Jar'Kai Adept Homebrew Specialization

Hello all! Like many others before me I have taken on the task of trying to make a Jar’kai homebrew spec. Seeing as the SWRPG subreddit is still locked away for the forseeable future, I thought it would be nice to get some feedback from the lovely people on this forum. My basic goal with this tree is to create a sort of advanced Lightsaber class that brings to life the fighting styles of Ahsoka Tano or Asajj Ventress within the game’s mechanics.

My main inspiration gameplay-wise was the Smuggler’s Gunslinger spec, particularly with some of the custom talents I made. I always thought it was weird that melee fighters never got talents that let them dual-wield effectively, and I wanted to rectify that with this tree. I also designed the tree with a Force rating requirement similar to some of the specs in the Jedi career from the Clone Wars sourcebooks to solidify the idea that it is an advanced class. I went with a FR 2 requirement because I figure it makes sense for a character to have a solid amount of training before committing to a dual-wielding style.

Here’s what I have so far:

I’ll give a little write-up of the Career Skills and talents, as well as my reason for including them.

Career Skills

  • Lightsaber – Self-explanatory, necessary skill for a lightsaber spec
  • Coordination – Representing the balance and agility necessary to wield two blades at once
  • Cool – Representing a Jar’kai Adept’s ability to keep a level head during stressful situations
  • Perception – Representing a Jar’kai Adept’s skill in observing the environment around them in the heat of battle

Necessary Talents (Existing):

  • Quick Draw – Allows character to draw their blade at a moment’s notice
  • Improved Quick Draw – Provides Jar’kai Adept with the same utility as the Smuggler Gunslinger spec, except for a melee combatant
  • Dedication – Capstone talent

Core Talents (New):

  • Jar’kai Discipline – When making a combined combat check with two Lightsaber or Melee weapons, the character may suffer two strain in order to refrain from increasing the difficulty of the check for attacking with two weapons. (Mirror of Guns Blazing from the Gunslinger spec)
  • Rising Whirlwind – After the character makes a successful combined check with two Lightsaber or Melee weapons, each additional hit generated as part of the attack can be allocated to any other target within range of the weapon. (Mirror of Spitfire from the Gunslinger spec)
    Twin Strike – Suffer 3 strain to perform the Twin Strike maneuver. After resolving your next Lightsaber combat check that turn, double the remaining uncancelled successes. Can only be activated once per round.

INFO: The first two I’m comfortable with, since I see them as necessary utility for a dual-wielding melee spec. The only one that might need some reworking is Twin Strike. I want to include it since it’s one of the main moves of Jar’Kai (and I know SWRPG likes making talents based on lore accurate techniques) but I’m not sure I went about it perfectly. Basically I want it to be a sort of burst damage ability to represent the power of using two weapons in a single strike. Any ideas would be helpful

Strain Recovery Talents:

  • Second Wind x2 – Allows the Jar’kai Adept to recover strain during an encounter
  • Balance – Assists the character in recovering strain at the end of an encounter
  • Grit x3 – An above average Strain Threshold for a Lightsaber form spec

INFO: The reason I’m including these strain recovery talents along with the above average strain threshold is to showcase the adaptability of a Jar’Kai Adept. Part of my design philosophy for this tree is that a dual-blade fighting style requires someone who can control the engagement and find spaces to catch their breath in the middle of a fight. By its nature it should be a tiring combat form, and these skills address that. I can definitely see the argument that this has TOO many strain recovery options for a combat tree, so I’m open to feedback there.

Defensive Talents:

  • Parry x2 – Helpful in defending against melee attacks
  • Reflect x2 – Helpful in defending against ranged attacks
  • Defensive Savant (NEW) – When acquired, may choose to gain either the Improved Parry or Improved Reflect talent.

INFO: I think it’s important that a tree like this has a decent bit of defensive utility. Originally I was going to create a new ranked talent to buff a character’s defense using their second blade but that felt over complicated. Defensive Savant may seem op on the surface, but I like the idea of having an advanced lightsaber spec that lets you specialize in a form of defense that matches your style. Once again, it’s possible that I gave the tree too many defensive options, so I am open to suggestions.

Additional Talents:

  • Sense Danger – Represents the adaptive ability of a Jar’kai Adept to twist a situation to their advantage
  • Conditioned – Helps with Athletics and Coordination checks. Showcases a Jar’kai Adept’s physical training
  • Natural Blademaster – Useful for a dual-wielding saber user and represents the characters advanced combat training

That’s the gist of it. Sorry this post is overly long, I know I’m throwing out a few radical ideas here so I wanted to explain myself. As a final note, the structure of this tree was inspired by the Gunslinger’s layout, but I am open to altering it if people think the current layout doesn’t fit the concept. Thank you for taking the time to check this out! :slight_smile:

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This looks really cool! Here are my (very) detailed thoughts:

I disagree with “mimicking” the Gunslinger spec. While I agree that it is a good source of inspiration, trying to mimic can paint you into a corner or cause you to overlook better options because of your focus on a template. It is also important to not be too similar, though it doesn’t look like you’ve fallen into that pitfall (good job!).

As for the Force rating, I actually think it makes more sense to not have that requirement. When you look into the lore, it talks about how the focus on a two-weapon discipline resulted in many practitioners allowing other abilities to go undeveloped because of the dedication it took to master Jar’kai. Accordingly, putting Jar’kai without an FR 2 prerequisite allows players to take that approach.

While the first three make a lot of sense, Perception seems like a thematically weak choice. Perhaps Vigilance would be better suited.
Perception is more about specifically looking for something, whereas Vigilance is more about the character’s constant awareness. What you’re describing (“in the heat of battle”) sounds more like Vigilance to not be surprised by a sudden change in the flow of battle. This also fits thematically with the idea of a Jar’kai user fending off multiple opponents at once; the fighter must have a high situational awareness in order to perform such a feat.
(Note: Either way, each career skill is pinned to a different Characteristic. While not entirely desirable, it is certainly not without precedent. The sweet spot seems to be about 3 unique Characteristics.)

