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whafrog

Dear FFG: please convert

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Hi, much as I love this game, I really have grown to detest the careers and specs.  They never fit any of my player's concepts, they are so limiting, pointless straightjackets, and often make little sense.  After seeing how you fixed this and several other issues in Genesys, can I dare to hope that there will be a version 2.0 of the Star Wars game?

Just as for version 1, I promise to buy every book.  My wallet is open, please take my money.

Sincerely,

whafrog

 

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The only thing I don’t like abot the career/specialization system is how there are Jedi careers other than Consular, Guardian, and Sentinel and that lightsaber forms are attached to career.

But the impression I get is that you’re referring to a more broad issue. Now, could you please give me an example so I can understand what your problem is?

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For me, I find the specializations restrictive.  There is no, I want to be "this, with a touch of that" unless it's one of the concepts that FFG deemed worthy of creation. 

For a specific example, my current character is a Rigger (please hurry Fully Operational...) because he's a bit of an adrenaline junkie but he's also really dreaming of making his own ship. Modder has custom load out that would be nice, but I have to take an entire spec and several talents that don't really fit my theme to get it.  Pilot fits mechanically better than hotshot, and it's just a name so I'm not worried.  But if I want to get better on the mechanical side I have to drop extra XP just to have access to the engineer and technician trees simply because rigger falls under Ace rather unlock modder that falls under technician.  And if I want those inventor talents to really make my own ship (hurry the heck up Fully Operational...) I have to take outlaw tech, which may fit from a macro theme, it doesn't fit my ship focused theme.

All in all, allowing talents to be more piecemeal like Genesys would allow for a more focused character and not one that takes 500xp to start coming together.

It would also mean they wouldn't have to make a bajillion books just to have the holy +3 specs per career.  It would keep the line leaner and more accessible to the masses.

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1 hour ago, Absol197 said:

While I can respect your opinion, I strongly disagree.  I greatly enjoy the Specialization trees, and would be very disappointed to see them go, both as a player and as a GM.

I second this. With 18 Careers and 118 specialisations, you have the ability to generate any PC concept (unless they are REALLY going out of their way to be obscure).

The career/spec discount/premium and escelating cost to purchase more trees ensures a balance of player PC desires and preventing OPness. Which is why jedi/Force sensitives in this system are balanced. They have to juggle their main career spec, their lightsaber form, and their Force power trees. Which is why the Sharpshooter Soldier who has dedicated to their one spec has a chance against them.

Now as GM I do offer small discounts to some specs across different CRBs that make sense(Engineers who want a technician tree /artisan is a good example, I may discount by 5XP. medic and Doctor might be another). Because I am Kind.

But the spec tree mechanic is great. PCs cannot have their cake and eat it too. Want to be a meatshield that can talk the pants off a Gundark. its going to cost you. Want to Be that slicer who can also take on a wookie. not cheap. Want to be that Hotshot pilot who can also tinker with her starfighter..Sure, that makes sense, heres the discount because its within your career

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1 hour ago, Yaccarus said:

But the impression I get is that you’re referring to a more broad issue. Now, could you please give me an example so I can understand what your problem is?

An open system is preferable IMHO.  I'd say every spec in the Star Wars line has talents in a tree that aren't necessary and are in the way of something a player might actually want.  Some are terrible, like Thief.

But the worst are the FaD specs.  You can't do justice to any of the media characters without diving into half-a-dozen specs, which, in game terms, means hundreds of XP spent on specs to get that "one talent" to flesh out a character concept.  It makes no sense, and doesn't really give that "Star Wars" feel.  I get around by waiving the costs for extra specs, but that's a patch on a poor system.

Another problem with the spec tree system is that it assumes you are using all the other mechanics in the game.  I have no use for Duty, for example, but some of the talents that feed off and affect Duty are required in order to reach other talents.  I also tend not to spend time with the players "shopping", so things like Black Market Contacts or the Entrepreneur talents aren't very useful in my games.

If these were available as part of the pyramid then tables that aren't interested in the bean-counting aspects of the game can skip those talents without penalty or working up a patch.

18 minutes ago, Funk Fu master said:

Want to be a meatshield that can talk the pants off a Gundark. its going to cost you. Want to Be that slicer who can also take on a wookie. not cheap. Want to be that Hotshot pilot who can also tinker with her starfighter..Sure, that makes sense, heres the discount because its within your career

But cost has nothing to do with it.  Genesys isn't exactly a free-for-all, the pyramid imposes its own limits.  It's just far more flexible.

Edit:  you are making a lot of assumptions here about game play style.  If you like to push your PCs to be monolithic one-or-two-trick-ponies, that's one way to do it.  I prefer to encourage breadth.  The spec system encourages depth, not breadth, so it doesn't really work for me (or my players) unless I patch it.

 

Edited by whafrog
added thought

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I get what you mean with lightsaber specs; they aren’t well-done at all.

Sure, some talents may be “in the way,” but if every talent was insanely valuable, that would create balancing issues.

Aside from that, though, I think you’re too caught up in names of specs. Sure, if I want to be a charming smuggler with a little history slicing who’s also an ace pilot and a skilled gunslinger, it may seem like I need Charmer, Slicer, Pilot, and Gunslinger, which is simply too much XP to spend. Or, I could reasonably choose Pilot as the first spec, throw in 20 XP for Charmer during character creation, grab a free rank in Ranged-Light, buy another, and get a rank in Computers for just 10 XP. Sure, specializations may seem specific and restrictive, but that’s only if you choose to let them define your character.

As for a few talents being useless in terms of game mechanics, either swap them out or just don’t buy them.

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2 minutes ago, Yaccarus said:

Aside from that, though, I think you’re too caught up in names of specs.

And you say this...why?  I've ended up revamping all my player's PCs to better suit them, finding the same suite of skills and talents in a more efficient way several times.  I'm hardly married to "names".

3 minutes ago, Yaccarus said:

As for a few talents being useless in terms of game mechanics, either swap them out or just don’t buy them.

That's what I already do.  I just don't think I should have to go to the trouble.

Additional point for those who love the current system:  you have your system!  The Warrior book is coming, and I believe that fleshes out every career in all three lines.  So if FFG went in the supremely wise and excellent :D direction of revamping to fit Genesys, you still have the option of sticking with v1.0.  You'll fit right in with all those Windows 95 users ...  :ph34r:

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17 minutes ago, Yaccarus said:

As for a few talents being useless in terms of game mechanics, either swap them out or just don’t buy them.

I agree.  If one of my players came up wit ha cool reason to swap out a talent fro ma tree, I would let them run with it.

I see the purpose for the trees for new players though.  I also agree with the earlier post mentioning not to take them literally, look at them thematically.  That wouldn't be easy with someone new to the game though.

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14 minutes ago, whafrog said:

Additional point for those who love the current system:  you have your system!  The Warrior book is coming, and I believe that fleshes out every career in all three lines.  So if FFG went in the supremely wise and excellent :D direction of revamping to fit Genesys, you still have the option of sticking with v1.0.  You'll fit right in with all those Windows 95 users ...  :ph34r:

I don’t think FFG would destroy the entire system and remake it from the ground up. I’m sure that there are people on your side, but the fact of the matter is that FFG isn’t going to start over with this whole thing when most of their potential customers will just stick with the old game. Hate to rain on your parade, but don’t get your hopes up.

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13 hours ago, whafrog said:

additional point for those who love the current system:  you have your system!  The Warrior book is coming, and I believe that fleshes out every career in all three lines.  So if FFG went in the supremely wise and excellent :D direction of revamping to fit Genesys, you still have the option of sticking with v1.0.  You'll fit right in with all those Windows 95 users ...  :ph34r:

Come now, that sort of implication isn't necessary.  And take into account that the exact same logic used here can be used in reverse: "Additional point for those who love Genesys: you have your system!  If you don't like the sort of structure that the Star Wars system has, you can always take the talents and put them into the free-form system already produced."

It's entirely understandable that you want a more free-form system, if that's what you prefer.  I personal enjoy specializations, because they allow for structure without dictating the entirety of your path, and because it allows certain talents to be made rare or unique.  That works for me, and based on the reactions I've received, I think it's safe to say I'm not the only one.

Yes, I definitely agree that there are some trees, especially some of the earlier ones, are sub-par.  But that doesn't mean that the basic system of specializations is broken; rather, it means that the system as a whole could use some re-balancing now that FFG had had plenty of time to understand the ins and outs of their design.  A second edition, should one appear, would be best served, in my opinion, by refining the sub-par trees, as well as some of the one-off rules.

And once the Space Fantasty theme book comes out for Genesys, you'll have even more support for a Genesys-based Star Wars game.

Edited by Absol197

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To my understanding, Genesys uses a "talent pyramid" system. Each talent has a rank between one and five, with rank one talents costing five experience, rank two talents costing 10 experience, rank three talents costing 15 experience, and so on. To acquire a talent above rank one, the character must have more talents in the previous rank. For example, if I wanted to buy a second rank three talent, I would need at least three rank two talents.

