Wanderer

You spent much of your life on a starship wandering the stars. You might have grown up as a Belter, mining the asteroids with your family. Or you might have lived as a merchant or smuggler, spending some time planetside, but so much in space that you learned your way around a ship. Or perhaps you and your clan rejected living on planets and headed for deep space, learning to live completely self-sufficiently. Whatever the reason, you’ve learned your way around a ship, and navigating deep space (as well as surviving its horrors) are second nature to you.

This background works best in campaigns set primarily in space, or which intend to have a lot of space travel in them. Wanderers will find that most of their skills are useless in a primarily planet-bound campaign. They also bring a lot of knowledge of a particular region of space with them, which should be local to the campaign: someone who spent a decade traveling the Morass is a really interesting character to have in a game set in the Sylvan Spiral, but less useful in a campaign that will never leave the Glorian Rim.

Wanderer

20 points

Skills: Area Knowledge (Constellation) (E) IQ+1 [2], Navigation (Hyperspace) (A) IQ [2], Spacer (E) IQ+1 [2], Vacc Suit (A) IQ [2], and choose one of Piloting (Starfighter, Corvette or Impulse Craft) all (A) DX [2].

Additional Skills: Choose another 10 points from Beam Weapons (Projector), Free-Fall or Gunner (Beams) both (E) DX+1 [2], Games (Any) (E) IQ [1], Area Knowledge (Constellation or major Crossroads world), Current Affairs (Regional) or Hobby Skill (Spacer Folklore), all (E) IQ+1 [2], Cartographer, Connoisseur (Starship), Electrician, Freight Handling, Mechanic (Starship), Merchant, Prospector, Smuggler all (A) IQ [2], Engineer (Starships) or Shiphandling both (H) IQ-1 [2], Carousing (E) HT [2], Scrounging (E) Per+1 [2], Survival (Ice World or Rock World) both (A) Per [2], or improve any lens skill by one level for 2 points; or improve any lens skill by two levels for 6 points.

Additional Traits: You may spend some of your template’s advantage points (or any leftover points) on Contact (Fence, asteroid miner, port authority, smuggler, merchant, skill 12, 15 or 8, 9 or less, somewhat reliable) [1, 2 or 3], Contact Group (Belter Cooperative, Corporation, Smugglers, Traders, fellow space wanderers, alien enclaves, etc) (Skill 12, 15 or 18, 9 or less) [5, 10, 15), Calibrations [1], Courtesy Rank (Merchant) [1/level], Cultural Adaptability [10], Cultural Familiarity (any) [1], Drunken Pilot [1], Duct Tape Savant [1], Equipment Bond (Ship) [1], Favor (Any) [Varies], Feel of the Ship [1], Language (Any) [varies], Language Talent [10], License (Legitimate Trader) [1], Primed to Go [1], Quick Shunt [1], Seasoned Spacer [1], Signature Ship [varies] Smuggler Lane [1], Soar like a Leaf [1].
Optional Disadvantages: Add the following disadvantage options to your template: Chummy or Gregarious [-5 or -10], Wealth (Struggling) [-10], Intolerance (Planet-siders) [-10], Phobia (Being off a ship) [-5*], Skinny [-5], ST -1 [-10].

New Traits

Hobby Skill (Spacer Folklore) (IQ/E): This skill represents accumulated lore and urban legends among spacers; treat it like Occultism, but with a deep focus on space legends. Characters could roll against the skill to “have heard a story about” space monsters actually native to space (such as the Orochi or Leviathans), or haunted planets (such as the Derelict Planet of the Orochi Belt, or the Lost World of Verdant), lost treasures on hidden planets, etc.

Customization Notes

The Wanderer background lacks lenses not because Wanderers don’t vary, but because the lines between them tend to blur a great deal, so that one specific background looks much like another, in contrast with, for example, the Aristocrat, where each distinct version looks substantially different from another. Common customization examples include:

Belter: Perhaps the most iconic version of the Wanderer, this represents someone who spent years working an asteroid mining rig, and perhaps even grew up using one. Such characters obviously need Prospector, and often have Beam Weapons (Projector) (for plasma torches), Gunner (Beams) for the mining laser, Free-Fall, Survival (Rock World, for Asteroid Miners, Ice World for Comet Miners), Mechanic, in case something goes wrong. Belters tend to favor Piloting(Corvette), though one can mine with bigger or smaller starships, and many Belters use something like a Wildcat as part-time miner, part-time defense. They often have Carousing and some Games to while away the time (Belter’s Brag is a favorite among Belter Crews). They tend to have Area Knowledge for a single system or a collection of systems as they rarely need to travel from system to system. Good Occupational Templates for this background include the Scavenger.

Crewman: Lots of jobs require someone to simply be in space, from a ship’s engineer to a mercenary fighter pilot to a pirate boarder. These characters tend to have a specific job and focus on it. Engineers usually have Beam Weapons (Projector), Engineering, Mechanic and Electrician, boarders tend to learn Free-Fall, pilots tend to improve their piloting, and so on. They tend to serve in a particular area, and often pick up Area Knowledge with the constellation where they served. Good occupational templates include the Scavenger, the Fighter Pilot, the Officer and the Commando.

