I'm sort of baffled about strain "injuries" in Edge of the Empire. As an example: EV-8D3 in the Debts to Pay book that is part of the GM screen has an abilitiy called Improved Scathing Tirade, letting him inflict strain fairly quickly through, well, mean words.

What do I (as a GM) narrate if a PC gets "knocked out" (the rules say incapacitated) this way? It seems very hard to imagine a seasoned smuggler or soldier going down because a droid was mean to him on the intercom.


Strain represents how stressed, exhausted, or mentally overwhelmed you are. In game terms, its a resource that has to be carefully taken care of, just like wounds. But in reality, things that normally inflict strain don't make much sense, you would never pass out for stressing your body (unless under very specific conditions) to jump over to get cover, or from failing repeatedly, or from being hunted by your nemesis all day long. You might get really tired, but hardly will get unconscious unless you didn't actually eat or drink enough, which is another problem, not stress.

Exceeding Strain Threshold

When a character has suffered strain greater than his strain threshold, he becomes incapacitated until his strain is reduced so that it no longer exceeds his strain threshold. He is likely unconscious, or may just be so dazed and staggered that he's completely unaware of his surroundings and unable to interact with them.

States of Health

(...) A character is incapacitated once he has suffered more wounds than his wound threshold or more strain than his strain threshold. Incapacitation means that a character is unconscious and no longer able to act until the number of wounds he is suffering is decreased below his wound threshold.

Some things make a lot of sense, like stun grenades, electroshocks, being hit with nonlethal weapons, being thrown around the ship after a blast, etc. But you have to keep in mind that it is still a game and not everything will make sense.

Scathing Tirade (which causes 1 strain per success) is one thing that will never make sense, its a game ability that allows you to stress someone out to the point that they will become incapacitated (and likely unconscious). It's completely unrealistic, I know, but it's a fun ability, which is the point of the game.

How I would try to represent this stressing out in the game is that the character is so angry or frustrated that they do some kind of action that knocks themselves out, because they weren't paying attention to what they were doing. This introduces some jar jar moments in to the game, like the character blasting themselves on their feet, or firing a blaster without turning their battery safety on and it exploding on their face, or they walking right into a closed door and hitting their head. Each situation will call for a different accident, but that wouldn't happen if they weren't so stressed out.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Taking out of combat by strain does not mean they are knocked out, especially if you're using words like Scathing Tirade. I recommend reviewing the Conflict and Combat chapter (eg.: p229-230 of Age of Rebellion). \$\endgroup\$ – Cactuar Feb 23 '18 at 15:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cactuar I meant that you knocked out when your current strain exceeds your strain threshold. But you are correct, the wording used in the book is incapacitated and likely unconscious. I edited my answer to correctly use the terms used by the books. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Feb 23 '18 at 17:14

If a droid was really mean to me on the intercom, I might start crying and ball up. Maybe it doesn't work the same for all characters but even seasoned characters can have a mental breakdown.

As an alternative, one could just get as infuried/distracted/shocked to end up doing things that are mechanically (but not fictionally) identical to incapacitated.

(Or at least this is how I always ruled for my D&D games. Since the question is only about how it looks in fiction, while the mechanical part is clear, the same solution should apply.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ That still seems a bit of stretch. Unfortunately, the "being mean" option seems to be the NPCs main mode of attack. I can see it driving the Wookie into a fit of rage or similar, but if it knocks out the whole party, it's still not very satisfying. I'd love to substitute something, but I can't think of anything. \$\endgroup\$ – stacked_deck Nov 4 '17 at 23:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ The easiest way to interpret a minion (or minion group) take out by strain is to be afraid of what the droid says, and remove from combat. In a galaxy where a single blast shot could kill you, being afraid is reasonable. \$\endgroup\$ – Cactuar Feb 23 '18 at 15:58

It does not necessarily means saying mean things. It could be well-roleplayed to make the characters reach a point where they just give up the fight or end up dropping to their knees and frozen in panic.

For instance, suppose a player is playing a wookie who hates slavery. When this PC is target of Scathing Tirade, you can say that EV-8D3 makes a rather touching speech in which the droids rather die on their feet than live on my knees, damaging the wookie's resolve, making him wonder if he's fighting for the best reasons and even making him stop the fight completely, as it goes against his most valuable motivation. Instead of making the wookie collapse because an angry blender called him shaggy, you give them a justified and actual reason to stop fighting (even leading to some interesting social skills throws instead of Medicine).

In this specific setting (Gavos mines), you could simply make EV-8D3 mock the weak carbon-based form for their imminent death crushed in the mines under tons of rock, in a non-breathable atmosphere and nobody going to rescue them. A prospect really worth a discipline check and the strain it carries, wouldn't you agree? :)


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