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Oatcakes

My "Non-Combat Oriented" Group

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Hey there, everyone! I'm new to these forums, and to FFG's Star Wars RPG in general, and as such there are a few things I'm a little uncertain about going in as a GM.

 

In particular, I was wondering how to handle a group of PCs that lack any capable fighters. To elaborate, my group is pretty relaxed, and is made up of a handful of close friends I managed to wrangle together. With that in mind, I allowed them to pick whatever species and career combination they wanted, which resulted in a Doctor, Advocate (Diplomat) and a third player who knows he wants to "play a Yoda", but not much else.

 

I'm not really sure how to deal with this party set-up; on one hand, I'm totally opposed to forcing any of them to switch careers for the sake of "balance". On the other hand, though, I don't want to deprive them of challenging combat scenarios or pin them with some specialized NPC companion just because they might struggle.

 

Maybe I'm seriously overthinking all of this, and maybe combat will be made even more interesting by their total lack of competency, but I'd still appreciate any advice regarding this topic, or any that might be useful to me as a novice GM. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I look forward to any and all replies! 

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In the end, you can still challenge them with combat, it's all about balance. Obviously you'd need less Stormtroopers than a gun-toting, murder party of mercs. 

 

In addition, ask what your PCs want out of the campaign. If they DO want action and adventure, you might want to gently inform them that their current choices might not mesh with that type of campaign. 

 

If they do fancy something along the lines of a more diplomatic or non combative campaign, ask what they want out of that. The key thing before character creation always for me as a GM is to nail down what your players want out of the game. Otherwise they risk getting bored with what they're specialized in and want to do more action packed things, which they may not be able to do without significant XP.

 

tl;dr: it's easily doable, but check what they want out of the campaign first just to make sure they're not picking the wrong spec for the game they want to play

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4 minutes ago, ALFRED1182 said:

In the end, you can still challenge them with combat, it's all about balance. Obviously you'd need less Stormtroopers than a gun-toting, murder party of mercs. 

 

In addition, ask what your PCs want out of the campaign. If they DO want action and adventure, you might want to gently inform them that their current choices might not mesh with that type of campaign. 

 

If they do fancy something along the lines of a more diplomatic or non combative campaign, ask what they want out of that. The key thing before character creation always for me as a GM is to nail down what your players want out of the game. Otherwise they risk getting bored with what they're specialized in and want to do more action packed things, which they may not be able to do without significant XP.

 

tl;dr: it's easily doable, but check what they want out of the campaign first just to make sure they're not picking the wrong spec for the game they want to play

Thanks for the response, Alfred! Seeing as how my players aren't crazy about the roleplaying aspect of things, it makes a lot of sense for me to recommend a few careers more suited to combat. I can definitely see them benefiting from that kind of discussion, considering they're even newer to this than I am!

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Give them challenges that don't involve shooting things.  It's not that difficult.

You have an Advocate, so have them have to deal with some political stuff.  Perhaps they encounter an angry crowd that is about to get out of control, and the Advocate has to use their social skills and talents to defuse the situation.  You can have it be a series of skill checks, with decreasing difficulty if they are doing well to defuse the situation, or increasing if they are fumbling and making it worse.

You have a Doctor, have them end up on a planet that is a Fringer world, and they don't have an established medical system there.  Or perhaps they did, but it was damaged in a natural disaster on the planet they are colonizing.  Now they have an epidemic of some exotic ailment, unique to this planet, and the PC's have to isolate the problem, perhaps go exploring into the wilderness to find an antidote, and then cook it up to save the colony.

For "the Yoda"...well, that is a little too vague to come up with ideas, so I got nothing there.

But yeah, there is a HUGE list of skills on every single character sheet, that have nothing to do with hurting things :P  Just use those, and come up with scenarios that involve them.  If every challenge begins and ends with "and then they fight", then you aren't thinking about this the right way.

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32 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

Give them challenges that don't involve shooting things.  It's not that difficult.

