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LazerSwordsman

How to balance 2 Padawan-level PCs vs. 1 Force-sensitive bounty hunter?

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One of my players wrote into his backstory that his character's father, whom said character has never met, was a Jedi Knight. I'm planning to reveal soon that his father survived Order 66, but he was so bitterly disillusioned with the"weakness" of Jedi pacifism that he embraced the Dark Side and started hunting down other Force-sensitives for the Empire.

I used the stats given for the bounty hunter Dalan Oberos in Chronicles of the Gatekeeper, but in deference to the PCs' low level and lack of experience, I lowered several of his characteristics and skills, but I'm still concerned that even this nerfed version might be too powerful for my PCs to handle. But then again, once he realizes that the aforementioned PC is his son, he'll stop actively trying to kill them or turn them over to the Empire (though he might try to capture them and send them somewhere remote "for their own protection"), and his son is probably not going to want to kill him either. 

 

tl;dr - Do you think the two PCs below could survive a fight or two against this bounty hunter?

 

Brekan Charsam, Human Counselor

Character Name: Brekan Charsam
Gender: Male
Age: 20
Species: Human
Career: Consular
Specialization Trees: Niman Disciple

Motivations: Restore the Jedi; Become a Jedi
Emotional Strength: Caution
Emotional Weakness: Fear
Morality: 65

Soak 5, Wound Threshold 12, Strain Threshold 12, Melee Defense 2, Ranged Defense 1

Brawn 2, Agility 3, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 3, Presence 2
Skills: Charm 1, Discipline 1, Medicine 1, Negotiation 2, Lightsaber 2, Lore 1, Piloting (Planetary) 1, Ranged (light) 1
Abilities: Nobody’s Fool, Niman Technique, Defensive Training
Weapons: Blaster pistol (Ranged (Light), Damage 6, Critical 3, Medium range, Stun setting), Double-bladed lightsaber (Damage 6, Critical 2, Engaged range, Breach 1, Linked 1, Unwieldy 3, Sunder, training emitter [stun damage - optional])
Armor & Clothing: Heavy clothing, Armored robes (+2 soak, +1 defense)
Personal Gear: Tent, backpack
Force Rating: 1
Force Powers: Heal, Influence

Luna Torfree, Mirialan Sentinel

 

Character Name: Luna Torfree
Gender: Female
Age: 24
Species: Mirialan
Career: Sentinel
Specialization Trees: Shadow

Motivations: Cause - Overthrow the Empire; Faith - The Rebellion
Emotional Strength: Bravery
Emotional Weakness: Anger
Morality: 76 (Light Side Paragon)
Soak 3, Wound Threshold 13, Strain Threshold 12, Melee Defense 0, Ranged Defense 0
Brawn 2, Agility 3, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 2, Presence 2
Skills: Computers 2, Cool 1, Deception 1, Discipline 1, Perception 2, Skullduggery 1, Stealth 1, Streetwise 1, Vigilance 1, Lightsaber 2, Melee 2, Ranged (Light) 1, Knowledge (Core Worlds) 1, Knowledge (Underworld) 1
Abilities: Sleight of Mind, Well Rounded, Codebreaker
Weapons: Vibroknife, Light blaster pistol, Cortosis sword, 2 stun grenades, lightsaber (Damage 6, Critical 2, Range [Engaged], Breach 1, Sunder, training emitter [stun damage - optional])
Armor & Clothing: Concealing robes
Personal Gear: Energy bar, fruit, rope
Force Rating: 1
Force Powers: Move, Warde’s Foresight

Dalan Oberos, Bounty Hunter

Brawn 3, Agility 4, Intelligence 3, Cunning 3, Will 3, Presence 2
Soak 5, Wound Threshold 16, Strain Threshold 16, Melee Defense 1, Ranged Defense 1
Skills: Discipline 3, Melee 3, Lightsaber 3, Ranged (Heavy) 3, Vigilance 2
Talents: Adversary 2 (upgrade all combat checks against character twice), Expert Tracker (removes up to ■■ from checks to find or follow tracks; tracking checks with Survival take 50% less time than normal), Quick Draw (draw or holster a weapon as an incidental), Force Rating 2, Force Power: Protect/Unleash, Force Power: Sense
Abilities: Dark Side Force User
Equipment: Custom slugthrower carbine (Ranged [Heavy], Damage 7, Crit 3, Range [Medium], Auto-fire, Cortosis rounds (spend 3 Advantage or 1 Triumph to short out target’s lightsaber, which cannot be reactivated until last initiative slot of next round), Cortosis gauntlets (Melee, Damage 6, Crit 4, Range [Engaged], Cortosis), Cortosis-laced battle armor (+1 Defense, +2 Soak, immune to Breach and Pierce), Thermal detonator (Ranged [Light], Damage 20, Crit 2, Range [Short], Blast 15, Breach 1, Limited Ammo 1, Vicious 4), jetpack
Morality: 29 (Dark Side Paragon)
Emotional Strength: Discipline
Emotional Weakness: Obstinance
Goals/Objectives: Destroy the Jedi, Protect family
Fear Check: ♦♦ (or ♦♦♦ if his reputation precedes him) vs. PCs’ Discipline or Cool

