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Why the characteristic baseline of "2"


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#1 whafrog

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 06:47 PM

If you wanted to play a dumb or gullible human, there's no way to reduce the Intellect or Cunning characteristic to 1.  Personally I'd allow it if a player wanted it, giving 20XP for it, but I wonder why the designers felt the need to start characters off at "average".  I think I'd have preferred the droid method of characteristic allocation, and perhaps several suggested alternatives along with the required XP.



#2 aramis

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 07:05 PM

It feels to me like a WEG holdover... I note the large number of WEG freelancers and even staffers who are now at FFG... it feels like they aimed for much the same values.

 

WEG, recall, was "Joe normal human was 2D, peak human attribute was 4D... the range for a normal human in this system is also 2D to 4D, with the occasional exceptional 5D at start. 



#3 awayputurwpn

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 09:06 PM

I'd give the human player 10 XP if he wanted to reduce a Characteristic to 1.

Jay Little posted a couple articles over on the GSA a while back talking about the dice mechanics in depth, for those wondering about why the numbers are the way they are.

Edited by awayputurwpn, 30 October 2013 - 09:07 PM.


#4 Kshatriya

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 11:08 PM

I'd say 2s in Int/Cunning does not exactly make one smart or...scrutinous? 1 isn't stupid/gullible, it's barely functional in that aspect. In an organic I would say Int 1 is more akin to a severe learning disability than it is to "not smart but capable of functioning normally in society." An Int 1 droid is probably a pure assassin droid that does not need to think deeply at all or a manual labor droid.



#5 Rikoshi

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 12:09 AM

To be particularly dumb or gullible, just don't take any ranks in Discipline or any of the Education skills.  Anything that falls outside your purview would get extra setback dice anyway.  I think the baseline 2 green dice represent that just fine.



#6 Donovan Morningfire

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 09:42 AM

As far as humans not having innate modifiers to their ability scores/attributes/characteristics/whatever, that's been in place since the earliest editions of D&D.  Humans have always been and probably always will be the "baseline" in terms of what other races/species look like in RPGs.

 

In this game, a 2 in a Characteristic reflects "basic competence of a heroic character," meaning they're a step above the norm but not incredibly so.  Don't believe, me, take a look through the NPC chapter.  There's a number of NPCs that will generally default to being "humanoid" that have Characteristics of 1, such as the Diplomat (pg210), Imperial DeStab Agent (pg213), and Pirate Crew (pg220) as a couple examples.

 

Also, in Star Wars media, the heroes (of which your PCs number) aren't really shown to be truly "incompetent" at anything.  One observation that's been made by several game design folks from D&D 3.X is that the players were hesitant to try things if they didn't have ranks for the skill the task would fall under.  It's part of why Saga Edition (and 4e) had a level bonus to skill checks, so that even without training a PC would have a certain degree of competence and thus be more willing to participate in scenes that in 3e/OCR/RCR they would have avoided.

 

So with a minimum of 2 green dice for any skill check, a Human PC is going to be fairly competent at most routine or simple tasks, and probably able to accomplish your average tasks with the bare modicum of success.  That's going to encourage the Human PCs in your group to try their hand at things that in prior systems they might have avoided because "I'm not trained in that skill" or "I've got a lousy attribute modifier for that task."  It's not a perfect solution, as there are still going to players that have been conditioned by years of gaming to shy away from making "untrained" checks.


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#7 Aservan

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 10:08 AM

As far as humans not having innate modifiers to their ability scores/attributes/characteristics/whatever, that's been in place since the earliest editions of D&D.  Humans have always been and probably always will be the "baseline" in terms of what other races/species look like in RPGs.

 

I agree with your post after the above as it states the very valid reasons humans have at least a 2 in everything.

 

Essentially: You don't get to repeatedly do exceptional things without being exceptional.

 

That said early additions of D&D were all about the rolling.  You could be exceptionally unlucky and end up with all threes in your stats.  You could also roll really well and have to reduce your stats because of racial maximums or be unable to play a race because you didn't meet the minimum stats.  Yes humans had no plusses or minuses to stats, but that was about it.  Humans were baseline, but in Gygax's D&D baseline was that you had no level maximums, not that you met a minimum level of competence.

 

By the way.  If a player wants to reduce a stat to fit a character concept you should award them 20 XP as that is the cost to go from a 1 to a 2.  Then like any good GM you should make them pay and pay and pay. In game of course. :)



#8 PalpatinesValet

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 03:33 PM

If nothing else, giving humans a baseline of 2 prevents players from drawing up idiot-savant characters who are absolutely brilliant at the role they expect to fill in the party and utterly hopeless outside of it. Thematically, it would be very odd to have hardened criminals or Rebel commandos who are unable to perform the most basic tasks of daily living- and you will get characters that over-specialised if players are allowed to drop their stats.

 

A personal anecdote: I play Pathfinder, Society organized play. You're allowed to dump any stat to 7 before racial modifiers (10 represents the average, unremarkable abilities of a normal person who doesn't use or develop the ability; Intelligence below 8 makes your character incapable of reading and writing). So one guy rolled up a ninja with exceptional Dexterity and Wisdom, partially by dropping his Charisma and Intelligence down to 7. And taking a Vow of Silence. He had to write or pantomime any communication, yet was necessarily illiterate and incapable of social interaction. As DM, I forced his character to doodle in crayon when he wanted to tell the rest of the party anything. Still, his character was smoking fast and virtually impossible to hit.

 

And yes, I've dumped stats in order to optimise. I know, I know, let he who is without sin...



#9 Kallabecca

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 11:00 PM

If nothing else, giving humans a baseline of 2 prevents players from drawing up idiot-savant characters who are absolutely brilliant at the role they expect to fill in the party and utterly hopeless outside of it. Thematically, it would be very odd to have hardened criminals or Rebel commandos who are unable to perform the most basic tasks of daily living- and you will get characters that over-specialised if players are allowed to drop their stats.

 

A personal anecdote: I play Pathfinder, Society organized play. You're allowed to dump any stat to 7 before racial modifiers (10 represents the average, unremarkable abilities of a normal person who doesn't use or develop the ability; Intelligence below 8 makes your character incapable of reading and writing). So one guy rolled up a ninja with exceptional Dexterity and Wisdom, partially by dropping his Charisma and Intelligence down to 7. And taking a Vow of Silence. He had to write or pantomime any communication, yet was necessarily illiterate and incapable of social interaction. As DM, I forced his character to doodle in crayon when he wanted to tell the rest of the party anything. Still, his character was smoking fast and virtually impossible to hit.

 

And yes, I've dumped stats in order to optimise. I know, I know, let he who is without sin...

10/11 is the average, not just 10. Charisma of 7 doesn't make one incapable of social interaction. It just means that you don't have a good force of personality. You might speak well, when you bother to speak, but few will listen anyways as you lack the confidence to make yourself heard.



#10 whafrog

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 09:26 AM

I wasn't necessarily advocating dumping stats to optimize, just to fulfill a character concept.  Even battle droids with Intellect 1 can reason things out and communicate, I don't think a "1" necessarily indicates complete deficiency.  The classic 90-lb weakling would be Brawn 1, but you could never play that with these rules unless you are non-human.  Same with the wallflower nobody can hear.

 

In any case it's easy enough to create a house rule for it, in retrospect I'm glad they didn't waste space in the rules dealing with every possible nuance.  It would have just made character creation more complicated.


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#11 Donovan Morningfire

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 12:48 PM

whafrog,

Here's the other part of the question... how many players really want to play those types of characters, that are deliberately deficient in some aspect?

 

In a D&D/Pathfinder game, where the game pretty much forces you to specialize (4e to the point that if you try to branch out, you're gimping yourself) if you want to effectively contribute to the party, with the notion that there will be other PCs to pick up the slack.

 

But in Star Wars... how many times do we see the main characters honestly being atrociously bad at something on a regular basis?  The closest we see to a "main" character in the movies that fits that criteria is Jar-Jar Binks, who isn't so much stupid (in spite of what his portrayal shows) but just lacks decent problem-solving skills and is generally naive (not a good combo for a Senator, as AotC showed).  Han may have blown that Deception check in the detention center in ANH, but that doesn't mean he's got a Presence of 1.

 

If the player's concept calls for them to be a wallflower or not the sharpest knife in the drawer, the PC can roleplay it, with them having occasional bouts of competence in those areas when they get a solid result on their dice checks.

 

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#12 aramis

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 02:17 PM

In any case it's easy enough to create a house rule for it, in retrospect I'm glad they didn't waste space in the rules dealing with every possible nuance.  It would have just made character creation more complicated.


It's a common enough house rule, and "not in play" one at that, situation as to warrant a sidebar optional rule, wouldn't you say? It would take about 1.5 collum inch with their present layouts.



#13 Stacie_GmrGrl

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Posted 02 November 2013 - 03:51 AM

I really think having 2 is where it should be for the baseline human's stats. Honestly I think that just means you are slightly above average to the average human in the galaxy who doesn't leave home.



#14 That Blasted Samophlange

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Posted 02 November 2013 - 06:44 AM

I've thought a lot about this topic. The reason attributes are the way they are is that the minority of players are willing to play a "sub-standard" character.

Don't think of the attributes as a direct measure. Brawn for instance represents the overall physical robustness of a character. It isnt just strength. You could have a character with a 2 brawn that wasn't strong but never gets sick or could take a beating.

Agility is odd. My partner dances (balet) does yoga but in all other aspects is a self admitted clutz. Many dancers are apparently afflicted by this. Go figure.

The point is, don't think af the atttibutes as a direct correlation but a generic outline.

