[5E SW] Basics of The Force

'A long time ago in a galaxy far far away..." Discuss the Star Wars campaign setting, as it relates to pen & paper RPGs, here.
Post Reply
User avatar
enderxenocide0
Stone Giant
Posts: 700
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:44 am
Gender: male

[5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by enderxenocide0 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:25 pm

This post is part of a series of discussions relating to my D&D 5E Star Wars Conversion project.

---

The Force

This is, perhaps, the most iconic aspect of the Star Wars universe. As such, it feels like a good place to start a Star Wars conversion. There are three aspects of the Force that I feel need to be considered when adapting a system to replicate it:
  • Applications of the Force used by those with some level of training.
  • Applications of the Force used by those that don’t know they’re using it.
  • Light Side vs. Dark Side
Let’s look at each of these and what they entail.

This is the really meaty part of it. Here where we’ve got the most powerful uses of the Force. You want to chuck someone across the room? Look here. You want to deflect a blaster shot with your lightsaber? That’s here. Want to communicate with your sibling a few miles away? Also here. Now, 5E has a few different things that could work for this and they each have their place.

Spells

Because, let’s be honest, Jedi are really just Mages. They’re doing something overtly supernatural. Call them sorcerers, psions, superheroes, or whatever. I mean, the Witches of Dathomir even believed their use of the Force was closer to what we call magic than anything else. In the end, it boils down to people breaking the laws of nature. The closest equivalent in 5E is spellcasting.

Here’s a problem, though: Vancian magic is weird. 5E, at least, decided to translate everything to spell slots so that prepared casters can pick X spells and use them in whatever way they want. But preparing spells is still problematic at best. Force users typically don’t prepare their Force abilities ahead of time. They don’t have a subset of their total powers that they gain access to by studying or praying. As such, I don’t know that Wizards or Clerics would make good fits for this conversion. However. I’m not willing to rule them out entirely. Consider a Jedi that spends a considerable amount of time in the Jedi Temple Archives, learning from holocrons. That sounds a lot like a Wizard. Or a Force-using mystic that spends each morning in quiet contemplation of the Living Force. That could be represented by a Cleric. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. I don’t want to talk too much about classes just yet. We’ll get there, though.

Anyway, do spell slots make sense for Force powers? Maybe. Maybe not. 5E handles spellcasting a little differently than 3.X. Caster Level is no longer a thing. A spell has a base level, as usual, and if you want to cast a more powerful version of the spell, you use a higher level spell slot. Easy. Does this work for Force powers? I think so. Much like spells, there are “tiers” of Force abilities. They are not always categorized as such, but there are clearly abilities that are more advanced than others, allowing us to organize Force powers similarly. For instance, the ability to deflect a blaster bolt with a lightsaber is an early technique many Jedi learn, while something like Mace Windu’s ability to perceive “shatterpoints” is an advanced ability. Deflecting a blaster shot might be a low level power and Shatterpoint might be a higher level power.

Additionally, there are a number of Force powers that can be amplified. Let’s look at something like “Move Object” which we can say is the generic telekinetic ability of many Force users. It’s not too difficult to whip a lightsaber into your hand from the floor, but it’s considerably more difficult to lift an X-Wing out of a swamp. If using a spell slot equivalent, then pushing yourself to use a more powerful application of a Force power uses a higher spell slot.

From this perspective, spell slots are looking pretty good. The downside is resource management. Spell slots are limited and using them up means you don’t get to use your most powerful spells anymore. In 5E, cantrips can be used all day long. This is pretty wonderful. The most basic cantrips can be useful. Right now, we’ve got things like Mage Hand (Move Object?), Friends (Mind Trick?), and True Strike (Luke and the proton torpedoes?) which feel like basic Force abilities already. Is this enough? That’s an excellent question—one I don’t immediately have an answer for. I think it would require some good planning to decide what abilities are cantrip-equivalent and extensive playtesting to make sure you still feel like you’re using the Force.

The d20-based systems typically limit how often a player can use their Force abilities. If I’m correct, the d20 and Revised d20 system used vitality as a measure of the toll certain Force skills took on the user. Your limit was, then, your own health over time. Saga Edition allowed you to have a “suite” of powers that were depleted over an encounter and were replenished afterward. The weird thing in Saga Edition was that you needed to learn multiple instances of a Force power if you wanted to use it more than once in an encounter. If we’re using the spell slot system, that isn’t a concern. The limit imposed by the spell slot system is general management of power usage. If it works for spells, I don’t see a real issue with using it for Force powers.

All in all, I think using the standard spell slot system for most Force powers works just fine. Now, not all Force abilities can be encapsulated so succinctly as spell-equivalent powers. A number of Force-dependent abilities are more passive, like a Jedi’s ability to sense danger, disturbances in the Force, or something like Battle Meditation. What do we do about these? The answer is twofold. Firstly, D&D already handles similar situations. Not all magical abilities are spells. Some are class abilities. Battle Meditation could easily be a class ability. Things like sensing danger and disturbances in the Force might act a little differently. They feel more like at-will abilities, which classes could provide… but I’d argue that most, if not all Force users should have some common abilities, regardless of race or class. And, really, that goes for any Force user that doesn’t have training, too.

So that ties us into the next section: universal abilities. Now we’re starting to get into a surprisingly complex territory. From what I can tell, every Star Wars system starting with WEG has used some variation of “Force Points”, where even someone not trained in the Force can subconsciously use it in varying circumstances. It represents some extra push or stroke of luck. That’s a really good way to do things. Can we use this? Yes. Easily. Because 5E already does this. It’s the Inspiration mechanic.

