Star Wars Character Burner

So , for anyone interested, this PDF contains amendments to character burning, rules for devising alien stocks in-game, Galactic Lifepaths, and a Skills and Traits list.

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I really like all these, and I see you have built this system for the original trilogy, which is cool. I had seen so many good ideas in here that I haven’t seen in any other SW Hack, including mine. I really like how you split the settings. Also, Otherness is the coolest hack I have ever seen here. I really don’t have much else to say until I playtest this because what I have read seems really, really solid.


So, humbly I want to put my ideas on the Force, Dark-Light Side, Lifepaths and all that. I don’t mean to be annoying, but I have been thinking about bringing back my SW hack for a long time and I have (possibly annoying) opinions on some of these. Maybe one day I might find the will to sit down and write down some of these ideas as a hack (of your hack). Of course, feel free to ignore or use any of these.

Lifepaths

  • A similar lifepath to Child Soldier in Captive and Servitude Setting might be added to the Military Setting to allow for a Clone Wars-era game better. Or even something like a Born as a Clone in that setting.

  • Jedi Order and Sith Order lifepaths might have notes so that different styles of structures of different ages would be represented better.

    • Jedi Order should have Padawan, Knight, Master, and Council Member as the basic lifepaths, but it should also have lifepaths like Archivist, Shadow, and all that; very similar to the BWG’s religious setting. A similar thing would work for the Sith Order too.
    • Age of entering these orders would change era to era, so keeping it a bit relaxed while noting what should be limited at what age should work, I think.
  • Even though some of these does not fit with the Star Wars per se, I’d like to see some lifepaths from this old wiki page return. BW is in my opinion a sprawling game that inherently allows so many different game styles.

    • Lifepaths like Executive, Journalist, Cantina Owner, Travelling Salesman, Prospector, Dancing Girl and Celebrity would spice the game up.

Rules

  • Force is an impossible topic to properly do justice. I kinda like how you used the Force, but I’d take things a step further by actually making the Force an Emotional Attribute, which in turn would support more eras and different styles of games. I like how you connect everything with the Force.

    • Instead of Attuned, having two separate traits: Attuned and Sensitive.

      • Attuned is a die trait which allows the user to use “I Sense a Presence…” rules. It does not allow using Force Powers.

      • Sensitive actually lets the character use Force Emotional Attribute. Instead of Skills like telekinesis, this requires a list of Force Powers, which would work like Sorcerous Spells.

      • Another trait named Severed would be required for the characters that severed themselves from the force. I think that would actually be a lifepath on its own as it is something actually important.

    • This Emotional Attribute cannot be shade-shifted after the character creation. It’s exponent can advance as a skill.

  • Lightsaber forms are represented as training skills. These require either Attuned or Sensitive traits.

    • Only one Lightsaber form can be used in a given action, Change Stance action can be used to change the active form.
  • I am constantly thinking about the systems that are a good representation of the Light-and-Dark side thing. This is the most difficult thing that is to represent, I feel like.

    • My first idea was the same as yours, using two different Attributes. But the problem with using terms like Empathy and Hatred is that the extended universe people (like me) would get upset because it does not really capture the feeling of moral ambiguity which the extended universe is full of. Hatred does not always lead to the dark side, and there are plenty of dark siders that are full of empathy. Considering the larger themes of SW, Dark Side relates to the corruption of emotions more than the emotions itself.

    • My latest iteration used only one Emotional Attribute: Corruption. And this attribute would be limited to the characters with Attuned or Sensitive trait. The classic “Fall and Redemption” story arc was pretty much unavoidable for characters who thought using Corruption to fuel their skills regularly (like hatred, in a way) was a good idea.

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Thank you so much for the kind feedback. After reading through your ideas, the one thing I must lament is that in the process of trying to give this hack an identity, we definitely had to wall off some options. One of my favorite modern-day composers once said that being artistic is more a matter of deciding what you won’t do than what you will.