Explorer: Some people go to space because they’re sick of planet. They pick a star and just go. These tend to require a great deal of self-sufficiency (Mechanic), but they especially need to be able to handle navigating strange parts of space, and thus tend to invest more points into Navigation and Cartography. They never know who they’ll encounter, and so tend to develop Cultural Adaptability and perhaps even Language Talent. They tend to collect Area Knowledge for strange, out of the way constellations. Good occupational templates include the Scavenger and the Diplomat.

Merchant: All the galaxy needs something someone else has. Merchants transport products across the galaxy. This is a good choice for someone whose occupational template represents their merchant-like skill (such as Diplomat, Con-Artist or Smuggler) or someone who grew up as a merchant before graduating to a more adventurous career. Merchants tend to favor the Merchant skill, and often gain Freight Handling or Smuggling as well. Carousing tend to serve them well, and they tend to pick up a lot of cultures and languages over time. They also tend to build up connections, in the form of contacts or semi-legitimate ties to corporations via Courtesy Rank (Merchant); this last represents a tenuous relationship with a corporation (they might also have a License to carry particular things, such as weapons) or a rank with some minor, unimportant merchant guild. Characters with more prestigious rank tend to be more planet-bound. They tend to favor Piloting (Corvette) or (Impulse Craft) to carry their freight; Starfighters tend to be too small. Merchants tend to have specific routes and if they deviate, they tend not to deviate too far, thus often have Area Knowledge for a particular constellation.

After determining what sort of Wanderer you are, consider where you primarily wandered. Remember, the central "niche" of the Wanderer Background is that they have a lot of experience not just in space, but a particular region of space; they often know all sorts of navigational tricks and lore that will help one in a particular region of space!

The Galactic Core: The Galactic Core is fairly settled and thus has little need for wanderers. Stereotypically, it is most “settled” part of the Galaxy. Even so, as one pushes to the edges, one can find people who wander for a living. The Trader Band is especially notorious for Wanderers, who travel the trade routes between the Kybernian Constellation of the Arkhaian Spiral and the Hydrus Constellation of the Umbral Rim; the Shatter Belt is an especially common place to find Wanderers. Other regions full of belters and wanderers include the High Halo and the Crucible. Wanderers of the Galactic Core tend not to encounter too many alien cultures or races other than Traders, but those who travel the Trader Band often pick up Lithian as a Cultural Familiarity and a Language. Wanderers in the Galactic Core need to deal with the Empire often, and thus tend to be worry more about official support; they might have Licenses or levels of Merchant Rank (Courtesy or otherwise). They tend not to serve in the Imperial Navy, however; Imperial Spacers tend to get enough leave time that they don’t develop these skills to such a degree.

The Glorian Rim: The home of humanity tends to be a fairly settled place, but it has its share of rogues and wanderers, especially on its edges. The Rogue Stars and the edges of the Maelstrom tend to have more than their fair share of Wanderers. Such Wanderers can be anything, but especially tend to be Belters or Merchants. They tend to be human and have little contact with aliens (as few alien races come from the Glorian Rim), but often deal with unusual human cultures on some of the more outflung stars. They often have opinions on the aristocracy and may or may not share Glorian antipathy for the Empire.

The Umbral Rim: The Umbral Rim is especially rife with Wanderers. The political situation there is so unsettled that many take to the stars to find a better life and many never settle down again. Furthemore, navigation is sufficiently taxing in the Umbral Rim that one needs to specialize in skilled navigation to make their way through that part of the Galaxy. Wanderers might explore any part of the Umbral Rim: merchants might make their way through the Hydrus Constellation or the relatively easy-to-navigate Corvus Constellation, while pirate and mercenary crewmen ply their trade in the unsettled regions of the Shroud and the Sanguine Stars. The Wanderers of the Umbral Rim often come across aliens (and tend to be alien), but rarely need more than the Lithian Language and Cultural Familiarity to get by here.

The Arkhaian Spiral: The Arkhaian Spiral is dangerous for any traveler, but it imperils those planetside too, so many tend to flee planets as refugees and end up just wandering the stars. The best role to reflect this is either crewman or explorer, as the great voids, the dangerous Cybernetic Union and the haunted Eldothic stars tend to be hostile to trade and mining. The most common place to find wanderers in the Arkhaian Spiral is the Arkhaian Chasm, the great void between arms where wanderers might search for lost systems or traffic refugees to the Glorian Rim; the Telos Constellation also has more than its fair share of Wanderers, more often Merchants, helping with the budding “Refugee Empire.”

The Sylvan Spiral: The Morass presents a great hazard for any space travel, but people do wander there. A lack of trade among the primitives of the Sylvan Spiral means few become Belters, Merchants or simple Crewmen, but Explorers and guides tend to be worth their salt to anyone who needs to navigate this largely uncharted region of space. Explorers to the Sylvan Spiral need to be adept at handling a wide variety of cultures and languages, as most races here tend to be pretty isolated from one another.

Finally, Wanderers tend to have a lot of cross-over with other backgrounds. Wanderers might be criminal in nature, or from a racial minority, and might borrow some of the traits from Outcasts. Wanderers also often find themselves facing extreme circumstances, such as being marooned on an alien world for a decade, and might borrow traits from the Survivor background.

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