Thursday, February 14, 2013

Talent Crunch: The Jedi Knight, Part 3

This "new update every week" thing is tricky.  It's certainly demanding on my free time (whatever that is).  It's not just that I'm typing up a blog post, I actually have to do something that's worthy of doing a blog post about each week.  Be it custom RPG work, costuming, or campaign stories; I need to have spent the time to do something Star Wars related in the first place to come here and tell you all about it.

On the plus side, a lot of positive things happened this week in the subjects that I cover in this blog.  I made significant progress on my custom Lightsaber, thanks to the expertise and guidance of local sabersmith Randy Smith.  I spent three hours on a skype call with my former co-host Fiddleback working on a "sekrit project" that you all will be able to enjoy at some near-future date, and I got some great feedback on my rough draft of my Jedi Specialization Skill trees.  I could do a second post this week on the lightsaber, but I'll likely save it for next week (or maybe the week after, while I'm on vacation and very AFK).  The "sekrit project" will also have to wait (mostly because we ain't done with it yet).

I guess that just leaves one thing to write about.  Time to stop going over theorycraft and present to the Gamer Nation my custom work on a Jedi Career and it's Specializations for use in Fantasy Flight Games' Edge of the Empire setting.  That's right kids, it's Crunch Time, and I'm not referring to a deadline!


Background Crunch

The Jedi; making robes look cool
since 25,000 BBY...
 So after several weeks of work, the three talent trees came together into what I have presented below.  These trees are designed with the spirit of the Edge of the Empire system in mind while utilizing as many existing talents as possible.  The talents presented in the book are solid, and offer many options for use within a Jedi Career.

The only talent that is homebrewed and that requires explanation outside of the Beta Rulebook is the Blaster Deflection talent.  There are some great discussions and great options for how to use your lightsaber to deflect blaster bolts over on the D20 Radio Forums.  I know the Jedi need Blaster Deflection at some point, so I placed it as a bottom row talent in all specializations.  As far as the specific rules for the talent's mechanics go; head on over to the forums and find a version of the talent that you like (or more likely, that the GM likes).  Once someone at Fantasy Flight posts something that's more official (unlikely until 2015), or a fan posts a web-published set of rules that I like, I'll make the changes and post it up here.  Until then, it's vague to allow for your playstyle.

You'll also notice the talent trees make references to page numbers in the Beta Rulebook.  Sorry; at this time you'll need the book by Fantasy Flight Games to know specifically what those talents do.  I'll update these trees further once the Core Rulebook is released later this year with new page numbers.

As a guide, Yellow talents are Passive abilities, Green talents are Active abilities, Blue talents are Passive Force abilities, and Crimson Talents are Active Force abilities.  Passives are on all the time, Actives require some expenditure to initiate.  Force talents are only usable by those beings with Force ratings, which all specializations gain once they buy into them.

Concerning Force ratings; each Specialization grants the character Force Rating 1 when taken.  This is to allow someone from outside the Jedi Career to buy into the specialization, just as when someone takes the Force Exile Specialization in the Beta Rulebook they gain a Force Rating.  Keep in mind that you get "Force Rating 1".  If you already have a Force Rating when you buy a new Jedi Specialization, you use the better rating.  You don't add an additional +1 to your Force Rating by buying access to the Specialization.  That's what the Force Rating talents are for.

The Guardian

I talked about this tree last time I went over the Jedi career, but now I go into some detail about my choices, and officially share my progress.  The first row gives you some good introductory Talents; Jump Up might be a steal for 5 xp, but that can be explained as using the Force to enhance your prowess at getting up from prone.  Talents that grant extra Wound points, skill with motivating others, and a bonus to your initiative rolls seem like good places to start for me.
The next tier adds some fun talents; Knockdown gives you something else to do with your Triumphs.  Normally, knocking someone prone is only possible if they roll three Threats while attacking you.  Now you get to choose to knock them prone and get bonuses to your melee attacks. Inspiring Rhetoric and Confidence reinforce the positive influence a charismatic Jedi can have on the field, or in any endeavor.

Jedi Guardian Talent Tree
As an aside, all three Specializations get Confidence, and at the second tier.  The only difference is that the other two classes go right to it, where for Guardians it's a branch off from another second tier talent.

Third tier we get more survival Talents for the Guardian, and a solid talent for attack rolls with Precise Aim.  Fourth tier gives us more Force talents, increasing the Jedi's defense in melee and ranged attacks, as well as allowing the Force to influence the Jedi in potent ways.  Finally, the fifth tier gives the Guardian options to increase to their Force Rating, Soak value, and one Characteristic, as well as access to the aforementioned Blaster Deflection talent.

Right now, the only way to get to Blaster Deflection, Sixth Sense, and Touch of Fate is to take Inspiring Rhetoric and Confidence up at tier two.  I'm tempted to give another branch to the tree between Precise Aim and Balance.  However, I do like the split between the two sides of the tree down at tiers four and five, making the Jedi focus on increasing his Characteristics and melee prowess over ranged defense.  Another possible branch could be swapping Force Rating with Dedication, and Grit with Superior Reflexes, then linking Grit to Durable instead of Toughened.  I could then have a bridge from Force Rating to Blaster Deflection

Hmmm...I might make that change.  I'll let you know if I do.


The Consular

Next up is the Consular, built as a combination of the Politico, the Scholar, and the Force Exile.  This was actually the hardest tree to make, because Consulars have traditionally been a class of Jedi I've shied away from.  I prefer the "in your face" physical nature of Jedi Guardians, and the utility of Jedi Shadows.  "Talky Jedi" have never really appealed to be, but I can certainly appreciate the role they fill in the universe and in the PC party.  To that end, I tried to put together a solid tree of talents for the Consular, as well as a good spread of Skill choices for them.  I tried to make something that would be fun to play, even for a guy like me.

Jedi Consular Talent Tree
Consulars first tier skills give them additional access to skills as Career skills, greater proficiency with a social skill, quick reflexes for initiative, and an increased Strain Threshold to help them with the migraines they are likely to get during difficult negotiations.  Tier two gives a lot of utility and strengthens their resilience; Consulars can snag Researcher to make Knowledge checks easier, Confidence to bolster their resistance to fear effects, and another rank of Grit to increase their Strain Threshold.  Balance is in this region too, but to buy it you have to go down to tier three, and move laterally, and move back up the chart to purchase it.

Tier three is where the Consular can start to specialize, literally.  Knowledge Specialization allows them to choose one area of Knowledge to get increased effects on.  I gave them access to Nobody's Fool because Consulars tend to be very canny when it comes to social checks, and have an innate resistance to anyone trying to put one over on them, even without the Force as their ally.  Sense Emotions is the flip side; giving the Jedi a bonus to similar social checks through insight in the Force.  Body Guard may seem like an odd choice, but I think it's very fitting for a Consular.  The role of the Jedi is to protect, and often times Jedi Consulars are near folks who have a habit of having others wanting them dead.

Tier four gives the Consular a lot of Force abilities; Uncanny Senses to notice danger, Touch of Fate to be strong in the Force and give a boost to a critical check, and Overwhelm Emotions to add a roundhouse kick to the social punch of the Sense Emotions talent.  Tier five you find what you'd expect at this point; Dedication, Force Rating, and Blaster Deflection.  I also added Sixth Sense to the list to help their survivability.

I could have tried to work in some Doctor talents into the tree, but I feel that if a Jedi wants to specialize in being a Jedi Healer, they would branch out and pick up the Doctor specialization, under the Colonist Career.  Jedi Healers actually aren't that common in the Expanded Universe, so I feel my design choice reflects that.

Just like the Guardian tree, I can see some edits I may want to make to the Consular.  I can see linking Sixth Sense to Uncanny Senses.  I can see swapping Sixth Sense with Force Rating, but that makes that branch of the tree too good.  Adding a Setback die to the attacker's difficulty, on top of whatever version of Blaster Deflection grants would be a little much, certainly not without spending the XP needed to get it through the other branch. 

I think this tree will remain like this for some time, though. 


The Sentinel

Jedi Sentinel Talent Tree
While I enjoyed creating the Sentinel tree, it also caused me some problems.  Sentinels in the Expanded Universe are presented in such a wide variety of ways.  Hunters, assassins (of sorts), detectives, infiltrators; if you take every aspect of the Sentinels as presented, they'd be a career of their own.  For this I decided it was best to go back to where it began, with the original Knights of the Old Republic video game.  There, the Sentinels were the Jedi-analogue to Rogues.  They had a lot of sneaky tricks, and a lot of skills.  I took inspiration for the Sentinel from Scoundrels and Thieves, and from the Assassin and Marauder trees (ironic, given that the Sentinel's Sith counterpart in the Old Republic MMO is the "Sith Marauder").

Tier one you get a solid base with Lethal Blows, Toughened, Stalker, and  Uncanny Senses. Second tier brings in some nasty tricks, with Quick Strike, Confidence, Grit, and Balance.  Of the three Specializations, Sentinels get Balance easiest.  They're often presented as being on their own, and I can see them needing to focus on self-reliance a lot.

In tier three we have  Sense Danger, Bypass Security, Dodge, and Sense Emotions. This is the first of the infiltration and investigation tiers.  Tier four continues this, with Hard Headed, Master of Shadows, Uncanny Senses, and Touch of Fate.  Finally, we see Dedication, Blaster Deflection, and Force Rating at the bottom, with the talent Deadly Accuracy included to help the Sentinel end combat quickly.

I'll admit, the addition of Deadly Accuracy may be my nod to the Jedi Sentinel as presented in The Old Republic.  It's a nice boost to the Jedi's DPS.

I almost wonder if I should remove the link between  Sense Danger and  Bypass Security.  It's an odd link.  Maybe change it to link with Hard Headed instead.  Unlike the other two trees, I'm pretty happy with how the bottom of the tree branches out, so I don't think there will be any changes there.


Final Thoughts

If you look on the Fantasy Flight Games boards, and even a little bit on the D20 Radio boards, there's a polarizing event occurring when you talk about Jedi in Edge of the Empire.  Some folks are mad at FFG for even thinking about releasing a Star Wars RPG without a playable Jedi class in it.  Some folks feel it's perfect, that given the focus of the game's setting the lack of a Jedi career is a welcome nod to the dearth of Jedi during the Rebellion Era after the Battle of Yavin. 

What gets me is that folks are so passionate about their stances on the issue that they're willing to let tempers flare and attack each other personally about it.  Or ridicule the other side for deigning to think anything but the way they know the game should be played.  These people are so obsessed with their views that they refuse anyone else's point of view, even folks actually working on the game.

Here's my stance; I get why FFG made the choice they did for Edge of the Empire.  I really do.  For me, I want the option for Jedi, because the campaign I want to play does not take place during the Rebellion Era.  I don't like limitations or restrictions to my hobbies.  It hurt me to wait two years for the official book for the Legacy Era for SAGA Edition, but I did it and I still ran my Legacy Era campaign.  How did I accomplish this?  By making it up, writing and fudging with what I had until I had something I felt I could use until the official rules for Legacy Era ships, droids, and classes came along.  I didn't have to wait beofre I could play in the Legacy Era because I went out and did what I felt I needed to do to move forward.  No one can tell me not to, and I never told anyone they had to do it my way either.  It's just a set of rules. 

So review these trees at your own discretion, and for your own enjoyment.  I'm likely to update them as official rules are released and as my own playtesting occurs (if it occurs).  Use them for your games and let me know what you find.  Play them as you see fit.  FFG, LFL, nor Disney will send the Rules Police to you to tell you different. 

Unless you try to make money with it, then...hey, you're on your own.

In any case, the Force will be with your PCs, always.

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