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Leadership skill and support roles in combat


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#1 Northman

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 02:52 PM

In the game I'm playing in, I'm playing a Politico with no skill or interest in actively participating in what he calls "violent conflicts." Basically, he is "useless" in combat. Having a non-combat focused character is in itself fine - had it not been for limited options for supporting the other characters. I figure him as a spokesman and potential leader or coordinator, but I don't immediatly foresee him taking up arms. Perhaps a holdout blaster, but probably not. However, I still want to make him useful. Granted, he will pick up Inspiring Rhetoric as well as Force Powers (he's also a Force Exile), but I'm looking for other options that are not simply the Assist Maneuver. (The Assist Maneuver in itself also being limited by applying to only engaged allies).

I had hoped the Leadership skill could provide some options, but it appears to be more minted towards NPC minion managing or for swaying crowds (which is in fact an interesting detail for out of combat), than helping fellow player characters. However, I was wondering if anyone else either playing or GMing "non-combatants" or "support characters", so to speak, have had any issues with this? Or perhaps made additions to the rules?

Could a Leadership test for instance allow you to assist characters that are not engaged? That would be a really simple fix, allowing you to affect extra allies with advantages. Perhaps having additional boost dice added based on successes? Or alternatively, a Leadership roll would simply allow you to give out advantage effects to allies - either counting both net successes and advantages as advantages, or having additional successes affect additional allies with each bought advantage effect.

Any thoughts or ideas on this?



#2 LethalDose

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 04:27 PM

I'd say take a look at some of the "Mercenary Soldier" spec talents, particularly Command, Field Commander & Imp. Field Commander.

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#3 Yepesnopes

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 08:43 PM

May be you want to consider expanding your skills to include some sort of Intimidate skill. You can then negotiate with your GM how a good placed Intimidate skill check + may be a bit of role play (providing that your oponents can understand you) can cause some small amount of strain on your enemies (1 or 2). Or if your GM uses some kind of homebrewed morale rules, such a skill check could lower your enemies morale.

 

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#4 Northman

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 02:38 AM

I don't particulary feel the need to branch into Mercenary Soldier. For one it doesn't suit the character, and for two it would far too costly when it comes to XP. Other than that, I'm aware of said talents, but I'm rather looking for an easy way to assist more than simply the assist maneuver with a Leadership skill check or similar alone.

Yepesnopes said:

May be you want to consider expanding your skills to include some sort of Intimidate skill. You can then negotiate with your GM how a good placed Intimidate skill check + may be a bit of role play (providing that your oponents can understand you) can cause some small amount of strain on your enemies (1 or 2). Or if your GM uses some kind of homebrewed morale rules, such a skill check could lower your enemies morale.

This would in fact be quite similar to the Scathing Tirade talent, although the Coerce skill itself seems quite capable of producing strain in subjects.

While there's nothing wrong with picking the talents, I would like a simple way of being "of use" in combat that does not necessarily involve having to take talents. But alas, that might seem to be the price of not being a blaster toting savage, but instead someone who focuses on the exquisite and refined arts of diplomacy and deception… burla

I guess I better stick to producing advantages with skill checks in the meanwhile…



#5 mouthymerc

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 03:48 AM

What are you looking to do that the current options do not cover? You can assist, interact with the environment, use certain skills and talents, and use of advantages to help allies. The use of advantages and disadvantages amounts to the many bonuses that other games attribute to a Leadership "skill". I'm sure as the game progresses we will see more Leadership type talents and uses of skills, especially in Age of Rebellion as that game just screams these types of actions. The every man for himself mentality of the Fringe does not, so this may be why we are not seeing much in the way of talents at this stage.


People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
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#6 Yepesnopes

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 04:47 AM

Northman said:

This would in fact be quite similar to the Scathing Tirade talent, although the Coerce skill itself seems quite capable of producing strain in subjects.


While there's nothing wrong with picking the talents, I would like a simple way of being "of use" in combat that does not necessarily involve having to take talents. But alas, that might seem to be the price of not being a blaster toting savage, but instead someone who focuses on the exquisite and refined arts of diplomacy and deception… burla

You can maybe just use the skills, without the need of buying the talent by increasing the difficulty by 1 or upgrading the difficulty by 1 as compared to the one sugested by the talent, or may be by converting it to a vs. check.

