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bradknowles

Parry and Reflect mechanics are broken — let’s fix them

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So, the background here is that the current way F&D does Parry and Reflect means that you could be successful, but still only parry or reflect a part of the incoming attack.  This does not match with what we see in the movies or TCW.

In the movies and TCW, what you see is that experienced Jedi are able to easily parry and reflect most incoming attacks, but they can be overwhelmed. Less experienced Jedi may be unable to parry or reflect most or even any attacks.

I propose that the Parry talent be modified along these lines:

Activation: Active (Incidental, Out of turn)

Ranked: Yes

Description: When the character suffers a hit from a Brawl, Melee, or Lightsaber combat check, after damage is calculated (but before Soak is applied, so immediately after step 3 of Perform a Combat Check, page 148), the character may take a Parry incidental. S/he spends one Strain, and makes a Lightsaber combat check versus a Formidable difficulty, with the Lightsaber skill being increased for each rank in Parry. This talent may only be used when the character is wielding a Lightsaber or Melee weapon.

If you have few or no ranks in Parry, then you’re going to be hard-pressed to make that Formidable difficulty. But as you get more ranks of Parry, more Lightsaber skill, and maybe commit Force die to your Brawn or Lightsaber skill, it should become easier and easier. But it’s all-or-nothing — either your Parry is successful, or it is not. There’s no partial parry that cancels a small amount of damage but the rest gets through.

Likewise, Reflect should be re-written along the same lines.

Improved Parry could potentially decrease the difficulty of the Parry incidental with each rank of Improved Parry, albeit for an additional Strain cost. I’m not sure what to do with Supreme Parry or Supreme Reflect.

But overall, I think that this proposal much more closely matches the kind of behavior we saw when Order 66 was given, and all the troopers started firing at the various Jedi — the less experienced Jedi could Parry/Reflect a few shots, but they went down pretty quickly. More experienced Jedi could Parry/Reflect a large number of incoming shots from a variety of sources, but even they could only go so long. But in either case, it wasn’t the Strain cost that took them down — it was the shots that they failed to Parry/Reflect.

Your thoughts?

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You are missing that each "shot" is a full minute of sustained gunfire only possible with the ammo capacity of a star wars weapon. Therefore each Parry, RAW, will reflect some entire shots and not others, grdually wearing down the characters plot armor (wounds) until they start taking crits.

 

There is no problem with parry or reflect.

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But in either case, it wasn’t the Strain cost that took them down — it was the shots that they failed to Parry/Reflect.

 

Well, there's actually a few ways you could see it, one being that they just ran out of strain to spend and had to take the shots because no strain to reflect = no more blocking. Also all a clone trooper needed was one lucky shot (or in this case, a shot with just enough successes to make damage more than what could be reduced by reflect and Soak), to land a nice critical that could account for them going down faster than normal (Sudden Jolt, Bowled Over, Overpowered, Winded, Crippled as well as most criticals above the 100 mark).

 

Besides that, this method also makes things more complicated. Like if I'm understanding properly, a Soresu Defender, max Lightsaber skill (5), we'll say 4 Intellect, and all the ranks of Parry just in his tree (4) would be rolling 4 Proficiency dice, 5 Ability dice, against 5 Difficulty dice. And if they went into Makashi, for instance and grabbed everything there, it would be 4 Proficiency, 9 Ability dice, and 5 Difficulty Dice. This is before any potential alterations to decrease dice or whatever from Improved/Supreme Parry. That's a ton of dice.

 

There's also the thing where both younglings (Episode... 2?) and Luke (Episode 4) were blocking more than a few shots without being able to see. And even with Sense to upgrade things, and certain innate talents on Luke's end, and dedicated training, or as much as 6 year olds can get, I still don't really see them all making a 5 difficulty check semi-reliably.

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In the case of parry and reflect, I would rather keep it as is (and balanced), than make it model the movies.

What if we don't have to choose, ie keep the system simple but make it model the movies? I agree the OP suggestion adds a significant amount of rolling, but maybe there's another way.

(Not that I have a suggestion yet...F&D is still in the courier's hands...)

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I don't see the problem with the talents as written.

 

As Rakaydos mentioned, a single combat check doesn't have to be described as a single attack. It can be a volley of blaster fire.

 

On Jabba's Sail Barge, Luke reflected a lot of blaster fire, but he got hit in the hand. Perhaps he didn't have enough strain to reflect the entire amount of damage from the attack.

 

I'm sure there are cases in the The Clone Wars of Jedi being hit with blaster fire while trying to reflect it. At least in Attack of the Clones, we certainly see it happen.

 

I have no problem flavoring it as "you reflect several of the shots but one of them gets through."

 

Heck, you don't even have to literally flavor wounds as taking actual damage. It's a little more abstract way of looking at it, but suffering a few points of wounds can represent the PC getting worn down by the battle, rather than being riddled with blaster fire.

