Hi everyone, sorry for the late posting. Unfortunately this will also be my only update this week as I take care of some things but should be back to regularly scheduled programming next week.
With six sessions over two months playtesting Age of Star Wars, I have received a lot of helpful feedback and come to some realizations. This week, I wanted to focus on classes; what went right, what went wrong, and some changes I can see happening down the road. To join the conversation and provide feed back, please go to the Green Ronin forums.
Baked into Star Wars is the prominence of the Force and Force-users. Recognizing this and while not GMing to the special snow flake status of Jedi, has proved to be somewhat challenging, even for someone like me who do not find them to be all that interesting. Keeping with the recommendation of “one adept per table” still holds true.
Perception and using Force Powers: This was a suggestion that got brought up on the forums and was tested out this past weekend. It worked very well, the change did not trip up the player, it being very easy to equate Perception is to Force Powers as Intelligence is to spells. This will likely be a permanent change going forward.
Force Powers and Force Power Stunts: I was really expecting some difficulty with each individual Force Power having its own list of stunts. I thought it would slow down play or that the player would might come to feel that they needlessly complicated things. Not so. Being able to Force Dash across the battlemat and Deflect blaster bolts right back at stormtroopers proved not only to be uncomplicated but tremendously fun. I may be coming up with a special cheat sheet for Force Powers, since they are relatively few and the player has been using a print-out of the Force Power section of the playtest document as his guide.
Later Level Class Abilities: Many of the benefits the class receives past level 5 are based off of older drafts of Force Powers and How they work. This is more of an errata issue than a full re-write, but you can expect to see a change in the near future.
This is probably the class I was the most worried about, as it is meant to do many different things: it is part ranger (which always seems to have issues, if my work on Expanded Classes has showed me anything), part skills monkey, part pet class. However, it has become one of the classes I am the most pleased with. As the player also decided on making a wookiee, the character is a great combination of durability and utility. Only one thing really stands out that requires immediate changing.
Health and Willpower: At level 3, the fringer character has 90+ Health. Despite the prevalence of penetrating damage, this simply can not stand. What will likely happen is that it will become a static bonus, a bonus to Health equal to your Willpower x 2, instead of something that is being added at every level.
Languages: To compensate the loss of the above ability at level 2, the fringer will get a list of bonus languages to choose from, representing how inhabitants on the Outer Rim (like Luke and Rey) are not always able to rely on Galactic Basic when communicating with others.
I actually have two at my regular table. As I have sometimes found with the Fantasy Age rogue, it can often feel as though you have two players playing the same character, but the distinctiveness in the personalities of both the players and their characters has gone a long way in helping with this. Unlike the rogue, the weapon selection given to the operative is not making up for a lack of damage dice but gives the player options as to whether he uses his minor action to deal out big damage or do something else, such as move into cover. There are a few small tweaks in mind for the operative going forward, mostly to further define certain features.
Deadly Aim (with more fluff): Being able to make full use of this feature is not as easy or as regularly utilized in play. That is not to say that it is not well-balanced, with operatives turn often being a trade-off between the extra damage and other actions that could better help himself or the party. A situation did come up though where the player was able to snipe a stormtrooper and, as the GM, it suddenly clicked that this should also allow the player to go unnoticed. The language would obviously need to take into account certain circumstances where this would not be the case, such as using deadly aim in melee while adjacent to another opponent, but it is something that will be explore with any re-write of the rules.
Evasion and Half Damage on Failure: I liked these kinds of abilities, it emphasizes the hit-and-run aspects of the class. With the prevalence of AOEs like explosives and heavy weapons, this is an ability with far more utility than simply dealing with mages. Whether only taking half damage on a failure will be written into level 2 or later has yet to be decided.
Unfortunately, I have seen this once in play and only at level 1. What did come up is the viability of class/species combinations. The player made a wookiee (my tables seem to love wookiees) and did not invest in Communication, meaning that he did not receive the bonus to Defense and had no armor. He was able to make up for it a bit by wookiees simply being so hardy and the bowcaster making the first round of combat absolutely devastating to the opposition. Although the the unusual class-combination worked, I am interested to see what others may show.
Really nothing simpler than the straight-forward combatant. I have now seen this played with one character being mon calamari and an assassin droid. Both played very differently, and despite the no frills approach of nearly no features but with a broader selection of starting talents, it allows great deal of versatility. The mon calamari played more covertly, using range and trying to sabotage the environment with explosives than straight up fight. The assassin droid is a melee murder-bot and has been a lot of fun making Futurama references. I really do not see anything changing for the soldier going forward, but have one point of clarification.
5 Primary Abilities: This is unlike any other class, but represents the variety of ways a soldier can and does engage in combat. There have been a few questions on this, so I thought it worth addressing.