Sunday, June 21, 2015

H1: Levelless Star Wars Saga

H1: Levelless Star Wars Saga

This is an edit of a previous work I did, that we bashed out on the Giant in the Playground message boards. I’m attempting to edit it for cleanliness and ease of use.

In theory, this will work for anyone using the classed version as well, but I'm going to assume you start with my classless system. You also keep the XP system as-is, but instead of saving it to buy levels, which carry inherent increases in defenses, HP, and the opportunity for feats, talents, and other improvements, you get a bonus feat, talent, or class feature every Z XP; the default is around 5000xp, but someone in the mood for a faster-gaining gameplay might set it as low as 1000xp; I wouldn't suggest going much over 5000xp, because that will lead to a seriously slow game. A happy medium might be 2000xp or so, but experiment with it. Some ambitious soul might want to assign varying values to different feats, talents, and other such things, but that's beyond my patience; they are generally equal in value in SAGA, and so can remain equal in value in H1.

There are some very OBVIOUS problems with this, and it goes back to the source of almost all SAGA problems: The Use the Force skill. If you leave it a skill, force-users simply walk all over the game, and it gets even worse when you stick everyone at level 1 defenses (plus whatever they get from feats). The simplest solution to this is to make it so Use the Force is not a skill... it is instead treated similarly to a weapon, wielded with Charisma. Someone with the Force Sensitivity feat is counted as proficient in that weapon, and may use it as outlined in the skills section as if trained in the skill. Someone without the Force Sensitivity feat may spend a force point to use the "Search Your Feelings" or "Sense Surroundings" uses of the skill (representing a momentary connection to the force). A new feat exists, "Force Focus", which gives you a +1 to Force checks; Greater Force Focus, to give another +1 isn't out of line, either.

Force points might be better addressed using my replacement rules, which give 2 blue "force points" per session, and 1 red "dark side point", with Force Boon giving you an additional point per session. If you don't like those rules, it will greatly hurt my feelings, but you might consider having Force Points refill every time a new feat/feature/talent is gained.

Some other things need to be addressed as well, but they're relatively minor. Toughness is changed from +1HP/Level to a flat +4 HP... about 1/6 the average person's 24 HP. Many feats have a Base Attack Bonus requirement; that's obviously eliminated, and I'm not seeing too many feats in the base book that are broken by that. I would also add some new feats; Ability Training and Ability Advancement from E6, for example, and I don't think Great Fortitude, Lightning Reflexes, and Iron Will from the d20 SRD would be terribly unbalancing, especially if you allow Greater Weapon Focus to help counterbalance them. Most things that refresh with level (such as Force Points done not-my-way, or money from the Wealth Noble talent should be moved to a "when you get a feat" time scale. If they reference the character's level, instead use number of talents in a given tree, or number of bonus feats, whichever makes more sense.

In combat, it’s important to reexamine the Armor tree; armor becomes a lot more valuable when you don’t have a level-based bonus to defense for it to replace, and the mechanics of Armored Defense and Improved Armored defense become irrelevant. I would suggest making it so Armored Defense gives you a +1 to Reflex (above what is granted by the armor), Second skin gives you a +1 to Fortitude (again, above what is granted by the armor), and Improved Armored Defense gives you a +1 to Reflex for every trait you have in the Armor tree (replacing the bonus from Armored Defense).

The main balancing feature here is prerequisites, combined with a bit of opportunity cost. While BAB and level prereqs are obviously gone, other prereqs, such as specific feats or class features, are not. It should also be noted that monsters become a LOT nastier in this system... a 138 HP Rancor is nothing to sneeze at in base SAGA; in H1, it's going to eat you for lunch unless you can crush it with an pneumatic door.