I am definitely an old school rpg guy, I don't like that a system restricts a player by forcing him to buy a talent, an action, a stunt or whatever is the name, in order to allow him to perform specific actions. The player tells me what he wants to do, we look for a skill, decide the effect of a success and failure before hand, roll the dice and done.

 

Cheers,

Yepes


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#7 Lunatic Pathos

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 06:18 AM

What do you want to do narratively, and then perhaps we can make suggestions for how to play that out mechanically.

For instance, are you trying to distract opponents by running over to a flank and then shouting "Hey, over here bozos!" or helping out your allies by pointing out enemies and directing your friend's firepower?

I figure both of those could be handled handily by skill checks and the like, and in this system that doesn't seem like it'd be boring or ineffective. Could be wrong I suppose.

As far as Yepesnopes comment about having to take talents to do things, I don't really have a problem with it. Its not to say you can't try without the talent, obviously you can make a skill check at whatever the table agrees is a fair difficulty with agreed upon effects. Like any other aspect of your character sheet, the talent represents the training or ability to do so effectively. To get a set spectrum of effects from a set difficulty. If you try the same thing without the talent, you're just doing so without any particular penchant or training at doing so. Its just not as reliable, instead being subject to the whim of the table.

By the table I mean the consensus of the players. If your group prefers to leave all the calls up to the GM, so be it, I've just found that table consensus tends to make everyone happier.



#8 Lunatic Pathos

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 06:20 AM

That is to say, I guess I agree with Yepesnopes that you should be able to try to do whatever without the talent. However, I do think that the talent is still a useful game concept, as it represents a training or innate ability that provides reliability and stability to your ability to accomplish your goal, which is the entire point of game systems.

Without a talent, a change in situation might change the result of the roll. I'd take such attempts on a case-by-case basis, while a character with the talent gets the purchased effect.



#9 Diggles

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 12:57 PM

If you were a player in my game I would tell you to make your character part of combat or get lost.  Its not funny, interesting or amusing to have a player try to go against the grain and spirit of the game.  With the exception of C3P0, every main character in Starwars directly participated in combat during the GALATIC CIVIL WAR.

 

And wanting to command troops to increase their performance is ACTIVE particpation.

You could have your GM do something like a leadership check for you and discipline check for other players for them to get a buff involving a command

attack, hold position, fall back, etc



#10 Northman

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 02:50 AM

mouthymerc said:

What are you looking to do that the current options do not cover? You can assist, interact with the environment, use certain skills and talents, and use of advantages to help allies. The use of advantages and disadvantages amounts to the many bonuses that other games attribute to a Leadership "skill". I'm sure as the game progresses we will see more Leadership type talents and uses of skills, especially in Age of Rebellion as that game just screams these types of actions. The every man for himself mentality of the Fringe does not, so this may be why we are not seeing much in the way of talents at this stage.

That is a good comment about Age of Rebellion, actually. However, I don't foresee the skills in themself changing, only new careers adding talents. And therein lies the problem: That all the (game mechanically) useful aspects of the skill isn't in fact covered by the skill. If I want to inspire my allies, all I can hope to do with the skill itself is basically creating advantages.

And so? You might say. Well, here's the problem: A Politico or Mercenary Soldier could take the talents using Leadership, but otherwise don't train the skill itself. Then you could have a character who would train the skill. This represents the character actually being a leader or orator, but even then the untrained character with the extra talent still would have more (valid/useful) options.

Don't get me wrong, though. I endorse talents and the extra options they give. It's just that I realized that with this character of mine using the Leadership skill wouldn't produce any result in itself if used to aid or guide my allied PCs. The only results I would get would be from advantages. Coerce, on the other hand, does in fact have mention of being able to inflict strain. Deceit is likely suffering from the same problem as Leadership, although in my experience GMs find it easier to ad hoc a bluff or feint.

So, yeah, underwhelming options outside social interactions seems to be the problem I'm having.

