Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Revised Force Powers List

Welp. I finally broke down and delved into this. I have spoken previously about how I feel the Star Wars Force system has needed a revamp. It was always my intention to do this as part of my rules compendium—but the magnitude of the task has always put me off. I think that a part of it is my overall dislike of 'magic' systems. This goes back to my experiences as a GM and a player. Spells always seemed to slow things down in a game. It seemed (and probably unrightly so) that there was always some rules discrepancy or grey area and the 'spell' in question would have to be looked up and interpreted. As a player, I especially felt the sting of this, as all action would grind to a halt for my (non magic) character while people tried to make some sense out of the power that a spell-user was trying to sling.

But the Force is the central theme to Star Wars, and I actually LOVE the idea of it. It has just been the mechanics that bothered me. Well, hopefully I'm narrowing in on a more functional system now—and one that doesn't seem so much like 'magic'. The CENTRAL rule that I went by in developing this new list of Force Powers is that it should really be based upon something we've seen in the movies. Barring that, it should have a more 'realistic' feel to it—mainly based upon real-world monkish traditions (or at least the 'fabled powers' of these traditions). I feel this is appropriate because the Jedi in particular were billed as this kind of an order.

So, without further ado, I'll list what I'm going to include in my revised system, along with a brief description and (where applicable) an example of where this power was used in the movies (or other 'official' media related to the movies). I have organized the powers into six main categories, we'll start with:


Combat Focus, Brawl
This lets the Force user enhance their unarmed combat abilities with the Force. It works something like Lightsaber combat, only the Force user can't block blaster bolts. They CAN block Melee weapons or thrown weapons though (and perhaps even arrows). This power was demonstrated in the Clone Wars 2D animated series, where Master Windu takes on a group of Battle Droids in hand to hand combat—delivering devastating blows with his fists.

Combat Focus, Lightsaber
This is what we see in the movies. Force-enhanced abilities with the saber, including the ability to block and even reflect blaster bolts.

Combat Focus, Melee
This allows a Force user to fight more effectively with a non-lightsaber melee weapon. It essentially uses the same rules as lightsaber combat—with the exception of blocking and reflecting ranged attacks. It may be possible to block a blaster bolt with your walking stick, but odds are, that stick is going to be destroyed in the process. Likewise, you can't reflect an incoming shot with this power. This isn't shown anywhere in the movies or supporting material (to my knowledge), but it does seem to make sense.

Combat Focus, Vehicle
This is alluded to several times in the movies. That the Force helps a Jedi's reactions while piloting. Most notably, Qui-Gon comments on it in regard to Anakin's ability to drive his pod racer in Episode I. In game terms, this gives a Force user a bonus to his driving, cycling or piloting skill when using a 'personal' vehicle (i.e. one designed to be operated by a single person, like a starfighter or pod-racer).

Energy Absorption/Redirection
A Force user's ability to absorb harmful energy directed at them. In the movies, we see Yoda do this with a blast of Force Lighting (from Dooku, I believe). We also see Vader do this when Han shoots at him on Bespin. I have added the further wrinkle that the user may be able to redirect the energy—either to be able to bounce it back at his attacker or to hit some other target (though I have made this pretty difficult)

Force Lighting
This is damaging energy in the form of blue-black lightning. The Emperor used this a LOT. So did Dooku. This one is pretty much unchanged. I AM sticking to the fact that this is a purely dark side power, though. Even if it is used for 'mundane' things, like shorting out a droid or computer, it still represents 'corrupting' Force energy to purely destructive purposes.

Force of Will
Though we never actually SEE this in the movies, I'm sure it is there. It just represents a Force user attempting to resist hostile Force powers being used against them. I'm betting Luke was TRYING to do this when he confronted the Emperor...only it didn't work so well.

Telekinetic Kill
Vader used this a lot to crush people's throats. But the game system offered a lot of other gruesome uses for this as well—squeezing the heart, stirring the brain, snapping the spine, etc.. I see this as a 'flourish' move. It is a LOT more difficult than if you just hit someone with a blast of TK and slammed them against the wall. It is a dark side maneuver designed to inspire horror and fear, not to kill 'efficiently'.


Accelerate Healing
Not shown specifically, though it is perhaps the reason Luke was able to heal so quickly from the ass-kickings he got during the Empire Strikes Back. It is VERY important to note that this does NOT miraculously seal wounds or mend bones, it just helps the body's natural systems work faster. Can be used on others.

Control Disease
Again, not shown in the movies, but it makes sense. Helps focus the bodies natural immune system. Can be used on others (though again we never see this explicitly in the movies).

Control Pain
Though never explicit, I'm pretty sure we saw this power used a lot in the movies. Luke lost a hand and kept on going. Anakin lost three limbs and did likewise. Ouch. Can be used on others (though we never see this explicitly in the movies)

Detoxify Poison
Not a miracle cure again, just helping the body deal with and/or expel poisons. Not shown in the movies. Can be used on others.

