In advance, I’ll admit to being an unashamed Elite Fanboy, loved it back when it first came out and enjoyed the various incarnations leading to the here and now. For me the problem was always how you’d turn something that was very much a one player game, into something that you could play with many friends around the table.
I have to say, the solution made is quite an interesting one.
Characters are all created even, there are no random elements to how you make a character (unless you want to randomly determine what you were before you took to the stars), and so there’s no possibility that anyone will be complaining of unfairness.
The next step is in choosing backgrounds, each of which will give the character a number of bonuses to their existing skill base, or an increase to starting funds, attributes, or implants/cybernetics. There’s a broad range of previous careers, from Accountant to Secret agent and everything in between. There’s a skill cap on starting characters, so people can’t super specialise from the off and it encourages a broader range of abilities to work with.
The next step is Karma Capabilities, which are special abilities that modify skills or give other special bonuses such as being able to use medkits more often or avoid target locks on your ship for a short time.
After this follows the round up points and filling in the scores, then choosing your starting equipment and ship.
What makes this interesting is that this system actively promotes the use of an NPC for each character, being the partner that helps them fly their ship. It isn’t necessary to have a partner, but there are a number of rules for the creation of them, and it’s here that the game takes a significant diversion from Traveller.
Traveller for me was all about a group of people in a single ship forging their way out in the universe and trying to keep together whilst all about them was falling apart. This game is very much about you being individuals who just happen to be flying the same stars, and that makes for a very different group dynamic for me. I like the idea that you can have your second standing by in the ship while you go investigating a wreck, or that as a unit, you can approach a problem in space from (quite literally) several different angles all at the same time.
While invariably as the game goes on, ships will change, equipment and loadouts will vary, but with all of you having your own ship, you can all continue in whatever direction you want to, without having to fit in with the rest of the party. It’s possible to craft the entire of the party towards the sorts of missions you want to be doing, whether that’s combat support, heavy trading, or espionage, or have all of you remain as individuals who just happen to work together. It also means that if you happen to lose someone in an adventure, bringing in a new player is as simple as putting out a call and having someone answer it.
How this changes things for me is that it’ll give the players a lot more choices over what they want to do, and correspondingly it’ll work the GM that much harder as a result, but if they’re up to the challenge, the rewards will be that much more as well.
Really looking forwards to this…
Kickstarter can still be found at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/edrpg/elite-dangerous-role-playing-game