K is for Knowledge v2.0

tumblr_m3yvv2Pt1q1ruk47co1_500Previously on Triumph & Despair, I had taken a stab at an aspect of the Star Wars Edge of the Empire rules that I found a bit lacking. Namely, the overall utility of the knowledge skills. I wanted to elevate them, give more reasons to consider spending the XP on Knowledge (Underworld) and not on something a little more crude and obvious, such as the combat skills. I think I succeeded there, and am happy with what I did. However, as both my face-to-face and play-by-plus campaigns begin to really gear up, I find that I’ve created a mountain out of a molehill and have something a little too cumbersome and unwieldy to really use properly. So, back to the drawing board!

“It’s alright, I know a guy.”

Knowledge skills are a vital tool at the disposal of the Crew, an invaluable part of their livelihood and one that cannot be ignored. All too often, knowledge skills are used exclusively to recall bits of information in an encyclopedic fashion. While this is very useful during a tense heist when the Crew cannot access computerized databanks, it falls far short of the true potential of this set of skills; core worlds, outer rim, and underworld. These skills form the foundation of how a Crew sniffs out successful heists and discards the duds. How a Crew is able to avoid a trap, and how they are able to maximize their profits. These three knowledge skills are used at the end of every session in a sandbox style campaign to seed the upcoming heists to be used during the next gaming session.

Knowledge (Lore) will be elevated and expounded upon in a future Edge of the Empire Alphabet article, A is for Artifacts.

In a sandbox-style campaign, each heist begins and is finished in the span of exactly one session. In the hands of a skilled Galaxy Master, the Edge of the Empire ruleset enables a quick-paced style of play that can explore an entire contained, complete adventure in one session with no trouble. When we take this idea and merge it with the easy-to-use Edge of the Empire Alphabet random tables, we can create a system that promotes real choices for the players in terms of story, while at the same time making the Galaxy Master’s job easier with the combination of random and player-driven impetus that goes to form the next heist.

At the end of each heist, Galaxy Masters can spend about 5 minutes to make some quick rolls and determine the setup for the next session’s heist using the following steps:

  1. Each participating player makes a Hard (ddd) Knowledge check; their choice of either core world, outer rim, or underworld.
  2. A successful check allows that character to track down an old acquaintance, a rumor, word on the streets, or some other means of finding a new lead for a job. An unsuccessful check nets nothing. If no one in the Crew can find a heist, the Galaxy Master will assign a heist of his own devising with two Unforeseen Consequences and with the lowest monetary reward possible; 3,000 credits base fee.
  3. Players whom have discovered a heist on their own must then roll 2d10 twice to determine the heists Action and Client, as set forth in H is for Heists.
  4. A successfully discovered heist with any Advantage has multiple angles and an additional piece of Inside Information. A successfully discovered heist with any Threat is a trap, perhaps the result of some sort of betrayal, and has an additional Unforseen Complication.
  5. A successfully discovered heist with Triumph has one Unforeseen Consequence become known in advance. However, a discovered heist with Despair indicates that the Crew has made their presence a little too well known, has alerted the local authorities to their disreputable dealings, and immediately bestows one Crew Member with 5 Obligation.
  6. The clients offering heists can have a range of monetary reward to offer. One of the biggest advantages to having multiple heists available is the ability to pick and choose the most lucrative of leads. For each discovered heist, roll a Force Die. On a result of two Dark Points, the heist offers a base reward or 3,000 credits. On one Dark Point the base reward is 3,500; on one Light Point the reward is 4,500 credits, and on two Light Points the reward jumps up to a sizeable 5,000 credits. Each of these rewards can be modified by the Negotiation skill, using rules as written.
  7. A smuggling or delivery heist done with a Ghtroc 720 freighter earns a bonus 500 credits base reward due to its increased cargo capacity. Likewise, the Firespray System Patrol Craft earns 500 credits less on such heists due to its limited cargo capacity.
  8. A heist found via Knowledge (Core Worlds) must be located in a star system in the core worlds, and likewise for Knowledge (Outer Rim). A heists discovered via the Knowledge (Underworld) skill can be located anywhere in the galaxy. The star system location can then be located on the Galaxy Map via random dice rolls.
  9. Lastly, the Crew decide on which lead to follow up on, jump to hyperspace, and play that heist during the next gaming session. During the time between, the Galaxy Master fills out the remaining details of the heist, including if any Crew will advance in their D is for Destiny.

About C. Steven Ross

C. Steven Ross is the founder of Triumph & Despair. View all posts by C. Steven Ross

9 responses to “K is for Knowledge v2.0

  • mdl780

    I like the idea of tying those skills to the potential of future rewards. As you mentioned, it gives you a reason to want to invest in those skills. I think the mechanics you have built here would also work with looking for work ‘on-line’ via a computers check.

    The Crew could also try to negotiate a better (or potentially worse) price with a Negotiate check. Although they always have the option of walking away or taking a different job instead.

  • ozymandeus

    How would you end up with a despair on a hard (ddd) check, unless the GM is spending destiny points to increase difficulty? I could see my players balking at that usage of destiny points in that manner. Otherwise I very much like this idea.

    • C. Steven Ross

      If the Crew doesnt take the job, the next check is upgraded.