We actually designed Child Soldier to accomplish exactly this. You can lead straight into the military setting from that life path, becoming a fully-fledged Trooper while still in your teens. Child Soldier even has the Clone trait as an option, but every LP we’ve written is designed to have numerous potential ways of interpreting it. None of the life paths are meant to limit you to one specific era.

Neither Jedi nor Sith have a dedicated setting - Qui-Gon Jinn worked as an Ambassador in the Palace setting, Palapatine became a Senator years after his stint as a Twisted Disciple, and Darth Maul functioned as a Hound, hunting down his master’s enemies.
Embedding these life paths within the settings as they are allows players more freedom to find new kinds of sorcerers to play as each new life path will color and provide context for those that come after it.
I hope that clarifies…

Oh, man, this! Life paths being measured in years is killing me, and I don’t know how to fix it. Technically, as how LPs work now, there’s no way to burn a 200 yo wookie without pissing your GM off.

Severed is super neat, but, for how the force works in this hack, it would cut a player off from the rewards cycle. Yikes! Definitely an idea for another hack.

Finally, this isn’t to dissuade you from making your own - far from it! - I just hope to clarify the thought behind our design choices.

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Your reply is quite interesting to read as I hadn’t considered things like your point on jedi/sith orders. That actually makes a lot of sense.

I agree with your points on Severed trait too, that would kinda require a different kind of take on Force.

And I actually think you may as well remove the ages from lifepaths, and grant stat pools depending on the number of lifepaths. Species may give some bonuses but I don’t even think you’d need that as you have the amazing Otherness attribute.

Mechanically, Lp years in BW are only important for the stat pools anyway, and an explanation on having a different timescales for each lifepath per species would be enough.

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Great job. Left me wanting MOAR.

I actually missed this post, and I only managed to find it recently. I gave it a read, and again, the amount of work that has gone into this is amazing. It’s top-notch! Otherness is so interesting, and intuitive. The lifepaths are very Star Wars. The Skills and Trait lists are comprehensive. The Force Powers are pretty nice.

I have a few suggestions. You don’t have to take them, and I don’t want to pile on more work, but I figure I should offer. I would suggest expanding the Monastic setting. Specifically adding life-paths to represent the Jedi Service Corps for example. Agricultural Corps, Educational Corps, Medical Corps, Exploration Corps, and so on. And perhaps a life-path representing being a member of one of three “low-councils.”

I would also suggest adding a few more Jedi life-paths. A few ideas I have are:
Consular for the Palace Setting. Guardian for the space-faring setting. Peacekeeper for the Metropolis setting. Jedi Commander and Jedi General for the Military settings. Chosen One life-path? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

In regards to the Sith… I am unsure whether fixating on Rule of Two is such a good thing. Thematically, it makes much sense, and is good that way, but only for Rule of Two era Sith. I might suggest adding a few non-Rule of Two Sith life-paths. Perhaps for Sith Cults, and the like. This is a hard one. I’ll leave this up to your creative vision.

In regards to Force Powers… There are a large multitude of Force Powers, especially in the “Expanded Universe,” and I get the impression you don’t want to flood the hack with them. But here’s a few other than the ones presented in the hack that I think are essential enough to be represented in some fashion or another, whether skill or trait: Force Healing (+Detoxification, Breath Control), Force Drain, Force Sense, Precognition, Force Fear/Confusion, Force Choke/Wound, Energy Deflection, Battle Meditation, Force Rage, Sith Alchemy (?). Might be a few more, but I’m trying to restrict this list to ones you haven’t yet represented, and I think at least some of these might be welcome additions, considering some of them were even present in the movies. You might be able to add some of these effects to existing skills. All of this is up to your discretion, of course.

All in all, I think this is remarkable work, and I so look forward to reading more. I totally think that this should get way more attention that it’s getting. I’ve been showing it off to my friends, and they seem to be quite as impressed as I am.

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Hi Kharon! I’m SchoonerAskew’s co-author. Thanks for the feedback, it’s heartening to hear the amount of interest building around this project.

