Concise Locket

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About Concise Locket

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  • Birthday 06/13/1978

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  1. I would add some local culture. Holidays, religions, whatever. You've nailed down what kind of cabbages they grow but I have no idea what the locals are like.
  2. The campaign is fully under way so I'm definitely done with the campaign prep stage. Two sessions ago, the planet Mullan had a major leadership shakeup due to the PCs exposing an Imperial plot to bring the planet under COMPNOR authority... so that information is already out of date! If you check out the planet listing, you'll see that each planet has three major urban centers listed as that's where the majority of the default action will take place (i.e. looking for leads and contacts). If an additional location needs to be included I'll add it as part of my situational notes before the game. What I'm not interested in doing is fleshing out every interesting detail before hand. I'm a creative guy but with that many planets, it would break me. And I'm 100% sure that not every planet will be visited in the campaign. I have a mental list of cool locations and ideas that can be transported to a variety of planets and will plug them in as needed. Most of my pre-existing scenarios, and I only stay about a step ahead of the players, are remixes of existing materials across various games (both Star Wars and non-Star Wars) and notes for scenarios that I think would be cool. I will literally mash together a Star Wars module, a Shadowrun module, and a Mindjammer module in order to make a scenario out of it.
  3. At this point I literally have no idea what position you're arguing other than trying to jam in the last word on a subject. And since I just spent the last six months setting up a campaign and blogging about the process, it's pretty clear you haven't been paying attention if you think I'm a "lazy" GM. I question how much actual experience you have with RPGs. I went through five Pathfinder campaigns in two years, each run by the book, and each campaign was abruptly ended by a total party kill. Considering that Pathfinder and D&D make up the vast, vast majority of all tabletop RPGs played, killer DMs and the carry-over attitudes are bred into this hobby.
  4. I hit on several of these points in my above post but there are a few other things I want to point out that you may not be considering: You're conflating micro actions ("escalation builders") with macro actions ("story movers"). I don't know what the context is of the hit on the Trandoshan but I'm assuming it's a major situational point in the game. Yes, for goodness sake, if the player misses the headshot and the Trandoshan needs to die to satisfy the narrative, the players can and should have alternate options. A failed assassination attempt is a part of Star Wars. That's a macro action in that it moves the story. I think it's also safe to say that 99% of players will have a backup plan or can create one on the fly. If the GM wants to introduce a problem that the players need to overcome in order to make another shot at the Trandoshan, which is a pretty reasonable thing to do in order to simulate the stress of setting up a second hit, that would be a micro action. He doesn't have to introduce a micro action but he risks boredom if he doesn't as the players will end up making the exact same dice rolls multiple times in order to accomplish a major situational goal. The roof top jump to pursue the Trandoshan isn't a macro action and thus doesn't warrant alternative courses of actions because it isn't integral to the narrative. It's just one of those tension ratcheting devices that Star Wars and other action films use. If players are hit with Strain and Wounds from failing a micro action in pursuit of the macro action, that's a good thing and a GM isn't going easy on them by not outright killing them from a fall. No, you didn't misunderstand. Those unavoidable chokepoints are definitely subject to the Three Clue Rule because those chokepoints are basically gateways to further macro actions. If a GM hasn't set up multiple ways to broach the problem in a situation, he hasn't actually set up a situation. However, we shouldn't conflate every risky action a player might take with a chokepoint, else we'll never be prepared enough. Also, chokepoints shouldn't be the only part of the game where the players feel it's appropriate to take risks. In this example, asteroid collisions whittle down limited resources. For example, instead of a strike destroying the ship, the strike can simply eliminate the ship as a future means of transportation for the PCs. The GM can rule that after the PCs safely land, a compensator melts down from the temperature differential, causing a flash fire that destroys not only the engines, and the engine compartments, but the majority of they ship's integrated circuitry and fusing the weapons. For all intents and purposes, all that's left is a hull filled with slag and a few salvageable parts. The PCs are alive, which they wouldn't be if they fell into the vacuum of space. They're where they need to be to continue the story but they'll need to find a way to leave. "Winning" implies narrative RPGs have winners and losers. The only games I've played that have that level of built-in adversarialism are light wargames like D&D and Pathfinder or painfully strict mystery games like Call of Cthulhu. But most modern traditional gamist RPGs don't take that approach; they assume the PCs will succeed in their goals. Paranoia is very lethal but you get a clone bank to replace your character which helps avoid TPKs. The unknown part is the cost of success.
