Thursday, May 2, 2013

Waiting for Destiny

Time to swing the blog back to gaming; specifically the realm of home-brewed rules.  No secret I'm a big fan of the Jedi, and with the rulebook for them in the Fantasy Flight system 2 years away, there's a growing community of folks out there making their own house-rules for handling Jedi.

It kind of makes me wonder if this was FFG's plan all along.  I doubt it, but I could see them incorporating or at least being inspired by some of the rules and options folks out on the internets are making.  It's probably not how freelance works, but that's neither here nor there.  In my world, such leaps of logic are possible, but reality's mileage may vary.

Here are a few alternate rules for Edge of the Empire. These will likely be superseded in a couple years when Force and Destiny comes out, but until then feel free to yoink these for your games.


This is one of those powers that's had a bit of talk, and a few folks over on the D20 Forums have taken a stab at it.  They're making it work in the FFG system by making it a Talent, or a full-blown Force Power with it's own advancement tree.  I sort of have a problem with this power being a Talent or a Force Power.  I've always had an issue with it, especially in the various Wizards of the Coast versions of Star Wars Role-playing.  My biggest beef is it's ability to be a crutch, and a cheap way to keep tabs on your enemies.  Want to see what's inside the fortress you are supposed to break into?  Use Farseeing.  Curious what evil plot your campaign nemesis is working on?  Use Farseeing.  Can't find your car keys?  Use Farseeing. 

It's also annoying from a GM standpoint for a player to try and use Farseeing and the GM just doesn't have anything ready.  If I've spent hours writing up a plot line, and had zero time to think about characters not involved with the session, I won't have anything ready when the player drops a good d20 roll and states he's looking in on the nemesis of the party (who isn't involved in the current adventure) and see what he's up to.  Maybe I wasn't ready for that, and I blurt out something I regret later.  sometimes the story that comes off the top of my head is not what's best for the campaign.

It's not like I feel right preventing it's use, too.  The player has invested points and character choices into that ability, but sometimes the I just can't come up with the scene the player sees, or I don't want to. 

Farseeing should be a Force power that's used at the speed of plot.  That's how it's portrayed in the movies and cartoons.  Visions in the force are a plot mechanic that can reveal clues or secrets within the campaign story. 

I like the idea of it being linked into the Sense power.  So here's the rule I'm running with.

Pre-Req: Any one Tier Four upgrade in the Sense Force Power Tree (i.e. Strength, second Range, or second Magnitude upgrade)
The Force-User may attempt to view subjects or places far away from their present location.  The character can take a Farseeing action.  The character rolls their Force Rating and must score at least one Light Side Point to activate Farseeing.  The gamemaster determines if a vision is revealed to your character.  If no vision is revealed, the Gamemaster states something to the effect that the Force is cloudy and no scene was viewed.  If the Gamemaster allows a vision to be seen, a Light Side Destiny Point is flipped to Dark, and the scene is described to the character.
The accuracy and detail of a successful Farseeing use is based on the number of Light Side Points rolled on the Force dice.  More points means the visions give better detail and understanding, or may even hint at events in the future or past.  These visions are rarely in exacting detail, and most often manifest as impressions or brief snippets of life or scenes. 
The gamemaster can even give the character a vision of something else entirely from what the Player was trying to view with Farseeing.  Additionally, the Gamemaster may ask the player any time their character is resting or meditating to make a Farseeing check, as sometimes disturbances in the Force reveal visions to those who are sensitive.
If you've purchase Sense up to any of those upgrades, your character has invested a bit into the Sense tree and has an increased proficiency with sensing changes within the Force.  They should reasonably be able to perform a Farseeing check.  But, the success of the Farseeing check is ultimately up to the Gamemaster.  By making the power a sort of "bonus ability" to learning more powers in Sense, a Gamemaster doesn't necessarily need to feel obliged to use the Farseeing result any time a Player tries to use it, but it's there for a GM to use and even abuse when the character is resting.

The Unifying Force

There are situations where two Force Users are going to want to help one another with a task.  Maybe three Jedi are trying to lift a large boulder, or a Master and Apprentice are attempting to Influence a large crowd.  The current Rules As Written don't have anything to handle what happens when such characters try to help each other, but we can extrapolate from what happens when a group of characters tries to perform a task together.  For normal skill checks, you take the character with the highest attribute for the task and match it with the character with the most skill ranks for the task.  For Force Use, the two factors are "who rolls the most Light Side points" and "who has the highest level of proficiency in this particular power".
When a group of Force Users are attempting a task using the Force, the group chooses who is going to be the primary Force User.  Each Force User rolls their Force Rating, and the primary Force User can use the best individual result to power his Force Power's results.  All Force Users must have the Talent or the basic level of the Power they are attempting to use in unity.
So let's say a Jedi has spent points on the Move tree and unlocked all the upgrades, but only has a Force Rating of two.  Maybe he wants to pick up  large (Silhouette 2) boulder that's at Medium Range.  Possible, but he has to roll at least 3 Light Side Points on the Force Dice.  If another Jedi comes along who has a Force Rating of 2, but doesn't have any points in Move aside from the first, basic power level, the two Jedi can roll together.  If the one skilled in Move is named the primary, and the other Jedi happens to roll 3 Light Side Points when the Primary only rolls one, the Primary can use the second Jedi's result to power his use of Move.

Force Speed

THIS should not be your
Jedi's concept...
Surge, Force Run, Force Speed, Force Leap; what ever you call it, it's the Force power that lets you move really fast, and jump really far.  There are canon uses all over the place; Jedi leaping great distances, and moving really fast.  The problem is game balance.  How can you have someone doing their impression of Quicksilver or The Flash and have it be balanced?

To be fair, Edge of the Empire is a lot less tactically-based than the three previous incarnations of Star Wars Role Playing Games.  It's a key ability, but it's a very difficult power to replicate.  It covers distance travelled while running, distance while jumping (which has been quite significant), surviving falls from great heights, and even vertical movement by walking on walls for a short amount of time.

Some crafty players out there have made this a Talent that adds successes to Athletics checks, or redesigned it into a Force Power tree that allows Force-Users to buy into upgrades for the various effects.  I think this works best.  Jon Stevens on the D20 Radio forums has some good suggestions for what a tree would look like.

Just some "off the top of my head" ideas/ramblings, but perhaps keep the base power as simply providing an extra Maneuver that can only be used to move, up to a max of 3 Maneuvers per round? Power itself being activated I'd keep as an Action. Control Upgrades could be "spend 1 LS point to ignore difficult terrain when using this power" with a further upgrade being "spend 1 LS point to treat impassable terrain as difficult terrain when using this power*" Add a Control Upgrade that "reduces falling damage by one degree per LS point rolled." Maybe two or three Magnitude Upgrades to provide an additional maneuver's worth of movement.

However, having this as a power does bring in the concern of players abusing this by constantly using it, something that doesn't really jive with how we tend to see this sort of thing done in the movies and the EU, as you'd have to introduce an artificial limit to how frequently this could used, either in a scene or in a session. Mind you, such a limit isn't something I have a problem with, but not everyone agrees with that sentiment.
I think this is a good place to start.  I'm going to work on my own "Force Speed" Force Power tree and see what I can come up with.  I'll post it up here and share it with the Gamer Nation at large.

Heck, with another development, I might even get to playtest it a bit.

Next week, we stick with Star Wars RPGs and a pretty beefy project.  I'm converting over my Order 65 game to Edge of the Empire.  It's been quite a task, figuring out what talents and skill ranks look right for the characters, and determining what a good base point is for total XP.

More on that next week...

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