5635 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Commander Shepard (Mass Effect 1) (Mandala)

Staff Commander Mandala Shepard

(Profile #1 - Mass Effect)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game
  • This profile features a sample or customized Player Character ā€“ see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile has S P O I L E R S about events that happen early during the very first game.

“Humanity needs a hero. And Shepard’s the best we got.”


Context

Mass Effect was a landmark video game trilogy released from 2007 to 2012. It included multiple ties-in such as novels, comics and an animated movie. Further games will follow in 2016 and beyond, although they will form a separate storyline.

It is a science fiction story, of the starships and space aliens kind. Most of the action takes place in a military context, as an apocalyptic threat against the galaxy emerges. It’s one of my favouritest games ever.

Writeups.org offers extensive Mass Effect coverage. The core articles are setting for Mass Effect 1 and the setting for Mass Effect 2. Unless you are highly familiar with Mass Effect, we recommend reading these articles first.

The Staff Commander Mandala Shepard profiles are presented as a chronological series, to avoid interminable articles. In order :

  1. Commander Shepard – Mass Effect
  2. Commander Shepard – Mass Effect 2 part #2
  3. Commander Shepard – Mass Effect 2 part #3
  4. Commander Shepard – Mass Effect 3 part #1

The illusive generic Shepard

Some video game characters are a blank state, like the Vault Dweller from Fallout. Some are fully defined, like most iterations of Lara Croft. But Commander Shepard doesn’t fit neatly into this spectrum.

  • The gender and appearance of the character vary. 80% of gamers personalise their version of Shepard, and it often becomes their “real” Shepard.
  • Shepard’s background can be personalised, but remains vague.
  • The player must choose Shepard’s character class, and thus their version of the Commander might have very different abilities from the next.
  • A video game morality system allows for at least two very different personalities for Shepard, taking different decisions.
  • The decisions taken by Shepard influence later events – the differences are not radical on a macro level, but on a micro level they do build up. This includes romantic storylines, which are important to many Mass Effect players.

It is thus impossible to describe a “generic Shepard”.

Our solution

Therefore, our Mass Effect articles describe the game as seen during a SPECIFIC PLAYTHROUGH, starring a VERY SPECIFIC SHEPARD. For those familiar with the game, high Paragon femshep Soldier with a Spacer/War Hero background.

Other Mass Effect playthroughs will feature a different Shepard, who establishes different relationships with the NPCs and makes different choices. These are, in comic book terms, different continuities.

Therefore :

  • Some details will be changed to better fit this Shepard. This is on the level of being a few years older, the first name of her mum being spelled differently, altered text in some quotes… trivial stuff. A handful of story tweaks were made in the History sections but these are all explained as they occur.
  • Her past will be fleshed out, whereas in the game it is barely sketched. Examples of past missions explain why she’s considered such a hotshot badass when Mass Effect begins. These can also serve as inspiration for gamemasters who want to run Mass Effect RPG adventures.

Video

The classic Mass Effect intro, featuring our version of the Commander. The 1080p version is high-def enough to be enjoyable full-screen.


Background

  • Real Name: Staff Commander Mandala Marie-Louise Kanitha Shepard
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Chief Sakun Shepard (father), Captain Jo-Hannah Traoré-Shepard (mother)
  • Group Affiliation: Formerly the Alliance Marine Corps, now an agent of the Council’s Special Tactics and Reconnaissance (SPECTRE) cadre.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile aboard the SSV Normandy SR-1
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 135 lbs.
  • Eyes: Verdigris Hair: Jet black


Powers & Abilities

Commander Shepard can be conservatively described as the best Human military special operations officer of her generation. Though “best ever, period” is also a possibility.

She’s intellectually gifted, as intensively-trained as any soldier can be, tactically brilliant, and an extraordinary gunfighter. Her reflexes, physical and mental endurance, precision and willpower are at peak human levels. Her ability to perceive everything around her and correctly assess the course of a battle is uncanny.

Like with many soldiers, the adrenaline rush from a fight gives Shepard a sensation of time slowing down – but hers is very pronounced. By the time most soldiers can take a shot, Commander Shepard has gone to the kitchen, found the peanut butter jar and brought back sandwiches.

Commander Shepard being serene

If it’s something that’s done on the frontlines or behind enemy lines and can go real wrong, Shepard has probably intensively trained to handle it. This includes :

  • Small arms operation.
  • Heavy weapons operation.
  • Armour and shielding operation.
  • Military vehicles operation.
  • Commanding small starships.
  • Outdoors operations.
  • Urban combat.
  • Field repairs.
  • Hand-to-hand combat.
  • Demolitions.
  • Tactics ranging from duels to company-level engagements.
  • Military intelligence.
  • Navigation.
  • Reconnaissance.
  • Sensors operation.
  • First aid.
  • Etc..

She’s also real good at a number of leadership skills, particularly recruitment and military instruction. Talent spotted and trained by Shepard will learn the trade, such as Immediate Action Drills, in a fraction of the normal time.

Over the course of the Mass Effect trilogy, the Commander demonstrates a greater-than-life quality that allows her to repeatedly win desperate battles and overcome seemingly unworkable crises. In isolation, each incident is incredible. In succession, her track record is nigh-impossible.

