Generally speaking, Backgrounds represent the training or life you have had and continue to have into the game. In terms of roleplay, they are a combination of your character’s past and training, and should place a fairly large part in determining who your character is in the universe of Asteria. However, just as important are the statistical differences that each background brings, and that is primarily what this section will break down.
Each class below is broken up into six parts: the lore and suggested background, the starting SP (Skill Points), the amount of SP gained per level, how much SC (Spell Credits, the primarily monetary system of Asteria) you start with, how much each mission’s payout is modified, and the special background abilities which modify how the background plays. Let’s broach each of these briefly.
The suggested background is just that: a suggestion. A captain is generally imagined to be a ship owner, already independently wealthy, and may or may not already have a crew consisting of the other players of the game. You can alter this however you choose though. Maybe our captain has recently successfully stolen a lot of money and wants to try going legit. Maybe he was born into aristocracy and wants to ‘play’ captain and have adventures. Maybe he’s been sponsored by a corporation who expects him to make a lot of money. How you justify coming to the other stats is entirely up to you and your Guide.
Each background has a starting number of points to be spent on skills as well as how many are gained upon leveling. These represent the training you’ve undergone as a member of this background. More details on what skills are and how they work are found in the skills section of this handbook. Generally speaking, you want higher trained skills for roles you might be considering; some backgrounds get few to start with and few to level, so you may want to consult with your Guide and other players to see what skills might be needed.
Each background also has a starting amount of money and a multiplier that modifies future income. This is one of the ways in which Abide Asteria differs from other pen and paper games. Rather than finding money in chests, most money is received as a quest reward known as a mission payout. Everyone starts with the same mission payout, but it is then multiplied by the modifier to get the final result; this is supposed to represent the different shares of money given from the same source and, if you are coming from a game system with harder currency, this may take some getting used to; in universe, it is likely that the entity paying your mission salary has given the sum total of all your modified incomes combined, which would then be divvied up according to their backgrounds’ pay scale, but that’s a lot of math, so we do it backwards.
You will quickly notice that many classes have a large disparity between money and skill, with those who have more skills tending to have less money and vice versa. The main reason for this is that the game is balanced through this dichotomy of skills and money – a captain can afford to buy a ship at the start of the game, while crew members can barely afford all the gear that they need to do their jobs. On the other hand, the crew member will be able to create much larger plays with their cards while the captain will rely on them for everything but the very narrow fields he has likely specialized in. Equipment can help mediate the differences between them, but ultimately skilled backgrounds will have more utility and more actions while rich backgrounds will have more stuff. More details about how money works and is obtained can be found in the equipment section of this handbook.
Last, we have background abilities. These can be actual abilities that you can activate, such as the Captain’s Orders ability, or something passive like the crew member’s Quick Study. Be certain to review these carefully, as they can have substantial impact on gameplay and may make the difference between succeeding during a Distress or failing.
One last note: generally speaking, backgrounds do not change. Even though some of these (especially captain and crew member) could be considered jobs rather than backgrounds, there is no official way to change them in the written rules, nor is there any ‘multiclassing’ one might find elsewhere. If you do, however, wish to change your background or role after character creation, consult your Guide.
Generally, a captain is a wealthy individual who has decided to purchase a ship and ply his services to the galaxy. They tend to have something to prove and act as aggressive leaders of the party. However they received their starting funds, however, it is unlikely to have been through their skills, as they have a rather limited skillset – thanks to Captain’s Experience, though, they do still have at least one thing they are very good at.
|Starting SP – 15 (Plus “A Captain’s Experience”)||SP gained on level up – 10|
|Starting Funds – 10,000,000 SC||Pay out per mission – x3|
A Captain’s Experience: Captains choose two skills at the start of the game; these may include Magic skills. One of these skills starts at Skilled, and the other at Advanced Trained. If a chosen skill is a Magic one, deduct 3 from the starting SP to remove the natural block on that skill.
The Captain’s Orders: Once per Distress, at any time in the initiative order, the Captain may give orders to his team as a free action. If someone from his team follows the orders given, the Captain may add a card from their hand to the total of the skill-use related to the order. For example, if the Captain gives the Lone Wolf the order to close a bulkhead by repairing a blasted panel, the Lone Wolf would play that skill, for a total of 11; the Captain could then add a 10 from his hand, ensuring the Lone Wolf was successful and safely end the Distress.
