Sunday, November 10, 2013

First thoughts about Edge of Empire


I've actually been on a bit of a RPG-buying kick lately, a sure sign that I'm either a bit depressed or just suffering from the wandering foot of my hobby tendencies. Edge of Empire is the latest iteration of a Star Wars RPG, this one by Fantasy Flight Games.

I own every Star Wars RPG out there, from the first edition by West End Games to FFG's new stop-a-high-caliber-bullet tome, and I may like this one the least, which is saying a lot since I'm including Wizards of the Coast's d20 version in there.  Why?  I'll tell you.

It's not, as it turns out, because of their dice that are game-specific and damned expensive ($18 for a set), although that does cheese me off.  It's even not the way that they reduce all social interaction to a die roll, with little in the way of in-character roleplaying affecting the outcome.

No, it's the way they chose to settle into the Star Wars universe.  In EoE, the PC's are all smugglers, soldiers, bounty hunters, etc. existing in the gritty fringe of the galaxy and struggling to raise money to hold off various creditors and bulk up their inevitable tramp freighter to bigger and better things.  At best, the PC's are picaresque.  At worst, they are "murder hobos."

What they really are is indistinguishable from every other boring merchant marine campaign this side of Traveller.  The real joy of Star Wars is its conflict between good and evil played out on a mythic level against a science fiction (or more correctly, science fantasy) landscape.  Han Solo isn't appealing because he's the world's coolest rogue, he is because he transcends his self interest to not only find love but also become a hero.  How would the story look if, at the end of Episode IV the big climax is that Han takes the payment from the Rebellion for rescuing the princess and uses it to pay off Jabba the Hutt or upgrade the Millenium Falcon's turbolasers into something better?

I say that because that's the direction the game is geared.  Oh, I hear you cry that a good GM could piece together a meaningful story of heroism out of the grist of Edge of Empire, but I have said many times that it really isn't worth the trouble to go that much against the grain of a game sometimes when there are others that are going in the right direction.

And my God, how many pages of equipment, weapons, and gear does a lightweight science fantasy game need anyways?  I'm at the point now that having to get the players up to speed on 20+ pages of gear is one of those pains in my backside that I have no interest in getting into any more.

4 comments:

  1. Interesting post, especially to me, because I am highly interested in this game. I'm a Star Wars movie fan from way back but the only Star Wars RPG I owned was a second hand copy of the Revised D20 version. I never got around to buying the WEG version because I always thought "man, I'll get it later because it's not like it will ever go out of print - it's Star Wars!". Yeah, I was an oblivious young teenager back then. Lesson learned.

    The special dice don't scare me off at all. I'm a fan of the DCC RPG and I think the dice actually adds to the experience.

    What does bother me about the game? The two points you mention above have me concerned about whether or not I should purchase this game. Even though smugglers, outlaws, and rogues have their place in Star Wars they should not be the focus. Star Wars does have some tech in it but it's more about flash and looking cool than running through big inventory lists of stats.

    I look forward to reading any follow up posts that detail how the game plays.

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  2. Thank you WQRobb!

    This game just does not interest me in the least and I am a big Star Wars fan who has run the West End Games D6 version dozens and dozens of times. I demoed the first D20 game for WotC at my friendly local game store. I love gaming Star Wars and I will not touch this thing.

    Why? Execution. Making me buy custom dice aside. Beginner's game and much too expensive rule book aside. The much too expensive rulebook doesn't even cover a fraction of the Star Wars universe or even the most interesting parts of the Star Wars universe.

    You hit the nail on the head when you said that this is basically Traveller with Star Wars names and species. Wee! Can't do that by just modifying Traveller can I? Wait, yes I can. Better yet I can grab Star Wars D6 and just don't use Force-Users. Of course, without the Force, wait for it, It Ain't Star Wars!

    Now eventually you will be able to play all aspects of the Star Wars universe using this game. When? Not sure. After spending how much? Holy Bantha Poodoo!

    No thanks.

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  3. I saw in a local gaming store that FFG is already selling the Beta to their "Age of Rebellion" sourcebook. So you can spend $40 for a Beta-version of a rulebook they will sell later. What gets me is that WEG could do Star Wars is a lean little book (with admittedly a lot of supplements) and that even WotC had a smaller rulebook.

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  4. Precisely. The original Star Wars first edition rulebook allowed you to play anything from a species you made up to a droid to Failed Jedi Knight and was only 148 pages and cost something like 15 bucks back then (1987).

    You're telling me you couldn't have covered the basics of the Star Wars universe across several eras (Are a New Republic Soldier, an Old Republic Soldier and a Rebellion era Mercenary all that different?) in one $35-40 dollar book at 250 pages of something like that?

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