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Obligation and changing group size


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#1 The Grand Falloon

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 07:24 AM

When I run a game, it usually goes like this:  First session has three players.  I mention that I've started running a game to someone else, so a couple more join in.  Sooner or later, one of the players' adolescent kid wants to play, which means my younger adolescent wants to play, and the whole thing balloons into like 7 or 8 players, with some of them not even trying to pay attention.  Then the whole thing kinda collapses and I'm down to 3 or 4 players again.

Obviously my first trouble is group management, but let's ignore that.  The group's Obligation is based on the number of characters, to ensure that smaller groups have it come up on occasion, and that larger groups aren't getting hit every session.  When the number of players changes, I somehow doubt that we're supposed to recalculate starting obligation every time.  Anyone else know how they'll be dealing with this?  I can't be the only one with a fluctuating group.



#2 Donovan Morningfire

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 12:16 PM

It's a good question, and I've yet to see anything resembling an answer to this dilemma.

The problem with reducing Obligation if the party grows in size is that if the PCs started with a base 10 Obligation may have taken a full extra 10 points' worth of Obligation, and if you refactor Obligation based on the increased group size, you might end up with PCs that have more gear/XP than would normally be allowed if everyone had a starting Obligation of 5.

Having that party shrink isn't too much of an issue, assuming you started with a base Obligation of 5 for each character, and in that case I wouldn't adjust the party's Obligation at all.  The fact that there's a few less PCs to cause the group's total Obligation to be as high is enough of a perk I think.

However, if you know that more than half your group is going to "lose interest" and vanish, then I would suggest ignoring the suggested Obligation values based on party size and just give everyone a starting Obligation of 5.  If this means that some players won't be able to take that +10 Obligation so they can have a huge bankroll to outfit their bounty hunter, then so be it.  This will make things easier for you when the group shrinks as you expect it to.  And for those players that do stick around… give them the option to taken a +5 bump to their Obligation in exchange for either +5 XP or +1000 credits, a little way for you as the GM to say "thanks for sticking with the game."


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#3 GMSam

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 04:45 PM

I limit the number of players to six. If I were approched by a core player(s) about brining thier kids, I might offer a second beginner game for them or encourage one of them to run the beginner box another time. After 25 years of gaming I really find that I prefer smaller groups. I currently run two small (4-5) EoE games once a month. Less down time for players = more fun for all.



#4 SavagePanda

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:46 AM

This is how i would handle it . . .

 

The starting group sets the obligation and we play from there. As new players are added and generating their characters they can't start with any Obligation.  if they want an obligation they roleplay to get it and thus increasing the groups obligation.  Yes they might start out with a little less options than the original players did, but when those players then bail your obligation resets.

 


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#5 Farsox

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 04:16 AM

This was something that I had considered while reading through the Beta rulebook.  The Obligation section of the chapter on character creation recommends that group starting application be between 60 and 70.  With this in mind, I've had the following idea (It hasn't been tested, so I don't know how well it would work):

Keep track of the character's relative obligation on the character sheet.  By relative obligation, I am referring to what they have beyond the starting obligation.  For example, a character may start with +10 obligation in exchange for +10 XP, and I would have the player write "+10 Obligation" on the character sheet.  If that same character reduced his obligation by 15 over several gaming sessions, I would have him change the character sheet to say "-5 Obligation."

Then, you would choose a base amount of obligation for your group between 60 and 70.  This amount would be static, no matter how many players are in your group.  Then, you would divide the base obligation by the number of players currently in your group and add each player's relative obligation.

Example:  Your first session consists of four players, two of them have taken extra obligation during character creation.  Joe has taken 5 extra obligation for 1000 extra credits; Fred has taken 10 extra obligation for 10 XP; and Jim and Bill have both decided not to take any extra obligation.  You have decided to set the base obligation at 60.  60 divided by 4 is 15, so each character is assigned 15 base obligation.  Now Joe has 20 Obligation, Fred has 25, and Jim and Bill have 15.  The total group obligation is 75.

Several sessions later, two of your players have paid off some of their obligation, but you also have two new players (Tony and Sam) that have joined the group.  Both Tony and Sam have taken 5 extra obligation during character creation for extra credits.  Joe and Bill have both settled 10 obligation during the previous sessions.  Now the relative obligation numbers look like this:  Joe -5, Fred 10, Jim 0, Bill -10, Tony +5, and Sam +5.  The base obligation would still be 60, but this time you would divide it by 6, so each character would have 10 base obligation.  You will notice that Bill's total obligation would be zero after the base and relative are added together.  The book recommends that a character should not be able to have less than 5 obligation, so he will default yo 5.  After adding the relative obligation, the totals would look like this:  Joe 5, Fred 20, Jim 10, Bill 5 (default), Tony 15 and Sam 15.  This is a total group obligation of 65.