As in Star Wars, some talents are ranked and can be taken multiple times. However, each time they are acquired, their rank increases by one. To compensate for the higher cost, a few talents provide extra benefits when they are purchased a second time, such as applying to two skills instead of one. Even so, this system should discourage players from investing too heavily in a single ranked talent.

I haven't played Genesys or read the book, but from what I've read on forums and seen in online character builders, I suspect I'd like the system if it had more support. I find Star Wars' talent trees unnecessarily restrictive. I grew up with Pathfinder, where it is easy to build characters who can play a supporting role in every theater, from combat to social interaction and exploration. Because Star Wars advancement is based on individual purchases rather than universal increases in power, it is much harder to do that here, especially given how focused many of the specializations are. For example, with the exception of Teacher, which has access to Well Rounded, I can't find a Force and Destiny career that has access to both Ranged (Light) and Negotiation. However, if I favored Lightsabers rather than pistols, I'd be set, because FFG has given us the Arbiter.

You might reply, "Just suck it up, Thaliak! Buy a negotiation specialization and a gun specialization if you want to excel in both fields." To which I'd reply, "That would be ideal, but almost every game I've been in has ended before the third or fourth session. I'm hopeful this one will be an exception, but I'd have more fun if the system were flexible enough to let me realize the character concept quickly, even if that meant my character ended up less powerful than he would with a more focused build."

Specializations also interact in odd ways with the skill system. For example, if I know I want to be a Teacher/Arbiter with at least two ranks in Lore and two ranks in Education, the optimal move is to start as a Teacher, because unlike the Arbiter, they can use their free skills to get two skills to rank 2 for a 10 experience bonus. Similarly, if I want to eventually acquire a specialization with Ranged (Light) as a career skill, I should wait until I'm ready to do that before buying any ranks in the skill, even if it makes sense for the character to pick up the skills immediately.

As frustrating as I find specializations, I'll admit that they reinforce the setting, encourage characters to focus on one or two areas rather than stepping on each others' toes, and occasionally allow players to discover the upside of talents they would otherwise never take. They're also thematic, so I can understand why others like them. But I've had far too many times where I look at a tree only to discover that the talents I'd be interested in are buried behind talents I'd never use–or ones that I'd be tempted to use even though doing so would step on other players' toes–not to think that a more open system would be more fun.

Edited by Thaliak
Grammar

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I hear you whafrog, it’s the main reason I kicked in for the talent conversion project. I love the idea of talents that thematically fit together, but there’s so much filler in there to make cool combinations of wildly different talents very challenging.

So often a new book will come out with some fun awesome new talents and I just know they won’t get used because they’re stuck in a tree no one in my group wants. 

I know that converting the current talents isn’t simple, a lot need rewriting and balancing to fit the open structure. But a character can be awesome at a much broader range of things without having exorbitant taxes to pay.

So as a example I love the Improved Saber Throw Talent, but why do I have to be a sneaky character to get it? I also love a charming character and Just Kidding is awesome. I would love to play a 150xp character who can just do those things, but with the Force Rating required to reliably throw a Saber it’s really not possible.

Edited by Richardbuxton

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I agree, the specializations as they are now are a bit more restrictive than I would like. I for instance for one of my characters for a Jedi specialization that has both survival and lightsaber in it's skillset so I can make them career skills and thus get them cheaper, but one doesn't exist so I'm pretty much stuck with choosing one or the other, the other 3 skills may either be ones I already have and/or don't need, and the talents for specializations that aren't always necessarily all that useful either. I especially don't like how if you don't start off with a Jedi career the Force Rating can only be increased from 0 to 1 and thus allow Force talents and powers by buying one of the universal specializations from the EotE , both of which lack skills to accompany them thus making those specializations worth less. I also can't think of any good reason why simply getting one of the F&D specializations wouldn't be to do the same thing and give a nonForce Using player character a Force Rating and would be less redundant. Besides, a lot of talents in those specializations require a Force Rating to do anything with. I also think there should be at least a couple means to get or boost one's Force Rating that don't require the purchase of any specialization at all, like locating a Sith Holocron or something.

As for talents, I agree that there's a lot of unnecessary need to buy talents you don't even want and may even be detrimental to one's character concept. I think that talents should be ranked in a sort of circle chart for any given specialization rather than placed in a tree, with each talent ranked, everything at that rank requiring the same amount of experience to buy, and the only rule being that you can purchase any talent of a given rank provided you've bought at least 1 talent in the previous rank. It's a lot more likely one would be able to buy only talents they could actually make use of that way. The same sort of thing with Force Powers too.

