Character Generation Example Two – Mindjammer

Right, continuing my current theme of examples of character generation I’m going to move on to the second in the series.

MindjammerI am a total sucker for a decent piece of Science Fiction, especially interstellar transhuman sci fi with awesome sounding tech.  So I’m going to create a character for Mindjammer, I’m going to go with something that’s perhaps a little more at the complex end of the spectrum (not sure for certain as I only got the book last week, but we shall see) and create a Sentient Starship.

Normally character generation for FATE games like this is best done with multiple people because the phase aspects naturally tend to fall out of conversations with the other players.  In this case I’m doing the character gen solo so I’m going to take a couple of liberties in the phase part of the character generation.

Given my love the of the Culture novels by Iain M Banks I’m going to follow his tradition of awesome names.  This ship is going to be called: Stand Back, I’m Going to try SCIENCE!

The great thing about FATE as a system is that from something as simple as a cool name you can probably extract an aspect and possibly some history.  This means that if you have a decent concept then a lot of the character generation just falls nicely into place.

So, let us move on to the actual character generation.

Concept: Unsurprisingly the core concept for Stand Back is going to be a New Commonality Science and Research vessel.  That’s pretty cool as it stands but I want to add some flavour to that so I’m also going to say that Stand Back is an ex-warship.  So the concept stands as “Ex-SCI Force Warship living out his retirement as a Science and Research vessel”.

This right away tells us that Stand Back underwent some kind of life changing experience that made him re-evaluate his role in the New Commonality and dramatically change from a ship of war to one of investigation.

Culture: Stand Back is a New Commonality Sentient Starship, so that makes the culture an obvious choice, Commonality culture. As the cultural aspect I pick “Humanity is Transcending – We Must Leave War Behind“.

Genotype: As a Sentient Starship Stand Back takes the Installation Genotype, this requires us to take the Mindscape Instance as an Extra.  As being a Sentient Startship is so core to the characters identity I’m going to take the option to combine my Genotype Aspect with my high concept.

Occupation: Now this is a more tricky stage, most sentient starships will take a dual occupation to better define their role.  So I’m going to take the Installation Occupation with the Sentient Starship build as my basic occupation, now thinking about what I want to combine that with I consider two options.  Scientist and Deep Space Explorer both seem appropriate to the concept, after some consideration I decide on the Deep Space Explorer as that seems more like Stand Backs cup of deuterium. That occupation doesn’t grant any free upgrades but does grant the permission to take organisation extras if needed.

High Concept Aspect: Now it is time to pick the High Concept Aspect for Stand Back, as I’m combining High Concept with Genotype I need something that reflects both. “Sentient New Commonality Deep Space Explorer” might be a nice fit, I’ll stick with that for the moment but may review later.

Trouble: Everyone has a trouble, it’s the thing that drives you forward and complicates your life.  Picking a good trouble is easily as important as picking a good High Concept, you want something that can be relied on to generate fate points for you but isn’t totally crippling.  Having had a bit of think about this I’m going to go with “New Commonality Spec Ops Won’t Leave Me Be“, we already knew that Stand Back used to be a Warship and that he retired a number of years ago, we don’t know why but what do know now is that Stand Back used to be part of New Commonality Special Operations and that they are not entirely thrilled or accepting of this ‘retirement’.  That sounds generate some good drama.

Phase Aspects: This is, in my opinion, one of the best parts of the character creation in FATE, you create your most recent adventure and then figure out how you tie into other players recent adventures.  As a construct you have the choice of either doing the standard phase trio or just picking three additional aspects.  I’m going to go with a mix of the two, I’m going to summarise Stand Backs most recent adventure and draw an aspect from that, then I’m going to just pick two additional aspects.

Phase One: Your Adventure

Stand Back’s most recent adventure is a deep space exploration mission, I’m going with the idea that Stand Back has done the classic Star Trek inspired 5 Year Mission.  Following the recommended path in the book they suggest you start with a bad thing that happened and then figure out what the context surrounding it is.  I’m going to choose a Black Hole as the bad thing, Black Holes are a great staple of Sci-Fi.

So a problem involving a Black Hole…Right here’s what we go with, a number of probes and at least one independent survey ship have gone missing in deep space, Stand Back is asked to investigate and finds evidence of extreme gravitational phenomena.  Following the trail reveals a hidden weapons development laboratory operating in the dark space between solar systems, Stand Back discovers that they are experimenting with Singularity Bombs and intervenes causing the the entire station to self destruct (side effect of experimenting with gravity weapons).  Although mostly successful, the data and remaining prototypes were all destroyed.  After the fact Stand Back manages to deduce the existence of a group called The Shadow Cartel, a group of individuals, corporate interests, private military forces and rogue nations dedicated to advancement of their own agenda.

Aspect: Enemy of The Shadow Cartel

I think for a while about the aspect, I could take something to reflect Stand Backs ability to improvise or knowledge of weapons etc, but that’s all kind of cliché so I decide to go with one linking me to an organisation.  The weapons research facility was being operated by a group called The Shadow Cartel and taking an aspect that pits me against them should work nicely; it can be invoked to provide a boost in activities opposing The Shadow Cartel and it can be compelled to complicate Stand Backs life and for Shadow Cartel agents show up and start shooting.

Phases Two & Three

Normally I would now cross over with the other players adventures and take an aspect from those, in this case however I’m just going to pick two additional aspects.

