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Lifer4700

My EotE group doesn't want Obligation!

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I started them out with a ship and the associated debt.  The story was that they were given the ship to track down and return a McGuffin.  They had one month to either return the McGuffin or they owed the entire 120k credits.

 

They didn't get the McGuffin, but they managed to gather the cash anyway, and they are in a huge hurry to pay off their debt.

 

This will be session 7 coming up, and I've been trying to get someone - anyone - to take some obligation.  I offer them gear, I offer them upgrades.  They want nothing to do with it!

 

I'm sure that they are still in an Obligation = Disadvantage mindset, like from Champions or GURPS.  Something to be paid down and never seen again.

 

I think I'm going to have more of a heart-to-heart with them this session about how Obligation can be viewed somewhat like an alignment.

  • If you don't have any, you're viewed as goody-two-shoes, and no respectable criminal is going to hire you for smuggling, or anything else for that matter. They probably think you're undercover police. You can safely survive an Imperial inspection without fear.  You're an average, boring citizen.
  • If you have a bunch, then you're one of the groups sitting at a table in Jabba's palace, getting the nods from Boba Fett, and the Empire probably hates you.. or might want to use you.

I'm toying with the idea of attacking them en route to the payoff.  Word got around that they have 120k Creds in "cash" on them.  Is this too mean?

 

Any other ideas?

Edited by Lifer4700

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I think your two bullet points are pretty good.

But you might also remind/inform them that the real point of “obligation” in EotE is to give the GM potential hooks to help make the story more interesting and more heroic, or to add interesting twists to an ongoing story.

If they don’t take any obligation, then you can’t really do any of those things for them, and they’re less likely to have fun.

You also might want to make it clear to them that you’re not likely to use that same hook in every game. It’s a spice that can be occasionally sprinkled on top of a dish to help make it taste a little less bland, but you don’t want to use it in large quantities or on everything.

Of course, if you have only the one big obligation, then it’s hard to use anything else. So, they might be well served by letting you give them lots of little obligations.

As for the 120k, you could pull the old loanshark routine and say that them paying that off is just the interest, and they still owe all the principal.

Criminals don’t have to play nice with their patsies. ;)

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Don't treat Obligation like a trade off for free stuff. Treat Obligation like a gift unto itself.

 

It's there so the players always have something to do, to work for. It's relatable. If they are not willing to take Obligation on their own, you can give it to them. There are a lot of different Obligations that don't boil down to criminal favors and financial debt, things they can't willing turn down. Maybe a rival of their current employer decided to put a bounty on their heads for spite, so now they have a group Bounty Obligation. Did they tangle with the law? Maybe they now have criminal records - deserved or not. Maybe their current employer doesn't like the fact that they didn't do the job exactly as they said they would and has smeared their reputation. All of that is out of their control, they just have to deal. Even them taking business opportunities can give them Obligation, even if it's not with criminals and loan sharks.

 

But yeah, talking about it if they complain isn't too bad an idea; that's kind of how most human society works, after all.

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Do they want to start using Duty? Working their way up the ranks of a Criminal Organisation. It's easier for them to understand wanting to do "what's needed" and the ultimate payoffs can basically be the same. In a lot of ways Duty is much easier for the GM too, as you know what PC's not what they don't want to do again.

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Remember that obligation can never be reduced below 5%, ever! RAW that is the minimum that they can reduce it to, although that last 5% coul become a different obligation (debt might turn to blackmail if they owed a crime boss etc). Also you would be entirely entitled as GM to give them an obligation due to their actions; killing an Imperial or Criminal lieutenant might get them a 5-10% bounty obligation, spending a lot of time partying might give them a 5% addiction obligation etc. That said there would be nothing wrong with, as suggested above, giving them Duty (from Age of Rebellion) instead if you can make it fit your plot and group.

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Great ideas, everyone.  Thank you for your quick responses!

 

 

 

 

But you might also remind/inform them that the real point of “obligation” in EotE is to give the GM potential hooks to help make the story more interesting and more heroic, or to add interesting twists to an ongoing story.

If they don’t take any obligation, then you can’t really do any of those things for them, and they’re less likely to have fun.

 

This.  I think this is the part they're not quite getting yet.  We were all new to this system when we started, none of us have ever played in a narrative system.  I've really been trying to run this game differently than all the others we've played.

 

The players have noticed. After the first few sessions, they commented about how much fun they're having and how easy and fast the system runs, but I we all need more practice.

 

I am trying VERY hard not to make this always about pew-pew combat.  Old habits die hard, especially when the entire group has them, including me.  I think we ran two consecutive sessions where there was no combat.  They didn't even notice until that next session where someone said, "Hey.  This is the first time I've drawn my blaster since we were in that back alley on Corellia!"

 

 

If they are not willing to take Obligation on their own, you can give it to them. There are a lot of different Obligations that don't boil down to criminal favors and financial debt, things they can't willing turn down. Maybe a rival of their current employer decided to put a bounty on their heads for spite, so now they have a group Bounty Obligation.

 

Yes.  I think I might have to do this; kick-start their motivation.  There's a small-time criminal they put behind bars a few sessions ago.  (they did some cold-calling to drum up Bounty Hunter work for cash)  Perhaps he wasn't so small-time after all.    OR...  OR...  Maybe he was working for the same organization that they owe the money to.  I'm sure there's some kind of penalty for disrupting one of their speeder chop-shop rings!

 

 

Do they want to start using Duty? Working their way up the ranks of a Criminal Organisation. It's easier for them to understand wanting to do "what's needed" and the ultimate payoffs can basically be the same. In a lot of ways Duty is much easier for the GM too, as you know what PC's not what they don't want to do again.

 

Brilliant!  I had never considered using Duty for crime syndicates.  If they finally DO decide to break the law at some point and become criminals working for a boss, I will certainly use this!

 

 

 

Remember that obligation can never be reduced below 5%, ever!

 

Each character also has a small (5pt) Obligation that ties into their individual backgrounds, so I'm not worried about them going to zero Obligation.

Edited by Lifer4700

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I've had to have a similar conversation to my group about the Morality mechanic in Force and Destiny. I explained to them that the mechanic is not a penalty or a punishment, but a narrative tool.

 

When I roll a character and choose a Obligation, and even more so, when I take on additional obligation in-game, I am telling the GM that I want part of the story to be about my character. And I want that story to revolve around this debt, or this favor, etc...

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...when I take on additional obligation in-game, I am telling the GM that I want part of the story to be about my character. And I want that story to revolve around this debt, or this favor, etc...

Oh, I really like that!  That's gold!

 

One of my characters had a 10 point "Philanderer" obligation.  At the end of one session, he said, "While we're waiting for the mechanics to fix the ship, I'll go visit an old girlfriend to pass the remaining days.  It's a big city, I'm sure I've got one or two, right?"

 

The next session, he wasn't able to make it, so I used his Obligation (didn't roll).  After a day or two of him being missing, the party got curious, and they tracked him down.  They found that he had been drugged by one of his old flames (rich and beautiful), and she was keeping him tied up in her spare bedroom (but crazy).  Some kind of combination Viagra, tranquilizer, and stimulant.  Apparently, she didn't like that he sneaked out last time - she really loves him, and they should be together!  Like I said. Crazy.  It took the party doctor two days to detoxify him.

 

After that, I reduced that Obligation for him from 10 to 5.  I figured that situation bought him some reprieve.  Now that I think about it, I guess I should've left it at 10.

Edited by Lifer4700

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I think there's a few important things to consider with obligation. Firstly, there shouldn't be an easy 'you just pay it off all at once' option. These are scum, criminals and the underworld we are talking about. They know you can't take legal recourse and so they are going to exploit you at every turn. Han Solo, for example, was under the impression he could just give the money to Jabba and be clear but that really doesn't seem to be the case... things like it'll cost extra now 'for interest' come up. Or 'Sure, the ship is worth 120k... but you know, there's those pesky rental fees for the past X month's you've had it so that will be another 50k.. and we have to square those away first.. so you're still a bit short on owning it, sorry.' Or don't even present it to them as a buy it off option in the first place.. Hutt allows the heroes to use his ship but they have to be willing to run the occasional job for him when he calls on them. Obligation can go down when they manage to pull of particularly beneficial jobs for him or if they're able to pull in some extra side bonus that benefits him.. obligation can go up if they fail the mission or they bring too much attention to themselves, etc..

 

Not all obligation changes need to be voluntary, or directly known ahead of time. They make choices in an underworld, fringe setting and those choices bring consequences.. and not all obligation needs to be for the same thing. Sure, they pay off that ship but when they went after that McGuffin they pissed off Mr. Fancypants that owned it and now he's out to track down who was after his stuff... etc...

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I've always found Obligation to be a story tool.  If the party is generating stories on their own and have their own goals and plans, I'd let them buy down their obligation essentially completely.

 

A party without obligation is free to pursue their own goals and objectives without worry about unrelated matters popping up.

 

Naturally, during the course of the pursuit, they'd tick off rivals and create enemies.  This could be considered obligation, but, rather than tracking it mechanically, I'd reintroduce their competitors at story appropriate moments without rolls.

 

Just my .02c.

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After that, I reduced that Obligation for him from 10 to 5.  I figured that situation bought him some reprieve.  Now that I think about it, I guess I should've left it at 10.

 

In general, I only reduce people's Obligation if they take steps to reduce it themselves. If someone's Obligation pings or otherwise comes up to affect them, they don't get any reduction until they face the core issue and try to resolve it. Otherwise it remains unaffected, or it might even get worse.

 

I'm one of those people who thinks that you should be able to pay down your Obligation completely, but once you do, that character's pretty much done. If they have nothing tying them into the story, I assume they have no reason to hang around the rest of the crew. I give my players the option of acquiring new Obligation or waiting until the next natural debarkation point and creating a new character.

 

Of course, if they've become attached to the group, the ship, or the storyline to the point where they don't want to retire the character, it sounds like they've picked up a new Obligation without realizing it. Maybe Family or Dutybound, or maybe even Responsibility. Further, those Obligations can be low impact due to their close relevance to the ongoing plot, and they're not really the kind you can fully be rid of. It creates a nice little perpetual motion machine, where having to deal with their Responsibility to the crew makes it ever more apparent that they couldn't bear to leave.

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If they don't take it freely, force it on them! There are so much opportunities: Been cctved next to a crime scene? Criminal Obligation! - Won a small fortune at a Sabacc Tournament? Famous Obligation! - Having Cybernetics implanted? Cyborg Obligation! - Last one to talk to an ISB agent before their demise? Rebel suspect Obligation! - Killed a gang member? Hunted Obligation! etc.

 

Heck, being a Wookiee or MonCal or any other "slave species" can be an Obligation in itself.

 

If it can be a nuisance to or carry any repercussions for the PC under certain circumstances, it's a valid Obligation.

Edited by Grimmerling

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If they don't take it freely, force it on them! There are so much opportunities: Been cctved next to a crime scene? Criminal Obligation! - Won a small fortune at a Sabacc Tournament? Famous Obligation! - Having Cybernetics implanted? Cyborg Obligation! - Last one to talk to an ISB agent before their demise? Rebel suspect Obligation! - Killed a gang member? Hunted Obligation! etc.

 

Heck, being a Wookiee or MonCal or any other "slave species" can be an Obligation in itself.

 

If it can be a nuisance to or carry any repercussions for the PC under certain circumstances, it's a valid Obligation.

See my above post.

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If they are not willing to take Obligation on their own, you can give it to them.

The rules do not agree with you.

It might not be RAW, but I do agree with the general concept.

But the key has to be moderation. If you overdo it, then the whole balance of the game gets thrown off.

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It might not be RAW, but I prefer penalising bad players' choices by giving them a little Obligation for it, rather than sending the whole story off track through immediate intervention: "You might not have been arrested this time for that silly stunt, but you better watch out in the future!" And I can say my players do so, too.

Edited by Grimmerling

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Have they considered establishing a base?

 

That can be used to give them obligation and actually be something they'd want to develop if its of interest since the Far Horizons book goes into a little detail if they want to establish a homestead or business of their own.

 

Han Solo felt the same way regarding paying Jabba the Hutt back, but things got a little out of hand, when during the events within the "Scoundrels" novelisation he inadvertedly revealed the presence of one of Jabba's spies to a Black Sun Vigo and Jabba learning who it was upped Han's debt to quite a few million... :wacko:

 

Could give them extra points of obligation if their ship gets damaged and they don't have access to the means to repair it without outside help but that depends on your players being willing to run with that.

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Originally I thought obligation was simply a way to make sure players bite into the story, (What if they ignore the bloody woman staggering from the alley -looks like trouble to me.) But over time I realized obligation adds depth and purpose to the galaxy far, far away

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Well, I am a d*ck (so my players tell me) so I would easily bestow on them a group Obligation. Something they done is hurting them, and subtle clues hint them who's out to get them, and they might not even able to repay the debt or whatever, by means of credit.

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If they are not willing to take Obligation on their own, you can give it to them.

The rules do not agree with you.

 

It might not be RAW, but I do agree with the general concept.

But the key has to be moderation. If you overdo it, then the whole balance of the game gets thrown off.

 

No, HD is right on this one. You don't give out Obligation that way, the player has to agree to it. Now the workaround I favor is when a PC decides to do something drastic (kill someone important or steal something whatever), you as the GM step in and say something like, "Okay, just so you are aware if you steal that McGuffin, you will pick up an Obligation for it" That way you aren't forcing it on the player, but the player agrees to it when he steals the McGuffin.

 

Alternatively, you could probably just backend the whole thing. You still give it out to them as you deem appropriate and just work it in wherever it fits. Good GMs were already doing it that way for a couple decades before FFG created a mechanic for it.

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We found in our campaign that obligation just kind of happened. Ok you paid down your debt on the ship, but last adventure you shot up some imperials pulling that job so now you've got some there. You can pay that down by doing favours or informing, but the people you screwed over have buddies who are now looking for you.

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You can and should still have consequences for the PCs actions. That's simply a natural part of making the world come to life, but you don't necessarily have to translate that into obligation.

 

I agree that obligation (in the mechanical sense) should only be handed out in exchange for a boon. But whipping out a disruptor pistol in an Muun bank should not land you a criminal obligation. But you bet you're going to have some local law enforcement asking questions and following your trail.

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I don't think you should force Obligation on players agains their will. However, it is completely appropriate to tell them, before they take some kind of crazy/violent action, "if you do this you get 10 Obligation (bounty)" and then leave it up to them. As long as you let them know about it fair and square beforehand, they have no one to blame but themselves.

 

For example, you players are engaged in a firefight in the middle of a city or other populated area. During the fight a bunch of local police show up and attempt to arrest everyone involved so they can sort out what's happening. Many players would at this point start shooting at the police to keep from getting arrested. At my table this would result in me saying, "sure thing, but for every officer you kill the group gets 10 Obligation (criminal), to divide between you as you see fit". If they use stun settings only, cut it back to 3-5 Obligation per cop; they didn't kill anyone, but it's still X counts of assaulting a police officer.

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