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DaverWattra

Anyone else have this problem with signature abilities?

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This doesn't apply to all the career sourcebook signature abilities, but a lot of them are pretty strange in that they seem to offer abilities that skilled characters ought to have anyway, without spending points on the signature ability.

 

For example, take the Commander's Rousing Oratory ability which costs 30 points:

 

 

Once per game session, the character may perform a Rousing Oratory action, spend 2 Destiny Points, and make a [difficulty 3] Leadership check to inspire a group to take action in a military situation about which members were previously hesitant.

 

Isn't this an ability that one ought to have anyway, if one rolls a good Leadership check?  If a player with good Presence and 5 ranks in Leadership wants to rally a group of hesitant soldiers into fighting, should the GM really say "You can't do that, you haven't spent 30 points on Rousing Oratory"?  And what's with the 2 Destiny Point activation cost on top of it all?

 

Does this seem as silly to others as it does to me?

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I think that's part of the reason that there are two. But I think that the base ability isn't what makes it a signature ability, it's the "Turning Point" and "Boost Allies" upgrades that make it worth taking. That being said, I would take "Unmatched Authority" for a character that I would use.

 

But about the ability itself, another option for its use would be if the player goes "I want to rally my nearby allies" and then the GM goes in same way or form "No" it can force their hand, but I can't see myself or most GM's doing that.

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I would consider the Leadership check to do it normally would be more dependant upon the success and advantage rolled, as to how many people you inspire.

 

With this signature ability, as long as you succeed, you inspire an entire group (however many that is, I guess it's dependant on the scene and what the GM allows unless the full description is specific).

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My understanding is that Rousing Oratory specifically represents an almost supernatural level of inspirational speaking. You can incite rebellion and inspire troops with normal abilities, but Rousing Oratory represents something beyond that. Even in a setting as hammy as Star Wars, it takes more than a single impressive speech to convince most people that they could rise up against something with the ability and will to crush them like bugs, and not be crushed.

As for using it on Rebel Soldiers, the justification is thinner and less likely to come up, granted. But even then, Rousing Oratory allows you to attempt things with charisma alone that you normally could not, it elevates your persuasiveness and leadership to the level of a superpower.

At least, that's my reading.

Edited by Azraiel

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You could for example use this to become supreme chancellor while a planet is under blockade for 2 destiny points. A simple leadership check will not allow you that, but here the senators go, voting against their own interests and you do not need to bribe or mind control them even. ;-)

Edited by SEApocalypse

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Since there have been RPGs, people have had problems with feats, talents, and other "abilities that 'allow' characters to do something that they should already be able to do." 

 

I would turn it on its head: instead of thinking that a character can't do X because they don't have Y ability, just realize that Y ability makes doing X easier than it would normally be. 

 

For example, take the Greased Palms talent. Pay 50 credits as a bribe, upgrade your social check once. This doesn't mean you can't bribe someone without the Greased Palms talent; it just means that bribes are going to be more expensive and/or less effective without it.

 

It's the same thing with the Signature Ability in question. It simply makes you a really effective military commander in the face of daunting opposition. 

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This doesn't apply to all the career sourcebook signature abilities, but a lot of them are pretty strange in that they seem to offer abilities that skilled characters ought to have anyway, without spending points on the signature ability.

 

For example, take the Commander's Rousing Oratory ability which costs 30 points:

 

 

Once per game session, the character may perform a Rousing Oratory action, spend 2 Destiny Points, and make a [difficulty 3] Leadership check to inspire a group to take action in a military situation about which members were previously hesitant.

 

Isn't this an ability that one ought to have anyway, if one rolls a good Leadership check?  If a player with good Presence and 5 ranks in Leadership wants to rally a group of hesitant soldiers into fighting, should the GM really say "You can't do that, you haven't spent 30 points on Rousing Oratory"?  And what's with the 2 Destiny Point activation cost on top of it all?

 

Does this seem as silly to others as it does to me?

 

 

No it does not seem silly when you put it in context.

 

Look at something like Spending a D-point to introduce a Fact vs. the Utility Belt Talent and you'll see where this is going. In one case you can do something with GM permission. In the other you can do something within set confines whether the GM likes it or not.

 

Now look at most signature abilities and you'll see a trend there too. Most Sig Abilities essentially say "Pick a specific problem or encounter, spend two destiny points and make a check, and if successful this problem or encounter is significantly easier, dramatically altered, or can be bypassed entirely.

 

Now put the two together.

