What Do I Know About Houserules? Age of Rebellion, Duty, and Contribution Ranks
I’ve been thinking about tailoring Age of Rebellion a bit more to cultivate the kind of experiences that I like to see, both in Star Wars and based on the other FFG Star Wars games. I’ve got a few thoughts on that which I’m still hammering out.
Modifications—Determine Duty (Age of Rebellion page 46)
Characters still pick their Duty as determined in this section of the book. Default starting Duty now becomes individual contributions to group Distinction. Characters can still lower their contributed Distinction to gain XP or Credits.
There are more details below, but Duty now figures into the amount of Distinction gained for successful missions and triggering Duty grants a boon to a current mission that matches the description of the Duty being triggered.
Contribution ranks still work as detailed in the core rulebook. The “Duty as a Threshold” section on page 49 works the same if utilized.
Duty and Distinction
Rebel operatives each pick a Duty at character creation. Whenever a mission is completed that advances that Duty, the party earns extra distinction.
Distinction is the level of success that the local Rebel operatives have had in their fight against the Empire. Whenever the threshold of 100 Distinction is reached, characters might receive more gear and advance in rank.
However, at each threshold of 100 Distinction, the local Rebel cell also generates an Imperial Entanglement. The Rebels have been so successful that the Empire has noticed their plans and how they operate, and the cell must now take drastic action if they want to survive.
This usually takes the form of fleeing from one base of operations to find another, losing a commanding officer, or losing a flight of fighters or a valuable capital ship.
Once the Imperial Entanglement triggers, PCs cannot earn more Distinction until they have survived the Imperial assault, have a secure base of operations, and can reestablish communication with Alliance High Command (or potentially just with local allies, especially in games that take place before the formal creation of the Alliance).
After all of this has happened, Distinction resets to 0, the PCs may select their reward, and a brief period passes as the Rebels rebuild and learn how to best capitalize on the successes that they have earned that brought the wrath of the Empire down on them.
- 5 points per PC Rebel operative that completes a mission
- 5 additional points per PC whose Duty was utilized during the mission
- 5 additional points if the mission was dramatically more successful than anticipated
Once per session, if a character’s duty comes into play, they may attempt to trigger their duty. Doing this is accepting a risk. If they roll above the party’s Distinction, they gain local aid for the mission.
If they roll below their Distinction, there is an immediate Imperial Entanglement, but this Entanglement is less dramatic than when the Distinction Threshold is reached. A stormtrooper patrol may recognize them, their informant may be an undercover ISB agent, or the spaceport may put a gravity lock on their starship that must be disabled before they can leave.
In either case, the party distinction is lowered by 5 points. The Rebel cell may be making fewer bold moves without local help, but they are also venting the pressure valve of Imperial attention before it can build up to an even greater explosion.
What is a Mission
Not every action that Rebel operatives take are considered a mission. If you go to the market to buy some fruit, and end up stealing a TIE Fighter, that’s not a formal mission. On the other hand, determining that a politician must escape a certain planet, stealing an experimental fighter, or destroying a communication depot, after the group has decided that this is a worthwhile objective, would all count as missions.
To count as a mission, the following must happen:
- The GM presents the group with a mission from Alliance personnel, or the group and the GM determines that they want to complete a specific objective that would hinder the Empire or further the goals of the Alliance.
- A clear objective must be set for the mission to determine if the mission is successful (i.e. is the mission a success if the experimental fighter is stolen and delivered or is it a success if the prototype is only destroyed).
- The GM may set certain conditions that remove points of distinction. There should not be more than three of these conditions set per mission. If characters do not address those conditions, they still gain Distinction from completing the mission, if they complete the objective, but you subtract five points for each condition that wasn’t addressed.
An example of this in play might look like this—
The Rebel PCs have determined that destroying an Imperial garrison in the city would be a major blow to the presence of the Empire. The objective is set that once the structure of the garrison has been destroyed, the objective has been completed.
The GM then determines that there are two conditions to this mission:
- The garrison commander should be captured
- The local homes and businesses should not be permanently harmed
During the mission, the GM determines that the explosion that destroyed the garrison’s generator has damaged the foundations of a local apartment building, and lets the PCs know about this complication.
Additionally, blast doors start closing and the PCs see the garrison commander running down a hallway towards a hanger full of TIE Strikers.
If the PC engineer determines that there are automatic emergency structural supports that didn’t trigger, and that they can fix them, should they do so, they have addressed the complication. If the PCs allow the garrison commander and his pilot to take off in his TIE Striker, they have not addressed this complication, and the overall amount of Distinction awarded for the mission is reduced by 5.
If PCs decide to abandon a mission, or the GM determines that the objective cannot be completed, the mission is considered to have failed. On a failed mission, if the PCs have any complications they have not addressed, they still take penalties, so it is possible to end a mission by losing Distinction, up to -15 points.
If the current Distinction is less than the amount that was lost (for example, if distinction is 10, and abandoning the mission incurs a -15 penalty), the group receives a Reprimand. For every three Reprimands on record, the group loses one contribution rank. If the group loses a contribution rank when their contribution rank is already a 0, the group is considered too much of a liability to continue as part of the Rebel Alliance.