SAGA: what I like, what I don't like

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So I just got star wars saga to get a glimpse of what might be in store for 4e. I’ll be updating this post as I absorb its contents. Keep in mind I’m new to the system- I certainly haven’t played it yet. Feel free to let me know if you think my concerns are unfounded. Also, please note that these observations are made with an eye towards 4e.

Talents:

- I like the idea of talents- selectable class features are cool. I do feel that the setup in saga is a little too formulaic. It feels a little too much like GURPS. I’m hoping (assuming talents are in 4e) that talents as well as feats are selected based on character level rather than class level. Each class would have a list of exclusive talents as well as fixed abilities (which may just be some sort of spell progression in some cases).

Skills:

- I like the way they've combined skills. A lot.

- I have mixed feelings about the way trained skills are handled. I like that characters have a minimum competence in basic skills. I do wish there was more of a default gap between the skilled and unskilled at high levels. Feats seem more numerous in Saga so I suppose people will be using skill focus on the skills they really care about. Still, I don't think that should be necessary.

- Initiative as a skill. I'm not sure about this one. That a first level character could have a +10 to initiative rolls seems wrong to me, but then I haven't seen it in play. I really like that this skill is used to counter feints and is a soldier class skill. I wish they had used it (or a similar skill) as an opposed roll vs. a tumbling check to avoid the AoO- this was a missed opportunity to fix something wrong with 3.5.

- Deception: I'm hoping feinting will be available to fighters and I would probably prefer if feinting was not part of bluff/deception. I like the merging of bluff and disguise (which is a type of bluff). It's also nice that there is a blurb for any campaigns that actually use forgery.

- Endurance: I like it as a skill. I'd prefer more immediate rules to make it more relevant in an encounter. Sleeping in armor is a nice touch.

- Knowledge: No synergy but there is a note about possible uses in the cooperation section. I'd prefer individual descriptions were more specific as not all groups are created equal and some GM's have no imagina... err don't allow creative uses of skills that are not specifically in the descriptions.

- Mechanics: This seems to be the closest thing they have to craft in Saga. The closest thing I could find was 'repair' and 'modify'. Merging disable device with a repair-like skill is reasonable however. I'm hoping to find some craft-like rules in the equipment section. While they were flawed in 3.x, I still hope they will be in 4e. Heck, I hope they go further and expand masterwork rules (perhaps masterwork properties could use + slots to avoid uber-equipment.)
EDIT: Nope. No craft rules in saga. I don't like that for 4e.

- Persuasion: Diplomacy and Intimidate feel different enough to me that they should be different skills. It's fairly easy to envision a character that may be able to make his foes back off with a stare but be completely out of place, say, in the company of royalty and vice versa.

- Stealth: Excellent! Sleight of hand could be a separate skill imo but I don't think it's that big of a deal.

- Survival: Track as a trained only aspect of track is an excellent idea! It never seemed great as a feat to me (I converted it to a skill trick imc).
I agree: I like talents too.
We've been playing SWSE for about two months now and I can say that talents are fun and exciting. I can also say that it feels like you don't get enough of them. If, like in Star Wars, you only get one every other level, that's not enough.
We've played up to 5th level and I feel like I don't have enough options available to me in an encounter. SWSE also gives feats evrey two levels too, but they just don't have the punch like they do in 3.5, and some classes bonus feats are rather limited (Noble).
If they also gave fixed level class abilites like you suggest, I think that would be a good fix. Also, the possibility of gaining a talent every level could work (or be too overpowered).

I'll go ahead and mention something else my group doesn't like about SWSE: No 5' steps.
I agree: I like talents too.
We've been playing SWSE for about two months now and I can say that talents are fun and exciting. I can also say that it feels like you don't get enough of them. If, like in Star Wars, you only get one every other level, that's not enough.
We've played up to 5th level and I feel like I don't have enough options available to me in an encounter. SWSE also gives feats evrey two levels too, but they just don't have the punch like they do in 3.5, and some classes bonus feats are rather limited (Noble).

Yeah, I've heard that high level characters all start to look alike. I'll have to run a few games and build a few characters to see for myself.
EDIT: I was thinking character level 1, bonus feat, talent. Character Level 2 bonus feat. Character level 3 talent. Character level 4, bonus feat, ability bonus(es) and so on.

If they also gave fixed level class abilites like you suggest, I think that would be a good fix. Also, the possibility of gaining a talent every level could work (or be too overpowered).

I couldn't imagine the number of talents you'd have to have for each class if you give one per level. 1 every other level is hard enough to handle I'd imagine especially if you want build versatility (which seems to be part of the issue with so few talents).

I'll go ahead and mention something else my group doesn't like about SWSE: No 5' steps.

I'm going to have to get a better feel of combat actions before I can say for myself. What does your group not like about it specifically?
Yeah, I've heard that high level characters all start to look alike.

Not really. Builds on these boards might look alike, but builds are usually designed to take down people. They're "characters" in a vacuum. Actual characters that develop based on the world around them do not look alike. I thought of a character I really want to play that's a Force using Zeltron Holovid star that later becomes a surreptitious supporter of the Rebellion (by using social connections and abilities to funnel resources to the Rebellion/sabotaging Imperial assets).
Not really. Builds on these boards might look alike, but builds are usually designed to take down people. They're "characters" in a vacuum. Actual characters that develop based on the world around them do not look alike. I thought of a character I really want to play that's a Force using Zeltron Holovid star that later becomes a surreptitious supporter of the Rebellion (by using social connections and abilities to funnel resources to the Rebellion/sabotaging Imperial assets).

I don't have the book in front of me atm. Is there really enough talents that for example, two 20th level soldiers would have very different talent selections? What if we went to a hypothetical 30th level? Or is it that multiclassing is pretty much the way of Saga?
*Also, added a little on skills.*
I don't have the book in front of me atm. Is there really enough talents that for example, two 20th level soldiers would have very different talent selections?

