July 29, 2017

Two To Beam Up! (Star Trek Adventures)

Okay, so yesterday I posted a quasi-review of the Star Trek Adventures RPG.  So today's post, I'll be going through the character creation process for both a Main Character and a Supporting Character.

Starting off with the Main Character, I'm thinking of going with a Command-type, perhaps a youngish and not-as-seasoned version of Captain Kirk or Commander Riker.  And while I'm not intending for this PC to be the commanding officer of a starship, I figure he'll still be adept in a leadership role either sitting in the captain's chair or leading an away team on a mission.  I don't have a full name in mind, but I do have a first name in mind, that being Rafael, mostly as I'd been doing some reading up on Castille in the Nations of Theah Volume 1 for 7th Sea.  I'll come up with a surname later on.

So Step 1 is choosing a species for Rafael, which is going to be a Human.  I opt to put his three +1 modifiers into Daring, Insight, and Presence, putting those at 8 up from the base 7 that all attributes start at, and note the Human species trait for Rafael.  I also get to select a talent, and I take Bold for the Command Discipline since I see Rafael as being a daring leader willing to take risks.

Step 2 is Environment, or where my character is from.  I see Rafael as being from Earth, with the idea that he's of mixed racial heritage.  Opting to have him be a West Coast native, I'm now thinking a blend of both Hispanic and Oriental, and come up with the surname of Tashiro.  Back to making this character, I chose the Homeworld option which gives me a free +1 in one of the Attributes that is improved by my species bonus in Step 1.  Since being a Human gave three floating +1s to assign where I choose, I could probably put the +1 increase from this step wherever I wanted, but I'm opting to instead put it into Daring, making that a 9; this is a guy that definitely isn't adverse to taking risks.  I also get to increase one of Rafael's Disciplines (this game's name for skills) by one, which I'm going to put into Science, raising that to 2.  I also get to select a Value, which is a Trait that represents a core value for my character, for which I jot down "Fortune Favors the Bold."

We move to Step 3, which is Upbringing.  I don't have anything particular in mind, so I roll a d6 and get a 1, which is Starfleet.  I immediately get the idea of a character that comes from a long line of Starfleet brats, with multiple generations on both sides of the family tree having served in Starfleet since it's inception.  I get the choice of whether Rafael chose to accept or reject this upbringing; I go with accepting his upbringing and being proud that much of his family history is tied to Starfleet.  This gives Rafael a +2 to his Control and a +1 to his Fitness.  Being a Starfleet brat lets me increase one of his Disciplines, which I choose to put that point into Conn, giving him skill at flying ships and navigating the Starfleet bureaucracy.  I also get to select a Focus, which lets my character be even more successful when making checks that fall within its realm, for which I choose Starfleet Protocol to give Rafael a strong grasp of how Starfleet operates as an organization.  I also get a talent, and choose to take Mean Right Hook to make his unarmed attacks more effective, be it the classic Starfleet judo chop or the Kirk Hammer of TOS Trek.

Step 4 covers Rafael's time at Starfleet Academy.  His choice of which academy track to follow is pretty simple, that being the Command Track.  At this step, I chose to increase his Daring, Presence, and Reason by +1 each.  Since he's going to be in the Command branch, I take a +2 increase to his Command Discipline (now a 4) as well as a +1 to Conn (now a 3) and +1 to Security (now a 2) to give him a bit more of an intellectual angle.  I also get to select three more Focuses for Rafael, with at least one of them relating to his academy track, and choose Hand to Hand Combat (advanced combat training, which I opt to further refine as being trained in Wing Chun style of kung fu; blame my recent viewing of the Ip Man films), Helm Operations (knows quite a bit about controlling a starship), and Persuasion (being able to convince others to follow his lead).  I also get to select another Talent, taking Follow My Lead to account for his command training and aptitude for leading during hazardous situations.  And finally, I add another Value, for which I take "Know When to Bend the Rules Without Breaking Them."  Being willing to take risks or face danger means that you can't always go by established protocol, but at the same time a commanding officer has to abide by the general spirit of the rules and regulations.

