Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
yoink101

Ditching Talent Trees

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

I'm just starting up a Clone Wars era campaign in which the players will bounce back and forth between Jedi and Cone troopers. After playing some Genesys since I last played Star Wars, I really enjoyed the more free form access to talents, so I copy and pasted (and moved around a couple) or talents from the Age of Rebellion and Force and Destiny core books as well as the Clone Wars era books (and of course the Juyo/Vaapad specialization tree). I think it creates some cool opportunities for interesting combination and concepts.

The reasons I wanted to create it:

  • Interesting combinations of talents and archetypes.
  • It opens up the possibility of a Jedi Battle Master who has mastery over the different Lightsaber forms.
  • Allows for differentiation in a squad of Jedi and a squad of Clones where they have the potential to be very same-y.

Some problems it could have:

  • Allow for some streamlining of power gaming (I'm not worried in this campaign because I think the limit on how many talents of each rank, plus the fact that I have good players will be fine).
  • Opens up the opportunity for some weird combinations (Jedi with jetpacks for example).
  • There are too many talents. I'm planning to go through a weed some out in the near future, but I'll do that as a separate document.

Anyway, if you have feedback, feel free to reply here. I can also provide you a link to leave comments if you want. If you want to use the document, go ahead and make a copy. If you don't want to use it, that's fine too.

Here is the Drive link.

Edit: an abbreviated version. (6/21/2020)

in light of the fact that the original document had hundreds of talents, some of which were overlapping in big ways, I abbreviated and consolidated some things. I put limits on some ranked talents. Then I condensed a handful of repetitive talents into a smaller number. Anything that allowed for using a different attribute or skill, I got rid of (after all, I think narrative instead of a talent should allow you to use Brawn for your coercion rolls, for example). I also made parry and reflect talents unranked and had them build on the skill value, as the amount of XP that could be spent on parry and reflect is absurd. I also limited the number of times some ranked talents could be purchased or applied.

If you like it, feel free to use it. If you notice anything that I screwed up, please let me know. If you have questions about why I made some of the changes I made, please ask.

Abbreviated Talents

Edited by yoink101
Adding A shorter version.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've ditched them for a while now, hugely liberating.  Some great people converted all the SW talents, it's here:

https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/265863-genesys-talents-expanded/

It's a great catalogue, but for me it's still a WIP.  I have started to go through all the Talents and if they don't directly update a dice pool, attribute, or secondary attribute (soak, crit reduction, etc) I tend to ditch them.  None of my players can keep track of all the weird talents anyway, most of them only apply in very conditional situations.  So if it can't be accounted for on the one-page character sheet, or the second page of weaponry, I have little use for them.

Really you can distill useful Talents down to a few things:

  • Adds a boost die to one or more skills
  • Removes a setback from one or more skills
  • Makes one or more skills career skills
  • Increases WT or ST or Soak or reduces crits
  • Affects combat (eg:  Lethal Blows)
  • A few rare ones that have good flavour and the player is likely to remember, eg:  Reconstruct the Scene

For the rest, they are either gone, or anybody with a specific skill rank can do them, eg:  Scathing Tirade is available at Coercion rank 2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/17/2020 at 9:26 PM, whafrog said:

I've ditched them for a while now, hugely liberating.  Some great people converted all the SW talents, it's here:

https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/265863-genesys-talents-expanded/

It's a great catalogue, but for me it's still a WIP.  I have started to go through all the Talents and if they don't directly update a dice pool, attribute, or secondary attribute (soak, crit reduction, etc) I tend to ditch them.  None of my players can keep track of all the weird talents anyway, most of them only apply in very conditional situations.  So if it can't be accounted for on the one-page character sheet, or the second page of weaponry, I have little use for them.

Really you can distill useful Talents down to a few things:

  • Adds a boost die to one or more skills
  • Removes a setback from one or more skills
  • Makes one or more skills career skills
  • Increases WT or ST or Soak or reduces crits
  • Affects combat (eg:  Lethal Blows)
  • A few rare ones that have good flavour and the player is likely to remember, eg:  Reconstruct the Scene

For the rest, they are either gone, or anybody with a specific skill rank can do them, eg:  Scathing Tirade is available at Coercion rank 2.

How does the game work without the Talent Trees? Do you allow them to pick whatever Talents they want with their XP? 

What have character builds been like? Are your PCs very powerful? Do you see a recurring talent that is bought? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, CloudyLemonade92 said:

How does the game work without the Talent Trees? Do you allow them to pick whatever Talents they want with their XP? 

Well first, you don't need Talent trees at all to play the game.  Talents and new trees are FFG's way of making you want to buy the next book, like Magic cards...  It's purely marketing.  Not that I begrudge them this, it's the only way to have kept the game line alive this long.  Kudos to them for using a good formula.  But you can really ditch them entirety in actual gameplay.  I've played *many* sessions where no Talents were used (because they didn't apply or the player forgot) and they just are not missed.

Anyway, you can do everything with just skills.  It certainly makes things simpler.  Your players may even thank you, depending on the type of player they are.  If you want to allow some special Talent ability that leverages a skill, just allow it at a certain skill rank and/or require 2 Strain to trigger it.  Scathing Tirade is a good example...maybe anybody can try it at Coercion rank 2 for 2 Strain, at rank 3 it's free.

I'll admit the first drawback to this is coming up with charts for each skill with "things you can do at rank X"...part of the reason this is still a WIP is all the ground work needed to simplify the gameplay.  And I really don't want the player to have to look through pages and pages of skill charts, that's my job.  Instead I want the player to ask "is there anything I can do with my Coercion to make this guy 'go home and rethink his life'?".  And I should already know what the reasonable options are.  As of now, with an incomplete list, it's still easy to adjudicate on the fly (another reason it's a WIP, I keep winging it and not writing it down!).

The second (minor) drawback to just using skills is either the XP requirement needs bumping up per rank, or the XP output needs to come down, since the PC doesn't have the cost of Talent expenditure anymore.  But that's pretty easy to adjust.

But anyway, as of now I use the Genesys model (but only with Talents that directly modify an attribute or skill), except that I allow it to be a square shape instead of a triangle (meaning I allow more high rank Talents than the Genesys model).  Other than that restriction, they can pick what they want.  Though lately I've been doing more "one-off" games, so I ask for general input on strengths and weaknesses and try to craft something reasonable.  I tend to make the one-off PCs pretty capable (at least 600XP), but I have no doubt it would be fine in a campaign.

2 hours ago, CloudyLemonade92 said:

What have character builds been like? Are your PCs very powerful? Do you see a recurring talent that is bought? 

Other than Grit and Toughness, not really.  Depends what the player is after.  The diplomat isn't taking Lethal Blows, etc.

For one-offs I stick with this formula:  4/3/3/2/2/1 (including humans...I give XP credit for the drop), no Dedication, no skill above 4 ranks.  The rest is tailored to the player's specs and desires.  So are they "very powerful"?  They are certainly capable.  However, there's plenty of room to grow, as the only time they get 5 dice (except boosts) is through a DP or a Triumph allocation...that's actually by clever design :ph34r: because it makes those DP/Triumph upgrades more meaningful.

There are also plenty of weaknesses I can leverage, those 2s and the 1 are still going to make things difficult when they have to act outside their comfort zone (which I make sure is a thing...).

I'm really itching to start up a new campaign, but my friends are still in the "I have kids I need to drive around to activities" phase...or now with Covid "kids I need to stay home and school".  So for now the one-offs are the best I'm going to get.  I'm hoping in the next year or two I can really clean this up and dive into a long running game.

Happy to share what I have so far (spreadsheets, etc), but you'd have to be a Java programmer to get the most out of it...most of the data is in JSON files so I can generate a custom PDF for each PC.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/17/2020 at 7:12 PM, yoink101 said:

plus the fact that I have good players will be fine).

Green light. If nobody's going to approach this like a formal tournament, you can all have running conversations on what's fun, cool and fair. Too powerful? Not powerful enough? Change it up.

Too many choices is probably the remaining challenge but that's easier if the table has flexibility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, wilsch said:

Green light. If nobody's going to approach this like a formal tournament, you can all have running conversations on what's fun, cool and fair. Too powerful? Not powerful enough? Change it up.

Too many choices is probably the remaining challenge but that's easier if the table has flexibility.

Yeah, the large number of talents is tough. I am directing my players to the 1-3 talent trees that they’re interested in to get started and guide their research.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, CloudyLemonade92 said:

How does the game work without the Talent Trees? Do you allow them to pick whatever Talents they want with their XP? 

What have character builds been like? Are your PCs very powerful? Do you see a recurring talent that is bought? 

It follows the same rules as Genesys: you have to have more low level talents (you must have 2 tier 4 talents before you can purchase 1 tier 5 talent). I added some prerequisites for talents that build on each other. Feel free to take a look at the document.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For Genesys (which yoink modeled this after) I've toyed with making a list of talents grouped together by Tier and category. So talents would be listed as Combat, Social, Lore, etc. with Tier 1-5 ranked under them. Then print this catalog out so the players can easily flip to a category they want to see what is available. I've also thought of adding further to this by giving some common groupings. So you want to be a better quick-drawing blaster pistol dueler? Here's some talents for you to consider. 

47 minutes ago, yoink101 said:

I added some prerequisites for talents that build on each other. Feel free to take a look at the document.

Can I ask you why you were motivated to do this? Not criticizing, I did it also for Genesys when I expanded the talent list for a home brew campaign. It just seemed right especially without the structure of the talent trees. For me, it led to some guidance for players (stepping stones) and it prevented some strange leeps to Tier 5 uber talents. Example: A PC has been putting all his XP in melee combat talents. He finally has built up enough lower tiers to be able to purchase his first Tier 5 talent. He purchases the Master Mage talent. So I've added some prerequisites of prior talents, skills ranks, or ability scores to a few talents.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Sturn said:

Can I ask you why you were motivated to do this?

It started with lightsaber forms. It felt weird for players to have access to the higher tiered talents without having the basic technique. The other place was some of the Jedi master powers. Some of them are really potent and I think make sense to require a mastery of the force.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just finished running two years with the Genesys trees, and for my next campaign I'm going back to regular specializations. I made a system to calculate talent tier from specializations rather than re-evaluate everything by hand. The players loved it at first, but I think the charm wore off by the end of it. I think the Genesys tree is ideal for players who are only going to play one campaign with one character, and want to be able to get everything they want with that character. There aren't really any restrictions on what talents you're able to pick up, so once someone picks up an awesome Rank 5 talent, everyone else can see that and pick it up for themselves as well.

I also saw a lot of players piling on ranked upgrades - Jedi talents like Block/Deflect/Force Rating were the big offenders, but even things like Lethal Blows ended up getting stacked pretty quick. This in my opinion is a problem with the Genesys model in particular, but it gets compounded by some ranked talents that you're not supposed to be able to grab too many of.

One thing I saw in Genesys is that once you get your initial pyramid filled up, it's really easy to race down to new Tier 5 talents. Force Rating is particularly a tough one to deal with - even if it's a Tier 5 ranked talent, it's only 75 XP to your next level of Force Rating. In Edge of the Empire, 100 XP goes a lot farther at the beginning of the game when purchasing new specializations is cheaper. In Genesys, 100 XP actually goes farther for high-level characters because they don't need to build as many prerequisites.

I actually thing restrictions on character building are a good thing, and you'll see that in a lot of systems. Characters are defined as much by their weaknesses as they are by their strengths, and having things that aren't available to you means that your next character is going to feel totally different, rather than exactly the same. Genesys's first impression is that the talent tree gives you the freedom to build your character however you'd like, but in my observation it actually means that you're going to just put yourself in the same build path with only a few variations.

I think a good option to allow players to have more variety is to give them each one or two additional specialization trees that they can have without spending XP to access. So a Jedi/pilot and a Jedi/scholar would have different specialties that they can focus on, without necessarily having access to everything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"The enemy of art is the absence of limitations." I feel that this is accurate in this situation. I like the specialization trees (though some have issues *cough* Slicer *cough* Heavy *cough* *cough*) and think the limitations are very beneficial to the story you tell, as they each have a predefined theme as opposed to a grab-bag of talents you want. The free-form method can be used to great effect for storytelling, and the specialization trees can be used to min-max, but I think that the free-form tends towards a mechanical focus over a story focus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/20/2020 at 10:35 AM, mwhylings said:

I just finished running two years with the Genesys trees, and for my next campaign I'm going back to regular specializations. I made a system to calculate talent tier from specializations rather than re-evaluate everything by hand. The players loved it at first, but I think the charm wore off by the end of it. I think the Genesys tree is ideal for players who are only going to play one campaign with one character, and want to be able to get everything they want with that character. There aren't really any restrictions on what talents you're able to pick up, so once someone picks up an awesome Rank 5 talent, everyone else can see that and pick it up for themselves as well.

I also saw a lot of players piling on ranked upgrades - Jedi talents like Block/Deflect/Force Rating were the big offenders, but even things like Lethal Blows ended up getting stacked pretty quick. This in my opinion is a problem with the Genesys model in particular, but it gets compounded by some ranked talents that you're not supposed to be able to grab too many of.

One thing I saw in Genesys is that once you get your initial pyramid filled up, it's really easy to race down to new Tier 5 talents. Force Rating is particularly a tough one to deal with - even if it's a Tier 5 ranked talent, it's only 75 XP to your next level of Force Rating. In Edge of the Empire, 100 XP goes a lot farther at the beginning of the game when purchasing new specializations is cheaper. In Genesys, 100 XP actually goes farther for high-level characters because they don't need to build as many prerequisites.

I actually thing restrictions on character building are a good thing, and you'll see that in a lot of systems. Characters are defined as much by their weaknesses as they are by their strengths, and having things that aren't available to you means that your next character is going to feel totally different, rather than exactly the same. Genesys's first impression is that the talent tree gives you the freedom to build your character however you'd like, but in my observation it actually means that you're going to just put yourself in the same build path with only a few variations.

I think a good option to allow players to have more variety is to give them each one or two additional specialization trees that they can have without spending XP to access. So a Jedi/pilot and a Jedi/scholar would have different specialties that they can focus on, without necessarily having access to everything.

I think if you can get on the same page with your players and not have them doing random stuff for no reason or min/maxing then this works well. If you have players who are not guided by a concept for their character or a sense of what the character would be like, then I can see why relying on the trees would be more important to you. 

Collaboration on characters and the themes and expected/accepted power level of an upcoming campaign are important things to do in my opinion. It keeps people from feeling like they have been bait & switched and it keeps the GM from seeing the players as sandbaggers looking to compete against the GM. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...