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ianinak

How often do Depair results show up?

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In the modules such as the Beginner box or Long Arm of the Hutt, I see a lot of mentions of what happens on a Despair, but it seems to me that challenge dice are pretty rare to begin with. 

 

Two examples:  The first is an old bridge that is difficult to walk on and a Despair on any check means someone falls.  The second is a Despair on an astrogation or piloting check causing the ship to hit something big.  In both cases, the default pool for characters would not have any challenge dice in them at all, this no chance for despair. 

 

As far as I can tell, the most frequent way to get challenge dice are on opposed checks, or when the GM uses a dark side destiny point to upgrade a difficulty die.  In the cases above, none of them seem to warrant a challenge die.  We had a big shootout on the bridges and there still weren't any opposed rolls.  I also didn't use dark side destiny points to upgrade player difficulty. (perhaps I was being too nice?)

 

Am I missing a crucial piece of the puzzle here?  It looks like something super difficult either has an increased number of difficulty dice or setback dice, but no challenge dice.  How do you introduce challenge die outside of opposed rolls or destiny points?

 

How often do you encounter Despair?

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We don't see a despair very often. I do use my destiny points fairly often. it is a pretty fluid thing, going back and forth a lot. But still the dreaded Despair might only come up once a session. Also, don't forget about just upgrading the dice as well. There are plenty of ways to upgrade the dice without the destiny point. The Adversary Talent is one that comes to mind. Each rank upgrades a die! But all in all upgrading the Challenge die is pretty minimal and Despairs seem to be pretty rare.

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Despairs are pretty rare beyond Adversary, opposed rolls, and Destiny.

The Core makes it fairly clear that GM's should not arbitrarily upgrade the dice.

I agree with R2Builder that I only see 1 a session or less.

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 The most common for me is adversary or a planned opposed check within a scenario.  Also the talent dodge seems to get a fair amount of play.

Edited by Yivrael

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One of my players does it to me all the time.... We have a force sensitive with Sense and he upgrades melee attacks against him. I tend to pick on that player with the d*ck side...

I've been thinking of ways to to challenge non combat events, and I was thinking of giving the players ancient technology... That will be pretty daunting or 2 upgrades to fix.

They've taken to yelling "Justice!" When they crit, but they sure look miserable when I do.

I think the bottom line is that this needs to happen more often as your players get more experience. It also needs to be done judiciously because Despair needs to impact the story line badly. Presumably they can handle it better if they have more experience.

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The very first roll (of any significance) in my campaign involved negotiating with a Hutt crime boss. The player rolled not one, but TWO despair. I cackled like a maniac and drank up the tears of my players while noting their deliciousness to all present. In the end, they ended up losing a sizable chunk of the money for the contract.

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I am of the opinion that GMs seem to use red dice more infrequently than they ought. The reason is twofold - one, red dice are interesting, the same as yellow dice. The chance for triumph or despair increases the stakes and makes the game fun. That's the objective, right?

 

And two - and this one is more in-depth - red (challenge) dice are supposed to represent active opposition ("Opposing forces at work," p.9, "extreme adversity or opposition," p.11).

 

When you construct a dice pool, you've got your base difficulty that represents the difficulty of the task in an ideal situation. Those are your purple dice, your difficulty dice. If the environment or situation would modify the difficulty in some way, this is represented by setback dice being added to the dice pool (or by boost dice being added). If the situation increases the danger or is actively opposing the character, that's where upgrading dice comes in to play.

 

To wit - When I'm negotiating with a trained negotiator, there are challenge (red) dice in the pool to represent not only the difficulty of the task, but the danger of a system actively opposing my success. When I'm attacking an adversary, there are challenge dice added to the pool to represent not only the difficulty of hitting that target, but the additional danger of shooting at a target that is an active agent working against me.

 

So as a GM, I upgrade difficulty to challenge whenever the system not only presents a difficult task for the players, but also adds an element of danger or opposition to the task. Examples:

 

-Hacking a computer system (DDD) with a security system built into it (DDC)

-Jumping a long distance (DD) over a chasm filled with lava (DC)

-Climbing up a cliff-face (DDD) with loose rocks for hand-holds (DDC)

-Weaving a vehicle through the streets of Mos Eisley (DD) with crowds of people on the street (DC)

 

None of those tasks are made more overtly difficult with the addition of the dangerous element, but the consequences for failure are somewhat more dire. It is for this same reason that shooting at a target engaged with an ally has its check upgraded (p. 210) - the target isn't more difficult to hit, but the chance for despair is there - if you miss, you may hit an ally instead.

 

That's what challenge dice are for, really. If failure on a task has a logical chance of a really, really bad result, then challenge dice should be part of your dicepool.

