Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 Finale

Here we are, at the end of 2013 and the cusp of 2014.  We have a Government we dislike, a new Doctor Who, and a Hobbit movie that's about 80% new material.  This coming year we get the Age of Rebellion core-rulebook, several neat supplements that cover Corellia and Hired Guns, and an adventure that's "Ocean's 11 on Cloud City".  We also get the rough draft of official rules for Jedi Knights later this year with the Force and Destiny Beta. 

Will I be on-hand at GenCon for it's release?  Signs point to "no", but someone might kick the Magic-8 Ball and see if the prediction changes.

Until then, I've got some updates of my own to do on the Edge of the Jedi document.  I think I finally fixed the Twin Strike issue, thanks to some feedback from Dono.  I also decided to add in a couple house rules I'm using for Force Use and for "Kinetic Combat" with the Move power.  I also officially direct folks to Dono's Ways of the Force document for Healing and ideas for NPCs with his "Injure" power.

I also did some changes to Shien and Djem So.  I made mastery in them about to redirect damage back to the attacker for three Threats or one Despair, and had them both deal base weapon damage from the attacker's weapon instead of a flat out 10 damage.  I might bump it back up to 10 damage, since it has such a high requirement to activate, and it's not negating the damage the player takes, just sends a bunch of it back to the attacker.  And it's 25 XP into a secondary (or later) talent tree.  Actually, I think I will do that.

I love it when I game design mid-post.  Makes me look so erratic and unprofessional.  Oh wait...

I think my first post in 2014 will be the Version 1.03 rules for Edge of the Jedi.  Stay tuned.


One of my presents from the Wife was a commitment to have the Jedi Shadow finished by the end of February.  The costume's been so close to done for so long, it's just fallen by the wayside with all the crap that's gone on in my home this past year (sadly that statement is more literal than I'd like).  That being said, I think we decided a whole revamp on the skirt is needed.  I'll want to save as much of the pain-in-the-ass work as much as possible, like the large-runed bottom skirt, but some of the upper layers will need re-doing.

I've noticed that the New England Garrison needs more red sabers.  More Darths.  We have Vader and Maul, and a very good Nihilus.  Occasionally we see a Revan.  But we have a ton of Jedi in Alderaan base, and our parades will include several of them.  Occasionally, Nihilus or Maul will wade into them during a parade and do a little scripted duel.  I think it would be awesome to have more of that, and that means more Darths.

I've been all about doing Darth Malgus for years now, even went so far as to pick up Ultrasaber's interpretation of his lightsaber.  There's a guy out there I'm following who's going to start doing pieces of his costume "soon".  Do I wait?  Do I start working on something else?  I'd love to do Darth Adraas, it's a sick look.  Something like "Renaissance Iron Man meets Munch's The Scream".  It's a solid look for a Sith, and it's even a solid masked outfit.  Additionally, if I am able to Malgus later, I can repaint Adaraas to be the generic "TOR Jedi Knight", since they use the same armor (only the handplates are different).

I've got a lead on a suit of this TOR Jedi/Sith Armor, and several people out there are making the mask.  Tempting.  Very tempting.

We'll have to see.

Back on the Air

Thanks to some huge help from Mr. Dan Decker of Echo Base, the All Wings Report In podcast is back on the air.  It's crude, a little rough, and doesn't do the job well as nearly as it should thanks to the absence of my usual wingman, Erich, but at least it's an episode.

Not sure when the next one will be, but I hope Erich will be back sooner rather than later.  The show suffers without him.  I'm just going to do what I can to keep it going until he's able to get back into formation...

