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Hacking Diaspora: Mass Effect


Licenced in Electrickery
So I've been thinking about Diaspora, and it occurred to me that it may be the system to hack for Mass Effect. Aspects and stunts seem a good way to model the game's biotic and tech powers without going overboard with the rules. Whilst a "softer" approach than the default Diaspora, there's plenty of scope for characters and their stories. I'll refer a bit to the Mass Effect Wiki, which you can find here.

In that vein, presenting:

Hacking Diaspora: Mass Effect

Some of the fundamental basis of the Diaspora setting mesh quite well with Mass Effect. In particular, the idea of technological advancement to the point of collapse is here, as are limited FTL routes, and the heat debt acquired by interstellar travel. In setting, the last great technological society, dubbed the Protheans, are not in-fact the creators of the mass relays scattered through the galaxy, but the latest in a long line of intelligent races to unlock the secrets of their use and discover their purpose. In the dark spaces between galaxies, slumbering in hibernation, were the Reapers. An advanced hybrid race of sentient synthetic/organic warships, they wait thousands of years for sentient races to climb again to the stars before harvesting them in a devastating orgy of extinction. By leaving the mass relays, and their focus, the citadel, behind them when they again leave for millennia, the Reapers provide the building blocks for their next harvest.

Element Zero and the Mass Effect
The last such galactic extinction event happened approximately 50,000 years ago. In that time several races have reached the stars and begun to unlock the secrets of the mass relays, and the usages of their Element Zero based technologies. From the Mass Effect wiki:
Element Zero ("Eezo") said:
When subjected to an electrical current, the rare material dubbed element zero, or "eezo", emits a dark energy field that raises or lowers the mass of all objects within it. This "mass effect" is used in countless ways, from generating artificial gravity to manufacturing high-strength construction materials. It is most prominently used to enable faster-than-light space travel.
FTL Drive said:
Faster-than-light drives use element zero cores to reduce the mass of a ship, allowing higher rates of acceleration. This effectively raises the speed of light within the mass effect field, allowing high speed travel with negligible relativistic time dilation1 effects.

Starships still require conventional thrusters (chemical rockets, commercial fusion torch, economy ion engine, or military antiproton drive) in addition to the FTL drive core. With only a core, a ship has no motive power.

The amount of element zero and power required for a drive increases exponentially to the mass being moved and the degree it is being lightened. Very massive ships or very high speeds are prohibitively expensive.

If the field collapses while the ship is moving at faster-than-light speeds, the effects are catastrophic. The ship is snapped back to sublight velocity, the enormous excess energy shed in the form of lethal Cherenkov radiation.
Mass Effect Fields said:
Element zero can increase or decrease the mass of volume of space-time when subjected to an electrical current. With a positive current, mass is increased. With a negative current, mass is decreased. The stronger the current, the greater the magnitude of the dark energy mass effect.

In space, low-mass fields allow FTL travel and inexpensive surface-to-orbit transit. High-mass fields create artificial gravity and push space debris away from vessels. In manufacturing low-mass fields permit the creation of evenly-blended alloys, while high mass compaction creates dense, sturdy construction materials.
So, whilst limited FTL is possible, it's much more efficient to use the mass relays to navigate the galaxy. This reflects back to the Cluster generation mini-game quite easily. When the table sits down to create the cluster, the slipstreams become the links between the mass relays, and each system can have several planetary systems reachable by ships.

Ubiquitous Technology
In the games, we see the presence of technology everywhere. Even colonists have access to advanced tech, and we never see any non-technical races competing for resources, etc. The least developed of the races is humanity, who have jump started their technological creations and exploit Element Zero and mass effects themselves, so the Tech stat for world creation becomes relatively non-variable for gaming purposes. So whilst there are still advances to be made, and plenty of scientific secrets still to be discovered, the seeding of the mass relays by the Reapers has effectively pushed the standard technological levels up to T3 or T4 across the board. This still gives us plenty of conflict to game, as with regular Diaspora T4 societies, the world of Mass Effect is on the brink of imminent collapse. The Geth are a prime example of the doom that is pending with the development of AIs, driving the Quarians from their homeworld and taking over. It also means that most weaponry will be energy weapons, personal networks are everywhere, and they're susceptible to combat hacking, amongst a variety of other effects.

