Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  1. Xexto Ace Pilot: Captain Traxo - he really wanted to have some tricks up his sleeve... even if it looked ridiculous.
  2. I think it really was somewhere in the physiology description. Most artwork doesn't show scales - which is a shame, I really think they add interesting texture. I absolutely love those first two Falleen Close-ups, Maelora! (ok- the other artwork is also pretty rad to be honest)
  3. To approach the problem "how to challenge your players in a cunning and intelligent way" by pure genius, I would like to seperate it into two questions. First: "how might a cunning and intelligent challenge for the players work?" and second: "How do you convincingly present a genius-level villain to the players?". "how might a cunning and intelligent challenge for the players work?" The answer to the first question is a really tricky one. The main problem being that very likely you aren't a genius and your players aren't either and this is a game. As games go they are supposed to be fun and the fun in part comes from mastering the challenges set by the GM. A puzzle you can't solve is no fun at all, so forcing your players to figure out plans that can't be figured out is an exercise in frustration. So more precisely your problem with a cunning and intelligent challenge to your players is that if it really is a challenge they need to overcome you have to make it tricky but solvable. The best way to make smart challenges that seem smart is therefore twofold: 1. make obvious use of the "this is to easy" trope and let NPCs fall for it. The players will think: "oh, smart enemy" and "ha, we are smart, too!" which is exactely what you want most of the time. 2. know what your players think. If you know your players well enough, you can figure out certain clues that will alert one or more players to a fatal trap in the right moment, thus beeing able to escape an otherwise deadly entrapment. An easy example would be to have a character run into a certain enemy character with a striking feature and male sure he remembers it. Later build up an engeagement and at the last moment the player discovers the informant is exactely this guy he knows to be bad. They have just enough time to prepare a hurried escape, thus thwarting an otherwise perfect enemy plan - by pure chance it would seem. Short takeaway: if you challenge your players, make sure they can pass the challenge, even if it may be costly. Challenges that can't be overcome are background story elements at best or utterly frustrating at worst. "How do you convincingly present a genius-level villain to the players?" This one is equally challenging for the GM as it poses the significant paradox how to challenge players with a seemingly superhuman intellect an let them actually prevail. The first real problem is how to make the villain look like a genius in the first place. Chances are you aren't a genius, so what do you do? Well good news is that most writers who wrote about such characters weren't geniuses either. Bad news is that more often than not the supposed genius ends up looking pretty ordniary on closer inspection. As an old Sherlock Holmes aficionado I can promise you that he is VERY lucky he is right with most of his miracle deductions. And if you try to look smart, your players will try to figure it out and believe me, they will find every flaw in your genius plan. So to make your villain look smart, there are some ideas I've come up with: 1. Have a grand strategy that will act as backdrop. Your players aren't supposed to interfere here, except maybe at the last moment when they stumble upon something and by mere chance have an opportunity to stop it. The strategy will make itself be felt through hints, but it will only become apparent when the last move is made. 2. Make friedly NPCs overconfident and let the players be the doubters. 3. Don't let them interact to often directly with your smart villain. Chances are they figure out it is just you and not a genius. 4. Let the players' actions play into the villains grand scheme. - Destroy the death star? I alway wanted that A** Tarkin out of the way. What do you think I gave you those plans for? - How nice of you to raid that starship factory on that planet. They didn't want an imperial outpost - until now. I gladly signed the treaty. 5. Use cutscenes to characterize the villain and show how he operates without risking players interfering with your genius plan. If you do it right, they might even begin to like the guy. This is by no means a comprehensive list but for me those little points worked most of the time. For Thrawn or Moriarty, both of which I did have players engage in campaigns and other smart villains. I would love to elaborate more on this but it is a wall of text as it is already and I'm kind of busy with other things too, so that is that.