The odds are irrelevant. Always bet on Shepard.

She got Bette Davis eyes

The Commander is extraordinarily charismatic. When she needs to take charge, she seems to fill all available space. People reflexively obey her instructions. The weight of her presence smothers fear – leaving only calm and discipline to thrive.

Troopers who fought under Shepard’s command years ago would follow her right into Hell, pausing only long enough to grab extra medi-gel.

Commander Shepard portrait

Her monumental presence isn’t limited to authority. She has a real way with words and argumentation and excels at establishing a rapport. Commander Shepard has repeatedly defused critical situations by talking, thus avoiding bloodshed. It is in fact her preferred approach.

She’s a commanding and inspired orator – and her sincerity and empathy have brought extraordinary results.

Several Asari telepaths have noted that Commander Shepard also possesses an extraordinary psychic resilience.

However, it must be said that she is a truly terrible dancer.

Above the law

As the game begins, Shepard is a Staff Commander, and thus a senior officer. She is Special Operations, which gives her considerable latitude in the field. She holds a N7 qualification that proves that she’s one of the best and toughest – much like bearing the insignia of the former SEAL Team Six  would in the US military.

Commander Shepard aims her rifle while on an alien world

Furthermore she has become the protégée of Captain David Anderson. Anderson is an acclaimed hero of Humanity with considerable pulls and a well-earned reputation for getting things done.

During the game, the Commander becomes the first Human to be recruited as a Spectre. These are the hand-picked 00 agents of the galactic Council. Spectres are above the law and can do whatever they deem necessary to protect Council Space from threats within and without.

They are accountable to no one but the three Councilors themselves. And the Councilors don’t want to know how their Spectres make sausages.

Equipment

Mandala Shepard works particularly hard at having the best possible gear for her shore teams. That usually means non-regulation tuned weapons, armour, sensors, etc.

One of the men on her flight crew is extensively connected with grey and black military markets. The Commander uses his contacts to sell vast quantities of captured equipment so she can buy what she needs without waiting for the normal procurement chain.

The most visible sign of this is the full array of Colossus-class body armour available to her operators. These include the scarcest model, fitted for Quarian females. The Colossus is considered the Ferrari of body armour, and can be about as hard and expensive to get. But these exclusive red and black suits offer protection markedly superior to regular military issue.

Commander Shepard takes a decision

As a Spectre, Commander Shepard has access to guns that are significantly more powerful, more accurate and more rugged than anything commercially available. These are normally procured through C-Sec ’s special armoury using the Master Spectre procedure. But the Commander prefers to pay cash to have a Master Spectre-qualified supplier assemble ordnance to order.

Her ship eventually sports a full rack of these ominous black guns – pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, etc. The rack also holds the Commander’s customised Master Spectre precision rifle, which she nicknamed Thŏm phcŏr.

Shepard bartered with an influential Asari diplomat to be on the white list of the Serrice Council . This is a select Asari research consortium. Their omni-tools and biotic amplification circuits are highly sought after, but Serrice will not sell without recommendation from a trusted party.

Unity

Unity is a Spectre-only combat drug. It is released internally by a medical implant, triggered by an emitter in Shepard’s palm. All her tactical operators have a Unity implant.

Commander Shepard smirking, with Tali and Wrex

Unity can all but raise the dead. It allows even a fatally wounded person to operate for hours without hindrance. Various drugs among the Unity cocktail will be working all the while to stabilise the operator and facilitate emergency surgery once out of the field.

Unity is meant to work in conjunction with medical systems aboard a battle armour. Normal procedure after using Unity is for Shepard to inject a large dose of medi-gel into her squaddies’ armour medical system to further eliminate pain, bleeding, tissue damage, etc. until a proper battlefield medicine intervention (or full-on critical care) is feasible.


History

Practically all the material therein is filling the large blanks in Shepard’s biography. It is thus unique to *this* Commander Shepard. Even those few elements clearly mentioned in Mass Effect — Shepard’s mother and Elysium — are not described in the game and only exist for versions of Shepard with the War Hero background. Again, it also adds details for colour.

Commander Shepard being pensive

Mandala Shepard’s family served in the military of their respective countries for at least three generations. Her dad was with the Royal Cambodian 11th Airborne Commando  as a combat engineer and First Sergeant. Her mom was a Lieutenant with the French Foreign Legion ’s Aerospace Command as a dual Malian/European national.

2149 saw big changes for the Shepards. One week after the birth of Mandala, the Systems Alliance treaty was signed. Seven months after that, the nascent Alliance military recruited the Shepard spouses.

Military brat

Shepard was raised in Alliance Navy bases during its hectic early years. In 2151 Chief Sakun Shepard left for Arcturus, where the Alliance was building a huge space station. He would thus spend most of Mandala’s childhood 11 parsecs away from her.

As to Lieutenant Traoré-Shepard, she became the XO  of increasingly large starships. This occasionally gave her the pull to take her daughter with her. But in practice Mandala was raised in good part by friends of Lieutenant Traoré-Shepard, Systems Alliance schoolteachers, and various veteran NCOs who considered the kid something of the base’s mascot.