Yepesnopes said:

You can maybe just use the skills, without the need of buying the talent by increasing the difficulty by 1 or upgrading the difficulty by 1 as compared to the one sugested by the talent, or may be by converting it to a vs. check.

This isn't such a bad idea! 

Lunatic Pathos said:

What do you want to do narratively, and then perhaps we can make suggestions for how to play that out mechanically.

For instance, are you trying to distract opponents by running over to a flank and then shouting "Hey, over here bozos!" or helping out your allies by pointing out enemies and directing your friend's firepower?

I figure both of those could be handled handily by skill checks and the like, and in this system that doesn't seem like it'd be boring or ineffective. Could be wrong I suppose.

Those would be the things this character would do. At the moment he's more of a rhetoric, but he's already been tossed in front, expected to lead, by the other characters - even in combat! So indeed, coordination in combat. Currently in the forms of "look out!" or "to the right!" but later on more tactical as he grows more confident (he's studied war history, after all). Basically he's supposed to get an overview of the scene and help out the others. To that's more specialized than a simple assist maneuver, and also less random than relying on the combat advantage table (and even if it were simply that, then what do I do with successes?)

Lunatic Pathos said:

That is to say, I guess I agree with Yepesnopes that you should be able to try to do whatever without the talent. However, I do think that the talent is still a useful game concept, as it represents a training or innate ability that provides reliability and stability to your ability to accomplish your goal, which is the entire point of game systems.

I agree on this, which is why I would rather find the nichés that's not covered in full by talents, but also not by the skill.

Diggles said:

If you were a player in my game I would tell you to make your character part of combat or get lost.  Its not funny, interesting or amusing to have a player try to go against the grain and spirit of the game.  With the exception of C3P0, every main character in Starwars directly participated in combat during the GALATIC CIVIL WAR.

 

And wanting to command troops to increase their performance is ACTIVE particpation.

You could have your GM do something like a leadership check for you and discipline check for other players for them to get a buff involving a command

attack, hold position, fall back, etc

Why would playing a non-combatant be against the spirit of the game? If that's the role you want, then by all means? I've had great fun with non-combatants and pacifists in the past. Even played an unarmed, unarmored cleric in D&D once and it worked just fine, great fun actually (using rules from the Book of Exalted Deeds if anyone's familiar, but I digress). You are, however, right that most other than Threepio participates quite actively. And I see you includes commanding and such as active, so I reckon active doesn't mean necessarily shooting. Because I don't see my character shooting anything just yet, but I do want him to be able to actually do something with the skillset he has - preferably without having to invest in a lot of talents (even though, yes he will do that as well, but on principle I want to figure out how to use the skill by itself).

The idea of giving specific commands isn't so bad, actually. Anyone following it would get a boost, or something.



#11 Northman

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 03:37 AM

Venting thoughts seems to help, if only to realize I failed to see the forest for the trees…

What seems to be my initial problem was that I looked too closely at the wording, not the form. The skill system is somewhat dynamic in its narrative state, and I do like to tinker with such things, so why I didn't grab this at once is beyond me. Anyway, how does this work?

-- -- --

On a successful Leadership vs Discipline (highest of NPCs) roll, grants the affected ally an extra boost die on the issued order. Additional successes can be used to extend the effect by one round each, effectively allowing you to issue a new order each round without a new check.

Advantages may be used to affect additional characters by one additional per advantage.

A Triumph may be used to upgrade each affected character's next check, affect all allies or double the duration.

Despair can be used to add setback dice to the affected characters for the duration of the skill, give boosts to the enemy for overhearing the orders, or to upgrade the next difficulty of the affected characters.

-- -- --

Not the perfect wording, but you should get the gist of it.



#12 mouthymerc

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 03:51 AM

Northman said:

That is a good comment about Age of Rebellion, actually. However, I don't foresee the skills in themself changing, only new careers adding talents. And therein lies the problem: That all the (game mechanically) useful aspects of the skill isn't in fact covered by the skill. If I want to inspire my allies, all I can hope to do with the skill itself is basically creating advantages.

Well I can understand that. Keep in mind that the use of most skills in combat is generally left to having the specific talents to use them. I don't see that changing to much in the future and I agree in principal for the most part. Doesn't mean a GM can't ad hoc something, but I generally try to limit this when it steps on the toes of those who actually invest in those talents.

