2s on dice as Opportunities when using an Elcor Power to inflict Social stress or trauma on a non-Elcor.

Gain Business Knack.

Geth

Enhanced Intellect d10, Enhanced Stamina d6, Shields d6

SFX: Hivemind. Spend 1 PP to recover mental stress and step-down your mental trauma by -1.

Limit: “We are Geth.”. Shut down a Geth power to step up another Geth power by +1. Recover on an Opportunity or during a Transition scene.

Gain Tech Knack.

(Special: Geth cannot choose the Adept, Sentinel, or Vanguard classes due to their non-organic physiology.)

Hanar

Levitation d6, Neurotoxin d6, Shields d8

SFX: Grapple. Add a d6 and step up effect die +1 when inflicting a complication on a target.

SFX: Enkindler’s Touch. Spend 1 PP to step up Neurotoxin to d10, then step down to 1d4 for subsequent actions. Recover by activating an opportunity or during a transition scene.

Limit: Mass Effect Field Dependent. While Stressed Out, Asleep, or Unconscious, shutdown Levitation and Shields from the Hanar Powerset. Recover them when you recover that stress or wake up. If you take mental trauma, shut down Levitation and Shields from the Hanar Powerset until you recover that trauma.

Gain Diplomacy Knack.

Human

Choose one at d8 and one at d6: Enhanced Reflexes, Enhanced Senses, Enhanced Stamina, Enhanced Strength.

SFX: Willpower. Split any Human power into two stepped-down dice.

Limit: Exhausted. Shutdown any Human power trait to gain 1 PP. Recover on Opportunity.

Choose two additional Knack Specialties.


Krogan

Enhanced Durability d6, Enhanced Stamina d8, Enhanced Strength d8

SFX: “I am Krogan!”. Add your stress to your own attack action dice pool for no PP cost, double for a PP.

SFX: Redundant Organs. Step up or double Enhanced Durability (1PP for both), then shutdown. Recover on Opportunity.

Limit: Burden of a Dying Race. Step up mental stress to gain 1 PP.

Gain Combat Knack.

Quarian

Enhanced Intellect d8, Enhanced Senses d6, Environmental Resistance d8

SFX: Environment Suit. Step up or double Environmental Resistance (1PP for both), then shutdown. Recover on an Opportunity.

Limit: Spacerat. Step up Social stress to gain 1 PP.

Limit: Suit Puncture: Shut down Environmental Resistance when you take physical trauma until you recover from that trauma.

Gain Tech Knack.

Salarian

Enhanced Intellect d10, Enhanced Reflexes d6

SFX: “I will do Science to it!”. Step up or double Enhanced Intellect (1PP for both), then shutdown. Recover on an Opportunity.

Limit: Limited Lifespan. Step up physical stress to gain 1 PP.

Gain Science Knack.

Turian

Enhanced Senses d8, Enhanced Speed d10

SFX: Apex Predator. Step up or double an opponent’s stress in your dice pool (1 PP for both.)

Limit: Burden of Service. Change a Turian power into a Complication to gain a PP. Recover on Opportunity.

Gain Combat Knack.

Volus

Enhanced Durability d6, Enhanced Senses d6, Environmental Resistance d8

SFX: A Long Life of Cowardice. Before you make an action using your Volus power set, you may spend 1 PP to move your physical stress to the doom pool and step up your Volus power trait for this action.

Limit: Short. Convert Environmental Resistance into a Complication and gain 1 PP. Recover on Opportunity.

Gain Business Knack and Crime Knack.

Vorcha

Bite d8, Enhanced Durability d8, Environmental Resistance d6

SFX: Unnatural Regeneration. Spend 1 PP to recover physical stress and step-down your physical trauma by -1.

Limit: Weak Willed Servitor Race. Shut down all Vorcha powers with a rating less than your current mental stress. Recover when your mental stress is less than or equal to their power rank.

Gain Menace Knack.

Yahg

Enhanced Durability d10, Enhanced Strength d12

SFX: Huge Lumbering Ragebeast. Spend 1 PP to step up a physical stress or trauma you inflict.

Limit: Pack Mentality. If you take Social trauma, shut down Yahg Powerset until you recover that trauma.