Step 5 is Career Length, and while I don't see Rafael as being a fresh, still wet-behind-the-ears young officer, neither is he well-seasoned veteran officer, so I default to experienced officer, which provides me with another talent choice, taking Starship Expert to give Rafael a boost when picking out the strengths and weaknesses of other vessels.  I get a third value, which I decide to use to have Rafael be tied to another character in the group, selecting the female Vulcan medical officer T'leya, who is a very close friend from his days at the Academy.  As to how close, after a bit of talk with T'leya's player, we decide that they were very close, perhaps even intimately so, leading to the value "T'leya is My Closest and Most Beloved Friend."

Step 6 is Career Events, and since I don't really have anything in mind, I break out a d20 and roll twice.  The first result is a 5, which is "Required to Take Command."  Well, that's about perfect for Rafael as you can find, forcing him to take charge during a dangerous situation.  This gives him a +1 to his Daring (now an 11), a further +1 to Command (now a 5, which is the max you can have in a Discipline), and a Focus, for which I select Lead By Example to give him a "lead from the front" feel.

Now for Rafael's second Career Event, I roll again and get a 17 for "Special Commendation."  Since the rules suggest you can do it, I opt to combine the two events, and figure that Rafael got his commendation for saving the lives of his fellow officers when he was required to take command.  This gives him a +1 to his Fitness and a +1 to a Discipline of my choice, for which I select Security since I picture this as him having to take the lead against a threat to the ship he was stationed to.  I also get one last focus, which I choose to pick Athletics to figure that he'd need to be in good shape during high risk situations.

And we come to Step 7, the Finishing Touches.  Right now, Rafael has 54 points of Attributes, so he gets two further +1 bonuses, which I apply to Insight and Presence.  He's also got 14 points' worth of Disciplines, and receives two +1 boosts, which I apply to Engineering and Science, raising them up both to a 2 and making Rafael a little more well-rounded in his Disciplines, which is a good thing for a command officer.  I get one final Value, for which I take "Every Dilemma Has a Solution" to give him a spin on Kirk's classic "I don't believe in a no-win scenario" line from Wrath of Khan, but with not quite as much hubris.  I'm also at the point where I choose Rafael's rank, and while my initial idea was to probably have him be a Lieutenant, after his two Career Events I choose to give him the rank of Commander, making him something of a hotshot officer that's quickly climbed the ranks.  I also have to select what assignment on the group's ship this character has, and it quickly becomes clear that he's going to be the one sitting in the captain's chair, making his role on the ship that of the Commanding Officer.  Since he's a senior officer, Rafael has a Type 2 phaser, as well as possessing the Starfleet uniform, communicator, and tricorder that come standard for all Starfleet officers.

Commander Rafael Tashrio (Main Character)
Traits: Human
Values: Every Dilemma Has a Solution, Fortune Favors The Bold, Know When to Bend the Rules Without Breaking Them, T'leya is My Closest and Most Beloved Friend
Attributes: Control 9, Daring 11, Fitness 9, Insight 9, Presence 10, Reason 8
Disciplines: Command 4, Conn 3, Engineering 2, Security 4, Science 2, Medicine 1
Focuses: Athletics, Helm Operations, Lead By Example, Persuasion, Starfleet Protocol, Wing Chun
Talents: Bold (Command), Follow My Lead, Mean Right Hook, Starship Expert
Equipment: Type-2 phaser, communicator, Starfleet uniform, tricorder

And so we have a young starship commander.  Now, you may have noted that at no point do I make a distinction as to what century it is, so this character can work in either the 23rd or the 24th century.  Personally, I'm leaning more towards him being active in the 23rd century, but that's due to my being more familiar with TOS Trek than anything.  As for what sort of ship we're flying, that's yet to be determined, but odds are it'll be a Miranda-class, hopefully with the Multirole Explorer role.

Okay, so that was creating a Main Character, and now we go onto creating a Supporting Character.  For this one, I'm going to whip up an Andorian science/communications officer, choosing to make this character a young female Ensign, whose name I'll suss out later.

I start with a pool of values for her Attributes, along with a +1 bonus for her species to Control, Daring, and Presence.  I set her base values at Presence 10, Insight and Reason at 9, Control and Fitness at 8, and finally her Daring to 7.

Next are her Disciplines, which again have a pool of values to assign.  Being she's primarily a science officer, I set her Science to 4, followed by Conn at 3, a 2 in both Command and Medicine, and lastly her Engineering and Security are both 1s.

