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VadersMarchKazoo

Conflict, ethics and how to play the force as GM

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OK, I’m new to the Force and Destiny game having mostly played Edge of the Empire up until now. I’ve read through many posts about morality and listened to a number of good podcasts. Still I think I’m going to struggle with Conflict for a while. I just re-read the core rule book about this what I take away is that intent seems to matter as does the relative impact. For example, killing someone in self-defense is not the same as murder, so intent matters. So killing is not always bad, if it’s justified. Also, stealing from someone for self-enrichment isn’t the same as stealing for the poor. Along those lines, stealing from the rich is less bad than stealing from the poor. I also understand that the game isn’t meant to be a course on ethics. That being said I thought it would be cool to get some opinions on the following:

1.    Does the force care about intent or strategy? This covers things like the good of the many outweigh the good of the few (thanks Wrath of Khan). It also seems like the hardest part to adjudicate. Killing one person savagely might end a fight with a bunch of others, does that justify the action? Would you award conflict if a PC force-ripped the head off a stormtrooper in front of his companions just to stop further bloodshed? 

2.    Building off number 1, does the immediacy of the result matter? In other words, a PC might do bad things in the short-term that have a long-term positive effect. Sort of the antihero approach. Do you take this into account when awarding conflict or should things be taken at face value or at least with some constraint on the immediate situation?

3.    Does the force care about the emotional state of the character? So, if someone kills a bad guy while enraged is that different than if they kill the bad guy while calm? If the force doesn’t care, then why does the Emperor tell Luke to give into his hate?

4.    As a GM, have you faced specific challenges with awarding conflict? Feel free to cite examples where you’ve awarded (or not awarded) conflict in the past that may have been difficult.

There are a couple emergent themes that seem to be areas of debate in this thread. Note that there are no right or wrong answers to the following questions but instead they represent different viewpoints. Also, how you answer #5 may influence how you think about #6 and vice versa. 

5)   Is Conflict something that is internal to the character (feeling conflicted) or does it represent external pull that is derived from the “will of the force”? This may seem trivial, but it does influence how you think about awarding conflict and probably how you think about the Force more broadly.

6)    If a player chooses the less of two evils, do they still earn ConflictThis is probably going to vary a lot by GM. The general idea is, if a character lies, cheats, steals or perhaps even commits acts of violence but they do so to avoid having to do something much worse, do they still earn conflict?

 

 

Edited by VadersMarchKazoo

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1 hour ago, VadersMarchKazoo said:

OK, I’m new to the Force and Destiny game having mostly played Edge of the Empire up until now. I’ve read through many posts about morality and listened to a number of good podcasts. Still I think I’m going to struggle with Conflict for a while. I just re-read the core rule book about this what I take away is that intent seems to matter as does the relative impact. For example, killing someone in self-defense is not the same as murder, so intent matters. So killing is not always bad, if it’s justified. Also, stealing from someone for self-enrichment isn’t the same as stealing for the poor. Along those lines, stealing from the rich is less bad than stealing from the poor. I also understand that the game isn’t meant to be a course on ethics. That being said I thought it would be cool to get some opinions on the following:

 

1.    Does the force care about intent or strategy? This covers things like the good of the many outweigh the good of the few (thanks Wrath of Khan). It also seems like the hardest part to adjudicate. Killing one person savagely might end a fight with a bunch of others, does that justify the action? Would you award conflict if a PC force-ripped the head off a stormtrooper in front of his companions just to stop further bloodshed? 

Yes, it does, to a point.  Some actions are evil regardless of intent. Overkill is one of them, as is torture. A Jedi should use the minimum force necessary to end a conflict. If that means killing, so be it. However, brutality is not an option. 

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2.    Building off number 1, does the immediacy of the result matter? In other words, a PC might do bad things in the short-term that have a long-term positive effect. Sort of the antihero approach. Do you take this into account when awarding conflict or should things be taken at face value or at least with some constraint on the immediate situation?

No. Blatantly evil actions are evil actions, regardless of the "long term" effects. 

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3.    Does the force care about the emotional state of the character? So, if someone kills a bad guy while enraged is that different than if they kill the bad guy while calm? If the force doesn’t care, then why does the Emperor tell Luke to give into his hate?

Yes, it does. This is one of the key factors of the Jedi Code (both the archaic and modern versions). This is why a Jedi is expected to maintain a calm, and passive demeanor, and not let his or her emotions run wild unchecked. 

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4.    As a GM, have you faced specific challenges with awarding conflict? Feel free to cite examples where you’ve awarded (or not awarded) conflict in the past that may have been difficult.

