Wednesday, February 24, 2010


OK, so 41 yesterday. Thanks to everyone who sent greetings and wishes. Been a little out of it-- finally nearly done with this bronchitis. Haven't posted as much as I've been distracted by the lack of nicotine. Getting on two weeks clean on that front. Ran three games this weekend and I slowly regained my focus each session (the first one was pretty rough). I've also been playing City of Heroes to distract myself from general cravings.

Plan on getting back to regular postings next Monday.


Star Wars first session this weekend and I'm nearly ready. Going to let the pilot pick some options (three) for his ship. I've put together a list below:

Armor: The ship can take an extra hit or two that gets past the deflectors without damage going to the internal systems. The ship can also take a few extra bumps and run ins with other ships or with debris that the deflector shields cannot handle. Armor is an ablative system, but relatively easily repaired. Armor's most useful against solid or mass based weapons.
Autoturret: One of the weapon or gun stations on the ship has a state of the art targeting computer, allowing it to fire on enemies without a gunner.
Back Up Systems: If a system, like life support, the hyperspace computer or the like goes down, the ship is equipped with a back up system which can take care of this until repairs are made. The back up systems choice is generic and doesn't need to be assigned, but can only hold up one system at a time.
Chaff/ECM Systems: The ship has launched systems which can disrupt tracking by missiles or other ships. In the latter case, it can disrupt tailing ships for a moment, allowing the pilot to take a free action to escape or shake pursuit.
Cloak and Grapple: The ship can easily hide and evade pursuit with modest cloaking functions. It can attach quietly to other ships. This is often a choice for smugglers and assassins, or those evading Imperial entanglements.
Combat Evasion Systems: The ship has built in defensive maneuver systems, giving it an additional repull for defensive maneuvers once per turn.
Comfortable: Quarters and space are tight on the ship normally. This option allows passengers to travel on the ship, provides room and space for some privacy and generally keeps the crew from killing each other over long flights.
Deflector Shields: All ships have deflectors to handle basic space garbage and the glancing turbo laser shot. This gives the ship more advanced systems, tooled especially for space combat. The deflectors capacitors can handle multiple laser hits more readily than standard ships. It can also shed other energy damage better. Deflector shields are most useful against energy based weapons and attacks.
Drop Stop: The ship can burn off its inertia and stop on a relative dime. The ship must come back up to speed after doing such a maneuver.
Extra Gunnery Station: The ship is assumed to have a single basic gunnery station, this option provides a second gunnery station which can be operated by another crewmember. This provides better coverage for defense and allows the gunners to coordinate.
Fast Hyperspace Computer: Calculating the jump to hyperspace can be a difficult matter for the piloting computer. It has to read from the most up to date information, calculate position and calculate problems along the path. This ship possessed a more sophisticated hyperspace computer allowing it to crunch those calculations faster and in problematic situations (such as inside of an asteroid belt).
Fast: The ship is at the top end of speed for its class. It can, over time, outrun ships in a similar range. This represents the engines maximum speed, rather than maneuverability. Only ships with like adjustments or with Super-fast engines (such as Interceptors) can keep up with the ship in a straight race.
Fuel Efficient: The ship rarely needs to refuel.
Hard to Destroy: It might take a lot of damage, but the ship it tough-- meaning it will hold together despite heavy punishment. It might be a floating hulk with minimal life support, but it will stay intact.
Heavy Weapons: One of the weapon or gun stations on the ship has a significantly heavier weapon than normal. It can do critical damage to opponent ships and possibly overwhelm standard deflectors for ships of its class.
Maneuverable: The ship is highly maneuverable, making it more dangerous in combat and allowing it to safety pass through trick obstacles. In part this functions as a bonus repull to any maneuver test the pilot makes. It also means the ships better at handling the stresses of such maneuvers.
Medical Facilities: The ship has advanced medical facilities on board, allowing medical care for higher level wounds to be given.
Pod/Shuttle: The ship has a separate small launch which can function as a very light fighter or as a vehicle when the ship is on the ground.
Reliable Engine: The engine on the ship is sturdy and reliable, allowing it to bounce the first critical hit it takes. The engine itself can take stresses and can be more easily repaired than a normal one. Parts for the reliable engine can be found anywhere or with a skilled engineer, parts can be easily fabricated or jerry-rigged.
Scout Sensors: The ship has been equipped with advanced long-range sensors. It can scan passively from a distance and pick up more sophisticated and specific information than normal ship readings. Such sensors are useful for plotting hyperspace jumps, being able to keep away from pursuit in a system, and maintaining a safe distance from problematic targets.
Secret Weapon: The ship possesses a unique and odd weapon which can be developed by the player.
Smuggler Systems: The ship has systems built to foil or present a false image to other ships, ports or starbases scanning for information or contraband. It also has hidden compartments where some cargo can be concealed and not detected during internal searches.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Star Wars: Action Cards (Part III)