New System Stat: Order
Thus we need a new stat to represent variances between worlds, systems and societies. I've picked Order. There's plenty of variance in the levels of Order in societies during the missions in the game, from the relatively lawless Omega, to the totally controlled centre of galactic politics, the Citadel. Here's how I've established the ratings:
  • O-4: Virtual chaos. There are no authority figures that control everything here, period. Life is strictly survival-of-the-fittest, so whilst today's criminal ganglords might provide some measure of stability, tomorrow's gang leaders may die in a hail of blaster fire.
  • O-3 to O-2: Ad-hoc Rule. Most new colonies have these ratings, representing a very minimal structure of a handful of people at most. Any sufficiently charismatic or forceful individual can set whatever rules they like.
  • O-1: Corruption. Whilst relatively stable, those in charge are more concerned with their own power than in serving the public interest.
  • O+0: Stability. Those employed to look after the public generally do, and those who commit crime and are caught generally face the appropriate penalties.
  • O+1: Progress. Typically touted as a fair system for all, the rules and restrictions are beginning to pile up.
  • O+2 to O+3: Institutionalisation. There are rules for almost everything. What started as measures to protect the public good are beginning to become quite restrictive.
  • O+4: Total Control. Places with this rating are typically under direct military control.
Another of Mass Effect's differences is the presence of Biotic powers. From the wiki:
Biotics said:
The term biotics refers to powers that are accessed and augmented by using bio-amps, or users thereof. The effects are produced through biological manipulation of dark energy. The various realisations range from the ability to knock adversaries over or lift them helplessly into the air, create barriers impervious to enemy fire, or even unleash small gravitational vortices that draw in enemies and environmental debris.
Biotic Background said:
All Asari are natural biotics from birth, though not all choose to develop their abilities. Biotics of other species, such as humans, are individuals who were exposed to dust-form element zero in utero and, beating the odds, developed eezo nodules throughout their nervous system. The natural electrical impulses in the body can create mass effect fields from these nodules, producing the effects seen as biotic abilities.

In humans, about one in ten exposures will result in a person with moderate, stable biotic talents that are worth training. However, there is a risk the eezo will cause medical complications instead, such as terminal cancer, and even if biotic talents manifest themselves, they aren't always permanent. In extremely rare cases, humans who were exposed in utero, yet did not manifest biotic talents, can develop them in puberty through further exposure to element zero.

All biotics are sensitive to mass effect fields, but each biotic must first be trained, then outfitted with a surgically implanted amplifier in the brain - usually at puberty - to use their talents to any useful degree. A biotic has to essentially develop conscious control of their nervous system, which is a long, slow process. Once trained, a biotic can generate and control dark energy to move objects, generate protective barriers or restrain enemies. This is done using a technique called 'physical mnemonics'; the biotic uses a physical gesture to cause the right neurons and eezo nodules to fire and create the desired effect. Bio-amps are artificial devices used to increase a biotic's talent in a particular discipline.
The medical risk to their body, the quality of their implant, and the extent of their training are the core concepts we want to integrate. The first one we can do with an appropriate Aspect, the second with a stunt, and the last with a new skill. Players who wish to play Biotic characters should be encouraged to take all three changes for their character, however if they don't there are still stories that can be told about characters who didn't receive training, or who had defective implants, and so on.

Appropriate Biotic Aspect Development
All phases of generating character aspects are suitable for themed Biotic Aspects. Biotics were typically discovered at a very young age, and thus implanted with their Bio-amps during the Growing Up phase of character creation. Usually, the expensive procedure was performed by the military, and thus were trained in developing their powers with military application in mind. They were also probably raised away from their parents. Most, but not all, entered military service when they reached their Starting Out phase, though some left or escaped and became mercenaries or otherwise went rogue. The events leading to their Moment of Crisis, or after, being Sidetracked, could also have been influenced by their Biotic Powers. Finally, what now? Who knows the character is a Biotic? To whom do they owe the debt of Implants? Are they on the run, or gainfully employed?