  1. Regarding the service corps, that’s an aspect of the Jedi Order that falls really, really far outside of the original trilogy’s lore, which is what we’re using as our foundation. Neither was the information we dug up about it sufficient to give us a satisfactory picture of what the day-to-day life of such members would look like. That’s not to say that people won’t be able to bring new lifepaths to the table, just as folks already do with the classic medieval Burning Wheel. It’s just a component of the universe that we are content to leave to others. I hope it won’t be taken too harshly if we consider it “non-essential.”

  2. Ah, Sith cults. This IS a hard one. I recall tampering with ideas for lifepaths outside of strict Attuned orders or alignments at first, but we ended up scrapping them at the time because we were in the middle of a crisis, trying to understand what we wanted the Force to DO in our hack. It was during that time that the Empathy/Hatred emotional attributes got locked in, and everything else fell into place around that emotional core - one that we feel is very true to the thesis of the original films. I genuinely think it would be interesting to play with some cult-type lifepaths - Attuned dilettantes and disciples and the like - but for now, in the interest of getting a playable version of this tested in our lifetimes, we’re putting off the addition of any new lifepaths at the moment. However, this is definitely an idea worth more exploration.

  3. I’d love to hear more input about the Force after we release the skill lists - much will be made clearer when forum users have had a look. A significant number of the abilities you mentioned are present in the rules are written, at least in effect if not in name. One exception is healing powers - that is genuinely an ability that had not occurred to us. Again, an idea worth tampering with, perhaps sooner than later…

  4. It looks like your most recent comment was withdrawn, but I think it was a valid question. I hope you don’t mind if I attempt to answer it… I admit that the Councilor and Grandmaster lifepaths implicitly enforce our own personal interpretation of the Jedi Order. Our “ideal” picture of the Jedi is a loosely organized group of mediators and, when necessary, warriors; that operate from their remote temples not as a fortress to hole up in, but as a monastery where they may study their doctrine, train with their peers and mentors, heal and rest. The lifepaths leave enough wiggle room that this is not a strictly-enforced interpretation, but we took the liberty of implying that the more closely the Jedi ally themselves with political bodies, the more they court with the danger of becoming ineffectual. Which is our humble interpretation of the events surrounding the Clone Wars. Oh, boy; I could write a novella about this. If you feel like discussing it further, I’d love to, but I should try to keep this post to the point as much as possible.

  5. Lastly, we really, really love the Monastic setting and genuinely do want to expand it. It was actually almost twice as big a while ago, but we ended up paring it down by removing and condensing some ideas until we had a cleaner picture of what the temple looked like. It is also deliberate that most of the “go-getter, do-gooder” lifepaths are in the other settings. The Monastic setting is base camp and boot camp, but it is not the only sphere in which the Jedi operate.

I hope this has somewhat adequately answered your questions… :smiley: As always, feel free to continue supplying feedback!

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Hi @KharonoftheStyx Super psyched to hear more from you, as well as to see my brother has joined the dialogue! If I may provide some additional insight:

I had actually thought of the Service Corps while writing LPs (I’ve read a book or two about how Obi-Wan gained Qui-Gonn as a master, and how he might have had to join the Service Corps if he failed). BUT you’ve pointed out something I have overlooked when writing with this in mind. Steward in the Monastic Setting should be a LP requirement for Physician (Metropolis), Tutor (Palace), and should be able to lead into those settings as well. As for Agriculture, just lead from Child Devotee to Farmer in the Fringe. For exploration, Child Devotee can lead to Spacer in the Fringe, then have them ascend the necessary steps to Explorer (even members of the Order have to live their lives).

Remember, a Jedi Peacekeeper is just a Peacekeeper who took the Padawan LP beforehand. Same with Commander and General - the Military Knight LP is a great way to take you part of the way - but you still have to live a little to get there. Remember that every LP you take in BW colors and provides context for every LP that comes after it! :slight_smile:

It’s funny, when I designed this trait I thought that I would fight everlastingly to reinforce it’s implication, and now I realize it’s too limiting…now every Dark Side lifepath is specifically Sith-oriented. I think the trait serves it’s purpose well, but now I’d like to reevaluate its mandatory nature.

