March 22, 2014

Ways of the Force, Version 1.3

Wow, four posts in the same month.  One might start to think the owner of this blog actually remembered that it exists ;)

It'd been quite a while since I'd last updated my Ways of the Force fan supplement.  I'd been working on altering a number of things, such as largely doing away with the minor Force powers and expanding two of them into full-fledged Force Power trees.

Ways of the Force, Version 1.3

I've also made some major revamps to the Force Powers, new and old, in light of clarification from FFG's own Sam Stewart in regards to how Force Power effects were activated.  To simplify, my understanding was incorrect, and that in light of that understanding, Injure and Healing were vastly more powerful than I was comfortable with.  There was also the matter that they had gotten perhaps too complicated, particularly Healing and my attempts to keep it from being too useful to a group but not so restricted as to make it nearly useless.  I think I've struck the right balance this time around with both powers, making them effective but not game-breaking.

The Jedi Initiate has also gotten a substantial change in layout.  I opted to go back to the original focus of this being a specialization that focuses on becoming a competent lightsaber duelist as one of it's primary aspects, and that improved Force usage isn't quite as major.  That's not to say that someone taking Jedi Initiate won't be slackers in the Force, but rather that lightsaber prowess is going to be a major part of the specialization.  So folks that are looking to be a Jedi but don't want to bother with the lightsaber talents, I'm afraid you're going to have to look to other Force-sensitive specializations to scratch that particular itch.

I've also recanted a bit on my earlier statement about not having any kind of skill check to construct a lightsaber.  For this version, I've settled on making it a single Discipline check, partly to avoid the issue of "how would my PC know how to build a lightsaber if they're not trained in the skill?" had I used the Lightsaber skill, but largely as a nod to Saga Edition and having it be a Use the Force check to accomplish that task.  Plus, Discipline ties into it being an important skill for Force users to have as well as the concentration and focus needed for a task that's noted as requiring a combination of great delicacy and precision.  However, that's not to say that it's an automatic thing either, especially if the player is impatient, as the check starts at Daunting, and only gets harder the quicker a PC tries to accomplish the task of building the 'saber; get too greedy and your Jedi-in-training could find themselves having to start completely from scratch.

Another major change has been to the Deflect Blasters talent.  I feel there comes a point that when you need more than a single paragraph to cover the effects of a talent, then you've reached the point of needing to split it into two talents.  And given some of the unexpected issues that cropped up, such as a PC using the talent to deflect a single shot from auto-fire weapon and then trigger auto-fire (something that was never intended), the split was needed.  So while it now takes two talents to allow a Jedi Initiate to deflect and reflect blaster fire (presuming they've acquired a lightsaber in the first place), both talents are better balanced, with the minor bonus that deflecting ranged attacks is now something that the character could start knowing how to do; after all, it's one of the first lessons that Luke learned on his path to becoming a Jedi Knight.

The two new powers are Rebuke (expanded from Resist Force) and Message (expanded from Projective Telepathy).  As for Sense Force, that's simply been moved to a sidebar (found under the Force Mystic) and is pretty much a function of the Sense power.

With Message, I had toyed with the idea of creating some kind of "battle meditation" effect, but I felt that such an ability was best left as a plot device type of thing, particularly with FFG having kept the uses of the Force in the powers they've published much closer to the general feel of the films while mostly averting some of the crazier stunts that have been seen in the Expanded Universe.  While Sense covers the "picking up thoughts" aspect of telepathy, Message is more in line of what folks think when one mentions "telepathy," though like Saga Edition I kept the power's effects fairly simple, with the intent that any conversations would be very simple; something akin to Luke contacting Leia and sending a general sense that he was in danger and that he was "underneath Cloud City," and hoping that she'd be able to take it from there to rescue him.

As for Rebuke, one complaint I've often seen is that there was no real way to defend yourself from a Force power.  It's not a major issue with Move (since any defensive traits that work against ranged attacks would apply), but it becomes a bigger on with Influence and Injure, both of which as written don't give the target any way to stop the damage inflicted.  I opted to keep the opposed Discipline check that Resist Force had, though this isn't too big of an issue for most powers (especially as I scrapped the opposed check that was part of Injure in the last version).  I've also broken out it so that the basic effect is simply to negate the effects of a power; if your Force user wants to pull a Yoda and hurl those bolts of Force lightning back, you'll need a Control Upgrade to do it.  One potential concern is that with enough ranks in Discipline and the way Rebuke's Strength Upgrades operate it could become very easy for a Force-user with this power to shove an offensive power right back down their opponent's throat.  Admittedly, this is offset somewhat by needing a Triumph on the opposed Discipline check and the chance for a Despair against more potent Force users as well.  I also opted to include the ability to absorb/negate energy attacks as the "capstone" ability of Rebuke, using the same general mechanics, such as the Force user making an opposed Discipline check, only this time the difficulty is the shooter's combat skill.  You could potentially use this to redirect a blaster shot with your bare hands, but by the time that most characters gain that particular Control Upgrade, they should be facing some pretty potent adversaries.

There have been a few other lesser tweaks here and there, but those are the highlights.  And, barring any major typographical errors, this will probably be the final revision to this document.

With a Force & Destiny Beta having been teased as coming out later this year (presumably at GenCon), that brings to a close the reason I created this supplement in the first place; namely as a way to provide players with further options to play Force users in and Edge of the Empire or an Age of Rebellion campaign.  A number of folks wanted some way to play an actual Jedi, not a "let's pretend" version that had either the Force Exile or Force Emergent specs and a few ranks in the Lightsaber skill, as well as an ability to perform Force-based feats that we saw in the movies but weren't covered by Edge of the Empire.  While some folks chose to focus exclusively on creating a Jedi career, I opted to split the difference and create a Jedi specialization as a nod to the limited training available during the Rebellion Era as well as create additional Force powers.

But, with Force & Destiny having been teased to cover Jedi and other Force-users, the need to add new material or revise the existing material becomes less and less.  Then again, I knew this was going to happen eventually, and thus had a degree of "planned obsolescence" from the very start.  After all, when it comes to choosing between officially published material and some random guy's fan work, most gamers are going to lean towards the officially published material.  And I'm okay with that.  On a personal level, I'm interested to see how different in the design and application of things like blaster deflection and rebuking enemy Force powers my stuff and FFG's stuff will be.  Amusingly, around July of last year, I'd been working on building an "enhanced movement" and "farseeing" power, and laughed with giddy joy at seeing that the Enhance and Foresee powers in the Age of Rebellion Beta were along very similar guidelines; my stuff would have gotten to that point in another month or two.  Part of me hopes I'll get to experience that a second time around with the Force & Destiny Beta.

In the end, I can only hope that in the time frame between when I first web-published Ways of the Force and when the Force & Destiny core rulebook gets released next year, folks have found the material I've created to be useful for their games, either in whole or just select parts of it.

Edit: For some reason, Dropbox disabled the previous link.  I've put a new one up.

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