38
\$\begingroup\$

So I'm late stage in an Edge of the Empire game and I would like to present my characters with a challenging final battle. They're on a Star Destroyer whose captain is trying to turn it into a mobile armor smelting facility for a kind of energy absorbing armor so his Stormtroopers will be the best the Empire has and hopefully gain favor with the Emperor, and my PCs have boarded it to kill him and take revenge on him for screwing them over the entire campaign (they're mercs, so it takes more than "stopping the evil Empire" to get them angry enough to take on an Imperial BBEG). The captain allowed them onto his ship because they've been a thorn in his side and he wants to dispatch them in his presence; blasting their ship out of the sky is not good enough for him, he wants to look them in the eye before executing them. If they make it through his crew of Stormtroopers and face him, great, he can kill them himself after wearing them down. If they're cut down by his forces, then he'll have their near-dead corpses dragged to his quarters and he'll gut them there. So I'm trying to funnel them toward their final destination by giving them a "dungeon" to fight through filled with traps and puzzles for them to solve so it's not just combat and the epic final encounter feels earned.

The problem I have is that we ran the Black Ice module before this part of the campaign and despite reading the module before running it, my eyes somehow glazed over the part where they were testing a lightsaber in the facility the PCs infiltrate at the beginning of the module, and I read the description of the room they were exploring - a kind of weapon testing lab where a bunch of exotic weapons were being tested, including a lightsaber - before my brain said, "Hold up, a lightsaber could seriously unbalance the kind of game you run!". And now the heavy hitter in the group has a weapon that can cut through doors and such with little difficulty. He's not a Jedi, just a weapon specializing bounty hunter who normally shoots the big guns, but with a lightsaber.

I'm drawing up maps and I keep running into the issue of, if there's a character with a lightsaber, what's to stop them from just cutting open a locked door? If they can simply cut open a door stopping them from progressing, they can just mosey on through it without the need to explore. I thought of a couple ideas, like making a door take 1D4 rounds to cut open, or electrifying certain doors to cause feedback on the lightsaber or something, but I'm not sure how fair these would be or if they're appropriate GM tools to use in this situation. I don't want the players to feel like I'm punishing them for possessing a cool weapon, I want it to feel like a justified way of stopping them from just "laser swording" a hole through the dungeon to get to the BBEG.

Got any ideas for me?

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 27
    \$\begingroup\$ Reminder to all answerers, Edge of the Empire is an RPG with actual mechanics, statistics and rules for how lightsabers work. Answers should really have some kind of basis in the rules of the game rather than just referencing the films. Please remember our citation expectations, unsupported suggestions or speculation may be removed. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Jan 9, 2023 at 3:30

7 Answers 7

52
\$\begingroup\$

Time

An Imperial Star Destroyer is very likely to have significantly more and thicker blast doors than a Trade Federation vessel, and those took enough time to cut through that assistance (in the form of forcefield-equipped battle droids) had time to get to the scene.

Add similar blast doors (and alarms) to every "major" door (i.e., door you don't want them to get through) and they'll be up to their eyebrows in Storm Troopers before they're half-way through.

Since a basic lightsaber in Edge does 6 damage and has the Breach quality, they can ignore 1 point of Armor (or 10 points of Soak), so giving blast doors 2 points of armor and 2 points of Hull Trauma Threshold (same x10 scale, so withstands 20 points of damage) should make a lightsaber not even cause real damage every round, depending on user proficiency.

My advice, rules-wise:

  • Regular doors (on Star Destroyer): 1 Armor, 1 Hull.
  • Blast doors: 2 Armor, 2 Hull.
  • Critical blast doors (engineering, bridge): 3 Armor, 5 Hull.

All doors look like "regular doors", until alarms are triggered by damage and blast doors close.

Also remember, as mentioned by others, that a) Jedi use the Force to further empower an already deadly weapon, and b) a hole dripping molten metal is No Fun to get through in a hurry.

