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Xcapobl

Career-hopping specializations

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So, after starting a discussion about swapping out a talent for a newer one (as most pilots would someday be able to perform a Barrel Roll, not just a cloned pilot), how about this?

Transferring a complete specialization from one career to another. Granted, this might not be applicable or logical in any and all cases. But even FFG did this themselves. Proof? Smuggler / Pilot and Ace / Pilot. The talent tree itself is completely identical. It's just the differences between the career skills specifically for the Smuggler and the Ace careers themselves. More proof? Spy / Slicer and Technician / Slicer. Again, the Career - career skills differ, but not those of the specialization. So what if a player asks you to build a Fringer / Pilot? Or a Bounty Hunter / Marauder?

Mind you again, these examples are not too far fetched in my opinion. Feel free to differ, of course. But it's not like asking to be a Diplomat / Ataru Striker, for example.

Or should such players always use the extra XP to buy-in into other careers if they want a specialization outside of their starting career? Even if FFG themselves provided a few examples of how a specialization can be part of multiple careers.

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I'd notice that FFG has consistently kept to a maximum of 6 specializations per career.  One idea is that certain things are primary to a career, and while still valuable, other things are not.  Another idea is that this is ultimately a multi-player game, and therefore it is good to allow each character to have some features that others do not have, so everyone has a chance to be valuable to the group.  Putting everything one player wants into a single career invalidates a lot of the value other players could be bringing to the group.  The use of XP taxes (buying in to additional specs, and the premium for going out-of-career) are a way to allow the player to come up with whatever personally-satisfying combination the want, while still allowing other players to contribute - they'll have more Skill ranks and Talents overall.

I'd even question the idea that most pilots would be able to perform a barrel roll. Freighters aren't designed for those kinds of maneuvers, and one of the best ways to stay out of trouble is to not be noticed - and barrel-rolling a freighter is conspicuously absent from the list of "ways not to get noticed".  Adding it to the Ace/Pilot might make sense, although I'd want to make sure I'm taking off something equally valuable so the spec doesn't become too good compared to what other careers have access to.

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We haven't moved past the 6 per career but did change a few things around for our game.

Fringer is now Universal

Beast-Rider is now Explorer (to replace Fringer)

Clone Pilot is in discussion to completely replace Beast Rider in Ace.

Also, renamed the Smuggler career to Scoundrel and the Scoundrel Spec to Smuggler.  Small change, but fits WAY better for our table.

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12 minutes ago, jendefer said:

Brilliant idea. I get these two mixed up all the time.

Right? The Spec gives ranks of Hidden Storage, Black Market Contact, etc. Sounds EXACTLY like a Smuggler (which it is technically) BUT the Smuggler Career has Pilot, Gambler, Gunslinger, Charmer, and Thief. All sound like Scoundrels NOT Smugglers. *shrug*

 

Such a simple change can do so much. lol

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I've kind of followed Starwulfe's idea but instead of eliminating it altogether, I just gave my players a Free 2nd career. If they go for a 3rd career spec, it does cost the additional 10 but any spec within the first career and the 2nd are just the cost of the additional spec.

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10 hours ago, starwulfe said:

We did it by house rule and eliminated the cross-career spec tax .

That's not a bad idea. Currently in our games, I completely got rid of the extra-spec tax.

So in-career costs 20, out-of-career costs 30, regardless of the number of specs you already have.

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My tabletop GM gave us three free specializations from the starting career (including the starting spec, and all three must be from the core rulebook), and a flat 30-xp cost for each spec after those three, regardless of origin.

My personal gripe with the standard system is that it's difficult (i.e., costly xp-wise) to specialise, as the necessary specs are scattered across the entire system, particularly if one wants to pick up a couple of other specs on the way.