Before we continue, let me admit something: I am biased. I unabashedly love the Inspiration mechanic. I think it might just be my favorite thing about 5E. I also think it is the single most underutilized part of 5E. So, with that said, let’s continue.

Inspiration in 5E is simple: you do something with a roleplaying benefit (based on your Background) and you get Inspiration. This can be used to gain advantage on… well, pretty much anything (sure, sure, there are specifics, but it’s so widely applicable that it might as well be anything). Okay, so Han is flying the Falcon through an asteroid field and uses Inspiration to make sure that Pilot check succeeds. Cool, that works. Maybe they know they’re using the Force, maybe not. Either way, we can rename Inspiration as Use the Force and voila, problem solved!

…or is it? Up above, I was commenting on how there are some universal Force abilities like sensing danger and disturbances in the Force. I was saying these should be universally accessible for those with training and then said that we can use Inspiration for universal abilities. But Inspiration is used for everyone, not just those with training. Ah. Now we’ve got a conflict. Both Han and Luke should be able to get advantage on a roll by calling on the Force. But Han shouldn’t be able to sense Darth Vader in the room next to him. So Inspiration works for one aspect of this, but not the other. How do we resolve this? I’m going to outline a few preliminary options that I’ve been thinking about.

Ender’s Expanded Inspiration System

Over in the Eberron subforum, I’ve been tinkering with the Inspiration mechanic and I think there are a few things from this prototype homebrew expansion that I think could be used in a Star Wars game.

Eberron is all about pulp action and the 3.5 campaign setting used “Action Points”… which are fundamentally equivalent to Force Points. The issue I always had with Action Points was that you got a finite number per level. Saga Edition did the same thing with Force Points. The problem is that players look at a finite pool and tend to horde their Action Points, refusing to use them unless it’s absolutely necessary. Inspiration, though, can be used more frequently. But Inspiration also isn’t always available. This was a bit problematic. So I made some key changes.

First, everyone gets Inspiration after a long rest. In Eberron, we want pulpy action all the time. In Star Wars, we want people to be heroic pretty constantly. Next, Inspiration isn’t such a binary thing that you either have or don’t have. Instead, you have a pool of Inspiration Points (or Force Points). Not a lot. At low levels, you still have a max of 1. By the end, you can have up to 3 at a time. GMs are also encouraged to give out Inspiration like candy, so that a player doesn’t feel like Inspiration is a limited resource that they’ll get stingy with using. Heroes don’t hesitate to be heroic because they’re afraid they’ll use up their heroicness. At the same time, they can’t always be heroic or it wouldn’t be a game with any challenge. A recharging pool of Inspiration strikes a nice balance that can be controlled by the GM if necessary.

That’s the most basic change to the Inspiration system. Next is the more drastic part of the expansion. In 3.5, Action Points could also be used for a few other heroic things, so I thought to myself “Why not expand the Inspiration system to replicate this?” Jester of The Fraternity of Shadows has a 5E Ravenloft conversion that lets each player choose a single trait, known as a Dark Shadow, during character creation that gives the PC a new use of Inspiration. Maybe you can spend Inspiration to see incorporeal undead or use a cantrip or become proficient in a skill for a limited time. Things like that. I thought this was neat.

Additionally, Eberron has an iconic, defining feature of the setting known as Dragonmarks. These are essentially magical tattoos, tied to your soul, that manifest on you during a time of need and provide you with a small magical benefit. In 3.5, it was a +2 bonus to a skill and a cantrip or first level spell-like ability. I tried to expand the Inspiration system to accommodate Dragonmarks. I thought that you could start out with, or alternatively gain a Dragonmark that let you use your Inspiration to activate its ability. That seemed fine… until I thought about people that don’t have Dragonmarks. There needs to be something to balance this out. Dragonmarked characters shouldn’t just get more options for things to do that those without a Dragonmark. The answer seemed to be: every character gets traits. You can choose to gain a Dragonmark or choose a different trait. It’s like the choice of Feats (and, really, is almost identical to feats) but requires the use of Inspiration.

This same system can be applied for the Force if we want Inspiration to govern the use of all universal Force abilities. We design a selection of traits for those trained in the Force, like sensing danger or sensing the Force and also design a selection of traits for those without training. For example, you could have a trait called Lucky Shot that lets you use Inspiration to reroll weapon damage or something. Do you want your character to be like the iconic Jedi in the movies? Select the traits that represent that. Do you want to be more like Mara Jade, who was trained as a Force-sensitive assassin, but didn’t really understand the Force at the start? Don’t choose the traditional traits and opt instead for something combat oriented. Like any other part of 5E, it’s a choice.

It isn’t perfect. The system has downsides. No matter how often you give out Inspiration, it’s still a limited resource. “Recharging” keeps the players using it, but there will come a time when a player doesn’t have Inspiration and says “I want to sense for danger”. And the GM will have to say no. Then you’ve got the story conflicting with the mechanics of the game again. Certain applications of the Force probably shouldn’t be tied to an expendable resource. Maybe some should just be at-will. Well, I don’t immediately have a fix for that. My expanded Inspiration system isn’t designed with that in mind.

