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shammy32

Issue With Talents Removing Setback Dice

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There are talents that remove Setback dice and then there are others that add Boost dice. After a number of play sessions, I can't help but feel that removing the black Setback dice wasn't the way to go with talents.

 

It makes these talent bonuses far too situational, rather than having them act as a passive "You're going to have an edge" ability.

 

For example, in the Scholar's talents, you can find "Kill with Kindness" which affects your Charm and Leadership rolls. As it stands, the talent removes one Setback die, and is all-out useless where the character is facing a flat "X Difficulty dice" roll.

 

So... what can be done?

 

Do GMs just pad in extra Setback dice to rolls in order to get some use out of these talents?

Do we amend the rules to say "Remove a Setback or add a Boost die" across the board?

Do we allow a Difficulty die to be downgraded to a Setback?

 

What do you say?

 

 

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I hear you. I am about ready to add a set back to all rolls just so the players feel that the  XP spent on those talents is not only worth it but feel the advantage too.

 

Had a Bothan Politico on Friday doing all the social rolls and as the GM did not feel she was getting any edge over the combat players at all.

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The only one I've seen be regularly useful is Skilled Jockey for pilots with lumbering spacecraft like freighters, since negative handling is constant setback dice. But of course, this leads to a situation where it becomes much less useful for fighter pilots.

Edited by Emperor Norton

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I don't know how most GMs handle diplomacy before I even let the player roll he/she must roleplay the scene a bit and depending upon their roleplay they may get bonus or setback dice on the roll.  For example, in my game the players were hired by an individual being chased by imperials to get them off planet and they were offered a tidy sum to do so.  A couple of stormtroopers were questioning the players and one of the players accidentally mentioned the name of the fugative which the stormtroopers hadn't told them. The groups face then stepped in to try and talk their way out of it. Because of the slip I gave him a setback die on the roll but since he had the Plausible Deniability talent he was able to get rid of that and still managed to bluff their way out.

 

The talents may be somewhat situational but the situations to which they apply are fairly common, at least in my game.

Edited by PatientWolf

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When you say "pad" rolls with setback dice, I'm assuming you don't use threat dice often. I think part of this is a system mastery issue (which will take time considering how new this game is). It's clearer what the problem is coming from WFRP, which uses a similar dice system. 

 

Warhammer has only two vectors for difficulty – purple challenge and black misfortune dice. With that system, it's easier to see how it works. Challenge dice set the standard difficulty under normal circumstances. When circumstances aren't normal – which is going to be often in an rpg – then you use misfortune dice.

 

EotE has three vectors for difficulty, and I think that makes it more confusing on when to use each. Add to that the different scale – 4 challenge dice in WFRP is a more difficult roll than 5 difficulty dice in EotE – and you end up with GMs modifying rolls with difficulty rather than setback dice. 

 

From my experience with both systems, I would say you want to have setback dice for around half of your important rolls. If there is something that gets in the way of the current roll, don't modify the difficulty, add a setback die. I generally add one for each bad thing, so if you are slicing an old computer in the rain while being shot at, then that's at least 3 setback dice. I do the same for boost dice, as well so it's not just to make things hard. Whenever you can pull a story element into a roll, add a setback/boost die. 

 

So, if your players are making roll after roll without setback dice, I'd ask why there is nothing going on to warrant them.

Edited by Doc, the Weasel

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Looking at the Edge of the Empire Beginner Game, I think that setback dice should be used more often than folks might think coming into this system (which is a major paradigm shift from a lot of the systems we're already familiar with).

 

Even in the Beginner Game alone, which is fairly rules-light, setback dice are a common thing.  For social rolls, they crop up for things ranging from "this guy hates droids" to "this person is just a foul-tempered person."  I think the idea is that GMs should be very liberal in the assigning of these dice.

 

For instance, I can easily see assigning a setback die for any situation where someone is trying to either Charm or Coerce someone to do something that might get them in trouble--the base difficulty is set by the opponent's attributes, and the setback is there for the added fact that the check isn't as simple as "can I reason with this person?"

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Thanks for the feedback, folks. I'll see about applying some of this to future play sessions when I take the GM seat.

 

The main point I worry about is throwing too many roadblocks at the players and running them into a corner.

 

You know, a break-in scenario that ends with.

