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One of the weird quirks I've seen with the good ol' Star Wars d6 system is that Lightsaber is a Dexterity skill. This means that anybody can pick one up and use it reasonably well, even if they aren't force-sensitive. This has always seemed wrong to me; lightsabers ought to be intrinsically linked with a Jedi or Sith.

It also means that in some cases, non-force sensitives can use a lightsaber better than force sensitives! For instance, the Failed Jedi template has only 2D+2 in Dexteriy while the Outlaw has 4D. Unless the Failed Jedi drops some skills in Lightsaber, he's better off giving his weapon to the Outlaw!

I also looked through the rules and discovered that there is nothing that says a non-force sensitive can't use the lightaber. The fluff description of a lightsaber says it's dangerous in the hands of those untrained, but nothing backs it up. Jedi can use a lightsaber more effectively if they buy the Lightsaber Combat power, but it doesn't seem like that would be that much better until they get leveled up.

One houserule I've used is making Lightsaber its own skill on the same level of Control, Sense, and Alter. Are there any other good solutions to solve this problem of non-force sensitives using lightsabers?

EDIT: Part of this ire comes from a serial con game where one of the players (bringing their own character) was a non-force sensitive with a lightsaber, but my character was too new a Jedi to have one. I felt it violated the genre conventions simply because there were no mechanical rules preventing it.

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4 Answers 4

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I didn't think about it in these terms back when I was playing the game in the early 90s, but now it comes to me as coming down to players choosing to embrace or ignore the conventions of the genre.

Limiting the discussion to what is seen in the films, we see Luke quite able to fool with his light sabre the instant it is handed to him, and we see Han able to use one to slice open a Tauntaun on Hoth. The actual use of the weapon is one of manual dexterity. Its use will be somewhat mundane, however, as the user will not be able to do the cool tricks they have seen in the movies.

To use one like a Jedi uses one (prediction, telekinetic throwing, blocking blaster bolts, etc) requires the ability to use the Force.

With these assumptions in place it is hard to say that a character cannot just pick up a light sabre and go. However, in the groups I played the game with, no one did this who was not a Jedi.

Being in Tune with the Living Force (Trust your genre, Luke)

The reason was simply that we felt it was a weapon tied to the Jedi. We felt they were not available on the open market, and we preferred to use weapons we could get better use of. In other words having my Outlaw and the other non-Jedi characters wander around with light sabres did not fit the genre. Sure it was possible, it just wasn't something that was done.

If this is enough of a problem for you that you want to create house rules to prevent it, I would recommend speaking to the players about that directly, and citing how it is not really in the spirit of the franchise. Just because a thing can be done, does not mean it will be done. This is a part of the roleplaying aspect of the game.

Not for sale at any price (Made by hand, custom orders only)

Going beyond what is explicit in the films (although it is referred to by the Emperor), we agreed with the idea that a Jedi makes their own light sabre. Unless they were to lose one in combat, have it stolen, or be defeated and the weapon taken, there was simply no way for one to come into someone else's hands. If this idea is a part of your saga, then it really reduces the likelihood of non-Jedi having them at any point.

This is just a reduction, as if a player wants one badly enough they will go out of their way to nuke the first Jedi or Sith they come across.

Everyone gets cut (Hokey religions and ancient weapons)

If you are not above a little realism in your Star Wars, then the concept familiar to blade students everywhere that 'everyone gets cut' can help limit the field of potential light sabre users to just those who have the courage and the dexterity to do it with a reasonable chance of success.

This also is a means to reduce their use, through fear of personal injury. Although the rules do not support a lot of detail in the death and dismemberment department, this roleplaying aid can greatly enhance the mystique of light sabres and make playing a Jedi worth the hassle.

Guilt by Association (Isn't that a Jedi weapon?)

As the weapon itself is an iconic representation of the Jedi Order, who are outlawed and under an execution order (death by Vader) by the Galactic Empire, drawing attention to oneself through the use of such a weapon can be a great hook to get the story moving into high gear with detention cells, torture, escapes, chases, and other Star Warsian fun~

Consequences for action are nice as they put choice in the hands of the player. Rather than getting into a "I don't want you to do that" situation if that would be a problem in your group, you can limit the use of light sabres simply by making them logically, and socially problematic to use. Luke was willing to draw attention, live away from society, and fight the Empire head on. Plus, he was a Jedi. Are you?

When diplomacy fails (Shut up, Goldenrod)

As with any discord at the table where interests, enjoyments, intentions, and the like come into conflict communication is always the first step in resolving it. The suggestions above are intended to be used in conjunction with establishing what the genre of the saga is, which aspects of Star Wars the whole group wants to explore and which aspects they do not, how much realism there should be in terms of consequence (Luke lost a hand, Ben died, Lando got kissed by that lippy pilot, Chewie never got any pants, every custodian in both death stars was atomized, Jabba was strangled in his own ride, etc), and what play style (mission oriented, sandbox, scenario-based, campaign-based, etc) is to be used.

