Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Finally got my hands on Disciples of Harmony. Rather than adding to existing threads about this book, I am going to focus on just one aspect: Ebb/Flow.

So...what exactly is the purpose behind this power?

Full disclosure: This is a trick question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, Decorus said:

Its meant to make you awesome for a very cheap amount of xp given what you get...

Yes, but there are other talents and powers that can make a PC awesome for cheap amount of XP. This is the first time I've seen a power that is... both almost completely useless as a base power but duplicates (and in some cases exceeds) the abilities of a large chunk of other force talents and powers once you get enough upgrades.

I am totally lost with the design philosophy behind this power.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The biggest difference between Ebb/Flow and other "Add Space Magic to <insert skill> check here" abilities is that Ebb/Flow (particularly Flow) doesn't have an immediate effect, but rather sets up you or your opponent for next round. And with the Triumph/Despair Mastery upgrade, it acts more like a stacking buff/debuff. I imagine the fiction of it is meant to be a Force user slowly turning the tide of things in their favor.

It also makes for a great "I mostly use the Force by accident and it just kinda looks like I'm lucky/weirdly skilled" power alongside Sense & Enhance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, Blackbird888 said:

Most powers have an immediate effect that is cool and can be useful, and gets better as you upgrade. Ebb/Flow is different from most other powers, in that it is definitely very useful as it is upgraded, but initially isn't as useful. It is, in trope terms, a Magikarp power.

I would dare say it is almost useless in basic power, outside of a few narrow areas. Let's examine the basic power more:

Ebb: Convert any skill use to a Ebb Power check. FP can be spent to suffer one strain and inflict one strain on all other engaged targets. Well, I can already do this using the Influence basic power, with the differences being I don't have to take strain damage to do it, but I can only hit one target. That might be a reasonable trade off if I am engaged with more than one target. Hopefully of course one of those engaged targets isn't one of my companions!

Flow: Convert any skill use to a Flow Power check. FP can be used to heal 1 strain. Well that is sure nifty. Except there are lots of force talents, basic powers, and upgrades that let you convert FP to success or advantage, so in those cases I can just convert to advantage and then advantage into recovered strain.

Furthermore both of these can only be activated once; that is you cannot activate multiple times. Of course there is an easy to obtain strength upgrade that solves this issue. And if you already are making a combined skill check + force pool, this power isn't useful at all. I mean it is sort of useful that now Melee and Brawl have a Force Power that lets you add your Force Pool to your roll.

So... let's also take a look at upgrades since it was mentioned it makes the power more useful. I dare say it doesn't just make it more useful; it basically replaces 80% of the Force Talents, Basic Powers, and Upgrades out there. Just looking at the middle of the tree through the fourth rank control upgrade, and the two strength upgrades on the right at the third and fourth rank here. Pick just about any Talent, Basic Power, or Upgrade that relies on adding advantage, threat, success, or failure to a skill check. Ebb/Flow now does it better. Because you can choose any skill you want, and you have the flexibility to do Success, Failure, Advantage, or Threat. Consider Starfighter Ace talent Intuitive Strike. I don't need that talent anymore. Ebb/Flow does it much better, as it only costs 1 FP to activate instead of 2. Lets consider some lightsaber talents like Disruptive Strike or Hawk Bat Swoop. If you're willing to be strength based (or just dump a lot of ranks into Lightsaber), Ebb/Flow can in many cases mimic these talents better (yes I know there are some differences). I can think of probably a dozen or more talents/powers that add force dice to specific skill checks that are now rendered redundant by Ebb/Flow with the appropriate upgrades (60XP worth mind you). Or you can look at the redundancy in reverse; that is I don't need Ebb/Flow if I can already add my FD to skill checks that matter to m.

All in all, I am still absolutely mystified with the design philosophy of this power. If it was truly the intent to release this power down the line as F&D matured, why are there so many skill restricted uses of "Add FD to skill roll, use FP to add symbols to roll"?  Ebb/Flow really feels like it just blows up the entire Force Power dynamic to me in many cases.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is one very important difference to consider when comparing Ebb/Flow to other abilities that let you apply force points to skill checks: Those other abilities allow you to decide how to spend your Force Points after you see how you have rolled on your normal dice, while Ebb/Flow requires you to decide how many Advantages and how many Successes you want to purchase a full turn before you roll. This means that with Ebb/Flow, you can't see if you have gotten enough successes to succeed on the roll before you decide if you want to buy success or advantage. You also can't tell if it's worth flipping a destiny point to use those dark side pips, because you don't know how badly you might need those extra symbols. It also means you can lose the benefit entirely if circumstances prompt you to use a different skill than the one you used the previous round. In order to get that kind of flexibility with Ebb/Flow, you have to use the control upgrade that has you commit a die, but that, of course, prevents you from using that Force Rating with other abilities, and it forces you to use all the black pips you roll.

As for the basic version of Flow, you are right that a lot of talents/powers/upgrades will allow you to convert FP into advantage if you are in combat (and some GMs interpret those tables to apply exclusively to attack rolls). You don't necessarily have to be in structured time to use Flow, however, which means it can be used to recover strain on rolls that would not normally give you that option. This also means that the basic Ebb power could have interesting applications during social encounters (suddenly those people you pulled aside for a quick conference don't have the energy to demand that concession any more...). Come to think of it, Ebb/Flow has some really interesting applications for mediation that aren't immediately obvious. Subtle use of Ebb's Control upgrades could allow you to check one side of the negotiations without appearing to take sides in the matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Kaigen said:

There is one very important difference to consider when comparing Ebb/Flow to other abilities that let you apply force points to skill checks: Those other abilities allow you to decide how to spend your Force Points after you see how you have rolled on your normal dice, while Ebb/Flow requires you to decide how many Advantages and how many Successes you want to purchase a full turn before you roll.

OK... this is good... thanks for pointing that Kaigen, I did miss this dynamic when I first read through the upgrades. It does impact the power in that it takes away some of the flexibility of the icons you're adding to a check, and you need to spend a round prepare the power first. Though of course its really only the first round of a combat encounter where you're not getting benefit, as every round after you can just keep using this power. Outside of structured time it is moot though.

Honestly if anything this makes the power mechanically more quirky for me, and I am still really struggling to understand why it was ever included in the system. It is probably going to be a long time before I allow it in my current game (if I ever allow it).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "Flow" side of Ebb/Flow also only adds those successes/advantages if your next check uses the same skill you triggered the power with. So if the situation forces you to change tactics, those bonuses are lost. And outside of structured time, you're not often making the same check twice in a row (depending on how your group handles re-tries of course).

Ultimately, the power's purpose seems to be to slowly nudge an encounter in your favor until you can make a decisive move. I actually want to build a Soresu Defender who uses this to guarantee an Improved Parry/Reflect trigger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Force binds all things. The slightest push, the smallest touch, sends echoes throughout life.

 

 . . . such manipulation is possible, yesIt requires that one be able to feel the critical point within the fractured mass... and know how to strike it in such a way that the echoes travel to your intended destination.

Kreia, KotOR II

 

This is very much a Kreia power.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The last control makes this a little weaker version of the other force skills like Starfighter Ace talent Intuitive Strike - since you have to commit 1 of your dice and there are greater penalties for using Dark side points.  

When looking through this power requires a lot of force points to activate the other abilities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, damnkid3 said:

The last control makes this a little weaker version of the other force skills like Starfighter Ace talent Intuitive Strike - since you have to commit 1 of your dice and there are greater penalties for using Dark side points.  

When looking through this power requires a lot of force points to activate the other abilities.

Because you can turn any skill check into an Ebb/Flow power check, you can just use it with Gunnery and add success/failure to your roll, with some inflexibility due to it applying to gunnery checks you make in the next round. You don't need the last control talent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, wanted to see what other think of this question. It could be splitting hairs, or it could be the correct interpretation of specific game terminology.

Is a Combined Force Power check a skill check? That is, once you've combined your force pool to a skill check, is it still a skill check?

This nuance matters for Ebb/Flow, because it will impact whether or not you can use Ebb/Flow to modify a skill check in the following round that is is actually a Force Power check. For example, I use Ebb/Flow on a Lighsaber combat check, generating pips that I use to give Success and Advantage to my next Lightsaber check. Let's say I then use Hawk Bat Swoop next turn, which uses the Lightsaber skill + my Force Pool, which is now, by definition a Combined Force Power Check (pp 280- 281 F&D corebook). Can use the Success/Advantage generated from last round's Ebb/Flow check on my Lightsaber skill roll I am making from using Hawk Bat Swoop?

