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Jedi Initiate Universal Specialization -- Full Design Write-up Inside

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*Disclaimer*


I address this issue in the next post in the series of questions and answers, but this one is important enough that it needs stated plainly and clearly from the beginning. Throughout this write-up, I often use terms such as “traditional Jedi,” “formal training,” “Initiate background” and so on. What I mean by this are Jedi that were brought into the Order, and to a Jedi Academy, as Younglings. These are the students who have spent their entire lives in the Order and went through the standard training and upbringing outlined in the lore for Jedi Academies. It is for no one else.

There have been so, so many Jedi that did not join the Order under these circumstances: the Skywalkers being the most famous examples. This specialization does NOT claim that in order to be a Jedi, a character must take this tree. This specialization is only for Players who want to play the specific Jedi concept of a student raised by and within the Order during a time where formal Jedi Academies were operating. In short, this universal specialization is for a specific Jedi concept, not to presuppose all Jedi will or even should take it, or that it is required in order to call oneself a Jedi.
 

*End Disclaimer*




Introduction


What is included below is the full design document for the Jedi Initiate Universal Specialization. I will warn you now, as you can see from the size of your scroll bar on the right, this is a long read. I have included my reasoning and logic for nearly every step taken while creating this thing with the consultation and direct help from Whafrog and indirect influences from others on the boards. For those of you wondering "Ok, whatever, lots of words I don't want to read, where is the tree?" it is at the very bottom of the post. I included it there instead of at the top because the focus of the post is not the tree itself, but the concept and the reason for its creation.

Now, before you dismiss this idea as unnecessary, limiting, or any other knee-jerk reaction or pre-supposed position you might have, all I ask is that you read on. I welcome discussion and debate, but have little patience for strawman arguments, ad hominem attacks, hyperbole, or other internet-argument nonsense. But please read and post your thoughts. This forum has so many people capable of intelligent discourse concerning this game, it is a shame so many turn to personal attacks and become completely dismissive of others’ ideas, especially when Force Users are involved.

This is a two part post. After the first post and the talent tree, I have posted a series of questions and answers that I expect to be the most common concerns and debates concerning this concept. I will add more as they are discussed here, but before contributing to the discussion, all I ask is that you quickly read through the 2nd post and see if your point has already been raised by others.


 

Purpose and Reasoning


The main goal of this project was to create a universal specialization to represent the formal background training an Initiate receives at a Jedi Academy. It attempts to represent a Jedi's upbringing in the Order and the common opportunities shared by all Initiates. I began the project because I wanted to allow the fulfillment of a specific but iconic concept without unnecessarily wasting experience across multiple specializations or taking a specialization with mostly non-thematic talents. While making it, an overarching guideline was to replicate source material concerning Initiate training and the Jedi Academies of the Old Republic with every choice I made. I wanted to keep it similar in power to the Force Sensitive Emergent and Exile, but similar in function to the Recruit.

The issue at the moment is that if a player wishes to create a truly traditional Jedi concept, he must purchase several different specializations in order to cherry pick expensive talents. Talent’s that are not necessarily all that powerful. The shortcoming of the current options is solely for the concept of a Jedi raised in the Jedi Order and trained at a Jedi Academy. As those of us versed in Jedi lore know, the Jedi will not turn away someone gifted with the Force who has the correct disposition, regardless of his background. That said, for those characters who come into the Order in a non-traditional way, this specialization is not needed. Again, this is purely for the traditional Jedi Initiate.

In order to represent this intensive background training, a specialization needs to be available that provides several different areas of focus. These include: basic Sensing and Control, simple Form I lightsaber techniques (certainly not enough to justify taking the spec), academics, and physical training.

However, as it stands, the Force-sensitive Emergent is currently the closest thing we have to a tree that reflects this Jedi upbringing. The problem is that Force-Sensitive Emergent (and Force-Sensitive Exile) is filled with talents that are not thematically appropriate for the concept of a traditional Jedi Initiate. On top of this, they grant FR1, but Jedi Initiate is intended to be taken by F&D careers. This means that a F&D career taking FSEm or FSEx is doubling up on FR1 (which does nothing) and paying for a Universal Specialization that will not grant much needed career skills. Other than the obvious mechanical benefits, these career skills also further reflect his Temple teachings.

In practice, I think this specialization should be thought of as the Jedi’s parallel to the Recruit specialization. Much as the Rebellion encourages formal military training to better prepare its members, the Jedi Order has a standard methodology of instructing and preparing its students. However, just as the Rebellion does not “require” this specialization, neither would the Jedi Order if someone joined its ranks under more unusual circumstances. This tree is a training toolkit of the Jedi Order, not what defines them.


 

Requirements


Originally, Whafrog and I discussed allowing a player to substitute this specialization for his career’s starting specialization. I have decided to remove that as part of the design. In hindsight, it is an additional, clunky rule that is not necessary. A character can still easily pick this up at character generation if he desires. A GM that feels the original substitution method is appropriate can obviously home-rule that in their own game. As it stands, however, Jedi Initiate functions no differently than any other Universal Specialization.

The tree has several different requirements. The first of which being FR1+. I did not want the tree to give Force Rating: I wanted it to require it. This restricts it to the 6 F&D careers at character creation. Just as Luke (in my opinion) had to take Force Sensitive Emergent before beginning his real Jedi training, this specialization is going to be taken by someone who has an origin linked directly with the Force (such as the six F&D careers).