Each person should contribute ideas about what they do and do not want to be a part of the game - this includes the GM. If non-Jedi using light sabres bothers you to a great degree, express that clearly in the simple terms that it impinges on your ability to have a good time with the setting.

If they counter with 'just wanting to have a cool imaginary toy' and 'what's the big deal, anyway?' you have an impasse.

If the players do not care or think you are going too far in feeling that using an elegant weapon from a more civilized age when not a Force Sensitive is a problem, it might be a good idea to consider their point of view. Their lack of consideration for yours notwithstanding it never hurts to reevaluate your own position.

If you are the GM and you still want to stick to your guns on the issue, then I recommend choosing to continue the game, choosing to keep quiet about them using light sabres unsafely, and follow through on sensible reactions from the universe: NOT vengeful ones; that leads to the dark side. The dark side has no retirement plan.

  • Do not allow cool Jedi sabre tricks without the Force. The rules support you on this.
  • If they operate where there are troops or other law enforcement personnel, and get spotted using light sabres, have them be investigated within the normal abilities of the NPCs assigned to the case.
  • Do not offer the devices for sale, and put them in the hands of those who should have them. What happens after that is Story, not Problem.
  • If they demonstrate to violent people that light sabres are cool and they get a reputation for using them effectively, they should come to expect reasonable counter-measures from the groups who hunt them (Boba Fett's wrist grappling hook attack) and for the devices to be looted if they get captured.

If you are not the GM then your options are more limited. If you want to play a by the book Jedi, and you are outclassed by the other characters the traditional approach is to just suck it up (Watch Luke get his butt handed to him by life, the universe and everything in Empire) until they finally get in tune with the living Force. If this does not sound like fun (being the slow starter with a big finish is not everyone's cup of Jawa Juice) then you are really asking yourself if the fun of the game outweighs the frustrations. If no, then don't play. If you are gaming at a con as you say, there is a lot of other stuff to do with fewer hassles.

Closing Music (In this case, the Sandcrawler theme)

In a certain sense, if the group is wanting to build a Star Wars saga of their own, with you in the GM's seat, you have an equal right to contribute to the saga which unfolds as they do. Sometimes that means saying "No" and sometimes that means making compromises. In any event, fun is the name of the game. Star Wars came to us as 'A New Hope' so it doesn't do to let it get you down~

If you are a fellow traveler on a wild ride in a galaxy, far, far away then try to connect with them and appeal to the sense of shared fun. If that fails, consider other options.

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If you throw in something about how to deal with players who want to ignore these wonderful suggestions (see edit in the question) I'll be happy to accept the answer. –  Thunderforge Apr 10 '13 at 6:06
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@Thunderforge Start with yourself wanting to ignore their ideas about what would be fun. –  doppelgreener Apr 10 '13 at 7:00
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Guilt by Association and Hate by Association, should be enough IMO. –  David Allan Finch Apr 10 '13 at 8:24
    
@Thunderforge I have added two sections to the end of the post to expand on the ideas in the Guilt by Association section per your request. –  Runeslinger Apr 10 '13 at 11:27
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Fantastic answer. Let me add that without the "cool jedi tricks" (deflecting blasters, etc) a lightsber pales as a weapon against a blaster (much greater range). –  TimothyAWiseman Apr 10 '13 at 16:45

Ruleswise, force sensitives have a much easier time to learn to fight with the lightsaber and to much greater effect.

Jedi can use a lightsaber more effectively if they buy the Lightsaber Combat power, but it doesn't seem like that it would be that much better until they get leveled up.

Now this is an understatement. The boni from Lightsaber Combat are threefold.

One, you can add your Control skill to lightsaber damage. Without this, the lightsaber is a 5D damage weapon, the same as even a heavy blaster pistol, a blaster carbine or a blaster rifle. And these have range while the lightsaber doesn't (but see below). It instead has a chance of cutting your own appendages off if clumsy. And also a chance of getting arrested if seen with it and brought before the freaky lightning guy in the cloak. Guess which one the Outlaw will choose. :)

Two, you can deflect and reflect blaster shots with Lightsaber Combat. This gives range to the lightsaber.

Three, training in the force is more effective. Force skills are trained up from the ground (i.e. from 1D), whereas the Lightsaber skill is trained up from Dex (4D in the Outlaw's case). Even if accounting for the -2D handicap that maintaining the power incurs, force sensitives are just getting good in lightsaber fighting much more easily. The Outlaw, from 4D Dex, will have to spend 66 character points to have a skill of 8D. The Jedi, from 2D+2 Dex and 1D Sense, will have to spend 23 character points for a lightsaber skill of 5D and 30 points for Sense 5D, a total of 53 points for the same total of 8D with the maintenance deduction. And the Outlaw's skill will be good only for lightsaber wielding, whereas with the Sense, you can sense anything ("Something is rotten in the state of Denmark").