  5. Interesting. I've been hit with repeated strawman arguments that moving the story along in a logical fashion when the PC fails to hit a task check is equivalent to "success." I don't know how many different ways I can rephrase this: Failure = Cost. Failure =/= Stop Sign. Cost = Loss of something valuable (time, in-game health/sanity, treasure). Stop Sign = Me saying "That didn't work. Think of something else to do/guess again at what I'm thinking" or (at the extreme end) "You fall, you die." If I'm going to throw up a Stop Sign, I'm not going to bother playing a narrative game as the narrative is being sidelined in service to combat encounters and short-term problem solving. The combat and problem encounters are in service to the narrative in a narrative game. BTW, the narrative isn't pre-scripted in my games. No one is going along with my narrative as I don't pre-script it; I set up situations not plots, because otherwise I'm wasting my time by writing a Choose Your Own Adventure. I don't know how the situation is going to be resolved going into the game. That's on the players. Thus, I'm not going to have a handy resolution to every choice they make. And often the choices they make aren't so big that they require an alternate solution - do the players get captured or not? - but aren't so small that they don't require an element of random chance - doing something physically risky. A player elects to have his mostly healthy character leap onto another rooftop to escape his heavily armed pursuers. Do I: play Jiminy Cricket and inform the player that he is making a less-than-optimal choice, thus reducing his character's agency in the game world? let his character do something physically risky and inject tension into the game? The risk doesn't pan out. Do I: kill the character, thus discouraging any future risk taking at the table? seriously hurt the character, thus taking away resources he might need in the future? You're arguing that GMs are lazy if they set up binary scenarios, like the one above or however you want to define it. The big problem that your argument ignores is that we're trying to simulate Star Wars here and Big Stakes binary choices are a major part of the narrative structure. Chases can be parsed into some granular options but they still boil down to "caught" or "not caught." Fights boil down to "stand" or "fall." Morality is "good guy" vs. "bad guy." Every film in this franchise has the scene where the protagonists are being pursued by the Empire (or battle droids) and they're stopped in their tracks by something in the way - a pit or whatever. They do that thing where they look back, make a snarky remark, mentally debate standing their ground, and 100% of the time leap or swing for safety. I can't successfully simulate Star Wars if players are afraid to take those kinds of chances.
  6. Gaming, especially narrative gaming, is another form of fiction. It's a structured form of oral story-telling. Stories have rules because human psychology only allows us to understand stories within a certain set of parameters. Hollywood cracked that formula a long time ago. We can go around and around what our preferences are but, without exception, RPG rules prioritize certain aspects of gaming over others. In terms of FFG Star Wars, the focus is on simulating Star Wars and driving character motives. The opposite end of the spectrum is D20 Saga which also focuses on simulating Star Wars but it also focuses on having players satisfy predefined goals... because that's what Dungeons & Dragons rules are designed to do. The words Success, Failure, Advantage, Triumph, and Threat are more nebulous than "succeed on a DC15 die roll." Most games have a clear cut and binary success/fail state. If the player fails the roll, the player has to give up or do something else and the rules offer no other resolution. FFG SW does not offer must-follow rules interpretation for a die roll, with the exception of "Did I hit it and how much damage did I do?" in combat. Successes and Failures are absolutely open to interpretation and the FFG devs have said so on multiple occasions. And the "How to spend Advantages/Disadvantages/Threats/Triumph" charts on the GM screens are all listed as suggestions, not dictates. Yes, we have collision rules. But the rules don't mandate that a collision must be the result of a failed roll. Unless you're the kind of GM that is slavishly devoted to prewritten adventures, the GM is the one setting up the situation so it's reasonable to assume that the GM has latitude in how the players resolve the situation. The GM has a lot of power in this game but with that power comes a great deal of responsibility for ensuring that players are both having fun and are engaged. That means both applying and removing pressure on-the-fly as warranted. I don't go "easy" on my players because that would make a boring game. But I'm also not going to treat the game like a D&D session, which boils down to an adversarial "guess what the GM is thinking/weird chess" meeting. That becomes exhausting over time and kills campaigns, with the exception of the campaigns played by the most hardcore and dedicated of gamers. That's why I'm always encouraging GMs to treat the game like an ongoing conversation. It's easier to measure player engagement if you aren't simply staring at your notes for the entire session. I've run a lot of games and game systems and I've never met a player who didn't care about his skills. But there's a difference between caring about your skills and being so slavish to skill rolls that every roll is preordained. If you want to give boost dice for being cool, that's your prerogative, but, as people like WhaFrog and I have hammered on ad infinitum, is that single failure points are the quickest way to stop a game in its tracks. If GMs want to be traditionalists and want to run FFG SW as a traditional game, that's their prerogative. But they're also introducing the same old issues that traditionalist games are always saddled with - single failure points that derail the game, over-prepping a bunch of material that's never used, and making the game adversarial rather than cooperative.