Edited by Maveritchell

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I am of the opinion that GMs seem to use red dice more infrequently than they ought. The reason is twofold - one, red dice are interesting, the same as yellow dice. The chance for triumph or despair increases the stakes and makes the game fun. That's the objective, right?

 

And two - and this one is more in-depth - red (challenge) dice are supposed to represent active opposition ("Opposing forces at work," p.9, "extreme adversity or opposition," p.11).

 

When you construct a dice pool, you've got your base difficulty that represents the difficulty of the task in an ideal situation. Those are your purple dice, your difficulty dice. If the environment or situation would modify the difficulty in some way, this is represented by setback dice being added to the dice pool (or by boost dice being added). If the situation increases the danger or is actively opposing the character, that's where upgrading dice comes in to play.

 

To wit - When I'm negotiating with a trained negotiator, there are challenge (red) dice in the pool to represent not only the difficulty of the task, but the danger of a system actively opposing my success. When I'm attacking an adversary, there are challenge dice added to the pool to represent not only the difficulty of hitting that target, but the additional danger of shooting at a target that is an active agent working against me.

 

So as a GM, I upgrade difficulty to challenge whenever the system not only presents a difficult task for the players, but also adds an element of danger or opposition to the task. Examples:

 

-Hacking a computer system (DDD) with a security system built into it (DDC)

-Jumping a long distance (DD) over a chasm filled with lava (DC)

-Climbing up a cliff-face (DDD) with loose rocks for hand-holds (DDC)

-Weaving a vehicle through the streets of Mos Eisley (DD) with crowds of people on the street (DC)

 

None of those tasks are made more overtly difficult with the addition of the dangerous element, but the consequences for failure are somewhat more dire. It is for this same reason that shooting at a target engaged with an ally has its check upgraded (p. 210) - the target isn't more difficult to hit, but the chance for despair is there - if you miss, you may hit an ally instead.

 

That's what challenge dice are for, really. If failure on a task has a logical chance of a really, really bad result, then challenge dice should be part of your dicepool.

 

  A lot of those are environment, not active opposition, and so are covered by setback dice.

 

  Not using setback dice is another mistake GMs can make since a lot of career talents allow players to ignore setback, which is how the game shows a character is actually good at something.

 

  I do agree that the red die doesn't get used very much unless the party is facing a nemesis, but it is hardly heroic to have your characters fall to their death climbing a random cliff with no real opposition to force a mistake.

Edited by Union

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  A lot of those are environment, not active opposition, and so are covered by setback dice.

 

 

That may be how you play it, but I think you play it incorrectly, because you shouldn't be adding dice if you're not representing a task as more difficult. If we look at one of those examples - jumping a distance over a chasm (although all the examples are similar in concept):

 

If I have to jump 3 meters, it doesn't matter what's under me, as far as the difficulty is concerned. It's inappropriate to add setback dice, because you're basically saying "this task is harder because of the environment." That's not the case. The case is, as I said above, that the task is more dangerous. Increased danger doesn't make a task more difficult (so you don't add extra setback dice to increase the potential for failure), and that's the nuance that you're (and I think, a lot of GMs are) missing.

 

There is, of course, more to be said about using setback dice appropriately (and often), and like you said, it's another mistake GMs can easily make. I do think there's a danger, though, of conflating setback dice usage with challenge dice usage.

Edited by Maveritchell

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I agree with Maveritchell. Challenge dice aren't to make things harder, they're to throw the chance of Despair into the mix. Take an example from Beyond the Rim- there's a part where the players have to climb over a bunch of trees and logs. I would, in this situation, upgrade one D to a C to represent the possibility of disturbing a nest of Bark Rats on a Despair. I wouldn't add a Setback here because the task isn't any more difficult, but there is a possibility of something going very, very wrong. To me, that's when a Challenge die should be used.

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I'd say you could disturb a nest of Bark Rats with enough Threat.

The Core, p.21 sidebar "Increase, Upgrade, or Add" pretty much says not to upgrade a difficulty arbitrarily, and to use Boost and Setback dice instead. I also noticed that only 1 Challenge die ships with each dice set. I think it's in the spirit of the rules that Challenge are not used often.

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I'd say you could disturb a nest of Bark Rats with enough Threat.

The Core, p.21 sidebar "Increase, Upgrade, or Add" pretty much says not to upgrade a difficulty arbitrarily, and to use Boost and Setback dice instead. I also noticed that only 1 Challenge die ships with each dice set. I think it's in the spirit of the rules that Challenge are not used often.

 

There's nothing "arbitrary," though, about applying Challenge when challenge is due. Setback are to be applied, RAW, "for each disadvantage or obstacle impeding success." The element of added potential for despair (danger) doesn't impede success, it just makes failure potentially more severe. Like I said above, a 10-foot jump isn't any more difficult (i.e. added setback) based on what's at the bottom, it's just more dangerous (i.e. added challenge).