Edited by immortalfrieza

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I actually like both the Star Wars approach and the Genesys approach. I think talent trees are helpful for newer players, as they tend to be well balanced and help the player understand what sorts of things they need to pick up to be good at what their niche is. My worry with porting over to Genesys is that players might be overwhelmed with the options (especially if the wonderful Genesys Talents Expanded is on the table) and might not consider some talent that a tree might have made them pick up that they later come to appreciate. In fact, I'd love to see some published guidelines for how to introduce talent trees for the Genesys line: how to design them, how to balance them, etc.

But I also think for advanced players, the à la carte Genesys system is fine. I think it'd be pretty easy to just make that conversion without republishing the Star Wars line by making liberal use of Genesys Talents Expanded.

Finally, I wonder if there's a middle road? Say you're running Star Wars with talent trees. Your player gets to some talent she doesn't want -- a lot of people just say "let her switch it out," but if you're worried about balance issues, maybe charge a 5 XP tax for the privilege to swap it out? Another idea: Charge 5 XP to move or add a bar connecting talents that don't already connect so the player can bypass something she doesn't want?

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10 hours ago, Yaccarus said:

Hate to rain on your parade, but don’t get your hopes up.

Well, with the warrior book about to be released, they need to keep the revenue stream going.  I'm sure regional and timeline books will be popular, but they will never be as globally popular as character spec + equipment + ships.

24 minutes ago, SavageBob said:

My worry with porting over to Genesys is that players might be overwhelmed with the options (especially if the wonderful Genesys Talents Expanded is on the table) and might not consider some talent that a tree might have made them pick up that they later come to appreciate.

A reasonable concern.  They could still publish "archetypes", with suggested suites of talent purchases for a given character concept.  That way we can have our specs and eat them too... ;)

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25 minutes ago, SavageBob said:

Finally, I wonder if there's a middle road? Say you're running Star Wars with talent trees. Your player gets to some talent she doesn't want -- a lot of people just say "let her switch it out," but if you're worried about balance issues, maybe charge a 5 XP tax for the privilege to swap it out? Another idea: Charge 5 XP to move or add a bar connecting talents that don't already connect so the player can bypass something she doesn't want?

The only balancing issue I've found when currently waiving the extra spec cost is making sure the PC has at least a couple rank 4 talents in their previous spec before branching out.  This prevents them from bouncing around and snapping up all the cheap Grit, for example.

 

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1 hour ago, SavageBob said:

I actually like both the Star Wars approach and the Genesys approach. I think talent trees are helpful for newer players, as they tend to be well balanced and help the player understand what sorts of things they need to pick up to be good at what their niche is. My worry with porting over to Genesys is that players might be overwhelmed with the options (especially if the wonderful Genesys Talents Expanded is on the table) and might not consider some talent that a tree might have made them pick up that they later come to appreciate. In fact, I'd love to see some published guidelines for how to introduce talent trees for the Genesys line: how to design them, how to balance them, etc.

But I also think for advanced players, the à la carte Genesys system is fine. I think it'd be pretty easy to just make that conversion without republishing the Star Wars line by making liberal use of Genesys Talents Expanded.

Finally, I wonder if there's a middle road? Say you're running Star Wars with talent trees. Your player gets to some talent she doesn't want -- a lot of people just say "let her switch it out," but if you're worried about balance issues, maybe charge a 5 XP tax for the privilege to swap it out? Another idea: Charge 5 XP to move or add a bar connecting talents that don't already connect so the player can bypass something she doesn't want?

I too found it overwelming when I sat down trying to extract the talents from the specs and apply the Genesys rules to them. It's is surrely doable but it require system mastery from both the GM and the players and lot of work.  On the other hand, I completly understand the complains of some users. There are talents weirdly placed in specs and there is specs associated with career that doesn't really fit.

Edited by vilainn6

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I can see both sides here, I do like the talent tree's, but have chaffed at not being able to quite do a character the way I wanted.  On the flip side, I've found that being forced to take a few things I wouldn't normally has actually forced me to branch out a little bit and I've ended up with some more interesting characters.  Overall I think I'll keep Star Wars with the current system, but look forward to trying out Genesys with maybe a Fantasy or Modern game.

On a related note, I'd love to have them go back and rework some of the early talent trees and make them more interesting.  They got better at fashioning cool career trees later in the games history.  Some of the early ones are not very useful, and just plain boring.

 

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2 hours ago, OddballE8 said:

I mean, it has the space opera rules... you can use it for Star Wars, and you can use most of the other stuff found in the SW books just fine with it.

Yeah, it's just balancing the cost of Talents, especially the Force ones.  It's a lot of work, and I'd rather pay FFG to do it.

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