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lord4571

Starting Ability scores vs Talent tree

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so am i wrong to think that spending exp on your starting ability scores is almost a waste? especially if your only going to upgrade one of them to 3?

im looking at the talent tree and i can do the same thing while spending most of my exp to get to dedication or a force rating? 

it just seems... IT'S A TRAP!

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Well, the majority of players here recommend putting points on characteristics, and I agree.

If I'm taking a human with the option to add +10 XP, it costs 30 XP each to level up a characteristic from 2 > 3. I can level up four characteristics from there alone. To take Dedication, that'd be 75 XP at the cheapest. And that's just one characteristic alone. For the cost of one characteristic level up, I would have bought two characteristics, and two talents / 3 skills where I haven't declared where to put the free rank on already to get a rank up to 1.

Assuming I'm taking 15 XP per session, that would be around 5 sessions.

And sure, you have a couple of talents to play around, but having one more die increases your chances by quite a fair bit.

For example: against an Average check, I believe with 2 in a characteristic and no skill, you'd be succeeding around 45% of the time. With 3 in a characteristic and no skill, that success rate jumps to around 60%.

Once I get that 75 XP for Dedication, I could be hitting a 4 in a characteristic, and the chance of succeeding on an Average check with just that characteristic alone jumps to around 72%.

Even on an Easy check, the success rate for 2 in a characteristic is around 58%. Having a 3 jumps the chances of success to around 73% on an Easy check.

Some decide to leave the characteristic at 2 in some characteristics in exchange for a 4 starting off, so that they'll be more specialized.

So yes, you can go down the talent tree to get your talents and Dedication, but it's fairly inefficient, only levels up one characteristic, and it would be quite the rough start.

But I should ask which race and specialization are you going for?

Edited by satkaz

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59 minutes ago, satkaz said:

Well, the majority of players here recommend putting points on characteristics, and I agree.

Yes, even the devs frequently suggest putting your starting points into characteristics, because this is the only time you can easily invest points into them.   After creation, the only time you can improve them is either with cybernetics (which are expensive and have a big downside), or buying the Dedication talent, which is usually at the bottom on the tree.

Talents and skill ranks can be bought at any time during play, characteristics cannot.  So in general, the common consensus is that you should invest as much as possible at creation in characteristics.    

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9 hours ago, lord4571 said:

so am i wrong to think that spending exp on your starting ability scores is almost a waste? especially if your only going to upgrade one of them to 3?

im looking at the talent tree and i can do the same thing while spending most of my exp to get to dedication or a force rating? 

it just seems... IT'S A TRAP!

You're looking at it completely backwards.

It's called an "opportunity cost".

You don't avoid advancing Characteristics at chargen because you can "always" (but not always) do it later through other purchases. You absolutely advance all the Characteristics that you can/need to right away, because this is the only time you can do it, without some other associated cost (which that cost includes time/"lost dice" on skill checks you make between chargen and when you finally advance the Characteristic, as well as the XP tax of new Specs, and not-so-good Talents).

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The way I see it is the Talent tree and your skills will always be there but starting exp is limited and precious, for that reason alone you should Always spend it on stats. Some people suggest putting a healthy amount into stats, and then branching out into abilities.  I suggest dumping all of it into your statistics as it is the only time you can freely spend in Stats. 

If there is anything that is an Xp trap a Char Gen is spending that precious exp on Skills, these only give you upgrades on dice on the specific skill roll, talents offer much more than just Skill ranks. They give new ways to spend advantage, threat, triumph, despair and many other useful abilities in and out of combat. While stats permanently increase all your dice across the board on multiple skill checks.

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23 minutes ago, Shlambate said:

The way I see it is the Talent tree and your skills will always be there but starting exp is limited and precious, for that reason alone you should Always spend it on stats. Some people suggest putting a healthy amount into stats, and then branching out into abilities.  I suggest dumping all of it into your statistics as it is the only time you can freely spend in Stats. 

If there is anything that is an Xp trap a Char Gen is spending that precious exp on Skills, these only give you upgrades on dice on the specific skill roll, talents offer much more than just Skill ranks. They give new ways to spend advantage, threat, triumph, despair and many other useful abilities in and out of combat. While stats permanently increase all your dice across the board on multiple skill checks.

Yep, and honestly, for a starting game, Session One, you really shouldn't be going up against anything really severe, difficulty pool-wise anyway.  Your average difficulty should be well....average  :D   1-3 difficulty dice at most.  Because a starting character is, by their very nature of just starting out, not going to have a massive dice pool.   If they didn't invest their starting xp in characteristics, they will have on average a 2-3 green pool to work with, maybe a yellow or 2 if they bought skill ranks.  But if they spent it on talents, while it does allow them more flexibility with their dice rolls, the pool is still small.    And the catch, is it's not going to get bigger any time soon, since Dedication is the only way to boost it, and that's buried under a lot of other talents.

So the small dice pool should be sufficient, and after every session, they should be getting enough XP to at least by a skill rank, or maybe a starting talent or 2.  So each session, just by the fact that the first purchases are cheap (5-10xp on average), they will quickly be shoring up those weak points in their skill set.   

Investing in Characteristics at creation is exactly that, and investment.  It doesn't have a lot of returns in the short term, but over the long term, it's well worth it.

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The whole CharGen is build around the idea that you pick a career and spec, spend your XP on your characteristics and do some fine tuning with any leftover xp. If you want some more defined characters right from the start there is always "knight play" which hands out extra XP not avaible for characteristics, so you can go all in on talents and skills with those 150 extra XP. 

See Page 104 and Page 321 in F-CRB for more details on knight level play. Works like a charm for the other two lines as well. 

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First, thank you everyone for taking the time to crunch the numbers to show probability for dice rolls. They make weighing options simplistic :D

As a GM however, I have disliked it when my players dump into characteristics. Within the first 4 sessions, players had 4/5 Int, Cunning, or Agility and it feels backbraking. For example, a PC with a 5 Int wookie was making all the knowledge checks, medicine, computers, mechanics and brawn checks for the entire group. These untrained skills felt wrong narritvely. Trained skills are described as being skills which a character has spent time tuning their abilities, i.e. a professional pilot being good at flying or a soldier with ranks in combat skills. It just feels wrong to be amazing at a large chunk of the game's skills from character creation.

Now if we compare Inquisitors from the FaD CRB, these end game bosses have characteristics of 5, 4, 3, 3, 3, and 2 (distrubuted where the GM chooses). Why should brand new "off the boat" adventurers be on the same power level as these deadly foes who should be the pinacle of danger? Role playing games also have another level of the power dynamic that we should examine. PCs should not always pass checks and challenges. Part of this role playing experience is the very real possibility to fail checks, which then drive story change. Why should a system exist if players are going to pass every check with 80%+ chance?

Another point, the Fallen Master (FaD CRB pg. 412) would have the same skills as one of your PCs which has been described earlier in this thread. Regerdless if we are talking about Edge of the Empire, Force and Destiny, or Age of Rebellion, the "average" adventurer whom starts their Star Wars journey probably should not be on the same power level as a fallen Jedi. What i'm trying to say is that these Nemesis level foes feel special because of their talents, equipment, AND high characteristics. It is my opnion that PCs should not be this strong until the end-game.

My next thought will be extremely unpopular, but here we go. I would like to run a FaD campaign where characters CANNOT improve characteristics at character creation. In my mind, this make species selection more important and prevents the god-mod tendency that my playgroup hinges on. Obviously house rules are a band-aid to a problem, but it's something i'd like to try. 

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2 hours ago, Darth Tolzan said:

First, thank you everyone for taking the time to crunch the numbers to show probability for dice rolls. They make weighing options simplistic :D

As a GM however, I have disliked it when my players dump into characteristics. Within the first 4 sessions, players had 4/5 Int, Cunning, or Agility and it feels backbraking. For example, a PC with a 5 Int wookie was making all the knowledge checks, medicine, computers, mechanics and brawn checks for the entire group. These untrained skills felt wrong narritvely. Trained skills are described as being skills which a character has spent time tuning their abilities, i.e. a professional pilot being good at flying or a soldier with ranks in combat skills. It just feels wrong to be amazing at a large chunk of the game's skills from character creation.

Now if we compare Inquisitors from the FaD CRB, these end game bosses have characteristics of 5, 4, 3, 3, 3, and 2 (distrubuted where the GM chooses). Why should brand new "off the boat" adventurers be on the same power level as these deadly foes who should be the pinacle of danger? Role playing games also have another level of the power dynamic that we should examine. PCs should not always pass checks and challenges. Part of this role playing experience is the very real possibility to fail checks, which then drive story change. Why should a system exist if players are going to pass every check with 80%+ chance?

Another point, the Fallen Master (FaD CRB pg. 412) would have the same skills as one of your PCs which has been described earlier in this thread. Regerdless if we are talking about Edge of the Empire, Force and Destiny, or Age of Rebellion, the "average" adventurer whom starts their Star Wars journey probably should not be on the same power level as a fallen Jedi. What i'm trying to say is that these Nemesis level foes feel special because of their talents, equipment, AND high characteristics. It is my opnion that PCs should not be this strong until the end-game.

My next thought will be extremely unpopular, but here we go. I would like to run a FaD campaign where characters CANNOT improve characteristics at character creation. In my mind, this make species selection more important and prevents the god-mod tendency that my playgroup hinges on. Obviously house rules are a band-aid to a problem, but it's something i'd like to try. 

Not only no, but Heeeeeeeeeell no. The biggest problem with that is that characters, by RAW and RAI, cannot improve characteristics using XP after character creation They have to use the Dedication talent, which is always at the bottom of talent trees, and thus very expensive to get to. The second problem with that is that is essentially makes all characters of any given species identical with no variation in ability scores. This is just not realistic. 

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2 hours ago, Darth Tolzan said:

Now if we compare Inquisitors from the FaD CRB, these end game bosses have characteristics of 5, 4, 3, 3, 3, and 2 (distrubuted where the GM chooses). Why should brand new "off the boat" adventurers be on the same power level as these deadly foes who should be the pinacle of danger?

...

PCs should not always pass checks and challenges.

...

Another point, the Fallen Master (FaD CRB pg. 412) would have the same skills as one of your PCs which has been described earlier in this thread.

Ok, so those Inquisitor stats are equal to 100s if not 1000s of xp that a PC would have to go through for a similar array, so you're way off about them being in the same power level right off the bat.

110 XP at chargen spent on Characteristics is going to get you a lovely 5/2/2/2/2/2, one-trick pony. That Inquisitor has the equivalent of 5 friggin' Dedications under their belt over that, without getting into Talents and Powers.

...

Next: First, any given roll in this game is only 25-33% about success/failure. Any skill check that is successful at its primary goal can still result in really bad complications for the PCs IF you are using the Threat/Despair symbols in a narrative fashion (or even mechanical). Which you should most definitely do, if you are not.

Second, your 80% chance success figure (what is this figure from, v. Average Difficulty?) is really meaningless if you're using Setbacks and Upgrades (and the narrative dice) as the system intends.

...

Lastly: the core book also says 150 XP is "Knight Level"... Ok. What Jedi Knight can you replicate with +150 bonus xp @ chargen? None. It's a name for an NPC. A relative "classification"/categorization in the NPC echelons. If you want a "real" fallen Master, you need to build one yourself.

...

RE: your Houserule, this isn't really a houserule, so much as just something that you need to communicate clearly to your players before the game starts/chargen, about "campaign themes", and "character/campaign expectations" and acceptable PCs. I think a "no Characteristic over 4" rule is plenty, and not unreasonable. And I think your gonna find that the PCs feel like helpless whelps, if you allow no xp to Characteristics, but it's all potentially relative I guess.

Good luck finding your happy place.

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2 hours ago, Darth Tolzan said:

First, thank you everyone for taking the time to crunch the numbers to show probability for dice rolls. They make weighing options simplistic :D

As a GM however, I have disliked it when my players dump into characteristics. Within the first 4 sessions, players had 4/5 Int, Cunning, or Agility and it feels backbraking.

Then you are doing the creation rules wrong, if this is happening.  The ONLY time players can dump XP into characteristics however they want is with the starting XP they get a creation.  That's it.  Period.  End of Story.    They can use the bonus XP they get for Obligation/Duty/Morality too if they wish, but aside from that, once the character is officially "done", and the first session of actual gameplay starts, they can't buy up Characteristics anymore, unless they are buying the Dedication talent in their tree.

At best, you might have a starting PC with a 4 or 5 in one stat, depending on the species, but the other stats will be FAR lower than that to compensate.  And, if they do this, they will have VERY low skills at the start, since they couldn't buy ranks (other than the free ones), and probably don't have any talents either.

So if by session 4-5 they are able to buy up stats, you are either giving out WAAAAAY too much XP per session  :P , or they are still buying into Characteristics with campaign XP, which is a no no, for exactly the reason you are concerned about.

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3 hours ago, Darth Tolzan said:

First, thank you everyone for taking the time to crunch the numbers to show probability...

...

My next thought will be extremely unpopular, but here we go. I would like to run a FaD campaign where characters CANNOT improve characteristics at character creation. In my mind, this make species selection more important and prevents the god-mod tendency that my playgroup hinges on. Obviously house rules are a band-aid to a problem, but it's something i'd like to try. 

 

An approximation of the xp required to get 5,4,3,3,3,2 on a human using only gained xp is 8 dedications meaning 8 talent trees or 75+(20+75)+(30+75)+(40+75)+(50+75)+(60+75)+(70+75)+(80+75)... or 950 xp. Even that 1 trick pony starting at 5,2,2,2,2,2 to get to that same level as above is still 5 dedications and 5 talent trees or 515 xp... and that's not putting any xp into anything else so no triumphs and hardly any usefully talents. That's also using only universal and career trees which really hamstrings your choices. Furthermore few trees actually have a straight shot to the dedication talent so those are minimum costs and far from realistic... (also, I would say that one trick pony would not be much fun to play when she is the one needing to roll on her worse characteristic to try and save the day... although I have done that exact roll and succeeded... sometimes...)

These characters, although starting out, are still supposed to be heros so having a slight improvement in your rolls from char gen really isn't all that much of a big deal. The gm still has lots of ways of turning the story wheels using the dice and destiny points properly.

Personally I could agree with a max of 4 or even 3 at char gen but not allowing it at all really hamstrings your players and their heros. 

*Addition*

So at an average of 15 xp per session that's 64 and 35 sessions respectively and at 1 session a week you are looking at almost a year and a half of play.

Edited by jayc007
Clarification

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I think you guys are misunderstanding me. Within RAW, it is possible for players to get their characteristic of choice to 4 before session 1 starts. That is incredibly strong and does not reflect a "starting adventure". Having a dude with 4 agility being able to pass any piloting, stealth, and ranged check with his 4 green dice against the easier difficulties of a new campaign is unfair. 

If players are allowed to dump into stats it alao largely invalidates the inter-species differences. Why would anyone ever play a trandoshan when you could be a human or pantoran with 110xp and just increase your brawn once? 

From a narrative standpoint, there isn't a logical reason why a duros or a twi'lek should be as strong as a wookie or a trandoshan. Racial rules exist because some species are better at certain checks than others. If a player wants to play a Marauduer for example, a species with a natural 3 brawn is clearly a better choice than another with a 1 or 2. 

To speak to Tramp Graphics' point, each species has their own niche. The way to make each PC feel different is with talents and ranks in skills. Each game (whether it's WoW, D&D, or Star Wars) has racial differences make up the basis for a character foundation, so I don't see why Tramp Graphic is making a point to call that aspect out.

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22 minutes ago, Darth Tolzan said:

I think you guys are misunderstanding me. Within RAW, it is possible for players to get their characteristic of choice to 4 before session 1 starts. That is incredibly strong and does not reflect a "starting adventure". Having a dude with 4 agility being able to pass any piloting, stealth, and ranged check with his 4 green dice against the easier difficulties of a new campaign is unfair. 

If players are allowed to dump into stats it alao largely invalidates the inter-species differences. Why would anyone ever play a trandoshan when you could be a human or pantoran with 110xp and just increase your brawn once? 

From a narrative standpoint, there isn't a logical reason why a duros or a twi'lek should be as strong as a wookie or a trandoshan. Racial rules exist because some species are better at certain checks than others. If a player wants to play a Marauduer for example, a species with a natural 3 brawn is clearly a better choice than another with a 1 or 2. 

To speak to Tramp Graphics' point, each species has their own niche. The way to make each PC feel different is with talents and ranks in skills. Each game (whether it's WoW, D&D, or Star Wars) has racial differences make up the basis for a character foundation, so I don't see why Tramp Graphic is making a point to call that aspect out.

Yes, but each individual within a species is also unique; each with his own strengths and weaknesses regarding abilities. Not every human has the same strength, agility, intelligence, etc. The same with Twi'leks, Wookiee's etc. Each is an individual, each has a different set of characteristics. The base stats for each species are just that: base stats fully intended to be customized for each individual character. Otherwise all Wookiees would be the same, all humans would be the same, all Twi'Leks would be the same. That's not realistic. Talents and skill ranks are not enough. Not everyone of the same species has the same natural abilities. Some are naturally smarter or stronger, more dexterous, etc. than others. That is covered by ability scores. Those have to be customizable. 

And yes, there is a narrative reason why a particular Twi'lek might be as strong as an average Wookiee, or you could have a particularly strong willed Wookiee, or Nemoidian. It makes perfect sense that this might happen simply due to individual differences within the population. The starting characteristics are just a bare minimum starting point to build off of, not an end-all-be-all of every member of said species. 

Edited by Tramp Graphics

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I would be far more worried about PCs being unable to consistently succeed on easy checks in your variant than I am about such rolls being too easy on the regular rules. These dice are very swingy compared with a d20 for example. Even with a pool of six dice there is always a non-negligible chance of blowing an average roll.

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2 minutes ago, Darth Tolzan said:

Daverwatta, yes. Putting ranks into skills symbolizes training of skills. In my mind you should be good at a skill because your character has put the effort into learning the skill.

But then after a few sessions of XP they will all have big dice pools and your "balance issue" is back. PCs will be passing their checks 80 percent of the time in their best skills (which to me seems entirely appropriate).

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Just now, Darth Tolzan said:

I understand your logic Tramp Graphic, but from my point of view having higher characteristics right off the bat creates more balancing issues for a GM than any positive. 

No, it doesn't, not if you actually play the game. The game is specifically designed for the characteristics to be raised at character creation, and to be the main thing used for skill checks, with skills being "gravy", not the end-all-be-all. Having actual skill ranks doesn't make a skill check easier, it simply increases the chances of Advantage, and opens up the possibility of Triumphs. That's all they do. That is why the dice pools are set up the way they are. Take your compare your ability and skill, levels, the higher number determining the number of dice rolled, and the lower number being used to upgrade dice from green to yellow. That's how the pool works. It. By handicapping the player's ability scores to only the base species scores, with no option to raise them during character creation, you are breaking the game's mechanics. 

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26 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

No, it doesn't, not if you actually play the game. The game is specifically designed for the characteristics to be raised at character creation, and to be the main thing used for skill checks, with skills being "gravy", not the end-all-be-all. Having actual skill ranks doesn't make a skill check easier, it simply increases the chances of Advantage, and opens up the possibility of Triumphs. That's all they do. That is why the dice pools are set up the way they are. Take your compare your ability and skill, levels, the higher number determining the number of dice rolled, and the lower number being used to upgrade dice from green to yellow. That's how the pool works. It. By handicapping the player's ability scores to only the base species scores, with no option to raise them during character creation, you are breaking the game's mechanics. 

See I don't view everything other than characteristics levels as "just gravy". It appears you and I view talents, skills etc completely differently. Which is fine, everyone has a different way to interpret rpgs. 

And to your jab at actually playing the game, of course I have. All this I bring up is what my particular playgroup in San Diego has come across.

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If your Agility-4 Sharpshooter is blasting your scenarios out of the water, you need to diversify your scenario, not gimp the Agility-4 Sharpshooter. First, even with 4 greens, a PC still stands a good chance to blow a Hard or even Average check. That's why environmental effects, assistance, and the like are so important in this system, since they help you stack the deck in your favor with boost dice. Second, if your PCs are statting into one-trick ponies (all with a 4 or 5 in one stat and the rest at 2s or 1s), hit them in their dumps stats. Make the meathead negotiate with the queen with his 1 Presence, or the face search for the key with his 1 Cunning.

Others here are right (and are backed by the devs) in arguing that stats are where starting XP is intended to be spent. If you want to get away from that, you run the risk of really messing with play balance. Removing the ability to start with a 4 or a bevy of 3s in stats is opening a can of worms that I don't think any of us can really anticipate.

Edited by SavageBob

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5 minutes ago, Darth Tolzan said:

See I don't view everything other than characteristics levels as "just gravy". It appears you and I view talents, skills etc completely differently. Which is fine, everyone has a different way to interpret rpgs. 

And to your jab at actually playing the game, of course I have. All this I bring up is what my particular playgroup in San Diego has come across.

From a game mechanics perspective, that is what they are though. This isn't opinion, this is how the mechanics are built. The most important factor on a character sheet is the ability score, then the talents, then the skills in that order. Ability scores determine how good you are overall with a variety of tasks, Skill ranks boost that with one skill only. The higher a given ability score, the better I am at a broad range of things, whereas the higher a given skill is only means I can do that one thing better.  However, when making any single given skill check, there is no difference in the dice pool if I have 2 ranks in Intellect, and three in Mechanics, or three ranks in Intellect and two ranks in Mechanics, either way, my pool would be YYG. The difference comes in when you factor in Knowledge, or Astrogation,, or other skills under that attribute. With three ranks in Intellect, I always roll at least three dice in all of those skills. This was intentional by the designers of the game. Abilites are more important than individual skills by design. 

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