Yes. I could make a Tank, with a smatering of weapon abilities (Armor + Weapon Tree), a master of Melee (Melee tree + other choice talent), A specialist (Commando Tree), or a Master of many weapons (Weapon tree applied to multiple weapons). But its a little stretching it since you're single classed in a system that practically begs you to be a multiclassed character.
Or is it that multiclassing is pretty much the way of Saga?
*Also, added a little on skills.*

Correct. Current DnD is pretty much the Oddball making a single classed character the only viable option. Virtually every other system has a multiclass atmosphere (so you can build your character by concept, not by shoehorned singular roles).
Also, there's a reason why Talents are in the numbers they are. Life, as well as Star Wars, is full of hard choices. You can't have everything, so you have to choose what it is that you are good at. This is pretty good, IMO. It makes it so you don't have everything, while at the same time ensuring you're not going to be a cookie cutter character [your character will be very defined, and only passingly similar to others in your role].
Yes. I could make a Tank, with a smatering of weapon abilities (Armor + Weapon Tree), a master of Melee (Melee tree + other choice talent), A specialist (Commando Tree), or a Master of many weapons (Weapon tree applied to multiple weapons).

Yup. Just got home. There are 20 or so not counting ones you can take multiple times nor force talents.

But its a little stretching it since you're single classed in a system that practically begs you to be a multiclassed character... Current DnD is pretty much the Oddball making a single classed character the only viable option. Virtually every other system has a multiclass atmosphere (so you can build your character by concept, not by shoehorned singular roles).

I'd like a little of both myself. Part of the reason I like talents is that they allow for variation within a single class.
I just noticed prestige classes gain better saves and more force points. Errr.... I'm reserving judgment as I just noticed it and haven't had a chance to put it into context.
Also, there's a reason why Talents are in the numbers they are. Life, as well as Star Wars, is full of hard choices. You can't have everything, so you have to choose what it is that you are good at. This is pretty good, IMO. It makes it so you don't have everything, while at the same time ensuring you're not going to be a cookie cutter character [your character will be very defined, and only passingly similar to others in your role].

I agree this is a good thing and for multiple reasons. There's a quote (was it tempest?) that went something like, "Taste the indecision? That's balance." But I'm fine with more talents as long as the number of talents a single character can have is limited.
As I am both playing and running in Saga editions games, I've been working on an improved talent system.

In most cases, a 20th level character in the system will end with 10 talents, give or take one or two based on multiclass or prestige class options and timing. The same character can end up with about 17 feats due to the generic feat every 3 levels rule.

With that in mind, I added a talent every 3 levels as well starting at 2nd level. So that would be a bonus talent that could be taken at 2nd, 5th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 20th with a result of have 17 talents when added to the base 10. These generic talents could be taken from any talent tree that the character has levels in. So a Scoundrel 1/ Scout 1 could take a scout or scoundrel talent at 2nd level while a jedi 2 could only take a talent from the jedi trees. All prerequisites stay in place.

For the most part, each class has about 20 talents or so. Additionally any force sensitive has another 20 to choose from. As can be seen by the tech specialist web enhancement, talent trees will likely be added in future books even for base classes. While hard choices must be made, I think being able to take 17 talents out nearly 50 just for a base jedi (without taking a prestige class and including force talents) would lead to more diverse characters than having 10. We already ran into this with scouts all seeming to take the same talents for survivability. Some talents just lend themselves to be mandatory and that reduces differences between characters of the same class.

All that being said, I think Saga has some great things to add to 4e and I like that second wind in particular already seems to be one of them based off the latest playtest report.

d

Shadow Network DM

Talents:
- I like the idea of talents- selectable class features are cool. I do feel that the setup in saga is a little too formulaic. It feels a little too much like GURPS. I’m hoping (assuming talents are in 4e) that talents as well as feats are selected based on character level rather than class level. Each class would have a list of exclusive talents as well as fixed abilities (which may just be some sort of spell progression in some cases).

I expect Talents to be a way to get rid of Metamagic feats. If spells were do Saga style, then capping damage spells around 5d6 and having talents to augment them would work fairly well. Then if being able to cast spells just technically required Magic Talent feat (to get Use Magic as a class skill), being trained in Use Magic, and Magical Training feat (to get 1 + Wisdom modifier in spells in your Suite minimum 1), then anyone can cast spells, but dedicated Spellcasters would just be a lot better at it.

At this point though it becomes a very different game. As Warrior types might pick up magic use for things like Surge (speed and jump bonus) or Battle Strike (extra bonus on hit and damage on next attack attempt).

Metamagic Talent Tree:
- Disciplined Strike: Whenever you use a spell that has an area effect, you may exclude a certain number of targets from the effects of the spell. The number of targets that you may exclude in this manner equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of 1).
- Empower Spell: Your spells do +1 damage per die. This talent can be taken up to three times and its effects stack.
- Signature Spell: Select one spell you know. Once per encounter as a swift action, you may recover that spell to your suite without spending an action point. You may select this talent more than once, each time you do select a spell (even the same spell). If you select the same spell, you can recover it one additional time per encounter.
- I have mixed feelings about the way trained skills are handled. I like that characters have a minimum competence in basic skills. I do wish there was more of a default gap between the skilled and unskilled at high levels. Feats seem more numerous in Saga so I suppose people will be using skill focus on the skills they really care about. Still, I don't think that should be necessary.

Bonus Feats are numerous for Heroic Classes (not Prestige Classes or Nonheroic characters) and each bonus feat list actually has good things on it. I don't see many characters having more than one or two skills (maybe 3) with Skill Focus in them.

But let's look at Skills.
- Static DCs range from 10 to 25 typically.
- Opposed Rolls: who cares, they are opposed.
- Trained Skill vs Defenses (of a Heroic character): Trained is 5 + Half Level + Stat + 1d20. Defense = 10 + Heroic Level + Stat + Class Bonus. So Defense - Skill = 5 + Level/2 + Class Bonus - 1d20. Class Bonus varies from +0 to +4 (Force Disciple has +6 on Will Defense, but only the highest Class Bonus to a type applies). So assuming Class Bonus is 5, it is Level/2 +9 - 1d20, but the only skills that are rolled against Defenses are Deception (Creating Diversion to Hide), Persuasion (Change Attitude, Intimidate), and Use the Force (which is one the main skill I see every Force User taking skill focus in anyway).
- Skill Focus vs Defenses (of a Heroic character): Level/2 + 4 - 1d20.