As to what Wembley said about no new LPs, there is enough errata in this pdf right now that I wouldn’t mind going back and fixing some things and filling some holes. I must sheepishly admit I’ve already written notes about new LP ideas, but it’s just a matter of focusing on making this hack playable (and character burning is an important part of play!).

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Oh! As to Force Power suggestions (because they are too exciting not to talk about):

1. Force Healing: I’ve got something in the ol’ noggin for this - I’m thinking specifically of the moment where Old Ben Kenobi tends Luke during their first on-screen meeting after the Tusken Raider attack. That moment is too cool to not be thinking about!

2. Force Drain: As it currently stands, there are two mechanical ways of doing this - either by taxing Sorcerous skills and Emotional Attributes, or by temporarily nullifying the Attuned trait.

The first option, while cool on paper, undermines the idea of opposing Sorcerous tests with other skills - so rather than break someone else’s Telekinetic grip with your own Telekinesis, or break their concentration by forcing them to test Steel, Force Drain basically just says: “no, you don’t.” It ends up becoming a brick wall rather than players getting to problem solve and discover ways to counteract their opponents through creativity and game mastery.

The second option, nullifying Attuned, can be done using the Chemist skill. I like this, because a non-sorcerous skill can be used to keep sorcerers down - but it requires you to inject them with a syringe, or capture and starve them so that they’re desperate enough to eat the drugged food you give them, or trick them into imbibing it some other way (special gas maybe?).

Basically, I trust Luke’s decision in terms of Sorcery - there is no “Dispell Magic” in BW - but select spells can cancel each other out. It encourages player ingenuity and emergent play.

3. Force Sense: Test Meditation to extend your presence. You’ll immediately sense the presence of other living beings and sources of energy - and then a Perception test or a wise can give you details. You can literally anticipate a blaster shot this way, and if you’re constantly sustaining the effects of Meditation and Telepathy tests simultaneously, you could project an aura that senses the intents of every living being in your presence!

3: Precognition: Right now there’s a trait called Prescient that does what I believe you’re thinking of…but considering so many different Jedi have this ability, this may need another look…

4: Force Choke: Tell your GM you want to choke said person with Telekinesis. GM goes “okay, what’s your intent?” You tell them: “Make them agree with me, under pain of death” or “humiliate them for speaking out against me in front of my peers,” or “incapacitate them while my friend does their thing,” or “kill them.” GM sets an Ob (I’d do Will for social intents or Forte for physical ones) and you find out what happens when the dice are rolled.

5: Battle Meditation: Meditation can already give a 1D advantage to any skill (BWG, page 283). Its additional effects in our hack allow you to sense things from far off, which, paired with the Lightsaber skill, can make a powerful defense. Also, there’s gonna be a section called Fighting With The Force as part of the Rim!

6: Force Rage: Oh! This can be done by Succumbing to Anger, found in the Balance Act section of the Core. I think I might add a little something-something to it, though… Be cool if the fellas with Hatred got to use the attribute in some way…

7: Sith Alchemy: This sounds dope as all get-out and I’m gonna look that up. Thanks for this! I don’t think you can ever have too much evil mysticism in a space opera.

So to tie it all up, the Force Skills, as written, aren’t particularly flashy - but that’s because they’re designed to be used in concert, tests linked together to create things potent and unanticipated: ways of solving problems that make a GM sit back for a moment and go: “I saw how you did that, but…Howwww did you do that?” They’re also meant to keep your character vulnerable - you can do cool things, but you still have to think your way out of problems. You can’t just hold your hands out and make obstacles disappear…

I really hope this wasn’t too preachy.

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Oh, yeah. That’s totally cool. I honestly didn’t realize the Service Corps was that obscure.

I totally think it would be interesting as well, but you’re right. In the interest of actually getting a playable version done, you can put that on hold. I do think in terms of life-paths, you have a pretty solid base already.

