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GM Hooly

Lightsabers VS Armor AKA I Can't Believe Its Not Butter

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Or should I say, Vehicle Armor.

 

A few sessions ago, the players decided to take on a hover-train in a daring heist. The Jedi Padawan who was wielding a lightsaber jumped on the roof of the appropriate carriage and went to slice open the roof to gain entry. The train was armored with Armor 2, and the character's lightsaber had Damage 6, Breach 1.

 

Rules as written, the player wouldn't be able to get through, but Qui-Gon managed to get through the blast doors aboard the Trade Federation ship, and Jedi slice and dice through walls all the time in Clone Wars. I thought, at the time, that the player should be able to eventually slice through the roof, and so treated the attack (with a base difficulty of 2) like a skill challenge with the Padawan needing a number of successful checks equal to the Armor Rating +1, with the addition that a Triumph was equal to another success.

 

Any other suggestions as to how to handle this?

Edited by GM Hooly

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Off the top of my head, since we see them do it in the films all the time, I'd say don't even bother with a roll. Or, if you want to roll, consider a fail as "this is harder than it looks, so it is going to take awhile longer."

Again, off the top of my head. Without coffee.

Edited by jbmacek

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I have thought about the same thing in the past.

 

I believe there are two ways of looking at a Jedi cutting through thick armor.

 

  1. Combat: If the Jedi were swinging away at the train in combat, actually fighting it like a transformer, for instance, then that Dmg 6/Breach 1 vs Armor 2 means something.  It means that the Jedi would have a difficult time doing any real damage to it.
  2. Out-of-combat: In the movies and in the Clone Wars cartoon, the Jedi can seemingly cut through even the toughest of armor, or walls, or just about anything (and here's the key) given enough time.

 

For me, when it comes to non-combat situations, I wouldn't even make the Jedi roll to cut through things, unless time is a factor.  There are plenty of canon examples where we've all seen it.

 

If time is a factor, in the spirit of the game, only a single roll would be needed, and it simply determines if they get the hole cut in the required amount of time or not.

 

Remember the examples from the O66 podcast, things like climbing a wall, if it's important to the story, then don't make them try repeatedly until they succeed, just roll once and that determines how long it takes, or how hard it was.  If it's not plot-required, then failure doesn't mean they couldn't cut through, it just means that they realize this is taking longer than they thought, and perhaps there's another way.

 

 

EDIT: Ninja'd at 7am!!

Edited by Lifer4700

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Or should I say, Vehicle Armor.

 

A few sessions ago, the players decided to take on a hover-train in a daring heist. The Jedi Padawan who was wielding a lightsaber jumped on the roof of the appropriate carriage and went to slice open the roof to gain entry. The train was armored with Armor 2, and the character's lightsaber had Damage 6, Breach 1.

 

Rules as written, the player wouldn't be able to get through, but Qui-Gon managed to get through the blast doors aboard the Trade Federation ship, and Jedi slice and dice through walls all the time in Clone Wars. I thought, at the time, that the player should be able to eventually slice through the roof, and so treated the attack (with a base difficulty of 2) like a skill challenge with the Padawan needing a number of successful checks equal to the Armor Rating +1, with the addition that a Triumph was equal to another success.

 

Any other suggestions as to how to handle this?

The key thing is that the player isn't trying to defeat the train or destroy , you can't really do that with a lightsabers unless you hit critical components, but he's looking to gain entry. The combat stats listed is for if you were to attack it with a starship or speeders with the intent on disabling it.

Basically, assemble him a check using either machanics, skullduggery or lightsaber, if he succeeds, he gains entry. Advantage can be used to gain entry quicker, threats make it slower. Triumphs means he gains access to an particarly advantageous location or gets in really fast, dispair means that he must either have hit a critical, detrimental component, finds the security team waiting for him or has to make a really hard check to avoid being thrown off.

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The situation was in the midst of combat, and my question stems from the frustration my player was having with the results. The train was travelling at break-neck speed as well, so there should have been some difficulty (or at least setback) to it.

 

The thought had crossed my mind regarding the Padawan attacking the train plating, rather than targeting any critical systems. Luke versus the AT-AT is probably another good example.

Edited by GM Hooly

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By "in combat" I meant with the train itself. Swinging at it like fighting a giant robot.

Since combat rounds are abstract, and typically a minute or two, I would think that a single check would still be all you would need in your situation. The uses of Triumph, Despair, Advantage, and Threat given above are fanatic as well as the skill suggestions, and again, if it is vital that they gain entry this way, then failure just means it takes longer. A base of one or two rounds would be sufficient to maintain tension.

Jedi: "Hold them off, we're going in right here." *snap-hiss*

Edited by Lifer4700

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The situation was in the midst of combat, and my question stems from the frustration my player was having with the results. The train was travelling at break-neck speed as well, so there should have been some difficulty (or at least setback) to it.

