Friday, May 13, 2011

Episode 78: Battle Meditation

Let us regain our focus, Gamer Nation, as I bring you the 78th installment of Fragments from the Rim.

When Timothy Zahn wrote the Thrawn Crisis Trilogy, Star Wars fans were first exposed to a seemingly-powerful Force Ability that allowed Emerpor Palpatine, and Joruus Caboth in Zahn’s books, an edge over their opponents in combat.  This ability was explored further in the Tales of the Jedi series of comic books, and once more in the first Knights of the Old Republic video game.  That’s right, I’m talking about Battle Meditation, a power that has seen various iterations over the years, from uber-powerful to talent-wasting ineffectiveness.

Setting the Way Back Machine for the 1990s and the West End Games days of Star Wars Gaming, Battle Mediation was a powerful ability, able to affect tens of thousands of individuals, reducing one of their attributes while increasing allies attributes by the same amount.  The downside was that the character with Battle Meditation was doing nothing for the entire encounter except sitting in a lotus position sustaining the power.  That’s all your contribution to the combat was; maintaining Battle Meditation.  It also took five minutes to “set up”, so you’d better know the enemy fleet is coming, or that ground assault is on its way and have time to prepare to get the Battle Meditation in place.

In SAGA, we see the power flip to the opposite end of the spectrum in just about every regard. Now instead of 5 minutes to activate, it’s a full-round action and a Force Point.  Instead of tens of thousands of beings affected through-out the star system, it’s all allies within 6 squares of you.  Instead of decimating your foes ability to fight, you bump up your allies attack rolls by 1.  And it’s an insight bonus; it doesn’t even stack with a Noble’s Born Leader talent.  Heck, it doesn’t even COMPARE to Born Leader, which is Line of Sight and a swift action to activate.

That’s actually the only thing about Battle Meditation that is better than Born Leader, no Line of Sight restriction.  The other thing is that you can get the insight bonus to attack rolls, where a Noble with Born Leader does not.

But let’s look at what someone can do with Battle Meditation.  In the Knights of the Old Republic campaign guide we were given several talents that could make Battle Meditation a viable character choice.  The first is a standard Jedi Talent; Improved Battle Meditation.  It now only costs a swift action to activate Battle Meditation, instead of a full-round action. Next, the range of Battle Meditation is now a 12 square radius, greatly increasing the range of the bonuses and penalties the power applies.  Third, enemies within the radius of your Battle Meditation now suffer a -1 penalty to attack rolls.

Now we have a talent that harkens back to the original feel of Battle Meditation, decent range, and can be used in a moment.  If you’re willing to invest completely in Battle Meditation, you’ll need to go into Jedi Knight and pick up two talents from the Jedi Battlemaster tree; Defensive Circle and Jedi Battle Commander.  Jedi Battle Commander simply makes the +1 insight bonus a +2.  Defensive Circle allows you to grant some protection to those in your Battle Meditation.  As a swift action, you and any allies affected by your Battle Meditation gain a +2 insight bonus to Reflex Defense, lasting as long as they are affected by your Battle Meditation. Additionally, you gain a +1 bonus to your Use the Force checks to Block and Deflect for each adjacent ally wielding a lightsaber.

For all these talents, you have to have Battle Meditation, obviously.  Defensive Circle is the only one where you need to also have Jedi Battle Commander and either Block or Deflect to get.
So a level 10 Jedi Knight with all these talents can, as two swift actions, spend a Force Point to grant himself and all allies within 12 squares +2 Insight bonus to Attack Rolls and Reflex Defenses, penalize all enemies attack rolls by -1, and grant himself a +1 bonus to use Block and Deflect for every adjacent lightsaber wielding ally.  You know, that doesn’t sound too bad at all.  

So what’s the best type of Jedi to use this?  To really be effective at providing this party buff, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the middle of your party.  A lot of your movement is going to likely be spent maneuvering yourself to keep all your allies within your 12 square radius.  That pretty much limits you from charging to the front lines and wailing on a Sith with your lightsaber.  I feel that if you’re going to take this path that you devote yourself to a Force Wizard type of build.  Get a bunch of Force Powers you can use at range, like Move Object, Force Blast, Force Stun, or Ballistakinesis.  Look at Force Disarm too, it’s pretty good with the right Force Technique.  If you really like to hit enemies with your light saber, look at the  Lightsaber Force Power Draw Closer, which can bring a foe to you and let you hit it with your saber as one standard action.  For your talents, take Deflect and Redirect Shot.  You’ll need Deflect or Block for Defensive Circle, and if you’re not going to be in the front line much anyway you’re likely to be a target for ranged attackers.  Might as well maximize your defense and your ability to send the shot back at an enemy.

Looking over this, I think this could be a really fun character to play, and a great boon to the rest of the party.  I just don’t know if I could suffer the 10 levels of play it would require to get there.

Sabers off until next time, folks.  For Fragments from the Rim this is DarthGM wishing you 20 side up, and 1 side down.

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