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About Natsymir

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  • Birthday 01/25/1983

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  1. The rules for crafting and modding tends to frustrate me a bit, which gives me a bit of bad conscience as one of the players has really invested in his character being good at that. Of course, I want him to feel that his character can build really awesome stuff, but sometimes the rules make it a bit too easy. One problem is that crafting and modding, unlike almost every other aspect of the rules system, makes it sooo hard for the GM to give setback dice, while PCs can easily accumulate ridiculous amounts of boost dice for those checks - meaning they never roll threats, further ensuring that the GM never has an excuse to add setback dice or upgrade difficulties. Whether you agree with me or not that crafting feels to easy sometimes (that's not the topic of this thread), I'd like some advice on how to motivate more setback dice and/or difficulty upgrades in checks to build or modify equipment and attachments while the PC is still working in the comfortable environment of a workshop (on a ship). So basically, hit me with any idea you can come up with! Here are some that I have, but I need more: The lighting is bad somehow. The character making the check has unhealed wounds or crits. Someone in the ship has been rearranging stuff in the workshop. Someone in the ship is making noise or otherwise causing distractions. Hyperspace turbulence O_O The parts that the character bought are sub-par somehow. The workshop has gotten too cramped (this could be used as a time-sink, if nothing else - after a couple of projects, you need to spend a few hours cleaning the workshop or you get setback dice) The character has made many crafting/modding checks in succession during the ongoing downtime, and needs to roll Discipline if she wants to maintain her focus (i.e, not get setback dice. Also good because the Discipline skill can sometimes feel a bit lackluster if you're not a Force user).
  2. We quickly discovered that our pacing was too slow for the Morality rules to work as intended, so I changed it so that I only call for Morality rolls after certain "milestones" in the story have been reached. Nevertheless, the morality rules still work very badly for antiheroes, unfortunately. We have a PC who is very violent and prone to anger, but he is also extremely loyal to his friends, tends to protect the helpless (at least if they're children or pretty women), and has many other redeeming qualities. He's long since reached Morality 0, and it doesn't feel right at all, because he's nowhere near as malevolent and selfish as people like sith lords, inquisitors, etc are portrayed in other Star Wars media. I'm not exactly sure why the Morality rules falter here, it's just become increasingly apparent that they do.
  3. Down in the Darklands of Nar Shaddaa (described in Lords of Nal Hutta), one of my force sensitive PCs (and a similarly force-sensitive NPC) both felt a strange 'flame' calling for them from far away. The NPC has lived on Nar Shaddaa for a long time, and felt the flame calling to her subtly for years, but been unable to pursue it until now. All the PCs are now going down into the Darklands to help the NPC find the flame that's been calling to her. The believe it might be Zoar, a mysterious personage that their Jedi mentor, not present at the moment, asked them to find when they got to Nar Shaddaa. But I'm thinking it's not. Rather, it's an ancient force entity, trying to lure force sensitives from Nar Shaddaa into it's lair. But it's call is sublte, and can only truly be felt in the Darklands, or by exceptionally sensitive people residing for a long while on higher layers of Nar Shaddaa's endless cityscape. But what is this being, and what does it want? Help me brainstorm! The only guideline is that is should be somewhat malevolent, as I'm going to introduce the real Zoar soon after, and he'll be a benevolent Celegian force wielder, a priest of an ancient order tending to the nameless dead of Nar Shaddaa. What is the being? A malevolent spirit? A mutated monster? A strange, living plant? An undead force wielder from an ago long past? A mechanical being that's been created spontaneously from random quantum fluctuations in millennia-old heaps of scrap? A degenerate cult worshipping a magical flame? What does it want? Does it want to feed on the life energy of force sensitives, spiritually or physically, killing them in the process? Is it a vampire that sucks out their force potential, leaving them less than they were? Does it just want to cull the dark-siders in the group (the PC that felt the flame, and perhaps the NPC that did it, too), and leave the rest unscathed? Or consume all in its path? What can it do? Cloak itself from observation? Weave illusions? Summon dark side wraiths to aid it in battle? Control the beasts that roam the Darklands? Or is it just a gargantuan beast that fights directly, and alone? Please give me any ideas that you have!
