Leadership

When reading the Age of Rebellion Beta, it became immediately obvious to me that the little-used Edge of the Empire skill Leadership was intended to be a focus point and oft-used mechanic in this new campaign setting. Many Careers and Specializations offer Leadership as a Career skill, and many different talents offer added Boost and removed Setback to the skill. I find, however, that the basic skill descriptions offer too little in the way of guidance on how to actually use this skill in a meaningful way at the game table. That is to say, there have been no examples shown that provide a satisfying call for a Leadership check. I want something to really sink my teeth into, something that makes spending XP on Leadership an enticing but still difficult choice. The author(s) of the canned adventure for Age of Rebellion, called Operation: Shell Game, seem to recognize this issue by including a handful of called-out Leadership checks. However, their example shows Leadership as a social interaction skill akin to the Charm skill, but limited to impressing military personnel, ranking officers, etc. This has left me wanting, and only now has a satisfying alternate House Rule came to me.

Leadership is a skill used to command a squadron of subordinates to do your bidding. Squadrons are small groups of soldiers, workers, and advisers that operate under the direct command of their commanding officers, the Agents. Galaxy Masters should capitalize on the abstract nature of the FFG Star Wars system and not worry about the exhaustive details in a typical stat block, movement, conditions, etc. and simply treat a squadron as simplistic as possible. Likewise, the Galaxy Master should impose limits to squadrons based on the narrative description of the scene; upgrading and applying Setback judiciously to account for a group of low-level underlings following the Agents around. Squadrons should, however, have a name and other distinguishing details to enmesh the controlling player into the narrative. Squadrons cannot be purchased in civilized society, but are similar to equipment in that they can be assigned as a Reward for fulfilling Duty, and thus have a Rarity consummate with their type. An Agent can only command a single squadron at a time.

Squadrons are similar to Minions, but have no actions of their own. They, as a single group entity, have Wound Threshold 10, Soak 2, and are trained in 3 skills. When the Galaxy Master calls for an Agent to make a skill check, that Agent can instead choose to make a Leadership check with the difficulty upgraded if the Agent is commanding a squadron trained in that skill.

When using Leadership of a squadron to replace a combat check, Galaxy Masters should use the guidelines below or simply adjust the values to something you deem appropriate.

Brawl (equivalent to shock gloves) – Engaged Range; damage 3+, Crit 5, Stun 3
Gunnery – dependent on starship
Melee (equivalent to vibroknife) – Engaged Range; damage 4+, Crit 2, Pierce 2, Vicious 1
Ranged, heavy (equivalent to slugthrower rifle) – Medium Range; damage 7+, Crit 5
Ranged, light (equivalent to light blaster pistol) – Medium Range; damage 5+, Crit 4, Stun setting

The following is a list of suggested squadrons, their trained skills, and Rarity. This is nowhere near an exhaustive list, and any 3 skills can be used to form a squadron; players are encouraged to create their own, unique combinations of 3 skills to describe the type of squadron their Agent is commanding. None of this has ever been playtested in any fashion, this is simply a brilliant brainstorm on my part, so I would greatly appreciate any feedback or notes from actual play with this House Rule.

SQUADRONS

Thugs (Rarity 3): Brawl, Coercion, Ranged (light)
Pirates (Rarity 4): Cool, Melee, Ranged (light)
Alliance Soldiers (Rarity 5): Discipline, Ranged (light), Vigilance
Stormtroopers (Rarity 5): Athletics, Discipline, Ranged (heavy)
Seatroopers (Rarity 6): Coordination, Discipline, Ranged (heavy)
Sandtroopers/Snowtroopers (Rarity 6): Discipline, Ranged (heavy), Survival
Scout Troopers (Rarity 6): Discipline, Ranged (light), Vigilance
Starfighter Pilots (Rarity 6): Gunnery, Piloting (planet), Piloting (space)
Vehicle Corps (Rarity 6): Gunnery, Mechanics, Piloting (planet)
Engineers (Rarity 6): Computers, Knowledge (education), Mechanics
Medical Staff (Rarity 7): Knowledge (education, xenology), Medicine
Naval Officers (Rarity 7): Astrogation, Gunnery, Piloting (space)
Science Advisers (Rarity 7): Knowledge (education, lore, xenology)
Military Advisers (Rarity 8): Discipline, Gunnery, Knowledge (warfare)
Hyperspace Advisers (Rarity 8): Astrogation, Knowledge (core worlds, outer rim)

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About C. Steven Ross

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

6 responses to “Leadership

  • GMLovlie

    Questions: If the squad has a skill, the difficulty is upgraded? Is that intentional?

