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MasterX87

Frustrated Scholar. Help!

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Hey Guys, Gals, & fellow GM's, so I have a question for all of you...

We are currently playing a campaign Where us "PC's" are working for this Twi'lek performing all his tasks for insert blank... We have a(n)..

Alderaanian Big Game Hunter Human 

Ex-Imperial-Tank Trooper Mechanic Human

Force Sensitive Pathfinder Togruta 

Force Sensitive Scholar Twi'lek 

I'm having loads of fun playing my character as well as my other fellow PC's but I feel like my fellow Scholar player is not having so much fun... First off, He doesn't appear to have many chances to shine on skill checks pertaining to his career. Now this could be the fault of our GM due to him determining what skills is best for any situation, the type of scenario we are in, or it could be the player. For example in our starting campaign, Our GM/ The NPC who hired us with an exorbitant amount of money, resources, and connections had us locate & infiltrate an old temple for artifacts. Our scholar was able to somewhat read the hieroglyphics  and determine it was an old Sith temple which in turn helped him find a Sith Holocron. COOLBEANS!

 After that his character literally fell silent throughout the campaign, aside from attacking and defending of course. Currently our campaign is now "Beyond the rim" and again, I find him just sitting there with his character not doing much while my Hunter & our Pathfinder seem to be doing most of the legwork in skill checks in tracking this treasure ship. Even the Mechanic is getting more skill checks than my scholar. Granted this is his first experience in a RPG so that could be the reason.. I guess my question is, if you were a GM, what creative skills or ways would you help my fellow scholar shine and have him feel as if he was as an equally important member to the group? What tips would you give my scholar so he can challenge the GM with Knowledge rolls that will either coincide or impede the story of the campaign? The last thing I want him to think is he chose a bad career. Especially because I think his character and story arc is pretty awesome.

Basically he's a Swoden type character. He has been banned from Ryloth for his studies of Sith lore and practices. 

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If I were the GM, I'd ask the player, in a private moment, whether he's still enjoying himself and why not. Which expectations haven't been met? Does he really like his PC, or is he regretting his choice?

When I plan an adventure I'm trying and factoring in each player's preferences and their PC's strengths (not always the same, mind). Then I determine which of the adventure's primary (i.e. narratively imperative) encounters fit whom best. For the players/PCs missing out, I'm going to design a secondary encounter or two (or tweak a primary encounter), so that everybody is going have the opportunity to enjoy themselves/shine approximately as often as everybody else.

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The problem is he did pick a bad career. That is not players fault.

Scholar is very specialized career which focus's on very limited role of limited use. This issue will be compounded by been force sensitive which is exp expensive.

I'd suggest a rework and look at switching

Archeologist offers simlair focus while having and more rounded (gets the well rounded talent as well) talent so they can be more useful the rest of the time.

Or

Sage (force and destiny). Again simlair focus, but more focus on the force (will also free up some exp for force powers.)

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Whenever you are off to any environment or given task he should be asking to research where you are going and what you are going to be doing, and the GM should let them. The results of those rolls can be a one off benefit or an ongoing one, depending on the results.

An example, you are going to some wild jungle world they should ask to research flora and fauna maybe.  If they succeed maybe everyone gets a Boost on their first skill check related to that.  If they roll a couple Triumphs, maybe that's a Boost in all checks.

Whatever you are going to do, the Scholar should be allowed to research given enough time, and with positive results, effect that task(s) in some beneficial way.

Edited by 2P51

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A scholar isn't bad just cuz he picked it.  You need to use knowledge checks in combat.  You need to use your smarts to help grant boosts to the team, find alternatives etc.

 It sounds like he's waiting for the game master to give him a specific thing I do with his specialization. As a GM I always try to give all my players a chance to shine. But the player has to take some responsibility and do you skilled checks in ways that aren't normally thought of or considered. 

For example, when a fight breaks out he makes a warfare or education check to find a weak point in the defenses of the enemy, or details on the weapon they are using. Then that can grant mechanical Boosts and checks to the team.

Scholars are fun but you can't just sit back.  That's just one example.

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15 hours ago, MasterX87 said:

Hey Guys, Gals, & fellow GM's, so I have a question for all of you...

We are currently playing a campaign Where us "PC's" are working for this Twi'lek performing all his tasks for insert blank... We have a(n)..

Alderaanian Big Game Hunter Human 

Ex-Imperial-Tank Trooper Mechanic Human

Force Sensitive Pathfinder Togruta 

Force Sensitive Scholar Twi'lek 

I'm having loads of fun playing my character as well as my other fellow PC's but I feel like my fellow Scholar player is not having so much fun... First off, He doesn't appear to have many chances to shine on skill checks pertaining to his career. Now this could be the fault of our GM due to him determining what skills is best for any situation, the type of scenario we are in, or it could be the player. For example in our starting campaign, Our GM/ The NPC who hired us with an exorbitant amount of money, resources, and connections had us locate & infiltrate an old temple for artifacts. Our scholar was able to somewhat read the hieroglyphics  and determine it was an old Sith temple which in turn helped him find a Sith Holocron. COOLBEANS!