You have an Advocate, so have them have to deal with some political stuff.  Perhaps they encounter an angry crowd that is about to get out of control, and the Advocate has to use their social skills and talents to defuse the situation.  You can have it be a series of skill checks, with decreasing difficulty if they are doing well to defuse the situation, or increasing if they are fumbling and making it worse.

You have a Doctor, have them end up on a planet that is a Fringer world, and they don't have an established medical system there.  Or perhaps they did, but it was damaged in a natural disaster on the planet they are colonizing.  Now they have an epidemic of some exotic ailment, unique to this planet, and the PC's have to isolate the problem, perhaps go exploring into the wilderness to find an antidote, and then cook it up to save the colony.

For "the Yoda"...well, that is a little too vague to come up with ideas, so I got nothing there.

But yeah, there is a HUGE list of skills on every single character sheet, that have nothing to do with hurting things :P  Just use those, and come up with scenarios that involve them.  If every challenge begins and ends with "and then they fight", then you aren't thinking about this the right way.

You make a lot of good points, and in hindsight I probably wasn't clear enough about my problem, but what I was really wondering was what to do when and if combat does occur. This particular group is going to love the occasional showdown, but I don't want to bully them into playing a career they'd rather avoid. 

 

I guess what I'm really asking is how to tread the line between implementing combat and allowing my players to make up whatever character captures their imagination. That said, I'll be sure to include encounters that cater to their particular skills! 

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1 hour ago, Oatcakes said:

Thanks for the response, Alfred! Seeing as how my players aren't crazy about the roleplaying aspect of things, it makes a lot of sense for me to recommend a few careers more suited to combat. I can definitely see them benefiting from that kind of discussion, considering they're even newer to this than I am!

Well explain to them the types of scenarios that a less confrontational party can get up to, and maybe they'll latch on? It all depends on the type of campaign.

Maybe they're con artists? Trying to make money through charm, deception and coercion, but occasionally getting caught and having to weasel out of it with minimal confrontation or lying, possibly running back to their ship from an angry mob?

Maybe they're Rebel diplomats, sent to gain allies, organize revolts or get up to come sneaky sabotage on the side?

 

There are plenty of options, but it's best to get everyone on the same page at the beginning so they know what to expect, and what they're working with

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1 hour ago, Oatcakes said:

You make a lot of good points, and in hindsight I probably wasn't clear enough about my problem, but what I was really wondering was what to do when and if combat does occur. This particular group is going to love the occasional showdown, but I don't want to bully them into playing a career they'd rather avoid. 

 

I guess what I'm really asking is how to tread the line between implementing combat and allowing my players to make up whatever character captures their imagination. That said, I'll be sure to include encounters that cater to their particular skills! 

If combat does occur, let them try and fight it out.  There are ways to use non-combat skills in a combat way.  "I slice the nearby computer terminal to hotwire that maintenance droid to consider them as debris!"  "Ok!  So it proceeds towards them, spinning brushes and water hoses on full blast!"  *roll to see if badguys can keep from being washed off their feet, possibly losing weapons along the way."   "I use mechanics to try and overload that steam-pump near them, causing it to blast them with hot water!"   "Ok!  So I'll treat that as a blast attack, your difficulty will be *whatever*, if you succeed, it will do some damage to them, and they will suffer a setback dice on their next check, from the steam temporarily blinding them!"

For the doctor, he could try and do stuff like use a medicine check to cook up some drug cocktail that he could try and inject with a melee attack, to knock someone out.  Pretty sure there is a stimpack related talent in the Doctor tree that would work great for this.

The key thing, in my personal opinion, for having a combat situation that doesn't require combat, is to make sure people are looking at the entire situation.  A lot of gamers put on blinders to everything else in the scene you set up, aside from the enemy units that have to be killed.  They totally ignore the fact that you described a nearby water main that could be utilized to their advantage, and other similar things.  For me, that's the kind of detail I ask about immediately, because that's just how I approach these type situations.   I like thinking of ways to utilize the environment to shift the odds in my team's favor.  But I've noticed, at least from my personal gaming experience, that most people just gloss over that stuff.  All they see are targets to be killed.  And, sometimes the GM doesn't think to incorporate that kind of detail either.   So try and make sure the scenes (if they are scripted ones) have multiple options on how they could deal with it.  Either by using unconventional combat methods, or ways for the party to escape if they decide that's the better part of valor.

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You don't need any combat to have fun and tension with this game.  We've had up to three sessions in a row with no combat, and two of the three players in my main group pride themselves on their ability to cause physical mayhem.  They still had a blast Coercing, Charming, out-Cooling NPCs to get their desired goals.  It was obvious pretty quickly that you could run an entire campaign with little or combat, and people's lives and futures would still be on the line.

The social and other skills are superb, but they do take a little learning to handle properly.  Combat has clear number crunching:  when you've taken too many wounds, you're done.  Social stuff is less concrete, but there are a few things you can do:

First, check out this link:  http://theangrygm.com/systematic-interaction/  You may not appreciate this author's writing style, but it's a great framework for a social system.  Scroll down to "Keeping Social Score" if you want to skip some of the intro.  Basically you have to identify what the goals and desires of each party are, and let the various successes, advantages, triumphs etc achieve those goals, or vice versa with the negative results.  (He's writing about D&D, but the framework still applies.)

Second, pick up either or both of the social career sourcebooks.  Both Far Horizons and Desperate Allies have useful pointers on handling social checks.  The info isn't repeated, so both are a good option if you can afford it.

Third, treat social interactions a little more like combat.  At its simplest, you can even just give and take Strain when having social combat, and whoever runs out soonest loses.  They may not suffer crits, but they might leave the scene staggered and weeping and losing social status...

Finally, as the Duchess of Mandalore once said:  "Just because I'm a pacifist doesn't mean I won't defend myself."  There are a variety of weapons available for non-combatants.  The Diplomat in our group still carries a blaster with the Accurate quality.  Even with 2 Agility and no skill ranks, if he Aims twice he gets to roll GGBBB, which isn't bad.  Flip a DP and he can still generate a Triumph now and then.  In my other group, the "art dealer" has a Brawn of 1, but he still plans to become lethal with his "umbrella club" over time.

Note that if they take a spec like Recruit, they can still get weapon training so it's cheaper to buy skills.  In fact, depending on your campaign, you could just give them all the Recruit tree for free (special training required to enter the Diplomatic Service, or whatever).  Then they can easily become effective shooters, at least good enough to deal with small roadblocks.  You can justify the nemeses sending lower numbers, underestimating the PCs because "they're just a bunch of talking heads, what could go wrong?"

 

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And they can always just buy some ranks in a combat skill, without cross-classing into a combat one.  A decent agility (that they might have due to some other factor), and a rank or 2 in Ranged, and they've got a decent dice pool to use in a pinch.  Sure it's not a bunch of combat talents, but if they wanted to play a combat monkey...why roll up a Diplomat ?  :P  

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Taking on board everything you guys have said, it seems to me that I should keep in mind what I'm dealing with: a Doctor and a Diplomat! I'll make sure to offer them plenty of situations that make use of their skills, in and outside of battle, and maybe they'll find that they prefer the social aspect of the game to the combat side. I know I do! :)

 

Adding a lot of detail to encounters sounds like a great idea, KungFuFerret, especially considering that my players (all of whom have very little experience with these kinds of games) might not think to ask for it. It could really inspire them to make use of their non-combat skills, too!

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A 2 Agility isn't all that bad.  Lots of modifications to blasters add the Accurate quality (+1 Boost), remove a Setback die (Custom Grip), or add an Advantage to an attack.  Don't forget to "Aim" (+1 Boost).  So there, ONE Custom Grip with a mod, Aim, and you're talking rolling FOUR positive dice on a blaster attack.  At Short Range (1 Diff) that's a 74.6% chance to hit.  Your group isn't (or won't be) as bad as you think. ;)

That being said, you're going to have to watch sending melee bruisers at them or Stormtroopers with heavy weaponry.  Maybe keep the minion groups down to 2-3 troopers.  When you DO send someone with a big weapon, they'll be rightfully afraid. 

