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1 hour ago, LodgeBlackman99 said:

I've also been wondering what the average difficulty for low XP characters should be

Whatever makes sense for the story, party, and intended outcome. 

If it makes sense for the Bunker to be guarded by a platoon of Dark Troopers, and you don't want the starter level players going in that way anyway... so it is.

If it makes sense for the bunker to be guarded by three scout troopers, and you want your +200XP players going in that way... so it is.

If it makes sense to have a PPPPP difficulty lock on the tool shed, it is. If a PBlk lock seems more appropriate... it is.

Additionally a Party of optimized combat characters will need a lot more to have a meaningful fight than a party of non-combatant civvies.

So feel it out and learn what works for you and the party within the campaign.

If you try and make a mathematical formula, it won't work. It's just how the system is. Unlike D20 where you get better across the board almost every time you level, and taking on non-class options is usually a bad idea, this is a point-buy system with more broadly defined player roles. Even two "identical" characters can be wildly different. A Hired Gun: Merc Soldier that bought up the left side of his tree and associated skill ranks is going to be quite different than one that went down the right side.

 

1 hour ago, LodgeBlackman99 said:

Also I wanted to double check, from what I've seen enemies with the 'Nemesis' classification are not equal in power level, am I correct in this or am I looking at this the wrong way?

Just like with players, Nemesis will all be different and good for different things. Boba and Jabba are both Nemesis-level characters but one's going to be a lot scarier in a shootout and the other will just cut a contract with you that when you fail to deliver makes  you his personal bikini-wearing plaything.

Also remember that this game system is inspired heavily by a specific set of movies, movies that take on a whole new look wen you really go back and watch them form the perspective of the GM. 

So like it's rare a Nemesis will be able to solo the party. But hey... Darth Vader never soloed the entire party. Heck, he only faced a single PC in real combat twice, and the first time he set it up to have every advantage possible, the second the GM probably intended for Vader to lose at some point anyway, it was just a matter of where.

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9 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

Not all Nemeses are created equal. The Nemesis status simply denotes how certain rules interact with that NPC.

Thank you for the response, it's what I had arrived at as well and hoped was not/was afraid was the case.  We may be a bit outmatched in our current game.

8 hours ago, Ghostofman said:

Whatever makes sense for the story, party, and intended outcome. 

If it makes sense for the Bunker to be guarded by a platoon of Dark Troopers, and you don't want the starter level players going in that way anyway... so it is.

If it makes sense for the bunker to be guarded by three scout troopers, and you want your +200XP players going in that way... so it is.

If it makes sense to have a PPPPP difficulty lock on the tool shed, it is. If a PBlk lock seems more appropriate... it is.

Additionally a Party of optimized combat characters will need a lot more to have a meaningful fight than a party of non-combatant civvies.

So feel it out and learn what works for you and the party within the campaign.

If you try and make a mathematical formula, it won't work. It's just how the system is. Unlike D20 where you get better across the board almost every time you level, and taking on non-class options is usually a bad idea, this is a point-buy system with more broadly defined player roles. Even two "identical" characters can be wildly different. A Hired Gun: Merc Soldier that bought up the left side of his tree and associated skill ranks is going to be quite different than one that went down the right side.

My question is: "numerically is the challenge of "so difficult you will literally always fail" a default of the system or the result of the GM misunderstanding how the game works in regards to balance?"  If you characters are just starting out, what's the purpose of throwing a 5 purple dice challenge at them other than to say "Unless you super specialized you're almost never going to succeed on this"?  I'm aware that there will be differences, but I'm talking about a core resolution mechanic, not widely diverging specializations, again as I said we're at very low XP and didn't start off super specialized so are challenges of an almost constant 3 purple dice or higher a fair challenge or more of a statement of 'should have built your character differently'? 