Aspect: Recently Returned from a 5 Year Mission

This aspect represents Stand Back’s 5 year mission beyond the explored boundaries, it can be invoked to imply familiarity with weird phenomena or unmapped star systems, I reckon it could also be used in situations like navigating through unfamiliar territory.  As for compels, those would be more related to social situations (having been in deep space for 5 year Stand Back isn’t the greatest people person), specific local knowledge (what political conflict on Seti Alpha V?) and changes of territory (what do you mean this is pirate territory).

Aspect: Variform Construction

I’m taking this aspect to represent the Variform technology included throughout Stand Backs construction.

Skills & Stunts

Now I need to take the skills and stunts that Stand Back will use, as a construct I can select skills and stunts from Construct lists as well as the Character lists.  It is important to note the differences though as a number of Construct skills represent systems.

We will also need to consider the scale of the ship, the default starting scale for a Starship is Huge (+2), this means Stand Back can have a maximum of 19 pts worth of skills and stunts assigned to gear before going up to the next size category.  We also have to buy a systems skill of at least equal value to the scale.

First up then lets pick some skills.

We have to take Systems of at least Fair (+2) so we’ll do that first.

Great (+4): Science
Good (+3): Intrusion
Good (+3): Active Sensing
Fair (+2): Systems
Fair (+2): Planing
Fair (+2): Manoeuvre
Average (+1): Ranged Combat
Average (+1): Passive Sensing
Average (+1): Technical
Average (+1): Will

Now it’s time for stunts, we get three anyway so lets spend those and see where that leaves us.

First up I’m looking at the Manoeuvre stunt Extended Manoeuvrability, by default Stand Back operates in Space, this stunt will add another environment, like Atmospheric.  So we’ll definitely take that.

Next I’m going to take Anomaly Scan for Active Sensing, that lets me defend against deceive using Active Sensing.  Clearly useful.

For the third I’m going to take Remote Sensor Package, to give me an Avatar.  Lets call the Avatar Walter.

After some consideration I’m going to spend two refresh and buy a fourth & fifth stunt, I’m going to take one from the character list, Polymath for Science, this stunt allows me to spend a fate point and substitute Science for any other skill check, as long as I can justify it.  As the fifth stunt I’m going to pick Hacker for Intrusion.

Now lets move on to the Extras budget.


Everyone gets the same Extras budget, 1 aspect, 2 stunts, 6 skill levels.  I’ve already spent the Aspect on the Mindscape Instance, now I have 2 stunts and 6 skill level to use.

Lets spend one of those stunts on the Labs Extra, Stand Back has a number of well equipped science labs on board.

I’m also going to buy the Advanced Sensors extra stunt for 1 stunt.  Upgraded sensors seems like a sensible choice for a deep space exploration and science vessel.

Finally I have 6 skill levels to use, lets spend those on our Avatar, currently it is a remote sensor platform allowing Stand Back to use Active Sensors via the avatar, I’ll add Athletics +2, Rapport +2 and Close Combat +2.  So Walter is now a pretty well rounded avatar that Stand Back can use to join the other characters on planet side missions.

Then we calculate stress boxes.  You have 2 stress boxes in each category by default, Mental, Physical and Credit, constructs also have systems stress.  Our systems and will skills mean we get 3 stress in those tracks and 2 in the others.

We also have to track which of these various abilities are in the Halo.  Walter is definitely in the Halo as without Mindscape connectivity Stand Back can’t pilot him and the ships Mindscape instance goes into the Halo as well.


Name: Stand Back, I’m Going to try SCIENCE!
Refresh: 3

High Concept: Sentient New Commonality Deep Space Explorer Ship
Trouble: New Commonality Spec Ops Won’t Leave Me Be
Culture: Humanity is Transcending – We Must Leave War Behind

Phase Aspects

Enemy of The Shadow Cartel
Recently Returned from a 5 Year Mission
Variform Construction

Extra Aspects

Mindscape Instance


Great (+4): Science
Good (+3): Intrusion
Good (+3): Active Sensing
Fair (+2): Systems
Fair (+2): Planing
Fair (+2): Manoeuvre
Average (+1): Ranged Combat
Average (+1): Passive Sensing
Average (+1): Technical
Average (+1): Will


Extended Manoeuvrability – Atmosphere
Anomaly Scan – Defend against Deceive attacks using Active Sensing.
Remote Sensor Package – Avatar (Walter)
Polymath – 1 Fate Point to substitute Science for any other skill check.
Hacker – Use Intrusion Skill to hack the Mindscape.


Advanced Sensors – Grants +2 to Overcome checks with Active Sensing.
Synthetics Labs – Grants +2 to Synthetics related technical checks.
Remote Sensor Avatar (Walter) – Use Active Sensing remotely also, Athletics +2, Rapport +2 and Close Combat +2


Electrostatic Ray Shielding – Tech Index: T7, Highly Detectable, Huge Power Requirement


Null Cannon – Dam: w:0, Rng: 4, Tech Index T7, Control: -1, Notes: Recoiless, Full Auto


Avatar (Walter).
Mindscape Instance.

Stress Tracks

Systems: 000
Physical: 00
Mental: 000
Credit: 00

2 thoughts on “Character Generation Example Two – Mindjammer

  1. CarlR

    Very interesting! Thanks for the detailed example, and that’s a great ship name. I wonder what its warship name was, or perhaps that would emerge in play.

    1. Hi CarlR, thanks for reading and I’m glad you found it useful. As for the warship name, I would say it would probably be more interesting to have it come up in game as a mental consequence.

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