Edge of the Empire Core Book

Accessibility: 8/10

The Star Wars RPG by Fantasy Flight Games was released through the first setting Edge of the Empire. The Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook is massive at 447 pages but is a fantastic start for the Star Wars universe. EotE (Edge of the Empire) covers the life of smugglers, pirates, mercenaries, and other outlaws in the Outer Rim, the area of the Star Wars galaxy that is basically lawless. The game operates on a mostly narrative focus. It is one of the least number heavy games out there making it good for those that are more invested in the roleplaying aspect than the number crunching one.

 

So the book opens with a short two page story to give you a feel for the adventure expected from this game. Afterwards it gives an introduction with guidance for both GMs and players, helping direct them to what parts of the book are most important to start with. It includes a short example of how a session would feel with both players and a GM. It follows this with an establishing of the state of the galaxy. It helps to let players know what is going on and what is common knowledge for many. For fans of the film series it also establishes where in the movies the adventures take place. Next we move into the mechanics of the game system itself. EotE runs with specialized dice that represent Advantage, Success, and Triumph which are cancelled out by Threat, Failure, and Despair. These represent different aspects of a player’s roll and are generated by 6 special dice. Boost (a blue d6), Ability (a green d8), Proficiency (a yellow d12), Setback (a black d6), Difficulty (a purple d8), and Challenge (a red d12).

 

The book covers how to assemble dice pools and how to substitute generic dice for the special dice if you are unable to get a full set or need more of a certain type. It covers characteristics, also known as attributes. You have Agility, Brawn, Cunning, Intellect, Presence, and Willpower.

Agility: flexibility, guns, and piloting

Brawn: strength, durability, and melee

Cunning: lying, perception, wilderness survival, and underhandedness

Intellect: science and textbook knowledge

Presence: charisma, negotiation, and other social skills

Willpower: intimidation, initiative, and force powers

The book also details destiny points, a set of points generated at the beginning of each game session that allows both players and GMs to shift the game in their favor by either upgrading skills or changing small aspects of the universe.

The book then moves to breakdown character creation and details how a character is made. Unlike many games that decide your character’s abilities and stats first, EotE starts by having you form the character’s background, personality, and motivations. The basis of who your character is is more important in this game that what they are. The game has a large amount of options for making your character and uses an odd hybrid of a point-buy system (A system without levels that just spends experience to buy new abilities or stats) and a class system (A system that locks your character into a specific path that they unlock with new levels) While you choose what class you want to be you are not limited to them. Just like you can buy new talents and skills with experience you can also buy new classes with it, allowing you to constantly add more classes to your character. The classes of the game are separated as careers and specializations. While your career can’t change your specialization can be added to with more specializations. Every career comes with 3 specializations.

For EotE the careers are as follows:

  • Bounty Hunter: Classic hunter of outlaws and anyone with a bounty on them
    • Assassin: stealth character who focuses on snipers knives breaking and entering
    • Gadgeteer: Batman, basically a character who relies more on having special tools than innate ability
    • Survivalist: wilderness survivors who specialize in nature and tracking targets through jungles and marshes
  • Colonist: Regular person who focuses on non-combat roles
    • Doctor: medic who focuses on healing other characters
    • Politico: politician who specializes in negotiations and lying
    • Scholar: knowledge character that effectively supplies the party with information they would not have otherwise
  • Explorer: A traveler by nature that fills in the spots left by the Colonist
    • Fringer: a navigator who can help guide the party through the galaxy and fill in for a charisma character if needed
    • Scout: a fast character who can run ahead of the party and check for danger or pilot get-away vehicles
    • Trader: sell items and help earn money for the group
  • Hired Gun: Standard mercenary who specializes in murder above all else
    • Bodyguard: can defend others while excelling in hand-to-hand combat
    • Marauder: melee character that focuses on killing enemies quickly with swords and other melee weapons
    • Mercenary Soldier: straightforward fighter with rifles and turrets
  • Smuggler: Han Solo, basically the pilot drug runner with a pistol
    • Pilot: focused on driving both space ships and land ships like speeder bikes
    • Scoundrel: this is the smuggler who is good at talking his way out but knows how to use a pistol
    • Thief: a stealth character with some hacking ability, hard to sneak up on
  • Technician: The all around science character that focuses on crafting and hacking
    • Mechanic: repairs vehicles and upgrades them
    • Outlaw Tech: makes batman gadgets and other useful trinkets
    • Slicer: standard hacker who can get into computers and steal credit card info

A lot of these careers have overlap with how a specialization works. This allows people to pick a specialization that more accurately represents their character. Do you know your character is good with a rifle? Well you can now pick Mercenary Soldier, Bodyguard, or Assassin. But even though all of them specialize in rifles they each carry other skills. Are you a generic soldier, the bodyguard of a noble, or an assassin plotting your next kill? The game puts your character decisions in perspective through narrative character building. The emphasis is, again, on who you are, not what you are. If you want more than one option you’re in luck! You can also buy more specializations with experience. So you can be a bodyguard pilot or an assassin scholar.

The book comes with 8 races to start with including the classic human and ever-present droids of the Star Wars universe. It has some fan favorites such as Rodians (Greedo from the cantina scene in Episode IV) and Wookies (like Chewbacca from Episodes III-VII), but it also has some lesser known ones like Bothans and Gands which are both very background in the movies. Each race is simple to understand mechanically and they each have a slightly different setup to start with.

The book goes into detail about how to spend your experience points and what your groups starting equipment should look like. The game goes on to describe all the skills in the game and how they are used. One of the more unique aspects of how the skills work is that when rolling them there is not just success and failure but also advantage, threat, triumph, and despair to consider and the book details how, in a narrative way, these are used.

For example; Athletics is described generally, noting which characteristic it relies on, and gives examples of how it can be used such as climbing, jumping, and balancing. It also describes what the different dice symbols mean in the contexts of that roll. Advantage might allow them to move extra or jump further than expected, while threat can cause them to trip or sprain their ankle when landing from a successful jump.

One thing important to note with this book is that when it talks about symbols and checks it represents them with the actual symbol instead of the word and dice rolls are represented with small symbols of the dice. Since the dice are color coded and different sized they are simplistically rendered as a blue box, green diamond, yellow hexagon, black box, purple diamond, and red hexagon. This makes understanding the dice rolls in the game much easier and intuitive as player only need to look at the dice pool in terms of shapes and colors instead of something more complicated as 2d6 +intelligence +7. This becomes 2 green diamonds +a blue square +a yellow hexagon +2 purple diamonds. When making these checks no large number calculations are needed either. simply subtract the opposing dice symbols until all that is left is unopposed dice. So a roll that gives 2 advantage minus 3 threat and 4 successes minus 2 failure ends up as 1 threat and 2 successes. This means the character succeeded but something negative came with it. And that’s it.

Back to the book though, the book moves on to give slight details on marketplaces and finding items before moving to combat which is much of the same as any other skill check, requiring no different dice or system. Characters have wound threshold and strain threshold which represent being injured and being tired respectively. When one maxes out your character is either unconscious or dead, GM’s choice. Combat stats are also simple. You have damage, defense, soak, and critical. Defense adds black setback dice to an attacker’s roll while soak subtracts it’s number from the damage dealt. If the soak is higher than the damage the target takes none of it. Most numbers in combat will not exceed 15 unless dealing with explosives. Criticals are handled by rolling two d10, one for the tens place and one for the singles place. The number you get corresponds to a spot on the critical injury chart and tells you what happens. For instance you roll 2 d10 and you get a 4 and a 7. If the 4 is your tens place die then the number is 47. If it’s your singles die then the number is 74. You then look it up and apply the effect. Criticals are activated by extra advantage from the combat roll so the more advantage you can generate the better chance you have of criting.

The book then details some weapons, armor, and gadgets for your characters to buy and use before doing the same with vehicles. In between these two sections is a sections that expands the combat rules, detailing how actions are set up and how a single turn operates. Characters have an action, which can do anything, and a maneuver, which can do minor tasks like take cover, move, and aim.

The book then introduces the Force. However, don’t expect to become a jedi as what is available is extremely small and meant to help give you an edge. Actual jedi building is reserved for Force and Destiny. As it stands the book has a single specialization and 3 force powers: Sense, Influence, and Move. These allow you to read minds, manipulate minds, and move objects respectfully.

After this the book delves into the role of the GM or Game Master. It covers many of the topics that GMs deal with like creating groups and handling table discussion.

The next chapter details the world itself It gives a massive amount of information on the Star Wars universe, especially where your characters will most likely be playing. It details multiple planets and gives a lot of important and useful information for both GMs and players.

After this is the Adversaries section which gives the stats for almost any enemy or ally you are likely to come across in your adventures. It details their stats, special abilities, and equipment.

The book ends with an adventure sample that a GM can run players through to help get a feel for it. It can also be used at any later point in the game as just another adventure. At the very end is a blank character sheet that can be copied and handed out to players.

 

Final Conclusions:

The game is very fun and definitely captures the feeling of the Star Wars films and games. The game is highly cinematic and puts more emphasis on telling an interesting story than running numbers. It is very open and flexible with just enough rigidness to help guide new players who don’t feel comfortable experimenting yet. However, a downfall of this game is that while it is very approachable for player it is very difficult for starting GMs. The game puts almost all of the weight on the GM as even the dice rolls are not concrete, forcing the GM to spend time deciphering their results and coming up with something to happen. If you have a flexible and experienced GM helping you this game is incredibly smooth and fun but if your GM is inexperienced or not good at improvising then the game might be too difficult for them to work with. But, Fantasy Flight has also released a Beginner Game set for this that you can buy. It comes with premade characters that even shows how to read their character sheets with very useful notes. It also comes with a leveled up version of them and details on how to level them up. It’s a great buy if you’re just starting out and I’ll be reviewing it in about a week.

Accessibility: 8/10

Thank you all so much for reading and if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for what I should review next please leave them in the comments below or email me with the subject “Beginner RPG”. And if you’re interested in the game you can buy it here. Have a wonderful day.

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