Crew Members are the backbone of Asteria. These brave individuals master a diverse set of skills or specialize deeply into a few important job-related skills, making them the best of the best. That doesn’t mean they get paid terribly well, as that does ensure they don’t decide to become captains themselves.
|Starting SP – 60||SP gained on level up – 15|
|Starting Funds – 75,000 SC||Pay out per mission – x0.5|
“Quick Study:” You pick up skills quicker than others. Skilled and Elite techniques unlock one level sooner, and you can unlock Elite level on one additional skill, starting at 5. This means Skilled unlocks at level 2, Elite skills unlock at levels 5, 9, and 14, you can have a total of four elite skills rather than three, with level 14 unlocking two elite skills rather than one.
An Influencer is something between a corporate spokesperson and a celebrity. They are often well-known or even famous, and often on the payroll of one corporation or another. They also are stand-ins for white-collar jobs in this universe, usually management and advertising rolled into one. Often, they get here on their charisma, or maybe they are good at what they do, or maybe they’ve made and broken the right promises, but they are generally skilled at getting you to see things their way.
|Starting SP – 50||SP gained on level up – 11|
|Starting Funds – 750,000 SC||Pay out per mission – x1.5|
Connections: Knowing people can help you out of jam. Once per day, you may discard up to 3 cards from your hand. You then redraw, keeping only Hearts, until you have replaced as many cards as you initially discarded. Note that Hearts cards deal primarily with social skills, but can also apply to piloting, medical, and street skills as well..
Corporate Shill: “This is my favorite corporation in Asteria!” You are sponsored by a large corporation. If you speak enthusiastically about your corporation and praise its products in social events, marketplaces, and so on, you could receive a discount on their products, representing their kickbacks and ‘promotional samples’ sent to aid you. This is usually a Charisma check, but it could be something else depending on the situation and your Guide; the Guide also sets the difficulty based on the situation. This check is usually done once per new area or encounter. Note that you can fail, and potentially lose favor with your corporate sponsor, reducing the bonuses you get. Most corporations start at a 10% discount, and increase by 10% to a maximum of 40% off. This discount also applies to your party. You can only be sponsored by one corporation at a time, and it takes a month for you to change sponsorships if you ever decide to; this usually results in reduction to the original 10%, though this can change if the Guide allows.
Dragons fall outside of the usual reward systems of the Asteria galaxy, choosing to become one with the Galactic Dragon and its inward-looking system. This is largely tied to their self-destructive history; these days, dragons prefer to work for the greater good rather than themselves. Despite this, the opulence and wealth or even the sheer power of a dragon is enviable for some, and they might choose to become a dragon even if not born one, which can be done through the special Morph Rune that is etched upon a person’s core biochip. Just be aware that the wealth of dragon kind is largely tied up in its own surroundings and not its individual members
|Starting SP – 50||SP gained on level up – 12|
|Starting Funds – 50,000 SC||Pay out per mission – 25k SC or x0.10 whichever is higher|
Morph Rune: Dragons that commit themselves to the path of the Galactic Dragon have their very biochip permanently altered by magical means, usually upon reaching adulthood with a grand ceremony. This is a very special Magitek implant that can only be received via this background – the High Dragons keep its methods the most closely guarded secret in the universe. Its function is to turn one into a dragon or into a biped, which assuming there is space, they can do as a free action on their turn. For dragon-born, this is a form of their choosing; for those that were not born dragon, this allows them to turn into one. Considering nearly every ship, station, and building outside of those designed for dragons can’t actually fit a dragon, this is almost required to interact with the rest of the universe in any practical way – some dragons hiding what they are for decades before revealing their true form to those who have always known them. Despite this common occurrence, most biological scanners can detect who you are regardless of form; so don’t try to steal something in one form and think you can sneak away in another without some other sneaky skills!
Dragon’s Might: While in dragon form, dragons receive +1 card in their hand; this increases to +2 cards at level 7. For example, a level 1 dragon has five cards in their hand instead of four; a level 7 dragon has eight cards in their hand instead of six. This bonus only applies in full quadruped form and when strengthened by the Morph Rune; normal dragon race members do not get this benefit if they choose a different background. If you choose to or are forced to return to biped form via the Morph Rune while injured and you have only one card left, draw two cards. If either of these cards is your chosen sign in suit, discard them and remain conscious. If they are not, discard them and the card in your hand as you fall unconscious. At level 7, increase the number of cards drawn and discarded in this way, and it applies if you have two cards left in your hand instead of one when morphing.