And also there are no non class options as a part of this example, not sure how the last bit relates to what I was asking, and while I understand that it's not a straight numerical advancement it seems like these challenges being put forth are (at the existing average difficulties as mentioned) means that we will fail far more often than succeed.  So is this a numerical norm in the system or is it just a misunderstanding by the GM?  If it's inherent in the system it's not good design at all as this leads to massive lack of internal and external player efficacy.  Additionally, justifying such needlessly difficult challenges because 'I'm the GM and I said so' is incredibly frustrating from the player perspective, especially when it's repeatedly the norm in encounters when the book seems to be leaning towards a more 'match it to your players abilities' design style from what I've gathered.

8 hours ago, Ghostofman said:

Just like with players, Nemesis will all be different and good for different things. Boba and Jabba are both Nemesis-level characters but one's going to be a lot scarier in a shootout and the other will just cut a contract with you that when you fail to deliver makes  you his personal bikini-wearing plaything.

Also remember that this game system is inspired heavily by a specific set of movies, movies that take on a whole new look wen you really go back and watch them form the perspective of the GM. 

So like it's rare a Nemesis will be able to solo the party. But hey... Darth Vader never soloed the entire party. Heck, he only faced a single PC in real combat twice, and the first time he set it up to have every advantage possible, the second the GM probably intended for Vader to lose at some point anyway, it was just a matter of where.

I'm aware that they will be different, but the Iron Arm Stormtrooper is a different strength of nemesis from a Sith Acolyte which is different from an Inquisitor which is different from Vader.  Because of this challenge discrepancy being unclear I'm worried that the GM missed this fact and is throwing things at us that can indeed solo the party, as our party's highest skill on foot at the moment is (on average, pilot's specialized focus on flying non-withstanding) 2 Green dice and 1 Yellow die.  Is this an appropriate average pool to be facing things that present a 4 Red Dice challenge?  It feels like there's very little chance of being able to meaningfully influence this encounter.  For additional clarification: the nemesis is also a Force User who has the Move power (10 XP), and was able to disarm all 4 of the party, meaning they had 4 Magnitude (30 XP), 1 Range (5 XP) and 2 Control (15 XP) Upgrades.  This means that on top of having a 4 attribute and 4 skill ranks they also have a Force Power which, by itself, has as much XP invested in just it as we do in our whole characters (60 XP).

This kind of discrepancy has nothing mechanically to do with the movies and has nothing to do with the 'some are better for different things' in regards to the numerical aspect I'm asking about.  The 4 dice was able to counter our party's specialty with ludicrous ease as it prevented us from socializing our way out of the encounter, we aren't really a combat heavy group.  The Force Power eclipses both of the force users in the party as we have a total of roughly 10-15 XP invested in one power at the most (base cost and 1 upgrade) and has lead to the situation where our enemy can say 'I can out socialize and completely negate the combat efficacy of the entire group'.  'Go back and watch the movies from the perspective of the GM' isn't really helpful advice, especially since it doesn't account for possible mistakes and imbalance in an encounter which is what I'm attempting to find out.  So to those here is this a norm in the system or is it more likely a misunderstanding of balance?  It feels like it's more the latter but I'm here trying to get additional clarification before I talk with my GM about it, the other players have been feeling very much the same as myself and I want to make sure the conclusions I've come to are sound ones.

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For difficulty, I'd suggest checking out Episode 13 of The Dice Pool Podcast and Episode 117: Technical Difficulties of the Order 66 podcast.

Both of these go into a great deal of detail about setting up difficulties for FFG's narrative dice system, which in and of itself doesn't necessarily matter how much XP a character has.

Besides, how much XP a character has isn't always the best guideline for how to arrange difficulties, since it matters more where the XP is spent.  Two characters with 150 earned XP each could have wildly varying capabilities all depending on where that XP was spent.

In fact can be a trap that's all too easy to all into if you start assigning difficulties based not on how difficult the task at hand is but instead at how proficient the character making the check is.  My advice and the advice of those two podcasts on that front is DON'T go that route.

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8 hours ago, LodgeBlackman99 said:

"numerically is the challenge of "so difficult you will literally always fail" a default of the system or the result of the GM misunderstanding how the game works in regards to balance?"

Probably more a GM thing, at least in the way you seem to be asking about it.

In this system the questions a GM should be asking when assigning difficulty is: Can it be accomplished? And How hard would it reasonably be to accomplish, both realistically and from the perspective of "movie universe"?

So like, chucking a 5P difficulty at a starter character would be a situation where the thing is really really really hard, but possible.

Due to "movie simulator" this is probably going to be one of those situations that is pretty rare. In Movie world most difficulties are pretty consistent. Jumping a 5-foot gap is always going to be whatever the difficulty of jumping a 5-foot gap will be. Farmer Jones doesn't get a letter in the mail informing him that the local adventuring party has leveled up and he needs to replace the DC 10 lock on his barn with a DC 15 lock.

So while there's always an exception to the rule, in most cases difficulties will be fairly predictable. This isn't to say that difficulties won't increase over time, they will, but they will usually do so logically. The Imperial warehouse you break into at start will be less defended than the secret research lab you break into at +150XP. So the Lab's locks will be higher difficulty, there will be more stormtroopers, and so on. But jumping from the roof of the 2 story warehouse will be just as hard as jumping from the roof of the 2 story lab. 

And that the thing, somethings will almost always be the same because logic dictates it will. If you break into a 7-11 at start and picking the lock is Average difficulty, when you break into a 7-11 at +150XP it's probably not going to suddenly have a Daunting difficulty lock on the door unless there's a really good reason for it.

But... movie world CAN skew the other way from time to time. So an example where you might see a silly difficulty is something like this:

The good guys attack a bad guy outpost and chase the bad guys off. Good guys start to search the outpost and find it's rigged with explosive booby traps. Players ask about defusing the explosives, and the GM says it's PPRR Mechanics per bomb, knowing darn well that the players don't have Mechanics, or anyone with a high Int rating, putting the odds of success around 12-28% without modifiers (thanks Pirate!). 

Why is it so high? Well, defusing bombs IS tricky, so that at least explains why it's 3 or 4 dice. Its a bomb that's specifically rigged to prevent tampering, so a Red is justified. Finally though... The GM wants to suggest that the player probably shouldn't try it, but is willing to reward the players for success if they pull it off. A bomb might be really handy in the encounter after next. So instead of saying "you can't" or "you rally don't want to" he says "It's really hard, but it can be done."

So if it works, they can take a bomb with them, if not, then they can't, if they Despair it... it's time to run.

 

9 hours ago, LodgeBlackman99 said:

we're at very low XP and didn't start off super specialized so are challenges of an almost constant 3 purple dice or higher a fair challenge or more of a statement of 'should have built your character differently'? 

If what you're doing is justifiably hard... yeah makes sense. Maybe the problem is the players need to find easier solutions. 

 

But... there is a possibility the GM is making questionable decisions. 

That last line makes me wonder, is that what your GM said?

If so...maybe a GM issue. If he's played something like D&D, then there's an obvious disconnect in the way this and that game are designed. D&D, despite being in it's 5th edition, still calls back to it's wargame roots. In a  wargame you have a kind of rock paper scissors going on to encourage army diversity (Archers are great at range and bad up close, so you need fast mounted Knights to move in and fight against them, and footmen/pikemen to protect them from being attacked up close). D&D mirrors this in that each class is designed to fill a specific role very well, and be garbage at everything else to encourage the party to be more than just 5 Warriors.

Star Wars has roles as well, but if you look at the Pirate's table again, you'll see a lot of things probably aren't as hard and the roles aren't as tight.

Consider this: Your Freshly minted starting Gunfighter will have an Agility of probably 3 or 4, and a skill of 2. In neutral conditions at short range (a range consistent with pistol usage, but not max of course) he's got a success rate of 83-89%. Considering that math-oriented people considering somewhere around 85% to be "reliable" that puts your gunfighter right where he needs to be for someone who is a professional in a difficult field.