Closing Time

I think that's going to do it for this post, and for this year.  Thanks again for everyone who's subscribed, and who visits this page from my links.  Hopefully I'll have many more posts filled with useful (or at least interesting) tid-bits in 2014!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Holiday Poem Disguised as a Blog Post

T'was the Thursday before Christmas
And while opening his blog,
Phil was wracking his brain
For a subject to log.
Gaming, or costumes,
or holiday woes?
He couldn't decide
So he settled on prose.
"He's done this before"
Some readers will tell,
Years back on a podcast
(It went over well...)
But that was long back,
This problem is now.
The "why" he should write
The "what" and the "how"
"It's the Holiday season,
I could write about that...
Of past Christmas presents
like the TIE and AT-AT."
But no, that's a cop out;
A big, lame excuse
To fill space in his blog
"It's just no use"
"I'm stuck in a rut
About a subject this time."
That would probably explain
Why he's stuck in this rhyme.
"Time to bust out
and get back on track.
To write more about gaming
and the costumes I lack."
"Malgus and Jedi
Of a Shadowy sort,
The Jedi's nigh-finished
before we had to abort."
"And then there's my dad
Our own Old Ben,
Who's looking to upgrade
His costume again."
"He also would like something
For the old 501st,
And thin out which costume
Screws his sight up the worst."
Guardsman, or Admiral
(Of the "Grand" persuasion)
Or his own Tusken Raider
For villainous occasion.
Phil smiled as he thought
Of the coming year's plan,
Of vacations, and conventions
And being his brother's Best Man.
"It'll all be here soon,
Just like this deadline.
Maybe more Jedi work
There's some points to refine."
"Like Jar'kai, or Twin Strike.
Wow, that was a mess.
How I could write that talent
Is anyone's guess."
"I think I'll change it
To a boost die for strain
To increase your dual attack.
...might not be a pain..."
"And Dono's comments
About a simpler Juyo.
'Just upgrade the attack
Like Ferocious, you know?'"
"Other than that,
it's about set and done.
No massive rewrite
Just play testing fun."
And he looked up and saw
The volume he wrote.
This long-verse poem
Instead of a note.
"Jeebus I ramble,
Look at this post.
I think I should close it
With a Holiday toast."
"Thank you for reading
And coming to my blog
And listening to my bit.
So raise your egg nog!"
"To family and friends,
On this cold winter season!
Because you're all awesome,
That's a good enough reason!"
"Keep on coming back
For more fun next year.
I'll post all about it,
Of this have no fear."
And as these things end,
In this season of white;
"Merry Christmas to all,
And to all a good night!"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Edge of the Jedi Update

Wow, I'm behind in my posts.  But that's okay; one week it was Thanksgiving, and the next week it was...something else.  Eh, regardless; I'm not going to let another week go by without an update to the old blog.  You all deserve it.  You deserve better!  I can be better!  Give me a chance!

Or at least give me until January, when I plan to re-commit myself to a weekly update.

Jedi Power Battles

One of the files I've been meaning to get around to updating is the title of the article, my Edge of the Jedi document.  I'd finally gotten a chance to playtest some of the mechanics, and take a second look at a lot of creative decisions.  After a few months of work, I'm able to present to you the next iteration of my Jedi Rules for the Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars RPG.

In addition to changes based on playtesting, there are also some new talents added from the Age of Rebellion Beta rulebook.  There are some neat toys in there, and I had to find a place for some of them in my document.

Edge of the Jedi v1.02

Just about every tree had some revision, and even a few re-mappings.  Let's go over the what and the why, shall we?


After looking at the Guardian spec, I felt it connected certain coveted talents too easily.  Where there was once a lot of lateral movement allowed in the lower branches of the tree, now there is more focused paths.  I broke the link between the 20-point Sixth Sense and Superior Reflexes.  I also added a connection between Sixth Sense and the 15-point Balance, to allow for more character choices, and less requirements to focus on Melee or Ranged benefits.  Other than that, and a correction to Jump Up that it's an Activated Talent, Guardian was pretty much left alone.


This spec received some pretty major change ups; new talents, talent shifting, and tree re-mapping.

The first area of focus was the talent Well Rounded.  It moved from a 5 xp cost talent to a 10.  It was actually a 15, at the recommendation of several in the Gamer Nation based on where it appeared in other trees.  However, with the release of Enter the Unknown, there is now precedence to have it appear at a cheaper cost.  It flipped locations with Researcher.