New Skill: Biotic Training
Next, the new skill, Biotic Training. As the quoted text notes, the mass effect fields are difficult to generate and control without training. In game terms, the Biotic Training skill allows the character to create various effects. Some examples are listed below. During character creation, a player may choose a number of effects equal to their Biotic Training skill level, modified by their Bio-amp Implant stunt. A character with "Biotic Training 1" with an L3 Bio-amp may choose one effect, an Asari character with "Biotic Training 3" and no Bio-amp may choose three effects, and so on.

Sample Biotic Effects
  • Barrier - Using this effect creates a barrier against the skin to protect against energy weapon attacks. When activated, add 2 to the effective armour of the character for the purposes of the defense roll against energy weapons. This effect lasts 3 turns, or until another Biotic effect is used.
  • Lift - Using Lift will cause enemies to float helplessly in the air, making them more vulnerable to attack. Place an appropriate Aspect on the target as you would for a maneuver. This effect conserves the momentum of its target, so a charging enemy will rush over the characters heads, and so on.
  • Singularity - This gravitational power sucks multiple enemies within a radius to a single area, leaving them floating helplessly and vulnerable to attack. It can also attract objects from the environment, such as crates or pieces of furniture. Place an appropriate Aspect on the target zone as you would for a maneuver. This effect lasts 2 turns, or until another Biotic effect is used.
  • Stasis - This effect causes an enemy to be temporarily locked in a mass effect field, freezing the target in place and making them unable to attack. Enemies in Stasis also become impervious to damage. Place an appropriate Aspect on the target as you would for a maneuver.
  • Throw - In combat, this effect is mostly used to keep opponents at a distance, by either launching them away or knocking them over, rendering them helpless when they land. Shift an enemy one zone on a successful activation, and place an appropriate Aspect lasting till the characters next turn.
  • Warp - This effect lowers the armour on a target, increasing the damage the enemy takes, as well as dealing damage over time. When activated, subtract 2 from the effective armour rating of the target for the purposes of their defensive rolls. If the same target is Warped for two consecutive turns, any damage to the target generates one additional shift before consequences are applied to represent the damaging nature of the mass effect field.
These effects all require a successful Biotic Training skill roll to activate, and last until the next turn only unless otherwise specified.

New Stunts: Bio-amp Implant
Unless your character is an Asari, being a Biotic is an acquired ability. Asari have no need to augment their innate abilities, and thus are only restricted by training to the number of Biotic Effects they can produce. Non-Asari Biotics harness their abilities through training with their implanted Bio-amp. These implants are rated by their efficiency and have associated effects. Asari characters also benefit from these stunts, but assume any drawbacks associated as well if implanted.