  4. I often use Knowledge (Core Worlds) partially as a skill about being cultured, which is something I otherwise find a bit missing in the rules system. If someone wants to know things about dresscodes, fine dining, expensive or otherwise 'fine' goods, or even gravball teams, it's a Core Worlds check.
  5. I always modulate my voice when I portray different characters. Women especially - then I soften my voice, to a degree depending on the character's personality. It feels so extremely natural for me to do it, I don't even realize I'm doing it most of the time. It seems to me like most guys I've ever played with here in Sweden (and that's a looot of people) do the same, however, most groups I've played with are probably quite far to the theatrical side of things. To each his own, of course. But if anyone wants an example, you can hear me do it a lot in this english-speaking actual play podcast (at 45:50, for example), of the upcoming swedish game Neotech. (I'm the GM). In this example, I portray an AI who has a very sweet female voice.
  6. Given how much Herglics have figured in the game books, it's kinda bizarre that there's still no rules for them.
  7. Seeing as a 1 in a characteristic can easily be compensated for by ranks in skills, I don't see the problem at all. Plus, droids basically seem designed to have several dump stats. The scaling of the xp cost for buying characteristics for PCs strongly encourages droid PCs to excel in some characteristics and be utterly awful in others; if you want a solid base statline of all 2s and a couple of 3s and perhaps a 4, droids are a very suboptimal choice. For example, with starting XP + 10 Xp for obligation, a Human can have the statline 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2 (0 XP left), or 4, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2 (20 XP left). Droids in general have inferior characteristic scores compared to other species. A beginner droid can't even afford 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, not to mention the awesome 1, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2 that Neimoidians can have. But it can have 4, 4, 1, 1, 1, 1, with the 4s being any characteristics they desire. That's pretty cool, make it two very different characteristics like Brawn and Presence and it could be really fun to play. They could also do 5, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1., if one wants to be even more hyper-focused.
  8. Player agency is a very complicated issue, with a long history in RPG theory circles. The overwhelming consensus is that, like many in this thread have said, player agency is very important, meaning - be very cautious about forcing player characters to do things against the player's will. Unfortunately, Star Wars, while having many innovative mechanics, is a bit old school when it comes to social skill checks, in that it lacks a good mechanic for how social skills relate to player agency. The problem is excarbated by the fact that social skills are valued as much as other powers in Star Wars, so if we do -not- allow social skills against player characters at all, we hurt the balance in the system. There are several ways to approach this, that you as a GM might consider. Several of these can be combined: - Social skills can never be rolled against player characters. The drawback with this is that social skills become almost worthless for NPCs. - Social skills can be rolled against player characters, but only if the player is okay with it. - Some systems, like the swedish game Eon, have clever opt-out mechanics. in Eon, if your character is targeted by a successful social check, you can refuse to accept the result, but the character who used the social check against you get to choose consequenses that happen to your character instead (for example, your character's core motivations might be changed for a time). This means that players have the comfort of being able to never be forced to do something, yet always considers carefully if they couldn't accept the result after all, for the story's sake. Star Wars doesn't have many such consequenses to play with, but strain or setback dice to future rolls could work. - Social skill checks are modified by how strongly the targeted character is opposed to what the check is intended to accomplish. I use this all the time; if an NPC is vehemently opposed to being talked into whatever, for example, I give the PCs several setback dice in trying to convince him. - Some types of social skill checks are rolled more often than others. Negotiation about the price of something, for example, never gets too personal, whereas someone trying to seduce a character using the Charm skill often might. In swedish RPG circles there's a slogan that I'd roughly translate to "be brave and vulnerable". It means that you should try to go outside your comfort zone every now and then, and expose your character to adversity, humiliation, and dramatic change when it serves the story or gives other player characters a moment to shine.