 

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39 minutes ago, VadersMarchKazoo said:

1.    Does the force care about intent or strategy? This covers things like the good of the many outweigh the good of the few (thanks Wrath of Khan). It also seems like the hardest part to adjudicate. Killing one person savagely might end a fight with a bunch of others, does that justify the action? Would you award conflict if a PC force-ripped the head off a stormtrooper in front of his companions just to stop further bloodshed? 

There is no one answer to this question.  First off, your question implies some level of conscious awareness on the part of the Force, and that's a debatable opinion on the matter.   Like any religion I'm sure there are those who think the Living Force is just that, alive, and thus aware to some degree.  Others will likely see it simply as an energy source.   Ultimately, for your table, what matters is what your GM thinks.

Now, to the questions about "the greater good", again, as you stated, it depends on intent.  The Jedi have never been against killing, they walk around with one of the most dangerous weapons in the galaxy, but how and why they use it is important.  "A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack."   So if they are killing someone to defend others, I think the general consensus would be that less conflict would be awarded, if any at all (depending on circumstances).  

Now, one thing to keep in mind, Conflict isn't "Bad Boy Points".  It's not a punishment metric for doing "bad things", it's to represent when your PC does things, that they will likely be Conflicted about.   Try doing this, whenever you see the word Conflict, instead, replace it in your head with Emotional Turmoil/Uncertainty.    Killing someone would likely put anyone into Conflict, not because it was a bad action itself, it might have been the only viable course to minimize suffering and harm to innocent life.  That doesn't mean the person who did the killing is just dandy about the fact that they just killed somebody.   I work with veterans, and the ones who have seen combat, have issues due to what they have done.  Justified or not, humans (and by proxy, your average Star Wars sentient being), don't really enjoy killing other humans.  We're kind of hard wired to be against doing it.     So even if someone did the "right thing" and killed someone, it's still reasonable to award some Conflict, to reflect how this act has disturbed them on a fundamental level.    That's really what Conflict is supposed to reflect (to me at least).  The only people who feel nothing when they cause harm to another living being, are sociopaths.   

 

51 minutes ago, VadersMarchKazoo said:

2.    Building off number 1, does the immediacy of the result matter? In other words, a PC might do bad things in the short-term that have a long-term positive effect. Sort of the antihero approach. Do you take this into account when awarding conflict or should things be taken at face value or at least with some constraint on the immediate situation?

I would award conflict based on the act itself, because it's about how the act effects the PC not the Universe around that PC.   

I'll give you an example.   You have a PC, who in the heat of the moment, in a hostile situation, kills another person before they could kill someone else.  Despite the nature of this, they are shaken to their core by the fact that they killed someone.  And for years, they deal with the emotional repercussions of that act.  They don't handle it well, developing neurosis and behavioral quirks, that plague them for years as a result.  
Then, years later, they run into the person whose life they saved, and learn that the person was pregnant at the time they were at risk, so not only did the PC save that persons life, but also protected a life yet to be born.   Seeing the positive effect of their actions, gives them a boost to overcome the problems they've suffered for years, and find some semblance of peace with what they did.  That still doesn't change the fact that the Conflict over their actions in the past, had immediate ramifications on them personally.   

In gaming terms, if I had a situation like that with a PC at my table, I would likely give them a positive boost to that sessions Morality check, assuming the PC/Player took the revelation as a chance to have a significant character change and recovery.   This bonus could help bring them out of a low Morality score, perhaps bring them above the 30 Morality limit for a Dark sider, if the key issue of their decline was guilt over the life they took so long ago.   Stuff like that.

 

1 hour ago, VadersMarchKazoo said:

3.    Does the force care about the emotional state of the character? So, if someone kills a bad guy while enraged is that different than if they kill the bad guy while calm? If the force doesn’t care, then why does the Emperor tell Luke to give into his hate?

Yes it matters, does the Force care?  Again, back to question one of "do you think the Force is alive or not?" for that point.  Regardless, it matters for the PC.  How they channel the Force, directly impacts them as a Force user.  I think of the Dark Side as radiation exposure.  Using it fundamentally changes you.  Maybe it doesn't show up right away, but over time, you are changed, and not for the better.   Which is why Palpatine told him to give into his hate, because it would make him more susceptible to using the Dark Side later, making him a useful tool for the Emperor.

1 hour ago, VadersMarchKazoo said:

4.    As a GM, have you faced specific challenges with awarding conflict? Feel free to cite examples where you’ve awarded (or not awarded) conflict in the past that may have been difficult.

Not really, as I'm comfortable looking at it as more than just "You chose poorly, Dark Side cookie for you."  I use it as a reflection of the inner turmoil of the PC, and act accordingly.

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31 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

Now, one thing to keep in mind, Conflict isn't "Bad Boy Points".  It's not a punishment metric for doing "bad things", it's to represent when your PC does things, that they will likely be Conflicted about.   Try doing this, whenever you see the word Conflict, instead, replace it in your head with Emotional Turmoil/Uncertainty. 

Very nicely said and interesting perspective. In this case you really make the sell that Conflict is an internal rather than and external struggle. That does make the question easier to deal with at the table and in a hurry. Does the character feel conflicted by the action they are taking? This really distills this down to a quicker and less (ethically) convoluted question. This might even be a good place to insert "would the average person feel conflicted about this?" since some players may argue that they are emotionally detached.

If you had mature role players, you could almost hand the conflict award over to them, where they tell you if they feel conflicted or not. Of course, I don't think that most players could do it justice. 

Edited by VadersMarchKazoo

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Sometimes a character's conflict is obvious, but sometimes it's a little difficult to separate a player's conflict from a character's conflict. When a player is angsting over a decision, I literally ask the question: Would you say your character is feeling conflicted...?

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38 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

Yes, it does. This is one of the key factors of the Jedi Code (both the archaic and modern versions). This is why a Jedi is expected to maintain a calm, and passive demeanor, and not let his or her emotions run wild unchecked.

So do you award extra conflict for a given action if the PC displays a given negative emotion during the action. For example, the action would normally warrant 5 conflict, do you tack on 1 conflict if they displayed hatred during the action?

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5 minutes ago, VadersMarchKazoo said:

So do you award extra conflict for a given action if the PC displays a given negative emotion during the action. For example, the action would normally warrant 5 conflict, do you tack on 1 conflict if they displayed hatred during the action?

You could, just as you could award Conflict for giving into fear, anger, or hatred while doing an action that would otherwise not grant Conflict at all. This is a key point of how using the Force works. If you use a Dark Side Force Point, that garners Conflict for each DSP you use, no matter why or how it is used. This is because you are giving into your negative emotions to tap into the Force. 

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19 minutes ago, VadersMarchKazoo said:

Very nicely said and interesting perspective. In this case you really make the sell that Conflict is an internal rather than and external struggle. That does make the question easier to deal with at the table and in a hurry. Does the character feel conflicted by the action they are taking? This really distills this down to a quicker and less (ethically) convoluted question. This might even be a good place to insert "would the average person feel conflicted about this?" since some players may argue that they are emotionally detached.

If you had mature role players, you could almost hand the conflict award over to them, where they tell you if they feel conflicted or not. Of course, I don't think that most players could do it justice. 

If you can trust your players to actually award themselves Conflict fairly, then sure, go for it.  I personally try and see it as a conversation between the GM and player, about how to reflect how the PC's actions impact them.  The trouble you usually run into (at least from my experience), is that a LOT of players, see any type of Conflict awarded, as some kind of punishment, and they get defensive, like you're judging their gaming style.  So then you have the ever present "well I don't think my PC should get conflict because he doesn't find X action to be bad. in HIS point of view, this is perfectly fine!".  Which leads to butt hurtness, and bickering, etc.  

But yeah, personally, I think Conflict should come up whenever an action is taken, that would make a person of reasonable, average goodness/morality, question what they did.  "Is this the kind of thing that will haunt them for years?"  "Will they wake up in the middle of the night, asking themselves 'what if I had done X instead?"  "Will they develop a drinking habit to cope with their feelings about their past actions?"  If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, then I think it's a situation where Conflict is awarded.

Now, that's just awarding Conflict, it's also important to consider what the result of that Morality check at the end of the session actually means.   If they end up with a zero change on the roll, or with a positive result (meaning their Morality score goes up), the common misconception (I've seen), is that many players take this to mean that the actions taken didn't bother their character.  They did them, and felt totally justified by them.  And while this is certainly one way to interpret that, another way (and my personal favorite), is to interpret as that the actions still bothered them, but those actions didn't negatively scar their outlook on life    They regret the life they had to take, but they rededicate themselves to becoming stronger, so maybe the next time they are in that situation, they can find a way to save lives without costing others theirs.   Or perhaps to find ways to "pay it forward".  They are still impacted by the actions, but they found a way to accept their choices, and work to be better because of them.

If the Morality roll is negative (Morality score drops), then they could have the exact same reactions as above, but it's coming from a more dark reasoning.   They don't necessarily think what they did was right (not internally), but they justify it to themselves, twisting their internal Moral compass around to have it make sense to them.   "From MY point of view, the Jedi are evil!" being a good example.   They could also do the above Decide to become stronger so that no other people have to die.  "I will become the most powerful Jedi ever!  I will find a way to prevent people from dying!!"    

The way the actions are internalized and processed is important, but the WHY is more important.  And that's a discussion you should have with the player.  Because if they are doing it right, it should be directly coloring their roleplaying style going forward.

