It's Like Duct Tape...
This post describes the Force in your games of Spycraft 2.0. As a living power that flows through all things, I have designed the Force Balance system with the intent of affecting ALL player characters. Force-users naturally are the most sensitive to the effects of Force Balance, as their ability to use Force Manipulation skill foci is entirely dependant upon their Balance Rating, but now even mundane characters gain substantial game benefits by trying to be good or bad (and all the subsequent penalties as well). Enjoy!
The Force is a power that encircles and encompasses all things, including the very nature of sentient beings, and every action one takes can lead them down the path of righteousness or damnation. Force-users in particular must remain conscious of their relationship with both paths, as it dictates the abilities available to them.
In game terms, a character’s progress down the light or dark paths of the Force is called his Force Balance. Force Balance is expressed as either Light or Dark, on a scale of 1-5. This is known as the character’s Balance Rating. A character’s Balance Rating grants a character a number of benefits, including bonuses to skill checks, DC and opposed checks to resist oppositely-aligned Force powers, and (for Force-users) access to certain Force Manipulation focuses (see Force Balance Benefits, below).
Force Balance Benefits
Though Jedi and other Force-users must remain the most sensitive and mindful of their Force Balance, characters of all types gain many benefits from these effects.
Skill Check Bonuses
Characters with a Light side rating may add their Balance Rating as a synergy bonus to all Impress, Networking, and Sense Motive checks. Characters with a Dark side rating may add their Balance Rating as a synergy bonus to all Bluff, Intimidate, and Manipulate checks.
Resist Force Manipulation
Further, the DC of all Force Manipulate checks with the Dark Side tag targeting a character with a Light side rating is increased by that character’s Balance Rating, and the DC of all Force Manipulate checks with the Light Side tag targeting a character with a Dark side rating is increased by that character’s Balance Rating. If a check has no set DC, the character may instead add his Balance Rating to any saving throws or opposed checks to resist oppositely-aligned Force Manipulation checks.
The starting disposition of standard NPCs towards characters is affected by their Balance Rating. Dispositions towards characters with a Light rating are increased by 1 grade for every 2 points of BR, while the disposition towards characters with a Dark rating are decreased by 1 grade for every 2 points of BR (see Table X.X: Force Balance Benefits, below)
.1: Force Balance Benefits
Check vs. Force Manipulation Starting Disposition
Light Impress, Networking, Sense Motive +BR vs. Drain, Fear, Lightning, Wound +1 per 2 BR
Dark Bluff, Intimidate, Manipulate +BR vs. Absorption, Courage, Heal, Invisibility -1 per 2 BR
Example: Alex’s character, Atrodos, has worked to develop on the Light path and has a Balance Rating of Light 2. Further, he gains a +2 synergy bonus to all Impress, Networking, and Sense Motive checks, and the DC of all Force Manipulation/Drain, Fear, Lightning, Slay, and Wound checks targeting him is increased by 2. Finally, the starting disposition of all standard NPCs towards him is increased by 1 grade (to a maximum of ally).
Force Manipulation Checks
Finally, a character may only make Force Manipulation checks with the Light or Dark Side tag if their current Balance Rating is equal to or greater than the rating noted on the check.
Example: Atrodos also possesses the focuses Force Manipulation/Courage (which has the Light Side 2+ tag) and Force Manipulation/Heal (which has the Light Side 3+ tag). Atrodos may make Force Manipulation/Courage checks without restriction, but may not make Force Manipulation/Heal checks until he increases his Balance Rating to Light 3 or higher.
Changing your Force Balance
The balance of the Force within individuals is a fickle thing, and rarely is a simple line from point A to B. A character’s path is determined by their actions, for good or ill, and stepping from the path is quite easy, making pure alignment to the Light or Dark Sides of the Force a rare situation.
There are a number of events that can trigger a change of a character’s Force Balance, including:
Conduct an appropriate act
The most common situation that may change a character’s Force Balance is an appropriately selfless or heinous act. Once per session, either the character’s player or the GC may spend an action die to raise or lower a character’s Balance Rating by 1. Only the player or the GC or the player may spend an action die in this fashion per event (though both the GC and the player may each do so once per session)
Tables X.2: Light Side Event Triggers and X.3: Dark Side Triggers each contain sample events or acts that would merit a change in the character’s Force Balance. Generally, a player or GC may only increase a character’s Balance Rating if the character commits an appropriate act, as listed in the tables. If a character’s Force Balance is either Light or Dark, and he conducts an act that appears on the opposite aligned table, the player or GC are free to spend an action die to lower the character’s Balance Rating instead.
Table X.2: Light Side Event Triggers
1 Risking one’s life to help an innocent; sparing the life of a helpless opponent; turning a bystander away from the Dark Side of the Force
2 Saving a person’s life; sparing the life of an opponent who poses a threat to you; turning an ally away from the Dark Side of the Force
3 Saving the lives of hundreds; turning a teammate away from the Dark Side of the Force
4 Saving the lives of thousands; turning a Force-user away from the Dark Side of the Force
5 Saving the lives of millions; turning millions away from the Dark Side of the Force
Table X.3: Dark Side Event Triggers
1 Deliberately attack an innocent; draw on the Dark Side; killing a helpless opponent; turning a bystander to the Dark Side of the Force
2 Murdering an innocent; turning an ally to the Dark Side of the Force
3 Murdering hundreds of innocents; turning an teammate to the Dark Side of the Force
4 Murdering thousands of innocents; turning a Force-user to the Dark Side of the Force
5 Destroying a planet or entire culture; murdering millions of innocents; turning millions to the Dark Side of the Force
Example: Atrodos is attempting to increase his Balance Rating of Light 2 to Light 3. During the course of the session, he breaks up a fight between a civilian and a gang of thugs, and helps turn a fallen Jedi from the Dark Side of the Force. Neither the GC nor Alex may spend an action die to increase Atrodos’ Balance Rating for helping stop the fight, because it only an act appropriate for a Light 1 rating. However, either GC or Alex may spend an action die to increase Atrodos’ Balance Rating for helping save the fallen Jedi (a Light 4 act). Alex spends the action die and Atrodos’ Balance Rating increases to Light 3.
Example: Later in the session, Atrodos (now with a Balance Rating of Light 3) reduces a bounty hunter to -1 Wounds, and in the heat of the moment performs a coup de grace, killing him (a Dark 1 act according to Table X.X: Dark Side Event Triggers). Alex does not want Atrodos’ Balance Rating to decrease and so does not spend an action die, but the GC decides this act is against Atrodos’ aspirations to remain on the path of Light, and spends an action die to lower his Balance Rating from Light 3 to Light 2.
Drawing upon the Dark Side
In times of desperation, a character may harness his fear, anger, and aggression and call upon the Dark Side of the Force. Though this is a tempting option for characters in need, it is also an assured road to the Dark Side.
Once per session as a free action, a character may request to draw upon the Dark Side. The character immediately receives a d12 action die. The character gains no XP for action dice gained in this manner. If these dice are not used by the end of the scene, they are lost.
Drawing on the Dark Side of the Force is a Dark 1 act which allows the GC to alter a character's Balance Rating appropriately without spending an action die.
Example: In the next session, Atrodos (whose Balance Rating is Light 2) is locked in mortal combat with an overwhelming number of Battle Droids, and has exhausted the last of his action dice. Fearing that he may die without assistance, Atrodos chooses to call on the Dark Side. The GC gives Alex a d12 action die which must be spent by the end of the scene. The GC sees his opportunity and lowers Atrodos’ Balance Rating from Light 2 to Light 1, without spending an action die.