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Chaosduck7

Is the dice system in this game inherently broken?

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Now before i start, know im not trying to trash this game. Theres so much this game does great, I just want it to click for me.


Anyways, reference this article for this post


https://illuminatinggames.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/star-wars-age-of-rebellion-a-deep-dive-on-dice-probabilities/


When I played it, I kinda felt that something was off with the probabilites. Apparently it seems that i was right.


Basically some of the problems according to that link are that ranking up in skills is essentially pointless compared to buying attribute points. Also, proficiency dice and challenge dice barely do anything compared to the basic ability and difficulty dice.


Also, the rolls are skewed to have most results be successes with a negative effect. (This, I kinda understand).


So doesnt this mean the game is running on a broken system?


I know it seems like I am overanalyzing this game, which I am lol. I do this with everything I get into.


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The dice aren't meant solely as a numeric mechanical measure.  There is a narrative core to each roll and if people aren't engaging that it may feel off, but that's because they aren't using the system correctly.  Each roll isn't meant to be 1+1 = 2, it's meant to be 1+1 = We have a drink and shake on it.

 

Ranking up in skills is not pointless but it depends on the skill.  Some skills grant huge boons for Triumph results so you need Proficiency dice to to do that.  Also raising attributes is not easy which is why every chargen thread is always telling people to put xp into them at creation.  Raising a skill you want to use that's based on an attribute that you use for nothing else makes plenty of sense.

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Yeah, if you read through it it's not till the end he really says what any experienced player or GM in this system will tell you is exactly what you're supposed to do in this game to make it work.

 

Be generous with boosts and setbacks

 

Make Triumphs good, but not encounter ending

 

Always be thinking about Threat/Advantage

 

 

Destiny is nice, but not HUGE, so neither side of the table should be afraid of using them often.

 

Feel free to toss in a Challenge die if the players are doing something dangerous enough (assuming you don't have a Dpoint on hand).

 

Use minions often.

 

Encourage players to spend starter XP on Characteristics instead of Skills and Talents. If the existing starter level doesn't blow your skirt up, don't feel bad about tossing some extra XP and credits in the mix too.

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You can actually look for this if still want precise results. But don't just get on %.

 

http://game2.com/eote/?montecarlo=100000

 

http://maxmahem.net/wp/star-wars-edge-of-the-empire-die-probabilities/

 

Edge has its potential on cinematic scenes where tons of things can occur far away from tables where you can exchange Advantages/Threats and so on. It's more a cinematic experience than a "I choose 10 and everything goes on". Every roll, off course that if you have a lot of skill/stats its easier, can surprise you, and as GM or player you must take part on the experience and create an awesome scene.

 

- First: Have a general idea of the scene.

- Second: Roll dices and let them tell you the rest and how it goes.

- Third: In agree with the GM/player give dices your own description to the facts... or even introduce your owns!

 

Enjoy the game mate :D

Edited by Josep Maria

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The article is interesting, but anybody who's run the game for a while is going to have arrived at the same conclusions the author has on how to "tweak" things.  These aren't really tweaks though, that's what you're supposed to do.  His first point, be generous with setback and boost, is key, and is already given good treatment in the rules.*

 

* EDIT:  ghosted by Ghost!

 

So I wouldn't say the system is broken at all, you just have to learn how to use it, and take the time to read the GM advice in the book.

 

Basically some of the problems according to that link are that ranking up in skills is essentially pointless compared to buying attribute points.

 

 

Yes, it's true that GGG is more likely to succeed than YY, but that's a no brainer...there's more dice in the pool.  The trade off is no triumphs, and possibly fewer advantages...not exactly pointless, but certainly at lower levels of play, actual success is more desireable.

 

 

Also, proficiency dice and challenge dice barely do anything compared to the basic ability and difficulty dice.

 

 

This is just wrong.  You're only looking at the success/fail axis.  The odds of getting double symbols are higher, and without them you can't get triumph and despair.  It may not change the success/fail probability by much, but that's not the intent.  The intent is to allow someone to succeed with panache, allowing them to narratively demonstrate their expertise, and it forms its own axis.

