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KommissarK

Attachments/Mods and Game Balance

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Alright, so I should preface this by saying that I am writing this thread on behalf of a friend (and thus many of the thoughts here are from someone else, and I'm far less concerned with their implications). Also at the moment of its writing, I do not have access to my books, so much of this is from memory and hearsay.

 

Anyway, so we're moving along at a fairly advanced rate in our Star Wars RPG game (characters have about 310xp, and we've accumulated about 20k credits per player of personal wealth, as well has having an outfitted yt-2400). At this point we've started to meddle with the attachment modification system. Generally we understand the rules (although we did miss the wording that a failure on the mechanics check to add a mod results in that particular mod slot of the item being unavailable permanently, but it doesn't matter as nobody has made a mechanics check to mod - yet). The question is largely on the general game balance behind having such potential tied to the mechanics skill (an arguably niche PC role that you can't reliably see every party having, as opposed to say, a combatant).

 

It would seem that if a party lacks a character with good ranks in mechanics and associated talents, much of the mod system is out of reach for that party. This feels like it cuts off a rather large swath of potential for player equipment. But if a party does have a character with the needed skillset, it feels that they unlock a rather sizable potential (and far greater in proportion to the benefits gained by many other skillsets). If I were to liken it to other systems, its like having a game of Pathfinder where you can't buy any magic items, only craft them. In such a situation, it would seem exceptionally wise for someone in the party to take the crafting feats (and it would be relatively easy as a caster could quite easily justify picking them up). 

 

Now, partly, this is coming about due to what I'm starting to realize now is a mistaken house rule allowed by our GM (not me), in that he has allowed us to pay for a technician to modify our weapons (requiring a scaling cost based on difficulty, and an availability check for the service), but he does allow it to be an automatic success (i.e. we don't pay for them to roll the check, we pay and its added). Thus we have gained some fairly well modified weapons (and without the risk of the rule mechanic of failing the modification test means losing the ability to install the mod ever again). One player (aforementioned friend) has a fully modified DHX rifle that's swinging something like damage 13 crit 1 (he has gone the Bounty Hunter-Gadgeteer tree, but doesn't have much in the way of int/mechanics yet, but does have some of the item upgrade related talents). He has arrived a point of almost feeling bad that he has made this jump from having just basic weapons to having such a fully kitted out weapon. On the whole, I'm fine with a PC having a highly effective weapon (I'm not one to talk, we're playing a mixed book game and my character is a Seeker-Ataru Striker + seer, and I just built my lightsaber), but it just feels like without having a mechanics capable character in the party, much of that output wouldn't be possible. 

 

Any community thoughts/opinions? I tried searching on the matter but could only seem to find rules questions on the "how" of the attachment modification rules, and significantly less on the "why" of the modification rules. Would there be any good house rules for this (i.e. a cleaner way to handle paying for mods being attached, if at all)? It'll be less of an issue in our personal game soon, my friend is intending to pick up Mechanics rather quickly, so much of the difficulty of these tests will go away.

 

TL;DR; Musings on the effectiveness of the Mechanics skill, focusing on modifications, and the balance with respect to parties not having a character with good Mechanics skill. Re: Mecahnics is a God skill.

Edited by KommissarK

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It would seem that if a party lacks a character with good ranks in mechanics and associated talents, much of the mod system is out of reach for that party. 

 

What? Your characters have broken arms? That they can't reach for the Yellow Pages (kids, ask your parents) to find a mechanic and that they cant reach their wallets to pay for those services?

 

(Whoops - hit submit too soon)

 

in that he has allowed us to pay for a technician to modify our weapons (requiring a scaling cost based on difficulty, and an availability check for the service), but he does allow it to be an automatic success (i.e. we don't pay for them to roll the check, we pay and its added).

 

 

 

See, here's where I'd handle it differently. An automatic success is if you pay WELL, and you have to roll for other instances. Anything else, you get what you pay for, in the long run.

 

I guess at the end of the day, I'm not too terribly concerned about getting super good swag for my character. I've gotten by just fine with stock guns and equipment. Mods are nice, but not necessarily intrinsic to the universe as some others. Sure you have your Fetts of the world with their tricked out armor, but how often do you see Solo worrying about if he's gotten every last erg of potential from his blaster.

Edited by Desslok

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It would seem that if a party lacks a character with good ranks in mechanics and associated talents, much of the mod system is out of reach for that party. 

