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Rortharr

Spitballing an idea for shorter campaigns

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So my group tends toward short campaigns, but they really enjoy creating their own characters. Unfortunately, this means they often don't get to fully realize their character concepts: even with granting additional XP at creation and after sessions, it seems there's never enough time for them to unlock the big stuff: 25-XP Talents and Signature Abilities especially.

 

My idea for our next campaign was to basically abolish the need to follow the tree lines: players could buy any Talent in their Spec, paying its listed XP cost, at any time, assuming they have the necessary prerequisites (thus, to buy an Improved or Superior Talent, they need the basic Talent). This way, players who really want to see those 25 XP Talents in use early on can do so, at the cost of having fewer overall Talents/XP to spend on skills and characteristics.

 

What say you, Game Masters forum?

 

Obviously there's a bit of a balance issue, but I think low skill ranks (since, if we use this system, I plan to not grant additional starting XP and tone down the XP awards per session) and "once per session" modifiers will keep the 25XP Talents from being too overwhelming. Additionally, since they'll have access to better abilities, this means I can bring out better enemies to fight to keep the challenge even with the party.

 

The biggest issue I can think of is players hopping from Spec to Spec just to pick up 25XP abilities, but I think the costs of taking new Specs, especially ones outside their Career, will make that hard to do beyond a second or third tree, and honestly I'm okay with my players having a few "cool moves" to break out each session - this system makes it particularly easy for me the GM to compensate with Setback dice, difficlty upgrades, etc.

Edited by Rortharr

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I think people that rush character development are never satisfied regardless of how things are sped up.  No game can solve impatience.

Agreed. The big characters are not interesting because of what they have and what they can do today, they’re interesting because of how they got there and the things that happened along the way that helped shape who they are today.

If you want to skip all of life, you’re always free to jump straight to the end.

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I think people that rush character development are never satisfied regardless of how things are sped up.  No game can solve impatience.

Agreed. The big characters are not interesting because of what they have and what they can do today, they’re interesting because of how they got there and the things that happened along the way that helped shape who they are today.

If you want to skip all of life, you’re always free to jump straight to the end.

 

I guess my view is that this is a way for my players to tell their stories with a better selection of props earlier on. Since they'll only have the normal starting XP, it's not as if they'll be able to build the penultimate version of their character before the campaign even starts: they'll still have to earn XP, and thus do things that earn them XP, and thus create stories.

 

To use an example, I and my players would rather be able to start their Gunslinger with Spitfire or Guns Blazing, Talents that are sort of core to the gunslinging ideal. But since buying those Talents is a considerable XP cost if they're going the usual route of putting most XP into Characteristics, then we'll be telling a story of NAME HERE the Not-Very-Effective Gunslinger (they might have Spitfire, but if they only have 1 rank in Ranged [Light] they won't be able to use it very much) who becomes NAME HERE the Badass Gunslinger, instead of NAME HERE the Wannabe Gunslinger who only ever gets the chance to become NAME HERE the Slightly-Closer-to-a-Gunslinger

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Life is a journey. In fact, I would go so far as to claim that life is THE journey.

But it’s also a one-way trip.

If you want to spam the fast-forward button to get to the good stuff later in life, I believe you are likely to be disappointed when you find out that the real good stuff was all those things you skipped in the rush to get to the destination.

Your game. Your choice.

However you play it, you pays your money and youse takes your chances.

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Agreed.  The pilgrim on the Journey of Ten Thousand steps realizes his accomplishment when he reaches his goal.  At that moment he isn't excited about 10,000 steps.  He remembers the faces he talked to. The sights he saw. The colors of the leaves on the trees in the morning sunlight. How his body felt before he began and how it has changed.

 

A young man was at the start of his journey and took a helicopter to arrive at the moment of 10,000 steps.  He just sees a guy a little worse for wear with a smile on his face and a peaceful countenance.  The young man goes away sad because he wanted to experience the mystical journey by being at the start and the finish.  He did not understand that the journey is in the footsteps, not the destination.

 

I would argue that it is time for your group to see if they are ready to mature a little.  Make a contract with each other for a longer period of time.  Make the character count, because you won't get another one for 6 months, 50 meetings, whatever you decide.  (Don't go for extreme and say 10 years... there are campaigns that do that, but this group isn't ready for that yet). Get everyone to write a detailed backstory.  Actually start with nothing... clothes on their backs and their brief training and natural talent (be strict on starting exactly as the book states).  Provide a lot of cinematic opportunities for character development and growth.  This is arguably the hardest part.  Providing a world where the characters can grow and feel like they are involved.  If the players only see items or abilities as the only joy in the world, it is time for the GM to find a way to amp up the cinematic aspect and improve pacing.  Keep the standard rate of Experience gain the same, but add more bonus experience at the end of each module if you feel this will help.  

 

If they cannot commit to something like this, then don't waste much time on trying to prepare a game for them.  In fact, try to get someone else to run the game until they are ready to take it more seriously.

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I made a very effective gunslinger I enjoyed playing before there was a gunslinger spec.  It had nothing to do with mechanics and everything to do with how I simply played him.  Being successful on every die roll doesn't automatically equal fun for me though, and it certainly doesn't equal role playing.

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Have you considered doing a 5-6 session partial campaign, playing some different games for a couple of months, then coming back to keep the game fresh? I do this with my RPG groups and it works really well, especially changing GMs as well.

 

Even the most experienced and dedicated RPG players get burnt out from the same game for any length of time.

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What is with this holier-than-thou attitude?  You guys have gone beyond bad-wrong-fun to bad-wrong-living-your-life to "jump straight to the end".  How does a more competent character equate to the death of that character?

 

Not every story is a rags-to-riches, the humble farmer saves the galaxy ordeal.  If the story is truly engaging, what experience point value at which the characters start shouldn't matter.

 

You know nothing beyond the fact that they have short campaigns and haven't gotten to realize character concepts aided by some of the higher tier talents and abilities, stop making assumptions about how they play and enjoy the game.  What if they play by the rules and have engaging stories, but tend towards the short story equivalent of the role-playing game storyline and never get around to higher level play?

 

I would advise against just allowing the purchase of any talent within the specialization as that could break the game (or unbalance the individual characters from one another in a weird way) in ways that might be difficult to reconcile or predict.  I would just start your players off with enough experience points to (mostly) realize whatever concept they wanted and just adjust the game and adversaries accordingly.  Maybe 500 xp or something - after the usual character creation rules, of course.  You might also want to then slow xp gain after initial creation as a counter balance.

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What is with this holier-than-thou attitude?

It’s not “Holier than thou”. It’s “more life experience” and “more experience with this game”, and we’re trying to give the benefit of that experience to someone who doesn’t have it.

Sometimes you can lead a horse to water. Sometimes you can’t lead a horse away from the box of dynamite.

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Fair cop. Assumptions were made.  As I was interrupted about three times during the writing of my own post, I may have changed tone as I was working through it.  It wasn't intended to be personal, just an observation.  It seems as if at least one person at the table is unhappy with the way things are going.  That could mean the players or the GM.  You can spend a lot of time trying to tweak a system to make it fit a group that doesn't want to play with a system.  They could also prefer to be playing multiplayer video games.  No idea.  I'm only speaking from personal experience in the following:

 

Some groups do not want a longer campaign, but you as the GM do.  Change it or be brave enough to walk away.

 

Some groups want longer campaigns and assume that getting better gear or starting with more skills and abilities will make a better game.  For some this might be true, but I have found that working through the story from the beginning will make far more memorable and exciting characters.  This is my preference and I am speaking out in favor of that preference.

 

Some groups play from a videogame mentality and do not realize that there is a different way to play, one that might arguably be better.  Again my personal preference.  Having played in very short campaigns (6-10 meetings) to extremely long ones (over 300 sessions in the course of 9+ years).  I did not know there was a better way than tactical D&D until I experienced a long form campaign.  It changed my life, so yes, I am fairly vocal about it.

 

As the narrative dice have changed how I play, even from a fairly free-form Storyteller system (along with all the d20 ones), I am pretty passionate about how this system plays and the potential for character development.  I enjoy the journey and hope others will as well.  Mostly, I hope others will find characters that are rich with detail, passionate about life and deep in memorable storied interaction with other characters and the players behind them.

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What is with this holier-than-thou attitude?

It’s not “Holier than thou”. It’s “more life experience” and “more experience with this game”, and we’re trying to give the benefit of that experience to someone who doesn’t have it.

Sometimes you can lead a horse to water. Sometimes you can’t lead a horse away from the box of dynamite.

 

 

So you're assuming that you have more experience with the game and life experience in general and are now comparing the OP to a horse.  You're right, not holier-than-thou at all.

 

I'm sure that you got all of that life experience by other people telling you to not experiment with an idea and never trying anything yourself.

 

It's possible to "give the benefit of that experience" in a simple manner without the condescension.

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So you're assuming that you have more experience with the game and life experience in general and are now comparing the OP to a horse.  You're right, not holier-than-thou at all.

The original poster made clear that he didn’t have a lot of experience with this game, so yes — I definitely have more experience with it than he does, and by his own admission.

I’m 49 and older than most of the other people on this board, so yeah — at this stage of life, I do generally assume that I probably have more life experience than many of the others I might run into.

But there I try to give the benefit of the doubt. However, if they seem to be demonstrating a lack of life experience, then I am happy to give them the benefit of mine.

I never compared anyone to a horse, but I did short-hand the saying. If you misconstrued that to be me comparing them to a horse, then I am sorry for you.

I'm sure that you got all of that life experience by other people telling you to not experiment with an idea and never trying anything yourself.

Some lessons can only be learned the hard way. I’ve certainly learned that one time and time again, over the multiple decades that I’ve been on this planet. And I’ve made some doozies.

Nevertheless, when I see someone making what I believe to be a mistake and where they appear to be asking for advice, then I am likely to speak up and offer my advice on the situation.

It's possible to "give the benefit of that experience" in a simple manner without the condescension.

Indeed. You could even try it yourself.

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and by his own admission.

Please, help me find where he says "bradknowles has more experience than I do."  I can't seem to find it.

 

 

 

Agreed. The big characters are not interesting because of what they have and what they can do today, they’re interesting because of how they got there and the things that happened along the way that helped shape who they are today.

If you want to skip all of life, you’re always free to jump straight to the end.

 

So this is your advice?   It could be construed as supporting his idea, as their abilities shouldn't matter, and what should matter is the story that they create together at the table, independent of their character abilities, or in opposition to it - that aside from you implying they're free to just up and kill their characters.

 

You haven't made one post that actually addresses the OP in a meaningful way.

 

 

 

Indeed. You could even try it yourself.

 

And when I offered my opinion on the OP, I did.  Throwing it back on my response to your comments doesn't absolve you of anything, however.  Not that I presumed to deign to offer you the benefit of my superior experience, anyway.

 

Regardless, I'll stop cluttering the thread with pointless vitriol, as I've already given my answer on topic.  Enjoy winning the internet with whatever pretentious witticism with which you choose to reply.

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You haven't made one post that actually addresses the OP in a meaningful way.

That’s interesting. I would have said that statement was more applicable to you than anyone else on this thread.

In fact, I don’t see a single post from you that isn’t filled with vitriol and little else.

Regardless, I'll stop cluttering the thread with pointless vitriol,

Thank you.

as I've already given my answer on topic.

Where?

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Well, this was all very productive and slightly condescending. So on the philosophy side of the issue, which most of these replies seem to be concerned, let me say that I get what you're saying, but I'm comfortable that my players and I can create interesting stories and personal journeys of growth with this change to the XP-spending system. I find that my players are experienced enough roleplayers and invested in their characters enough that being able to pick freely from any Talent on the tree won't derail or cheapen their characters, or the changes they go through. Additionally, we've found one of the most enjoyable parts of the in-between session table talk has been discussing how to spend their newly gained XP, so I do not think offering them a greater leeway in terms of XP-spending options will detract from their sense that their characters are developing in meaningful ways.

 

So, assuming the horse is going to go towards that box of dynamite no matter what you say to it, is there any damage mitigation to worry about? That is, assuming the implementation of the system, are there any issues of game imbalance that I should be looking to compensate for?

 

For reference, here were my thoughts on the mechanics side of the issue from the OP.

 

I think low skill ranks (since, if we use this system, I plan to not grant additional starting XP and tone down the XP awards per session) and "once per session" modifiers will keep the 25XP Talents from being too overwhelming. Additionally, since they'll have access to better abilities, this means I can bring out better enemies to fight to keep the challenge even with the party.

 

The biggest issue I can think of is players hopping from Spec to Spec just to pick up 25XP abilities, but I think the costs of taking new Specs, especially ones outside their Career, will make that hard to do beyond a second or third tree, and honestly I'm okay with my players having a few "cool moves" to break out each session - this system makes it particularly easy for me the GM to compensate with Setback dice, difficulty upgrades, etc.

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If you want to start further down the road towards being the biggest bad-asses in the galaxy, then I would recommend starting with the “Knight Play” option from FFG that is laid out in the F&D CRB.

You would still do chargen the same way, but once chargen is complete then you would get some additional XP to spend on skills, talents, etc… and you can train things above a rank of 2, get more starting money, etc….

If that’s not enough, then give them even more XP and/or money after chargen. Call it “Master Play” if you want.

But I wouldn’t otherwise go changing any of the game mechanics until such time as you’ve been playing it for quite a while and you really do fully understand what the designers were trying to do and why.

The thing that I have learned about gaming, both in my own personal experience and in learning from others who’ve been playing for a while, is that all games have a limited runway where they are fun to play. If you’re not on that runway, then why are you playing?

IMO, with the way the rules are currently written by FFG for the SWRPG, you do start pretty close to the beginning of the runway. Yes, you can begin the game further down the runway, but all that really does is just put you closer to the end of the runway — and you miss the stuff at the start.

Moreover, the funniest (and most fun) things that have happened in any game I’ve been in have been in the first few adventures, before anyone got much in the way of XP or gear.

It’s the guy who is rolling two green dice against a whole handful of reds and blacks, and still comes up with net Success. And he doesn’t just do that once or twice, he does that multiple times in multiple games, to the point where people start asking if he’s using loaded dice, only to discover that he doesn’t have any dice of his own and he’s just borrowing from whomever happens to have them at the table.

It’s the guy who thinks of a totally whackadoodle off-the-wall solution to a problem that leaves everyone at the table just completely stunned — and then laughing their asses off and rolling on the floor for the next fifteen minutes.

No, you don’t start off as Luke Skywalker, Jedi Grandmaster. But that Luke Skywalker doesn’t have so much fun any more. Luke Skywalker, the guy who who has never before fired a quad laser cannon, that guy has a lot more interesting experiences that he is still yet to have — and a lot more fun ahead of him.

But, to each their own. YMMV.

Edited by bradknowles

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No, you don’t start off as Luke Skywalker, Jedi Grandmaster.  But that Luke Skywalker doesn’t have so much fun any more.  Luke Skywalker, the guy who who has never before fired a quad laser cannon, that guy has a lot more interesting experiences that he is still yet to have — and a lot more fun ahead of him.

 

So very, very true!

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I would watch out for too many talents that provide a base numerical advantage (dedication, force rating, enduring, lethal blows, etc) purchased too quickly together, and maybe encourage building up more in already purchased specializations than cherry picking from numerous specializations.  It would be more difficult for me to plan for as a GM, as characters will vary more between sessions than they might under the normal advancement rules, but you'll probably get a feel for the characters after a while and be able to plan accordingly to their capabilities.

 

 

 

That’s interesting. I would have said that statement was more applicable to you than anyone else on this thread.

 

We're one for one on that count; I've only been responding.  You stand on no higher ground.

 

 

 

Where?

 

If I were you I'd tell you to go use the search function at the top of the page, but it was in my first post. Post 10, fourth paragraph.

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Perhaps in your opinion.  It's okay though; I've learned and revised my posting style for clarity and ease of reading.

By your own admission you buried the lede. You said:

… it was in my first post. Post 10, fourth paragraph.

That “fourth paragraph” thing? It’s called “burying the lede”.

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If you want to start further down the road towards being the biggest bad-asses in the galaxy, then I would recommend starting with the “Knight Play” option from FFG that is laid out in the F&D CRB.

You would still do chargen the same way, but once chargen is complete then you would get some additional XP to spend on skills, talents, etc… and you can train things above a rank of 2, get more starting money, etc….

If that’s not enough, then give them even more XP and/or money after chargen. Call it “Master Play” if you want.

But I wouldn’t otherwise go changing any of the game mechanics until such time as you’ve been playing it for quite a while and you really do fully understand what the designers were trying to do and why.

 

I have experience running this system, have been running games since right around the time the Age of Rebellion beta came out. That seemed to be a point of contention earlier, so I thought I should clarify.

 

My objection to Knight-level play is that giving the player so much XP at once tends to lead to a bit of paperwork spillover. Suddenly people are buying so many Talents at once that both they and I lose track of what they're picking up. So this system gives them more choices for spending a smaller amount of XP, which is one reason I like it: maybe a player has one 25XP Talent they think will really be critical to their character concept - they can start with that, but the associated skill might suffer in terms of ranks for them to afford it.

 

So they can start with Guns Blazing, to continue this example, and then gradually get better at Ranged (Light). To me, this is a more organic progression of skill - the possibility for them to trigger that ability is there from the get-go, but they still need time and experience (life and XP) to be good enough to reliably triggering it. So if they can trigger it early on, it's more impressive moment of "woah, did I do that?"

 

I would watch out for too many talents that provide a base numerical advantage (dedication, force rating, enduring, lethal blows, etc) purchased too quickly together, and maybe encourage building up more in already purchased specializations than cherry picking from numerous specializations.  It would be more difficult for me to plan for as a GM, as characters will vary more between sessions than they might under the normal advancement rules, but you'll probably get a feel for the characters after a while and be able to plan accordingly to their capabilities.

 

Good point. My big counter to spec-hopping will be that XP costs for taking new Specs will be the same - so, assuming a gain of ~15/20 XP per significant session, they'll only be able to purchase one or two additional Specs in rapid succession, after that I think the time they'll have to wait and save up XP will discourage buying into more Specs.

 

As for numeric Talents, I think I can counter rapid accumulation through GM counsel, though I'm honestly fine with them picking up Enduring or Lethal Blows Talents - combat in our games is pretty reliably near-deadly, so I don't think one or two additional points of Soak will be game-breaking, and I actually won't mind if their Crits are more dangerous - every limb a Big Bad loses is one I can replace with a Repulsor Fist. I can also counter harder-hitting characters through Setback dice, Dark Side Points, and simply increasing the level of challenge in terms of number and skill of enemies.

 

I hadn't considered Dedication or Force Rating as much. FR I'm also not super concerned about, since my players haven't shown a big tendency towards Force-using characters, and the economy of buying new Specs or even multiple FR Talents means I don't think they'll be able to get beyond FR 2 or 3 easily or quickly - the one possible problem is someone who goes for Seer for their first Spec, but again that XP spent on 2 FR+1 Talents is XP they can't initially spend on making the powers they're fueling with 2 Force Die very effective or overpowered.

 

For Dedication, the same roughly applies. Since every Dedication Talent is 25 XP, and there's only one per Spec, that means they could pick up one cheap Characteristic increase, but number two will cost, at minimum, 45/55 XP depending on if they pick a second Spec from their Career or not. So I think again I can play off my players' desire to see their XP used to avoid someone piling up Dedication Talents.

Edited by Rortharr

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Honestly, it seems that you have the situation well in hand.  And as long as people are reasonable adults about the game, not just using your rules to game the system, and willing to re-evaluate their characters should they become untenable, I think you'll be fine.

 

 

 

By your own admission you buried the lede.

 

You do like assumptions and having people make admissions that didn't happen. That's your opinion. As the importance of the content of the post is different in both of our subjective opinions that I doubt will change, I suggest we drop the topic.

 

I can understand the desire to blame me for your mistake in not reading my entire post, but why are we arguing this?

 

I have to admit I admire your tenacity.

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