The next change is the removal of Steely Nerves and replacing it with an Age of Rebellion talent, Force of Will.  Sixth Sense was also removed from the tree, and replaced with another AoR talent, Invigorate.  Looking at these talents in AoR, I knew I had to fit them into the Consular.  This does mean that every Consular that picks up Dedication will be able to replace their Willpower for any other Characteristic on one skill roll a session.  In all likelihood Willpower will be the Characteristic raised with Dedication, and I'm okay with all this.  The removal of Sixth Sense forces the Consular to rely more on additional training to improve their defenses, and does help convey that a pure Consular is not the greatest Jedi combatant.  I'd thought about replacing Deflect Blasters instead, but I just felt that was too key to any Jedi character to remove from the Specializations.

The Consular received a much larger re-mapping than the Guardian.  Gone are the links between Overwhelm Emotions and Deflect Blasters, and between Dedication and Sixth Sense. Overwhelm Emotions and Touch of Fate are broken, too, replaced with a link above them between Sense Emotions and Body Guard, which now links to Touch of Fate.  The progress of talents there flows nicely for a Consular who focuses as a mediator between potentially hostile parties.


There weren't too many changes to the Sentinel.  I worked in a fantastic talent from AoR; Sleight of Mind.  Replacing the 10 point Grit, the Sentinel adds a Boost die to Stealth checks against any opponent affected by Force Powers.  Grit moved over to replace Sense Emotions.  No other changes to the Sentinel specialization this time around.

Lightsaber Form Trees

None of my Lightsaber Form specialization trees had any form of remapping.  Additionally, no talents were replaced, but several were modified.

Niman: Spend a Destiny point to roll Force Rating as part of a lightsaber attack action.  If two Light Side points are scored, the Jedi may move a target at Short range to Engaged range (and then make a Lightsaber combat check against that target) or from Engaged to Short range (after making a Lightsaber combat check)
Niman Master: When using the Niman incidental action, if a total of three Light Side points are scored, the target may be knocked prone at the end of its forced movement.
These changes were made to simplify the excessive die rolling that my previous version of Niman was causing.  I also tried splitting up Niman into two Force powers from SAGA, Draw Closer and Pushing Slash.  This change makes it a simple addition of Force rating dice to a combat check, and allows a character to target an opponent at Short range (hoping they score at least two pips on their Force dice to pull them to Engaged range).   Niman Master's additional insult-to-injury of knocking the target prone after the movement is easy enough to execute if the Jedi wants.  Either roll the Force Dice first to see if three Light Side points are scored, or just add the boost die to the Combat check and Force Rating roll.  If enough Force Points to move the opponent aren't generated, the Combat Check results are ignored.

Logistically, versus a PC it should probably be a Force Rating check, followed by the combat check, that way the target knows if it needs to use talents or options like Dodge.  NPCs don't usually have this issue, as they have the always in-play Adversary talent in place of strain-costing defensive options.

Seems like that whole side of the Balanced tree got a re-write...
Twin Strike: When making a Two Weapon Attack action while wielding two lightsabers, spend 2 Advantage to add 5 damage to the first strike instead of triggering a second strike.
So this rewording allows a duelsit to-


You know, upon looking at this talent again, I suddenly see a problem.  The original intention is to stack the damage instead of splitting it, to allow the Duelist to get around the Soak value.  Instead of subtracting the full soak value from each of two 10 point hits, it only applies once against one 15 point hit (plus successes, of course).  The problem I just now realized is...Lightsabers have Breach 1.  They already ignore 10 points of soak.  This really isn't useful at all.

And already I'm making notes and changes for v1.03. *sigh*

I think I might just ditch the talent and concept entirely.  Find some other talent to take its place, or move Jar'Kai up and find a new 20 point talent.  Speaking of Jar'Kai...
Jar'Kai: Increase Melee Defense by 1 when wielding two lightsabers.

I'll admit it; I don't get how Defense stacks, or doesn't.  Or when you add.  Or when you take the best.  All I do know is I want the duelist's melee Defense to be one better than normal when wielding two lightsabers, and this seems like the best way to word it.