  4. I am afraid I don't qualify, but I'd like to add my point of view to the mix anyway. What I would like to focus on is the problem the article brings up - which is: "how to challenge your players in a cunning and intelligent way" by bringing genius-level villains into the mix. As many have already pointed out, the article - tongue in cheek or not - doesn't really offer that many suggestions how to do that. The article focusses on Thrawn, but it doesn't really have to be him. Any villain who is supposed to be a hell of a lot smarter than the players fits this bill. First let us take a look at the suggestions the article makes: - make alarmingly easy missions, despite expectations. This is supposed to make the players "know something larger is going on" and at the same time: "They’ll get sloppy". I'd like to point out that in my experience it will only ever achieve one of the two. Of course suspiciously easy missions are a great hint that the enemy's strategy is not what intel suggested it was. And this creates tension. Of course it only serves the purpose of putting the players on edge. High command might get sloppy and if you really stretch it, the players might begin to think "is that really it?" BUT it only is meaningful if later on the players get to see the bigger picture and realize that it all served a purpose. This really should have been in the article imho, without context it is not a really useful suggestion. - "Think about how your players would prepare for a given situation and then surprise them with something for which they’re wholly unprepared." I think this is the one most of the peaple here took the most offense in. I also tend to think that this approach is less than ideal and easily leads to frustration and thus is in fact detrimental to the overall goal of having fun together. But I will get into that later. - "Put your players on the defensive. Have your Imperials start attacking Rebel bases and strongholds." Putting the players on the defensive sounds fun but in fact is no advice at all. You will always challenge your players, sometimes with surprise challenges, but the essential part of the game is that players react to the challenges they face and the more proactively involve theirselves, the better. And Imps should really ALWAYS attack Rebel bases and strongholds. It is what they do. Every time. - "Lose-lose situations". Problematic, becaus e the article does not elaborate on how to present those types of challenges to players. As said before: -"Preying on characters weaknesses". Honestly, I do not know a game master who would not think of using such weaknesses in the way described, but it hardly seems like something you need to be a genius to plan. It is of course something valid to do, but it doesn't help your genius villain description at all. Only if he could "holmes" (that's a verb) a weakness in a conversation with a character just by looking at him, it might help the case. But you will have to present the clues to the players because spotting the clues will be what is so impressive. - "The long game" and "Take the standard behaviors of your players and use them against them, bit by bit." Yes, but only if a) the player's tactics have patterns and b) if the villain is really focussing on them. And to pull of the genius, it will be necessary to really show the players how their own tactics were used against them. All in all the article makes some valid points but fails to really communicate an idea how to implement them into actual gameplay. The focus stays on the "mindset" of Thrawn and largely ignores the pressing issue of how to present a character like Thrawn to actual breathing and feeling players. I would like to ponder on this question in my next post
  5. Here's a bounty hunting duo I designed - a Nautolan Clone Wars veteran and his Geonosian pilot/technician sidekick.
  6. That was not my intention. Please accept my sincere apology for the rude phrasing. I have since stated repeatedly that I think you DO have a point. I hope I could make it clear in what way my own interpretation differs from yours.
  7. I thought we were just having a discussion on possibilities how to interpret the rules? Does there have to be a right answer? I really only want to provide a point of view. I am sorry, if it looked like I picked on fatedtodie's definition and I want to make it clear that I think his view is viable and I think many people will handle it likewise. Hopefully my ideas are helpful to someone.
  8. The way I would handle it at my table is if it is lent and not returned within the same scene, the benefit is lost and must be reapplied when it is returned. The intent I see from the talent is the person that has the talent gets the benefit, not anyone that happens to know the person with the talent gets that benefit. Other GMs are allowed to read more than is written and add rules where they have none. I look at it from a Roll20 perspective. For the 2nd person to be able to "use" it, it has to be on their equipment list. And 1 item doesn't magically spawn a clone, so it would have to be removed from the 1st person's sheet. It is now "lost" from the first sheet and may be "found" later but it is "gone". My definition is not flawed, it is just different than yours. Calling my method of reading the exact words that are written and you ADDING WORDS is tragic on your part. As most of the threads go on this forum I will exit before it gets more hostile than insulting my ability to read words as they are printed. One last note: Just because my opinion and yours different does not make one or the other "better" keep that in mind before you throw out words like "flawed" towards others. This is a game meant to be fun and I was listing how I would do it at my table. You are not at my table nor would you be welcome there anyway, so there is no reason for my opinion on the matter to anger you so much that you resort to insults. Calm down, dude. No need for hostility. I already altered my original post. And a flawed definition is not an insult, but - in my eyes - an incomplete defnintion. You clarified it in your last post- I tried to interpret the meaning of the rules, you said you want to do it more on a item slot basis. All nice and dandy, you may do as you please and be even closer to the rules as intended, but the rules as written allow for both of our interpretations. "The character makes one piece of equipment more modifiable. He chooses one piece of equipment and increases its number of hard points by one. He can only do this once per piece of equipment, but can modify a number of pieces of equipment equal to his ranks in Tinkerer. If he loses a modified piece of equipment, he may apply Tinkerer to a new one." It does not say he has to hold it in his hands for it to work, nor that it stops working if anyone else uses it. It only says he can't lose it.