 

And Conflict should be awarded when it feels appropriate.  For example, I'm playing in a game right now, and my PC killed people for the first time, even though it was in defense of another.  It still bothered him a LOT, given his personal view on life.  So when I had a roll with some threat in it, the GM was just going to have me take a strain, but I asked to have a Conflict awarded, to reflect the character's issue with what he had done.   I felt it was a better use of the threat, and the GM agreed.  So it really needs to be a conversation.

Edited by KungFuFerret

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4 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

I personally try and see it as a conversation between the GM and player, about how to reflect how the PC's actions impact them.  The trouble you usually run into (at least from my experience), is that a LOT of players, see any type of Conflict awarded, as some kind of punishment, and they get defensive

Yeah, I told my players during session 0 (with a couple reminders already) that Conflict is not a penalty. That it's a mechanic to better understand your character and their interaction with the Force. Keeping this framed as a conversation is good advice.

 

6 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

it's also important to consider what the result of that Morality check at the end of the session actually means. 

You know. We've already rolled this once and it didn't even occur to me to spend a second and talk about what the Morality roll means to the PC. 

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9 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

I happen to be of a different mind than @KungFuFerret on this. I follow the "canon" approach, where the Force itself does indeed have a Will of its own, and has a very objective view on Good and Evil, and that is what determines whether Conflict is awarded or not. 

Totally legit. But I don't know that the two need to be mutually exclusive. It seems that it's perfectly within cannon to believe that the 'battle between light and dark occurs in each of us' and at the same time believe that there are literal light and dark 'forces' in the universe. The question that comes to my mind is  does the Conflict mechanic represent the external power of the force driving the PC or is it the internal conflict of the PC and how they see the universe?

"You mean it controls your actions?"

"Yes, but it also obeys your commands"

Edited by VadersMarchKazoo

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26 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

I happen to be of a different mind than @KungFuFerret on this. 

No surprise there.

27 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

 I follow the "canon" approach, where the Force itself does indeed have a Will of its own, and has a very objective view on Good and Evil, and that is what determines whether Conflict is awarded or not. 

I technically never stated my personal opinion on whether the force has a will of it's own or not.  I simply stated that the average player base is of two minds on that specific question.    Because it opens up a lot of other issues if it is aware, that many don't really want to deal with at a gaming table.

Since the OP's question was along the lines of "does the Force care?"  it is relevant to point out that implies awareness, which may or may not be the OP's actual take on the Force, when you actually think about it.    

27 minutes ago, VadersMarchKazoo said:

Yeah, I told my players during session 0 (with a couple reminders already) that Conflict is not a penalty. That it's a mechanic to better understand your character and their interaction with the Force. Keeping this framed as a conversation is good advice.

 

You know. We've already rolled this once and it didn't even occur to me to spend a second and talk about what the Morality roll means to the PC. 

It's a common oversight, I've done it myself, both as a player, and a GM.  But I've found, when I actually addressed the drop in Morality with a player of mine, it accomplished a couple things:

1. It mollified his ruffled feathers about being given Conflict (because he was of the mind that it was Punishment Points, until we actually talked about it. 

2. It gave him some context on how to roleplay his character going forward.  So that when a similar situation came up later, where the PC had to make a choice that could have negative results for another being, since he was playing the PC as trying to NOT go to the Dark, he started having her make the harder choice, to reflect that conscious choice on the part of the PC to be more mindful of their choices.  And it lead to much better roleplaying overall.

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RE: 4. Instead of challenges, let me tell you about my success.

The best way, in my experience, to implement the vanilla Morality system is to frame "Conflict-worthy actions" - so; starting a fight, stealing, lieing, coercion, torture, murder, ALL of it - as "the Easy Way" through a given plot-challenge vs. "the Hard Way". Where the easy way is achieved by taking a Conflict-worthy action, and the hard way is the way a Jedi would do it.

If the players are willing to do one of those Conflict-worthy things, to more quickly and/or easily achieve their goal - LET THEM more quickly and easily achieve their goal, doing that.

Same with using Darkside pips on Force die rolls. LET the Force make things easy for them, they'll be more tempted to use dark pips that way.

The ways in which you can frame Conflict-worthy actions as the Easy way, will come to you easier and easier, the more you think about it this way. But some examples include:

Resorting to Violence First - 1 Conflict. Situation: PCs stumble into a patrol, if they don't take them out quick, the patrol is gonna call in for reinforcements. Which means, you DO NOT have your NPCs start combat, don't just have the Stormies always initiate combat. That makes it easy in the players, to just respond in self defense. Instead, make it clear the Stormies are calling in more guys, or shutting down the path they need to take - ie making it harder for them. If they let them do it, they're Lightsiders.