You may also be asking how many traits you get. At creation, just one. How do you get more? Well, that’s a longer explanation than you’re expecting. In my system, I also decided to base ability score improvements on character level instead of class level—because I honestly can’t figure out why 5E set it up that way. I do not understand why a Rogue gets more ability score increases than a Wizard. This makes no sense to me. (Before the comments roll in, yes, I get why they did it. They want a distinct disincentive for multiclassing. Which would be fine… if every class got the same number of ability score increases and got them at the same levels. But they don’t. So this is just messing with balance, which bothers me. ) So I just went back to the way 3.X did it. Every 4 levels, you get an ability score increase. And then, if you wanted a trait, you pick a new trait instead of one of your ability score increases. If you like the way 5E handles it by default, traits still work just fine with it.

You may now be questioning why, if I’m swapping out ability score increases, I’m not just using feats. That’s an excellent question. The answer is: I’m stubborn. Eh. Feats are an optional system in 5E. I didn’t think it made sense to say an optional system is suddenly mandatory for a campaign setting. But I thought it made sense to say that an entirely new subsystem is mandatory for a campaign setting. No, it doesn’t make sense. I’ve had a ton of trouble trying to design traits because feats pretty much thought of everything. Any trait I made was just a subset of some feat. Here’s some ways to reconcile the system, none of which are perfect:

1. Instead of traits, use feats. Give everyone a feat at first level and find a way to make the Variant Human relevant. Force Sensitive can be a feat that provides a few different universal Force abilities.

2. Instead of feats, use traits. Break down feats into bite-sized pieces that require Inspiration to activate. When you get to the point where you can increase your ability scores, you can choose to gain a trait and increase one score, gain two traits and increase no score, or increase your scores by two points and gain no traits.

3. Use both feats and traits. Make traits distinctly different from feat abilities and less powerful. Feats can still be optional, because now it won’t matter how traits are related to them. Maybe you can select traits instead of ability score adjustments like in option #2, but you could also take a feat instead. Or maybe you just get a new trait with an ability score adjustment.

So that’s the Expanded Inspiration System. I'd love to hear what people think of this idea. I'm not sold on it, actually, so criticisms are not only welcome, but appreciated. This is only one possible solution, however. Here’s more.

A New Attribute

The DMG contains a section detailing two new Ability Scores: Honor and Sanity, that can have use in specific kinds of games. Consider an Ability Score we design called Force (I know, super original, right?). This score measures the strength of a character’s connection to the Force, how well they utilize it, and maybe their knowledge of it. In general, Force users would have a higher Force score and others would have lower scores.

This score would open up some interesting ideas, I think. Anakin and Obi-Wan both try to Force Push each other away on Mustafar? Roll opposed Force checks! You want characters to be able to Sense Danger at-will? Roll a Force check! A jedi is trying to use the Force near an Ysalamiri? Roll a Force check! Someone is trying to use Sever Force on you? Make a Force saving throw! Stuff like that.

What I find even more interesting, however, is the fact that the PHB notes that skills are generally tied to a specific ability score, but can sort of wander around when needed. For instance, an Orc trying to intimidate a mook with a show of force might make a Strength (Intimidate) check instead of Charisma (Intimidate). What this means is, with a Force ability score, we open up other avenues of using skills. Some can use the Force to see with an ability known as Force Sight. For something like that, we can say “make a Force (Perception) check”. Maybe if you’re trying to leap really far using the Force, it’s a Force (Athletics) check. There are many options to use the Force instead of a normal ability score.

Now, that’s certainly interesting. I really like that idea, but it’s also very problematic. First, adding a new ability score is always a hassle. The DMG says that you add an 11 to the standard array for a new score, add 3 points to a point-buy, or you roll for the score. Well, okay, but a Force score is really only applicable to Force users. It is inherently less valuable to those untrained in the Force, even if they’re “strong in the Force”. A player has no reason to prioritize the skill if they’re not trained. That means that those who are trained in it will want to boost that score, but now we’re thinning out the other scores. They, then, would have lower regular scores. Does this balance out well? Are the added options of the Force score weighty enough to even things out? Maybe. I’m undecided.

Another issue deals with classes. Spellcasters use differing mental stats for their spells. Wizards use INT, Clerics use WIS, Sorcerers use CHA, and so on. If we have a Force score, then I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to say it would make sense to use it as the governing ability score of all Force using classes. Ahhhh but doing that shifts its importance pretty drastically. Let’s assume, for a moment, that all the classes remain as they are right now but we introduce a Magic ability score that all spellcasters use. Does a Wizard have any reason to raise his INT? Not really. Sure, skills are nice, but skill points aren’t part of the system anymore. The difference between a +1 modifier and +3 modifer for skills is relatively small. Not to mention the default ability score cap of 20. Your proficiencies end up playing the largest role in how good your skills are. So now Force sensitive characters will be more likely to dump other scores in favor of Force. This is not a good thing.

One solution to this problem is pretty simple: Force is not a separate ability score, but rather is another name for the ability score that governs your “spellcasting”. A Wizard’s Force score is, then, his INT. A Sorcerer uses CHA, and so on and so forth. This allows us to keep all the benefits of a Force score, like contested rolls and skills that use your Force ability, and means that the priority of the score doesn’t really factor into character creation. It’s one of the default scores and doesn’t become any more important than a standard spellcasting ability score. Great!

Except… now we’re giving Force users more options. If they can do so much more with one of their ability scores, the balance is tipping in their favor. Spellcasters are already pretty powerful. 5E does a nice job at keeping them on the same level as everyone else, but if a Wizard can suddenly use INT to lift things with his mind, then we’re messing with that balance. I don’t like that. It could be argued that since proficiencies are what really matter, then it’s not a huge deal. A Jedi might be able to make a Wisdom (Athletics) check to jump, but if he’s not trained in Athletics, then it’s just a Wisdom check and it’s not that much better than a rogue untrained in Athletics making a Strength check. If he is trained in Athletics, then the difference is still negligible! This is certainly one way to look at it. I recognize it’s still slightly unbalanced, so I hesitate to say this is the way to go, but I think it’s a good option that simply requires some more thought.