Also, making it possible for Skill Focus at level 1 means that you can have Nonheroic 1 NPCs that have a +10 modifier in the job (if applicable). For instance a NPC Nonheroic Doctor might be Nonheroic 1 with Skill Focus in Treat Injury and Surgical Expertise (if Human).
- Initiative as a skill. I'm not sure about this one. That a first level character could have a +10 to initiative rolls seems wrong to me, but then I haven't seen it in play. I really like that this skill is used to counter feints and is a soldier class skill. I wish they had used it (or a similar skill) as an opposed roll vs. a tumbling check to avoid the AoO- this was a missed opportunity to fix something wrong with 3.5.

A first level character has 1 feat (2 if human). Do you really see a level 1 character using a feat on Skill Focus (Initiative)? So basically it sets it up such that someone that WANTS to be really fast, can be.

Another +5 on initiative is a nice idea, but it isn't the top of the feats I would take.

Also, Initiative as a skill and all skills getting half level (rounding down) bonus means that higher level characters tend to move faster because of personal experience.
I've found anything other than Soldier and Jedi to be a substandard choice. Sure, there are reasons to advance as a Noble, Scoundrel, or Scout, but if you are going to multiclass, you generally want to start as a Soldier, then multiclass into whatever you want.

Why? Soldiers get more feats and their trained skills (3) are high enough. I can see why Jedi is a desirable choice, too, since you get two good feats (lightsaber and force sensitive) at 1st level.

Around 12th level, it becomes painfully obvious that every noble will be multiclassed. They have the worst BAB and hit points, and do not have a redeeming per-level advantage. Their talents are fine (certainly not overpowering) and they have a few decent bonus feats, but nothing is really better than any other class.

Same problem with the Scoundrel. Worst BAB and hit points, and no redeeming per-level advantage. They have a few fairly cool talents, but by 12th level you will have all you want, and pretty good bonus feats, but by 12th level you will have all you want. So, single-class Scoundrels are suboptimal.

Same problem with the Scout, to a lesser extent. Worst BAB, decent (but not best) hit points, and no redeeming per-level advantage. They have some nice talents, but by 12th level you will probably have all you want, and pretty good bonus feats, but by 12th level you will have all you want. You might think some of the talents are neat, like Expert Tracker, but you are wasting a talent to negate a -5 penalty to track at normal speed when you could instead burn a less valuable feat for Skill Focus (Survival). And Keen Shot seems pretty cool until you notice that a soldier hits better than you against concealed targets, even though he does not have Keen Shot, because he has a better BAB.

Roleplayers will likely find value in Scoundrel, Noble, and Scout, but roleplayers can find value in any class. The only optimal single class classes are Jedi and Soldier, though. Of course, I think it would be tempting to dip into some levels of the suboptimal classes to have access to a few of the talents.

I think this could have easily been fixed by giving Scoundrels best BAB as long as they use ranged or finesse attacks, and Scouts best BAB as long as they use ranged attacks. A soldier still gets better hit points at each level, and is still better with any weapon he picks up, but a low hp Scoundrel can at least compete with specific weapons and a medium hp Scout with a slightly lower number of weapons.

Noble is a bit trickier to fix, but you could do the same with the Noble as with the Scoundrel, or perhaps give Wealth as a free Talent at 1st level (since it improves at each level).

I think the weak per-level benefits of the non-defender classes should be addressed in 4e. Controllers and Leaders will presumably have enough umph without improved BAB and hp, but Strikers better have good per-level benefits to make up for their weaker BAB and hp compared to fighters, or (hopefully) good BAB under certain circumstances (e.g., Rogues get good BAB when sneak attacking, even against creatures that do not suffer sneak attack damage).
Totoro, you assume that Combat is the only thing to do in a game. If the GM runs a combat only game, then yes, only Jedi and Soldier are good choices. If the GM is smart, however, and runs a game that includes equal time out of combat (and equally challenging non-combat encounters), then Jedi and Soldier do not become must haves.

Star Wars ain't DnD, killing things isn't the only par for course, and Star Wars' rules will be designed as such.
I like the Damage threshold, hopefully they'll keep that in 4e...
And dislike, as totoro said, the fact that jedi and soldier gain more per level
But let's look at Skills.
- Static DCs range from 10 to 25 typically.
- Opposed Rolls: who cares, they are opposed.

Actually, opposed rolls are where it matters the most that they've closed so much of the gap between those trained and untrained in a given skill. I haven't played it out but the chances of someone winning an opposed roll in a skill they are untrained in at higher levels seem much better in SWSE than in D&D. I'm not sure whether that's a feature or a bug (leaning toward "bug") but it's certainly a difference, in any case.

A first level character has 1 feat (2 if human). Do you really see a level 1 character using a feat on Skill Focus (Initiative)?

Why not? People use it on Improved Initiative now and this is a point better.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
But its a little stretching it since you're single classed in a system that practically begs you to be a multiclassed character.

I'd disagree. Saga doesn't beg you to multi-class, it slaps you in the face if you try. You only gain one of the starting feats, only the best defense bonus, no additional trained skills, no bonus to skills at all as all untrained, class and non-class skills are functionally equivalent, and the old saw about wasting xp (by that I mean that a 10th-level character has to "spend" 10k xp to gain what is essentially free, the 1st-level of another class).

Multi-classing in Saga is just as bad as 3.x, if not worse.
Another thing I didn't like about my single-class "playtest" Scoundrel was if he went with Sneak Attack, he could fill the 4e combat role of Striker. However, he has to spend all of his Talent slots on the same Talent to do so. As time goes on, there will be more and more different talent trees to choose from, but an optimized Scoundrel will be busy taking sneak attack.

The Noble didn't even have a way to fulfill a useful combat role. She was kind of like a 3e Bard without any spells (i.e., weaker than a 3e Bard).