Sample Bio-amp Implant Stunts
  • L1 Implant - Biotics with an L1 implant can manipulate small objects but aren't strong enough to be offensively viable, because the L1s were implanted after puberty. The purpose of this implant was not to develop combat powers, but to save the life of the character. A Biotic with this stunt is in debt to somebody due to the expensive and dangerous nature of the surgery. The character may not take the Biotic Training skill at any level.
  • L2 Implant - The results of this implant vary wildly; some L2s are hardly stronger than an L1, others are strong but unstable, while a few are powerful and stable, but suffer discomfort from their implants. The effective rating of the Biotic Training skill varies each time the character begins combat.
    - Stable L2 - the maximum rating for the Biotic Training Skill is 4, also determining the number of Biotic effects the character can manifest. Roll 1DF before each personal combat scene begins and add to the Biotic Training skill rating; this is the effective rating of the skill for the remainder of the scene. If reduced to zero or below, the character is unable to manifest any Biotic Effects this scene.
    - Unstable L2 - the maximum rating for the Biotic Training Skill is 3, also determining the number of Biotic effects the character can manifest. Roll 3DF before each personal combat scene begins and add to the Biotic Training skill rating; this is the effective rating of the skill for the remainder of the scene. If reduced to zero or below, the character is unable to manifest any Biotic Effects this scene. If raised above 5, the character begins to take one composure or health track damage for every successful activation, cumulatively. Players choose which track they will apply the damage to each time, and can reduce this damage by taking Consequences like normal.
  • L3 Implant - A good, stable implant, this Bio-amp restricts the maximum rating of the Biotic Training skill to 3.
    - L3-R Implant - Short for 'L3-retrofit', this is an L1 or L2 who has undergone extremely dangerous brain surgery to replace their implant with a newer model. Also restricted to a maximum rating of the Biotic Training skill to 3, the character's Composure Track is 1 less than normal reflecting the fragile nature of their psyche. They may choose one additional Biotic Effect than their Biotic Training skill would allow to reflect their previous abilities.
  • L4 Implant - These implants use biotic amplifiers with inbuilt VI interfaces to allow for monitoring and improved performance. There are no officially acknowledged side effects, although the nature and personality of the Virtual Intelligence is highly variable due to their experimental nature. There is no restriction to the maximum rating of the Biotic Training skill. Characters with this stunt permanently have the Aspect "Occasionally distracted by internal dialogue with VI".


Wow, that's more than I was expecting I'd write. I'll follow up shortly with Race Background writeups, Tech Powers and the Omni-tool, Ammo Equipment, and anything else that catches my eye.

In the mean time, I'd love some feedback, comments or discussion on the above stuff.

Stephen Lea Sheppard

Be seeing you
Staff member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Nitpick: Guns in Mass Effect tend not to be energy weapons. They just use mass effect fields to accelerate metal slugs to a significant fraction of lightspeed.

James the Dark

Retired User
Also, as of ME2, the most advanced Biotic Amps are the L5p, L5x, and L5v, which are utilized by Adept Shepard, Vanguard Shepard/Jack, and Sentinel Shepard, respectively. Same power level, different optimizations.


Registered User
Validated User
About the L5, I didn't see any mention of them besides Shepard. Jack, our other resident biotic powerhouse uses a L4. Maybe its a Cerebus prototype?


Edit: Didn't say previously, but this is looking good. I am waiting with much anticipation for the races and classes.
Last edited:


Licenced in Electrickery
Thanks for the comments. Here's my take on these things:

Whilst the guns in Mass Effect are effectively rail guns, they still require power to work. Since they don't use chemical propellants, they're "energy weapons" as opposed to "slug throwers" (even though, yes, they do throw metal slugs). Encountering a Prothean artifact that drains power from all storage devices won't affect slug throwers, but your standard issue assault rifle suddenly becomes unusable.

Seeing as the L4 and L5 amps show up in Mass Effect 2, its quite possible that a stunt that referrences one in a game set during the first ME game will be voted down at the table level as inappropriate to the time line. Or not. Thats one of the good things about the Diaspora format. These aren't hard rules, but examples of how you could introduce them into the game. Having said that, I left out the L5 implant as there was little information on the wiki as to any appropriate elements to hook to for gaming purposes, but thats no reason you can't take a stunt based on one in your game. Link to ME wiki Biotics.

I also chose not to put up any of the ME2 biotic powers, but maybe i'll revisit them after covering more of the core concepts.


Licenced in Electrickery
Hacking Diaspora: Mass Effect

Omni-tools are multipurpose diagnostic and manufacturing tools used for a variety of battlefield tasks, such as hacking, decryption, or repair. They are handheld devices that combine a computer microframe, sensor analysis pack, and minifacturing fabricator. Versatile and reliable, an omni-tool can be used to analyse and adjust the functionality of most standard equipment, including weapons and armour, from a distance. The fabrication module can rapidly assemble small three-dimensional objects from common, reusable industrial plastics, ceramics, and light alloys. This allows for field repairs and modifications to most standard items, as well as the reuse of salvaged equipment.