Limiting it to specific Eras seems obvious. Jedi Academies do not exist during the Dark Times or during the Galactic Civil War. As such, this tree would not be available in all but the rarest examples. It would take incredibly devoted study of several holocrons during these times to replicate the broadly encompassing studies of the Academies of old, and it’s far more likely Force-sensitives of these Eras will take Emergent, Exile, or one of the six F&D careers. Except with the GM’s permission, this specialization effectively should not see play during these Eras.

The default Mentor group resource in F&D would not be knowledgeable enough to unlock this tree for the characters (it mentions it is likely a Padawan or Jedi of very low importance). Even if the Mentor was a Jedi of some importance, it is unlikely the characters have the time or the facilities to simulate the training of a Jedi Academy. Again, the existing specializations are far more likely to be appropriate in these situations. This is the knowledge and the practices that the Emperor and Vader worked very, very hard to snuff out of the Galaxy, so it should be equally difficult to attain.

The specific circumstances required to take this specialization accurately represents how specific the concept itself is. Because it bears constant repeating: this tree neither “makes” you a Jedi nor is it required to call yourself one.


 

Skills


As this Specialization requires FR1+, it grants career skills in a similar fashion to the Recruit. Obvious choices are Cool, Discipline, Education, Lightsaber, Lore, Negotiation, Perception, Resilience, Vigilance, and Xenology. Though honestly a case could be made for nearly any skill in the game. The four that were chosen were ones I felt were the most appropriate, though it is certainly debatable. I would say Discipline and Lightsaber are musts, but the other two spots are up to interpretation.

I will not waste too much time explaining my logic for the skills included. Yes, minor arguments could be made about one skill versus another, but people versed on Jedi lore and source material will probably be able to agree on the top 6-8 most appropriate.


 

Talents


In this specialization needs to be talents which most broadly represent the things to which Jedi are exposed during their upbringing in the Temple. This is still when the Jedi are getting their basic education and training, so the talents should reflect a very general and non-specialized path.

My goal was to have all talents fall within one (or more) of five primary aspects of an Initiate’s upbringing at a Jedi Academy. These five aspects are: Control, Sense, Academics, Conditioning, and Martial Training. Now, it could be argued there are many more nuances than can be defined by five broad definitions, but this is a mostly narrative game and we only have 20 talent slots. As such, I narrowed it down to these five and began designing the tree from there.

Below I will briefly list each talent, the aspect(s) which I categorized it under during the design process, and the logic for including it in the tree. At the end of this section, I will include the rather long list of talent candidates that were either considered or used and eventually discarded along the way.

Uncanny Senses – Sense – This one is fairly obvious. It represents probably the very first and most basic aspect of the Force that makes a noticeable difference in a Force-sensitive’s life.

Well Rounded – Academics – This is to represent the comprehensive training of the Jedi and allow a character to further personalize his particular character. Maybe a Player’s Initiate took special interest in diplomacy and debate while another preferred the classes on subterfuge and reconnaissance.

Uncanny Reactions – Control – This, like U. Senses, is like the first subconscious application of the Control aspect of the Force that affects a character’s life.
Grit – Conditioning – Obvious inclusion. Jedi train their bodies and minds, and Grit typically represents this on nearly every tree in the game.

Sense Emotions – Sense – An extension from Uncanny Senses. The Jedi begins training to Sense others emotional states.

Knowledge Specialization – Academics – Further refinement of the Jedi’s academic studies and pursuits. Probably purchased by the more consular or sage type Initiates.

Rapid Reaction – Conditioning and Control – This talent represents a character further refining his Force enhanced reactions and represents a Jedi’s usual ability to preempt surprise.

Toughened – Conditioning – The next step of the Jedi’s physical and mental training. Like Grit, a common inclusion of most trees.

Sense Danger – Sense – Further trained Sensing capability, more broad in scope than simply sensing emotions.

Confidence – Academics – Represents a Jedi’s education on the dangers of the Galaxy and how to face them without fear.

Second Wind – Conditioning and Control – The Jedi’s ability to stay calm and collect his thoughts during battle, staying centered.

Conditioned – Conditioning – The final step of the conditioning track of the Jedi’s training. Probably taken by guardian or sentinel concepts.

Touch of Fate – Sense and Control – Extension of Sense with Control to start actively affecting outcomes.

Parry – Martial Training – Basic Form I swordwork is taught to all Initiates.

Intense Focus – Conditioning and Control – Symbolic of the discipline and willpower Jedi use to accomplish difficult tasks.

Reflect – Martial Training and Sense – Like reflect, Basic Shii-Cho deflection is taught to all Initiates.

Force Rating – Sense and Control – Obvious inclusion.

Dedication – Conditioning – Included to keep in line with FSEm and FSEx.

Force of Will – Control – A very Jedi and Force theme talent. The ability to use strength of will to overcome a problem.

Improved Reflect – Martial Training and Sense - *See Improved Reflect section below

Talents Considered But Not Used: Balance, Center of Being, Commanding Presence, Defensive Stance, Defensive Training, Durable, Force Rating x2, Improved Parry, Insight, Knowledge is Power, Nobody's Fool, Researcher, Sense Advantage, Sixth Sense, Superior Reflexes, and many I am likely forgetting.

Below I have included longer explanations for ones that warrant it or I assume will spark debate.