 

The thought had crossed my mind regarding the Padawan attacking the train plating, rather than targeting any critical systems. Luke versus the AT-AT is probably another good example.

Oh yeah, modifiers and what not should apply to any check to gain entry, I know full well that my dm would subject me to an athletics or cood check to get aboard and a couple setback to the check itself. The player will eventually succeed, just a matter of how long and whether any other complications will arise in the meantime

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By "in combat" I meant with the train itself. Swinging at it like fighting a giant robot.

 

I understood the point that you were making. The problem here is that the lightsaber's damage is linked directly to how well the character rolls. In the moment, I think I was focusing too much on how much damage it was causing rather that the way you have suggested above.

 

The questions still remains though:

  1. Should a difficulty be set?
  2. And if so, what happens if the character fails? Advantage, Threat, Triumph and Despair are one thing, but what happens when the character fails that check?
Edited by GM Hooly

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Maybe the blast door in TPM had an armor of 1?  And IIRC, Qui-gon didn't get through the blast door on the Trade Federation vessel, destroyer droids showed up before he was done.  To me, that could represent a failed roll to cut the door down.

 

Regardless, there are a few quick points to remember here:

  • Not every action needs a roll, or even needs to follow the rules to the letter.  You can exercise GM fiat to simply say "You can cut down the door with the lightsaber, but it'll take a while" or "You can tell by looking at the door that it will take an impractically long time to cut it down with the saber" if you want that approach to succeed or fail, respectively.
  • An armor stat is kind of a general value for an object or vehicle.  Some parts of a target may have less (or more) armor.
  • Cutting a door down with a lightsaber is, no offense, kind of "blunt force" thinking, and a hardened door may be designed to counter just such an approach.  The fact that the approach isn't working could be used to encourage lateral thinking on the part of the players.

Overall, the stats in this game, like many rules, are really just guidelines.  In my experience, the 'narrative style' of this game works better if you don't worry too much about the specific values and you hand-wave some rules on occasion.

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A simple way to handle it could be have the armor rating equal to how many rounds it takes for the lightsaber to get through. In this case, with an armor rating of two, it would take two full rounds to get through and then be able to enter on the third round. The breach quality of the lightsaber would simply enable it to cut through the armor and the armor rating dictates the time required.

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The questions still remains though:

  • Should a difficulty be set?
  • And if so, what happens if the character fails? Advantage, Threat, Triumph and Despair are one thing, but what happens when the character fails that check?
I think setting a difficulty is quite reasonable with tougher and/or thicker materials giving more purple dice.

GM: No problem. It's probably going to take you two rounds to cut through this armored hull. It's reasonably thick, but it's not refined cortosis. I'll set the difficulty at hard, plus setbacks for standing on the roof of a moving train, nighttime, rain, and people shooting at you.

Jedi: Brace to counter the train movement, so three purple and three black. This is going to be rough.

*rolls*

Jedi: No net successes, 3 advantage, and a Triumph.

GM: Due to slippery footing and people shooting at you, this is taking longer than you thought. You're about a third of the way through.

Party member: C'mon, what's taking so long? We can't hold them off forever!

Jedi: This isn't as easy add it looks. Just give me more time!

Party member: Hurry it up, more guards just climbed up.

To me, 2 rounds of combat base, 4 for failure. Advantage dropped it to 3, and perhaps some other minor effect. Stolen from LordBrittish in post #4 above, I'd say the Triumph means when they do get through, they are not far from their goal, or the guards that would have been there have left to see what's happening on the roof.

Edited by Lifer4700

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  1. Should a difficulty be set?

 

Yes, normally I would treat this like any other time-based check.  You set a base number of turns based on <PLOT>, and then successes or failures reduce or increase how much time it takes.  But sonovabith's solution is simpler if you want to control the variables.

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I think there's a difference between being able to land an effective blow against an armored target while in the midst of combat, as opposed to standing there in front of a wall or door not being shot at.  I wouldn't bother with dice and just would've said armor 2, it takes a couple minutes uninterrupted to cut through.

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If any dice where rolled it's got more to do with standing on a moving train in buffeting wind while being shot at, so a Coordination or Athletics check that affects the amount of time it takes. failure is entry at the start of 3rd round. Success and you enter beginning of next round. Advantage and threat can speed it up or slow it down. Use Triumph/Despair to affect the contents of the train carriage.

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Maybe the blast door in TPM had an armor of 1?  And IIRC, Qui-gon didn't get through the blast door on the Trade Federation vessel, destroyer droids showed up before he was done.  To me, that could represent a failed roll to cut the door down.

 

On the other hand, it is quite clear that, given enough time, Qui-gon *would* have gotten through the blast door.

 

Of course, what amuses me most about that scene, is that that blast door will *never* open again.  The way it was melting and slagging, the door is going to fuse into a single piece of metal when it cools.  All that work to avoid the Jedi cutting through it, only to have a *maintenance crew* have to cut through it later, so that the bridge crew doesn't starve to death.  :o:lol:

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Cutting the roof is not like attacking an enemy. If a lightsaber is used like a tool, appropriate skill should be rolled... Mechanics/Athletics/Coordination/Skulduggery...

 
Now that's a REALLY good point to consider. Its not being used as a weapon in my scenario, its being used as a tool. Lightsabers are versatile like that :)
 
But the argument then may be for the player to still use their lightsaber skill instead of Mechanics, Athletics, Coordination, etc. And if so, isn't it just the same problem of assigning a difficulty?
Edited by GM Hooly

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Running a Star Wars d6 game the players very much thought that the single most useful thing a lightsaber could do was the ability to cut through any door/wall, and for that reason alone anyone worth their salt would carry one. The weapon of an elite warrior order reduced to the ultimate door opener.

 

As people have said, don't use the vehicle stats as an indication of whether a player can cut through a part of the vehicle. Either judge how long it will take/how much damage etc, or if out of combat just allow it. The suggested idea of using it as a completely different kind of skill roll actually sounds good as well.

 

However, do ignore the "one turn is one minute" thing, as it is dumb. Almost all Star Wars fights are over in a minute or two at most, often a matter of seconds. Instead treat a turn as an abstract amount of time that allows the player to achieve something of note. Sometimes it might be more than a minute (chase through the streets of a city, where you might only get the occasional fleeting glimpse of each other), and other times it is a matter of few seconds (or even less). Its a narrative, abstract game, so it is best to treat the timing the same. Something takes x turns to complete, not x minutes.

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Cutting the roof is not like attacking an enemy. If a lightsaber is used like a tool, appropriate skill should be rolled... Mechanics/Athletics/Coordination/Skulduggery...

 
Now that's a REALLY good point to consider. Its not being used as a weapon in my scenario, its being used as a tool. Lightsabers are versatile like that :)
 
But the argument then may be for the player to still use their lightsaber skill instead of Mechanics, Athletics, Coordination, etc. And if so, isn't it just the same problem of assigning a difficulty?

 

 

Depends on if you view the lightsaber skill as a fighting style / martial art or if it's the skill for everything you need whenever you use a lightsaber for anything. To answer that question you'll have to ask yourself this: How would you rule if someone tried to force open a rusted/stuck door? Athletics, Brawl, or something else? Personally I'd probably come up with the difficulty with Athletics in mind and allow the player to use Brawl if they ask and explain how it's an applicable skill but assign a setback die or two for using a non-standard skill for what I had in mind.

 

The slippery slope to avoid is if a player tries to do too much with a single skill. Let a player use a single skill (especially with no extra difficulty) for everything and you're just giving them an incentive to only put XP into that one skill. Personally, I'm not a fan of letting characters become one trick ponies that use a single skill for everything. For me it cheapens the game and character advancement.

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I would say that now you have the same challenge of deciding about difficulty but from a better perspective. He is using a tool. that works like the preferred tool, maybe be better even, but isn't the right tool. So if I would use a cutting torch on a hull its would be average, so with a not proper tool would be hard or daunting with a boost die or more for the raw power of the lightsaber.

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Cutting the roof is not like attacking an enemy. If a lightsaber is used like a tool, appropriate skill should be rolled... Mechanics/Athletics/Coordination/Skulduggery...

 
Now that's a REALLY good point to consider. Its not being used as a weapon in my scenario, its being used as a tool. Lightsabers are versatile like that :)
 
But the argument then may be for the player to still use their lightsaber skill instead of Mechanics, Athletics, Coordination, etc. And if so, isn't it just the same problem of assigning a difficulty?

 

 

The slippery slope to avoid is if a player tries to do too much with a single skill. Let a player use a single skill (especially with no extra difficulty) for everything and you're just giving them an incentive to only put XP into that one skill. Personally, I'm not a fan of letting characters become one trick ponies that use a single skill for everything. For me it cheapens the game and character advancement.

 

 

I had the same problem, solved it with allowing leeway in using unorthodox skills in checks, like skulduggery or streetwise instead of deception (in a social underworld scene).

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But the argument then may be for the player to still use their lightsaber skill instead of Mechanics, Athletics, Coordination, etc. 

 

 

...only in the same way you could ask a player to use the Melee skill with their vibroknife to make a sandwich.

 

 

You want to know what that looks like?

 

For your viewing pleasure, some examples of what happens when you swap out Melee for various other skills:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLxkXro15_o

 

Aaaand... done.

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Maybe the blast door in TPM had an armor of 1?  And IIRC, Qui-gon didn't get through the blast door on the Trade Federation vessel, destroyer droids showed up before he was done.  To me, that could represent a failed roll to cut the door down.

 

On the other hand, it is quite clear that, given enough time, Qui-gon *would* have gotten through the blast door.

 

Of course, what amuses me most about that scene, is that that blast door will *never* open again.  The way it was melting and slagging, the door is going to fuse into a single piece of metal when it cools.  All that work to avoid the Jedi cutting through it, only to have a *maintenance crew* have to cut through it later, so that the bridge crew doesn't starve to death.  :o:lol:

 

 

My purpose in making that point is that OP's position seems to be built on what could be a false premise: cutting through a blast door was seen in the movies, and hence could or should be able to be replicated in the game.  Specifically: 

 

Qui-Gon managed to get through the blast doors aboard the Trade Federation ship

 

In fact, he didn't, hence it may be appropriate that the the door had armor too hard for lightsaber to cut through, in which case the situation described (2 armor is nigh invulnerable to a weapon with Breach 1) is actually fairly accurate.  In that instance, there is no problem with the rules or their described implementation.

 

Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

 

 

Cutting the roof is not like attacking an enemy. If a lightsaber is used like a tool, appropriate skill should be rolled... Mechanics/Athletics/Coordination/Skulduggery...

 
Now that's a REALLY good point to consider. Its not being used as a weapon in my scenario, its being used as a tool. Lightsabers are versatile like that :)
 
But the argument then may be for the player to still use their lightsaber skill instead of Mechanics, Athletics, Coordination, etc. And if so, isn't it just the same problem of assigning a difficulty?

 

 

What follows below is a suggested solution that attempts to use the game's rules in a narrative and flexible manner to resolve this type of action.  I'm making no claims about what is "correct" or "acceptable"; this is simply one possible method of resolution. 

 

I'm firmly of the belief that the intended outcome of a roll should inform the skill, and this should typically be decided by the GM, not the player.  To be clear, the player describes their character's intended actions and approach, the GM decides the skill to use.  This allows the players to role-play their characters, but minimizes For example, in this current situation the player could respond:

  • "I want to break the door down with raw power", GM decides the Lightsaber skill is most appropriate for destroying the door.
  • "I want to disable the door's locks with the lightsaber", GM decides the Skulduggery skill is most appropriate for disabling the door.
  • "I want to cut through the roof's structural weak points to bypass it", GM decides Mechanics skill is most appropriate for disabling the door.*

(*this last example is admittedly forced to provide a variety of player responses.  Lets not dwell on it, the point I'm making should be clear: GM decides the skill based on player description)

 

To keep the game moving, I would give the player basically one shot at describing what they want to do.  In my experience, allowing the character to repeatedly attempt different descriptions to get the results they want just bogs the game down.  This is a style choice, I'm not saying its the only, or even the 'correct' style.  It's just mine.  It doesn't mean I hate fun, or abuse my players, etc.  Again, let's not dwell.

 

Now, this leads to the second point, which is that none of these checks are combat checks, not even the Lightsaber check.  As pointed out above "Cutting the roof is not like attacking an enemy".  So, yes, a difficulty should be set, and you should probably refer to the description of the difficulties described in the book ("Difficulty" section, EotE Core pp 17-8).  I would follow the basic dice pool rules they lay out in the same section as well, in order:

  1. Apply skill and characteristic (described above)
  2. Apply skill difficulty (How hard is it to cut through a door/roof?)
  3. Apply difficulty upgrades (Is this particular door/roof exceptionally difficult or simple to cut through, e.g. has it been reinforced well to prevent forceful entry?)
  4. Apply situation bonuses via boost/setback dice (Is the character using particularly effective tools appropriate, like a frakking lightsaber)

To apply this, I would probably say a security door would be at least PPP (Hard) with multiple upgrades for the blunt force approach, or PPPP (Daunting) with one or zero upgrades for a disable approach, and then add a few boost dice (for 6 damage, probably 2 boost dice) to represent the lightsaber.  Some points on the specific  values chosen here:

  • Cutting through a door isn't hard, but a security door is going to be hardened, hence the upgrades.
  • Disabling a door may be tricky, but i don't see anything that says this security door is particularly complicated.
  • A 6 damage 'saber is pretty basic, but still potent

Since these aren't combat checks, you interpret the skills the way you would other skill checks.  Additional successes can be used to reduce time, adv/threat can be used to give fringe benefits, etc.  

 

But it should also be noted that all these selected values are based on the perceived/target power level of the game, and there is very little information in the thread to go on.  And even if there were there are, again, style considerations that will vary between GMs.

 

Hope that helps.

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