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I. J. Thompson

How do you handle lopsided parties?

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It's a common rpg trope: "we need one Face, one Tank, one Healer, and one Technician". The actor in me always bristled at that. I told my players, "create the characters you want to be, and I'll write around that". So, here's what we've got:

  1. Smuggler: Scoundrel
  2. Bounty Hunter: Assassin
  3. Bounty Hunter: Assassin

Everybody's pretty good in the same areas, and weak in the other ones. I want to create adventures with a lot of variety (who doesn't?), but I sure don't want to see my players get stomped in their weaker areas. How do you guys handle this?

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Well, first I'd caution you not to try to force your players into a playstyle they don't enjoy.  Clearly they're a rough and tumble group, so I would write to that strength most of the time.

For the rest of the time, you can hit through frustration that they might want to expand their character concepts with new specializations and the like.  You can also let them pick up npc pet/helpers.  Luke had R2-D2 around to handle slicing and data access, your players could too.  Likewise, you could simply make them pay for someone to handle what they can't.  A few Underworld checks would go a long way toward finding someone with skills the players lack.

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It's a common rpg trope: "we need one Face, one Tank, one Healer, and one Technician". 

 

Frag that.

 

Get out of the dungeon, leave behind those ideas.

 

Give me a specialised group any day of the week. They really easy run for because you run adventures that require those skills to succeed. Also makes things **** sight easier to give them a common goal.

 

You've got three stealthy types, run stealth missions/heists.

 

If you had three fighting guys, you run more combat heavy, if you had three techs, i guess you'd run scrap-wars/McGuyver/A-team, three pilots top gun/ace combat.

 

Run to there strengths and make them think around their weakness's.

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I would say, primarily play to their strengths. You've said you tell your players to make the characters they want and that is what they've done. In doing this they've also told you where they would like the primary focus of their adventures to be. However, I would also recommend that you challenge them in some of the areas that they are weak.

 

When challenging your players in these areas don't make it central to the plot, don't make it something that will result in them failing if they can't accomplish it but maybe have it provide an easier route or some bonus rewards. There's a few reasons for this.

 

Firstly, the most obvious, if your players aren't really interested in this and then they fail because of it chances are they will become frustrated and enjoy the game less.

 

Secondly, it does give some variety. Mix it up a bit and keep them on their toes. Sometimes they're going to need to find new ways to solve problems and that is ok.

 

Thirdly, and really I think this is the real reason to add these challenges, you may be surprised and find that one of the characters really likes that side of things and it causes them to develop in new ways.

 

I think by balancing these elements properly you can provide them variety and new experiences to help their characters grow without causing them too much frustration so they feel they should remake their characters to go back to those common 'balanced' parties to better face whatever comes up.

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You can also let them pick up npc pet/helpers.  Luke had R2-D2 around to handle slicing and data access, your players could too.  Likewise, you could simply make them pay for someone to handle what they can't.  A few Underworld checks would go a long way toward finding someone with skills the players lack.

 

I second this. Let the characters make friends and contacts. Let them know through RP that they can acquire any skill that they need to accomplish any job... For a price.

 

Also, a nice thing about this system is that everyone can attempt to do everything. Use the falling upwards method. Trying to slice into a door and thet fail? Let it open but have alarms go off or stormtroopers sitting on the other side.

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Introduce aspects of the game/universe that have nothing to do with their chosen careers and specializations. I don't mean challenge them socially (though that could work, too) but give them a life outside their jobs. Maybe the smuggler has a girlfriend or three that he visits when he's in port. Maybe one of the bounty hunters has a family, while the other is a fan of Huttball. A little push like that will remind them their characters have depth and may encourage them to branch out a bit, both on their character sheets and in their approach to problems.

 

Also, playing a game to type is not a bad thing. It's one of my favorite ways to run this game.

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This sounds like a bounty hunting group, literally.  Three characters is perfect for a Slave 1 Firespray and everyone is set to hunt people down sneakily and kill/capture them.  Unlike with a 'balanced' party, you were handed a game concept here, run with it.

 

As for other skills, I'd set the adventures where these side skills are useful, might make life easier, but are not critical for success.  There are different ways to answer this.  This could expand their skill set, they might hire people, or they might buy droids.  All of these are good solutions with their own hooks.

 

Actually, this gives me an idea for a game of my own...

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Run regular adventures and don't worry about it too much. Give them options as to what jobs to take or where to explore or whatever and run is as if you had a well rounded set of PCs. Let them figure out how to deal with the social stuff, or gathering information or fixing their equipment etc. on their own. So what if they fail a lot when doing anything other than killing, there is plenty of opportunity to pew pew in Edge, the fun will come as they try and figure out how to accomplish their goals without non-killing skills. Besides it's not like Boba Fett didn't have to deal with this sh*t, he had to be able to track bounties (knowledge and social skills), he worked alone so he either paid someone to maintain and repair his ship or learned those skills as well, and so forth. I could go on but I think you get the point.

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Lots of great ideas here guys, thank you for the feedback. Plenty to think about, including the 'joy of failing'. Necessity is the mother of invention!

 

 

It's a common rpg trope: "we need one Face, one Tank, one Healer, and one Technician". 

 

Frag that.

 

Get out of the dungeon, leave behind those ideas.

 

Oh you're preaching to the choir, man. I think you missed the part where I said I hate that trope (I even hate the word trope) so much. I'm not a D&D guy. I was just pointing out that so many GMs start a game by saying 'I need one A, one B, one X, and one Y'. I emphatically didn't do that with my players, and that's why I am in my current pickle.  :P

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1) As stated above, the basic FFG Star Wars system really doesn't penalize you for not being trained in a skill; hence, anyone can try anything and if operating within commiserate boundaries, have a reasonable chance of success.  Sure 2 Ability dice isn't a great die pool, but you can still succeed on an Average difficulty check sometimes.  Throw in assisting actions and other ways of gaining boost dice, you can do alright even without being invested in an area.

 

2) Opportunities for growth.  Sure, they are specialized in certain areas, but that doesn't mean that can't grow in other areas as well.  You may find that as challenges become evident outside their specialty areas, they players choose to invest in other areas to become at least nominally proficient.  I wouldn't be surprised to see each player maybe pick at least one other area besides "combat / stealth" and handle it over time.  If they really do all share the same expertise, I imagine they will get tired of all taking the same actions and doing the same things and will mix it up.

 

3) Present players with challenges, and let them decide how to handle it.  Sure, they'll trend towards their strengths, and that is fine; just play it out as makes sense, and ensure the players understand the consequences of their actions.  Locked door is ahead of you (challenge).  The players have a multitude of options on how to proceed.  Pick the lock, break it down, convince a security guard to open it, cut a hole in the wall, hide and wait for someone else to open the door, etc, etc.  Each one of those can potentially overcome the challenge, and each one has its own inherent consequences.  So you really don't have to plan anything different than normal - present the story and it will play out.

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I've found that, for example, giving players challenges based around Athletics often inspire them to spend some points in Athletics.

 

When several of the PCs have crits from falling or losing their grip or missing a big jump, they often think "maybe I should keep that from happening next time!"

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When my group sat down to create our players, they naturally fall into this trope.

 

One wanted to play a mechanic or Selonian Marauder... he went with the Mechanic, and the Maruader went to another very casual player, and one wanted to play a healer (as it was something different to what she usually played).

One decided he wanted to be the best pilot he could, so elected to go with a Droid using the Ace Pilot career (Despite being an Edge game).

One went with a BH Gadgeteer Trando (But he is abit of a Min Maxer).

The last one, who as a player is very quiet, and kinda just.. goes witht he flow... asked for advice, and was told the group lacked any "sneaky underworld" type skills, so he went with a Scoundrel.

 

 

Then when we started, the Droid player couldnt make it, and still hasnt, and after a month the BH player dropped out due to real life situations.

 

So the group started with a couple of heavy hitting combat types, one very good in Hand to hand, a Healer, a Fixer, and a Sneaker.

 

Now we stand with very little combat ability, and the Scoundrel is not actually that good at being skulky.... didnt take any Skulduggery, and just one rank in Streetwise.

 

We had no Gunnery skills (The Droid Pilot did, but he was 'switched off').

We now have no Piloting skills either. (With the Droid and BH dropping out).

 

The Mechanic and Healer are abit fragile.

 

Its ideal, it means they are forced to think and plan totaly differently to their usual bad habit "Hit it til its dead, we can take loads of damage" tactics. And actually have to think their way out of situations. So its a nice change of pace, and they are now thinking about diversifying their skills.... the Marauder took some Gunnery ranks to give them a better chance in space combat (Since the Healer is shooting the other gun, and cant hit the broadside of a ISD... and the Scoundrel is flying as he has the best Agility.... all 3 of them).

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It's important to remember that any character can attempt any roll. There's no such thing as "skills that can only be used if trained" in this game. Now if it's an obscure subject, I might drop a Setback or 2 on the difficulty, but if you want to encourage your BHs to be social, give them the opportunity to use things like Charm and Negotiation and shine at them. They may not feel so uncomfortable using them when they realize that throwing a couple Greens isn't the end of the world. 

 

But as was said, the group seems to be interested in certain kinds of stories just by the characters they've build. I'd suggest running with this, rather than forcing a Scoundrel and 2 BHs into something like deep political intrigue or something. 

 

Definitely challenge them by not making combat a possible good response every time, but if they've made a pretty good declaration about the style they want to play, why wouldn't you run with that?

Edited by Kshatriya

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I would sit down with your players and have a frank discusion about what type of campaign they want. If they are all playing combat characters and are happy with a 'run and gun' campaign then I'd go with what they want. I'm always careful to have plenty of friendly NPC's around to help if the party needs help in a particular area. It's sometimes nice to have the PC's talking things out...

PC 1 - Do you think the Rebellion could help?

PC 2 - Yeah we could do with some support

PC 3 - Wait a moment doesn't that mean speaking to Sirrusk?

PC 2 - Yeah I hate that slimy weasel!

PC 1 - Do we know anybody else who has contacts with the Rebels?

PC 2 and 3 - No.

PC 4 - Yeah and you know if we speak to him then he's going to want a 'favour' in return.

PC 1 - Well it wasn't so bad last time...

PC 4 - I NEARLY DIED!

You get awesome RP oppertunities (like trying to persuade an NPC to do a job when the last one went so badly wrong or getting dragged into even bigger scrapes). In my campaign all the PC's wanted was for a box to be smuggled out of Cloud City, no questions asked. By the end of it they were unwilling participants in an all out assault against an Imperial base.

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