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A challenge to the Week 1 update- making a plug for opposed checks as the standard in combat


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#1 Darl_Loh

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 08:39 AM

 With the week 1 update out we have clarification that melee and ranged attacks use standardized difficulty (instead of opposed checks).  However, I would like to make a plug for changing that and using opposed checks instead. 

 
The benefits I see of opposed checks:
 
1. Easy, intuitive method to scale relative skill levels of opponents.
 
2. Shifts the burden of damage to PCs towards Strain rather than Wound damage.  This makes PCs more resilient because they can more quickly recover Strain and because they are spreading damage more equally over there two damage pools.
 
3. Reduces the number of critical hits that are activated.  This preferentially benefits PCs because they will receive more critical hits than any individual enemy.  It is just like the problem with wound points in WOTC’s first d20 Star Wars.  Since PCs are involved in every fight, it is way more likely that some mook will score a lucky hit and knock them out than the first round, than it is for a PC to do the same to an important enemy (that they may only face a few times in the entire campaign).  Either way, a lucky hit taking out an important character early on isn’t fun for anybody, anyway.  Granted, in EotE, the first critical hit can’t completely kill a PC in one shot.  However, there is a 5% chance of crippling a limb on most any critical hit roll.  Thus, I can probably expect that in any reasonably long campaign every PC will end up with at least one crippled limb (or worse).  The same does not apply to enemies.  Sure enemies in general will suffer critical hits more often than PCs.  However, a critical hit on your average minion or henchman is essentially meaningless.  The chance of scoring a critical hit with significant story impact on an important enemy is significantly less than the same thing happening to a PC.  Thus, I would contend that less overall critical hits is definitely a good thing.  
 
 
Seems like most of the arguments against opposed checks can be summed up as follows:
1. Increasing combat resolution time through (a) taking longer to determine dice pool and (b) resulting in fewer overall hits.  My response: For (a) I think it all depends on how much the GM uses discretion.  I know that as a GM, I will definitely make hitting Boba Fett a lot harder than hitting your average stormtrooper.  Especially since Boba Fett can take 1, maybe up to 3, more hits than your average stormtrooper.  Thus, since I am modulating difficulty on the fly, without a set standard, it is likely to take just as long as figuring the opposed dice pool (which I pretty much already know since it is the inverse of the attack dice pool).  For a GM that doesn’t modulate hit difficulty based on relative skill level, you are likely to have heroes and nemeses go down more quickly than you would like.  While (b) is definitely true, I think there will be a significant gradient from minion to nemesis.  For instance, minions and henchmen will go down nearly as quickly because better PC defense = more strain damage to enemies (which could easily finish off a minion or henchman) and nemeses will stay up longer than they would with standard difficulty.  These results seem good IMO.  
 
2. Decreased activation of advantage and triumph.  The biggest result of this is decreased critical hits.  My Response: True, but you will have an equal increase in disadvantage and despair activation against the enemy, which can be just as potent.  Also, like I mention above, I think less critical injuries overall is definitely better for the PCs.  
 


#2 GoblynByte

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 02:57 AM

I disagree with most of that. I like the current system.

  • One character being more difficult to hit than another can be handled via the defense trait which is modified by gear and talents.
  • Distance and size of target (and other environmental effects) are the only noteworthy factors that are not otherwise covered by the defense trait of the target.

I fully admit that my preference has nothing to do with "game balance." I don't like systems to be overly balanced as I feel excessive balance trumps logic and thus removes the players' ability to logically think through a problem. System balance without logical context tends to create an environment wherein the player games the system rather than plays in character. I can more easily balance the game with story elements.

 



#3 schi0384

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 04:32 AM

 While I like the standard difficulty of 2 for brawl and melee attack (it is easier to remember at the table), I can see the other side of this as well.

Say you are trying to hit (with a brawl or melee attack) a target in two different scenarios. In scenario 1 you are trying to whack a droid with Agility 1 and in scenario 2 you are trying to hit a different class of droid with an Agility of 5. Both droid are the same size, no armor, no talents and the situation of hitting them is the same (no boost or setback die).  As errata'd, the hit roll difficulty is the same for each droid. Shouldn't the Agility 5 droid be harder to hit then the Agility 1 droid?