Knowing Inaction - 1 Conflict. PCs are on a stealth, or low-profile, mission. In passing they witness a short scene culminating in the summary execution of a minor law-breaker, or they overhear an extremist ally threaten someone and see their plot to murder them. They do nothing? Conflict. But if they stop it, they've blown their cover, or drastically raised their profile, or made an ally uncooperative. They made it harder on themselves by doing the right thing.

Lying - 1 Conflict. Should be easy to notice (often involves the Deception skill), but the important thing here is, just because your intent is to lie to accomplish your noble cause, this does not make the Force ok with that if there's another (albeit more difficult) way to achieve that ends, especially if it harms someone. Saying you're the city mayor for example, to give you more leverage over the Imps in a negotiation is not ok, if it causes the Imps to then set a blockade on that city due to their "mayor's" insolence. Made it easy for you, but really crappy for everyone in that town.

Coercion - 2 Conflict. Should also be easy to identify Conflict opportunities: anytime a PC uses the Coercion skill.

Inflicting Emotional Abuse - 2 Conflict. This is a controversial one, but if you're flinging someone up into the air and letting them plummet to their death using Force Move, you're inflicting Emotional Abuse on them in my book. Even if they've attacked you first, it's not murder, sure, but it's still causing them great mental anguish before they die. Smashing them against a wall, or with a giant boulder? No, it's quick. But if you have crafty PCs, they'll notice how much damage falling does, and they'll be tempted to use it... it's an EASY kill, but their are other ways to kill quickly or without generating a lot of fear in your target first.

Other instances, bullying, etc., will likely jump out at you, so I just wanted to mention the first one for your consideration.

Theft - 2 - 3 Conflict. Similar to lieing, there's a fine line between stealing to achieve your noble goal, and doing harm to someone else's life doing it. My go-to example here is stealing a keycard (or other McGuffin) from a janitor, or other "innocent" by stander to the PCs efforts/enmity. When all is said and done, the PCs stole that card blew up the base, it's discovered that janitor facilitated it by "losing" his keycard, he's executed, or at least is imprisoned, or even just loses his job. Point is PCs had "collateral damage" in achieving their goal. They could have just slogged through the slice, and breaking and entering rigamarole. But no, they took the easy way, stole from someone, and it hurt that person. Conflict.

Unnecessary Destruction - 3-4 Conflict. Again, look at how the PCs use the Move Power. Do they crash a city-police vehicle onto that minion group of Stormies? They just cost that municipality 10s of 1000s of cred. Conflict. Did they just use that ancient valley of the Jedi statue to smash that TIE Fighter? That thing cannot be replaced. Conflict. Did they just pull a chunk of the ceiling down to stop their pursuers? Some people came down with it and were hurt. Conflict. This all also applies to use of explosives and things too, of course.

It gets pretty obvious from there until you get to murder.

Murder - 10(+) Conflict. Have enemies surrender, when they get the chance. Enemy surrenders and they have to take them as a prisoner, or let them go, (or kill them for 10 Conflict) both of those things can REALLY complicate their lives/mission. Prisoners can undermine you. A released enemy can identify you. List goes on and on. Make the PCs choose - knowingly - between making it easy and killing they're enemies, or letting their enemies complicate their lives. Jedi do this - let enemies complicate their lives - ALL THE TIME, when killing them would have been easier. Use this tool.

Also, don't put all the Conflict for any given decision onto just the decision maker, give all players the same amount, for each decision. This had exceptions, like Coercion, but the common and BIG ones, give it to everybody. Make everyone have skin in the game.

Lastly, tell the players how you want to use Conflict - to explore the choices Force Users must make to achieve their goals. Bring them in on the discussion. Bring up emotions too, tell them that you'd like them to be intellectually honest with themselves, and to tell you when their PC is feeling anger or hate. Tell them you'll give them a Discipline or Cool check to avoid Conflict, if they want. Or they can just choose whether or not it's strong enough feels to warrant Conflict. Put them in control.

The people that have troubles with the vanilla Morality system either view it or use it as a punishment. Make it THE story. And put them in control of their own story. Tell them when they're about to warm Conflict, like the book says you should.

Do all this, and your should have a very successful and even rewarding Morality system experience. I've been using it in this fashion for, well, years now. And it's been great. I have players that want to engage the mechanic, that tell me when they should earn Conflict, that enjoy it as a part of the gameplay.

Good luck!

Edited by emsquared

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6 minutes ago, emsquared said:

RE: 4. Instead of challenges, let me tell you about my success.

The best way, in my experience, to implement the vanilla Morality system is to frame "Conflict-worthy actions" - so; starting a fighter, stealing, lieing, coercion, torture, murder, ALL of it - as "the Easy Way" through a given plot-challenge vs. "the Hard Way". Where the easy way is achieved by taking a Conflict-worthy action, and the hard way is the way a Jedi would do it.

