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Shizuya

adjusting difficulty on talent abilities?

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Hello fellow GMs!

So, one of my players is playing a hutt agitator and he has now bought the "incite rebellion" talent, which can make up to three NPCs oppose their faction when the PC succeeds on an average coercion check, once per session. 

While I really like what this talent can do (although I dont know if this needs to be a talent tbh), I know my players well enough (we've been friends for years) to know that he will use this talent whenever he gets the chance. While I already stated that this wont work or at least not be that easy when targeting a group of stormtroopers or very loyal NPCs, I already see the player protesting that it should always be average difficulty because the talent says so (and ofc he invested quite a lot xp for it). I personally would handle the ability in a way, that he can indeed make NPCs mutiny when poisining their thoughts etc. but that would be in a non combat scenario. In combat I would make this talent much more difficult depending on
- are the PCs outnumbered heavily?
- are the NPCs a group of loyalists or just mere mercenaries working for the highest bidder?
- how convincing is the player actually when using the talent?

what are your thoughts on this? should I just handle this player free cake once per session or up the difficulty? I think I would let the player try making a really hard check if he wants to try against the odds and only session-lock the ability once he has finally been successful. 

Very interested in other opinions here since I dont want to be unfair but I know this player will cheese the heck out of the talent if I let him.

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Posted (edited)

I say let the player eat cake once a session, even for combat encounters. Note that it's a Hard (PPP) check, not an Average (PP) one, although if the PC has ranks in Intimidating, they can downgrade this once per rank. And you should feel free to add Setback dice to the check for the reasons you outline (outnumbered, loyalty of the targets, etc.). But Incite Rebellion is a signature talent of the Agitator spec, so nerfing it is really taking it to the player a bit too harshly, in my opinion.

If this becomes an issue where the player is constantly hijacking your carefully designed encounters, just plan around the talent. If you know the PC has 4 ranks in Coercion and can therefore make 4 targets rebellious, add an extra 4 minions to the encounter and plan for the fact that the PCs will likely win them over to their side and get a bit of extra firepower (or what have you). I'd rule that each individual minion within a minion group should be treated as a separate entity for the purpose of this talent (so you can win over a 4-person minion group with Coercion 4, not 4 minion groups!).

TL;DR: This is a signature talent for the Agitator, it requires a Hard (PPP) check, you can add setbacks, and you can accommodate the talent in your encounter design. :)

Edited by SavageBob

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2 hours ago, SavageBob said:

I say let the player eat cake once a session, even for combat encounters. Note that it's a Hard (PPP) check, not an Average (PP) one, although if the PC has ranks in Intimidating, they can downgrade this once per rank. And you should feel free to add Setback dice to the check for the reasons you outline (outnumbered, loyalty of the targets, etc.). But Incite Rebellion is a signature talent of the Agitator spec, so nerfing it is really taking it to the player a bit too harshly, in my opinion.

If this becomes an issue where the player is constantly hijacking your carefully designed encounters, just plan around the talent. If you know the PC has 4 ranks in Coercion and can therefore make 4 targets rebellious, add an extra 4 minions to the encounter and plan for the fact that the PCs will likely win them over to their side and get a bit of extra firepower (or what have you). I'd rule that each individual minion within a minion group should be treated as a separate entity for the purpose of this talent (so you can win over a 4-person minion group with Coercion 4, not 4 minion groups!).

TL;DR: This is a signature talent for the Agitator, it requires a Hard (PPP) check, you can add setbacks, and you can accommodate the talent in your encounter design. :)

oh you're actually right it is a hard check. well this player has intimidating 3, coercion 3 and willpower 3 so far, so I'm rather unlikely to be able to add a challenge dice but setbacks should be fine. I totally agree with the individual minions. 
I dont want to nerf this talent too much, that's why I'm here asking for thoughts :) I actually recommended this tree to the player since he was the last to join our group and it fits pretty well tbh. I think it will be a fun ability but like I said, I think I will need to give certain NPCs some plot armor once he starts using it 😂 on the other hand I can put lots of pressure on my group to make him use it and make it feel really useful on top. 

thanks for replying!