But now also consider Owen Nobody: Moisture Farmer. Dude's probably all 2s with not a single skill point. Not great.. but lets also look at what he does on a typical day. Fix a vaporator, patch a pipe, carry a bucket... none of those things are challenging. Most may not require a check, and the things that do are usually going to be Simple (-), or 1 or 2 purple, a really bad breakdown might go all the way up to 3. While alone old Owen might have trouble, he's not. He's got the right tools for the job (which will either affect the difficulty or add a boost or two), a couple Treadwell units to assist (unskilled and skilled assists can really change things) all the time in the world (justifying more modifiers that will benefit him), and when things get really bad he can send his PC nephew to do it.

And Owen kinda sets a bar. There's a lot of stuff out there that really honestly, isn't that hard. Even when it is because ADVENTURE!, it's still not PPP+ hard.

So yeah, it is possible that the GM is looking at his experience with D&D or another similar designed RPG and how you really need to focus on your class function and keep the party together so you always have the right man/woman/elf/dwarf/hobbit for the job. With Star Wars players do tend to be a little more broadly skilled, with lots of options to adjust skill/difficulty further, and the GM doesn't know that he's allowed to dial it all back a bit.

 

That said difficulty can be a theme, especially certain kinds of difficulty. If I'm running a simple smuggler campaign I'm not going to throw a lot of complex environmental modifiers at the players, just a setback here and there for specific extremes. If I'm running a Commando campaign, where the environment is a major talking point, I'm going to throw a lot of complex environmental effects at them because deciding to bring extra grenades, or a tent so they don't freeze at night is part of the challenge.

10 hours ago, LodgeBlackman99 said:

Because of this challenge discrepancy being unclear I'm worried that the GM missed this fact and is throwing things at us that can indeed solo the party, as our party's highest skill on foot at the moment is (on average, pilot's specialized focus on flying non-withstanding) 2 Green dice and 1 Yellow die.  Is this an appropriate average pool to be facing things that present a 4 Red Dice challenge?

Probably not.

10 hours ago, LodgeBlackman99 said:

The 4 dice was able to counter our party's specialty with ludicrous ease as it prevented us from socializing our way out of the encounter, we aren't really a combat heavy group.  The Force Power eclipses both of the force users in the party as we have a total of roughly 10-15 XP invested in one power at the most (base cost and 1 upgrade) and has lead to the situation where our enemy can say 'I can out socialize and completely negate the combat efficacy of the entire group'.  'Go back and watch the movies from the perspective of the GM' isn't really helpful advice, especially since it doesn't account for possible mistakes and imbalance in an encounter which is what I'm attempting to find out.  So to those here is this a norm in the system or is it more likely a misunderstanding of balance?

OK, THAT sounds like a possible balance issue. 

I say possible because the GM is allowed to try and build encounters to have likely outcomes, and the players are allowed to lose from time to time. Typically in Star Wars they should win, but losing is allowed.

And you're right, there's times when a starting player group CAN meet Darth Vader, but you're also right that in such situations the players probably aren't supposed to fight him to the death. They're supposed to talk him down... somehow... or run, or something.

And this also goes back to in this system you aren't always suppose to roll. You tell the Bad Guy some fib. Does he have any reason to not believe you? Probably, but if he doesn't, you don't need to roll nor does he, he can just believe you and move on, that's allowed. Heck, that's exactly how the gear concealment rules work.

Even when you make an "overpowered" character, you typically want a weakness as well. The inquisitor formula for example suggest giving an inquisitor a high Parry or Reflect, but not both, so there's always one way to harm him. 

 

So yes, it does sound like the GM isn't up to speed on difficulty, Nemesis abilities, power levels, and Encounter Design.

 

And yeah, my point with "go watch the films" was actually that most villains AREN'T that powerful. Vader is a monster, but if Luke, Han, Leia and Chewie all faced him alone in combat together in a single encounter, there's a good chance he'd lose. He'd probably take most of them with him... but he'd still lose. Which is why they almost never do. Leia is alone with him plenty, but never in a situation where she can fight. Han Leia and Chewie get a chance, but he's backed up by a platoon of troopers and Fett. And Luke faces him 1:1 once, and 1:1+Palpy once, both of which were encounters very carefully staged to ensure he had every advantage in addition to being Vader. The only other time we see him fight the players in at Yavin, and Han and Chewie HT his TIE Advanced in one turn, even though he's got an attached Squadron (so pretty epic roll involved there, but totally doable).