What was FFG's reasoning behind a standard difficulty?

I understand why Agility doesn't increase defense like Brawn increases soak, it would be a major stat dump. But, it feels like there should be something to account for Agility differences. Like maybe, if the target's agility is higher than the attacker's add a setback die or something.

 


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#4 GM Chris

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 04:55 AM

schi0384 said:

What was FFG's reasoning behind a standard difficulty?

I understand why Agility doesn't increase defense like Brawn increases soak, it would be a major stat dump. But, it feels like there should be something to account for Agility differences. Like maybe, if the target's agility is higher than the attacker's add a setback die or something.

I think it's all for simplicity's sake.  Having run this game a few times, now - it's a LOT easier to remember and adjudicate at the table when there's this "set standard" based off of range (for ranged weapons), and a solid 2 difficulty for melee.  [shrug]  NPC or PCs who are "harder to hit" handle it via talents and other abilities that either add the black setback dice to the roll or upgrade the difficulty of the roll.

For example, in the game I ran on Saturday, my wife made a rodian bounty hunter/surivivalist/force-sensitive exile.  She maxed out the left-hand side of the Sense talent tree.  So, when it was "on", She was upgrading the difficulty of any attack that targeted her.  THREE times.  (another discussion…)


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#5 Stacie_GmrGrl

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 05:01 AM

I was thinking of using the Minion/Henchmen/Nemesis scale…Minions are 2 Difficulty.  Henchmen are 3 Difficulty and Nemesis are 3 Difficulty with an Upgrade. then add in any situational modifiers and good to go. I don't like the flat 2 Difficulty across the board for all enemies. 


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#6 GM Chris

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 05:08 AM

Stacie_GmrGrl said:

I was thinking of using the Minion/Henchmen/Nemesis scale…Minions are 2 Difficulty.  Henchmen are 3 Difficulty and Nemesis are 3 Difficulty with an Upgrade. then add in any situational modifiers and good to go. I don't like the flat 2 Difficulty across the board for all enemies. 

What difficulty would the PCs have?  (When a foe is attacking them?)


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#7 Callidon

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 05:20 AM

By having a sliding scale of difficulty you could easily find yourself hitting the ceiling of the difficulty classes…and then things start to shake loose.  If you were to take a swipe at a Wookie with a Vibro Axe…she has opposed difficulty generated by Brawn 4 Melee 3 (PurpleRedRedRed) and Dodge on that same wookie you get to (RedRedRedRed) which is quite hardcore on the difficulty classification.  But the attacking character also wants to do some two weapon stabbity action because….well it looks cool.  So we increase the difficulty one more step to (PurpleRedRedRedRed) which is just….b-a-n-a-n-a-s.  And it could happen fairly early on in a string of adventures.  That wookie target could exist after a couple of sessions either as a PC or NPC.  By the time you get to a target with Brawn 6, Melee 4 with the dodge talentx2…life is going to become a constant march of "never tell me the odds" difficulty rolls.

Then when we step up to the second core set, and finally to Force and Destiny…the whole difficulty scale might as well be mothballed (or at least throw out your purple dice for those game sessions).

Having a static 2 difficulty leaves a lot of room to spot-weld other game effects (talents, the force, gear, etc) without breaking the back of the core resolution mechanic.  It also makes talents like Dodge, and bonus dice (Boost/Setback as the case may warrant) more impactful to the game.

Opposed rolls make sense in some cases for other skill checks, but combat has too many other widgets and game effects that plug into it to be handled the same way.


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#8 Guest_Not In Sample_*

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 08:37 AM

GoblynByte said:

I fully admit that my preference has nothing to do with "game balance." I don't like systems to be overly balanced as I feel excessive balance trumps logic and thus removes the players' ability to logically think through a problem. System balance without logical context tends to create an environment wherein the player games the system rather than plays in character. I can more easily balance the game with story elements.

 

FWIW, as a player I hate that style of play as I think it places too much power in the hands of the GM. Rather than a player being able to think 'if I do X it will have Y result', they instead have to ask the GM for permission to do anything, and the granting of that permission depends on how cool the GM thinks the action is.

