[Skywalker Paradigm again] Help me, you're my only hope!

edited March 2009 in Story Games
OK. So I outlined my Gamestorm game concept earlier, for a Skywalker Paradigm game using Solar System. Thing is, I've been working a damn week and a half getting my Game Chef 2008 Playtest Ashcan ready for the 'Storm. Now I'm down to the wire and I need some Solar System crunch for Star Wars, paradigm-style, and stat!

I'm not asking anyone to write my stuff for me whole-cloth, but I need to brainstorm a bunch of Crunch ideas to get myself going. Secrets especially, and some Key and Ability ideas would not be remiss. Lightsaber Duels and Starship Battles are two areas of particular import.

So the main tenets of the Paradigm for this purpose are:

1) The Force is Self-mastery and Hypnosis (and self-hypnosis), on a Bene-Gesserit or Rasputin level. No TK or ESP or ghostly visitations.

2) There are, however, amazing and ubiquitous field technologies in the Star Wars universe. Darth Vader can move objects through magnetic repulsors as a fucking cyborg, and Luke can do the same thing after he gets a robot hand.

3) Palpatine is no Jedi; the movies mention no such faction as "Sith" and he and his top lackeys mock Jedi and Force mercilessly throughout the movies. His lightning is a tazer device, and his throne is probably bristling with shields and weaponry, which is why he had to be lured off it to get whacked.

4) There's no reason to assume a Force-sensitive types aren't mind-tricking people all the time, not just when they waggle their fingers. obi-wan is constantly plying domination on those around him, to varying effect, and Vader actually mind tricks the Emperor to get him to turn Luke instead of killing him (part of a plot to assassinate the old coot)! Luke gets in on the act too. These people are fucking dangerous! No wonder the Emperor fears Skywalker.

5) For that matter, Droids can do mind tricks, being programmed with hypnosis subroutines. Threepio and Artoo totally good cop/bad cop play Luke like a sucker on Tatooine. They're in fact advanced spy droids more than any other function. "Protocol." Hen.

6) One kind of being is consistently immune to mind tricks--not Hutts, criminals. Han blows off Obi-wan's influence and is consistently shutting Threepio up. People with rebellious and distrustful mindsets resist mental domination.

So there we go. I'll take any and all help. I'll be back later tonight to jump in with my own ideas, but welcome any input in the meantime!



  • Do the people using technological jedi tricks know that they're doing it, or is it a coincidence/design feature of the cyborg parts that they mesh with the Force?
    Are the people in the setting superstitious and traditional? Looking at it from this viewpoint, the emperor certainly tries to pass himself off as a mysterious force of darkness. Is he crazy or does he genuinely expect his dress code and glorified tazer to garner him respect when he could just go with something modern and practical?

    Regardless, I like your premise. Seems fun. We'll see what comes of it. I'll help later if and when I have some time.
  • Read your other thread on this, too. So awesome! I missed it the last time around due to the recent glut of SW threads (and the fact that you didn't advertise the Solar System component in the title), but I really like what you've got here.

    Have to go now, but I hope to see some great crunch for this.
  • OK, so starting with something simple: Weapon Ratings. Seems to me a Blaster--that is, a good one in the hands of someone who's handy with it--would be a straight +1 rating. Like, Han and his pistol, not so much your average Stormtrooper. Lightsabers. . .my gut says +1 in general melee, +2 in one-on -one combat. Maybe additional Secret of Imbuement buys could get you extra, like a +1 Armor rating for deflecting blaster bolts. I'm not sure if stuff like Starfighters would fall under here; I don't wanna go crazy giving Weapon Rating to everything that shoots. But I'm not sure where to draw the line. Maybe a few specific things, like: Turbolaser: +2 vs. Capital Ships, or Photon Torpedoes: +2 vs. heavily armored or precision targets? Some help from folks who have done some piloting or vehicle-type stuff with Solar System would be greatly appreciated.