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1 hour ago, Shizuya said:

 I think it will be a fun ability but like I said, I think I will need to give certain NPCs some plot armor once he starts using it 😂 on the other hand I can put lots of pressure on my group to make him use it and make it feel really useful on top. 

That's a good point about certain NPCs needing plot armor. You might just tell the player your concerns and try to get buy-in that the talent won't become an "I win" button. But even from a pure game mechanics angle, you're within your rights to rule that you as GM get to decide which NPCs the player's check affects when they use it. If you always make sure to include a 3-person minion group (or 3 minor Rivals) alongside your big bads, you should be OK. :D

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I just read the talent and it is only once per game session so you may have to offer your player up an enticing reason to use it early in the game before the PCs reach the NPCs you really don't want him using this on.  Remember that non-minions also have the option of having the Adversary talent that makes that Hard Coercion check slightly more risky as well.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, SavageBob said:

That's a good point about certain NPCs needing plot armor. You might just tell the player your concerns and try to get buy-in that the talent won't become an "I win" button. But even from a pure game mechanics angle, you're within your rights to rule that you as GM get to decide which NPCs the player's check affects when they use it. If you always make sure to include a 3-person minion group (or 3 minor Rivals) alongside your big bads, you should be OK. :D

well that's one way to handle it. I just looked up the description again and it doesn't state that the talent makes these NPCs friendly to the PCs, just that they "become unhappy or try to take action against an authority with power over them" 😏 this could actually lead to some very interesting (and unwanted!) situations... :D 

 

3 hours ago, Varlie said:

I just read the talent and it is only once per game session so you may have to offer your player up an enticing reason to use it early in the game before the PCs reach the NPCs you really don't want him using this on.  Remember that non-minions also have the option of having the Adversary talent that makes that Hard Coercion check slightly more risky as well.

well the problem with that is my player has intimidating three times and he could buy it a 4th time with the agitator spec alone. and he is also using it on every occasion he can.
but if he tried it on imperials for example I can see myself give setbacks for their loyalty to the imperial cause, them outnumbering the PCs, the PCs being wanted criminals, their officer being nearby and so on.

Edited by Shizuya

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Ok, here is an in game organic way if it become annoying. This is the extreme. So as these PCs have entrenched themselves in to the galaxy at large, they've gained somekind of recognition and reputation. No player can shy away from their PC being known for their stickt. There are talents that reduce a targets ability to know who is who, but if they aren't covering their face, etc, one of the PCs will become known and who travels with them and what any or all of them do, have done and typically do. Survivors may tell the story of this guy who made them see the light and why they left the imperial war machine, they didn't want to hurt their former colleagues, but they couldn't get out of there fast enough. It takes something this simple to provide the catalyst of the characters own downfall. A group of thugs abandoning their jobs with the blacksun viggo and leaving with some stolen spice are going to have to answer for their actions. So this BSV now knows someone who has a particular skill to win and influence his crew needs a bit of a message, be it messy, clean or professional. This player just painted a crosshair on his own PCs head. So, please come and play, because it's not the above reason of the "i win button", it's  the indiscretion by which the player uses this PCs talent. But, the player needs not be told of that, thats just poor roleplaying talent by the player, poor PC didn't see it coming that way. Inform them of the proper procedure to use the talent,  especially of once per session, but if you say pause a scene till the next session, the talent isn't available until that scene is finished if it had already been used that last session. And the proper difficulty. I would say this talent wouldn't work well on droids, especially those with restraining bolts in place. Also, i don't think anything prevents an leader type NPC from making a leadership skill check to allow the influenced npcs to see the mistake they've made. An enemy Force user could use influence to just turn those runaways around. 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, doktor grym said:

Ok, here is an in game organic way if it become annoying. This is the extreme. So as these PCs have entrenched themselves in to the galaxy at large, they've gained somekind of recognition and reputation. No player can shy away from their PC being known for their stickt. There are talents that reduce a targets ability to know who is who, but if they aren't covering their face, etc, one of the PCs will become known and who travels with them and what any or all of them do, have done and typically do. Survivors may tell the story of this guy who made them see the light and why they left the imperial war machine, they didn't want to hurt their former colleagues, but they couldn't get out of there fast enough. It takes something this simple to provide the catalyst of the characters own downfall. A group of thugs abandoning their jobs with the blacksun viggo and leaving with some stolen spice are going to have to answer for their actions. So this BSV now knows someone who has a particular skill to win and influence his crew needs a bit of a message, be it messy, clean or professional. This player just painted a crosshair on his own PCs head. So, please come and play, because it's not the above reason of the "i win button", it's  the indiscretion by which the player uses this PCs talent. But, the player needs not be told of that, thats just poor roleplaying talent by the player, poor PC didn't see it coming that way. Inform them of the proper procedure to use the talent,  especially of once per session, but if you say pause a scene till the next session, the talent isn't available until that scene is finished if it had already been used that last session. And the proper difficulty. I would say this talent wouldn't work well on droids, especially those with restraining bolts in place. Also, i don't think anything prevents an leader type NPC from making a leadership skill check to allow the influenced npcs to see the mistake they've made. An enemy Force user could use influence to just turn those runaways around. 

I really dig the idea you portrayed here! the talent is indeed a double edged sword, thanks for making that clear.

well the player just bought the talent on sunday so he hasn't even used it yet but knowing him I was just wondering how I could limit the potential cheesiness of the talent. he's also not a bad roleplayer (it's rather me being GM for the first time) but he is playing a rather arrogant hutt agitator and he does put his foot in his mouth from time to time :D 

thanks for all your answers, I feel a lot better about the talent now 😜

Edited by Shizuya

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Posted (edited)

Plus the galaxy wide adage "Never trust a Hutt." Just for being a Hutt, his PC should have setback dice. Even other Hutts are loath to trust each other even for temporary profiteering or projects. Hopefully as a player he will recognize the double edge sword of the talent which will go a long way in his PCs survival. Plus there could be times as a Hutt he just cannot fit through a doorway, and if the party in getting there butts kicked and the PC is seriously hurt, who can carry him. You can't really fake being "not a Hutt" where regular humanoid PC will find hiding or confusing others to who they are a lot easier. So even being a Hutt is a double edged sword. They really stand out, and it will be easy for NPCs to report the group who stole our aluminum falcon had a Hutt among them. Talk about adding boost dice to NPCs trying to do X, Y or Z to the group, its not where Waldo is, it is this Hutt slimy activity trail is sure easy to find. 

Edited by doktor grym

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On 4/2/2019 at 3:29 PM, Varlie said:

I just read the talent and it is only once per game session so you may have to offer your player up an enticing reason to use it early in the game before the PCs reach the NPCs you really don't want him using this on.  Remember that non-minions also have the option of having the Adversary talent that makes that Hard Coercion check slightly more risky as well.

Adversary only works against combat checks.

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Posted (edited)

Ok, here is something i think might also be confusing you, I've explained this a few times in various places. The initial difficulty is Hard (3 purple). Also you add 1 purple to the difficulty pool of the coercion check if the coercion attempt betrays the targets belief. 

 

Upgrades never lower the initial difficulty pool die count, they in fact may increase both the players skill/stat die pool size and the difficulty pool die count. 

Downgrades only ever change proficiency dice back to ability dice and likewise change challenge dice back down to difficulty dice. So, if there are no proficiency or challenge dice present, the downgrades are lost. They never ever reduce the respective die pools die value. 

The intimidating talent can only downgrade the challenge die type to difficulty dice, but never lower the difficulty die pool die count. Of course the intimidating talent does help a character out by upgrading the difficulty pool if they themselves are targeted by a coercion check. 

 

So, say your PC has 3 yellow dice in their ability/skill pool (3 Willpower & 3 ranks of coercion. Plus 3 ranks of intimidating, which they suffer strain for if they use it. So 3 initially ability dice are upgraded to 3 proficiency dice for the 3 Willpower and 3 skill ranks in coercion and form the players initial die pool count (3 dice)

Normally you would make an opposed Discipline check, but this talent has a set difficulty and thus a standard (check) Hard difficulty coercion check(3 purple). If all potential beings were being asked to betray their beliefs, i would increase the difficulty 1 purple die or if the player is hoping to specifically affect those beings who are being asked to betray their beliefs are say in a crowd. So with the basic pools of 3 yellow (3 dice in the players initial pool) against either 3 (or 4) purple (thus either 3 or 4 dice total in the difficulty pool), it is at this time upgrades.