Also, two no-brainer talents on the universal Padawan Survivor tree (in DoR: Secrets of the Jedi, Improved Secrets of the Jedi) really should have also appeared on the Jedi Padawan tree too. The two trees even have the same path layout. (Although to be honest I'd prefer the two talents in slightly different locations on the Padawan tree, so long as their total cost remains the same.)

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9 hours ago, Varlie said:

I just gave my players a Free 2nd career.

@Varlie Do you let your players have all the skills that go with the free second one as career skills? And do you let them have the bonus ranks from a career for that, too?

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@jendefer I have not been giving them the career skills from the 2nd career mainly because I had not thought of it.  Typically when crossing over to a "non-career" spec, you only gain the spec skills and not the ones from that career.

If a player pushed the issue I would probably let them choose 2 and not the full 6.  Considering that they still have a primary career but they are dabbling in another.

I don't, or wouldn't, give them the bonus ranks.  I see those as more for character creation training or 0-level skills

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On 8/8/2019 at 1:17 PM, kaosoe said:

That's not a bad idea. Currently in our games, I completely got rid of the extra-spec tax.

So in-career costs 20, out-of-career costs 30, regardless of the number of specs you already have.

I guess the only possible negative to this is if a player decides to really push grabbing the Bottom Tier of a bunch of trees to snipe Grit and the Strain one. Even then it's not much.

I guess at really high levels it could cause too much dedication.

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2 hours ago, Spartancfos said:

I guess the only possible negative to this is if a player decides to really push grabbing the Bottom Tier of a bunch of trees to snipe Grit and the Strain one. Even then it's not much.

I guess at really high levels it could cause too much dedication.

Honestly, the wheels start falling off the system at really high levels anyway. That seems to be a problem almost all RPGs face, however, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Personally, I would backfill Barrel Roll into some of the other fighter-pilot talent trees (replacing....something else, I don't have the trees in front of me), as it is such a potent effect which should be common to combat pilots. Similarly, I'd have liked the talents @Bellona mentions to have been in the Jedi Padawan tree, as it makes no sense for a Padawan Survivor to have access to the knowledge of the Jedi...but a Padawan active at the height of the order to not have that same knowledge.

I will admit to being a bit of a purist around the careers & specialisations. The career is supposed to represent who the person is at their core, with the specialisations closest to that core coming more 'naturally' to them than those which are radically different. Of course, this all falls to pieces when you start seeing specs which fill the same niche or would flow into each other 'naturally' but would see the player hit by the XP penalty. Politico into Ambassador, for instance, could be a natural progression for a Colonist but the system declares it too large a leap and thus gets the penalty, while a different Politico becoming a gunslinging Marshall does not. 

Maybe a solution could be to give careers and specialisations 'proficiencies' (or some other name) associated with them; your starting career gives you a number of them, and each specialisation has several associated with them (two or three at most). If you are buying a specialisation from outside your career, and you have one of the proficiencies associated to the spec, you can buy the spec at no increased cost. If you don't have a proficiency associated with the spec, you pay the increased cost as normal. This might over-complicate things, and it also erodes some of the benefit of the Universal specs. It would open up space for other racial bonuses (certain races might automatically be proficient in something) or talents (certain specialisations could have talents which unlock proficiencies).

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3 hours ago, Spartancfos said:

I guess the only possible negative to this is if a player decides to really push grabbing the Bottom Tier of a bunch of trees to snipe Grit and the Strain one. Even then it's not much.

I guess at really high levels it could cause too much dedication.

So far it hasn't been a problem, but my group knows that I have full authority to retract houserules if they turn out to be unfair.

But as it stands, if my players want to spend 25-35 XP for a few extra points of strain or wouds, go right ahead. That's a pretty big waste of XP if you were to ask me.

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50 minutes ago, AceDogbert said:

 

Maybe a solution could be to give careers and specialisations 'proficiencies' (or some other name) associated with them; your starting career gives you a number of them, and each specialisation has several associated with them (two or three at most). If you are buying a specialisation from outside your career, and you have one of the proficiencies associated to the spec, you can buy the spec at no increased cost. If you don't have a proficiency associated with the spec, you pay the increased cost as normal. 

