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archon007

When to use challenge (red) dice?

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So, I have read and re-read the rules on building the dice pool and there doesn't seem to be a lot about when to use challenge dice. It seems besides opposed skill checks, if the npc has training, or spending a dark force point there really isn't any other way to use them and you should use set back dice instead of upgrading difficulty. The side bar on page 21 seems to say once difficulty is set, if circumstances would make it harder use setback dice.

Since despair is only on the challenge, I'd like to be able to have them in play when appropriate.

So, I wanted to ask the community when else do you use red challenge dice?

Thanks

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I believe that when you are determining the *initial* difficulty, if there are dire consequences for failure, you can use the red dice instead of a purple (at least that is what others have told me). So, if you are shooting at an enemy who is engaged with your friend at medium range, use a purple and a red instead of just two purples. If you are defusing a bomb, I would use a challenge dice to replace one of the purple dice etc

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If a challenge die isn't called for by the rules (trained opponents/opposed checks, elite enemies/adversary talent, engaged allies, spoofing missiles, etc) or from a reasonable interpretation of the rules, I would limit your upgrading of difficulty to the Destiny Point "raising the stakes" rules. Just because something could go wrong doesn't necessarily call for an upgraded difficulty. If you as the GM say to yourself, "I could see things going horribly wrong here," THAT'S your cue to spend your Destiny Point, not to just upgrade the difficulty willy-nilly. By spending the Destiny Point, you are CREATING dire consequences for Despairing failure.

Otherwise you kinda cheapen the Destiny Point mechanic by stifling the flow of dark/light Destiny Points, and thereby weaken your players' influence on the story (by denying them more uses of Destiny Points).

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That was how I was playing it, but it seemed like everyone else was saying that the designers had said in a podcast to also use one if failure meant things would go horribly wrong. That does feel slightly arbitrary to me. I mean every climb check over a certain height could mean death if failed. So far, other than opposed rolls, the Adversary trait, and using Destiny points I haven't used a challenge dice, so I mostly agree with the above poster, but my original post was based on feedback on what seemed like a lot of others said.

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Its not just about if it "could" go wrong, but when something is opposing you in the process.  For example a climb check might be a difficulty of 2 purple die, but if you are being shot at while you are making the climb, it would make sense to upgrade one of them to a red.  

 

Black die are never used when something is opposing you, they are used for cover circumstances.  For example climbing in the rain.  But if you where climbing in the rain with someone shooting at you, it would be one challenge die upgrade and one black die upgrade.

 

Thats pretty much my understanding of them.  They don't come into effect as often as other die, but when they do.. you know your taking significant risk and I think that's the intention of the die, to identify more then just a challenge, but one where something is actively working against you.

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No, if the difficulty is 2 purple you shouldn't change it to a red dice because you are being shot at. They explicitly discuss this in the sidebars (I think there's an example of picking a lock being shot at, and that's a setback dice) . That's setback dice, as that's an environmental effect that is outside of the base difficulty of the climb. I think we as GMs aren't using setback dice enough (as shown by all the threads on how useless talents that remove setback dice are), as instead we are upgrading purple to red inappropriately.

Yeah, page 21 under the section adding boost and setback dice gives the example of doing something under heavy fire as adding a setback die

Edited by IceBear
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There are also Challenge dice involved when making Piloting checks (unless the terrain is completely open with no obstacles). You take the highest of your vessel's current speed or half its silhouette as Difficulty dice, and then you upgrade a number of them to Challenge dice based on the lowest of those two. Same as upgrading skills.

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Some situations might warrant it. For example the party is in a factory (world) where the magnetic field is a bit screwed, there are ionized areas etc. Using blaster weapons in those areas impose a serious risk, but do not in effect make the task of shooting something more difficult. Just the scope of what can go wrong in such an area.

 

I would mostly use upgrading without spending a destiny point if their is an area wide static effect that will influence the danger of said task. Shooting your blaster in an ammo depot isn't harder than in the wide open desert, but the ramifications of failing are much larger!