I thought the skill list was included in the Character Burner. The only force skills available are Telepathy, Telekinesis, Lightsaber, and Proprioception Training. The rest are in the form of traits, and emotional attribute options. I think the set of skills and traits available are already solid, but I think expanding what sorcerers can do a little would be worth exploring, later perhaps. Force healing, for example, is definitely worth tampering with in my book!

Yeah… Might have jumped the gun on that one. I wasn’t sure whether what I thought was there was actually present and deliberate, but looks like my hunch was right. I would definitely agree with your picture of the Jedi Order, and the intertwining with political bodies is definitely one of the major causes of its fall. It is an interesting subject, and I wouldn’t mind further extrapolation on your part.

I understand the desire to distill the aspects of the organization, and in fact I am starting to like that the life-paths are structured this way. It allows for a lot of freedom.

Yes, you have answered my questions, thank you. I will continue to monitor this project’s progress as well as supply feedback. I am definitely a fan of this.

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I think this is a very efficient solution. Totally makes sense.

Yeah, I guess you’re right, but I do think that you should allow Jedi to skip certain requirements for certain life-paths. Historically, Jedi during wartime would be given Commander and General positions straight-off the bat, no strings attached, at least until the war was over. There are similar cases in other fields, such as Peacekeepers, Ambassadors, et cetera. I would suggest allowing these life-paths and others like it to be taken by characters with the “Sworn to the Order” trait in lieu of other requirements, just like how you handled the Ambassador life-path.

I would agree. You can keep the Sith/Dark side life-paths you’ve got, but I would suggest removing Rule of Two’s mandatory nature. At least for some of them.

Yeah. Life-paths aren’t too difficult to make yourself, if there is an already existing base, and you already have a wonderful base. I totally understand it not being the priority right now.

Not sure why you deleted your post about the Force Powers. I will reply to it, if you don’t mind.

I would be interested in hearing your idea. Would it be something like “Song of Soothing,” or “Lyric of Healing?”

I actually meant draining life. My bad for not being clear about this. On second thought, draining life might interact strangely with BW’s wound system. My immediate guess to how it might work is inflicting damage, and consequently giving advantage dice to recovery, or hastening recovery.

I totally did not consider the implications of extending your presence! That is so cool!

This. This is really cool. I didn’t realize that Force Skills were intended to be used in these roundabout ways. But now I see what you’re going for.

Battle Meditation as described in EU, is the ability to enhance the morale, stamina, and overall battle prowess of an individual’s allies, while reducing the enemy’s combat effectiveness by eroding their will to fight. Perhaps these can be represented by two different expensive aura traits.

I understand what you’re trying to do now with the Force skills. It really clicked in my head when you described the Force choking example. I can definitely see the merit in this semi-free-form approach.

One Force power I mentioned that you didn’t comment on was Energy Deflection. I’m talking about what Darth Vader did when Han Solo attempted to shoot him in Cloud City, or what Yoda did to protect himself from Count Dooku’s lightning in the Clone Wars, during the Battle of Geonosis. I suppose this effect might be represented by way of an Telekinesis opposed test against an offensive action, such as Sith Lightning, or Marksmanship.

Anyway, thank you for the response. It was very enlightening. I’m glad you share my enthusiasm for the prospect of using the Force.

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Oh, man, you saw that!
I actually got rid of it because I was afraid I might have gone too preachy. But I’m glad you saw it and that it was evocative for you.

Ooh, now I’m getting more ideas. I misunderstood at first. There’s definitely something here. I’ll add it to my list of wanna-haves!

This is super-valid. I hadn’t mentioned it because I didn’t know how - I deleted the message soon after. Truth is, we had a Tutaminis skill in the very first draft. It was terrible - hyper-specific and only useful in rare circumstances. Not an issue with the source material, but a lack of design skill at the time. I kinda panicked and hung it up.

But you’re right - there a multiple cases of it’s use even in our primary source material. It must be attempted once more!

Once again, thank you for this input - honestly, a response with this much care and zeal was far beyond what we were expecting for this. And it’s wonderful to have someone citing film references with such ease.

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Just here to express my appreciation for this back.

And that I am in awe of Otherness.