New Skill: Tech Training
Anyone can play games or watch news clips on their omni-tool, but a character with training and access to a military grade omni-tool becomes a true threat in a high tech environment. Apex: a character who has invested this much time and effort to raise their skill to this level has almost limitless options when they use them. Systems crash at the blink of their eye, no codes are safe from their access, and even enemy weapons malfunction on command. They're either elite military, or the target of elite special forces themselves.

Characters may take a number of Tech Talents equal to the lower of ranks they have in Tech Training and Computer. A character with computer 4 and tech training 3 may take three Tech Talents, one with computer 2 and tech training 4 may only take two Tech Talents, and so on.

Sample Tech Talents
  • Damping - This application of the Military Grade Omni-tool (see below) causes disruptions and suppression of mass effect fields, and can be used to disrupt Biotics, most common energy weapons, and even starship systems. Use this Talent defensively to make Biotic Training checks contested when used on the character or allies in the same zone, or offensively by placing a "suppressed by Tech" aspect on an appropriate target no more than 1 zone away.
  • Decryption - Used to unlock sealed doors, bypass security alarms, and access secure systems, it can also be used to augment another character's computer(space) check. Multiple Redundancy: use my Tech Training to gain a +1 on computer skill checks during the damage control phase of space combat.
  • Electronics - Due to the highly technical nature of most devices, MG Omni-tools can be used to disable a free tag gained on any of their equipment of any ally in the same zone as you, as a combat action (this prevents an opponent using the aspect to your ally’s disadvantage).
  • Energy Drain - Sophisticated circuitry allows the user to drain energy from an enemies energy weapon for use in their own. After a successful attack in this manner, the character's weapon is too hot from the sudden charging to be used immediately, and must cool down till their next turn. The amount of energy drained in this manner will never exceed the storage capacity of the character's gun.
  • First Aid - used in this way, the MG Omni-tool lets you disable a free tag gained from the Health stress track of any ally in the same zone as you, as a combat action (this prevents an opponent using the Consequence to your ally’s disadvantage). The character must have at least one rank in the medicine skill to use this talent.
  • Hacking - Artificial or synthetic lifeforms attacked with this talent can be subverted for one round to fire on their own allies by messing with their targeting systems. The following round, the target becomes immune to further hacking attempts. There must be multiple enemies present to activate this talent. Place a "targeting malfunction" tag on the target until the player's next turn.
  • Medicine - The advanced scanners in a MG Omni-tool allow a character with ranks in medicine to substitute their ranks in tech training to the skill roll instead. The character must have at least one rank in the medicine skill to use this talent.
  • Neural Shock - Biological lifeforms attacked with this talent can be paralysed for one round by disrupting their central nervous systems. Place a "disoriented and confused" tag on the target until the player's next turn.
  • Overload - Artificial or synthetic lifeforms attacked with this talent can be shut down for one round by overloading their power systems. The following round, the target becomes immune to further overload attempts. Place a "system rebooting" tag on the target until the player's next turn.
  • Repair - The diagnostic tools in a MG Omni-tool allow a character with ranks in repair to substitute their ranks in tech training to the skill roll instead. The character must have at least one rank in the repair skill to use this talent.
All Tech Talents last for one turn and must be in the same zone as the character, unless otherwise stated above.

New Stunt: Military Grade Omni-Tool
Whilst personal omni-tools are common, the highest capabilities come from having and training with military grade omni-tools. Illegal to have without being a current, serving member of a military organisation or affiliate, many MG Omni-tools find their way onto the black market and into the hands of criminals, mercenaries, and others. Tech talents can only be used with such an omni-tool due to their specialised nature.

Racial Backgrounds
Helpfully found on page 221 are the suggested ways of introducing non-human races to the Diaspora format. Here's the relevant text I based the following racial outlines on from the authors:
Diaspora said:
Formulating a non-human race (or converting one from another source) may then be framed in terms of general statements that are applicable when measured against a normal human. They may suggest some Skills should be higher than others, or that some should be lower, and Stunts that would be more common in the race than in humans. These differences form the mechanical description of the race. These differences do not change the number of Stunts or Skills or the shape of the Skill pyramid; they only describe certain features of the choices one would make within those constraints in order to create a believable alien of that type.