  9. If I sell you a cookie that I baked, it is no longer my cookie. It would be removed from my possession and owned by you. Just because I knew the magic to balance extra chocolate chips on it, does not mean this knowledge/power/awesomeness conveys to you just because it was once mine. Even if I put that extra chip on, due to your lack of knowledge/power/awesomeness it is very likely it will fall off before you can eat its yummy goodness. So in summary, it is lost from my possession and gone. I can Tinker with the next cookie with out any ill effects... I am that awesome. Hm. That cookie allegory made me hungry. But I think it is kind of flawed, because following the rules it would be more like you added some extra choclate to the cookie, that magically disappears and can not be tasted by anyone, if it is no longer your cookie. The question remains: can anyone taste it if you gave it to them while it was still warm? Well adding a mod slot is like "being able to see where I personally could add another chip on the cookie". The part I don't understand is why you and Pirate seem to think that the only way the item is lost is if it is destroyed. If you sell it, how would you ever know when he ate it? to be able to get your mojo back to find the extra chip slot? You guys are adding complicated where it is not required to be complicated. It is lost when it is no longer in your possession. Only you are able to balance that Cookie with that extra chip slot. If you want to add extra book keeping and allow for the game breaking levels of hard points that transferring the item to another person opens up, that is fully allowable, but as I stated in my original comment, at my table where I GM I would never allow that method. Honestly, if you read my first post on the matter, you would see that I did not say the only way to lose the effects of tinkerer would be to destroy the item. Your definition IS flawed, because, what if you lend an item to your crew mate for a day - is this lost or not? I agree that "being able to see where I personally could add another chip on the cookie" is what is described, but you have to clarify if and how you could tell anyone where to place the chip. Read my first post if you're really interested in my take on the matter. Of course your definition is a way to look at it, but not the only possible way to interpret the talent. Edit for clarification: Ok, I seem to get your definition. I understand that you would attribute the ability to use the additional modification would depend on being the tinkerer that built it. This is of course a possible way to look at it, but I feel this definition does not satisfyingly reflect the limitations of the talent: 1. only one item per rank; 2. may be reassigned to other item. It is ofcourse absolutely valid but - as I said - I find it lacking. For example: you lost your carefully tinkered blaster pistol and applied your tinkerer to something else. Months later you found your pistol again but now your mod stopped working. I find lack of maintenance would be the best explanation for that. And yes, this is just an opinion.
  10. If I sell you a cookie that I baked, it is no longer my cookie. It would be removed from my possession and owned by you. Just because I knew the magic to balance extra chocolate chips on it, does not mean this knowledge/power/awesomeness conveys to you just because it was once mine. Even if I put that extra chip on, due to your lack of knowledge/power/awesomeness it is very likely it will fall off before you can eat its yummy goodness. So in summary, it is lost from my possession and gone. I can Tinker with the next cookie with out any ill effects... I am that awesome. Hm. That cookie allegory made me hungry. But I think it is kind of flawed, because following the rules it would be more like you added some extra choclate to the cookie, that magically disappears and can not be tasted by anyone, if it is no longer your cookie. The question remains: can anyone taste it if you gave it to them while it was still warm?
  11. I've always felt it made more sense to first consider what ability is described by a talent and why mechanical limitations would make sense within the reality of the game world. Tinkerer describes that the character is more capable at modifying equipment than the average technician, therefore so he is able to install more mods than would normally be possible. Of course, increasing the number of hard points indefinatelly would drastically alter the way how equipment works, which means there has to be a mechanical limitation to this ability. Within the game reality we can sinply state that there is just so much any talented tech can do to alter the specs of any kind of equipment, wich translates to only one tinkering per piece of equipment. But of course a tinkerer would tinker with all of his equipment, so what stops him from just adding 1 hard point to all of his equipment? Simple: make the talent ranked and he can only modify as many peces of equipment, as he has ranks in tinkerer. Within the game reality this could be explained as follows: tinkered equipment needs permanent maintenance and in downtime the tinkerer will replace some minor parts, re-adjust some settings, etc. And he is only skilled enough to do this in his limited spare time for a number of items equal to his ranks in tinkerer. If he stops maintaining the part - guess what, his modifications stop working. By this logic, there would be no problem to tinker with other characters equipment or space ships, or whatever. It just means max ONE additional hard point for any piece of equipment and continued availability of the tech wizard to take care of the modification, or else it stops working. Just my two credits...