Sidenote: If you think a separate Force score makes more sense than multiple possible scores governing the Force, consider that a Jedi uses serenity and calm to access the Force while a Sith uses emotion and passion. Sounds like WIS vs CHA to me.

But wait. You might be questioning why you’d make a Force or Wisdom (Athletics) check. Surely using the Force to perform this skill means you wouldn’t be trained in Athletics, but rather in using the Force. Yoda doesn’t seem like the kind of person that’s trained in Athletics or Acrobatics, but he’s a powerful Force user and we’ve seen him jump around and twirl in his fight with Darth Sidious. If he’s not trained in those skills, but is that good, it can’t come from the base ability score but rather from…

A New Skill

I thought about this long and hard before putting it down as an option. Saga Edition had a special Use the Force skill that only Force Sensitive characters could use. The skill had some basic applications like Move Object, Force Trance, and Telepathy. It was also used to activate most Force Powers. If we’re basing Force Powers on spells, there should be no need to make a skill check to activate them or to increase their power. 5E handles that pretty elegantly as I’ve written before. So if we have a new skill, it should act like any other skill: relatively at-will, specialized uses of an ability.

The above example of Yoda vs. Sidious is a good one here. For the sake of this argument, we’re starting with the assumption that Yoda is not trained in Athletics and Acrobatics. We also assume there exists a Use the Force skill that he is trained in. What ability score governs this? There are really only two options. First, is a separate Force ability score (see above for pros and cons of this in general). Personally, I wouldn’t do this, for the very reasons we’ve discussed above. The second option is the solution to the above ability score problems. Choose a mental attribute as the governing ability score for a Use the Force check. A Wizard’s Use the Force check is governed by Intelligence, a Sorcerer’s by Charisma… you get it by now.

Why have the skill governed by anything at all? Maybe a Use the Force check can fall under any ability score. Lifting something with your mind? Strength (Use the Force). Using your Force Sight? Wisdom (Use the Force). Sure, that works. And that’s really how skills work anyway, as we’ve already discussed. So give it a default ability score. My preference is the one that governs Force Powers. This skill won’t have any use to someone that isn’t trained in the Force, so it should be a proficiency obtained only through your class or background. Maybe a race or two gets a trait that goes along with it. The Miraluka using a constant Force Sight, for instance, may let you make Wisdom (Use the Force) checks instead of Wisdom (Perception) to spot something. Want to be better at it? Take a class or background that grants Use the Force as a proficiency. If you absolutely want it to be relegated to a single ability score by default, make it Constitution.

What?

Yeah, Constitution. The Living Force deals with living things. Droids can’t use the Force, despite being connected to other aspects of the Force. Certain canonical sources claim that Vader would have been even more powerful had he not lost so many limbs and been so badly damaged. So Constitution would make sense. And it would give Constitution an associated skill… so it doesn’t feel so left out. Poor Constitution. People only like you for your hit points.

Anyway. If it’s a skill, I say tie it to a spellcasting class ability score and any other way of using the skill is explicitly defined for the individual circumstance. Or use CON. Whatever. But is it okay to have a single Use the Force skill that can be so widely applied? Probably not. If you can gain proficiency in Use the Force and then apply that in place of other skills, it’s going to get highly prioritized and then end up just like Saga Edition where all Jedi characters could boost that single skill to the exclusion of others and still be more powerful than everyone else because they never failed a Use the Force check. That’s bad.

Can we solve this problem? Maybe you can be proficient in Use the Force, but only specific class abilities (or maybe traits from my expanded Inspiration mechanic) let you use it in place of specific other skills. A Force-based Monk may get to use it for Athletics and Acrobatic, while a Force-based Bard can use it for Persuasion and Deception. Something about this seems inelegant, though, and I can’t place my finger on it. If it’s a trait you can get that lets you spend an Inspiration Point to make a Use the Force check instead of another skill (or a specific skill), I’m more inclined to use that. It limits how often you can do it and ties it to a replenishing resource.

Alternatively, maybe it makes sense for Yoda to have to be trained in Athletics and Acrobatics. You can be really strong in The Force, but if you don’t know how to be acrobatic, no Use the Force check is going to let you do a triple somersault and land, balancing on your big toe. Yoda can do all he does because he was trained as a Jedi. That’s what Jedi do. But a Dark Side Prophet? He’s not going to be doing flips and leaping across chasms. In which case, I’d go back to your regular proficiencies being important.

---

Now, all these ideas could actually work together. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Have a Force-governing ability score, a Use the Force skill, and traits that can maybe affect either or both. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on the options I’ve presented above. If you’ve been following along up to this point, you may have noticed that I haven’t touched on the third important aspect of the Force yet: morality, or the Light Side and Dark Side. Every system deals with this. It’s so iconic that it can’t be ignored... but it's also a really complicated discussion, so I'm going to reserve it for its own thread and will post about it once I've solidified my thoughts on the matter.

agathokles
Red Dragon
Posts: 7689
Joined: Sat May 24, 2008 6:42 pm
Gender: male
Location: Milan, Italy
Contact:

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by agathokles » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:38 am

The Force uses are indeed rather similar to magic. You even get lightning bolts... However, if Force powers are treated as spells, you don't need a subsystem or a new skill. You merely have to select the attribute used for attack modifiers and DCs (which could still be Con, but a more traditional alternative would be Wis, as the Force is based on the mind, and Yoda remarks this during Luke's training on Dagobah). An alternative could be Psionics. With some minor switching (e.g., Int to Wis for attacks) and reskinning (Psionic weapon to Lightsaber training), the Mystic class provided in the article could be a reasonable attempt at a Jedi/Force Adept class, complete with Jedi Guardian/Dark Side Marauder (combat focus) and Jedi Consular/Dark Side Acolyte (mind tricks focus) variants.