    Secrets--Well, the Force would have a whole tree of Secrets, sure. A Force-Sensitivity (R) Ability to run them off of, then a series of Secrets representing greater and greater powers of conditioning and mesmerism? Don't want TOO big a "Secret Tree," since this is a con game, but a bit of progression would be nice. What would kick it off, though? "Secret of Force-Training, as the basic entry-level, functioning like any Secret of Training: spend unlimited Pool points in the Ability, instead of just one.. then what? Mental Domination maybe? Like Mighty Blow, except deal the extra harm to Instinct or Reason attacks. How about the ol' Force Choke? Somehow using suggestion to make hypnotic damage lethal. Dunno how to stat that one. Oh, there's also Secret of Self-Conditioning; that's an important one that Luke uses a lot. Getting brainwashed and self-conditioned into a combat machine through mind over matter. That could be Speciality: Combat, or straight-up Mighty Blow.And here's a big question: should there be a Secret for the fact itself that you can fucking hypnotize people Rasputin-style, or is the Ability modified by other Secrets enough?

    Other good Secret Territory. . .Secret of Criminal Mind: permanent bonus to resist mental domination. Some fighter piloting Secrets would be good, and some Military Command ones. A sneak attack/quick draw Secret would be cool (Secret of the Sudden Blaster?). Some secrets of social status are appropriate, like Secret of Nobility or Secret of Military Politics or something. And ooh! some Droid and Cybernetics Secrets! Droid Hypnosis could be handled however I handle Jedi Hypnosis, but Threepio's also got linguistic, protocol and analytical functions. And Artoo is of course BRISTLING with sensors, computer links, and so forth But I also need to concentrate on Vader's mighty Cybernetics--both the strength and speed, and the repulsor technology he uses on Luke at Bespin.

    All suggestions welcome! Especially for areas I don't have solid ideas on yet. Thanks!

  • Were you planning on using the default Pools? They fit pretty well, and I don't have any immediate suggestions for others, either. Or... well, I could actually consider making a Force pool only available to characters trained in it, but that's probably not worth the bother here.

    Let's see... this is how I'd do the Force, roughly:

    Force (I)
    The character has been schooled in ancient meditation techniques that help him tap his inner strength for amazing feats. This Ability can be used as support in checks related to social situations and willpower, as the Force-user has a fuller insight and grasp on his inner strength. It can also help in situations requiring acute perceptions and body coordination, such as martial arts, piloting and whatnot. Some applications are famous and border on supernatural: a character supporting his skills with the Force can act without hesitation or error, resulting in feats such as blocking bullets, fighting blindfolded, and so on. Alone, the Ability can be used to run through impressive-looking katas and other such parlor tricks.

    The Ability does almost nothing by itself. The Secret tree is predicated on replacing almost anything a character might want to do with Force (I), though, so it sure becomes useful with a little patience...

    Melee (V)
    The character's skill in hand-to-hand combat. Useful for the jedi (with their light sabers), people who don't want to kill others and people without weapons. Strictly inferior to a blaster outside surprise, tight quarters, limited visibility and other such conditions; surprising how often that sort of thing comes up in this genre.

    Technically it's not the Force (I) Ability you use to swing that light saber. I decided to create a separate melee Ability to emphasize the different combat paradigms of the jedi and blaster-wielding commoners. Of course others will have this Ability as well, but probably only the jedi and other professional soldiers train in it.

    Secret of Force-sensitivity
    The character has the inborn talent required to tap the Force in full strength. When "using the Force", the player can spend unlimited Pool for bonus dice in any checks pertaining to the action. The character needs to succeed in a Force (I) check as part of the action, but other Abilities may be used as either support or primary as the situation dictates; all of those Ability checks are open-ended in this manner.

    If you think that the Force is an in-born talent, make it so only characters with the Secret can access the Ability.

    Secret of Jedi Training
    The character has been trained systematically in using the Force in different situations. Whenever he is using Force (I) to support another Ability, he may opt to go to a Force trance to swap the Abilities - the actual operational Ability becomes support and Force (i) becomes primary. The support Ability still has to succeed, note. Another benefit of jedi training is that the character uses the Force instinctually: he may use Force (I) in support even in extended conflict - and may thus perform the swap even then. Cost: 1 Reason

    The above stuff already makes the jedi pretty badass - he has unlimited Pool expenditures and can fast-talk the SG into allowing him to use Force (I) to replace almost all Abilities he might want to use, so a high Force (I) Ability rating and high Pools (especially Instinct, which powers Force) should allow him to blast his way out of anything with pure force. The rest of this stuff is really just icing.