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "They're on a Star Destroyer whose captain is trying to turn it into a mobile armor smelting facility for a kind of energy absorbing armor..." This gives all the reason you need to justify that the Star Destroyer Captain has had high quality blast doors installed on all the important access paths. \$\endgroup\$
    – CitizenRon
    Jan 11, 2023 at 15:18
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This answer brings up an excellent point: a door/wall without any guards might as well not be locked (and makes a boring story anyway: oh here is a door, you rolled the door opening dice, the door opened). A dedicated person is pretty much always going to break in - a door can be sliced and a wall can be demolished with explosive charges or angry Wookies. A lightsaber simply makes this process faster, but not so fast that the PCs will be able to move unimpeded. \$\endgroup\$
    – SPavel
    Jan 11, 2023 at 17:11
30
\$\begingroup\$

How do you use it?

in all FFG Star Wars Game (Edge of the Empire, Force and Destiny, Age of Rebellion), you can't even use a lightsaber without the lightsaber skill. As mentioned in all the places it is described, most characters are barred from starting with it and it takes some justification to get it..1

Lightsaber resistant materials

Lightsabers don't cut everything in an instant. There's a ton of canon materials that not only are resistant to lightsabers, but at times turn lightsabers off! So, design your encounter in a canon way. In any way, I'll limit myself a little to materials availeable in the late empire era, even though they are rare.

Close the Blast Door!

Do you remember Episode 1, when Qui-Gon-Jin cut into the control room? After 5 seconds, the blast door was closed... Which are 2 extra layers, as you can see from the screencap:

enter image description here

It took Qui-Gon about one minute to melt the center of the blast doors - quite some time in which he could do nothing to defend himself. Were not the corridor peaceful when he started cutting... he'd be dead. He had to stop when the cavalry arrived. Sure, he succeeded mostly, but he also cheated: he had to use the Force to aid his efforts. Something that takes quite some mastery, not just a random 'saber wielder without the skill. As said above, this means that the user shouldn't even be able to do anything with it or risk getting some scratches and flesh wounds as a certain Black Knight would put it. Oh, and because I love numbers: that lightsaber has almost 7 MW power output into a common steel door.

In game terms, Lightsabers have a flat damage rating, and they get breach 1. Yes, only breach 1, which means they ignore one dot of armor or 10 soak.2

Considerable, but doors are quite resistant in the first place: They use ship scales for their values and now think how much armor and soak a door needs to do what it does normally to do its job. A wooden board might have 0 armor and 1 Hull, meaning it does resist the lightsaber barely, but a heavy blast door might have quite some armor and soak stats.

Armorweave

Mass-produced during the Imperial Civil War, this fabric offers some limited protection from Lightsabers, and would increase the door's resistance to the maneuver by quite a bit.

You can simulate this by increasing the armor rating of the door by one dot, canceling out the breach of the lightsaber.

Beskar

For some reason, Iron on Mandalore is able to be processed to be virtually impossible to be destroyed. Not even a lightsaber can destroy it. Whole ships have been made from it... but it would be extremely expensive for whoever owns the door.

You might increase the armor rating of a door by a substantial ammount, depending on how pure the Beskar is and how well it's made. I wouldn't give more than 3 extra dots though. Also apply the Cortosis quality for higher quality Beskar.3

Cortosis

Cortosis Ore is pretty much... Lightsaber-resistant asbestos. It's put into shadowtrooper armor en-masse and slashing it turns the lightsaber off. It's also toxic. Packing the blast door with it makes the player's stunt a deathtrap.

Apply the Cortosis quality - Breach does not apply to the soak pool.3

Neuranium

Extensively used by Palpatine in his office, this material is highly-resistant to lightsabers. Doors from it are possible, and it isn't even rare as each Tie-bomber lugs a few dozen Neuranium shielded proton bombs in its cargo bay, so a couple dozen to some hundred kilos. A blast door wouldn't be too heavy.

I suggest applying a large ammount of armor rating, about equivalent to your highest Beskar. The Cortosis quality should apply.3

Phrik

Used in dark-trooper armor, this material, though somewhat rare, was used enough in the Empire that some command ships might have doors from it.

About one or two dots of armor above the normal might be justified.

Ultrachrome

Used in the body armor of Imperial Inquisitors and ship armor, Ultrachrome blast doors would withstand the lightsaber a considerable time. Enough for the cavalry to arrive. Besides Neuranium, this might be the most common material.