Reflect and Parry
Absolute staples of Jedi training. Just think to AotC. In Yoda’s Youngling class, his students are all wearing blast helmets with the shields down, practicing basic Form I deflection. These are 8ish year old Younglings and already they’re learning Reflect: that’s how essential and intrinsic that maneuver is to the Jedi.
 
Improved Reflect
Here is one that people – including me -- love to argue. It’s hard to understand why, given the talent is rarely functional against a competent or challenging enemy, and is more “fun flavor” than “insta-win vs ranged” like it has been in previous systems. This fact aside, it remains one of the most iconic uses of a lightsaber in all of Star Wars lore. We even see Luke do it on the skiff back when Force users were shown only as minorly mystical (with the exception of Palpatine) warriors as opposed to the demi-gods of the prequels.

Every Jedi who has more than a cursory appearance in any and all source material uses this ability. Everyone from Master Yoda to absolutely-brand-new, first-day-on-the-job Ahsoka. That’s how important this technique apparently was to the Jedi. And yes, it is very possible that it become compulsory due to the Clone Wars and the Jedi’s roles as Commanders and Generals, but either way, it became an apparently mandatory technique to learn. On top of this, the source material and lore tells us this is not an ability exclusive to Shien (or Soresu, to which it has been added). It is a known Shii-Cho maneuver, though not its focus.

And yet we only see it in two trees. I will directly quote myself from another thread for the remainder of my justification for including this talent. This was my response to the often-used “solution” to just resolve it narratively or by using lots of threat to simulate the talent. “You can't just give people abilities through narration or allow them to simulate talents with advantages or threat. That cheapens the talent itself, especially if you have other people in the party who went out of their way to get that really cool talent. I'm sorry, but if we see a blaster bolt bounce off a lightsaber and kill something, that's Improved Reflect. It's a cool talent, so let’s not detract from it in order to explain away its conspicuous absence.

This "solution" people like to use for Improved Reflect is just damage control and scrambling to try and defend what is an obvious hole in the system. A hole that is easily fixable by including the talent in the trees that clearly have a basis in lore for having it. Does Shien have a direct focus in reflecting blaster fire as an offensive tactic? Absolutely. Was it the first one to do it? Absolutely not. Shien should have Improved Reflect as a specialty. And it does! It’s represented by the fact it is much cheaper to get from Shien than any other tree (especially Jedi Initiate).

If we hardly ever saw Jedi improved reflecting, or only saw experienced Knights and Masters doing it: fine, keep it in Shien and Soresu. But that's not what we see. We see fresh Padawans and Jedi of every type, Jedi who in the lore explicitly are not practitioners of either of these two forms, improved reflecting. It's an incredibly common application of lightsaber combat in an age dominated by blaster fire. And let's all be perfectly honest: it's not even that good of a talent. I understand having to slightly deviate from the source material for the sake of balance, but when it's not going to disrupt gameplay or unbalance anything, why not replicate the Galaxy that inspires us to play the game to begin with?”

In summary, I know people have this huge aversion to including Parry, Reflect, and Improved Reflect. I honestly cannot figure out why given the investment requirements. Parry and Reflect are far cheaper to get elsewhere if you’re focusing at all in a lightsaber form specialization, and a 25 XP Improved Reflect, for what it does, is actually pretty hard to justify. But I wanted to include it for people, like myself, that recognize just how central it is to formal Jedi lightsaber training and want to be able to get it without investing in an entirely different lightsaber form, which we wouldn’t otherwise want, for a mechanically sub-par talent. As always with this project, it’s about fulfilling the concept unless it will upset balance.
 
Comparing to the FSEm and FSEx

Here is one I predict people will want to talk about. People in other threads like to claim this specialization is not necessary because of the two universals that already exist, and if it is created that it will basically just contain mostly the same things. Well hopefully I have adequately explained the difference between this tree’s concept and the other two such that the first part of that objection is no longer valid. However, the question of overlap remains. After all, a tree that is mostly overlap shouldn’t be made and is simply redundant.

Let’s look at our two existing Universal Force Specializations: Force-sensitive Exile and Force-sensitive Emergent. If we list out their talents and list the overlap, here is what we find:

FSEx and FSEm Overlap: Balance, Dedication, Force Rating, Insight, Sense Danger, Touch of Fate, Uncanny Reactions x2, Uncanny Senses x2

          Total Overlap: 10

For those that didn’t know or have never counted, that’s right: 10 overlapping talents. Literally half of these two trees are the same. Albeit, the order and cost are a very important part of a trees construction as well, and I will never claim otherwise. I am merely pointing out that talent overlap is not something that exclusively keeps a specialization from being made, as can be seen with this example.

Now if we look at Jedi Initiate when compared to these two, we get:

Jedi Initiate and FSEm Overlap: Dedication, Force Rating, Force of Will, Grit, Sense Danger, Touch of Fate, Toughened, Uncanny Reactions, Uncanny Senses

 

Total Overlap: 9


Jedi Initiate and FSEx Overlap: Dedication, Force Rating, Intense Focus, Sense Danger, Sense Emotions, Touch of Fate, Uncanny Reactions, Uncanny Senses.