Soresu: Take a Soresu Maneuver to gain +1 Defense against all combat checks until the end of your next turn.  Apply 1 Setback die to all attacks made until the end of your next turn.
Intent-wise, there's no change with how it was worded before.  Previously I tacked it onto the existing Guarded Stance.  Now, it clarifies that it works like Guarded Stance, but applies a bonus to defense against all Combat Checks against the character.  Guarded Defense describes its effect as "gaining Melee Defense 1", meaning it doesn't stack with any other Defense score and pointless if you're wearing any armor granting defense (at least to me it does; remember my comprehension issues with Defense?)  Heck, now the duelist could use this and Guarded Stance and get to Melee Defense 2 and +1 ranged defense as long as he's willing to eat a penalty of 2 Setback dice to all attacks he makes for the next round.
Soresu Master: Take a Soresu Master action; until the beginning of the character's next turn, all combat checks against the character are opposed by the character's Lightsaber skill.
No real difference from before, just now it's worded differently.  By the way, the intention of this talent is for it to stack with defense and defensive maneuvers like Dodge.  In the lore, a practitioner of Soresu is nigh-uninhabitable, as long as they don't want to actually attack.  Masters are occasioanlly able to launch attacks, but even they are more about maintaining defense, and waiting for the right opportunity to strike (or parlay).  This could fit that well, I just need to playtest it more (or in this case, at all; Soresu isn't a "flashy" style, in spite of the "barrier of light" a Soresu master makes around him).

Use the Force, Ya N00b!

One of the issues I was still having with all this was the fickle nature of Force Use.  Even with three Force Rating Dice, the odds are still pretty good for a Jedi to roll no useable Force Points at all, and be stuck with a character violating decision to use the Dark Side to get them out of a poor situation. 

While looking over the stats for the Forsaken Jedi in the Edge of the Empire book, I noticed a little blurb at the very end of the Abilities header.
On the Edge: Spend 1 strain to turn one Dark Side Point into one Light Side Point, once per Force check.
This is a game-changer.  The Forsaken Jedi is able to at least score one Light Side Force point without it costing a Destiny Point and strain to use Dark Side pips to power Force powers.  I have to figure that something like this is going to be in effect for Force Users once Force and Destiny is released. 

I found this the night before may last Order 65 game session, and elected to let everyone give it a try and see how it played.  No extra XP cost, just "Boom, once per roll spend 1 Strain to make 1 Dark Side Point into a Light Side Point for powering Force Powers and Effects".  It worked extremely well.  The Swashbuckling Force-empowered duelist from the Taipani sector was able to reliably use Force Leap under the Enhance power to leap from one train to another during an epic chase scene.  The "Jedi Sage" was able to empower his Move and actually be able to use his Force power.  He might have not been able to pick up the original item he wanted, but he could at least do something.  And the Jedi Duelist...well, she's addicted to Force Use anyway, no matter what side of the Force Powers it, so she still flipped a Destiny Point to get 3-4 Force Points on a couple rolls, so it didn't really impede her character choices at all.

This ability could work well with this "Advanced Talents" option I'm hearing about coming in the Splatbooks like Enter the Unknown.  But at this stage I'm probably going to just handwaive it for the Order 65 game; just let all my Force Users have it.  It's not game breaking (any moreso than any of my other homebrewed rules, anyway) and it allows them to actually feel like they can use the Force.

Work in Progress

So it looks like I'll be doing a version 1.03 of this document sooner than expected.  Such is life.  For those of you using it, hope you enjoy the latest revisions and let me know if you come across any glaring issues.

Personal Stuff

I'm currently enjoying a warm house in cold weather, during my most favorite time of the year.  There are lights up, my ipod is currently cycling 245 different Christmas songs, and I'm really starting to get my Holiday Spirit on.  If my future isn't looking bright, it's at least looking bearable and more favorable than not, and sometimes that's all it takes.

Happy Holidays, folks...