"We tried picking the lock, that didn't work."

"We failed at slipping past the guards and almost got killed."

"We weren't able to kill the security system because it's too foreign."

"We can't talk our way in, either."

 

At which point the characters have exhausted their options and the GM needs to supply an alternate option in plot development -- whether it's a repercussion for failing the mission or an NPC to assist them complete it.

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Thanks for the feedback, folks. I'll see about applying some of this to future play sessions when I take the GM seat.

 

The main point I worry about is throwing too many roadblocks at the players and running them into a corner.

 

You know, a break-in scenario that ends with.

"We tried picking the lock, that didn't work."

"We failed at slipping past the guards and almost got killed."

"We weren't able to kill the security system because it's too foreign."

"We can't talk our way in, either."

 

At which point the characters have exhausted their options and the GM needs to supply an alternate option in plot development -- whether it's a repercussion for failing the mission or an NPC to assist them complete it.

 

Remember though, you aren't just throwing in setback dice.  If the PCs come up with a particularly good story you may give them boost dice to talk their way in or if they come up with a distraction to lure the guards away from their post they will get boost dice to sneak in.  Also as you have mentioned your players talents may mitigate some of those setbacks.

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agreed with most of the above posters - I've only played about 2 sessions of the beginner game, but I used both boost and setback dice liberally.  Usually following from advantage and threat rolls.  So, someone would roll a skill test with no boost or setback to start - the resulting advantages/threats would now generate a temporary bonus/disadvantage for the following situation, which could very easily be now countered by a particular talent that used boost or disregarded setbacks...

 

point being, that while many rolls *started* out not using the boosts or setbacks, as the encounter moved forward, I found myself using them a lot to represent temporary advantages or threats, and that will, hopefully, make the utility of those kinds of talents, more useful.

 

I'd recommend the same for everyone, as it *seems* like the boost/setback dice are intended to have a fairly strong presence in the game, but I could have it all backward...

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I am also not sure how to handle the issue as well. I've been looking at the way the game is going, and adding obstacles to the events:

- the Imperial officer looks at you with a certain looks that tells you he doesn't like aliens (the PC is a Bothan) (1 setback)

- The computer you are trying to slice has been damaged (1 setback)

 

However, it always seems to me that I am adding obstacles to make up with their new skills. :(

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The thing with both Setback and Boost dice are finding in the narrative why they are included ... since they are not reflective of a player's skills necessarily, but more reflective of the environment that the players are operating in, the GM needs a reason to put them into a dice pool.

 

As mentioned above, Advantages and Threats are a good and easy way to include them ... plus they can "transcend" players (for example, Player A rolled extra threat, making Player B's roll more difficult, etc.)  In addition, the GM can really use his imagination to describe the surrounding situation so he can tell why Boost or Setback dice are included (yes, they may have lost the Troopers who were hot on their trail ... but the alarms are sounding off making Skill check A, B, or C more difficult).

 

And while it's not necessary to memorize all of your PC's Talents, having a copy of what they've purchased will make it easier for you (the GM) when putting your adventure together to make sure there will be opportunities for each player to shine using their player's strengths.  So, in your example, of Charm or Leadership rolls ... maybe have them meet a grumpy character that's had a bad day, hates their species, etc. so when you mention that they need to pass a Charm check, it will include X Setback dice because of that certain reason, then it will make sense in the story and give that player the opportunity to use the player they've been designing.

Edited by oatesatm

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I would strongly recommend taking a look at the Long Arm of the Hutt, especially the very first act where the players are dealing with all of the issues aboard their new ship.  Setback dice are added to many of the thngs the characters may do because of noise, smells and other adverse conditions on the ship. Seeing how they used the setback dice in that adventure may help understand how to make better use of them in your own.

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I would strongly recommend taking a look at the Long Arm of the Hutt, especially the very first act where the players are dealing with all of the issues aboard their new ship.  Setback dice are added to many of the thngs the characters may do because of noise, smells and other adverse conditions on the ship. Seeing how they used the setback dice in that adventure may help understand how to make better use of them in your own.

Agreed, this is a really good way to see how these dice are expected to be used. It's tempting as a GM to consider the difficulty of a task by taking all the conditions into account, and then setting a flat difficulty. Instead, you have to train yourself to separate the inherent difficulty of a task from the conditional modifiers. Once you do that you'll be adding setback and boost dice all over the place, and those Talents will suddenly make more sense.

