Friends Like These is an adventure module that contains a lot that Star Wars fans have been wanting for a long time. A lot of the new player options it offers is front-loaded, being presented before the first real chapter. The story it offers is broken up into 4 episodes which represent the 4 main chapters of the book. Before that is the Introduction which covers a lot of new rules, player options, and set pieces. The first part is a short adventure overview that covers the background of the adventure and is followed by a breakdown of all the main characters, excluding the party. After, is a brief summary of each of the 4 episodes. Following that is one of the most interesting additions that long-time fans have been waiting for which is the official stats for playable Mandalorians. Next the section covers the rewards for the players and the use of Duty for them and covers some additional rules. It then focuses briefly on how to integrate the player characters before focusing on an explanation of Mass Combat rules which were already introduced and discussed at length in Lead by Example.
The story of this adventure focuses on the party answering a call for help and then recruiting new allies to help repel the Imperial assault. The first episode focuses on the introduction to the situation and some defensive planning while the second and third chapter focus primarily on recruiting mandalorians and zygerrians. The last chapter is the battle with the Empire itself. The book uses the plot background and chapter summary to explain this nicely in simple terms before using the actual chapters to explore each episode in greater depth. The chapters also give the stats of multiple planets that can be used for other stories, such as Xorrn, Vlemoth Port, and Kowak. Each has a plethora of locations that can be explored and a surprisingly large amount of named NPCs. It also has a large variety of dangers and side interests that can be looked into.
The book is laid out very well but has its best layout in the beginning. In the beginning information is kept neatly separated and concise. During the episodes themselves it can, at times, feel bloated and like too many ideas are trying to come through at once. A glance at page 19 alone can give the feeling of how much the book tries to convey at any single time. While this does keep a lot of the information coming in chronologically it unfortunately makes it too sporadic to take your time with. More separation of ideas into areas would have been more appreciated. There are times where two pages are nothing but character details which would be fine if they were not placed in the middle of the chapter with more characters coming later. Like with some of their other books this one, at times, feels like it wants you to do everything in a given area before moving on to the next. Because it is made for use by a GM it should be more formatted to give the GM an easier time pulling the information they need. Again, the core books are fantastic at this and separate their information very well. This adventure gets off to a great start in the beginning but unfortunately falls back on old habits and begins becoming a bit too clustered for readability. However, the story is still fantastic and the adventure is perfectly designed to allow any character a moment in the spotlight, from the brave soldier, to the charming negotiator, to the rugged mechanic. All types of characters can find something in this adventure for them. While I highly recommend this adventure, if not for the mandalorians than anything else, I would only recommend the adventure for a GM who’s run a few larger adventures and feels comfortable with the system first.