You might want to add 2-3 armor dots for Ultrachrome, but once the door's HP are at 0, instead of a hole the whole door turns into molten metal - possiblxy proving to be a problem of its own. Also, until that point, the Cortosis quality should apply.3


1 - Age of Rebellion core rulebook p.155 & 169 / Edge of the Empire core rulebook p.167 / Force and Destiny core rulebook p.175-78
2 - Age of Rebellion core rulebook p.180. / Edge of the Empire core rulebook p.161 / Force and Destiny core rulebook p.176.
3 - Age of Rebellion core rulebook p.182 & 205 . / Edge of the Empire core rulebook p.194 / Force and Destiny core rulebook p.161.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Appreciating the spread of lightsaber-resistant materials, I suspect the blast-door example is enough on its own. With the lightsaber penetrating all the way through the door, Qui-gon took about 8 seconds to cut half a rough circle. So for game-purposes, pretty much just hot-wire through styrofoam territory. With extra layers of blast door, he was melting out the middle, and that was taking a lot longer and I suspect without the force would be burning his hands. There's a lot of hot metal there. If the door is more than a meter thick I'd say it'd be substantially more effort for a non-jedi. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rowan
    Jan 9, 2023 at 8:38
11
\$\begingroup\$

Let having a lightsaber come with limitations and consequences

In the hands of a Jedi, especially the one who crafted it, a lightsaber works every time and never seems (on screen at least) to need recharging. But they are not merely technological devices; the Force interacts with the kyber crystal inside. This isn’t explicitly stated in the rules, but the specialised training is represented by the specific Lightsaber skill, which non-Jedi generally can’t access. That means they have to use it untrained, using only Brawn or Agility without any upgraded proficiency dice. (See the Edge of the Empire core rule book, page 167, or the equivalent Melee Weapons section in the other core books.)

Aside from the whole problem of getting shot, as only a Jedi can use one to deflect blaster fire, they’re not commonly used by other characters because they’re specifically Jedi weapons - and post Order-66 having one is likely to get you killed, or at least noticed in a bad way.

On top of that, they found it in an experimental weapon lab. Presumably that means they don’t know who made it, or where it came from. It could be part of a plot to impersonate a Jedi, or it was stolen or looted and messed with.

So it’d be reasonable to give this specific lightsaber some limitations, based on who is using it and the specific circumstances of its construction. Let the players use it, but make them roll every time - Edge of the Empire is very specific that almost no-one outside the Jedi order can use a lightsaber properly. Its workings should also be a bit of a mystery, for the same reason. Perhaps they work out it won’t reliably activate for a user who isn’t Force sensitive, or its power pack is running down and they don’t know what it’s made of, or it’s just not as easy as you think for a non-Force user to use it to cut through a door (they need more time than a Jedi would, and need to make more difficult checks to achieve it - at least an Average and possibly even a Hard task, adding two or three Difficulty dice). If it’s not a genuine Jedi lightsaber, maybe it doesn’t produce as much heat as the real deal (making it definitely a Hard task). If they haven’t already used it a lot, solving a problem or two with it can be the way they find this out.

Better yet, regardless of whether it’s real or not, let the Captain and crew react in a way that tells them it might be a bad idea to flash a lightsaber around. Just because some Imperial officers consider the Jedi an old superstition doesn’t mean everyone does! The Empire likely has standing orders about what to do if they encounter a suspected Jedi, and “let them cut holes in your ship” isn’t one of them. (And on that note, even if you don’t want to lean on the lightsaber angle, wrecking the interior bulkheads and doors of the ship isn’t something the crew would just let go, regardless of how it was being done.)

And beyond this adventure, if word gets out, perhaps a Jedi - the original owner, or someone trying to track down and save other Jedi - will come looking for it too. Or they might have just attracted the attention of Vader or the Inquisitors…

So don’t punish them, but by the standard rules they can’t easily just pick up and use a lightsaber. Use that - and moreso, use the cool thing they found to add to the story and reinforce how the universe thinks of the Jedi in your version of Star Wars.

