Saturday, November 8, 2014

Another Look at Duty

Apparently details about the accrual rate of Duty during play were left out of the Age of Rebellion core rulebook. A big mistake in proof reading, I guess. This link goes to the FFG forums, where you can find another link to a podcast interview with one of the developers. In that podcast are a few tidbits about Duty.

The Problem

Suffice it to say, according to the FFG developer interviewed in that podcast, players can earn 1-10 duty points per major accomplishment on behalf of the Alliance. I would suggest that the completion of an adventure story arc would qualify. My goal here is to figure out how Duty and XP are related.

If we assume a standard Star Wars adventure is supplied in three acts, wherein each act is composed of 2-3 major encounters and a handful of minor ones, we would guess that each adventure would net the PCs something like 35 XP. (10 XP per session/act, +5XP for completion of a story arc). This same completed adventure would yield between 1-10 Duty points. I guess we'll say 5, as we should save the "10" for blowing up the Death Star. The rate of assigning Duty is up to the GM.

This becomes a real problem if we assume that Duty is 7 times more rare than XP (i.e. giving only 5 Duty points per completed Story Arc that yields 35 XP for the PCs).

To simply become trusted members of the Rebel Alliance, AOR CRB Table 9-3 says you should have a Contribution rating of 2+. A fresh party of 4 PCs would have to have accrued 40 Duty each to get to this point. In our example, they'd have to have gained 280 XP; that is, they'd have to have completed 8 full adventures for the Alliance before they are even looked at as not suspicious. Even worse, adding 280 XP to a starting character in this way still only makes them a "Sergeant to Warrant Officer" rank in the Alliance Military. Adding 280 XP to a starting character would make for a very powerful yet low ranking PC, indeed!

Think about the stat block for a PC trying to be Admiral Ackbar, for instance. If he gained his "Contribution Rank" of 14+ in this way, he would have accrued at least 340 Duty points, meaning his character would likely have earned 2380 XP. Unbelievable!

Taking a look at the Commander: Commodore specialization, a great choice for our Ackbar wannabe, you can max out the full talent tree for a mere 300 XP, and get the maximum 5 ranks in all 8 career skills for only 600 XP more. Accounting for the something like 100 XP already spent during character creation, the maxed out character still has 1580 XP to spend somewhere else. That's more than enough to max out another career's talent tree and skills!

Let's be generous and say the GM grants the full 10 Duty points per completed story arc. This only cuts the problem illustrated above in half. It's much better, of course, but still not ideal.

The Pattern from Table 9-3

New Recruits (2 spots, Contribution rank = 0-1)
Tested Soldiers (3 spots, rank 2-4)
Veteran Soldiers (4 spots, rank 5-8)
Top Brass (5 spots, rank 9-13)
Alliance High Command (rank 14+)

The last entry simply lists a Contribution rank of "14+". We could assume that the pattern would continue, however, and the highest table entry would have 6 spots, and therefore a rank range of 14-19.

Using this logic, we can take a Contribution rank of 19 as the absolute maximum and see where the argument takes us.

Fixing this Mess

Let's assume that if a PC ever did max out their talent tree and career skill ranks, they'd be the highest ranking individual of that type in the entire Alliance. They'd be the most qualified, anyway! Furthermore, I do not assume that any heroic character from the Rebel Alliance High Command has actually maxed out their talent tree and career skills.

That suggests that ~900 XP = Contribution rank of 19.

As a group of PCs, you only get to a Contribution rank of 19 by accruing 100 Duty points 18 times, plus (100 - starting party Duty) once. Regardless individual choices at character creation, this is something like 1800-1860 total Duty points.

A group of 4 PCs would have to earn 450-465 Duty points each to get there, suggesting 2 XP = 1 Duty.

A group of 6 PCs would have to earn 300-310 Duty points each, suggesting 3 XP = 1 Duty.

Using this method, a party of four raw recruits to the Rebel Alliance become trusted collaborators after they complete two-and-a-half missions or so. They require 40 Duty points each to make it to Contribution rank 2, and each Duty point is worth 2 XP. Thus 80 XP, divided by 35 XP per completed story arc = 2.3 full adventures.

A party of four PCs could be eligible for placement within Alliance High Command (Contribution 14+) after gaining 1300 total Duty points (325 each); something like 650 XP, or 18.5 complete adventures, or 56 gaming sessions: more than a year of playing weekly.

That might be a bit fast for some, I guess, but to me it seems better than the rules as written.