Necessary Talents:
Entirely agree. These are exactly what the tree needs.

Core Talents:
Jar’kai Discipline: This works fine. My concern, however, is the Strain cost. Practically speaking, a lightsaber combatant will be struggling to keep up Parry and Reflect, and 2 Strain here can make a major difference. With ranged combatants, the Strain cost is not as punishing. Given that limitation, the less expensive position on the tree has good merit. So while I’m a little iffy on it, I think you balanced it well. The wording is a little funky, but you just copied the RAW so that’s not on you. :D

Alternatively, I notice you don’t really have any Force dice saber talents. Why not “instead of increasing difficulty, add Force to the roll; spend FP to hit with a second weapon”? This makes the talent different and unique, while pulling in Force rating. It eliminates the Strain cost, but makes there be a trade-off for the fighter (limitation to committing Force dice, need for a decent Force rating to reliably hit).

Rising Whirlwind: This works, and is just a copy of Spitfire, but I think it would be a bit better with some rewording and tweaking. After all, it’s different than Spitfire.
“After the character makes a successful combined check with two Lightsaber or Melee weapons, each additional hit may be allocated to a target of equal or lesser difficulty within range of the weapon.”

Spitfire has some serious problems, a major one being that strictly by RAW, I can make an attack with two Long-ranged pistols against a Minion in Short range and get a free hit against an Adversary 4, Defense 3 opponent at Long range. So instead of RRRPSSS (to get a single hit), I have a difficulty of PP and also get to hit a Minion.

The “equal or lesser difficulty” clause is comparable to the rules for Auto-fire, but without the stipulation that the first target must be the most difficult valid target. This is more forgiving of the player, without being as exploitable as Spitfire.

It does come into conflict with Sarlacc Sweep, however. Sarlacc Sweep is +1 Difficulty for repeatable additional hits, essentially Engaged-range Auto-fire. If Jar’kai Discipline uses Force dice and triggers on FP without increasing difficulty, now it is “different, but equal” to Sarlacc Sweep instead of being a worse version.

Combine Jar’Dis and Ris’Wir and you get “Make a Lightsaber or Melee attack (Average base), adding Force dice. Spend FP to hit with a second weapon; this hit may be applied to [valid targets].” This is much stronger than standard two-weapon fighting, but a bit finicky if the character lacks Force rating. It is more potent than Sarlacc Sweep because it doesn’t cost as much Advantage (meaning you can use that Advantage to affect more targets, e.g., with crits), but it doesn’t expand as far and is reliant on a costly synergy of two talents rather than being self-contained. I think the synergy may verge on being too strong, but for being a multi-talent synergy with a bit of luck (or conflict!) involved in the Force dice, I think it is within the acceptable range.

Twin Strike: This is weird. I think as-written we should scrap it and come up with something new in its place. The effect doesn’t match the theme and is very uninspiring. It’s 3 Strain and a Maneuver for not that much extra damage. With YYYYG vs. PPP, you’re looking at an average of ~2.33 net success. Doubling that gives you an average of +2 damage, +4 to get a dual hit. Vs. PP, the average is ~2.83, so round it to 3, that’s still only +3 damage. AND it costs 3 Strain and a Maneuver each time. As a player, I would not purchase or use this talent almost ever.

Contrast with doubling Advantage, where you get an average of roughly net 1 (roughly net 2 at PP). Also not helpful. If it doubled all symbols, players would take it because of the chance for additional Triumph. However, that could become broken.

The idea of Twin Strike is that it’s a power attack with both blades, so rather than making it a combined attack, have it be a single attack. You can make it an “ability attack” rather than a standard combat check, similar to the Droideka’s Fire Sweep ability. “Make a Hard Lightsaber check, do effect X.”

One simple option would be to suffer X Strain and make the check, adding the base damage of the secondary weapon to that of the primary (though, while simple, the wording might be tricky). Another option would be to add Brawn and Force rating or some similar +damage effect. However, it should be mutually exclusive with two-weapon fighting—no multiple hits.
(One option would be to automatically hit the same target with both, but I don’t recommend that since it would either override other talents or be overridden by them, depending on player taste/character ability.)

Strain Recover:
Second Wind x2 is good, Grit x3 is strong, but okay, I don’t think Balance should be in there too. I like the idea of energy management, but Balance is after the fact. Second Wind and Grit represent the character’s natural stamina and energy management, while Balance is like Force meditation after the fact. Add onto that how Jar’kai users were often blademasters at the expense of their Force abilities, and I think it doesn’t really fit.

Defensive Talents:
I don’t recommend Defensive Savant at all. There are no RAW talents that allow you to choose a talent, and the concept itself is controversial. In fact, I don’t think there are any talents that let you choose an effect, outside of “pick a skill to apply this effect to.”

I would drop one Reflect (Jar’kai is focused on dueling) and scrap Defensive Savant, replacing them with Improved Parry and a unique talent focused on two-weapon parrying. I’ve had a couple thoughts, but most of them were rather broken. I’ve already said a lot and given a lot of suggestions, so let’s come back to that later.

Additional Talents:
All of those work. Sense Danger is especially thematic, and I would describe it as representing the Jar’Kai adept’s situational awareness, as referenced in regards to Vigilance rather than Perception.

Conditioned I think should have two ranks, or else not have a rank on tier 1. Maybe replace Balance with a second rank, but the whole tree really needs to be rejiggered if you implement many of my suggestions.