For the players this turns the game in to a round of 'figure out what the GM thinks is cool' which I find non-optimal as it is really annoying if they won't accept player input to the game, and makes for terrible tactical combat because no one is entirely sure what the rules actually are, which always leads to bad gaming.

--

Obviously I think a characters 'skill' should have a big impact on how hard they are to hit. Even in cover based ranged combat. It is all about how you use the cover.

However, I don't think there is much advantage in doing this by making everything an opposed roll. For a start it is another roll you have to make. 



#9 MILLANDSON

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 10:18 AM

AluminiumWolf said:

However, I don't think there is much advantage in doing this by making everything an opposed roll. For a start it is another roll you have to make. 

This obviously shows you are still making rules suggestions without the slightest bit of knowledge about the system - making it an opposed roll would not require an addition roll at all, just like any other opposed roll doesn't require 2 rolls.


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#10 Kallabecca

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 10:54 AM

I can see melee combat being an opposed fight of skill vs skill. But ranged… you can't dodge a bullet, or a blaster bolt (unless you have the force). You can, maybe, get clear of where someone is aiming, but the actual time of flight of the projectile is so low as to be nearly instantaneous in most RPG combat situations.

So, ranged should be a fixed value adjusted by modifiers (range, size, speed, cover, etc…)



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Posted 10 September 2012 - 11:37 AM

+++++making it an opposed roll would not require an addition roll at all, just like any other opposed roll doesn't require 2 rolls.+++++

Doh!

+++++But ranged… you can't dodge a bullet, or a blaster bolt (unless you have the force). You can, maybe, get clear of where someone is aiming, but the actual time of flight of the projectile is so low as to be nearly instantaneous in most RPG combat situations.
 
So, ranged should be a fixed value adjusted by modifiers (range, size, speed, cover, etc…)+++++
 
1: Blaster Bolts move far more slowly and are much more visible than bullets. :0)
 
2: In a more… down to earth game, a more skilled ranged combatant will make better use of cover - they will choose better shooting locations, expose themselves less, move faster between cover, stuff like that.
 
3: It isn't like John Woo/Max Payne style leaping sideways firing a blaster in each hand is enormously out of character for Star Wars.



#12 Donovan Morningfire

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 11:42 AM

Regarding any kind of "opposed" difficulty based on combat skill… even in real life, a high degree of skill doesn't always mean you're going to emerge the victor.

There have been numerous documented cases of one-on-one matches (boxing, MMA, kick-boxing, etc) where the underdog (the guy with less experience and/or skill) has managed a sudden victory over the more experienced/better skilled fighter.

As others have said, having a static difficulty is fine.  And besides, the rules already do have a means of reflecting how a more experienced fighter can make themselves harder to hit.  Check out Guarded Stance on page 130 under Maneuvers.

In regards to "dodging" ranged fire, you do have the option to drop prone on your turn, to say nothing of talents like Dodge and Sidestep.


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#13 korjik

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 11:47 AM

MILLANDSON said:

AluminiumWolf said:

 

However, I don't think there is much advantage in doing this by making everything an opposed roll. For a start it is another roll you have to make. 

 

 

This obviously shows you are still making rules suggestions without the slightest bit of knowledge about the system - making it an opposed roll would not require an addition roll at all, just like any other opposed roll doesn't require 2 rolls.

It would make for a big fist full of dice for those of us who hate die rollers tho



#14 MILLANDSON

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 01:34 PM

korjik said:

 

It would make for a big fist full of dice for those of us who hate die rollers tho

If you don't like rolling dice, I'm not entirely sure RPGs are for you


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#15 Darl_Loh

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 03:00 PM

 Kallabecca said:

I can see melee combat being an opposed fight of skill vs skill. But ranged… you can't dodge a bullet, or a blaster bolt (unless you have the force). You can, maybe, get clear of where someone is aiming, but the actual time of flight of the projectile is so low as to be nearly instantaneous in most RPG combat situations.

