Fantasy Flight’s Edge of the Empire Star Wars RPG

Wow.

I have never really jumped onto any of the previous Star Wars RPG bandwagons.  They have all been passable, and in some cases very verbose, but they have never grabbed my attention the way this game has.  While I am still very glad NOT to have been part of the Beta team, I find myself very excited to run this system for a group of friends on a monthly or semi-monthly basis.

This game has a great balance between realism and number crunching that helps to keep it smooth and cinematic.  It borrows a few ideas from several of the more modern systems: it has a Fate pool like mechanic for players to improve dice rolls; it has a smaller number of skills that incorporate a few more tricks; it has a talent tree much like video games for improving characters; and it has extremely slick art.  What it has that makes it most exciting though is none of those things…it is all about the dice.

Dice, nearly every role-players addiction.

How many of us have set after set after set of beautiful polyhedral splendor?  Various colors, styles, shades, transparency, gem-like sheens, heck some even made from gemstones.  We have them all.  And nearly every single one has a single result per face.  Nearly every single one has a single result that could be determined from a single roll.

Not FFG’s Edge of the Empire.

They have crafted a system where a single roll will tell you how well you succeeded.  Wait, you say…don’t all dice pool systems have that built in?  Yep, but how many of them also have a second symbol that appears on the dice to allow the group to determine what else may have happened to modify the action at the same time?  FATE has “yes, but” rolls which are great, but this system can tell you “yes, and”, “no, but”, “no, and” and help you weave a story with unforeseen complications and benefits all from a single die roll.

And that isn’t even getting into Triumph & Despair rolls.  Think of them like critical successes and failures that can happen all at the same time.  And it is all based upon the skill and difficulty of the situation.  Pure genius.

The rest of the book is extremely well made, pretty, well thought out, and filled to the brim with gaming goodness.  The game focuses on the seedier side of the Star Wars universe and does a great job.  It feels like Firefly meets Star Wars, and suddenly you are in the Mos Eisley Cantina waiting for your next job and starting to sweat as the bounty hunter two tables down starts to eye you.

From a layout perspective, there are only a few small details I wish they had noticed before printing.  First is the Index.  I love a good index and so do they…but there are a few items left out of the index that I have already noticed.  The second is how they keep repeating information in different sections.  The real problem with this, is not the extra space it requires, but how some small details are mentioned in one section and not in another.  The third is the contrast with dark backgrounds and too many truncated and hyphenated words of text around oddly shaped pictures.  None of which is a dealbreaker, especially if you have ever tried to find something in a Kevin Siembieda book.  Index, what is an Index?

The Core Rules are not cheap.  At a MSRP of $60, it is frankly the most expensive game I have ever purchased.  I find it well worth the money and time invested to learn the rules.  The art is gorgeous, the rules are often well detailed, and there is a clear step by step methodology of thought that permeates the entire rules.

The dice are also expensive at a MSRP of $15 per set of fourteen.  While this would be enough for a single player in most games, the very nature of the dice system requires additional dice to have a single roll.  I have purchased one set already, and I plan to get another before we start the chronicle in earnest.  I do wish they would have included a second red “Challenge” die in the set, but I can imagine that getting the price point to an even $15 required cutting it.  Perhaps at some point they will have a set of 3 Challenge dice in a blister pack.  We can only hope.

All in all, the game left me reeling with possibility.  That hasn’t happened since FATE, and rarely before that.  This may just be another seminal moment in role-playing games.  And I only have one word to describe that feeling.

Wow.

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4 Responses to Fantasy Flight’s Edge of the Empire Star Wars RPG

  1. Say I wanted to take the game’s specialty dice and tweak the more nuanced success/failure mechanic to fit a different RPG. Does it seem like it would be plausible for a d20, d10, or d6 based system?

    • fanggrip says:

      It would honestly be fairly tough. The reason it is successful is the very fact it uses dice with multiple faces. I suppose you could add a mechanic where you would toss additional dice that could represent various facets of the Advantages, Threats, Triumph, and Despair. I suspect it would significantly bog down and complicate a system that doesn’t incorporate it from the ground up.

      It would be an interesting thought experiment if nothing else. Perhaps toss a few FUDGE dice in there of different colors to represent Advantage/Threat (Call it something like…Fortune) based upon the situation. Only register positives for what that die represents. That would get a closer approximation, but the system gives out dice based upon all of the modifiers that usually focus on the main roll. If you then went out and said X modifier = X number of FUDGE dice for any given roll. Yeah, that could approximate it with some rapidity.

      A very interesting thought.

      • Oh well. I wrote up a small article about adding simple degrees of success and failure to d20 rolls based on the DC/TN. I thought the specialty dice might be an easier way to add some flare as I’m unlikely to play Edge of the Empire itself due to current cost and an unfortunate lacking desire to play in the Star Wars universe.

  2. Pingback: Silk & Durasteel – Opening Credits | Consummate Gamer

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