The GM Awakens: Letting the Narrative Dice Drive the Narrative – Vehicles

Image by StarWars.com

This series follows the trials, tribulations, successes, and failures of a fairly inexperienced GM who has recently picked up the hobby after a long time away. It aims to assist new GM’s by examining what worked, didn’t work, and what failed miserably as he spins up new campaigns, modules, encounters, and adventures for his friends and family in Fantasy Flight Games’ Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion/Force and Destiny system.

Several weeks back I published a column that discussed, within the Star Wars RPG, how to use the narrative dice system and the specific dice used in a check to determine the why behind the narrative.  It’s a technique that’s discussed in the core rule books as well as one that’s encouraged by the game’s developers.  The technique is to allow the specific types of dice that symbols appear on to add narrative flair and reason to the results of your skill checks.  It’s a technique I don’t use nearly often enough and one I need to explore more often at my tables.  That is, the idea of letting which dice have which symbols on them allow you to direct the story.  So it’s not just if you got Advantage or Threat, but which dice they were on.

The first one was very well received so I thought it best to run through a bunch of examples of this technique, but direct it towards the highly narrative aspect of space and vehicle combat.  Not only is it always a good idea to practice this technique, but with the highly abstract and narrative form of scenarios that deal with vehicles in this game, it becomes even more important.

So let’s look at a couple of situations that could take place with space and ground vehicles, and how you might choose to let the narrative dice really sing when revealing the results of different checks.

Scenario #1

The PC’s are in a squadron of four X-Wings that are chasing an Imperial Shuttle with two TIE Fighter escorts.  They must stop them before they make it to a Star Destroyer which is at extreme range.  There are asteroids in the area.  One of the PCs fires at the Shuttle while his teammates try and engage the TIEs.

Successes on the Ability Dice: Your piloting ability and natural ability line up an easy shot as you come in from behind.  You fire right at the engines, striking a direct hit.

Successes on the Proficiency Dice: Between you and the shuttle, suddenly, an asteroid flies between.  Your training kicks in and you bank the X-Wing to the left, firing a shot just as the asteroid passes, scoring a direct hit.

Successes on a Boost Die: As your wingmen distract the TIEs, one of them causes the shuttle to veer to the right, lining up your shot.  You fire and strike the shuttle causing a minor explosion within the engine.

Advantages on the Ability Dice: Your natural agility gets you the perfect shot as you stay right on the shuttle’s tail.  As long as your friends keep the TIEs busy, you’ll have no trouble on your next shot either (boost die).

Advantages on the Proficiency Dice: The asteroid flying into your way isn’t enough for you to miss.  You make an awesome move, pitch the X-Wing up in a spin to keep right on the shuttle, anticipating that it will bank left.  It does, and your next shot is already lined up (boost die).

Advantages on the Boost Dice: Your wingmen occupying the TIEs for the Imperial fighters to nearly strike the shuttle.  The shuttle must veer to avoid a collision, but flies right into your crosshairs.  Your next shot should be easier (boost die).

Failures on the Difficulty Dice: As you attempt to line up your shot, you simply don’t have a good line to the shuttle.  As the targeting computer tries to lock on, it’s simply too far at too odd an angle.

Failures on the Challenge Dice: You zoom through the asteroid field trying to line up your shot.  But at the speed you’re going, and with the amount of items between, the targeting computer just can’t lock on.

Failures on the Setback Dice: Just before you fire, just as the targeting computer locks on, a large asteroid passes in front, taking the brunt of your laser blasts.

Threat on the Difficulty Dice: Because of where the shuttle is, to get a shot, you must bank left.  As you do, the shuttle banks the other way, putting an asteroid between you and the shuttle, making your next shot more difficult (setback die).

Threat on the Challenge Dice: You fire at the shuttle while the throttle is floored.  You must weave in and out of some asteroids to get the shot off, and they begin to close in around you (setback die).

Threat on the Setback Dice: The asteroids around you as you fire are simply too dense.  In fact, while firing at the shuttle, several more keep shooting between you and the shuttle.  As you line up to shoot again, you’ll have to get creative (setback die).

Image by RPGNet.

Scenario #2

The PC’s are being chased through the streets of a bustling city.  The PC’s are on speeder bikes, chased by a police 2-seat speeder, after the group helped steal plans to a casino for a heist.  One PC hits the brakes and steers in the way of the police a bit to distract the cruiser as the other PC tries a difficult Piloting (Planetary) check to veer down an alley to lose the cops.  The streets are crowded, and navigating at high speeds is dangerous.

Successes on the Ability Dice:  The streets are fairly wide and luckily there is a break in any pedestrian traffic.  You pull the controls to the right and easily head down the alley.

Successes on the Proficiency Dice:  People are everywhere and maneuvering the speeder is hard.  But your piloting skill allows you to slip between several people and make your way down the alley.

Successes on a Boost Die:  Your teammates drop back and not only block the incoming pursuers, but also all traffic allowing a break as you pull right and head down the alley with no problem.

Advantages on the Ability Dice:  As the pedestrian traffic opens up, giving you a lane in the wide alley, you notice a straight shot in front of you with little obstacles.  Your next maneuver in the alley should be an easier one (boost die).

Advantages on the Proficiency Dice:  You’re about the only one who could have just made that turn dodging a group of children crossing in front of you.  As you do, your training gets you the only opening and one that’s open for at least one more round (boost die).

Advantages on the Boost Dice:  As your teammates block the pursuers, they almost cause them to completely stop.  As you attempt to pull away, you’ll be more able to extend the distance between you (boost die).

Failures on the Difficulty Dice:  The streets are just too narrow.  You try to pull into the alley just as a huge group of shoppers crosses your path.  You can’t pull into the alley without perhaps killing people, and you are forced to continue forward.

Failures on the Challenge Dice:  The alley is easily wide enough to make the turn, but at the speed you’re going, you can’t pull it off.  You sail past the turn leaving it behind you.

Failures on the Setback Dice:  Your speed and the alley’s width are perfect, but there are simply too many people.  As you prepare to make the turn you have way too many people around you, and as taking them out is not an option, you are forced to continue on your present course.

Threat on the Difficulty Dice:  You go to make the turn and realize that the narrow alley is a bit too narrow.  Your tail end of the speeder nicks the side and jostles the speeder, making your next action more difficult (setback die).

Threat on the Challenge Dice:  You pull the controls to the right but your speed is just too much.  You turn as the back of the speeder fishtails and makes it hard to keep control.  Your next action will need to be to keep control of the speeder.

Threat on the Setback Dice:  You turn into the alley and see more of the same… too many people.  As you head down your new route you have the same problem and will need to steer around several pedestrians (setback die).

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Scott Alden

Scott Alden

Scott is a full-time IT Manager living in Lawrence, KS. (Rock Chalk, Jayhawk! Just outside Kansas City for those who don't know.) Scott is a veteran of several role playing, table top miniatures, video, and board games, starting with the Atari 2600 when he was 6, and the classic red box Dungeons and Dragons game when he was 12. After a long hiatus away from the hobby, Scott has recently picked up gaming once again, and is running two different campaigns in Fantasy Flight Games' Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion/Force and Destiny lines. He is an avid X-Wing miniatures player, as well as Armada, Imperial Assault, Space Hulk, and Rebellion. (His family is obviously a Star Wars family, right?) Scott is married to his high school sweetheart, and has 2 children in middle school, both Black Belts in Krav Maga martial arts.
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