  7. It seems that FFG is sticking to its unofficial policy of only offering up playable races that are star-faring (or can be assumed to be star-faring). Talz, like the Ewoks and Tusken Raiders, sit somewhere between the stone and iron ages. Fly Casual has a sample Imperial space station. Death Stars are considered "battle stations" because they're hyperspace capable.
  8. I'm not seeing how that ties into a statistically measured - i.e. operational - Death Star, which is what was presented in the preview. I'm perfectly fine with using the DS as the subject of a game. It's a small, metal moon with lots of components so there's always some MacGuffin there that can be tied into a PC's story. Recovering stolen DS laser tech would make for a great post-RotJ adventure. The briefing room scene in The Force Awakens kind of kills that Death-Star-for-Every-Moff plot line as it points out that Starkiller Base is the third iteration of the technology. Again, if you want to go non-canonical... I'm starting to realize what's peeving me about this. It's less about Death Star stats and more about the inherent hypocrisy of statting out the Death Star in a clearly non-canonical move while, basically, abandoning usable non-canonical Legends materials. Edge would really benefit from one or two more setting supplements - a shadowports book and a Corporate Sector book would be inherently more useful and welcome - but they're being pushed aside for setting material we've only seen on the screen. Seriously, how likely is it that a book about out-of-the-way criminal hide-outs or about hyper-capitalist exploiters tucked away in a corner of the galaxy is going to somehow collide with the next Disney movie or TV show? Just strip out all ties to existing characters and you're perfectly safe! Ugh. It's nobody's fault, it's just a crappy legal situation.
  9. That middle ground is non-canonical, which I did mention as a disclaimer. We know what happened between the time the final touches were being made to the Death Star and the time it was blown up because we saw it all on screen. In fiction, stakes are measured by the importance of the conflict to the characters not the amount of destruction the opposition can cause. I'm absolutely not disparaging your table's choices; I mention this as a way of pointing out that there are ways to emulate existential threats without revisiting the same old things. I also enjoy going big when it's appropriate to the genre. I regularly read DC comics in my youth and was always tickled with Superman would, say, fight a sentient sun or punch through time.
  10. The combat rules aren't that extensive and the basic combat subsystem is the Platonic ideal of how the system's dice mechanics work. 1. Set difficulty by range. 2. Determine if target hit. 2a. If yes, was a critical hit triggered? 2b. If no, did enough Disadvantage appear to make something bad happen? 3. Total damage to target. 4. Apply soak. 5. Apply revised total to target's Wounds (or Strain, if stun).