 

There's nothing specific about any of this in the rules, of course, so I'll stop beating people over the head with something that's my personal soapbox. That said, I think you're cheating yourself out of a chance for a more interesting game if you minimize the appearance of red (or yellow) dice.

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Hello Maveritchell it is your game and you can do that of course, but I feel the examples are not very good. 

-Hacking the system should have a higher difficultly then 3 maybe, but not a challenge die. Except when a company hacker actively defends the system. 
- Jumping: The difficulty and danger goes way up by adding a challenge die. It is inherently dangerous to jump over a lava chasm, there is no need to make it arbitrary more risky by adding a challenge die. It should have no affect on the jump what is on the bottom of it, i totally agree with you there, from a roll perspective. The risk is implied by the situation.
- Climbing: Clear case of Setback dice, not a challenge die.
- Weaving the vehicle: Same thing, setback die as written by the rules.

I was always under the impression that challenge die only come into play when another NPC is countering something with his skill rating or by destiny. As well the rules state that the difficultly is set by the thing you want to do in general. The circumstances and environmental influences should produce Setback dice and not upgrade the difficulty.

That is why in my opinion so many talent trees actually have talents that allow you to reduce set back dice for specific tasks. The difficulty of the task does not really change with your experience, but your skill in handling unexpected situations and problems does.
You are powerless against a challenge die though.

 

The description of the challenge die pretty much only references "particularly daunting challenges by Trained, Elite or Prepared opponents", challenges by others being the key here. And of course when a destiny is used to upgrade the difficulty. That is what GM destiny is primarily there for. I believe the red should only come out of a destiny spent by the GM or if the players face somebody of equal or more "power" like a nemesis. As a fellow GM I do think rolling the challenge die more often is against the spirit of the rules and will upset the balance of the game in the wrong direction. 

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Challenge dice are really only ever used in specific circumstances:

 

a) when an NPC has a particular ability - Adversary comes up a lot in combat. Or certain talents in opposed checks, all of which will be noted in the NPC stats. PCs can do this too with their talents. 

 

b) when the GM uses Destiny to upgrade.  I personally only do this when I can see there being the potential of a real 'oh crap'; moment, not for mundane things. The game assumes a fairly fluid flow of players and the GM using Destiny back and forth.    

 

So yeah, despair doesn't come up that often. 

 

Note that WHRP3 had a similar result on their base difficulty dice - this changed in EoE (for the better, I think).

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Well my players did make the comment to me that I do not use the setback dice enough. They are starting to get the talents that can eliminate setback die, but they said they feel like those are wasted because they never see the setback die... So I guess in my mind I know they have those talents, so I don't throw out the setback dice, but I neglect to talk about that when building the dice pool, as I guess I feel rushed to move on with the excitement for them (and me). So I am learning that I end to explain my dice pools better and to really start adding in more setback die (so I can remove them) for them so they can see their talents really having an effect on their actions.

Yesterday with act II of BtR it was really bizarre. But anyway, with the group I did feel like there times that the actions they were taking could have some serious repercussions if failed. Both with combat and social situations. I explained to them why the challenge dice were there and the group seems to understand and not to mind too much. Of course no Despair showed up on those. I don't really remember too many Despairs showing up for them and certainly not enough to have have any lasting effects on them.

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I'm mostly with Maveritchell on this, at least the main point which is that people shouldn't be afraid to upgrade more often. We can quibble over which examples might have used setback dice instead, but the basic point remains that if the situation has added danger aka the potential for Despair, upgrades are appropriate. And frankly, I can think of numerous ways to upgrade almost any task without having to flip a DP or even justify it to the player at the time. After all, they don't know if there's a counter-hacker online, and if they've had an easy time of it so far, there just will be.

I think part of the resistance is over-thinking what a Despair is. We've had the same issues (IMHO) overstating the effects of a Triumph as a massive game-changing event, because that's how the rule book fluff describes it, but when you look at the combat table for the mechanical effect, it's actually pretty tame...potent, but reasonably bounded. Same with Despair: in combat, you run out of ammo. Yes that throws things for a loop, but it's not instantly lethal, with clever play and resourcefulness they can still recover. So instead of evilly rubbing your hands together when one comes up (tempting though that may be :) ) tone it back to something difficult but manageable.

Example: my players were trying to ditch a bag of spice. They'd found a buyer, but he was only going to pay 4000 credits, the players wanted 8000 (it was worth 12000, but the buyer knew who they'd taken it from). Negotiation time...resulting in a net failure, with a Triumph and Despair. The final price was 4000. The players decided that the Triumph was that the buyer had all that cash available right there, no hassles (previously this wasn't an option, but the players said he'd been lying). The Despair was that one of the buyer's henchmen walked in around that time to whisper something into the buyer's ear. That's all I told the players, but behind the scenes, accomplices of Trex (the Trandoshan from the beginner set) were looking for the characters, happened to bump into the henchman, who told them the players were inside the cantina making a deal. The buyer quietly handed over the cash and left...a few minutes later the Trandoshans barged in a demanded the money...

IOW, difficult, but not immediately lethal.

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Most of the time, if a situation has a real chance of something bad happening in a failure, then that thing happens if someone fails a roll, no Despair needed. If there is lava below a crevasse the PC is jumping, then failure either means he doesn't attempt the jump, or does and is precariously hanging by a hand on the other side, same as if no lava is present.  Fail with Advantage and he falls but lands on a ledge that possibly even has a tunnel/cave to flee into. Fail with Threat and he not only doesn't jump, but jumps backwards just in time to avoid the ledge breaking off, now he can't make the jump at all. Fail with a Triumph and he doesn't attempt the jump, but part of the ledge breaks off and is slowly sinking in the lava so now he can attempt to run across it before it sinks entirely.

 

Upgrading the difficulty to this roll just because the hole is full of lava just makes it harder for the PC to succeed because... Lava. I certainly wouldn't say that a possibility of a Despair is needed to add a "fun" you fall in the lava chance, because that's not really fun at all, and the challenge dice make the jump harder overall to succeed than what the regular difficulty should represent. If for some reason lava is making the jump harder, then Setback seem more appropriate.

 

If someone did happen to roll a Despair in this situation (say, due to Destiny) I still wouldn't make it a fall in the lava result, but would say something like they stop at the edge without making the jump, and a huge erupting wall of flame and steam gouts out of the crevasse, blocking any further attempts. This eruption makes the ground begin to split and spray flame and steam...

 

Not telling anyone how to play, just explaining why I think the Core books take on when to use Challenge dice or Upgrade difficulties is fine.

Edited by Grimmshade

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Black dice really don't happen too often in our games.  Usually, whenever something is difficult our GM throws in more purples or upgrades purples to red.

 

Fortunately for me, my career or specializations don't have anti-setback talents.

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I'd say you could disturb a nest of Bark Rats with enough Threat.

The Core, p.21 sidebar "Increase, Upgrade, or Add" pretty much says not to upgrade a difficulty arbitrarily, and to use Boost and Setback dice instead. I also noticed that only 1 Challenge die ships with each dice set. I think it's in the spirit of the rules that Challenge are not used often.

 

There's nothing "arbitrary," though, about applying Challenge when challenge is due. Setback are to be applied, RAW, "for each disadvantage or obstacle impeding success." The element of added potential for despair (danger) doesn't impede success, it just makes failure potentially more severe. Like I said above, a 10-foot jump isn't any more difficult (i.e. added setback) based on what's at the bottom, it's just more dangerous (i.e. added challenge).

 

 

  You gave examples which are perfect examples of setback dice by RAW.  Chasm WITH LAVA is a setback.  Racing down a street WITH PEOPLE is a setback.  Climbing a cliff WITH LOOSE ROCKS is a setback.  Hacking a system WITH BUILT IN SECURITY is a setback.  These are EXACTLY the environmental or additional effect that is prescribed for when to use setbacks.

 

  Likewise challenge dice are EXPLICITLY for when you face trained elite opposition or when the dark side of destiny threatens.  NONE of your examples have ANY opposition and challenge dice should not be used by RAW.

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I do like Maelora mentioned, I tend to upgrade to a Challenge die when I have a specific thing in mind for the Despair:

 

PCs are shooting at NPCs with a wild beast nearby. A Despair enrages the beast and it charges toward the shooter, that kind of thing.

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Most of the time, if a situation has a real chance of something bad happening in a failure, then that thing happens if someone fails a roll, no Despair needed. If there is lava below a crevasse the PC is jumping, then failure either means he doesn't attempt the jump, or does and is precariously hanging by a hand on the other side, same as if no lava is present.  Fail with Advantage and he falls but lands on a ledge that possibly even has a tunnel/cave to flee into. Fail with Threat and he not only doesn't jump, but jumps backwards just in time to avoid the ledge breaking off, now he can't make the jump at all. Fail with a Triumph and he doesn't attempt the jump, but part of the ledge breaks off and is slowly sinking in the lava so now he can attempt to run across it before it sinks entirely.

 

Grimmshade, I just want to say I really dig this way of interpreting a failure!

 

One of the most fun narrative challenges of the game is how to deal with "failure" on a roll. I'm not a super-mechanical GM where a failure must mean that you absolutely failed at whatever you were trying and now you can't do it.

 

I really like how you've interpreted those rolls--the idea of the player stopping themselves short just before jumping, I don't think it would have occurred to me. I like the Failure with Triumph where the ledge is sinking into the lava and the attempt can be made again.

 

I'm going to be incorporating this kind of thought into my game, so thanks for the inspiration!

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