 

Rousing Oratory: While the GM still has to approve what you're doing and the end result, the core attempt and the difficulty are set in stone. The Mandalorian extremists want you to go on a side quest to recover the buttplate of Mandalore the Flatulent before they'll agree to provide the distraction you need to slip past the blockade. Convincing them otherwise would normally be an "Impossible" check, so you go for broke and ask for your Rousing Oratory instead. GM agrees, and now you've got a dramatically reduced difficulty to work with.

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On 1/19/2017 at 8:06 PM, DaverWattra said:

This doesn't apply to all the career sourcebook signature abilities, but a lot of them are pretty strange in that they seem to offer abilities that skilled characters ought to have anyway, without spending points on the signature ability.

 

For example, take the Commander's Rousing Oratory ability which costs 30 points:

 

 

Isn't this an ability that one ought to have anyway, if one rolls a good Leadership check?  If a player with good Presence and 5 ranks in Leadership wants to rally a group of hesitant soldiers into fighting, should the GM really say "You can't do that, you haven't spent 30 points on Rousing Oratory"?  And what's with the 2 Destiny Point activation cost on top of it all?

 

Does this seem as silly to others as it does to me?

I wouldn't say silly, but you are right, in that the Base Rules allows groups to do this without a Signature Ability. There isn't a specific Difficulty given for it in the book, so perhaps the GM makes it exceedingly more difficult than what the Signature Ability allows. But as others have said, the Base Rules don't prevent PCs from doing this, it simply presents skills that could be used for it without giving an exact difficulty. It certainly looks like the game is giving PCs new options, especially since some Signatures do let you do things the game wouldn't normally allow you to do.

As a good rule of thumb, if a RPG has a robust and flexible skill system, any attempts to make new options for skills (as opposed to lower difficulties or improving successes) are probably going to have been already attempted by groups. I think people's suggestions for making Signature Abilities different from regular skill checks is good advice for making the Signature Ability still be worth taking. But if said Signature didn't exist, I doubt most people would be as stingy with the ordinary checks.

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Luckily none of my players have picked up a sig ability yet but balance between careers seems off...

 

I also don't like how you are locked into your careers' sig ability only as a character concept can change completely during play of extended campaigns.

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Y'all made my day.

I logged in and was notified of several reactions to the previous post and I see (as of this writing) that I have one of each reaction.

Nice!  All I'm missing is a "Thank You" reaction and then I'll have covered all bases for that post.  ;)

 

For those of you who are new, confused, or sad, keep in mind that I've altered the rules for my Star Wars game a bit.  I actually have 2 pages of rules addendums and alterations already documented out and I'm getting ready to roll out and test ablative energy shield rules too.

I do like the overall framework that FFG set up but I'm finding that some details need alteration in order for me to make this game work long term.

"Pray I don't alter it further . . ."  :ph34r:

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I think the key here is "about which members were previously hesitant."  This implies a few things to me:

1) If you are a military commander, then troops under your command should not be hesitant about taking whatever actions you order.  That's kind of the whole point of chain of command.  Leadership checks to overcome battle stress, first-fight jitters, reasonable objections to courses of action, and so on are normal parts of leading people under your command, and thus not covered by this Signature Ability.

2) If you are a military commander and the people under your command are hesitant about following your orders, something has gone excessively pear-shaped.  Either you've failed to lead them properly so badly and so consistently they're on the verge of mutiny, or the situation has gone so hopeless the only order they're willing to follow is "run like fun for the nearest horizon."  This Signature Ability would allow you to regain control of that situation.

3) People who are hesitant about following your orders are generally not within your chain of command.  Any commander might be able to stand up in a village and give a rousing speech in an effort to recruit soldiers, and might get a few volunteers based on how well they roll.  This Signature Ability allows that action to be far more successful, rallying most if not all of the listeners to action.  On the flip side, it can be used by a daring commander to push their superiors to authorize a daring but risky operation.  As mentioned, this is more or less the situation of the Act II/Act III divide in Rogue One, with Jyn (and to a lesser extent, Admiral Raddus) trying to convince the Rebellion to hit Scarif for the Death Star plans.  But, since apparently no one had this Signature Ability (or no one passed the 3 diff Leadership check), the speeches fail.  But, Jyn rolled well enough (probably Failure with Triumph) to get a solid platoon to help her out.

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On 3/24/2019 at 11:39 AM, ErikModi said:

2) If you are a military commander and the people under your command are hesitant about following your orders, something has gone excessively pear-shaped.  Either you've failed to lead them properly so badly and so consistently they're on the verge of mutiny, or the situation has gone so hopeless the only order they're willing to follow is "run like fun for the nearest horizon."  This Signature Ability would allow you to regain control of that situation.

This. It's very much more about 'rallying troops who have already broken', than day-to-day command checks. In a massed battle setting, for example, pulling this off might for example result in turning a rout around and arguably 'reset' most of the casualties a force has suffered in the massed battle to date. 

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First the group need not be led by the character using this ability, the character just really knows how to rile a hesitant group to arms. This group may be soldiers, but could be a group of pacifist pilgrims being killed by local wildlife, chained slaves who are leery of the whip or worse, droids conditioned via restraining bolts.

 

Adding to Erik's second bullet. The other thing i would see military wise, is a group whose members have been treated poorly, perhaps morally broken and shell shocked or the current actual commander is inept at combat actions, but is trying their best, and has come a long way since they took over. In walks a Sgt. of extensive battlefield experience, but is only obviously only a Sargent, but they are a legendary figure. Blah, blah, blah hear my story troops, pick up your blasters and fight.

 

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Posted (edited)

I have to ask as a GM would you be able to add set back dice to these checks, or upgrades. I would assume yes based on the situation and the character's relation to the people he is using the oratory on. Like if they are slightly racist and the character is not human add set backs, if there is some one actively working against the player maybe upgrade by ranks in leadership.....

Edited by tunewalker

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22 hours ago, tunewalker said:

I have to ask as a GM would you be able to add set back dice to these checks, or upgrades. I would assume yes based on the situation and the character's relation to the people he is using the oratory on. Like if they are slightly racist and the character is not human add set backs, if there is some one actively working against the player maybe upgrade by ranks in leadership.....

Seeing as a bunch of Signature Abilities have upgrades that remove Setback dice from the checks to activate them... yes, I'd say it's pretty clear you can add Setbacks to Signature Ability activation checks. 

In general, you can add Setbacks to ANY check.  And in fact should be doing so, as very few checks are made in perfect conditions. 

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You can even add setback checks to initiative rolls of the situation may cause some.  

Most of my players have never bought the signature abilities due to their cost.  The only one bought has been the gambler dice alter ability and that one is or can be ridiculous.  A

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BTW,  This has a pre-set difficulty dice pool (3 purple dice) of Hard, that dice pool die count is not adjusted up or down, upgrades may change the difficulty pool die type and may add additional dice, but the pool would never be less than Hard. It is once per session costing 2 destiny. This is just a talent which uses the LEADERSHIP SKILL as a way to facilitate the success or failure of the talent's benefit, simply put, the LEADERSHIP SKILL provides a way to resolve and determine success against the pre-set difficulty, it is not a true use of the LEADERSHIP skill check as far as using advantages or threat (Though I have suggestions later). As with other talents with pre-set difficulty level dice pools, and due to game story conditions a GM may rule that certain groups might not qualify as targets and thus may not be selected, a recent ruling I had gotten about another pre-set difficulty level social interaction talent using a skill  to determine success or failure really left a carte' blanche' for target selection. This is just a success or failure roll, there are no options that should be allowed other than things other talents and abilities may possibly bring to the table. Pay close attention to the wording of the talents with pre-set difficulty levels, they are specifically worded differently from the other talents which use opposed or adjustable initial difficulty dice pool sizes. Often these talents don't allow interaction with or from other talents, this was done to limit the abuses by both players and gm alike.  These are talents are not skill checks, they are talents that use a certain skill to test for success or failure.

I suggest Advantages and Threat might represent costs or time to the players resources, perhaps promises that must be kept, etc.  

I'd allow use on the aforementioned groups, but also might see a use of this in gathering political allies to your side of the table in difficult negotiations where they offer their military forces to back or rather not side with the PC's opponents, thus they remain neutral. Also, a group of enemy of my enemy situations where this third party group may of been waiting to pick over the survivors. I think a really good example of enemy of my enemy is in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, where a number of different and opposed groups gather to fight against a common enemy for a short time. Nothing in this ability places a permanent or repeatable option in the use of this talent on a group. It would require a fresh roll each time, and I would only allow one check per story line situation. None of this, can I have my character try again tomorrow?

Often during games Player feel their PCs should walk all over the flavor of the game, which if that's what a player wants, they should head of to the world of digital role-playing games and leave the table top games for those who really enjoy them. I really feel an addendum is needed to the core rules to set social rules tone and intent so both sides of the table don't get carried away with the idea. Clarification of how these pre-set tests versus traditional skill checks with samples can be found in pieces, but a concise single place with multiple samples of what the differences (a success/failure check using a skill as a basis and traditional skill checks in their assorted variety, along with definitions of the correct way to interpret these few gotcha instances would be welcome.  

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