This obviously has the effect that Force powers are tied to a class. If this is not desired, then the Feat system seems the best choice. This is how it is handled in Saga, of course, with the Force Training feat.

Regarding Saga's Use the Force, while it is true that Jedi could focus on it alone, it is also true that Jedi in any case need several strong stats (Cha and Wis for Force powers, but also Dex for combat, and that's assuming they spend on Weapon Finesse, otherwise it's Dex and Str) anyway, and get fewer skill points than about all other classes. To make a Jedi skill-monkey, you need to spend at least one talent per each skill you want to master and you can cover Persuasion (requires two talents), Initiative, Perception, Pilot, Treat Injury, and Deception (the last one only for Sith characters). You only get 10 talents, and many of them are much better choices than skill-related ones (or at least, they give you major advantages elsewhere) -- things like Clear Mind, Force Haze, Block and Deflect are a much better application of a high Use the Force skill than another skill, and non-UtF based talents such as Elusive Target, Force Recovery, or the Duelist and Lightsaber Form talents are still other choices you're passing over to get a high Perception or Treat Injury skill... basically, you're giving up combat effectiveness for skill capabilities, which is a reasonable trade-off, IMO.

GP
Last edited by agathokles on Thu Dec 24, 2015 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
enderxenocide0
Stone Giant
Posts: 700
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:44 am
Gender: male

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by enderxenocide0 » Wed Dec 23, 2015 1:15 pm

agathokles wrote:However, if Force powers are treated as spells, you don't need a subsystem or a new skill.
Yes indeed, and this is the path I currently intend to take.
You merely have to select the attribute used for attack modifiers and DCs (which could still be Con, but a more traditional alternative would be Wis, as the Force is based on the mind, and Yoda remarks this during Luke's training on Dagobah).
While I think CON is still an interesting choice and WIS is the obvious choice, I don't know that it should be a single attribute that governs every Force user. 5E (and previous incarnations of D&D) split the governing attributes among INT, WIS, and CHA partly for balance concerns and I don't think that should be ignored. How one uses the Force is often tied to your state of mind and this could also be used. Different Force traditions may emphasize one attribute over another.
An alternative could be Psionics. With some minor switching (e.g., Int to Wis for attacks) and reskinning (Psionic weapon to Lightsaber training), the Mystic class provided in the article could be a reasonable attempt at a Jedi/Force Adept class, complete with Jedi Guardian/Dark Side Marauder (combat focus) and Jedi Consular/Dark Side Acolyte (mind tricks focus) variants.
There is a reason I avoided mentioning Psionics in the original post. It's not that I don't like it, but the system as presented in Unearthed Arcana is still in its infancy. I'd rather not start designing a conversion using such a system as the foundation. I rather like the way Disciplines are set up, though, and will probably take the time once Psionics is solidified to see how well it fits with Star Wars. As it stands, though, we have a 5-level preview of the Mystic class and no other information on how Psionics might be used in 5E.
This obviously has the effect that Force powers are tied to a class. If this is not desired, then the Feat system seems the best choice. This is how it is handled in Saga, of course, with the Force Training feat.
I'm perfectly okay with Force powers being tied to a class. Frankly, I think that's how it should be. There can easily be a Force Initiate feat, just like Magic Initiate, that lets the untrained gain access to some really simple Force powers like Move Object. I'd like to avoid feats that continuously increase the effectiveness of one thing a character does. Notice that 5E has Magic Initiate, but doesn't have any way to improve upon that... which is good. Part of 3.X's balance problems stemmed from the fact that it wasn't altogether that difficult to do two or three different things really well if you knew how to optimize. 5E rightfully stays away from that. If you want to be really good at multiple things, I think you should be forced to multiclass.
Regarding Saga's Use the Force, while it is true that Jedi could focus on it alone, it is also true that Jedi in any case need several strong stats (Cha and Wis for Force powers, but also Dex for combat, and that's assuming they spend on Weapon Finesse, otherwise it's Dex and Str) anyway, and get fewer skill points than about all other classes. To make a Jedi skill-monkey, you need to spend at least one talent per each skill you want to master and you can cover Persuasion (requires two talents), Initiative, Perception, Pilot, Treat Injury, and Deception (the last one only for Sith characters). You only get 10 talents, and many of them are much better choices than skill-related ones (or at least, they give you major advantages elsewhere) -- things like Clear Mind, Force Haze, Block and Deflect are a much better application of a high Use the Force skill than another skill, and non-UtF based talents such as Elusive Target, Force Recovery, or the Duelist and Lightsaber Form talents are still other choices you're passing over to get a high Perception or Treat Injury skill... basically, you're giving up combat effectiveness for skill capabilities, which is a reasonable trade-off, IMO.
I completely agree. That's why my focus is on class-based Force users.

agathokles
Red Dragon
Posts: 7689
Joined: Sat May 24, 2008 6:42 pm
Gender: male
Location: Milan, Italy
Contact:

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by agathokles » Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:08 pm

enderxenocide0 wrote: I'm perfectly okay with Force powers being tied to a class. Frankly, I think that's how it should be.
I actually prefer Saga Edition's take on the Force w.r.t. classes, but it doesn't mean a class-based approach doesn't work (it does in Star Wars D20). It does simplify the interaction with other subsystems (as you note, it avoids having the feat subsystem become compulsory). The only drawback seems that it forces you to use a single key ability score (for each Force-using class, at least).