    Can squads perform action they do not have a skill for?

    I assume the difficulty, at least for combat checks, would be the normal ones.

    • C. Steven Ross

      When commanding a squadron, the difficulty is upgraded and the skill used is Leadership. So, for example, commanding a squad of thugs to pummel your enemy with Brawl would be one Difficulty and one Challenge die. If the difficulty didn’t get upgraded, it would ALWAYS be worthwhile to drop every point of XP into Leadership; eliminating the choice of what to invest in.

      Squads can perform other basic skill checks, within reason and GM hand waving, and typically roll 2 Ability dice for untrained skills.

  • GM Ragnar Black

    This doesn’t sound bad, but can be very tricky in more players (time consuming, characters without the squadron may be bored if there is nothing for them to do.) and the second thing is that this would take the game from RPG to Strategy game.

    I had idea of my own when I read this article, it is very narrative and easy fro bigger groups. I as GM would call for Leadership test when PC will give orders to soldiers during the war. Just one or serial of tests.

    Example. Great Bothan strategic leader is trying to attack imperial space station just till some time to steel some valuable blue prints. He have few squadrons at his disposal. In this time, there is no need to show how they are good (GM may always improvise on this ) Rather one Leadership test (difficulty set as per situation)

    First check to guide squadrons through the defences of the station, second to help navigate boarding party, last to escape to hyperdrive.

    In each check for Threath the PC would lost some of his men or starship.

    On despair something goes terribly wrong.

    On triumph time cost is lowered and for future checks may be added some Boost dices or Proficiency upgrade.

    This is just the scratch, but it keeps RPG game on the trail and show the strategic decisions of the leader(s).

    That is just my point of view. As whenever some rules like this are added to the system, it becomes quite hardy to balance and character with presence (used for Leardership tests) hardly have also big Brawl and Agility to be useful in combat.

    This is just my opinion. Keep up with playing and thoughts like that, it moves all forward.

  • GMLovlie

    Right. Of course. I like this idea.

    However, since squads are not minions and do not have actions of their own (I take this to mean that they have no Action nor Manoeuvres, free or otherwise), can they at all act without a Leadership check from their commander (i.e. PC)?

    I figure that this limitation only really comes into play during structured play (i.e. combat).

    • GM Ragnar Black

      Heh yes I got that, I didn’t read the Age of Rebellion rules so I just came up with this from experience from EoE and Warhammer FRP 3rd edition.

      As I really hate as GM this micro management as it might quite easy turn out to be something else than RPG. As the GM have to do same to be balanced (It may be really fun with three or two PC, but trust me not with five). So I really prefer to came up with outcomes to tell rather to play.

      But for some big battles aka Battle for Hoth it might be interesting to lead some group to the heat of battle. Let the universe to be changed forever.

      I had similar difficulties when my party in WHFRP lead an army as generals, I wanted to do a side quest ambush encounter (just few Northern wastes marauders – solvable by ambush from just PC), but they take a small army with them and I have to come up with some rules for that, to save the session.

      Fact is that it really depends on players, but I am afraid that this might goes wrong way, as they will sent commando to this or that instead of be interested in personally.

      Let me know when you try to run some sessions with that. I am quite curious.

    • GM Ragnar Black

      can they at all act without a Leadership check from their commander (i.e. PC)?

      In this I would use common sense, they might be some test for their morale.

      If passed – they will act normal or as they should
      if failed – they will just dig in, or fortify in place.

      I am usually using for this simple luck test, roll one boost die and every sign no matter which one is passed, Or you may do some kind of test for strongest char vs situation difficulty.

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