Remain Conscious
See control pain above. Anakin, minus three limbs and on fire, was still freaking conscious. Double ouch.

Remove Fatigue
Not shown in the movies, but it makes sense—just helping the body get rid of self-made chemicals that cause aches and pains and maybe even a bit of drawing on Force energy to 'recharge your batteries'. Can be used on others (though we never see this explicitly in the movies)

Return Another to Consciousness
Used by Ben on Luke in Episode IV. Simple enough.

Transfer Force
Not shown in the movies, this power allows a Jedi to give his own life energy to stabilize a mortally wounded person, placing them in a hibernation-like state. I have added the extra wrinkle that using this power actually injures the person using it.


Affect Mind
"These are not the droids you are looking for". One of the 'signature' Force powers. Can't do without it. I did, however, throw out the whole section from the game about being able to use this power to generate visual/audio illusions. That just seemed too 'magicky' to me.

Control Mind
We never really see this in the movies, but it seems like a natural (if evil) extension of the Affect Mind power. With it, you can basically control other people like a puppet. It is very difficult to do, however, making it useful only to pretty high level guys.

Empathy, Animal
We see this in Episode II, where Anakin manages to calm and ride the dangerous Reek in the Geonosian Arena. Basically allows simple communication with animals.

Empathy, Plant
Never see this in the movies, but it makes sense. I imagine it would be more abstract than Animal Empathy, since Plants are of a more 'alien' form to most humanoids. I do NOT see this as being able to get plants to do more than they are capable of. They don't 'entangle' foes, or uproot themselves to swing their limbs or anything like that—not unless they are capable of doing such things naturally.

Enhanced Coordination
This is my revised power (one I've spoken about before). It represents a low-level telepathic link between a (usually small) group of people—allowing them to act in a more coordinated and instinctive level. No, it doesn't give them bonuses to skills or anything like that.

Inflict Pain
This is a mental attack, stimulating the pain centers of the brain. We don't see this in the movies, but again it seems to make sense. Like Telekinetic Kill, it is more of a 'flourish' power. It would be easier to harm an opponent with a lightsaber or a blast of tk energy. This is more insidious, causing agony without any physical damage. Scary.

Memory Enhancement
Allows a Force user to 'rewind' their memories and replay them to examine details they may have overlooked. Cool and plausible power, but not shown in the movies. In retrospect, it is almost like the thing in Harry Potter, where Dumbledore is able to travel back into his own memories to replay the events.

Memory Wipe
Not shown in the movies, but plausible. Allows a user to erase someone's memories—in part or in whole. I see this as mostly a dark side power, though there may be some 'good' uses of it (on a case by case basis).

Mind Cloud
This is a revamping of the 'Dim Other's Senses' power. The example from the movies is a bit iffy, but works enough for me to include this power—when old Ben is crouching his way through the death star, miraculously, nobody seems to notice him. Now, you could chalk this all up to a Stealth skill (and indeed, he WAS sneaking), but I think there may have been some force powers at play here, too. How I see this working is as a kind of low-level 'Affect Mind'—basically just telling folks around not to pay attention to the user. To prevent abuse by players, I added the fact that the user must be actively attempting to avoid notice and pass by—thus, it can NOT be used to sneak up on someone and throttle them. Unlike 'Dim Other's Senses', it functions as an area-effect kind of 'aura'. With the old version of the power, you could conceivably have to use it on EVERY person you are trying to sneak past. Even high level folks would, therefore, be thwarted by 4 or 5 normal people. Also? The new name of the power hearkens back to the old 'Shadow' radio dramas! The ability to cloud men's minds! (only, well, it's a lot less potent than that).

Project Aura
Though never stated explicitly in the movies, I think this power was probably represented. A good example would be Vader's arrival at the second death Star, walking down the ramp like a badass, scaring the crap out of everyone as he exuded fear. Like Mind cloud, I see this is a low-level telepathic affect that conveys a simple emotion—such as Fear or Peace. It isn't really all that 'useful' from a gamist perspective, though I could maybe see it giving a small bonus to Intimidation or other social skills (depending on the aura exuded).

Telepathy, Projective
The ability to speak to others using your mind. We see this in Empire Strikes Back, when Luke Contacts Leia. Strangely enough, we don't see it much after that. In my own campaign, this is one of the most commonly used powers. And I don't see why it shouldn't be!

Telepathy, Receptive
The ability to read another's emotions and surface thoughts—or perhaps even delve further into memories. Not shown in the movies, but makes sense. Another very commonly used power in my own campaign.


