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LibrariaNPC

Free-Form Chargen & Progression Concept

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After talking to players at a convention and owners/employees at game shops, the comparison of the various Star Wars games came up. One thing we all missed was the ability to build a character however you wanted without the feeling of being locked into a "class."

 

I didn't have much time to work on it due to the recent move (and a few requests to help me get a capital ship thread started), but I had a moment to quickly sketch something out while waiting for HR. It's far from finished, but they are guidelines to begin with at least.

 

 

Free-Form Character Creation/Progression Rules

 

Creation: Players begin by determining their character's species and Obligation/Duty/Morality as per standard rules.

The player then decides if the character is Force-Sensitive or not, as this impacts skills.

If the character is not Force-Sensitive, they gain 12 career skills with 6 free ranks to spread among them (no higher than two).

If the character is Force-Sensitive, they gain 10 career skills with 5 free ranks to spread among them (no higher than two).

 

XP is spent normally with the exception of Talents (see below).

 

Talents: (Note: this is, by far, the most challenging part to hack together, but I think I'm on to something that could work)

Players may purchase any talent for their character as long as they pay the associated XP costs.

5XP Talents are those that grant bonuses to Strain or Wounds, grant set skills, add boost dice, or remove setback dice. These also cover set recovery actions (Hard Headed) or specific non-combat actions (Let's Ride). Most ranked abilities start here.

10XP Talents allow you to spend strain for set bonuses (Frenzied Attack), gain new career skills of your choice, and upgrade non-combat checks.

15XP Talents let you do things you couldn't do before, like using a specific trait for a skill, swapping skills, and a majority of the non-damaging Destiny Point uses.

20XP Talents consist of a number of the combat-based abilities, like Armor Master and Saber Throw, the re-roll talents, and abilities to upgrade checks.

25XP Talents are the major abilities of a career, Dedication, and Force Rating.

 

Ranked Talents cost their base XP value for the first rank, but each subsequent rank doubles the cost, to a maximum of 100XP per rank. For example, Lethal Blows would cost 5 XP for the first rank, 10 for the second, 20 for the third, 40 for the fourth, and 80 for the fifth.

(Note: this is to make up for the need of additional talent trees for the ranks, as getting a third through fifth of most talents normally involves a second or third tree).

Talents such as Dedication, Force Rating, and anything that grants the ability to choose new career skills counts as a Ranked Talent.

 

 

 

 

That's as far as I've gotten with it. I was going to start up an excel sheet with the actual talents and where they'd fall cost-wise, but I didn't want to spend that sort of time on it while unpacking for a potentially lost cause.

 

Let me know if you'd like to see more, and I'll get started on it. Again, just a hairbrained idea that I cooked up after short discussions and on a whim.

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I'm not sure why you need to pick whether you're Force Sensitive at chargen. You want liberation from careers, but are adding a new constraint. Why not just allow the first FR for 25XP?

For the rest, your 5XP Talents are far too cheap: for 20XP you can add 8 Wounds...! These need to be ranked like skills otherwise they'll be seriously abused. And you probably need a limit, eg: it's hard to get more than a few ranks of Gearhead, but now for only 15 or 20XP they'll never be bothered by setback dice again.

BTW, this issue has come up before, I'll have to dig up a post from a couple years ago, it might be useful. That said, I don't really get the need for this exercise. This game is extremely open already, for more so than, say, D&D. All the careers do is provide a minimal amount of structure and flavour. An easier solution IMHO (one I'm currently using) is to simply offer a discount on additional specs so long as certain requirements are met. This allows easier "multi classing" without allowing the players to bounce from spec to spec and pick all the low-hanging fruit, which is basically what you're allowing.

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It does feel that all the characters will end up very samey.

 

And some talents are intended primarily for careers of a certain kind.  There's a reason the Vulcan Nerve Pinch is in Doctor and not, say, Marauder.  It's primarily intended to give a character who isn't combat-focused a bit of an edge.

 

I like the focus that the careers give, personally, but hey, it's your table.

Edited by MTaylor

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I'm not sure why you need to pick whether you're Force Sensitive at chargen. You want liberation from careers, but are adding a new constraint. Why not just allow the first FR for 25XP?

 

It's partly a nod to the WEG version of the game, and also promotes the idea of being Force Sensitive as a character development approach and not a means to more talent trees.

 

It's also a bit frustrating with the current mechanic to have a character that wants to be a Force Sensitive Scoundrel that eventually grows into his abilities need to purchase a second talent tree or find the closest tree in the F&D book that is close to what he wanted (but not quite).

As an example, a player of mine wanted to be a Charmer, but also wanted to eventually progress into a Force-Wielder. Even after F&D came out, he stated that the Charmer tree fit his character concept the best, but was a bit annoyed that he'd need to buy either Exile or Emergent in order to move to another tree. 

 

As for the 25XP, that seems more like an enforced "lose 25% of your XP to be Force Sensitive" if done at chargen. F&D knocks off the career skills, so I thought that'd be a balance.

 

 

For the rest, your 5XP Talents are far too cheap: for 20XP you can add 8 Wounds...! These need to be ranked like skills otherwise they'll be seriously abused. And you probably need a limit, eg: it's hard to get more than a few ranks of Gearhead, but now for only 15 or 20XP they'll never be bothered by setback dice again.

 

Note the section on "Ranked Talents" that I added. To get +8 woulds is four ranks, meaning the character would need to pay 5XP for the first rank, 10XP for the second rank, 20 XP for the third rank, and 40 XP for the fourth.

 

A character wanting to do this normally would need to pick up a second tree at the very least, thus the inflated costs as the ranks go up. If they really want to focus, it'll be an XP sink, similar to buying Talent Trees but not having to pick up everything else that is irrelevant to the character.

 

 

BTW, this issue has come up before, I'll have to dig up a post from a couple years ago, it might be useful. That said, I don't really get the need for this exercise. This game is extremely open already, for more so than, say, D&D. All the careers do is provide a minimal amount of structure and flavour. An easier solution IMHO (one I'm currently using) is to simply offer a discount on additional specs so long as certain requirements are met. This allows easier "multi classing" without allowing the players to bounce from spec to spec and pick all the low-hanging fruit, which is basically what you're allowing.

 

I vaguely recall it coming up, but don't recall anyone making any real progress. Figured I'd pitch something that had some substance and see what happens.

 

I wouldn't call the game "extremely open," as there are some elements that keep you within a role. After playing/running games like Fate, Deadlands, BESM, or the Cortex line, my players and I tend to shy away from anything that has something like an enforced class system. This is the closest I've gotten to it, but it's one of the elements some people complain about (thus the conversations at the convention).

 

Reducing the XP cost of additional talent trees isn't a bad idea; what sort of reductions have you offered? I find the current setup to be a bit cost prohibitive to pick up anything beyond a second tree, especially if you are trying to mix elements of multiple careers for your character (i.e. players wanting a more Padme Amidala/Leia Organa senator-meets-soldier approach). 

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Sounds like everyone ends up with a tank mage.

 

Not so sure, which is again why I'm asking about it. Some players from previous iterations of Star Wars tend to focus on the one or two things they wanted without feeling that way.

 

My last d6 game had a non-Force Sensitive Saber Rake (the only one that can't cleanly be put into this game), an equivalent of a Charmer/Assassin, what would be in this game a Mechanic/Ataru Striker, a Pilot, and a Gambler. Each of these players wanted to do something a bit different than their respective trope, and worked to add those elements to the character, but to do so in this game can be a bit cost prohibitive.

 

When I pitched this idea to my old FFG table before the move, the Force-Sensitive Charmer liked the idea he could pick and choose the talents he wanted for his build without having "fluff" that he felt got in the way, while also picking up the Jedi-like abilities he was hoping for without needing four talent trees. The Combat Medic loved that he could get talents from both Medic and Doctor without having to buy the extra trees, while still picking up some combat talents along the way. The Pilot was ecstatic to learn he could pick up some Gunslinger talents without needing a tree (so he wasn't "useless" on the ground), while the Mechanic had a field day knowing she could do the equivalent of ransacking the major technical talents from across the board without feeling the need to buy every tree.

 

I've seen that players will normally stay true to the character design; opening the doors helps.

 

 

And some talents are intended primarily for careers of a certain kind.  There's a reason the Vulcan Nerve Pinch is in Doctor and not, say, Marauder.  It's primarily intended to give a character who isn't combat-focused a bit of an edge.

 

I like the focus that the careers give, personally, but hey, it's your table.

 

On the flip side, some of the talents fit better for different careers. We see Anatomy Lessons for both Assassin and Doctor, but if you wanted to be a hand-to-hand specialist that was also a doctor, you'd need to purchase the extra career to do it.

 

Focus is nice, but from years of free-form characters, enforced focus can be restricting.

 

 

The intention of this exercise is laudable. 

 

I'm at the point where I flatly refuse to play anything that's outright class-and-level based, and some game systems sit right on the border of that territory. 

 

I'm in the same boat. This game is the closest I'll get to it, but tweaking it to meet what players have been asking for is part of the goal.

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Just waive the xp cost for new specs and it seems to accomplish the same thing more simply while still maintaining some balance.

Could work, but some of the careers feel like they have "fluff" added into their talent trees, or if you want a specific character type in mind, you'll need to buy talents that aren't necessary part of the goal in mind. Not always necessarily bad, but can be disheartening to some.

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The problem with just letting people buy whatever is there are some Talents that are very powerful and it's precisely because of the trees and xp costs that they get balanced.  True Aim for instance, if someone can just buy up 4 ro 5 ranks of that for straight cost, and throw some Deadly Accuracy on top, why would anyone not do that?  Open that Talent up and balance is out the window imo.

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Also, the trees are not linear.  There are some good Talents tucked away - they might only be 10 xp but you need to go all the way up the table then down the other side.  The Gambler spec especially does this.

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Here's the year-old post I was referring to:

 

https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/134474-alt-rules-for-combat-talents-experience-etc/?p=1446310

 

Basically:

 

Toughness and Grit cost:  5, 10, 15, 20, 25

Enduring and Durable cost:  10, 20, 25
Ranked Talents cost:  5, 15, 25XP (max of 3)
Non-ranked Talents cost:  15
Non-ranked Talents with an Improved/Supreme cost:  10, 20, 25
Dedication or Force Rating cost:  25, and for each you must have at least 5 other Talents, at least one of which is another 25XP Talent

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I'm in the same boat. This game is the closest I'll get to it, but tweaking it to meet what players have been asking for is part of the goal.

I'm not really even a fan of the "talent trees", I'd rather just see XP costs and some prereqs were appropriate.

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The problem with this methodology is there is no reason not to take all the best talents. The reason the game is set up the way it is is so you HAVE to make some hard choices. As you can't easily have it all. This will result in everyone being fairly uniform and boring.

If the talents are such that there are a small number of "best" talents that everyone will take, then forcing players to take other talents to get to them and "make hard choices" is just a bandaide over bad game design. Make the talents balanced, interesting, and of appropriate XP costs to their effect, and you won't have that problem.

The "all the same" objection also presumes that every player will want to have the same character build and that the players won't diversify. 

 

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It's really just a time involved aspect imo, and not a lack of options in the game problem.  There are no real restrictions.  Every single talent and skill are available to every player regardless of concept.  It's just an issue of how long it takes to get to that point.  For those wanting to speed progression along, starting with a Knight level type of option, beefier xp awards per session, and waiving new spec tree costs perhaps with the career/non-career cost issue, will most certainly hasten character development mechanically.  I don't think RP and narrative development is completely divorced from mechanical capabilities, but it's not completely dependent either. Anything that speeds development decreases the shelf life of a campaign I think and I found a 20-30xp handout per session never leaves my guys feeling stuck in a development rut.

Edited by 2P51

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Personally I like that the Talent trees tell a story. They presume that before you start a tree you just "aspire to be" and then guide you through what it takes to become "the best". Some trees have more than 1 path, but the best will one day be so good at that profession that they learn an ability no one else can hope to understand or achieve.

So my question is how do you intend to handle signature abilities. Massively expensive, very rare, limited in availability, but some of the coolest dam things in the game

Also your going to have to come up with a solution to the improved and supreme talents that are currently only available in some trees and are not actually dependent on the number of ranks in the basic talent that you have. Some characters may get 6 ranks in Parry, but not the improved parry talent. While another character could only have 2 ranks in Parry but it's already improved.

There are also different costs for the same unranked talent in different trees (Scathing Tirade and Inspiring Rhetoric are great examples) which when purchased in 1 tree can be skipped in the next, making talents in the second tree effectively cheaper.

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Personally I like that the Talent trees tell a story. They presume that before you start a tree you just "aspire to be" and then guide you through what it takes to become "the best". Some trees have more than 1 path, but the best will one day be so good at that profession that they learn an ability no one else can hope to understand or achieve.

So my question is how do you intend to handle signature abilities. Massively expensive, very rare, limited in availability, but some of the coolest dam things in the game

Also your going to have to come up with a solution to the improved and supreme talents that are currently only available in some trees and are not actually dependent on the number of ranks in the basic talent that you have. Some characters may get 6 ranks in Parry, but not the improved parry talent. While another character could only have 2 ranks in Parry but it's already improved.

There are also different costs for the same unranked talent in different trees (Scathing Tirade and Inspiring Rhetoric are great examples) which when purchased in 1 tree can be skipped in the next, making talents in the second tree effectively cheaper.

There are also certain ranked talents that are really nice, but there are only a handful number of the talents total. Rigger talents come to mind, and the ones that reduce involuntary strain.

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After talking to players at a convention and owners/employees at game shops, the comparison of the various Star Wars games came up. One thing we all missed was the ability to build a character however you wanted without the feeling of being locked into a "class."

 

Lets see, you can pick up ranks in any skill you want (for a slightly increased cost in some instances) and you can buy any published tree you wish. Want a Jedi Doctor Slicer Gunslinger? Easy. Want a Explorer Politico Solider? Also easy. How about a droid demolitionist starfighter ace entertainer smuggler gambler?  Done.

 

So yeah, I'm failing to see how you are locked into one class.

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it's the talent trees, and the "class skills" (those "increased costs") you mentioned

 

 

You do realize that taking a non-career skill from 0 to max will cost you an extra 20 points. That's one entire game's worth of experience. Big deal.

 

I'm not mistaken the XP cost to access each new class.

 

Yes, buying new trees costs you a little bit more each time. However in my 30 years of playing, I cant think of any other game engine that doesn't increase costs in some way as you get better, stronger or more advanced.

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