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My Homebrew Mass Effect Races

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  • My Homebrew Mass Effect Races

    One of my favorite franchises is Mass Effect. I have been playing Mass Effect Legendary Edition almost non-stop since it was released. Because of the amount I have been playing I got the itch. This is an itch I have experienced before with Mass Effect, but decided to gave in a little. While I am eagerly awaiting the SWADE Sci-Fi Companion before totally throwing myself at making my own homebrew, I decided to mess around and see what I could develop using the Race Creation system already set up in SWADE. I have a handful of races that I am pretty happy with so far. I know there are a bunch of Savage Worlds Mass Effect homebrews out there, but I'll admit, lot that I have seen go very simple on the races which I feel takes away with how diverse and interesting the aliens and humans of Mass Effect really are. To give the the multitude of races a fair shake I decided to go with a +6 race creation. I know this sounds like they would be super powerful races, which in all honesty they should be, but since all races would have the +6 to their race it actually works out pretty good. So well I wanted to show a few I have toyed around with. Couple caveats before we I begin. First, to simulate the Asari natural Biotic powers I am using Gifted as a temporary filler. I fully intend when I am ready to flush out a Biotic Arcane Background, but gifted works for now. Second, In my homebrew I decided that Electronics skill is a Core Skill, Third and final is that I want to give a shout out to Mass Effect Fandom Wiki. This Wiki really helped me the accurate wording and get a general idea on what racial abilities everyone should have. With that Lets start with how Humans and jump off from there.

    Part 1

    Humans (Race Value +6)
    • Adaptable (+2): With substantial genetic diversity, Human begin play with any Novice Edge of their choosing. They must meet its Requirements as usual.
    • Background Specialization (+4): Humanity has adapted quickly to the galactic scene taking on a lot of diverse rolls. Choose a background and start with a d6 in the following skills. Military (Shooting & Fighting), Scientist (Research & Science), Colonist (Repair & Survival) or Criminal (Hacking & Thievery).
    • Bitter Rivals (-1): Ever since Humans have joined Counsel Space, they have been in direct competition with Batarians for planets and resources. Humans suffer a -2 penalty to Persuasion when dealing with Batarians. This interaction can become hostile with little provocation.
    • Newcomers to the Galaxy (-1): While humans have shown their potential to the galaxy at large, there is still a negative stereotype that humans are being too pushy and demanding. Humans start with the Minor Hindrance Outsider.
    • Strength of Will (+2): One defining characteristic of Humans is their strength of will. While at times it has humans butting heads with other aliens, it is respected. Humans begin play with the Strong Willed Edge.
    Asari (Race Value +6)
    • Asari Superiority (-2): Due to their long lives and being one of the most influential races. Asari believe they are culturally and socially superior. They begin play with the Major Hindrance Arrogant.
    • Biotic Powers (+2): All Asari are naturally biotic to some degree, though not all choose to develop their abilities. Asari begin play with Arcane Background (Gifted) and start with the Mind Reading power.
    • Desirable Genetic Heritage (+2): The offspring of interspecies parings meld the partner’s geneses and passes desirable traits. Asari start with a free Novice Edge, which they must meet its requirements.
    • Low Light Vision (+1): Asari can see the ultraviolet at short-wavelength end of the spectrum
    • Natural Biotics (+1): All Asari are trained in the very basic use of Biotics; they begin play with a d4 in Focus.
    • Neurochemical Attraction (+2): Uniquely, the Asari are known to be perceived as attractive to many species. Asari begin play with the Attractive Edge.
    Pureblood Asari (Race Value +6)
    • Asari Superiority (-2): Due to their long lives and being one of the most influential races. Asari believe they are culturally and socially superior. They begin play with the Major Hindrance Arrogant.
    • Biotic Powers (+2): All Asari are naturally biotic to some degree, though not all choose to develop their abilities. Asari begin play with Arcane Background (Gifted) and start with the Mind Reading power.
    • Low Light Vision (+1): Asari can see the ultraviolet at short-wavelength end of the spectrum
    • Natural Biotics (+1): All Asari are trained in the very basic use of Biotics. Purebloods tend be to be very strong Biotics; they begin play with a d6 in Focus.
    • Neurochemical Attraction (+2): Uniquely, the Asari are known to be perceived as attractive to many species. Asari begin play with the Attractive Edge.
    • Pure Asari (+2): Despite the stigma of “pureblood”, Pureblood Asari have strength of spirit. Begin with a Spirit d6, this also raises their max Spirit maximum to d12+1
    • Pureblood Taint (-1): When discovered to be of “Pureblood”, other Asari typically treat them with suspicion and distain. Begin Play with the Minor Hindrance Outsider.
    Turian (Race Value +6)
    • Dextro-Protein Based Diet (-2): Turians are built on a dextro-amino acids. This places Turians in a distinct minority on the type of food they can consume. Eating non-dextro based will make simply pass through Turian’s system without providing any nutrition.
    • Hand to Hand Training (+1): All Turian’s learn the basics of self-defense, begin with Fighting at a d4
    • Mandible Bite (+1): Turian teeth and jaws mimic the structures possessed by apex predators such as crocodiles or ancient, carnivorous dinosaurs. Their bite can do Strength+d4 damage
    • Radiation Resistance (+1): Turians reflective plate-like carapace makes them less susceptible to long-term, low-level radiation exposure. Turians receives a +4 bonus to resist radiation.
    • Talons (+1): Turians have two long, proportionately thick fingers and an opposable thumb on each hand, each tipped with talons. These talons cause Strength+d4 damage.
    • Turian Military Training (+2): All Turians serve in the Turian Military at age 15 and train for a year. Begin play with the Soldier Edge.
    • Weapons Training (+1): All Turians have been trained in a variety of weapons. Begin with Shooting at d4

