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Wulfherr

Lightsabers

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I guess I can only say that after years of playing GURPS and having long and involved conversations about the importance of headshots killing with one hit I discovered I don't actually enjoy that kind of game very much. I wanted exciting gunfights with lots of movement and tactics, and I got being headshotted on round one or being hospitalised for six months after every action scene.

Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

--

On regenerating health…

I think I like regenerating health because it simulates gunfights in movies so well. You shoot for a bit, and then duck behind cover and wait for the red tint to the screen to go away. And it generates firefights that look like they do in films. With regenerating health and a sticky cover system, video games have now got very good at giving you the feeling of being in a film, and I'd like to see that brought in to a TTRPG somehow.

And there is always the version from Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway, in which getting shot at doesn't reduce your health, in increases the 'Danger' you are in of actually being hit, and if you take cover for a bit the 'Danger' drains away. Only when you get too much 'Danger' do you actually get hit and killed. Exactly the same system, different justification that people might find easier to swallow! (or not, given that it is just the same system).

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AluminiumWolf said:

And it generates firefights that look like they do in films. With regenerating health and a sticky cover system, video games have now got very good at giving you the feeling of being in a film, and I'd like to see that brought in to a TTRPG somehow.

I couldn't possibly disagree more. I know of very few non-superhero movies (Star Wars included) where the heroes take multiple square shots to various parts of the body, rest for a few seconds behind a box, and get up and continue fighting like nothing ever happened.

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My point is, nothing takes me out of the action and cinematic feel faster than wonky damage systems that produce silly results like people getting hit with no effect. I'm not opposed to people taking hits and surviving. I'm opposed to people taking hits and suffering no ill effects at all.  I'm well aware of the perceived pitfalls of a one-shot-kill system, but I think such perceptions are often based on theoretical calculations of odds rather than actual game play.

 

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GoblynByte said:

but I think such perceptions are often based on theoretical calculations of odds rather than actual game play.

 

While I think anyone asking for a 'realistic' damage system has probably not spent much time playing in games with one. :-)

What do you think of the BiA: Hells Highway system where the red tint to the screen is caused by 'near misses', and only the last bullet that kills you actually connects?

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What I noticed right away with this system is that it is Firefly, with aliens.  Everything about Joss Whedon's universe fits perfectly here and has the same feel. From Obligations and Starting Ships to the Careers and Talents.  It is very much Star Wars, but it is where Star Wars IS Firefly.

 Now… give any one of the Crew a Lightsaber, or make them face one and it IS terrifying. I have a feeling that Edge characters will be less POWERFUL than Force characters, but that FFG will balance it out in some way.

This RPG is obviously about actual role-playing and I think that the characters will shine based far more on concept than mechanics.  I like the idea of a Lightsaber being OP. This setting reminds me of an era before the Dark Times… before the Prequels.

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Gigerstreak said:

What I noticed right away with this system is that it is Firefly, with aliens.  Everything about Joss Whedon's universe fits perfectly here and has the same feel. From Obligations and Starting Ships to the Careers and Talents.  It is very much Star Wars, but it is where Star Wars IS Firefly.

 Now… give any one of the Crew a Lightsaber, or make them face one and it IS terrifying. I have a feeling that Edge characters will be less POWERFUL than Force characters, but that FFG will balance it out in some way.

This RPG is obviously about actual role-playing and I think that the characters will shine based far more on concept than mechanics.  I like the idea of a Lightsaber being OP. This setting reminds me of an era before the Dark Times… before the Prequels.

Firefly was pretty much Star Wars anyway, so I suppose that's fair. Hahahah!

 

 

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happy.gif Fair enough. I can say, though, that I've played them quite a bit and I find them far less deadly than most people fear. Injuries have an immediate effect, but that effect is surprisingly rarely instant death. See, I'm not so much in favor of one-shot-kill systems as I am against systems wherein characters suffer no ill effect until they are dead.

The biggest gripe I have is how hit point systems are used to protect heroes and keep them alive while being assaulted by the countless, faceless rabble of thugs. I've just never really agreed with defining "playing the hero" by the number of thugs the hero can slaughter without suffering any ill effects.

In fact, I find such "ablative" heroic protection to really take the wind out of the heroic sails. I see "playing the hero" as knowing darn well you might lose the fight, but marching into that danger anyway.

 

I think that idea has a lot of merit. I've never played that particular game, but creating a visual where bullets never actually strike home while creating increasingly impending danger has the potential of building tension. I can imagine that moment where the heroes are so overwhelmed that they have to announce that retreat. I mean, "near misses" are more or less the traditional definition of hit points anyway, but if you remove the visual impact of strikes - at least in video games - it takes on a valid expression of cutting into their waning luck.