  12. My five cents: Honestly, the talents as written now and then lead to questions like this. Especially in case of "Spend Triumph to do X" or "Spend Destiny to do Y" sometimes lead to the question "shouldn't you be able to do that with a DP or Triumph anyway?!" (Knockdown being another example that springs to mind). Those talents limit by their very wording the flexibility of the GM and the players to interpret the effects of triumph and destiny points, which is somewhat problematic. So you are essentially left with two different ways to look at it: 1. If there is a talent that allows me to do something with destiny or triumph, then it can't be done without the talent or it would be harder to do. 2. The talent allows the player to decide the effects of triumph or destiny, whereas otherwise the GM has to approve. If you opt for version 1, you can simply add an additional test/better results as requirement for the players action to work. ("Can I spend a destiny point to have a hydro spanner with me?" "You don't have utility belt, so you would need 2 destiny points or spend destiny and succeed at a hard intellect-test to have thought of it") I am not really very fond of this way to look at it, but it would work. The second version is basically what 2P51 said. It's an ok interpretation of how it would work, but imho EVERY idea a player comes up with has to be approved by the GM and most of the time it would be unreasonable for the GM to disallow a brilliant player idea, just because there is a talent that would allow the player to do what he wants to do and he does not have it. So depending on your play style the talent is kind of awkward and it might be best to houserule this. Easiest way to do it: read any talent that says: "spend destiny to do Y" as "once per session you can do Y".
  13. Other than a trivia contest where does raw factual data have a purpose? Easy access to the data certainly provides an advantage. One of the problems with encyclopedic knowledge is it is often "common" knowledge in greater detail. So let's say your PC is working for an Ithorian and he wants to earn some brownie points by bringing him a tasty treat. Now it is common knowledge that Ithorians are vegetarians, but your PC has access to a digital encyclopedia, so he knows not only are they vegetarians, but they love Ithorian saffron, so he gets an advantage here, not a huge one though. Let's say he's actually going to try and cook a dish with Ithorian saffron. The encyclopedia doesn't really help here, his knowledge and skills as a cook are what are going to help. I just don't see many situations where even the biggest and best encyclopedia provides more than one or two boost die. Now if you're PC is playing trivia down at the local cantina and he's allowed to use the encyclopedia than it should be rather advantageous, but otherwise it's just a boost in knowledge in my opinion. I think the question of the original post was whether the general availability of an encyclopedia would diminish or remove the usefulness of knowledge skills in their very often primary function as a means to determine "what does the character know about this?".E.g. "What do you know about Ithorians?" "I don't care - I look it up!" And while I see the use of an exhaustive encyclopedia in this regard (no idea when the battle of Issos happened? look it up! - or more Star Warsy - "What do Akh Dogs eat?") - I would maintain that there 1. aren't many readily available encyclopedias in SW (you can't just go online and look something up) and 2. encyclopedias in Star Wars will probably be intelligent droids - so they might be able to explain context and be much more useful than a simple encyclopedia containing facts only.
  14. Short answer: not very star warsy imho. Long answer: A) Star Wars technology vs. real world tech 1. I think viewing communications in the fictional universe of star was as comparable to our modern day communications is - in my opinon - a flawed approach at best. The Holonet is also very blurred as a concept and should not simply be treated as a star wars version of the internet. They didn't upload the death star plans to a secure and secret server. Obi didn't google for Kamino or small poisonous darts. In fact, from the movies, it seems like the world of star wars is lacking any form of open access knowledge databanks. 2. Computers in star wars act very... let's say puzzling. ("Sir, I don't know where your ship learned to communicate, but it has the most peculiar dialect." "The city's central computer told you?") Also droids don't communicate by transferring wireless protocols - they actually talk to each other. It is really hard to compare Star Wars technology to real world tech. (They can shoot proton torpedos, make calculations for FTL travels, but are incabable to track TIEs whithout visual confirmation) Short takeaway: - Don't compare technology. Never say "but today we are already capable of X, surely a civilization as advanced as in star wars would..." - A digital encyclopedia? Unlikely. An encyclopedia-droid? Yes, that would work. B) on the topic of "Degree vs. Wikipedia" 1. Even with a vast ecyclopedia you have first to know how to find information in there and second have to understand what you are reading (foreign languages and technical terms). 2. Information provided in a encyclopedia will be easier to find and generally more useful to somewone already familiar with the topic. Try reading wikipedia entries on mathematical theories without good knowledge of math. On one historic event there may be multiple different entries in different languages, that offer differing points of view. Try multiple entries on the American Civil War. To put them in perspective needs knowledge. Short takeaway: I guess the Encyclopedia-droid assisting a character is really the best solution. Moderate intellect an high knowlegde skills. If either intellect or skill of the droid is higher it is used instead of the characters skill or intellect. If not - well it is a boost dice, at least. So: >A man in a fine leather jacket arrives at the Lars Homestead. Aunt Beru comes out to greet him. The man says "Hi, are you interested in buying a fine encyclopedia-droid? He knows all about the history and customs of 12 million different worlds". "No - but I take one leather jacket."<