 

Total Overlap: 8


So, unexpectedly (even to me), Jedi Initiate actually ended up overlapping less with the existing Universal Force Specializations than they do with each other. This is a good sign that at least this tree isn’t treading on existing trees any more than they were already treading on each other. But now we have to look at talent economy. And for that, the best thing to look at is how much we can get the heavy hitters for. Here is what we find:

 

Price to Purchase Force Rating + Dedication


Force-sensitive Emergent: 120 

Force-sensitive Exile: 120 (or 125 with Sixth Sense, 150 with Sixth Sense and Superior Reflexes)

Jedi Initiate: 175


Price to Purchase Force Rating + Dedication + Force of Will


                    Force-sensitive Emergent: 165
                    Jedi Initiate: 175

So I actually designed the tree to be slower to get both Dedication and Force Rating (or Dedication + Force Rating + Force of Will when compared just to Emergent). But as everyone knows, the tier 5 talents do not solely make the specialization. You also have to look at the rest of the tree to judge its worth. When you do that, I think most people would agree that Jedi Initiate is a bit less niche than either of the other two and a bit more applicable in most situations.
 
However, I do not think it is necessarily better. FSEx gets an extra Toughened, an extra Grit, Balance, and Invigorate: all very good talents. FSEx gets Balance plus a Ranged and Melee Defense. Many of the Sense talents are shared with one if not both of the Universal specializations. Much of the rest of the tree is good, but the most powerful talents are shared by all three, and they’re the most expensive for Jedi Initiate.


 

Extras


Finally, it should be obvious that anyone who takes this specialization qualifies for the Mentor resource bonus presented in the F&D book. This is up to the GM, of course, but the concept and background of this specialization implies one or more very involved Mentors that are assisting the Initiate with the development of his Force Powers.

Lastly, though I believe the write-up makes it more than clear who this specialization is and is not designed for, I have included a handy little breakdown below for those of you that want something a little easier to look at (I can’t blame you, honestly). So…

Who WOULD Take This Specialization?

· Characters brought to Jedi Academies as children and raised within the Order
· Characters who received formal and traditional training from a Jedi Master
· Characters who specifically want to replicate the ways of the Jedi from the Republic Era or train others in the same manner
· Characters who gain access to holocrons and train themselves dutifully by the instructions of the gatekeeper
· Characters playing during the Dark Times or Galactic Civil War that are survivors of the Purge AND meet one of the criteria above


Who Would NOT Take This Specialization?

· Anyone who came into the Jedi Order late in life
· Anyone who received informal, accelerated, and/or adapted Jedi training
· Anyone that was not trained in the traditional manner of the Jedi Academies
· Anyone born very near the end of The Clone Wars, during the Dark Times, or during the Galactic Civil War (post ~25BBY)


Who MUST Take This Specialization?

· Absolutely no one

 

-----



Thanks for reading,

Smog


7gR4Fc8.jpg

Note from the Devs and Mods: Full talent descriptions were not OK. At Sam's request, I have replaced the image with one that takes out the full talent descriptions.

edit: Small cleanups, etc. Edited by Smog

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Here begins the 2nd post where I will include common questions, answers, and concerns for the idea and its components.

 

-----

 

 

“Not all Jedi should be forced to take the same specialization.”

 

I agree! That’s why it is only for a very specific Jedi concept: the Jedi who was raised in the Order from childhood, and trained in a Jedi Academy in the traditional fashion. The Jedi Order has counted many amongst its ranks whose lives took them on an alternate path to reach the same destination, so in no way is it required to be a Jedi.

 

 

“Every character who takes this specialization will just be the exact same!”

 

Not at all true. Not unless you also think every character who takes Driver, Slicer, or Scoundrel will be the same (and if you do, your problem is with the system, not this specialization). Even more to this point, as it is a Universal specialization, that is equivalent to saying every Force Sensitive Emergent or Exile are the same. Even characters with the same specializations will not always take the exact same talents, though many will be similar. So, yes, these characters raised in the Order will have many similarities from their time spent being educated in the same place and by the same people. But what is a specialization other than a specific set of similar skills that people within that profession often have in common?

 

 

“One Jedi can be vastly different from the next! All Jedi should not have to build the same way!”

 

I agree on both points! We have already established that many Jedi concepts and backgrounds might not justify taking this specialization. However, for those that do, this is but one specialization of a character’s career that is likely being used with two or more others. Saying that all characters who take the same specialization are the same is obviously false. The character’s career choice, talent build, and other specializations will provide endless opportunities for mechanical diversity. Sharing this specialization will only do one thing: represent a common training and background for characters educated and raised in the same place.

 

 

“But why have the specialization when they can just take vastly different talents from it? How does that represent the same upbringing?”

 

Good question! But just like children that attend the same school will graduate with different abilities and skill sets, so will Jedi who are promoted to Padawan candidacy. The point is that all of them had the potential to learn the same things. They were presented with the same opportunities and some exceled in one or more areas while different students might have succeeded in others. Just like all Doctors theoretically have had very similar training and yet can have different talents, so can Jedi. But just as Doctor is an important specialization of a unified and complete concept, so is Jedi Initiate.

 

 

 “This is completely unnecessary. You can pick up all of these talents elsewhere without needing a Universal Specialization.”

 

Well, that is true. This is an odd argument to me, though. Because with this logic, why should FFG ever create another specialization in this game? Of course you can get every talent elsewhere: that’s the game’s core design. But I would hope it is obvious that the point of specializations is to unify thematic elements for a given concept within a single tree in order to avoid the incredibly wasteful XP expenditures of purchasing multiple specializations elsewhere. This is a great design, as we’ve seen, as long as a given tree does not give absurdly more than any other tree. And as discussed above in the design document, and below in another question, I do not believe Jedi Initiate does that.

 

 

“You don’t have to take several specializations. You can take FSEm and get most of this.”