For your group, look at their respective talent trees (Doctor, Advocate) and send stuff at them their skills are suitable for. 

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2 minutes ago, DurosSpacer said:

A 2 Agility isn't all that bad.  Lots of modifications to blasters add the Accurate quality (+1 Boost), remove a Setback die (Custom Grip), or add an Advantage to an attack.  Don't forget to "Aim" (+1 Boost).  So there, ONE Custom Grip with a mod, Aim, and you're talking rolling FOUR positive dice on a blaster attack.  At Short Range (1 Diff) that's a 74.6% chance to hit.  Your group isn't (or won't be) as bad as you think. ;)

That being said, you're going to have to watch sending melee bruisers at them or Stormtroopers with heavy weaponry.  Maybe keep the minion groups down to 2-3 troopers.  When you DO send someone with a big weapon, they'll be rightfully afraid. 

For your group, look at their respective talent trees (Doctor, Advocate) and send stuff at them their skills are suitable for. 

I'll make sure to test the waters a bit, see what they can handle. Nothing like a bit of trial and error to keep everyone entertained!

 

That said, I'll stay away from bruisers and heavy gunners, at least for the time being. ;) 

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Don't mind me.  I laughed out loud when reading that the player wants to "play a yoda."  :)

A few questions:

-Speak like Yoda will he?

-Decided yes or no for the force has this Yoda?

-Wise enough to play a Yoda I hope.

In all seriousness:  Not sure if anyone recommend this, but you can have them 'run' with 1-2 combat oriented NPCs that you can incorporate into the story.  The great thing is that you don't even have to roll for the combat NPCs, just tell any story you want.

Kinda reminds me a old Legend of the Five Rings RPG I heard about where a PC Shugena jumped on the back of Hida Kisada and did nothing but cast buffs and heals while the giant NPC tore through the Shadowlands.  I can see something like that with the player Yoda or the doctor jumping on Chewie's back and casting buffs while the Wookie mauls Darth Maul.

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59 minutes ago, Sincereagape said:

Don't mind me.  I laughed out loud when reading that the player wants to "play a yoda."  :)

A few questions:

-Speak like Yoda will he?

-Decided yes or no for the force has this Yoda?

-Wise enough to play a Yoda I hope.

In all seriousness:  Not sure if anyone recommend this, but you can have them 'run' with 1-2 combat oriented NPCs that you can incorporate into the story.  The great thing is that you don't even have to roll for the combat NPCs, just tell any story you want.

Kinda reminds me a old Legend of the Five Rings RPG I heard about where a PC Shugena jumped on the back of Hida Kisada and did nothing but cast buffs and heals while the giant NPC tore through the Shadowlands.  I can see something like that with the player Yoda or the doctor jumping on Chewie's back and casting buffs while the Wookie mauls Darth Maul.

OK, quick question, does he want to play one of Yoda’s species or simply someone with a similar role and personality?

Edited by Tramp Graphics

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12 hours ago, Sincereagape said:

Don't mind me.  I laughed out loud when reading that the player wants to "play a yoda."  :)

A few questions:

-Speak like Yoda will he?

-Decided yes or no for the force has this Yoda?

-Wise enough to play a Yoda I hope.

In all seriousness:  Not sure if anyone recommend this, but you can have them 'run' with 1-2 combat oriented NPCs that you can incorporate into the story.  The great thing is that you don't even have to roll for the combat NPCs, just tell any story you want.

Kinda reminds me a old Legend of the Five Rings RPG I heard about where a PC Shugena jumped on the back of Hida Kisada and did nothing but cast buffs and heals while the giant NPC tore through the Shadowlands.  I can see something like that with the player Yoda or the doctor jumping on Chewie's back and casting buffs while the Wookie mauls Darth Maul.