Anyway, I don't think there should be Talent trees that stretch serially out for 10 slots. If that is necessary for a class to fill its stated combat role, the ability should just be built into the class. That allows a player to choose Talent trees freely in an effort to individualize their character, without a required track. It is more fun.
Another thing I didn't like about my single-class "playtest" Scoundrel was if he went with Sneak Attack, he could fill the 4e combat role of Striker. However, he has to spend all of his Talent slots on the same Talent to do so. As time goes on, there will be more and more different talent trees to choose from, but an optimized Scoundrel will be busy taking sneak attack.

The Noble didn't even have a way to fulfill a useful combat role. She was kind of like a 3e Bard without any spells (i.e., weaker than a 3e Bard).

Anyway, I don't think there should be Talent trees that stretch serially out for 10 slots. If that is necessary for a class to fill its stated combat role, the ability should just be built into the class. That allows a player to choose Talent trees freely in an effort to individualize their character, without a required track. It is more fun.

As somebody said, combat isn't everything, and I don't know that SWSE has the "roles" concept down exactly, but it seems to me that the Noble is very solidly in the "leader" or "controller" role, depending on the talent trees chosen. Yes, you could probably pick a sub-optimal selection of talents that muddied your role, but that would be your fault, not that of the class.
I'd disagree. Saga doesn't beg you to multi-class, it slaps you in the face if you try. You only gain one of the starting feats

Forgetting the "You get a bunch of stuff at 1st level because you've been training for a decade to get here" are we? Also, you get more out of multiclassing. You could go for Class 2, and get one bonus feat, or go for Class 1/Class 1 and get a bonus feat and a talent.
only the best defense bonus

You do realize the system was built with that in mind, don't you? You're not losing anything because the system was built with non stacking named bonuses in mind.
no additional trained skills

This isn't skill points. You're getting a crap ton more use out of skills than in standard d20. Though a popular ruling is letting you take Skill training as your extra feat from multiclassing.
no bonus to skills at all as all untrained

Forgetting that all skills gain a bonus equal to half your level?
class and non-class skills are functionally equivalent

Every skill has uses that can only be used if you're trained.
and the old saw about wasting xp (by that I mean that a 10th-level character has to "spend" 10k xp to gain what is essentially free, the 1st-level of another class).

You do realize the reason you get a lot of stuff at 1st character level is so that you can actually do things out of the gate, don't you?
Multi-classing in Saga is just as bad as 3.x, if not worse.

Maybe if you'll stop analyzing things in a vacuum and actually take into account the rest of the system that exists around such things, you'll begin to understand what you're analyzing. Think I'm wrong? Go visit the SW RPG boards and look at the last 3 months of threads.
What some people are not realizing is that while the system may use the same/similar system does not mean that DnD and Star Wars are the same beast. Star Wars does an excellent job of keeping the classes balanced as to what they are best at, and keeps single classed and multi-classed characters balanced as well. What Tharduus calls a slap in the face, I call anti-powermonkey protocols. The reason being if the designer didn't limit the class defense bonus, starting feats, etc, people NOT concerned will "ROLE" playing would just multi-class into every class, net about 4-5 extra feats, have a HUGE number of trained skills, have Defenses in the 30's by 5th level, etc.
Now, like I said, the two games are different beasts. DnD has always been about being uber-powerful, so expect your rogue to be much more powerful than your scoundrel. After all, how many Star Wars characters have you seen fight a dragon (and not the Krayt kind).
What I'm trying to say is, unless I'm off the mark, look at Star Wars, add some stuff and up to power level of each character, and you'll have 4e. I just hope that 4e is as balanced as SECR (i.e., not so weak at 1st, not uber powerful at 20-30th, your strength isn't derived almost solely from magic, and multi-classing doesn't make your character significantly weaker than single classed characters).
It looks like I have a little reading to do... Added my take on deception, endurance, knowledge, mechanics, perception, persuasion, stealth and survival.
We are talking about problems with SWSE as it relates to 4e. So, I don't really care if SWSE is intentionally designed to avoid balancing the classes in combat. The stated goal of 4e is for everyone to have a role in combat. If one class is clearly better in combat than another, then something is not working as intended.

So, back to the discussion about what should not go into 4e as it stands in SWSE: The Noble sucks because at every level after 1st, every other class gets better hit points, BAB, talents, etc. If you don't think so, I would suggest you read the book. If you do think so, but feel that the designers' intention is to have a class that is not as good as others in combat (presumably making up for the weakness in other ways), you are arguing against the stated purpose of 4e.

Anyway, I still don't like the Noble, Scoundrel, and Scout, because every other class gets better hit points and BAB, and in other ways all are presumably equal. And, I don't like the idea of making a Scoundrel who wants to make a difference take 10 of 10 talents to improve sneak attack. If that is necessary, it should be built into the class so that players can choose more interesting talents.

Finally, it is unnecessary to assume that someone who wants classes balanced in combat doesn't know how to roleplay. I expect all players to roleplay, whether their characters are soldiers or nobles. They may have different skills, but their participation is (and is intended to be) equivalent. I simply expect the same in combat, too. I applaud the efforts of WotC to make all character classes competent within their role, and I have had house rules in effect that do exactly that since before 3e. SWSE is one step closer to my house rules, and I expect 4e to be even better.
Dude,

What you're asking for in Star Wars is not reasonable. There is simply no way a Noble can be "as useful in combat" as a soldier or Jedi. Think about it-- how could they possibly be equals? If they're equals in combat effectiveness, a lot of "soldiers" would chose to be nobles, as nobles would have the exact same effectiveness in combat.

The Noble has decent but not good combat abilities, some abilities to aid and assist his fellows in combat, and a LOT of skills. He has usefulness in combat but he is specifically designed to have his greatest usefulness outside of combat.

Same with Scout and Scoundrel to lesser degrees. They too have a lot of skills (the scout is loaded). If a Scout were exactly as powerful as a soldier in combat, shouldn't a soldier also have just as many skills as the Scout? Why would one have more out-of-combat versatility if both were equals in combat?

In D&D, "weak" combatants are often ferocious combatants -- the wizard, for example. No a strong physical combatant but often the party's offensive and defensive MVP. A few classes -- the bard springs to mind -- are chiefly effective out of combat. Even rogues are decent combatants, though again their great number of skills make them the best class OUT of combat.

