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I'm GMing a Star Wars Saga Edition campaign, with a party of 2 Jedis (lvl 3). One of them took the Mind Trick Jedi Power and he takes advantage of the (basically) unlimited use per day (with only a 1 minute cooldown) to try it at almost every opportunity. Since he has a Use The Force of 8, he can easily overcome the Will of most NPC (in the range of 9-12 at their CL) and already has earned a lot of money by selling their loot at unreasonably high prices to regular traders.

I'm not opposed to them playing like a Chaotic Neutral D&D party (their descent on the Dark Side -- and eventual redemption -- is even the main plot, although they don't know it) and he has so far just used it for fun rather than to gain advantages, but I fear Mind Trick might give them too much money too early or, more importantly, allow them to completely bypass part of the campaign (as in "You will give us your spaceship and activate the self-destruct protocol of your base after poisoning all your comrades. Also give us all your money.").

Is there a way to mitigate the power of Mind Trick ? Or did I simply misunderstood its limitations?

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    \$\begingroup\$ All - if you are not familiar with Star Wars Saga Edition maybe you shouldn't be answering the question. We expect answers here to come from experience or documentation, not guessing. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Nov 21 '16 at 14:50
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Circumstantially Mind Trick is Good but it's not Overpowered

When looking at mind trick, specifically the suggestion aspect of this force power it's very important to make a note of the special description.

Special: If you are making a suggestion, you may spend a Force Point to improve the target's attitude by one step, plus one additional step for every 5 points by which your Use the Force check exceeds the target's Will Defense.

The mind trick power doesn't actually work like mind control, it works more along the lines of the D&D spell charm person where it changes a person's attitude rather than just acting as straight up mind control (attitudes are defined under the persuasion skill on page 71 but for reference the 5 attitudes are Hostile, Unfriendly, Neutral, Friendly, and Helpful).

If you hit a hostile target with mind trick and beat his will defense by less than 5 he's still going to be unfriendly, as defined by the book that means "the target wishes you ill but won't go out of his way to harm you". When used in this fashion it essentially allows a force user to use Use The Force situationally as persuasion.

Also, through the Haggling use of the persuasion skill you can only get a person to buy/sell an item at 50% above/below asking price. Even for helpful characters you still have to roll a haggling check, though the DC is going to be relatively low. In addition, the haggling section has a caveat at the bottom that may be relevant to your situation. "No matter how adept you are at haggling, a creature won't pay more for an item that can easily be obtained elsewhere for the standard listed price"

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, attitude adjustment still leaves the NPC open to being exploited for "buy low, sell high" shenanigans which is the point of the question as the Asker's player's PC is OP in Use The Force. By rules, all it would take is multiple attitude adjustments. This question is right at its core about GM punishment and gameplay expectations than CharOps countering. \$\endgroup\$ – PrometheanVigil Nov 22 '16 at 10:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes but anything beyond the adjustment of the targets attitude is beyond the scope of this power, a mundane character with no force powers whatsoever could also adjust a person's attitude through just the plain persuasion skill. This ability only adjusts the target's attitude which effectively lowers the DC for the force user's Persuasion check and within the framework of the Persuasion skill you're still limited in what you can do. This power can be useful yes but it's not a catch all mind control power, it just lets you grease the wheels a bit. \$\endgroup\$ – Mr Tumnus Nov 22 '16 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right, and following from this, if the player is receiving ridiculous amounts of money from trading, it stands to reason they're using both abilities in tandem (two adjustments minimum per interaction). What's happened here is the GM may have misunderstood the rules (can happen) but what's much more likely happened is the player has used both abilities to sell lots of items (or a few high-value ones) in short succession netting him a big gain. This is not a rules question, it is an expectations question. Focusing on rules will simply enable the situation to continue by missing the point. \$\endgroup\$ – PrometheanVigil Nov 23 '16 at 9:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Based on the example given "You will give us your spaceship and activate the self-destruct protocol of your base after poisoning all your comrades. Also give us all your money." I think it's more likely a problem with understanding the rules of how it works rather than expectations. \$\endgroup\$ – Mr Tumnus Nov 23 '16 at 11:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Turned out, I simply mistranslated "unpalatable" as something like "absurd" or "clearly unreasonable". Now Mind Trick seems way less overpowered :) \$\endgroup\$ – Luris Nov 23 '16 at 16:08
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They're having fun. Let them have their fun. And if that same PC keeps pulling the same stunt, suddenly a bounty hunter swoops in to deal with the "strange grifter disrupting the marketplace".