In 2157, during the First Contact War, Mrs. Traoré-Shepard was promoted to Commander after saving the crew of the SSV Kumasi.

Commander Shepard in the Normandy meeting room

Mandala joined the Systems Alliance Marines on her 18th birthday, as she had always intended. The quiet, even-tempered girl wanted to become a technical expert like her dad. But she kept scoring stupidly high on all tests. Then during recruit training. Then during infantry training. Then during the Marine Combat Course.

Shepard established records in several fight simulations and obstacle courses. These would later be exaggerated by Drill Instructors to motivate recruits.

N-rated

Mandala was approached by Systems Alliance Marines Special Operations Command (MARSOC). They qualified her for the year-long Critical Skills Operator (“N1”) training program. Her ability to be among the winners of all elimination tests and her unbreachable equanimity resulted in a joking rumour that she was secretly a super-gynoid .

As she soldiered through Special Operations training and its brutal tests, Mandala Shepard drew inspiration from her childhood hero. It was David Anderson, often considered to be the most competent and heroic N-rated Human soldier.

Shepard made it to the N2 training program, the N3, N4… She went all the way to a N7 qualification, the most intensive, most exclusive and best designed special warfare training program ever ran by mankind. In 2169, like Anderson before her, Shepard graduated as the valedictorian and Midshipman Captain of her class.

Operation: Black Beard

Shepard was first assigned to the Fifth Fleet’s Anti-Piracy Task Force. She planned and led in the field Operation: Black Beard. This was a series of covert commando strikes against Terminus Systems factories in and near the Skyllian Verge. The attacks seemed random, and were initially assumed to be unrelated underworld vendettas and accidents.

Commander Shepard assesses the situation

However, the sabotaged plants were key providers of components used in kinetic shield maintenance equipment. A few weeks later, the costs of flying combat-capable starships skyrocketed for those without alternate providers. This forced a significant local slowdown of piracy.

Shepard received her officer’s commission as a result. She continued to plan and lead discreet special operations that hindered outside menaces. As a N7-rated operator, she could be considered for promotion at any time, and made Staff Lieutenant in 2172.

Though everything she did was classified, Lieutenant Shepard rapidly developed a reputation for being a highly supportive but very demanding officer. She was also the youngest N7 operator since David Anderson to ever be cleared for solo missions.

Operation: Quirky Rabbit

In 2173, Ms. Shepard was one of the tactical operators detailed to Operation : Quirky Rabbit. This manifestly illegal Naval Intelligence sanctioning operation took place in plain clothes and on Earth.

Who was killed, why the three operatives agreed to conduct an illegal mission, and why Naval Intelligence rushed the best shooters it could get to Italy may never be elucidated. All documents were destroyed.

Operation: Purple Shrike

In 2174, underage wildcat miners were kidnapped on Wrill by Blood Pack  mercenaries. The captives included the estranged daughter of a superstar Indian anchorwoman. Two days later, Lieutenant Shepard and her squad were on Wrill to conduct Operation : Purple Shrike.

Commander Shepard, Wrex and Tali approach a building

The hostages were quickly located a dingy pressurised prefab. During an atmospheric methane burn, Shepard and two of her marines sneaked in and drilled tiny holes for fiberoptic cameras and slow-release sleep gas cannisters. Though the gas wouldn’t affect the Krogan and Vorcha  captors, it had the Humans gradually slump to the ground.

With the background thus clear, Shepard sniper’s opened fire through the walls. They aimed using the 3D ballistic model and real-time optics from the microcameras. One sniper missed and a Krogan was left alive, shooting two hostages as the entry team exited the inner airlock. Shepard shot her dead, and the team’s medic stabilised the wounded miners.

The sniper/spotter duos switched to machineguns to keep the other prefabs suppressed. However another gang had heard the gunfire, and seized the occasion to attack their Blood Pack rivals. Shepard had her snipers blow up their soon-to-be-untenable positions and rally to her.

Meanwhile, explosives intended for an unused backup plan were slapped on battered exploration scooters found in the prefab. The scooters were sent ahead on autopilot to explode and clear the way. Using this cover, the team jogged out and laid suppression fire. They dragged the hostages in medicalised sleds until they could join up with two M29 Grizzly carriers for evac.

One of the wounded hostages died of cardiac arrest during transport, and the other had her legs shattered – though she made a full recovery. The media dubbed Operation: Purple Shrike “the Battle of Wrill”. A reluctantly-granted Shepard interview was politically exploited in India as a reversed version of Operation: Eagle Claw .

Prepare for boarding action

Six months later, Batarian slavers in the Attican Traverse attacked a half-derelict Human colonist ship, the Queen Maude. They didn’t manage to storm the helm and the two ships accidentally collided, dooming everyone.

The only nearby asset turned out to be the Aconit. This corvette was flown by Staff Lieutenant Shepard and a few technicians to recover and maintain intelligence buoys in the traverse.