Up next are Focuses, for which I get three options, one of which has to relate to her role on the ship.  For these, I pick Computers, Linguistics, and Team Dynamics.

Last steps are her default equipment, that being a type-1 phaser, a communicator, a Starfleet uniform, and a tricorder.  Normally when a Supporting Character is first introduced they get a free boost to one of the above, be it a +1 to an Attribute, +1 to a Discipline, or an extra Focus, or a Value.  Given this is an example of building the character, I'll give her that introduction bonus right now, selecting a +1 to her Reason.  Finally, this young Andorian science officer needs a name, finally settling on Thralla Zynes.  Put all the above together, and here's what her stat block looks like:

Ensign Thrala Zynes (Supporting Character)

Attributes: Control 9, Daring 8, Fitness 8, Insight 9, Presence 11, Reason 10
Disciplines: Command 2, Conn 3, Engineering 1, Security 1, Science 4, Medicine 2
Focuses: Computers, Linguistics, Team Dynamics

Equipment: Type-1 phaser, communicator, Starfleet uniform, tricorder

As you can see, coming up with a Supporting Character is a fairly quick process, which makes sense as the intent is that the players will create these characters on an as-needed basis, for times when they might not be able to bring their Main Character on a mission, or there's only a couple of players and they could use some NPC support to shore up Disciplines that the Main Characters aren't quite so adept at.

Well, that's the two Star Trek Adventures characters I promised in yesterday's blog post.  Honestly, I'd love a chance to get Rafael into a game to see just how well he works out as a ship's captain; as written he certainly does have that feel of a younger version of Kirk or Riker, or perhaps a slightly more seasoned version of NuTrek's Kirk, having lost much of the cockiness but still having the nerve to go with unconventional solutions to the current dilemma.

Until then, live long and prosper *performs Vulcan salute*

July 28, 2017

To Boldy Go...

And now for something completely different...

So a couple weeks ago, I opted to pick up the PDF of Modiphus Entertainment's latest RPG, Star Trek Adventures, mostly at the urging, subtle and otherwise, of a couple members of my usual Skype group.  Bear in mind that in the never-ending Wars vs. Trek debate, I generally land on the side of Star Wars.  That's not to say I dislike Star Trek in general, but of the two franchises I prefer the one set in a galaxy far, far away.

The PDF cost me just under $16 from the DriveThruRPG, and I'll admit it's pretty snazzy looking.  Now it's worth mentioning that the general look draws from the Next Generation era of Trek, as does the majority of the artwork.  Now, maybe I've been spoiled by the amazing artwork that FFG has used for the entirety of their Star Wars RPG line, but the artwork in Star Trek Adventures generally just isn't all that amazing.  There's a couple of decent images of starship combat, but the rest of it tends to hover around acceptable for me.

Now it's worth noting that Star Trek Adventures uses a streamlined version of the 2d20 system that Jay Little (father of the narrative dice system used in Star Wars and Genesys) created for the Modiphus' Mutant Chronicles RPG.  The 2d20 system doesn't quite have the multiple axis of success/failure, instead going for a bit more of a binary pass/fail method, though the better you do on a task, the more impressive your success becomes due to the concept of Momentum.  Also interesting in that you generally want to roll under your target number, which itself is determined by how good you are at a task.  I'm still not 100% sold on the system, but I'd probably need to play it at least once.  Then again, I wasn't completely sold on FFG Star Wars' narrative dice system at first, and now it's probably one of my favorite RPGs on the market.

One element really do like is that use of Traits, which bear a lot of similarity to FATE's Aspects.  For instance, the game effects of your character's race is primarily tied into a Trait, which doesn't offer any discrete mechanical advantages or drawbacks, but can be invoked to give scene-appropriate bonuses or penalties.  This alleviates a recurring problem with races/species in many RPGs where some are just flat-out better at certain roles/classes/careers than others.  So it's quite possible to build an Andorian Science Officer that's just as capable as a Vulcan or a Human would be, or conversely build a Vulcan Command Officer that's not inherently handicapped at being a leader in comparison to a Human or a Betazoid.