Let ‘em have one, though

A late addition, since I’ve not seen this mentioned: it’s actually fine for them to get through one section of the ship like this. Better than fine - exciting and fun! So let them do it once to discover whatever the limitations and difficulties of doing it are. Maybe they cut through a door and the captain’s response is to shut blast doors everywhere else. Or maybe they successfully use it on a smaller door or container, but learn from that how slow it would be to use on major doors.

The point is, let them have fun with the cool thing they found as the way to find out it’s not a get out of a jail free card. Doing it once is cool; doing it six times would be boring and repetitive.

\$\endgroup\$
4
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ A reference to the rule that you can't use it without the lightsaber skill and you can't learn that without a teacher would make this perfect. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jan 9, 2023 at 12:56
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ An ideal only-force-users-can-use-this lock would be to have the activating switch buried inside the lightsaber, i.e., you can only flip with the switch with the Force -- or some mechanical hack that reduces the reliability of the weapon. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 9, 2023 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the suggestions all - I didn’t have easy access to the rules but managed to look up the relevant bits and add them to my answer. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11, 2023 at 6:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jeffronicus: That "the switch is inside the weapon and you need the Force to flip it" was used in the old decanonized novels; I don't know if it was ever officially used in the new canon, but it's a reasonable suggestion. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 16, 2023 at 3:15
9
\$\begingroup\$

Don't.

If you want to tell a specific story, write a novel.

If you want to run a roleplaying game, embrace that the player characters control their own actions, and that their actions might not align with the story you had in mind.

Once you lean into that, you have two mitigating approaches:

First, and less importantly, just because a PC tries something doesn't mean that it automatically and instantly works. Qui-Gon Jin and Obi Wan took a long time to cut through a door; it is likely that following an open path is faster than cutting through doors and walls. Cutting with a lightsaber also ended up a very hot passage, with all that entails. Going through a wall instead of a door, you're probably also going through power conduits and plumbing lines, etc. Do note that if your group is into Gordion-knotting the scenario, they will likely be just as willing to use explosives, or cutting droids, or whatever else: solving for the lightsaber is a temporary patch at best.

Second, and more important, talk to your group. If you're going to start making lightsaber use arbitrarily hard, lay out why and tell them first. If you're having a hard time coming up with challenging scenarios, say so. If you think it's making the game less fun, discuss it! It's okay to agree that the lightsaber is breaking your game, and either just put it in a trophy room or have it destroyed in some dramatic or funny way (it is poor form to do that on your own, unless you are looking for a much more adversarial play-style).


@PeterCordes' comment on this is worth preserving in its entirety:

I think the most important part of this answer is the "talk to your players" part. e.g. If you go with answers that suggest blast doors should normally trigger alarms when people try to melt them, if that's something one of the characters would probably know or think of, tell the player about this in-world knowledge that's relevant for how they might want to use the saber. (And mention meta game-design reasons if that's your style). If they think they've got an instant wall/door cutter, they might paint themselves into a corner and have a bad time when they try it.

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Writing a novel is furthest from my mind, hence why I want ideas for this. I don't want to hinder player agency, so I'm trying to find reasonable solutions by asking for them. They do Gordion Knot problem-solving, but a lightsaber is a cut-anything blade in the movies, hence why it's hard to plan around. But I think your answer has helped me past the mental block of how to deal with it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2023 at 20:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TylerRobbins: I think the most important part of this answer is the "talk to your players" part. e.g. If you go with answers that suggest blast doors should normally trigger alarms when people try to melt them, if that's something one of the characters would probably know or think of, tell the player about this in-world knowledge that's relevant for how they might want to use the saber. (And mention meta game-design reasons if that's your style). If they think they've got an instant wall/door cutter, they might paint themselves into a corner and have a bad time when they try it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11, 2023 at 3:27
0
\$\begingroup\$

They don't want to leave a trail

Cutting through doors and walls makes it blatantly obvious that an intruder is on the loose, meaning no good, and where he is going. And then it makes it easy to follow him. (For Jedi, they can find it after you left, making it impossible to use the Force on them, so it's a problem even for them.)

If you don't want the entire crew chasing you, you need to be more subtle.

Therefore, they need to have powerful reasons to avoid leaving a trail. (And if they ignore them, you have to make the final fight that much harder. Or more complicated. Perhaps they need to capture or kill the captain and fear his escape.)

