Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Edge of The Empire - Dice head Review

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side kid…”

When you think “Star Wars” most people think about, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Yoda, Obi Wan Kenobi… You know, the guys who have lightsabers and gtheir mastery of the force could, in theory, kill anyone with a mere thought.

However, there’s also Han Solo, Chewie, Lando Calrissian, The Millenium Falcon, Bobba Fett, the scum of the galaxy, the Hutts, the Black Sun syndicate, Mos Eisley, Ryloth, the lower levels of Coruscant. The dark gritty side of the Star Wars Galaxy is just as big as the more flashy force-wielding side of it, and there are so many ways in which one could run an RPG adventure in a setting like that.

So a long time ago, in a Galaxy far far away (In the 2000s), Wizards of the Coast owned the license for all Star Wars Collectible card and roleplaying games. Their license expired in 2010, and they declined to renew it. In comes Fantasy Flight games, doing what they do best, and pick up the Star Wars License from Lucasfilm Ltd. 2 years, a card game and a miniature game later, Fantasy Flight releases the first Game in the three part series of games that would comprise the Fantasy Flight Star Wars roleplaying game, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. Since then, another two games have been released, “Age of rebellion”, and “Force and Destiny”, to complete the “Trilogy” of Star Wars roleplaying games.
These three games, although separate from each other, are designed to be able to play using the rules from all 3 books. Today, we’ll be looking at the first and, for now, my favorite one:



CONTENTS:
I have the Beginners’ game and the Core Rulebook for Edge of the Empire [EoTE]. The Beginner’s guide includes a set of Roleplaying dice (I’ll talk more about those later) 4 character folios, a quick introductory adventure, a summarized rulebook and some adventure supplements like a two-sided map, and some placeholders for your characters and the other NPCs

The Core Rulebook has a much more complete and detailed version of the rules of the game. It gives you a brief overview on what it means to play on the Edge of the Empire, and the tone and feel of the adventures played with this system. It has a very extensive character creation chapter, then a chapter about the equipment, the ships you will be using, and other very important aspects of running the game, such as a description of the most prominent worlds on the outer rim of the Galaxy.

In addition to that, there is a whole chapter dedicated to the different factions of the Galaxy, such as the Hutt cartel, the Black Sun Syndicate, and obviously the Empire and the Rebel alliance. Since you're playing people who are the thugs, smugglers, hot-shot pilots and bounty hunters of the galaxy, it's pretty cool to see all of the oportunities you might have by working for or against any of these factions.

The last chapters of the book include a chapter on the Force Exile, a class that has a minor connection to the force and somehow survived the great Jedi purge. And a short adventure with everything you need to run it as a GM.

GAMEPLAY

Edge of the Empire, just like all of the other Star Wars RPGs by Fantasy Flight, is a heavily narrative game. It uses "Narrative dice" to let you know whether you succeed or not in doing an action, and whether doing said action gave you an advantage or disadvantage in play.


When you decide you want to do an action you start by assembling your dice pool. Let's assume you're making a computers check in order to slice (*Hack* in Star Wars lingo) the security system and open a door. Your character is very Intelligent (her intellect is 3) and has invested some exp in her computers skill. First you take three positive green ability dice to go with her intellect score (3), then you replace two of those with the 2 yellow dice since she has 2 ranks in Computers. These are your positive dice.

Now let's say that the security system is average, not too easy, but not too hard to crack. This would be a medium difficulty roll, so we add 2 setback dice (the purple ones). We end up with something like this:



Basically, you roll the dice, and compare how many success and advantage symbols you have, versus how many failure and disadvantage symbols you have, these cancel each other out, and if in the end you have more success symbols left, that means you succeeded!

Now, the GM could say in this case, that you succeed opening the door, and you did it in such a way that prevents the security system from raising the alarm (that's how you count the advantage symbol). However, it is also possible to succeed with disadvantage though, in which case you would open the door and raise the alarm, giving you less time to move in and do what you need to do.

This is the core mechanic of the game, it makes everything move very smoothly and give the GM a lot of opportunities to add twists and turns to the game's narrative.



Final Thoughts:


I LOVE the Star Wars Universe. Ever since I started playing tabletop RPGs I've wanted to give a Star Wars RPG a try. I was aware of the existence of the Star Wars d20 books, but once I found out they were already out of print, the number of books and supplements was absurdly high, and most important of all, I didn't have a the money to buy all of that :). 

Fantasy Flight has done a great job translating the feel of a Star Wars story into the basic rules of the game. I feel like the game plays very smoothly, even though learning the rules of the game may take a bit of reading. Also if you've never seen the movies, or are not familiar with the terminology, then it might be a bit difficult to get into the mood of the game. However, if you like Sci-fi settings and Space battles, and laser pistols and big starships, then you will have a good time regardless.

All in all, I think this game is really good. As a Dungeon Master you get TONS of tools to build great stories in the Star Wars Galaxy. You want your characters to go hunting for bounties and compete against the likes of Boba Fett? Make deals with Jabba the Hutt? Explore the lower levels of Coruscant? Steal valuable information from the Empire? mess up the communications array of the Rebel Alliance? 

You can, and it'll be a blast. But don't take it from me, here's what some friends who got to play with me as a GM have to say about Edge of the Empire.

"Ever wanted to shoot first? this is your game"
Samuel the Wookie - 2015

"From the start of the game you immerse yourself in familiar places of the Star Wars Universe, the adventure gets you hooked right from the beginning. The force guides you to complete your objectives and overcome challenges. I recommend it for everyone, even non-star Wars fans"
Ludwig the smuggler - 2015

"The setting is very easy to explain, I liked the starter set with the character folios. It's a very complete game. Although, if you don't know anything about Star Wars you might need a bit of help from your friends who are familiar with the terminologies. But this doesn't stop you from having fun!"
Krystle, the Medical Droid - 2015

And well, this one from my friend Fernando is so well written I'm just going to put it here in Spanish, and hope I don't butcher it when I translate it into English.

"Muy pocos juegos tratan de enfatizar, realmente, el aspecto de roleplay de los juegos de rol. Ignorando conceptos pre establecidos por juegos como D&D o pathfinder, Edge of the Empire y sus sucesores de enfocan de lleno en los mismos con un juego altamente narrativo, dispuesto para los narradores aventureros que mas que preparar una historia en su mente le permiten a sus jugadores decidir de que manera seguirá la narrativa. Los dados y sus símbolos tomaran un rato en aprenderse, pero una vez todo es explicado se nota una poderosa elegancia y sencillez que deja a muchos otros "juegos de rol" en vergüenza. Con esta generación de juegos de rol con énfasis en narrativas mas aya de donde las espadas golpean las escamas de los enemigos, no esta de mas decir que la fuerza esta al borde del imperio."

Now, in english:

"Very few games try to really emphasize the roleplaying aspect in a roleplaying game. Ignoring concepts pre-established by games like D&D or Pathfinder, Edge of the Empire and its successors focus fully on roleplaying with a highly narrative-centric game that gives adventurous narrators the opportunity to not just prepare a story in their minds, but also let their players decide how the narrative will progress. The dice and their symbols will take a while to get used to, but once everything has been explained you will see a very powerful elegance and simplicity in the gameplay, which leaves other "Roleplaying" games in shame. With this new generation of roleplaying games, which emphasize narrative beyond swords hitting the scales of our enemies, it's not too much to say that the force, is on the edge of the empire."

Fernando - Bounty Hunter


Beautiful, isn't it?


Thanks for reading!