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venkelos

Adversary -- My Take and My Question

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So, I was chatting with a buddy about the "new" Star Wars system; I've been keeping up, as well as possible with out playing it, on FFG's take on Star Wars since it started, but he hasn't, and we haven't played a game in a system since Saga was still a thing. When it got to "epic bad guys", I got to mention Adversary.

 

When I described it mechanically, there's a text block to read, but when I did so thematically, I mentioned how it can make a single bad guy awesome, but without a ridiculous stat block, who can still go up against 4-6 PCs, and not just get curb-stomped. The Crime Lord is harder to hit than his lackeys, and if you try to, the Threat dice give him more resources to improve himself, or his lackeys, while General Grievous, a powerful cyborg lightsaber blender, can go up against almost a dozen Jedi Masters (Battle of Hypori), and actually come out pretty well. Would people agree with the description?

 

Now, onto the question. Can you circumvent Adversary with a challenge? Grievous took on Shak-Ti, Ki Adi-Mundi, and several other Masters + Padawans, and he ate them, killed several; it took a gunship to run him off, and the Jedi fled like wusses. Later, Windu doesn't just pwn him, but does give him tuberculosis, and then we get that fight I hated from Ep3, where Obi-Wan, no slouch, but certainly not "the best saber-wielder in the Order", basically tore Grievous apart. Now, I say Lucas toned every fight in that movie down a bit, to make the awaited Anakin vs. Kenobi fight more epic, but even if that is just me nerd-whining, in a one-on-one duel, would you suspend Adversary? Luke is a decent Jedi by RotJ, but Vader is still Darth Vader. If you kept the gap in their skill level, AND kept the Adversary dice Vader would have, I don't think there's an excuse in a game-recreation of that fight for Luke to win, other than pity. So, if your troupe engages Darth Malgus, I'd give him Adversary dice, but when you solo Darth Vitiate, I think his better stats, alone, decide if he wins, or if you persevere. Would this be accurate? Maybe a nice house rule? If your buddies decide to sneak in an attack, Adversary dice return, and maybe even for you, while you are punished for your duplicity.

 

Pointless aside: while most of FFG's Star Wars takes place post Ep3, would it take much beyond the stuff books already give us to stat up a Grievous-equivalent simulation? No Foce powers, but some cyborgy bonuses, numerous lightsabers, and potentially cheese, or are half of his bells and whistles missing, since he's unique, and dead by then?

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When I described it mechanically, there's a text block to read, but when I did so thematically, I mentioned how it can make a single bad guy awesome, but without a ridiculous stat block, who can still go up against 4-6 PCs, and not just get curb-stomped. The Crime Lord is harder to hit than his lackeys, and if you try to, the Threat dice give him more resources to improve himself, or his lackeys, while General Grievous, a powerful cyborg lightsaber blender, can go up against almost a dozen Jedi Masters (Battle of Hypori), and actually come out pretty well. Would people agree with the description?

grumpy_no.png

 

The Adversary talent will add those Evil red dice, and increase the odds of a Despair, but that won't help the character survive. If you want a character to survive (and especially if you want them to solo a party) You'll either have to A) Give em a poop load of wounds like some lame D&D character, or B) Build the character and the encounter to allow a soloing of a player party.

 

What Adversary does do is increase the odds of a Despair. That doesn't make the character tougher, but it does mean that when fighting him things are less likely to go your way. So, if the terrain is hostile, it'll be more likely to trigger, or special abilities that trigger on a Despair will trigger more often, or the situation will entirely deteriorate (like say...a ship's windo blowing out and depressurizing the entire cabin).

 

Grievous at Hypori is actually a good example of taking a nasty, but not soloable Nemesis level opponent, and placing him in a scenario that plays to his strengths and the player's weaknesses.

 

The location is perfect. Crashed ships and vehicles give him lots of places to hide, and both vertical and horizontal locations to move to, and all kinds of options for Despairs to trigger environmental effects. The poor lighting inside the wrecks give him boosts to stealth and setbacks on perception to detect him, so he can move in and out of combat if he wishes. The preceding fight with the army of droids wore the character down, so they are already low on wounds and strain, and the characters are equipped with nothing but lightsabers. This means Grievous can use his ranks in Parry (not a force talent) to negate piles of lightsaber attacks.  And to cap it off, they are completely surrounded by droids, so they can't simply run away.

 

See? And that's also the trick. Grievous is a melee nasty. His weakness is ranged combat. Try and go after him with sabers and you're doomed. Guns won't hit as hard as sabers, but at least they'll hit... Now the players just need to figure that out...

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Potentially ignorant fan-player whining follows:

 

That sort of makes me sad. It seems, again, that this places the "iconic fights" outside the bounds of in-game duplication; there is no way for Luke Skywalker to win against Darth Vader, save the demands of the plot, if he must be that much more bloated of stats, even if he wasn't trying to just kill Luke in the most expedient way. There weren't too many elements of the environment to trigger; it was some dueling, some talking, a bit more dueling, some hiding, and giving into hate to overpower him. One would figure that, with the extra red dice, the chances of cancelling his successes would allow enough leeway to NOT need a heap of health that could survive a direct pop from a thermal detonator, without noticeable damage. Oh well, at least that's how it has been in the past, too. Continues how the Emperor was never sniped; no single injury can "blow through 180 hp."

 

This assumes I'm missing some other balancing of the system, where a single bad guy can believably engage the party, but then ALSO be believably bested by just one of them.

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Potentially ignorant fan-player whining follows:

 

Okay thanks for the warning.

 

 

<SNIP>

 

 

 

This assumes I'm missing some other balancing of the system, where a single bad guy can believably engage the party, but then ALSO be believably bested by just one of them.

Other than buckets of hit points there really is no easy way to make a big baddie able to take on a group. Group's rarely allow for one on one duels so you can't make them too weak to allow for that. Players are an ingenious lot. Sniping, explosives, sneak attacks, what have you. They will use any and all resources to take him out, including throwing the baby out with the bathwater if needs be.

 

One thing I have thought of is a scaling Adversary talent. For each character that attacks the BBEG after the first, Adversary increase by one until the beginning of the BBEG's next turn at which point it resets. So a baddie with Adversary 3, attacked by four PCs in the same round would be Adversay 6 by the last one. It's not much, but it may allow for some more longevity.

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Generally it's impossible to make written rules that can recreate iconic movie fights. If you are trying to do this by making your own iconic fight you don't need rules you tailor the encounter accordingly. The easiest way to do this is give a high soak value and and defense armor and talents. The system as written can do the job with some tweaking.

Some iconic just can't be made with a rule system, but as the GM you can tweak the system to create that type of encounter.

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To be fair the Vader versus Luke fight wouldn't be straight combat.

 

I would say that the Player tried to do a negotiation or charm roll to try to convince Vader he was good. This roll gave wonderful results with tons of advantages that were used as either boost dice for Luke or setback for Vader.

 

With continued pressure on the Charm (with a destiny point to upgrade how good it was) the Luke Player was finally able to turn the tide against an overwhelming foe.

 

The biggest thing GMs miss in this game is the section where the book says the GM can "stop" a fight at any time. It doesn't have to be at "dead/defeated" it can be a thematic point.

 

You could even go Video game wise and have some combat then stop (Phase 1) start the Social combat rounds, then restart combat (phase 2 with different stats) rinse repeat and bam you just recreated an iconic fight against a Nemesis with a crazy Adversary level.

 

RPGs aren't about linear thinking always. You can win a combat situation through talking, and Luke did. Just use it as a challenge to think of how it COULD be recreated rather than the negative of how it couldn't.

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You can do the iconic solo fight in this game.
Look at what happened in Empire or the Phantom Menace.  Some of the PCs are in a sspace battle. Some of the PCs are in a ground battle and 1 or 2 of the PCs are in a dual with a lightsaber wielder.  You can run those all on the same initiative track. When the spacefighter takes their slot you switch to space. When the ground battle players take their turns you switch to them and so on.

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Potentially ignorant fan-player whining follows:

 

That sort of makes me sad. It seems, again, that this places the "iconic fights" outside the bounds of in-game duplication; there is no way for Luke Skywalker to win against Darth Vader, save the demands of the plot, if he must be that much more bloated of stats, even if he wasn't trying to just kill Luke in the most expedient way.

You can do the fight between Luke and Vader in the game just fine. The earlier posts respond to your incorrect assumption that a Nemesis with a few ranks in Adversary can solo the whole party. That's common assumption caused by other systems that ends up with whining on these forums when a GM just takes some random Nemesis and the players unite to grease him in a single turn.

 

The Duel between Vader and Luke isn't a solo BBEG vs. Party, it's a duel. One Player, one NPC, that's it. So that changes the dynamic significantly, and it becomes quite doable.

 

 

 

There weren't too many elements of the environment to trigger; it was some dueling, some talking, a bit more dueling, some hiding, and giving into hate to overpower him.

You sure about that Chummer?

Think about it. Where did that fight happen? A carbon freezing chamber and moving out to a ventilation system of some kind. Lots of platforms, hoses full of chemicals, switches, windows, catwalks, and so on. So there's plenty of options for action.

When you watch the fight you'll see plenty of instances where someone gets knocked down a shaft, disarmed, kicked off the stairs, has a venting hose shoved in his face, has a swing blocked by machinery, and so on. Those are all examples of things that can be done with Threat, Advantage, Triumph and Despair. So when you look at statting Vader, there's his Adversary ranks. Luke makes an attack, getting a few successes and a Despair. Vader uses Parry to reduce the damage/strain to something manageable, and spends that Despair to knock Luke's saber across the room.

 

 

 One would figure that, with the extra red dice, the chances of cancelling his successes would allow enough leeway to NOT need a heap of health that could survive a direct pop from a thermal detonator, without noticeable damage.

 

This is another common mistake by new players.

Red dice don't increase difficulty very much. You want increased difficulty, add more purples and blacks. Red adds DANGER. It's that increased chances of DESPAIR that matters. Remember, unlike threat and failure, Despair can't be cancelled. If that weird symbol pops up, you gotta man up and take it.

 

See, Vader is tough no doubt. But probably not much tougher then another character built using a similar build to the Inquisitor toolkit. But he's also designed to fit the role he fills, and the encounter is designed to support him.

 

Now, unlike say D&D, Luke won't sit there and pound away at him for round after round. But then what would that accomplish? Any game can use the old "just make em a bullet sponge and draw out the fight till the player stops caring" mechanic.

Instead this game uses longer round duration (remember rounds last a few minutes) and dramatic effects to paint a broader picture. So while the duel only lasts maybe 5 or 6 rounds at most, by the end of the fight Luke is down to one or two wounds, has taken several crits, and has threat/despaired his way out onto an antenna. Vader by comparison has still lost some wounds and strain, but has more wounds left and fewer crits of lower effect compared to Luke.

 

 

Oh well, at least that's how it has been in the past, too. Continues how the Emperor was never sniped; no single injury can "blow through 180 hp."

 

Nope. This game doesn't do that. Super Palpy doesn't have 180 HP, or an AC that can inexplicably rival a star destroyer. He's got Parry, Darkness, Adversary, and friends. That's all he needs. He's a beast to be sure, but for entirely other reasons...

 

And I didn't even mention Fear effects. You did remember those right? A bad fear check can mess you up for a whole encounter.

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I was referring to the Return of the Jedi Luke vs. Vader battle, but I'll sort of accept that as quibbling on my part, and I'm one of those older, more crotchety of change fans, sometimes, who assumes that THE Emperor might well have been enhancing Luke through his battle, to get an edge for the younger, less skilled, but considerably more potential contender. Empire's fight, yeah, I can see any number of setting hazards, and stuff like that, to shift the fight in either combatant's favor.

 

The justification is weak, at best, a strong need for things as I see them to go the way I'd want, rather than be left in the hands of a handful of capricious dice, but maybe, sort of an offshoot from the scaled Adversary, above, scale up health for the number of combatants.

 

Fear slipped by me, I'm afraid. I'll easily confess that my grasp on the system of FFG SW is less than aid grasp on various other rule sets for the same franchise; I have a few terrible friends who don't want to play Star Wars ANYTHING, and one or two others who were immediately put off by the weird dice, the forced time frame setting, and the absence of the iconic class that "makes it Star Wars." Fortunately, several of these details is slowly changing. Ruining the canon (my opinion) means that they won't make "official, supporting materials" for them, even if KOTOR might've sold better than Ep7 may (I'm still holding my breath that it will actually be a good movie), but I've been GMing, and writinG BS ;), long enough to slap together my own material, once the Jedi are supported (F&D gets officially released). This all weaves to I spent the money on all three beta books, and tried to keep up through the mega-posts of changes suggested, implemented, and/or reviled, and on, but I only bought Edge, still floating on the $40 investment of another RPG book, if I'm not running it, so my inspiration to pour over it, and ingrain every rule? Not as strong as it has been, in the past, sadly. On the plus side, there are forums, and I've not much feared looking a bit foolish on them.

 

I'm sure I had more, but this book has drained my typing quota before lunch, so thanks for reading, and your thoughts/education.

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I was referring to the Return of the Jedi Luke vs. Vader battle, but I'll sort of accept that as quibbling on my part, and I'm one of those older, more crotchety of change fans, sometimes, who assumes that THE Emperor might well have been enhancing Luke through his battle, to get an edge for the younger, less skilled, but considerably more potential contender. Empire's fight, yeah, I can see any number of setting hazards, and stuff like that, to shift the fight in either combatant's favor.

 

Yeah, same thing really, actually better example at dropping some nifty rules points in.

 

The location of the fight, while no freezing chamber, still has a lot of detailed points for terrain. Pits, walkways, catwalks, terminals, lots of good stuff to climb up, get knocked of, cut down and collapse, dark corners to hide in, and so on. So it's still viable.

 

Now for Big V and Super Palpy you've got to make a tweak to Vader compared to the previous example of the Empire duel, but really only one (check this out, this is cool). Between Empire and Jedi add 1-3 ranks Bodyguard to Vader.... It's possible he even already had these previously and it just didn't come up, but that's a separate discussion. If you like house rules a perfectly reasonable one is giving Palpy a Talent that confers Bodyguard to nearby allies. Imperail Valor does somethign similar, so a talent that did that would make sense for a guy like Palps whose just as likely to have Nemesis or Rival handy as a Minion

 

So...

 

Start with a Fear check. He's handcuffed, facing the Best BBEG of the setting, there's gotta be Fear test here. Difficulty for this is gonna start at at least PP, though more would be reasonable, and upgraded 3 times since he's facing something known to be super dangerous.  Failing this check could result in result in everything from a couple Setback dice onto following checks, to upgrades.

 

(Now the cool part) When Luke swings at Palpy the difficulty is...PP basic difficulty....Upgraded 3 times for Plapy's Adversary 3 giving you RRP...upgraded 2 more time for Vader's bodyguardx2 to RRRP.. and for good measure add a black for his defenses, (It's not insane to assume Palpy is wearing armored clothing or similar. If the GM is really worried he can slap Cortosis on it too). Add to this any additional difficulties from the preceding fear check.

 

That's one HECK of a roll, even for a Character that's gotten boosted like Luke has. Assuming Luke is making a roll like YYY he's still unlikely to land a hit, and far more likely to roll a Despair. It's not enough to allow Palps to solo 4 or 5 Players of the same level, but it's enough to allow him to face off against 1.

 

Now.. lets move on to the end because something else cool happens later.

 

So now Luke is twitching on the floor being electrocuted, he's unarmed, and Palp-O probably has the Ensnare upgrade on his Unleash. So Luke has Wounds, is running out of Strain, and can't take maneuvers, only actions and incidentals. His options are limited.

 

Luke makes.... A Charm check against Vader. (Now for the other cool part) Now Vader's got a will of lets assume 3, and a Discipline of lets assume 3 as well leaving a difficulty of RRR. But here's the neat part. Adversary only works against COMBAT checks. Attacks and such. Not charm. So Vader can't upgrade that. Luke gets a few boost die since he's begging and obviously in pain and dying and is hitting up. So even assuming a modest roll on Lukes part (lets say YGGBB) that's still just enough to have a likely success. If Luke likes he can even spend a Dpoint to upgrade.

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