  11. I'm arguing that there needn't be pre-set paths because I'm not running a dungeon expedition game. In fiction, how a character overcomes an obstacle and how the obstacle is defined is only relevant in how it supports the underlying themes of the narrative. The only thing that matters is that obstacle is overcome and that the effort in overcoming the obstacle has a potential cost in time, talent, and/or treasure. In fiction, the most engaging actions are those that have a cost because if there's a cost, there's drama associated with it. FFG Star Wars isn't inherently designed around a player making decisions to satisfy predefined goals in the face of adversity. The dice mechanics are too loose to support that and the suggestions in both the core books and in supplemental materials defy it. FFG Star Wars focuses on character motives, placing characters into situations where those motives conflict, and making their decisions the driving force. In my experience, adult gamers have been exposed to enough fiction that they're capable of recreating both the tropes and narrative beats of various genres. We all inherently know that The Empire Strikes Back would have been an incredibly bad movie if the Millennium Falcon had smashed into an asteroid at minute 45 and killed everyone inside. Yet, for some reason, it's deemed "acceptable" that Joe Smith, playing his PC Han Solo, can, while being chased by TIE fighters blasting away at him, critically flub a high-speed Piloting: Starship roll resulting in the destruction of his ship, killing all the characters aboard, and ending the campaign. Starship combat is the prime example of why a failure on a roll cannot have a prescribed end result. We all, reasonably, accept that the vacuum of space is a 100% unforgiving environment. Seeing as how most players don't enjoy seeing their characters meeting an untimely end, it's perfectly within the spirit of the game to take a forgiving approach to an unsuccessful action. Otherwise, players will be so risk averse to dog-fighting that they will never engage in it. In movies, it's commonplace for characters to leap from rooftop to rooftop while fleeing an overwhelming force. I'm not going to penalize a player who plays to genre tropes simply because he doesn't hit his die roll to make a graceful landing by applying eight stories worth of falling damage. That's, frankly, ridiculous as it sets up PCs with impossible choices and discourages daring, interesting behavior. Stay, fight, and probably die or jump and probably die because your character's not "statistically likely" to hit a success threshold is a dumb place for a game to be in.
  12. Rails are not always bad as they can help contain a narrative and sandboxes are not always good as they can lead to analysis paralysis. Rule 1 of GMing (after Rule 0: Have fun) is "know your table and know what they respond to." With a lot of groups it's helpful to give the players the hook, make it clear that this is the hook, but then sit back and let them work out next steps. If you have a general story in mind, you can help narrate the dice rolls in order to keep them on track. For example, if they flub a roll, you can rule that they succeeded on a task but took strain, wounds, or some other penalty in order to keep the story momentum. It's also helpful to have the game be an ongoing conversation. At a party it's rude to have one person completely dominate the conversation and you can encourage others to speak up by constantly peppering them with questions. The same idea works in game. If the players are spinning their wheels, just start asking them questions about what their characters would do in that situation. This will get them talking to you and to each other. Something else to keep in mind is that a lot of gamers are really, really lazy. They want to roll a die, simulating whether or not they hit a monster with an axe, and then sit back again. These types of players aren't going to get much out of a narrative game because they aren't capable of contributing to the table. Rule 2 of GMing is "be a cheerleader for the players." So if they hit on an idea that you didn't think of that works... or if they really nail a roll... give them a little verbal boost at the table. Don't be a cornball about it but a "nice one, guys!" does help. In my experience, positive affirmation is an under-used tactic in gaming as most GMs are too adversarial.
  13. Only use the rules you know. Hand wave or role-play the rest until you're comfortable with additional rules. If you know how combat works, you're 80% there. Everything else is style.
  14. I'm not doing that. Traveller is a good source for plot ideas, and the system is decent for an interstellar free trader simulation, but that's as far as I'm willing to go in terms of carrying over those materials. Super-fiddly and granular bookkeeping rules aren't engaging enough to bring into a narrative system because it doesn't add to the narrative. In most games, that's just something you do in-between the really interesting parts; the fights, the skill challenges, and the NPC interactions. I used to have the PCs pay for parking but we've phased that out. In game, we assume that whatever credit funds the PCs get are the profit on top of paying expenses.
  15. That's not a middle ground. That's requiring that a GM have a contingency plan for every roll that's required to carry the story forward. It's much easier to GM this game if a GM isn't sweating over a potential die roll upsetting the game's momentum. Part of GMing a narrative system is interpreting mechanical rolls that carry the game forward and hold player attention, not drive it to a screeching halt. It gives the GM a lot more latitude but a lot more responsibility too. Otherwise you run into the Call of Cthulhu problem where a failed Library roll to get the cult manuscript effectively ends the game. Or the failed Acrobatics roll in D&D resulting in fatal falling damage from a character who has succeeded on the check a dozen times before. Failing forward is not a new game design concept. In narratives, the heroes make it across the deep chasm. The only difference is if they're graceful or if they land badly causing them to lose equipment, get the wind knocked out of them, and/or get a stylish gash across the face.