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The Grand Falloon

The (Over?)power of Influence

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One of my players has recently had his eye on the Influence power.  I must admit I'm a little apprehensive about the upgrade which allows you to add your Force Dice to all social rolls.  The character is getting close to Force Rating 3, and is decent - but not great - at most social rolls already.  Since the power allows him to add his choice of either Success or Advantage, it seems that, if he needs to succeed, he will.  He's not likely to use those dark pips on every negotiation check (which I'm thankful for), but when he does, it really seems like he'll be almost unstoppable.

   Have your groups found this to be a problem? There are a lot of abilities that allow PCs to add Force Dice to their checks, but this one seems like it could be especially problematic.  Or it could be a total non-issue.

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My main character has spent a lot of points on the Influence. He's also now a Jedi in training. He started as a bit of an affable chatterbox, but as the campaign progressed (we're around 800 XP each), it's become dangerous to let him speak. You're right to have concerns. If your player lacks restraint, it's hard to say how it might play out.

My character is also deep into Sense, so he's extremely good at reading a room. Since realizing the interconnection of life through the Force, he's extremely hesitant to kill, so he always tries to talk before things turn to violence. 

He's ended a lot of potential combats before they started and made friends out of many, many enemies. It took him most of an evening to incite a rebellion against a church that was oppressing the populace. He's talked a homicidal crowd out of lynching their former oppressor. He regularly convinces minions that fighting his crew is against their best interests. 

He doesn't force anyone to do anything against their will, though. He appeals to their better angels and is extremely convincing due to his combination of Presence, Charm and FR 3.

I don't think my GM minds this. If he wants to force a fight, he can. He just has to plan for the fact that if my guy gets to speak, the odds are going to change in our favor most times.

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I've not found it to be any more problematic than a PC that's invested in Enhance to be really good at the various skills the power covers, including at least one Ace/Hotshot/Force Emergent that had good claim to being one of the best pilots in the galaxy thanks to adding two Force dice to his already considerable Piloting (Planetary) and Piloting (Space) dice pools, letting him pull off stuff that most other pilots would deem a flashy form of suicide.

It's not that much different than a PC deciding to invest heavily in a couple of skills to get up to five ranks in them.  It's the player effectively saying "I want to be spectacularly awesome at doing this thing!"

That being said, I do feel a lot of these powers were written more around the notion that most PCs would top out at Force Rating 3 at the most, with PCs generally hovering at about a Force Rating of 2.  So yeah, things like Enhance and Influence's upgrades can look a little worrisome once the PCs start slinging around 3 (or more!) Force dice on each check.

Of course, we do have Obi-Wan's statement about how the Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded, so it's at least in keeping with the lore that a PC with Influence and 3+ Force dice is going to be pretty easily sway the mood/opinions of those who lack a formidable will even without having to resort to out-and-out mind trickery.  I myself wouldn't worry too much about it, and simply accept that certain social encounters are going to be fairly easy for this character, just as those encounters would be easy for a PC who heavily invested in the various social skills.

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As I like to remind my Influence focused Force Users; Social Skills are not mind control (but the "Believe a Lie" Control Upgrade is).

I have not had problems with that particular part of Influence, because I don't allow a social skill check to change the bounds of reality.

First of all, this is a principle that a GM must apply across any and all RPG systems with social skills. If you let a high skill/good roll alter what should realistically be possible, yea, you're gonna have problems.

Second, you've gotta leave "room" for the Believe a Lie Control Upgrade to be useful. If a PC can make an NPC believe anything with just a Skill, why do they need that Upgrade?

Portray the game world honestly. In-game realities dictate the limits of the potential effects of social skills (and actually, any and all Skills).

You're never gonna get a good enough Negotiate to get that Blaster Mod for free, because the shopkeeper has the in-game reality of a family to feed and a lease to pay, he's never gonna sell for less than some % profit.

You're never gonna Charm that Hutt crime lord into just letting you go. You ratted on him to the Rebellion. He has the in-game reality of a reputation that dictates he has to do something pay.

You're never gonna convince that security checkpoint guard with Deception that they don't need to search you. The Captain is right over there and is watching.

You're never gonna Coerce that Space Pirate into just giving your ship back. They have you massively outnumbered and outgunned AND they need the money.

You can improve those situations by degrees. You can shift severity to lesser amount. You cannot alter reality with a skill check. No matter how well you succeed on it.

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1 hour ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

That being said, I do feel a lot of these powers were written more around the notion that most PCs would top out at Force Rating 3 at the most, with PCs generally hovering at about a Force Rating of 2.

  I generally think the EotE and AoR powers could stand to be modified.  I've considered tweaking the Influence upgrade so that the player would commit the Force Dice as a maneuver, and then would upgrade his skill for each die committed, much like Intuitive Evasion. 