Body Control, Breathing
We see this in Episode I, where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan old their breath to thwart the poison gas. Simply allows a user to hold their breath for a long time. This is one of those 'monk inspired' powers.

Body Control, Contortion
Not seen in the movies, but monk inspired. The ability to contort the body in physically possible ways to escape bonds or fit through areas (by dislocating joints, etc.)

Body Control, Hibernation
Formerly 'Hibernation Trance', this is another monk-inspired power not seen in the movies. Allows a user to slow down their metabolism to use less air/water/food–and to perhaps fake being dead for a little while.

Body Control, Temperature
Not seen in the movies. Monk inspired. Allows a user to resist extremes of heat or cold by slowing or speeding up his metabolism

Force Leap
Seen many times in the movies. This is simply a telekinetically enhanced leap.

Force Lift
Not shown in the movies, but makes sense. This is essentially using telekinesis to enhance strength in regard to lifting heavy items. As with leap, this power lasts for only one 'effort'—so you can't simply keep the power active and be 'super strong'. It also requires some time to use—thus making it primarily useful in non-combat situations.

Force Sprint
Shown in Episode I, when Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan run awaaaaay from the Destroyer Droids. I..don't quite see the power looking like it did in the movie. The User doesn't actually increase the speed of their muscles or anything, rather, they just use telekinesis to elongate their stride and give them extra forward momentum—thus each 'stride' takes them further than a normal one would.

Force Swim
Not shown in the movies, but kind of alluded to in the 2D Clone Wars cartoons when Kit Fisto the Jedi is shown swooshing around in the underwater battle of Mon Calamari. Essentialy, it is just telekinesis helping to push the swimmer along at a faster pace through the water.


Danger Sense
"I have a bad feeling about this". Okay, so all the characters say this at one time or another, but who's to say that when the Jedi say it, they're a bit more certain of it. In Episode I, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan seem to have this power when they sense the imminent attack of the Trade Federation droids as they are waiting to negotiate. Basically, it allows a Force user a chance to sense danger before it happens—things his normal sense might not pick up.

Direction Sense
Not shown in the movies, per se—though perhaps you could say this is what Qui-Gon was talking about in Episode I when he told Jar-jar that the 'Force would show them the way' through the deep oceans. I don't see it as anything as 'mystical' as that, but perhaps it is just a natural attunement to a planet's (or perhaps ship's) gravitational field, thus you always know which way is 'north', etc.

Anakin used this (though only in his dreams) to see his mother and Padme both dying. Yoda used this to try and see into the future—as did the Emperor when he planned the whole Endor battle as a trap. You'll note that NONE of the above were particularly helpful, and often just confused the issue. This makes Farseeing a great GM tool to be as vague as possible. I nixed the whole part about being able to use the power like a clairvoyant, however. I can KIND of see where they might get that from (Luke in ESB 'sees his friends in trouble'—but is he seeing the present? or the future?), but I don't like the idea of Jedi being able to use the power to just peek into the next room. We do NOT see them doing that in the movies—rather, it is used as a kind of vague precognition power.

Instinctive Astrogation
This one is a little iffy if you ask me, but not iffy enough to warrant exclusion. In the movies, Luke sets course for Dagobah (during ESB) and seems to do so while on 'manual control'. I see this as kind of an extension of the 'Direction Sense' power, but on a cosmic rather than planetary scale. Thus, a Jedi can 'feel their way' to a destination through hyperspace, without the use of a nav computer.

Life Sense
Can't really point to anything in the movies that represents this power—unless you consider the whole 'energy field generated by living creatures' speech that Ben gave in Episode IV. But the power makes sense—the user can 'sense' living creatures around himself (perhaps using the power to tell if any large, dangerous critters are in the area, etc.).

Magnify Senses
We don't really see this power used in the movies either, but I see it in kind of the same light as a lot of the 'physical' powers—using the force to enhance natural abilities. In this case, I'm thinking it would lend itself more to overall perception (a bonus to search and observation skills) rather than the more 'fantastic' 'microscopic vision' or 'dog-like hearing range'.

Merge Senses
We never see this in the movies—unless you count the Beastmaster! Because that's kind of what this power is—being able to see through the eyes of an animal. It works for me as a kind of telepathic link akin to (but more difficult than) Animal Empathy. I could EVEN see this working on another Sentient, but it would be even more difficult to pull off.

A useful little power that allows a Force user to read the psychic impressions left on objects—being able to 'see' what was going on around them (or how they were used) in their past. I am a stickler with this power in that most mundane objects and larger 'areas' can NOT be read like this—only those items that have a very personal connection to a particular character. Otherwise, folks could just walk into a crime scene, grab a nearby rock, and replay the entire thing. Weak. We don't see this in the movies, but I like it anyway.

