Time To Shine
2023 / 04 / 12
Looking at all the options for creating characters in Embers of the Imperium.
Whether you’re familiar with the Genesys game or brand new, Embers of the Imperium offers a whole host of new and interesting character options that make roleplaying in the Twilight Imperium galaxy a uniquely fascinating experience. Let’s take a look at some of them.
You can play as all sorts of species, from the leonine Hacan, to the hulking reptilian Xxcha, to the avian Shikrai, and of course the ubiquitous Humans. But then there are some even more interesting options available as well. Would you like to play as an energetic phantom? Try the Creuss. How about a perpetually combusting person who has to wear an armored suit because “normal” environments are just too cold? The Gashlai are for you. Or maybe you’d like to play as two separate people at once? The feline Rokha and their diminutive Naaz comrades offer twice as much character for your choice.
All of the species have their own unique rule in addition to starting characteristics, wound thresholds, and skills. This even includes Humans, who are not the standard humans of other Genesys games. The Humans of the Twilight Imperium galaxy have spread throughout the stars and can be found on nearly every planet because of their adaptability and endurance, both of which are represented in their profile.
Since each species belongs to one (or more) different cultures, we also include a section discussing their common naming conventions and examples of character names. Little details like this help flesh out your character and make them come to life.
The careers in Embers of the Imperium are based on roles that characters may adopt in the Keleres. Each cohort** should have a mix of skills in order to succeed at any mission they are sent on, and the various careers reflect that.
Captains are often the leaders of cohorts. Unsurprisingly, they also tend to be good at commanding starships. Keleres Investigators and Field Scholars are equipped to handle any mysterious circumstances or research needs that come along, and can also be a font of valuable knowledge for their teammates. However, the galaxy is also full of different cultures and societies, so Keleres Liaisons are vital to ensure the cohort can operate without creating a diplomatic crisis.
Of course, given how large (and largely unexplored) the galaxy is, cohorts need qualified explorers and ship pilots to get where they’re going. Wayfarers and Trail Stalkers are ably qualified to handle these situations, whether traveling through the depths of the void or blazing a path across a wilderness planet. Meanwhile, Covert Infiltrators can sneak into populated regions and uncover sensitive information (or quietly eliminate dangerous threats).
And finally, there are sometimes when a cohort has to resort to violence. Orbital Drop Soldiers are elite military commandos trained for initiative, resourcefulness, and destruction, while Shepherds have just as much combat training, but focus on protection and preserving the lives of their comrades.
As with any Genesys product, these careers also general enough to be easily thematically adapted to different roles. A covert infiltrator could also be a burglar or thief, a Keleres investigator also works if you want to play a police detective, and a wayfarer can represent any role from a combat fighter pilot to a savvy smuggler.
Skills and Talents
The skills in Embers of the Imperium are mostly those found in the Core Rulebook. However, we have brought in three new knowledge skills to represent the specific information disciplines in Twilight Imperium. Knowledge (Culture) covers any information about the many societies and current events of the galaxy. Meanwhile, Knowledge (Lore) focuses on the galaxy’s history. In a galaxy as old as Twilight Imperium, knowing the past can be key to avoiding lethal mistakes in the present. Finally, Knowledge (Science) represents any scientific discipline ranging from the normal ones like astrophysics and quantum mathematics to the more esoteric ones like unified genetic memory and psychoarcheology.***
There are quite a few new talents****, however, and far more than we can list here! To really represent the variety of different species and cultures in the Twilight Imperium galaxy, some of the talents are limited to specific factions and species. In some cases talents are limited to a single species, but in most cases, they are limited to several species or factions.
You’ll notice that Master of the Blade’s prerequisites mention “allegiance” to the Sardakk N’orr. Allegiance is simply who your character owes their loyalty to, and something you decide when you come up with your character’s backstory. It’s also something that can change over the course of the game. So a talent like this is available to Hacan, Letnev, or Norr characters because their dominant societies tend to emphasize melee weapon training; but also to characters who work for or are allied with the Veiled Brood of the Sardakk N’orr because the Veiled Brood can make that training available.
Of course, there are plenty of talents that are available to any character. For example, anyone can take Combined Arms, which is a very valuable talent for a setting that emphasizes both ranged and melee combat!
And some talents represent truly impressive abilities that certain species possess. For example, the Creuss have an unequaled mastery of creating and manipulating wormholes. Though these wormholes are usually larger and used to move their starships, they can also create small wormholes for short periods of time to allow their best agents to infiltrate and exfiltrate highly secure locations.
Notice that this talent is also available to those who work for the Ghosts of Creuss, even if they aren’t Creuss themselves. The Ghosts have the technology to open wormholes remotely for any of their agents, although they only do so in urgent circumstances.
The Agenda Game
As we mentioned earlier, characters in Embers of the Imperium usually have an allegiance to a faction or organization. This allegiance also plays into the new agenda rules.
Agendas are long term goals set for characters by their players. They are story-driven objectives that the character is working to achieve for personal reasons, and are deliberately not linked to the plot of the main adventure. Agendas may be linked to a character’s allegiance, such as a character with an allegiance to the Federation of Sol having the agenda of gathering information on other factions and reporting back to the Federation. However, a character can also have an entirely unrelated agenda, such as paying off a debt to a criminal organization, or even trying to complete their doctoral thesis and finally graduate from one of the Universities of Jol-Nar!
To complete an agenda, the character must complete a certain number of benchmarks. These are concrete steps towards reaching their goal; if they owe a debt, for example, a benchmark may be gathering and sending off a large payment of money. The number of benchmarks a character needs to complete depends on the length of the campaign, and characters can also increase their number of required benchmarks to gain more starting experience points and gear.
What makes benchmarks interesting, however, is that it’s up to the players to call out potential benchmarks. As an adventure progresses, players can spot opportunities to complete a benchmark and ask the GM if that would be appropriate. For example, a player who is secretly a Federation spy may ask to download classified files while traveling aboard a Barony of Letnev ship. If the GM agrees, the character can attempt to complete the benchmark. The GM can deny the opportunity (this avoids circumstances where completing a benchmark may derail the main story), but when they do so they must give the players a Story Point.
Once characters have completed enough benchmarks, their player works with the GM to devise a side mission for them to go on that will see their agenda resolved (or failed) once and for all. The rewards for successfully completing an agenda can be immense; like loads of experience points, lots of money, or even your own spaceship! It can also be an opportunity to retire a character and start a new one, depending on what the agenda was.
…and so Much More!
Although we’ve talked about quite a few new character options, we’re really only scratching the surface on what you can find in Embers of the Imperium. Be sure to pick up your copy as soon as it becomes available in your country!
*And that’s only if you count the Naaz-Rokha symbiotic pair as one.
**A semi-independent team of Keleres operatives.
***Psychoarcheologists say that regular archeologists are clinging to a hopelessly anachronist way of studying the past. Regular archeologists say psychoarcheologists just don’t like getting their hands dirty.
****64, if you want to be precise, and we know you do.
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Science Fiction Campaign Setting.