Populating my settings with interesting non-player characters has always been
a problem for me, mainly because I have a tendency to become repetitive with
my descriptions and to offer the players only "more of the same" instead of new
original ideas. As you can imagine, I was very much looking forward to ACER.
ACER has about 50 pages of content, with 6 each of Allies, Contacts, Enemies
and Rivals, 6 "individual nonplayer characters", plus the crews of a free trader,
a detached duty scout and a mercenary cruiser, plus a PsiTac team (an excellent
idea), an entire Marine Striker Platoon and 48 Red Shirts (combat values only).
All except the Red Shirts come with stats, important life events, money and equip-
ment and a description of their appearance and personality. Many also come with
really good illustrations that fit their descriptions very well - very nice pictures to
show to the players. What I also like very much is that the descriptions did not
repeat the usual cliches, the characters feel like plausible "real people" with belie-
vable stories and quirks - and no silly names.
I will of course have to tinker with these characters a bit to fit them into my set-
ting, but this will in no way be difficult, and the descriptions did already give me
a couple of new ideas for plots to introduce these characters into the setting.
It is not difficult to see that I really like ACER, and why, I think.