Again, if rogues were exactly equal to fighters in combat, why on earth should fighters get fewer skills than rogues? Think about it. You're demanding everyone be equal in laying down the beat-down, both fighters and rogues, even though one is actually a specialist in fighting and the other is not. Does that make sense? How could that possibly be?
Dude,

What you're asking for in Star Wars is not reasonable. There is simply no way a Noble can be "as useful in combat" as a soldier or Jedi. Think about it-- how could they possibly be equals? If they're equals in combat effectiveness, a lot of "soldiers" would chose to be nobles, as nobles would have the exact same effectiveness in combat.

The Noble has decent but not good combat abilities, some abilities to aid and assist his fellows in combat, and a LOT of skills. He has usefulness in combat but he is specifically designed to have his greatest usefulness outside of combat.

Same with Scout and Scoundrel to lesser degrees. They too have a lot of skills (the scout is loaded). If a Scout were exactly as powerful as a soldier in combat, shouldn't a soldier also have just as many skills as the Scout? Why would one have more out-of-combat versatility if both were equals in combat?

In D&D, "weak" combatants are often ferocious combatants -- the wizard, for example. No a strong physical combatant but often the party's offensive and defensive MVP. A few classes -- the bard springs to mind -- are chiefly effective out of combat. Even rogues are decent combatants, though again their great number of skills make them the best class OUT of combat.

Again, if rogues were exactly equal to fighters in combat, why on earth should fighters get fewer skills than rogues? Think about it. You're demanding everyone be equal in laying down the beat-down, both fighters and rogues, even though one is actually a specialist in fighting and the other is not. Does that make sense? How could that possibly be?

Talk to WotC if you don't like it. All of the 4 types are supposed to be effective in combat. Here are some ways to make everyone balanced, even from different classes (this is just the wrong forum to go into exquisite detail, but you should get the drift, using SWSE feats and skills):

Destroyer: d12 HD, good BAB (STR-based attacks only). Starting: 2 trained skills, Heavy Armor, Advanced Melee Weapons.
Fighter: d10 HD, good BAB. Starting: 3 trained skills, Medium Armor, Pistols/Rifles.
Skirmisher: d8 HD, good BAB (DEX-based attacks only). Starting: 4 trained skills, Light Armor, Pistols/Rifles, Weapon Finesse.

Compare these to the Soldier (the Fighter is exactly the same as the Soldier) and the Scout (the Skirmisher gets Light Armor and Weapon Finesse instead of "Shake it Off" and 1 less trained skill, but also gets better BAB when making DEX-based attacks). Now you just throw in the talent trees to let them go off in their different directions (Destroyers focus on destructive melee, Fighters on all aspects of combat, and Skirmishers on quickness and accuracy).

Now let's add Rogues. You can follow the same progression from Destroyer to Skirmisher: d6 HD, good BAB (only when in Sneak Attack position--when the target is flanked or unaware, even if the target is not susceptible to sneak attack damage). Starting: 5 trained skills, Pistols, Weapon Finesse, Knack, Quick Draw. I would also let Rogues deal +1 damage per level from sneak attacking. How does this balance? They only get good BAB when flanking or the target loses DEX, but they then do some good damage. Sneak attack damage is a lot less than in SWSE if you burn all your talents on Sneak Attack, but this version hits as well as a fighter when in its element.

I think all of these 4 classes are well-balanced. The rogue fills the role of "striker" and the others could all serve admirably as "defenders". The skirmisher could also function as a striker, but without reducing his effectiveness as a defender. Also, all of them have good BAB where it counts. Rogues suffer because they only gain the good BAB when sneak attacking, but the bonus damage makes up for it. Skirmishers are barely harmed by the limitations on BAB (since they will always use DEX-based attacks). Fighters are well-rounded and tougher than Skirmishers, plus they can use any weapon they find. Destroyers are quite limited in that combat is always up-close and personal, but there is usually a role for this type of class, and they have the highest hit points/level in the game.

Like I have said before, out-of-combat capabilities are largely irrelevant for balance. First balance the capabilities in combat, then worry about who deserves what outside of combat. You will notice in my example classes, as the HD drops in size, the number of trained skill points increases.

The Noble is rather like the Warlord of 4e, probably. The trick with the Warlord is making sure that bonuses increase with level. I would accomplish this by giving them a bonus equal to +1 at 1st level and every 4 levels thereafter (5th, 9th, 13th, 17th, ...). That bonus corresponds to the levels that do not get the BAB bump. How the bonus is applied is up to the designers. For example, a Warlord talent might grant allies a +1 attack bonus, and an increase in damage equal to the level-dependent bonus. I would try to make almost every talent include the level-dependent bonus.

Hopefully that answers any questions about what I had in mind regarding balancing classes in combat.
We are talking about problems with SWSE as it relates to 4e. So, I don't really care if SWSE is intentionally designed to avoid balancing the classes in combat. The stated goal of 4e is for everyone to have a role in combat. If one class is clearly better in combat than another, then something is not working as intended.

So, back to the discussion about what should not go into 4e as it stands in SWSE: The Noble sucks because at every level after 1st, every other class gets better hit points, BAB, talents, etc. If you don't think so, I would suggest you read the book. If you do think so, but feel that the designers' intention is to have a class that is not as good as others in combat (presumably making up for the weakness in other ways), you are arguing against the stated purpose of 4e.

Anyway, I still don't like the Noble, Scoundrel, and Scout, because every other class gets better hit points and BAB, and in other ways all are presumably equal. And, I don't like the idea of making a Scoundrel who wants to make a difference take 10 of 10 talents to improve sneak attack. If that is necessary, it should be built into the class so that players can choose more interesting talents.

Finally, it is unnecessary to assume that someone who wants classes balanced in combat doesn't know how to roleplay. I expect all players to roleplay, whether their characters are soldiers or nobles. They may have different skills, but their participation is (and is intended to be) equivalent. I simply expect the same in combat, too. I applaud the efforts of WotC to make all character classes competent within their role, and I have had house rules in effect that do exactly that since before 3e. SWSE is one step closer to my house rules, and I expect 4e to be even better.

