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ccarlson101

The Cool vs. Vigilance Binary

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This came up at our table recently. I will be paraphrasing, as I am AFB at the moment, but I believe we get the general gist of things...

 

Cool basically states it applies to initiative when the individual has had plenty of time to anticipate and/or plan out an ambush. Situations of that nature.

 

Vigilance, on the other hand, is all about being surprised or caught completely unawaress. Being flatfooted and the like.

 

But I find most situations are neither. Or somewhere in between, to be more specific.

 

Example 1: Sure you didn't plan out maticulously exactly how you'd walk into the cantina, or know exactly how many badies are in there. But neither were you unaware of their presence. You walk in looking to start a rukus. What skill?

 

-or-

 

Example 2: You are standing at the cantina bar and a few toughs step in from outside. You can see they are clearly armed and looking to tussle. They immediately raise their blasters and everyone on both sides commence to shooting. What skill?

 

Thoughts? Discussion? How do you do it?

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Example 1: That'd be Cool, as you know pretty darn well there is going to be a fight, particularly as you're looking to start it, either directly or simply by waltzing up to someone you know is gunning for your hide and introducing their face to your boot.  You may not know the full parameters of the fight, but you know it's coming.

 

Example 2: This one would be Vigilance.  You weren't expecting the toughs to start blasting at you; just because they were looking to start a fight doesn't mean you were planning them to include you in their list of targets.  And until they raised their blasters, you could very well have figured they were just trying to look tough and that they were no concern of yours until the blaster bolts started flying.  Even if you recognized them as hitters working for a loan shark you happen to owe a lot of money to, you probably didn't think they'd just walk in and start shooting up the place; if nothing else, maybe they'd want to convey their boss' displeasure that you've fallen a bit behind in your payments.

 

Frankly, there's going to be cases where an argument could be made either way, and that it falls upon the GM to determine which of the two is "more appropriate" for the situation.

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1: cool

2: vigilance 

 

Pretty straight forward examples I would say. Even in situations where the PC's aren't aware of the the situations, but see things could go sour, vigilance. 

 

Just keep things simple, that is the beauty of this system. Remember you aren't punishing them by making them roll one way or the other. PC's can train into either, or both skills.

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Alternatively, you could allow each player to make a case for which skill they'd roll in any given instance where you could see either one applying.

 

Just be leery about players that have maxed out one skill (such as Force-Sensitives with a few ranks in Uncanny Reactions wanting to always use Vigilance) though.

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Figuring out which one to use has never really been an issue for us. The fact that a character can have better Vigilance than Cool and thus be better prepared for a fight when not preparing for it makes no logical sense though. The only way you could possibly explain that is if the character "over-thinks" the situation when they have time to do so, but that's pretty thin.

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I tell my players that their skills should reflect their tactics. If they are the kind of group who will plan out every detail of an attack to ambush the enemy then they should be looking to invest in cool. If they rather be the kind of group that doesn't look to start a fight but knows how to finish one then Vigilance would be better.

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I generally ALWAYS go with Vigilance with any given character having the option to substitute Cool if they are prepared and in control of the situation. There a great many "combat careers/specializations" that don't get Cool but do get Vigilance. I don't understand how these careers don't teach one to be ready for a planned fight but do teach them to be ready for an unplanned encounter.

 

My solution is to make Vigilance the default and add Cool as an option for those that don't have it. It's not like Cool doesn't already have other uses against Charm and Negotiate as well as being used for gambling actions too.

Edited by HappyDaze

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This came up at our table recently. I will be paraphrasing, as I am AFB at the moment, but I believe we get the general gist of things...

 

Cool basically states it applies to initiative when the individual has had plenty of time to anticipate and/or plan out an ambush. Situations of that nature.

 

Vigilance, on the other hand, is all about being surprised or caught completely unawaress. Being flatfooted and the like.

 

But I find most situations are neither. Or somewhere in between, to be more specific.

 

Example 1: Sure you didn't plan out maticulously exactly how you'd walk into the cantina, or know exactly how many badies are in there. But neither were you unaware of their presence. You walk in looking to start a rukus. What skill?

 

-or-

 

Example 2: You are standing at the cantina bar and a few toughs step in from outside. You can see they are clearly armed and looking to tussle. They immediately raise their blasters and everyone on both sides commence to shooting. What skill?

 

Thoughts? Discussion? How do you do it?

 

Example 1:

If you're going in looking to start something, you're going to roll Cool, because you're prepared to do harm, but you don't want to give away your intentions early.

If you're going in *not* looking to start anything in particular, but you suddenly notice that the guy you want to kill is sitting at the bar, you're going to roll Vigilance to be able to take action you *weren't * prepared for before he can do something about it.

 

Example 2:

If you have the chance to go, "Hmm... Those guys are looking for trouble.  I better get ready, but I don't want to draw their attention", that's Cool.

If you go, "Oh crap!  They're shooting!", that's Vigilance.

 

Basically, if you had time to mentally prepare yourself for the upcoming chain of events, and you're trying not to let on that you're ready for action, that's Cool.  If you're reacting to the situation as it unfolds *before* you've had that opportunity, it's Vigilance.  If you honestly can't tell which scenario it is, then let the player roll whichever skill they prefer (probably their better skill).  (After all, if *you* can't tell, who are you to claim that their interpretation is wrong?)

Edited by Voice

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This is a situation with the rules that really bothers me.  My GM and I have discussed this some and he tends to allow us to roll whichever we choose.

 

When prepared for a fight (ambush) it seems to me that Discipline should be used instead of Cool.  Waiting to pull the trigger and not jumping the gun and letting all the baddies get in the kill zone would take some Willpower.

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Figuring out which one to use has never really been an issue for us. The fact that a character can have better Vigilance than Cool and thus be better prepared for a fight when not preparing for it makes no logical sense though. The only way you could possibly explain that is if the character "over-thinks" the situation when they have time to do so, but that's pretty thin.

It does make logical sense, eg: an ambush. Many an ambush has been blown by some un-Cool panicking fool with an itchy trigger finger. Vigilance is awareness, Cool is how much you freak out.

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Primarily the point of my OP was that I get the impression that the rules cover only two ends of a wide spectrum. Cool seems to come into play only after careful preparation. Vigilance is for being surprised. But that (IME) 80% of combat encounters happen somewhere in between those two extremes.

 

I understand also that the sidebar mentions "use Vigilance when in doubt". Which I find odd. Why not just make Vigilance the go-to initiative skill in the first place (not just a suggestion in a sidebar), and then offer a few rare instances when Cool can be substituted? Because when you read over the general initiative rules, and the two skills, it feels to me like it is trying to imply a bit more flexibility than other parts of the book intend.

 

Its almost like the book is talking out of both sides of its mouth, so to speak.

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I round up and down on the Cool vs. Vigilance divide.  If I can rationalize (ever so slightly) one or the other based on the conditions (not skill checks, or other character level justifications), then I do so.  That way you don't have players wanking out on one skill or the other and lobbying for that skill's continued use in their special snowflake case.  For the pre-fabbed adventures I've just assigned one skill or the other for a fight.  For my free-wheeling out-the-bum encounters I just wing it on the fly with something like "okay guys give me some Cool checks for go-slots."  Mostly it allows characters with a higher rating in one particular initiative skill to shine in some situations, and be at a disadvantage in others.  Thus far it seems to work well, for me and my band of hairless ape players anyway.  As a GM it is also kind of sickly satisfying to have at least one player in each combat encounter go "of course it would have to be a Cool/Vigilance fight ... looks like I'm going to be acting at the speed of smell.  I hate you Jesse."

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I had this issue to begin with, but after some thought it really wasn't so hard.

 

If the player is ready for combat....cool

If the player is surprised by combat....vigilance

 

You walk into a bar looking for a fight is clearly cool.  You are initiating the conflict.  You are trying to stay calm and cool despite the anxiety and adrenaline that is building up.  You are expecting combat, and know whats coming.

 

You are in the bar and someone else comes in looking for a fight, well that vigilance.  Your roll is indicating if you saw them enter, did they seem suspicious, are they armed, are their hands on their weapons, etc.  Low roll and you didn't even notice them until they started shooting.  High roll and Han shoots first.

 

Players plan to burst into a building weapons firing at anything that moves.  Not an amazing plan, but it would still be a cool check.  The NPCs on the other side would roll a vigilance check in return.  Or, if they were setting up an ambush for the players to burst in, then you might turn the tables as the NPCs obviously have the better footing for the encounter and swap the rolls with the players taking up vigilance (as they were expecting unarmed, unprepared prey).

 

In a stand off situation...2 parties, weapons drawn, having a heated debate in the middle of a warehouse.  The first person to shoot gets cool, everyone else is on vigilance.  If the players had devised some codeword to indicate an attack, then all the players would have cool, and the NPCs would have vigilance (assuming the players shot first).

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Callidon,

 

But initiative doesn't work like that in EotE. Just because someone has a lowsy Cool or Vigilance in a particular situation (or even just a bad roll), doesn't mean they go last. They can use whatever high slot the group deems best.

 

Heck, the Wookiee in our game has a low Cool, but even in planned encounters where Cool is used, sometimes he goes first because we want him to tear someone's arms off.

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I had this issue to begin with, but after some thought it really wasn't so hard.

 

If the player is ready for combat....cool

If the player is surprised by combat....vigilance

 

As much as that sounds easy, it can potentially lead to trap play wherein the PCs with high Cool are constantly running around like OD&D thieves wanting to check for traps every 5-feet they move into the dungeon.

 

"GM, as we walk into the room, I'm going to assume bad guys are in there waiting to attack us, so I'm ready to react..."

 

"GM, even though we're just negotiating a trade with this guy, I assume he's going to pull a weapon at any moment. So I'm ready to react..."

 

"GM, as we are drinking in the cantina, I'm keeping a sharp eye out for any trouble. If anyone starts something, I want to be clear that I'm ready to react..."

 

"GM, I know I'm sleeping, but I'll keep one eye open in case someone manages to skeak onto our ship and attack me while I'm resting. So I'm ready for that, OK?..."

 

;)

 

Side note, another thing that sort of muddies things, IMO, is the example of a pair of gunslingers staring each other down. Supposedly, when it comes time to draw down no each other, they use Cool. But wouldn't the guy who draws first use Cool and the guy reacting the him have to use Vigilance? Assuming the stricter interpretations of some being proposed.

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Callidon,

 

But initiative doesn't work like that in EotE. Just because someone has a lowsy Cool or Vigilance in a particular situation (or even just a bad roll), doesn't mean they go last. They can use whatever high slot the group deems best.

 

Heck, the Wookiee in our game has a low Cool, but even in planned encounters where Cool is used, sometimes he goes first because we want him to tear someone's arms off.

So you don't roll for initiative slots in your group? If someone has a lowsy score they have a higher chance of contributing lower intiative slots to the group don't they?  That's how I read it to work, and how it has played out for me anyway.  But play the game how you like I suppose.

Edited by Callidon

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But that's not at all what you said. I was clarifying that PCs are not stuck with the slot they generate, which is clearly what you said you find "sickly satisfying".

Well if you are going to respond to the things I type, then what am I going to fuel my b.s. engine with!? :P   Sorry for my off-center nonsequitor that hung you up.  But, players can complain when their optimal thing doesn't apply though right?  Let's go with that as the thrust of my point above instead of tossing it out the window entirely. 

 

Applying Cool or Vigilance to one or both sides in an encounter is easy enough if you just decide which one could/should apply.  No encounter is ever going to be 100% one thing or the other, and some of the characters on one side or another will probably not fit the ruling perfectly.  But it keeps things simple and cuts down on people taking their best initiative skill and applying it in every situation to rack up the best initiative slots for the group.

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Applying Cool or Vigilance to one or both sides in an encounter is easy enough if you just decide which one could/should apply.  No encounter is ever going to be 100% one thing or the other, and some of the characters on one side or another will probably not fit the ruling perfectly.  But it keeps things simple and cuts down on people taking their best initiative skill and applying it in every situation to rack up the best initiative slots for the group.

 

I agree. What I find odd - and again the purpose of this thread - that the first reading of the system seemed to imply placing initiative on a sliding scale something akin to this:

 

Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Cool - Cool - Cool

 

But the deeper you get into the actual wording and intent of the rules, the more it appears as though situations need to fit on the following spectrum:

 

Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Cool

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But the deeper you get into the actual wording and intent of the rules, the more it appears as though situations need to fit on the following spectrum:

 

Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Cool

 

Yeah, that's where it gets a little hand-wavey.  At least in how I've been throwing it down.  I have been more or less forcing situations to lean back a bit toward Cool applying more often just to get some variety tossed around.  I suppose you could just flat out go arbitrary and flip a coin :-).  The hard part is that it's almost always easier to justify surprise than some sort of "pistols at dawn" stare down where it seems like Vigilance is not only easier but intended. 

 

In Long Arm of the Hutt you have some "if, then" applications of Cool, but that just seems to reinforce what you've highlighted in the quoted text above.  For example, in the "A Violent Interception" encounter, I simply set it up as a Cool check for the attackers and a Cool check for the PCs.  There is mention of the PCs biffing the sensors or some such, but rather than having some potential for Vigilance to apply I just made a choice and stuck it out regardless of how well or badly the PCs were aware.

 

Mostly it comes down to sacrificing believability for applicability of both intiative skills.  But that's just my own take on things, so as always YMMV.

Edited by Callidon

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But the deeper you get into the actual wording and intent of the rules, the more it appears as though situations need to fit on the following spectrum:

 

Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Vigilance - Cool

 

Yeah, that's where it gets a little hand-wavey.  At least in how I've been throwing it down.  I have been more or less forcing situations to lean back a bit toward Cool applying more often just to get some variety tossed around.  I suppose you could just flat out go arbitrary and flip a coin :-).  The hard part is that it's almost always easier to justify surprise than some sort of "pistols at dawn" stare down where it seems like Vigilance is not only easier but intended. 

 

In Long Arm of the Hutt you have some "if, then" applications of Cool, but that just seems to reinforce what you've highlighted in the quoted text above.  For example, in the "A Violent Interception" encounter, I simply set it up as a Cool check for the attackers and a Cool check for the PCs.  There is mention of the PCs biffing the sensors or some such, but rather than having some potential for Vigilance to apply I just made a choice and stuck it out regardless of how well or badly the PCs were aware.

 

Mostly it comes down to sacrificing believability for applicability of both intiative skills.  But that's just my own take on things, so as always YMMV.

 

 

Just watch out for Kermit the Terrible.   :ph34r:

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I'm a pretty big fan of the way HappyDaze does the initiative checks: Vigilance default, option to use Cool in carefully planned attacks. The downside to this is that you can easily just stack the one stat and always go first, the upside is that it makes sense. I tried do an average of the two so that an average could be used for all initiative checks and it would prevent stacking only Vigilance, but the dice system makes that very difficult. How do you split up a yellow die? There is no other die with a Triumph :(

Edited by JaWaMike

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