Seriously, if it's that much of a problem, mitigate with simple consequences such as the above. You don't need mean about it, you can even warn the PC that they are now being watched/have been taken notice of (might even make that a WIS check). If the players moans about this, just shrug and remark "guess you've got to adapt".

Easy-peasy.

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The PCs are heroes. Everything is OP against generic, nameless NPCs.

Plus, you don't need to let him spam.

I run a weekly Saga Edition game via IRC, and I've seen that second problem a lot. When it comes to making skill checks when there's plenty of time, players will always say... "Ok, but can I try again?" My answer, as part of my GMing style? "Not unless something meaningful changes - that's what taking 10 and taking 20 are for."

But my own house-rule doesn't have to apply, when it comes to Force power spamming. Where you're getting the cooldown from is probably here (Core rulebook, page 95, emphasis added):

  • When combat is over and you've had a minute to rest for 1 minute, [...]

This particular clause isn't fully explained, nor is it addressed in the official errata. Does this mean Force powers, even if used during down-time, only come back after a fight? Probably not. What it does convey (absent any mention in said errata), is an intent specifically against Jedi having the same powers continuously at their disposal, to be used again and again. It's your call as a GM, and reasonable players will agree that an auto-win button isn't much fun - where's the game, the tension, and the drama? I like to borrow a page or two from a more 'cinematic' system, like Fate, and say the whole encounter with the merchant (or any other social encounter) is a 'combat' itself, and they don't get their powers back until it's decided one way (full price, take it or leave it) or another (discounts I wouldn't do for anyone else, but not everything I own!).

Moving on to whether and how this power is OP, let's look at another use of it that makes it more so: the ability to cause people to flee in terror! While your players have apparentl siezed on the usage that will "make an otherwise unpalatable suggestion seem reasonable" (which is up to your discretion, and should probably include the opponent's attitude... which, given the Special as MrTumnus mentions requires a precious Force Point to activate, might be worth giving to them if they're that invested), there's another one that I consider more OP against nameless NPCs:

  • You fill the target with terror, causing it to flee from you at top speed for 1 minute. [...]

You want a show-stopper? There's one right there. While this particular usage doesn't work if the target's the same level or higher, for a specialized Force user it's an amazing, almost sure way to get rid of a minion every round until there are no more. Not to mention looting a merchant's goods.

Is that balanced with what your average blaster-toting soldier thinks they could do? Probably not, especially if minions are a big feature in your battles. But let's not forget what a Noble could do in this system, particularly with feats like Silver Tongue or Presence, and being as focused into Persuasion as this Jedi seems to be in Use the Force. You look at what some of the Noble talents let you do with Persuasion, and it can seem OP pretty quick. But against the same minion-composed enemies, your Soldier probably has an Autofire weapon, with which to mow them down.

So finally getting back to your non-combat situation and short-circuiting of the campaign, I'd like to first point out the rules for giving out Dark Side Points on pages 93-94. The power says the PCs are incapable of making the target knowingly endanger himself, but the morality of the Force also has something to say, here. In particular, I would call swindling a merchant out of some of his wares something of a dubiously evil act, at least, under the Minor Transgressions heading (worthy of DSP if it becomes a pattern), and moving up the scale to a Moderate Transgression would be if it unduly hurts the merchant - "give me all your money, but I don't have an immediate need for it" sure stinks of the Dark Side's selfishness to me.

Perhaps the players are opting to take the campaign dark more quickly than you expected, but as long as you're all having fun, that should be fine.