Northman said:

And so? You might say. Well, here's the problem: A Politico or Mercenary Soldier could take the talents using Leadership, but otherwise don't train the skill itself. Then you could have a character who would train the skill. This represents the character actually being a leader or orator, but even then the untrained character with the extra talent still would have more (valid/useful) options.

A politico or mercenary taking those talents really represent people with some natural skill if they are going to depend on their attribute dice. I would think that characters with those specializations would take ranks in the Leadership skill in order to take as much advantage of those talents as possible. And just because you have ranks of Leadership doesn't automatically make you a good or better leader. Talents can represent those leaders with more than just the skill to lead.

Northman said:

Don't get me wrong, though. I endorse talents and the extra options they give. It's just that I realized that with this character of mine using the Leadership skill wouldn't produce any result in itself if used to aid or guide my allied PCs. The only results I would get would be from advantages. Coerce, on the other hand, does in fact have mention of being able to inflict strain. Deceit is likely suffering from the same problem as Leadership, although in my experience GMs find it easier to ad hoc a bluff or feint.

I still am trying to understand what you are looking for that isn't covered by talents now or in the future. I don't see the devs increasing the use of Leadership in combat with the skill itself, but definitely through the use of talents.

Also, I can understand if you want to be a non-combatant. I have no problem with that, but I do with your group pushing out front as the leader, knowing that you are a non-combatant. Generals leading from the back is one thing, out in the field you have to be able to hold your own. The reality is that most people in the field will only respect people who can do that. Doesn't mean you have to be as good as everyone else, just that you can pull and use a blaster with everyone else. Even if you do little damage or none, you can use all your advantages to support your fellow characters.


People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
George Orwell


#13 mouthymerc

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 04:10 AM

Northman said:

Venting thoughts seems to help, if only to realize I failed to see the forest for the trees…

What seems to be my initial problem was that I looked too closely at the wording, not the form. The skill system is somewhat dynamic in its narrative state, and I do like to tinker with such things, so why I didn't grab this at once is beyond me. Anyway, how does this work?

-- -- --

On a successful Leadership vs Discipline (highest of NPCs) roll, grants the affected ally an extra boost die on the issued order. Additional successes can be used to extend the effect by one round each, effectively allowing you to issue a new order each round without a new check.

Advantages may be used to affect additional characters by one additional per advantage.

A Triumph may be used to upgrade each affected character's next check, affect all allies or double the duration.

Despair can be used to add setback dice to the affected characters for the duration of the skill, give boosts to the enemy for overhearing the orders, or to upgrade the next difficulty of the affected characters.

-- -- --

Not the perfect wording, but you should get the gist of it.

See I think something like this should fall under the realm of a talent, not just a skill check. You're handing out boost dice or upgrading dice and leaving this to a skill check means even those who haven't taken Leadership can do it. Which means everyone in your group can be a potential leader and hand out boost dice. It doesn't make you an more special just because you took ranks, only that you may have slightly more ability to do this. Talents are there for those that want to distinguish themselves and give more options and ability. That's why I look at things like this with a critical eye towards making sure that it doesn't become a goto action or a skill.


People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
George Orwell


#14 Yepesnopes

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:36 AM

mouthymerc said:

See I think something like this should fall under the realm of a talent, not just a skill check. You're handing out boost dice or upgrading dice and leaving this to a skill check means even those who haven't taken Leadership can do it. Which means everyone in your group can be a potential leader and hand out boost dice. It doesn't make you an more special just because you took ranks, only that you may have slightly more ability to do this. Talents are there for those that want to distinguish themselves and give more options and ability. That's why I look at things like this with a critical eye towards making sure that it doesn't become a goto action or a skill.

I definitely see your point. Nonetheless for curiosity, how do you work around situations when a player comes with a cleaver and special way of using a skill which is not covered by any talent in the book? Will you allow him to do it? will you not? Will you turn it into a talent for future uses, with the potential of creating an endless list of talents (aka Warhammer 3)?