Commander Shepard got killer eyes

Undaunted, Shepard boarded the Queen Maude with her intelligence analyst. Meanwhile, her technicians worked on decoupling and repressurizing the Maude’s fore module. Using canned radio shatter from war movies, crummy improvised explosives and blind suppression fire, the analyst helped Shepard simulate a squad-level boarding action.

Not realising that they were actually facing a single assaulter, the slavers used all the wrong tactics and lost half their number.

Lieutenant Shepard eventually lost the upper hand and was surrounded. However, she convinced four of her enemies that they would be safely evacuated if they surrendered. This negotiation resulted in a firefight pitting Shepard and her brand new allies against their former comrades… until the surviving Batarians decided to turn against the Human.

During this new Mexican stand-off, Shepard convinced the slavers that she could kill at least three out of the five of them, and the Batarians agreed to settle on the initial evacuation deal after all. The Aconit’s kinetic shields kept everyone alive until a Systems Alliance cruiser could reach the scene.

Operation: Jovial Silence, part 1

The miraculously unscathed Shepard was almost immediately tapped by Admiral Hackett  to join a five-person N7-rated commando. This unit was to board the SSV Shrewsbury, a frigate carrying a Top Secret payload. The Shrewsbury had gone silent and was now heading straight for Earth.

Commander Shepard takes a quick pose for Conrad Verner

Hackett had his best skipper — Commander Traoré-Shepard — take command of the SSV Rossbach, the specops frigate that was sent after the Shrewsbury. But though the Shrewsbury was correctly intercepted, the boarding action went wrong.

The crew had become a sort a gaunt, mechanical-looking zombie horde. The point troopers, Lieutenant Shepard and Chief Saint-Denis, were cut off from the main team during an ambush. Though Saint-Denis was wounded, the pair stayed alive by taking to the maintenance crawlspaces as they looked for survivors.

Operation: Jovial Silence, part 2

Meanwhile the commander of the main team, Lieutenant Huang, poured liquid explosives into pilfered toilet plumbing. He used these extra-long pipe bombs to break the stalemate. Huang’s team joined Shepard to evacuate Saint-Denis.

The two Lieutenants then attempted to capture one creature to determine whether it was possible to save the crew. However it self-combusted, burning Shepard and Huang through their hardsuits. Shepard nearly lost an eye, and gained a tenacious scar.

Both Mrs. Traoré-Shepard and her daughter agreed that the Top Secret payload was the likely source of the crew’s mutation. Rather than being transferred aboard the SSV Rossbach it was carried in a leashed automated shuttle.

Huang Jia-hao and Mandala Shepard’s burns healing oddly slowly, they were transferred to a low-intensity detail for six weeks. Whilst they trained the joint Asari/Human security force of a politically important R&D project, the two Lieutenants had a fling. That lasted until their next assignment separated them.

The Skyllian Blitz

In 2176, new pirate leader Elanos Haliat  assembled a fleet that invaded the Human colonies on Elysium. This major raid was a gambit to forge a new pirate alliance. The initial blitz went well, except for the stalling of the assault against the main telecoms centre.

Commander Shepard is listening

However, Shepard and a dozen Alliance Marines Special Forces operators were on leave on Elysium. They were accompanying one of their own, an amateur chef attending a cooking competition.

With the telecoms still live, Shepard had the marines aggressively disperse and rally units of armed civilians. She kept them on the move and using specops hit-and-run tactics. Meanwhile, Shepard reached Elysium’s small starport. Her goal was to deny the pirates the use of the monitoring facilities in the control tower.

15 hours of cats-and-mouse action and brief skirmishes ensued. Anybody in the control tower was too exposed to Shepard’s sniper fire to make use of it. Yet the pirates couldn’t squash the fast-moving, sharp-shooting N7 operator.

Alliance naval assets also reacted faster than anticipated. The first responder, the SSV Agincourt, came into the system undetected since the control tower was inaccessible. It thus took the orbiting pirate ships by surprise.

More warships followed, turning the attempt at a united pirate force into a bloody failure. Though the population on Elysium had suffered from the brief occupation, the response had limited the damage. This demonstration that Humanity could forcefully protect its colonies even in such poor conditions was also a significant boost to the species’ credibility.

Star of Terra

While Shepard was hospitalised, the media frenzy made her a star throughout Council Space. Her one-woman denial action was often compared to the famous 2174 guerilla campaign of the Serrice Guard commandos.

During her medical leave of absence, she discovered that innumerable Humans and aliens wanted to meet the heroine of the Skyllian Blitz, get an autograph, take a photo with her, etc..

Commander Shepard and Lieutenant Alenko debrief Chief Williams

The Systems Alliance PR department rushed into the breach and released documentaries about the Elysium battle, the Queen Maude operation and the Battle of Wrill. Shepard was also awarded the Star of Terra — the Alliance equivalent of a Medal of Honor — and promoted to Staff Commander.

Anderson always has a plan

Unbeknownst to Shepard, her girlhood idol Captain David Anderson had been monitoring her career since the beginning. Though he no longer worked in the field, Anderson was a key man for Human special operations. He was now co-leading the effort to have the Council recruit an elite Human special operative.

Commander Shepard was his suggested candidate.