I GM a little like this, in the sense that my characters need to take actions that lead them to new Specialisations. If you have no narrative justification as to why you are suddenly an infiltrator, then you straight up cannot be one. It's not a hard and fast rules system, but it helps.

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On 8/7/2019 at 12:51 PM, Xcapobl said:

Or should such players always use the extra XP to buy-in into other careers if they want a specialization outside of their starting career? Even if FFG themselves provided a few examples of how a specialization can be part of multiple careers.

I think it helps to keep in mind why there is a spec tax, and an out of career spec tax in the first place:  it's just a tool for the GM to prevent players bouncing their PC from spec to spec and, for example, gobbling up all that 5XP Grit.  If your players aren't doing that, or if you have house rules to prevent it, then the specs taxes are a pointless waste of good XP.  It's ludicrous to me to ask a player to spend a sessions-worth of XP or more just to "get their foot in the door".

I've handle this in a couple ways.  First was allowing a complete re-spec of the PC once they'd gained about 200XP.  For example, the PC started as a Technician:Engineer because mechanical stuff was going to be part of his concept, but that left out the "been in the military" backstory, and the fact he was the main pilot in the group.  So I ended up re-specing him as an Ace:Engineer + Pilot and that worked out a lot better for his concept (and saved some XP on the way).  I ended up doing that with most of the PCs in that campaign, partly because at the time the AoR books kept coming out with better options, eg: the Politico became a Diplomat, etc.

But after that campaign I decide to heck with the straight-jacket.  If there's a reasonable narrative reason for it, and people aren't abusing the system, I just grant the spec for free.  For my son's Jedi campaign, his Sentinel had access to every tree in that career for no charge (he could have gone outside of it, but everything he wanted was in it).

Now Genesys is out, and I'm dispensing with all that spec stuff...I mean, if you have to dive to the bottom of the Archeologist tree just to get the Pin talent (which should be available to anybody), then the spec system is broken.  I know that doesn't help if you're working within the constraints of this game, but you can still avoid or mitigate the spec tax.

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2 hours ago, AceDogbert said:

Of course, this all falls to pieces when you start seeing specs which fill the same niche or would flow into each other 'naturally' but would see the player hit by the XP penalty. Politico into Ambassador, for instance, could be a natural progression for a Colonist but the system declares it too large a leap and thus gets the penalty, while a different Politico becoming a gunslinging Marshall does not. 

This is indeed one of my gripes with the system. I've tried to make a support character who is an expert Healer (Consular) ... and have to pick up two or more out-of-career specs to make it really work (Doctor from the Colonist career, Medic from the Soldier career, and possibly Protector from the Guardian career). That's a lot of xp thrown away just to feed the "out-of-career and new-specialization" costs.

E.T.A. Not to mention that the character is also pouring a lot of xp into the Heal force power.

Edited by Bellona

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7 hours ago, AceDogbert said:

Honestly, the wheels start falling off the system at really high levels anyway. That seems to be a problem almost all RPGs face, however, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Personally, I would backfill Barrel Roll into some of the other fighter-pilot talent trees (replacing....something else, I don't have the trees in front of me), as it is such a potent effect which should be common to combat pilots. Similarly, I'd have liked the talents @Bellona mentions to have been in the Jedi Padawan tree, as it makes no sense for a Padawan Survivor to have access to the knowledge of the Jedi...but a Padawan active at the height of the order to not have that same knowledge.

I will admit to being a bit of a purist around the careers & specialisations. The career is supposed to represent who the person is at their core, with the specialisations closest to that core coming more 'naturally' to them than those which are radically different. Of course, this all falls to pieces when you start seeing specs which fill the same niche or would flow into each other 'naturally' but would see the player hit by the XP penalty. Politico into Ambassador, for instance, could be a natural progression for a Colonist but the system declares it too large a leap and thus gets the penalty, while a different Politico becoming a gunslinging Marshall does not. 

