Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tricky Talent Tracks: The Jedi Knight, Part 2

Last week I took a dive into creating my own Jedi Career for use with the Fantasy Flight Games Edge of the Empire system.  I talked about the concepts, the specializations, and the skills I chose for each facet of the Jedi; Guardians, Consulars, and Sentinels.  It looks good, and a week later I'm still happy with the skills they start with.  This week I talk about the next step; selection and placement of the Talents and mapping out the Talent Tree.  It's been quite a puzzle.

Talent Selection

The Talent Tree is familiar to many, but new to Star Wars table-tops...
Every specialization in Edge of the Empire, (at least, for the Beta) has a list of 20 talents to draw from.  Arranged in a 4-column, 5-row grid, each talent is connected by a series of lines linking them together.  Starting at any of the four talents in the top row, characters can purchase any talent linked to one they have purchased.  Some talents link to only one other talent.  Some link to four.  Some links go down the chart to more expensive talents, others go across or even back up the chart towards the top. 

Talent selection for the three Jedi Specializations was a three-part process.  The first part was to decide what talents each specialization should have access too.  A sub-step of that was to decide if there were any talents that needed to be custom-created, or borrowed from other folks' homebrewed custom talents.  The second step was to try and figure out where each talent should be placed within the 20-space grid.  Should a talent cost 20xp to buy it?  Should it cost 10?  15?  The last step is mapping out the Talent Tree, and trying to balance talent placement with how much the talent actually costs to acquire.  Some talents are a straight shot down the tree; 5xp to 10xp to 15 to 20 to 25.  Some talents are mapped to take a more zig-zag route, sometimes requiring the character to move laterally in a row to pick up a talent.

The Guardian

Have 'saber, will travel.
Let's start with the Jedi Guardian specialization. My concept for the Jedi Guardian is that they are front-line warriors, good with combat in general.  They are also leaders, able to get the most out of their allies.  When I first went through the Edge of the Empire Beta book, I just grabbed a wish list of every talent that would make sense for a Guardian to have.  I ended up with 22 talents, much more than the 20-space limit I have, and that doesn't include custom talents nor space for talents that can be taken twice.

After several passes, I whittled the list down to sixteen.  Did a Guardian really need Side-Step and Dodge?  Field Commander?  Intense Focus?  I even went back and added in some talents I initially passed by.  Thanks to discussion on the D20 Forums, I added Jump Up to the Guardian list.  I initially felt it was a highly situational talent, and it is, but it does make sense to have in case you roll a bunch of Threat in your attack roll, and your opponent decides to spend it to knock your Jedi prone.

Taking a look at custom talents, I only found one that I wanted to fit into this tree, and in fact fit it into every specialization; Jon Steven's home-made Deflect Blasters talent.  ("Donovan Morningfire" has a few other talents that I do like, I just didn't think they'd fit into the concept of this character.  Maybe into other trees...)

So I've got my 20 talents, and mapped them out.  Running from Jump Up and Uncanny Reactions up to Deflect Blasters, Touch of Fate, and Force Rating, with a lot of crunchy goodness in between.  We'll see if it sticks around, and in the same order, after some folks with a head for balance get a look at it.

A Nation of Gamers

A community to die for...or die six.
 If there's one thing I like about custom game design, it's the collaboration that can come from being involved in a creative, supportive community.  Thankfully, such a group resides within the ethereal realm of the D20 Radio Forums.  Being able to bounce around ideas of how to get things to work in game is highly handy.  I have to imagine that this is done the exact same way with a team of developers making a new game, or game supplement, but I really enjoy the collaborative process and the product that comes with it.

The ability to draw on the creativity and get the input I need to balance out the class will be invaluable.  I hope to have a few folks from the community give it a once over as an Alpha test, and then share it with the entire D20 Radio forums for their input.  Likely there will be more revision after these presentations.

It's funny; it's sometimes hard to remember that feedback and criticism are good things.  I'm not going to get this right on my first try, and the people I ask for their views on are trying to make the creation work in a balanced, fun manner.  They want to see it succeed, too.

Another humorous aspect I've encountered is that, during the course of writing this post, I've made a couple changes to talent selection and placement in my Talent Trees.  I'll start typing about something in the design, take a long look at the work I've done, and make a change.  Generally, the changes are for the better.

Well see where it goes next week.  Not sure if I'll be writing about the Jedi Career or something else I've got bubbling away, but I'll be back.

Gotta keep the streak of posts going, and go for "four".

Watching the horizon...

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