Quick Hits–Obligation, Duty, and Morality for Episodic Games

I really think that Obligation, Duty, and Morality are great mechanics of the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPGs.  I think each one is very well suited to reinforcing they style of game that the subsystem is designed to underscore.  That said, I have seen a few people discuss how to deal with these mechanics in games where characters might drift in and out of a campaign, or where the overall campaign might be more episodic rather than serial.

I would hate to cut the flavor from the game by getting rid of these mechanics, so I thought of something that could be utilized to keep them relevant to the game in a more episodic manner.

If the adventure starts “fresh,” not as a continuation of a previous adventure, roll to see if anyone’s Obligation, Duty, or Morality would trigger.  If so, then utilized a modified version of the One-Check Combat Resolution roll on page 323 of Edge of the Empire.

Quick Episodic Obligation, Duty, and Morality Checks

  • Determine what exactly happens, based on what actually triggers.  For example, a character with a bounty on his head might run into a bounty hunter, a character with space superiority as their area of interest in the Rebellion may be on a fighter mission, and a character whose Mercy/Apathy triggers might need to decide whether or not to help someone being harassed by Imperials.
  • Lean towards making the scene action oriented.  Since the game is episodic, you need to be able to resolve this quickly, and injury is often a good “side effect” for failure.
  • Action doesn’t mean combat.  A thief might steal a cargo skiff and fly like crazy through a canyon to get back to his ship, which could still lead to injury and is action oriented, without being a fight.
  • Shoot for at least a Hard check, and ask the player how they want to resolve the situation and what skill they wish to use to resolve the situation.  
  • Failure in action oriented scenes can cause wounds, strain, or even criticals  (if you chose to upgrade the check).  In addition, a character that fails an Obligation related check might gain 5 Obligation  (or reduce their total by 5 if successful), a character that fails a Duty check fails to get any Duty, and if they succeed, they gain 5 Duty, and a character that fails a Morality related skill check gains a point of Conflict.
The scene framed happens a day or two before the adventure starts, if it make sense.  Any wounds or crits the character picked up carries over.  Essentially the character has an in media res scene that takes place before the actual adventure that only features them, which resolves quickly and carries over a bit into the main adventure.
Individual Tracking

If you are running a campaign where it’s going to be fairly likely that people wander in or out of the campaign, you may not want to assess the usual advantage for Duty characters adding their totals together, but keep their Duty totals separate.  As far as Obligation goes, assemble the Obligation chart per session, adding in the people that use that mechanic.  Morality is already a personally tracked item.

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