GP

User avatar
enderxenocide0
Stone Giant
Posts: 700
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:44 am
Gender: male

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by enderxenocide0 » Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:38 pm

I actually prefer Saga Edition's take on the Force w.r.t. classes
I should comment that I don't necessarily dislike the way it handles it in general. It's allows for very customizable characters. Really, if I had my druthers, every game I play would be a point-based system like GURPS where you can do anything you want as long as you have the points to spend on an ability. My issue with Saga doing it that way is that it kind of conflicts with the class-based system they set up. If anyone can use Force powers by taking two feats, why does a Jedi class even exist? The answer might be "so there's a class that makes it easier to use Force powers, obviously" but that's not a real answer. And what I mean is that it defeats the purpose of both a Force-using class and an open-access Force powers system. If anyone can use it, a class that uses it "more easily" simply becomes the optimum choice. And if there are classes in general, why allow such high modularity in your choice of talents and feats? You might as well have made a generic "Hero" class and let the PC pick from any feat or talent every other level.

BUT. My gripes with Saga aside, my choice to use a class-based approach is to stick as close to 5E's design philosophy as I can. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel and make my own system, but rather augment or tweak a pre-existing one to suit my needs.
The only drawback seems that it forces you to use a single key ability score (for each Force-using class, at least).
Can you explain why you feel this is a drawback? (I'm not necessarily disagreeing, but I'd like to know your reasoning, so I can better respond to this)

agathokles
Red Dragon
Posts: 7689
Joined: Sat May 24, 2008 6:42 pm
Gender: male
Location: Milan, Italy
Contact:

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by agathokles » Wed Dec 23, 2015 3:56 pm

I don't think it is a drawback , but you mentioned that you would like to link the Force with more than one ability.

GP

User avatar
enderxenocide0
Stone Giant
Posts: 700
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:44 am
Gender: male

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by enderxenocide0 » Wed Dec 23, 2015 4:03 pm

Oh, yes. But only in the sense that spellcasting classes already do that.

agathokles
Red Dragon
Posts: 7689
Joined: Sat May 24, 2008 6:42 pm
Gender: male
Location: Milan, Italy
Contact:

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by agathokles » Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:05 pm

Ah, ok. You might then develop different classes with Force powers tied to different attributes, but it doesn't seem necessary, as the range of Force powers is not as great as that of D&D spells. Of course, in the EU there are several cases of relatively variant Force users who might fit in different classes, both outside the Jedi Order (Nightsisters, Sorcerers of Tund, etc.) and within it (Jedi Seers in KotOR, for example).

GP

User avatar
enderxenocide0
Stone Giant
Posts: 700
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:44 am
Gender: male

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by enderxenocide0 » Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:48 pm

agathokles wrote:Ah, ok. You might then develop different classes with Force powers tied to different attributes, but it doesn't seem necessary, as the range of Force powers is not as great as that of D&D spells. Of course, in the EU there are several cases of relatively variant Force users who might fit in different classes, both outside the Jedi Order (Nightsisters, Sorcerers of Tund, etc.) and within it (Jedi Seers in KotOR, for example).

GP
It's true that the range of Force powers isn't nearly as great as that of spellcasting, but I would also say that this is somewhat irrelevant. The Sorcerer and the Wizard share nearly identical spell lists, but one uses CHA and one uses INT. The main reason I think the class-dependant attribute governance is important is for game balance purposes. If all spellcasting was relegated to one mental attribute, it would make the others less of a consideration. The one big complication I forsee is multiclassing between different Force using classes. I might suggest, then, that any Force user chooses which mental attribute to use when they first acquire Force abilities and this propagates to any further classes or abilities... but I'm unsure of that.

Let's assume, for a minute, that every spellcasting class used the same ability as its governing attribute. In 5E, the mental ability scores play less of a role than in 3.X. Intelligence no longer directly affects things like skill points, nor does it even govern how many proficiencies you get. Each mental attribute has the same three uses: skill checks, saving throws, and spellcasting governance. INT and WIS both have 5 associated skills, while CHA has 4. The saving throws are made in response to attacks against your mind, but which attribute is used depends on the kind of attack. INT saving throws are made when your intellect is attacked (this appears to be very rare; a cursory look through the PHB indicates 2 spells and one class ability that are resisted by INT, while the MM has two monsters with abilities that call for INT saves). WIS and CHA saving throws are more common, though WIS saving throws far outweigh the CHA ones and, even then, the CHA ones seem to deal mostly with planar effects such as banishment and dismissal. That leaves spellcasting governance. INT has 2 associated classes (counting the Eldritch Knight fighter), while WIS has 6 (including Way of the Four Elements monk and Arcane Trickster rogue), and CHA has 3. Together, WIS is the dominant stat. Now, if we say that all spellcasting is governed by one stat, we are readjusting the weight on each attribute. Since we're already heavily weighted toward WIS being the most important, if we use WIS as the single spellcasting stat, we're making INT and CHA even less important, meaning a player has little incentive to increase that stat. I might accept making INT or CHA the single spellcasting ability, if only because they aren't as important already as WIS is.