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Wow. Thank you very much for the detailed feedback! You gave me a lot to think about, so I took your suggestions into account and devised a new version of the tree. Check it out

Ver 1.5 Changelog
-Swapped Perception Career skill for Vigilance
-Reduced FR requirement to FR 1
-Reworked Jar’kai Discipline to use FP rather than strain
-Rebalanced Rising Whirlwind to account for the difficulty of secondary targets
-Reworked Twin Strike as a dedicated power attack using both weapons
-Removed Balance, one rank of Reflect, one rank of Grit, and Defensive Savant
-Added Blade Shield ranked talent
-Added Improved Parry in place of Defensive Savant
-Added second rank of Conditioned in place of Tier 3 Grit
-Moved Reflect down one tier
-Placed one rank of Blade Shield in Reflect’s original place
-Placed second rank of Blade Shield in tier 4

I saw where you were coming from with the FR requirement, but given how intense of a martial art Jar’Kai is, and the prevalence of Force talents in the tree, some level of Force rating requirement feels right to me. I want to retain the idea that this is a sort of advanced Lightsaber class. Yes there’s technically no basis for an FR 1 requirement for a tree, but I don’t think it’s that extreme of a concept. This way a player could still choose the tree at character creation alongside their starting F&D spec, encouraging them to compliment Jar’Kai adept with their preferred playstyle. I am open to discussing the idea further, but I do like the idea of Jar’Kai being an advanced form of combat rather than just another Lightsaber tree.

I admit that I was overly ambitious with Defensive Savant. I think my reasoning for including it was to allow more defensive adaptability to the tree. Even though Jar’Kai is primarily a dueling discipline, there is precedent in the lore for Jar’Kai specialists being skilled in blaster deflection. Also from a gameplay standpoint, we comfortably have enough Lightsaber form trees that have more Parry than Reflect, so I didn’t want it to feel too samey to Ataru or Shii-Cho. All that being said, I agree Defensive Savant was out of place in the existing game, and Improved Parry is serviceable as a capstone talent. I do like my new Blade Shield concept much more than Defensive Savant.

New Talent Text

  • Jar’Kai Discipline: Once per round as an incidental, may add Force dice up to Force rating to next combined Melee or Lightsaber combat check to avoid increasing the difficulty. Spend 2 Force points to hit with second weapon.
  • Rising Whirlwind: After the character makes a successful combined check with two Lightsaber or Melee weapons, each additional hit generated as part of the attack can be allocated to any other target of equal difficulty or lower within range of the weapon.
  • Twin Strike: While wielding two Lightsaber or Melee weapons, may suffer 3 strain to perform the Twin Strike action, making a Hard Lightsaber or Melee combat check. On a success, the character adds damage equal to the secondary weapon’s base damage + the character’s Force rating. (WIP)
  • Blade Shield: May suffer two strain to perform the Blade Shield maneuver while wielding two Melee or Lightsaber weapons. The character adds 2 defense against a number of attacks equal to their ranks in Blade Shield until the end of their next turn. While this maneuver is active, the character cannot attack using their secondary weapon.

I’m fairly comfortable with the mechanics of these, but I am open to work-shopping them a bit. It’s possible I made Twin Strike a bit too broken, but I didn’t want it to feel too similar to just doing a regular combined melee attack. I also considered making Blade Shield an incidental to make it more attractive, but I feel that increasing defense by 2 (even only against a max of 2 attacks per use) is a bit broken as an incidental. I considered your idea of combining Jar’Kai Discipline and Rising Whirlwind, but I felt it would be too much utility for a single talent (though I’m open to considering it if you think it would improve the tree).

I restructured the tree to account for the new additions and reworks, and I think it’s on par with other combat trees. I ultimately decided to drop a rank of grit because I thought the strain recovery talents were enough. I don’t think this will be the final version, as I might want to tweak some things after getting feedback, but I think we’re closer to the final vision. Thank you again for your assistance and attention to detail :slight_smile:

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Blade Shield is an excellent name, very evocative and appropriate to the idea of a defensive talent (I say this without having read the details).
All sounds very good.

I agree someone taking the tree should have a Force rating, but since this is intended for Force-sensitive characters as a second FaD spec, I don’t think it needs FR 1 as a prerequisite. Due to the need for Force dice, a non-Force-sensitive character who bought into the tree would not be able to get much out of it.

Talent Descriptions:
Jar’Kai Discipline: “When making a combined combat check with two Lightsaber or Melee weapons, the character may add a number of Force dice no greater than his current Force rating to the check. If he does so, he does not increase the difficulty for two-weapon combat, but may only trigger a second hit by spending [FP][FP].”
What you have is functional, but it’s very choppy and not “in the style.” The above is my effort to bring it more in-line.

Rising Whirlwind: That works.

Twin Strike: “When wielding two Lightsaber or Melee weapons, the character may suffer 3 strain to perform the Twin Strike action, making a Hard Lightsaber or Melee check. If successful, the character adds the secondary weapon’s base damage to one hit of the attack.”
I understand the desire to add Force rating as well, but the fewer conditions the better, generally speaking.

As currently written, this is a bit weak. Comparisons:

  • Two-Weapon Combat: Same Difficulty, does not require 2 Advantage, costs +3 Strain, can’t inflict two crits, can only be Parried once (but doesn’t inflict the extra Strain of a second Parry).
  • Jar’Kai Discipline: +1 Difficulty, more consistent damage if successful, costs +3 Strain, can’t inflict two crits, can only be Parried once (but doesn’t inflict the extra Strain of a second Parry).

Let’s take two weapons (8 dam, 1 crit and 7 dam, 2 crit) against a target with Parry 2.
Average: 2s, 3a, 2 FP
Hard: 2s, 2a
Jar’Kai deals 8+2-(2+2)=6 Wounds and 7+2-(2+2)=5 Wounds (11 total). 1 Advantage for a crit, 2 Advantage for a crit +10. 0 Strain for acting character, 6 Strain for target.
11 Wounds, 6 Strain, crit, crit +10.
Standard dual weapon deals 8+2-(2+2)=6 Wounds and 7+2-(2+2)=5 Wounds (11 total). 0 Strain for acting character, 6 Strain for target.
11 Wounds, 6 Strain.
Twin Strike deals 8+7+2-(2+2)=13 Wounds. 2 Advantage for a crit +10. 3 Strain for both characters.
13 Wounds, 3 Strain, crit +10.

Quite simply, if you have a decent enough FR or are willing to take Conflict, Jar’Kai Discipline is both better and more consistent.