  9. I don't analyze power levels to the point where I'd ever actually count and compare XP, but I do tailor my NPCs to be interesting encounters for the PCs. This often means that, in areas where the PCs are clearly very strong, the NPCs often have to be, too, whereas in areas where the PCs aren't that great, I try not to make the NPCs too superior. For example, one PC in my group has very high soak. I quickly discovered that in many fights, this made him nearly impervious to damage. This became especially apparent during a prison stint, where all his opponents had were makeshift weapons fashioned from toothbrushes and the like. So if I want a particular combat encounter for this PC to be challenging, I need to make sure that the enemies can damage him. For this purpose, I've constructed 'elite' minions with very high Brawn scores, good weapons and/or talents like Feral Strength, and rivals with good weapons like heavy blaster rifles, piercing close combat weapons or upgraded pistols. On the other hand, none of the PCs have good Presence. So when they recently had to try and talk their way out of being drowned in a chocolate fountain by a hedonistic Hutt, I elected not to use the extremely overpowered Hutt profile from the Edge of the Empire Core Book, but rather used the more balanced stats for the Hutt from Jewel of Yavin, which was still a formidable challenge for my PCs. For characters allied to the PCs, I try to make sure that they don't commonly overshadow the PCs in any of the areas that it's apparent that the players wanted their character to be the best at. So for example, I introduced an NPC with all-round stats that can help the mechanic PC out a bit, but is nowhere near her level when it comes to Mechanics - on the other hand, the same NPC is the best in the gang at Charm and Computers, but that's fine for none of the PCs ever bought a single rank in those skills. This rule is not absolute - there's an old Duros con artist that's by far superior to the PC con artist in that particular area, but she's a minor character that doesn't stick around. And the PC con artist has a very diverse build. The allied NPCs often have Talents and Abilities that the players appreciate as they help them too. For example, the shady Twi'lek Porimer is much more socially savvy than the PCs, so he got a custom ability that reflects that, yet allows the players to make the roll, should they so desire: " Wingman 1: When Porimer assists on a Charm or Negotiation check, add 1 extra boost die. " I occasionally run big combats with the PCs and several allied NPCs against a large group of foes. Therefore, I make sure to streamline the NPCs so that their rules aren't too complicated. They do get talents, but mainly easy-to-remember ones that doesn't demand a lot of micromanagement. Things that just removes setback dice are rare, for example, whereas direct boosts to damage or soak are much more easily handled. However, I might give an NPC a more complicated talent if it really feels important to their concept. I never ever give NPCs reroll abilities, like all the 'Natural <something>' talents. They are time-consuming, rather unnecessary and occasionally frustrating for the players, and would be rather overpowered as well as their common limit is once per session, and extremely few NPCs ever roll a particular skill check (outside of combat) more than once per session, thus making that limitation meaningless. I like to give enemies abilities that cost destiny points to use, because the players always feel better about something bad happening to their characters if I flip a destiny point at the same time. The Executioner's talent Deathblow is a great example of this, as it adds damage at the cost of a destiny point. I once had a horde of enemy droids that could self-destruct and hurt anyone engaged with them, but each time they chose to self-destruct, it flipped a destiny point from dark to light.
