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Approach for Building Star Trek / Orville / Galaxy Quest Style Characters

Stan Shinn

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Hi all! I am considering QuestWorlds for a game inspired by Star Trek and Orville. Here's how I was thinking about building characters, and I wanted to get your feedback on this approach. I created a Vulcan character since that species is pretty iconic and well known.

There are two keyword packages -- Culture (which is your species and maybe some personal background) and Profession (your Federation military division: Command, Conn, Engineering, Medicine, Science, or Security). I used 15 abilities instead of the standard 13, but otherwise used the standard QuestWorlds rules to build the character. Hopefully I got everything right.

Does this look like a reasonable approach for Star Trek / Orville / Galaxy Quest type characters?


Lt. Cmdr. D'Vor

High Concept: Vulcan Chief Engineer

Culture: Vulcan 
Alien Strength 10
Desert Adapted 10
Mind-Meld 15
— Alien Empathy +5
Nerve Pinch 15

Profession: Engineering
Computers 10
Dodging 12
Electronics 10
— Improvised Devices (distinguishing characteristic) +10
Engineering 5M
— Diagnostics +5
— Energy Weapons +5
— Reverse Engineering +5
— Warp Core Repair +5 
Hand-to-Hand 10
Piloting  10
Sensors 10
Shooting 13

Arrogant 15
Lack of Emotion 10M

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Looks good! Looking forward to seeing Captain Mercer and Commander Grayson!


Running: nothing | Playing: Battletech Hero, CoC 7th Edition, Blades in the Dark | Planning: D&D 5E Home Game, Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, HeroQuest 1E Sartarite Campaign

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On 10/27/2022 at 11:03 AM, Stan Shinn said:

Culture: Vulcan 

I'd expect to see a rating assigned to a Keyword, unless that has changed in the SRD.

On 10/27/2022 at 11:03 AM, Stan Shinn said:

Mind-Meld 15
— Alien Empathy +5

The abilities would then be breakouts of the relevant Keyword.

And you would not have breakouts on abilities (e.g. Alien Empathy is either a breakout of the Culture Keyword, or, possibly, a standalone ability).

On 10/27/2022 at 11:03 AM, Stan Shinn said:

Hand-to-Hand 10
Piloting  10

I wouldn't bucket these under the Profession keyword.  You might consider another keyword: Starfleet Training to encompass these?

The concept looks good overall.

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7 hours ago, jajagappa said:

I'd expect to see a rating assigned to a Keyword, unless that has changed in the SRD.

Looking over the SRD I realize I'm utterly confused about the relationship between Keywords, Abilities, and Breakouts. Glancing over HeroQuest 2 I think I see examples of characters with Keywords and Abilities (but no breakouts) and Abilities and Breakouts (with no keywords).

So what's a nice simple example of how you would assign a keyword a rating, and then have some abilities below it? Any links to some exams would be great! I think I prefer Heroquest 2's approach even though I'm struggling to understand how to structure keywords and abilities.

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For First contact style game / (HQ2) my character looked like this:


  • Profession: Space pilot 7M
  •                      Stealthy ops +2
  •                      Pull those g's +1
  • Outlook: Hindu 13
  •                      Bad philosophical quotes +1
  • Other: Geography 13
  •                      +1 Is that a ...

Augments (standalone)

  • Pilot Link 15
  • Heightened Reflexes 15
  • Artificial lung/heart 15

Flaws (standalone)

  • Reckless 7M
  • Not bothered

Robodog Companion

  • Robodog 20
  • Articulated 15
  • Talking 3M
  •                Inappropriate timing +1 (Flaw)
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13 hours ago, Stan Shinn said:

I'm utterly confused about the relationship between Keywords, Abilities, and Breakouts

A keyword is a "bucket" - typically something broad such as your Culture, your Profession, your Religion, but could include in a fantasy setting something like a Grimoire or in a sci fi setting something like "Part of the Matrix" or "Computer..." (thinking Star Trek in the latter case).  The keyword has a general rating.  Keywords, being broad, are more difficult to increase the rating.  Keywords can be used as Abilities when nothing else will do, but because they are broad it may be a stretch to use them, and they don't offer as much benefit in a contest.

Abilities are more specific capabilities for your character.  Abilities can be a Breakout from a Keyword.  In David's example above, Stealthy Ops is a breakout ability from the keyword Space Pilot.  Since a Breakout ability is part of the Keyword package, they start with the Keyword rating, and then get a +X (i.e. when using a breakout ability your rating is the keyword rating + the breakout's additional value).

Abilities can also be Standalone abilities.  In David's example, Heightened Reflexes is a standalone ability.  It has its own standalone rating.  

Abilities (vs Keywords) may grant Specific Ability Bonus in a contest (i.e. they are highly relevant to the situation at hand) so they are useful in that regard.

I don't recall if in the rules (or if a houserule), but I don't allow players to augment a breakout ability with its Keyword (its implied as a breakout) or with other breakouts in the same Keyword.  That means there can be an advantage in having some standalone abilities vs. having everything under keywords.

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Thanks for everyone’s feedback! I rebuilt the character based on people’s feedback; hopefully I got it right this time! I used the 13/17 and +1 starting ratings from HeroQuest 2 instead of the 10/15 and +5 QuestWorlds defaults. Below are the rules I used; I’d love any additional feedback!

Character Creation Rules

  • Species and Culture Keywords: Assign 17 and 13 in the order you desire to the species keyword (under the Culture category) and to the division keyword (under the Profession category).  The species keyword will be Human, Vulcan, Andorian, or other Star Trek appropriate species. Choose (or invent) four +1 breakouts for the species keyword. The division keyword will be either Command, Conn, Engineering, Medicine, Science, or Security. Choose (or invent) four +1 breakouts for the division keyword. 
  • Add Five More Abilities: Choose or invent five division abilities rated 13.
  • Improve Characters by 20 Points: You have 20 points to improve your character. It costs 1 point to add an ability rated at 13 to either Culture or Profession, 1 point to raise a single ability by +1, 1 point to add a new breakout (rated at +1), 1 point to increase a breakout by +1, and 2 points to raise a keyword by +1 (a.k.a. an umbrella ability with breakouts below it).
  • 5M Maximum Rating: Abilities (including breakouts) can be no higher than 5M during character creation.
  • Add 1-3 Flaws: Finally, choose up to three Flaws, the first equal to your highest ability rating (including breakouts), the second equal to your second highest rating, and the third equal to your lowest rating.

Sample Character

Lt. Cmdr. D'Vor

HIGH CONCEPT: Vulcan Chief Engineer


Vulcan 15  
— Alien Strength +1
— Desert Adapted +1
— Mind Meld +4 
— Nerve Pinch +2  


Engineering 17
— Diagnostics +1
— Energy Weapons +1
— Reverse Engineering +3
— Warp Core Repair +1
Computers 15 
Dodging 13
Electronics 13
— Improvised Devices +4 
Hand-to-hand 13
Piloting 13
Sensors 13
Shooting 16 


Arrogant 16
Lack of Emotion 17

Edited by Stan Shinn
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On 10/31/2022 at 6:23 PM, Stan Shinn said:

Below are the rules I used; I’d love any additional feedback!

That looks usable.

As a Player, I would want to add some peculiarities to a starting character. As a GM, I'd probably say "fine, if you can justify them".

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