Making it add the damage of both weapons is good because it “beats the block” by only allowing the opponent to Parry the damage once. I’m a bit strapped for ideas right now, so I’m tossing it back to your court for the moment.

Blade Shield: “While wielding two Lightsaber or Melee weapons, the character may perform the Blade Shield maneuver to increase his Defense by his ranks in Blade Shield until the end of his next turn. However, he may not attack using his secondary weapon until the end of his next turn.”
This makes it an improvement/replacement over Guarded Stance without costing Strain or limiting the effect too much. I think this is an excellent effect, and stacks well with those who would use a Guard Shoto, while still requiring a (very valuable) maneuver to activate. As written, it was too weak.

Another option would be to have basic/improved/supreme versions of it.

When I was talking about combining the two talents, I was talking about a synergy between the two talents, not about creating one talent with both effects.

No problem! I’m happy to help, and this is a very interesting project.


I have a suggestion for the requirements, make it require either one of “Technique” talents, or to have a number of ranks in the lightsaber skill. Maybe the character has to roll at least 3 proficiency dice on a lightsaber check (trying to think of a way Shii-cho could get this without the Technique talent).

In old legends Jar’kai was an extension of Niman, and I really like the idea that Jar’Kai is a sort of prestige class for lightsaber fighting. So, making the requirement tied to investing in the wielding of a lightsaber instead of connection to the Force. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work with Shii-Cho and Juyo as those don’t have the stat switching technique talents. Though Force Sensitive Outcast does have a Technique talent, which would make it a natural couple of abilities for Ventress to have.

Point is, make the requirement something a bit different.

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I do like the idea that you have to be well trained with a blade to take Jar’Kai, but I’m hesitant to limit the tree in that way. I suppose with it being a universal tree I could include a bit in the flavor-text about it being up to GM discretion whether a character needs to fulfill some requirement to take this tree. I’m still a bit iffy on how much I want to limit it, but I do like that suggestion. Thank you for the help :slight_smile:

Alright, you’ve won me over. The FR requirement is gone in the next version XD As I said to trigger272 I might come up with a more narrative way for the GM to limit the tree so that it can feel like a sort of reward you strive for rather than something you just buy with exp, but that’s a discussion for the future.

The reworks for Jar’Kai Discipline took some time to find the wording for, but I think I’m happy with it. As for your points on Blade Shield, I like your idea of it just raising defense until the end of your next turn. My original idea was similar, but I worried that raising defense outright might be too strong. You’ve made a convincing argument on why it’s a fair trade off. The reasons why I went with the strain cost for the ability were twofold: I want to have a fair amount of strain-spending talents to make the strain recovery options and additional grit feel more worthwhile, and I also think that raising defense by 2 (which is already more than guarded stance does for you as it helps against ranged foes) for no cost other than a maneuver and slightly lowering your offensive pressure is a bit broken. I could be too hesitant on that front, and I’m happy to hear you out, but that’s just how I feel.

I suppose if I want to add some variable to Blade Shield to balance it a bit more I could make it a skill check to activate (but that might make more sense as an action, which is definitely too expensive). Or maybe I could add an extra perk like resisting attempts to disarm you of your defensive weapon? That might be too complicated. Assuming I adopt your version of Blade Shield that raises defense by ranks of the talent until the end of your next turn (which I likely will) do you think that would be too weak still? Lemme know what you think.

Finally Twin Strike. I really liked your idea to simplify it and make it a flat skill check to help balance it. I also greatly appreciate you doing the math and showing how effective or ineffective the new talents are compared to regular dual-wielding, as that was one of my concerns. That said, I’m still a bit stumped on how to make Twin Strike work. I think we have a good baseline of adding the base damage of your secondary weapon to the attack (I agree that adding FR is unnecessary) but I feel like it should have some other effect to make it feel like a worthwhile option compared to a regular dual-wield attack. Here are my thoughts so far on potential features:

  • Add base damage of second weapon to attack; ignores target’s defense (ignoring soak was an idea, but Lightsabers do that anyways and accounting for Cortosis is too niche imo)
  • Add base damage of second weapon to attack; target is disoriented for one round on a successful hit (could represent overwhelming the opponent with a barrage of dual-blade strikes. Maybe the number of rounds could be based on check results?)
  • Add base damage of second weapon to attack; on a success, target cannot disengage from you until the end of your next turn (kind of niche, but it could be cool for locking down opponents with a barrage of strikes?)

What do you think? Right now I’m leaning towards it ignoring defense, cause I think that would be really worthwhile during boss fights or even against higher tier rivals, but I’m not sure of the balancing on whether it would be OP or underwhelming. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks again for your interest in this project! Sorry if I bombarded you with questions lol. I feel really good about where the tree is going and I think we’re getting closer to the final version. I’m excited to start playtesting this thing once it’s done!

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A lot of this is very interesting and I have many thoughts, but it’s a bit late in the day for me to respond, so I’ll have to get to it tomorrow. If I haven’t responded by Monday, please remind me.

No problem! You’re a keen thinker and this project has been a lot of fun for me as well. I enjoy corroborating on these things, and talent trees are a particular interest of mine.

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Defensive Stance/Side Step is a Maneuver to Upgrade equal to ranks/Strain.
Difficulty+Setback: 0.83 Failure, 1.08 Threat.
Difficulty+Upgrade: 0.75 Failure, 0.66 Threat, 0.083 Despair.
The Failure is only an 11% difference (0.08), so that’s pretty much a wash and now you’re looking at the average .083 Despair against an average .42 Threat (+64%). I consider them roughly equivalent, as some of it comes down to personal taste. An extra +1 Threat can save you from a crit, while a Despair can let you inflict a free hit.

On its face, looking just at the defensive bonuses, 1 Strain per Defense makes total sense. It lacks the potential for Despair, and likewise requires a Maneuver, but has a stronger effect on the opponent’s roll.
The reason I hesitate to add a second penalty is because of the “he may not attack using his secondary weapon” qualifier. In that case, Defensive Stance has the advantage of a pretty hefty buff-by-omission to damage (perhaps an average of +6).