 

What? Your characters have broken arms? That they can't reach for the Yellow Pages (kids, ask your parents) to find a mechanic and that they cant reach their wallets to pay for those services?

 

Well as I mentioned, that is the approach we've taken. But we've likely gone rather cheap/available on it.

 

Our house rule currently is:

Availability = number of difficulty dice

cost = 100 credits x number of difficulty dice 

 

We treat it as an auto success. The issue mainly is that this now ignores the rule relating to check failure causing the mod slot to be unusable. It also seems that it would unduly invalidate the usefulness of mechanics.

 

For example, I see the value in having a party medic vs. having paying to visit a medic. If you have a party medic, those medicine checks can be made on the spot and as needed. Also they're free and become quite skilled. On the other hand, if I can just pay for a mechanic, I see much less of a reason to take one with me (unless of course the problem at hand necessitates a good mechanics skill, which, sure, often is the case). Much of the mechanics ability relating to gear are tied to personal gear.

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 Medical and engineering specialists are useful when things or people get broken that endanger the survival of the group. If your hyperdrive needs repaired NOW 'cause you're being shot at, then you need a mechanic. If your comrade is bleeding out on the floor with 4th degree burns around a festering gut wound, then you need a medic on the spot.

 

To pick up a couple of vitamin pills or mod a weapon isn't really what your party mechanic or medic is for. That's stuff that has no real urgency and maybe even something they don't actually want to waste their time with. For me, the question is more why your local legal arms dealer doesn't offer mods as a service package. Embrace modern capitalist ideas!

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I'm toying with the idea of a scaling xp cost for mods essentially how skills work. I'm thinking of the Mechanics check for doing an attempt to just mod a bae # on an existing item. Haven't really settled on anything yet.

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Its partly more that in our last session, we had a bit of a standoff with a bounty hunter. They stole our ship, and would only return it if we were going to hand over one of the party members. Through a triumph of a some social check in negotiating the terms of the handoff, we managed to swing where the ship was to land to do the deal. The player with the DHX set up in ambush by some crates (and did pass stealth checks to not be seen).

 

When negotiations invariably broke down (well, we were planning on just ambushing them), the party spectacularly won initiative (everybody had 4+ successes, and apparently the NPCs were sorta trashy, plus a bad roll from the main bounty hunter). The party's one other shooter actually shot first and missed. Then the player with the DHX shot, scored 8 successes (including automatic successes from the hair trigger), and dealt somewhere along 20-23 damage pierce 2. The bounty hunter went down in one hit. Had we not had the fully kitted out weapon, it would been closer to 15-18 damage (he claims its like a total of +4 damage mods, as well as the hair trigger attachment's free successes). This most certainly would of been the difference between the bounty hunter staying up and fighting or going down (they certainly would of gotten a turn in because the other two characters would not of been able to get attacks in). Now sure, the GM probably should of played the bounty hunter as being a tad bit more difficult/higher WT/soak and such. And yes, we were rather greatly benefiting from multiple triumphs and successes worth of social interactions maneuvering us into a more advantageous scenario.

 

Anyway, my point is that modifications basically made the difference between what should of been an encounter against a foe that might injure us, and instead quickly became a matter of mopping up 2 small minion groups. And I just got a lightsaber that game.

Edited by KommissarK

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It would seem that if a party lacks a character with good ranks in mechanics and associated talents, much of the mod system is out of reach for that party. 

 

What? Your characters have broken arms? That they can't reach for the Yellow Pages (kids, ask your parents) to find a mechanic and that they cant reach their wallets to pay for those services?

 

Well as I mentioned, that is the approach we've taken. But we've likely gone rather cheap/available on it.

 

Our house rule currently is:

Availability = number of difficulty dice

cost = 100 credits x number of difficulty dice 

 

We treat it as an auto success. The issue mainly is that this now ignores the rule relating to check failure causing the mod slot to be unusable. It also seems that it would unduly invalidate the usefulness of mechanics.

 

For example, I see the value in having a party medic vs. having paying to visit a medic. If you have a party medic, those medicine checks can be made on the spot and as needed. Also they're free and become quite skilled. On the other hand, if I can just pay for a mechanic, I see much less of a reason to take one with me (unless of course the problem at hand necessitates a good mechanics skill, which, sure, often is the case). Much of the mechanics ability relating to gear are tied to personal gear.

 

 

The obvious usefulness of mechanics is you can DIY the mods instead of paying out the ass for mods, but you already have a party that's approaching six digits of credits so that ship has kind of sailed. :V

 

Perhaps you can limit it so that paid NPC technicians can only install mods on attachments that aren't Restricted, or can only install one mod rather than all of the available slots?

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It would seem that if a party lacks a character with good ranks in mechanics and associated talents, much of the mod system is out of reach for that party. 

 

What? Your characters have broken arms? That they can't reach for the Yellow Pages (kids, ask your parents) to find a mechanic and that they cant reach their wallets to pay for those services?

 

Well as I mentioned, that is the approach we've taken. But we've likely gone rather cheap/available on it.

 

Our house rule currently is:

Availability = number of difficulty dice

cost = 100 credits x number of difficulty dice 

 

We treat it as an auto success. The issue mainly is that this now ignores the rule relating to check failure causing the mod slot to be unusable. It also seems that it would unduly invalidate the usefulness of mechanics.

 

For example, I see the value in having a party medic vs. having paying to visit a medic. If you have a party medic, those medicine checks can be made on the spot and as needed. Also they're free and become quite skilled. On the other hand, if I can just pay for a mechanic, I see much less of a reason to take one with me (unless of course the problem at hand necessitates a good mechanics skill, which, sure, often is the case). Much of the mechanics ability relating to gear are tied to personal gear.

 

 

The obvious usefulness of mechanics is you can DIY the mods instead of paying out the ass for mods, but you already have a party that's approaching six digits of credits so that ship has kind of sailed. :V

 

Perhaps you can limit it so that paid NPC technicians can only install mods on attachments that aren't Restricted, or can only install one mod rather than all of the available slots?

 

Nothing wrong with it being restricted, so long as the players are ready to pay a lot more for that change. Same with adding mods beyond the first. The price should rise fast for more mods. Time should rise as well. I know that when I take something to the armorer I won't get it back very fast unless it is a stock piece that is going to be added. Molding a custom grip, or using special materials, costs me an arm to get, but then I don't have to know how to do it. Just pay the price for someone else's education :)

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A specialist at anything (combat, piloting, Knowledge, Social, Mechanics, The Force) in this system is a boon for the party, but if no-one is using a particular part of the rules then this system is so modular that those parts of the rules can be ignored completely. Add to that that anyone can actually try any skill check means that to a certain degree anything can actually be achieved.

 

Groups play without the Force rules all the time, or don't have a pilot and live on a single planet.

 

If no one in the group is intellectual but the characters want to mod their gear then ranks in the Mechanics skill can make a huge difference (5 ranks added to an intellect of 2 is still a pool of 5 dice, even if only 2 are Proficiency).

 

Also make sure that when Modding you only upgrade the next Mechanics check by the number of SUCCESSFUL mods to that attachment, failed mods don't count.

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Our party has an awesome mechanic, so this doesn't come up a lot for us. However, there have been a few times where they've needed something modifying and the mechanic isn't available, so they've had to hire someone.

When this happens I'll basically ask them how good a mechanic they want to pay for and I'll work out a price based on the difficulty of the check (e.g. On a relatively outer rim world a mechanic with two proficiency and 1 ability might cost 300 per difficulty die - so 900 for the first mod - although there'll probably the option of negotiating that). Presuming they succeed on the first check, I'll ask if they want to pay for the next upgrade and so on.

Then there's the issues with involving an outsider - e.g. If you're bringing the mechanic something illegal to modify they'll probably say "No way", and might even report you to the Empire/local crime syndicate if you roll threat on your Negotiation.

In two and a half years of playing the game, I've not really found mod system to be unbalancing - if they have a good mechanic then they're sorted, if they didn't they could pay for the services. I can always find ways to up the ante and motivate them.

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So can anyone give what might be considered a "better" house rule on this? How much should a service like this cost? As stated, the current way we're doing it seems to make a bit too easy, but we are still paying hand and foot over what the base mod cost is.

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I wouldn't.  The house rule is I'd tell my PCs if you want to be able to do mod stuff someone needs to pony up the xp to be a mechanic.  The flip side is if no one wants to do that there are a series of weapons with good stats sprinkled throughout the books and some attachments that provide good benefits by just being attached to the weapon without any mod roles.

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