On Custom Content

Not too long ago, Tam wrote about not being entirely beholden to the rules as written, in the context of progression speed. He was speaking mostly from a GM perspective, but as a player, it’s not unreasonable to come to the same sort of conclusions. One of the time-honored ways of doing this is via conversion. As systems come and go, things are printed that for some reason or another, don’t make the new version. Sometimes there’s a good reason for this (See: D&D 4e’s Warlord), but other times they’re just left behind (5e doesn’t have an Eberron book yet, so it doesn’t have rules for Shifters, Changelings, or Warforged, even though Warforged were in one of the playtests). If these things really interest you, it’s reasonable to make changes that make sense for whatever system you’re playing in, and run it by your GM to see if the result is reasonable. (Note: this is not a standing excuse to min-max a thing you don’t like. Expect your GM to recognize it if you make it such, and react appropriately.)

On Custom Content
Related: Since Cathar are supposed to be rarer in the Old Republic era than other times, why is it that that’s the only era that has them in the games?

…which brings me to the actual topic of this post. A while back, we were in a Star Wars campaign based on the Saga Edition ruleset. We’re looking into playing in a new campaign based on the new Fantasy Flight rules, and I want to play a character similar to (but not identical to) the one I played previously. The first problem there is that I played a Cathar, and Cathar have not yet been printed for the new edition. (If I were a betting man, I’d bet that they’ll be in the Force and Destiny sourcebook focusing on the Seeker class, when that gets printed.) But given a base to work from (the Saga Edition Cathar), and given how races are structured, I think I can come up with a reasonable approximation.

The Easy Stuff

  • Races in FF Star Wars have 6 stats, which do not correspond cleanly to the familiar d20 stats: Brawn is a sort of mix between CON and STR, and CHA is split out into Cunning and Presence. Humans have 2 in each stat, but most other races have a stat at 3 and a stat at 1, with the rest staying at 2. Saga Edition Cathar had racial bonuses of +2 DEX, -2 INT, which corresponds neatly to starting Agility and Intelligence values of 3 and 1, respectively
  • Cathar in Saga Edition also get climb and stealth as automatic career skills, but skills are (usually) handled a bit differently now. Skill bonuses are granted as a free rank, and usually only in one skill. Some races get a choice of skills, and I think that approach fits here. This would mean Cathar get a free rank in Athletics or Stealth, but still cannot train either above rank 2 during character creation.
  • It’s possible to represent the Natural Weapon: Claws as a +1 damage on Brawl attacks, with a critical rating of 3. This is taken directly from Trandoshans.

The Hard Stuff

From there things get a bit complicated. Most races in SWRPG stop at 2 bonuses, and get 100 starting XP, a Strain Threshold of 10 + Willpower, and a Wound threshold of 10 + Brawn. These numbers appear to be used mostly as a balancing mechanism for other things that the race got. Humans didn’t get much else, so they get 110 starting XP. Hutts have extra stats and threshold values, so they get 70 starting XP. A Cathar with the above abilities, and the baseline XP, strain, and wound values is fine, but it does leave out the more interesting aspects of Cathar in Saga Edition.

Saga Edition had action economy that strongly resembles D&D 4e, with Move, Swift, and Standard actions. Cathar had the ability to make a claw attack as a swift action when targeting an enemy with a melee attack once per encounter. SWRPG doesn’t really represent the concept of 1/encounter well, and also doesn’t really treat its actions the same way. Instead, it breaks things up into “Actions” and “Maneuvers”, where Maneuvers are mostly “things that don’t require rolls”. There are two ways I could see representing this. The one that most resembles the old rule would be to allow Cathar to make a claw attack as a maneuver once per session, during a turn in which they target an enemy with a melee attack. That’s a bit clunky, so it might be better to let them treat their claws as having the “Linked 2” property once/session. This is potentially stronger, but also forces you to make the initial attack with the claws, when you may be carrying something better. (If you’re a force user, possibly something significantly better.)
On Custom Content
Cathar also had a base movement rate of 8 squares, which was nearly unique to them. Humans and most other humanoid races had a base speed of 6 squares, and this difference was a large part of my race choice back then. My character’s ability to be almost anywhere on the battlefield in a single turn eventually became character-defining. Thanks to FF Star Wars using a more abstract movement system, there are limited ways to represent that. One option is allowing Cathar to move between medium/long or long/extreme ranges in a single maneuver, but that actually seems quite strong for a racial ability. A more reasonable alternative might be to grant them the Swift talent for free, which also has some precedent in other racial abilities.

Generally speaking, these are interesting ideas, but they’re beyond the scope of what most races have to offer in FF Star Wars. The only salvagable part from this session is getting Swift for free, and that should probably have a cost. With the Swift talent for free, more appropriate starting stats are probably 90 XP, Wound Threshold 9 + Brawn, Strain Threshold 11 + Willpower. Most races with a starting XP penalty pay for it somehow, and the talent and an extra point of strain seems like a fair tradeoff.

To Recap

Brawn Agility Intellect Cunning Willpower Presence
2 3 1 2 2 2
  • Wound Threshold: 9 + Brawn
  • Strain Threshold: 11 + Willpower
  • Starting Experience: 90 XP
  • Special Abilities: Cathar begin the game with one rank in either Athletics or Stealth. They still may not train Athletics or Stealth above fank 2 during Character Creation. They also begin with the Swift talent.
  • Claws: When a Cathar makes Brawl checks to deal damage to an opponent, he or she deals +1 Damage and has a Critical Rating of 3.

This hasn’t actually been approved yet, but we’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll play a human and it won’t matter anyway.

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