- The game starts at year 9 BBY. This is 10 years after Order 66. This allows the Jedi characters to conceivably be around 18-20 years of age, as they had just started their apprenticeships before their masters were killed.
- I plan to for PCs to be about level 16 at the end of the campaign. The d20 rules really start to break down past that point. Even the creators of the game acknowledge that (specifically, Rodney stated the difficulty of writing the last few modules of the campaign to be sufficiently challenging and still manageable.)
Anyways, with that background, and swinging by the Disc Replay to pick up a copy of Star Wars: Clone Wars, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 1, I thought it would flow well to watch Attack of the Clones again since I hadn’t seen it since the original theatrical release; so I picked up a DVD of that as well.
Well, I gotta say that my opinion of it hasn’t changed. The lines were so bad (especially between Anakin and Padame!!!), the storyline so contrived at times, the “wise” Jedi so clueless, and the directing so bad that it made excellent actors into bland cardboard actors, that I couldn’t help muttering and spouting off how just plain DUMB the lines were… and I thank my poor wife for putting up with me as she quietly read her kindle next to me (I was wearing earphones).
It was especially appalling as I decided to prolong the pain and watch some of the deleted scenes and featurettes.What particularly struck me, and pushed me over the edge to write this tonight instead of waiting until the morning, were the interviews with Natalie Portman. Now, she’s been one of my favorite actors since I saw her in The Professional when it came out – and it was quite telling when SHE HAD MORE EMOTION IN HER FACE DURING THOSE 45 SECONDS THAN THE ENTIRE MOVIE PUT TOGETHER.
The greatest tragedy in my opinion (and there are quite a few in the prequels)? Every action sequence is a reminder of how much cooler this whole triology could have been if Lucas had been content to let someone else write the lines and direct, and he went hands off after the initial vision… kinda like for Empire – the best of the saga.
So, I hope my players appreciate the pain I put myself through to give them a good time and immerse them in the Star Wars Universe.
I’ve listed below some possibilities and have link to a table showing what a “typical” progression would look like.
1) Easy1: UTF cannot be a Trained skill until achieving a level of Jedi Knight/Sith Apprentice. A pre-requisite for the Feat Skill Focus (UTF) is a level in Jedi Master/Sith Lord. This significantly lowers the UTF for lower-level Jedi characters, but has the same maximum as the books. The problem is there are large bumps upon attained the Prestige Classes (not necessarily bad, as getting trained and taking skill focus for other skills does the same thing).
2) Easy2: A pre-requisite for the Feat Skill Focus (UTF) is a level of Jedi Knigh/Sith Apprentice. Similar to Easy1, but not as drastic a measure. This is what we are using in our current Dawn of Defiance Campaign.
3) Feel1: UTF is not a skill. Rather, it is a special check that is available to characters with the Force Sensitive Feat. The check is = character level + Cha mod + 1 per force-user level (ie. Jedi, Jedi Knight, Sith Lord, etc.) This leads to an extremely high final UTF at the higher levels.
4) Feel2: Same as Feel1, but the progression is only +1/2 per force-user level. This lowerls the maximum as compared to Feel1, but still leads to high UTF at levels 15+
5) Feel3: Similar to Feel1 & Feel2, but the check is = 1/2 character level + Cha mod + 1 per force-user level. This keeps the skill mechanic of adding +1/2 per character level. The same difficulty with high UTF at levels 15+
6) Mike1: UTF is a skill, but change the Feat Skill Focus (UTF) bonus to be a maximum provided by the level-based skill bonus, with a maximum of +5 at level 10.
7) Mike2: As Mike1, but the Skill Focus (UTF) bonus is equal to the Cha mod.
8) Mike3: A combination of Mike1 and Mike2, where the Skill Focus (UTF) bonus is capped at the lower of the level-based skill bonus or Cha mod.
I’d be interested to hear about other suggestions. My favorite at this time is Feel3; partially because it gives a good progression and follows the skill mechanic. A +33 is very high for a 20th level force-user, but I am of the opinion that the game really starts to break down past 16th level, and I don’t plan on running games past that level. In addition, I don’t see that as being a complete negative, as I would expect an equivalently leveled gun-fighter to have ~+28 on to-hit rolls and defenses to be around the same.
Link to the table. The light blue is what I expect most optimized force-user UTF will be with core rules, and the light green is where the various optional rules meet the inflection point as compared to that light blue column.
Because of that, I think that this places quite a bit of bias in the game systems we tend to play as a group. Whereas I think my preferences now tend toward the rules-lighter, less “crunchy” systems like Hollow Earth Expedition’s Ubiquity, there is by definition quite a bit less player investment in character mechanical development as compared to a d20 system on the opposite end of the spectrum. In the latter, a character is quite defined by the mechanical bits that comprise him, and these can be planned out in a multitude of combinations throughout the “growth” of the character’s life. A player can (and my players do!) plan out which classes, feats, skills, talents, and equipment he will take at each level, as well as which prestige class he will qualify for and train in. In doing so, the mechanics define and shape the character just as much as – or even moreso, the original character concept. And that large investment of a player’s time into planning out the character translates directly into the player’s investment into his character.
I wrote yesterday that I’m thoroughly enjoying the Star Wars Dawn of Defiance game that I’m currently running. And while I don’t think that the d20 system is a good representation of the Star Wars universe (especially when compared to just Episodes IV – VI), I think each player’s investment of many hours into planning how his character is going to developed has helped to continue driving the game onward – they want to play their characters just as much as they want to see their characters reach their goals of getting this prestige class or that feat combo. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing – in fact, I think its great that this aspect of character building really draws the players into knowing their characters VERY well (no, “wait, what’s my bonus to hit now?”) and gives them an attachment to the character such that a PC death does cause waves; its just, I would love for a system that combines this aspect with a more rules-light approach.
As an aside, one system that I think manages to balance well the rules-light flow along with a great flexibility of player options and foreplanning is Savage Worlds (and to a lesser degree, Warhammer 40K RPG). There’s enough planning possible for the gamers who like the crunch, but still a very flexible and rules-light deployment of the mechanics. I think Savage Worlds would make an EXCELLENT vehicle for running a Star Wars campaign.
I mean, face it, we have all had (or been) players that could care less about the difference between a Lannister and a Stark without just wanting to know whom to attack and which dice to roll for the attack. And, save all (or at least, the majority) having read some of the books, it would quickly and easily turn into a generic fantasy campaign without a great deal of work on the GM’s part to constantly drag the player’s into the world. It’s often hard enough to keep players focused on the game without going off on tangents as it is…
And so, that’s a HUGE reason I’m thoroughly enjoying running my Star Wars Dawn of Defiance campaign right now. Regardless of what players may think about the validity of Episodes I-III, or how the d20 Saga doesn’t do this right, ALL of us know the Star Wars universe. I don’t need to fill them in on how a senator named Palaptine was recently elevated to Emperor, or how there was once a religious order called the Jedi that was decimated by his right hand man Darth Vader, or even that a Twi’lek is a humoid creature with long head tentacles. We all have the same background knowledge of the world, and its as simple as saying the Wookie bounty hunter wears a bandolier of thermonuclear detonators that fills the same image in all the players minds (and identifies him as one mean NPC not to mess with).
Prior to starting this campaign last year, we’d been playing in the World of Greyhawk for close to the past 10 years, well, actually, probably longer than that; and even then, it was still very much “wait, Veluna is a theocracy also? I thought it was the Theocracy of Pale?” With this being the first time I’m regularly running a “shared background” game, the difference is so refreshing!
I think in the past, that was why I enjoyed running games like Shadowrun, Dark Matter, or more recently, Gamma World – I could set it in the context of the real world, a truly shared background. In the future, I think this could very well be a much larger draw to bringing in others who otherwise aren’t inclined to game with us. In particular, I’m thinking of all our wives/girlfriends, who wouldn’t come near our games now agreeing to play a game based in the Harry Potter or Twilight universe.
Pictures of the upcoming DF stuff from Gencon 2011.
1) Sandra Garrity sculpting what eventually was included as the bonus ice serpent for the Ice Caverns set (and a few other figures)
2) The cool looking wooden buildings which were never produced…
[Originally posted at Dwarven Forge forums on 2011 Aug 17. Taken 2011 Aug 06]
[Originally posted on Dwarven Forge forums 2011 Sep 07. Game date 2011 Jul 02]
Here are some pictures from our Star Wars Dawn of Defiance game (Episode IV – Echoes of the Jedi). This shows off the great versatility of DF – using Sci-fi and Return of the Ancient sets as the layout for an abandoned Jedi academy (haunted with creatures tainted by the dark side of the force) and the lower level combining the Caves with Sci-fi sets.
STAR WARS: DAWN OF DEFIANCE
ECHOES OF THE JEDI
It is a dark time in the galaxy. The Jedi Knights, peaceful guardians of the Old Republic, are all but extinct, exterminated by the Emperor’s sinister agents. But a few Jedi still survive, exiled from the galaxy they once protected and leaving echoes in the Force behind. The Emperor has sensed these remnants and seeks to control them, leaving no chance for future Jedi to arise from the ashes.
Most Jedi stay in hiding, some try to foil the Empire without revealing their existence, and others seek links to their former way of life, risking the wrath of the Emperor in hopes of re-igniting the flame of their ancient order . . .
“Oh, Master Ran, I simply detest violence and do not condone it in any circumstance! I’m a medical droid and my basic programming is to heal organics. But that meatbag was trying to render me nonfunctional. He refused to calm down even with my offers of antidepressants or illicit substances. So of course I had to shoot him through the ascending portion of the aortic arch lest he deprive the galaxy of my invaluable skills as a highly sophisticated medical droid that could potentially save many more lives than that dirtbag’s wretched existance. It does certainly perturb my programming on the most fundamental level however.”
I just joined a group playing a Star Wars Saga edition game set in the Old Republic (just after the 2nd KoTOR). The group had already been playing for a while, so I came in midgame. They had just acquired a droid NPC, so I offered to use that as my PC as it sounded like a fun character.
AG-420 was a Republic medial droid prior to ending up in the hands of Tagg, a drug smuggler who later became a dead NPC at the hands of the PC’s. Under Tagg’s ownership, AG was programmed to become a pusher for Tagg’s wares. This became evident upon the heroes first outing when, upon their return, AG proudly showed his new Master Ran how much money he had made selling off all of their med-kits… the looks on the players’ faces was hilarious. I happened to be observing that game, and that’s when I decided I wanted to join in as AG’s newly acquired Independent Spirit.
This last game, they got a chance to see a little of AG’s schizoprenia. Throughout the game, AG kept protesting violence against organics, bemoaning how he would have to patch them back up afterwards. That was, until the climactic last battle, when we were trying hold off waves of baddies while waiting for the Jedi that was rescuing slaves about a gladiatorial entertainment ship. Asked to provide help by Master Ran, AG proceeded to unveil a blaster rifle that was a part of his left arm and loosened a hail of blaster fire into one of the enemies… Amidst the looks of shock (again) among the players, I had AG respond as quoted above
(And yes, I did spend a turn trying to offer the baddie meds to help alleviate his feelings of hostility and anger; which only led to him shooting me).
Medium Droid, 1st degree
Noble 2 / Soldier 1
Feats: Skill Focus (Treat Injury, Knowledge – Life Sciences, Use Computer), Weapon Proficiency (Rifle, Heavy), Burst Fire
Talents: Medical Droid, Devastating Attack (I rationalized it as his detailed knowledge of biological beings allows him to hit them where it hurts the most)
Str 10 Dex 14 Con – Int 16 Wis 18 Cha 10