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I think if they took him together they might stand a chance, but the one two combination of Cortosis armour and cortosis weapon and having a fairly high soak relative to their weapons might mean it's fairly likely he would overpower them in the first encounter. This is fine; one issue with modern story telling is that because you put this nemesis in front of them that they must be able to defeat it, sometimes it's fine to slap an adversity that a player cannot defeat. One of my GM's tricks for cooperation, at least when people start trying to "solo" an adventure because "it's what their character would do" is to usually send a powerful nemesis after them. In Gatekeeper my GM chose to use an inquisitor who had some relation to that deceased Jedi Master who was actively hunting down his holocron, the player turned around in the middle of a forest, saw this guy and was subject to a 4 purple fear check as he described the man being ambushed by bearsloth, only to effortlessly destroy what the party had struggled with before, never once taking his attention away from the prey he chased. He got the hint pretty quickly that he wasn't expected to fight, he knew this inquisitor had killed his master and just how strong he was, so he was expected to run which made for a thrilling chase. It started out from Long and ended up being short by the time he legged it to his X-wing.  I felt it did a pretty effective job of telling the player "Look, there are bigger forces at work then just you, if you keep trying to do this alone that inquisitor will destroy you when he does finally catch up.

Likewise with this guy. These new adventurers don't even have proper lightsabres or haven't had time to properly develop, so having him introduced as this relentless nemesis early on as this mysterious, relentless badass put's an immediate adversary on them that they cannot resolve with their current abilities, then introduce a benefactor third party that is able to get them away from him once if "things go real south.", perhaps some associate to the breadcrumbs they have been chasing, that way you can slowly build up the tension with this particular guy until the final confrontation where the truth finally comes out.

The only thing I might suggest is do away with the Cortosis armour and perhaps give him a couple of ranks of parry and reflect and the equipment to do so. At the moment they don't have lethal lightsabers which makes it fairly nill and void, but rewards the players when they finally do get one in finally being able to cut through his defences with relative ease, forcing him to rely on his skills and use his weapon qualities to deal with them. That way the players aren't immediately stonewalled but get the impression they are making progress. There is also nothing in the rules that states a nemesis is dead if they exceed their wound threshold so you can still have that confrontation and that choice whether or not to end that PC's corrupted father.

Just the best word of advice; invent problems not solutions. The player's must understand that sometime's the pressure is on them to create solutions that the GM can roll with. I know the temptation is there to make it easy on them as possible, but don't always give into that desire. Part of the reason why people kept going on solo quests is because after a time the GM started going easy on them and providing endless outs to a situation, rather then simply letting that PC be beaten, captured and forced to wait for rescue or alternatively killed. I'm not one of those old style DnD players who think death should be easy, but nothing breaks disbelief greater then a universe that bends over backwards to accomidate them when sometimes I just want to fail spectacularly if that is the most narratively and mechanically pleasing thing to happen. At least, that's always been my personal opinion.

Edited by LordBritish

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Who cares if the NPC wins?  That's part of the game.  Hitting 0 wounds isn't death.  If the NPC reduces both to 0, then he's able to take them into custody easily.  They wake up awhile later bound and gagged inside his ship as they are heading to an Imperial station to be turned in.  This gives you a narrative chance to have an exchange and learn of their shared history.

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On 6/3/2019 at 5:21 AM, LordBritish said:

These new adventurers don't even have proper lightsabres

Oh, but they do! Sorry if I didn't make that clear on the original post. I added a custom mini-adventure called The Blade of the Heart, where Professor Huyang gave the PCs training emitters as a sort of graduation present. For a maneuver, they can switch between doing lethal and stun damage with their lightsabers. 

But they're also a little paranoid about Imperial attention (and rightly so), so they've only ever used their lightsabers away from public spaces. If Dalan Oberos drops out of the sky in the middle of a crowded street, they're probably going to try using other means of defending themselves before they reach for their lightsabers. So their effectiveness in the fight will depend on where it takes place.  

On a related note, I planned to have Oberos quit the battle in shock the moment his son ignites his lightsaber, because all of a sudden it'll click in his mind why this kid looks so familiar. But if Brekan doesn't ignite his lightsaber, Oberos stands a good chance of subduing and capturing both PCs. So I'm not sure what to do if that happens; I guess it's a bridge I'll just have to cross when I come to it.