I am calling this trick a 'double tap' in which (if legal) I am essentially adding my Force Pool to a skill check twice; e.g. getting the benefits of Ebb/Flow + the benefits of the combined Force Power check.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that's a correct interpretation, the only caveat being that you can't use two different combined force power checks on the same roll, meaning that you can't do a Hawk Bat Swoop and activate Ebb/Flow on the same check. So it would go like this:

  • Round 1: Make a Lightsaber check, using Ebb/Flow to add success and advantage for the next check.
  • Round 2: Hawk Bat Swoop, rolling your Force Rating and using the pips to add success or advantage while also gaining the extra symbols you set up the previous round.
  • Round 3: Back to square one. You weren't able to use Ebb/Flow on the previous round's check due, so you haven't queued any benefits for this round.

It's an interesting tactical consideration of whether you want to keep maintaining the benefits of Ebb/Flow by paying forward to the next round, or blow it all with a combined check in the hopes of ending a threat right then and there. The difference between this and just using Hawk Bat Swoop on every check is that you gain the option of performing a "double tap" if the situation calls for it in exchange for losing the flexibility of being able to see the roll before spending the force pips that HBS normally provides.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't have my book handy to check, but I'd say that trying to use Ebb/Flow and Hawk-Bat Swoop on the same skill check is pretty sketchy in terms of being rules legal, especially as you're having your Force dice pull double-duty, and the devs have said that combos like Influence's social skill Control upgrade and the Overwhelm Emotions talent don't stack.

That said, if Ebb/Flow's wording is the bonus success/advantage apply to your next check, then you could probably do Ebb/Flow + Lightsaber on one round, and then apply the bonuses to using Hawk-Bat Swoop on the following round.  It's a pretty potent combo, but you'd need FR2 at the very least to make it a viable combo, and Ataru Striker (on top of being very heavy on strain use) doesn't offer a Force Rating boost.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

Don't have my book handy to check, but I'd say that trying to use Ebb/Flow and Hawk-Bat Swoop on the same skill check is pretty sketchy in terms of being rules legal, especially as you're having your Force dice pull double-duty, and the devs have said that combos like Influence's social skill Control upgrade and the Overwhelm Emotions talent don't stack.

That said, if Ebb/Flow's wording is the bonus success/advantage apply to your next check, then you could probably do Ebb/Flow + Lightsaber on one round, and then apply the bonuses to using Hawk-Bat Swoop on the following round.  It's a pretty potent combo, but you'd need FR2 at the very least to make it a viable combo, and Ataru Striker (on top of being very heavy on strain use) doesn't offer a Force Rating boost.

Yeah, I would agree, I don't see being able to actually stack Ebb/Flow on top of another force power check (e.g. Ebb/Flow + Hawk Bat); rather it is 1st round Ebb/Flow with a standard lightsaber combat check, 2nd round use Hawk-Bat Swoop, stacking any success/advantage gained from the 1st round roll onto the 2nd round roll.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't read the skill very closely, but doesn't it basically let you accomplish two things in one action?  

The wording is, as you say "Convert any skill check to an Ebb/Flow roll, and add you FP"  As far as I can tell, the base action still takes place, but you are also adding this effect on top of it right?

So you could, for example, shoot someone in the face with a blaster, AND inflict some strain on top of any wounds you inflict.   Which seems to me, to be pretty useful.  It's essentially a damage boost for all intents and purposes.   Whereas, the Influence comparison you made, is it's own separate action.   In theory, if I am understanding the intent of the power,  you could do this with even non-combat things.   Like an athletics check to overcome some obstacle, AND you happen to toss a few strain at an antoganist along the way.  Or you are in a chase scene, either being the chaser or chasee, and you make your rolls to advance the pursuit,  AND toss strain as well.  

Which seems pretty handy to me, since strain usually has a much lower threshold for most characters, and having it be something you can do in conjunction with other actions, is pretty nice.   I could be wrong of course.  I bought the book, but I haven't read through it much this week.  So if someone could verify if my ruling fits the power? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Kaigen said:

It's an interesting tactical consideration of whether you want to keep maintaining the benefits of Ebb/Flow by paying forward to the next round, or blow it all with a combined check in the hopes of ending a threat right then and there. The difference between this and just using Hawk Bat Swoop on every check is that you gain the option of performing a "double tap" if the situation calls for it in exchange for losing the flexibility of being able to see the roll before spending the force pips that HBS normally provides.

