Welcome back to Staying in Character, where we mix, match, and mash our beloved pop culture icons into our favorite tabletop role-playing game systems. We usually have to channel our inner Dr. Frankenstein, but we always end up with something resembling the source material.
Today’s docket features the latest Han Solo clone, Poe Dameron. Able to lead a team and occasionally take orders, Poe is the kind of guy that you want to accompany you on space adventures.
There was quite a bit of feedback on our Mandalorian build that suggested Star Wars characters should be strictly built in the Edge of the Empire system. Here at Nerds on Earth, we’re trying to stretch our imagination, so we’re building Poe in Paizo’s Starfinder system instead.
Since Poe was introduced in The Force Awakens, nothing here is going to be a spoiler from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Let’s begin our Poe Dameron Starfinder Build!
Step 1: Create a Character Concept
Poe Dameron is a Rebel pilot who’s building a legend. Lucky for us, we have a bunch of source material to draw from: the sequel trilogy, the Shattered Empire comic, and, of course, the Poe Dameron comic. They all point to the same base character, and that’s what we want to capitalize on.
Here are the big three points of emphasis for the character that we want to convey in our build:
- Talented Pilot: If there’s one thing that Poe is known for, it’s that he’s an incredibly skilled pilot. Time and time again, he maneuvers out of harm’s way and completes his mission.
- Heroic: Even though he can be reckless with a dash of foolhardiness, Poe isn’t afraid to take risks. In the vastness of space, that’s the best way to get killed. At the same time, it’s the best way for people to remember your name if you come out unscathed.
- Inspiring: Others look to Poe for his leadership. Whether it’s a combination of his heroism and suave, or his ability to laugh in the face of danger, people see Poe as someone they can follow into battle. He might lack the confidence, but he hides it well to reinforce others’ faith in him.
Step 2: Choose a Race
If we’re keeping true to the source material, Poe Dameron is a Human. I think Poe would also make a decent Shirren, but that’s definitely going off-book. If you’re just using this build as a framework, feel free to put whichever race you find most intriguing.
We’re going to keep all of the normal, out-of-the-box Core Rulebook Human attributes for now. Nothing from the other rulebooks jumps out as particularly pertinent to Poe.
He may be a pilot first, but Poe is handy to have around in a pinch on the ground too. One of his biggest strengths is his loyalty to his friends and the people who are counting on him. The adaptability of humans lends itself to this concept well.
Step 3: Choose a Theme
We don’t need to spend a lot of time on this one: Poe Dameron is an Ace Pilot. Full stop. There’s a reason why General Leia Organa trusts him with the important task of finding her brother, Luke. She knows that he’s going to come home with the information she requires.
The key to a good Ace Pilot is that they can command any rust bucket on this side of the Drift. From speedy single fighters to sprawling freighters, Poe understands how to coax his ship into doing whatever he wants.
One thing to remember with the Ace Pilot theme is that it’s not for any old pilot that you’d pull off the street. The Ace modifier means that only the most skilled pilots are worthy to bear this nomenclature.
Step 4: Choose a Class
Typical Operatives excel when they’re on their own, completing objectives. Since Poe is an analog to Han Solo, I’m going to classify him as an Operative instead of a Soldier.
One thing that these roguish types are really good at is improvising when a situation gets out of hand. They take risks – usually uncalculated – and put all the chips down in situations they should probably fold.
Operatives take advantage of their surroundings and don’t accept defeat. As we also learned in The Rise of Skywalker, Poe has at least an inkling of a criminal past. This means Sleight of Hand, Bluff, and Stealth were probably important skills for him to master.
The reason why the Operative class is so appealing is the Daredevil specialization. Ace Pilots like Poe Dameron have a degree of recklessness that can’t be taught. It’s instinctual. This ties directly into Poe’s heroism, because when people sing songs about your exploits they’re going to focus on the fantastical.
Eventually, at level 2, we can choose the Uncanny Pilot exploit to enhance Poe’s piloting abilities. This also gives bonuses during chase sequences, which Poe tends to find himself in more frequently than most.
Step 5: Finalize Ability Scores
Now that our base choices are selected, we’re ready to start doing some math. I’ve broken down the final scores below, with some clarification on how I arrived at these numbers.
- Strength: 10 = 10 (Base). Poe is best when using his ship for strength as opposed to his personal strength.
- Dexterity: 16 = 10 (Base) + 1 (Theme) + 5 (Pool). To successfully complete daring maneuvers, Poe puts himself into some acrobatic situations.
- Constitution: 12 = 10 (Base) + 1 (Pool). We’ve seen Poe get beat up, but he never stays down for long.
- Intelligence: 10 = 10 (Base). Poe is smart, but his intelligence comes more in the form of situational wisdom.
- Wisdom: 13 = 10 (Base) + 4 (Pool). As a squad commander and future General, it’s important that Poe can lead the masses into battle.
- Charisma: 12 = 10 (Base) + 2 (Race). What’s a rogue without a bit of charm?
