Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, the new RPG from Fantasy Flight Games, was recently announced at Gencon 2012 and immediately released in beta form. Needless to say, the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG has caused quite a furor, especially the decision by Fantasy Flight Games to release the beta version for $30 and a lot of confusion over exactly what was in the book. Well, I’ll be bringing more complete thoughts to you next week, but I got a copy of the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG beta so I could tell you all exactly what it entailed.
The first thing I noticed about the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG beta is that it is a very nice looking book. It’s soft cover, but it feels sturdy and the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG beta is pretty thick at 222 pages long. It’s mostly a wall of rules, as well. They noted that they had removed thematic elements from the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG beta (or they’re not ready) and they aren’t kidding. Most of the text is very rules-oriented, which is fine with me since it is presented as basically a rules-only document. With that said, it is full color and the rules text seems to be well-written in the parts I’ve read. The Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG beta also contains a nice table of contents and an index, which is more than I can say for some completed books that I’ve seen.
The central mechanic is pretty unique to me (mind you, I haven’t played any other Fantasy Flight Games RPGs, so it could be utterly derivative of those – I understand it shares a lot with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3), but you basically roll ‘positive dice’ that are added to the pools based on skills and abilities and ‘negative dice’ that are added based on the difficulty of the task. There are also setback and boost dice, which provide a wider number of outcomes (like ‘You failed, but you got an advantage from your boost die, meaning something went in your favor’ or ‘You succeeded, but one of the setback die came out with a Threat on it, so something has gone wrong anyway.’). It actually does look like a system that will produce a wide variety of interesting outcomes, although I would hardly call the system, which involves multiple dice of different colors with different symbols that cancel each other out, as elegant. Still, I like it. I don’t find it that hard to grok by any means and it makes the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG beta feel a little different than some of the other games I’ve played. I also like the system whereby some dice are upgraded to larger dice (from d8 to d12) based on how closely aligned a character’s skills and stats are. Oh, and there is a chart for playing the game with regular dice, but it seems like a pain to be checking the chart all the time, especially when you’re probably rolling five or more dice most times. I also think it’s interesting that the number of Destiny Points each side has available for a session is set at the beginning of the session (so the good guys get so many and the GM gets so many based on a roll at the top of the session) which is not something I had seen before, either.
So, that’s basically all I’ve read so far of the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG beta. It is worth noting that this stuff is, my understanding, beta material, so it could be completely non-representative of how the game actually turns out. It is, however, a very polished book with some interesting mechanics if you are into that sort of thing. Obviously, I’ve not gotten to actually play the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG beta, but I’m certainly interested in doing so. I’ll try to bring you more impressions as I continue reading through the book over the next couple of weeks.
Have you tried out any new games recently? Do you have thoughts on the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG beta situation? Talk about it in the comments.