Using the Force in D6 Star Wars


Defending yourself with just 1D in Sense is not easy, as Luke discovers when training with a remote.

My previous post discussed the proto-D6 System as found in the Ghostbusters RPG. For those unfamiliar with the D6 System and the way it does the Force (or for a brief review) the essentials are:
  • You roll a bunch of six sided dice against a target number, typically ranging from 5-ish (easy) to 20 or even higher. Your rating is listed as something like 2D+2 which means roll 2d6+2.
  • By default, most normal/non-heroic people have 2D in most stats. 
  • Starting heroes will might have their best skill be at 5D or a touch higher.
  • You can take as many actions as you want in a round. However, taking two actions in a round reduces all dice codes by 1D, taking three reduces all by 2D, etc.
  • Starting with Force skills will lower a characters starting attributes. Unlike most skills they start off at 1D. There are three Force skills - control, sense, and alter.
    • Control lets you control the Force within you. It allows you to resist the effects of injury, accelerate your healing etc.
    • Sense lets you see the Force - see into the future, make hyperspace jumps without a computer, etc.
    • Alter lets you control the Force away from you. It is handy for lifting up rocks.
  • Many Force powers require using 2 or 3 skills. For example the Jedi Mind Trick, Affect Mind, uses all three. If you use them all in one round then you make three skill rolls, each at -2D. Or you could spread it out over three rounds (which could be a way of interpreting what Rey did when she used a Jedi Mind Trick in The Force Awakens).
From my own experiences, the Force system is probably the weakest part of West End Games' Star Wars RPG. It suffers from the famous linear fighters, quadratic wizards problem. Essentially, a Force user will most likely be weaker than his teammates. However, he will eventually reach a point where he is equal to them but very quickly will move to the point where he is parrying a half dozen blaster bolts, taking out every foe in one round with his lightsaber (which does an insane amount of damage), etc. When I was considering this problem after my Ghostbusters post I came upon a blog post by Blue Max Studios beginning an exploration into this very area. I'm very curious to see where this explanation leads to.

For myself, part of me speculates this might be an academic exercise - truthfully, I think Fantasy Flight Games catches the balance pretty well in their Star Wars RPGs and I suspect were I to resume our Star Wars game  I'd likely use their system.

But, I have a soft spot in my heart for the original Star Wars game and I might be swayed to break it out again. With that in mind, I can't help myself but to at least consider these issues.

The first question would have to be is it broken at all? Perhaps it is simply genre emulation and powerful Jedi should absolutely overshadow non-Jedi. I'm not certain that is true though. Considering all of the Star Wars films, I can think of a number of occasions when a non-Force user held his own against a Force user:
  • The Jedi Mind Trick never, ever works against anyone but a minor foe. Luke can't use it against Jabba, Qui-Gon can't use it against Watto. 
  • The best example is probably the battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones. Multiple battles actually, on Kamino and in space. They are clearly evenly matched.
  • Han Solo and Chewbaaca against Darth Vader in A New Hope. No one else even comes close to hurting Vader in the Battle of Yavin.
  • Chewbacca against Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens. Chewbacca lands a nasty injury on Ren which clearly affects him in his battle against Finn and Rey. Indeed, while Finn is clearly outmatched against Ren, he still holds him off long enough for Rey to take up the battle.

This is not to suggest a Jedi Knight should not be a powerful character. But at the same time, it is important to note that most of the opposition in the galaxy is the grunt variety - consider an aged Han Solo still being more than a match for the First Order's stormtroopers. There should be other powerful characters besides Jedi.

So what can be done to improve things? I'm not 100% sure. There's a few things that come to mind.

Lightsaber Combat


The first thing I think of is the lightsaber combat power. It is a power in the 2nd edition only. It requires a control plus sense roll to activate. Once up it allows the user to add control to damage and sense to attack and parry rolls and to use sense to parry blaster bolts. In my experience it was a bit of a problematic power. I would probably simplify things, using 1st edition as a baseline:
  • A character uses lightsaber skill for melee attacks and parries. One can mentally picture the skill coming from the Force. The enhance attribute power, in the 2nd edition, can also provide a boost.
  • A lightsaber does 4D damage. A character's sense rating can be added to this, up to a damage cap of 6D.
  • Sense can be used to parry blaster bolts (and to redirect them).

Scaling Advancement

While a Force skill is not quite as good as an attribute, it is definitely more useful than a skill. While the 2nd edition proposes doubling the improvement cost if a character lacks a teacher, I'd suggest doubling it with a teacher and tripling it without one. This will slow advancement down and also encourage skill points in other areas. To balance this I'd suggest making extremely high ratings both less required and less useful (i.e. over a certain point you have diminishing returns).

Enhancements

I mentioned the enhance attribute up above and I think it is an important power to have - indeed I think it is probably the most important power a Force sensitive character might have, especially if a character is not a Jedi. Consider Anakin, Luke, and Rey - even before they knew anything about the Force they were just good at things. I'd suggest a new Force power, enhance skill.

Enhance Skill 
Control Difficulty: Easy (10)
Effect: On a successful control roll one skill of the character's choice is improved by 1D for 3 rounds. If a Difficult (20) control roll is made the default improvement can be taken or the character can improve one skill by 2D for two rounds or improve two skills by 1D for two rounds. Only one use of enhance skill can be used at a time. It cannot be used to improve a Force skill.  

Multiple Skill Force Powers 

I'm a bit on the fence with multiple skill Force powers - like affect mind requiring a control, sense, and alter roll. Like I mentioned, one could view Rey's attempt at using it in The Force Awakens as spreading out the usage across three rounds. On the other hand, it seems a lot of unnecessary die rolling. I'd be strongly inclined to either:
  • Go the route Wizards of the Coast did and make all powers fit into one of the three skills
  • Have the character make a single die roll at the lowest relevant skill, comparing it with the various difficulties

Affect Mind

I think as seen in the films affect mind is a bit over powered - the Jedi Mind Trick, as mentioned, never really worked against anyone important. I don't have an obvious solution at this time, it's just something on my mind.

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