I’ve been working on making a character for Mailanka’s Psi Wars, and I’ve decided to share my thoughts on the character templates as I go through them. Today’s entry is the Fighter Ace, the hot shot pilots of the Psi-Wars universe.
Fighter Aces have pretty simple lives. Their job is to be the best starfighter pilots in the galaxy, and wow, do they ever succeed at it. They have a bare minimum of 20 in Piloting (Starships) and Gunner (Beams), which is pretty good. In fact, it’s so good that you can probably forgo spending any more points on it and still do well. If you double down on piloting, get a Higher Purpose, Daredevil, Enhanced Dodge (Vehicular), and more Gunner and Piloting skill, you could easily hit total skills of 23, with a Dodge of 12 before starfighter modifiers. And this is without spending power-up lens points on it.
My suggestion, then, is not to worry about your piloting skills, because you’re a great pilot already, and think about what distinguishes you from other pilots, starting with how you fight. Do you like to push the limits of your starfighter and pull off reckless stunts to gain advantage? Then spend points on the Maverick style. If you like missiles and other heavy ordnance, Bombardier Is your go-to, and buy up your Artillery (Guided Missile) skill.
What if you’re not just a great pilot, but a great pilot who works well with others? Then get Leadership and the Starfighter Academy Training style. In particular, Formation Flier is great because you can extend some of your skill to the rest through ranged feints, while if there’s an ever better pilot in the formation, you can substitute their skill for yours. I kinda wish that it instead let you lead the rest of the formation in stunts without them needing to make their own rolls, though. Wing Commander lets you encourage your wingmates with Leadership at no penalty, which is nice.
Before I go into the rest of the template, I’d like to talk about what else the template is good at, based on just their core skills. `First off, and most obviously, a hot shot pilot is the party’s designated driver. If it flies or hovers, you can make it go. Whether it’s an aerospace fighter or a hefty tub of a corvette, odds are you’re the best qualified to fly it, whether or not you’ve ever trained on that model.
You’re also good with heavy weapons. This includes vehicle-mounted weapons, of course, but if your Commando buddy is hauling around missile tubes or squad support weapons, you’re a great back-up for using them.
With Navigation (Hyperspace), you’re also respectable at making sure you end up at the right planet, though since you only have 13 by default, I wouldn’t try and get too fancy with your navigation. It’s not on the template, but Hot Shot Pilot also adds to Navigation (Air) and Navigation (Space). Since daring raids through canyons and other difficult terrain are very much in-genre, knowing how to get through them really should be a template option.
For the most part, you’re merely decent with anything that doesn’t involve flying, though DX 14 helps with a lot of these tasks. For weapons, your go-to is the blaster pistol or blaster rifle. Carousing, Intimidation, Fast-Talk, and Sex-Appeal are your options for talking to people. If you want to be good at talking to people, a level of Appearance and Charisma will help out. With Savoir-Faire (Military), you can also work with military personnel, which can be handy if your starfighter needs repairs.
Stealth is on the template, and you’re not half-bad at it with a 14, but when it comes to hand-to-hand combat, your best advice is to just stay out. Karate, Brawling, Judo, and Wrestling aren’t going to do much good with ST 10.
You also have Electronic Operations (EW, Comms, or Sensors) as options. The keyword here is SIGINT. If you’re trying to listen in on radio communications, or you need to talk to someone, or you need to figure out where those strange emissions are coming from, you’re a good stand-by option.
For Fighter Aces, the additional skills are invaluable. Your template options are rather limited when it comes to out-of-cockpit tasks, but your background will give you more options. Outcast gives you more street level skills, Survivor is great for overland and wilderness adventuring, and Aristocrat provides a gateway to high society.
Wanderer deserves particular note as a Fighter Ace background. Since a Fighter Ace naturally spends a lot of time on spaceships, the skills and traits of this background synergize particularly well with the template.
Experienced and Heroic are your clear go-tos for Fighter Aces. Experienced lets you become an even better pilot, while Heroic’s Destiny and other improvements are great for all-around competence. I’m going to delve into Experienced more with the Upgrades discussion.
Martial Artist is an interesting option, since it offers Weapon Master and proficiency with a style. With DX 14, you have the potential to be fairly competent, too. Picking up a force sword may be a good idea. Too bad Gunslinger isn’t an option in this Power-Up, or I’d suggest taking Way of the Galaxy to get really good with that blaster pistol of yours!
Magnate also has potential, since with Very Wealthy, you can afford a rather heavily customized starship, and probably more than one! It also gives you more organizational pull, which is helpful for getting back-up in combat and covering your lack of expertise in other areas.
Cybernetic strikes me as rather marginal. Fighter Aces are not physical combatants, and so most of the cybernetics aren’t useful to you. Maybe the bionic eyes and their HUD and Telescopic Vision would be useful, but I’m dubious. You flat-out don’t qualify for Communion, so no fancy miracles for you.
You need the Experienced Power-Up to get any of these at character creation.
At the moment, there are two options for upgrades for Fighter Aces. Your first is the Evasion package. Its rationale is representing the training or experience to survive getting shot down, and you’ll certainly have that. With Navigation and Survival, you’ll have a decent chance of getting back out alive. Lockpicking and more Stealth are great for getting into places you really shouldn’t.
The other is Starfighter Tinkerer. As the name suggests, you’re pretty good at working with your starfighter. If you want to be making custom modifications to your ship, this is definitely something you’ll want to get. It’s also surprisingly useful in other ways. Engineering (Starship) will help you figure out where the important parts of ships are, Mechanic (Starships) is great for hot wiring a new ride, and Armoury (Heavy Weapons) has a great deal of potential. It’s not in the upgrade, but Mailanka agrees that Electronics Repair (Any) is a natural fit.
Fighter Aces are pilots, and if you left it at that, you’d be right. But with so much skill to start with, it’s easy for them to take their Power-Up and Background points and become respectably competent even when they’re not in the cockpit, at least in a few areas.