Adding to the tactical consideration is if you can time the double tap such that you take your turn last in "Round #1" of the double tap, and the act first in "Round #2" of the double tap.

Which incidentally is sort of why I call it the 'double tap' in my head, since you are getting two attacks back to back, and the 2nd attack is significantly buffed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

I haven't read the skill very closely, but doesn't it basically let you accomplish two things in one action?  

The wording is, as you say "Convert any skill check to an Ebb/Flow roll, and add you FP"  As far as I can tell, the base action still takes place, but you are also adding this effect on top of it right?

So you could, for example, shoot someone in the face with a blaster, AND inflict some strain on top of any wounds you inflict.   Which seems to me, to be pretty useful.  It's essentially a damage boost for all intents and purposes.   Whereas, the Influence comparison you made, is it's own separate action.   In theory, if I am understanding the intent of the power,  you could do this with even non-combat things.   Like an athletics check to overcome some obstacle, AND you happen to toss a few strain at an antoganist along the way.  Or you are in a chase scene, either being the chaser or chasee, and you make your rolls to advance the pursuit,  AND toss strain as well.  

Which seems pretty handy to me, since strain usually has a much lower threshold for most characters, and having it be something you can do in conjunction with other actions, is pretty nice.   I could be wrong of course.  I bought the book, but I haven't read through it much this week.  So if someone could verify if my ruling fits the power? 

You have the general gist KFF.

Your target does have to be in engaged range, (there is a control talent that can increase this to short), and it affects ALL targets in engaged range, even your friends (there is a Magnitude upgrade that lets you exclude targets). Also, you have to pay a strain to inflict a strain. Finally, the basic power cannot be activated more than once, but there is an easy to get strength upgrade that lets you use additional FP to increase the effect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, Magnus Arcanus said:

You have the general gist KFF.

Your target does have to be in engaged range, (there is a control talent that can increase this to short), and it affects ALL targets in engaged range, even your friends (there is a Magnitude upgrade that lets you exclude targets). Also, you have to pay a strain to inflict a strain. Finally, the basic power cannot be activated more than once, but there is an easy to get strength upgrade that lets you use additional FP to increase the effect.

Well then I think that's probably the major difference that you are looking for perhaps?  At least based on your initial question about why is the power useful compared to others.  Being able to do 2 actions at once (effectively), is a pretty effective trick in my opinion.  Sure it's situational, and has some potential drawbacks (like effecting your allies if they are engaged as well), but hey, that's the rule of thumb for pretty much everything FFG does.  Trying to balance it out so it isn't OP.   But it's not really that much of a negative aspect, as the two examples of drawbacks you listed, you also listed the upgrades that negated them.  So if you put a bit of effort into it, you could essentially start dishing out some AOE strain to Enemy Only targets, in the middle of a grand melee.  And, I think my friend mention this last night reading it, but doesn't one of the upgrades, increase the strain inflicted to 2?  And also allow you to trigger the effect multiple times? (again, please confirm this, I might be thinking of something else, but I'm pretty sure he was describing the force power in the book, in the full description text, not just the little bubble window)

 So with a high enough FR pool, you could potentially dish out a terrifying amount of strain in conjunction with the regular action you were doing.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

And, I think my friend mention this last night reading it, but doesn't one of the upgrades, increase the strain inflicted to 2?  And also allow you to trigger the effect multiple times? (again, please confirm this, I might be thinking of something else, but I'm pretty sure he was describing the force power in the book, in the full description text, not just the little bubble window)

 So with a high enough FR pool, you could potentially dish out a terrifying amount of strain in conjunction with the regular action you were doing.  

There is a 2nd rank strength upgrade for 10XP that lets you spend 1 FP to increase the strain recovered or strain inflicted from the basic power, and this can be activated multiple times.

So yeah, with a high FR you could either be recovering lots of strain every round, or dishing out strain. And based on how the power works, it appears this strain hit is automatic; you don't even need to actually succeed on the combined skill check.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Magnus Arcanus said:

There is a 2nd rank strength upgrade for 10XP that lets you spend 1 FP to increase the strain recovered or strain inflicted from the basic power, and this can be activated multiple times.

So yeah, with a high FR you could either be recovering lots of strain every round, or dishing out strain. And based on how the power works, it appears this strain hit is automatic; you don't even need to actually succeed on the combined skill check.

Well there you go :)   That's how it's different (and in my mind significantly better) than the similar effect of Influence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×