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Agreed, this is a really good way to see how these dice are expected to be used. It's tempting as a GM to consider the difficulty of a task by taking all the conditions into account, and then setting a flat difficulty. Instead, you have to train yourself to separate the inherent difficulty of a task from the conditional modifiers. Once you do that you'll be adding setback and boost dice all over the place, and those Talents will suddenly make more sense.

 

 

so true, I am slowly getting better but have only ran 2 games so far

 

Edited by Misfitsrun

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Thanks for the feedback, folks. I'll see about applying some of this to future play sessions when I take the GM seat.

 

The main point I worry about is throwing too many roadblocks at the players and running them into a corner.

 

You know, a break-in scenario that ends with.

"We tried picking the lock, that didn't work."

"We failed at slipping past the guards and almost got killed."

"We weren't able to kill the security system because it's too foreign."

"We can't talk our way in, either."

 

At which point the characters have exhausted their options and the GM needs to supply an alternate option in plot development -- whether it's a repercussion for failing the mission or an NPC to assist them complete it.

 

Remember though, you aren't just throwing in setback dice.  If the PCs come up with a particularly good story you may give them boost dice to talk their way in or if they come up with a distraction to lure the guards away from their post they will get boost dice to sneak in.  Also as you have mentioned your players talents may mitigate some of those setbacks.

 

 

Yes, this. Boost and setback dice go hand in hand. This shouldn't be a conversation about making rolls harder so much as modifying rolls both ways.

 

Doc, the Weasel, by "threat dice" do you mean black "setback dice"?

 

I don't know what you mean (edit, edit, edit)  :wacko:

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I have the same problem with "convincing demeanor", also the "black market contacs" talents seems underpowered since very few items are actually illegal. I'm thinking about giving a boost die for every 2 levels of "convincing demeanor" if no set back dice are in the dice-pool.

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I have the same problem with "convincing demeanor", also the "black market contacs" talents seems underpowered since very few items are actually illegal.

The black market isn't just for illegal items; it's also the place to go if you want something that requires a license without all the bureaucracy, or common items without the usual taxes. A source I can't recall said that black-market goods are "fast, cheap, and in good condition. Pick two."

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I have the same problem with "convincing demeanor", also the "black market contacs" talents seems underpowered since very few items are actually illegal. I'm thinking about giving a boost die for every 2 levels of "convincing demeanor" if no set back dice are in the dice-pool.

 

Black market items are also those that are illegal/restricted on certain planets. Buying any type of blaster on Alderaan, for example. Or buying a blaster on Corellia when you don't want a paper trail leading back to you.

 

-EF

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Something else to consider is that the ability to ignore a setback die is kind of a license to get crazy.  If you're using Negotiate, and what you're asking for wouldn't normally involve a setback die, ask for a little more and ignore that setback die.  If you're lying, lie bigger.

 

If your PCs have these talents and you aren't providing the opportunity to use them, encourage them to find opportunities to use them by pressing their luck without having to actually press their luck.

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I seem to recall the order 66 podcast covering how to determine when to upgrade difficulty dice to challenge dice, or keep the difficulty the same but add setback. Not sure which episode that was but I know it had a female guest. Perhaps listening to the episode will help you understand better. And not listening to the order 66 podcast is what everyone that plays this game should be doing anyways.

 

 

 

Thanks,

J

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In addition, I feel like those talents make the players using them a little "braver" with what they attempt. A player without those talents might not even try to charm a bad tempered gangster, but a player who does have those talents is more likely to do so, and therefore pull off something really cool, or at least fail spectacularly enought to be interesting.

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Something else to consider is that the ability to ignore a setback die is kind of a license to get crazy.  If you're using Negotiate, and what you're asking for wouldn't normally involve a setback die, ask for a little more and ignore that setback die.  If you're lying, lie bigger.

 

If your PCs have these talents and you aren't providing the opportunity to use them, encourage them to find opportunities to use them by pressing their luck without having to actually press their luck.

 

I agree!  The talents do let PCs get away with more.  If they aren't utilizing their talents maybe they aren't pushing themselves to their full potential. If they always play it safe then these things aren't going to help as much.

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