 

So, ranged should be a fixed value adjusted by modifiers (range, size, speed, cover, etc…)
 
 
While you are technically correct, I would suggest that (even moreso than in melee combat) a good offense is your best defense.  In my mind, a skilled gunfighter is constantly trying to put himself at an advantageous angle of fire while denying his opponent a clear shot.  He is also pressuring him with suppressive fire.  Either way, a better gunfighter is going to get shot less. 
 
Callidon said:
By having a sliding scale of difficulty you could easily find yourself hitting the ceiling of the difficulty classes…
 
I feel like I already answered that.  In those cases it simply shifts the roll paradigm.  With a really high skill you will have a great defense and deal a lot of strain damage to someone of lesser skill that tries to attack you.  In my mind I see it as winning by counterattack.  In fact, I can’t imagine how the Jedi battles  (Sense power, ability to invest multiple Force dice into the ongoing effect) won’t end up as contests of who misses less worse than the other guy.  
 
I will also point out that your wookie has a bit of a flaw…ranged combat.  Shoot at him in and he doesn’t get to use Brawn-Melee.  What good is his vibro-ax gonna do against a blaster?  He would oppose with agility- ranged.  And, in this case, since I would say that the defensive aspect of ranged combat comes significantly from the ability to use suppressive fire, I wouldn’t let the wookie upgrade even if he has a decent ranged skill bc he is not carrying a blaster.   
 
Also, your Wookie (Brawn 4, Melee 3) has a very high hit rate against difficult 2.  So if two of these Wookies fight each other, that basically means that whoever wins initiative probably wins the fight, and it is probably over in a round or two; unless, of course, you upgrade the difficulties because of the relative skill level.  But if you are gonna do that, why not just do opposed rolls as standard? 
 
Donovan Morningfire said:
 
Regarding any kind of "opposed" difficulty based on combat skill… even in real life, a high degree of skill doesn't always mean you're going to emerge the victor.
 
There have been numerous documented cases of one-on-one matches (boxing, MMA, kick-boxing, etc) where the underdog (the guy with less experience and/or skill) has managed a sudden victory over the more experienced/better skilled fighter.
 
 
True, but irrelevant.  What I am suggesting doesn’t guarantee success.  It just makes it more likely for the more skilled/capable opponent.  I didn’t suggest that the rules should be that if you have a higher skill than somebody that that person can never, ever hit you.  Also, what you are suggesting (a lucky hit) could happen in the RAW or my suggested change.  You are still rolling dice, which unless I have been using dice wrong all these years, are random…i.e. luck plays an important part.
 
Donovan Morningfire said:
And besides, the rules already do have a means of reflecting how a more experienced fighter can make themselves harder to hit.  Check out Guarded Stance on page 130 under Maneuvers.
 
Well, I feel like those talents aren’t sufficient to describe skill differentials.  I also feel like the things I mention, less critical hits, damage shifter towards strain, and easier scaling of skill differentials make for a more mechanically sound game.
 
Also, I should note that guarded stance is not reflective of skill level.  Anyone can do it.  
 
schi0384 said:
Shouldn't the Agility 5 droid be harder to hit then the Agility 1 droid? I understand why Agility doesn't increase defense like Brawn increases soak, it would be a major stat dump. But, it feels like there should be something to account for Agility differences. Like maybe, if the target's agility is higher than the attacker's add a setback die or something.
 
I wouldn’t focus the defense on agility.  I know that is the typical idea, but one of the reasons I like the idea of opposed checks is that it sets up each roll as less of attack and defense and more of a roll for relative advantage.  Both opponents are striving against each other to see who comes out on top.  Thus, the nature of the contests dictates the traits used.  Brawn would be the defensive trait in a melee fight, and Willpower the relevant one in a contest of wills.  You could even have some innovative checks.  For instance a quick draw contest might start off with a series of Willpower-Ranged checks to determine some kind of advantage, followed by an Agility-Cool to determine who shoots first.  
 
GoblynByte said:
 
I fully admit that my preference has nothing to do with "game balance." I don't like systems to be overly balanced as I feel excessive balance trumps logic and thus removes the players' ability to logically think through a problem. System balance without logical context tends to create an environment wherein the player games the system rather than plays in character. I can more easily balance the game with story elements.
 
 
I agree with you on the the game balance thing, but I don’t really think that my suggested change has much to do with game balance and everything to do with logic.
 