To answer your questions:

-Speak like Yoda I hope he will.

-Undecided on a career he still is.

-Wise enough to play Yoda he most certainly is not.

As for your advice, I can certainly see the benefit of giving them an NPC ally or two, especially considering it'll take them some time to figure out how combat works!

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11 hours ago, panpolyqueergeek said:

If you're looking at the orig trig for inspiration, remember that until the Battle of Yavin, the "players" (protags) were mostly sneaking, shooting minions, and running from combat :)

That's an excellent point! Luke, Han and the rest of the crew running around the Death Star is one of my favourite bits from the first film. :) 

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11 hours ago, Tramp Graphics said:

OK, quick question, does he want to play one of Yoda’s species or simply someone with a similar role and personality?

As far as I'm aware, he wants to take control of his very own little green Yoda-frog. Other than that, I have no idea what he's planning!

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17 hours ago, Oatcakes said:

Taking on board everything you guys have said, it seems to me that I should keep in mind what I'm dealing with: a Doctor and a Diplomat! I'll make sure to offer them plenty of situations that make use of their skills, in and outside of battle, and maybe they'll find that they prefer the social aspect of the game to the combat side. I know I do! :)

 

Adding a lot of detail to encounters sounds like a great idea, KungFuFerret, especially considering that my players (all of whom have very little experience with these kinds of games) might not think to ask for it. It could really inspire them to make use of their non-combat skills, too!

As Liam Neeson said in Batman Begins (at least I think he did)  "Always be aware of your surroundings."  

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8 hours ago, Oatcakes said:

As far as I'm aware, he wants to take control of his very own little green Yoda-frog. Other than that, I have no idea what he's planning!

That's what I thought. Unfortunately, there are no official (or unofficial) stats for Yoda's species, nor is there ever likely to be since Lucasfilm has made it abundantly clear that they want to keep Yoda's species a complete mystery

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27 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

That's what I thought. Unfortunately, there are no official (or unofficial) stats for Yoda's species, nor is there ever likely to be since Lucasfilm has made it abundantly clear that they want to keep Yoda's species a complete mystery

Actually, while we're on the topic of the Yodas, do you have any recommendations as to what their attributes should be? I fully intend to let him play one, awkward though it may be, but I'm pretty wary of making him over/underpowered!

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Just now, Oatcakes said:

Actually, while we're on the topic of the Yodas, do you have any recommendations as to what their attributes should be? I fully intend to let him play one, awkward though it may be, but I'm pretty wary of making him over/underpowered!

Not a clue, that's part of the reason why I suggest he play another species. Lucasfilm is pretty determine for them to be off limits. Aside from not having any species name, we also have an extremely small sample of members of his species to draw from, and all of them were Jedi Masters. As such, we have no way to really determine what an "average" member of his species would be. 

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4 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

Not a clue, that's part of the reason why I suggest he play another species. Lucasfilm is pretty determine for them to be off limits. Aside from not having any species name, we also have an extremely small sample of members of his species to draw from, and all of them were Jedi Masters. As such, we have no way to really determine what an "average" member of his species would be. 

I would love nothing more than him picking a species from the book. Unfortunately, playing a Yoda seems to be the only thing he's sure he wants to do! 

I guess I'll try to come up with something interesting, and if it doesn't work out, I'll tell him he could always just play Chewbacca. :)  

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6 minutes ago, Oatcakes said:

I would love nothing more than him picking a species from the book. Unfortunately, playing a Yoda seems to be the only thing he's sure he wants to do! 

I guess I'll try to come up with something interesting, and if it doesn't work out, I'll tell him he could always just play Chewbacca. :)  

Have him look at some of the species from this

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6 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

Have him look at some of the species from this

I'm not sure if he'll bite, but that's certainly a nice resource to have. Thank you! :) 

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