FS3 for Star Wars

Dragging the conversation with @Roadspike off of MSB to here because it was getting off-topic and yet might be useful to somebody somewhere.

The issues I see when folks try to adapt FS3 for a Star Wars game are numerous:

  • PvP - Most (if not all) Star Wars MUs I’ve seen have been adversarial. Rebels vs Empire, Jedi vs Sith, Smugglers vs Authorities. FS3 is poorly-suited to PvP games because chargen (intentionally) allows you to make characters who are wildly imbalanced on the power scale. It would be like having a D20 Star Wars game where some folks came out of CG at level 2 and others at level 10. It wouldn’t be fair to pit them against each other.

  • Jedi Scale - Jedi in SW have superhuman abilities, but FS3 doesn’t scale to the “superhuman” scale. Even somebody with Legendary+Extraordinary (12 dice) has only a modest advantage over general pro-level PCs. Jedi are supposed to be way cooler than that.

  • Jedi Powers - Even if you set aside the scale issue and make all Force-users essentially low-level Padawans, there’s no good way in the system to reflect Force Powers. You can kinda make them action skills, but that’s going to unbalance all of your “how many AP do you get / action skills can you take” numbers. You can kinda make them background skills, but then that unbalances your “bg skills are cheap and some free” metrics, and the levels probably don’t give you the granularity you want. They really need to be their own separate “class” of abilities, with all attendant code changes and mechanical effects.

  • Stormtroopers - Stormtroopers with autofire blasters and armor would have a gigantic advantage over everyone else. @Roadspike mentioned compensating for that with recoil mods, but that’s counterintuitive to me. Blasters should have little to no recoil the way they’re depicted in the movies (or logically the way they’d function). Personally I think that’s how Stormtroopers should’ve been all along, but it kinda flies in the face of the established fiction :slight_smile:

  • Lightsabers - There’s no good way to model lightsabers. On the one hand, you could give them an extreme lethality rating – but then you’d end up with pretty much one-shot-one-kill every time. That’s in contrast with the fiction, which also shows us numerous smaller wounds. The stats just don’t have a good way to model “it’s very good at chopping people in half but occasionally at dramatic moments just gives them a modest burn across their face”. And there’s no way to handle blaster deflection or ricochets without some custom code.

  • XP - Star Wars is the very definition of the “Hero’s Journey”, so there’s a certain expectation of rapid advancement. But FS3 isn’t built that way. Sure, you can tweak the XP costs, but then you end up with the dino effect and super-powered generalists.

I agree with some of this, and agree that some of it is a hack that works “well enough” rather than being precisely right.

Some of the points you bring up, I don’t think are as big a deal, however, or are compensated for relatively easily.

  • I agree that FS3 games should not be CvC. Absolutely. But I’m starting to think that Star Wars games should generally be focused on a single faction anyhow. Because otherwise you’re spreading the playerbase, Staff attention, and creating bad blood because the two groups are competing against one another, even if they never meet on-grid.
  • I think that base Jedi abilities aren’t really the “I have higher stats/skills all the time” sort of thing, and more the “I can make myself temporarily better with the Force.” With that in mind, I think I’d allow Alter/Sense/Control to boost various stats by +1 to +4, based on the skill roll, just as if you were making a Teamwork roll on yourself.
  • Jedi Powers are always going to be a hack job in FS3, I totally agree. But I think that they can be represented “well enough” with a few “weapons” and “armor” and then some abilities that can be done outside of the combat system to give bonuses (as above) or penalties to enemies (Shatterpoint is just begging to be a lethality boost to the target) or just things that are RPed. I would require some Jedi Powers to get a Hook to use (given by Staff after apropriate RP), some would be available only after a certain level of skill (you need Control 6 and Alter 4 to use Force Lightning, or whatever), and some would be available to everyone.
  • Armor is an issue. Definitely. I’ve tweaked things on The Eighth Sea so that you don’t need armor to be effective in combat, but that does mean that any significant armor is quite good. But some of that works okay if you boost Penetration or lower armor ratings so that even relatively good armor isn’t great. Adding in some Force “armor” that’s either Deflecting with a Lightsaber or Force Shielding or whatever would help balance that. Again, it’s cludgy, though.
  • Autofire is an issue too. My main failing in putting stats together for Omens was that autofire was too good and lightsabers were too weak. But we don’t actually see stormtroopers autofire that often. Usually it’s measured single shots (sure, we get lots of autofire in Star Wars games, but not much in the movies, certainly not the OT). So I don’t actually have a problem making blaster rifles get very inaccurate when they autofire if it balances Force users and non-Force users. But yes, I too think that Stormtroopers should be terrifying, as they’re depicted in Legends, rather than how they’re viewed by many movie-watchers (that’s a personal peeve of mine… Stormtroopers are badasses even in the films, except a few situations when they’re facing off against main characters, and even then they’re good sometimes).
  • Lightsabers… I think a lot of this can be fixed by NPC lethality too. I have -zero- problem if lightsabers are particularly good for just absolutely mowing down Goons, and are still the best option against Bosses too, just don’t do autokills. Definite balance issues that would need to be tested.
  • Deflect/Block - You’re totally right. It’s easy enough to use stances to boost defenses, or armor to absorb it, but that’s a hack, and it’s not clean, and it doesn’t allow for deflecting blaster bolts back at their target. I would probably just put a “Redirect” weapon in the game that represented a generic blaster bolt, and you can use the weapon on a turn after you “evade” a bolt, or your armor “absorbs” it, depending on how Deflecting was handled.
  • XP - Yup. That’s an issue. As currently set up, with minor tweaks for low XP cost for low-level skills, and probably a lower threshhold for what a “high” skill is, perhaps Good… it would work okay, but it wouldn’t be great. As I mentioned on MSB, FS3 really isn’t a great system for Star Wars. Doable, but not a great system.

Unfortunately, some of the hacked stuff gets pretty complicated in actual play. Force Powers doing odd things, Deflecting and Redirecting shots, Armor and Stances for lightsaber users… yeah… it gets complicated. That’s what happens when you try to hack a system to do what it’s not intended to do. It’s not -bad-, but it’s not great.

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Good points. Just a couple notes:

  • RP hooks are fully editable by players in Ares even after approval, so they’re not well-suited to tracking “special things” that the character has. They’re RP hooks, not extra abilities. So you really do need some alternate way of tracking Jedi powers. You can hack it in with action or background skills, as mentioned, but neither is ideal.
  • The ‘force boosts stats’ thing works fine for manual rolls, but doesn’t work at all in automated combat system rolls - not without a whole lot of code, anyway.
  • I still have a philosophical disagreement about nerfing autofire via recoil. My preference would just be to say that the standard blasters don’t support autofire and it’s reserved for ZOMG SCARY “MG troopers” (for lack of a better name).
  • If you just have Jedi going against NPCs, I agree with your supposition about lightsabers. Doesn’t really matter if they get mown down left and right. But if you have Sith badguys using lightsabers on your PCs or Jedi vs Sith PVP action, I think you still have issues with lightsaber damage.

But yeah… like you said, a lot of it is just really hacky and “meh yeah it kinda sorta works I guess”. It’s just really not a good fit. I’d much rather see somebody code up an actual Star Wars system for Ares (and then share it with people).

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  • Limited Powers. With hooks… yeah, you’d have to trust your players. There’s also a notes system in Ares, right? That would work, except there’s no way to prove them to other players… oh. Duh. Specializations. Limited Force Powers could be specializations of Control, Sense, or Alter (as long as you didn’t want “legit” specializations for the skills). Again, it’s hacky, but certainly functional.
  • Force Boosts. Mods works for combat too, as long as the combat organizer is willing to enter in the attack/defense/lethality mod and change them as necessary. Yet again, it’s hacky, because it’s something else that isn’t automated, but it’s certainly doable.
  • Autofire. Yes, that’s probably a good idea. I think my preference would probably be for limiting autofire to repeaters to, and making them difficult to get/carry/use/etc. It breaks with other SW games, but it sticks closer to the movies.
  • I’m okay if Sith baddies with lightsabers are scary as hell. But then again, I like my NPC enemies scarier than you tend to also, so that may just be a GM-preference sort of thing. Also, since PCs have no lethality penalty, they wouldn’t be -as- scary against them. Finding the right balance for lightsabers and blasters and grenades and Force powers would definitely require a lot of testing.

A “Star Wars” system for Ares would really just be a “magic system” plugin that would probably work for Star Wars or fantasy alike. It would likely have a spell/power list, allow for specific abilities to be boosted rather than just attack/defense/lethality, and make armor a little less important (but still useful).

The reason there isn’t a “powers” module for FS3, though, is because every game wants powers to work differently. Like… one game wants them to be like spells or Jedi abilities where you just have a list of things you can do and there’s some other governing ability. Another game wants to have ratings, where Joe’s superspeed is better than Mary’s superspeed. Another game wants them to augment abilities, so superstrength gives a boost to everything strength-related. Another game wants them to be like weapons, like Wolverine’s claws. How are they rolled? Are they even rolled? How do they tie in with the other chargen limits to keep people from being too powerful?

Skills are generic enough that you can model pretty simply. Powers? No. There’s just too much variation. So that’s why FS3 has no concept of powers, even at a general level.

Right. I meant Powers in sense of Force Powers, which are essentially magic spells, rather than in a sense of super powers.

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