 After that his character literally fell silent throughout the campaign, aside from attacking and defending of course. Currently our campaign is now "Beyond the rim" and again, I find him just sitting there with his character not doing much while my Hunter & our Pathfinder seem to be doing most of the legwork in skill checks in tracking this treasure ship. Even the Mechanic is getting more skill checks than my scholar. Granted this is his first experience in a RPG so that could be the reason.. I guess my question is, if you were a GM, what creative skills or ways would you help my fellow scholar shine and have him feel as if he was as an equally important member to the group? What tips would you give my scholar so he can challenge the GM with Knowledge rolls that will either coincide or impede the story of the campaign? The last thing I want him to think is he chose a bad career. Especially because I think his character and story arc is pretty awesome.

Basically he's a Swoden type character. He has been banned from Ryloth for his studies of Sith lore and practices. 

If they'd like to branch out to AoR for a new spec there is Strategist in Commander that provides some very tangible Talents that utilize Knowledge Warfare in particular for combat.

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I would definitely agree with researching a planet before you go as it can give benefits like knowing the local fauna and flora, knowing the common weather, determining what survival gear should be purchased, knowing what the local government is if any. You can also use it on space stations to determine things such as were marketplaces or certain businesses are likely to be due to civil planning. For instance a scholar studying a space station might determine that if the place was designed intelligently then the life support systems will not be near the hangar to prevent ships from flying in and launching missiles, nor would it be near the outside so a bomber can't take it out. So they can help the party narrow down areas to search.

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3 hours ago, Rozial said:

I would definitely agree with researching a planet before you go as it can give benefits like knowing the local fauna and flora, knowing the common weather, determining what survival gear should be purchased, knowing what the local government is if any. You can also use it on space stations to determine things such as were marketplaces or certain businesses are likely to be due to civil planning. For instance a scholar studying a space station might determine that if the place was designed intelligently then the life support systems will not be near the hangar to prevent ships from flying in and launching missiles, nor would it be near the outside so a bomber can't take it out. So they can help the party narrow down areas to search.

In my current game, the players barely ever use knowledge skills (their choice), and have repeatedly found themselves in environments without the appropriate gear, or realizing the planet the are jumping into is under Martial Law only when they first find themselves approached by a flight of TIEs. 

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1 hour ago, Edgookin said:

In my current game, the players barely ever use knowledge skills (their choice), and have repeatedly found themselves in environments without the appropriate gear, or realizing the planet the are jumping into is under Martial Law only when they first find themselves approached by a flight of TIEs. 

Then why take a scholar? I am a tad mystified on this one because knowledge checks is all they do

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Playing a knowledge based character can be tough if you don't take the initiative with it. When I play a character with high intelligence I always throw out stuff like "Can I roll a knowledge warfare to know a weak spot on that particular ship?" "Can I roll knowledge Xenology to know the customary greeting of that species?" "Can I roll knowledge Outer Rim to know what kinds of weather we can expect on this planet?" "Can I roll knowledge Education to calculate the best blast points on this structure?". I basically try to always know helpful facts that will get other characters boost dice on their actions.

If your GM is comfortable with it they can let you do declarations when you have successes and advantages to spend, so you don't even need to ask, you just make up something that would be useful to know and might get you some boost or downgrade the check by pointing out dangers.

The GM should always be receptive to giving people benefits for knowing about things, but I think it's the players responsibility to ask the GM if they can make relevant knowledge checks. If they just sit around and wait till the GM asks for knowledge checks they aren't really playing their character. A knowledge character should be a non-stop fact spouting machine that gives helpful advice on just about anything. 

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I have a question which is tangentially related to this topic because it involves Knowledge checks in general...

I have, on more than one occasion, had players actually wonder aloud as to whether or not they should even attempt a Knowledge check on something because they're not sure if it would be worth the potential Strain / misinformation / whatever that might come as the result of net Threats. 

Am I doing something wrong here?

It seems silly to me that a roll just to see if you happen to know something should be potentially harmful, but I'm never sure what else to do with net Threats.  Sure, I could just hand-wave the roll, but that's not really fair to people who invest XP in knowledge skills and Talents which enhance them.

Any thoughts or advice?

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The main thing is that knowing stuff needs to actually be useful. For example, you should allow downgrading dangerous tasks that have automatic reds if there is an appropriate knowledge check that would take the danger away. This should be invoked liberally when dealing with things like taking mechanics checks against alien technology, or taking streetwise or survival checks on planets you don't know. Throw in some reds and allow a knowledge skill to counter them.

The Graupnoids of Zaalmatar were once embroiled in a fierce religious conflict and both factions started equipping all their weapons with a prayer circuit that would infinitely cycle the verses their opposition considered heretical. This would make their weapons useless to the other side because disrupting the offending circuit would set off a lethal blast. <- You better know this before you start futzing with their guns. 

 

Also people should almost always be able to take general knowledge checks about whatever task is at hand to gain some boosts. Every bit of information you reveal to them should be boost essentially. It's not just a "roll for exposition" skill, it's a "know useful things" skill.

Edited by Aetrion

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On 4/13/2017 at 7:03 PM, Vorzakk said:

I have, on more than one occasion, had players actually wonder aloud as to whether or not they should even attempt a Knowledge check on something because they're not sure if it would be worth the potential Strain / misinformation / whatever that might come as the result of net Threats. 

Am I doing something wrong here?

It seems silly to me that a roll just to see if you happen to know something should be potentially harmful, but I'm never sure what else to do with net Threats.  Sure, I could just hand-wave the roll, but that's not really fair to people who invest XP in knowledge skills and Talents which enhance them.

Any thoughts or advice?

Unfortunately, a lot of information from knowledge checks is just stuff the GM intends for the party to know anyways.  I always had a pathfinder GM who would say to "make a Perception check!" and then tell us the info regardless of what we rolled.  I just stopped rolling.  Same with knowledge skills. :(

It is GOOD to have consequence for not having attempted or made the check and it is good that your players know that the GM doesn't give out meaningless checks.  "....and One Setback die to the Streetwise checks since you didn't bother to check out this planet's condition before you came here."  That'd point them in the right direction.  

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7 hours ago, DurosSpacer said:

Unfortunately, a lot of information from knowledge checks is just stuff the GM intends for the party to know anyways.  I always had a pathfinder GM who would say to "make a Perception check!" and then tell us the info regardless of what we rolled.  I just stopped rolling.  Same with knowledge skills. :(

It is GOOD to have consequence for not having attempted or made the check and it is good that your players know that the GM doesn't give out meaningless checks.  "....and One Setback die to the Streetwise checks since you didn't bother to check out this planet's condition before you came here."  That'd point them in the right direction.  

You're right in that rolling for necessary story-driving knowledge is pointless. But, I don't subscribe to adverse effects (negative stimuli) for not rolling; instead the GM should have bits of useful, but not necessary, information (positive stimuli) ready to dole out, in a way that the players are aware the possible gain from a success would outweigh any negative results (excluding despair, probably).

Regarding Strain: I do exclude these research checks from dealing/recovering Strain, mainly to discourage "recreational research".

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15 minutes ago, 2P51 said:

I exclude Strain and Recovery from rolls outside of structured play period.

Yea, when people start making up reasons to roll their highest skills over and over to farm strain recovery you should definitely not allow it.

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1 hour ago, 2P51 said:

On a failure or a success?

Either.

 

7 minutes ago, Oden Gebhac said:

Misremembering

 

This is what I've been doing, which is exactly what's causing players to second guess whether or not it's worth finding out whether or not their characters happen to have some additional information on a particular topic. 

At the end of the day, it's not a huge deal; I was just wondering if I was doing something woefully wrong.  I suppose the upside is that, by making it a gamble, it saves time by discouraging the entire party from making a round of all-green rolls based on their Intellect; so maybe I've just been looking at it the wrong way.  

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There's nothing wrong with what you are doing.  Just make it clear to the players the circumstances of the roll (on the spot quick memory check or an extended research check).  If the players are discouraged from making the rolls, they don't have to make the rolls and just that their PC doesn't know anything.

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On a success it's easy, it just takes them longer, or you hold back some truth or details.  On a fail it's more fun, that's where you get to insert bad information.

Like all skill checks a failure on a knowledge check shouldn't mean they stared at a blank screen for 3 hours.  You always give them something on skill checks, some good some bad, the trick is figuring out which to trust.  In every truth is a little lie and every lie a little truth.

You should always endeavor to avoid using the dice as an up/down, yes/no generator.

Edited by 2P51

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9 hours ago, Vorzakk said:

Ok, point taken on the Strain thing; but the question remains:  what do you do with net Threats on a routine "do I happen to know anything further on this topic" checks?

If time is a factor, Threat can be used to make the check take longer (obviously you have to specify how long the check would normally take). If time ISN'T a factor, it's worth asking if the check is necessary.

 

If the information they are after is dangerous/restricted, or if acquiring it requires some innate risk, Threat can be used to activate that danger - maybe tip off some enemies, or wake the sleeping monster that guards the library of doom, or whatever. (Again, if there's no risk, is there a need for the roll?)

 

If players roll a Despair, you could introduce one incorrect fact into whatever they find out.

 

in combat, standing around analysing enemy tactics or a creature's weak spots or whatever could well make the character a target as they fail to take cover or simply don't notice approaching danger. At boost dice to attacks targeting them.

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Threats on a knowledge check could also be used to step up some danger for the team. They're digging around in matters that someone would rather they didn't.

On one or more Threats, the group is now being followed. Or they turn down an alley only to be met by a tough who threatens them if they persist. Or their place is broken into and ransacked...

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