    Secret of Force Tapping
    The character can draw on the ambient force around him, as opposed to his own internal reserves. Coincidentally this requires suitable surroundings and symbols that might almost make one think that it's all in his head. Example foci of this process seem to include dressing in robes, wielding strange antique weapons, speaking funnily, quoting ancient masters and so on and so forth. A Force tapper makes a Force (I) check to create an Effect related to his focus when he meditates upon it; he may later spend this Effect for bonus dice in Force-related checks, just like if he were using the Secret of Force-sensitivity. Requirements: Secret of Jedi Training

    "Force tapping" is probably not quite canonical, but it's not too far out. You won't be needing this Secret in your convention game, but as the later stuff requires characters to get lots of bonus dice from somewhere, I wanted to bring it to allow characters with no Force-sensitivity to have something to work with. Modern fantasy convention of making magical powerz exclusive to genetically superior races is something of a pet hate of mine. The stuff about foci is specifically for the Skywalker Paradigm; although you don't come out with it, it seems that the Force doesn't really exist outside its users in your cosmology.

    Also, note the implied environment: I'm thinking that normally characters can't "store" Force in Effects, they need that Secret to create Force-based Effects. I'd perhaps be a bit sparse with Effects (and thus, bonus dice) in this environment anyway to make the Force felt. Consider a house rule I've been testing lately: characters can create Effects normally, but may only draw one die from each Effect per check, just like Pools.
  • Concept: overflow dice
    When a player has more than three dice in his check we'll call the dice not used in the check "overflow" dice. You can get overflow by rolling bonus or penalty dice into your check, essentially. You can reduce the number of overflow dice in a check by canceling bonus or penalty dice with their opposites before the check. Don't clear the extra dice rolled into a check from the table before the players have stopped messing about with the overflow. This is a subsystem effect I've been considering for TSoY lately, but it should work fine here, too.

    Secret of Light Saber Kata
    The character has been trained to fight with the light saber in a modern combat environment, and does not thus suffer conditional penalties for bringing a (laser) sword to a blaster fight. In conflicts against blasters or other direct-fire weapons the player may spend '+' overflow dice to either cause an extra Harm equal in level to the number of dice consumed or to mitigate any incoming Harm by steps equal to the number of dice consumed. The Story Guide picks which based on the narrated detail, but the player chooses whether to spend the dice. This works in both simple and extended conflict, but only if the Force (I) is used. Cost: 1 Instinct Requirements: Secret of Jedi Training

    Here you can see why a jedi needs lots of bonus dice, whether they come from Force-sensitivity, Force-tapping or some other source. The plan is to make all special Force tricks consume overflow dice, which thus become a sort of symbol of the flowing Force.

    Secret of Wisdom
    The character has trained to calm himself and listen to the Force. When using Force (I) in an Ability check, the player may opt to spend '+' overflow dice to ask additional questions about the scene, characters or backstory. The Story Guide answers to the best of his knowledge and allows the player to decide on matters he has no stance on. If the character is being misled by another, the player may also spend the '+' overflow as penalty dice for the opposing check. Cost: 1 Instinct Requirements: Secret of Jedi Training

    Secret of Force Annulment
    The character is skilled at distracting other Force-users from their mental stances, disrupting flow states and making it impossible for the Force user to concentrate. Visually this looks like ominously threatening gestures, references to the mysterious past encounters between the adepts and philosophical discourse on the nature of the Dark Side, preferably while bashing the other guy with a melee implement. Mechanically, the player may spend '+' overflow dice to make a Force-using opponent take one of his overflow dice and reroll it as a penalty die into his check. If his own goal/action is to strictly suppress the other Force-user, he may remove overflow dice equal to his Ability check result from the opposing pool. Cost: 1 Instinct Requirements: Secret of Jedi Training
  • Secret of Relaxed Force
    The character has learned to allow the Force to flow freely in his action. The player may spend '+' overflow dice to reroll dice from his current overflow Pool, perhaps gaining more '+' dice. Don't mix the overflow with the dice chosen for the Ability check, though; these are not new bonus dice. The player may opt to reroll several times by spending several '+' dice. Cost: 1 Instinct Requirements: Secret of Jedi Training