Sense Being
This is the power that used to be called 'Life Sense'. Why was it renamed? Because Life Sense and Life Detection sounded way too similar for my liking—always got them confused. Sense Being allows a user to search for a particular person he knows and 'check in on them'—see how they're feeling, if they're in trouble and even what general direction and distance they are. In the movies, I'm pretty sure we see Leia using this power on Endor, when the Death Star blows up, Han comments that Luke probably got out just fine and Leia responds "I know he did". Maybe Luke contacted her via Telepathy, or maybe it was this power. Meh. Close enough for me—especially since this power mainly only works on friends. It is a lot more difficult to use it to check in on enemies, especially ones with strong willpower.

Sense Force
One of the most commonly seen powers in the movies. I'd point to just about any time someone said that 'such and such was powerful with the Force' or 'sense a disturbance in the force', etc.. This simply allows a user to feel disturbances in the Force—to sense when something feels 'good' or 'bad' or to get a gauge of how powerful something is in terms of Force energy.

Sense Surroundings
This is shown in the movies when Luke is first training with the remote. Ben gives him a helmet with the blast shield down. Luke is still able to react to the remote, even without being able to see it. To me, this essentially allows a Jedi to function in conditions where his normal senses are impaired (i.e. he is blindfolded, etc.). Of course, the range of this power would be more limited than sight, but... its still quite useful.

Weather Sense
Okay, so maybe it is a bit of a 'throw away' power, and you don't really ever see it used in the movies, but I can see this as a power that is useful, but in no way overpowering. It represents a Jedi being able to sense the various factors of a planetary atmosphere and get a 'feeling' for what the Weather is going to do in the near future.


This whole category is essentially just various uses of the same power. In my rules I am listing out a lot of 'common maneuvers' folks can do with Telekinesis—pushing someone, grabbing a weapon, lifting an item, etc., etc.. We first see this power when Luke uses it to retrieve his lightsaber in the Wampa cave on Hoth. We see it again when Vader throws a bunch of crap at Luke during their fight, and when Vader snatches Han's blaster from his hand on Bespin. There are numerous other examples throughout the prequels. This is one of the cornerstone Force powers. There are a few particular variations of it that may warrant an individual powers (Telekinetic kill is one such power, listed elsewhere). Another is...

Force Wave
This is essentially an area attack use of Telekinesis, whereby a Jedi uses it to generate a 'shockwave' in air (gas), water or solids (earth). We don't really see this in the movies, though there are examples in the 2D animated series (Kit Fisto loosing a concussive ball of water, for instance). I like the concept of it, however—allowing a Force user to create a powerful gust of wind to throw back enemies or a wave of water to crash over them or a shockwave racing through loose earth or rocks to knock people down. It seems to fit.

There are two more Telekinesis related powers that are a lot more iffy, but I am including them just because they are intriguing. These are Cryokinesis and Pyrokinesis. The former involves slowing down atomic motion, thus cooling matter. The latter involves accelerating atomic motion, thus heating matter. No, you can't shoot ice or flames, but you can freeze things or cause them to burn—given time. Since neither of these are shown in the movies, though, I hesitate to include them as 'standard' powers, since they could very well change the whole feel of Force powers in general.


All of the above powers (minus Cryo- and Pyrokinesis) are going to be 'standard' in my rules set. But they aren't going to be the only powers out there. Beyond these, I intend to have two more categories—Legendary Powers and Individual Powers.

Legendary Powers
These are often 'bad' things used by major villains. They would include such things as 'Force Storms' or the ability to Drain Life or even transfer your life into another person's body (all of these from the Dark Empire series).

They would also include things like the 'Battle Meditation' power—the ability to affect the outcome of huge battles by simultaneously inspiring your own troops and getting the enemy to turn on itself. The 'Sever Force' ability (showcased in Knights of the Old Republic II) would also fit into this category—the power to strip someone of their connection to the Force.

The Force Spirit power is another legendary power–the ability to transcend death and linger as a spirit, able to give advice, etc.

As you can see, most of these things are beyond the scope of a typical gaming campaign, but they're nice to have around for story or dramatic reasons.

Individual Powers
This is something I have only recently been tinkering with—to allow powers that are specific to an individual Jedi or species. Examples of this would include:

From the Clone Wars 2D cartoon, we see an Ithorian (hammerhead) capable of generating a sonic blast. I took this to be a force enhanced thing linked to the race's powerful vocal abilities.

From my own campaign, I allowed our Tusken Shaman the ability to generate a Sandstorm—essentially using telekinesis to whip up particulates into a cloud that can obscure vision, cause distractions, etc.

Other things like this would be possible and could add a lot of flavor to the game, as long as the GM didn't allow anything /too/ powerful.

So anyway, this is where I'm at. It was a long road to get here and I still have work ahead in detailing this stuff, but I am feeling a lot better about the powers now than I was earlier this year.

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