Anderson had Shepard transferred to his command as his XO. He immediately started coaching her. Though it was obvious that Shepard had become Anderson’s protégée, he was spending so much time sharpening her skills and experience that a false rumour that the Captain was dying spread.

Salute anything you can’t eat or kill

In 2183, Captain Anderson was detailed to commanding the SSV Normandy, a first-in-class special operations frigate. Though the Normandy-class program was unpopular, Anderson’s pull allowed him to retain his XO, his navigator and other hand-picked crew members to staff the Normandy. He also grabbed some newcomers with an exceptional potential.

Commander Shepard calmly peers through the smoke

Beyond her usual duties as ship XO, Shepard commanded the small marines detachment and led shore operations. Anderson picked two marines from other units to be her core shore team – a powerful biotic Staff Lieutenant, Kaidan Alenko, and a promising young Corporal, Richard Jenkins.

The Normandy’s shakedown cruise was then hurriedly rescheduled. Anderson had the entire crew embark at full readiness. That the “shakedown cruise” was but a pretext for some urgent secret operation was even more obvious when a Turian hopped aboard.

Not only were aliens a rare sight aboard Systems Alliance vessels, but Nihlus Kryik was a reputed Spectre. One of the few and most elite enforcers of the Council itself.

Something big was brewing, and some aboard the Normandy suspected that the Commander would be at the heart of it.


There’s a man who leads a life of danger

The STR (Special Tactics and Reconnaissance) service is the elite enforcement arm of the Citadel Council. They are the equivalent of 00 agents in James Bond. “Spectres” (STR operatives) are few in number, sworn in by the three Councillors themselves, and do not just have a license to kill – they are above the law.

Commander Shepard at her command post on the Normandy

Founded during the run-up to the Krogan Rebellions, the STR was inspired by Salarian and Asari agencies. Specifically, the Salarian STG (Special Tasks Group, a cadre of super-spies and military intelligence commandos) and the fiercest Asari Huntresses.

Traditionally, Spectres only come from leading species with a full seat within the Council. Roughly five minutes after getting an embassy on the Citadel, Humanity started lobbying to have a Human operative accepted as a Spectre, which would be a key stepping stone toward a Council seat.

Spectres come from a variety of backgrounds and have varied modi operandi. But most of them seem to be police, intelligence, or military special operations officers.


Description

Many Humans in the Mass Effect future are of mixed ethnicities, but Shepard had several generations’ worth of a head start. She’s a mix of Cambodian, Malian, Northern German, French-Canadian, Filipina and mulata Brazilian features, in about that order of genetic influence.

She sports silky black hair, a golden brown skin and striking, pale grey-green-blue eyes. The Commander is in her mid-30s during Mass Effect, though her soft and regular features make her look a bit younger.

Commander Shepard and Lieutenant Alenko on Eden-Prime

Shepard speaks English with the Systems Alliance accent, Khmer with a thick Northern accent, and Council Trade with a Terran accent that is increasingly turning into an Asari one. She speaks with a rich, modulated, controlled voice that can convey considerable authority and strength.

The Commander usually wears the standard Systems Alliance flight blues – or body armour.


Personality

Mandala Shepard is a quiet, preternaturally calm and considerate person. Her composure under stress seems impregnable, and she retains her improbable acumen under all circumstances.

During her entire career there was a running joke that she was actually a gynoid infiltrator unable to feel fear, stress and fatigue – and incapable of erring.

Commander Shepard makes her case before the Council

The Commander always acts in a polite, but warm and genuinely caring manner. She is supportive, pleasant and upbeat. However, she practically never makes jokes (the proverbial “Asari sense of humour”) since she doesn’t feel good at it. ”Serene, caring and charismatic” is a recurrent description of her.

Shepard is very attentive about the morale of her crew. She seldom hesitates to help them solve their personal problems. More traditional officers have derided her as a social worker disguised as a marine. But between this kindness and her extraordinary presence, the Commander inspires unmatched levels of loyalty.

Values and quirks

The Commander is a regular girl scout, holding the moral high ground against all comers and never compromising for the sake of expediency. She sincerely believes in the Alliance’s official creed of tolerance, freedom and open-mindedness.

One of her key goals is to save lives. Whenever possible she’ll use words, empathy and her presence to solve situation. If straight military force is the only option, she won’t like it – but will strike hard and decisively.

Commander Shepard on the Normandy command deck

Shepard is an integrationist. In her view Humans have to learn to work and live with aliens. In fact, many of her closest allies are aliens. Whereas most Humans have a “Humanity looks out for number one” outlook, Shepard has a “Humanity plays well with others” ideology, and wants her species to integrate the Council as a respectful partner among equals.

She knows that many aliens see Humanity as ambitious, impatient bullies. As a result, she is careful to project the opposite image.

The Commander is a freak when it comes to preparation. She’ll do everything to ensure that she and her team have the best intelligence, the best training, the best gear, the best rehearsals, etc.. If violence is necessary she’ll make it as one-sided as possible.

Commander Shepard usually refers to groups as “you girls”. Apparently it’s some local variation on “y’all” or “youse guys” that she picked up during her youth. This is probably one of the innumerable pieces of military slang addressing soldiers as if they were women. In most languages these survived decades of genders integration in the armed forces.

Worn, part 1

As the events of the first Mass Effect game unfold, Commander Shepard’s schedule becomes insane. She runs for weeks on end on massive stress and little sleep.

As the first Human Spectre she is under the limelight as the exemplar of a ill-regarded species. And as a former Systems Alliance officer she is under extra scrutiny to prove that Humanity can still rely on her. Missions are extremely tense and dangerous, and geth hit squads stalk the Commander and her team.

Commander Shepard in the Council Tower

Any lull in the hunt for Saren — as intelligence services work to scare up more leads — is immediately filled with requests from the Alliance, the public or the Council. These have to be handled flawlessly, as the Commander and her ragged team are in the critical early stages where they have to establish credibility.

Assignments include such looming catastrophes as hostage rescue operations with little available intelligence, next to no preparation time, and high stakes.

Worn, part 2

Even with her unnerving serenity and improbable endurance, Shepard can only endure so far. She is taking stims under her doctor’s supervision, since keeping her pace is otherwise physically impossible. As the weeks pass secondary effects appear – but even with the very mild hallucinations, shaking hands and mood swings, the Commander’s performance remains flawless.

A sort of space monkey does get accidentally shot dead, though. Shepard had fallen asleep without realising it and the curious animal startled her.

The most visible alteration is that Shepard responds with knee-jerk aggression to having her Council authority challenged. This is an uncharacteristic breach in her otherwise impeccably diplomatic behaviour. That somebody might want to play coy with a Spectre or try to obstruct her more urgent work makes her angry. She sees attempts to restrict her Spectre work as pissant red tape.

This is startling – she’s simply never acted like that before

As time passes Dr. Chakwas grows concerned about the mounting risks of PTSD and addiction — to painkillers, to go-pills and to sleeping aids — for Shepard and her tactical operators.

She insists that the very first thing to do once Saren is stopped, for the entire Normandy crew, is to go straight to a high-end military hospital for detox, rest and psychological evaluations.

Flying in a blue dream, part 1

Shepard is an asariophile. She feels a kinship and attraction toward Asari cultures and practices, and enjoys reading about Asari history. Her interest in Human/alien integration is also coincidentally reminiscent of the widespread Asari siari philosophy/religion.

Human isolationists have accused her of, as the expression goes, “forgetting what colour her blood is”. This is a reference to Humans being one of the few Council Space species with dark red blood.

Commander Shepard being contemplative

A key ally of the Commander during Mass Effect is thus an Asari, Dr. Liara T’Soni – who becomes Shepard’s lover. This is gradual, though.

The adorkable and virginal Dr. T’Soni is hesitant to enter a relationship due to the very intimate nature of Asari sexuality, which involves deep psychic fusion. And while the Commander is intellectually aware of it, fully processing that Asari aren’t women is difficult for Humans.

Flying in a blue dream, part 2

After the Commander is exposed to the mysterious beacon on Eden-Prime, it becomes necessary for Dr. T’Soni to reads her mind on several occasions to interpret Shepard’s vision. The young Asari avoids mentioning that “mind reading” is actually a very limited sexual contact, since that would be way too awkward.

However, Liara’s inexperience results in she and Mandala’s dimly perceiving each other’s psyche during these sessions and gradually falling in love.

For weeks, the Commander and the Doctor’s shared time is simply talking, and occasionally cuddling for relaxation and comfort. Though this R&R provides welcome relief from the stress and exhaustion, it also inevitably results in salacious and ignorant lower-deck rumours about the CO having steamy psychic alien lesbian space sex.

As a result Shepard insists on referring to T’Soni as an “academic consultant”, to point out that Liara is the person on the Normandy who is the furthest removed from her authority.


Quotes

“It wasn’t your fault, Alenko. You had no way to know what would happen.”

“You’re a good soldier, Williams. You belong to the Normandy.”

(First reaction upon confronting a giant monster) “Is this thing intelligent ? Can I reason with it ?”

(While raiding a criminal base, Shepard and her troops storm a warehouse)
Warehouse workers: “Stand back or we shoot !”
Staff Commander Shepard: “Hello, gentlemen. I hope you’re having a nice day.” (steps into better lighting, making it clear that she is armed and armoured to the teeth). ”Systems Alliance Marines Special Forces. Wouldn’t today be a splendid opportunity to find employment elsewhere ?”
Leading worker (realising how outmatched they are): “I… I guess.” (beat, looks at his colleagues) “I never really liked the boss, anyway.” (the workers walk away as fast as they can while still looking dignified)
Gunnery Chief Williams: “Oh, wow. That actually worked. I… I can’t believe it.”
Staff Lieutenant Alenko (to Williams): “The Commander doesn’t like killing people.”

“No matter how strong you are, allies make you stronger.”

Commander Shepard discusses with civilians

“Commander Shepard to the Normandy crew. Our orders are to find Saren before he finds the Conduit.” (beat) “Humanity needs to do this. For too long, our species has stood apart from the others. What we have here is an opportunity to step up and do our part. An opportunity to show what Humans are made of. Not just for our own sake, but for every species in Citadel space and their future.” (beat) “However, it’s going to be rough. We’re going into the Traverse, and Saren will be ready for us. We’re now committing to an extended special warfare campaign. Our ship is about to play a critical role in History, and we’re going to do the job.”

