Sith lords are our specialty

Skills can be very broad in scope - some more so than others. For instance, Ranged (Light) covers not only all the blaster pistols, but all other pistol sized weapons and thrown weapons like knives and thrown weapons like grenades. Athletics covers swimming, climbing, playing sports, lifting weights, jumping, running… Piloting (Planetary) includes speeders, walkers, bikes, airspeeders, boats… You get the idea.

I’m thinking about incorporating some kind of specialty or tag rule.

A PC “specializes” in starfighter racing. The Piloting (Space) skill covers freighters and shuttles too though. So she is really just as good at flying a garbage scow as she is a Z-95.

First draft idea: allow players to purchase a tag for 10xp. Pick a single aspect/specialty of a skill. When making checks involving that aspect/specialty, upgrade once.

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That’s an interesting idea. Another would be to make the specialty free, and downgrade the ability of non-specialty uses of the skill once. Spend X XP to be a generalist and not have to worry about the penalty.
In my experience with some fiddling around I’ve done at times, it seems that many skills can be broken down into three.

Something I did (well, technically, am doing) for a Technician/Engineer-focused campaign was split the Mechanics skill into three parts so each of the three Mechanics-focused PCs would have a niche. I split it into Droids, Ships & Vehicles, and Weapons & Devices.
They pick a primary specialty and a secondary specialty. Ranks in their secondary specialty cost 5 XP less as long as the rank you would raise it to is lower than your current ranks in the primary specialty.
If you’ve got multiple PCs with the same area of focus, that might be a suitable approach to take for certain skills (though not with others, like Athletics).

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Alternatively, give each PC one tag for free to use however they like.

I’m not sure downgrading non-specialties is the way to go. I think players would make use of an upgrade but probably not bother with it if they knew they would suffer downgrades. No one wants to be penalized.

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Yeah, I’m saying that it would be across the board. No XP, just the automatic way it works. You buy a rank in Piloting (Space), so now you pick a specialty. Fighters, freighters, or frigates. You downgrade the ability of your non-specialties once.

The reason for this is that it shows that you are less familiar with the other areas of interest. If you upgrade the specialty, then it’s an extra pseudo-rank that pushes you up to a cap of 6 ranks.

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Maybe it could be represented by boost and setback dice instead.

Specialty, add a boost die (maybe two). Non-specialty, add a setback die

Sometimes I struggle with creative ways to add those dice, especially the setbacks. This way there would be a setback die automagically added and importance to some talents (like Brace) added as well.

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Brace wouldn’t apply in this case, however, Skilled Jockey would, if you’re talking about Piloting. Maybe adding a Setback to non-specialty uses would be a workable idea, but it would not be my recommendation, especially as an unskilled character would not get that Setback unless you apply it to all skills that they neither have ranks in nor a specialty. On the other hand, a downgrade means that their skill counts as one lower (to a minimum of zero) on the less familiar uses of the skill, and this doesn’t penalize characters who don’t have any ranks in the skill or penalize someone for picking up the skill.

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That’s kind of how specialtys work in FFGs previous game Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3ed, which has similar dice mechanics. Specialtys add forturne dice (same as boost dice). For each rank you buy in a skill you get one specialty. Though you didn’t get any misfortune (setback) dice if you lack a specialty.

Skills however are capped at three, and you cannot buy them all in one go, so the skill progression to rank 3 would be a lot slower than in Star Wars RPG.

I’ve been a warhammer GM for a long time, and I generally try to think of other reasons add at least one misforture die to most skill checks. It’s a minor disadvantage and it makes talents and stuff that remove misfortune dice useful. I feel that a misfortune (or setback) die could be added for any number of reasons, the conditions are seldom ideal for a group of adventurers, could be anything from insects, bad lighting, slippery floors, tight quarters.

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