The base obligation of 60 would be static throughout the entire adventure, but relative obligation could change by quite a bit.  Again, I have not tested this, so it could be rubbish; however, it seems like it could work for your situation.  The group is not overly penalized for adding or removing players.  In this case, the group worked to pay off 20 obligation over several sessions, but the two new characters brought an additional 10 obligation through character creation.

 


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#6 Leechman

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 12:21 PM

What about just simply increasing the obligation threshold, and allowing all players to take obligatin of the same magnitude of the first group?

So you started with 3 players, Obligation Threshold is 100, parcel it out to be 33(100/3. Just forget the 1/3, and have every 3rd one worth 34.  Or even just make it 30 if you want to be simple) per player.   If I recall correctly, with 3 starting players they take 15 starting obligation each, plus the 5 or 10 extra.  Allow all your additional players to take obligation along this same magnitude (base 15, 5/10 extra), and just add 33 to the overall threshold.  So with 7 players, the threshold would be 233, and each would take base 15 with any extras.  And so on for bigger sizes.  Then when it comes time to determine obligation in play, stack them as usual and determine a number between 1-233 (or whatever number you have).  This way, it can become modular depending on the number of players you have, you're still getting the same proportion of obligation being in play, and saves a lot of crazy maths trying to balanc it properly.

Mathematically (don't quote me on this :P): Max obligation would be 25 (15 + 10), with  3 players. (3*25)/100 = 0.75.  That's the proportion we want.  For 7 players with my method, (7*25)/233 ≈ 0.75.  So it stays the same.

Problem Solved :P



#7 LethalDose

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 02:26 PM

There was a fairly long Obligation discussion thread from the beta Forums, available here.

I posted the following on this question:

 

LethalDose said:

 One ofthe first sentences in the obligation section states that groups can share obligations.  Why not just use this system to avoid all this crap about "base obligation", and set the entire groups base obligation to, say, 40.  Players can still use the RAW to use more obligation to get more starting boosts if they want, and run the risk of drawing personalized grief.  it seems a lot easier than screwing around with constantly changing everyone's "base" obligation based on the night's group composition, anyway.

Example:

Group of 4 characters

Base obligation: 40

A's Obligation 0 (didn't take any)

B's Obligation 15

C's Obligation 5

Line them up as indicated: 40+15+ 5

  • If the roll is 1 - 40, everyone takes a strain hit
  • If the roll is 41-55, B takes a strain double hit, and everyoene else takes a strain hit
  • If the roll is 56-60, C takes a strain double hit, and everyone else takes a strain hit
  • If the roll is 11, 22, 33 is rolled, everyone takes a double hit
  • If the roll is 44 or 55 B takes a quad hit, everyone else takes 2
  • C is safe from double digits… this time.
  • 61-00 no effect.

 

IF you Really feel the need to single someone out on a "group obligation" result, just randomly choose a player.  It'd be similarly random if you did it the old way.

 

-WJL

I think the idea still stands: Just create a "group obligation pool" which stays the same size regardless of whos in the group.  Track other individual's obligations individually.

-WJL


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#8 Farsox

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 02:36 AM

LethalDose said:

There was a fairly long Obligation discussion thread from the beta Forums, available here.

I posted the following on this question:

 

LethalDose said:

 

 One ofthe first sentences in the obligation section states that groups can share obligations.  Why not just use this system to avoid all this crap about "base obligation", and set the entire groups base obligation to, say, 40.  Players can still use the RAW to use more obligation to get more starting boosts if they want, and run the risk of drawing personalized grief.  it seems a lot easier than screwing around with constantly changing everyone's "base" obligation based on the night's group composition, anyway.

Example:

Group of 4 characters

Base obligation: 40

A's Obligation 0 (didn't take any)

B's Obligation 15

C's Obligation 5

Line them up as indicated: 40+15+ 5

  • If the roll is 1 - 40, everyone takes a strain hit
  • If the roll is 41-55, B takes a strain double hit, and everyoene else takes a strain hit
  • If the roll is 56-60, C takes a strain double hit, and everyone else takes a strain hit
  • If the roll is 11, 22, 33 is rolled, everyone takes a double hit
  • If the roll is 44 or 55 B takes a quad hit, everyone else takes 2
  • C is safe from double digits… this time.
  • 61-00 no effect.

 

IF you Really feel the need to single someone out on a "group obligation" result, just randomly choose a player.  It'd be similarly random if you did it the old way.

 

-WJL

 

 

I think the idea still stands: Just create a "group obligation pool" which stays the same size regardless of whos in the group.  Track other individual's obligations individually.

