Picking up where I left off last week on Obligation in Edge of the Empire RPG....
As we started to do on the Order 66 podcast (Episode 3), it is easy to correlate the range of Obligation with the amount of Obligation owed. The higher the Obligation number, the greater the debt, and the more effort it takes to pay it back. As a character can never go below 5 Obligation, special attention should be kept to the low end of the scale. At this point, it the Obligation probably isn't a life-altering, crushing problem, but one that either crops up infrequently, or is reasonably easy to deal with when it does.
At the other end of the spectrum, take care not to assign too powerful an Obligation at too low of a number. Since Obligation can be increased during the game, it might be hard to justify from a game play standpoint when a debt that already seems insurmountable somehow gets worse. Leave room for it to get worse from the get go.
Here are some possible examples for each end of the Obligation scale.
Addiction: 5 - Occasional impulse or craving perhaps triggered by environment; 15 - Daily interference.
Betrayal: 5 - Low level family rift; 15 - Traitor to a cause or individual. People tend to think of the PC as the betrayer, but this could work just as well with the PC being the one betrayed, and how the fallout from that betrayal keeps coming back in unexpected ways when triggered.
Blackmail: 5 - Minor secret that the character finds easy to pay off.; 15 - Major blackmail scheme against the character, to hide a life altering secret that would change the way the PC's friends and family deal with them.
Bounty: 5 - In expensive bounty from a small time source. 15 - major bounty, big enough to attract accomplished bounty hunters regularly.
Criminal: This is usually thought of somewhat like Blackmail, where the PC is trying to keep their criminal past from coming to light. However, it could also be played more like addiction, so that the PC has an impulse to take advantage of a situation for personal gain, and commit a criminal act in the process. It could also be like Bounty - with the law catching up with the PC. 5 - minor crime (shoplifting, etc.); 15 - Major crime ranging from nonviolent confidence games to armed robbery or worse.
Debt: Usually a cash debt, but could be something else. 5 - a few thousand credits; 15 - tens of thousands of credits, or more.
Dutybound: 5 - Dedicated to a cause, but with little responsibly or little opportunity to follow through; 15 - Powerful commitment to a military or royal entity that is part of daily life.
Family: 5 - Minor committment, irregular visits or duties. 15 - Dedicated to family above almost everything else. Could also apply to societies with a tribe or clan structure.
Favor: 5 - PC must repay a large favor with a lot of small favors, or keeps getting into situations where they ask for favors. 15 - The PC is compelled to drop everything as soon as possible when the favor is called in.
Oath: 5 - Minor personal oath, perhaps not even known to others. 15 - Major life-altering commitment that influences the PC's everyday decisions to fulfill the oath.
Obsession: 5 - Intermittent obsession - not an every day occurrence, but when triggered, takes over the PC's attention for awhile; 15 - The PC is always thinking about the obsession if not acting on it every day.
Responsibility: Usually to a specific individual, cause or organization. 5 - part time leader in a small organization. 15 - Captain of a starship.
Of course, there are a lot of interpretations, and many more that are likely specific to the careers and specializations.The point is to use these as another tool in the storytelling kit. They're built into the game to provide extra incentive for roleplaying, and incorporate unexpected elements or twists of fate into the storyline.