  10. I love Nar Shaddaa, and made an effort to employ it to the fullest in my campaign, and really do it justice. I made it unique by playing up how seedy, chaotic and shabby it is, to a level where some might think that it's too rauncy for Star Wars (obviously, I don't). I used all my experience of having lived in a shabby yet gargantuan city in one of China's poorest provinces to color the descriptions with chaos and bisarre random background events. On my campaign wiki, I give all planets a slightly tongue-in-cheeck list of potential hazards and dangers, to serve as inspiration for stuff that may happen there. The list for Nar Shaddaa goes like this: I also prepared a list of fitting names for dive bars, shabby cantinas, casinos, strip clubs etc, because I knew I was gonna need it. Names I've used thus far includes Swallow, The Crazy Couch, The Corellian Cabaret, The Explorer's Club, The Dive. Some of the many other things I've done to create the feeling of a gritty ecumenopolis: - Many combat encounters have an automatic setback dice on all initiative and ranged checks to represent the chaos of fleeing bystanders, moving speeders, smoke, debris, etc. - All checks to navigate or drive around on Nar Shaddaa gets a setback dice due to the sheer chaos. - Many combats in the lower levels gets setback dice due to darkness. - Due to the hyper-urban environment, there's always, always cover available in combat. Some cover, like street stalls, might easily be blown up by a couple of advantages though. -- There's also almost always bystanders that'll react to the combat. In some cases, the Hutts' security guards might not be far away. - I make a lot of use of the advantage/threat-table for Urban Encounters and the similar table from the modular encounters in Lords of Nal Hutta. - I always describe briefly what happens in the background when the PCs does something, for example by letting bystanders react in some way. -- I also emphasize the 'rythm' of the city in this way; the bystanders behave differently depending on the hour. If the PCs take a train in the late hours of the night, for example, the background NPCs seem tired and worn after long nights of working or partying, if it's in the prime hours of the night the streets are bustling with clubgoers, entertainment workers and tourists, etc. In the early morning, the city is rather sleepy as Nar Shaddaa is all about nightlife and decadence. For the most part, of course, I portray this cycle as relative, and not connected to the actual day/night-cycle, as the days and nights on Nar Shaddaa are bizarrely long, but in the decadent Hutt Shardal's party-crazed court, I implied that they'd been partying for the whole 30+ hours long night. --- Various shady characters approaches the PCs in various ways. The would-be-jedi who just look too goody two-shoes seem to be a magnet for beggar children, the ominous-yet-handsome zabrak gets solicited by prostitutes, the shady trandoshan gets deals on off-brand chronometers and cheap drugs, etc. - I emphasize that the city is very vertical by letting despairs and triumps lead to people tumbling down to lower levels. That's how one PC got stuck trying to survive in a bizarre underworld of collapsed megastructures, bioluminescent plants and techno-primitive marauding gangs for two whole sessions. -- I also encourage player to use the verticality by giving a boost dice to checks to climb, run or jump, as Nar Shaddaa has somewhat low gravity. --- That underworld, the Darklands, is very thematically interesting, as it emphasizes that Nar Shaddaa, like other ecumenopolises in Star Wars, is ancient beyond our imagination. I try to fill the Undercity and especially the Darklands with hints of that antiquity, portraying it as a weird, almost unearthly, place where withered buildings from ages long past have crumbled together to create bizarre cave rooms and gargantuan dark spaces, mazes of overgrown structures, ancient cabling, crumbling refueling spires, broken concrete and the rusty remains of vehicles that only an archaeologist could recognize. - I use chase scenes. They're a pure delight to run in a derelict urban environment as there's just soo many cool things you can throw in. For example, the trandoshan crook in my group tried to swindle a Hutt who ran a huge, rundown and mazelike apartment complex similar to the old Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. It became an awesome chase scene, where the trandoshan first had to find his way out of the mansion, then escape across the rooftops, followed by a horde of the Hutt's dug henchmen. He jumped between balconies, and tried to get rid of the dugs by cutting down a rope bridge - unfortunately, he fell too, but landed in a scrap heap and hitchhiked with another Hutt who drove a garbage collecting speeder. He got off where another player character was, but the swindled Hutt then appeared with three lavishly decorated speeder buses, and the chase continued as a vehicle chase. This chase eventually ended when one of the buses blocked a narrow ally, and transformed into a combat encounter. But the PCs managed to escape in their landspeeder when a bunch of Gamorrean freelance police intervened. - If I can, I end sessions when a PC is falling from a great height. This is the best of all cliffhangers. In my city's RPG theory discussion group, it's become a running gag to start a session with "You're falling. What do you do?", as it's actually a great way so start an RPG session, immediately unleashing a flood of creativity from the player(s). This last quote is kinda long. It's how I chose to describe Nar Shaddaa on my wiki. It's my own take on the wookiepedia article, so to speak, but I think it might give some more ideas about how to describe a shabby urban environment:
  11. I would like to know: Why don't you use characteristics scores of 6 when you design NPCs? A 6 in a characteristic is relatively easy for player characters to aquire, so why doesn't NPCs ever seem to attain this value?