If the players are willing to do one of those Conflict-worthy things, to more quickly and/or easily achieve their goal - LET THEM more quickly and easily achieve their goal, doing that.

Same with using Darkside pips on Force die rolls. LET the Force make things easy for them, they'll be more tempted to use dark pips that way.

The ways in which you can frame Conflict-worthy actions as the Easy way, will come to you easier and easier, the more you think about it this way. But some examples include:

Resorting to Violence First - 1 Conflict. Situation: PCs stumble into a patrol, if they don't take then it quick, the pattern is gonna call in for reinforcements. Which means, you DO NOT have your NPCs start combat, don't just have the Stormies always initiate combat. That makes it easy in the players, to just respond in self defense. Instead, make it clear the Stormies are calling in more guys, or shutting down the path they need to take - ie making it harder for them.

Knowing Inaction - 1 Conflict. PCs are on a stealth, or low-profile, mission. In passing they witness a short scene culminating in the summary execution of a minor law-breaker, or they overhear an extremist ally threaten someone and see their plot to murder them. They do nothing? Conflict. But if they stop it, they've blown their cover, or drastically raised their profile, or made an ally uncooperative. They made it harder on themselves to do the right thing.

Lying - 1 Conflict. Should be easy to notice (often involves the Deception skill), but the important thing here is, just because your intent is to lie to accomplish your noble cause, this does not make the Force ok with that if there's another (albeit more difficult) way to achieve that ends, especially if it harms someone. Saying you're the city mayor for example, to give you more leverage over the Imps in a negotiation is not ok, if it causes the Imps to then set a blockade on that city due to their "mayor's" insolence. Made it easy for you, but really crappy for everyone in that town.

Coercion - 2 Conflict. Should also be easy to identify Conflict opportunities: anytime a PC uses the Coercion skill.

Inflicting Emotional Abuse - 2 Conflict. This is a controversial one, but if you're flinging someone up into the air and letting them plummet to their death using Force Move, you're inflicting Emotional Abuse on them in my book. Even if they've attacked you first, it's not murder, sure, but it's still causing them great mental anguish before they die. Smashing them against a wall, or with a giant boulder? No, it's quick. But if you have crafty PCs, they'll notice how much damage falling does, and they'll be tempted to use it... it's an EASY kill, but their are other ways to kill quickly or without generating a lot of fear in your target first.

Other instances, bullying, etc., will likely jump out at you, so I just wanted to mention the first one for your consideration.

Theft - 2 - 3 Conflict. Similar to lieing, there's a fine line between stealing to achieve your noble goal, and doing harm to someone else's life doing it. My go-to example here is stealing a keycard (or other McGuffin) from a janitor, or other "innocent" by stander to the PCs efforts/enmity. When all is said and done, the PCs stole that card blew up the base, it's discovered that janitor facilitated it by "losing" his keycard, he's executed, or at least is imprisoned, or even just loses his job. Point is PCs had "collateral damage" in achieving their goal. They could have just slogged through the slice, and breaking and entering rigamarole. But no, they took the easy way, stole from someone, and it hurt that person. Conflict.

Unnecessary Destruction - 3-4 Conflict. Again, look at how the PCs use the Move Power. Do they crash a city-police vehicle onto that minion group of Stormies? They just cost that municipality 10s of 1000s of cred. Conflict. Did they just use that ancient valley of the Jedi statue to smash that TIE Fighter? That thing cannot be replaced. Conflict. Did they just pull a chunk of the ceiling down to stop their pursuers? Some people came down with it and were hurt. Conflict. This all also applies to use of explosives and things too, of course.

It gets pretty obvious from there until you get to murder.

Murder - 10(+) Conflict. Have enemies surrender, when they get the chance. Enemy surrenders and they have to take them as a prisoner, or let them go, (or kill them for 10 Conflict) both of those things can REALLY complicate their lives/mission. Prisoners can undermine you. A released enemy can identify you. List goes on and on. Make the PCs choose - knowingly - between making it easy and killing they're enemies, or letting their enemies complicate their lives. Jedi do this - let enemies complicate their lives - ALL THE TIME, when killing them would have been easier. Use this tool.

Also, don't put all the Conflict for any given decision onto just the decision maker, give all players the same amount, for each decision. This had exceptions, like Coercion, but the common and BIG ones, give it to everybody. Make everyone have skin in the game.

Lastly, tell the players how you want to use Conflict - to explore the choices Force Users must make to achieve their goals. Bring them in on the discussion. Bring up emotions too, tell them that you'd like them to be intellectually honest with themselves, and to tell you when their PC is feeling anger or hate. Tell them you'll give them a Discipline or Cool check to avoid Conflict, if they want. Or they can just choose whether or not it's strong enough feels to warrant Conflict. Put them in control.