(With obviously genuine concern) “It was rough down there. How are you holding up ?”

“We are the ones who raided the Cerberus bases and now we’re here, Corporal. Please, drop the gun and let this man go so we can arrest him. We would like to evacuate you for medical care. A Fleet ship is on its way to take this place apart and take you home.” (beat) “You’re a soldier, Corporal, not a murderer. Let the Alliance handle this while you heal.” (the traumatised trooper slowly lowers his pistol and lets go of his hostage)


DC Universe History

Commander Shepard would be the result of a deliberate breeding program ran over thousands of generation by Vandal Savage (now calling himself the Illusive Man) to produce the ultimate human soldier and leader. Shepard is Savage’s ace in the hole – the card he can play to save Humanity when the end comes.

Since a high paragon female Shepard is basically Space Wonder Woman minus the powers, Shepard could also be distantly Amazonian. Perhaps she’d be the granddaughter of General Philippus.


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats ā€” DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Shepard

Dex: 06 Str: 03 Bod: 05 Motivation: Upholding Good
Int: 07 Wil: 07 Min: 07 Occupation: Spectre
Inf: 08 Aur: 08 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 025 HP: 090

Powers:
Regeneration: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:
Regeneration is Form Function

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing, dodging): 04, Artist (Bass guitar, singing): 02, Charisma: 09, Gadgetry: 02, Martial artist: 04, Medicine (First aid): 02, Military science (Blitz, camouflage, cartography, danger recognition, demolition, field command): 06, Thief (Stealth): 04, Vehicles (Land, water): 06, Weaponry (Firearms): 08, Weaponry (Heavy): 07

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Gadgetry is limited to maintenance, repair and power user operations
  • Shepard receives a +2CS penalty to all OV/RVs if she attempts to use Artist (Dancer) Unskilled in campaigns that allow for it

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Milky Way galaxy), Credentials (Systems Alliance, Low), Credentials (Special – as a Spectre, Shepard is above all law within Citadel Space), Expertise (Military protocols and equipment, Special military operations, Military intelligence operations, Military instruction), Familiarity (Earth history, Galactic history, Wilderness survival, Military history, Zero-G combat), Gift of Gab, Headquarters (Expansive – SSV Normandy SR1), Iron Nerves, Language (Khmer, Council Trade, and some military vocabulary in Brazilian Portuguese, Tagalog, Standard Arabic and Russian), Leadership, Lightning Reflexes, Local Hero (Humanity), Luck, Rank (Commander (Systems Alliance Navy))

Connections:
Council (Low, Powerful), Admiral Hackett of the Alliance Fifth Fleet (Low, Powerful), Crew of the SSV Normandy (High), Captain David Anderson (High), Ambassador Udina (Low, representative of humanity on Citadel), Emily Wong (Low, investigative journalist)

Drawbacks:
None whatsoever.

Equipment:

  • BASIC OMNI-TOOL [BODY 01, Data storage: 12, Radio communication: 13, Superspeed: 01, Limitation: Superspeed only for tasks involving processing information using the omni-tool]
  • HMWA Master Spectre Assault Rifle [BODY 05, Projectile weapons: 10, Stagger: 06, Range: 07, Telescopic vision: 01, R#02, Advantage: Autofire, Targeting 2, Stagger can be Combined with Projectile Weapons and ride its Range, Drawback: Overheat, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead]. This rifle uses Sledgehammer™ rounds, which transfer Mass Effect-generated mass from the round to the target on impact. This generally shoves people back and make them fall backward, even if they survive the hit.
  • Thŏm phcŏr (Modified HMWSR Master Spectre Long Rifle) [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 11, Bomb: 08, Telescopic vision: 04, R#02, Advantage: Targeting 2, Bomb can be Combined with Projectile Weapons and ride its Range, Drawback: Can only be fired every third Phase].
    This rifle (whose name means “Great Thunder”) has been modified to have an extra-long barrel, and its projectiles explode with amazing violence on impact. Shooting it generates so much heat that it will immediately redline and shut down to purge heat, during which time Shepard will usually jog to a new shooting spot. It is essentially a portable howitzer.
  • HMWP Master Spectre Pistol [BODY 05, Projectile weapons: 07, R#02, Advantage: Targeting 2, Drawback: Overheat]. Backup weapon when her rifle is not available (for instance due to Mass Effect sabotage).
  • Storm-I Crew Shotgun [BODY 03, Shotgun blast (Range 03): 08, R#04, Drawback: Overheat]. A basic weapon carried just in case and almost never used.
  • COLOSSUS HEAVY BODY ARMOUR [BODY (Hardened) 12 /BODY/ 05, Cling: 05, Cold immunity: 02, Flame immunity: 03, Hardening: 02, Invulnerability: 05, Lightning immunity: 05, MEK3 Shield: 20, Radio communications (Booster): 03, Regeneration: 02, Sealed systems: 12, Shade: 03, Skin armour: 04, Systemic antidote: 03, Medicine (First aid): 04, Recommended STR 03, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Invulnerability takes five minutes per roll, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin armour only against Sharp Impact].
    This has been fitted with a state-of-the-art medical system that is quite determined to keep Shepard alive and intact. For operations where no combat is expected, Shepard will often lighten the suit to a Medium armour plates configuration.
  • Mk 14 high explosive-7 assault grenades (x8) [BODY 01, EV (Explosive Radius 1 AP) 09, Grenade Drawback]
  • UNITY [BODY 01, Invulnerability: 08, Bonuses & Limitations: Invulnerability is Usable on Others, provided that they have the Unity implant, but is only Usable on Others].