There's also, of course, environmental effects and other Force users to worry about, but that's just waiting to write itself.

I mentioned nameless NPCs. Recall Phantom Menace, where Qui-gon is unable (despite his cavalier attitude and willingness) to mind-trick Watto? It may seem a bit thin, but when your campaign rides wholly on this, it's an option. Another would be to give the NPC a name, a backstory, and some PC class levels - like the well known D&D trope of the Bartending Former Adventurer. Who's to say the merchant is the right CR for them to take on? And who's to say he's not purpose-built to be a shrewd negotiator? ...but on that note, if they do take him down after all that, what a great story! It can be much more fun than That Guy That Mindlessly Gives Money, while the occasional Guy That [Doesn't] Want[s] to Sell Death Sticks might also be good for a laugh.

And for completeness, absolutely, MrTumnus' answer regarding Mind Trick's suggestion usage not being Mind Control. Consider in Empire, when Luke has Bib Fortuna, Jabba's majordomo and head of day-to-day operations under the sway of this power. Why not say, "You will discreetly bring the following people to me," rather than blundering into the Big Boss, who also happened to be immune to Mind Trick? Well, according to in-universe canon (near the end of the page), it was because Luke had to play on Bib's existing motivations, adjusting the different weights of his priorities.

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There is one aspect I think you guys are overlooking. It seems to me that Jedi (assuming members of the Jedi Order, however, if that is not right, then disregard) that are using the Force to, essentially, rip off vendors, is not an altruistic use of the Force. You might look at giving them a Dark Side Point for exploiting an innocent. Maybe in an extreme or very desperate situation, it might be okay, but to do it repeatedly for personal gain, that sounds like a 'mis-use' and threatens to head toward Dark Side behaviors. DSPs could be a way to help compensate for overuse.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think OP is overlooking it at all. He even states "Chaotic Neutral D&D party (their descent on the Dark Side -- and eventual redemption -- is even the main plot, although they don't know it)" \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Aug 6 '18 at 18:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Take the tour. Unlike a traditional discussion forum, answers are supposed to stand on their own. (That makes the reference to the other answers in this answer seem out of place.) Also, this use of Dark Side Points as punishment is mentioned in this answer. However, there's nothing wrong with an answer emphasizing a particular technique, but feel free to edit this this answer for accuracy and with regard to the site's format. And, sincerely, thank you for trying to help strangers, and have fun! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 6 '18 at 18:53
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Using Mind Trick to sell their loot at unreasonably high prices sounds like they are gaining a lot of advantages! I don't know how important money is in this system, but I am willing to bet that it is at least of some importance.

Also, seeing this from the moral code of the Jedi kind of perspective, he is using the Force to his advantage, and hurting the traders as a result, since they are now convinced that giving the PCs that much more money was a good deal! But when they then try to resell the loot they bought from the PCs, they will loose a great deal of money, because the other traders are not so stupid as to buy something worthless for an outrageous price! I'd at least hint at the fact that using the Force in this manner will slowly shift them to the dark side.

See, Obi-wan used the Mind Trick only once in the original Star Wars Trilogy, and that is to convince a couple guards not to pester them about the droids. This was to avoid getting caught, which, of course, was in the name of the greater good - He needed to do it to be able to leave the planet with Luke. I'm pretty sure that Obi-wan had at least some kind of idea about how important Luke would be later on. Also, they both wanted to rescue Leia, so the usage of the Force here was "for a noble cause", which is what the Jedi are all about; even in the extended hexology, Qui-gon Jin only tries to use his power to rescue Anakin, which is held as a slave by Greebo. He doesn't try to lower the price, he simply tries to get him to accept imperial credits instead of what Greebo is asking; Also, he couldn't have known that it would fail on him.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you're unfamiliar with the game, on what basis are you confident that "hint they'll be drifting to the dark side" is really all that relevant in resolving things? (Dark side drift may not exist or may be negligible in this game.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 21 '16 at 16:41

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