    Secret of Hypnosis
    The character has learned to bend the minds of others. He can use social Abilities (and thus, Force (I)) to coerse others to act against their will and best interests in subtle ways. Spend overflow '+' dice on one or more suggestions: the target has the option of paying Reason equal to the strength of the suggestion to discard it, or he can take a Harm equal to the strength of the suggestion, but otherwise he is forced to follow the suggested course of action. The target will not notice the mind-trick unless he is jedi-trained himself. Cost: 1 Instinct Requirements: Secret of Jedi Training

    Secret of Domination
    The character can take over another's mind aggressively, overriding his will blatantly. Spend overflow '+' dice to cause psychosomatic Harm (a sensation of choking, say), to make the target unaware of the influence, to plant latent suggestions (create an Effect to represent the influence, in other words) and mess around otherwise with your puppet. If an Effect is created for long-term purposes, the target can break free by destroying the Effect normally. Cost: 2 Instinct Requirements: Secret of Hypnosis

    Secret of Telekinesis
    The jedi has integrated machines that allow him to outright move objects with the power of his mind and some attractor/repulsor modules. Spend Force (I) check '+' overflow to move more than one item, to move yourself, to move heavy items (something like 50 kg per die, as if I care), to do something else meanwhile and in general do more stuff. Cost: 2 Instinct Requirements: Secret of Jedi Training, Secret of Cybernetics

    Depending on how powerful you want to make the Force, you can create more of these second or even third-order Secrets. The Instinct cost of activating them increases with the order, so all first-order tricks are 1 point, all second-order 2 and so on.

    Secret of Jedi Master
    The character has attained mastery of the Force. He may spend his ' ' overflow dice in Force checks as '+' dice. Requirements: Secret of Jedi Training, Key of the Jedi

    Secret of Academy Training
    The character was trained to the jedi order in the Old Republic. He may pay Instinct costs of activating Jedi Secrets from the Reason Pool instead. Requirements: Secret of Jedi Training, Key of the Jedi

    Secret of the Dark Side
    The character may tap the power of dark emotions to empower himself. A character using the dark side may spend Vigor as Instinct for the purposes of Force-related checks. Requirements: Secret of Jedi Training or Secret of Force-sensitivity, Key of the Dark Side

    Almost forgot that I need to create this last one, too... reminds me that we need a couple of Keys to round out the crunch:

    Key of the Jedi
    The character has committed to the jedi code. Probably not a very complex one, that - mainly just forbids acting in anger and especially using the Force in anger, I imagine.
    1 xp: The values of the jedi come up.
    2 xp: Refuse the desire for you to break the code, whether that desire be yours or another's.
    5 xp: Make amends after breaking the code.
    Buyoff: Abandon the jedi order.

    Key of the Dark Side
    The character has embraced the Dark Side, the philosophy that allows people to channel the Force in anger.
    1 xp: use the Dark Side
    3 xp: Act irrevocably under the influence of the Dark Side. (Negative emotions for those who lost me already.)
    Buyoff: Accept forgiveness for your acts.
  • Wow, Eero. . .thanks so much! That's way more work than I could've hoped for!

    There's tons of great stuff here. I'll only be able to use a fraction of it, but that's fine; a lot of your stuff is more suited to the "straight" interpretation of Star Wars.
    Posted By: Eero Tuovinenalthough you don't come out with it, it seems that the Force doesn't really exist outside its users in your cosmology.
    heh. I thought I did come out with it. But yes, you're absolutely right. In this interpretation, the Force is pure hypnosis and self-conditioning. Which a lot of your Secrets work great for.
    Posted By: Eero TuovinenModern fantasy convention of making magical powerz exclusive to genetically superior races is something of a pet hate of mine.
    Then you might really dig the Paradigm. He views all that (much like Han Solo) as a bunch of elitist malarky, though he does allow for certain people having great aptitude when activated. He notes, though, that other amazing badasses (Han, Wedge) are never tested for "Force Powers", not being of noble blood.

    Anyway. The Overflow thing looks intriguing but I think I'll skip it in the interest of simplicity. I'm more comfortable using the Solar System elements I'm more or less familiar with.

    And yeah, the regular pools are fine for me. Although it brings up a bit of a sticky point within the Solar System rules that I a;ways trip over a bit: the border between Instinct and Reason. The Force is a good example. I can totally see it running on Instinct (intuition, reflexes, etc.) except it's mental domination aspect, which is more Reason-based. Look at Kenobi, he's a calculating motherfucker. You've got an elaborate system set up with Pool-swapping Secrets for Force powers, but I wonder if there isn't a simpler way to handle it. In the end, I may just have different Force applications (different Secrets, that is) use different pools.