  • Asari
    ME Wiki said:
    The asari, native to the planet Thessia, are often considered the most powerful and respected sentient species in the known galaxy. This is partly due to the fact the asari were the first race after the Protheans to achieve interstellar flight, and to discover and inhabit the Citadel.

    A mono-gender race—distinctly feminine in appearance—the asari are known for their elegance, diplomacy, and biotic talent. Their millennia-long lifespan and unique physiology—allowing them to reproduce with a partner of any gender or species—give them a conservative but convivial attitude toward other races. The asari were instrumental in proposing and founding the Citadel Council, and have been at the heart of galactic society ever since.
    A very long lived race, Asari can be found in all walks of life. As such, Asari have been bartenders and dancers, mercenaries, traders, diplomats and warriors, and some all of them at somepoint in their life. Whilst they are natural Biotics, not all develop their skills, and when focused on building their martial abilites are fearsome huntresses. As a popular Turian saying puts it: "The asari are the finest warriors in the galaxy. Fortunately, there are not many of them."

    Asari characters favour a few skills over others. Reflecting their physical attributes, Asari typically have the Agility skill quite high, develop their stealth and close combat skills as hunters, and usually have at least one space skill. Out of physical combat, Asari have had a long time to develop many other skills, but often have good charm or intimidation ranks. Politically minded Asari will have good arts, bureaucracy, culture/tech, and some kind of profession. Regardless of their current phase of life Asari are mindful of their lifespan and take the long view, and as such often have the resolve skill.

  • Salarians
    ME Wiki said:
    The second species to join the Citadel, the salarians are warm-blooded amphibians with a hyperactive metabolism; salarians think fast, talk fast, and move fast. To salarians, other species seem sluggish and dull-witted, especially the elcor. Unfortunately, their metabolic speed leaves them with a relatively short lifespan; salarians over the age of 40 are a rarity.

    Salarians are known for their observational capability and non-linear thinking. This manifests as an aptitude for research and espionage. They are constantly experimenting and inventing, and it is generally accepted that they always know more than they are letting on.
    Salarian Characters excel at invention, preferring to use cutting-edge technology rather than settle for anything less. The salarians see information gathering and even spying as a matter of course when dealing with other races, but this is not underhanded: they simply embrace the dictum of 'knowledge is power'. With this in mind, Salarians often have ranks in intellectual skills such as archaeology, demolitions, medical, repair, science, and tactics. Also valued are all space based skills. Many Salarians have high alertness informing their decisions, and as such are well suited as traders and mercenaries, using their brokerage, bureaucracy, and EVA skills to augment their chosen professions.

  • Turians
    ME Wiki said:
    Known for their militaristic and disciplined culture, the Turians are the most recent of the Citadel races invited to join the Council. They gained their Council seat after defeating the hostile Krogan for the Council during the 'Krogan Rebellions'. The turians deployed a salarian-created biological weapon called the genophage, which virtually sterilised the krogan and sent them into a decline. The turians then filled the peacekeeping niche left by the once-cooperative krogan, and eventually gained a Council seat in recognition of their efforts.

    Turians are noted for their strong sense of public service. It is rare to find one who puts his needs ahead of the group. Every citizen from age 15 to 30 serves the state in some capacity, as anything from a soldier to an administrator, from a construction engineer to a sanitation worker. Turians have a strong inclination toward public service and self-sacrifice, so they tend to be poor entrepreneurs. To compensate, they accepted the mercantile volus as a client race, offering protection in exchange for their fiscal expertise.

    The turian military is the center of their society. It is not just an armed force; it is an all-encompassing public works organisation. The military police are also the civic police. The fire brigades serve the civilian population as well as military facilities. The corps of engineers builds and maintains spaceports, schools, water purification plants, and power stations. The merchant marine ensures that all worlds get needed resources.
    Turians are generally prohibited from taking either assets or brokerage reflecting their racial propensity towards bettering the group rather than lining their own pockets. All Turians characters should have at least five skills from the combat and space skill sets reflecting time spent in public service. Also prominent are bureaucracy, demolitions, intimidation, oratory, repair, stamina and survival. Aspects should also be chosen to reflect their loyalty to the team.