I will say It's a bit too abstract for my taste (I don't prefer realism, but I do prefer a more literal approach), and I don't know that I'd enjoy it as much as the damage system FFG is presenting right now, but I'd play it an RPG that was built on that combat system!  happy.gif

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GoblynByte said:

I see "playing the hero" as knowing darn well you might lose the fight, but marching into that danger anyway.

I have found that high lethality systems tend to encourage people to only fight when they have a massive advantage, which tends to turn fights in to one sided beat downs as the players ambush people in order to try to minimise their chance to shoot back.

This is pretty realistic - an Old West shootout was more likely to consist of someone shooting someone else in the back with a shotgun, in a dark alley, while their target was so drunk they could barely stand up than the classic line up in the centre of town and stare each other out before drawing down duel - but it just isn't what I want from a game, which leans to… well, action video games these days, but more bravado and less bushwhacking certainly.

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KjetilKverndokken said:

 So we finally get a game system that handles stuff like in the fiction - like lightsabers - and now that is a problem? sorpresa.gif

 

Well, there are SW games out there that's not quite like the fiction that solves this gui%C3%B1o.gif

To be fair, they have a valid point. Immediately deadly weapons have the potential to take heroes out of the fight before they ever get started and this can be unfun for some people. We're talking about the difference between what's accurate, and what's enjoyable and that's a careful balance in an RPG.

But in systems where such deadly odds exist, I prefer to manage these odds in the way that I play the heroes and villains. The happy side effect of that is that the action suddenly takes on a much more cinematic feel because everyone is behaving the way they do in the movies.

Here's how I handle it:

  • If the weapon is wielded by a large number of scrubs (e.g. Stormtroopers) I play them as Stormtroopers behave in the movies; rushing into the room just blasting everything in sight and using maneuvers that are threatening and scary, but less accuracy. The end result is a heroic chance of survival when the heroes play smart and keep their cool.
  • If the weapon is wielded by a single villain that is better than the heroes (e.g. Vader), well, that usually means I'm trying to herd them anyway, so the players would be best to not attack… but I won't attack them ether. This is when they get captured or they are forced to flee. If they decide to attack, well, that's there choice. Such situations have lead to the most daring escapes I've ever experienced in an RPG and the players get true bragging rights for surviving.
  • If the weapon is wielded by a more evenly matched villain, I play him/her with an even mixture of skill. They'll leave occasional openings for the heroes to take advantage of, and it will usually be some personality flaw that opens them up for defeat. A flaw that, if the players were paying attention, is pretty obvious and can be drawn out.
  • Any hit that is solid usually hits an arm, leg, hand, or foot. The hero will be injured and his abilities impaired, but the drama of the scene is suddenly that much greater and he'll live to tell the story.
  • If things get out of hand and a roll results in a death that just isn't fun, I fudge it. The players never know about it. Simple as that.

I've used these methods in some of the deadliest systems known to gamers and, in my opinion and experience, has lead to some of the most rewarding, cinematic, and heroic campaigns I've ever experienced. The players really feel energized about the whole thing. And if they get to toast the loss of an occasional hero at the local cantina… well… that seems to make things more memorable too.

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AluminiumWolf said:

 

I have found that high lethality systems tend to encourage people to only fight when they have a massive advantage, which tends to turn fights in to one sided beat downs as the players ambush people in order to try to minimise their chance to shoot back.

I can see that.  I mean, that's not exactly been my own experience. I will say that they tend to find non-combat solutions when the odds are against them. Or they find ways to create distraction that create more even odds. But that sort of strategy plays well with the scenes we see in the movies.

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GoblynByte said:

KjetilKverndokken said:

 

I've used these methods in some of the deadliest systems known to gamers and, in my opinion and experience, has lead to some of the most rewarding, cinematic, and heroic campaigns I've ever experienced. The players really feel energized about the whole thing. And if they get to toast the loss of an occasional hero at the local cantina… well… that seems to make things more memorable too.

  • If the weapon is wielded by a large number of scrubs (e.g. Stormtroopers) I play them as Stormtroopers behave in the movies; rushing into the room just blasting everything in sight and using maneuvers that are threatening and scary, but less accuracy. The end result is a heroic chance of survival when the heroes play smart and keep their cool.
  • If the weapon is wielded by a single villain that is better than the heroes (e.g. Vader), well, that usually means I'm trying to herd them anyway, so the players would be best to not attack… but I won't attack them ether. This is when they get captured or they are forced to flee. If they decide to attack, well, that's there choice. Such situations have lead to the most daring escapes I've ever experienced in an RPG and the players get true bragging rights for surviving.
  • If the weapon is wielded by a more evenly matched villain, I play him/her with an even mixture of skill. They'll leave occasional openings for the heroes to take advantage of, and it will usually be some personality flaw that opens them up for defeat. A flaw that, if the players were paying attention, is pretty obvious and can be drawn out.
  • Any hit that is solid usually hits an arm, leg, hand, or foot. The hero will be injured and his abilities impaired, but the drama of the scene is suddenly that much greater and he'll live to tell the story.
  • If things get out of hand and a roll results in a death that just isn't fun, I fudge it. The players never know about it. Simple as that.