 

Anyway, the way it's written works for me.

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You are missing that each "shot" is a full minute of sustained gunfire only possible with the ammo capacity of a star wars weapon. Therefore each Parry, RAW, will reflect some entire shots and not others, grdually wearing down the characters plot armor (wounds) until they start taking crits.

 

There is no problem with parry or reflect.

That's... a stretch. In my game combat turns will be a matter of seconds.

Why?

Do you seriously think it takes minutes to draw a pistol from a holster? Or ready any weapon that isn't locked in a case an need assembly?

And those are just the two most egregious examples of "slow to the draw" that immediately come to mind.

Ahem. Digression ended.

I'm toying with making Parry and Reflect Soak like so: Soak equals Strain spent times Ranks, may spend any number of Strain.

Thus Parry/Reflect starts weak and builds, but will still always be a Strain drain.

Yes this means I'm dumping the "Supremes".

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Who spends a whole round drawing a weapon... that's a maneuver isn't it?  :)

 

Even if a character spends a minute or so drawing a weapon, it doesn't mean that they're not firing.  it means that they aren't firing and succeeding.  abstractly, even the worst shooter is still laying down cover fire.  Imagine the shoot outs in way of the gun. 

 

But the beauty of the narrative system is if you wan them to be .5 second rounds, you can make that the case.

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You are missing that each "shot" is a full minute of sustained gunfire only possible with the ammo capacity of a star wars weapon. Therefore each Parry, RAW, will reflect some entire shots and not others, grdually wearing down the characters plot armor (wounds) until they start taking crits.

 

There is no problem with parry or reflect.

That's... a stretch. In my game combat turns will be a matter of seconds.

 

You keep saying this. Remember who's Gming.

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I like what you are trying to accomplish, but I have 2 problems.

 

The first, the dice pool gets massive, especially in the example you were just given. FFG designed this game in such a way as to avoid those numbers.

 

The second, any time the a shot is fired a force user with a lightsaber specialization, a second roll is required. Depending on the player makeup this could drag the combat down.

 

My biggest worry for the year and a half that I have been interested in FFG Star Wars, is that Force and Destiny Force users were going over shadow the more "mundane" character types. When this beta was finally released, I breathed a sigh of relief. What worries me now is that some of these beta suggestions threaten to make them more unbalanced, simply because the mechanics does not match the movies. While parry can be picked up by non force users, Reflect simply cannot. That's one tool in the Force Sensitives arsenal that the muggles will never have.

 

In the case of parry and reflect, I would rather keep it as is (and balanced), than make it model the movies.

I have to agree with kaosoe. Introducing yet another roll would slow combat to a crawl. One of the things I like the most about FFG's system is the way it pretty much solves it all up with a single roll of the dice. 

Also, while I think it would be important for Force Users to simulate the Jedi in the movies, we cannot forget that these characters are likely to interact with other ones from EotE or AoR. You could say that would be a reason why Reflect isn't a 100% thing. I believe that making it avoid the hit would have to make it more costly...

Edited by richienvh

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As Rakaydos mentioned, a single combat check doesn't have to be described as a single attack. It can be a volley of blaster fire.

 

On Jabba's Sail Barge, Luke reflected a lot of blaster fire, but he got hit in the hand. Perhaps he didn't have enough strain to reflect the entire amount of damage from the attack.

 

At first glance I didn't like this example, because Luke was being fired at from different opponents and directions, but...clearly those opponents were minions, and their shots would have been represented by a single dice roll...meaning Luke was able to deflect most of it, but not all...and they got a Triumph... :)

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You can't really emulate what you see in the movies 100% correctly...

If you look at the movies, Luke suffers a hit to the hand and keeps fighting, Leia suffers a hit and goes down grining, out of combat and heavily wounded.... everybody else collapses from just one hit.

Remember that it's just a game and that you need to put rules that allows fun fast gameplay.... don't get bogged down in useless rolls... Also, wounds mostly represents physical exhaustion while strain represents mental exhaustion, while critical hits really represents wounds.

 

Here is how Parry works now :

GM : Storm troopers shoots you with his blaster rifle **Rolls YGGPPB and scores 1 succes"" Alright, he hits you for 10 damages.
Player : I have Parry rank 3, I use 3 strain and reduce damage by 5, armor is 3 so I get hit for only 2 **Writes down 3 strain and 2 wounds**

 

Here is your way :
GM : Storm troopers shoots you with his blaster rifle **Rolls YGGPPB and scoes 1 succes** Alright he hits you for 10 damages.