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To summarize: it's more trouble than it's worth. Good answer! –  C. Ross Apr 10 '13 at 13:34
    
Perfect. Without Lightsaber Combat a blaster is a superior weapon to a lightsaber. That changes fast when you can do acrobatics that defy physics and can reflect blaster bolts back at someone, but without those the blaster is better. –  TimothyAWiseman Apr 10 '13 at 16:47
    
I thought that lightsaber blocking was possible even without the Lightsaber Combat power active, but I guess I'm wrong about that. –  Thunderforge Apr 10 '13 at 19:14
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@Thunderforge The Lightsaber skill can be used to parry brawling, melee, and lightsaber attacks. "Jedi Knights can parry blaster bolts with a lightsaber, but that's only because they have the lightsaber combat Force power; it's very, very difficult for a character without the power to parry blaster shots." -2nd Ed. R&E, page 39. –  AceCalhoon Apr 10 '13 at 23:14

Runeslinger's answer is a fantastic, (mostly) system-neutral take on things. Here are a few additional points based more directly on the system itself (2nd edition, R&E).

  • Lightsabers are not available for sale

    The lightsaber has a cost of "Unavailable for sale" and an availability of "4, X" (extremely rare, highly illegal). There is no way for a character to just start with a lightsaber. It is only available by GM fiat.

    Having Jedi build their own lightsabers is a fairly common rite of passage, although you may be within your rights to ask the GM for a starter blade if other players are able to start with one.

    If you are the GM, no further mechanics are needed. When a non-Jedi asks for a lightsaber, just say "no, that's not available." If you are not the GM, house rules aren't going to matter because you can't implement them.

    Runeslinger's answer is great on this topic. It's ultimately more of a people issue than a mechanics one.

  • Lightsaber Combat eventually becomes one of the most broken powers in the game

    At low levels of advancement, Jedi are very weak. But given a few character points, Lightsaber Combat (and a few other powers) eventually turns them into unstoppable demigods.

    It isn't so much the additional to-hit (that gets negated by multiple action penalties), as it is the greatly increased damage, and the ability to focus on a single combat skill for to-hit, melee defense, and ranged defense.

    Remember: non-Jedi can't block and deflect blaster bolts. They need to Dodge, even if they have a lightsaber.

    In my long-term D6 campaigns, lightsaber combat inevitably had to be toned down via house rules. In shorter campaigns, Jedi need all the help they can get.

  • Lightsabers are dangerous in the hands of the untrained

    Lightsabers have a base difficulty of Difficult (16-20), and hit the owner on an attack failed by ten or more points (always measured against the base difficulty). An untrained character with 2D or 3D will find their own weapon to be a serious danger to themselves.

    However, a high-combat character (4D+ Dexterity), with skill points in Lightsaber, is considered trained.

  • If you care about mechanics, don't bother with the template characters

    The template characters are all top-down designs, with almost no thought to how they work mechanically. They do a lot of things that aren't optimum (splitting dice), and they aren't designed to be balanced in a fight.

    The Failed Jedi, specifically, has a low Dexterity because he is a drunk old man. He's not supposed to be more than mediocre in a fight, and his stats reflect this. His lightsaber is more deadly in the hands of the Outlaw because the Outlaw is good at fighting and the Failed Jedi isn't.

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Excellent! +1 I wanted to include more system information but thought it would make my answer even longer than it already is, and it didn't occur to me that the group might not realize/care about these factors. –  Runeslinger Apr 10 '13 at 22:34

When I last ran star wars d6 the players came across a lightsaber after breaking into an ancient temple to try and loot everything they could; when they found it they treated it like it was radioactive, they were fairly scared to even touch the thing; why?

History and personality

The players had learnt scraps of information about the Dark Jedi who this temple was dedicated to and he was not a nice persontm. Pictorials of slaughter, tales of brutality and torture and so on from their investigations and from the information in the temple. And the lightsaber was this Jedi's signature weapon.

Each lightsaber has an owner associated with it and history besides, they are not random things you buy in a shop. So when players do find a lightsaber I liken them to having absorbed part of that owners persona in a way, the weapon has inherited the sins of the wielder and anyone using it will be touched by this.

I wasn't even intending to inflict this mechanically (initially) on the players (but they proved satisfyingly paranoid anyway) but had they have started using it I was going to drop in a few bits of flavour now and then: waking up in a cold sweat after nightmares about slaughtering people, getting the feeling that people distrust you and so on. If they'd continued for a significant length of time then small penalties to interactions with other people, paranoia and occasional feelings of being watched would have been added.

So; how do I scare them off using it? Let them use it. Let them. Smile, be happy for them. Say "oh nothing" make a few rolls; add in a little bit of creeping darkness atmosphere. They'll treat it with the respect (and paranoia) it deserves soon enough....

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+1 for the detailed example. And also for the Dark Jedi being not a nice person. :) –  Xabei Apr 12 '13 at 1:41

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