Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year, Par for the Course

Here we are on January 3rd, the first Friday of 2014, and I've already missed a blog-post.  I could pawn it off on the blizzard we just had here in New England, but I won't.  I spent all of last night playing Star Trek Online, part of it with my former STO-Podcast co-host, Gonzo.  Good to get some time at the helm with him, even if it was for only about an hour, and with some toddler aggro that he had to attend to while we were facing the Borg.
It was a decent New Year's Eve.  I got to spend it with several nice folks in a mellow, low-key gathering.  It was a nice reset that set the framework for the coming year.  It'll be a year of challenges and celebrations, and require a bit of focus on my part.  I can honestly say I'm going to give 2014 a chance to be awesome, and work towards it being so.  If it isn't, it won't be because I didn't try.

Here Comes A New Challenger!

I almost called this section "Level Up!", but then I realized that's a bad, misogynistic live-action tv-show about MMO players.  This is nothing like that.  This is all about the "Edge of the Jedi" document and me finally fixing a few things in it. 
Changes!  Corrections!  Updates!  Let's begin!
CAREER TREES: I'm happy with the Specialization trees as they are in 1.02.  No changes here.  Move along, move along.
BALANCED LIGHTSABER STYLE TREE: Now we're starting to see some changes, specifically to that useless Twin Strike talent.  After talking with Donovan Morningfire, I've moved Jar'Kai to the 15xp row, and moved Twin Strike to the 20xp row.  Twin Strike now "adds a boost die to any Lightsaber Combat Check when using Two Weapon Attack or when using the Autofire option while wielding two lightsabers".  Adding that boost die increases the odds of rolling enough Advantage to trigger that second attack, or use that Autofire option.  You no longer total up the damage between the two, which really would only be an issue if you're attacking a vehicle with Armor 1.  Since that comes up so infrequently (i.e. hardly ever), this makes the talent actually worth something.  Since it's a 20 point talent in at least a second specialization, I made it a free-bee (no cost to use).
I got some fun feedback on Shii Cho, and Shii Cho Master.  "It's fun!" was the synopsis.  Many minions died to bring me that feedback.
STRONG LIGHTSABER STYLE TREE: More changes here to three of my Forms (well, 2 technically).  Shien got a big change.  The problem with the original Shien is that unless you had the 25 point Deflect Blasters talent from the Jedi Career specs, you didn't get any benefit from the talent.  While some may say that's okay, I decided to change the Shien power to match the old Shien Master; spend Threat and Despair on blaster weapon combat checks against you to deal damage back to the attacker (note that it doesn't say if the attack hits or not; it works in both cases).  Shien Master now drops the cost of activating Shien to two Threat or a Despair.  And no, you can't burn 4 Threat or 2 Threat and a Despair to deal 20 damage back to the attacker...unless your GM really is feeling generous.
I changed up Djem So Master too.  Instead of making it a mirror of Shien Master (now regular Shien), I went back to the description of Djem So for inspiration.  Djem So is all about blocking attacks and responding with strikes of your own.  So instead of dealing a flat 10 points of damage back to your opponent, you now deal your Lightsaber damage back to your opponent, and include any passive abilities the lightsaber has (like Breach 1).  Note that you don't get to use the regular Djem So (or Ataru) bonus damage in that hit, since you're not making a Lightsaber combat check.  Cost to activate remains the same as before.
Juyo got a lot simpler.  Also at Dono's suggestion, Juyo is now simply "1 strain to upgrade the next Lightsaber combat check once".  You get aggressive, you exert yourself, you increase the odds of hitting and something nasty happening to your opponent.
THE FORCE: Also added is about 2/3rds of a page on home-brewed house rules I've used in my games recently.  The first being the inclusion of a pseudo-talent, Power of the Force.  For 20 Xp you can spend 1 strain to turn a Dark Side Point into a Light Side Point.  This can be done with every Force Die roll (except the one at the beginning that determines Destiny Points for the game, you are rolling that one, not your character).  You can take this "talent" any time, during character creation or once play has started, only that you need to belong to a formalized Force tradition to take it.  The theme here is that by belonging to a formalized tradition, like the Jedi, they train you to tap into the Force reliably.  That training is what allows the Force User to at least get some use of the Force when they need it.
Another house-rule I've made concerns the old KotOR Campaign Guide power "Kinetic Combat".  The third Control upgrade in the Move power states you can use Move to manipulate objects with precision, and we judged that this could include wielding weapons.  It's not as easy as wielding them yourself, a level of control is required and your perspective on combat is slightly off.  It takes an Action to trigger Move to set up the power, and then in subsequent turns you need to commit two Force Dice to keeping the power going.  Also, you need to activate Move to be able to lift an object with a Silhouette equal to the Encumbrance rating of the weapon.  It's not that the weapon is that heavy, it's that Strength is a good indicator on how much "grip" or "finesse" you have when you use that weapon effectively.  Lightsabers are easy, Vibro-axes are hard, and Heavy Repeating Blasters are really hard to coordinate their bulk, aim, and firing all at once remotely. 
And hey, if you don't roll high enough to control the weapon, you can still use it as a projectile with Move (dealing it's normal damage based on the Silhouette, of course).
Making attacks with Kinetic combat increase the difficulty by one.  Turning off Kinetic Combat is a Maneuver if you want the weapon to return to your hand (or someone else's), or an Incidental if you want the weapon to just drop.
Finally, I also pointed folks to Donovan's Ways of the Force document for additional Force Powers like Healing and Injure.
So here it is!  Update 1.03 for your gaming pleasure.

Edge of the Jedi v1.03

I'm do an "Age of the Jedi" document at some point.  Possibly something to work on later in the year, or after I see exactly what's in the Force and Destiny beta.  If I had to do this all over again, I'd make three Jedi Careers; Consular, Guardian, and Sentinel.  I'd have three Specializations under each Career.  I don't think I'd change my Lightsaber Style trees, but I may consider adding one for "Force Wizard" specs.  I could also see doing a non-Jedi career; Force Adept.  I could likely come up with three Specializations for that too.  It's hard to think about all that right now, knowing that 8 months from now I'll have a better idea of how Fantasy Flight Games is doing it.
We'll have to see, now won't we?

Help from the Mandalorians?

I've been getting gameplay feedback from some members of the Gamer Nation; "Kell Ordo" and his family.  Pretty sure Kell is a member of the Mando Mercs, and possibly soon to be a member of the Rebel Legion if he's not already, based on some of the costumes he's stated he's working on for Celebration Anaheim.  He's got quite a list lined up.  Got me thinking about costumes, and specifically Mandalorians.  If I were to do a Mando, it would be one of Maul's Deathwatch members from his final arc in The Clone Wars, probably with the "Zabrak Horns" on the helmet.  I dig some of the custom stuff the Mercs have done over the years, but I have to say a lot of it has not appealed to me.  I'll admit it, I have a high-standard when it comes to Star Wars costumes, and I guess to costumes in general.  I'm starting to find myself looking at cosplayers thinking about what could be done better, or how it could be made better.  I'm not even what I'd call an expert or anything, I'm just a guy who's put together three armor kits and conned his wife into making him one and a half Jedi outfits.  Oh, and put together a lightsaber from parts.  My one and only prop-making project turned out like I expected; serviceable but in sore need of a redo.  So my pedigree is very "quick to judge but can't do himself".  Still, the Mando Mercs have gotten better over the years, and I do like the work some of their really dedicated members have done.


Final Thoughts

Man, 2014 is going to be busy.  Real busy, depending on how some things turn out.  I've got a lot of projects to get under way, and a lot of plans to make.  We'll see if the money and my wife's sanity hold out.
I'm curious about something.  If you have used my Jedi Career document, let me know.  Either here, or on my G+ or Facebook link; just a quick comment that you've tried it out.  By all means, if you have feedback or any cool stories about these rules, I'd love to hear them.
Anyway, see you around the new year, folks.

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