 

True, but there are several problems with this logic. One, if you’re playing a F&D career, you’re wasting that second Force Rating 1. Both F&D careers and the Force Sensitive Unis are designed giving you a FR and are balanced around that fact. Why do you think FSEm and FSEx do not give career skills but the Recruit does? Two, other than simply wasting that granted FR, both FSEm and FSEx contain many talents that are not thematic with a traditionally trained Jedi Initiate. Foraging, stealthing, survival, and avoiding suspicion from officials: these are all things that a Jedi may indeed be trained in. But they are specific to concept and career and not representative of the core educational tenants of a Jedi Academy. In short, they’re wasted talents in respect to your concept. Another way to answer this question is “Why do you need FSEm? You can take FSEx and get most of that.

 

 

“Why did you include talent <X> and not talent <Y>? This is an outrage!”

 

Ah, this actually is a tricky matter. All I can say is that I am incredibly versed in the source material and lore of the content in question, and did my absolute best in the attempts to build the tree. As explained in the write up on talent choices, each talent falls into one iconic qualitative aspect of Jedi training and philosophy. Beyond that, the most general talents were chosen to represent the early non-specialist training of the Jedi Academy. The third guideline was trying to avoid as many iconic or rare unranked talents from other trees as was possible. No doubt many can argue “<Y> talent would be a MUCH better fit!” and maybe in their opinion they are right. But I do not think anyone who is well versed in Jedi Tradition and lore, especially prior to the Dark Times, can say that any of the talents I have included are absolutely NOT thematic. And finally, I absolutely do not claim I am 100% correct on all of my talent choices. This is a completely subjective area and no one will ever design a tree that makes everyone happy.

 

 

“This is so overpowered.”

 

Well, this is another matter of opinion. One that is either for FFG or the GM to decide. All I can say is that I disagree. As noted above, I tried to keep it on par with Force Sensitive Emergent and Exile while giving it a niche of its own. The goal was to create a trinity with the three Force sensitive Unispecs: one untrained Force Disciple, one fugitive Force User, one formally trained apprentice. Perhaps you think I failed, and that’s fine. I would love to hear your reasoned debate as to why.

 

 

edit: updates

Edited by Smog

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Wow... Well, not exactly what I thought would come out all these discussions... But this is very good. Thorough, logical, based on lore and with a mind to the current mechanics. Certainly more forethought than most discussions end up devolving to here.

Smog, our new hope.

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If this is supposed to simulate early Jedi training, why doesn't everyone (at least those that have it) already have everything in it? If this is supposed to emulate those Jedi that already have such traing then they shouldn't be purchasing talents after the fact. Or is this supposed to be used in conjunction with "Knight" level play? So players buy into it at chargen and invest their bonus xp into it? If so, how is that different from what is available now, other than you now have a cheaper spec with favorite talents to invest in rather than the other slightly more expensive ones? And if you are going to concede that every Jedi is not the same and can be built differently I fail to see how the current system doesn't acieve that.

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I believe that this falls into the category of "Why would I not buy this?" It gives a player everything they need. Which of course stomps on FFGs you have to make hard choices.  But I guess you don't like having to make those hard choices

And yet, no other careers and character archetypes need to make those hard choices. Just anyone who wishes to make a force user.

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I believe that this falls into the category of "Why would I not buy this?" It gives a player everything they need. Which of course stomps on FFGs you have to make hard choices.  But I guess you don't like having to make those hard choices

And yet, no other careers and character archetypes need to make those hard choices. Just anyone who wishes to make a force user.

 

Actually they all do.  Do I go with the demolitionist tree or the marauder tree... can't have it all. 

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If this is supposed to simulate early Jedi training, why doesn't everyone (at least those that have it) already have everything in it? If this is supposed to emulate those Jedi that already have such traing then they shouldn't be purchasing talents after the fact.

 

One of the reasons I'd prefer it as a replacement spec, but that's up to individual GMs.

 

 

Or is this supposed to be used in conjunction with "Knight" level play? So players buy into it at chargen and invest their bonus xp into it? If so, how is that different from what is available now, other than you now have a cheaper spec with favorite talents to invest in rather than the other slightly more expensive ones?

 

 

It's not cheaper.  If you play at Knight level, you can always buy into FSEx or FSEm, they are the same price.  Per the OP, you'd have to buy this as an extra spec with that bonus XP.  Even if you allowed it as a replacement spec, you'd still have to buy your career spec later.

 

If you have an example of how it's cheaper, please outline it rather than just making the assertion.

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As a unispec it will always be cheaper. Not to mention all the favorite talents. It becomes a "I'd be stupid not to take it spec".When something is that good then balance is off.

 

No one ever considers that maybe it's not so much this supposed "unispec" is so good, but that perhaps the other specs aren't that great? 

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As a unispec it will always be cheaper. Not to mention all the favorite talents. It becomes a "I'd be stupid not to take it spec".When something is that good then balance is off.

 

Except you must not have read the OP, with the cost comparisons between FSEx and FSEm.  It ain't cheaper.  And it doesn't have "all the favorite talents", there's only room for 20, and there are plenty of others people might consider "favorites" that aren't in here.

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On the surface, the talent tree does seem far too good to every pass up, particularly since the talents on the way to the Force Rating talent are all entirely worth taking no matter what concept you have.  Frankly, there's not a talent in this tree that's not worth having, with Knowledge Specialization perhaps being the only one and that's easily skipped at no detriment to the player.

