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GandofGand

Dealing with Gear Creep

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So I'm getting ready to take my first foray into running an FFG Star Wars game. 

I've been GMing and playing games for nearly 30 years and I've seen a ton of systems come and go, one of the biggest issues I have with this system is how quickly the power curve can creep up with the Attachments and Modifications. 

Anyone have any good, reasonable ways to reduce the power-creep without outright banning modding? 

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It's a huge problem, in my opinion. In a game that I started but never really got going I limited the number of mods to one per attachment. Not an ideal solution, I'll be the first to admit, but it would help slowing the descent into gear-porn somewhat. Cutting out the attachments and mods makes some of the specializations useless, and it can be argued that limiting the number of mods does the same thing. As I said, not it's not perfect or elegant. So I'll be as interested as you in seeing more opinions on the subject.

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More bad guys.  Offense spools up far more so than defense.  

Scenarios that limit the types of weapons, armor, and gear that can be carried.  If every session you run lets them carry stuff like their going to qual at the range then they will.

When captured, take their stuff.

Use custom opponents.  Use good weapons.  Use smart tactics.  Call reinforcements.

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I think the answer to this should come from the GM's side of the screen, rather than taking options away from the players. Alter difficulty to fit. Have encounters in places they can't openly carry their huge guns. Have encounters that can't be solved with guns.

But, be sure to give them the chance to use everything they've invested in as well. Let them flex and feel like bad mofos.

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Okay so their really is no reasonable way to limit growth other than telling them flat-out..."If you got hat direction, so will the bad guys" 

That and changing up the scenarios to deprive them of gear or limit usage. 

My goal is to run a really gritty Firefly/Sernity/BeBop-type game where they are always chasing credits, getting involved with the wrong people etc...hard to get that gritty feel when they are carrying tons of amped-up gear. 

So if I can limit the income a bit, limit triviality, at least initially as they are going to be stuck on Tattooine for a bit until they can pay off their debts and buy/repair a ship. 

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What you decide as a GM to make your game run to your liking is always reasonable.  There is absolutely not a thing wrong with just putting out some house rules ahead of time and saying this is good and this is not.

Quote

But, whether or not an item is available for purchase should never be solely a matter of rolling dice. Instead, the needs of the plot make it at least partially the Game Master's decision.

AoR p. 164

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18 minutes ago, GandofGand said:

My goal is to run a really gritty Firefly/Sernity/BeBop-type game where they are always chasing credits, getting involved with the wrong people etc...hard to get that gritty feel when they are carrying tons of amped-up gear. 

A lot of this will depend on your players. I've dangled attachments and mods in front of my table, yet my players are more interested in attaining in-story power, cash wealth and very specific upgrades. 

Meta gonna meta, and vice-versa. I personally love the dire straits early in RPGs, especially if little things feel rewarding, so if your players are on the same wavelength you shouldn't have many problems.

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26 minutes ago, GandofGand said:

Okay so their really is no reasonable way to limit growth other than telling them flat-out..."If you got hat direction, so will the bad guys" 

That and changing up the scenarios to deprive them of gear or limit usage. 

My goal is to run a really gritty Firefly/Sernity/BeBop-type game where they are always chasing credits, getting involved with the wrong people etc...hard to get that gritty feel when they are carrying tons of amped-up gear. 

So if I can limit the income a bit, limit triviality, at least initially as they are going to be stuck on Tattooine for a bit until they can pay off their debts and buy/repair a ship. 

An alternative is to increase the price of attachments and modding. You can also limit the time in which modding can be done, and/or make sure they dont have the tools needed, so there are more than a few setback dice on the roll.

The best thing to do is actually talk to your players and see what they want to do. If you have a player whos whole motivation is to modify everything in sight then there isnt much you can do about it. You will get creep and the best you can do is slow it down. If you have a group which doesnt have a point of mechanics between them then this is alot less of a problem.

The second thing to do has been mentioned a few times: Make it to where the fancy guns arent all that much help. Social encounters can be a big part of this game. You can also make it to where even in combat encounters the heaviest gear isnt actually the best idea. Things like carrying around the super blaster rifle attracts too much attention and gets the players delayed by muggers or cops. Things like everyone gets pissed off when the players start blasting everything in sight with heavy ordinance and no one will give them a job afterwards.

Again tho, I will bring up that these are things that should be discussed with the group beforehand. Dont surprise them with things like this in game, but discuss it. Hopefully that will make the problem regulate itself

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Another factor to consideris that modifying attachments takes time. If you end a tense session in the middle of the adventure then obviously they can't sit there and setup 3 mods because they have no time to do so.

 

Timed adventures, real stakes, even setting timers so the players have to make a decision are ways to ensure things are more fast paced.

 

On the flip side, when traveling to another planet in between sessions or when hiding out and laying low, it's the perfect time to let them mod stuff.

 

Track the amount of time they spend modding things and make sure to set a limit of time for how much time passes inbetween sessions. If they want to build 22 blasters but dont have the time, tell them how many have been made when the next session starts.

 

I like to set a 2 week limit personally... and just because it's 2 weeks doesn't mean their character can spend 24 hours every day for 14 days in crafting... everyone needs to sleep, to eat, to do other daily activities besides craft.

 

Now as far as in game, this rpg is setup with the idea that the PCs will get more skilled and better equipment over time... Nothing says they have to keep it. Have them encounter pirates, have a street urchin pick their pockets, have an inquisitor chop their heavy blaster rifle in pieces, have them arrested and confiscate all their equipment... just don't do that all the time.

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I plan to sit down with (most) of the Group Sunday and talk about expectations etc...I think most of the group will be down with aiming for RP, just one, maybe two guy I have to convince to go along with the plan. 

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I guess I'm lucky in that our group is not given to min/max shenanigans, but I haven't found weapon power creep to be a problem. We do have a Gank Marauder that tears through minions like tissue paper, but that is with an unmodded vibro-great sword.

As GM I plan varied encounters, and even in combat simply killing opponents isn't the only goal. So modded weapons with high damage, low crit thresholds are only so useful.

Other types of mods that remove setbacks, provide skill upgrades or talent ranks can be great encounter hooks. Like the Scout with the multi optic sight calling out targets in the dark. Or the Outlaw Tech with a stripped down E-11 stuffed into his jumpsuit, bluffing his way onto the service catwalk. 

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As another piece of information I do have some min maxer players. A wookiee force user who rolls YYYGGGB and removes a setback on his lightsaber checks with an Ilum crystal shoto blade that has every mod but one of the damage mods, so 9 damage crit 1 vicious 2 and has gone down the warrior career with the shii-cho and aggressor specs.

His soak with his armor is 8.

He can only hit 1 wampa per round though. :)

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Just now, GandofGand said:

Oh well theres ONE area where I've curtailed the shenanigans; NO Force-users allowed...8) 

Well I've got another wookiee that's got a really good ranged heavy roll, a player who is buying spec trees specifically to max out his wound threshold (it's at 27 now I think) and all that. It doesn't phase me, I just up the challenge in combat, whether that means more troops or tougher troops. Often combat is a result of failures to try a different approach so it's not like they go shooting at every little person that gets in their way.

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I have to admit I never understood why FFG went that route. Star Wars is not at all about modifying blasters; in fact, it is all about characters and pretty much not about their gear. Han Solo is not a cool gunslinger because he wields a tricked-out blaster.

My group is not about min-maxing, and when modifying came up I simply told them that I would prefer to keep it simple - 13 pages of character sheet are enough anyway. I guess there will be some signature weapons and the like, but not the strange things this system mechanically allows. That is my advice: if you do not want gear creep, talk to your players in Session Zero. The rules work fine without any of the power creep of splat books.

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Don't be afraid to take gear off your party. Plenty of ways for their cool stuff to be confiscated. Imperial customs or cautious Hutt crime lords will search people. They won't always give everythign back and there is little a group of spacers can do about it. You said you want a "gritty Fireflyesque" type game where the party are constantly working to make ends meet. If you confiscate gear from time to time. Have the party robbed of some of their better stuff, you can really help to support that kind of game atmosphere.

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I have found that limiting what is available at character creation is the best way to keep gear creep to a minimum.  When we rolled up our characters nobody was allowed to purchase anything above rarity level 5.

 

The other useful mechanic is restrictions.  You can't just go wandering through downtown Coruscant with a disrupter rifle slung over your shoulder.  The cops would pick you up in an instant.

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2 minutes ago, P-Dub663 said:

I have found that limiting what is available at character creation is the best way to keep gear creep to a minimum.  When we rolled up our characters nobody was allowed to purchase anything above rarity level 5.

 

The other useful mechanic is restrictions.  You can't just go wandering through downtown Coruscant with a disrupter rifle slung over your shoulder.  The cops would pick you up in an instant.

Rarity 5?! Pft I limited my PCs to rarity 4 :P I also institute a "no open carry" rule. Like you said, walking through downtown Coruscant with a Heavy blaster rifle would be the equivalent of going to Times Square with an LMG. People don't take kindly to that kind of thing.

I break the open carry thing down to different kinds of worlds; High security super civilised/Imperial worlds won't let you carry a weapon at all (concealed weapons at all times), Warlord ruled planets/Hutt worlds etc. don't mind you walking about with a sidearm but tend to frown upon heavier ordnance. Backwoods frontier worlds are more an anything goes situation; frontier lawmen just hope you don't land on their world an blow away half the town with your ships blasters :P

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A couple tips: first, be strict with the checks needed to find the stuff in the first place. Don't be afraid to upgrade the checks either, especially if they're searching in a dangerous place. Looking for anything in a shadowport could easily cause all sorts of problems - a bad streetwise check could easily lead to stepping into the wrong bar. 

