Monday, October 3, 2011

A Matter of Great Import, Part Two: Elites

After a few days of exploration and jotting down ideas, I have a general idea on how the import of "Solo" and "Elite" could work.  As mentioned previously, the idea is to add in tougher and more tactically interesting opponents without needing to go through the time consuming hassle of advancing NPCs and assigning new Talents and Feats, and giving them unreasonable amounts of Force Points and Destiny Points just to help them survive an entire round of PC actions. 

In the Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide, there's a section that covers the creation of new Elites and Solos, and adapting lower creatures to be Elites and Solos.  That provided a very basic and general guideline to follow.  I also went through the Monster Manual and picked out some abilities that I liked, monster powers and effects that I felt would be not only easy to adapt to Star Wars, but also fit what we've seen in the Movies and Cartoons.

Elites: The Best of the Best

The DMG talks about Elites as tough monsters, worth twice the normal amount of XP.  In a previous post I applied one of the pre-made Elite templates to a Stormtrooper to make a Stormtrooper Sergeant.  It worked otu pretty well, and after digging into the DMG even further I came across the rules to create a new elite creature.  Some of it applies, some of it does not.

Adjust Hit Points: In 4E, an elite has a number of Hit Points equal to twice the base creature's hit points, plus twice it's constitution score.  That doesn't really transfer exactly to SAGA edition, so let's just leave it as "Double the base NPC's hit points".

Adjust Defenses: Here it states to increase up to three Defenses by +2.  In SAGA, there are only three Defenses, so let's change that to only two increases.

Add 1 Action Point: Here I'll give the Elite a Destiny Point, and require that it only be spent on another set of actions during the encounter.

Adjust Powers and Abilities: Now here's where things get creative and interesting.  It's als where a lot of my discoveries in the Monster Manual can come into play.  We're looking for additional opportunities for the Elite to make actions or attacks, since it's supposed to be representing two creature's worth of opponents.

Recharge when first bloodied: This is a little hard to work since SAGA doesn't have a "bloodied" status, technically.  It does have the Second Wind ability, which can only be used when the character's Hit Points are at half their maximum or below.  Also, there aren't a whole lot of "Encounter only" powers unless you're a Force-user with Force Powers.

What I think will work is allowing an Encounter Abilitly, Talent, or Power to recharge when the character takes their Second Wind.  Doing so is only a Swift Action in SAGA, so they'll still have their Move action and Standard actions.  If the NPC doesn't have any Encounter abilities, then maybe have it get another Destiny Point specifically for another set of actions.  This only happens when the character first takes a Second Wind, so if they have many Second Wind opportunities, this won't occur multiple times.

Immediate Actions: Next the DMG recommends giving the NPC the ability to attack in response to something the PCs do.  Some options include "when attacked and missed", or "when attacked and hit", or even "when the PC's more adjacent to them".  It could be an immediate reaction, in the case of attack rolls, or immediate interrupts, in the case of movement.  How nasty could a vibro-axe weilding Elite wookie be if any time a PC hits him, he howls in range and hits back?  What about a grappler that can take an immediate interrupt any time a PC enters and adjacent square and make a trip attack?  Or a Sith Lord that can activate a Force Power when someone moves adjacent to them?

Multiple Attacks: This is another way for an NPC to beef up it's damage capabilities; give it another attack during it's turn.  Either as a swift action, or allowing to use Double or Triple Attack as a Standard Action each turn.  This has the potential to be nasty...or useless.  In SAGA, Double attack imposes a -5 penalty to all attacks that round.  Triple attack imposes a -10 penaly to all attacks that round.  Add in the penalites for Dual Wielding weapons and your BBEG will be making a lot of attacks, but is unlikely to hit with any of them. But then again, having Double Attack is a big deal, and being able to use it often is key.

So what I do?  I think that depends on the character in question, and their abilities.  I think for melee characters, allow them to make an immediate attack against someone who either hits or misses them in melee combat.  For ranged attackers, allow them to use Double or Triple attack as a Standard action.  For Grapplers or Martial Artists, I love the idea of Tripping your opponent as they come within range.

For the stacking multi-attack penalites, I'd say reduce the penalty by 5 unles for some reason their attack rolls are very high to begin with.  Then they may not need the bonus.

Elites are supposed to be tough creatures on their own, but supported by allies.  They're tough nuts to crack, and a serious threat on the field, but they can be handled with good tactics and a little luck.

Finally, let's see how this could all work by applying the Elite status to a Super Battle Droid...

Sergeant Dae

On rare occasions a Super Battle Droid will manage to survive several campaigns against Republic forces and Jedi Knights.  When this occurs, that Battle Droid can retain a bredth of knowledge and experience in battlefield combat.  These droids are allowed to keep their experiences, and are not subjected to standard memory wipes.

Such a series of events has occured for SBD-43, a droid known as "Sergeant Dae" to his masters.  Sergeant Dae fought in several campaigns in the Outer Rim Seiges, somehow able to survive several encounters with Clone Troopers and even a few Jedi Padawans.  His superiors recognized that Dae could be a valuable commodity when the usual Tactical Droids or humanoid commanders were unavailable.  They also saw that Dae had gained some savagry and ferocity over other Super Battle Droids.  Sepratist Commanders usually assign Dae to front-line action, where his ability and skills can be used to their fullest.  They don't send him out to be needlessly slaughtered; Sergeant Dae is usually assigned a group of Super Battle Droids to assist him in his tasks, and to provide defense and support in combat. 

SBD-43 "Sergeant Dae"
Elite Medium droid (4th-degree) nonheroic 6
Init +3; Senses Perception +8
Destiny 1 (only for free set of actions)
Languages: Basic, Binary
Defenses Ref 14 (flat-footed 14), Fort 14, Will 10
hp 42; Threshold 14
Immune: droid traits
Speed 6 squares (walking)
Melee unarmed +6 (1d3+1)
Ranged wrist blasters +4 (3d8) or
Ranged wrist blasters +2 (4d8) with Rapid Fire
Fighting Space 1 square;  Reach 1 square
Base Atk +4, Grp +6
Attack Options: autofire (wrist blasters), Charging Fire, Rapid Fire, aid another (+4)
Abilities Str 14, Dex 11, Con -, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 7
Feats:  Armor Proficiency (light), Charging Fire, Rapid Shot, Toughness, Weapon Proficency (heavy weapons, rifles, simple)
Skills Perception +8
Systems: walking locomotion, remote receiver, backup processor, synchronized fire circuits, 2 hand appendages, integrated comlink, vocabulator, plasteel shell (2 armor)
Posessions: wrist blasters (blaster rifle)

Veteran Droid: When Sergeant Dae is first reduced to 21 hit points or less, Dae immediately gains and spends a Destiny Point to get a full turn of actions.

Droid Reflex Response: When Dae is hit by an attack, he may make a ranged attack as an immediate reaction.

Interesting...but it still looks...cluttered.  I'm going to have to see how this looks with the standard 4E format for stat blocks...

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