 

I think you under-priced Sense Emotions; it's cheap XP-wise for the Exile, but only because you've got to loop through the fourth row and back down the talent tree in order to reach it.  If going in a straight-line, I'd say it's worth at least 20 XP, since the number of instances where that boost die wouldn't apply are far and few.

 

Also questioning the inclusion of Improved Reflect, which lends weight to the concerns about this being "too good" that some have made, particularly since there's only one instance of Parry and Reflect each.

 

Overall, this really does feel more like a grab bag of awesome talents in one place than anything that particularly says "I've received training as a Jedi."  As I said in Whafrog's thread, if you really want a PC that's had prior training as a Jedi, then you're probably best served by building an entire Jedi career with attendant specs than simply trying to mash it all into a single Universal spec that, as Daeglan and Mouthymerc have noted, a PC would have be foolish to pass up.  For PCs with with a LS Form as their starting spec, this universal spec is a quick run to a +1 to Force Rating without having to give up a chance to get another rank of Parry and Reflect they way they'd currently have to it taking either Exile or Emergent, and it offers Improved Reflect as well, which is an added bonus for many of the LS Form specs as well who don't get that talent (thus far, only Shien Expert and Soresu Defender) given it adds a very useful combat option to their arsenal.

 

And before someone (incorrectly) claims otherwise, I have read the OP's justifications, and frankly they ring pretty hollow.  And based upon the Requirements section, this just seems to be a lazy cop-out to not wanting to put the time and effort into creating an actual Jedi career with attendant specializations that would actually reflect the "I'm a properly trained Jedi" angle that he and Whafrog claim to be angling for.

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I never implied that it is cheaper than othe unispecs or even other specs within your career as it would cost the same as those. It is a cheap way to get many talents and skills though. I would be hard pressed to find anyone understanding mechanics that wouldn't want this spec.

 

As a homebrew its real pretty.

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I never implied that it is cheaper than othe unispecs or even other specs within your career as it would cost the same as those. It is a cheap way to get many talents and skills though. I would be hard pressed to find anyone understanding mechanics that wouldn't want this spec.

Yeah, even if one has zero interest in the lightsaber-related talents, the rest of the talents are almost too good to pass up.

 

And in way, getting to the Force Rating talent is a bit "cheaper" than the Emergent.  For the Emergent, you've got to take a rank in Indistinguishable and Sleight of Mind as part of the fast track to Emergent's Force Rating Talent.  Smog's tree doesn't have that issue, as all four talents on the way to Force Rating are worth the XP (Sense Emotions particularly).

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If this is supposed to simulate early Jedi training, why doesn't everyone (at least those that have it) already have everything in it? If this is supposed to emulate those Jedi that already have such traing then they shouldn't be purchasing talents after the fact. Or is this supposed to be used in conjunction with "Knight" level play?

“But why have the specialization when they can just take vastly different talents from it? How does that represent the same upbringing?”

 

Good question! But just like children that attend the same school will graduate with different abilities and skill sets, so will Jedi who are promoted to Padawan candidacy. The point is that all of them had the potential to learn the same things. They were presented with the same opportunities and some exceled in one or more areas while different students might have succeeded in others. Just like all Doctors theoretically have had very similar training and yet can have different talents, so can Jedi. But just as Doctor is an important specialization of a unified and complete concept, so is Jedi Initiate.

 

---

 

So players buy into it at chargen and invest their bonus xp into it? If so, how is that different from what is available now, other than you now have a cheaper spec with favorite talents to invest in rather than the other slightly more expensive ones? And if you are going to concede that every Jedi is not the same and can be built differently I fail to see how the current system doesn't acieve that.

 “This is completely unnecessary. You can pick up all of these talents elsewhere without needing a Universal Specialization.”

 

Well, that is true. This is an odd argument to me, though. Because with this logic, why should FFG ever create another specialization in this game? Of course you can get every talent elsewhere: that’s the game’s core design. But I would hope it is obvious that the point of specializations is to unify thematic elements for a given concept within a single tree in order to avoid the incredibly wasteful XP expenditures of purchasing multiple specializations elsewhere. This is a great design, as we’ve seen, as long as a given tree does not give absurdly more than any other tree. And as discussed above in the design document, and below in another question, I do not believe Jedi Initiate does that.

---

 

I believe that this falls into the category of "Why would I not buy this?" It gives a player everything they need. Which of course stomps on FFGs you have to make hard choices.  But I guess you don't like having to make those hard choices

Actually they all do.  Do I go with the demolitionist tree or the marauder tree... can't have it all.

I guess my argument would be that you DO have to make hard choices. Jedi Initiate or Exile... Parry and Reflect or 1 Ranged Defense and 1 Melee Defense... Second Wind or Balance... Rapid Reaction or another rank each of Uncanny Senses and Reactions...

Even within the tree, the first hard decision is "do I take a more Consular role and dedicate myself to getting the Force Rating on the left or do I take a more Guardian approach and go for the physical talents on the right?" Eventually you might do both, or you might only pick up the straight path talents and instead of spending 20xp for a single Parry and Reflect, pick up another Lightsaber Form which is admittedly more expensive than a single one of these, but then have access to potentially several more ranks of Parry or Reflect for much cheaper.

Other choices of the tree include if a character wants to be more academic and diplomatic or wants to be more of a warrior and guardian, deciding between the Well Rounded branch and the Grit branch. Again, everyone values combat talents above all, but this game does not just come down to combat.