You're missing the point. The goal isn't to make all character classes into combat monsters or even to make them all "equally effective in combat". The goal is to make them effective in their ROLE in combat. The noble's ROLE, is either to demoralize and run-off the enemy (kind of like a wizard might do) or to buff his allies (like a cleric might do). His ROLE might not expect him to be able to hit in combat at all. Do you see where I'm going with this?
You're missing the point. The goal isn't to make all character classes into combat monsters or even to make them all "equally effective in combat". The goal is to make them effective in their ROLE in combat. The noble's ROLE, is either to demoralize and run-off the enemy (kind of like a wizard might do) or to buff his allies (like a cleric might do). His ROLE might not expect him to be able to hit in combat at all. Do you see where I'm going with this?

I see where you are going, but I'm already past that and speaking to practical effects. Since I can take 1 Soldier and 1 character of any other class (other than Noble) at 20th level and stomp the crap out of any combination of 1 Noble and 1 other class of 20th level, I can assert that at 20th level (where the weakness of the Noble is most glaring, though they are weak all the way through), the Noble does not fulfill his role. Put another way, the Noble is fulfilling a role inadequately, because his party is weaker than if he had simply been a Soldier.

I agree that a role may result in different abilities. A rogue will do more damage when flanking an opponent. A fighter will be able to withstand more damage. The details differ. However, the effectiveness should be the same.
I see where you are going, but I'm already past that and speaking to practical effects. Since I can take 1 Soldier and 1 character of any other class (other than Noble) at 20th level and stomp the crap out of any combination of 1 Noble and 1 other class of 20th level, I can assert that at 20th level (where the weakness of the Noble is most glaring, though they are weak all the way through), the Noble does not fulfill his role. Put another way, the Noble is fulfilling a role inadequately, because his party is weaker than if he had simply been a Soldier.

I agree that a role may result in different abilities. A rogue will do more damage when flanking an opponent. A fighter will be able to withstand more damage. The details differ. However, the effectiveness should be the same.

Well, duh. Combat is what the Soldier does. Other characters tend to fill support roles. If you don't have a Soldier on the other side, of course their going to have a hard time of it.
This is nonsense.

So, how exactly should the Noble be improved? Let's give him a high BAB, high hit dice, weapons proficiency... we'll call it the "Soldier." Oh wait that's taken. How about "The Battlemaster"?

Do you get that a character called a noble, primarily strong in diplomacy, leadership, a nd coordination, *cannot* be as effective in combat as someone specializing in, err, COMBAT?

What the hell do you propose we do for the Noble? Give him "Overpowering Imperiousness" that inflicts 6d6 of damage simply by the noble striking an imposing, authoritative pose?
Well, duh. Combat is what the Soldier does. Other characters tend to fill support roles. If you don't have a Soldier on the other side, of course their going to have a hard time of it.

I think you've misunderstood the post you're quoting. The other side may very well have a soldier, or even a Jedi which should be as or more effective. The claim is that when you consider the following:

SIDE 1
* One Soldier
* One character of any class, other than Soldier or Noble

SIDE 2
* One character of any class
* One Noble

Side 1 always beats side 2. (I'm not saying anything about whether this is true, just clarifying what is being said.)
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
I think you've misunderstood the post you're quoting. The other side may very well have a soldier, or even a Jedi which should be as or more effective. The claim is that when you consider the following:

SIDE 1
* One Soldier
* One character of any class, other than Soldier or Noble

SIDE 2
* One character of any class
* One Noble

Side 1 always beats side 2. (I'm not saying anything about whether this is true, just clarifying what is being said.)

Fair enough. Lacking any obvious flaws in the logic, I'll simply have to dismiss it as anecdotal "evidence".
This is nonsense.

So, how exactly should the Noble be improved? Let's give him a high BAB, high hit dice, weapons proficiency... we'll call it the "Soldier." Oh wait that's taken. How about "The Battlemaster"?

Do you get that a character called a noble, primarily strong in diplomacy, leadership, a nd coordination, *cannot* be as effective in combat as someone specializing in, err, COMBAT?

What the hell do you propose we do for the Noble? Give him "Overpowering Imperiousness" that inflicts 6d6 of damage simply by the noble striking an imposing, authoritative pose?

I believe I have answered this question above as to how a class such as the Noble can be as good as any other class in combat, such that power will progress as they advance levels, just as it does for other classes. There are multiple ways to do it other than my suggestion. No reason for you to get so upset about it. Is somebody in your family related to Princess Leia or something? Calm down.

As has been clearly stated, all of the 4e class roles are combat roles (i.e., each specializes in some aspect of combat). Instead of "Battlemaster", why don't you consider "Warlord" as the new name for your class, and why don't you consider giving him a "leadership" role in combat. You might also consider leaving the high hit die, weapon proficiencies, and BAB to a fighter, and let the fighter have a "defender" role in combat.
Fair enough. Lacking any obvious flaws in the logic, I'll simply have to dismiss it as anecdotal "evidence".

Fair enough. Alternatively, you could attempt to digest what you have read and then generate an insightful response, whether in agreement or disagreement is not as important as whether the response is insightful.
You just have to remember that what we get, the DM gets.

If we get 3 x hit die + con at 1st level, so does he.

If we can get +10 initiative at 1st level, so can he.

So it will balance itself out. I really like the way Saga is done, it makes waiting for 4th almost unbearable. I am going to try to talk my group into introducing some of these rules into house rules for our 3.5 game.
SIDE 1
* One Soldier
* One character of any class, other than Soldier or Noble

SIDE 2
* One character of any class
* One Noble

Side 1 always beats side 2.

Then you obviously don't know how to effectively utilize a Noble. One powerful Noble Talent is Trust: Give an ally your Standard Action. So Side 2's soldier can lay the smack down twice in a round. There are other painful Noble Buffs, but I don't have my book right now to cite them.
I believe I have answered this question above as to how a class such as the Noble can be as good as any other class in combat, such that power will progress as they advance levels, just as it does for other classes. There are multiple ways to do it other than my suggestion. No reason for you to get so upset about it. Is somebody in your family related to Princess Leia or something? Calm down.

Hah, no, no relation, just a fan of her bikini. But you are simply failing to comprehend that someone specializing in combat (Jedi, soldier) *must be more effective in combat* than someone who does not.