  12. When is it set: My campaign is set at a somewhat vague point in time, a few years before A New Hope. I wanted to keep it a bit vague so I could, if necessary, take some liberties with the wide-ranging scope of the story while trying not to contradict canon. (I don't really care about canon, I'll break it without hesitation if I feel it serves the story better, but for now I see it as an interesting challenge to fit my story within it if I can). What inspired it: It's mainly inspired by lots of browsing of all the nice Star Wars lore on Wookiepedia, but there's a bit of Babylon 5 (especially the vorlons and shadows) and Mass Effect (especially the interesting planet design and dark humor) in it as well. My university studies in islam, jainism and buddhism may have influenced how I portray the Jedi and other force traditions. I'm probably subconsciously influenced by all the high drama and nuanced villains from a lot of manga and anime, too. Summary in one sentence: The player characters are force-sensitive adventurers who, after encountering the fallen jedi master Ilum on the forgotten planet Tython, are now on the run from both her and the Empire, but will be forced to take desperate action as Ilum's twisted desire to destroy the Sith makes her more and more dangerous for the galaxy. Why it is unusual or unique: The campaign has a complicated and consequence-heavy "fish tank" structure*. Ilum and her followers, as well as various imperial factions and other random groups are all the time doing things in the background, while the PCs are just trying to avoid capture, deal with the fallout from their latest defeat, and thwarth Ilum and the Empire in whatever desperate ways they can. This means that the campaign essentially have two major groups of villains (Ilum and the Empire) that are also mortal enemies to each other, and a challenge for me as a GM is to make sure that the PC's can't just sit the whole thing out and let Ilum and the Empire destroy each other. As time progresses in the game, no matter what side plot the PCs occupy themselves with, Ilum and the Empire will advance their different agendas (the machinations of these villains are sometimes shown through short cutscenes, too), which functionally sets a clock on the game. So the PCs must be goaded into action against one faction or the other, and eventually led to a climactic confrontation with at least one of them (preferably more), but I have plenty of tools to work with there. *A Fish Tank, in RPG theory, is a character-driven story structure where drama is generated through ambitions and relations between characters. Good examples of this structure are a lot of HBO dramas like Deadwood and Game of Thrones. In a fish tank, the actions taken by one actor (for example, the player characters in an RPG) naturally generates a counter-action from other actors, which drives the story forward.
  13. As you know, I like these ideas a lot. Especially because the rules system gives the impression that 6s should be extremely rare, as almost no NPC ever (not even final bosses in campaign books) have a 6 in anything, yet PCs can often get a 6 after only two talent trees. That bugs me to no end. I also think increasing the importance of species choice a bit is really cool, and limiting starting score 1 to a 4 max isn't too crippling - you can always compensate by increasing your skill instead. Humans might need some compensation though, but I dunno... Perhaps humans simply doesn't have to be able to get 6s at all. 5 is absolutely good enough. 6s are insane. I actually think the game would just be better off with the entire scale capped at 5.
  14. yeah...just took a look at it. That whole power tree feels really, really underwhelming compared to other force power trees... that being said, the idea of a failed fear check being the basis for the mind control is interesting.
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