      • ozymandeus

        So if you had 4 PCs would you have them all perform a check, determine the results for their search, and then have them choose between the maximum 4 possible Heists or do you have each player make a check, determine the Heist, and then have the group make a decision before they move onto the next search?

        Your comment leads me to believe that it is the latter as the searches for a Heist become more difficult, but then that eliminates the possibility of players choosing between multiple Heists.

        Could you elaborate a bit more on how you’ve used this system? I’m going to be starting an EotE campaign based heavily on your work, and I’m trying to understand it so I can present it to my players.

        BTW, Thank you so much for all the work you’ve done and shared with the community! This is the most excited I’ve been about GMing a game and a great deal of it is due to the amazing GMing Alphabet you’ve created and examples given for a truly sandbox style campaign.

      • C. Steven Ross

        Yeah, glad you like my work and I hope it helps your campaign! As always, I’m dying to hear stories of how this stuff works for other people’s campaigns. I have only my one to judge them by.

        So, my campaign ran like this:

        1). In between games, generate some quick descriptions of random heists.

        2). Start the heist with a Negotiation scene to determine pay and side benefits. The basic contract to DO the job has already been agreed upon.

        3). Do the heist.

        4). Jump to lightspeed. During downtime (aka the last 10 minutes of the session), every player makes the K is for Knowledge check and D is for Destiny roll. Destiny always happenes, no matter what heist is chosen. Each success on a K is for Knowledge roll opens up a possible heist, described from the GM’s list (from Step 1). One such heist is chosen from among everyone. If no one gets a success, the GM just picks one and the pay is crappy. Heists that are not chosen lapse and are no longer available.

  • D G

    Hey GM Ross, I know it was a while ago you posted this but I’m just finding it now.

    Question #1
    I’m still confused about when a check would be upgraded…
    1) Jump to lightspeed at end of session. Crew is looking for a job so they have to roll K for Knowledge and D for Destiny.
    Now what?
    2. A) Crew all roll at the same time, and pick from amongst their jobs. If they select a job, but balk at the Unforeseen Complications and bail out, or something along those lines, then the next check is upgraded because of their rep for ditching jobs.
    B) Crew roll one at a time. Crew member 1 gets a success, crew discusses job and ultimately declines, crew member 2 gets an upgraded roll.
    C) Crew all roll at the same time or individually, but in the end they reject all Heists. GM chooses a crappy Heist, they all get an upgraded knowledge check next time for being so picky.
    D) Crew all roll at the same time or individually, but in the end they reject all Heists.GM rolls his eyes and has them roll again, except this time the check is upgraded because their contacts are annoyed at how picky they are.

    I kinda like A) and C) the most but I’m curious what you did. I find a perverse joy in upgrading difficulty dice so that’s why I’m dying to know.

    Question #2
    I’m also curious about them “knowing” the results of their rolls.

    Say it’s option A) and they get two jobs, one with three threat and a despair, the other with two Triumphs. So are they supposed to pretend they don’t know they rolled Despairs or Triumphs to avoid meta-gaming? Or do they “know” that there will be additional Unforeseen Complications and that taking this job will increase their Obligation (even if they don’t know the exact consequences, they can look at the Threat / Despair and know trouble is coming).

    This would be represented narratively as being offered the job from an incompetent or shady contact, and so they could guess or intuit that this will be a difficult job. After all, they might take it anyway because they rolled really well for the pay?

    • C. Steven Ross

      Hello!

      Yes, our group played as you described Option A. Though I suppose any of those would work out fine. I also would always upgrade the check, if possible, since there was little strategically for me to lose at the end of a session by blowing a Destiny Point. Kind of a dick move? Yes, but it made things more interesting.

      I’m a big fan of transparency and acting on player knowledge, so we always played the dice as-is with the players knowing what the results of each job was. Narratively, you can justify it with your crew of smugglers knowing that something fishy was up with heists showing a lot of Threat.
      Often, this would result in low paying heists with high Threat (dismissed quickly); and a hard choice between high paying jobs with high Threat versus low paying heists with low Threat. Occasionally, high reward low risk heists would come by and those were interesting only in that they were a different kind of pace and mood to the next session.

  • A.G.

    I just started my first Edge of the Empire campaign and this site has been invaluable. I’m using your rules for finding heists with a slight modifications. My campaign is set after the battle of Endor, and I intend to have a number of different factions the crew can support. As such, I am introducing the idea of Contacts. If the players choose to call on one of their Contacts when searching for a job, they get a boost die for the check (or possibly two if they have done a lot of good work for that contact). If the search is successful, then the heist is on behalf of that Contact or his/her faction. Only one Contact can be invoked per search, and if the check is successful, that Contact can’t be used again until the end of the next heist. I was thinking the crew could maintain a maximum number of Contacts equal to their total presence score. I was also toying with the idea of letting the players add a parameter to their search in exchange for increasing the difficulty of the check. For example, they could say they want to search specifically for a “bank heist,” and if the check is successful, it will be a bank heist. While that does provide even more control to the players, it may require coming up with additional heist ideas ahead of time. Anyway, thanks for all the brilliant material on this site, it’s really helped me get my sandbox campaign going.

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