Edited by whafrog

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One of the things about the Star Wars system is that it tries to get us to think outside of the "Mathhammer" or "d20itis" that we've been so used to in terms of calculating probabilities. Sure. the probabilities are there, noting that someone with 4 ability dice is as good as someone with 3 proficiency dice. While on paper this is close, the 4 ability dice isn't *quite* in the same probabilities, 4 ability dice have NO chance of generating triumph. Proficiency dice also push things towards success with advantage, while ability dice alone will tend to yield success with threat. This is where a skilled hotshot pilot will clearly outmatch an an individual with a high agility in the advantage and definitely triumph department.

 

Really though, it's about the narrative that the dice generates. A proficient character will be able to generate more cool opportunities for neat things to happen in the game...

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I fall into the "this is awesome!" camp regarding the dice.  I miss the mechanic in other systems now.

 

One of the most vital parts for me to grasp was the fact that failure wasn't always a failure, failure can sometimes mean "things didn't go as planned."  

 

Tell me again how Challenge dice mean nothing once you've had someone roll 3 Triumphs at your table!

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In our online game last week we had three triumphs rolled over the course of four rolls in an encounter.  Our group was not supposed to be able to win the encounter (at least not in the way we were trying), but three triumphs is pretty hard to ignore.  And we showed ourselves to be the masters of badassery, completely turning the tables on the plot.

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http://maxmahem.net/wp/star-wars-edge-of-the-empire-die-probabilities/

 

Good site for # breakdowns.  Proficiency vs. Ability shows Proficiency with a +20% advantage, so that's good enough to warrant upgrading, particularly when you are piling up several of them.

That's the misleading stat that always messes people up. When calculating success alone people see 2G>1Y and tend to stop listening.

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I think that the dice can feel wonky at times. There have been nights where players at my table seem to roll nothing but advantages. Which, I'd feel it's more frustrating to roll seven advantages but fail on roll after roll than it would be to not roll over a five in D20 games. The advantages tease you with success.

 

The dice also don't play nice. Want to hit three bad guys with Scathing Tirade and don't care about the damage delt because you want to give them black dice? You'll roll all successes so you can only hit one. Want to shoot a stormtrooper? You'll roll all advantages.

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Each roll isn't meant to be 1+1 = 2, it's meant to be 1+1 = We have a drink and shake on it.

 

I can't . . . I just . . . I . . . :lol:

 

I haven't even read the rest of the post yet, but this line here needs to win an Internets right now. This is the perfect summary of the Edge of the Empire system.

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Okay, so here's another great example of what Edge of the Empire allows.

 

**D20 / Other RPG**

GM: You're on your way through the forest on a Speederbike. You're suddenly stopped by 3 people with Light Repeating Blasters aimed at you. You come to a halt. A conversation happens, but they have none of it. They begin to fire.

*ROLLS 20*

I got a 13.

Player: My AC is 17. Miss!

GM: Nice, your turn!

Player: I whip out my blaster and fire.

*ROLLS 20*

16 total.

GM: That's a hit. Roll damage.

 

Now let's take a look at this encounter through creative use of dice in Edge of the Empire.

**Edge of the Empire**

GM: You're on your way through the forest on a Speederbike. You're suddenly stopped by 3 people with Light Repeating Blasters aimed at you. You come to a halt. A conversation happens, but they have none of it. They begin to fire.

**ROLLS DICE POOL**

Okay, no successes, 3 failures . . . Oh, 3 Advantages. Hmm . . .

While the blaster bolts fly wildly and don't directly hit you, they begin to slam against your speeder bike. It looks like it's about to overload and explode. Can you roll me an Athletics to see if you hop off before it blows? Probably Easy difficulty.

Player: Sure. **ROLLS**

I got . . . oh wow, I got 2 successes and a Triumph!

GM: Very nice! How does the Triumph play out?

Player: Hmm . . . well, the speeder bike is about to explode, right?

GM: Yes.

Player: Can I hop on top of the speeder and leap off of it while it blows allowing the force of the explosion to catapult me into one of the attackers Mission: Impossible style and clothesline him into the ground?

GM: I . . . well . . . I mean . . . I guess, yeah. You got 2 successes and a Triumph, so . . . why not?

 

That's how this system shines. It's not a series of checks and balances. It's a narrative game that throws caution to the wind so you and your players can have a great and fun time.

 

Also . . . 1+1 = We have a drink and shake on it. That's the system.

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First, I don't really see how people thought that a yellow (1d12) should be better than 2 green (2d8) on the success/failure scale alone. That seems pretty intuitive just from looking at the number of sides on the dice without even considering the weird symbols on them. Now that that's out of the way, my main arguments:

 

I ran extensive probability simulations prior to starting my campaign to make sure the dice system was reasonable compared to other systems. I concluded that not only was it reasonable, it was preferable due to exactly the "issue" the article's author describes with its propensity toward failure with advantage or success with threat on rolls that are relatively equal. However, that's not the end of the story. Starting characters get starting XP for a reason. Your characters don't solely consist of basic 2s in all characteristics. You're supposed to pick some areas you want to be better at (or a few areas where you want to be really good) and bump those characteristics up.

 

Skills Aren't As Good As Characteristics

Well they shouldn't be. Skills are 1. comparatively cheap, 2. capable of being raised directly with XP after character creation, and 3. capable of offsetting a low characteristic if you really want to be good at a particular thing. It costs at minimum 75XP to raise a characteristic after character creation. After you buy your first dedication in your starting tree, it costs a minimum of 95XP to get another one. Of course, most trees don't even have a straight 75XP beeline to dedication so you're looking at 100XP or more, especially if you want to take a more circuitous route to get talents you prefer over the straight-route ones. A single skill can be maxed with 75XP if you want to have 5 dice on some particular thing. Sure, you're only good at that thing and not everything a characteristic covers...but if you want to be good at everything a particular characteristic covers, buy it up at character creation and pick up dedication.

 

The point is, skills are meant to augment your natural aptitudes or make up for your natural failings, not to equal or exceed the usefulness of characteristics rank-for-rank. This is true of several other games. The only difference here is that there is no hard-coded "unskilled" penalty in most situations (though your GM may add one). I personally like the idea that skills can replace a low characteristic and make you just as good as having a high characteristic but low skill. 

 

To that point, I wholly disagree with giving additional "starting XP" to raise further characteristics. I'm fine giving people more XP at the start but it should be considered post-starting XP and thus ineligible for characteristics. The whole point of being able to spend only starting XP on characteristics is that you're supposed to pick the broad areas that you want to be good at (or pick several areas where you want to be decent) right at the start. If you want to become a 5+ dice master, either 1. raise your characteristic in that area to 5 at character creation at the expense of other things or 2. keep your starting characteristics balanced at character creation and pick out a skill or two to max out later. You have to pick your specialties, you can't expect to be a jack of all trades and also master them all.

 

One thing I will say that this system does have a tendency to create bland characters starting out. It's almost universally true that the best way to make a good character for a semi-long-term campaign is to spend as much starting XP as possible on characteristics. Sure, you can spend your XP on other things, and many people advocate doing so. However, compare that character to another character with the same concept that bought only characteristics at creation after they've both gained 150, 300, 500, etc XP and see how they stand. I get around this problem in my games by letting everyone re-build their characters however they want after the first 3ish sessions. That way, they can start with some cool stuff and re-tool to an optimal build later.

 

Crit Chance is High Enough

Tell my player who started with a 4 agility and bumped it to 5 after the first 5 sessions (or a character that just started with a 5) that crits are rare. She has around a 35% crit rate. This, by the way, doesn't include boosts from aiming, assisting, or advantage from others' rolls applying boosts to this character. The author says that crits aren't auto-kills. Well, they shouldn't be with a 35% crit rate. Also, they have a pretty good chance of being auto-kills after the first 2-3 crits stack up. I'd say that crits in this game are just about as good as double-damage crits are in a d20 system on the whole - the first one may not be great but later ones start slicing arms off and auto-killing. You know how my party took down the 11 Soak, 40 Wound Threshold Mature Zakkeg with only 40XP past creation? By getting 4 crits in on 1-2 damage rolls.

 

Overall, critting and other advantage results with success are supposed to come with highly skilled or naturally gifted individuals. The basic is to either succeed with threat or fail with advantage to mitigate. Once you're good at something, that's when you start getting into crits and other advantage applications.

