Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Smuggler Career for Edge of the Empire (Cargo's got to move somehow)

Following up from last week, we’re going to take a bit of a deeper dive into the specific careers that you can pick up for Edge of the Empire. In alphabetical order , we’re continuing with the Smuggler career.  The Star Wars Universe is full of situations where things have to move from place to place without being noticed.  One of the iconic heroes of the Star Wars Universe started his career as a Smuggler, and the stories that you can tell playing a Smuggler are limitless.

Edge of the Empire tells stories about criminals and other folk who exist on the fringes of civilized society.  Smugglers fill in as a general classification for criminals and other professionals who possess skills of a highly questionable nature and dubious legality.  Smugglers fill a lot of roles in the Star Wars Universe, and playing one gives you a lot of room to explore the setting.

What this means in terms of the Edge of the Empire game is that there is a market for professional criminals.  Smuggling is just a facet of what the smuggler does, and in most cases the skill set serves as a starting place to embrace a criminal career full of adventure and mischief.  Smugglers also fill a necessary role in most instances as pilots and traders in groups that might otherwise lack those resources.


The Smuggler has 8 career skills that collectively represent the professional knowledge that all Smugglers should have.  Those skills are:
  • Coordination
  • Deception
  • Knowledge (Underworld)
  • Perception
  • Piloting (Space)
  • Skullduggery
  • Streetwise
  • Vigilance

Looking at the career skills for the Smuggler, a couple of things come to the forefront.  With Deception, Skullduggery, and Streetwise  the Smuggler is ready to handle a dozen different criminal activities ranging from cons to pockets picked and a host of other criminal actions.  Coordination, Perception, and Vigilance are all skills that focus on keeping the Smuggler aware of what’s going on around them. Knowledge (underworld) clues the Smuggler on who to contact when looking for work, and Piloting Space let’s them get where they need to be.  

(Remember, when you build your character and select the Smuggler Career, you gain a free rank in four of these skills)

The Smuggler’s Role

The Smuggler has the skill set and motivation to make a pile of credits because everybody needs a competent courier to move people and things from place to place without an government entanglements.  With the right combination of luck, opportunity, and backup, the Smuggler can be an essential component for the growth of a colony, the establishment of a trade route, or a black market superstar, hauling illicit cargo from here to there (Make the Kessel Run).

Of all the Careers we’ve looked at, the Smuggler is probably the one that most embraces the idea behind Edge of the Empire.  This career is built on circumventing the rules and doing what needs to be done.  As a core concept, they consider rules and regulations to be suggestions to ignore, or challenges to accept.  It’s a high risk, high reward game that can pay out greatly, but the house wins once in awhile.  

How does this career interact with a group of characters in Edge of the Empire?  Smugglers are essential for handling criminal activity.  They are finesse machines who can charm and disarm their way through a host of situations that other careers would likely have to shoot their way in and out of.  The other essential element of this career is the unique knowledge of moving things and people from place to place without being noticed.  That’s an incredibly useful skill for every group of criminals.

Smuggler Specializations

There are three Smuggler Specializations offered in the Edge of the Empire core book.  Like other games that offer specializations or archetypes, these are primarily intended to strengthen an existing concept, or push the core career in a slightly different direction.  The three specializations presented are:

  • The Pilot
  • The Scoundrel
  • The Thief

Remember, Each Specialization offers four additional career skills, (1 free rank in two of those skills) and access to a talent tree linked to that specialization.  Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these.

The Pilot

The Pilot focuses on the role traditionally associated with the Smuggler, that of the purveyor of goods and people from point A to point B.  The Pilot takes this role and builds onto it with additional career skills and talents that enable the Pilot to move his or her cargo about the galaxy with the barest of notice from unwanted authorities.  

The Pilot specialization adds Astrogation, Gunnery, Piloting (Planetary), and Piloting (Space) to the list of career skills for Smugglers, and they will gain a free rank in two of those skills if this is your starting specialization.  This is one of the ways that a character can start with two ranks in Piloting (Space) that come up every so often, if the Pilot puts a free rank from Smuggler and a free rank from Pilot into it.  The talent tree for Pilot is focused on making sure that the Pilot’s starship is either impossible to find, or impossible to hit.  There are also options for encouraging the Pilot to find new and interesting ways around the galaxy, which is a handy skill for a person who moves cargo quietly.  

The Scoundrel

Scoundrel is a catchall term to describe a vast array of enterprising criminals.  Conmen, strong arm robbery types, and gamblers all fit under this umbrella of criminal mischief makers.  This character exemplifies the smooth talking criminal aspect of the smuggler career, and this character can pull a lot of different roles in Edge of the Empire

The Scoundrel specialization adds Charm, Cool, Deception, and Ranged (Light) to the Scoundrel’s career skills (remember, you get a free rank in two of those if this is your starting specialization)..  This gives the Scoundrel a potential two ranks in Deception, and does a fine job of rounding out the social interaction capabilities of the Scoundrel.  Ranged (Light) does a nice job of giving the Scoundrel some offensive capacity to back up the talking aspects.  

The Thief

Star Wars can be seen as a galaxy full of things that don’t seem to be in the right spot.  The Thief is tailor made to rectify this incongruity, and has a lot of fun taking things that don’t necessarily belong to them.  In most cases, the reason for the theft is secondary to the challenge and thrill of the act itself.  Thieves are security experts from both sides of the challenge, and turn up in the strangest places.  

The Thief specialization adds Computers, Skullduggery, Stealth, and Vigilance to the career skills offered by the Thief, and you get a free rank in two of these skills if this is your starting specialization.  The thief’s talent tree is full of benefits that apply when the Thief is sneaking in and out of places and can help them find people to take care of the ill gotten gains of their heists.  

Smuggler Stories

I always feel the urge to describe Star Wars and its sprawling universe as one of the greatest westerns of the genre.  It’s filled with tiny towns (independent worlds) who are just trying to survive in a hostile universe.  There are bandits, criminals, oppressive governments, and a host of other things that are actively trying to influence the larger universe around them.  In that context, there are a lot of interesting stories that you can tell with a Smuggler.  The ones offered by the book are fairly straightforward ideas that you can probably work something out with.  Everyone has their own reason for entering the trade, but here are some interesting options.  

  • The Journey:  Some Smugglers are enamored by the freedom a starship offers and will take jobs crisscrossing the galaxy.  These Smugglers want to see as much of the galaxy as they can, and there are always people who need cargo moved in order to fund these excursions.  
  • The Secret: Life takes some incredibly hard turns, and Star Wars has as many stories like this as you can imagine.  A new life, a new identity and the skills to disappear are very appealing to some folks, and that’s how they find themselves in the trade as a Smuggler.
  • The Inheritance: One of my personal favorite story seeds, the Inheritance is the long lost touch of a family member giving opportunities to young, new characters that may not have any idea what they’re doing.  Inheritors often have no idea how they got themselves into the situation they’re about to be in.  The other thing to remember is that debts are also inherited...

Flying Casual

Now if you’ve got some more questions or ideas about putting together a Smuggler character don’t worry. Fantasy Flight Games released a book specifically for Smugglers, Fly Casual.  Featuring new species, specializations, and a host of new equipment options, this book also takes you into the edges of polite society and into the wilds where a wink and a smile can earn you as many credits as the Kessel Run.  

Game on, Game Fans.  

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