Gain Menace Knack.


Classes

Soldier

Assault Rifle d8, Enhanced Durability d8, Shotgun d8

SFX: Adrenaline Rush. Add a die from the Doom Pool to your attack action, then step up the die and return it to the doom pool.

Limit: Exhausted. Shut down any Soldier power to gain 1 PP. Recover on Opportunity.

Combat Knack, Menace Knack

Adept

Barrier d8, Singularity d8, Warp d8

SFX: Unleashed. Step up or double an Adept power (1 PP for both) for one action. If action fails, add a die to the Doom Pool equal to the normal die rating of the power.

Limit: Unpredictable. Change an Adept power into a Complication to gain a PP. Recover on Opportunity.

Biotic Knack, Diplomacy Knack

Engineer

Combat Drone d8, Omnitool d8, Shotgun d8

SFX: Hacking. Step up or double an Engineer power (1 PP for both) for one action. If action fails, shut down an Engineer power.

Limit: Gear. Shut down any Engineer power to gain 1 PP. Recover on an Opportunity.

Tech Knack, Science Knack

Infiltrator

Enhanced Senses d6, Machine Pistol d6, Omnitool d6, Sniper Rifle d8

SFX: Infiltrator’s Cloak. Step up any Stunt activated by a Opportunity, or step up Physical Stress on successful action when activating an Opportunity.

Limit: Exhausted. Shut down any Infiltrator power to gain 1 PP. Recover on Opportunity.

Acrobatics Knack, Combat Knack, Covert Knack

Sentinel

Barrier d6, Heavy Pistol d6, Omnitool d6, Throw d8

SFX: First Aid. Add Omnitool to your dice pool when helping others recover physical stress. Spend 1 PP to step back your own or another’s physical stress or trauma.

Limit: Exhausted. Shut down any Sentinel power to gain 1 PP. Recover on Opportunity.

Biotic Knack, Tech Knack, Medical Knack

Vanguard

Barrier d6, Heavy Pistol d6, Shockwave d6, Shotgun d8

SFX: Charge. Split any Vanguard power into two stepped-down dice.

Limit: Exhausted. Shut down any Vanguard power to gain 1 PP. Recover on Opportunity.

Biotic Knack, Cosmic Knack, Combat Knack


Milestones

Galactic Saviors

1 XP whenever your group defeats a non-minion enemy.

3 XP whenever you complete a side-mission, or reject a side-mission in pursuit of a higher goal.

10 XP whenever you complete a priority mission, or spectacularly fail a priority mission.

General System Notes

- Emotional Stress/Trauma has been replaced with Social Stress/Trauma.

- Moral Distinctions can be used in a dice pool with the standard distinctions if one or both of them is used as a complication.

- Loyalty Pool / Reaper Pool: “Last night, I was talking with my buddies Joe and Adam about how to mechanically handle the complex relationships of the Mass Effect universe. One of them contended that the Solo/Buddy/Team dynamic didn't really mirror the structure of the game very well. The other brought up the idea of using Relationships as a modifier for the Solo/Buddy/Team dynamic. On the long drive home from gaming, I was thinking (as often happens on moderately long car rides one takes by one's self) and came up with a little sub-game for the game.

First, though, we go to the Bad Guys. In most Marvel-based games, there's a mechanic called The Doom Pool which represents most of the adversity which the players will encounter. The Doom Pool is a great mechanic for showing the ever-growing threat that the Reapers possess, but with it being reset after each encounter it doesn't have quite the same inexorable menace attached. With that in mind, I'd like to introduce you to The Reaper Pool.

It really is just what it says on the tin: a giant pile (or jar or whathaveyou) of dice representing the strength of the Reapers. The number of dice in the Reaper Pool depend on the game you're wanting to mimic. For a ME1 game; the Reaper Pool is set rather low at around 25d12. For ME2, where the Reapers are a more credible threat; the Reaper Pool is set at a moderate 75d12. For ME3, where the Reapers are friggin' everywhere and we're all boned; the Reaper Pool is set to a cataclysmic 150d12. This pool can increase or decrease, depending on the actions of the PCs.

So, you're probably wondering how this Reaper Pool interacts with the Doom Pool. Lets look at an example:

Our heroes are on Intai'sei, in the Phoenix System of the Argos Rho cluster, trying to break into a Cerberus facility which has been using Reaper technology to indoctrinate a small army of abducted Yahg. The players are doing well, having successfully broken through the door's encryption and battled their way through the docking bay. They stand at a heavy blast door, when there is an explosion on the far side. The group's Drell Engineer finally hacks the door open, revealing a warehouse full of stasis pods. In each, a dormant Yahg is slowly corrupted by the Reaper tech which Cerberus has harvested over the years.

In the middle of the massive room, a section of the stasis pods have ruptured due to an inconvenient explosion. Standing in the center of the room are about a dozen Indoctrinated Yahg. The Storyteller has the Doom Pool for this bit of the adventure set at 3d6 + 2d8 + 1d10; a challenging, but not insurmountable, scene. The PCs, through some quick thinking and good use of Plot Points, reduce the Yahg to paste. Not wanting the PCs to get too full of themselves, the Storyteller lets the players know that they can hear the sounds of dozens of other stasis pods opening. As the PCs look around, the hundreds of pods surrounding them are all activating. The PCs, knowing they're outgunned, flee back to their shuttle. The Storyteller describes their flight back to their primary ship.

"As your shuttle docs with the MSV Hawke, a bright flash of light crests the planetary horizon. A Reaper has dropped from FTL just inside the atmosphere, igniting a small portion of it in a demonstrative fireball. Sensors show that its trajectory will lead it directly to the Cerberus Base."

At this point, the PCs have a choice; fight or flight. The PCs, being pragmatists, know that they have no chance of beating a Reaper and one hundred (or more) Indoctrinated Yahg. They advance in the opposite direction, towards safer ports. The Storyteller writes "Indoctrinated Yahg - 2d12" on a card and adds 2d12 to the Reaper Pool. Their enemies have grown stronger.

All of that is all well and good, but of what use is the Reaper Pool? During the primary game, not a lot. It sits there as more of a psychological tool for the Storyteller than anything else.

The PCs need a way to combat the Reaper Pool, of course, and that's where the Loyalty Pool comes into play. The Loyalty Pool starts the game with d12 in it for each PC. Not a lot of a chance against the unflinching destruction that is the Reaper Pool. Just like in the various Mass Effect titles, they're going to have to make friends and influence people in order to stop the imminent destructive hugeness of the Reaper Pool.

During any scene in which an Asset is created, a PC may spend 2 Plot Points to remove the Asset and create a Loyalty out of it instead. For instance, continuing the example from above: our PCs reach the Citadel to speak with their contacts. Not many of them are willing to help out, because organics are generally selfish to the core. The group's Turian Biotic decides to try to call in a favor with his cousin Barran who works for C-Sec. There's a rather intense social scene, but at the end Barran decides to help out as much as he can.

The player writes "Barran - C-Sec Officer - d8 Asset" on a card. The Turian Biotic's player can then decide whether he wants this Asset to be of use during the game itself OR in the meta-game. Being prudent, he spends the 2 Plot Points to add Barran to the Loyalty Pool. Barran's card is added to the Loyalty Pool stack. If the PCs wanted to cultivate their relationship with Barran, they can spend XP to increase his Loyalty value. If our Turian Biotic spent some time in a transitional scene working with Barran to maintain surveillance on a known criminal, he could spend 2 XP to increase Barran's value to a d10. (Preliminary costs are: d6 to d8 - 1XP, d8 to d10 - 2XP, d10 to d12 - 4XP.)

When the players reach a Final Mission scenario, the dice in each pool are up-converted to d12s (for example, if there are 32d6, 24d8, 20d10, and 6d12 in the Loyalty Pool, that converts to 26d12). The Reaper Pool stands at 80d12 (this being a ME2 style game and the PCs having fled the confrontation on Intai'sei, as well as a few other times the Reapers gained ground) versus the Loyalty Pool of 26d12. The difference of 54d12 are added to the Doom Pool for the Final Mission. The PCs are pretty boned. Had they spent more time cultivating their Relationships, they'd've actually stood a chance. As it looks now, they've got very little chance of making it out of their Final Mission alive.”


Character Creation Example

Jeph is going to be a player in a Mass Effect Heroic Roleplay game, so he sits down to put together a character. He goes back and forth between two possible concepts: an Asari Adept and a Turian Soldier. He decides to go with the Asari Adept, because there are already two other soldiers in the group (a Krogan and a Drell). He decides to not-too-subtly steal Jack’s basic character archetype, but put an Asari twist on it.

He assigns a d10 to Solo, a d8 to Team, and a d6 to Buddy. His character was trained to work best alone or as part of a cohesive unit. When forced to work with a partner, she isn’t nearly as effective. He copies the Asari and Adept power sets onto his character sheet. He adds the specialties under each to his list of specialties. Since he has Biotic Knack listed under each, that combines into Biotic Expert.

When it comes to Distinctions, Jeph is a bit at a loss. He doesn’t want to completely copy Jack’s backstory, just craft an homage to it. He decides that his character was part of a Biotic Legacy selective breeding program, wherein the most powerful Asari Biotics donated genetic material to create a super Biotic. His character was raised in an Ardat-yakshi Monastery compound to keep the prying eyes of the Citadel Council off of her. Upon leaving the monastery, she served briefly with the Asari Commandos before leaving to find her own way. She studied the Goddess in order to better understand her powers. She was recruited from there to join the Citadel’s new Rapid Response Task Force by her former mentor from the Biotic Legacy project. She hasn’t had much experience with the galaxy at large, so she is a bit distant and lost when interacting with people. That brings her backstory to the present. The three most defining parts of her backstory are, as Jeph sees them: the Biotic Legacy project, her devotion to the Goddess, and her ruthlessness. He chooses the following for his distinctions: Legacy of Asari Perfection, Heart of the Goddess, and Ardat-Yakshi Trained. For her Morality Distinction, he chooses Renegade.

Her specialties currently include Biotic Expert and Diplomacy Knack. Jeph decides that he’s going to add Psych Knack to emphasize the skills learned from dealing with the Ardat-yakshi and the interpersonal skills picked up during her time studying the ways of the Goddess.

Now, Jeph has to design a new SFX for one of his power sets. Since the concept of the character is less about her training and more about her biological perfection, he decides to add it to the Asari power set. He thinks on it for a bit before putting together a SFX called Impervious to Biotics, allowing her to spend a Plot Point to ignore the effects of a trauma or stress caused by Biotic powers.

The Storyteller has already decided that everyone will get the Galactic Savior milestone set, so Jeph only has to lay out one set. Jeph decides to modify a Milestone set from the Marvel Heroic Roleplay book, called “... And what I do isn’t very nice.”, which revolves around violence. Since his character lived and trained with the Ardat-yakshi, he decides that her outlook on conflict was influenced by the more Renegade members of that order.

Finally, he thinks over a name. He decides on Hakara, claiming that it’s the Ancient Asari word for “Zero”; another homage to Jack. He submits the finished character to the Storyteller for final verification. The finished character is listed on the next page.


Hakara - Asari Adept

Affiliations: Solo d10, Buddy d6, Team d8

Distinctions: Legacy of Asari Perfection, Heart of the Goddess, Ardat-Yakshi Trained

Morality Distinction: Renegade

Asari Powerset:

Enhanced Reflexes d8, Biotic Resistance d8, Barrier d6

SFX: Focus. Replace two dice of the same size in a pool with a single die +1 step up.

SFX: Impervious to Biotics. Spend 1 PP to ignore stress or trauma caused by Biotic powers.

Limit: Superiority. Shutdown Asari and gain a PP when confronted with something that affects your sense of being the most evolved race in the galaxy. Recover when no longer afflicted by it.

Adept Powerset:

Warp d8, Singularity d8, Barrier d8

SFX: Unleashed. Step up or double an Adept power (1 PP for both) for one action. If action fails, add a die to the Doom Pool equal to the normal die rating of the power.

Limit: Unpredictable. Change an Adept power into a Complication to gain a PP. Recover on Opportunity.

Specialties: Biotic Expert (d8 or 2d6), Diplomacy Knack (d6), Psych Knack (d6).

Milestones:

Galactic Savior

1 XP whenever your group defeats a non-minion enemy.

3 XP whenever you complete a side-mission, or reject a side-mission in pursuit of a higher goal.

10 XP whenever you complete a priority mission, or spectacularly fail a priority mission.

Dangerous Beauty

1 XP when you first choose to deal mental stress in a Scene.

3 XP when another hero rebukes you for your violence or you threaten violence against another hero.

10 XP when you kill someone in front of innocents or allow yourself to be stressed out without having inflicted trauma on anyone.


Thokrin - Drell Mercenary

Affiliations: Solo d6, Buddy d8, Team d10

Distinctions: Serial Pragmatist, Red Hand of Amonkira, Persistent Bastard

Morality Distinction: Paragon

Drell

Enhanced Reflexes d8, Enhanced Strength d6, Eidetic Memory d8

SFX: Impossible Accuracy. Spend a PP to re-roll any attack action, adding in Eidetic Memory.

Limit: Desert Dweller. Shutdown Drell and gain a PP when in an excessively humid environment. Recover when no longer afflicted by it.

Soldier

Enhanced Durability d8, Assault Rifle d8, Shotgun d8

SFX: Adrenaline Rush. Add a die from the Doom Pool to your attack action, then step up the die and return it to the doom pool.

SFX: Spray-and-Pray. Target multiple opponents. For every target beyond the first, add a d6 to your die pool and keep +1 effect die.

Limit: Exhausted. Shut down any Soldier power to gain 1 PP. Recover on Opportunity.

Specialties: Combat Knack (d6), Covert Knack (d6), Menace Knack (d6), Medical Knack (d6)

Milestones:

Galactic Savior

1 XP whenever your group defeats a non-minion enemy.

3 XP whenever you complete a side-mission, or reject a side-mission in pursuit of a higher goal.

10 XP whenever you complete a priority mission, or spectacularly fail a priority mission.

The Ends Justify the Means

1 XP when you first inflict stress on a foe who is unaware of your presence.

3 XP when your allies first confront you about your methods, or you challenge another ally’s methods.

10 XP when you choose to inflict physical trauma on a foe who has inflicted stress on you or at least one ally, or you choose to intercede on behalf of a foe and allow yourself to be stressed out.


Blasto - Hanar Spectre

Affiliations: Solo d10, Buddy d8, Team d6

Distinctions: Spectre Training, This One is a Loose Cannon, Harbinger of the Hanar

Morality Distinction: Renegade

Hanar Powerset:

Levitation d6, Neurotoxin d6, Shields d10

SFX: Grapple. Add a d6 and step up effect die +1 when inflicting a complication on a target.

SFX: Enkindler’s Touch. Spend 1 PP to step up Neurotoxin to d10, then step down to 2d4 for subsequent actions. Recover by activating an opportunity or during a transition scene.

Limit: Mass Effect Field Dependent. While Stressed Out, Asleep, or Unconscious, shutdown Levitation and Shields from the Hanar Powerset. Recover them when you recover that stress or wake up. If you take mental trauma, shut down Levitation and Shields from the Hanar Powerset until you recover that trauma.

Vanguard Powerset:

Barrier d8, Modified M5 Heavy Pistol d12, Shockwave d8, Geth Plasma Shotgun d10

SFX: Charge. Split any Vanguard power into two stepped-down dice.

Limit: Exhausted. Shut down any Vanguard power to gain 1 PP. Recover on Opportunity.

Specialties: Biotic Expert, Combat Expert, Cosmic Expert, Diplomacy Expert, Menace Master, Psych Expert

Milestones:

First of His Kind

1 XP the first time each scene that you defeat a non-minion enemy.

3 XP whenever you capture a criminal who is wanted by the Citadel Council.

10 XP when you convince the Council that the Hanar race deserves a seat OR you cause a more powerful race to declare war on the Hanar.

Bound by no Rulebook

1 XP when you flaunt your Spectre status to gain an advantage over someone.

3 XP when your overconfidence helps you succeed at a mission, or causes it to fail spectacularly.

10 XP when you cause trauma to a helpless opponent in order to gain information vital to the success of a priority mission.