Maybe they’ve got a chip on their shoulder, or maybe they don’t like the way the universe is run, but the Lone Wolf does things the way he wants – a rebel and a lancer through and through. He’s good at what he does, and will go to great lengths to succeed – sometimes burning himself out in the process.
|Starting SP – 50||SP gained on level up – 12|
|Starting Funds – 3,000,000 SC||Pay out per mission – x1.0|
“Let’s do it my way:” Once per day during their turn and in combat only, a lone wolf may choose one action and may not action split. Play every card in your hand to try and have it your way. Ignore all techniques and skills. You cannot refresh your hand size as normal, instead take one additional card at the end of each turn until back to normal hand size. Taking damage will stop your recovery and your new hand size will be what is left after discarding for damage. Note: This cannot be done on a skill that is naturally blocked. Cannot be combined with “The Captain’s Orders.”
In Asteria, nearly everyone is born with a biochip implanted within them. It functions like a special organ, helping to regulate their genetic code and bodily functions, as well as support the immune system and lengthen lifespan; at the same time, it also serves as a form of identification and ‘unhackable’ tech through which Spell Credit transactions are usually done. If a mother has a biochip, their child will inherit a version of it; one of the few cases of biotech passing from generation to generation, and one of the main reasons that it doesn’t usually do that.
Nulls, whether being born without it or having it removed, do not have this chip. This makes them ‘off the grid’ so to speak, and in a state that is highly illegal. They may be criminals who didn’t want to be tracked or former slaves who had it removed by cruel masters – but in the eyes of the law, it doesn’t matter. They must be found, detained, and forcefully implanted – often leading back to the same slavery and lack of freedom that they tired to flee in the first place.
As a result, Nulls usually get by with help from their friends, highly illegal means, or Hard Spell Chips, a physical currency. They can usually hold their SC in special virtual accounts, but these have to receive small amounts to avoid notice. Despite their limitations or because of them, Nulls have a strange kind of luck and familiarity with the darker side of skills.
|Starting SP – 55||SP gained on level up – 13|
|Starting Funds – 10,000 SC||Pay out per mission – x0.25|
Streetwise: All Streets skills are half cost for a Null. This means it costs 3 SP for Trained, 6 for Advanced Trained, 13 for Skilled, and 25 for Elite.
Bag of Tricks: Every time that an exploit is awarded per level, the Null receives a bonus exploit. This includes first level, essentially doubling the total exploits a Null can take.
Whether through natural talent or spiritual training, the Wizard is someone capable of altering reality around them. No one really knows how magic works: some believe in the Macestrial’s Elysium; Ascendants believe in a spiritual afterlife whose inhabitants help them; even the purely scientific believe in a realm of sheer probability that exists below the quintessence of the universe in a normally locked scalar field. None of them can be proven technologically, and technology rarely agrees with what magic wants to do. As a result, true Wizards, those who dedicate their lives to its study, are rare in the universe, since by reaching the pinnacle of their study, they make themselves useless to nearly all of the technologically-dependent universe.
Note that anyone can unlock magic skills at character creation; wizards are simply those who are trained specifically with magic in mind and have a very useful ability to help them called “One Word, Magic.”
|Starting SP – 45||SP gained on level up – 10|
|Starting Funds – 25,000 SC||Pay out per mission – x1.0|
Wizard’s Creed: Choose 4 Magic skills and remove the natural block on them; you start at Untrained with these skills. However, you must pick any other skill, even those from Magic, to natural block forever. You may not ever learn these skills.
One word, Magic: The most powerful technique of a Wizard; instead of a fleeting alteration that is soon reverted by a stubbornly unchanging universe, Wizards can force reality to their will.
Play one Magic effect; this effect remains active at the same level of power until destroyed by others or dismissed by the Wizard. You can use other skills, including magic, while One Word is active. This is a focus effect; the Wizard can only have a single effect in place like this at a time, and must play a new Magic effect to reactivate One Word, Magic. Cards that are part of the play remain locked in place as well; a Wizard’s maximum hand temporarily reduces by as many cards as are locked in place. For example, a Wizard plays a 10 and a 5 out of a hand of five cards. At the end of his turn, he does not refresh to five cards, but to three. If damaged to the point of losing all refreshable cards, One Word’s effect is lost. Imagine that those 10 and 5 cards were used to make a wall of ice. On a normal use of Magic, that wall would disappear on the Wizard’s next turn if it was not destroyed. Instead, it will persist until destroyed by the same amount of damage, or dismissed by the Wizard.