That being said, I really hope the colonist book implements alternate character genetation methods (would love a traveler like system) or a system of traits and flaws, probably based on being from different planet types.
You're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of EU.

#15 borithan

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 09:51 AM

To me, with 2 being "average", 1 really will represent deficient. Now, if the base line was 3, you could have 2 as "below average", but with the way it is, someone who really is deficient can only represent it as having "1" in a stat. Also, allowing a buy down on a stat is going to encourage min-maxing amongst many players more used to the d20 environment. If you were even allowed to buy stats down by the rules I would likely ban it if I ran a game.

Mechanically I also think it is fairly deficient. Just being a bit sub par at things can easily replicated by having 2 in a stat and not having any relevant skills. Rolling 1 dice, on the other hand, is just... bad. Not a 90 pound weakling, but someone who has problems walking to school.

Personally I don't like playing characters who are deficient in any area. I am fine with being average, or below average, but not actually deficient. Why? Well, I like generalist characters, means I can get involved whatever is happening, but also because all the "heroes" I grew up with were broadly competent, not weird ass specialists as the d20 system and many other RPGs encourage, or even force, you to build. They were smart, could hold their own in a fight, and could engage people in conversation without insulting the entire room (except where dramatically appropriate), while at the same time they were not often, if ever, the best of anything in the world.

For example, there are very few major protagonists who actually fill the stupid bruiser kind of build. That kind of character is usually comedy relief, or works for the villain. Why? Well, they don't make interesting characters to focus on. They are usually simply an obstacle to overcome for the hero. Now, you do get the socially maladjusted genius, of course, but it is a more niche thing, usually limited to the mystery genre, such as the modern Sherlock, or characters like Patrick Jane in the Mentalist (even though his manner is a deliberate one, rather than a result of a character flaw).

None of the characters in Star Wars fall into a wonky one-sided build. They are all intelligent, if sometimes uninformed. None suffer any noticeable physical or social deficiency.

Edited by borithan, 06 November 2013 - 09:52 AM.


#16 HappyDaze

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 10:31 AM

Ahem.

 

Jar-Jar Binks.

 

Dat essa all eyssa gotta say.


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#17 aramis

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 05:15 PM

Ahem.

 

Jar-Jar Binks.

 

Dat essa all eyssa gotta say.

Tarkin looks pretty frail, too.

 

Anakin seems to be Willpower 1, as well... easily tempted, unable to resist lure-type traps... He seems almost pathologically incapable of passing discipline checks without someone helping him.


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#18 Aservan

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 10:56 AM

Anakin seems to be Willpower 1, as well... easily tempted, unable to resist lure-type traps... He seems almost pathologically incapable of passing discipline checks without someone helping him.

 

I disagree.  Anakin is easily influenced, but that doesn't make him weak-willed.  When he believes in something he is unwaveringly dedicated.  That's why he's so easily led astray. It's not lack of willpower that does him in.  More like an excess of it.  He believes he is right and hang the consequences.

 

The brilliance in many ways of Anakin's story is that the good guys aren't always right, but that doesn't mean the bad guys are either.  The Jedi Council is a bunch of morons holding to tradition even when it's pathologically stupid.

 

They betray Asoka, fall for Palapatine's manipulations, decide the Republic (i.e. the status quo) is more important than fixing the problems, and a bunch of other stuff.  The Republic was broken and the dummies were in charge.



#19 borithan

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 10:58 AM

I certainly don't think Tarkin looks frail enough to be a 1. If 2 is average then it probably represents quite a range, including below average to a bit above average (yet not quite enough to be a 3). I think 1 is more as the Emperor appears in the Return of the Jedi, ie actually physically impaired (even though we discover this is not necessarily the actual case). Tarkin may be a bit gaunt, but he never comes across as weak or unhealthy.

And Jar Jar and Anakin? Who are they? The only Anakin I am aware of is an expert pilot who Obi Wan discovered during the Clone Wars who eventually became Darth Vader... certainly not the kind of character who would throw tantrums and randomly massacre some local primitives because he was upset...

OK, I would grant Jar Jar stats of 1, but then he is intended as comedy relief, rather than being a major protagonist. And Anakin as portrayed as the prequel films... I don't think he is meant to come across as a whiney 2 year old, its just the writing ends up coming across that way. True, I probably wouldn't give him more than 2 in willpower, but I don't think he is meant to be a 1. One of the many reasons why my personal canon no longer includes anything from before the original films.

Edited by borithan, 07 November 2013 - 10:59 AM.

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#20 aramis

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 11:12 AM

In looking at the game, one needs to consider what the license grantor considers canon. Our "personal canon" choices don't really matter, except for our ability to help the licensee match their product to the license grantor's canon. 

 

Jar Jar, for better or worse, is Canon until Disney decides to overwrite them. Whiney-brat Anakin is also canon.


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