-WJL

This is almost exactly in line with what I was thinking.  But, as I mentioned above, there is one extra step that you can take to make it easier to choose the affected player.  Divide the number of the base obligation by the number of players involved in that session.  In your example that would be 40 divided by 3.  Since this isn't a whole number, you'll have to adjust it by a little bit.  Two players will have a base obligation of 13 and one will have 14.

Who do you give the higher base obligation to?

Since it will typically be a one point variance, it shouldn't make a huge amount of difference.  You could pick the player with the lowest or highest additional obligation.  If you gave it to the player with the higher obligation, your example would look like this:

Total Obligation

Player A: 13

Player B: 29

Player C: 18

Set up the Obligation roll as indicated in the rulebook, and let the dice do their work.


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#9 ramza82

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 09:37 AM

I have a question regarding Obligation. The book mentions vaguely about PC's resolving or paying off their obligation. So then what happens if say play A has settled his debt, does he reoll/choose a new obligation or just remain at zero? Everyone in my group choose to take the increased obligation at character creation for the added xp and credits, so I not sure where you go after a player has delt with his specific obligation?? 



#10 Donovan Morningfire

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 11:01 AM

ramza82 said:

I have a question regarding Obligation. The book mentions vaguely about PC's resolving or paying off their obligation. So then what happens if say play A has settled his debt, does he reoll/choose a new obligation or just remain at zero? Everyone in my group choose to take the increased obligation at character creation for the added xp and credits, so I not sure where you go after a player has delt with his specific obligation?? 

Once a player has "settled" their Obligation by reducing it to zero, then they simply have zero Obligation.

At least until such time as events in future adventures encourage them to either take on a new Obligation (Debt to reflect borrowing a load of money or Family at discovering they have a long-lost relative that they need to help/look out for, etc) or circumstances strongly indicate a new Obligation should be incurred by the PC (a slimy crimelord now has Blackmail evidence over the PC, an Imperial Moff puts a large Bounty out on the PC's head, etc).  Unlike character creation, they generally wouldn't get anything for taking/receiving this new Obligation (Debt might be the exception though).


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#11 Farsox

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 04:10 PM

ramza82 said:

 

I have a question regarding Obligation. The book mentions vaguely about PC's resolving or paying off their obligation. So then what happens if say play A has settled his debt, does he reoll/choose a new obligation or just remain at zero? Everyone in my group choose to take the increased obligation at character creation for the added xp and credits, so I not sure where you go after a player has delt with his specific obligation?? 

 

 

In the Obligation section of the beta book, there is a sidebar titled "Obligation Cap," which has the following wording:

Obligation generally ranges from 5 to 100.  No matter how much the PCs pay off, return favors, or try to live squeaky clean, Obligation cannot be reduced lower than 5.

It doesn't mention how to handle Obligations that can clearly be eliminated.  Debt is something that can be paid off completely, effectively reducing the Obligation to zero.  Still, the book seems intent that a character should at least have an Obligation of 5.  Perhaps the GM could find a creative way to introduce a new Obligation when a debt is getting dangerously close to being paid off.

If not, I would defer to what Donovan said.  It shouldn't throw off a session if a character has zero Obligation, but it would be a good idea to introduce a new Obligation at some point.


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#12 ramza82

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 12:45 PM

I find the whole system extremly vague, ok sure if they want a favor  from a seedy crime lord, they can take on obligation. But what player would ever choose that, it only hinders them at the start of the session. How much obligation do they accrue or such a favor?  I really hope they flesh this out some more in the core book, because right now it seems kinda tacked on.



#13 LethalDose

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 03:12 PM

ramza82 said:

I find the whole system extremly vague, ok sure if they want a favor  from a seedy crime lord, they can take on obligation. But what player would ever choose that, it only hinders them at the start of the session. How much obligation do they accrue or such a favor?  I really hope they flesh this out some more in the core book, because right now it seems kinda tacked on.

No, it's not really tacked on.  It's just one of the more narrative parts of the game.  In some respects its similar to the Party stats that Jay designed in WHF 3E, and I'm pretty sure this system has been there since this system's inception.

Why would a player (or a player group) ever want a favor from a seedy crime lord?  

To solve a problem they can't overcome without help.

That simple.

Through the players' own actions and choices, they may find that they've inadvertantly put themselves in a situation that they can't get out of own their own.   Maybe there was some equipment they needed for a heist, but they can't locate it or purchase it on their own.  Maybe they need a crew of goons to break down a door or cause a distraction.  Whatever.  The point is, there are some things they simply can't get on their own.  So instead of making them do errand $#!t for these NPCs, there's, basically, an accounting mechanism built into the game to keep track who they owe what, and how carrying that debt affects them and the party.

