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Always Get My Mark OP?

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I think I am going to add the "end of the session" qualifier back in as without it, the ability has the potential of forcing a session to end early.

"Once per game session, at the end of the session, the character may choose to have located a minion NPC on the same planet to be their mark. Spend 2 Destiny Points, and make a HARD Streetwise check. If they succeed, the character tracks down their mark; a new encounter begins at the start of the next session just as the character reaches the mark's location. The exact nature of the encounter, and the circumstances under which it takes place, are up to the GM. Who the mark is (a known or unknown NPC ) may be discussed between the PC and GM before the next session."

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38 minutes ago, bitbyter said:

I think I am going to add the "end of the session" qualifier back in as without it, the ability has the potential of forcing a session to end early.

"Once per game session, at the end of the session, the character may choose to have located a minion NPC on the same planet to be their mark. Spend 2 Destiny Points, and make a HARD Streetwise check. If they succeed, the character tracks down their mark; a new encounter begins at the start of the next session just as the character reaches the mark's location. The exact nature of the encounter, and the circumstances under which it takes place, are up to the GM. Who the mark is (a known or unknown NPC ) may be discussed between the PC and GM before the next session."

You are really thinking about the ability wrong. All it does is change a session from a find the bad guy story  to a keep the bad guy story. that is it.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, bitbyter said:

The PC's are low on cash, the current adventure isn't combat focused and the BH player wants some action, the player wants to make the current adventure more complicated and fun? Plenty of reasons.

That is not what signature abilities are for. They're for making player characters look badass in their field of expertise, not killing time of making a few extra credits.

Also, I would outright ban using this ability to just start a random fight.

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Also, nothing in this rewrite precludes the player from asking if the mark can be a known NPC, it just doesn't require it to be so and the GM might even decide it is narratively a great idea.

The original ability requires it to be a known NPC. The PChas to "know this NPC's identity and basic personal information (or have another lead of comparable quality).

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With the RAW ability, as a player, I'd never feel comfortable using it. I feel it is just rude to purposely/intentionally throw a wrench into the work the GM has put into creating the adventure and NPC's for the group. Unintentional wrenches and PC actions/plans are one thing but to have an ability that specifically sabotages the GM's planned plot/narrative or creates more work to maintain it as intended is just bad in my opinion.

The GM should be aware you have the ability and plan ahead. I mean, if it were me, I'd plan any encounter where an NPC must be located as if the PC will absolutely use this.

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"Once per game session, the character may choose to have located a minion NPC on the same planet to be their mark. Spend 2 Destiny Points, and make a HARD Streetwise check. If they succeed, the character tracks down their mark; a new encounter begins at the start of the next session just as the character reaches the mark's location. The exact nature of the encounter, and the circumstances under which it takes place, are up to the GM. Who the mark is (a known or unknown NPC ) may be discussed between the PC and GM before the next session."

So... Half an hour into a session they need to locate this arms dealer to question him. The Bounty Hunter uses Always Get My Mark. Everybody goes home and comes back a week later? Or do they just spend the session killing time?

This ability is not fixable in the way you want because you strongly feel abilities taht do this shouldn't exist. You'd be better off scrapping it completely and creating a completely new Bounty Hunter signature ability that does something wildly different instead.

Or just houserule that signature abilities are not allowed, period, because there's a lot of similarly narrative ones that transform or bypass encounters completely.

Edited by micheldebruyn

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34 minutes ago, Daeglan said:

You are really thinking about the ability wrong. All it does is change a session from a find the bad guy story  to a keep the bad guy story. that is it.

No, I don't think I am. I think you are missing my point. The main issue is that with the RAW it takes plot control away from the GM and may force him to say "no" or come up with some poorly conceived way to keep his named, plot important NPC, in play on the fly. Some GM's are good at this, others are not. 

PC "I'm using Always Find My Mark and Bilbo The Hutt is my mark." The PC rolls really well and now he is in the PC's custody. The thing is that Bilbo is a plot important NPC who needs to be around for several more session before the PC's do something about him. The GM has nothing prepared for how to handle the new situation that the PC has created without the GM being forced to say 'No,  you can't target Bilbo The Hutt". come up with some other excuse or engineering /manipulating the encounter so that the vital NPC gets away (you can only do this so many times before the PC will feel he wasted XP on the ability).

All my rewrite does is:

  1. Give the GM time to come up with a planned encounter.
  2. Allows the GM and PC to discuss whether using a known named NPC disrupts the plot or not.

Maybe it gets the GM thinking in a new direction and actually improves the plot, maybe it doesn't, but with the re-write it makes it more of a collaborative process than one that is specifically disruptive to the GM.

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4 minutes ago, micheldebruyn said:
5 minutes ago, micheldebruyn said:

The GM should be aware you have the ability and plan ahead. I mean, if it were me, I'd plan any encounter where an NPC must be located as if the PC will absolutely use this.

Which creates extra work for the GM and with RAW it can be ANY NPC the PC has run into before. Nothing says it has to relate to the current adventure.

6 minutes ago, micheldebruyn said:

So... Half an hour into a session they need to locate this arms dealer to question him. The Bounty Hunter uses Always Get My Mark. Everybody goes home and comes back a week later? Or do they just spend the session killing time?

No, this is why I added back the qualifier that if can only be used at the end of the session.

 

7 minutes ago, micheldebruyn said:

The PChas to "know this NPC's identity and basic personal information (or have another lead of comparable quality).

Why would anyone assume that in order for a bounty hunter to find people they have to have personally run into them before? It is more likely that 99% of the time bounties are complete strangers.

9 minutes ago, micheldebruyn said:

 that transform or bypass encounters completely.

But that isn't the issue. The issue is it can interfere with plot as planned, not just an encounter and as written forces the GM to say "no" or somehow fix the plot on the fly. 

 

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4 minutes ago, bitbyter said:

But that isn't the issue. The issue is it can interfere with plot as planned, not just an encounter and as written forces the GM to say "no" or somehow fix the plot on the fly. 

If the PCs are hunting somebody, you should have prepared an encounter of him capturing him, because most PCs don't need BS signature abilities to shred a GM'scarefully crafted plans into confetti.

And No Desintegrations says about this particular ability that "haha, good one. No." is a perfectly valid GM response to use of this ability when targetting certain NPCs.

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6 minutes ago, micheldebruyn said:

It's supposed to. It's one of the main points of this system.

Wow, I totally disagree on that. Creating situations that make encounters and/or adventures fun via odd-ball ideas, unexpected die results, etc is one thing. But an ability that can specifically and intentionally disrupts and requires more work from the GM and can be used every, single, session? No thank you. 

As another example:

While "Last One Standing" is disruptive to an encounter and at most can take out 2 rivals and a bunch of minions, it is easily planned for and shouldn't disrupt things to much because it is only usable during combat. "Always Get My Mark" on the other-hand can be used at anytime, every game session, against anyone the PC's have met before. That is a complete nightmare for a GM.

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Re-read the RAW (long version, not just the tree version - I wish they didn't make them different) and now I even have more questions regarding what is the intent of this ability is.

  1. Is the "mark" even required to have a posted bounty? It doesn't mention this anywhere but being a bounty hunter ability it is pretty solidly implied as does this line "no cargo bay unscanned during a hunt". They wouldn't be hunting the person if they didn't have a bounty.
  2. If the answer is yes, then the ability effectively creates a bounty on the NPC regardless of whether or not the PC is successful in locating them. I personally prefer this as it can create interesting situations for the GM to get creative with.
  3. If the answer is no, then it is purely a tracking and capture ability and has nothing to do with turning the NPC in for money, justice, etc.
  4. "on the same planet". Does this imply the mark has to already be on the same planet or does the ability imply that is causes the NPC to be on the current planet the PC is on? I originally was under the impression it was the later (which is plausible in a universe with hyperdrive) but now realize it is most likely the former (as clearly dictated in the long form description of the ability). While this limits the ability somewhat it becomes even more likely the PC is going to target someone important to the immediate or future plot and cause unplanned plot disruption.
  5. Increase range is even more disruptive because now the PC leaves the immediate area where the current adventure was planned, has their mini-adventure and comes back (or not). This may or may not totally mess with things as planned though it does provide a great option if the BH's player can't make a session.

Anyhow, I think I have decided on an in-house version that works for me. So far I have not found any other Signature Abilities as disruptive except maybe Prophecy from Unlimited Power and Unexpected Demise from Savage Spirits. Thankfully I won't be running a force based campaign.

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1 minute ago, bitbyter said:

Re-read the RAW (long version, not just the tree version - I wish they didn't make them different) and now I even have more questions regarding what is the intent of this ability is.

Also read the sidebar on the next page.

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Yeah, I did initially read that but I think I'm still going to stick with my alterations to move it's use to the end of a session and its effect taking place the following session. It just makes me far more comfortable with the ability from a GM perspective. 

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, bitbyter said:

Re-read the RAW (long version, not just the tree version - I wish they didn't make them different) and now I even have more questions regarding what is the intent of this ability is.

  1. Is the "mark" even required to have a posted bounty? It doesn't mention this anywhere but being a bounty hunter ability it is pretty solidly implied as does this line "no cargo bay unscanned during a hunt". They wouldn't be hunting the person if they didn't have a bounty.

Clearly, no bounty is required. I don't really get why you thought it was. What does it matter if whether they are looking for somebody who has a bounty posted, or not? That shouldn't really make it easier to track somebody down. And it's not as if there isn't a very easy way around that, with a savvy PCs posting bounties themselves on people they'd like to have a word with.

 

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If the answer is yes, then the ability effectively creates a bounty on the NPC regardless of whether or not the PC is successful in locating them. I personally prefer this as it can create interesting situations for the GM to get creative with.

I'm not following you. How does this create a bounty?

 

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If the answer is no, then it is purely a tracking and capture ability and has nothing to do with turning the NPC in for money, justice, etc.

This is exactly what it does and what it is for.

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"on the same planet". Does this imply the mark has to already be on the same planet or does the ability imply that is causes the NPC to be on the current planet the PC is on? I originally was under the impression it was the later (which is plausible in a universe with hyperdrive) but now realize it is most likely the former (as clearly dictated in the long form description of the ability). While this limits the ability somewhat it becomes even more likely the PC is going to target someone important to the immediate or future plot and cause unplanned plot disruption.

It says the PC must know the target is on the same planet. Ergo, if the target is off-world, they can't use the ability.

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Increase range is even more disruptive because now the PC leaves the immediate area where the current adventure was planned, has their mini-adventure and comes back (or not). This may or may not totally mess with things as planned though it does provide a great option if the BH's player can't make a session.

Seems to me that if the party is looking for somebody who is off-world, then they absolutely will have to go off-world, signature ability or not.

Edited by micheldebruyn

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, bitbyter said:

No, I don't think I am. I think you are missing my point. The main issue is that with the RAW it takes plot control away from the GM and may force him to say "no" or come up with some poorly conceived way to keep his named, plot important NPC, in play on the fly. Some GM's are good at this, others are not. 

PC "I'm using Always Find My Mark and Bilbo The Hutt is my mark." The PC rolls really well and now he is in the PC's custody. The thing is that Bilbo is a plot important NPC who needs to be around for several more session before the PC's do something about him. The GM has nothing prepared for how to handle the new situation that the PC has created without the GM being forced to say 'No,  you can't target Bilbo The Hutt". come up with some other excuse or engineering /manipulating the encounter so that the vital NPC gets away (you can only do this so many times before the PC will feel he wasted XP on the ability).

All my rewrite does is:

  1. Give the GM time to come up with a planned encounter.
  2. Allows the GM and PC to discuss whether using a known named NPC disrupts the plot or not.

Maybe it gets the GM thinking in a new direction and actually improves the plot, maybe it doesn't, but with the re-write it makes it more of a collaborative process than one that is specifically disruptive to the GM.

Yes it does. You are forgetting a GM is not the sole arbiter of the plot. If you think you are you are a railroading gm and that is bad. So as a gm if your player has this ability plan accordingly.

Edited by Daeglan

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1 hour ago, Daeglan said:

Yes it does. You are forgetting a GM is not the sole arbiter of the plot. If you think you are you are a railroading gm and that is bad.

Pfft.  I am the sole arbiter of the overall plot, that's my role.  It's practically spelled out in the title.  I know all the NPCs, what their goals are, and how that might intersect with what the PCs do.

That doesn't mean I'm the sole *generator* of the plot:  about 90% of the time the players come up with something unexpected I just roll with it, because it's better than, or more satisfying, than what I came up with.  They may introduce new NPCs (which I then have to provide with motives and clocks), deal with existing NPCs in unexpected ways, or they might do something which requires me to change how NPCs react.  All that is great, entirely welcome.  I'm not railroading, but I can still use judgement on what's fantastic to include, and what's ridiculous.

But most importantly, I'm responsible for my players having a good time, and a LOT of that has to do with pacing.  The general goal is a 3-act structure where the tension ramps up and the climax comes towards the end of a session.  Ideally what the players have their PCs do will ramp up the tension even more...that's players actually investing in the cinematic narrative, and it's almost always rewarding.   Having a PC toss out a signature ability trump card which destroys the tension and deflates the entire scene just defeats the whole purpose of playing.

It's ironic that this game sold itself as a more collaborative RPG that prides itself on trying to get away from the old-school adversarial approach (something I've embraced wholeheartedly).  And then they had to bollux it up by giving the players a vehicle whose purpose was not only to be adversarial against the GM, but to just short cut any plot element and remove all risk.  Without risk there is no tension, without tension...well, I'd rather not bother playing.  You might as well tell me about the dream you had last night about how awesome your character was...I just don't care, and neither does anybody else around the table.

 

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I am twisted in the signature abilities matter, some of them are great and some of them are over the top, though I allow them all. If the time comes, I am pretty sure I find a solution.

In the end there is always the possibility to ban all signature skills, if you dislike them that much.

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As someone probably already said, if the player spend so much XP on it, he deserve its fun. Now you can always veto certain use of it if it throw away your next campaing arc. If the player is someone human and like roleplaying game, he will certainly understand. Still allow the bounty hunter quick catch that will award him a good chunk of money so that the player don't feel he wasted the XP on the ability. 

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1 hour ago, whafrog said:

Pfft.  I am the sole arbiter of the overall plot, that's my role.  It's practically spelled out in the title.  I know all the NPCs, what their goals are, and how that might intersect with what the PCs do.

That doesn't mean I'm the sole *generator* of the plot:  about 90% of the time the players come up with something unexpected I just roll with it, because it's better than, or more satisfying, than what I came up with.  They may introduce new NPCs (which I then have to provide with motives and clocks), deal with existing NPCs in unexpected ways, or they might do something which requires me to change how NPCs react.  All that is great, entirely welcome.  I'm not railroading, but I can still use judgement on what's fantastic to include, and what's ridiculous.

But most importantly, I'm responsible for my players having a good time, and a LOT of that has to do with pacing.  The general goal is a 3-act structure where the tension ramps up and the climax comes towards the end of a session.  Ideally what the players have their PCs do will ramp up the tension even more...that's players actually investing in the cinematic narrative, and it's almost always rewarding.   Having a PC toss out a signature ability trump card which destroys the tension and deflates the entire scene just defeats the whole purpose of playing.

It's ironic that this game sold itself as a more collaborative RPG that prides itself on trying to get away from the old-school adversarial approach (something I've embraced wholeheartedly).  And then they had to bollux it up by giving the players a vehicle whose purpose was not only to be adversarial against the GM, but to just short cut any plot element and remove all risk.  Without risk there is no tension, without tension...well, I'd rather not bother playing.  You might as well tell me about the dream you had last night about how awesome your character was...I just don't care, and neither does anybody else around the table.

 

Only in so far as your players are willing to follow your plot. If they choose to want to do something else what are you going to do?

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4 hours ago, whafrog said:

Pfft.  I am the sole arbiter of the overall plot, that's my role.  It's practically spelled out in the title.  I know all the NPCs, what their goals are, and how that might intersect with what the PCs do.

That doesn't mean I'm the sole *generator* of the plot:  about 90% of the time the players come up with something unexpected I just roll with it, because it's better than, or more satisfying, than what I came up with.  They may introduce new NPCs (which I then have to provide with motives and clocks), deal with existing NPCs in unexpected ways, or they might do something which requires me to change how NPCs react.  All that is great, entirely welcome.  I'm not railroading, but I can still use judgement on what's fantastic to include, and what's ridiculous.

But most importantly, I'm responsible for my players having a good time, and a LOT of that has to do with pacing.  The general goal is a 3-act structure where the tension ramps up and the climax comes towards the end of a session.  Ideally what the players have their PCs do will ramp up the tension even more...that's players actually investing in the cinematic narrative, and it's almost always rewarding.   Having a PC toss out a signature ability trump card which destroys the tension and deflates the entire scene just defeats the whole purpose of playing.

It's ironic that this game sold itself as a more collaborative RPG that prides itself on trying to get away from the old-school adversarial approach (something I've embraced wholeheartedly).  And then they had to bollux it up by giving the players a vehicle whose purpose was not only to be adversarial against the GM, but to just short cut any plot element and remove all risk.  Without risk there is no tension, without tension...well, I'd rather not bother playing.  You might as well tell me about the dream you had last night about how awesome your character was...I just don't care, and neither does anybody else around the table.

 

Exactly!

 

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2 hours ago, Daeglan said:

Only in so far as your players are willing to follow your plot. If they choose to want to do something else what are you going to do?

That depends.  First, they aren't really "following my plot".  They are reacting to things that happen, and if I do my job, their next courses of action can be planned for.  If they react in a way I didn't expect, well, I'm pretty good at winging it.  Adversary decks, story cubes, and some percent dice and I'm usually good to go.  This is usually when they introduce story elements of their own, in which case, it's no longer "my plot" but "our plot".

But if they aren't reacting to events at all, or ignoring clear bait and trail, it means I've either done a poor job of setting things up, or they expected something different.  Then we have a discussion about what they want out of the game and what they want to see their characters achieve.  Then I go back to the drawing board and start again.  In the same way I can't expect them to fulfill my story the way I imagine it originally, I also don't exist just to provide them with amusement.  It's a two-way street.

So in that context, signature abilities provide zero narrative or dramatic interest.  Instead they exist so the player can mitigate risk, which means it's not a useful tool for storytelling.

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48 minutes ago, whafrog said:

That depends.  First, they aren't really "following my plot".  They are reacting to things that happen, and if I do my job, their next courses of action can be planned for.  If they react in a way I didn't expect, well, I'm pretty good at winging it.  Adversary decks, story cubes, and some percent dice and I'm usually good to go.  This is usually when they introduce story elements of their own, in which case, it's no longer "my plot" but "our plot".

But if they aren't reacting to events at all, or ignoring clear bait and trail, it means I've either done a poor job of setting things up, or they expected something different.  Then we have a discussion about what they want out of the game and what they want to see their characters achieve.  Then I go back to the drawing board and start again.  In the same way I can't expect them to fulfill my story the way I imagine it originally, I also don't exist just to provide them with amusement.  It's a two-way street.

So in that context, signature abilities provide zero narrative or dramatic interest.  Instead they exist so the player can mitigate risk, which means it's not a useful tool for storytelling.

They also allow the player to say I want to skip the chase this week and go straight to taking them to the bounty agency. Which is all this ability does. Same with the explorer skip this part of the story. Which is only over powered if you had your heart set on the chase. Don't have your heart set on the chase if they buy that signature ability.

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12 minutes ago, Daeglan said:

They also allow the player to say I want to skip the chase this week and go straight to taking them to the bounty agency. Which is all this ability does. Same with the explorer skip this part of the story. Which is only over powered if you had your heart set on the chase. Don't have your heart set on the chase if they buy that signature ability.

In that case it would be far simpler, and a huge time savings, if the player just told me that outright.  I'd play ball.  But instead I waste time planning for a non-event.  That's just rude, and not just to me, but everybody else at the table.

It's kind of funny that every objection you come up with just makes me despise signature abilities even more.

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2 minutes ago, whafrog said:

In that case it would be far simpler, and a huge time savings, if the player just told me that outright.  I'd play ball.  But instead I waste time planning for a non-event.  That's just rude, and not just to me, but everybody else at the table.

It's kind of funny that every objection you come up with just makes me despise signature abilities even more.

that is the realm of player and GM should talk as they purchase them.  Not the realm of the ability is over powered

 

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12 minutes ago, whafrog said:

In that case it would be far simpler, and a huge time savings, if the player just told me that outright.  I'd play ball.  But instead I waste time planning for a non-event.  That's just rude, and not just to me, but everybody else at the table.

It's kind of funny that every objection you come up with just makes me despise signature abilities even more.

Most PC groups can bypass entire encounters, locations, plotlines... even without using an overpowered narrative ability. Regardles of system or game.

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5 hours ago, micheldebruyn said:

Most PC groups can bypass entire encounters, locations, plotlines... even without using an overpowered narrative ability. Regardles of system or game.

^This.  However, for this particular signature ability (SA) I would set some limits.

First, I would limit it to an NPC that has a bounty on them from an outside organization (non-PC organization).  This way, I should be able to plan for when and who the PC is going to go after.  I can then plan for this SA once I know they're going after a particular NPC.

I'd also discuss this with the player in question to explain my reasoning.  Being able to instantly nab anyone they want is overall disruptive to the story.  It makes more sense that its someone specifically wanted with a bounty on them. 

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6 hours ago, Inquisitor Tremayne said:

^This.  However, for this particular signature ability (SA) I would set some limits.

First, I would limit it to an NPC that has a bounty on them from an outside organization (non-PC organization).  This way, I should be able to plan for when and who the PC is going to go after.  I can then plan for this SA once I know they're going after a particular NPC.

I'd also discuss this with the player in question to explain my reasoning.  Being able to instantly nab anyone they want is overall disruptive to the story.  It makes more sense that its someone specifically wanted with a bounty on them. 

Why.
They can only use it on a minion to start and have to spend 25 xp to do  NEMESIS and if they want to have the mark in custody is is an additional 15 xp. so to start with a nemesis in custody they have to make a RRR streetwise check after spending 70 xp in order to so it. that is quite an investment on a not a sure thing ability.  A lot of people seem to treat these abilities as a single item. when there is a significant xp investment the character. If you think about it the Mando in the Mandalorian probably has the base always get your mark. That is probably what happened in the first episode. Mando spent 2 destiny and started in the same area. as that minion mark.

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