Step 6: Apply Your Class
Poe Dameron is shaping up to be quite the sharpshooter. I bet you credits to donuts that womp rats wouldn’t stand a chance against his blaster.
- Base Attack Bonus: +0
- Fortitude Save Bonus: +0
- Reflex Save Bonus: +2
- Will Save Bonus: +2
- Stamina Points (SP): 6 = 6 (Operative) + 0 (Con Modifier)
- Hit Points (HP): 10 = 6 (Operative) + 4 (Human)
- Skill Ranks per Level: 8 = 8 (Operative) + 0 (Int Modifier)
We already touched on the Specialization that we’re going with: Daredevil. This allows us to use Acrobatics for our Trick Attacks, if we so wish. It also gives us the ability to get instant successes to Trick Attacks against foes if we’re both balancing, climbing, flying, or swimming (Terrain Attack).
At 1st Level, we get Operative’s Edge (Ex), giving us a +1 insight bonus to initiative checks and to skill checks, which is HUGE. Furthermore, we get the Operative’s bread and butter ability – Trick Attack (Ex). This grants Poe the element of surprise. Essentially, if he succeeds at the Trick Attack he gets some extra damage and the target becomes flat-footed.
Poe is proficient in Light Armor, which is really all he needs while he’s in the cockpit. A slick leather jacket constitutes as Light Armor, right? Furthermore, he’s also proficient with basic melee weapons, small arms, and sniper weapons. He’ll be running down New Order hallways with his pistol out before we know it!
Step 7: Assign Skills & Choose Feats
Even with an average Intelligence, Poe Dameron gets eight skill points to invest, thanks to the Operative Class. Here are the top four that you should consider:
- Bluff: Whether he’s a smuggler or trying to get out of a sticky situation, Poe needs to be able to speak on his toes.
- Engineering: If he can’t make on-the-fly fixes to your ship, Poe doesn’t deserve to pilot it.
- Profession (Squad Commander – WIS): I’m an advocate of always investing in a Profession skill, and this one capitalizes on Poe’s leadership qualities.
- Computers: All ship consoles are a little bit different. This will give Poe the edge when hijacking enemy ships or making a daring escape in an unfamiliar vehicle.
For Feats, we get to choose two. We would normally start with one other feat, but since we’re Human we get that delicious bonus.
- Fast Talk: Baffle a potential foe, causing it to be surprised when combat begins. Poe usually tries to talk first and shoot second (looking at you, Han), but sometimes the rubber hits the road and the lasers start flying. This helps give him an advantage when things go haywire.
- Diversion: Use bluff to create a distraction so that your allies can hide. Putting himself in harm’s way is exactly the kind of daring leadership that Poe reflects. He isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves if it means protecting the people that trust him.
Step 8: Buy Equipment
There’s something about the vast gear catalog in Starfinder that makes it nearly impossible for me to settle for a 1,000 credit budget. I’ll do my best to keep my wishlist in check, but there are too many cool items to not share my excitement with you.
Hail Pistol, Subzero: We want to be sure to select a pistol that doesn’t have the unwieldy special trait. This pistol is a great 1st level choice – it’s cheap (120 credits) and has a Bleed effect on a critical hit. Eventually, we can upgrade this to a better version, but the Bleed effect is nice for hitting enemies and then waiting behind cover for them to fall.
- Anchoring: Adding in the Anchoring weapon fusion to the pistol increases its versatility. It also makes sense – Poe is a sharpshooter who would know how to immobilize his targets.
Shirren-eye rifle: This represents Poe’s blaster rifle, which he used to defend Tuanul. It’s hefty and probably out of budget until a bit later. However, Operatives should always have access to a long-range weapon such as this.
Shobhad Harness, recruit: Simple armor to protect our fabled pilot. You may also want to spring for a Preserver’s Mantle I to avoid the armor check penalty instead (Starfinder Armory).
Concealed Compartments: Great for any smuggler, you can hide secret intel or small objects with ease when using this armor modification.
Step 9: Finishing Details
Fill in the other details as outlined on pages 16 and 17 of the Core Rulebook here. Obviously, since we’re not in the Star Wars universe, you’ll have to come up with your Home World and Languages.
I’d classify Poe’s alignment as Chaotic Good. His methods may be a bit daring and unconventional, but at the end of the day he’s doing things for the right reasons. Weydan might make a good deity choice for Poe, due to the core tenets of discovery and freedom.
Beyond 1st level, there are a couple other choices that would work well for Poe. Sky Jockey is a fun feat that was made specifically for Ace Pilots. Additionally, Spry Cover and Dive for Cover continue along the same lines as protecting allies and moving tactically.
Poe Dameron Meets Starfinder
I’ve attached a Form-Fillable Starfinder Character Sheet that outlines the choices we made in this build. I leave the Equipment section blank, because most people find other items that they enjoy starting with. Feel free to download the sheet and tweak it as you see fit.
This series will feature builds in Starfinder, Pathfinder, and D&D 5E. Keep your eyes peeled for future installments. Reach out to us on Twitter if there’s something you really want to see.
Until then, I’ll see you in the stars!