 

As a unispec it will always be cheaper. Not to mention all the favorite talents. It becomes a "I'd be stupid not to take it spec".When something is that good then balance is off.

Which "favorite talents" are we talking about? Any one of the 11 shared by the other two Force-sensitive Universals? I'm assuming you aren't talking about Well Rounded, Knowledge Spec, Confidence, or Conditioned. So the problem is where, exactly? The initiative talent? One rank of Second Wind? Or the 20 xp parry and reflects that are 120xp away from Force Rating?

 

edit: clarificaton

Edited by Smog

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On the surface, the talent tree does seem far too good to every pass up, particularly since the talents on the way to the Force Rating talent are all entirely worth taking no matter what concept you have. Frankly, there's not a talent in this tree that's not worth having, with Knowledge Specialization perhaps being the only one and that's easily skipped at no detriment to the player.

How exactly are you judging a talent to be worth having? The frequency of its use in a given session? I'm curious why Knowledge Specialization is judged as not worth having but Confidence or Conditioned is.

 

I think you under-priced Sense Emotions; it's cheap XP-wise for the Exile, but only because you've got to loop through the fourth row and back down the talent tree in order to reach it. If going in a straight-line, I'd say it's worth at least 20 XP, since the number of instances where that boost die wouldn't apply are far and few.

This is the kind of feedback that I'm actually looking for. I agree that Sense Emotions probably is too cheap in its current position and could probably shift farther down.

 

Also questioning the inclusion of Improved Reflect, which lends weight to the concerns about this being "too good" that some have made, particularly since there's only one instance of Parry and Reflect each.

But you yourself have proposed adding it to more trees than it is currently in. If you feel there needs to be more Reflects present to warrant an Improved Reflect, I guess I would have to disagree. Mechanically the two are not tied to each other whatsover. It doesn't matter how good you are at Reflecting when you're trying to Improved Reflect (which is odd design, in my opinion).

I am not going to argue this point, though. The section in the original post explaining why Improved Reflect is included is the longest in the entire write-up. Also, the trade-off for a 20xp Parry and Reflect with a 25xp Improved Reflect is 1 Ranged Defense and 1 Melee Defense that you can get from FSEx. Or extra Toughened, Grit, and Balance that you can get from FSEm. You really value Improved Reflect higher than 1 Defense? If you do, that's fine, but I am going to preemptively say that I very much do not. I actually assume many people would pass on Improved Reflect for 25xp due to its inconsistent and somewhat underwhelming performance.

As far as the Parry and Reflect, I guess if you honestly believe that one of each at 20xp per is overpowered, I don't really know what to say. That is well under the average cost of these talents as they are found across the other trees (I'd be happy to post the numerical breakdown of their frequency and cost if you would like to see them; I looked at that before deciding at what tier I should include them).

 

Overall, this really does feel more like a grab bag of awesome talents in one place than anything that particularly says "I've received training as a Jedi."

You honestly feel that this tree does not thematically match a classically trained Jedi? If you think it's too good, that's fine. That's totally debatable and you are a member of the community whose opinion I respect. However, to claim that the tree doesn't reflect Jedi Training is a bit ridiculous. Are you claiming that Jedi talents simply do not exist in the system, or are you saying that I picked the wrong ones? If the former, there's nothing I can do about that. If the latter, please recommend a list of talents that you would consider iconically Jedi.

 

As I said in Whafrog's thread, if you really want a PC that's had prior training as a Jedi, then you're probably best served by building an entire Jedi career with attendant specs than simply trying to mash it all into a single Universal spec ...

I do not think that is necessary anymore with the addition of F&D to our list of options. Lightsaber forms and more specialized career choices now exist within the system. It is my opinion that only a specialization is needed, and only for this very specific concept.

 

a single Universal spec that, as Daeglan and Mouthymerc have noted, a PC would have be foolish to pass up. For PCs with with a LS Form as their starting spec, this universal spec is a quick run to a +1 to Force Rating without having to give up a chance to get another rank of Parry and Reflect they way they'd currently have to it taking either Exile or Emergent, and it offers Improved Reflect as well, which is an added bonus for many of the LS Form specs as well who don't get that talent (thus far, only Shien Expert and Soresu Defender) given it adds a very useful combat option to their arsenal.

The run to Force Rating is no faster here than with the other two specs. The difference being that here you have to start all the way back at Tier 1 to dive deeper into the tree. If a character merely wants the Parry and Reflect, he can purchase a Lightsaber Form specialization and get to multiple instances of Parry and/or Reflect cheaper than he could here. Given their position on the tree, Parry and Reflect mathematically should not be the motivation for purchasing down the right side of the tree.

And you're quite right, neither Exile nor Emergent offers Parry, Reflect, or Improved Reflect. What FS Exile does offer, however, is 1 Ranged Defense and 1 Melee Defense. FS Emergent offers more instances of Toughened and Grit, and both offer Balance. Everyone is claiming that no one would pass up this tree (except that it's restricted to a specific concept, something that people are seemingly forgetting), but it seems like everyone is forgetting that Exile and Emergent both have some pretty nice talents as well. It just depends what you want to do.

 

And before someone (incorrectly) claims otherwise, I have read the OP's justifications, and frankly they ring pretty hollow. And based upon the Requirements section, this just seems to be a lazy cop-out to not wanting to put the time and effort into creating an actual Jedi career with attendant specializations that would actually reflect the "I'm a properly trained Jedi" angle that he and Whafrog claim to be angling for.

