Space Cowboy Archetypes

After watching Guardians of the Galaxy a few times in the theater, I’ve felt more inclined to try and dust off my idea for a space cowboy Apocalypse World hack. I’ve yet to successfully complete an Apocalypse World hack of any sort, so this might be a dubious effort. But I figure I can at least poke at it for a bit.

Guardians hit on a lot of high points for me: Motley ensemble cast featuring a bunch of characters with a past. SF that focuses more on group dynamic than, well, science. A bit of genre bending/mashing. An excellent soundtrack. It was very similar to my deep love for Cowboy Bebop. I tried running a Fading Suns game with a similar setup with mixed results.

Since I love Apocalypse World hacks, it seems like a match made in heaven. I thought I’d toss some ideas out for other people to look at and critique.

I’m approaching this a bit differently than I’ve been approaching my Carnivale-inspired hack. Rather than start to think about mechanics right away, I’ve been trying to think about “what do I want to see in it?”

I liked the conceit from Star Wars Saga Edition, which has characters able to do some basic tasks for the genre. Since it tends to involve a lot of being on the ship, I am going to assume that everyone can accomplish any job on the ship. Being the pilot or the mechanic will not be limited to one particular character type. Some character types might fit better than others, but I wanted to keep it fast and loose.

With that in mind, I thought I’d look at source material for character types. Here are the shows that came immediately to mind.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy (Movie): Starlord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, Drax
  • Star Wars: Han, Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO, Lando
  • Cowboy Bebop: Spike, Jet, Edward, Faye, Ein
  • Firefly: Mal, Zoe, Wash, Inara, Kaylee, River, Jayne, Simon, Book
  • Farscape: John Crichton, Aeryn Sun, Ka D’Argo, Zhaan, Rygel, Pilot, Chiana

So then I tried to group them into broad groups of similarity. This was my initial pass. I encourage people to disagree with me. Some characters could easily fit into multiple categories.

  • Outlaw: Scoundrel. Criminal. Scruffy looking. Possibly herds nerfs.
    Starlord, Han, Spike, Mal, John Crichton, Chiana
  • Brute: Thugs. The sort of people that will tear your arms off.
    Groot, Drax, Chewbacca, Jayne, Ka D’Argo
  • Pro: The more militant types, more precise than the Brute.
    Book, Gamora, Zoe, Jet, Aeryn Sun
  • Brains: Techs, scientists, mechanics, engineers. Nerds.
    Wash, Rocket, R2D2, Edward, Kaylee, Simon
  • Diplomat: Socialites. Faces. People who talk to people for a living.
    Lando, Faye, Inara, C3PO, Leia, Rygel
  • Mystic: People with weird powers.
    Luke, River, Zhaan
  • Unknown: People that I just can’t easily fit into other categories.
    Ein, Pilot


2 thoughts on “Space Cowboy Archetypes

  1. Kit

    Nice read. I’ve been giving this some thought for a long time and I’m interested to see where you go with it.

  2. Derrick

    Groot may also fit under Mystic. You might consider doing Race as a 2 or 3 way option at char gen like in Dungeon World. Ex: Human, Alien, Droid.

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