On the other hand, you won’t necessarily hit with your second weapon all the time.

I think removing the qualifier would make Strain the right call, but removing the qualifier comes at the cost of the talent’s mechanarrative attributes (look Ma, I made a new word!). Having both the qualifier and the Strain cost makes the talent weaker than its competitors.

(Thinking of Twin Strike, the qualifier should be reworded to “However, he may not perform checks requiring the use of his secondary weapon until the end of his next turn.” Rules lawyers would argue that Twin Strike is not “an attack using” the secondary weapon.)

Too complicated, and Resist Disarm already exists. Skill checks should really only be used for Actions, with very occasional exceptions (e.g., upgraded Field Commander).

It actually already ignores Defense by being a flat check. On net, that adds (on average) 0.33 Success and 0.33 Advantage to the check for each point of the opponent’s defense, with the +1 Difficulty already being factored into my earlier calculations.

I hadn’t thought of that when making those calculations, so let me refer to those again here:
Roll: 3 Success, 4 Advantage. (YYYG, plus a little Advantage)
Average/JK: 1 Failure, 1.5 Threat. (2s, 3a[2/2.5])
1 Defense: .33 Failure, .33 Threat. (2s, 2a[1.66/2.17])
2 Defense: .66 Failure, .66 Threat. (1s, 2a[1.33/1.83])
3 Defense: 1 Failure, 1 Threat (1s, 2a [1/1.5])
Hard/TS: 1.5 Failure, 2.25 Threat. (2s, 2a)

Jar’Kai deals 8+2-(2+2)=6 Wounds and 7+2-(2+2)=5 Wounds (11 total). 1 Advantage for a crit, 2 Advantage for a crit +10. 0 Strain for acting character, 6 Strain for target.
11 Wounds, 6 Strain, crit, crit +10.
Twin Strike deals 8+7+2-(2+2)=13 Wounds. 2 Advantage for a crit +10. 3 Strain for both characters.
13 Wounds, 3 Strain, crit +10.

At 0 Defense, you’re looking at TS dealing +2 Wounds, -3 Strain, one less crit.
At 1 Defense, you’re looking at TS dealing +2 Wounds, -3 Strain.
At 2 Defense, you’re looking at TS dealing +3 Wounds, -3 Strain.
At 3 Defense, you’re looking at the same rounded average, but slightly worse, and with a lower to-hit chance than the straight Hard check.

Force dice math (based on dam-6 shoto):
1 Force die: 2L 25%, 2D 8.33%. To-Hit: 33%; Damage: +2 W, +1 S; Strain/Conflict: 0.66.
2 Force dice: 1L: 14%, 2+L ~50%. To-Hit: 100%; Damage +6 W, +3 S; Strain/Conflict: 0.86
3 Force dice: 1L: 12%, 2+L ~66%. To-Hit: 100%; Damage +6 W, +3 S; Strain/Conflict: 0.56
4 Force dice: 1L: 10%, 2+L ~80%. To-Hit: 100%; Damage +6 W, +3 S; Strain/Conflict: 0.30

In conclusion, it’s stronger the stronger your opponent, but doesn’t cost your opponent as much Parrying Strain and isn’t THAT much stronger.
However, at FR 1, it deals an additional +4 damage per turn and only 1 less Strain, while saving you .66 Conflict/Strain per turn. Not taking any Conflict/Strain for JK increases the differential to +4.5 damage.
At FR 2, it saves you .86 Strain/Conflict per turn. Not taking any Conflict/Strain for JK means Twin Strike deals an additional +3 damage per turn and only 1.5 less Strain.
At FR 3, it saves you .56 Strain/Conflict per turn. Not taking any Conflict/Strain for JK means Twin Strike deals an additional +2 damage per turn, and 2 less Strain.

Adding base damage and gaining a quality (Disorient X, Stun X, Concussive 1, Knockdown, etc.) is a good idea, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

The Grapple idea is not one I recommend. It ties in effects that belong to another talent, and doesn’t make much narrative sense.

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You’ve made some persuasive points, my friend.

When you put it that way, I think the mechanarrative (awesome word btw) aspect of the talent dedicating a weapon solely to defense is more important to me than limiting it with strain. Your points about side step and defensive stance were also well founded, as I didn’t consider how much more effective a challenge die can be compared to setback dice. I might change my mind during playtesting, but I think I’m comfortable eliminating the strain cost of Blade Shield for now. Besides, the extra strain threshold and recovery talents will still be useful for fueling Parry/Reflect and recovering from Twin Strike.

Also, good point on rewording the description. I hadn’t considered the possibility of rules lawyers arguing that Twin Strike should be compatible while using Blade Shield. Always need to keep those pesky rules lawyers at bay.

Honestly I never even thought of the synergy between using JK Discipline to fuel Twin Strike for extra damage. I suppose in my initial designs I considered Twin Strike to be a separate action rather than a combined attack roll, so I didn’t think they would be compatible. That said, if you think allowing the synergy between JK Discipline and Twin Strike would be more mechanically fulfilling (and make TS more worthwhile) I’d be down to explore it.

Regardless, back to Twin Strike itself. The fact that it’s more effective against stronger opponents is certainly interesting as a concept. I suppose the question now is: based on the design philosophy of the tree, and considering Twin Strike’s position as a capstone talent, are we comfortable with the idea of it being mainly a boss-killer technique that wears down stronger opponents or is that too niche of an application? Personally I don’t mind it, but I’d be open to hearing your thoughts.

As for the possibility of adding a quality like disorient or stun effect to Twin Strike, I’m curious why you think it might not be necessary? Is the issue that it might be too overpowered (considering the possible synergy between TS and JK Discipline) or that it might over-complicate the talent? Honestly I’m open to suggestions. I’m not married to the idea, but I want Twin Strike to feel like a decisive move with the potential to turn the tide against a dangerous opponent.

If we leave it as is, I suppose one way to help make it more enticing could be to lower its strain cost to 2? Since Blade Shield doesn’t have one anymore, lowering the cost of TS to 2 could make it more favourable from a cost-benefit perspective. Granted, you’re the math expert so I’ll leave that analysis in your hands.

All in all, I’m happy with the discussion surrounding the tree. Twin Strike seems to be our main hurdle, and once we finalize that I think I’ll be good to move forward with version 2.0 of Jar’Kai Adept. The finish line is in sight! Once again, thank you so much for your time and interest. This project would be little more than a dusty folder on my computer without your help. It means a lot to workshop an idea of mine for a game I love :slight_smile:

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Some of this post was stream-of-conscious and I adjusted my thinking as I learned more, so make sure you take it in its totality.

I think you misunderstood. The only advantage of Challenge dice is the Despair chance. Setback give you better Threat odds, and the Failure odds are pretty much the same.
A lone Challenge die is stronger than a lone Setback die, but what we’re discussing is the odds on a lone Challenge die against a Difficulty die AND a Setback die, since it’s a choice between upgrading and adding Setback.

Sorry, that’s not what I meant. I was talking about the trade-offs between the two. I was saying how using Twin Strike becomes more powerful against well-defended opponents, and how the lower your FR, the more the average damage shifts in favor of Twin Strike.

The two are mutually exclusive.

I think it’s fine. It also gives a slight edge on damage at low-medium net Success, and the “burst damage” is particularly useful at a low FR for dealing with Rivals. It’s definitely better than standard dual-wielding.

Two things, mainly. It isn’t necessary and could overcomplicate things. If I’m right about the efficacy of the attack in comparison to JK, it doesn’t need that edge.

That said, having an edge with Disorient (e.g., “Disorient quality equal to the character’s ranks in Lightsaber/character’s Force rating”) can make it just a tad more useful while maintaining the “side-grade” aspect.

I had been calculating the math without the initial Strain cost, but one way to “side-grade” would be to create a set Strain cost, making its use more rare, and giving it a variable Stun quality (ranks in Lightsaber, as Force rating is too little). Thus it becomes like Parry, where you suffer Strain in order to defray some Wounds, starting at a 1:1 ratio and increasing to more positive ratios.

Here, you’d be suffering Strain for the chance to cause your opponent Strain, mimicking the Strain cost of a second Parry to reduce damage from a dual-weapon attack and mechanarratively representing the character expending energy to wear down the opponent, pushing both of them closer to their Strain threshold and accelerating the fight.

The Strain cost makes it slightly more situational, but the Stun quality balances it out and makes it a situational upgrade over the non-Strain Jar’Kai.

However, the Stun quality has to be triggered for 2 Advantage. Based on the “average” rolls I used for my math earlier, it becomes a trade-off between a crit+10 and additional Strain. More skilled characters, characters with a lot of Boost dice, or characters who get lucky would be able to have their cake and eat it too, with an additional option that JK lacks, so in some ways it scales better.

As previously stated, it also saves you some Strain and Conflict if you’re trying to consistently trigger JK and gives you slight bonuses to your chance to hit if you don’t want to spend the DP/Conflict/Strain.

I think the Strain/Stun makes it even more of a side-grade, but the 3 Strain base cost would make it more risky to use because you’re taking a trade-off between Parry and a bonus to your attack that might not even stick. Making it 2 Strain is definitely stronger, both mechanically and psychologically.

In an example of FR 2 character with 3 Lightsaber, based on my earlier math, here’s what the two attacks would look like against a Defense 1 character:
JK: 2s2a
8+2-(2+2)+7+2-(2+2)=11 Wounds, 6 Strain, 1 crit +10.
0.5 DP, .86 Strain/Conflict.
JK, no DP: 2s2a
8+2-(2+2)=6 Wounds, 3 Strain, 1 crit +10.
(7±[2+2])*0.5=2.5 Wounds, 1.5 Strain.
Total: 8.5 Wounds, 4.5 Strain, 1 crit +10.
TS, 3 Strain: 2s2a
8+7+2-(2+2)=13 Wounds, 3 Strain, Stun 3 for 3 Strain.
Total: 13 Wounds, 6 Strain (or 3 Strain and 1 crit +10).
Acting Character: 3 Strain.

So with an identical roll for an FR 2, Lightsaber 3 character, Twin Strike is more effective. If you go with Stun, I think 3 Strain is an appropriate activation cost. The Strain cost makes it a side-grade.

Against a target without Parry, JK is better by a good margin since it doubles the damage from Success (since Success applies to both hits). Against targets with higher Parry scores, Twin Strike takes the advantage.

I’m starting to think that Stun=Lightsaber might actually be too strong, making Twin-Strike too broadly applicable and too potent at higher ranks. It also double-dips as it scales, increasing total Advantage and increasing base Stun damage, meaning that you’re more likely to trigger it and it’ll hit harder when you do.

While the math I give speaks well for Twin Strike’s balance (particularly given the Strain cost to activate), at high tiers both attacks become more evened out, but it’s easier to buff Lightsaber and stack on Advantage than it is to buff Force rating.

Quick jump to Lightsaber 5, same parameters otherwise:
JK: 2s3a
8+2-(2+2)+7+2-(2+2)=11 Wounds, 6 Strain, 1 crit, 1 crit +10.
0.5 DP, .86 Strain/Conflict.
JK, no DP: 2s3a
8+2-(2+2)=6 Wounds, 3 Strain, 1 crit. (2 Advantage left over)
(7±[2+2])*0.5=2.5 Wounds, 1.5 Strain. (a crit +10 half the time. Otherwise, +20 to first crit)
Total: 8.5 Wounds, 4.5 Strain, 1 crit(+20).
TS, 3 Strain: 2s2a (based on appropriate rounding)
8+7+2-(2+2)=13 Wounds, 3 Strain, Stun 5 for 3 Strain.
Total: 13 Wounds, 8 Strain.
Acting Character: 3 Strain.
Compared to a no-DP attack, that’s +4.5 Wounds, +3.5 Strain (net .5 comparing the two characters), for just a lesser crit.
Compared to a consistent JK, that’s +2 Wounds, +2 Strain (net -.14), lesser crits, -0.5 DP, 0.86 Conflict.
So essentially +2 Wounds for lesser crits, and less mutual Strain, but no DP or Conflict cost.

That’s workable, actually. I know I’m flip-flopping, but I think this might be balanced. The higher the character’s Parry, the higher his Defense, the more obvious a choice Twin Strike becomes, UNLESS you’re trying to crit him out.

Maybe a different narrative or mechanical effect, like “on success, spend Triumph, target can’t Parry until the end of his next turn,” but I think it’s fine at the 3 Strain, Stun=Lightsaber.
(Well, it should equal ranks in the weapon’s skill.)

I’m so glad! You’re very welcome.

Ah, that makes more sense. I was just being a dumb dumb lol. Your point still stands. I do like the idea that Twin Strike is effective at taking down stronger opponents. Gives it a unique use during tougher fights.

Introducing the stun quality as part of Twin Strike is certainly an interesting idea. I don’t hate it, and I definitely see your point about it narrowing the gap between JK Discipline and Twin Strike. My only concern, and admittedly it’s a dumb one, is the narrative logistics of it. I suppose you could explain it as overwhelming the opponent with unorthodox attacks, stressing them in the middle of battle, but I don’t know if that’s a clean translation.

Personally, I feel that adding disorient to Twin Strike rather than stun would be less complicated. I get the math aspect and balancing out the strain spent with the strain inflicted, but I think adding disorient is enough of a benefit. With Twin Strike ignoring defense as a flat check, only triggering parry once, and potentially inflicting disorient, I think it’s already a worthwhile combat option alongside Jar’Kai Discipline. As for what the deciding factor should be, I lean more towards FR than Lightsaber ranks. At higher ranks of Lightsaber (which I imagine a character who takes this tree would strive for) it might be a bit imbalanced to disorient a boss-level nemesis for 4-5 rounds off of just a hard check.

Once again, playtesting could alter my opinion on this, but I think adding disorient equal to FR and keeping the strain cost at 3 feels right.

It’s more about the strength of the blow (being Twin Strike) battering away at their defenses. At its most basic, you can consider it “making Parry harder.”

I’ve never seen Disorient as particularly potent, as at higher levels a single Setback will not often have more than a marginal effect (+/- 1 symbol).

Regardless, I agree that it makes sense to use FR for it (FR would be too weak if you went with Stun).

My only misgiving about using FR is that the theme is rather light on Force, intentionally so. Keying something off of Force rating, not just Force dice results, is a way of saying “you should have a high Force rating.”

Another option we haven’t discussed is making it add Force dice and having some particular way of spending Force pips. For example, “spend 2 FP to Disorient. If you spend any dark pips to generate FP, the target suffers an equal number of Strain.” That isn’t great, it’s just a starting idea, but it gets the gist across. However, I think that’s too much extra to already having the “add secondary weapon’s base damage.”

Fair point. For some reason I was under the impression that disorient stacked setbacks at higher levels rather than just increasing the duration. For a capstone ability, inflicting disorient might be a lame bonus effect.

That makes a lot of sense. It even works lore-wise since most Jar’Kai users struggle with the power of their blows (considering they can’t perform two-handed strikes), Twin Strike would stand out as a dedicated power attack to pierce a foe’s defenses. In thinking about it more, I’m actually impartial to applying the Stun quality to Twin Strike. My only concern in terms of balance would be, at high levels of Lightsaber (assuming that’s what we key off of for the level of Stun) would it be too powerful against large minion groups or rivals? Granted, I realize that rivals and minions are supposed to be cannon-fodder for the most part, but I don’t want this one talent to trivialize most combat encounters.

I suppose one option could be to have it be half of Lightsaber ranks, but that might be over-complicated and underpowered. I’m kind of out of my element in terms of balancing, but I think the Stun quality is the right call.

I know you were referring to applying Disorient here, but for stun I feel like advantages work better. I don’t want it to be too mechanically similar to our revamped Jar’Kai Discipline, and I also want to give a reliable use for advantages on this talent (other than critting).

Agreed on all counts.
5 Lightsaber equaling Stun 5 is pretty strong.
It is essentially equal to 1 minion, and is potent against Rivals as well if the GM just combines Wounds and Strain.
We could bump the initial Strain penalty up to 3, but no higher. By the time the character is acquiring Twin Strike, he’ll probably have Lightsaber 3. That makes it a 1:1 “acceleration” ratio, with future ranks making it a positive trade-off, like with Parry and Reflect, though at 3 instead of 2.

More numbers (FR 2, Lightsaber 3, vs. 0 Defense, no Parry Rival):
JK: 2s3a
8+2+7+2=19 Wounds, 1 crit, 1 crit +10.
JK, no DP: 2s3a
8+2=10 Wounds, 1 crit or 1 crit +10.
(7+2)*0.5=4.5 Wounds, 0.5 crit +10.
Total: 14.5 Wounds, 1 crit +20 or 1 crit and 1 crit +10.
TS, 3 Strain: 2s2a
8+7+2=17 Wounds, Stun 3 for 3 Strain or 1 crit +10.
It’s better than the inconsistent JK, but slightly weaker than the consistent JK.

FR 2, Lightsaber 5.
JK: 3s3a
8+3+7+3=21 Wounds, 1 crit and 1 crit +10.
JK, no DP: 3s3a
8+3=11 Wounds, 1 crit (or 1 crit +20).
(7+3)*0.5=5 Wounds, 0.5 crit +10.
Total: 16 Wounds, 1 crit +30 or 1 crit and 1 crit +10.
TS, 3 Strain: 2s2a
8+7+2=17 Wounds, Stun 5 for 5 Strain or 1 crit +10.

It’s actually decidedly weaker in this showing, making JK the attack of choice for “soft targets.” Against a target who doesn’t Parry, the Strain either goes straight to WT or is much less impactful. If it’s a Rival, the difference between 21 and 22 Wounds is negligible, and JK would have the edge thanks to the increased symbol generation by way of lesser Difficulty.

TS is still pretty strong, though, and someone with a low Force Rating would find it much more convenient. The main drawback becomes the amount of Strain the character must suffer to activate the attack. JK would be an “every attack” thing, like two-weapon fighting (without the opportunity cost of an increased difficulty) and would be something the character could do far more often than TS. TS’s main advantage is in one-on-one fights, where the character only has to neutralize the main opponent.

Against waves of enemies, the nil Strain cost of JK is far more prudent.

In short, I think 3 Strain, Stun=Lightsaber works.

I think you meant “partial”? “Impartial” is like “objective,” whereas “partial” is to have a preference.

Once more, you make some convincing arguments.

Yeah, 3 strain for Twin Strike feels right. Ignoring defense + the added damage + the potential for Stun damage is a worthy trade off imo.

That’s about what I was expecting. So in this case, TS would be the main boss-killer move against powerful single targets in an encounter. For a capstone talent that feels fair to me. From a design standpoint, I like that this tree encourages players to think strategically with their abilities and gauge the right time to utilize them. It feels accurate to the battlefield adaptability of a Jar’Kai practitioner.

How does this sound for the updated talent text (I’ll do the longform description of the new talents in the final version of the tree):

Twin Strike: May suffer 3 strain while wielding two Lightsaber or Melee weapons to take the Twin Strike action, making a Hard Lightsaber combat check. On a success, add the base damage of secondary weapon to the resulting attack. May spend [2 Advantages] to inflict stun equal to the user’s ranks in Lightsaber.

I acknowledge that it’s VERY clunky, but we can workshop it. The reason I went with “Hard Lightsaber combat check” rather than “Lightsaber or Melee combat check” is for convenience, and because we’re keying off of Lightsaber for the Stun anyway, so I figure it’s assumed that the character’s primary weapon at this point in the tree is a Lightsaber. I might include a bit about that in the longtext, but we’ll see.

You got me there, lol. Despite being an english major, I have a tendency to trip over my words XD

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Ugh, this is tricky. We’re basing a lot of the talent off of ignoring Defense because it’s a flat check, but it acts like a combat check in a lot of other ways.

“When wielding two Lightsaber or Melee weapons, the character may suffer 3 strain to take the Twin Strike action, making a Hard check with his weapons’ skill. If he succeeds, he inflicts one hit on a target in Engaged range for his primary weapon’s base damage, plus his secondary weapon’s base damage, plus 1 for each net [Success]. May spend [Advantage][Advantage] to inflict Strain equal to the character’s ranks in his weapons’ skill.”

I’m not satisfied with that.

“When wielding two Lightsaber or Melee weapons, the character may suffer 3 strain to take the Twin Strike action. He selects a target in Engaged range and makes a Hard check with his weapons’ skill. If he succeeds, he inflicts one hit for his primary weapon’s base damage, plus his secondary weapon’s base damage, plus 1 for each net [Success]. The attack has a Stun quality equal to the character’s ranks in his weapons’ skill.”

Better, a little bit. Still clunky.

Alternatively, limit it to Lightsaber (like most special attacks) and make it “When wielding two Lightsaber weapons… …Hard Lightsaber check… …the character’s ranks in Lightsaber.” That trims down the word count and conditions.

The talent works very well, but I’m concerned about the length of trying to actually describe and write it down.

If it’s a pure attack, then:
“The character may take the Twin Strike action, making a Lightsaber combat check with +1 difficulty against one engaged target. If he succeeds, increase the attack’s damage by an amount equal to the secondary weapon’s base damage. This attack has a Stun quality equal to the character’s ranks in Lightsaber.”

That doesn’t actually save much space. Ugh.

What do you think?

Getting the wording right is proving to be quite the challenge lol. I think the thing to consider is what we have to explain vs what we don’t. As with the official trees, I plan to write both a brief description of the new talents that appears on the talent tree, as well as a longtext version that goes more into detail for people who want to understand the limits of the talents.

Here’s a few more I wrote up:
“When wielding two Lightsaber or Melee weapons, may suffer 3 strain to perform the Twin Strike action, making a Hard Lightsaber or Melee check. On a success, perform an attack on one enemy within weapon range, adding the base damage of the character’s secondary weapon. Spend [2 ADV] on a successful hit to activate Stun quality equal to the user’s ranks in Lightsaber.”

Still a bit on the lengthy side. This is annoying lol

“When wielding two Lightsaber weapons, may suffer 3 strain to perform the Twin Strike action, making a Hard Lightsaber check. On a success, a single enemy within weapon range is hit by an attack, adding the base damage of the character’s secondary weapon to the results. Spend [2 ADV] on a successful hit to activate Stun quality equal to user’s ranks in Lightsaber.”

A Lightsaber exclusive version (and I reworded it a bit). Still doesn’t save much space :confused:

“Suffer 3 strain to perform Twin Strike action while wielding two melee weapons. Make a Hard Lightsaber or Melee check. On a success, 1 target within weapon range is hit by an attack, adding the base damage of the character’s secondary weapon. Spend [2 ADV] on a successful hit to activate Stun quality equal to user’s ranks in Lightsaber”

Took a different approach with this one. It saved a bit of space but I don’t know if it’s clear enough what it does. I didn’t explain that you add successes to the damage of the primary weapon since I think we can cover that in the long text. Same with not mentioning that it ignores defense. I guess right now we have to prioritize what needs to be explained, and how similar talents go about it. It might be a bit of a process, but we’re closer than we were :slight_smile:

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I think separating it from the attack rules may do more harm than good. We intend for it to operate like an ordinary attack, except for the combination of damage and ignoring Defense/Adversary.

What if we just codified ignoring Defense in the long-text and let Adversary apply? Adversary should really apply anyway. Making it an attack straight-up should save us some space.

That’s a solid point. I agree that it should be affected by adversary, as it might be a bit broken if it ignores even that. I guess now the question is how to word it…

Treating it as a combat check should hopefully simplify the matter.