  15. Actually 3 or 4 Players seems to be the best number of Players in my experience. Two players works fine but reduces the interaction between players and the intra-party dynamics. Sarting with 5 Players the experience gets gradually worse. 6 Players is only barely manageable and 7 or more players really changes what you can expect to achieve as a GM. The main problem is simply the time every player has to wait to interact with the GM. In Combat this gets even worse, as every player has to wait as many rounds as there are players (minus one) plus the NPCs actions (This gets even worse with an uneven initiative system like in shadowrun). There are some tricks to improve the experience with large numbers of players, however, BUT I think it takes an experienced GM to pull this off effectively. 1. It's all about timing. Keep your interactions as short an precise with every player as possible. Aim for no more than one minute for every player. If you have 8 players and take 2 minutes for every interaction with a player, at minimum one player will wait for at least 14 minutes before he can talk with you. This includes urging your players to respond quickly and not to think while interacting with you. GM: "The Imps are charging down the hallway. What do you do?" Player: "Hm. Is there maybe a chandelier hanging from the roof or something?" GM (pushes a white dot his way): "Is there?" Player: "Hm. Is it worth it?" GM "OK, think about it. Player 2, what do you do?" 2. Build sub-groups and teams. This only works if the players know each other well or are really quick t get along with one another. Team the players up in small groups of characters that are likely to talk a lot with each other. This allows them to interact with each other while not being able to actually do anything becaus of a inavailable GM. Let them bicker, make smart-ass remarks, bet and course in character while another player interacts with the GM. For this to work you have to seat your players accordingly, so the chatter won't interfere with someone hearing what the GM says. 3. Assymetrical Combat This chages the way initiative works. If you let your NPCs have initiative slots, it will add additiional waiting time for the players. Instead use one initiative slot to make short desciptions of what the opposition is trying to do. Use this to give the PCs an overall impression of the bigger picture and what the characters have achieved in the last round (i.e. the enemy is falling back, splits up, is trying to flank). Further combine the round of a character with actions of relevant opponents, i.e. you tell him one enemy is going to open fire on him and another one is moving around his flank. An then ask him what he wants to do. Let the player describe an roll his actions and then work out the result of the opponents actions. And don't count wounds. Let your enemies drop fast. If you want special enemies as threat to the whole group, define goals that mus be reached by the group to bring them down (and communicate them to the players), i.e. get the big game hunter to a certain position to shoot at the rancors brain, etc. That way they may use teamwork to succeed and you avoid the first four characters dropping your monster because of their sheer firepower. 4. Split the party (and use a deputy-GM). This one is very elaborate and takes considerable preaparation time. It is only really viable for on-shots or very short campigns. Let one of your player be a deputy-GM. He takes over one half of the players and runs half of the adventure. The sperate groups may interact from time to time, but get separated and expereince the same story from different angles. The two GMs have to define possible goals for every scene and need to communicate effectively between scenes on the progress of the story. To minimize distraction, let one GM be the lead. He decides the story finale, the other GM only informshim of the progress of the second group. For the final scene the heroes join forces. A short outline how this could be done for Escape from Mos Shuuta: Group one consists of smuggler types and tries to escape the Hutt. They start out running from Teemo. Group two are Bounty Hunters on their trail. they start out investigating, where Group one went. Group one starts ahead in time, so the events in their scenes may impact the following scene of the Bounty Hunters. The main GM should run the Bounty Hunters, as he will have to combine all threads. While the Bounty Hunters follow the trail of the smugglers, they stumble on a dark secret of Teemo, that convinces them to join forces with the Smugglers. You might notice that this will require some serious manipulation skills on part of the main GM, as he will have to trick his Bounty HUnters into doing, what he wants them to do and prevent a shoot out between over eagerplayers.
  • Create New...