Thursday, February 19, 2015

12 Games February: Star Wars (Week 3)

There are a lot of rules of West End Games Star Wars D6, but at the end of the day they have ONE rule of thumb, "Pick a difficulty number. If the character's skill role is equal or higher, she succeeds".  This alone has made running SW D6 one of the fastest and easiest games I've had the pleasure to handle.

First I will say that due to multiple accounts of personal problems and scheduling issues my players and I have not gotten to run as much of the system as I would have liked, but we are about 80% through the campaign I've plotted for them.  I say this because we haven't gotten to use every single rule option within the game, but thanks to the "Rule of Thumb" that doesn't matter too much as even the game itself points out how the more complex rules are simply there if you want them.  What we were able to test out were: some Force Powers, Star Fighter Combat, Computer programming and hacking, social interactions, character advancement, combat with Storm Troopers, and even a fight with a Rankor.

Something I want to note for anyone looking to play this game is that combat is DEADLY.  Everything runs off of a wounds system similar to Savage Worlds (but without the issue of "Shaken lock", one less wound, and easier to be flat out killed in a single shot).  This means bumps and bruises add up and actually slow characters down.  None of that still at 1HP and everything is fine issues with some other games.  This actually came up as two of my players (as Failed Jedi) thought running in head first at a couple storm troopers would be a breeze.  Instead the first round ended with a blaster rifle bolt to one of them that not only left them unconscious on the floor, but also moments from death.

Combat is general actually has some interesting concepts buried within the mechanics.  There is not AC or flat character based "to hit number".  If a player is looking to shoot someone or something it is simply an Easy skill check with the difficulty going up with range and cover.  I know this isn't too new, but where the uniqueness really shines is in melee combat.  The basic difficult number to hit someone in melee combat is based on the weapon a character is wielding.  This makes incredibly powerful weapons such as a light saber actually require skill and properly wielding them is no easy task while a basic knife might not deal the most damage, but it's sure to do the job if the target isn't paying attention.   Now I know this might seem odd since ideas of combat have character dodging and rolling to safety as well as seeming like it removes player skill from half of the equation, but that is because those are the BASE numbers to hit.  If a player want to actively protect themselves in melee or dodge blaster fire they need to spend actions to do so.  This leaves un-attentive players as easy targets.

Now something to note when I say that actively defending yourself uses an action does not mean it uses your ONLY action.  Another similarity to Savage Worlds is that players are free to try and pull of multiple actions on their turns (with in reason), but at a penalty to all of said actions.  This is done using the dice pool system already built within the mechanics.  A character simply loses one dice from each of their skills for every action beyond the first they are attempting to do.  This automatically means that a player needs a level of skill t even try multitasking as if their dice pool is 0 then there is no way to succeed. However, thanks to the wild dice (One dice in every pool is "wild" and keeps being rolled and added as long as it rolls max) even a dice pool of 1 has a chance no matter how slim to do anything.  Another added benefit to this system is more advanced character with high skills simply have the option to do more things in a turn as their dice pools become high enough to not worry about a loss here or there.

Speaking of more advanced characters, character advancement also has some ideas I really enjoyed.  I have never been a fan of some games' leveling systems where basically the characters go to sleep then wake up the next day with brand new skills and abilities they've never even tried before.  SW D6 handles this with another simple ruling.  When it comes time to advance a character if that character has used the skill recently in adventures then they can jsut spend the points and the skill goes up.  IF they haven't they need to seek training which can take weeks of down time to accomplish.  This is also how more powerful character options such as force powers and attributes are raised.  Additionally, there are no "levels" in SW D6, instead characters earn points that can be spent to advance skills, attributes, and abilities such as being force sensitive.  The costs range based one how important of a mechanic is being raised such as attributes costing much more than skills and specializations being the cheapest of all.  Additionally, nothing can be raised more than one step at a time leaving character advancement feeling organic without massive jumps in ability out of no where.  Another interesting piece to note is that these points are also an in game currency that can be spent to add more "wild" dice to skill rolls. This can leave players in the tough spot of weather to spend their hard earned experience in a single roll to keep them alive or to try and hold on the the points and hope they live to see character advancement.

With that all out of the way you might be wondering why I didn't talk about ship combat.  Well that's because I'm talking about it now and you need to be more patient.  Also because ship combat, while it CAN have a bunch of fiddly rules to turn it into it's own miniatures war game, doesn't need a ton of mechanics to run.  Basically you simply run most combats as if it were between two characters.  The added difference being that every round the pilot needs to make checks based on the area to determine how things are going.  This can range from dodging trees on speeder bikes all the way to trying to stay out of the cross hairs of tie fighters.  If you are dealing with a situation where only on character is handling everything from piloting to shields to guns (such as with a star fighter) then multitasking is a must, but if you give your players a ship that everyone can be involved then it turns into a team activity.  One of the most fun moments in our play test happened when our pilot was dodging tie fighters while also trying to plot a hyperspace jump to get out of there.  At the same time one player was constantly managing where shield power needed to be and a third was in the ships turret picking off enemies.  Sadly this left one of our group out in the cold as he did not have any ship based skills, but he WAS force sensitive and in a later dog fight realized he could send that time focusing on the force to help him in one fell swoop use the force to help the party.  This actually happened and succeed once as the party was trying to fly a spaceport and it was going into lock-down and through a single mighty roll of force powers he was able to jam the doors closing them off.

I know this week had a lot more anecdotes than usual, but I feel like that says a lot about the game.  From what we've gotten to play it is fast, fun, and makes for great moments at the table.  Next week I will have my final break down of the game as well as the flaws that I haven't brought up yet.  As for wrapping up THIS week I have a name to draw for some free Star Wars Games.

And the winner is (insert drum roll)..... Bobby Jennings your keys will be emailed to you as soon as I finish this article.  I had issues finding you email so I sent you a hang outs message, respond when yu can.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 4

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