You are proposing a series of mechanical "fixes" to make the non-combat specialists just as effective in combat as the actual specialized combatants. In other words, you are trying to make non-combat specialists just as good at combat as combat specialists albeit through indirect methods. But whether direct or indirect, the effect is the same -- making non-combat specialists just as good at combat as combat specialists. It doesn't matter if you're doing indirectly or in a hidden way -- boosts that increase combat ability in a nonobvious way. You're still doing it.

You're confusing this with D&D. In D&D there are guys who don't specialize in actual physical combat and yet are of course the most powerful in combat in a lot of ways. Wizards, clerics, etc. The fact they can cast magic spells makes them very potent combatants despite their relative lack of physical combat expertise. But such a thing does not exist in Star Wars. You cannot posit effects on the order of reality-changing magic to boost a noble so that he's just as mighty in combat as a soldier. That was the point of my snark about the "Overwhelming Imperiousness" "spell" -- to do what you claim is necessary requires giving Noble's the equivalent of damaging offensive spell-like effects, based, for flavor's sake, on their breeding and social position. It just isn't realistic and furthermore disagrees with the movies' "reality."

The fact of the matter is that you are wrong, characters are built to have both non-combat abilities and combat abilities, and that overall class effectiveness is determined by a blend of the two -- how much he can do in combat and how much he can do outside it. These games being largely about combat (at least as they're frequently played), the former -- combat ability -- is more important. Nevertheless the Noble has a lot more out-of-combat power than the soldier, starting with the great number of trained skills, and including some selectable talents.

You can posit all the special bonuses and such you like. Ultimately, however, if all these special situational bonuses make a Noble, a non-combatant class, just as effective in combat, just as important to a group's success as a Jedi or soldier, something's wrong. The three classes you find fault with are not *supposed* to be as effective or have the impact in combat as the Jedi or soldier, and if they did, they'd be stealing the Jedi's and soldier's raison d'etre.

The Noble is of course included to emulate Leia. But was Leia as effective in combat as Han or Luke? Of course not. The game already gooses a Leia-type's combat power quite a bit more than the source material would suggest it should be, in the interests of making it an inviting class. But there's a limit to how far you can push a Noble's combat effectiveness before it simply becomes a Soldier or Jedi with a different name and a different set of combat maneuvers.

The only point I think you have is that if you're right, and a Scout is more useful in combat than a Noble, then there's something wrong there, because a Scout gets more trained skills and such. If the Scout is better in combat, the Noble should be better outside of combat.
Fair enough. Alternatively, you could attempt to digest what you have read and then generate an insightful response, whether in agreement or disagreement is not as important as whether the response is insightful.

There's no "insight" to be had. Your argument is based on a misunderstanding of what "roles" are supposed to entail, we're talking about a system (SWSE) where the "roles" concept may not have been fully implemented, and your only evidence is "I did this and it turned out this way", which AT AT Assualt just totally countered with his own anecdotal evidence. There was nothing I could really say on the matter other than "Nuh-uh!", which isn't all that useful.
I'll just go with what I don't like, which isn't a very long list, really:

- Dual-wielding penalties. I like D&D 3.5's versions better, which takes the size of the off-hand weapon into account. In SWS, there's no advantage to wielding a lightsaber/shoto instead of two regular lightsabers, even though the first combo would typically be more practical.

- SWS didn't have Two-Weapon Defense (aside from the Jarkai lightsaber form), making it unnecessary to have two weapons or a double weapon unless you could make a full attack, which happens less frequently in SWS than in 3.x.

That's really about it.
Hah, no, no relation, just a fan of her bikini. But you are simply failing to comprehend that someone specializing in combat (Jedi, soldier) *must be more effective in combat* than someone who does not.

You are proposing a series of mechanical "fixes" to make the non-combat specialists just as effective in combat as the actual specialized combatants. In other words, you are trying to make non-combat specialists just as good at combat as combat specialists albeit through indirect methods. But whether direct or indirect, the effect is the same -- making non-combat specialists just as good at combat as combat specialists. It doesn't matter if you're doing indirectly or in a hidden way -- boosts that increase combat ability in a nonobvious way. You're still doing it.

You're confusing this with D&D. In D&D there are guys who don't specialize in actual physical combat and yet are of course the most powerful in combat in a lot of ways. Wizards, clerics, etc. The fact they can cast magic spells makes them very potent combatants despite their relative lack of physical combat expertise. But such a thing does not exist in Star Wars. You cannot posit effects on the order of reality-changing magic to boost a noble so that he's just as mighty in combat as a soldier. That was the point of my snark about the "Overwhelming Imperiousness" "spell" -- to do what you claim is necessary requires giving Noble's the equivalent of damaging offensive spell-like effects, based, for flavor's sake, on their breeding and social position. It just isn't realistic and furthermore disagrees with the movies' "reality."

The fact of the matter is that you are wrong, characters are built to have both non-combat abilities and combat abilities, and that overall class effectiveness is determined by a blend of the two -- how much he can do in combat and how much he can do outside it. These games being largely about combat (at least as they're frequently played), the former -- combat ability -- is more important. Nevertheless the Noble has a lot more out-of-combat power than the soldier, starting with the great number of trained skills, and including some selectable talents.

You can posit all the special bonuses and such you like. Ultimately, however, if all these special situational bonuses make a Noble, a non-combatant class, just as effective in combat, just as important to a group's success as a Jedi or soldier, something's wrong. The three classes you find fault with are not *supposed* to be as effective or have the impact in combat as the Jedi or soldier, and if they did, they'd be stealing the Jedi's and soldier's raison d'etre.

The Noble is of course included to emulate Leia. But was Leia as effective in combat as Han or Luke? Of course not. The game already gooses a Leia-type's combat power quite a bit more than the source material would suggest it should be, in the interests of making it an inviting class. But there's a limit to how far you can push a Noble's combat effectiveness before it simply becomes a Soldier or Jedi with a different name and a different set of combat maneuvers.

The only point I think you have is that if you're right, and a Scout is more useful in combat than a Noble, then there's something wrong there, because a Scout gets more trained skills and such. If the Scout is better in combat, the Noble should be better outside of combat.

