Character Playlist: Samantha Symonds

Samantha Symonds - Human Engineer

Sam was my reintroduction to Tabletop gaming after a brief flirtation with (what I think was) D&D 3.5 and an even briefer stint in 4th Edition. So what better way to do that than via a recorded and publicly released format playing in a system I hadn’t even heard of at the time, and in a homebrew conversion at that!

Episode 1 of Mass Effect – Space Cowboys:

Sam was partially inspired by primarily a combination my own personal Shepard from my Mass Effect playthrough, Wash from Firefly, and Agatha Hetrodyne from Girl Genius. I’m sure there a multitude of other influences, but these are the forefront of what I was trying to achieve with the character. So, here’s the playlist:

Samantha Symonds – You Can’t Take The Sky From Me

“Firefly – Main Title” by Sonny Rhodes

From the outset, the “Space Cowboys” campaign was billed as a combination of Firefly and Cowboy Bebop (which I have yet to watch (It’s on my list, alright!)). So this is an easy include, but there’s more to it than a simple reference. Sam was born in space on a merchant vessel, and never even set foot on a planet until adolescence. So the feeling of the freedom of “the black” is an idea that would resonate with her.

“Headstrong” by Trapt

Discovering some early skills that could be useful, namely mechanics and piloting sense, gave Sam a self-inflated sense of worth, near to the point of arrogance (even if as a player, I couldn’t always bring that through).

“Natural High” by Hammerfall

Taking on a secret mercenary base and stealing an experimental frigate might not necessarily be the best idea, but when no other (or more accurately, not any that are as fun) options present themselves, optimism and courage is an important personality trait.

“Defying Gravity” by Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel

Finally finding the freedom of space travel and no responsibilities to tie her down, Sam would have probably taken a number of unnecessary detours for the sake of sightseeing. Of course, this is before the cost of fuel and the need to “clean” the ship to make it untraceable gets factored in.

“Sandstorm” by Darude

Having tasted that freedom only to have it not exactly taken away but temporarily grounded, Sam would be eager to complete missions to enable her to return to the endless embrace of the void, with what would hopefully have been a familiar simmering impatience.

“Hooked On A Feeling” by Blue Swede

It’s partially on me as a relatively inexperienced player, and partially on Sam as a character trait, but she definitely spent more time at the command center of the ship by herself than socializing with her crewmates, despite basically uprooting them from their lives in order to pursue her dream of running what would amount to a courier business.

“Handy” by “Weird Al” Yankovic

This is where the Girl Genius inspiration comes into play. As an Engineer class, Sam was rather skilled in technological matters, even going so far as to build a working “clank”, which was a direct reference to the first one the reader sees Agatha construct: a palm-sized assistant and companion.

“Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” by Journey

The last big mission of the campaign started with a skirmish of a space battle, which saw Sam have to turn over control of her ship to teammate Titus Dargatus the Turian Soldier, and venture out in a single-occupancy fighter. I feel this song has some of the feel of a confrontation, while still expressing some of the separation anxiety she would have for not only leaving her pride and joy to someone else, but to be essentially close to oblivion at a moment’s notice.

“I Will Not Bow” by Breaking Benjamin

Managing to survive the battle, Sam and crew made their way to the nearby planet’s surface, where she managed to shake off an odd feeling in the back of her mind. That is, until…

“Voodoo” by Godsmack

…She didn’t. Turns out the planet held the remains of a Reaper, and while dead, still had some indoctrination effect in play. This song is forever linked in my mind with the concept of mind control and possession thanks to this video, which is one of the first things I ever watched on YouTube in the dark old days of 2003.

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds

Our heroes manage to mostly survive, and limp off into the sunset to lick their wounds. R.I.P. Rotan Yeos. I think Sam would think he gave his life to save her, at least if only because of survivor’s guilt, but it was a defining moment for her.

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