I guess I'm somewhat disappointed that you feel my arguments are "hollow," that I'm "lazy," and I'm just trying to "cop-out" of putting in time and effort. If you hate the specialization and hate the concept, I can respect that, but I think it's more than obvious I was not lazy in my efforts here and that time and effort was put into it.

I'm not sure why you seem to be so defensive about this topic and ready to attack, Donovan. You yourself have offered alternative designs for talents, homebrewed systems for Force Users, and constantly contribute constructively to discussions. If you think this is really such a bad thing, then you shouldn't feel threatened that it's going to find its way into F&D (which I never, ever assumed it would). I know I'm new around here and you guys are veterans, but just like you, I'm here only because I want to try and help make this game better for everyone that plays it. I'm not your enemy, and I do not want to be.

 

Yeah, even if one has zero interest in the lightsaber-related talents, the rest of the talents are almost too good to pass up.

And in way, getting to the Force Rating talent is a bit "cheaper" than the Emergent. For the Emergent, you've got to take a rank in Indistinguishable and Sleight of Mind as part of the fast track to Emergent's Force Rating Talent. Smog's tree doesn't have that issue, as all four talents on the way to Force Rating are worth the XP (Sense Emotions particularly).

More feedback that I really appreciate and is helpful to think about. My only response is that in a campaign where a character would logically take Emergent or Exile, talents like Indistinguishable and Sleight of Mind SHOULD be more valuable than a single rank of Parry or Reflect. If the Empire identifies a thread of the Force-sensitive nature, hell is going to rain down on that character's life, especially if they're an ex-Jedi. In my opinion, a campaign including a Force-sensitive Exile would find these talents far more useful than a single Parry or Reflect, because those talents aren't going to help you when the entire 501 comes knocking or the Inquisitor tracks you down on the street. In these campaigns, it is far safer and effective to remain hidden than prevent an additional single wound from an attack.

I know the tendency in all game systems is to weigh combat talents more heavily than non-combat talents. But talents like Indistinguishable and Sleight of Mind avoid those combats all together, making many of them "victories" before they even start. I do not think talents such as these should be underrated.

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How exactly are you judging a talent to be worth having? The frequency of its use in a given session? I'm curious why Knowledge Specialization is judged as not worth having but Confidence or Conditioned is.

 

Knowledge Specialization is highly dependent on character choice - if you plan to not have any ranks in a Knowledge, or just have a rank in one or two because of free ranks during character creation - it wouldn't be much of a priority. Conditioned is also a bit more situational, but still somewhat useful in general, and Confidence, particularly with Force-Sensitives who get Conflict for failing Fear checks, is always good to have. And pretty much all the other talents are also just standard "good to haves". Just my 2 cents on that particular note.

 

For the placement of talents, I'd personally recommend swapping some of the talents around, particularly "Sense Danger" and "Touch of Fate". I definitely understand the reasoning behind how they're placed, and the kind of "penalty" by making it so it doesn't link to the rest of the tree to allow shortcuts; but as is, there's little reason for most players who would take the tree to not just beeline through the left side; particularly since, as I see it, most players would probably just fill out most of the whole tree anyways. So if one or both were mixed in with the middle/right section, it would cause some more consideration as to where to start and what to work through first, because again, most of the talents are just good to have, so it's not like the left side would suddenly become lacking with one of the other talents.

Edited by Lathrop

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The problem is this tree has so much good stuff that it is a no brainer to take this tree before exile or emergent. It is just too good. 

It is a problem most armchair and homebrew game designers must contend with. It'll be fine for his or someone else's home game, but is entirely too good because of all the cherry-picked talents. He hasn't made a spec to emulate early Jedi training, he's made one that is as you say is a "no brainer". If it seems too good then it probably is. But I really expected no less, as I see it often in homebrew stuff.

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The problem is this tree has so much good stuff that it is a no brainer to take this tree before exile or emergent. It is just too good.

If you're not going to be more specific, then this has already been answered. The measurement of "good stuff" is contextual. If I was playing "Jedi on the run", I wouldn't pick this tree, I'd go with a mundane career and one of the other Force specs. Indistinguishable becomes pretty valuable.

It's possible the left side has some stuff more cheaply received in this tree than others, in which case, how would you fix it?

For the rest of the tree, I don't think you can claim that anything is out of place, cost-wise...unless you care to provide an example?

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Number of talents I'd almost never want from this tree: 1, Knowledge Specialization

 

Number of talents I would probably want but might not depending on my character: 2, Conditioned and Force of Will

 

And 1 talent that I'd want unless my GM wasn't big on fear checks (which GMs should be in F&D): Confidence

 

Every other talent is a "yes, please!" for anyone who can qualify for the specialization. That's a better ratio of I want that to I'll pass than even some builds' starting specializations.

 

tl;dr I agree that this is way too good.

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I'd understand if someone argued "the talents are too cheap", or "the path is too direct", but I confess I'm baffled by the logic of "the talents are too good".  Flip that around, and you're saying that a well-designed talent tree has to have some crap in it nobody wants.  I don't see any other trees built like that, if I was playing one of the other careers I'd want almost everything on offer.

 

I could easily see a case made for setting it up, say, like the Slicer tree, where maybe you have to dig through some things you might not want right away in order to get access to the rest.  I could be easily convinced on that.  If that's what you mean, then feedback on how best to do that would be useful.

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