Continuing from where we left off last time, we can now look at the first character archetype in more detail. In particular, I’m going to be looking at the Scoundrel.
Note: This article will likely be longer than most other “expanded archetype” articles, as I’ll be establishing general steps to be used in this and future posts.
To start with, I’ll expand on the overarching summary given in the previous article.
A wily, cunning, and charming rogue, the Scoundrel’s luck and guile never ceases to amaze. Using their wits, a cocky smile, and a quick quip for good measure, there isn’t a problem they can’t weasel their way out of. And when those fail, there’s always a concealed blaster and a quick trigger finger for backup.
Their personality absolutely flows with confidence, and their sly, cocky smirk is one of their most defining features. They’re no stranger to trouble, and are often the catalysts (or even the cause) of it! This doesn’t particularly bother the Scoundrel, as those situations are what really get their adrenaline pumping.
When it comes to a fight, a Scoundrel never fights fair. They’ll fight dirty – and are willing to do anything to get the upper hand, even if it’s dishonourable to do so. After all, what are lawful principles, other than great weaknesses? Rules aren’t unbreakable, but are more like guidelines (and sometimes, challenges!). Anyway – it’s only cheating if you get caught.
They’ve got a bunch of enemies – previous scam victims, law enforcement, and rival scoundrels just to name a few. They’ve never been successful at putting the Scoundrel down though – somehow, the Scoundrel always weasels their way out of it using their guile, wits, and of course, their smile.
WAIT A MINUTE. WHY WOULD ANYONE BE THEIR FRIEND?
Don’t be fooled – despite their love of trickery and plethora of enemies, Scoundrels don’t make good “lone wolves”. In fact, a Scoundrel very much relies on a strong network of close friends and allies! These are the people who can help them out when their good luck runs out. Being alone in a galaxy fraught with danger isn’t something even the most self-serving Scoundrels wish for! Of course, this isn’t to say they won’t try to pull the occasional “fast one” on those people – it’s just that the Scoundrel isn’t going to do something that irreparably breaks their bonds with their closest associates.
COMPARING TO OTHER ARCHETYPES
A GENERAL NOTE
When discussing an archetype, it’s always wise to explain how it differs from other possible choices. First, this helps define the archetype and keep it seperate from others. Second, it will help players decide between them when it comes to pick one.
BACK TO THE SCOUNDREL
We know the Scoundrel is proficient with a blaster. What makes them different to the Combat archetypes? Simply put, the Scoundrel isn’t a combatant first and foremost. Rather, combat is a last resort, or a means to gain a quick one-up on a weakened opponent. Their blaster is there for intimidation, security and a backup for when things get rough. When danger arrives, their first port of call is their wits and luck, not combat training.
We know the Scoundrel can interact with people from many different cultures. What makes it different to the Seeker archetypes? This is also simple – the Scoundrel interacts with people of other cultures to outsmart them. When it comes to trickery, they’re not thrown off by cultural or linguistic barriers. They’ve been all around the galaxy, and know how to best make their targets fall play into their schemes.
We know the Scoundrel is smart, with a very keen mind. What makes them different to the Science archetypes? Another simple one – the Scoundrel may be smart, but this represents wit, or “street smarts”, rather than “book smarts”. Their intellect is what drives their skill at various forms of social manipulation.
The Scoundrel shares many similarities to the Social/Stealth archetypes, as expected. I’ll compare them to the others individually.
Of the two other Social/Stealth archetypes, the Scoundrel differs from the Infiltrator the most. The Scoundrel prefers a more hands-on approach, and are more than happy to put themselves at the forefront if it means they can show off their dazzling charm and quick wits! Whilst the Infiltrator plans extensively for their goals, the Scoundrel is far more likely to rely on instinct, improvisation, and a bit of luck to get them through.
Though both the Scoundrel and the Socialite have a hands-on approach when it comes to social interaction, the Socialite has the backing of power, status, and riches, whereas the Scoundrel must rely more heavily on wits and luck. The Scoudrel is also more likely to be explicitly criminal, whereas the Socialite is more reserved, smokescreening their crimes behind status, coercion, and manipulation.