This is some top advice, right here. :)

To be honest, though, my players are pretty set: they've played WEG with me pretty much exclusively, so they're used to extremely dangerous combat situations. I doubt their playing style will suddenly change gears with the arrival of EotE, especially after they get a chance to do a rules-read-through.

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GoblynByte said:

Here's how I handle it:

 

  • If the weapon is wielded by a large number of scrubs (e.g. Stormtroopers) I play them as Stormtroopers behave in the movies; rushing into the room just blasting everything in sight and using maneuvers that are threatening and scary, but less accuracy. The end result is a heroic chance of survival when the heroes play smart and keep their cool.
  • If the weapon is wielded by a single villain that is better than the heroes (e.g. Vader), well, that usually means I'm trying to herd them anyway, so the players would be best to not attack… but I won't attack them ether. This is when they get captured or they are forced to flee. If they decide to attack, well, that's there choice. Such situations have lead to the most daring escapes I've ever experienced in an RPG and the players get true bragging rights for surviving.
  • If the weapon is wielded by a more evenly matched villain, I play him/her with an even mixture of skill. They'll leave occasional openings for the heroes to take advantage of, and it will usually be some personality flaw that opens them up for defeat. A flaw that, if the players were paying attention, is pretty obvious and can be drawn out.
  • Any hit that is solid usually hits an arm, leg, hand, or foot. The hero will be injured and his abilities impaired, but the drama of the scene is suddenly that much greater and he'll live to tell the story.
  • If things get out of hand and a roll results in a death that just isn't fun, I fudge it. The players never know about it. Simple as that.

 

 

See, I have come to perceive stuff like that as the GM having to ignore large parts of the system because it does not actually generate results acceptable to the game. This in my mind means that the system you are using is 'GM fiat' and makes the game about figuring out what the GM will do rather than manipulating the rules.

Look, I think the combat minigame of an RPG should be a fun thing to play out in itself. At least as fun as a quick game of Settlers of Catan or something. And this means, to me-
 
-The GM needs to be able to play the game as hard as the players. He should be trying to win, not to make sure he gets the outcome he wants for the story (with a special emphasis on keeping the PCs alive).
 
-Both sides need to be able to win, which means the players need to be able to lose without their PCs all ending up dead.
 
In short, both sides should be able to play by the rules as written, and try to win, and the system should generate results that everyone is happy to accept rather than fudge out of existence. And ideally it should be fun enough that people might want to break out a quick game of 'RPG combat' on a boring sunday afternoon.

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AluminiumWolf said:

See, I have come to perceive stuff like that as the GM having to ignore large parts of the system because it does not actually generate results acceptable to the game. This in my mind means that the system you are using is 'GM fiat' and makes the game about figuring out what the GM will do rather than manipulating the rules.

Not at all. You're not hand waving anything (other than the obvious, occasional fudge of a roll, but that honestly doesn't come up that often). You're using the rules as written. You're just playing in character as much as the players are.  I think it is far more memorable for players and GMs to take actions that don't always make tactical sense simply because that's what their characters would do.

In fact: one of our core mantras in any action our characters take is "what would my character do?" Sometimes that isn't the most tactical choice, but it is the most appropriate and most interesting.

Gamers like to draw a hard line between "combat" and "roleplaying" and claim that the two are mutually exclusive. But I disagree with that division completely. Combat should be every bit an expression of "character" as in-game conversations. Characters that are brazen and aggressive should fight brazenly and aggressively. Characters that are cautious and studious should fight cautiously and studiously. And these methods of play should be able to be reflected in the system. In my experience, abstracted systems have a tougher time accomodating such expression because the rules limit what you can do for the sake of player safety and game balance.

While I enjoy tactical play quite a bit, I find combat played without a backdrop to be pretty boring. When you're going for a storytelling experience and emulation of heroic fiction, combat is flat and uninteresting without dramatic context. Allowing the GM and players' choices (not the mechanics of the system) drive the action you get a much more storydriven experience and, in my opinion, a much more rewarding experience.

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I should note, also, that this style of play fits quite well the designers' stated theme of the a "narrative" system. That's not just a pretentious effort to seem more warm and fuzzy to the disenfranchised White Wolf players. It's a clear, intentional, and driving mission statement that affects every decision they're making in the game's design.

I can understand disagreeing with how various fiddly bits and details are handled to reflect certain situations in the system. But if you disagree completely with the core directive of the design… well… they're sure as hell not going to change that now.

People are either going to need to get on board with that core design theory or move along to games that fit there preferences.

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 Everyone should also realize that even with über lightsabers, there's almost 0 chance of actually dying. Hitting wound threshold knocks you out and gives you a crit. It requires multiple crits before you can even potentially die. So, yes, it knocks you out of the fight, but your PC isn't toast if you went into a fight with a Sith fairly fresh. Yu might be needing a cybernetic arm, but that's just how SW rolls.

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Inksplat said:

 Yu might be needing a cybernetic arm, but that's just how SW rolls.

Exactly. It actually annoys me when a Star Wars RPG doesn't have rules for losing body parts. How many limbs and other bits get separated from their host throughout the saga? Uh… by my count… five hands, four arms, three heads, two legs, and one upper body. I'm sure I'm missing some..

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Inksplat said:

Everyone should also realize that even with über lightsabers, there's almost 0 chance of actually dying. Hitting wound threshold knocks you out and gives you a crit. It requires multiple crits before you can even potentially die. So, yes, it knocks you out of the fight, but your PC isn't toast if you went into a fight with a Sith fairly fresh. Yu might be needing a cybernetic arm, but that's just how SW rolls.

Well, not unless you get enough… Advantages, I think it was?… to allow you to stack them onto your Critical Hit roll (I believe each Advantage after the first gives you a +10 bonus to Critical Hit which, coupled with the lightsaber's natural +20 bonus, means there is a chance of death, albeit a small one).

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Shakespearian_Soldier said:

Inksplat said:

Everyone should also realize that even with über lightsabers, there's almost 0 chance of actually dying. Hitting wound threshold knocks you out and gives you a crit. It requires multiple crits before you can even potentially die. So, yes, it knocks you out of the fight, but your PC isn't toast if you went into a fight with a Sith fairly fresh. Yu might be needing a cybernetic arm, but that's just how SW rolls.

 

Well, not unless you get enough… Advantages, I think it was?… to allow you to stack them onto your Critical Hit roll (I believe each Advantage after the first gives you a +10 bonus to Critical Hit which, coupled with the lightsaber's natural +20 bonus, means there is a chance of death, albeit a small one).

 

True, but then, there's also anti-lightsaber armor available, so, in an instance where you really want people to be taking on hordes of Jedi or Sith and make that small chance a potential issue, there is a defense in the book.

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AluminiumWolf said:

 Look, I think the combat minigame of an RPG should be a fun thing to play out in itself. At least as fun as a quick game of Settlers of Catan or something. And this means, to me-

 
-The GM needs to be able to play the game as hard as the players. He should be trying to win, not to make sure he gets the outcome he wants for the story (with a special emphasis on keeping the PCs alive).
 
-Both sides need to be able to win, which means the players need to be able to lose without their PCs all ending up dead.
 
In short, both sides should be able to play by the rules as written, and try to win, and the system should generate results that everyone is happy to accept rather than fudge out of existence. And ideally it should be fun enough that people might want to break out a quick game of 'RPG combat' on a boring sunday afternoon.

I have some solid issues with that first statement. You're not playing an RPG at that point. You're playing a combat simulator.

Story is what drives an RPG session and campaign. If that leads to the GM fudging some combat numbers to make said story more satisfying, then that's what needs to be done. I'm going to share with you two examples - one who followed this idea, and one who didn't, and I'll let you be the judge of what was the better play experience.

I'll start with the one that didn't. It was a Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 game set in Dragonlance. I joined because the GM advertised it as a strong roleplaying experience instead of just hack and slash. What I instead got was a game run from a module, and when we found a way to bypass a large chunk of travel (and some XP that would have leveled us), by stealing some bandit's horses that attacked our camp in the desert, the GM refused to budge and change things. This led to the game grinding to a stalemate at the first dungeon we came across. We were too low a level to make it through, and there was nothing being done on the other side of the screen to help at all. I went through three characters in the two months of weekly sessions that it took to get through the dungeon. Other people lost characters too. I even witnessed this GM let a PC die minutes after he was introduced because the dice got lucky and rolled two natural 20s (and he ran the Instant Death variation of confirming a critical threat with another natural 20). Needless to say, the group fell apart right after we got out of the dungeon. I will never play a game this guy GMs ever again, because he touted that first idea.

The second game is much more recent, and you can actually listen to it in podcast form. It was Star Wars Saga Edition, and the GM, being a student of film himself understood that rules are made to be bent and broken if they serve to advance the story. He threw everything, and I mean EVERYTHING at us in this game. Situations went from bad to worse to even worse yet - but we did not have a single PC death until the final session - and they were conscious choices by the PCs to sacrifice themselves for the fate of the galaxy, or to restore something lost to a dear friend. There were countless times that one of our characters should have died, myself probably being the worst offender. Built as a tank, I fought a holding action against Darth Vader himself while the rest of the crew escaped and then made a last minute escape by leaping off of the landing platform onto our freighter that was passing by. I grappled a droid that had enough munitions to blow up a large portion of the area we were in to contain the blast. Through the actions of my party, I survived, though I lost a number of limbs. There were times I *challenged* the GM with my conscious actions, but he kept us all alive, and it never felt forced or contrived. The game ran through to it's logical conclusion, and is absolutely an experience that I remember fondly - not because he "played it as hard as the rest of us." Indeed, his actions proved that he played it "harder" than the rest of us, in that he told a great story that touched on a lot of human elements.

 

Sorry for the side tangent.

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I am not saying enormously more than that the second game should have been run with a set of rules that explicitly says 'your character cannot die unless they choose to sacrifice themselves' because, well, it was operating under those rules.

The rules should generate results that are actually acceptable to the players and GM. So even if the GM is trying as hard as he can to win the combat encounter, the PCs will still never actually die unless they choose to sacrifice themselves, because the system doesn't generate results that kill PCs even if the GM wins.

This then lets the combat minigame be an actual game instead of some kind of pretend game in which some dice are rolled and then the GM makes up what happens largely irrespective of the numbers the dice rolled.

In short, RPG combat tends to be terrible as a game compared to, say, a proper game like settlers or just sitting down to play rummy or scrabble. This is often because the GM has to ignore a lot of the rules to get the system to generate results he is happy with keeping. We should identify the kinds of results that are acceptable to the game, and then make a system that only generates those result. This may then let combat be as fun as playing a real game.

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AluminiumWolf said:

I am not saying enormously more than that the second game should have been run with a set of rules that explicitly says 'your character cannot die unless they choose to sacrifice themselves' because, well, it was operating under those rules.

The rules should generate results that are actually acceptable to the players and GM. So even if the GM is trying as hard as he can to win the combat encounter, the PCs will still never actually die unless they choose to sacrifice themselves, because the system doesn't generate results that kill PCs even if the GM wins.

This then lets the combat minigame be an actual game instead of some kind of pretend game in which some dice are rolled and then the GM makes up what happens largely irrespective of the numbers the dice rolled.

In short, RPG combat tends to be terrible as a game compared to, say, a proper game like settlers or just sitting down to play rummy or scrabble. This is often because the GM has to ignore a lot of the rules to get the system to generate results he is happy with keeping. We should identify the kinds of results that are acceptable to the game, and then make a system that only generates those result. This may then let combat be as fun as playing a real game.

I got news for ya, man. If you're waiting on a system - any system - to generate results that always make you feel like you're in a movie without intervention from the GM… well… I think you're going to always be as disappointed with RPGs as you are with this one.

Wow. You and I are on very different pages concerning what RPGs should be. You're talking about changing what most traditional roleplayers have viewed as the very core of what makes an RPG different - and enjoyable - for the past three decades. I'm not seen an RPG yet that didn't state the ubiquitous Rule 0: all rules are to be sacrificed for the sake of a fun and interesting story. The freedom to play to the story is what makes RPGs unique, not "terrible."  But you are mistaken to think that playing a story driven mode means tossing rules out the window. In fact, the Edge of the Empire rules are a shining example of exactly that phenomenon.

There is certainly room to enjoy that adversarial mode of play. I prefer that mode when I play D&D… which is probably why I enjoy D&D 4e while others want to toss it out the window and back their car over it. But I prefer a more story driven mode when I play Star Wars.

 

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GoblynByte said:

AluminiumWolf said:

 

In short, RPG combat tends to be terrible as a game compared to, say, a proper game like settlers or just sitting down to play rummy or scrabble.

 

 

Good!!!

I'm in full agreement. You're not sitting down with your buddies to play "combat."

You're sitting down with your buddies to play Star Wars. Yes, that includes combat, but if it's more satisfying for the group to have some degree of plot immunity, and everyone is having a blast doing it, then that's the rule that needs to be enforced. The "fun police" aren't going to be breaking down your door to take your dice. Promise.

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