The people that have troubles with the vanilla Morality system either view it or use it as a punishment. Make it THE story. And put them in control of their own story. Tell them when they're about to warm Conflict, like the book says you should.

Do all this, and your should have a very successful and even rewarding Morality system experience. I've been using it in this fashion for, well, years now. And it's been great. I have players that want to engage the mechanic, that tell me when they should earn Conflict, that enjoy it as a part of the gameplay.

Good luck!

OK, a couple of things about your examples, specifically Lying and Theft. IF you check the Conflict table on page, Lying grants Conflict only if it is for Personal gain. If the lie is for the benefit of others, such as to avoid an unnecessary combat, or to protect innocents, there is no Conflict granted. The same is true for Theft. If the theft is from a corrupt and wealthy authority, such as the Empire, and used to give back to those oppressed by said "authority", then any potential Conflict is mitigated, if not eliminated completely. By the same token, if you steal from those who are already destitute, and really cannot afford to lose what little they have, then the Conflict should be increased. 

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1 hour ago, Tramp Graphics said:

OK, a couple of things about your examples, specifically Lying and Theft. IF you check the Conflict table on page, Lying grants Conflict only if it is for Personal gain. If the lie is for the benefit of others, such as to avoid an unnecessary combat, or to protect innocents, there is no Conflict granted. The same is true for Theft. If the theft is from a corrupt and wealthy authority, such as the Empire, and used to give back to those oppressed by said "authority", then any potential Conflict is mitigated, if not eliminated completely. By the same token, if you steal from those who are already destitute, and really cannot afford to lose what little they have, then the Conflict should be increased. 

It's personal gain to take the easy way, when a harder way is present.

Edited by emsquared

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1 hour ago, emsquared said:

Coercion - 2 Conflict. Should also be easy to identify Conflict opportunities: anytime a PC uses the Coercion skill.

So here's a great example. Let's say the PC is trying to use Coercion as an alternative to violence. Sure it's not nice. But the alternative is not nice either. This is a great example of the 'intent'. Back to Steel Hand Adept Ferret's comment, I guess you could ask the PC if the Coercion is making them feel conflicted in this case, but I could see the answer being 'No- I'm trying to get this somewhat bad guy to do the right thing and run away'. So yeah, they are causing someone emotional distress but they may be saving their lives. I guess you could say, well this is only 1 conflict instead of 2-3 that you would have gotten for violence as first option?

 

 

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5 minutes ago, VadersMarchKazoo said:

So here's a great example. Let's say the PC is trying to use Coercion as an alternative to violence. Sure it's not nice. But the alternative is not nice either. This is a great example of the 'intent'. Back to Steel Hand Adept Ferret's comment, I guess you could ask the PC if the Coercion is making them feel conflicted in this case, but I could see the answer being 'No- I'm trying to get this somewhat bad guy to do the right thing and run away'. So yeah, they are causing someone emotional distress but they may be saving their lives. I guess you could say, well this is only 1 conflict instead of 2-3 that you would have gotten for violence as first option?

 

 

In my opinion, the PC still earns Conflict. Coercion ALWAYS earns Conflict, IMO.

BUT, in the case of doing it to avoid a fight, it's putting that (2) Conflict on one PC, instead of everyone in the group getting 1.

Why does coercion always earn Conflict?

Coercion is THE main tool of the Sith/Darkside. The Emperor mind-boning Luke? Coercion. Coercion is invoking emotions in another that TURN THEM to the Darkside. Lightside hates that. Darkside exists because of it.

Edited by emsquared
Ugh, I hate my Android's auto-correct

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10 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

Not necessarily. If the “truth” would cause more harm than good, it is better to tell a white lie. 

Just because you don't lie doesn't mean you have to tell the truth.

If you can't complete your objective by talking to them without a lie that would cause collateral damage, then don't talk to them. Don't lie, AND don't tell the truth.

Do something different.

Convince someone else to talk to them. Manipulate data files. Whatever.

Harming "innocents" to make things easier on yourself is Darkside, period. At my table at least.

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12 minutes ago, emsquared said:

Just because you don't lie doesn't mean you have to tell the truth.

If you can't complete your objective by talking to them without a lie that would cause collateral damage, then don't talk to them. Don't lie, AND don't tell the truth.

Do something different.

Convince someone else to talk to them. Manipulate data files. Whatever.

Harming "innocents" to make things easier on yourself is Darkside, period. At my table at least.