  • Krogan
    ME Wiki said:
    The Krogan are a species of large reptilian bipeds native to the planet Tuchanka, a world known for its harsh environments, scarce resources, and overabundance of vicious predators. The Krogan managed to not only survive on their unforgiving homeworld, but actually thrived in the extreme conditions. Unfortunately, as Krogan society became more technologically advanced so did their weaponry.

    With the help of the Salarians, the Krogan were 'uplifted' into galactic society, and lent their numbers and military prowess to bring an end to the Rachni Wars (see below). Ironically, after the rachni were eradicated, the rapidly-expanding Krogan became a threat to the galaxy in turn, starting the Krogan Rebellions and forcing the Turians to unleash the genophage. This genetic 'infection' dramatically reduced fertility in krogan females, causing a severe drop in births and, ultimately, population, eliminating the krogan numerical advantage.

    Their thick hides are virtually impervious to cuts, scrapes or contusions, and they are highly resistant to environmental hazards, including toxins, radiation, and extreme heat and cold. Biotic individuals are rare, though those who do possess the talent typically have strong abilities. The most amazing physiological feature of krogan biology is the multiple instances of major organs.
    Krogan have always had a tendency to be selfish, unsympathetic, and blunt. They respect strength and self-reliance and are neither surprised nor offended by treachery. The weak and selfless do not live long. In their culture, "looking out for number one" is simply a matter of course. As such, Krogan characters should have the stamina skill in one of the top three tiers, and should also invest in brawling, close combat and resolve. Krogan typically have few social graces, perhaps excluding intimidation, but due to the overabundance of predators on their home planet, the animal handler and survival skills nicely complement the Krogan love of combat skills in general. Many who have left Tuchanka have found employment as professional mercenaries, bodyguards, and security enforcers for gangsters, private armies, and governments alike.

  • Quarians
    ME Wiki said:
    The quarians are a nomadic species of humanoid aliens known for their skills with technology and synthetic intelligence. Since their homeworld Rannoch was conquered, the quarians live aboard the Migrant Fleet, a huge collection of starships that travel as a single fleet. Approximately three hundred years ago the Quarians created the Geth, a species of rudimentary artificial intelligences, to serve as an efficient source of manual labor. However, when the Geth gradually became sentient, the Quarians became terrified of possible consequences and tried to destroy their creations.

    After being refused aid from the Citadel Council, the Quarians fled in the Migrant Fleet while the Geth took over their systems. Soon after, the Council stripped the Quarians of their embassy, effectively cutting the Quarians out of Citadel politics as a punishment for their actions. Ever since, the Quarians have devoted all their skills and resources to preserving their species aboard the Migrant Fleet.

    The most important fact of Quarian biology is their weak immune system. As a result, all Quarians habitually dress in highly sophisticated enviro-suits, to protect them from disease or infection if they are injured. Their suits can be compartmentalised in the event of a tear or similar breach to prevent the spread of contaminants (similar to a ship sealing off bulkheads in the event of a hull breach).
    All Quarian characters should take the Aspect "Life seen through a window". If they travel on a sterile ship of the Migrant Fleet, this aspect changes to "No substitute for home cooking" or something similar. Quarians are trained extensively before they leave on their pilgrimge, and quickly develop high EVA and medical skills to protect themselves. Most Quarians focus on two space skills, some take all six, and favour MicroG combat or energy weapons, but they also take ranks in repair, resolve, science and survival. Quarian characters are generally prohibited from taking stamina due to their fragile immune systems, and assets and brokerage due to their lack of currency based economics in the Migrant Fleet.

  • Volus
    ME WIKI said:
    The Volus are an associate race on the Citadel with their own embassy, but are also a client race of the Turians. They hail from Irune, which possesses a high-pressure greenhouse atmosphere able to support an ammonia-based biochemistry. As a result, the Volus must wear pressure suits and breathers when dealing with other species.

    Because they are not physically adept compared to most species, Volus mostly make their influence felt through trade and commerce, and they have a long history on the Citadel. However, they have never been invited to join the Council, which is a sore point for many Volus individuals.

    Volus culture is dominated by trade, whether it be of land, resources, or even other tribe members. The Volus have a reputation as traders and merchants, and many, work as some of the best financial advisers in Citadel space. Because the Volus are not physically adept, they tend not to be very violent, and can even seem overly-pacifistic and cowardly to other, more militant species. Their inability to provide adequate soldiers for themselves and the Citadel is a primary reason for not yet being inducted into the Council.
    Volus characters should not have any combat skills above tier four, and only two at most, if at all. Brokerage should be in the top three tiers, as should some profession such as banking, trader or accountant. They are comfortable with bureaucracy, and most have extensive assets to draw upon. Culture/tech skills are part of the business ethos, "know your customer's need better than they do", as do oratory and tactics. Like the Quarians, Volus must develop EVA skills to keep themselves safe, but are unlikely to have much in the way of space skills.

  • Drell
    ME Wiki said:
    The Drell are a reptile-like race that were rescued from their dying homeworld by the Hanar following first contact between the two. Since then, the Drell have remained loyal to the Hanar for their camaraderie and have fit comfortably into galactic civilisation.

    The Drell now thrive co-existing with the Hanar and have been a part of the galactic civilisation for roughly two centuries. The debt of gratitude that the Drell owe the Hanar is referred to as the Compact, which the Drell fulfill by taking on tasks that the Hanar find difficult, such as combat. Any Drell may refuse to serve, but as being requested to serve is a great honour, few turn down the offer.

    The Drell possess eidetic memory, an adaptation to a world where they must remember the location of every necessary resource (vegetation, drinkable water and prey migration paths) across vast distances. The memories are so strong that an external stimulus can trigger a powerful memory recall. These recalls are so vivid and detailed that some Drell may mistake it for reality. This process can be involuntary.
    Drell have quite a few physical skills due to their harsh development, so many have high ranks in agility, alertness, resolve, stamina, and survival. Their Compact with the Hanar allows them to develop many other skills, but primarily ones that involve physical tasks, such as demolitions, EVA and repair, as well as all space and combat skills.


Further comments appreciated, as I'm still working things out.

Next up I'll go through the classes, ammo types and the morality choices.
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Brad J. Murray

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Just a note on Energy Weapons.

The mechanical difference between Energy Weapons and Slug Throwers in Diaspora is that EWs are better than STs at T3+. They are roughly equal at T2. Oh, and they get "low recoil" for free.

That's it. So anything else one thinks an energy weapon ought to be is just paint, reflected in the stats by our own imagination and narration. So if you can supply the right paint and EW fits the bill mechanically, then it's the right choice. Renaming it is good paint. :D

Now obviously if the weapons in question are launching relativistic projectiles then they are either artificially low recoil (wave hands, paint and magic) or they launch you into space when you fire them. Ergo, EW works. Or your PCs are always hurtling through space. Or very non-violent.

Brad J. Murray

RPGnet Member
Validated User
Thanks for clarifying that Halfjack. Any other thoughts on the rest of the stuff I've put up so far?
I'm not actually all that familiar with Mass Effect, but looking at this as a setting hack for Diaspora absent that context, it looks like fun and it doesn't look broken. It looks like you grasp the system and know where to twist.

Play will tell the tale!


Registered User
Validated User
Looks cool.

I just wanted to add that I played in a Mass Effect game for one long session using Diaspora a few months ago and it was cool. We were essentially winging it, experimenting with adapting the system on the fly as we played (essentially re-skinning/fluffing up as needed) and it worked great.

So, I would expect that putting this work in up front will make the gaming even better. You have some good times ahead of you!

(Isn't Diaspora grand?)
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