Character creation looks a lot more daunting than it really is, since the standard creation method pretty much walks you through the process each step of the way, delivering each element in bite size chunks and offer a decent variety of options to choose from.  As I said earlier, the book pretty much focuses on the 24th century, so almost have the races available are from that era, with the number of available races dwindling the further back you go in the Trekverse's history.  I should mention that there is zero mention of the Abramsverse films, so for those purists that dislike the direction the reboot films take, you can rest easy that your classic Trek timeline remains intact.

I do like that all PCs start with the same value in attributes (7) and skills (1 rank), and that as you go through the character creation process, you simply add modifiers based upon which background options you selected.  You also get to add Values (pretty much identical to Traits) at specific steps along the way, as well as Talents which offer a minor (but handy) benefit in certain situations. It's worth noting that the game runs on the default that the PCs are all Starfleet Officers that have graduated from the Academy, as has been the case with the majority of Star Trek media.

Now I've not delved all that much into the combat chapter, but at first pass it doesn't look all that complicated, at least for personal combat, which isn't super deadly but unless your a Main Character it's quite possible to be taken out with a single lucky shot. Starship combat however is another matter, as it seems is often the case with RPGs that delve into such matters.  Since a PC group are by default all bridge/senior officers aboard their starship, there's a lot of options available depending on what station your PC is currently manning.

I think it bears mention that while the PCs, or Main Characters as the book calls them, are all bridge officers and thus the ones generally in charge of the ship, there is the option of what the book calls Supporting Characters.  These are generally pulled from the list of no-name rank and file crew, given a name and run through an abbreviated version of the full character creation process that's pretty quick, and a minor bonus if this is the first time they show up in the current adventure.  That way, you can avoid running into the classic problem of the original Trek series where the senior officers were beaming down into dangerous situations.  There is a limit to how many Supporting Characters a group can pull into the adventure, generally based upon the size of the ship the players are in charge of.

The options provided for starships are fairly broad, but again are centered on the 24th century with a few throwbacks to the 23rd century, with the famous Constitution-class being the oldest starship model available to players in the core book.  One nice touch that can help keep older ships viable is the idea of refits; in short for every 10 years past the ship class' launch date that the campaign is set in, the PCs ship gets a small boost to reflect the minor upgrades and refits the vessel would have undergone to keep it in service.  Another nice touch is that each Starfleet vessel gets the option of choosing a role for the ship, from a Pathfinder/Recon to Tactical/Patrol to Science to the Multirole Explorer (the game text notes that Kirk's Enterprise was of this type), with the role providing a set value of ship skills and a Talent to reflect the role it plays in Starfleet.

Overall, I have to say I like Star Trek Adventures, and am kind of eager to give the game a whirl.  There's been talk amidst my Skype group of trying at least a one shot or two, but right now our focus is on completing the Curse of Strahd adventure module (we're now at 9th level and still no PC deaths, though our Dragonborn Bard has had a couple close calls) before we really start seriously talking about doing one-shots for other systems.

Still, that hasn't stopped me from coming up with a crop of pre-gens, done so that I can get a slightly better feel for the system and how various numbers might work.  I'll probably do a later post walking through the character creation process for a couple of different characters, just to give a demo of how it works.

So, if you're a Star Trek fan looking for an RPG to let you game in the Final Frontier, then Star Trek Adventures is definitely worth checking out.

July 4, 2017

May the Fourth (of July) Be With You!

Okay, it's a stretch for the pun, but it's a pun and that makes it worth it.

If you're a resident of the United States, then you're probably at least aware of this being our Independence Day, or as some have called it Brexit 1776, if not out actively celebrating it.

Frankly, I'm not sure there's a whole lot to celebrate. We have a belligerent man-child sitting the Oval Office, a post turtle that's been put into a position he is not even remotely qualified for, and a large portion of our duly elected leaders seem hell bent on screwing over the people that they're supposed to represent.  Yes, the "wealth care" bill that the GOP has been trying (and thus far failing) to ramrod through has stalled out yet again, but I'm dreading that this bill may well pass; it may not impact me directly, but it's going to literally be the death of several people I know and count as friends, and will make things that much harder on friends of mine that are struggling with both health issues and to make ends meet.

On the other hand, I count myself fortunate to live in a blue state, where the bulk of our senators and congresspeople are concerned with the well-being of their constituents, even if with a few of them it's only to ensure that they can continue to be re-elected.  I'm also in an area where the bigotry and hatred that keeps cropping up since the cheeto-faced man-baby took office is not nearly as pronounced as it is on other parts of the country; I won't say it's not present, because I've seen it but I've also seen (and been counted among) good people standing up and against that sort of narrow-minded discrimination that racists and bigots are more open about now that one of their own has (in my view) stolen the election due to meddling by a foreign power.

But, I digress, as there's enough gloom and doom going around as it is.

As I'm sure many of you know, Fantasy Flight Games has announced Genesys, a generic version of the narrative dice system (NaDS?) used in their Star Wars RPG.  The response I've seen has been generally positive, with a number of folks suggesting possible theme books both official and fan-created for a variety of ideas, ranging from FFG properties such as Legend of the Five Rings (almost a given I would think) and Midnight to odd-ball ideas such as professional wrestling.  Me personally, I'd like to see FFG revisit their old Horizons product line, which was a series of "one and done" splats for 3rd edition d20, with the one I would especially love for them to redo being Mechamorphosis, which was essentially Transformers: The RPG with the serial numbers filed off and a different backstory for why the 'mechs were on Earth.

I only got to play Mechamophosis for a few sessions, with the GM having largely put the serial numbers back on, but I had fun playing Charger, a brash yet well-meaning young(ish) Autobot whose alt-mode was a ridiculously souped-up muscle car whose crowning moment was an impromptu demolition derby against a pack of Not!Dreadnoks.  In retrospect, I abused the hell out of the system, namely that by 'bot had DR10 versus anything that wasn't Cybertronian tech in origin and that damage from human-based tech was dropped by 10, meaning I could get into collisions all day long and suffer little more than a scratched paint job.

For those that participated in the open beta for Fantasy Flight Games' Force and Destiny, some of those who were on the FFG forums might recall that during that process, I had proposed some alternate layouts for five of the six the Lightsaber Form specs; at the time I felt that Niman Disciple was the only one that really didn't need any work, and it's a view I still hold today.  Granted, a large part of the layout changes was to accommodate a proposed change to how the damage reduction values for Parry and Reflect were calculated, which obviously FFG didn't go for.

At this year's GamerNationCon (a blast as always), I got to talking a bit with Will aka Taigia Reilly about a few different topics, one of which was that he liked the alternate layouts that I had proposed for the Ataru Striker during the Force and Destiny Beta.  Which after the con got me to thinking about what other tweaks I would make the remaining Lightsaber Form specializations?

So, over the past several weeks I've been playing around a bit with some of the Lightsaber Form specializations, seeing what worked with regards to the alterations and what didn't.  Overall, the versions that FFG published in Force and Destiny are pretty solid.  Now, if you've been following this blog in any way, shape, or form, then you're probably aware that I have what could be called a fundamental difference of opinion on the Shii-Cho Knight specialization, mostly centered around how FFG gave it zero ranks of Reflect and thus no protection against ranged attacks.  To be clear, I'm not saying that Sam or whomever wrote up the spec did it wrong, just that the author and I came to different conclusions from the same source material.  For easiness' sake, I'll be including what is probably my final take on a revised Shii-Cho Knight in this post, as well as discussing later on why I made the changes I did.

For the specializations where I changed the layout or talent selection, I've placed a hyperlink to an image of the revised spec's talent tree, which is stored on my Dropbox account.  Kudos go to OggDude, as the talent tree images were created using his Character Generator program; if you don't have that program and you're using a computer that runs Windows, do yourself a favor and grab this program as it incredibly useful and makes storing and sharing characters so much easier.

Ataru Striker
Overall, this is a solid spec, capturing the core idea that Ataru is physically demanding and not well-suited for facing multiple foes at once.  So really, the only alteration I made was to drop the third rank of Parry and replace it with the Improved Reflect talent, since a large part of Ataru's development came from the thought that Soresu was far too passive but still incorporating some of Form III's defensive elements.  With this change, I also severed the connection between Row 4 and Row 5 in the first column, so if your Ataru Striker wants to get Improved Reflect, they'll need Dedication to accomplish it (see what I did there?)  I had considered removing the connection between Row 4 and Row 5 in the second column as well, but I didn't care for the idea of forcing the PC to have to go through Saber Throw in order to get Dedication, especially since if the PC wants to get the most mileage out of Improved Reflect, they're going to be burning strain for both their Dodge and Reflect talents.

Makashi Duelist
The layout of the specialization is by and large perfect, capturing Form II's feel as a duelist-orientated style.  However, that doesn't mean it's without something I perceive as a problem, one that got high-lighted during the Force and Destiny Beta campaign that I ran for some friends.  One of the characters was a Nautolan Mystic/Makashi Duelist, infamous for his giant grin (one PC even seriously considering painting an image of the Nautolan's grinning mug on the front of the ship).  Overall, the character did really well, even making good use of a double-bladed lightsaber until the weapon got updated to have Unwieldy 3 instead of Unwieldy 2.  However, the issue came up that his primary means of defense against melee attacks was the Feint talent, which looks great on paper, but does you no good if you continue to hit your opponent, which in turn means the player has spent XP on talents they can't really use.

So, my proposed alteration for Makashi Duelist is instead for the Feint talent, namely to allow the character to spend 3 advantage or a Triumph from a Brawl, Lightsaber, or Melee combat check regardless of whether they hit or miss.  It does mean that in a melee fight, the Makashi Duelist is going to be very difficult to score a solid attack against, and that if you do hit there's a good chance they'll be able to use Improved Parry to score a hit in return, but really that's the Makashi Duelist's thing, is to be a very daunting opponent in a one-on-one duel, and that a true master of Form II is a tough nut to crack when it comes to crossing blades.

Niman Disciple
Sticking to my guns here, and I'll say that Niman Disciple is picture-perfect as far as the Lightsaber Form specs go with regards to talent layout, talent selection, talent mechanics, and bonus non-career skills.  So no revisions from me on this one.

Shien Expert
Another specialization that's got zero issues with regards to what talents it offers, how those talents work, and the bonus career skills the spec offers.  I could see some contention with the Counterstrike talent, as it requires your target to miss you, but that's strongly mitigated once you get Disruptive Strike, which if you've got a Force die (or two) available as well as Sense's defensive control upgrade running and have used Defensive Stance, you should have little trouble forcing your opponent to miss on their attacks, setting up Counterstrike for a free upgrade every round and saving you some pain both in terms of suffering wounds and spending strain.

About the only tweak I'd make with regards to Shien Expert is more to the Sentinel career, with that change being to remove Knowledge (Core Worlds) and instead add Streetwise to their list of beginning career skills.  The Sentinel, to me at least, has always been about walking the dark places that no others would enter, skulking around the shadier parts of the galaxy in an effort to find and defeat their foes.  Yes, I know that Shien Expert gets the Street Smarts talent, and that Shadow has Streetwise as a bonus career skill, but Knowledge (Core Worlds) still feels like the odd duck out in what is generally a very rogue-like/investigative career, and Streetwise makes more sense as it's a means to gather information from the locals.

Shii-Cho Knight
Okay, so this is a specialization that I've been tinkering with for a while, mostly to find space to incorporate two ranks of Reflect so that the PC has some measure of protection against ranged attacks, to account for the blast-deflect training that is an integral part of the more modern Shii-Cho curriculum.  Now, I suppose that one could just design a brand new spec and call it something like Shii-Cho Champion or Shii-Cho Crusader, but I didn't want to redesign the entire car when it was the tires that were a problem.

The first change was that I swapped out the rank of Parry in Row 1 of Column 1 for a rank of Reflect, letting the PC grab both Parry and Reflect very early on.  However, contrary to earlier takes on a revised Shii-Cho Knight, I put the second rank of Reflect all the way up on Row 5, replacing the rank of Durable and also severing the Row 5 connection between Column 1 and Column 2.  Given that Form I Shii-Cho is supposed to be the fundamentals of lightsaber combat that all the other Forms are built upon, I didn't want this spec to be too good melee protection, so I wound up dropping out the rank of Parry that's found in Row 5 of Column 4 and putting that second rank of Durable in its place, while also severing the Row 5 connection between Column 3 and Column 4 and adding a connection between Row 4 and Row 5 in Column 4, so that it's liked to Sum Djem instead of Dedication.

This is probably the one revised Lightsaber Form specialization that I've done the most playtesting with, given that my long-time friend Linda Whitson was gracious enough to let me play a Shii-Cho Knight in her Age of Rebellion campaign (where none of the active PCs were built using AoR careers).  The character in question, Kyren Stryder, has worked out pretty well, though amusingly he didn't get an opportunity to really make use of a lot of his talents until long after he'd gotten them, as he didn't draw his lightsaber (which none of the other players even knew he had!) until about halfway into Linda's running of the Dead in the Water adventure from the AoR GM Kit.

Soresu Defender
Again, overall this specialization is generally solid.  There's a few quirks, namely how Defensive Circle can be kinda underwhelming if most of your party already has a defense rating, such as from wearing armor or being behind cover or using weapons with the Defensive and/or Deflection qualities, which is compounded if your dice rolls tend not to generate much in the way of advantage, which more often than not a Soresu Defender will likely need to help recover strain during a fight.

Really the only that struck me as being "off" about the specialization was how the ranks in Reflect simply felt clustered too close together, especially towards the top while the half the ranks of Parry the spec offers are planted in the first row.  So what I did here was replace the rank in Parry located in Row 1 of Column 2 with a rank in Reflect, and then changing the rank in Reflect from Row 2 in the same column to a rank of Parry, which I think makes a nice synergy with the fact that Improved Parry is now most easily accessible after buying Parry as opposed to buying Reflect.  I also swapped out the Row 3 rank of Parry that was in Column 4 for a rank of Reflect while replacing the Row 4 rank of Reflect in Column 2 for a rank of Parry; this does have the effect of placing two ranks of Parry right next to each other, which could be solved by swapping its location in the tree with Confidence, but at the time I wasn't overly crazy about pushing Confidence up to Row 4, though with having Discipline as a bonus career skill and most likely having a high Willpower to bolster your strain threshold, having to wait a bit longer to purchase Confidence isn't that big of a drawback, and I may just wind up doing that.

The last notable change I made to Soresu Defender was to swap out the Defensive Stance talent in Row 4 of Column 4 for a single rank of Side Step, kind of taking a page from Shien Expert's playbook, which makes a degree of sense given that Form V grew out of Form III's defensive elements; plus, much like Shien Expert having that rank of Side Step gives a Soresu Defender PC a better chance of getting Improved Reflect to trigger without necessarily having to invest XP into the Sense power for the defensive control upgrade.

One of the players in my current Force and Destiny campaign did make the suggestion of dropping Supreme Parry in favor of Supreme Reflect, but I honestly think that's going a bit too far, and that such a degree of expertise at deflecting blaster fire is Shien's hat, where Soresu is more of the "I can Parry all day!" given its a direct transition from Form II.

So, there you have it, my proposed revisions for the six Lighsaber Form specs from the Force and Destiny core rulebook.  To re-iterate, there's nothing wrong with any of the specializations as they exist in the book, as each of them does a very good job at what they're intended to do.  I'm simply offering these up as possible alternatives for a player of such characters to consider or GMs to perhaps ponder implementing in their own campaigns.

One a side note, I was working on revising and updating the three Lightsaber Style specializations that Phil "DarthGM" Maiaweski had created as part of his Edge of the Jedi fan supplement back before Force and Destiny was published.  However, the main problem I kept running into was they consistently failed the "why would my character NOT take one of these specializations?" and frequently looked more a like a grab-bag of "good talents" with a theme than actually being a viable specialization in its own right.  Then again, I did already sort of a "lightsaber generalist" specialization in the form of the Jedi Initiate universal specialization that was part of the final release of my Ways of the Force fan supplement, and that itself was enough of a bear to turn it into a viable specialization that wasn't simply a talent grab-bag.

I am tempted to put together a "Saber Rake"-themed specialization, based upon the dueling culture of the same name that was first introduced in WEG's Lords of the Expanse box set for their Star Wars game.  I'm hoping we get official stats on lightfoils in the Mystic sourcebook (which to me would be a good place for dueling-themed weapon given it's the parent career of the Makashi Duelist), but we'll have to wait and see.

If you've made it all the way down here, thanks for reading, and if you're a citizen of the United States, be you proud, dismayed, concerned, native-born, naturalized, or otherwise, then I hope you have an enjoyable holiday, and may the Fourth be with you :D
see what I did there? ;)