Is it logical for a character to increase in overall combat skill yet have to learn additional, separate abilities (which are rather limited) to be able to protect themselves better?
 
Is it logical for the statistics of the game to favor more –both in terms of volume and seriousness- critical hits to the cinematic heroes than to the villains and their minions? 
 
Is it logical for the GM to have to no consistent method of accounting for skill differentials between opponents? 
 


#16 Kallabecca

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 04:06 PM

Darl_Loh said:

 Kallabecca said:

I can see melee combat being an opposed fight of skill vs skill. But ranged… you can't dodge a bullet, or a blaster bolt (unless you have the force). You can, maybe, get clear of where someone is aiming, but the actual time of flight of the projectile is so low as to be nearly instantaneous in most RPG combat situations.

 

So, ranged should be a fixed value adjusted by modifiers (range, size, speed, cover, etc…)
 
 
While you are technically correct, I would suggest that (even moreso than in melee combat) a good offense is your best defense.  In my mind, a skilled gunfighter is constantly trying to put himself at an advantageous angle of fire while denying his opponent a clear shot.  He is also pressuring him with suppressive fire.  Either way, a better gunfighter is going to get shot less. 
 

Yes, a better gunfighter might get shot less often, provided that he even has the terrain to take advantage of. So it really isn't some physical skill the person knows that keeps them from getting shot, but simply knowing to do things like take cover, which most games handle through the tactical choices of the player, not the skill of the character.



#17 Callidon

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 04:14 PM

I'd recommend playing the game, not the system.  

Opposed rolls could lead people even further down the path of jamming all their starting XP into characteristics and combat skill training in order to be "viable."  Sure you could build a character however you wanted, but the person that juiced up their stats versus any other upgrades at character creation would absolutely dominate combat out of the gate because they could wade through fights and be hit far less than a companion who went the more balanced chargen route.  And I've always thought that "skill" shouldn't extend to characters being able to stand in the center of a room surrounded by enemies and know that they have very little to fear from mortal enemies.

Defense dice, defensive combat talents, situational bonuses, gear boosts, spending advantage and threat…all that gets stacked on top of a base difficulty.  Does a forced miss percentage of 40-60% really do anything for a game system to make combat fun? Is it better to stand there going at each other for a couple rounds until someone lands a hit?  And anyone that doesn't keep up with the characteristics arms race need not apply.  All one has to do to rock the face of allcomers is boost their combat skills to make me simultaneously more lethal and more defensive.  No need to worry about other skills (since that'll be for the non optimizing techie in the group), talents or anything else.  That's a pretty sweet deal at twice the price.

I'm not saying you are patently wrong or anything Darl_Loh, so I'm sorry if I have come off as overly contrary.  We're mincing preferences after all. 

So I guess I'll stick with a default difficulty and modular add-on dice and upgrades from talents, etc.  I just don't see the labyrinth of mystery to adjudicate boost and setback dice.  I also like that the system as it stands today offers more opportunity for more significant parlor tricks and action-type difficulties that may be introduced in future games/splat (or homebrew stuff even).


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#18 Gallandro

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 01:37 AM

Agreed Callidon, I think going with opposed combat rolls is counterintuitive to the rest of the system and adds unnecessary difficulty to a fairly simple system.

 

Additionally there is the whole question if keeping in the vein of the movies. By requiring a flat difficulty everyone at least has a shot at hitting a target. Even unskilled, untrained Luke Skywalker managed to latch a grappling hook on some conduits so he and the Princess could make their escape.  



#19 GoblynByte

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 09:36 AM

Gallandro said:

Agreed Callidon, I think going with opposed combat rolls is counterintuitive to the rest of the system and adds unnecessary difficulty to a fairly simple system.

 

Additionally there is the whole question if keeping in the vein of the movies. By requiring a flat difficulty everyone at least has a shot at hitting a target. Even unskilled, untrained Luke Skywalker managed to latch a grappling hook on some conduits so he and the Princess could make their escape.  

Agreed.



#20 MILLANDSON

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 11:16 AM

What about space combat, then? Surely the skill of the pilot should be taken into account there (because that's the only way starfighters usually survive).


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