Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, Beta (Week 1)

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Star Wars: Edge of Empire is the latest incarnation for the Star Wars setting. This latest ruleset comes from Fantasy Flight Games and currently has been released in just a Beta format for players to playtest and provide feedback on.

I got a hold of the Beta ruleset this past weekend from a friend and took a read through it. This is just a preliminary look at the system as I haven't yet run a game with the rules to try them out.

Unlike a lot of other RPG systems, this is a generally rules light system with the focus being more on the Narrative of the adventure than on the mechanics system (in a similar vein to Savage Worlds). Character creation is fairly simple and straightforward.

  • Create your background
  • Choose your race
  • Spend your starting XP on Traits, Skills and Talents

 Your race determines your starting attributes and XP. The choice of career and career specialization determines what skills are "class skills" as well as what Talents you can build a character off of.

Choosing a specialization doesn't lock a character into that "class" as a player can purchase access to other specializations, but can't ever have more than three specializations at any one time. If, at any point, the character buys a fourth specialization, then one of the other trees is given up and any non-permanent abilities (those not marked with a red bar) are lost.

The dice mechanic is relatively simple. With the exception of force-users who have access to a special die, all characters roll a pool of dice composed of three beneficial types (Ability, Skill and Boost) and 3 negative types (Difficulty, Challenge and Setback). How many of each type is determined by the combination of character skill and what they are opposing. These aren't standard dice; instead, each of the different dice use custom symbols with special meanings and each die is colored differently in the rules to make them easier to represent.

Force die. This is a white d12 with light-side and dark-side points. In the beta it is really only used to determine the Destiny Pool.

Ability dice. These are green d8s.

Proficiency dice. These are yellow d12s and are the upgrades for the Ability dice.

Boost dice. These are blue d6s and are added to the pool by favorable circumstance or equipment.

Difficulty dice. These are purple d8s and are the basic dice used to counter a characters skill. The more Difficulty dice the harder the task.

Challenge dice. These are red d12s and are the upgrades to Difficulty dice, making a task even harder to succeed at.

Setback dice. These are black d6s and are added to a character's dice pool for unfavorable circumstance or other factors.

Success - The most basic result of any positive die. More successes means a better result.

Advantage - Used to improve results of successes or to activate Talents.

Triumph - Counts as both a Success and can do even better things over the Advantage.

Failure - Counteracts Successes or the Success result of the Triumph symbol.

Threat - Create complications to a result, even if the final result is successful. A jammed weapon, or ammo running out, etc...

Despair - Counts as a Failure and causes more spectacularly bad things to happen.

Players build up a dice pool of positive and negative dice based on their skill and the difficulty of the task (either an NPC's skill or a set number). Dice can be upgraded or downgraded based on effects and boost and setback dice are added, then all the dice are rolled together to see what happens. The goal is to get more successes than failures.

The way the system works keeps the number of dice limited to no more than 6 of any type of die in the roll barring special effects (like from Talents). Ability and Difficulty dice are upgraded (replaced) by Proficiency and Challenge dice respectively. A simple example is a character with a 3 attribute and 2 skill (or reverse these numbers as the example works the same). The larger number becomes the starting number of Ability dice, in this case 3. The smaller number becomes the number of upgrades for those dice, 2 in this case. So, two Ability dice are replaced with Proficiency dice with the two upgrades. It is the same with Difficulty dice. They get upgraded to Challenge dice. Boost and Setback dice have no upgrade as they are situational dice. Downgrading does the opposite of upgrading dice.

A player faced with a challenge of equal kinds of dice (same Ability and Difficulty, same Challenge and Proficiency) has a slight edge in the challenge as their is one more chance of a success vs failures on those dice. For those familiar with D20, that is like the default difficulty being 10, which gives a +0 skill character a 55% chance to succeed rather than a 50% chance.

The other mechanic used in the system is the Destiny Pool. This is a set of markers that can be called upon by the players (Light-side tokens) or the GM (Dark-side tokens). When one side or the other uses a point of Destiny, they flip one of their tokens over, turning it into the opposite Destiny; Light-side becomes Dark-side and vice versa. This allows for an ebb and flow of Destiny as the game session continues.

The Destiny Pool is created at the beginning of each game session by using the White Force die. Each player rolls the die and a number of tokens are set aside based on the result (1 or 2 light-side or 1 or 2 dark-side). These make up the whole Destiny Pool for the game session.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to either play or run a game or two in the next few weeks. Check back for more Star Wars news.