Probably the last of these-- a little over a week away from putting this into play. About 80% back to good health; still have chest congestion which is winding me.

Breaking up the Force powers is obviously one of the more difficult tasks in any game system. In dividing these abilities, I've tried to stay close to the divisions suggested by various sourcebooks, but also to provide a game balance and interest. That also meant breaking things up into enough categories to give everyone some room to choose and have a spare set or two. Generally, I've aimed for the latter over the former. The abilities are described rather broadly below. Generally each Force “power” is what I've been calling a meta-ability in the most current revision of Action Cards. (Note that term meta-ability is a placeholder until I can think of something else). The distinction is this: an ability allows characters a redraw when attempting a task. A meta-ability allows characters a redraw when attempting a task and also grants the character access to a power or trait not normally possessed (like Night-Vision or Laser Cat Eyes). My break down of powers here comes from a variety of sources and has mostly been built to facilitate interesting play. Note that the abilities are very broadly described and can certainly change depending on the player's creativity.

So, characters have ranks in their powers: Padwan, Knight and Master. During character creation, each Jedi character will be able to pick one set in which they have the rank of “Knight” and one set in which they have the rank of “Padwan.” For the former, they'll get the basic ability plus their choice of one of the Knight-level abilities. For the latter, they'll get the basic ability.

During the game at the end of each session, players will get X “Picks” to buy new things. Increasing one's rank in one of these Force talents costs 1 pick. Buying a new power costs 1 pick as well, and you must be of the appropriate rank to take that ability. A character may only buy into one force area per session (so can't buy up a rank in one and buy a power from another).

Think about it, the Lightsaber's actually one of the most dangerous weapons a person can use. The risk of doing damage to yourself or anyone around you is pretty damn high. That's where the Froce comes in-- it is what keeps someone from cutting their own arm off.

Build Lightsaber (Padwan): The character has their own lightsaber they have built and has the ability to rebuild, repair and reactivate one should their saber become damaged.

Expertise (Knight): The character has trained with the most basic forms of lightsaber combat. They gain a repull for attacks or parries with it.

Deflection (Knight): The character can now use the lightsaber to parry any ranged attacks they are aware of. Note that Parries use Combat as a draw, where Dodges use Physical.

Tricks (Master): The character has trained in some of the upper level forms of lightsaber combat. He may throw and catch his saber, alter the damage to reduce the effect, use two weapons and the like. The GM reserves this ability to cover a large amount of ground for the lightsaber master.

Reflection (Master): The character may use his lightsaber to deflect incoming blaster shots back at their shooters or to other targets. Essentially, he becomes a mook slayer when facing these kinds of enemies, tying up large numbers. If the character wishes to bounce a shot in a particular way, they may make a test for that. The character must know Deflection before taking this ability.

One of the most classic of the Force powers, but also one requiring a good deal of discretion and care in their use. Since these powers can directly impinge on another living being, they can prove harmful if not carefully managed. These powers do not work on droids or other like beings. Side Note: Willpower as a trait falls under both Social and Mental, depending on the circumstances. The GM assigns which trait is drawn when any test occurs.

Stealth (Padwan): The character uses a number of tricks to make it easier to move past watchers and security. This gives them a repull for such circumstances, by making them slightly harder to see or creating small distractions. With concentration, the character can create controlled noises or effects to aid in moving a larger group with their powers.

Confuse (Knight): The force user can create confusion in a target, making it difficult for them to concentrate. It may be used as a distraction, to aid in convincing someone of something, or to gain an edge on the battlefield.

Obscure (Knight): The force user can extend his power make an area more difficult to see it-- covering specific areas with a haze, darkness or the like. This can be used to conceal things or confuse adversaries. With directed concentration, the user may impact the senses of a specific target.

Compel (Master): The force user can command the mind of the weak-willed. This requires speech, eye contact and interaction with the target. While the force user cannot make the target do anything explicitly against their code, they can reshape the circumstances to make it easier for a target to obey. This power is a risky one, and can easily move over to the dark side if not carefully used.

Masquerade (Master): This is the difficult ability to create illusions, complex and mobile. Such illusions require concentration to maintain, but can be fairly grand in scope-- with an increasing difficulty based on size, complexity and senses involved. The ability can also be used on a more narrow level to create a personal disguise.

This covers the extension of one's senses into the fabric of the force itself.

Enhance Senses (Padwan): The character can enhance his natural senses, allowing him to see more clearly and act without penalty in low-light, noisy situations or where distractions abound. This is essentially a passive power (granting a repull for senses) but can be amplified with concentration. This can also allow them hyper-sensitivity to analyze substances if they concentrate.

Farseeing (Knight): The character can extend his senses (usually vision, but can be others) to places beyond their line of sight. This is not an exact science and the environment can easily overwhelm it. It works best when trying to see a place familiar to the force user or an area surrounding a person they know well.

Weave Reading (Knight): This includes two distinct abilities, the first being able to sense the presence of the force and of force users. While all force users can feel this energy, the character has tuned their mind to be able to detect specifics and understand the nature and power of the force around them. Additionally, this sense of the pattern allows the character to see the 'shatterpoints' inherent in objects-- places where those things are weak and potentially broken.

Psychometry (Master): The ability to gain impressions about the history of an object or place based on contact with it. While this can be useful, it does have some limitations in specificity and kind of information uncovered. Notably, users must be careful when interacting with areas of death or darkness for fear of leaving themselves open to malign influences.

Precognition (Master): This has two aspects, the first being visions of the future which the character may not have control over. Such senses and visions are usually uncontrolled, though Jedi Masters have been able to train themselves to better read these signs. The second aspect is of an inspirational nature, giving the character a degree of intuition about choices and helping them make key choices or getting the timing just right.

With some exception, these powers revolve around using the force to enhance one's personal abilities.

Breath Control (Padwan): The character can control their breathing, allowing them to swim underwater for extended periods of time or survive in normally noxious environments. They can also use this talent to remain quiet or even appear dead for short periods of time.

Hibernation (Knight): The force user can go into a state of hibernation, protecting them from environmental damage (such as freezing), allowing them to heal more rapidly, stabilizing damage they may have already taken and passing great lengths of time without needing to eat or drink. This hibernation does maintain a level of force awareness, protecting the user in case the circumstances change. A user in such a state can appear to be dead or merely unconscious, as they choose.

Leaping (Knight): The character can make absurd leaps. The GM assumes you've seen the movies. This is the power that lets them do all of those crazy acrobatics in combat.

Burst of Speed (Master): The character can draw on the Force to increase his or her running speed to many times normal. This can make the character seem like a blur with such bursts. The ability is tiring, and can fatigue the user after activation. While the Burst of Speed doesn't grant extra actions in combat, it can function defensively, allowing the character an extra broad dodge pull. Repeated uses may tire the combatant out, but it does function as a last-ditch defense.

Battlemind (Master): Allows the character to focus himself to increase his own personal morale and shift the tide of battles. When active, the character can resist outside influences more easily, but also expands and shares his or her perceptions in large scale combats. It functions, in part, as a kind of small mind-link allowing reflexive coordination with others-- including the ability to defend for them. Has narrow, but potent applications.

Basic defensive abilities.

Landing (Padwan): The character can use the power of the force to reduce damage from significant falls (within reason) or to land on one's feet after being thrown or falling. This acts as a passive ability and a redraw.

Healing (Knight): The character may use the force to heal minor damage, including incidental effects. This is not a substitute for attention from a skilled medic, but can be used to quickly provide first aid on the fly.

Force Protection (Knight): The character may channel his mastery of the force to provide a measure of protection, like armor, against physical and other forms of damage. This is a passive ability, but must be activated and can tire the force user over time.

Force Deflect (Master): The character may deflect and turn aside ranged attacks, including energy attacks, without a lightsaber. Even absurd thrown objects may be flung aside through this force use.

Force Absorb (Master): The character can take in and dissipate energy based attacks, including electricity, fire, kinetic energy and so on. This acts as a higher level protection requiring concentration. Alternately, the character can grant basic protection to a number of allies.

The ability to move things or generate force at a distance. This does require line of sight or some kind of alternate vision in order to carry out.

Force Pull (Padwan): The basic ability to move small objects, push things over and affect things within line of sight with the force of one's own mind. Items and things moved should be relatively small or modest, and are handled roughly.

Force Grip (Knight):
The character can exert his normal strength at a distance, for example in combat. This requires concentration and may be difficult to manage while defending. With meditative skills and the opportunity to focus, the character may lift things several times their normal carrying capacity.

Force Manipulate (Knight): The character may perform more delicate or subtle manipulation with their telekinesis. This allows the character to perform specific actions at a distance as if they were present themselves.

Force Slam (Master): The character has learned to use his telekinesis as a casual offensive ability, sending opponents flying back, pulling large objects down on them and so on. This also includes the ability to choke an opponent if so desired.

Force Whirlwind (Master): The character can, with concentration, lift absurdly large objects and materials. Alternately he can concentrate to create a field of TK lifted objects around him which can provide a measure of protection or obscurement.

A difficult set of powers requiring the force user to focus on a fairly narrow range of skills. It includes some advanced manipulation and aggressive talents.

Change Environment (Padwan): This allows the user to warm or cool an area to help protect against dangerous environments. It can also be used to brighten darkness or enhance the shadows in a location to aid in stealth. It cannot extinguish energy or be used offensively.

Droid Disable (Knight):
An attack which attempts to overload and temporarily disable the systems of a droid. While it can be used against other electrical systems, it is much more difficult and they usually have some redundancies and lack the fragility of some droid systems.

Force Flash (Knight): The ability to create a blinding flash of light which can temporarily overload an opponent's vision. With skill, the light can be made bright enough to get past basic eye protections. Note that this power is not selective and will affect all persons in an area.

Electric Judgment (Master): A controversial power, as it bears a striking similarity to the dark side talent, Force Lightning. Some masters of Energy Manipulation have claimed to be able to create lightning without giving in to anger. The lightning itself does seem qualitatively different-- lacking the draining effects of the dark side talent. However, generally this is seen as a risky offensive power, easily abused and hard to master.

Cloaking (Master): The ability to bend light around oneself to conceal one's presence. This is a fairly advanced skill, but works on physical principles rather than the mind. This means it can be used to evade remote visual sensors and droids. It is less effective against living creatures who will instinctively notice the disturbance around them. It only cloaks sight, and can wear a user out.

The telepathy powers are unusual-- many force users possess the basic level of talent with this area, more advanced use is rare. Note that telepathy does not include mind reading or intrusive uses effects of the mind, as those fall under mind tricks and dark side talents.

Empathy (Padwan): The character may sense basic emotions from those around them. This perception overlays their standard interactions, but when there's a strong difference between a persons outward appearance and inner feelings, it may be picked up. Empathy can be used in certain social situations as an assist or in gaining an initial read on someone.

Telepathy (Knight): The basic power allows the force user to communicate with persons the telepath knows well. This works best with line of sight, allowing brief communications without being noticed. With more difficulty, the character can communicate at a distance beyond line of sight, or even join several persons together in the communication. This communication is secure and the voice of the telepath is clearly their own. With some exceptions, such as those solely dedicated to telepathy as a force talent, telepathic communication is inconsistent.

Beast Empathy (Knight): The force user can demonstrate non-hostility to non-aggressive creatures and gain some rudimentary communication with them. With time and opportunity, the force user can even calm some hostile creatures or at least distract them enough to move past them. This is an empathic talent, and so does not allow actual control or manipulation.

Force Stun (Master): A non-debilitating attack form, this power can be used to temporarily stun a target-- possibly rendering them unconscious through the psychic assault. Strong willed or force user targets will likely resist. This is an aggressive power, but can be used to avoid bloodshed in some situations.

Force Presence (Master): This ability has two aspects. The force user can increase his or her presence, giving a boost and benefit to allies with them. This can help them resist the affects of pain, fear or the environment. Masters use this in larger battles to help direct and coordinate efforts. As another option the character can conceal his or her signature as a force user. There are several methods for doing this, but the end result is the same. The obscurement ends if the character uses a force power besides this one. Masters can also alter their signature, allowing them to appear aligned to another side of the force. While not an obviously useful power it has potent implications, being the means by which key figures managed to save themselves or take power in the past.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Star Wars: Action Cards (Part II)

Happy Still-Coughing-My-Lungs-Up Day.

Continuing from my last post, some more thoughts on the short run Star Wars game.

Tone as Stakes
Running a short campaign can be a little difficult-- depending on your approach. One the one hand you could approach it simply as a closed duration attempt just to mess around with the setting and run things fully improv. I've never tried that approach. Usually when I decide to run for X number of sessions (where X is greater than one and less than seven) I have some kind of story in my head-- a meta-story that the sessions will play into. I may not have everything fully formed, but generally I have a plot skeleton to work from: usually an opening scene and an ending scene. I guess what I'm saying is that these kinds of games do run the risk of feeling railroaded or hyperdetermined.

So my approach going into the Star Wars game is this: I have a sense of the plot and the story, but I won't know the characters until we sit down for that first session. I'm picturing this arc as the first movie in a new trilogy. But most importantly I don't know who is directing the movie. I don't know if this story is going to be a campy homage to the original story, a tech heavy exploration of the cool bits of the universe, a romantic adventure or a dark reboot of the concepts of the series. What the players do and how they act will determine that. They will set the stakes for what is to come-- is the first movie a tragic set up, a dark prelude? Or will we end with a more triumphal scene that leaves aside some of the still hanging consequences? I really want to track the success/failure path along those conditions-- with failure not necessarily causing stopper consequences or character injury, but instead failures have a real stake in that they darken the actual setting.

Drafting the Cards
In the standard Action Cards game, players have a deck of 24 cards. These include seven fixed results across the four areas cards, seven self-defined results across the four areas, six special result cards, and four unique result cards. In the short run version, players will have a slightly smaller deck of 23 cards.

Each player will 13 of those cards as standard, meaning each player has the same 13. Eight of those cards will be basic result cards. Five will be the special result cards (Egregious Humiliation, Moment of Glory, Crawling from the Wreckage, Deadlock, and I'd Rather Be Lucky-- dropping the Vagaries of Fate card from the original version). This leaves a set of six additional standard result cards which players will draft into their deck. The GM will shuffle out six cards to each player, they will pick one and then pass the rest to their left until they have six cards. Players will also be given a stack of mixed or circumstantial based result cards and in a draft method will pick two more cards from these. Then the player who picks last in that method will have first pick of the unique bad cards for the character. Players will after the first session, also be able to design a card for themselves. The cards will also have a code number on them so I can make a quick notation of the cards-- allowing me to reassemble the decks on the fly.

Mixed or Circumstantial Result Cards (Players will pick two from this set-- each one can only be taken once in the group)

U1 Teamwork
If your attempt involves working with someone (repairing an engine, fighting a bad guy) then you succeed through teamwork and coordination.
If you're alone in this task, then you miss something vital and screw up.

U2 Lone Wolf
As a loner, you know how to handle things on your own. If acting solo, without outside aid or interference. you win big. If you're acting as part of a team, however, then the noise and blather distracts you.

U3 Selfless
If your action is noble and selfless, you win big. However, if you're covering your own ass or acting for your own benefit, a twinge of guilt catches you mid-action-- and you fail.

U4 All About Me
If you are looking out for number one, then you win big. If, however, you're acting to help someone else instead of saving your own skin, you fail in the attempt.

U5 Let the Wookie Win
You execute the action with maximum force. For some actions this is great-- smashing past the opposition. For anything requiring delicacy, you blow through any restraint, potentially causing additional problems.

U6 Head in the Stars
You often fail at the commonplace and mundane...but when attempting something bizarre or over-the-top, you win.

U7 Protocol Droid
If the action you are attempting involves interacting with another person in some way, you succeed. Otherwise you become distracted, bored or simply lost.

U8 People are Strange
If the action you are attempting doesn't involve an interaction with someone else, you succeed. If you have to interface with another being, you fail.

U9 Light Side
If your action involves creating or protecting something, then your instinct for the light side pushes you to success. But if it involves taking apart, damaging or destroying, then your instincts cause you to fail.

U10 Dark Side
If your action involves taking apart, damaging or destroying something, then your instinct for the dark side pushes you to success. But if it involves creating or protecting, then your instincts cause you to fail.

U11 Make Your Own Luck
You may immediately reshuffle your choice of cards back into your deck (except this one). Then draw for your result.

U12 Extend the Mind
You spot something revealing a vital point-- a weakness in your opponent's stance, an opportunity to make a break, a rich detail...however this concentration works against you in a physical test-- distracting you.

U13 Bow Before Me!
Sometimes you cannot control the force of your presence... that can be good sometimes, but you may run the risk of monologuing or gloating at your success.

U14 Wooo-Hoooo
You succeed, but do so in the loudest possible manner-- drawing attention to your success. This can be good in some place, but not where subtlety's necessary.

U15 Nothing to See Here
Your action succeeds, but in the quietest way possible. People may not even notice you've acted. The delicacy of your action may undermine the final effect.

U16 Perfect Defense
You anticipate your opponent's actions-- being able to counter assaults of any kind. However if drawn for aggressive actions, your caution betrays you.

U17 Hellbent
You strike forward and attack the problem aggressively-- breaking through problems and obstacles. However if drawn for defensive actions, your overstep and overextend yourself..

U18 Preparation
You have something for the situation! -- but you only have a moment to say what that is before the GM seizes the narrative back.

Next time, Force powers

Friday, February 12, 2010

Star Wars: Action Cards

A little recovered today, but feeling like I'm going to be coughing for another couple of days.

Star Wars for Action Cards
So right now I'm working on putting together a basic set of systems to use with my Action Cards homebrew for a short run Star Wars game. I'm not working from any established rpg sourcebooks, just trying to do this from basic premises, I'm imagining it as the first film of what would be the next trilogy, set some time after Return of the Jedi-- no more than one or two generations. It will only take the stuff from the films as canon; everything else (books, comics, other films, games, etc) I'm going to ask the players to assume isn't true, unless I bring that in explicitly. I think that will help get over the potential learning curve and barrier to entry problems.

Part of the reason I want to do this game is to try out some rules I have in mind for how to do quick and dirty collaborative character creation using Action Cards. One strength AC has right now is that it does well for longer term games because of the up front investment in character creation-- not necessarily in terms or time or detail, but in the making up of character decks. If you have a deck like that, you don't want to have something that is only going to play for a session or two. That strength becomes something of a weakness for doing smaller run games. I have a plan for a mixed card draft mechanic to get around this. I'll have more details on that later, but ideally what I would like to have is a system where a group of six people can get character creation done from start to finish in under an hour. I also want a quick tracking mechanic which allows reconstructing decks as needed.

I'm going to try to use the more simplified version of AC-- with only “abilities” and those pretty much covering everything (rather than having talents, skills, etc subdivided). If we're talking about four to six sessions, players will get kind of a set increase from session to session (like a new ability and some new edges). Since this is a Star Wars game the cool stuff available to players is important. Obviously, the Jedi and Jedi powers are crucial to this. On the other hand, non-Jedi players should have equal choices and options. That's not a question of power balance, though obviously if it is too wonky then that's bad, but more a question of making the various options on either side equally cool and attractive.

So my basic plan is this. I'm going to put out sets of options. Ideally I'd like no more than half of the party to be Jedi (so three in the group of six, four if Kenny does what he's been talking about). I'll have a set of Jedi Powers as picks and a set of other abilities. Right now I've got Jedi stuff broken into about eight categories, as you'll see in the next post. Each Jedi will get to pick one of those abilities as their forte-- they're better at that one than anyone else. Since I'm imagining like three-five 'powers' in each class, essentially they get the first two powers. Once that power set has been picked, no one else can pick that as their first pick. Then Jedi may pick a secondary power. This can be something someone has picked as a primary, but this time the person just learns the most basic power. Again, if something has been picked as a secondary already, no one else can take that.

The other special non-Jedi stuff will also be exclusive-- if someone picks one of the talents, then no one else can pick that. Ideally I'll distribute the final version of what I've come up with to the players before the game and they can decide amongst themselves. After card draft and picking those special picks, players will be able to able some abilities to their characters as well-- and they can opt to leave some undefined until later. Note that these picks can only be taken at the start of the campaign and cannot be bought later. Only one person can have each pick. I use the term "broad repull" in the discussion below, referring to the idea that multiple abilities can be applied to get multiple repulls in any attempt, but each successive ability must be narrower than the last.

So what are the standard character defining picks, ones which define roles in some ways?

Standard Picks
Alien: While any character may be “non-human” as it were, a character who takes the Alien pick gains some benefits from their alien physiology. For example, a Wookie would gain some environment resistance and enormous strength. The player is free to design their race and come up with their abilities.

Charmer: The character can be charming and has mastered the arts of diplomacy in most any situation. It may be that their sheer brassiness carries them through or they may actually be a social chameleon, adept at fitting in. Essentially the character has a broad repull for any situation involving social interacting with another person who can understand them, is intelligent and not a droid. The advantage here is that the character gains a broad social skill, where other characters have to take narrower ones.

Connected: The character has traveled to many places and has seen many things. They have friends in just about every port. They know something of the local customs and can tell when things are out of place. The may know the lay of the land or where to find something specific. This gives them a broad repull for situations related to their experience.

Droid: The character is a droid which has some benefits and some disadvantages. The character may not also be a force user. Droids can survive in space, are resistant to some environmental factors and can take more physical damage than a normal person. In some cases they may gain repulls for interacting with other machines or droids. They are all immune to some force powers. As a disadvantage, they are weak to some electrical and energy attacks and, because it is Star Wars, often get their limbs blown off or disabled. A droid character may pick an additional function bonus, based on their droid type, such as universal translator, extra limb, special machine interface, hidden weapon or the like.

Engineer: The character has a knack for machinery, devices, droids, even starship engines. Essentially the character has a broad repull for any attempts to repair, modify or analyze machines. Other characters has to buy such abilities more narrowly (like Starship Tech or Gun Tech). The Engineer can combine this repull with skills like those to give them additional attempts.

Force Resistant: This is essentially a particular alien trait, rendering them immune to Force abilities which manipulate the mind. Jedi cannot take this. For the purposes of this system, other direct powers such as Force Slam and the like also function against the character with more difficulty. This is separated out from standard

Gadgeteer: The character begins with three undefined “gadgets” which he or she may later define in play as something the group needs to overcome an obstacle or just as something cool. Once defined-- within reason-- the character has access to that defined gadget. If the GM destroys said gadget, the player gains another free undefined gadget.

Gunner: The character is an expert marksman, able to draw from the hip and shoot with lightning reflexes. The character suffers reduced penalties for shooting a gun in difficult environments or when attempting a trick shot. The character has a broad repull for any shooting attempt.

Lucky: Each session, the character gains a number of free repulls which may be applied like drama points. When a character uses their Lucky ability, they must wait one hour (real time) before using it again. Lucky still has the limits of drama points in that they may only be applied to attempts the character makes a repull for.

Medic: The character has extensive medical training across a variety of races. The grants them a repull for any kind of healing or medical treatment. In the field they can heal characters more fully and reset penalties from damage. Other characters can buy field treatment, but the medic has the edge in being able to perform the most advanced techniques and can make up for not having access to the best equipment.

Pilot: The character can fly, drive and pilot any vehicle they sit down in. Their instinctive skill gives them a repull for any maneuvering attempts. Other characters have to buy narrower skills based on vehicle type. Additionally, the Pilot character begins with a ship of their own.

Thief: The character has worked outside of the law for some time, picking up tricks and talents along the way. The character can be anything from a smuggler, to a con artists, to a cat burglar. For game purposes, the character gains a free broad repull for criminal activities, including lockpicking, security systems and the like. Other characters must buy the narrower individual abilities.

Thinker: The Thinker has picked up a broad variety of trivia and minutiae in their travels. They begin the game with five free “obscure knowledges” they may define as the game goes on. This allows them to make pulls on topics which would normally require some related background. This knowledge is generally academic, rather than practical. When making attempts to figure out the history or details of something (like the History of the Republic, Famous Sith Battles) the Thinker gets a broad repull.

Tough as Nails: The character has a bonus to resist damage effects, with the GM giving the player the benefit of the doubt in determining damage. The character does not take wound penalties and can often stay up longer than a normal person when severely damaged. The character gains a repull for will tests resisting pain or suffering. Note that while this ability sounds cool, it does give the GM a little more room to blast the heck out of the player.

Next post: Jedi powers, card drafting and thinking about ships.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Still Sick

Four days and counting for this cold/chest infection. So far has managed to bump two board game and one rpg session. Hopefully will be recovered in time for pizza meet up this weekend and game Sunday, but still uncertain. It's the chills that are driving me crazy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Great Links: Ben Monroe's HQ

Back to regular blogging tomorrow-- however I followed a link from Robin Laws' site to a really, really interesting session report here. I think that's a brilliant approach to building a one-shot game and really plays into the strengths of HeroQuest as I've seen them. In fact it is sort of stupidly brilliant in that "why didn't I think of it" way. I've been considering how to try out HQ2, and I think I will probably have to borrow that collaborative model.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Still a Geek

Will be slow posting this week as I'm answering questions over at rpggeek. I expect that will trail off later as people realize this just gives me the opportunity to write long and self-aggrandizing digressions on role-playing. If you haven't taken a look yet, check out the thread. Thanks to everyone who has posted questions and I encourage everybody to post there. My players will be rewarded, a not so subtle hint.