Game Stats ā€” DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Staff Commander Mandala Shepard — Averaged PL 11.8

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
01 02 (03) 03 04 (05) 04 03 03 04

Powers

Genetic enhancements ● 6 points (Permanent) ● Descriptor: In-vivo military enhancements
Regeneration 1, Enhanced Stamina 1, Enhanced Dexterity 1, Enhanced Fortitude 1

Devices

Things *explode* around you, Shepard Array ● 35 points ● Descriptor: Mass-Effect-powered STR guns

  • HMWP Master Spectre Pistol — Ranged Ballistic Damage 6 (Quirk – Overheat), Precise Attack 2 (Ranged – Concealment, Physics)
  • HMWA Master Spectre Assault Rifle — Ranged Ballistic Multiattack Damage 9 (Quirk – Overheat), Senses 5 (Extended Visual, Counters Visual Concealment 4 (lighting, visual clutter, fog/gasses/vapour)), Precise Attack 1 (Ranged – Physics), Ranged Attack 1
  • HMWSR Master Spectre Long Rifle w/HE rounds — Ranged Ballistic Damage 11 w/7 Ranks having Burst Area 1 and Limitation 1 (can only be fired every third round as it redlines from heat), Senses 5 (Extended Visual, Counters Visual Concealment 4 (lighting, visual clutter, fog/gasses/vapour)), Precise Attack 1 (Ranged – Physics), Ranged Attack 2, Improved critical 1

Colossus heavy body armour ● 31 points
– Impervious Protection 8 (Quirk 2 – not against blunt and many energy descriptors)
– Life support — Immunity 5 (environment descriptors, Limited 1 to half-effect), Treatment 8 (+8) (Limited 2 to Revive and Stabilise)
– Kinetic shields — MEK Shield 3
– EVA soles — Movement 1 (Wall-crawling, Limited 1 to magnetic surfaces)

Unity implant ● 9 points
Healing 10 (only affects others, targets must have a Unity implant, Resurrection, Temporary)

Combat Advantages

Close Attack 2, Defensive Roll 3, Evasion 1, Improved Aim, Improved Initiative, Ranged Attack 2

Other Advantages

Benefit 2 (Above the law), Benefit 1 (Access to STR gear), Benefit 1 (Contacts within the Systems Alliance), Benefit 2 (Alliance Navy Rank – Commander), Equipment 7, Extraordinary Effort, Fearless, Inspire, Language 2 (Khmer, Council Trade, and some military vocabulary in Brazilian Portuguese, Tagalog, Standard Arabic and Russian), Luck 2

Skills

Athletics 5 (+6), Close combat (Unarmed) 3 (+9), Deception 2 (+6), Expertise (Military) 12 (+15), Insight 7 (+10), Perception 6 (+9), Persuasion 5 (+9), Ranged Combat (Firearms) 5 (+12), Stealth 2 (+5), Technology 4 (+7) (Limited 1 to Operating, Demolitions, Security), Treatment 2 (+4) (Limited 2 to Revive and Stabilise), Vehicles 4 (+9)

Equipment

Omni-tool Radio Communication 3 (Rapid 2), Quickness 1 (Limited 2 to data management) and Feature 1 (data storage) ● 16 pts
Mk15 HE grenades Burst-Area Damage 8 ● 16 pts

Offense

Initiative +7
Unarmed +9, Close, Damage 1
Spectre Assault Rifle +13, Ranged, Multiattack Damage 9
Modified Spectre Long Rifle +14, Ranged, Damage 11

Defense

Dodge 10 Fortitude 8
Parry 8 Toughness 14**/6/3*
Will 10

* Without Defensive Roll
** With Colossus heavy body armour and Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Honour Commander Shepard holds herself to stringent ethical standards
  • Responsibilities As the first human Spectre, Shepard is under enormous pressure and constant demands

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 13, Dodge/Toughness PL 12, Parry/Toughness PL 11, Fort & Will PL 9
  • Point total 196 Abilities 48, Defences 22, Skills 25, Powers 6, Devices 75, Advantages 30. Equiv. PL 14.

Notes

The STR gear and Colossus-class armour are considered to be devices rather than equipment, since it is markedly superior to ordinary ordnance.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Mass Effect video game universe ; Commander Shepard voiced by Jennifer Hale.

Helper(s): Roy Cowan, Darci, Marcin Wrona
Writeup revised on the 17th of May, 2014.

Subscribe to our newsletter!