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The concept of time in EotE

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Hey guys,
I've recently started GMing EotE with no RPG experience whatsoever and I think that by now I have understood most concepts of the game.
There is one thing however I simply can't seem to wrap my head around: time.

 

There are some skills like Computers or Mechanics that say that successes or advantages should be spent to reduce the time it takes to make the check. Another example of time I don't understand would be Astrogation checks, for which Advantages can be used to reduce the travel time.

What is the point of this? I do understand that passing hours and days have an importance for recovering wound and strain and I also have grown the custom of having my PCs suffer 1 strain for approximately 1 hour of "work" (fighting, walking, etc.). 
 

However I have no idea how long Computers or Mechanics checks would take for the various kinds of situations they could be applied to. Furthermore I don't know how I am to keep track of all the different checks that are made and the time each one of those would take – also quite frankly I don't want to, since it seems like a very boring thing to do.

Finally I feel like the significance of rolling excess successes on for example a computers check is really small if the PCs are not in a situation of urge and time pressure. Let's say a PC wants to slice a high-security comlink he stole. Should there not be more of a difference between 1 excess success ("It takes you 20 minutes, but eventually you slice the Comlink") and 4 excess successes ("You slice the Comlink within seconds")?
Also considering Astrogation checks: why would the travel time really matter if the PCs are not being chased or fleeing from somewhere? If they are between jobs and have all the time in the world to recover DMG and get from A to B, why would they need a skilled Astrogator?

I'm sorry if I'm sounding frustrated. I have come to love this game very much but I just feel like there's some major aspect of it I'm missing. If you guys could help me figure it out, I'd be very grateful! :D

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And the suggestions the RAW gives can also be situational. The amount of time it takes may not matter, especially between adventures (though it could. What if they want to do some trading before the next adventure, faster travel time means more opportunity to trade). But during adventure it very well might. If the characters need to get to star system X within 3 days or else find themselves one step behind the main villain then time shaved off by good skill rolls will help. Or, to borrow a classic scene from the movies, if the party is pinned down by fire while one of the players is attempting to slice the controls to that blast door so they can get inside, faster is much better.

Edited by daysanew

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If the PCs are going to do more with the computer or a machine besides the first check, I sometimes give them a boost die or two to the next check (they've gotten better understanding of the machine).

 

E.g. they need to find info on a starship computer and afterwards use the nav system to plot a flight.

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A lot of the time-based ideas can be used specifically when time is a factor.

 

If your PCs are sitting around on their ship with nobody coming after them and nowhere to be, then the time it takes to plot a hyperspace jump or fix a droid might not be relevant.

 

But if they're trying to get into hyperspace before the TIE Fighters blow them up, or trying to defuse a ticking bomb or trying to reactivate a droid containing secret information while under fire from Stormtroopers, then you can basically just come up with how long it takes yourself. 

 

Sometimes it can be as simple as saying the "base" time it takes to plot a hyperspace jump would be 3 combat rounds, but on a good roll it could take 2 rounds or even one round. A bad roll could increase the time, keeping them in combat for 4 or 5 rounds instead of 3.

 

Likewise for picking a lock, slicing a computer, defusing a bomb, fixing a vehicle, etc. If they're under fire, or need to be somewhere immediately, then you can add or subtract time from a simple base amount.

 

Remember it's mostly about the drama--what will make it fun and exciting for the players?

 

Also keep in mind that a lot of rolls in EOTE are at the GM's discretion as far as what a Success or a Failure means.

 

If the PCs are defusing a nuclear-type bomb that would blow up the planet, then you probably don't want them to "fail" and blow up the planet, killing everybody and ending your game.

 

So you can have the players make a Mechanics check (or whatever) to defuse the bomb, and say that if the roll fails, it takes them longer than they hoped, which maybe means the clock is on "1 second" when they defuse it. You could say that a failure (or threats) to the roll means that Stormtroopers enter the room and engage in a firefight, so the players have to fight to protect the one doing the defusing.

 

A failure doesn't necessarily HAVE to mean "you fail at what you're attempting". There's a lot of leeway to make things really dramatic and exciting based on the dice and your imagination!

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Having just started in my GM role, with no previous rpg experience this was also something I was having a hard time grasping. How to manage the time and movements in between encounters is something that I hope flowers easier with more practice.

That's for all the good info, everyone!

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Something that could be used is: The number of difficulty dice in high stress situations is the amount of time it takes.  1 Difficulty Die = 1 Round, 2 Dice = 2 Rounds, etc.  In non stressful situations, you just say "<insert> minutes later, you break through the firewall, fix the object, etc.

Edited by Talley Darkstar

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A lot of the time-based ideas can be used specifically when time is a factor.

 

If your PCs are sitting around on their ship with nobody coming after them and nowhere to be, then the time it takes to plot a hyperspace jump or fix a droid might not be relevant.

 

Keep in mind too that in these cases you probably don't need the make the PCs roll anything.  Rolls should be reserved for situations where you already have in mind the possible positives and negatives they might get.  If you can't think of how to reward or penalize the players for their roll, they probably don't need to.

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For determining "base time" for actions, Fate Core has a nice way of looking at time:

 

 

It is recommended that you measure in the abstract and express all the game actions as half, one, a few, or several of a given unit of time. So if you imagine something taking six hours, think of it as “several hours.” If you imagine something taking twenty minutes, you can either call that “several minutes” or round up to “half an hour”, whichever feels closest.

 

This gives you a starting point for moving up and down. Each shift is worth one jump from wherever your starting point is. So if your starting point is “several hours,” and it benefits the PCs to speed things up, then it works like this: one shift jumps the time down to “a few hours,” two shifts down to “one hour,” and three shifts down to “a half hour.”

 

Going past either end of the spectrum moves you down to several increments of the next unit of time or up to half the next unit of time, depending on which direction you’re going. So four shifts on the aforementioned roll might jump you from “several hours” to “several minutes.” Failing by one, conversely, might jump you from “several hours” to “half a day.”

 

See the SRD or more.

 

-EF

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A lot of the time-based ideas can be used specifically when time is a factor.

 

If your PCs are sitting around on their ship with nobody coming after them and nowhere to be, then the time it takes to plot a hyperspace jump or fix a droid might not be relevant.

 

Keep in mind too that in these cases you probably don't need the make the PCs roll anything.  Rolls should be reserved for situations where you already have in mind the possible positives and negatives they might get.  If you can't think of how to reward or penalize the players for their roll, they probably don't need to.

 

So true.  In just using a computer, and posting on a forum, that would a simple action.  Now hacking, yeah, that takes time.

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