Also, there may still be boost and setback dice added into the check for many assorted conditions or reasons. I.e. everyone distrusts hutts, 1 setback die, another for hutts sold my mother into slavery! These are just samples. 

A player or GM may spend a single destiny point per action to upgrade their respective pools or to activate a talent (remember the talent activation costs, more than one player has been caught off-guard spending a destiny point to upgrade their die pool, having wanted to activate a talent during the action that requires a destiny point to activate) , and its always ACTIVE player's choice to spend a destiny point first, whether GM or player, so on a GM npc turn, the GM spends first. If the active player chooses not to spend a destiny point, it passes to the passive player. These destiny point spendings are always upgrades to the players respective pool. Don't flip the destiny counters till the action is complete! 

Then you apply upgrades only from talents, gear, etc. Say the targets have nobody's fool rank 1, a single difficulty die is swapped out and upgraded to a challenge die.

Now that all upgrades to dice are done, potentially both starting dice pools die counts may have increased in value.

So, now you downgrade. Your PC has intimidating rank 3. If you have any difficulty downgrades, say for intimidating rank 3, check the difficulty pool for challenge dice. Say there is a single challenge die in the difficulty pool. Change it out for a difficulty die. As there are no more challenge dice present the other 2 downgrades are lost. 

Let's do the worst case dice and samples i have above, plus the character does not have ample time to really agitate his potential targets, but does have his enormous size and by properly positioning himself in the light, he appears even more menacing.

So final check might be 3 yellow, 2 blue, 4 purple and 3 black. 

Do you see whats going on with coercion and intimidating there?

Now, whether the set difficulty check of hard is modified, i tend to say yes, as potentially the players talents do, so any potential target the player wants to select after the successful Incite Rebellion action, should likewise influence the respective pools. Keep in mind the results on the dice of the Incite Rebellion action are not necessarily those of coercion skill check as far as spending successes, advantages and triumphs and their opposites. The coercion skill is just used to effect if the Incite Rebellion action is successful or a failure. If successful, the player picks ANY X beings, what and how those beings act on this rebellious action is up to you the GM. You might take into account the die roll, and compare the results to another situation appropriate social skill such as leadership or negotiation. But then again, perhaps not, plus this  pseudo coercion could be countered by a strong leader. Plus it should take a reasonable amount of social interaction time to allow a player to actually use the talent. A few minutes 3-5 minutes. I would even allow a player to build up to using the talent by stoking the rebellious fires through multiple previous interactions, gaining boost dice and potentially a free upgrade. 

 

Edited by doktor grym

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, doktor grym said:

Plus the galaxy wide adage "Never trust a Hutt." Just for being a Hutt, his PC should have setback dice. Even other Hutts are loath to trust each other even for temporary profiteering or projects. Hopefully as a player he will recognize the double edge sword of the talent which will go a long way in his PCs survival. Plus there could be times as a Hutt he just cannot fit through a doorway, and if the party in getting there butts kicked and the PC is seriously hurt, who can carry him. You can't really fake being "not a Hutt" where regular humanoid PC will find hiding or confusing others to who they are a lot easier. So even being a Hutt is a double edged sword. They really stand out, and it will be easy for NPCs to report the group who stole our aluminum falcon had a Hutt among them. Talk about adding boost dice to NPCs trying to do X, Y or Z to the group, its not where Waldo is, it is this Hutt slimy activity trail is sure easy to find. 

Well I think in many cases, coercion isnt really about trusting a guy. and hutts are indeed rather intimidating to most people. My player argued that he is an upstart hutt who isnt as obese and physically lazy as most other hutts and thinks the way of the modern hutts makes them weak (his second specialisation is marauder). I also told him that while that might be even more intimidating to everyday joes, people who are very knowledgable of the underworld will know that he is basically a meaningless hutt just from looking at his physique, so that is a huge potential for setback die. 

(As hutts portray their power by letting others do their dirty work, becoming absurdly obese is a sign of influence and power in the hutt society)

11 hours ago, doktor grym said:

[...]