I think it's been a major problem with other RPGs that they make the players' chracters feel "separate" from the world, in that the PCs are somehow inherently superior to the everyone around them, and everyone around them can't solve problems without them.  The obligation system keeps the players from d!cking over the NPCs around them at will, forces the PCs into the world, and allows the PCs be at least partially dependent on their environment to solve problems. 

This really helps the players' buy-in to the world, because every semi-powerful NPC becomes a possible point of resources.  Their actions and how they treat these NPCs can come back to bite them in the @$$.

 

They may also pick up obligation they didn't want too.  Maybe they let a dignatary die (or failed to  save her) and get a wanted obligation when they get accused for that individuals death (wanted/criminal record).  Maybe they crashland with no cash, and they need to get the ship repaird FAST (debt).  Maybe they stole something and the owner got piiiiiiissed and comes after them (vengance).

Regardless, it's a neat mechanic, and serves a narrative purpose.  Sorry you don't like it, but maybe understanding how its used (or at least, how I think it should be used and use it) will help you understand it's place in the game and help you learn to live with it.

-WJL


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#14 mouthymerc

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 02:13 AM

ramza82 said:

I find the whole system extremly vague, ok sure if they want a favor  from a seedy crime lord, they can take on obligation. But what player would ever choose that, it only hinders them at the start of the session. How much obligation do they accrue or such a favor?  I really hope they flesh this out some more in the core book, because right now it seems kinda tacked on.

Have you seen Star Wars? The whole reason Han Solo takes the job from Obi-Wan and Luke is because he owes Jabba. It is a narrative device to allow the players to immerse their characters into the seedy fringe world of Edge of the Empire. And it shouldn't be too precise because you want to allow for some latitude for the players to define their situation.


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#15 ramza82

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 02:46 PM

All sounds pretty railroady to me. You need this item, and the only guy who has it requires you to be indebted to him.  I can totally see players going for that. " Oh so you mean there is absolutley no other way to accomplish this tast without his Crime lord's help, oh ok then…" :



#16 mouthymerc

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 03:28 PM

ramza82 said:

All sounds pretty railroady to me. You need this item, and the only guy who has it requires you to be indebted to him.  I can totally see players going for that. " Oh so you mean there is absolutley no other way to accomplish this tast without his Crime lord's help, oh ok then…" :

Hmmm, there may be some confusion here on how obligation works. The obligation doesn't mean you have to use the crime lord to complete the task. In the case of an obligation of debt to a crime lord, for instance, you would have to complete the task in order to reduce the debt a little or a lot. Back to the example of Han Solo, he owed Jabba for having dumped the crime lord's cargo (even if holding onto it would have meant being arrested). He took the job from Obi-Wan and Luke because he thought he would make enough to pay off that debt. In game terms he was offered enough money that his obligation was brought into effect. The obligation may also mean that it would be difficult to refuse a job handed to you by the crime lord you have a debt with. You take obligation to create a backstory and details that the GM can use to motivate your character.


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#17 The Grand Falloon

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 04:32 PM

Also, the situation presented shouldn't be one of "take this extra obligation or fail."  More like, "Breaking into the high-security area of this Imperial space station is going to be tough.  Hey, GM, remember that pirate that we met a while ago?  We hit it off pretty well. I could call him and maybe they could raid the place.  Then we could sneak in in the confusion."

"You could try that.  It would take some convincing, and you would owe him one unless he walks away a lot richer…"



#18 Lunatic Pathos

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 04:42 PM

As a point of clarification, the PARTY's obligation cap is 5-100, not individual characters. Individual characters can have 0 obligation, the party total can't be less than 5 though.



#19 Farsox

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 02:36 AM

Lunatic Pathos said:

As a point of clarification, the PARTY's obligation cap is 5-100, not individual characters. Individual characters can have 0 obligation, the party total can't be less than 5 though.

Now that you mention it, that does make more sense in the context of the sidebar that I had mentioned.  Though, I still think it would be a good idea for a GM to try to keep each of his players above zero.  I wouldn't recommend forcing it upon the players, but I do think that taking more obligation could be presented as the most obvious means to an end.


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#20 LethalDose

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 04:10 PM

@ramza82:  If The Grand Falloon's response:

The Grand Falloon said:

Also, the situation presented shouldn't be one of "take this extra obligation or fail."  More like, "Breaking into the high-security area of this Imperial space station is going to be tough.  Hey, GM, remember that pirate that we met a while ago?  We hit it off pretty well. I could call him and maybe they could raid the place.  Then we could sneak in in the confusion."

"You could try that.  It would take some convincing, and you would owe him one unless he walks away a lot richer…"

doesn't clarify it for you, I don't know what will.  It's not railroading, it's an option.

SImilarly, the party could also choose to go to the rebels, or someone else for help.  Their choice, and is really only limited by their creativity.

Which is the exact opposite of railroading.

-WJL


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