On 6/3/2019 at 5:21 AM, LordBritish said:

do away with the Cortosis armour and perhaps give him a couple of ranks of parry and reflect and the equipment to do so.

Yeah, the Cortosis might be a bit much for low-level players to deal with, especially since the "immune to Breach and Pierce" quality of his armor will make it REALLY difficult for them to damage him. I don't even know if he still has his old lightsaber (he might have thrown it away in disgust when he abandoned the Jedi Way), but I could give him some kind of energy weapon that would let him take advantage of the skills he learned as a padawan.

I did try to build his stats from scratch at first, but he didn't seem like he'd be very good as a bounty hunter, so I tried nerfing the original (non-Force-using) stats. Maybe I should give it another shot? I don't have the EotE rulebook, and my players currently have the F&D rulebook (it's their copy, I just paid for the starter box and the adventure module), so I'm kind of limited in what I can throw at my players.

Maybe my problem is that I'm trying to make stats for a long-range fighter work for a character trained in close-combat lightsaber techniques. Maybe if I went for more of a "disgraced ronin" feel for the character, his stats would fit his backstory better? 

On 6/3/2019 at 5:21 AM, LordBritish said:

introduce a benefactor third party that is able to get them away from him once if "things go real south.", perhaps some associate to the breadcrumbs they have been chasing

Well, there's a former Clone Trooper captain who currently leads the Stormtroopers in the city they're in, maybe he could get sympathetic to them? I could always add in a Rebel cell that wants to cause trouble for the Empire, or maybe have Oberos recognize his son too late and then decide to help him break out of prison... in exchange for a promise that he won't dig any deeper into the history of Jedi Master Suljo Warde.

On 6/3/2019 at 5:21 AM, LordBritish said:

Just the best word of advice; invent problems not solutions. 

Letting go of control and trusting the players to find a solution is one of the hardest lessons for a GM to learn. But perhaps you're right. Both my players are smart people, I'm sure they'll think of something.

On 6/3/2019 at 5:47 AM, HappyDaze said:

If you're wanting to follow the rules, it takes FR3 to use Protect/Unleash. As a former Jedi Knight, I'd suggest replacing it with Move.

That's a good point, thank you for pointing it out. I hadn't noticed that, but I'm not sure I want to remove it. I wanted to give him powers my players would be unfamilar with, so he seems more frightening and unknown. But if it's OP and likely to kill them, then I should definitely give him something else instead. Do you think it's OP?

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27 minutes ago, kmanweiss said:

Who cares if the NPC wins?  That's part of the game.  Hitting 0 wounds isn't death.  If the NPC reduces both to 0, then he's able to take them into custody easily.  They wake up awhile later bound and gagged inside his ship as they are heading to an Imperial station to be turned in.  This gives you a narrative chance to have an exchange and learn of their shared history.

That's also a good point, though he won't have far to go: the Imperial barracks are just at the far end of the city from where my PCs are staying. I guess that option scares me a bit because once the PCs are in Imperial custody, there are a LOT of ways they could wind up dead, and relatively fewer ways for them to continue their mission. But maybe it's time for me to learn how to be less of a scaredy-cat and roll with what my players give me, whether that's success or failure.

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1 minute ago, LazerSwordsman said:

That's also a good point, though he won't have far to go: the Imperial barracks are just at the far end of the city from where my PCs are staying. I guess that option scares me a bit because once the PCs are in Imperial custody, there are a LOT of ways they could wind up dead, and relatively fewer ways for them to continue their mission. But maybe it's time for me to learn how to be less of a scaredy-cat and roll with what my players give me, whether that's success or failure.

Give them a hard fight, show them how delicate characters can be.  I found players of this system seem to underestimate how 'deadly' the game is because they are used to other systems that are more forgiving.  If they win, big triumph.  If they lose, then they are captured.  Have the NPC be curious.  He doesn't deliver them right away, but waits until they come to.  He senses something from one of them, and can't understand what it is.  He can turn them in later, but now he'd like to investigate.  He can threaten delivering them, and if the players don't cooperate with a conversation, he does.

There are plenty of ways to get out of prison.  Keep in mind this is Star Wars.  People break out of prisons all the time.  Jail breaks happen every other day.  Naive kids from remote desert planets, old space wizards, walking carpets, and cocky smugglers break into giant imperial space stations and free captured princesses.  I think a couple padawans can figure something out.  Or maybe a hutt is breaking some other people out and they can disappear during the riot.  Roll with the fun and let whatever happens happen.

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