My players tend to be pretty cool, so I think I'll leave it alone, but with the caveat that if it gets out of hand it may need a tweak.  I'd be more worried if the character was a dedicated "face." As it stands, he has decent Willpower and Presence, plus Sense Emotions, so he won't be throwing a lot of Triumphs, but will likely just be cancelling a lot of failures and threat.  Of course, when he rolls a Despair on an opposed check, someone will realize what happened.

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I don't think it's any more broken than the various combat related powers that are just as overwhelming, but are accepted by the gaming community.

Yes being a powerful Jedi makes you really good at things.....period.   You don't really need to slice it down to specific things, because you can say the same about all Force powers, when in the hands of a high Force Rating PC.   Move with a FR 3+ player with high stats?  Say goodbye to easy threats if they use it all the time.   Enhance? Same situation.   Heal/Harm?  Yep, just as crazy OP.   The root of the problem (though I don't actually think it's a problem) is the "Powerful Jedi/Force User" part.  It's not really the power itself.  ALL of them do this when utilized by a strong PC with a smart player.   And that's kind of the point.   The Jedi were powerful beings, at basically anything they tried.  Because they had this galactic spanning power source that gave them an ace in the hole of epic proportions.    Influence is still only useful in social situations, so it's hardly a card they can use all the time.  And if they are using it callously, you can always start giving them Conflict.  If they are using it like a crutch to just make people do what they want, without even trying to do things the nice way.   

But to me, it's no more unbalanced than a Jedi who can grab a Sil 4 size object from the background and crush the entire enemy combat team in one attack, which is also totally doable with the Force.  

So I wouldn't worry about it too much.  If it's really something you are concerned with, talk to the player about it.  I'm assuming you are both mature adults who understand this is meant to be a fun activity for both you and the players, and that you don't want him to just steamroll over all social scenes with a literal handwave.  If the player is at all a reasonable person, it shouldn't be that big of a deal to ask them to use the power responsibly, and sparingly.  

But on the flip side of that, you need to be sure to give him opportunities to actually flex that Influence muscle.  He did spend XP on it after all.  So don't try and work around it, account for it in your scene building sessions.   Make a note along the lines of "If Influence used, things will happen like this." 

And also, don't forget, just because they get Influenced, doesn't mean the people will be instant friends with the Force user.   Just look at the head of the Gun-Guns,  Qui-Gon   Influenced him to provide them with a ship, and way to the human kingdom, and the king did this....but it wasn't really the best thing.  He clearly did it in a sinister way, and the path he told them to take, was incredibly dangerous, so much so, that Jar Jar flat out says "he's setting you up."   So the "You are magically compelled to provide us with a transport to leave this place" doesn't mean they won't also do other things.   Like *Use Influence*  "Tell us the quickest way to *insert location*"   Target: "Ok, go this way for 5 miles, then turn down this hill into the valley, it will lead you right to The Place."  *Doesn't bother to tell them that the valley is known locally as Super Scary Murder Valley Of Death and Big Bitey Things*.   The obligation to the Influence has still been met, but the Force user still might end up with some bad results from it.

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For the control ability I would still keep the light side points can only be spent on positive thing and dark side can only be spent on negative things.  So the person doesn't spend 3 light side points to boost his lie or coercion check.   

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3 hours ago, KungFuFerret said:

 also, don't forget, just because they get Influenced, doesn't mean the people will be instant friends with the Force user.   Just look at the head of the Gun-Guns,  Qui-Gon   Influenced him to provide them with a ship, and way to the human kingdom, and the king did this....but it wasn't really the best thing.  He clearly did it in a sinister way, and the path he told them to take, was incredibly dangerous, so much so, that Jar Jar flat out says "he's setting you up."   So the "You are magically compelled to provide us with a transport to leave this place" doesn't mean they won't also do other things.   Like *Use Influence*  "Tell us the quickest way to *insert location*"   Target: "Ok, go this way for 5 miles, then turn down this hill into the valley, it will lead you right to The Place."  *Doesn't bother to tell them that the valley is known locally as Super Scary Murder Valley Of Death and Big Bitey Things*.   The obligation to the Influence has still been met, but the Force user still might end up with some bad results from it.

Perfect example of the GM using threat/Despair if you ask me.

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2 hours ago, damnkid3 said:

For the control ability I would still keep the light side points can only be spent on positive thing and dark side can only be spent on negative things.  So the person doesn't spend 3 light side points to boost his lie or coercion check.   

  That would really depend on what you're doing with the check, particularly in the case of lying. Lying for personal gain is (generally) conflict-worthy, but lying for other reasons isn't inherently so. Lying to protect an innocent person from harm is by no means conflict-worthy, and is also more respectful of free will than just Mind Tricking the person (aka "These are not the droids you're looking for.")

  --

  As for Mind Trick, the one character that I've played that made use of it always did so in ways that seemed like a plausible suggestion in the context, so it didn't look odd to observers and the target wouldn't think anything odd about it either (either at the time or when reminded later). Subtlety really helps with a power like that - and subtlety isn't a strong point of the movie characters who tend to fool around with it, which leads to most of their later problems...

Edited by Garran

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On 11/26/2019 at 3:13 PM, The Grand Falloon said:

Since the power allows him to add his choice of either Success or Advantage, it seems that, if he needs to succeed, he will.  He's not likely to use those dark pips on every negotiation check (which I'm thankful for), but when he does, it really seems like he'll be almost unstoppable.

I thought these kinds of Force power Control upgrades only allow the player to gain Success or Advantage if the initial skill check is successful (Force and Destiny Core Rulebook p. 281, section on Combined Force Power Checks). In other words, the PC has to succeed on the check first without considering the Force pips and if successful (one uncancelled Success), then they can spend pips to gain more Success or Advantage to boost the results.

This is different from Force Talents (like Intuitive Shot) that allow you to straight up add Success or Advantage to a check before resolving success/failure.

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33 minutes ago, imachubchub said:

I thought these kinds of Force power Control upgrades only allow the player to gain Success or Advantage if the initial skill check is successful (Force and Destiny Core Rulebook p. 281, section on Combined Force Power Checks). In other words, the PC has to succeed on the check first without considering the Force pips and if successful (one uncancelled Success), then they can spend pips to gain more Success or Advantage to boost the results.

This is different from Force Talents (like Intuitive Shot) that allow you to straight up add Success or Advantage to a check before resolving success/failure.

Read the next section in the book, Spending [Force Pips] Before Resolving Checks. It specifically describes that pips can be used for overall success, not just as an enhancement to an already successful check.

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On 11/28/2019 at 12:16 AM, Stan Fresh said:

Read the next section in the book, Spending [Force Pips] Before Resolving Checks. It specifically describes that pips can be used for overall success, not just as an enhancement to an already successful check.

Thanks for the reply. I know the section you mentioned and it's because of how it is written in relation to the previous section that leads me to believe that there is a functional difference between talents/powers that allow you to "gain" versus those that allow you to "add". It's very possible that I'm reading too much into something that's not there and I'd really love it to work the way you're suggesting. So for my own peace of mind, I sent the devs a message for rules clarification.

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On 11/26/2019 at 6:13 PM, The Grand Falloon said:

Have your groups found this to be a problem? There are a lot of abilities that allow PCs to add Force Dice to their checks, but this one seems like it could be especially problematic.  Or it could be a total non-issue.

It's best to remember that it's not a mind-control with that upgrade for Influence, so they can't just immediately make an NPC do something, but yes they can use the Force to enhance their speech. So you can be super charming with the Force, but the response of the target is based on their thoughts and who they are. Say you deceive someone with the intent of getting into the enemy base. said NPC might accidentally let slip your lie when gushing about that cool imperial officer they just met, which someone else might know is a lie, alerting them both to your infiltration of said base.

 

Now were your player to get ahold of the control: emotion/belief, that is the Jedi Mind Trick, which will allow them temporary influence over someone's mind by making them feel an emotion or believe something. This does not mean that your player has direct mind-control over the NPC. Say you make them believe their greatest enemy is in front of them (actually their employer). Their actions depend heavily on the NPC. If they are a non-combatant, they may run and hide. If they are a trained soldier, they may attack. If you make them feel rage, they may just yell a lot or throw a glass, they may not attack anyone. If you make them happy, they may overlook some personal slight you just made or they might buy you a round of drinks. Again, subject to the NPC's personality.

Edited by GroggyGolem

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Reviving this discussion because I just thought of a great way to house rule this Control upgrade.  Make it look like the Skills upgrade for Seek: You can commit a Force die to upgrade all Coercion, Charm, Deception and Leadership checks once.  Could either allow just one die to be committed, as with Seek, or allow multiple dice.  Either way, it's way less game breaking than the RAW.

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Another way of mitigating the "game breaking" potential would be do give strong minded non-player characters who shouldn't be easily rolled over in social encounters competitive willpower and discipline scores, or some defensive talents. There are several that will buff up their ability to resist. It most certainly shouldn't be every non-player character, because the player did invest the points, but you can pull a "Jabba the Hutt" on them once in a while to keep things interesting. 

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Incidentally, minions can be fairly easily dispatched with Influence by simply inflicting strain on them. I liken this to the Spaghetti Western Stare (TM) where the camera zooms in on the protagonists eyes and a bunch of intense, grating, and tinny music kicks in as they flintily stare down their would-be foe. My experience, however, is that most players don't necessarily realize how easy that would be. Instead, they focus on Mind Trick and the skill boosting control upgrade.  

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23 hours ago, Vondy said:

Another way of mitigating the "game breaking" potential would be do give strong minded non-player characters who shouldn't be easily rolled over in social encounters competitive willpower and discipline scores, or some defensive talents. There are several that will buff up their ability to resist. It most certainly shouldn't be every non-player character, because the player did invest the points, but you can pull a "Jabba the Hutt" on them once in a while to keep things interesting. 

Free successes are really hard to beat with difficulty dice or even challenge dice, though.  If a PC has FR 3, they have a guaranteed 3 successes minimum on any social roll if they're willing to flip a DP and spend strain.  And almost certainly it will be 4 or more successes.  Even if you're just rolling 2 green in addition to the Force dice, a difficulty 5(!) check has barely an 11% chance of the four or more failures needed in practice to fail the roll.

http://game2.ca/eote/?montecarlo=100000#ability=2&difficulty=5

With FR 4, fialure will be almost impossible even against massive ranks of Nobody's Fool.

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7 minutes ago, DaverWattra said:

Free successes are really hard to beat with difficulty dice or even challenge dice, though.  If a PC has FR 3, they have a guaranteed 3 successes minimum on any social roll if they're willing to flip a DP and spend strain.  And almost certainly it will be 4 or more successes.  Even if you're just rolling 2 green in addition to the Force dice, a difficulty 5(!) check has barely an 11% chance of the four or more failures needed in practice to fail the roll.

http://game2.ca/eote/?montecarlo=100000#ability=2&difficulty=5

With FR 4, fialure will be almost impossible even against massive ranks of Nobody's Fool.

Just remember you cant use darkside pips for positive emotions and vice versa. So Darkside pips are good for coercion but not for charm. 

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39 minutes ago, Daeglan said:

Just remember you cant use darkside pips for positive emotions and vice versa. So Darkside pips are good for coercion but not for charm. 

But either can be used for uncertainty, doubt, and confusion. That can cover most interactions.

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On 1/15/2020 at 12:33 PM, Daeglan said:

Just remember you cant use darkside pips for positive emotions and vice versa. So Darkside pips are good for coercion but not for charm. 

The GM might make this ruling, but RAW does not prevent it.

Also, Darth Natalie Dormer could 100% use those dark pips on a Charm check, and I defy anyone to say otherwise.

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1 hour ago, The Grand Falloon said:

The GM might make this ruling, but RAW does not prevent it.

Also, Darth Natalie Dormer could 100% use those dark pips on a Charm check, and I defy anyone to say otherwise.

It is RAW look at the Sidebar next to the power. on Page 295 Influence Special Rule.

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1 hour ago, The Grand Falloon said:

The GM might make this ruling, but RAW does not prevent it.

Also, Darth Natalie Dormer could 100% use those dark pips on a Charm check, and I defy anyone to say otherwise.

 

25 minutes ago, Daeglan said:

It is RAW look at the Sidebar next to the power. on Page 295 Influence Special Rule.

@Daeglan is correct here. Only Light Side points can be used for Charm or to create positive emotional states, only Dark Side for Coercion or to instill a negative emotional state. Either one can be used to create confusion, or other neutral emotional states.

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9 minutes ago, Daeglan said:

It is RAW look at the Sidebar next to the power. on Page 295 Influence Special Rule.

I'm well aware of that, but it doesn't say you can't use certain pips with certain skills. There IS a talent for the Force Sensitive Exile in EotE that has that ruling, and I think a lot of us who started with that book kinda crossed the two over a little. I certainly did.

However, a GM is well within his rights to demand an explanation as to why certain pips should be allowed for certain skills. Dark pips on a Charm check could be used to generate list or a desire for power (Palpatine perhaps?), while Light ones could be used on a Coercion check to play "good cop," telling the target, "It doesn't have to go this way."

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1 minute ago, The Grand Falloon said:

I'm well aware of that, but it doesn't say you can't use certain pips with certain skills. There IS a talent for the Force Sensitive Exile in EotE that has that ruling, and I think a lot of us who started with that book kinda crossed the two over a little. I certainly did.

However, a GM is well within his rights to demand an explanation as to why certain pips should be allowed for certain skills. Dark pips on a Charm check could be used to generate list or a desire for power (Palpatine perhaps?), while Light ones could be used on a Coercion check to play "good cop," telling the target, "It doesn't have to go this way."

Coercion instills fear in a target. That's a negative emotion. Using Influence to make someone fearful, angry, sad, etc always requires the use of Darkside pips. Just as making a target like you, always requires Lightside pips. That is what the rule states. 

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