I've been talking about this in terms of spellcasting, but let me transition back to The Force. Balance is important when considering Force users, much like it is when thinking about spellcasters. Using 5E as a foundation, we can probably see that CHA saving throws will be even rarer, given the lack of planar effects in the setting (although, I'd be inclined to design Force powers to use CHA saves about as frequently as WIS saves). The same goes for INT saving throws. If we want to prevent optimization, we should probably not have WIS be the single Force using attribute, but have a selection, as D&D typically has. At least, that's my current viewpoint.

User avatar
enderxenocide0
Stone Giant
Posts: 700
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:44 am
Gender: male

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by enderxenocide0 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 3:31 pm

Representing Force Traditions

I was thinking about this for a bit and it's sort of come up in the discussion of Skills. Force Traditions are, essentially, the training you received or the teachings you've studied that determine how you view The Force. The Jedi and Sith see the Force similarly, but with key differences. A Grey Jedi sees a balance between those two teachings, while an Aing-Tii monk views the Force completely differently from the teachings of the Jedi/Sith. We could denote this in classes, having a Jedi class, a Sith class, an Aing-Tii class, etc. This is mechanically cumbersome, however, even if we make them subclasses. That's a lot of unique abilities to come up with for each one. While there is a certain appeal to that, it strays from the 5E design philosophy too much for my tastes. My idea is this: Force Traditions are represented by Backgrounds. They have minor mechanical benefits, granting a couple proficiencies, but are focused primarily on the roleplaying aspects of that tradition. The tradition's Feature will likely be vaguely mechanical, allowing the DM to do with it what they choose. The DMG has this to say on designing Background features:
A background feature should avoid strict game
benefits, such as a bonus to an ability check or an attack
roll. Instead, the feature should open up new options for
roleplaying, exploring, and otherwise interacting with
the world.

For example, the sage's Researcher feature is
designed to send the character on adventures. It doesn't
provide information or an automatic success for a check.
Instead, if a character with the sage background fails
to recall information, he or she instead knows where to
learn it. This might be a pointer to another sage or to a
library long lost within an ancient tomb.

The best background features give characters
a reason to strike out on quests, to make contact
with NPCs, and to develop bonds to the setting
you've devised.
A good example of this is the Uthgardt Tribe Member from the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Their Feature is pretty specific to their culture:
FEATURE: UTHGARDT HERITAGE
You have an excellent knowledge of not only your tribe's
territory, but also the terrain and natural resources of
the rest of the North. You are familiar enough with any
wilderness area that you find twice as much food and
water as you normally would when you forage there.

Additionally, you can call upon the hospitality of
your people, and those folk allied with your tribe, often
including members of druid circles, tribes of nomadic
elves, the Harpers, and the priesthoods devoted to the
gods of the First Circle.
Let's consider a pretty typical Jedi tradition and see if we can design a similar feature for them. I'll directly rip some wording from the Uthgardt feature.
FEATURE: JEDI ORDER TRAINING
You not only have an excellent knowledge of the teachings
of the Jedi, but you also have an innate understanding of
the mysteries of the Force. You are familiar enough with
most Jedi Order facilities that you can usually find your way
to the closest one with little difficulty.

Additionally, you can call upon the hospitality of the
Order, and those allied with the Jedi, often including
populations you've helped, Jedi Order offshoots, the
Republic, and certain other Force traditions friendly to
the Jedi.
The same could be done for various Force Traditions. A lightsaber is the tool of a Jedi (and also the Sith), so I'd be inclined to have their Backgrounds grant proficiency in the weapon, rather than a class. That would allow for a tradition like the Zeison Sha to offer proficiency with the Discblade instead of granting lightsaber proficiency. If knowledge of the Force (its history, its possible uses, and governing philosophies) is a skill, the background should probably grant proficiency with it, as well. Now, I'd be willing to design some subclasses that are restricted by Background. SCAG does this with a few of its subclasses, tying them to specific roleplaying aspects of the setting. Purple Dragon Knight Fighters must be... well, Purple Dragon Knights, which would suggest a Knight background (though this is not made explicit). They can mechanically be used by anyone, and a note is made of this to indicate that it's left up to DM discretion whether or not it can be opened up to others. We could easily have a Fighter subclass that revolves around throwing a discblade with the Force and tie it to a Zeison Sha Background. I wouldn't want to do this too often, but it is certainly a possibility.

User avatar
enderxenocide0
Stone Giant
Posts: 700
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:44 am
Gender: male

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by enderxenocide0 » Fri Jan 15, 2016 3:10 pm

Force Powers Using Spell Points

Here's something else I've been considering. Page 288 of the DMG discusses the Spell Point variant of spellcasting. In this system, a spellcaster has a finite number of spell points that replenish when they take a long rest. You can use these points to create the spell slots necessary to cast your spells. This gives you the ability to cast lower-level spells much more frequently. The downside is that this system restricts the number of higher level spell slots you can create per long rest. Level 6 or higher slots can only be created once per long rest per level, so one 6th level slot, one 7th level, one 8th level, and one 9th level. This isn't a huge issue, given that full casters only differ in that they usually get two level 6 and level 7 spell slots once they reach that point. I like the flexibility of the spell point system, but am unsure if being able to use more Force Powers at low levels would affect the game balance too much. It would likely depend on how useful the Force Powers are.

User avatar
BotWizo
Wizard
Posts: 1215
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 4:36 am
Gender: male
Location: Barbarian Lands - Brun (Iowa - USA)

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by BotWizo » Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:20 pm

For the Jedi class, could you just use the swordmage for 5e?

its just a thought, then you could just mess with the spell list.
I would consider using spell points for the jedi class rather than spell slots, but I really haven't gotten as in depth as you have ender so I do not see the pitfalls.