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Some situations might warrant it. For example the party is in a factory (world) where the magnetic field is a bit screwed, there are ionized areas etc. Using blaster weapons in those areas impose a serious risk, but do not in effect make the task of shooting something more difficult. Just the scope of what can go wrong in such an area.

 

I would mostly use upgrading without spending a destiny point if their is an area wide static effect that will influence the danger of said task. Shooting your blaster in an ammo depot isn't harder than in the wide open desert, but the ramifications of failing are much larger!

Good example, thanks

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When coming up with your own scenarios, it's also important to remember that since Despairs can't be cancelled by anything the player rolls, they reflect variables that can't be countered with high skill or beneficial circumstances.

  • In opposed checks, there's no way to completely anticipate an opponent's behavior
  • When shooting into a crowd of engaged targets, there's no telling who might step out in front of that shot
  • When flying through an asteroid field, even the best pilot in the galaxy can't control the laws of physics
  • And with Destiny upgrades, it shows the Force has other ideas about what the characters should be doing

So, when coming up with your own ideas for using challenge dice, be sure it's not just because you want to increase the possibility of something really bad happening. There should also be some other entity or complication at work that the players can't control.

 

I think Crovax20's example of the magnetic field was a good one, because there would be no way to counter that with skill. The ammo depot, on the other hand, I would stick to Setbacks with explosions triggered on X number of Threats. That's something that careful shooters with good aim should be able to handle.

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I only ever upgrade to challenge dice when a roll is being directly opposed by somebody who is skilled, or when I spend a destiny point.  Otherwise, pile on the blacks.  A despair is certainly disaster, but it's not like coming up with 4 threats is going to be very good.  If your shooting into a scrum and come up with 3 or 4 threats, I'd say you probably hit your teammate.  If for some reason you do have a challenge die (perhaps a badguy has a talent) in there, and it comes up despair, then you hit him in the head and knocked him onto the enemies vibroblade.

Edited by Split Light

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Just fyi, if I'm reading correctly, the deceit roll against the Hutt crime lord in Ch.xii is 1 purple, 6 red, not including boost and setbacks. The criminal in our party found this out the hard way.

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Just fyi, if I'm reading correctly, the deceit roll against the Hutt crime lord in Ch.xii is 1 purple, 6 red, not including boost and setbacks. The criminal in our party found this out the hard way.

 

That's how I'd read it as well. It's amusing that lying to a Hutt is harder than "Impossible", but I don't think I've seen anything in the book that places a hard cap on difficulty/challenge dice.

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I only ever upgrade to challenge dice when a roll is being directly opposed by somebody who is skilled, or when I spend a destiny point.  Otherwise, pile on the blacks.  A despair is certainly disaster, but it's not like coming up with 4 threats is going to be very good.  If your shooting into a scrum and come up with 3 or 4 threats, I'd say you probably hit your teammate.  If for some reason you do have a challenge die (perhaps a badguy has a talent) in there, and it comes up despair, then you hit him in the head and knocked him onto the enemies vibroblade.

It does specifically say (afb, do can't give page number, but believe it's in the section above where it talks about shooting while engaged) that if you are shooting at someone who is in hand to hand combat to upgrade a purple to a red if you care about whom you might hit. It basically says if you hit but roll a despair you are hitting your friend

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Some situations might warrant it. For example the party is in a factory (world) where the magnetic field is a bit screwed, there are ionized areas etc. Using blaster weapons in those areas impose a serious risk, but do not in effect make the task of shooting something more difficult. Just the scope of what can go wrong in such an area.

 

I would mostly use upgrading without spending a destiny point if their is an area wide static effect that will influence the danger of said task. Shooting your blaster in an ammo depot isn't harder than in the wide open desert, but the ramifications of failing are much larger!

I upgrade difficulty dice to challenge dice (without the use of destiny points) in situations where some potentially bad side effect can be triggered. The above is a very good example.

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I had a group that was inside a hangar bay but under attack by mindless(insane) humanoids. The group wanted to take cover while another player got in their ship, powered up the turret and started firing. I was about ready to flip a Destiny Point to upgrade a Difficulty Die to a Challenge Die so that a Despair could represent the shot from the ship gun blasting a hole in the deck plating, exposing part of the bay to space and venting atmosphere. But then the player decided against that.