Player 1 : I have Parry... I need 3 Yellow...hummm  3 green and 5 Purple.... I need more purple and a yellow.... Anyone has purples ??
Player 2 : Just reroll the purples and get this over with...
Player 1 : **Rolls YYGGGPPP and then rolls again YPP** Alright... I have... let me count.... **** do you remember what I rolled on those 3 dices before... I think I have 2 success but 2 threats...

Player 2 : Can I shoot the bad guy already ?

 

Get the game going ... keep it action packed, fun and fast.

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I'm toying with making Parry and Reflect Soak like so: Soak equals Strain spent times Ranks, may spend any number of Strain.

 

 

By making it soak, don't you run into a problem dealing with Breach weapons? One of the nice things about how the current version works is that it is post-soak. Otherwise, it would be a bear to parry lightsabers.

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By making it soak, don't you run into a problem dealing with Breach weapons? One of the nice things about how the current version works is that it is post-soak. Otherwise, it would be a bear to parry lightsabers.

Truth. Soak is not the proper term, but there is no other Damage Reduction terminology in this game.

At least not shorthand terminology, as Damage Reduction would work fine. I try to stick to FFG's terms as closely as possible, even when winging my ideas off the cuff.

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Yeah, I'm with the group that the talents as written work fine, particularly with the mindset that combat in this system is meant to be dangerous and that getting through a combat encounter without taking any wounds or strain is an uncommon occurance.  It's been there since Day One, with folks asking if the system was too lethal given that a hit from a blaster rifle could take out a starting XP character with a highly successful hit, leading a number of players to be very surprised that a minion group of stormtroopers could be a serious threat to their characters.  I believe Garrett Crowe of the Threat Detected podcast had this exact scenario with his players, all of whom were coming over from Saga Edition where stormtroopers were just barely a threat for 1st level characters and were simply cannon-fodder once you got past 3rd level.

 

It also cuts down on the worries of Jedi-types being too powerful, which has been an issue to some extent in all the prior Star Wars RPGs.  Saga Edition caught a lot of flak for Force users, particularly Jedi, being far more powerful than any other character type, and that with the right combination of talents and feats were practically immune to attacks (Deflect and Block for ranged and melee attacks respectively, followed by Skill Focus in Use the Force, then taking Jedi Knight to get Shii-Cho to reduce the cumulative penalty on multiple Block/Deflect attempts and Soresu for the chance to reroll a failed UtF check to use Block/Deflect, which can be fully achieved by 10th level).  With Parry and Reflect working the way they do, it cuts down quite significantly on the "Invincible Jedi" syndrome.

 

Now while I did use a competitive check for my Deflect Blasters talent in my Ways of the Force talent, allowing the chance to negate a single attack, I generally made it an expensive talent to take, since it covered negating the damage and reflecting the attack.  And while it didn't present that many problems in the play-testing that I and a few others did, it certainly wasn't to everyone's taste, and for me it was an "acceptable compromise" to using the Despair/3 Threat method that GM Chris had suggested for such a talent in his thread over on d20 Radio.

 

Having played a number of sessions using Parry and Reflect as they're written, having them simply reduce the damage of an attack and thus keeping things moving works quite well.  Then again, most of the folks I play with start getting very testy when one player starts hogging time because they're using an overcomplicatd mechanic.  Had a prime case of this on a Skype-run Mutants and Masterminds game, where one player spent almost a half-hour explaining the various mechanics of his one round of action... while the rest of us (4 in total) had a side conversation in the IM section about completely unrelated stuff, and the GM even admitted after the fact that he should have stepped in sooner to nip that one player in the bud.

 

All that said, if you really do feel that Parry and Reflect don't do enough, there's a couple options from my thread about revising those talents (plus the various LS Form trees) to make them more effective.

 

1) Change damage reduction math to base 1 plus 2 per each rank of Parry/Reflect; Parry 3 now equals 7 points of damage reduction instead of 5.  Combined with a PC's Soak Value, this change is going to reduce the damage from most attacks to either a mere pittance (couple of points of damage) or nothing at all as the damage left from applying Parry/Reflect is less than the character's Soak Value.

 

2) Change the math to base 3 plus 1 per rank.  This makes it scale a bit quicker up front, but won't lead to massive damage reduction values as PCs start piling on ranks of Parry/Reflect, but probably won't scale fast enough if you truly feel the current talents are too weak.

 

3) Just drop the Strain cost to 1 if you're so worried about the character being burned out too quickly if they come under heavy fire.  However, you'll need to change the Supreme versions of Parry and Reflect since lowered strain cost is pretty much their entire schtick.

 

Just bear in mind that Options 1 and 3 are going to make the LS Form characters a hell of a lot more durable, especially if used together, and thus will cause combats to be drawn out, since qualities like Breach and Pierce don't affect those talents.  Particularly if you've got an Adversary with ranks of Parry, such as the MagnaGuard droid or an Inquisitor, with the later generally having a very high Wound Threshold to begin with.