Now, whether the set difficulty check of hard is modified, i tend to say yes, as potentially the players talents do, so any potential target the player wants to select after the successful Incite Rebellion action, should likewise influence the respective pools. Keep in mind the results on the dice of the Incite Rebellion action are not necessarily those of coercion skill check as far as spending successes, advantages and triumphs and their opposites. The coercion skill is just used to effect if the Incite Rebellion action is successful or a failure. If successful, the player picks ANY X beings, what and how those beings act on this rebellious action is up to you the GM. You might take into account the die roll, and compare the results to another situation appropriate social skill such as leadership or negotiation. But then again, perhaps not, plus this  pseudo coercion could be countered by a strong leader. Plus it should take a reasonable amount of social interaction time to allow a player to actually use the talent. A few minutes 3-5 minutes. I would even allow a player to build up to using the talent by stoking the rebellious fires through multiple previous interactions, gaining boost dice and potentially a free upgrade. 

 

I am aware of how downgrading works etc. the issue with intimidating is that I basically cannot but any challenge die in the pool. I would need to add 5 challenge die to actually have one left after intimidating and I dont think I can justify that with most NPCs (as I need 2 more to gain a challenge dice first and then upgrade it). Now that I am writing this, would that 4th challenge dice that was made by upgrading and already RRR pool be impossible to decrease again?

Anyway, I can sure put lots of setbacks to the check but intimidating really is an issue there. even if I give the NPC only nobody's fool 1, the talent intimidating doesnt say the PC must take one strain per rank, it just says you suffer a number of strain of your choice, which cannot exceed your ranks in intimidating. And I honestly have no clue how to effectively use strain in out-of-combat scenarios yet, so there is no real way around intimidating. 

but as I said that is totally fine with me, I will just go different ways to make the talent non-cheesable which was my intention to begin with (and not make it useless or take away from its fun potential)

Edited by Shizuya

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Posted (edited)

No, downgrades only downgrade Proficiency dice to Ability dice or Challenge dice to Difficulty dice. Once the difficulty level dice pool die count value is set (whether it increases due to not wanting to betray core values (1 die) or say extreme mental obedience conditioning to obey orders like the newer Force Awakens+ Storm troopers, which is why i believe Rey had such a hard time initially with Daniel Craig Storm Trooper or decreases say from being previously cowed) it would not ever be reduce in die count number. (Note: Some equipment can increase or lower the initial difficulty level of checks, such a the Telescopic site lowering the difficulty of ranged attacks at long and extreme range by one, thus the die pool count starts at a lower value). And There may be other reasons to increase  or decrease the difficulty pool based on extraneous circumstances. A large crowd has a better chance of resisting the coercion also as they naturally band together, the suggestion that difficulty based on size. However, if a target has already been cowed by the character, reduce the difficulty by 1. That's right from the book.

This Talent does set the difficulty at Hard though as it has a very limited function. I need to search the forum for Incite Rebellion to see if there is a better explanation of it. But, as I've read through talent FAQ stuff here, it's pretty clear talents do exactly whats in the box, but more specifically in the talent description, in this case an Action. It does seem to imply some kind of influential trigger would be needed beyond skill check associated with the talent, something the character did in front of said beings they see, something they say that the beings hear, not necessarily either of these two examples directed at the beings either. Or as the last one says the beings were unhappy with their position. Think of the talent as, the characters charismatic presence as off the charts when they activate the talent, the blurb a character has said nearby or the something they did or just the mere presence of the character rallies beings to his cause as an agitator. Really I believe they could of provided some better descriptive text with this one. Reviewing the other similar talents they have a time limit of how long it lasts. The player doesn't control the actions of those beings he has selected either.

The strain out of combat is an interesting idea for a conversation.

 

Edited by doktor grym

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and finally some insight to this talent;

 

Here is an answer I recently got

Rules Question:
With the talent on the Agitator Tree - Incite Rebellion. The coercion difficulty check is set to hard and if successful, a number of beings equal to the characters coercion rank become unhappy. Coercion is just the skill used to determine success and nothing else. The coercion check is not opposed. 1) Who picks these beings? The player or GM? 2) If the player, can a GM restrict specific beings from becoming unhappy with their situation?

Hello Kevin,

The player would typically pick the characters, but the GM can rule that some characters may not be affected (for instance, if it simply doesn’t make any sense as part of the ongoing narrative).

Hope that helps!

Sam Gregor-Stewart

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