I think it is a mater of taste for the GM and players. While I see your point as a valid one, I for sure prefer rpgs that use as few "components" as possible to mechanically deifne a character, e.g. stats and skills, or only skills. The difference between two players beign dictated by their stats, skills values and of course role play.

Following the leadership example of this thread, someone without the skill will perform far worse than someone with the skill. Within the EotE mechanics, with more training dice the probabilities of obtaining more successes and advanteges as compared to someone untrained raise dramatically, not to say that you need training dice to be able to generate triumphs. My five cents.

 

Cheers,

Yepes


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#15 mouthymerc

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 08:05 AM

What would I allow? With some clever use of a skill I would allow a boost die to someone's next roll. Use it or lose it. As it is much of this is already covered with advantages. I think the game allows for much of what is needed for a non-combatant support character. Such a character can help others, flip up tables to give cover, and various other options. The problem I'm seeing here is that we have a character who is supposed to be leading everyone into battle from the back seat. I say that the best option if you want more options is to do as others have saidand invest in the Mercenary talents. Just because you do that doesn't impact the character concept of a miliary historian. It does give you abilities to help you represent the character's tactical know-how. It doesn't automatically make him a mercenary as you are tue actual arbiter of your character's concept.

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#16 Bladehate

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 02:32 AM

Just pointing out that, at least in the real world, some non-combatant in a dress shouting out orders isn't likely to have much impact or respect from those he's (not) fighting alongside.  And of course this is just my opinion, but if you have a pacifistic, non-contributor as your character concept, I don't really care what skills/talents you have access to…I still don't think you would be an effective leader in a combat situation.  Combat leadership without respect is pretty well worthless, at least in my opinion.  The US Army learned that lesson the hard way as well during Vietnam, where "friendly" fire accounted for a significant percentage of officer casualties.  The style of character you're playing is more appropriate to the tactical officer sitting back in his arm chair communicating via com-link rather then an on-the-ground ops leader.

It feels like what you're looking for is a Bard style of character, and attempting to do that via Leadership/Rhetoric skills.  Personally, I don't find that to be very Star Warsy but obviously tastes vary.

For support roles, other then the options previously mentioned, there is also the Doctor who can stim his team mates.  Expanding on that option with other types of homebrew spice stims might be an option to discuss with your GM.  Allowing some expanded chemistry options would give you the chance to support your team without directly getting involved.

You might also want to get some smoke grenades, to help shape the battlefield.



#17 Northman

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 06:06 AM

Character concept aside, even if I had him minted as an Academy officer or similar, my point is still that the Leadership skill really doesn't do much leadership things. Or at the very least it does a poor job of explaining how it can be used for other "leadership" things than swaying a subject, using advantages to sway bystanders and triumphs to win an ally. Commanding a squad seems to have no real guidelines, even. Only stating that highly trained soldiers or people you know are easier to coordinate, etc.

But considering character concept, then no, he doesn't inspire much confidence or respect in his allies with his rhetorics and good education. That has to do a little bit with a shoot first, don't bother to ask questions later, play style by some of the group, though. Which is also why I quite stubbornly would like to stick with my mainly non-combatant focus and rather work with the situation at hand. He is forced into combat situations quite often, though, so the natural step up would be to make him more combat worthy. But not yet. Therefore I'm looking for ways to be of use other than taking cover and giving out an assist to whoever else is smart enough to take cover. The idea is that, albeit him not being the one shooting at the front lines, he still is at the front lines, so to speak. Him taking cover and getting an overview of the situation and surveying that information to the others is what I want represented through the Leadership skill. So no, he's no hardened veteran or soldier, but he knows what he's doing and tries to advocate smart courses of action.

 

mouthymerc said:

See I think something like this should fall under the realm of a talent, not just a skill check. You're handing out boost dice or upgrading dice and leaving this to a skill check means even those who haven't taken Leadership can do it. Which means everyone in your group can be a potential leader and hand out boost dice. It doesn't make you an more special just because you took ranks, only that you may have slightly more ability to do this. Talents are there for those that want to distinguish themselves and give more options and ability. That's why I look at things like this with a critical eye towards making sure that it doesn't become a goto action or a skill.

