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TrystramK

Requiring Justification for Rank 3+ in skills

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Hey all!

I was wondering what do people feel like the curve should be for getting 3,4,5 ranks in a skill.   Skills are by far the cheapest of the way to advance on average.

If starting at Knight level play,  I tend to require justifications for skills at 3,4,5 ranks (especially if the player has more than one at those levels).   I do this because I would like to give the players more of a power curve in terms of growth potential.    Starting at a 5 I feel is a bit too limiting, and also if it is a combat skill, may accidentally skew combat balancing.   

How do you all feel, both about starting with high ranks at knight level play, and through normal progression?

 

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Well, rules as written Knight level is max starting at 3.

I don't have a very strong feeling about it, other than that it tends to be a bit unnecessary and makes a character too one dimensional.

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54 minutes ago, Darzil said:

Well, rules as written Knight level is max starting at 3.

I don't have a very strong feeling about it, other than that it tends to be a bit unnecessary and makes a character too one dimensional.

Pretty much this, as far as starting points being 3.  It's allowed in Knight Play, so shouldn't be any justification needed.  The point of Knight Play is to say "these are PC's that have been out and done things, above and beyond a starting character", so having an extra dot in a skill is a perfect way to reflect this.  

As for justification for increases in general, I personally am in favor of this for roleplay purposes, but I'm fairly loose with it.   If the player says "Hey, in her downtime, my PC is going to be working on her Coordination, by doing the various exercises her instructor gave her years ago when she was a kid.  And trying knew stuff like parkouring around the interior of the ship."    That's fine enough for me.  We don't HAVE to roleplay it out, but I'm not against making a little micro-scene of them doing this, perhaps allowing the other PC's a chance to socialize and interact with them.   

To give a pop culture example, from Firefly, the scene where they are playing that hoop game.  You could say that everyone playing is working on their physical stats (coordination, athletics, maybe a talent or two that would be relevant), but the 3 people up on the balcony watching, are just taking the scene opportunity to talk and flesh out their PC's story.   Of course, you could also say River was using the scene to work on some mental/social related thing, as she was clearly trying to make sense of the game they were playing.

So if the PC's were up for doing something that organic and freeform, I'm all for it.   Though personally my tables never want to actually act that much.  So I usually get Option A, which is "hey I'm going to work on this for the next few days/weeks" and I just nod and let it go.

Though if they did take Option B, and actually roleplayed out an entire game like that, with dice rolls and stuff to have fun, and got into it, I'd most definitely give them some bonus XP for immersion and entertaining the GM.

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Yeah I'm okay with a 3 at starting at knight level, although I do require a justification for multiple 3s, if only so they flesh out their character a bit more and can articulate why their character is so skilled.

The training during downtime is what I use as well, along with what encounters they've been in, and resources they've had access to.

Also I like the idea of using XP to encourage training RP and the like. Mind if I steal it ? :)

 

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ive heard of people who have house ruled that you cannot increase skills more than 1 past the tier of talents they have and vice versa. So for example if you have a skill @ 2 you cant have more than tier 3 talents, so to get tier 4 you would have to have skill ranks of 3 , and tier 5 skills of 4 or more. 

This keeps people from taking skills too early at a high level and also taking talents until they have a reasonable skill level.

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You could make a steeper curve and charge more in greater increments as skills hit 3. This would make for a slower progression, but may address your concerns. make it 10x Destination Rank for 3->4, 20x for 4->5, etc.  

Separate but maybe related: A friend of mine said his GM actually limited skills to one above the Characteristic attached to the skill to represent natural aptitude. 

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I encourage, though not require, justification for everything the PCs spend XP on, but I have no real qualm against them hitting Rank 5 in as many skills as they can afford, just like I have no problem with them maxing out as many Specialization trees as they can afford (I'm running a fairly high-XP game, with one of the PCs having just become a Jedi Knight at 500 earned XP).

There's quite a bit of downtime to be found in Star Wars.  You're on a ship travelling in hyperspace from one end of the galaxy to another, that's a few does with nothing really to do.  Ask the players what they're doing, and if they're thinking about their character advancement in an IC way, they'll give answers like "I'm in the cargo hold practicing with my lightsaber" or "I'm in the cockpit checking the navicomputer and making sure we're on course" or "I'm reading up on the latest technical journals" or "I'm fiddling with those broken equipment pieces we found last time," all valid reasons to spend XP on increasing skills or buying new Talents.

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2 hours ago, TrystramK said:

Also I like the idea of using XP to encourage training RP and the like. Mind if I steal it ? :)

Sure, I also provide xp bonuses for "Amusing the GM."  which is a catchall for them making my night running the collection of cats in the shape of humans more fun.  If the character does something that makes me rofl, or does something crazy (aka:awesomely insane), or just really surprises me with a novel solution to a problem, i provide bonus xp for that too.   I do find bonus xp for roleplaying, and sticking to their character behavior helps my less...theatrical players, get more into the spirit of it.  Instead of just rolling dice and killing mobs, which is how they usually default to.

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People actually take skills? Most PC's I've seen spend 75% of their points on other things, and only 25% on skills.  if they're Force users it's more like 85%/15%.

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On 3/1/2018 at 3:20 AM, pnewman15 said:

People actually take skills? Most PC's I've seen spend 75% of their points on other things, and only 25% on skills.  if they're Force users it's more like 85%/15%.

I would be astounded to see a player not max their primary skill or even 2 for force users since Discipline is so necessary. 

 

Im not sure I understand the need to justify leveling a skill. It’s a game. The whole point of stats and xp is to increase one with the other so you take on progressively more difficult and interesting situations. 

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35 minutes ago, Haleron said:

I would be astounded to see a player not max their primary skill or even 2 for force users since Discipline is so necessary. 

 

Im not sure I understand the need to justify leveling a skill. It’s a game. The whole point of stats and xp is to increase one with the other so you take on progressively more difficult and interesting situations. 

I've can only think of one case where I've seen someone max a skill.  I personally never have gone past 3 ranks in any skill.  This is mostly because I'm more drawn to talents, but also because I like my characters to be versatile.  

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16 minutes ago, TheSapient said:

I've can only think of one case where I've seen someone max a skill.  I personally never have gone past 3 ranks in any skill.  This is mostly because I'm more drawn to talents, but also because I like my characters to be versatile.  

Talents are appealing, especially with the most desirable ones at the far end of the tree. Force powers too, if you play a character that can use them, and the often cost quite a bit up front too. But with characteristics being difficult to raise after character creation (and the low ones are typically not the ones you want to invest a lot in to get them up later on) and sometimes really wanting to be able to reliably make checks with only a single skill from a given characteristic, I’d say it can be worth considering going beyond 3 ranks in a skill. I especially see this in small (3ish PCs) parties where the players want to cover all the bases between them without restricting their basic character concepts too much. High Discipline with 2 Willpower for Jedi. High Computers or Mechanics with 2 or even 1 Intellect if there is no specialized Slicer or Techie in the party. Things like that. That’s a form of versatility too.

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13 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

Talents are appealing, especially with the most desirable ones at the far end of the tree. Force powers too, if you play a character that can use them, and the often cost quite a bit up front too. But with characteristics being difficult to raise after character creation (and the low ones are typically not the ones you want to invest a lot in to get them up later on) and sometimes really wanting to be able to reliably make checks with only a single skill from a given characteristic, I’d say it can be worth considering going beyond 3 ranks in a skill. I especially see this in small (3ish PCs) parties where the players want to cover all the bases between them without restricting their basic character concepts too much. High Discipline with 2 Willpower for Jedi. High Computers or Mechanics with 2 or even 1 Intellect if there is no specialized Slicer or Techie in the party. Things like that. That’s a form of versatility too.

I quite agree.  I would say that is different than maxing out a primary skill, though.  I'm not judging people who do. Rather, I'm just saying what I've experienced.  Apparently different tables play differently!  

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3 hours ago, TheSapient said:

I quite agree.  I would say that is different than maxing out a primary skill, though.  I'm not judging people who do. Rather, I'm just saying what I've experienced.  Apparently different tables play differently!  

I expect that once you put that 4th or even 5th rank in a secondary skill, it becomes really tempting to do the same for your bread-and-butter primary skill. “I got 5 ranks in Computers, but I use my lightsaber much more often - why stick with only 3 measly ranks in that skill?” - something like that. But definitely, different games at different tables. Good thing too.

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I would encourage raising skills and not limit it, if you do then you may drive your players to race for dedications and just raise their stats versus working on skills. This is the problem I have in the group I inherited.

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On 3/2/2018 at 7:41 AM, Haleron said:

I would be astounded to see a player not max their primary skill or even 2 for force users since Discipline is so necessary. 

 

Discipline is useless for most force powers. Only Protect/Unleash really uses it for the base power. Most powers don't need it for anything. Every point you're spending on "Discipline" is a point you are not spending on your trees, your force powers, and the skills you use in your everyday life.

Other than when recovering Strain at the end of an encounter what good is Discipline if you're not using Protect/Unleash or a few of the upgrades for a few other powers?

My Jedi took it only because his Motivation was "Faith - the Jedi Code".

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, pnewman15 said:

...
Other than when recovering Strain at the end of an encounter what good is Discipline if you're not using Protect/Unleash or a few of the upgrades for a few other powers?
...

 

Please read the side bar for "Opposed Force Power Checks" on page 283 of the Star Wars: Force and Destiny Core Rulebook.

 

Quote

The skills used in the check are up to the GM and the players involved , and they depend on the circumstances of the check. Generally. the attacking character can default to using the Discipline skill. although in some cases. other skills may make sense. An opposed check involving the Seek power. for example, might have the attacking character use Vigilance. whereas a check involving tile use of Influence in a social setting could use Deception or Charm.

 

By RAW, Player Characters, and Nemesis and Named Rival adversaries may resist force powers using a contested check.  As quoted above, the majority of the time this defaults to a Discipline check for the person using the power, and is resisted by an target's skill as determined by the GM.  Minions, by raw, do not get a resist check, with the caveat that the GM can still require one if they so choose.

So as you can see, discipline is, by and large, the game mechanic by which you can actually use force powers against non-minion enemies.  

Discipline is also used to resist the effects of Fear checks as outlined in the Fear section of Chapter IX of the Core Rule book (p. 326).  Fear should come up occasionally.

Edited by TrystramK
Grammar, Quote, Spelling

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On 3/2/2018 at 10:41 AM, Haleron said:

Im not sure I understand the need to justify leveling a skill. It’s a game. The whole point of stats and xp is to increase one with the other so you take on progressively more difficult and interesting situations. 

Yes but the general reason behind justifying it, is so that you don't have scenarios where a PC spends, let's say, 2 months of in game time, stranded in the wilderness, fighting for survival, but instead spends their XP to raise their Computer skill, despite not having seen a device that entire time.

I've yet to meet a GM that does it to prevent their player's from advancing, but it's to keep it mostly in line with the actual events taking place.

From my personal experience with this, I'm fairly understanding.  If a player simply tells me "Hey, in the downtime between scenes, my character is going to be spending as much of her free time as possible, reading through the mountains of data files she sliced from that mainframe last week.  I'd like to have that justify some Knowledge increases, or perhaps a Computer increase."  Seeing as the actions being taken, and the increases desired match up, I see no issue with this and would allow it.

Alternatively, if a player comes up to me and says "Hey, so we've been in like 5 blaster battles, two of them were even while in moving vehicles with her driving.  So I'd like to buy a rank in Ranged Light, and Piloting: Planetary to reflect her use of those skills in play."  Again, since the actions taken, and the advancements requested match up, I have no issue with this.

I would not however, let something like this slide.  "Hey, so I want to raise my ranks in Charm by 2 points."   GM: "....You haven't spoken to anyone in any scene we've done."   Player: "Right."  GM: " ...you've in fact, shot everyone that even looked at you funny, and you barely even spoke to your teammates."   Player: "Uhuh."   GM:"  When I had you encounter a little flower girl, asking for a credit for a bouquet, you shoved her to the ground by pushing her face, forcing her to drop all of her flowers and ruining her chance to make any money that day."   Player: "Hehe, yep."   GM: "...and you want to raise....Charm?"   Player: "Righto!"    GM: " ......no."  :P  

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While it is possible that a player might want to raise skills unrelated to what they have been doing in a campaign, I find that people almost always want to do better in the campaign they are playing in, and advance their characters accordingly.  I'd rather risk that an advancement doesn't make total sense rather than making players have to justify their decisions to the GM.  

It's a cinematic experience.  The logic can be a little loose.  

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I guess this really a question of if a particular group are Gamists or Simulationists. I think because he game isn’t so granular and detail oriented, that it’s intent is to be played with a Gamist approach compared to something like Shadowrun where every bullet fired must be accounted for and produces a cummilative recoil affecting further shots in a small amount of time. 

Also, while it may seem odd for a player to raise a stat they’ve never used, consider that most players are inclined to avoid rolling something they expect to fail it. A player, seeing a weakness may decide to get better at something before they attempt to their first roll on it. 

Lastly, if skills require some measure of justification, shouldn’t talents as well? Sure you have XP to spend on “Defensive Circle” but you’ve spent several weeks amongst friends trying to scavenge food. Did you really have an opportunity to train that?

 I think spending XP on a skill you’ve never used or “trained” can represent moments where the character reveals some sort of proficiency that they’ve “always had” and just never exhibited before this moment.

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1 hour ago, Haleron said:

Also, while it may seem odd for a player to raise a stat they’ve never used, consider that most players are inclined to avoid rolling something they expect to fail it. A player, seeing a weakness may decide to get better at something before they attempt to their first roll on it. 

Sure, but it makes way more sense for them to try something they suck at, fail a few times, and then buy the point.  To reflect the "we learn from our mistakes" aspect of learning.

 

 

1 hour ago, Haleron said:

Lastly, if skills require some measure of justification, shouldn’t talents as well? Sure you have XP to spend on “Defensive Circle” but you’ve spent several weeks amongst friends trying to scavenge food. Did you really have an opportunity to train that?

I think it applies to talents too yes, but that wasn't the subject of the thread by the OP.   Personally though, I would be equally hesitant to let someone get, say a Slicer talent, when they spent the last month surviving in the woods with no electronics at all, just as I would for trying to buy up the Computers skill.

 

 

1 hour ago, Haleron said:

 I think spending XP on a skill you’ve never used or “trained” can represent moments where the character reveals some sort of proficiency that they’ve “always had” and just never exhibited before this moment.

Except that's not what the skill ranks represent.  The "always had a knack" for something they've never trained in, is reflected (in theory at least), by them having a good characteristic related to it.  Skill ranks specifically represent time spent working on a skill.  Actual training, or in the field experience over time.  A "knack" for Astrogation, would be represented by the player being able to pull off an Astrogation check, when only using 3-4 green dice, and no yellows.  Having 1 rank would reflect that PC actually having studied some Astrogation manuals, or having some experience already plugging in coordinates.  This could be either they took a course in Astrogation back in school, and remember the fundamentals, or they grew up on a starship with their family of traders, and dad frequently let them plot the course when they would jump, giving the PC familiarity.  

But the main focus of this thread, is for 3+, which isn't reflective of simply "being good" at something.  4-5 ranks in a skill makes you one of the pinnacle few in that field.   Having 5 ranks in Computers isn't just something everyone gets to, this reflects your ability to basically move through code like a fish through water, and to reflect your lifelong dedication to computers.  You write code to run cities, or maybe even planet size cities.   There could quite literally be noone as good as you in the field, given your skills.   And you don't improve a skill to that level, (boosting it up to 4-5), with a casual bit of effort.  At least not in a dramatic storytelling kind of way.   In films/tv, this level of improved skill, would usually be accompanied by a Training Montage, with floating screens of code going back and forth, while the PC's face is illuminated on a monitor, as they type furiously, EPIC HACKING!! *dramatic music*.    

So I don't think it's unreasonable, if someone is trying to improve up to that level, the 4+ range, to say they have to actually "show their work".   And I don't think it's asking much of the PC anyway.  They want to be a bada** at something, then do something bada**.  Write a slicing program to totally Hack the Gibson for example.   Have them do one of the crafting type cumulative skill checks to create a single use bit of virus code.  Or have them go slice something impressive on their own initiative.  You can make a mini-arc out of it for extra fun.  It doesn't even need to have anything to do with the plot.  Perhaps the Slicer in question, just happens to bump into a little girl who tells him how some local corporation fired her mommy, and now they can't support themselves.  So the Slicer decides to become a Digital Robin Hood, and go slice that business's records, uncovering corruption and blackmail material, forcing them to have to pay out to all the people they laid off.   You get to have a fun little side mission, the Slicer gets to do something focused on his skill in an epic way, and when it's all said and done, he's got justification for buying Computers 5, plus a nice chunk of XP too.   

I don't really see the downside to this kind of method of advancement.  I find it far more entertaining than just "I spend *amount* of XP to buy *Thing*"   "Ok."     Where's the fun in that?

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It seems to me that the logical conclusion to this is the GM awarding XP to be spend in specific ways based on the session's game play.  "Today you sliced into an easy vending maching, so 2 XP towards computers.  You fought in two battles, so 4 XP to light ranged, 3 xp to lightsaber, and 2 XP to Move.  You didn't negotiate, but you did go shopping, so 1 XP to Negotiation."

I know that is an exaggeration, but I don't think that making characters go through special adventures to build the abilities they want is going to be fun in practice, especially for the rest of the table.  Maybe I only want to buy a level of Confidence because it is in the path I need to take to get to the ability I really want.  Does everyone have to wait for me while I run off to a haunted house?  