 

But yeah, you can flip a Destiny Point over to upgrade from Difficulty to Challenge when you want something to be a harder roll. The book says you can use this to represent the Force telling the players they are making a bad decision, that they are supposed to try another avenue of approach, etc. I think it's just fun to use when there is the potential for something hilarious tragic to occurr and you need the Despair to make it that much more delicious. Not that I abuse this, but once in a while I have an idea...

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I also prefer the idea of burning a Destiny point to change a purple die to a challenge die. Despairs can be pretty potent, and even without that a challenge die is a great psychological weapon to use against players.  :P

 

Personally, after finding out I was wrong about just how the Adversary talent worked, I'm going to be using that in my game a bit more often to get some more challenge dice in play. Nothing too outlandish, but two or three minion groups combined with an obvious leader who has one rank of Adversary should produce more interesting combat than just four or five minion groups for the PCs to mow down. 

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Destiny points really doesn't work in our game. When gm use it, players use it. Even with thoughtful ideas to do so from both sides, the metagaming kills it.

You might always use at least a red die, if you always want a 1/12 disaster possibility. I dont recommand it because it will lessen its intensity like chaos star in wfrp3 (1/8). Consider 3 banes should equal to something real bad (Pc fall prone, spacedoor jamming will take longer, weapon is out of ammo, npc takes an extra action on you or an ally flee...) and keep dispair for total disaster (floor collapses, spacedoor opens, weapon is broken until repair, giant monster/spaceworm/aquaticdragon/krayt appears,

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Destiny points really doesn't work in our game. When gm use it, players use it. Even with thoughtful ideas to do so from both sides, the metagaming kills it. ,

You might be doing this wrong then. When the GM uses a Destiny point and a players uses a Destiny point they do NOT cancel each other out. You would upgrade a difficulty die AND upgrade an Ability die. This is once of the best things I like it when my group spends a point right after me because I immediately have my Darkside point back.

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You might be doing this wrong then. When the GM uses a Destiny point and a players uses a Destiny point they do NOT cancel each other out. You would upgrade a difficulty die AND upgrade an Ability die. This is once of the best things I like it when my group spends a point right after me because I immediately have my Darkside point back.

 

I think Willmax is doing things correctly, probably he is just stating the he finds pointless the mechanic as it is. The reason I cannot tell. But I am aware that there are quite few people that do not like this particular mechanic.

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You might be doing this wrong then. When the GM uses a Destiny point and a players uses a Destiny point they do NOT cancel each other out. You would upgrade a difficulty die AND upgrade an Ability die. This is once of the best things I like it when my group spends a point right after me because I immediately have my Darkside point back.

I think Willmax is doing things correctly, probably he is just stating the he finds pointless the mechanic as it is. The reason I cannot tell. But I am aware that there are quite few people that do not like this particular mechanic.

Maybe, not sure what there is to dislike about the mechanic, but we play a lot of FATE so we are use to that type of mechanic.

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well I had the same thought at one point, when my group was using destiny points like canteens in a desert. I let them run out then i did't use any myself for awhile. so that they had no destiny to use, i explained to them that this represented them using up all their luck in one place. then i began using darkside points to hammer this home to them, and by the time i had used half the points, i think they realized that abusing a mechanic can also be used against them. so they started using them in a better more effective way than using them to try and counter me, or use them for useless means. which overall made a better story of them running amok, then dealing with the consequences, and over coming more than what they were just supposed to overcome. they actually felt like their characters grew some and learned something. which makes them more invested in their characters and keeps them coming back to the gaming table. as a gm I want my players totally invested in their characters. and i usually try to do that from the character creation with the back story, and obligations, motivations, I think it is easier to do than other rpg's due to the fact that they get a feel for their character besides just some random numbers plugged into stat slots. And as a gm i am only 100% invested into the game, when my players are 100% invested in their roles. 

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Just as easy to houserule that only 1 can be used per action.  Whomever initiates the action gets first dibs

you could, I personally don't see a point to it because they don't cancel each other out.

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