Starting at Higher Levels of Contribution Rank

This is where I really wanted to end up. I want to figure out how much extra XP to give PCs who start out as trusted members of the Rebel Alliance.

For instance, I do not envision that any SpecForce team members have a Contribution rating lower than 2. That doesn't make sense to me. Each of them would be a highly trained, highly skilled, and highly trusted individual.

The weird thing is this depends a bit on party size.

Group of 2 PCs @ Contribution rank 2 = give each PC an extra 80 XP

Group of 3 PCs @ Contribution rank 2 = give each PC an extra 77.5 XP

Group of 4 PCs @ Contribution rank 2 = give each PC an extra 80 XP

Group of 5 PCs @ Contribution rank 2 = give each PC an extra 75 XP

Group of 6+ PCs @ Contribution rank 2 = give each PC an extra 84 XP

I would likely go out on a limb and say just 80 XP extra for newly created PCs that are already "trusted members of the Rebel Alliance".

The Rest

If you'd like to make a high ranking starting character, here are the rest of the CR vs Bonus XP values. BTW, if I were a betting man, I'd guess this whole game is mathematically balanced for 4 PCs.

New Recruits/Untested Collaborators
CR 0 = + 0 XP (Enlisted personnel)
CR 1 = +30 XP

Tested Soldiers/Trusted Collaborators
CR 2 = +80 XP (SpecForce minimum)
CR 3 = +130 XP (Flight Cadet, i.e. rookie starfighter pilot)
CR 4 = +180 XP (Junior Officers and most starfighter pilots)

Veteran Soldier/Important Collaborator
CR 5 = +230 XP
CR 6 = +280 XP (Starfighter Squadron Leader)
CR 7 = +330 XP
CR 8 = +380 XP (Senior Officers)

Top Brass/Vital Collaborator
CR 9 = +430 XP
CR10 = +480 XP
CR 11 = +530 XP (Flag Officers)
CR 12 = +580 XP
CR 13 = +630 XP

Member of Alliance High Command
CR 14 = +680 XP (Top rank in a given service branch)
CR 15 = +730 XP (theoretical only)
CR 16 = +780 XP (theoretical only)
CR 17 = +830 XP (theoretical only)
CR 18 = +880 XP (theoretical only)
CR 19 = +930 XP (theoretical only)

One more note: the chart above only applies to PC heroes who quickly earn their stripes (literally) through actions above and beyond the call of duty (no pun intended). I think there is a slower, non-XP related method for NPCs to rise in rank in the service to the Rebel Alliance without accruing all sorts of awesome life skills (like Talents, Skill Ranks, etc). I do not think that all NPC Junior Officers in the Alliance Naval branch have earned (and spent on their stats) an extra 180 XP, for instance. Some of them have been in the military for a long time, and have slowly risen up the chain of command. This chart is only for PCs, like Luke Skywalker, whose meteoric rise through the ranks was fueled by heroic action.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Share them in the comments section, below!


  1. I have been thinking about this for a couple of days since first posting it, and I must say I like how the idea of starting some PCs at higher rank, Contribution, and XP seems to hang together under scrutiny.

    Keep in mind, as mentioned above, that this is only appropriate for PCs: true heroes who "break the rules" and rise up the ranks very quickly, solely due to their outstanding service and disproportionately large impact in aiding the Rebel cause.

    Another thing to consider is that, using the OT movies as reference, the Alliance does seem to be a strong meritocracy. Very rapidly (but after a few epic endeavors) a no-name smuggler becomes a General and a farm boy becomes a Commander. If you can deliver the goods, so to speak, the Alliance will recognize you.

    Along another line of thought, the FFG Star Wars game system already makes a huge distinction between PCs and NPCs, namely in the form of Minions, Rivals, and Nemeses. These non-player options aren't very much like PCs in terms of skills, talents, and whatnot. Having NPCs and PCs be quite different in terms of XP/Duty/Contribution seems just fine, too.

    Namely, a very high ranking NPC may have nowhere near the XP that a similarly ranked PC has acquired. This should be fine, as, pound-for-pound, so to speak, the PCs should be better than their peers. The are stand-outs. Notables. HEROES!

  2. One last note: now I will work on stats for the Troupe style PC groups, using this scheme. Some of the Dramatis Personae will be relegated to "notable NPC" status (Rivals or Nemeses, like the base commander and probably the Black Squadron leader), some of them will be full-fledged PCs, and some of them will be "stock footage NPCs" (i.e. Minions, meant to join the fight en masse, and potentially take orders from the PCs).