I personally build my characters based on what is happening to them.  Their advancements are roughly justified by their actions, I suppose.  But I see it more that they have things happen to or around them, and decide to develop certain skills in response.  They may not hack some well guarded database before investing in computers.  They may just see that hacking computers is important for the events they are experiencing.

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6 minutes ago, TheSapient said:

It seems to me that the logical conclusion to this is the GM awarding XP to be spend in specific ways based on the session's game play.  "Today you sliced into an easy vending maching, so 2 XP towards computers.  You fought in two battles, so 4 XP to light ranged, 3 xp to lightsaber, and 2 XP to Move.  You didn't negotiate, but you did go shopping, so 1 XP to Negotiation."
 

You don't have to track it that minutely though.  You can just say "You get *amount* of XP"  and then if they say they want to spend it on one of the things they actually did that session, then it would be justified.

 

 

6 minutes ago, TheSapient said:

I know that is an exaggeration, but I don't think that making characters go through special adventures to build the abilities they want is going to be fun in practice, especially for the rest of the table.  Maybe I only want to buy a level of Confidence because it is in the path I need to take to get to the ability I really want.  Does everyone have to wait for me while I run off to a haunted house?  

Having adventures isn't fun? :blink:  Then why are you at the table?   Also, who said the rest of the party had to sit it out?   And again, this whole thread is talking about the top ranks in things, not some starting level stuff.  If you want to buy Confidence 1, and your justification is "My character is tired of being scared all the time, so she's going to put on her Big Girl Undies, and face the things that scare her."   Great, that's good enough for me, buy the rank.  It's only rank 1-2 anyway, so I don't really care, that's literally starting level skills in something.   I'm not saying someone who decides to buy their first rank in a skill has to go through an Epic Ordeal to justify it.  1 rank could be justified by a weekend of dedicated training in their bedroom for 2-3 hours a night, before going to sleep.  It's not worth micromanaging it at that level.

Ok let me clarify what I'm trying to describe, using narrative systems.   Take any tv show you've watched for years, that had even a loose narrative thread working through it.  The meta-story if you will.  Not every episode directly relates to that story.  Several episodes per season, will frequently be some side event going on, that has little to no relevance to the meta.  But they are sometimes some of the most beloved episodes of the series, and can have some DEEP storytelling in them.   But if you actually look at what happens, it was a completely disposable event, that did nothing except perhaps give a character or two, reason to alter their viewpoint on something previously considered.  Or perhaps it motivates them to no longer be weak and helpless, and start learning to fight, because they are tired of being kidnapped.  Etc etc.   That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.  

If we're accepting that the table in question requires someone to justify their XP purchases, then it should be a two way effort.  If the GM is going to require they work for their skills and talents, then the GM should equally work to provide them opportunities to do that, and have it happen in ways that are fun.   If you've ever watched the show Leverage, you might have an idea of what I'm talking about.  Several episodes of that show, while the events were the same, the personal motivation for different people would change.  One case might be VERY important to Protagonist 1 and 2, but the rest of the cast are just their because they support their allies.  They still get to do their stuff, and have fun, but in the Resolution portion of the episode wrapup, it's Protag 1/2 who have the Moment to Reflect.   If the other PC's can't have fun helping another PC accomplish something personal, all while doing the stuff they are likely good at, then that's their problem.  If they HAVE to have everything always be about them, or "it's not fun", that's an issue they need to address themselves.

Besides, I've met very few murderhobos who give a crap where they are when they are killing things, just as long as they get to kill things.  So it's hardly like they are being left to twiddle their thumbs.

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19 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

Having adventures isn't fun? :blink:  Then why are you at the table?   

I'd rather maximize the fun of the adventure.  When the adventure becomes a list of chores the party has to do so that each member can spend XP in a way the GM approves of, it isn't as much fun.  

I'm all for exploring personal STORIES of my fellow players.  But I don't like characters to be so aware of the dice mechanics of their reality that they create adventures just to improve the average number of advantages they can expect when they roll for a certain skill.  I'm happy to sneak into the Imperial facility to hack into the database to find the location of another character's missing brother.  I'm not so excited to do the same to get GM approval for spending XP on the Computer skill.  

I am not trying to suggest anyone else should play games in a way that I enjoy.  But I know what I like, and don't like, all the same.

In my experience, this issue is rarely an issue anyway.  People react to the game they are playing, and advance their character's accordingly. I've never seen a pump points into Astrogation in a campaign entirely on one planet.   They put points into Astrogation because Astrogation has proved to be important in the campaign.  If they were putting points into something that was irrelevant to the campaign, who cares?  It doesn't affect anything.  Seems a small price to pay for some character independence.  

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