Mentioned this in a thread in the General Forum, but making a separate topic here.
I really do like the way that Parry and Reflect function, reducing damage instead of jacking the PC's defense scores up. However, I can't help but feel that the current formula is being used as a way to pack the Lightsaber Form specializations by simply adding additional ranks of Parry and Reflect until the tree is full.
To that end, i suggest that the damage mitigation value be changed in one of two ways:
Option 1: Start at base 1 and that each additional rank provides a +2 bonus to that value. So if an Ataru Striker has Parry 2 and Reflect 1, then the could negate 5 damage from a melee attack or 3 damage from a ranged attack.
Option 2: Keep the +1/rank progression, but up the starting value to 3 instead of 2. To use the Ataru Striker example with Parry 2 and Reflect 1, they'd be able to reduce the damage from a melee attack by 5 and ranged attacks by 4.
In the long run, Option 2 would be the least problems with balance, as it provides an early bonus but scales at a sensible rate once a PC starts taking other LS Form specializations.
Now if either of these is implemented, in order to keep the Parry/Reflect damage mitigation values from getting too big, simply replace an instance of Parry and/or Reflect as follows:
Column 1/Row 4 - replace Parry with Reflect
Column 2/Row 4 - replace Reflect with Improved Reflect
Reasoning: Obi-Wan Kenobi is pretty much the icon of Soresu, having been noted as a master of the Form in the RotS novelization. Given that Soresu itself was developed out of both basic blaster deflection training and the idea of turning a foe's attack against them, it seems odd that they don't have the ability to redirect blaster fire, particularly as we do see Obi-Wan doing just that, and as far as the current lore goes, he never touched Shien as a Form, being versed in Shii-Cho, Ataru (Qui-Gon's influence), and then Soresu (adopted after Episode 1 in the wake of Qui-Gon's death and acknowledgement of Ataru's lack of prolonged defense).
Column 1/Row 3 - replace Parry with Defensive Training or Defensive Stance
Reasoning: 5 ranks of Parry under the revision suggested above makes a Makashi Duelist a bit too potent in terms of damage negation, so at least one rank of Parry would need to go otherwise they'd be stopping 11 points of melee damage, where 4 ranks of Parry would let them negate 9 points of melee damage under the revised formula. Also, a fair bit of the fluff on Makashi is that it's about controlling the space between you and the attacker, fitting given that the Form has it's basis on classic fencing styles.
Column 1/Row 5 - replace Parry with Improved Reflect, also remove the link between Row 4 and Row 5 in Column 1.
Reasoning: Ataru's not known for prolonged defensive strategy, and was developed as one response to address the problem of Soresu's "turtle tactics" causing fights to drag on and put both the Jedi and those around them in greater danger, but it does incorporate a fair portion of blaster deflection/reflection training, enabling the user to bounce an attack back as a means of resolving a fight that much faster. And with equal ranks of Parry and Reflect, an Ataru Striker is fairly equal on both defensive options. Also, in doing some more reading, it took Qui-Gon some degree of effort to overcome Ataru's inability to properly reflect blaster fire; in other words, it took Dedication prior to gaining Improved Reflect
Column 2/Row 4 - replace Defensive Stance with Improved Parry
Column 4/Row 4 - replace Reflect with Side Step
Reasoning: One of the big tenets of Form V (which covers both Djem So and Shien) is to win the fight through overwhelming power, particularly by turning your opponent's attacks back upon them. To again draw from the RotS novelization, Dooku begins to realize he's in trouble when Anakin starts to turn the older warrior's own 'saber attacks back on him, leading the Count to admit that Anakin was perhaps one of the finest Djem So practitioners he'd ever seen. Improved Parry is in keeping with that mindset of crushing outright instead of fighting defensively; Form V was the other response to Soresu's "turtle tactics." As for adding Side Step, this gives the Shien Expert better odds of their opponent rolling a Despair and thus enabling them to use Improved Reflect.
Column 1/Row 1 - replace Parry with Reflect
Column 4/Row 5 - replace Parry with Reflect
Reasoning: Shii-Cho is the foundation on which all the other Forms were built, so it seems odd that it has no means of dealing with blaster fire when that was one of the things it was initially developed to deal with. It's considered something of an archaic Form, but still viable in more modern times, a contrast to Makashi which fell out of favor/use given its focus on melee combat.
Column 2/Row 4 - replace Reflect with Researcher
Column 4/Row 2 - replace Parry with either Well-Rounded or Nobody's Fool
Reasoning: Niman is also know as the "Diplomat's Form" due to providing basic competence with various aspects of lightsaber combat, but at the same time not requiring intense study as the other Forms did, thus permitting the student to study other topics, with diplomacy and lore frequently being common choices. The specialization already does represent this by providing Leadership and Negotiation as additional career skills, but adding the suggested talents would further strengthen this notion, particularly the Well-Rounded talent to account the for "other areas of study" angle.
Edit: Made some changes to the proposal of how the damage mitigation value of Parry and Reflect should be tweaked, as well as adding some possible revisions to Niman Disciple.
Edited by Donovan Morningfire, 03 September 2014 - 03:20 PM.