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I was originally underwhelmed by the reflect talent myself. However, when I considered the defense boost (setback dice) offered by the foresee power, the difficulty upgrades offered by the sense power, the brawn boost from enhance, soak from armor, the other defensive talents, and the entire protect power; a skilled jedi will be very tough to bring down.

 

You may want to tweak the math on the talents to suit your tastes, but don't look at those talents in a vacuum.

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That's... a stretch. In my game combat turns will be a matter of seconds.

Why?

Do you seriously think it takes minutes to draw a pistol from a holster? Or ready any weapon that isn't locked in a case an need assembly?

And those are just the two most egregious examples of "slow to the draw" that immediately come to mind.

 

I also find the suggested minute stretches credulity. However, the system is pretty abstract, so if they just change it to "each turn represents an indefinite period of time between a few seconds and a minutes" it becomes a bit less glaring.

 

You can't really emulate what you see in the movies 100% correctly...

If you look at the movies, Luke suffers a hit to the hand and keeps fighting,

A glancing hit which hits his cyborg hand, rather than Leia's glancing shot to her torso. After the immediate shock it doesn't look like she is actually incapacitated, just hindered by the pain and a bit winded.

Edited by borithan

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I also find the suggested minute stretches credulity. However, the system is pretty abstract, so if they just change it to "each turn represents an indefinite period of time between a few seconds and a minutes" it becomes a bit less glaring.

Yes, that's why in my home game combat rounds will be fairly quick, whereas "noncombat rounds" (one action and manuever) will be whatever length of time necessary.

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Well, the definition of the lenght of a round, as I recall, is set at somewhere between 30 seconds and 1 minute.

 

This goes against conventions sure, d20 usually goes for 6 seconds, HARP has 2 second rounds and Rolemaster (at least one of the incarnations) used 10 seconds (and three or four phases per turn ...)

 

Basically the notion seems to be that one round or action (and manoeuvre combo) is more than; draw weapon, fire one shot... pulling out a weapon is a manoeuvre and would arguably take less time than firing off a series of shots, but considering that players also talk between themselves, take aim or move in addition to just shooting, I think 30 seconds to 1 minute makes sense. It takes some doing to get players aboard and understand that one check isn't one click of the mouse button when playing Skyrim or ESO. The result of the check is the result of series of blows, parries and so on.

 

And also, as has been stated numerous times: wound damage doesn't necessarily mean being actually hit as such, that is why we have critical injuries, these are cumulative and is the only thing in personal combat that can really kill you (except of course falling from really really great heights and other environmental stuff). In this respect I think the parry and reflect talents works perfectly fine (ignoring the issue of whether the damage reduction should be 2+ranks, 1+2per rank or whatever other suggestions that have appeared.)

 

At the very least I think calling it "broken" is over dramatisation and over sensationalistic. Because it's obviously not broken, even if it doesn't represent it as someone would've like.

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I also find the suggested minute stretches credulity. However, the system is pretty abstract, so if they just change it to "each turn represents an indefinite period of time between a few seconds and a minutes" it becomes a bit less glaring.

Yes, that's why in my home game combat rounds will be fairly quick, whereas "noncombat rounds" (one action and manuever) will be whatever length of time necessary.

 

 

The exact wording in each Core Rulebook (including the FaD Beta) is as follows: 

 

"Rounds can last for roughly a minute or so in time, although the elapsed time is deliberately not specified. Players should keep in mind that a round lasts long enough for their character to move to a new location and perform an important action."
 
It's meant to be loose. 6 seconds is fine, 30 seconds is fine, 1 second is fine. 1 minute and 3.4 seconds is fine. The round is however long it needs to be for characters to do something important.
 
EDIT: It'd be helpful in Beta discussion to stick to these rules already established. FFG isn't going to overhaul their combat system for FaD, since they want it to align perfectly with AoR & EotE. It's cool if one has problems with the mechanics already established in previous core rulebooks, but one shouldn't expect FFG to change anything so integral to the line as a whole in this Beta process.
 
The nature of the combat round in this system should be taken into account for this discussion of Parry & Reflect.
Edited by awayputurwpn

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Actually, the issue I have is one of scaling.  The more skilled a Lightsaber fighter becomes the better they become at parrying blaster bolts.

 

Also, they tend not to work against repeating fire weapons, single shots from carbines, rifles and pistols, fine.  But fully automatic weapons, the Jedi and Sith take cover.

 

Finally, according to the book, the Shii-Cho Warrior and the Makashi Duelist do not get access to the Reflect Talent.  But the Protector, which does NOT get the Lightsaber skill as an option, does.  But you're supposed to only use it with a Lightsaber.

 

I think that Parry and Reflect should be combined into one skill, and it should scale for all users of a Lightsaber.

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