The 2-1B Is In is an occasional segment focusing on various aspects of healing and medicine in Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG.
One of my favorite classes or archetypes in just about any system is a medic or healer, whether magical, Force, or scientific. So of course, I loved the Consular classes, with their Healing focus in the various D20 SWRPGs. A Jedi Healer (JH), Dantris Solomani, was one of the first NPCs I created for my own short-lived campaign in the Original/Revised Core Rulebook (OCR/RCR) heyday. And my first attempt at SWRPG mechanics, aside from character stats, was a homebrew RCR JH prestige class before the official one was published in Power of the Jedi. It is high time, then, that I take a look at FFG SW mechanics for JH* PCs. Today I focus on specializations for them. (I will cover the Heal/Harm Force power in Part 2.)
First off, before I jump into the specs, one of the notable differences between how FFG’s SWRPG and the older SWRPGs approach the Light and Dark sides, is that in those systems, mechanics were often used to discourage PCs from the Dark Side, and nowhere was this more true than in the case of JHs. One of the prerequisites of the JH Prestige Class and all the healing-related Force feats (Power of the Jedi for Revised Core rules) was “< 1 Dark Side Point,” or you couldn’t use the class abilities or the feats. Saga Edition had similar balances. This isn’t true of Force & Destiny, however. A PC’s Morality score doesn’t affect their ability to use the talents in their specs, although there are some mechanical effects for very high or low scores.
The Healer spec is the one everyone thinks of for this type of character. To be honest, however, I don’t find it as appealing as I thought I would. Mainly, it’s the three instances of Healing Trance. Changing the time needed to regain Wounds from 1 day to 1 encounter during the beta helped somewhat, but I still feel it is a suboptimal talent, since it ties up Force dice that could be better utilized in an encounter and there are faster ways of recovering more Wounds such as stimpacks. I wish one of the Healing Trances had been replaced with a second Grit.
If you feel the same way, it is possible to “go around” at least one of the three, however, but it will cost you. The 10 point is the easiest to skip, but is the only route to Toughened and Rapid Recovery 2. The 15 point will not block you from other talents but will mean it takes more time and XP to reach Dedication.
That said, this is otherwise a pretty good spec. I do really like the Physician talent first introduced here. Strain can add up quickly in this system and Strain healing is rarer than Wound healing, so even 2 points (with the maximum Physician 2) is pretty valuable. Physician and Surgeon talents not only increase the potency of the Medicine skill, they can be narratively described as either traditional, scientific medical techniques or using the Force to heal. If your game is set in the default post-Revenge of the Sith to Rebellion era (or some The Force Awakens scenarios), it is much wiser to disguise any type of Force healing as medical treatment. This is how Dantris, linked above, evaded the Empire, with a little help from Influence.
Higher tier talents, including those unique to Healer, seem decent, if situational. Knowledgeable Healing, however, is only useful if you invest ranks in Xenology. Calming Aura & Improved Calming Aura are useful if your GM often uses Force-sensitive villains. They only remove 1 Force pip, and there is no opportunity to gain more ranks, so far. But one pip is enough to keep an upgrade from being activated, which is often just enough to save you or an ally from most or all of a Force power’s effects.
While the Healer fluff in F&D focuses on the more pacifistic/defensive healers, you don’t have to play that way. Power of the Jedi described a type of Healer that wouldn’t hesitate to take up a lightsaber, and not just to defend others, but actively fight evildoers, viewing this as a kind of “surgery” to cure ills (figurative and literal) at their sources. While you can certainly do this with a Healer spec build, perhaps going into Niman Disciple, the Protector spec may be closer to your concept.
In some ways, Protector is analogous to the Soldier/Medic in AoR, although the latter lacks combat talents. Protector features medical talents–two ranks of Stimpack Specialization and one of Physician–alongside Toughened, Grit, and a number of combat talents. Several of the combat talents protect allies, namely Circle of Shelter, Bodyguard, and Improved Bodyguard; others aid the healer only, such as Center of Being and Force Protection. Heightened Awareness, while not a must-have, is a decent talent, providing allies Boost on Perception checks.
Most of the combat-oriented talents I think are must-haves. No one passes up Reflect or Parry, and adding Circle of Shelter allows you to use those to aid engaged allies. This is even better if you take another spec, like Guardian/Soresu Defender, where you can gain additional ranks of Reflect and Parry. Almost all of these talents take few of a PC’s resources. Circle, Reflect and Parry can significantly drop the damage taken for only a few Strain, while Bodyguard only costs a maneuver and Strain. Center of Being may be the biggest bargain of the lot, upgrading attacks against you for just a maneuver.
The lone exception is Force Protection. I, and many other players, in my experience, don’t think much of it. Each rank ups Soak by 1, for the price of both 1 Strain and a committed Force die, which is high, considering the other talents above don’t require committing any Force dice and give you much bigger benefits. Force Protection only saves you 0 (net) Strain or 1 Wound per rank. Fortunately, you can skip either or both of the Force Protection ranks without being blocked from another talent.
When you are ready to move into another spec, which one should you pick? As always, it depends on how you see your PC developing. Here’s a few ideas. Sage might be a good fit for more scholarly PCs, or Face PCs. This spec also offers 2 ranks of Force Rating, which means you can have up to FR 4 (if you also buy the rank in Healer) relatively inexpensively.
A Protector who finds herself taking on a leadership role may benefit from Peacekeeper talents. For a more martial Healer, the lightsaber tree for your career (Niman Disciple or Soresu Defender) is an obvious second spec. If your GM is amenable, Force Exile (EotE) and Force Emergent (AoR) are possibilities. Now that we have a bunch of Force specs, most of us forget these Universal specs, but both have a number of utility talents such as Indistinguishable or Sleight of Mind, as well as the ever-popular Dedication and Force Rating.
*For convenience, I am using Jedi Healer (JH) to mean any Force-user, regardless of whether or not they are Jedi, or consider themselves to be.