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Thanks for the chart and the feedback everyone, it's a big help.  From the sound of things it seems like the GM is using what they feel are 'real world difficulties' but are they mechanically not being accurately represented.  The 3 dice penalties, for example, have been on relatively mundane things, like keeping an eye on someone in uniform we directly observed leaving a building and entering a crowd, following them without being seen with abundant cover, or attempting a quick takeoff and following a willing ally when the ship was already primed and ready to launch with the pilot at the helm waiting.  It seems like they're just taking the base difficulties and not factoring in difficulty reducing situational modifiers.  So we've basically been attempting to do what we're good at but it's been that difficult, so it would be much worse if we weren't catering to our strengths.  I'll probably wind up talking about this with the GM at our next session, thanks again everyone!

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Posted (edited)

Hello again everyone, I'm reviving the thread again with another random question.  A player in my game has been applying an upgrade that I can't find in the books, it's one that when applied to a weapon allows ranks of the Unwieldy trait to be exchanged for an equal number of ranks of the Cumbersome trait.  Google-fu has failed me as there are several posts talking about the upgrade but no reference to where it's located!  Any help is appreciated, thanks as always!

-LodgeBlackman99

Edited by LodgeBlackman99

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Hey gang. 

Can someone use reflect upon Unleash? RAW i'm unsure because of how absolute the text is. Or do Obi-wan/Mace Windu just have monstrous defence/use of Dodge or something of the sort?

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7 minutes ago, Luahk said:

Hey gang. 

Can someone use reflect upon Unleash? RAW i'm unsure because of how absolute the text is. Or do Obi-wan/Mace Windu just have monstrous defence/use of Dodge or something of the sort?

Protect.

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1 hour ago, Luahk said:

Hey gang. 

Can someone use reflect upon Unleash? RAW i'm unsure because of how absolute the text is. Or do Obi-wan/Mace Windu just have monstrous defence/use of Dodge or something of the sort?

RAW no, as Reflect specifies that it can only be used against attacks made by the Gunnery, Ranged (Heavy), and Ranged (Light) skills.

Which seems kind of silly, but then the designers probably intended that any scenes we see of Jedi using their lightsabers to stop Force lightning (aka Unleash) was that Jedi instead using Protect, or as you noted just having a monstrous defense (be it ranged defense or just a bunch of upgrades to the Discipline difficulty).

Personally, I just let Reflect be used against any ranged attack, which simplifies the whole matter.  And similar with Parry being usable against any melee attack rather than deal with oddball situations of close-quarters combat checks being made with something other than Brawl, Melee, or Lightsaber.

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1 hour ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

RAW no, as Reflect specifies that it can only be used against attacks made by the Gunnery, Ranged (Heavy), and Ranged (Light) skills.

Which seems kind of silly, but then the designers probably intended that any scenes we see of Jedi using their lightsabers to stop Force lightning (aka Unleash) was that Jedi instead using Protect, or as you noted just having a monstrous defense (be it ranged defense or just a bunch of upgrades to the Discipline difficulty).

Personally, I just let Reflect be used against any ranged attack, which simplifies the whole matter.  And similar with Parry being usable against any melee attack rather than deal with oddball situations of close-quarters combat checks being made with something other than Brawl, Melee, or Lightsaber.

That also allows it to be used on move like Luke did in Empire badly

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It's one DP per check, to be precise. So you could spend multiple DPs on an Action that isn't a check, in theory.

Or activate DP-powered Incidentals and also upgrade a check during your turn.

Or spend a DP to influence the story/setting, and then use that new situation to enable a skill check and upgrade it with a DP, all on your turn.

 

Edited by Stan Fresh

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