Friday, September 25, 2015

My FFG Star Wars Morality Ideas

Yesterday I talked about morality and alignment in games, but today I want to look at some tweaks to the Morality system in Star Wars Force & Destiny. The easy answer is to allow for conflict based on more personal ideals of good and evil, there's actually a second issue within the system itself that I didn't bring up.  That's because despite being part of the Morality system it actually had very little to do with a characters moral dilemmas and more to to with some serious assumptions about player choice.

You see one of the big assumptions Force & Destiny makes is that all force sensitive will take and regularly use force powers. Let me be clear by "regularly" I mean every chance they possibly could resulting in at least one usage per scene/encounter.  The problem here is force powers while requiring being force sensitive are not a part of even Jedi careers or specializations.  They are a completely separate aspect of character creation that aren't even required unless you specifically want them for your player.

Personally I'm a big fan of how character creation works and the flexibility of the system in that aspect and one of the really cool parts of the Jedi careers is they ad Force based flavor to things without needing to invest specific powers.  for example a character could take the Move power and basically start building force telekinesis, but they could also pick up a single talent as an Artisan that lets them do fine manipulation with the force while building things rather than using tools or that several of the lightsaber fighting styles are described as using the force to predict your opponents movements and countering them compared to the Foresee power that lets you glimpse the future.

All of these are really cool, but the problem crops up where they talk about non force sensitive and the morality system basically saying they should use a different system (like Obligation or Duty) because a non force sensitive won't  have access to the main generator of conflict.  Now within the lore this makes sense as force users are supposed to be extra sensitive to the influence of its power and thus are more likely to fall to the dark side.  Mechanically though this is a problem because this "main generator of conflict" they are talking about is taking conflict to use dark side force points for powers when need be.  The problem is the system is so heavily reliant on players doing this they don't think about the fact that even a force sensitive character can go an entire session without using a power (I mean the game IS designed so that players can succeed and survive without needing them) let alone characters that don't even bother to take powers.

Now I do get the argument that if a player is going to play this type of character it's fair to assume they have at least one force power and I think that's true for characters EVENTUALLY. You see during character creation XP is limited and it's even suggested by the book to dump as much of it as possible into your attributes because after character creation they can't be raised outside of special talents usually at the bottom of specialization trees.  This means powers aren't actually that likely to be picked up at character creation and even one session can raise a characters morality by up to 10 points (I know every character should be generating some mortality from the story no matter what but that's still 8-9 points per session on good rolls) and if they wait four or five sessions before picking up a power let alone using it frequently they are very likely to have they morality to the heights of saints for just playing.

Morality is mean to be something that's hard to gain and easy to lose to symbolize the easy falls and dips into the dark side, but when you combine the the fact that unless you're throwing force powers around constantly and that a random D10 can swing in your favor and make all but the evilest acts a wash at the end of the day by chance its actually hard to fall to the dark side.  In fact even the main way to fall to the dark side offers very little power for doing so, mainly by activating a power that a player could just wait a round and try again to do.  Now I do get the idea that if a player doesn't want to fall they shouldn't for a slip up or two unless they are major digressions, but honestly I feel almost no temptation in the mechanic and it feels like it rewards inaction since there's no actual reward for being extra heroic just penalties for letting evil happen.

My "Fixes"
First things first is to make conflict a bit more subjective.  If a character is trying to do the right thing they aren't as penalized as one who is just causing trouble.  the system has this already to a bit, but loosening the interpretations of when is and isn't a time to act can go a long way.

Second let heroics create negative conflict. If a character dives in the way of blaster fire to save a family reduce their current conflict by an amount fitting their selflessness.  This is one of those that should sound like a no-brainer to many of you, but it isn't actually mentioned within the game so it needs said.

Third is to not roll for morality till the end of a story or episode.  Now I've heard that when FFG says "end of a session" this is what they mean, but to me saying that something should be interpreted isn't a good sign for rules so instead we're going to be clear.  Roll Morality at the end of an adventure or major milestone in a story.

Fourth and final is something a bit extreme, but a concept I'm going to steal from Shadowrun and that's electing to "burn" and permanently reduce a resource, in this case Morality.  With this a player can choose to truly tap into the easy power of the car side at a cost of their inner self.  This will also reduce the maximum their morality can reach from then on without serious penance.

Burning Morality
A character can choose to permanently reduce their morality (Including their maximum morality) by 5 to both flip one of the GM's dark side destiny points and act as if they gained a success with no advantage on a single check rather than rolling.  A player may do this once per session at the cost of 5 Morality with additional uses within the session also costing 5 Conflict in addition to the morality per use. IF the action is used for violence or a similar act it may generate additional conflict.

This is a very powerful option allowing a player to just instantly succeed on a single task while also reducing a GM resource, but honestly within a FFG Star Wars system a single success without any advantage or extra successes isn't that powerful. More importantly it gives none force users another way to use morality and shows that the temptation of the dark side can and should reach everyone if they open themselves up to it.

Regaining Morality
With the maximum morality being able to be reduced to near nothingness a character's redemption can seem impossible.  Within the game there is already rules for coming back from the dark side, but honestly if a character has embraced the dark side so far they lack the ability to regain their morality they need to do something, probably a few somethings, to be able to come back.  At the GMs digression truly selfless acts resulting in the detriment of the character can regain morality.  Any direct bonus to morality and not just negative conflict should also raise the maximum morality of the character.

A Side Note: I feel like this goes without saying but if a character doesn't have at least 5 morality to spend they can't burn the morality.  This does mean that a character might have more than 5 as their maximum morality but not have the actual ability to reduce their maximum.  To me this is still fitting because within this circumstance they have already fallen to the dark side and while the dark side is tempting once it has you it doesn't really need to tempt you any further.

No comments:

Post a Comment