 

Destiny Points

They can't be too good or people would be afraid of using them. They are decent now - I don't think they need to be boosted. For the GM, adding the possibility of despair, even a 1 in 12 chance, is pretty significant considering that most rolls don't even have that possibility. The players, of course, get the added fate/deus ex machina possibility and there are numerous talents that require expenditure of destiny points. Those talents would be lower in value in direct proportion to any boost in the general usefulness of destiny points. Also, keep in mind that destiny points can be very powerful for individuals who are rolling yellow dice with no greens (characteristic equal to skill level) or red dice with no purples (short range with adversary 1, medium/melee with adversary 2, myriad other ways). Upgrading a pool when there are no dice to upgrade adds an additional green/purple to the pool. Destiny points as they currently function bring an ebb and flow of little boosts. The 1 in 12 chance of having a despair is a big deal in the minds of the players even if it's a relatively low chance. Though the effect is often relatively minor in terms of direct probability, they serve to highlight the roll's importance in the narrative.

 

 

In conclusion, I'd like to say that I love the way the dice system is now. This is not despite the skewed probabilities or the balance between characteristics and skills; it is because of them. The system is built so that you start out either getting success with threat or failure with advantage to dull the result. As you become more and more skilled, you then get into both rolling multiple advantages and successes on the easier rolls and being merely capable of tackling the harder rolls. The system is built so you have to pick your broad areas of natural talent from the start then refine them with skills as you become more experienced. These are features, not bugs. I love the way it works and will have trouble going back to binary dice systems.

Edited by Alatar1313

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Beginning aside, the system scales alright over time and experience, which for some players and GM's is an important requisite. A lot of the more binary based games fall down and drool by x-amount of levels where it turns into players having 110% chance to do something and the GM has to fiddle around for penalties in a vain attempt to challenge them.

This is not a good place to be.

I've been there in other systems and its incredibly frustrating.

 

So while the (YYYYY) 'kill things with other things' characters can be difficult to live with, they are relatively easily offset with enough red and black dice to their challenges and regardless of what amount of experience they have, there is some hard caps to avoid a lot of the more mono-task characters over a period of time as they realise 'thats it, can't spend anymore xp'.

Heck even a platoon of stormtroopers should still be relatively effective as it was on day one in terms of posing a threat.

 

The downside is that this system isn't as intuitive as a yes/no result, which most of us have grown up using. So you do have to find actual solutions, rather than offloading the thought process into a percentile chance, come up with a truly inventive way to solve a problem then you can quite happily give them some blue dice or even an upgrade for something brilliant. Likewise, if they're just rolling, feel free to apply penalties as well for the lack of an applicable solution being given.

 

That's sort of where the system comes into its own.

Not only should players have the right tools for the job, they also need to be engaged and involved enough to approach their problems in the game with actual plans and ideas.

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I think when people start saying that skills aren't important compared to attributes, it's because they forget that if the skill is higher then it determines how many dice you roll. 

 

... also the XP costs. You can buy your Agility up from 2 to 3 for 30xp and have no skill (GGG), or you can spend that same 30xp and get a skill up from 0 to 3 (YYG). 

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I think when people start saying that skills aren't important compared to attributes, it's because they forget that if the skill is higher then it determines how many dice you roll. 

 

... also the XP costs. You can buy your Agility up from 2 to 3 for 30xp and have no skill (GGG), or you can spend that same 30xp and get a skill up from 0 to 3 (YYG). 

 

Yeah that's exactly what I mean. If you really need to be good at everything that comes under Agility, buy Agility up. If you just want to be good at shooting people and don't care about the other Agility skills, don't buy Agility - put your points into characteristics that matter more to your character concept and bump your skill up. High skill makes up for low characteristic.

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High skill makes up for low characteristic.

 

Only at lower levels.  Ultimately you'll be limited by your low Agility because the max yellows you can get is 2.

 

 

Well obviously yeah. If you want to be a true master then you need to have a 7 agility and a 5 ranged skill. But for most people building a character with a specialty outside of combat, YYGGG is fine. Whether you get it through agility or skill ranks doesn't matter that much.

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Lots of good answers. Just throwing my 2 galactic creds:

 

For the peoples saying 2G > 1Y, remember: 2G only allow you to "Succeed!", while the Y allows you to "**** yeah Succeed!".

What i mean is: Without the triumph the only thing* you can do is to go faster on that hyperspace lane. But WITH a triumph you can find your own hyperspace lane!

 

This system cannot and should not be measured by numeric statistics only.

 

* simplification for the sake of the argument.

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