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gtgauvin

House rule - downgrading movement-based Action checks to Maneuvers?

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Since my first Age of Rebellion game, I've been thinking about how to allow characters to both move across complicated terrain and perform other actions simultaneously in one round. In that game, our Dressellian Commando melee monster wanted to leap off a rock onto a cargo skiff and attack the Stormtroopers guarding the shipment. Being a new GM and not wanting to make things up, I decided to require an Athletics check for the leap down, then wait until his next turn to make his Melee check. Everyone accepted that that was how it should go, but we all acknowledged it was a bit of an underwhelming moment.

So, a while back, I was skimming the CRB and noticed the Let's Ride Talent, which allows pilots to downgrade a Maneuver to an Incidental when entering a cockpit or mounting a riding animal. That gave me the idea for a new house rule. Basically, if a character wants to take an Action while moving across terrain that also requires a check, they can spend 2 Strain to downgrade the movement-based check to count as a maneuver instead ( they still need to make the check to move) and make the other check as normal. That way, my characters can do the cool stuff like running across a collapsing catwalk while firing at the bounty hunters below or climbing a rocky cliff while issuing orders to their troops.

Thought?

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I don't know if this is actually RAW or if this is just something I've always done, but in my opinion, a check doesn't always mean something is an action. If they are just jumping onto the skiff, as you mentioned, I would count that as a maneuver (with an Athletics check), with the constraint that any Threat or Advantage on the check can only affect the result of the check, it can't recover Strain or add Boost/Setback.

Basically, in my opinion, Maneuvers that require a check shouldn't (necessarily) be actions.

If they are running across a tightrope or something that takes much more focus, I would count that as Move Maneuvers AND an Action as it takes their full attention.

The book specifically refers to Impassable Terrain as requiring an Action and possibly loss of Maneuvers, but in a cursory examination I didn't come across anything that said either way as to whether checks for Maneuvers made them into Actions.

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Firstly, so it's clear, any time a skill check is called for, it's an action for the person rolling the positive dice pool.  That's explained in the book a couple of places, though with how things are laid out it can be overlooked.  But in short, a skill check being made reflects that the acting party is doing something that requires a fair amount of focus and concentration.  It's also important to note that unlike some other RPGs, a skill check here should only be made if the results could have a notable impact on the story or if the prospect of failure could itself enhance the story; otherwise, just let the character do the thing and get on with the story.

As for "downgrading" to a maneuver, there's a number of talents that tend to sit in the 4th and 5th rows of specs that allow a character to do just that, but for one specific skill.  So this house rule would in effect undercut a number of "Master" talents.

It also very drastically changes the action economy in this system.  In the example you gave, it provides the melee-based character a whole host more mobility options; though in that situation since he was just jumping down and not from (presumably) a very great height, I probably wouldn't have called for a skill check and would at most have given him a setback die on his attack check after letting him "jump down" as just a maneuver.

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The other option is to incorporate the jump into the attack action and upgrade the difficulty by one step. The possibility of a Despair showing up reflects the danger of what they're doing.

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2 hours ago, c__beck said:

The Android book for Genesys, Shadow of the Beanstalk, has two talents for this:

Similar talents were introduced in the Freerunner spec in Endless Vigil (F&D) and the Courier spec in Cyphers & Masks (AoR).  I don't recall their names (certainly wasn't Parkour), but they do the exact same thing.  Want to say they were called Freerunning and Improved Running, but don't have the books on hand to verify.

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4 minutes ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

Similar talents were introduced in the Freerunner spec in Endless Vigil (F&D) and the Courier spec in Cyphers & Masks (AoR).  I don't recall their names (certainly wasn't Parkour), but they do the exact same thing.  Want to say they were called Freerunning and Improved Running, but don't have the books on hand to verify.

So, basically, what we're saying is "don't use this houserule since there are talents that do it."

 

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2 hours ago, c__beck said:

So, basically, what we're saying is "don't use this houserule since there are talents that do it."

I guess if one wants to split hairs, the talents don't cover the proposed house rule, since they instead simply allow the PC to move to the desired location with nothing more than the expenditure of strain and a maneuver, where as the OP suggested still having the skill check.

I just remarked that the talents you referenced weren't specific or exclusive to Genesys.

If anything, the OP's house rule is certainly worse than those talents, as the basic talent version is the same movement for no check and less strain, while the improved version is more strain but far greater distance traveled than would be possible in a single maneuver.

But ultimately, yeah, it is a case of "this thing is already covered by specific abilities in the game, so a house rule to make it broadly available for free isn't a good idea."

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I don't recommend it.

In addition to what the others have said, I feel it could easily turn into players wanting to use the opportunity to fish for advantages and triumphs to add boosts or upgrades to their actions. It could easily get cheesed.

Edited by kaosoe

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2 hours ago, kaosoe said:

I don't recommend it.

In addition to what the others have said, I feel it could easily turn into players wanting to use the opportunity to fish for advantages and triumphs to boos to add boosts or upgrades to their actions. It could easily get cheesed.

That's an excellent point, and I feel like a bit of a fool for overlooking that.  Probably due to too much time spent playing and running 5e games lately.

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All excellent points. BUT STILL...

 

The timbre of my game is such that my players love trying awesome ridiculous stunts, and I love facilitating that, because when it works it's amazing. I also want the chance of failure to exist on both stages of the action. The point about wringing more Advantage and Triumph out of their checks is well-taken, and I don't want to subvert any high-level Talents. I may try a new variation based on the Two-Weapon Combat rule set: something sufficiently challenging that doesn't step on any existing rules, with a familiar dice pool structure.

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3 hours ago, gtgauvin said:

I also want the chance of failure to exist on both stages of the action.

That's where you're running into trouble. It's effectively a single action and should have a single failure chance. This system isn't really designed around the idea of splicing a bunch of failure chances together like that.

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12 hours ago, P-47 Thunderbolt said:

I agree as well, but I did mention that in my original response, I wasn't overlooking that.

Mea Culpa. I must have missed that.

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On 9/9/2019 at 10:47 AM, Donovan Morningfire said:

Similar talents were introduced in the Freerunner spec in Endless Vigil (F&D) and the Courier spec in Cyphers & Masks (AoR).  I don't recall their names (certainly wasn't Parkour), but they do the exact same thing.  Want to say they were called Freerunning and Improved Running, but don't have the books on hand to verify.

Yep, it is Freerunning and Improved Freerunning. And it's part of the Racer specialization. 

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On 9/9/2019 at 9:35 PM, gtgauvin said:

All excellent points. BUT STILL...

 

The timbre of my game is such that my players love trying awesome ridiculous stunts, and I love facilitating that, because when it works it's amazing. I also want the chance of failure to exist on both stages of the action. The point about wringing more Advantage and Triumph out of their checks is well-taken, and I don't want to subvert any high-level Talents. I may try a new variation based on the Two-Weapon Combat rule set: something sufficiently challenging that doesn't step on any existing rules, with a familiar dice pool structure.

Couldn't you just allow them to spend Advantage to get a free manuever or something?  I'm pretty sure that's actually listed as an example of "things to spend Advantage/Triumphs on" in the various rulebooks.  They still have to make the Athletics check, or Coordination check, or whatever, to cover the environmental challenge in front of them.  But if they roll well enough (which if this is the thing the excel at, odds are it will happen a lot), they can spend say...2 Advantage (or whatever you like), get a free Maneuver, and narrate them going all Parkour or Naruto, or Ninja Scroll, bent over, arms out behind them like duck wings, running while movement lines flash past them for dramatic effect.

I guess I'm just having trouble visualizing what you are trying to accomplish.  Because from your OP, it sounds like you are wanting them to be able to make an attack action, before covering the distance between them and their target, and have that attack action basically dovetail the movement into it?   Basically incorporating moving a range band into the attack action, so that they don't have to roll to cover the difficult terrain (and thus use their action), and can instead roll to attack?  

If so, while I don't recall what the RAW is on this, as I recall from the last time I ran FFG, if someone was using a maneuver to cover difficult terrain, I would just have the check be a secondary thing.  I don't recall forcing that to be their "action" for that turn.  If they succeeded, they were able to move through, and assuming no other factors prevented them from being able to attack, they could attack as normal that turn.    If you are applying this across the board (which means the NPC's they are fighting can do it too), I don't really see a big issue with it.   It makes the game a bit more action/movement focused, which is apparently what you and your players want.  

So my personal advice is keep the skill check to move through difficult terrain, just make it a part of the movement itself.  If they fail the check, then they are hung up in some way by the terrain in question, and suffer whatever negative effects that entails, possibly preventing them from attacking (which sucks, but hey, that's what happens when you fail a check).  If they succeed, they are able to move as normal, and, again assuming no other outside influences stop them from getting into attack range, they can attack as normal.    That way, you can have them do some cool leap down from a ledge, roll and hop up, running as normal towards their target, in whatever pop-culture style you guys are trying to emulate.

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