It’s now time to represent the Scoundrel within the rules of GURPS 4e. I’ve created a 200-point template, with 50 points of disadvantages. The template isn’t particularly pretty, but it’s functional for now. It’s worth remembering that final characters will be 250 points, as those will also include their species template and their background template, both 25 points each.
The template above allows the Scoundrel to specialise in luck, wits, and general skulduggery. Overconfidence and Trickster are compulsory as they more or less define the Scoundrel’s antics. The compulsory advantage requires the Scoundrel to have some degree of luck, and they are listed again to allow players to choose more than one of those options if desired (e.g. if they do not take Luck  as their compulsory advantage, they may take it as an optional one).
This isn’t the final, definitive template. This merely offers a starting point. I imagine the core of the template will remain the same, but as I go into further detail on the other archetypes, I’ll likely want to shift things around to give each one its own distinctive feel – every trait I want to see included should be incorporated into the system. I also feel like a wider range of disadvantages could be offered, though I’ll have to come back to that one.
GEAR AND TECHNOLOGY
Technology is a core part of any far-future RPG setting. To save myself difficulties later on, when designing each template I will list some of the common technologies they’re traditionally associated with. This means that when it comes to describing Celestar’s technology level, I’ll have a groundwork of necessary inclusions to start with.
BACK TO THE SCOUNDREL
One of the Scoundrel’s most signature pieces of equipment is their Holdout Blaster or Blaster Pistol. It should be small, to make it easy to conceal and less bulky to draw in an instant. It can’t be too weak, either – often the first shot fired is the deciding shot, and the Scoundrel can’t have their shot be too weak. The weapon should also be modifiable, with illegal options allowing for greater power. When it comes to life or death, a Scoundrel isn’t going to care about obeying the law.
The Scoundrel would also benefit from access to a Knife of some kind. It’s a classic weapon usable by anyone, but it’s definitely something a roguish individual would keep concealed on their person. Given that it’s the far future, it’s likely that knives (and other blades) have improved from our modern-day versions, so some sort of futuristic improvement is in order.
When it comes to armour and personal protection, it’s hard to imagine a scoundrel being clad in juggernaut full plate. Even a helmet seems too far – it hides their dashing looks! They’re too cocky to look like a coward, but they’re not stupid either. If they know they’re likely to get into danger, they’ll wear light and clothing-like armour, possibly underneath their clothing (or incorporated into their clothing) to trick their opponents into thinking they’re less of a threat than they are.
Other pieces of equipment are harder to define. However, anything that helps them with scoundrel-like behaviour is a must – means of trickery, deception and the like are vital.
SPECIES, BACKGROUNDS, AND ADVENTURES
A GENERAL POINT
It initially seems like a good idea to start detailing the other templates and setting details that suit the Scoundrel. However, it’s a bit to early to do that – “adventures” will depend on background (e.g. “Smuggler Scoundrel” vs. “Street Criminal Scoundrel” will have different sorts of adventures). Backgrounds and species are the sorts of things that need to be done as a whole, so I can cover all the bases. As such, I won’t go into those aspects in as much detail until I’ve expanded on all of the archetypes. For each archetype I’ll list three species and three backgrounds – giving a total of 30 of each type when all is done. I intend to cover the species after the archetypes, so these archetype summaries will only cover a brief mention of three potential backgrounds.
I’ll encourage players to choose the suggested species and backgrounds, but they’ll be free to choose any from the list. This means, for example, a Boffin could have the soldier background, or the Muscle could have the criminal background.
BACK TO THE SCOUNDREL
As a short summary of backgrounds for future reference, “Smuggler”, “Swindler”, and “Criminal” seem like potential backgrounds for the Scoundrel. I’ll go into more detail on these in future posts.
We’ve now covered the first archetype, and we’ve got a better sense of what it means to be a Scoundrel in Celestar. As I’ve said many times before, this isn’t the final, fully-polished archetype template. There are still many further adjustments that could be made. Those changes will be made later, when we have a wider view of how the archetypes interact with one another, the setting, and the game.
A note for readers – if you have any suggestions, inspirations, or can think of anything I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments!