Firstly, Happy Birthday to me. Not every day a fella becomes the answer to life, the universe, and everything after all now, is it? (yeah, that's not the least bit egotistical)
Been a while since I last posted an update to this blog of mine, so indulge me a brief summary of what's been going on since I last posted before I get to the "good part."
Since I posted those revisited PCs back in May, my friend Eric (known as oghen in some places) has been running a Star Wars campaign set in the era of The Force Awakens, taking place shortly after the events of the movie. In this campaign, I'm playing a further revised version of Valin, who is still a Sentinel/Shien Expert, but his backstory has changed a bit; there's no Empire hunting him, and he's now packing a training lightsaber (still hasn't been used in a fight as of yet), but he was still on his own for most of his life and only had a modicum of Jedi training. Also seeing play is Jade, whose re-write my adopted big sis Linda liked enough to use as her PC. We're only two sessions in, due to a number of delays that our Friday Night Skype group have jokingly suggested were ploys by the First Order to keep two teenage Force-sensitives from embarking upon their respective journeys; after all, it's a known fact of the setting that teenage Force users are the bane of militaristic regimes seeking galactic domination.
As I'm sure any fellow Potterheads will know, the script for the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been published in book form. While the book was a very quick read (it's comprised mostly of stage directions and dialogue), it was still an enjoyable read, and if this is indeed the last story to feature Harry Potter and company, then I think it was a pretty good note to go out on. In a way, it was very much like visiting old friends that you'd lost touch with after many years, seeing how they're doing and how things have changed for them. I've heard some complaints that too much of the action focus on Albus, but to me that makes sense as Harry's already had his grand adventure and settled up with most of his old demons.
I've also been reading through my hard copy of the 2nd edition corebook for 7th Sea. I had a lot of fun playing the 1st edition, even if the mechanics were a bit loopy in several places (skills and knacks, I am looking directly at you) and the metaplot could be rather heavy-handed. Thus far, I've only been able to run a single session and play in a single session, and I had a lot of fun both times. I really like how the system has evolved, and that dice rolling is toned down in terms of how often you're making dice rolls. One thing I have noticed is that being a Swordsman and having a Dueling School on your character sheet makes one's PC a terror in combat. I'd run some test battles using a revamp of an old 1st edition PC of mine, one Estevan Santiago de Montoya, and even as a starting PC the boy can decimate brute squads like there's no tomorrow. Sorcery is also very interesting, and while much more viable in the early going as compared to 1e, it still has its limits in what a player can accomplish (especially since it's fueled by spending Hero Points, which are a fairly rare resource for players); the Hexenwerk sorcery is suitably creepy, and Sorte is potent but not overwhelmingly so. One minor gripe I have is that with regards to Villains, fighting them can begin feel like a grind, not unlike fighting Solo monsters in the early days of D&D 4e. I am thinking of a house rule to either halve the number of Dramatic Wounds a Villain can withstand before they become Helpless, or simply halve the number of wounds needed to inflict a Dramatic Wound. But beyond that, I love how this system works in terms of dice results and how vastly different one PC can be from the next. Maybe later this month I'll post up the various characters that I've written up.
So that's that, and now onto the main course.
Off and on, I've been updating, revising, reworking, further revising, and so forth with what would essentially be the second edition of my old Ways of the Force fan supplement. Now, I knew from the very start that WotF would have a definite shelf life, being a stop-gap to provide some more options for Force usage until the release of Force and Destiny. But rather than let it fall completely to the wayside, I felt that some of what I had created still had merit, and that what it really needed was an overhaul and an update to account for the new rules and material regarding Force users during the time frame of Fantasy Flight Games' most excellent Star Wars Roleplaying Game.
To be perfectly honest, a large part of why this took so long was that I went through numerous versions of the Jedi Initiate universal specialization. The one thing that I wanted to avoid was making this a "gotta have it!" spec for any PCs that were interested in being lightsaber wielders, especially those who started out with one of the six Lightsaber Form specializations in Force and Destiny. While I'm currently pretty happy with how the version published here has shaken out, I'm still concerned that this could be a very dominate spec, seeing as how it offers both a Force Rating talent and the Improved Parry talent. I tried to balance this by putting those talents on very separate paths in the spec, as well as having Improved Parry be rather buried in the tree, making it much more expensive to acquire than it would be in the other specializations it appears in, as well as kind of burying the ranks of Parry and Reflect so that a player won't get those talents too quickly. Still, I feel like I've broken some sort of cardinal rule by including both those talents in the same spec, so if anything I would suggest to GMs that they require a PC looking to acquire this spec have undertake some measure of quest before they can purchase it, and that it certainly cannot be purchased at character creation for games set after the fall of the Jedi Order.
Another portion that I struggled on and off with was the new lightsaber crystals. I wanted to introduce some new options for PCs, making them different enough from the already published crystals that they didn't all feel like retreads but not so different as to possibly unbalance the game. I posted earlier drafts of some of those new crystals here on my blog a while ago, as well as guidelines for constructing a synthetic lightsaber crystal, which I've touched up a bit. I ultimately opted to treat a synthetic kyber crystal as being the same as the Ilum crystal, and figure that the Sith were so hung up on synthetic crystals being "superior" to natural kyber crystals was a combination of their inherent hubris and that a freshly created synthetic kyber crystal would have the potential to have some of its modification options added during the creation process, making it "better" than a stock Ilum crystal.
One thing I had been going back and forth upon including was a "Beast Master" universal specialization, incorporating elements of the Pathfinder specialization as well as the Beast Rider specialization from Stay on Target. I ultimately axed the idea upon the announcement of Savage Spirits, but upon acquiring the book I may revisit that idea down the line. To be honest, a lot of the proposed intent for the Beast Master was taken from the Legends version of the Dathomir witches, who were capable Force users that bonded with and rode beasts (notably rancors). As is often the case with home-brew specializations, the trick was not doing too much cherry-picking for this proposed specialization in terms of talents.
In terms of Force powers, that section was surprisingly easy to update. I completely chucked the Force Techniques idea and the various powers I'd created. While it's entirely possibly that the upcoming Sentinel sourcebook Endless Vigil will have some kind of Psychometry power, I put together my own take, one that I feel captures the essence of the power without it becoming too much of a potential game breaker, especially for adventures that revolve around solving mysteries or learning hidden truths.
Well, enough blathering on my part, so here's the goods.
Ways of the Force, Version 2.0
Hopefully you find this newest (and possibly final) version of Ways of the Force to be a useful, either in whole or in part, at your gaming table as your characters learn and explore the mysteries of the Force in a galaxy far, far away...