    I have problems like this with lots of Instinct and Reason-based stuff. They're both within the realm of the mind, so the borders blur.

    Moving on, I'm now looking at character generation. Two matters of interest pop up:

    1) I'm considering the varying power levels of the main Star Wars characters, and weighing which option to use: just design them equal and call it a drama thing, stat them out normally then give Vader and Obi-Wan extra Advances, or just go with the "Greater Heroes" variant and design those two with Abilities a step up from the others. That one makes most sense and will accord with folks' expectations or the characters. I just wanna make sure they don't overshadow the other players too much.

    2) Choosing Heroic Events for the characters is easy in some cases, harder in others. I'm using either events past events alluded to in New Hope, or events very early in the movie that set the tone for the characters. let's look:

    Luke: Bullseying Womprats in his T-16 in Beggar's Canyon. That's a lock. Perfect. Sets his best Ability as Bush Pilot (I).

    Leia: Either Running daring spy missions under diplomatic cover or defiantly resisting interrogation and bullying. I like the first one for sure; gives her Espionage (R) or Intelligence (R). The other one would point to Resist, which is awkward rules-wise and a bit boring.

    Han: Either Making the Kessel Run in less then Twelve Parsecs or Shooting Greedo under the table. the first gives us Starpilot (I)--or in the Paradigm's opinion Bullshit (I) /Bragging (I). the second gives us, I dunno, Subterfuge (I), which fits Solo's smuggling activities as well as general cleverness and cool.

    Obi-Wan: Either Serving Senator Organa in the Clone Wars or spinning Luke a stirring tale of his destiny and birthright. The first gives something like General/Commander (R) or Tactics (R) or Warfare (V). The second gives either Counsel or Deceit (three guesses which one I'd pick.) I kiiiinda like Tactics to represent ol' Ben's scheming, but it seems better to go with plain ol' Deceit. Matches better with his actions in the movie.

    Vader: Hmmmm. Either Hunting down and exterminating the Jedi Knights or Striding into the rebel cruiser halls at the forefront of his troops. The first one would point more to his Jedi skill, which is probably good, but I like the focus that the second puts on his ruthless (and brave! The dust ain't even cleared!) military aspect. So either Force (I) or Command (R).

    That last one is the only real tough choice for me.

  • My first instinct would be to create the characters simply by reflecting on the facts and jotting down what we know. Is Obi-Wan a Master or Grandmaster jedi? What about Vader? Yoda? Luke? Ability ratings are pretty easy to set this way. Secrets and Keys can be likewise allocated. Just remember to not get too detail-oriented so you don't end up with a larger character sheet than can be meaningfully used. For a convention game you'll want to have a pretty focused crunch landscape anyway - you might wish to just list 6-10 Abilities and decide that these are all you're going to use, after which you can just pick those for each character that they are notable for. Definitely go for power imbalance here; Obi-Wan should be clearly superior in bullshitting, Vader should be superior in just about everything, Luke should have some inborn talent (exclusive Secrets, that is) and lots of Keys but overall low levels of Ability, and so on - in this game the Story Guide should by default accept that he's going to have to be able to work with some characters losing a lot and others winning a lot. If he can't, then there is still things for him to learn.

    Also remember that being stronger is not the same as having more stuff on the character sheet. Try to make character have roughly the same number of entries on their sheets, even if some have stronger stuff.
  • I actually really like the Solar System chargen process, to tell the truth. it makes a lot of sense to me to flesh out a character that way, and a lot of fun too. I want to incorporate that, Heroic Events especially, into the con event. I will take all this advice into account though.

  • Do let the players pick the heroic events, then; that should help them make the characters their own. And I do agree that the chargen process can do this, especially if you use the suggestions for creating characters to higher Ability levels.
  • Thanks for doing this. I mentioned the Skywalker Paradigm in the Awesome-i-fy thread; it turned Star Wars from a "hate-to-love" thing into an actual story, for me. I'm afraid my crunch interpretation is very different.

    Key of the Force Believer
    1xp: go on about how the Force is relevant to the situation at hand
    2xp: trust in the Force to get you through a tough situation, instead of something sensible or practical
    5xp: prove you are pretty much a sociopath, committing some atrocious act and justifying it with Force philosophy
    Buyoff: the Force is a bunch of hokum and sneaky old bastards

    Secret of Utter Conviction; prerequisite: Force Believer
    Any action you would score 2xp for, you can drop any number of Instinct Pool into for bonus dice - this should, for instance, let you run into a blaster fight with a lightsaber, jump off a comms pole onto a nearby starship, or look into someone's eyes and lie about secretly being blood family with a totally straight face, and have some chance of success despite penalty dice; you also add interactions reflecting on the Force to your options for refreshing the Instinct Pool.

    Secret of the Jedi Mind Trick
    You are schooled in the ancient and occult art of manipulating the perceptions of sentients, permitting an abrupt and seemingly blatant use of Deceit. This changes the leverage, propriety, and scope of Deceit; in particular, beings living in the conventional societal authority structure (nobles, police/military, servants and peasants) might normally have no leverage against the Jedi Mind Trick. Droids built by Jedi and other oddities may be able to learn their Secret, so there is no explicit prerequisite. It costs 3 Instinct to pull a Jedi Mind Trick.

    Secret of Equipment (Lightsaber)
    Regular folks are not insane enough to pick up and swing a blade of forces powerful enough to slice through a starship bulkhead and tending to ricochet other forces wildly about but lacking even the most rudimentary safety features; anyone lacking the Sercet of Utter Conviction should add 'cut something I didn't mean to' to the stakes of the opposition while using a lightsaber, unless they are being profoundly careful.

    Secret of Field Cyberware; prerequisite: Background (Nobility), or someone with such a Background implanting on your behalf
    Field generators with this kind of focus and utility are not permitted for the proles to implant. The user can spend 2 Vigor to teke something around (possibly with various Abilities adjunct, like Close Combat or whatever for the 'force choke'), with tolerances (distance, volume, force, acceleration, etc.) appropriate to what you see in the movies.

    Secret of the Jedi Master; prerequisite: Force Believer, Utter Conviction, a vision quest or two away from unbelievers, better be good with Deceit and a lightsaber
    You have seen through the false duality of lying vs. telling the truth, and overcome the enemy within - fear of the consequences of your actions. First, this acts a the Teacher Secret for Jedi-related advances. Second, this acts as the Imposition Secret, but: may be for ANY Key the Master wants; always uses Deceit as the convincing Ability; and costs 5 Instinct.

    The rest is pretty conventional decisions about space opera stuff, to me. The Dark vs. Light thing is a joke in this setup; it's team spirit and the difference between whether you've decided to have cognitive dissonance about what you do or not. None of this covers beyond the initial three movies, or the context of the Skywalker Paradigm, into the traditional interpretation of Star Wars.
  • I like your mechanics, they seem to work well, and they are interesting; imposing Keys is a good capstone for jedi masters in this context. Theme-wise I find it a more fruitful ground for this sort of play if you don't make things quite that cut and dried; it makes for an interesting alternative reading of the source material, but leaves little for the players except to play their assigned parts. For this reason I'd preserve the actual philosophical issues even while casting doubt on the motivations and details of the narrative. This allows the players to fight for the interpretation they want instead of being forced to play through a politic assigned from above. The game might still prove that the jedi are nothing more than crazy lying jihadists, but then it'll be an actual result of play. You can see this in how I, without even thinking about it, worked hard in my stuff to neither deny or affirm the existence of the Force - the mechanics won't be answering this question to the satisfaction of the characters, so it becomes a matter of belief.
  • Yep, it's a bit heavy-handed. Replace the 5xp concept with something more ambiguously worded, call Deceit Manipulation or the like. I feel that most Keys are going to butt up against Force Believer in a frisson-laden tandem. Especially all the stuff about obligation to family and friends. That's the tension that is fruitful to me, rather than themes about the ambiguous nature of the Force and the legitimacy of belief in it.

    Thanks for introducing the overflow concept; I'm helping run a space opera game right now, actually, and it might come in handy.
  • Thanks, Daniel! That gives me a lot of fresh inspiration. I'll probably be pulling from a combination of yours and Eero's contributions to assemble my final writeup.
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