Saturday, September 21, 2019

Revisiting Deathstars and Droids

Five long years ago, I posted about a super simple way to hack Classic D&D to play in a Star Wars universe game. I called the post Deathstars & Droids.

The idea was to be able to quickly sit down and play.

I've occasionally given the idea thought over the years, but I've never had the time or inclination to actually try and run it. One of these days...

I was still thinking of using the Cleric class and the Elf class as Jedi/Sith respectively. Or a Sith could be a Magic-User if they wanted to be all force, no lightsaber, I guess. Or a Jedi Magic-User who follows the MU class but uses the Cleric spell list. But since in Star Wars fiction, the Force is not something that's limited to a few uses per day, I came up with this idea to repurpose the Turn Undead table.

In this variant (and it might be something interesting to try for a more high-powered, anime-esque D&D game too), a caster's Spells per Day are Force Powers that can be used automatically (but must still be prepared). The Jedi/Sith/Force Adept can attempt to use any Force Power up to a certain level at any time by making a Force Power check (using 2d6 on the Turn Undead chart). If the check succeeds, they can use the Force Power. If it fails, they can't attempt to use that particular Force Power again for the rest of the day.

On the Turn Undead chart, instead of lists of the undead monsters, we have the spell levels.

It would work like this. A first level Cleric can Turn Undead as such: Skeleton 7+, Zombie 9+, Ghoul 11+. They can't attempt to turn more powerful undead.

A first level Jedi Padawan trying to use a 1st Rank Force Power (1st level spell) would need to roll 7+ on 2d6 to use that power. They could attempt a 2nd Rank Force Power (2nd level spell) but need to roll 9+ on 2d6. And to attempt a 3rd Rank Force Power, they must roll 11+. The Padawan couldn't even attempt to use a 4th Rank or higher Power.

If we use BX/BECMI, that's all the Force that a beginning Padawan can use. If we use Labyrinth Lord or AD&D, they could prepare one Force Power per day (or more with high Wisdom) that they could use without needing to roll. But they have to prepare it in advance, while the rolling method lets them attempt any Power they like. 

Now, at second level, the Padawan can automatically use any 1st Rank Force Power, needs 7+ for a 2nd Rank Force Power, 9+ for a 3rd Rank Force Power, and 11+ for a 4th Rank Force Power.

Obviously we need a limiting factor on this to keep Force Users from becoming overpowered and using cure light wounds, magic missile, sleep, etc all day. And taking a cue from the d20 Star Wars game, using a non-prepared Force Power costs a number of hit points equal to its rank. So yes, your 1st level Padawan can attempt to use a Third Rank Power, but it will cost him 3 of his 6 hit points to do it.

I'd probably be generous and say a failure does not expend any hit points. That encourages attempts without further penalizing failure.

Also, since this does appear to significantly increase the power of casters despite the cost, I'd ignore giving bonuses to this system when the chart reaches D or D+ results. A pair of Jedi could keep each other going with cure light wounds for a long time with this system. And I'd put a limit that a Jedi could only cast a prepared CLW on themselves. Non-prepared use could only be done on others.

This does add quite a bit more complexity to the Force users in the game. But it seems like it would better emulate the source fiction.

And also, this allows a Jedi to be tempted to dabble with the Dark Side. Yes, a Jedi could use the Force to "Magic Missile" or "Fireball" while a Sith could dabble with the Light Side and use "Remove Poison" or "Striking." Consequences of that I would leave up to individual DMs.

I might also slightly rearrange the spell lists for Light-side/Dark-side Powers.

Oh, and I'd probably need to include a mage hand type spell since telekinesis is so high level.

No where near as "ready to play out of the box" as my original idea, but probably closer in feeling to the source material for Force users.

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