Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Refitting Star Wars d6 - Skills Part 1

This will make more sense if you read the introduction here

Let's talk about skills: there are too many of them. In the d6 system skills are linked to a relevant ability, so we will review them in the same format.

Dexterity Skills

Archaic Guns - this is a perfect example of a skil we don't need. Do we see any flintlocks in the movies? No. Why is this in the list? How often is it going to come up in a typical campaign? It's gone.

Blaster - of course. PC's can speicalize in any number of specific weapon types - pistol, heavy pistol, rifle, carbine, repeating blaster, etc.

Blaster Artillery - yes

Bowcaster - alright, it does give wookies their own thing but who else is ever going to take it? Mechanically all it does is force a wookie character to pay a skill point tax to raise their blaster skill as well if they want to be better than the default with any other gun they happen to pick up. If I'm running the game I'm dropping it and folding it into Blaster, but if someone wanted to keep it in the game I could see why. I'd be tempted to just say Wookie PC's get a free +1D Blaster specialty in "Bowcasters" and call it done.

Bows - how often so we see bows in the movies? The ewoks have some in ROTJ but that's about it. More importantly, is a PC ever going to take it? I doubt it. I think I'm going to drop it as a skill and if someone wants to be awesome with bows in a Star Wars game then maybe we need to have a talk and reset some expectations.

Brawling Parry - Does this really need to be a separate skill? Why is Brawling a Strength skill but Brawling Parry is a Dex skill? I don't like it mechancially or conceptually. Instead of this we're going to add a skill called "Martial Arts" which is really just a label for "Dex-based hand-to-hand-combat skill", and it can be used offensively and defensively. We see Obi-Wan and Jango Fett going at it in AOTC and I'm not going to assume the Jedi is using Strength over Dex.

Dodge - yep

Firearms - again, why is this on a PC skil llist? Have other people commonly had players wanting to use bullet guns in their Star Wars campaigns? How often do we see them in the movies? If so, would they have even thought of doing that if it wasn;t on the skill sheet? I really dislike it when the game mechanics bend the universe of the game like that. Number of significant characters in the Star Wars movies who use slug weapons: zero; Number of characters in your campaign who should be using them: pretty much the same, so zero.I think maybe the sandpeople use them in TPM but that's debateable. If your flying around in a YT-1300 fighting stormtroopers and infiltrating imperial outposts, you aren't going to be using bullet guns except as an annoying affectation. It's gone.

Grenade - I don't really like it as a separate skill but they do exist in the universe and I suppose if someone wants to waste points getting really good at throwing them then I should allow it. I would use it for any small round thrown object if a player decides to get good at it. Clearly Ewoks have about 9D in it as they are taking down stormtroopers with thrown rocks in the one battle. How about we fold this one in as a specialty under Thrown Weapons.

Lightsaber - Another overly-specific skill. It's a specialty of Melee Combat (below) and gone as a separate skill.

Melee Combat - The skill for using weapons in hand to hand combat. If you have a high level of skill here you're just good with everything. If you want to be good at just a specific weapon or two, then take a specialization - swords, vibroblades, vibroaxes, knives, lightsabers, force pikes, clubs, gaffi sticks - pretty much anything you can think of can be rolled into this as a specialty.

Melee Parry - rolled into Melee Combat above. Gone

Missile Weapons - this is the skill for grenade and missile launchers and while there's not much of it in the original trilogy, there is some in the second trilogy and there's a lot of it in the Clone Wars series. I think I'm OK with leaving it in, especially if the game is going to have a military theme .

Pick Pocket - this seems kind of dumb to me in a Star Wars game and it also seems like it's mainly here as a nod to D&D players and it also seems like it's overly specific but I'm not sure how to expand it. Let's leave it in for now.

Running - this is a Dexterty skill? Everything else on this list involves hand-eye coordination, not raw speed. It gets folded into "Athletics" under Strength.

Thrown Weapons - This is supposed to cover knives, spears, slings, etc. I can see the utility of thrown knives here, and we do see some spears and things in some movies, and a lot of those Gungan weapons (I know I know) would probably use this skill. If we're going to fold grenades in as a specialty here then I think it's worth keeping.

Vehicle Blasters - I don't really like the name but there it is. The only real difference between this and Blaster Artillery seems to be what the gun is mounted on and at first I was ready to roll both of those into a "Heavy Blasters" skill with specialty in Light, Medium, and Heavy categries for each of Vehicle and Artillery blasters. I still think that is not a bad idea as I think there is a lot of overlap between the two. However, I'm willing to concede that there is a significant difference in knowing how to shoot a big set in a building aiming at spaceships in orbit  vs. shooting a big gun mounted in a fast flying vehicle aiming at troops on the ground. Plus there is some backwards compatibility concern there, and if your game has a military theme it helps keep some niche protection in there too. So yes, it's stil la separate skill.

 So the list of Dexterity skills looks like this now:

  • Blasters
  • Blaster Artillery
  • Dodge
  • Martial Arts
  • Melee Combat
  • Missiles
  • Pick Pocket
  • Thrown Weapons
  • Vehicle Blasters

Knowledge Skills

Alien Species - Sure, this works

Bureaucracy - Yep

Business - From megacorps to independent free traders - sure

Cultures - this is fine but my view of this is that it tends to be planet or organization-specific, whereas Alien Species is race-specific. It's fairly clear to me but I've seen players get bogged down in the two.

Intimidation - This is a Knowledge skill?!? Doesn' this seem like the kind of skill mostly practiced by those a little lower on the "Knowledge" scale? We're moving it.

Languages - fine as-is

Law Enforcement - this seems prety specific to me but considering how many campaigns center around smuggling, investigations, and infiltrations I'll go ahead and leave it in

Planetary Systems - this to me is more about the astrogational and  geographic details of a system, to help keep it clearly separated from Aliens and Cultures skill. This is the skill that gets used more in space before you land (perhaps to decide where to land) then Aliens or Cultures takes the lead once you leave the ship.

Streetwise - oh yeah

Survival - sure, it's the outdoorsman skill of Star Wars

Value - Not a huge fan of the name and it's not something I typically need to have a skill for in my games. If you're a smuggler then I assume you have a broad knowledge of what things are worth. If you're a scout then you might not. I mostly saw this during the days of D&D 2E when "Appraise" was a popular skill and there are problems with it - First, there is usually no stress associated with it as it's not used in combat just a whole lot. Second, if they are suspicious, everyone in the party will take a shot at it to reach a consensus value. I can see some fun with it in the event of a blown roll but if I would only use this as a separate skill if I was running a Traveller-like free trader game set in the Star Wars universe, and the likelihood that I would run that is next to nil - Traveller does that kind of game much much better and it's really not what Star Wars games are about - worrying about power costs, landing fees, cargo prices and grubbing for every last credit just doesn't feel like SW to me. I'm making it a specialization of "Business" if someone wants it.

Willpower - sure, I can live with it being here.

So our new Knowledge skil list looks like this:

  • Alien Species
  • Bureaucracy
  • Business
  • Cultures
  • Languages
  • Law Enforecement
  • Planetary Systems
  • Streetwise
  • Survival
  • Willpower

Mechanical Skills

Archaic Starship Piloting - REALLY?! Someone thought we needed this? Please...gone

Astrogation - this looks a lot more like a knowledge skill to me as it's presented as something the computer does in advance, then once you arrive at your destination Piloting takes over as as the mechanical application of driving a ship. Moved to Knowledge.

Beast Riding - sure, it's like Pilot: Animal

Capital Ship Gunnery - Since ships do play a big part in the game and it does allow for some niche protection we will keep this as a separate skill

Capital Ship Piloting - I just don't see this coming up very often. ROTS is the only time I can think of it and even then it doesn;t work out too well but in the interest of specialization and fun for the DM ("You don't have CapShip piloting?") we will leave it in here.

Capital Ship Shields - same as above

Communications - fine as-is

Ground Vehicle Operation - this becomes a much broader skill with available specializations in Wheeled, Tracked, Hover, and Walkers. This does eliminate the ability to specialize in a particular vehicle of those types but they tend to not be the focus in a game anyway when compared to the more common repulsorlift vehicles.

Hover Vehicle Operaton - folded into GVO above for whatever ridiculously limited case one can make for it

Powersuit Operation - this is a rare enough skill that I think it's worth keeping as a separate skill

Repulsorlift Operation - this is good as-is and allows for specialization in specific vehicles

Sensors - fine as-is

Space Transport Piloting - fine as-is and allows for specialization in particular models

Starfighter Piloting - fine as-is and allows specialization in particular models

Starship Gunnery - fine

Starship Shields - fine

Swoop Operation - way too specialized to be a skill - it's a specialization of Repulsorlift Operation above

Walker Operation - folded into GVO above

Our new list of Mechanical skills would then be

  • Beast Riding
  • CapShip Gunnery
  • CapShip Piloting
  • CapShip Shields
  • Communications
  • Ground Vehicle Operation
  • Powersuit operation
  • Repulsorlift Operation
  • Sensors
  • Space Transport Piloting
  • Starfighter Piloting
  • Starship Gunnery
  • Starship Shields

Alright that's a lot for one post - we'll finish up the list tomorrow.


Matt Celis said...

Working from the 2nd edition? 1st edition doesn't have these problems and is much more elegant.

Blacksteel said...

Hi Matt - yeah this was 2E Revised and Expanded - a little too expanded to my taste