That’s just my point. A “lie” doesn’t always harm anyone. In some cases it is actually the right thing to do. When Obi Wan “lied” to Luke about his father, that was done in the boy’s best interest. No Conflict. In fact, Jedi are allowed to lie and misdirect if it is done for a noble end. This is why the table in the core book specifically stated that only lying for personal gain earns Conflict. And, to be clear, “personal gain” refers to selfish desires, greed, money, power. In other words, if the lie only benefits the liar himself, then it is Conflict worthy. If you lie for a noble purpose, such as to save someone’s life, to keep someone safe, prevent unnecessary emotional trauma, to avoid an unnecessary fight, to aid a greater cause, etc, then no Conflict is to be awarded. The Conflict table on page 324 explicitly gives such examples. 

The same is true of theft. If it is done for the sake of others in order to give them back what they need to survive and flourish, and what is taken is from a corrupted, and wealthy oppressor, then no Conflict is warranted. However, if the theft is for your own greed to line your own pockets, then Conflict is warranted. If the theft is from the poor, and defenseless, then the Conflict should be increased accordingly. Thus, the intent of the act is of much greater importance than the act itself in these two cases. So, no, by RAW, a lie or theft does not always garner Conflict. These acts only garner Conflict if done for selfish reasons rather than noble ends. This is explicitly stated in the RAW.

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3 minutes ago, emsquared said:

I didn't say every lie always warrants Conflict. You do like to hear yourself talk don't you.

Actually, yes you did. You even stated in your first post that even lying for a noble cause was counter to what the Force considers acceptable and should grant Conflict. To quote:

 

3 hours ago, emsquared said:

Lying - 1 Conflict. Should be easy to notice (often involves the Deception skill), but the important thing here is, just because your intent is to lie to accomplish your noble cause, this does not make the Force ok with that if there's another (albeit more difficult) way to achieve that ends, especially if it harms someone decision maker, give all players the same amount, for each decision.

That statement is flat out wrong. If you lie for a noble purpose it never garners Conflict. The only time lying warrants Conflict is if it is for personal gain, I. E. for selfish greed.

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1 minute ago, Tramp Graphics said:

Actually, yes you did. You even stated in your first post that even lying for a noble cause was counter to what the Force considers acceptable and should grant Conflict. To quote:

 

That statement is flat out wrong. If you lie for a noble purpose it never garners Conflict. The only time lying warrants Conflict is if it is for personal gain, I. E. for selfish greed.

I think you are gettin to the crux of the issue. Do the Ends justify the Means? Call it "Noble" or whatever. In some of these cases it seems to me that sometimes you must choose the lesser of two evils, but neither choice is good.

Ben lied to Luke. In reality, he probably felt conflicted about it, even if he knew doing so was the "right thing to do". Should he get a point of Conflict for this?

Did Qui Gon feel conflicted cheating with the chance cube. Probably yes. Was it justified, for sure. Should he have gotten a little Conflict for this?

I guess I'm just thinking that a PC might do things that are morally questionable but for a 'noble' cause. But in my mind, they might still earn Conflict, just less than the alternative. To me this is the heart of the Conflict/Morality dilemma. 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, VadersMarchKazoo said:

I think you are gettin to the crux of the issue. Do the Ends justify the Means? Call it "Noble" or whatever. In some of these cases it seems to me that sometimes you must choose the lesser of two evils, but neither choice is good.

Ben lied to Luke. In reality, he probably felt conflicted about it, even if he knew doing so was the "right thing to do". Should he get a point of Conflict for this?

Did Qui Gon feel conflicted cheating with the chance cube. Probably yes. Was it justified, for sure. Should he have gotten a little Conflict for this?

I guess I'm just thinking that a PC might do things that are morally questionable but for a 'noble' cause. But in my mind, they might still earn Conflict, just less than the alternative. To me this is the heart of the Conflict/Morality dilemma. 

 

 

The answer to the question of “Do the ends justify the means?”   is “Sometimes.” It really depends upon the specific action as well as the motivation behind it. With some actions, there is no justification for it. For other actions, the motivation is the most important thing. 

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55 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

Actually, yes you did. You even stated in your first post that even lying for a noble cause was counter to what the Force considers acceptable and should grant Conflict. To quote:

 

That statement is flat out wrong. If you lie for a noble purpose it never garners Conflict. The only time lying warrants Conflict is if it is for personal gain, I. E. for selfish greed.

Actually, no. I didn't. I realize that's critical for you to assert as truth for you to be able to maintain your carefully constructed world you live in, but it's a lie.

I said that some lies, supposedly carried out in the name of your noble cause, still merit conflict.

That's far from every lie.

Furthermore, it's a simple acknowledgement that when there are two (or more) possible paths, and you choose the one that happens to cause collateral damage just because it's the easy path, means you're not in fact doing it "for the cause" you're doing it cuz it's easy. Conflict.

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