Maybe a solution could be to give careers and specialisations 'proficiencies' (or some other name) associated with them; your starting career gives you a number of them, and each specialisation has several associated with them (two or three at most). If you are buying a specialisation from outside your career, and you have one of the proficiencies associated to the spec, you can buy the spec at no increased cost. If you don't have a proficiency associated with the spec, you pay the increased cost as normal. This might over-complicate things, and it also erodes some of the benefit of the Universal specs. It would open up space for other racial bonuses (certain races might automatically be proficient in something) or talents (certain specialisations could have talents which unlock proficiencies).

I would say that all depends upon how you spend the XP. IF you're min-maxing, then, yes, you could potentially break the game pretty quickly. However, if you spread the XP around over multiple skills, specs, Force powers, etc, you could have a 2000+ XP character that is still quite playable, and capable of being challenged without breaking the system.

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In the game that I run I give players a free universal spec at character creation with all the skill or force rating benefits as applicable. I negate the extra 10 xp for buying additional specs out of career. I also do not count the free universal for cost of additional specs. So for example if a player who is a Ace Pilot - Uni Ship Captain wants to pick up Smuggler Gunslinger then it would only be 20xp.

I like the flavor of giving a free universal at creation and the extra 10xp cost on top of the scaling 10x# of specs just seems unnecessary as it just gets more and more expensive on its own.

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10 hours ago, AceDogbert said:

Honestly, the wheels start falling off the system at really high levels anyway.

What are these "really high levels" where you feel it breaks down?  We're well over 1000, closer to 2000, and it's fine.

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12 hours ago, whafrog said:

Now Genesys is out, and I'm dispensing with all that spec stuff...I mean, if you have to dive to the bottom of the Archeologist tree just to get the Pin talent (which should be available to anybody), then the spec system is broken.  I know that doesn't help if you're working within the constraints of this game, but you can still avoid or mitigate the spec tax.

I've thought about doing this, and I'm curious how you are implementing it, @whafrog. On the one hand, I feel careers and specializations can help you form ideas for a character, but on the other hand, most trees seem only half-desirable to me. And after you've played for a while and actually inhabited the character, the PC is often not quite what they were originally built as, so I see the value of rebuilding the character, but I wouldn't want that to become a standard practice. This is what led to a discussion of how could we just handle Talents like Genesys does.

When you say you are dispensing with all the specialization stuff, does that mean you've gotten rid of trees completely? If so, how have you decided what Tier to make the talents (since some of them fall at different levels in different trees)? And how are you handling which skills count as career skills? Are you still even using careers?

 

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1 hour ago, jendefer said:

When you say you are dispensing with all the specialization stuff, does that mean you've gotten rid of trees completely? If so, how have you decided what Tier to make the talents (since some of them fall at different levels in different trees)? And how are you handling which skills count as career skills? Are you still even using careers?

No trees, no real careers.  Initial career skills are just a way to focus the abilities of the PC and for flavour, and not much else.  Otherwise they aren't restricted.  For costs and ranks, in the Genesys forum there is an EotE conversion PDF a group put together.  Sorry, I forget where it is, but it's a godsend, PM me and I can email the one I have.  I will say that the existing careers/specs can be useful for identifying initial career skills and/or identifying talents that the player might want, but they become guidelines, not straightjackets.

This is a bit of a two-fold project, where the other half is getting rid of most of the super specialized Talents*, and either folding them into skills at certain ranks as options, or converting them to something that affects the skill pool.  Basically, if it can't show up on the character sheet at-a-glance, I have no use for it.  This is mostly because I have a group that just doesn't have the time or inclination to dive into the rules and remember all the things they can do...if they remember they have Quick Draw, it's an event.

---------------

* A lot of the Talents in the more recent books read like:  "Remember that one thing that minor character did in that one episode of whatever, and nobody did exactly that thing again?  Well, this Talent lets you do that thing, for only 20XP!"  It's kind of silly.

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7 hours ago, jendefer said:

I've thought about doing this, and I'm curious how you are implementing it, @whafrog. On the one hand, I feel careers and specializations can help you form ideas for a character, but on the other hand, most trees seem only half-desirable to me. And after you've played for a while and actually inhabited the character, the PC is often not quite what they were originally built as, so I see the value of rebuilding the character, but I wouldn't want that to become a standard practice. This is what led to a discussion of how could we just handle Talents like Genesys does.

When you say you are dispensing with all the specialization stuff, does that mean you've gotten rid of trees completely? If so, how have you decided what Tier to make the talents (since some of them fall at different levels in different trees)? And how are you handling which skills count as career skills? Are you still even using careers?

 

I can see why whafrog is doing this. I have a sister thread, about swapping individual talents. The Smuggler Pilot is an old specialisation talent tree, from the first book ever published for this RPG. Each and every book thereafter, as long as it included a new talent tree, also seemed to include a couple of completely new talents. Barrel Roll for example, is a new talent that only Clone Pilots seem to have, while any pilot ought to know how to twist the control stick left or right and spin around his forward axis. Updates on old talent trees? Nah, don't invalidate printing. Rules to swap talents within talent trees? Nah, deal with it yourself. TIERs for those new talents, and balance within talent trees?

I do wonder, if FFG were to ever release a second edition, if they would indeed insert a system like Genesys. A more freeform talent pyramid, and careers being nothing more than a narrative description with a few career skills attached. The Genesys talent pyramid does have its own quirks, however. For example, once you have bought a couple of Toughened talents, its TIER went up each and every time you took it in addition to the previous ones. So in the end it constantly returns as a TIER 5 talent, vying for that TIER 5 spot with many other talents, both up0TIERed talents like Grit and other ranked ones, and talents that are TIER 5 to start with. Assigning TIERs ourselves is a matter of eyeballing. If you say that a talent would have the minimum TIER that it does in Star Wars, thanks to the Padawan specialisation Force Rating would have a starting TIER 3 for anyone. The Nightsisters open up Witchcraft (and thus Force Rating 1) for anyone at TIER 1.

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Imo, it isn't a problem if +1 Force Rating start at Tiers 3 if for each rank after the first it goes up 1 tier. So, it'll be T4 or the 2nd +1 FR and T5 thereafter. Actually that means having a FR4+ will be difficult to achieve for a character. I don't know if it'll be more difficult than the actual system with spec trees.

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3 hours ago, Xcapobl said:

The Genesys talent pyramid does have its own quirks, however. For example, once you have bought a couple of Toughened talents, its TIER went up each and every time you took it in addition to the previous ones. So in the end it constantly returns as a TIER 5 talent, vying for that TIER 5 spot with many other talents, both up0TIERed talents like Grit and other ranked ones, and talents that are TIER 5 to start with. Assigning TIERs ourselves is a matter of eyeballing. If you say that a talent would have the minimum TIER that it does in Star Wars, thanks to the Padawan specialisation Force Rating would have a starting TIER 3 for anyone. The Nightsisters open up Witchcraft (and thus Force Rating 1) for anyone at TIER 1.

I've been wondering what the impact of the pyramid will be because of that.  I have two thoughts about it.

First, no reason it can't be a square instead of pyramid, ie:  you can have as many Tier 5 talents as Tier 1, because some of those 5s started out as 1s.  This takes a little trust between GM and player though.

Second is to keep the pyramid, but a Talent always slots into the pyramid at its initial Tier.  The cost can still go up per rank, ie:  Grit-1 is 5XP and slots at Tier 1; Grit-2 is 10XP but also slots at Tier 1.

I think I prefer the second, but we'll see.

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