Keep in mind that I am accepting as an assumption that all classes are supposed to be specialized in one of the four combat roles. The ONLY reason I accept this assumption is because that is what WotC has said at multiple times in multiple ways. One thing that appears certain about 4e is that every character will have equivalent (but different) impact on combat. Paraphrasing some WotC statement I can't recall word-for-word, "it will be easier for a party of four to have one of each of the 4 combat roles represented. You can do without one or more of the roles, but it is just going to be a bit harder." That can only logically mean that if you have a leader in a combat role, combat is going to be easier for the group.

So, I am not confusing SWSE with D&D. I am pointing out what I don't like about SWSE that may work its way into 4e, which is the very topic of this thread. Specifically, I do not believe that the Noble makes it easier for the group, and the abilities of the Noble diminish in this regard the higher level you go.

Please note that I am NOT talking about balancing classes with in- and out-of-combat capabilities. I'm perfectly fine with you doing that, and perfectly fine with a game that attempts to do just that (like, for example, D&D 2e). However, that is not the stated goal of 4e so you'll just have to adapt your arguments so we can even get on the same page to start to disagree with one another. If you don't, you will just keep saying I'm wrong, and I will keep scratching my head wondering why you won't accept that all characters have equivalent combat effectiveness.

I have not, and never suggested, that the Noble should be able to swing a Vibro Ax as well as a Soldier. I believe the abilities of the Noble are going in the right direction with the buffing of party members. I have just found in playtest that they fall woefully short of scaling with the rest of the party. Stated more colloquially, Nobles suck in combat.

The solution is not to increase HD or an equivalent of your snarky suggestion. Rather, the solution is to make Nobles scale more elegantly with party level, while retaining their leadership role.
Then you obviously don't know how to effectively utilize a Noble. One powerful Noble Talent is Trust: Give an ally your Standard Action. So Side 2's soldier can lay the smack down twice in a round. There are other painful Noble Buffs, but I don't have my book right now to cite them.

Every class has some talents that make them better. That is not my point. My point is that the Noble does not scale with the rest of the classes as you advance levels EVEN IF you utilize the Noble effectively. If the Noble gives away his Standard Action each round, for example, then the Noble is trading hit points for a Soldier's attack. If he was a Soldier instead, he wouldn't be trading anything for a Soldier's attack (and the attack could come from different directions). I don't really want to get into the coolness of each of the Noble's abilities, but it hopefully isn't that hard to get my point, even if you disagree.

I think you will find when you get back to your book that you run out of options for the Noble that actually make a group of a Noble (Leader), Scoundrel (Striker), and Soldier (Defender) better than a group of two Soldiers and a Scoundrel. At low levels, it will not be blatantly obvious to you, but at higher levels, it will become more so. That said, a multiclass Noble might be viable. You get a couple of cool talents, and, as long as you don't take more than 4 levels, you only take a minor hit to BAB, and lose a handful of hit points. As I said, it isn't until 5th level when the class really starts to lame out, and it isn't until 9th level that it becomes blatant.
There's no "insight" to be had. Your argument is based on a misunderstanding of what "roles" are supposed to entail, we're talking about a system (SWSE) where the "roles" concept may not have been fully implemented, and your only evidence is "I did this and it turned out this way", which AT AT Assualt just totally countered with his own anecdotal evidence. There was nothing I could really say on the matter other than "Nuh-uh!", which isn't all that useful.

An insightful response would have, for example, corrected me on my misunderstanding of what "roles" are supposed to entail. As it stands, I still believe that you simply don't understand the stated goal of combat roles in 4e. Of course, I am not staff at WotC. If you have some real insight, pray tell. I'm going on snippets like everyone else.
Every class has some talents that make them better. That is not my point. My point is that the Noble does not scale with the rest of the classes as you advance levels EVEN IF you utilize the Noble effectively. If the Noble gives away his Standard Action each round, for example, then the Noble is trading hit points for a Soldier's attack. If he was a Soldier instead, he wouldn't be trading anything for a Soldier's attack (and the attack could come from different directions). I don't really want to get into the coolness of each of the Noble's abilities, but it hopefully isn't that hard to get my point, even if you disagree.

Yeah, you really don't get it. The Noble isn't about dealing damage. The Noble is about leading his allies and handling all social affairs. Think social affairs are meaningless. Lets see what your Soldier with his BFG does when goes to a Civilized world. Whoops! Can't tote that portable armory around.

Also, there's more things one can do with a SA than a normal attack. One of many things: You could charge, then Pin+Crush somebody. Or Pin+Crush them, then pull of a sneak attack powered regular attack.

Another powerful Noble ability: Ignite Fervor: When the Noble makes a successful ranged or melee attack (easy enough, just peg a Stormtrooper), an ally gets a damage bonus on his next attack equal to his level. That's pretty useful, as the Noble can pick off weak guys, and make the Soldier hit the tough guys even harder. The following talent, Inspire Zeal, is always on that has your allies push enemies further down the Condition Track. Rally is good for picking up your party when they start to take some serious damage.
run out of options for the Noble that actually make a group of a Noble

Well DUH! If you single class, you're going to eventually run out of new options. This is why PrCs exist. And a Noble that multiclasses into Crime Lord/Officer becomes even more effective at bolstering his allies.

I guess I shouldnt fault you for being so narrow minded about single classing. DnD is pretty much a "Your class is your character" game. SW Saga is a "Choose the classes [set of abilities] that fits your concept best".

The Noble is very effective at what it does. However, you must accept the fact that Combat is not life. Combat just happens to be the most rules complex aspect of a game since it has to be extremely balanced. You know all those scenes where the Senators talk and strategize? They are non combat (and XP earning). The Soldier and others aren't going to fare well there. Without a Noble (or a Scoundrel, but Nobles are better), you're just going to have to miss out on some XP.
Yeah, you really don't get it. The Noble isn't about dealing damage. The Noble is about leading his allies and handling all social affairs. Think social affairs are meaningless. Lets see what your Soldier with his BFG does when goes to a Civilized world. Whoops! Can't tote that portable armory around.

I don't think we are going to get anywhere so there is no reason to continue this "debate."
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