Realize that it's not all or nothing, they may start with the cutting through doors and then realize the danger, or they may start with "don't leave a trail" and conclude they need more speed, so you have to plan for that. (My party once realized it was leaving a trail half way through doing it.)

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have experience with a party not leaving a trail in this or another RPG? If so, how did it work out, what lessons from that apply here? What are good "powerful reasons to avoid leaving a trail"? Without support this answer is unfortunately purely idea generation. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Jan 9, 2023 at 3:43
-1
\$\begingroup\$

Don't, generally. There is nothing players hate more than an arbitrary limit. Note though that lightsabers are not flawless at penetrating defenses, as seen in Phantom Menace.

Indeed, they shouldn't even be the best tool for it. There should be purpose-built plasma cutters that are probably a lot better than them at that specific job. Shaped-charges should be far better at breaching. A lightsaber is a self-defense weapon for a being with supernatural senses, the ability to see the future and read intent, and preternatural reflexes - its purpose as a breaching tool is a byproduct of its nature.

Your players, as mercs, should know about this. Provide them a little data sheet - the lightsaber is not a great weapon for those who lack the Force and training. It's an inferior breaching tool to (list some options they can buy), and it attracts Inquisition attention, making it actually a massive net negative to use it for such a purpose.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ How does this interact with Edge of the Empire rules, which clearly state that lightsaber use requires the lightsaber skill, which you can't have as a starter character? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jan 15, 2023 at 19:32
-1
\$\begingroup\$

This isn't a problem, it's an opportunity for a great encounter.

Others have covered the explicit rules for how long it would take for a lightsaber to cut through a door (probably several rounds), but even if cutting a door only took one round (and it requires an action, not a maneuver), that's one round your heavy hitter is cutting a door and not helping the rest of the group fend off security forces. Because the security forces will be coming for the group, since they'll be hard-pressed to hide all the holes they've been cutting through doors

And the security forces don't stop coming, because it's a Star Destroyer full of people. And there's a lot of doors between where the players are and where they want to go, because Star Destroyers are big. And if they're cutting through doors, they can't close those doors behind themselves to get a little breathing room. You're not designing an uninhabited dungeon the party can mosey through, you're designing a hellish gauntlet your party is going to need to run through to get to the big bad.

And this isn't purely a combat encounter. Sure, there's going to be combat, but it's really a prolonged resource management puzzle, with the players needing to juggle the action economy to keep moving forward--the guards coming from behind need to be dealt with, the doors need to be lightsabered open, whatever's ahead in the next room needs to be dealt with, and whatever other tasks need doing (does someone need medical attention? did a path get blocked off and someone needs to access the ship's schematics to reroute the group? does an escape route need to be secured? etc.). And you can design the map to make that even more interesting--what if they need to cut through two doors on opposite sides of the main reactor room to access the two shield generators protecting the bridge? what if they get stuck having to cross a narrow walkway, single-file? what if the lights are cut, and now using the lightsaber will reveal their position? what if they need to keep a door intact, like for a functioning airlock?

In summary: Per the mechanics a lightsaber doesn't magically open doors, it takes time. And it's destructive, leaving a trail. And your party only has one lightsaber. You can use these constraints to design a final set piece encounter / dungeon around the assumption they'll be cutting through doors, rather than trying to make it so they can't. (Source: I have run many encounters in the related Genesys system with a similar structure, in which one character has a mission-critical tool and the party needs to facilitate the use of that tool by efficiently dealing with incoming waves of enemies and assorted logistics tasks simultaneously.)

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ How does this interact with Edge of the Empire rules? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jan 15, 2023 at 19:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ It interacts with the action economy. Edge of the Empire has fixed rounds of combat, and characters have only one action per round; cutting open a door with a lightsaber will take at least one action. These are not particularly unique rules compared to many other rpgs, but they are rules. The rest of the answer explains why this will take place under circumstances in which the action economy will be used (i.e. a "combat" encounter where "moseying on through" is not likely), and how the constraints imposed on the action economy by door cutting can be used to design an interesting "dungeon." \$\endgroup\$
    – zalcarik
    Jan 16, 2023 at 8:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .