May 31, 2013

Blaster Deflection 101 for Edge of the Empire.

Howdy, and a happy Friday and end-of-the-month to you.

Hopefully a fair number of folks that are interested in such things have checked out the latest version of my Ways of the Force fan supplement for FFG's soon-to-be released Edge of the Empire RPG.

There were some significant changes between the initial release version and the current version (1.02), and I'm planning on at least one more revision, which will be shortly after the actual EotE corebook gets released, and will consist of updating the page references (and possibly some talent names) to match said corebook rather than the Beta rulebook.

One of the bigger changes was a total revision of how the talent Deflect Blasters worked.  And it's met with a few questions on why the change, both in forums and direct/private messages.  So I thought I'd try and shed some insight.

The whole notion of a "blaster deflection" talent got it's start thanks to Chris "GM Chris" Witt of the Order 66 Podcast, the first podcast dedicated solely to Star Wars RPGs.  Chris had started a forum thread over at the d20 Radio forums about his ideas for a "blaster deflection" talent.  There was quite a bit of back and forth between him, myself, and other posters such as Awayptyrwpn and Phil "DarthGM" Maiewski, with different suggestions and approaches on how to reflect such a classic Jedi ability within the framework of EotE's rules.

For reference, here's the effect text for my take from version 1.0:

Once per round, when the character is targeted by a ranged attack, upgrade the difficulty a number of times equal to character’s Lightsaber skill rank. If this attack was made using a blaster and generates 2 Threat or 1 Despair, the character can deal the weapon’s base damage to a single target within Medium range. The character must be actively wielding a lightsaber staggered (see pg141) in order to activate this talent.  This talent cannot be used against a ranged attack made using a starship-scale weapon.

Okay, first problem is that by the time the Jedi Initiate gets this talent, they've probably got at least 4 ranks in the Lightsaber skill, if not 5 by this point.  So this means once per round, the Jedi gets to force a bunch of difficulty upgrades on a single target, turning what could be a very simple shot at medium range (base of 2 difficulty dice) into a very difficult shot, with the difficulty now being 3 challenge dice (assuming 4 ranks in Lightsaber) plus 2 setback dice from Lightsaber Defense.  And that's not counting other means of increasing the difficulty of a ranged attack, such as Dodge (which also activates as a reaction to being attacked) or Side Step (does require a maneuver to set up), or most likely for a Jedi-in-training, the "danger sense" Control Upgrade for the Sense Power, granting at least one difficulty upgrade, or maybe two if the Strength Upgrade has been purchased.  In a one-on-one fight, the Jedi has a huge advantage over a ranged attacker, and with that many challenge and setback dice, having the attack miss and provide the necessary Threat or Despair to trigger a free attack is a pretty sure thing.

So yeah, this was turning out be problematic, and fell into the category of being "too good to pass up."  In the v1.0 set-up for the Jedi Initiate talent tree, I buried Deflect Blasters in the top row away from the Force Rating talent, but that just delayed the inevitable of a pretty broken talent entering the game.  Based on feedback I'd gotten from the FFG and d20 Radio forums, I decided to start from scratch on designing my Deflect Blasters talent.  I'd initially balked at the notion, but the more I read the dice rules in the Beta rulebook, the more sense that using a competitive check made.  It was simple to apply (no extra difficulty upgrades), and simply relied upon the Jedi scoring on more success than the guy shooting at them to succeed.  I did a brief bit of playtesting and some dice math review, and overall this looked to be an ideal solution to the dilemma of creating a talent that allowed for ranged attack deflection and blaster attack reflection, but wasn't super-powerful.  And here's the current text:

Once per round, when the character is targeted by aranged attack, the character can activate this talent to make a competitive check against the same base difficulty, using their Lightsaber skill against the attacker’s combat skill, with a successful check resulting in the attack not dealing any damage. If the attack was made using a blaster, then on a successful check the character can choose to target a single target within Medium range, dealing damage equal to the damage value of the original attacker’s weapon, with each remaining success adding to the damage total. The character must be actively wielding a lightsaber and aware of the attack in order to activate this talent. This talent cannot be used against starship-mounted weapons

Now, looking at the text I wrote with slightly fresh eyes, I can see where some concern might come up that my current version of Deflect Blasters looks too weak, especially when compared to the prior version.  After all, a really good marksman has a decent shot at beating out a Jedi Initiate on that opposed check... but I also think that's how it should be.  Granted, in a lot of the Star Wars media we see Jedi casually deflecting blaster fire like it's no big deal, but consider most of the time the Jedi in question are A) fighting mooks who barely pose a threat, and B) the Jedi in question are either seasoned Knights or gifted prodigies, so of course it's going to look easy.

Maybe a few in-game examples of how this would work out might help to demonstrate why I think this current version of Deflect Blasters works a lot better and isn't quite as weak as some might think.  For this example, I'll be using a vastly experienced version of my initial EotE PC, a young Jedi Initiate-on-the-run by the name of Valin Starsmore.  His relevant stats are thus:

Agility 3
Soak Value 3 (Brawn 2 + heavy clothing)
Lightsaber 4 (he's gotten pretty good at this point)
Lightsaber Defense 2 (giving him a +2 bonus to melee & ranged defense)
Deflect Blasters (recently acquired)
Quick Draw (his staring career/spec is Smuggler/Scoundrel)
Sense Power with the "danger sense" Control Upgrade and the Duration Upgrade.

Example 1: Valin is snooping around the streets near a crime-lord's private estate, looking to find out what happened to his friend Gizmo, a slightly odd Twi'lek bounty hunter that has been missing since she went to the crime lord's estate.  His Jedi senses (pretty well-honed thanks to 2 ranks each in Uncanny Senses and Uncanny Reactions) alerts him to the presence of a trio of guards (stats as per Apprentice Hunter on pg201 of the Beta, but equipped with heavy blaster pistols and having Perception as one of their skills).  Seeing as how the guards have their blasters drawn and pointed at Valin, he wastes little time, drawing and igniting his lightsaber (an Incidental thanks to Quick Draw) then activating his combat awareness (activating his Control Upgrade to let him upgrade the difficulty twice of two separate attacks against him each round).  The guards are at Medium range currently, but the foliage that Valin was hoping would obscure him also counts as difficult terrain; he won't be charging into the fray just yet.

The minion group of guards now get to act, and they waste little time in taking aim with their blasters and opening fire on the young Jedi.  They're at Medium range, so they're base difficulty is 2 purple dice, with 2 setback dice applied from Valin's two ranks in Lightsaber Defense.  Not wanting to get perforated with blaster fire quite so soon, Valin opts to use both his Deflect Blasters talent and his danger sense ability.  The minion group will be rolling 2 proficiency, 1 ability die, and 1 boost die (Agility 3 for base of 3 ability dice, two upgrades for each minion after the first, and a boost die from aiming) against a difficulty of 1 challenge die, 1 difficulty die, and 2 setback dice.  Valin meanwhile will only be rolling against 2 difficulty dice with a pool of 3 proficiency dice and 1 ability die.

Results are:
Valin: 4 successes, 1 failure, 2 advantage, 3 threat (net result = 3 successes, 1 threat)
Guards: 2 successes, 1 failure, 3 advantage, 5 threat (net result = 1 success, 2 threat)

Valin wins with 2 successes, but suffers a point of Strain (from the 1 Threat) as he frantically intercepts the incoming blaster fire, managing to deflect one of the bolts back to deal 9 damage to the minion group.  That's enough damage to drop one of the guards (Soak 3, Wound Threshold 5), with GM applying the 2 Threat as a setback die to the group's next attack roll.  One down, two to go, but Valin knows he's going to have to act quick before reinforcements arrive...

Example 2: Having dispatched those pesky guards, Valin has now found his way inside the crime lord's main villa, but has found proof that Gizmo is on the premises; the busty Twi'lek hunter is in trouble, and Valin's not about to let down one of the few friends he has.  The Force is with Valin, and he finds both the crime boss and Gizmo, with the Twi'lek lashed to some type of automated torture rack while the Bothan crime boss is leisurely sipping from a wine goblet while asking a series of questions, with a surly-looking Trandoshan standing not too far off.  Deciding it's time to act, Valin activates his lightsaber, the distinctive snap-hiss of the weapon getting the attention of both the Bothan crime boss and the Trandoshan.  Luckily Valin was already prepped for a fight (having activated the Control Upgrade for his Sense Power), as the crime boss manages to score more successes than Valin on their respective Vigilance checks, though Valin does have 2 advantage that the GM lets him spend to give himself a boost dice on his next roll.

The crime boss (a Nemesis) has Agility 3 and 3 ranks of Ranged (Light), as well as the Quick Draw talent, enabling him to stand up (maneuver), draw his heavy blaster pistol (incidental) and fire at the interloping Jedi, who is at Short Range (1 difficulty).  Again not wanting to get shot, Valin applies one of his two uses of danger sense towards the crime boss' shot as well as his one use of Deflect Blasters (the lack of an obvious blaster and the oversized vibrodagger on the Trandoshan's hip suggests a melee threat).

The crime boss' dice pool is 3 proficiency dice, 1 challenge die, and 2 setback dice.  Vallin's dice pool is 3 proficiency dice, 1 ability die, 1 boost die, 1 challenge die, 1 difficulty and 1 setback die.  The crime boss has two ranks in Adversary, and Valin's Lightsaber check is targeting him, so the talent would apply, plus the crime boss has armored clothing to grant a free rank of defense .  Valin decides to bolster his chances by flipping a Destiny Point to upgrade his remaining ability die to a proficiency die.

Results are:
Valin: 1 triumph, 4 successes, 2 failure, 3 advantage, 1 threat (net result = 3 successes, 2 advantage, and a triumph result; i.e. the kid got one hell of a good roll)
Crime Boss: 4 successes, 1 failure, 1 advantage, 3 threat (net result = 3 successes, 2 threat)

Since Valin and the crime boss got the same number of successes, it's a draw.  In this case, Valin didn't get hit, but neither did he get to redirect the blaster shot back at the crime boss.  The crime boss suffers 2 Strain from the Threat, while Valin uses his 2 Advantage for a free maneuver to engage the crime boss in melee, and that Triumph to narrate that instead of hitting the crime boss, the deflected blaster shot instead pegged the torture rack that Gizmo is on, giving her an upgrade to whatever skill check she wants to make to escape.  Which might be good since that Trandoshan's got a nasty sneer as he reaches for his vibroknife...

Example 3: With some help from a badly injured Gizmo, the crime boss and his Trandoshan bodyguard have both been dispatched, though Valin suffered a few cuts from the big lizard's vibroknife during the fight.  Now, they need to get to the villa's speeder hanger to steal a ride so they can make a quick escape and rendezvous with Omaha and his YT-1300.

Unfortunately, Valin's Obligation came up prior to the start of the adventure, and the Bounty on his head has caught the attention of a Journeyman Hunter (pg201 of the Beta) who traded out his disruptor rifle for a blaster rifle and has a pair of Street Toughs (pg199) packing blaster pistols.for some added muscle; after all, the Empire pays good credits for Jedi renegades, and the toughs were dim-witted enough to accept only a fraction of the reward on Valin's head.

Valin's Force senses alert him to the danger a few scant second before the bounty hunter opens fire (his Vigilance check beat the hunter's Cool check by a wide margin), so he's got just enough time to draw his lightsaber and activate his danger sense while quickly moving behind some foliage for cover.  The bounty hunter spends a maneuver to Aim before squeezing the trigger on his rifle.

The bounty hunter and Valin are at Medium range from one another.  Figuring the bounty hunter's the bigger threat than the pair of street toughs, Valin is going to yet again use Deflect Blasters (while wondering why everybody is so keen on shooting at him today) as well as his danger sense to make the hunter's shot that much harder.  However, the GM decides to spend a Destiny Point to upgrade one of the hunter's ability dice for this shot.

So the journeyman hunter is rolling 2 proficiency dice, 1 ability die, 1 boost die, 1 challenge die, 1 difficulty die, and 3 setback dice.  Valin's rolling his usual 3 proficiency dice, 1 ability die, but 1 challenge die and 1 difficulty die due to the hunter having a rank in Adversary.

Results are:
Valin: 3 successes, 2 advantage, 2 failure, 0 threat (net result = 1 success, 1 advantage)
Hunter: 3 successes, 1 advantage, 1 failure, 3 threat (net result = 2 successes, 2 threat)

Valin's luck runs out, and the hunter clips his shoulder, dealing 10 damage (base 9 for the rifle, +1 for the remaining Success after applying the 1 Success from Valin's check.  Given Valin's low Soak Value (he's quick, not brawny, that's gonna leave a mark!  Good thing he's got some stimpacks on hand, as he's gonna need them if this keeps up.  Gizmo grumbles about this being "some rescue" as she takes aim with the heavy blaster pistol she looted from the deceased crime boss.

So I hope these not-so-little examples show some insight into why Deflect Blasters isn't the end-all and be-all talent that it was initially.  While I won't type them out here, I did run each of the above examples using the original version, which for Valin would force 4 difficulty upgrades on his selected adversary.  The guards would have been rolling against 4 challenge dice, the crime boss against 3 challenge and 1 difficulty, and the journeyman hunter also against 4 challenge dice.  Let's just say the odds greatly favored Valin in each scenario, and out of several test dice rolls, he only took damage once (against the crime boss) while the rest of the time he not only avoided damage, but also got the free attack as the bad guys rolled enough Threat for him to trigger that part of the original Deflect Blasters.

Now, one thing to also consider is that Valin was able to make use of his Sense upgrade as well to boost up his defenses.  Granted, things might have gone a bit more in his favor if he had the Strength Upgrade on his Sense power; maybe he'll buy that one with the XP he's earned from this adventure and put that Force Rating talent off for another day...

May 25, 2013

Ways of the Force v1.02

Judging by the number of page hits since it's debut on May the Fourth, it would indeed seem that my Ways of the Force fan supplement for Fantasy Flight Games' upcoming Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG is quite popular.

I've also gotten some really good feedback on both the d20 Radio Network and FFG EotE forums, which has in turn lead to a few corrections and some revisions to the supplement.  There were a few things that looked really good on paper that didn't quite stand up to scrutiny on the gaming table, with Deflect Blasters being far more cumbersome than I was hoping and the new Healing power being too good as just a couple of prime examples.

Ways of the Force v1.02

I won't bore you with the details (at least not this time around), so here's the highlight reel:

- Deflect Blasters is now a competitive check.

- Lightsaber Defense now works within the mechanics for Defense.

- Dark Side's Embrace has been replaced with a more useful entry.

- A narrative-based set of guidelines for determining if a Force-user has fallen to the dark side.

- Jedi Initiate specialization has had several talents shuffled around.

- The Healing power has been toned down in its effectiveness.

- The Injure basic power has been revised and the power tree reworked.

- Search Your Feelings minor power now provides a tangible use for additional LS points.

As mentioned above and in my prior post, the feedback I've received so far has been both positive and informative, so I'm curious to see what sort of reception these changes get.  Hopefully I've solved several issues without creating too many new ones in their place, but we'll just have to see.

May 18, 2013

Lightsabers in EotE - A relic of a more civililzed age

Well, it's now been two weeks since I published my "Ways of the Force" fan supplement for Fantasy Flight Games' Edge of the Empire RPG.

And overall, the response has been positive.  To have someone say "normally I don't like fan supplements, but I really like what you've done with yours" says quite a bit about the quality of the work and that I fulfilled my objective of keeping as much in synch with Edge of the Empire's default setting and feel as possible.

Now, that's not to say everything was perfect.  Far from it in fact, and there's a few elements that have been revised based upon feedback provided, both on the d20 Radio forums and FFG's EotE message board.  Among those elements are Dark Side's Embrace and the Healing base power, the former actually providing a concrete benefit and the latter being reduced in effectiveness in order to step away from "magic healing."

However, one element that got some critique was the Build Lightsaber talent, mostly due to some folks feeling that it was either a "useless" talent or that it needed to provide a bigger bang.  Well, I figure here is as good a place as any to go into why I wrote up the Build Lightsaber talent the way I did.

Just so we're all on the same page, here's the game text:

Build Lightsaber
Activation: Passive
Ranked: No
Trees: Jedi Initiate

The character is now able to construct a lightsaber, a task that requires components worth at least 2000 credits and a number of days equal to 7 less the character's Force Rating.

In the Jedi Initiate specialization, it's nestled in the 2nd Row, but you've got to go through at least two 3rd Row talents in order to reach it, so it's not like you're going to have very many Jedi neophytes starting play with the ability to construct a lightsaber.  Note I say "construct," as this talent doesn't automatically provide the character with a lightsaber, just the means to build one of their own.  Now a GM could handwave the days needed to build a lightsaber, but they certainly should not waive the cost in components.

Some critiques suggested that, much like the d20 Star Wars games, a self-built lightsaber should provide some kind of perk, such as a bonus to hit.  The problem with that approach is that FFG made the lightsaber an incredibly potent weapon; even after the Beta Updates, it still has the highest raw damage of any melee weapon, it pretty much ignores character-scale Soak Values, and it has the lowest Crit Rating; any attack that hit is going to deal damage and like inflict a Critical Injury in the process.  For non-Jedi, you either need to spend a small fortune procuring a lightsaber on the black market, or hope the GM chooses to provide one as an adventure reward.

So to me, being able to build a lightsaber at a relatively modest sum during the height of the Empire's power and influence is enough of a benefit already.  Also, a self-built lightsaber providing any kind of special bonus only showed up in the d20 versions, due to d20 being a crunch-focused game built upon calculating modifiers and getting the largest bonus you can manage.  Back in the D6 version, what little rules there were for building a lightsaber simply said "congrats, you've built your own lightsaber."  And that was it; no special bonuses or perks, just the fact that your Jedi PC now had a lightsaber.  Which given that most of the D6 material was set during the Rebellion Era and the New Republic eras, when Jedi Knights were scarce, being able to build your own lightsaber was a pretty nice perk without needing any extra mechanical benefits.

Now if one were to add a mechanic-based perk to building your own lightsaber in EotE, the next question is "what benefit do you add?"  The first thing that might come to mind is the Superior weapon quality (pg107 of the EotE Beta), but a free Advantage on every attack plus a boost to damage is simply too good.

The next option is to model the benefit of a self-built lightsaber after the Jury-Rigged talent (pg95, EotE Beta), but most of that talent's benefits wouldn't apply, leaving you with just a bonus to damage.  I suppose you could tweak Jury-Rigged's text to allow the lightsaber to provide an extra point of Melee Defense or Ranged Defense, which might fit with the possible perks of Dooku's curved-hilt lightsaber and the advantage it provides the wielder in melee combat.

One idea I had considered during the earliest stages was simply giving a self-built lightsaber the Accurate quality, but a free Boost die on all lightsaber attacks felt just as overpowering as the giving a self-built lightsaber the Superior quality, particularly as you're more apt to roll Advantages, and per the reading of the Sunder quality, you don't have to hit your target in order to damage their weapon.  So either the Jedi hits and gets an extra Advantage or two to inflict a Critical Injury, or they have an easier time triggering the Sunder quality on their lightsabers.

One suggestion that I saw was to instead apply the perks of the Tinkerer talent and give the lightsaber a bonus Hard Point (it normally has none), allowing the Jedi to personally customize their lightsaber.  Now I'll admit that has some appeal, but the problem is that right now, the EotE Beta only has one melee-based attachment available, which provides the Superior quality, leading us to the problems documented three paragraphs up and making an already impressive weapon that much more deadly.  According to Sam Stewart, we should be seeing more melee-based attachments in the final version of the core rulebook, so this one may get a revisit depending on what those new attachments are, but it may also result in an increase to the cost of building a lightsaber as well.

Ultimately, I think trying to cram more benefits into a lightsaber, self-built or otherwise, is going too much down the d20 path, where equipment is only as good as the bonuses it applies.  Truthfully, given EotE's heavier focus on narrative gameplay, just being able to build one of these iconic weapons is enough of a benefit already.  Yes, it's incredibly powerful as is, and the Jedi Initiate has several talents that were designed around a lightsaber, but at the same time, openly wielding a lightsaber during the eras of play that most EotE games occur in is just asking for trouble.  There's a rather hefty Imperial bounty out for anyone caught in possession of a lightsaber (WEG put it at 25K credits), and anyone seen using a lightsaber openly, especially if they're any good at it, are going to stand out in most people's memory, far more than your average heavy blaster pistol-slinging smuggler or blaster carbine-toting bounty hunger or even a marauder wielding a vibro-ax.

So, that's enough on the "self-built lightsabers need a mechanical benefit!" front.  On to the other side of the coin, which is "why do you even need a talent for this?"

As I said in my prior post, one of my main design goals was to stick as close as possible to the general feel of the early Rebellion Era, the default setting of Edge of the Empire (at least if the time frame given in the Beginner Box is anything to go by).  During this time frame, a lot of Jedi lore was either lost, locked away, or outright destroyed by the Empire; after all, the Sith had spent a thousand years plotting their overthrow of the Republic and the destruction of the Jedi Knights, so Palpatine was certainly going to take steps to ensure the Jedi Order wouldn't come back overnight.

So what does this mean for an aspiring Jedi-to-be in an Edge of the Empire game?  Typically, this means that they don't have the benefit of being trained since early childhood in the Jedi arts, including the basics of maintaining and eventually constructing one's own lightsaber.  So this is knowledge the Jedi Initiate has to rediscover, either through trial and error or by coming across some hidden bits of Jedi lore that covers such things.  It's pretty specialized knowledge, on par (in my mind at least) with the kind of specialized knowledge it takes to properly jury-rig a weapon or armor for better performance or how to tinker with an item to cram more tech inside of it; these aren't things that just anybody can do.  And you can be sure that the more easily accessible venues to learn about building a lightsaber have been destroyed or put under Imperial lock & key.

One of the things I tried to keep in mind when designing my Jedi Initiate specialization was Luke's progression from naive farmboy that didn't even know what the Force was to freshly-minted Jedi Knight.  While it wasn't touched upon in the original theatrical version of Return of the Jedi, Luke didn't instantly know how to build a lightsaber.  Looking to the EU, he had to rely upon a set of instructions left behind by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the old Jedi's remote hut on Tatooine in order to build his own lightsaber, and it took him almost a week to do it (though how much of that was nerves and him taking the time to check and re-check everything is up for debate).

So, when it came to deciding how to cover the specialized knowledge of lightsaber construction in EotE, I opted to stick more to the existing EU canon than to d20, which could allow for a Jedi PC to build a lightsaber in a single day; it's one thing for a prodigy like Anakin to build a new lightsaber in a day or two, it's something else for a less gifted Jedi student working from cobbled together notes and their own intuition to do the same.

Now, could a GM provide a set of in-game instructions on lightsaber building to a prospective Jedi, and negate the entire need for this talent?  Yes, they certainly could, but I'd contend that the Jedi would only be able to build a lightsaber so long as they had access to those instructions.  Should those instructions be misplaced, stolen, or destroyed, then no more lightsaber building for that Jedi.  Having the talent means the Jedi Initiate has internalized the technical knowledge and intuition required to build a lightsaber, and needs only time and parts to build a new lightsaber should they be deprived of their old one.

There's also the fun aspect that those lightsaber building instructions may very well make reference to using specific items, such as crystals from the Adegan system or the caves of Ilum, both of which the Empire is aware of and guards heavily.  Those instructions might also say that you need to use a specific type of focusing lens or material for the grip, with no indication that other alternatives would be suitable.  A Jedi Initiate with Build Lightsaber talent has figured out enough of the process on their own that they'd know they could use other types of crystals (even synthetically created ones), and that the other elements don't need to be a specific make or model; it might take them a bit longer and the end result may not be as stylish as the Jedi lightsabers built during the Order's glory days, but it will get the job done.  Case in point, Corran Horn using a speeder bike handle as the grip for a hastily-constructed lightsaber in the novel "I, Jedi."  Your average Jedi Knight from the Old Jedi Order would likely be appalled at such a pedestrian design, but it worked for Horn.

Well, that's the long and short of why I wrote the Build Lightsaber talent the way I did.  Is it the most awe-inspiring of talents?  Nope, and that's fully intended, since it gives access to one of the more awe-inspiring weapons in Edge of the Empire.  And it opens up some of the Jedi Initiate's most powerful talents, such as the ability to deflect an enemy's blaster attack or to destroy their weapons in a single stroke.  So buy itself, the ability to build a lightsaber may not seem all that impressive, but that talent is something of a stepping stone to more impressive talents, as well as not being reliant on the GM for either a massive windfall to purchase a lightsaber or an adventure designed with the intent of putting a lightsaber in the would-be Jedi's hands.

I'll try to be a bit more regular in posting my thoughts and insights as to why I designed aspects of "Ways of the Force" the way I did.

Until next time, may the dice be ever in your favor.

May 4, 2013

Ways of the Force - an unofficial supplement for Edge of the Empire

May the Fourth be with you!

Yeah, it's a bit corny, but me being the unabashed Star Wars geek that I am, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Pretty much since I got my hands on the Edge of the Empire Beta, I've been toying with and tinkering on a series of house rules to expand upon what's offered for Force-users in Fantasy Flight Games' upcoming entry into the long line of Star Wars RPGs.

Ways of the Force, version 1.4

This is the result of several months' worth of design, writing, revising, play-testing, re-designing, re-revising, reviewing, and yet even more revisions.  Though I mention this in the first page of the document, this unofficial supplement is by no means intended to cover everything Jedi or even Force-related.  Frankly, if you want an RPG with full rules on playing Jedi and all sorts of weird and wacky Force Powers, I suggest you turn your attention to either WEG's D6 system or any of WotC's d20 games, in particular Saga Edition.

As much as I enjoy playing Jedi characters in Star Wars (heck, I even brought an older Jedi PC from a prior campaign out of retirement to be played in a game I'm currently in), I actually do agree with the design intent of Jay Little and his team to not have fully-trained Jedi PCs in an era where the Jedi Order doesn't exist.  So if you want full-blown Jedi careers and an exhaustive catalog of Force Powers covering all the things that have cropped up in the EU, I'm afraid you're going to have to look elsewhere.

So what does the "Ways of the Force" unofficial EotE supplement offer?

For starters, I discuss a fleshed-out Lightsaber skill, and then move onto the real meat of the supplement, a trio of brand-new Force-Sensitive universal specializations, those being the Jedi Initiate (minor Jedi-in-training, mix of lightsaber prowess and Force ability), the Dark Side Acolyte (student of the dark side intent on power and control of others), and the Force Mystic (a catch-all for those who have been trained to use the Force but aren't Jedi).  Each of these specializations come with a selection of new talents while also borrowing talents from the Force-Sensitive Exile and other careers where I felt it was appropriate.

And we end with some new Force Powers in the form of two new power trees, Injure (using the dark side for direct damage) and Healing (using the light side to help others recover from injury) as well as a handful of minor powers that don't rate a full power tree on their own, but yet were essential enough to a Force-user to be included.

In the weeks to come, I'll post some insights as to why I made some of the design choices I did, as well as some tidbits as to how this document evolved over the months.  This was definitely a labor of love and a fun project to work on.  I'll be starting a thread for this on both the d20 Radio and FFG forums, and possibly even ENWorld, so I'm curious to hear what folks think.

Edit: If you've come to this post courtesy of the opening post over at the d20 Radio Network or FFG EotE forums, there's a new version available with several revisions and updates.  Simply click the Ways of the Force tag over on the right or at the bottom of this article to get to the most up-to-date version of this supplement.

Edit 2: I should have done this a lot sooner, but I've replaced the v1.0 link with a direct link to v1.02.

Edit 3: Link updated with Version 1.03.  A few pictures look odd when viewed through GoogleDocs using FireFox, but looks fine if you download and open it using a PDF viewer.

Edit 4: And Version 1.1 is now live with the link updated accordingly.

Edit 5: Link updated to Version 1.2. Not a lot of mechanical updates, but it certainly looks a mite more professional than the older versions did.

Edit 6: Link now points to Version 1.3.  Some major changes have been to the material.

Edit 7: New version 1.4 has been posted.  Once again, various changes, some major, some minor