Second, don't be afraid to declare certain weapons or items as off limits - things that will require a quest, not a purchase. Lightsabers are already dealt with like this, but you could reasonably add Mando (and other heavy armors) to that list. Jetpacks, slicer gear, disruptor weapons, and even specific attachements like shadowsheaths to the list. A bit of narrative to justify the exclusion is easy to apply - only one company mass produces disruptors, you need a contact with them to buy it; a jetpack has to be customized to the user, with training in its use, you need to find someone equipped to do it; slicer gear is highly customized, you'll need parts from at least 3 different systems to assemble what you want - have fun; and so on. 

Third, be strict with encumbrance, and don't be afraid to apply rule 0 to encumbrance increasing stuff. Sure, the duffel and military pack boost encumbrance, but it'll still take a maneuver to open it, 1d4 maneuvers to find what you want, a maneuver to get it out, etc. Have you ever rummaged in a big packpack? Even one carefully compartmentalized? It's not quick. Even with a utility vest, even a high brawn character isn't going to be able to carry all that much; agility characters will struggle even more. This doesn't really slow characters down much, and that super blaster will still be a little nuts, but it'll reduce options. Ask your players to tell you their loadout when they leave the ship.

Finally, make them spend time in places with stricter weapon/armor rules. Civilized places that don't allow heavy armor (not even padded, let alone laminate or heavy battle armor; don't allow any kind of heavy blaster, and maybe not even light blasters; if they want anything heavier than a vibroknife they'll need to make stealth checks against various scanners to sneak things through. It'll be possible, especially for high agility characters, but they'll need weapons optimized for sneaking in, not damage. 

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This is NOT a gear based game, this is a skill, talent, roleplay based game.  I have a player with 400+ XP and still is using a Regular blaster she started with.

The ship they start with should break down, and become a credit sink.  The weapons they find after looting the bodies are "hot", or require permits to carry.  They want a rarity 5+ piece of equipment it requires a quest, or if they do find one it is damaged or inferior and costs 2 to 4 times as much.

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One option could be to drop all or most of the mods from the attachments.  Some mods could be rolled into the main attachment or kept since some attachments are pretty much designed as an entry point to a mod.  To allow the gear head characters their specialties allow Jury Rigged and Tinkerer to be applied to the same piece of gear each more than once with the caveat that any improvement from Jury Rigged may only be applied once.  So you could reduce the crit and reduce encumbrance but not reduce crit twice.

edit: Personally, I read the Jurry Rigged talent as doing that anyway, but I'm apparently in the minority on that.

Edited by Ahrimon

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When this started to happen to me in games in the past, I started outfitting my bad guys with primo gear as well.  It takes a bit of work, sure, but the best place to pilfer ideas are those minmaxing player character sheets.  "Oh, how about that, he has an XJ-900 hyperblaster with triple-laser scope and a visual uplink, too!  What are the chances?"

 

 

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On 2017-06-02 at 11:35 AM, GandofGand said:

Okay so their really is no reasonable way to limit growth other than telling them flat-out..."If you got hat direction, so will the bad guys" 

To second the pirate's point, you are not obligated to make every item in the equipment list available, or even findable.  But I get around a lot of that because I don't really ever give my players time to "go shopping" (nor do they really have the money).  It's a story, not a treasure hunt, and I pretty much said that from Session Zero.  If they get equipment or mods, it's because it's found...because I put it there.  People coming from D&D and video games think they're in a never-ending arms race against ever nastier bosses.  But when you think about Star Wars, that's not really how the stories happen.  Basically, they're always running from Star Destroyers and Stormtroopers, and it doesn't get much worse.  The only character who goes through something like a standard boss arc is Luke, and in the end he decides not to fight and lets his dad fix everything.

All that said, one of the PCs is a mechanic and the player does like messing with gear, so I do make sure he's fed appropriately and that the team benefits from his mods.  But it's all stuff they've found or acquired in a story-based way, not because they read the Hired Gun book and started drooling.

On 2017-06-02 at 0:52 PM, GandofGand said:

Oh well theres ONE area where I've curtailed the shenanigans; NO Force-users allowed...8) 

Why would that curtail any shenanigans?  If you're labouring under the assumption that the Force is overpowered like previous games, rest assured it's not.  It's very well balanced, and does a very good job of replicating the slow and difficult path of a Force wielder.  It is somewhat true that a one-trick pony can be created with some of the powers, but this is more about getting the player to branch out rather than dive deep into a power.  IMHO the system does such a good job that Force users may in fact end up frustrated by the slow pace of advancement if their expectations have been set by previous games.

So allow the Force, but encourage the player to develop Enhance and/or Sense initially until they work their way to a second Force rating.

On 2017-06-02 at 9:24 AM, GandofGand said:

I've been GMing and playing games for nearly 30 years...

You're not alone here.  I've been GMing since the original D&D box set, and this game made me completely revise how I run games (for the better, I think).  Perhaps run a beginner game first, there's a lot of value in both the product and the sessions spent learning the system.

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19 minutes ago, whafrog said:

I've been GMing since the original D&D box set,

Cool!  You've got me beat by a few years; I started in '81 during the Moldvay era.

 

To the topic at hand, your players' mindset can be as much of a factor as what you allow and don't allow.  I'm fortunate enough to have a group of really character / story -focused players, so this isn't really an issue for me.

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