Well, I did simply put on a combat edge with the already written rules for Leadership. After all, if you can't use it for coordinating people, what can you use it for? But I can see the point. Though I reckon my example would perhaps even be three talents: Guidance, Improved Guidance and Superior Guidance, or something… 

I don't think it would have to be a talent, though. Triumph effects aside, would really handing out a boost die to one or more allies be overpowered? Otherwise there are no practical leadership aspect to the leadership skill. You can rally allies under fear and sway crowds. 

I do buy the characters with Talents are more talented thinking, it's only natural given they call Talents talents… But I still feel the Leadership skill in itself falls a little short on what you can expect to get done with it alone. As mentioned earlier, Coerce could produce strain on its own as written, for instance, and say Computers and Athletics would be no different to use in or out of combat, but leading people with Leadership in combat gives you nothing unless you buy extra skills and talents? Thus, I wanted to figure out something viable to suggest for the GM.



#18 mouthymerc

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 01:17 PM

Northman said:

I do buy the characters with Talents are more talented thinking, it's only natural given they call Talents talents… But I still feel the Leadership skill in itself falls a little short on what you can expect to get done with it alone. As mentioned earlier, Coerce could produce strain on its own as written, for instance, and say Computers and Athletics would be no different to use in or out of combat, but leading people with Leadership in combat gives you nothing unless you buy extra skills and talents? Thus, I wanted to figure out something viable to suggest for the GM.
 

Unless I have missed something, Coerce only inflicts Strain if used in conjunction with the Scathing Tirade talent. Most skills, unless used in conjunction with a talent, have little impact in combat. Someone can use Athletics to jump around or Computer to activate a terminal, but neither affects an opponent or ally directly for the most part, there may be exceptions. Leadership, too, follows this path. If you want to use it in combat pick up Inspiring Rhetoric, Field Commander, and/or Command to showcase that you are a leader. A simple skill check shouldn't grant an ability which amounts to a talent. If so anyone can do it since all skills can be used with just attribute dice. I could easily see a talent like what you propose or along those lines, like say one that allows someone to use the Assist maneuver at range (the initial talent extending it to close range with additionally taking it to extend the range to medium and long) with a Leadership test to affect more than one person.

Now all that being said, there is nothing to say you can not make a Leadership skill check as your action in a round instead of shooting a blaster. Without a talent it may not do much, but you can still use any advantages in order to grant boost dice. Now I may be wrong and we may see skills having more use in combat in the future, but I think that for the most part it will be talents that will expand their use there.


People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
George Orwell


#19 Northman

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 03:36 AM

It says "Extra successes may be used to inflict strain upon the target at a rate of one strain per two extra successes" meaning you could coerce and threaten in combat. "See what my friends can do to you," or "The next one going down is you!" etc.. Scathing Tirade would be much more effective, though, having a fixed difficulty (not opposed) and inflicting strain at a much higher rate, but the basic Coerce skill allows for it. The basic Leadership skill does nothing.

So while I see the design decision about talents and for the most part agree, I'm not completely sold on the fact that a trained leader would have to buy a lot of talents in order to lead. Why isn't his training enough by itself? Being one of two, maybe three (Coerce and Deceit) social skills it would be natural to use in combat, it comes up short in itself. Although, yes, I reckon generating advantages would be a natural way of representing leadership. Still, what do you do with successes? Count them as advantages?



#20 mouthymerc

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 05:18 AM

Ah I missed that part of Coerce. Thanks.

Well you could look at it like this, Leadership is the theory of the skill and the talents are the practical applications of that skill. Just because you have the presence to be able to lead doesn't mean that you have the ability to apply that skill. I think that Leadership and the use of tactics is a lot more complicated than just a skill, but YMMV.

I don't see the devs allowing a Leadership roll to give out boost dice or upgrades as part of the skill, but how about this? Much like Coerce can be used to inflict Strain at a much reduced rate barring Scathing Tirade, how about Leadership rallying the troops like Inspiring Rhetoric but at a reduced rate? For every two successes an ally can recover 1 strain. That would allow for you to help allies in combat with a Leadership roll and you can still use the advantages to assist too.

How's that?


People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
George Orwell





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