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Author Topic: Jedi Counseling #111  (Read 6340 times)
Darth_Variable
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« on: June 18, 2009, 10:40:25 AM »

Jedi Counseling 111
Atonement Ain't Easy

By Gary M. Sarli

Welcome to the 111th installment of "Jedi Counseling," our regular column in which we answer your rules questions about the Star Wars Miniatures Game and the Star Wars Roleplaying Game. If you have a question, send it in through the link at the end of this column, and check back here for the official answer.
Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition

Q: Atonement seems too easy. It's common to have Force Points left over upon gaining a level. Since they would be lost anyway, couldn't you spend them on atonement, effectively reducing your Dark Side Score for no real cost?

A: Atonement isn't quite that simple. It requires "a period of meditation, reflection, and absolution" on the part of the character, so it isn't a quick or instantaneous process. First, the player declares that his character is attempting to atone, spending 1 Force Point as a swift action; this represents the character pausing as she realizes that she is walking down the wrong path.

Next, the Gamemaster decides how to adjudicate the attempt to atone, such as how long it will take, whether any special acts of contrition will be required, and so forth. If performed "on stage," it should span at least the length of an adventure (during which the hero is essentially a total saint). If performed between adventures, it will normally require at least a week and possibly as long as months (even years!) of sincere reflection. The precise time and effort required should usually reflect the character's transgressions, so someone with a very high Dark Side Score may have to meet a higher standard to prove that the atonement is sincere.

The GM also adjudicates when the attempt is successful. If the hero's actions don't reflect a sincere desire to atone, her Dark Side Score won't be reduced. Still, the details are up to the GM, and atonement should never interfere with the needs of the campaign.

One last detail here: You can atone only 1 point at a time. This means that you can't spend all your leftover Force Points just before you gain a level. You could start a period of atonement, certainly, but it wouldn't end for quite some time (as described above).

Q: If you have Force Point Recovery and you atone to reduce your Dark Side Score, do you get the Force Point back?

A: No. Force Points that you sacrifice for atonement are permanently lost and cannot be recovered by any means.

Q: I'm having some problems deciding what type of transgression some actions should be. How can you tell when something is blatantly evil (a major transgression), questionably evil (a moderate transgression), or dubiously evil (a minor transgression)?

A: While the precise divisions are ultimately up to the GM, enforcing them as loosely or tightly as appropriate for the campaign, here are some guidelines to help you decide on corner cases. To decide if an action is "blatantly evil," ask yourself the following questions:

    * Did the action harm a sentient, living character?
    * Did the action harm a character that was at your mercy (helpless, unable to meaningfully defend itself, or something similar)?
    * Did the action cause serious harm to a character (physically, mentally, or emotionally)?
    * Was the action unnecessary to protect yourself or another character from an immediate, obvious threat?
    * Was the action deliberate and the result intended?

If the answer to all of these questions is "Yes," then the action is almost certainly "blatantly evil" (a major transgression) and deserves increasing the character's Dark Side Score. Examples include murder, torture (including acts such as intentional mutilation or maiming), slavery, rape, and any similar act considered reprehensible by most civilizations.

If exactly one question can be answered "No," then the action is probably "questionably evil" (a moderate transgression), which might be worth increasing the character's Dark Side Score. Examples include assassinating an Imperial warlord who is about to give orders to exterminate the population of a planet (it's in defense of others, but he's still at your mercy), tormenting a droid to extract information, or starting an unnecessary fight that results in serious injury.

If exactly two of the questions can be answered "No," then the action is probably "dubiously evil" (a minor transgression) and likely doesn't deserve increasing the character's Dark Side Score. Examples include killing in self-defense or recklessly (but accidentally) causing injury to others.

If three or more questions can be answered "No," then the action probably is not a dark side transgression at all. For example, destroying an object is not a transgression unless doing so also causes some sort of substantial harm to a character. Similarly, hunting an animal (not sentient) in the wilderness (not helpless) for sustenance (protecting yourself from starvation) is perfectly acceptable in all but the most unusual circumstances.

Obviously, you'll still need to interpret the situation accordingly. How strictly do you want to define "harm"? For example, is a rich character harmed in a significant way by having a minor treasure stolen? Is a threat imminent and real, or is the character merely trying to justify unnecessary aggression? The purpose of these questions isn't to give you a never-fail method but to help you evaluate an action. When in doubt, go with your gut instinct. The more you have to parse and explain an action to make it acceptable, the more likely it is to be a transgression.

Q: Would Severing Strike be a major transgression? It seems that you'd never learn this talent unless you intended to maim others.

A: No, Severing Strike, in itself, is not a transgression because it is designed to protect your target from an otherwise lethal blow. The same would be true for a doctor who has to perform a medical amputation. Although the act is "maiming" in the strictest sense, it is only to protect the target from a more dangerous medical problem.

This doesn't mean that Severing Strike can't be used in a blatantly evil way, of course. Cutting off the limbs of an enemy who is at your mercy would still be tantamount to torture no matter how you do it (by lightsaber, scalpel, or angry Wookiee).

Q: What happens if you use move object against a door? How about Force thrust?

A: If you use move object against a door, you deal normal damage to it as the door strains against its frame. (Don't forget to apply the effects of the door's damage reduction.) If the damage is sufficient to reduce the door to 0 hit points, it becomes disabled and the door is pulled free, making the doorway passable.

If you use Force thrust against a door, compare your Use the Force check result to the door's break DC. If successful, you have forced the door open. If not, the door remains intact and functional.

For those who are interested, an object's break DC is calculated as if it were a character resisting a bantha rush or Force thrust. Take its Strength bonus, add 10 (the average result on a roll of 1d20, rounded down), and -- in most cases -- add 5 more for being exceptionally stable. (Some particularly fragile objects may deviate on this last detail, but that is fairly rare.)
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