I really like this topic, I guess i said that in another of your threads.
Game over man... Game over! -- Pvt. Hudson

User avatar
enderxenocide0
Stone Giant
Posts: 700
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:44 am
Gender: male

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by enderxenocide0 » Mon Jan 18, 2016 6:53 pm

My intention is to avoid having Jedi class, but rather to leave most classes as they are, or with minor changes to reflect the universe. To be more clear, I mean that any class can represent someone with Force abilities with the right changes to fluff. An Eldritch Knight fighter makes a good lightsaber combatant, a Bladesinger (which I assume you meant instead of Swordmage) is more focused on spellcasting but can handle a blade, while the paladin even has the oaths like a Jedi would. I'll start covering specifics of classes and other mechanics once I've gone over the majority of the groundwork.

User avatar
BotWizo
Wizard
Posts: 1215
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 4:36 am
Gender: male
Location: Barbarian Lands - Brun (Iowa - USA)

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by BotWizo » Mon Jan 18, 2016 6:57 pm

enderxenocide0 wrote:My intention is to avoid having Jedi class, but rather to leave most classes as they are, or with minor changes to reflect the universe. To be more clear, I mean that any class can represent someone with Force abilities with the right changes to fluff. An Eldritch Knight fighter makes a good lightsaber combatant, a Bladesinger (which I assume you meant instead of Swordmage) is more focused on spellcasting but can handle a blade, while the paladin even has the oaths like a Jedi would. I'll start covering specifics of classes and other mechanics once I've gone over the majority of the groundwork.

I think that is a great intention, better than having a jedi class, you just have a jedi organization made up of different classes, and therefore a diverse jedi group, very cool.
yes Bladesinger I was blanking on what 5e renamed the swordmage. :oops:
Game over man... Game over! -- Pvt. Hudson

User avatar
Hugin
Messenger of Odin
Posts: 4154
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 9:40 pm
Gender: male
Location: Fergus, Ontario

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by Hugin » Tue Jan 19, 2016 1:06 am

BotWizo wrote:
enderxenocide0 wrote:My intention is to avoid having Jedi class, but rather to leave most classes as they are, or with minor changes to reflect the universe. To be more clear, I mean that any class can represent someone with Force abilities with the right changes to fluff. An Eldritch Knight fighter makes a good lightsaber combatant, a Bladesinger (which I assume you meant instead of Swordmage) is more focused on spellcasting but can handle a blade, while the paladin even has the oaths like a Jedi would. I'll start covering specifics of classes and other mechanics once I've gone over the majority of the groundwork.

I think that is a great intention, better than having a jedi class, you just have a jedi organization made up of different classes, and therefore a diverse jedi group, very cool.
Agreed. I think this could be a very good way to handle Force abilities. Nice direction to go in.

User avatar
Angel Tarragon
Dawn Dragon
Posts: 8992
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:39 am
Gender: female
Location: Valley of the Sun, AZ
Contact:

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by Angel Tarragon » Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:26 am

enderxenocide0 wrote:My intention is to avoid having Jedi class, but rather to leave most classes as they are, or with minor changes to reflect the universe. To be more clear, I mean that any class can represent someone with Force abilities with the right changes to fluff. An Eldritch Knight fighter makes a good lightsaber combatant, a Bladesinger (which I assume you meant instead of Swordmage) is more focused on spellcasting but can handle a blade, while the paladin even has the oaths like a Jedi would. I'll start covering specifics of classes and other mechanics once I've gone over the majority of the groundwork.
Very cool. This alone has me very interested in this project.
Social Media & Extended Signature

Pathfinder 2E
The ABCs of Character Creation
Product Catalog

Saltwater1
Gnoll
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:34 am
Gender: male
Contact:

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by Saltwater1 » Thu Feb 11, 2016 3:15 am

I don't have the time at the moment to make sure this hasn't been mentioned, but certain spellcasting classes could be converted into guys with tons of tech. A fireball becomes a small flamethrower, a shock grasp becomes a stun gun, a chill touch becomes an antimatter device, etc. Gaining spell slots during rest is recharging all the little devices. Just a thought.
"Join me, my bushes! To war we go!" -A very resourceful wood elf druid

User avatar
enderxenocide0
Stone Giant
Posts: 700
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:44 am
Gender: male

Re: [5E SW] Basics of The Force

Post by enderxenocide0 » Thu Feb 11, 2016 3:58 am

Saltwater1 wrote:I don't have the time at the moment to make sure this hasn't been mentioned, but certain spellcasting classes could be converted into guys with tons of tech. A fireball becomes a small flamethrower, a shock grasp becomes a stun gun, a chill touch becomes an antimatter device, etc. Gaining spell slots during rest is recharging all the little devices. Just a thought.
This has a bit of a problem from a resource balancing standpoint. Magic and, by extension, The Force have one critical distinction from technology: they don't require a physical object to function. Class features are rarely, if ever, dependent on the production, maintenance, or utilization of objects. The main reason for this is so the class doesn't become useless when removed from these things. One might argue that an antimagic field is functionally identical to removing a tech wizard's equipment, but you can escape an antimagic field. The potential destruction of equipment isn't easily remedied. I would hesitate to convert spellcasting to mechanical devices as a class feature for this reason. That said, a tech-based subclass for the Rogue might make a lot of sense and I am thinking about that.

Post Reply

Return to “Star Wars”