  • #2
    Part 2

    Krogan (Race Value +6)
    • Armored Plates +2 (+1): Krogans have hard plates that cover and protect their bodies. Krogans gain +2 Natural Armor
    • Big (-2): Krogans are quite bulkier then the other races, which makes finding equipment and armor outside of Krogan space difficult to find.
    • Blood Rage (+2): The blood rage of the Krogan is legendary. Krogans begin with the Berserk Edge.
    • Genophage Hatred (-1): The Krogan typically don’t get along with a lot of other Aliens, but with Salarians it is personal for making their race practically sterile. -2 penalty to Persuasion rolls when dealing with Salarians and will take little provocation to turn things hostile or violent.
    • Head Plate (+1): Krogan have a large plate on their head which is typical used to head-butt. The Head Plate can cause Strength+d4 damage and can add +4 damage at the end of one Fighting action in which a Krogan moves at least 5” and successfully hits.
    • Krogan Art (-1): While Krogan can produce art and culture, it isn’t always appreciated, Krogan have -1 on all Performance rolls.
    • Krogan Brute (-2): Krogan were perceived to be such a threat by the rest of the galaxy that they were subjugated to the Geneophage. This fear of Krogan Brutes still persist today, Krogan start with Outsider as a Major Hindrance.
    • Krogan Diplomacy (-3): Krogan diplomacy is done with force; Krogan do not start with Persuasion as a Core Skill and -2 on all Persuasion rolls.
    • Krogan Psychology (-1): The harsh and cruel environment that Krogan grow up in makes them very direct and to the point. They have little time or the patience to be tactful. Krogans start with the Mean Hindrance.
    • Predator Awareness (+2): Krogans have a 240 degree of vision; giving them a greater visual acuity. Krogan begin with the Alertness Edge.
    • Redundant Major Organs (+1): Krogans have multiple major Organs. Called shots do not do additional damage.
    • Regeneration (+2): Krogans heal rapidly. Krogans make healing rolls once per day rather than every five days.
    • Size +1 (+1): Krogans typically stand over 7 feet and weight up to 800 lbs.
    • Survival of the Fittest (+4): Growing up in harsh environment of Tuchanka, Krogan have adapted and become resistant to many things. Krogan have +4 Resistance to Cold, Heat, Radiation, and Toxins.
    • Survival of the Strongest (+2): Krogans if anything are pure muscle. Krogans start with Strength d6 and their Strength maximum is raised to d12+1
    For the last race, I took lot of liberties and went off script of a variety of things. Especially the Enviro Suit which my math was +3 for Amor +6, +4 for Resistances, +2 for immunity to disease and poison. 3+4+2=9; Weakened Immune system I wanted to use Anemic hindrance but more frequent and potentially deadly so went with a -4.

    Quarian (Race Value +6)
    • Dextro-Amino Based Diet (-2): The only other species that eats Dextro-Amino based foods. Qurians typically eat Turian food, but needs to be heavily sterilized.
    • Galactic Exiles (-2): Considered to be an unwelcomed race. Quarians are tolerated at best. They begin with the Outsider as a Major Hindrance
    • Geth Legacy (-1): Quarians resent and hate the Geth for expelling them from their home world. -2 penalty to Persuasion rolls and may become hostile with little provocation.
    • Keelah Se'lai (+2): Quarians know they all must work together for the betterment of The Migrant Fleet. They begin with Common Bond Edge.
    • Low Light Vision (+1): Quarians can see the ultraviolet at short-wavelength end of the spectrum.
    • Weakened Immune System (-4): After living aboard the Migrant Fleet for generations, the Quarians' immune systems have atrophied further still due to the years in the sterile environment of the Migrant Fleet. Treat like Anemic whenever a situation comes up that has exposed a Quarian to something outside of their suit or if there is a rupture. Make a Vigor check at -2; Success Quarian gets debilitating disease for 1d6 days. Success with Raise means they lucked out and no infection. Failure means the debilitating disease lasts for 2d6 days, and Critical Failure it is a lethal disease.
    • The Pilgrimage: When Quarians of the Migrant fleet reach young adulthood they embark on their Pilgrimage. This is a significant part of Quarian culture and motivation to not be perceived as a burden. Quarians start with the Scavenger Edge.
    • Quarian Enviro-Suit (+9): All Quarians have a custom made Environmental Suit. This Suit adds +6 Armor. Makes them Immune to Poison and Disease (if no rupture) and provides +4 Resistance to Cold, Heat, Electrical, and Radiation.
    • Quarian Ingenuity (+1): Living in the Migrant Fleet has made Quarians adept at repairs. They start with a d4 in Repairs.

    Well that is what I have done so far. I am curious what other people think so I decided to put this out there.
    Last edited by schmittism09; 07-14-2021, 04:32 PM.


    • #3
      I am guessing that you tried to balance Krogan, settled on this +6 version, and bulked the other races up to the same level, regardless of appropriateness.
      I am offended that you've codified the internal Asari bigotry into rules mechanics.
      Krogan peripheral vision could be better represented by the Danger Sense Edge - a chance to avoid ambushes rather than making them incredible at seeing everything (like Ashley Williams with a shotgun off screen).
      I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.


      • #4
        Hi. Balancing at +6 sounded high to me, and after reading through the races, I think you went a tad bit over-zealous. There are some things that were obviously meant as world-building by Bioware that simply have no place in a setting about interstellar war. I think you'd be fine (even better off) balancing at +4 and focusing on just the things that truly define each race.

        Just a brief critique, going down the list:

        Nothing really too jarring here. I can see why you gave them Outsider, but I don't know if it's entirely appropriate. Humans are not viewed in the same way as krogan, quarians, or batarians, who have each earned a reputation as Outsiders.

        I also don't think all humans demonstrate a universal strength of will. There are plenty of easily-led humans throughout the franchise. As a racial Edge, Strong Willed doesn't fit.

        Not sure why you felt the need to split them into two separate races. Being a pureblood can easily be represented by player-taken Hindrance. Even then, Outsider is not the right fit since no other race really cares except asari. Quirk might be the better fit. But in all honesty, being pureblood by itself isn't really worth any points. The real threat of purebloods is the potential to be born Ardat-yakshi... now THERE'S a worthy Hindrance!

        I like that you correctly stated that levo-chiral foods simply pass through undigested (unlike the video game claiming it can kill a turian), but why is it valued so high? Turians are a Council race and make up the majority of the Citadel's defense fleet. They should have no problem finding food. This is worth a tentative -1, but I'd probably value it at 0 since it's not very interesting to explore and unlikely to play a major role in the game.

        Turian society is a military heirarchy, meaning there's no real distinction between military and civic service. It's reasonable to assume that combat training (Fighting and Shooting) are part of every turian's schooling, but I don't think this translates to the Soldier Edge. Look at our real-life military... there are people in positions that couldn't carry 20 pounds without breaking a sweat after 10 minutes. I think it's incorrect to conflate "military society" with "everyone's a soldier."

        Their talons don't aid in climbing? Judging from the cost, I guess not, but just figured I ask. Also, having a Bite attack and Claws is mechanically redundant. Personally I wouldn't give them either since ranged weapons would dominate and everyone should probably be equiped with an omniblade anyway. YMMV

        Whoa boy! Let's address the elephant in the room: krogan redundancy (and I don't mean their organs). Krogan drop Persuasion as a Core Skill, then receive Outsider, Mean, an additional blanket -2 on Persuasion rolls, and YET ANOTHER -2 Persuasion with Salarians !! With anything from -3 (with other krogans) to a whopping -7 penalty, there is absolutely no reason any krogan player should be putting points into Persuasion... or even bother making Persuasion rolls at all. They'll fail nearly every Persuasion roll, and that can cause problems when Persuasion is crucial, but mostly the penalties are meaningless. Instead of providing a number of drawbacks to balance-back the bonuses, you've essentially just given all krogans an extra 5 or so points of benefits, making them (effectively) a +11 race.

        Krogan Art... Why, you expect any dancing while braining husks? But in all seriousness, why?

        Predator Awareness (+2): Krogans have a 240 degree of vision; giving them a greater visual acuity. Krogan begin with the Alertness Edge.
        Mmm, no, they have a greater visual arc, not acuity. Besides, Alertness is not the right Edge here since smell, taste, and hearing is not affected. This would most likely be a +2 to vision-based Notice rolls, for a +1 point evaluation.

        As with turians, their dextro-chiral diet is overpriced.

        Quarians are not Major Outsiders. They still have legal rights. Individual jerks might refuse them service, but that's a plot-building scene, not a core setting mechanic.

        Unless the campaign takes place post-ME3, the geth are universally seen as a concern, if not an outright threat. It seems strange that only quarians should specifically have this quantified as an ability.

        You've taken a unique approach to the environment suit. I would have simply treated it as a piece of gear that quarians get for free (assuming all characters don't get a spacesuit for free). The point value would be based on the economic cost of the suit in relation to the game's starting funds. So if a suit costs 4000 credits, and the starting funds are 1000, that's a +2 ability (since 1 Hindrance point buys doubles the starting funds).
        Last edited by Deskepticon; 07-14-2021, 10:05 PM.


        • #5
          For comparison, here are my take on the various races for my own home brew ME. Balanced at +4; all unlisted features (dextros DNA, lifespan, etc.) are flavorful background without enough in play significance to merit game mechanics.

          • Natural Biotic: Asari start with Arcane Background (Biotic) and a d4 Focus skill.
          • Universal Appeal: Every organic species finds asari sexually appealing, making the benefits of Attractive (and similar abilities) universal.
          • Enhanced Memory: Start with d6 Common Knowledge, maximum d12+1.
          • Rapid Metabolism: Salarians start with the Quick Edge.
          • Swift Sleeper: Salarians only need one hour of sleep per day.
          • Committed: A committed turian does not flee from duty. Turians have +1 to resist Fear and Intimidation, and turian units have +1 to Mass Battle morale.
          • Scaled: Turian scales grant +4 to resist radioactive environments. Damaging radiation attacks are reduced by the same amount.
          • Trained: Universal military training means turians start with a d4 in Fighting and Shooting.
          • Big: Elcor are big. They subtract 2 from Trait rolls when using equipment designed for non-elcor and cannot use non-elcor clothing or armor. Equipment, food, and clothing costs are doubled.
          • Hand-Feet: Like Earth gorillas, elcor use their forelimbs for walking and stability. They only have one hand available for most tasks, subtracting 4 from tasks that require two hands.
          • High Gravity: Dekuuna has gravity four times galactic standard; which makes the native elcor very strong. Strength starts at d8 and maximum strength increases by two die types.
          • Size 2: Increase Toughness and maximum Strength by two.
          • Subtle Signals: Elcor non-verbal communication is complex, broad, and subtle. Other species find elcor to be monotone and emotionless speakers, forcing elcor to preface most statements with the intended emotion (“Enthusiastic welcome: Greetings, human” versus “Condescending insult: Greetings, human”). This grants two advantages when speaking to other races; first, subtle tells are easily spotted giving +2 to determine the emotions of non-elcor; second, other species regularly underestimate the emotional intelligence and complexity of elcor, giving a +2 on Intimidation or Persuasion rolls for Networking.
          • Aquatic: Native to water, hanar cannot drown in oxygenated liquid and move Pace when swimming.
          • Float Harness: A mass effect levitation pack allows hanar to float over the ground and interact with other species. This allows hanar to ignore difficult terrain penalties.
          • Poison Touch: Hanar naturally secret toxins. A successful Touch Attack forces a Vigor roll to avoid Mild Poison. Hanar can choose if they secrete this toxin.
          • Size –1: Their smaller size reduces Toughness by 1.
          • Tentacles: The eight tentacles coordinate easily. Hanar ignore 2 points of Multi-Action penalties each turn.
          • Weak: ­–1 to all Strength rolls.
          • Adaptable: Characters start with a free Novice Edge of their choice (and must meet all the Edge’s Requirements).
          • Gene-Cleaning: Universal genetic treatments improve human health. Start with d6 in Vigor, maximum Vigor d12+1.
          • Size­ –1: Small, which reduces Toughness by one.
          • High Pressure: Volus biology is especially vulnerable to low pressure (and for Volus that includes galactic standard pressure), suffering –4 to resist low pressure. If a damaging attack uses low pressure then the damage is increased by 4.
          • Deal Makers: Volus learn to cut deals at every stage of life. They start with the Streetwise Edge.
          • Sturdy: Irune is a high-pressure world with half-again standard gravity, requiring power to thrive. Volus start with d6 in Strength and Vigor, and both attributes have a maximum of d12+1.
          • Four Eyes: The four eyes aid survival. Batarians have the Danger Sense Edge.
          • Outsider (Minor): Violent reputation, slave-based economy, and having departed the Citadel Council community makes batarians outsiders. Subtract 2 from Persuasion rolls with non-batarians. Also, other species will raise prices, ignore pleas for help, and treat as low class.
          • Strong: Start with d6 Strength, maximum Strength d12+1.
          • Tough: Dense tissues and supplemental cartilage reinforce batarian bodies, giving +1 Toughness.
          • Graceful: Naturally graceful, drell are remarkably good at close combat. Increase Parry by +1.
          • Powerful Memory: Start with d6 Common Knowledge, maximum d12+1. Get +2 to resist, or recover from, the mind wipe power.
          • Strong: Start with d6 Strength, maximum Strength d12+1.
          Krogan (all krogan Extras are Resilient or Very Resilient)
          • Hardy: Redundant organs prevent krogan from being Wounded by a second Shaken result.
          • Outsider (Minor): Krogan are big, tough, dangerous, and tried to conquer the galaxy. They subtract 2 from Persuasion rolls with non-krogan, and often face discrimination, harassment by law enforcement, increased prices, and their requests for aid are largely ignored.
          • Overconfident: Life is defined by challenge and krogan are adapted to face any challenge. This gives krogan the Overconfident Hindrance.
          • Powerful Adaptation: Krogan are unusually strong and resistant to hazards that would fell other races. They start with the Soldier Edge, ignoring requirements.
          • Size 1: Krogan usually range from 130 to 225 kg (286 to 500 pounds). Increase Toughness and maximum Strength by one.
          • Strong: Start with d6 Strength, maximum Strength d12+1.
          • Durable: Quarians are surprisingly resilient and start with the Combat Reflexes Edge.
          • Gifted Engineers: Start with d4 in Repair, and McGyver Edge.
          • Low Light Vision: Ultraviolet light is visible, removing penalties for Dim and Dark illumination (but not Pitch Darkness).
          • Loyal: Mutual survival, social necessity, and natural inclination combine to make quarians remarkably loyal. Earning that loyalty can be a challenge, but a quarian will risk reputation, injury, or even death to help ‘the crew’.
          • Outsider (Minor): Quarians are drifters, strangers, and lost their homeworld to an AI uprising. They subtract 2 from Persuasion rolls with non-quarians, and often face discrimination, harassment by law enforcement, increased prices, and their requests for aid are largely ignored.
          • Weak Immune Systems: Subtract 2 from Vigor rolls to resist Fatigue.
          • Adaptive Biology: Robust cellular adaption makes vorcha strong and resilient; start with the Soldier Edge, ignoring requirements.
          • Immune to Disease: Adapting cells prevent all infections. Vorcha are immune to diseases.
          • Low Light Vision: Ignore penalties for Dim and Dark Illumination, but not Total Darkness.
          • Regeneration: Make Natural Healing rolls each day. Permanent injuries may be recovered once all other Wounds are healed. Treat each injury as an additional Wound for recovery (may try once per week.
          • Limited Lifespan: Vorcha do not start with the Common Knowledge skill.
          • Physical Over Mental: Development favors physical over mental ability. Vorcha have –1 to all Smarts rolls.
          I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.


          • Deskepticon
            Deskepticon commented
            Editing a comment

            Although I'm wondering if seeing into the ultraviolet spectrum would be better represented as Infravision. Pitch Darkness, after all, is just an absense of visual light, but not necessarily all electro-magnetic radiation.

          • ValhallaGH
            ValhallaGH commented
            Editing a comment
            Deskepticon Thanks!
            I waffled on that for a bit. But then I asked myself if a quarian should be able to see in a sealed room with no light sources of any kind. My answer was "no", so they got Low Light.