A long time ago, in a galaxy far,
Star Wars has always been my favorite fairy tale. I’m of that generation that grew up with it, and even remember its initial release (barely, I was a kid at a Drive-In, I remember more about the playground set they had underneath the big screen).
Growing up I loved it because of the spirit of adventure behind it, of daring-do, of seeing the unknown, good vs evil, all that stuff. Had I been born earlier I might have been into Flash Gordon, but just as likely I’d have been into tales of pirates and privateers (having read Captain Blood, it totally hits the same notes for me).
So when the roleplaying game was released in my teen years, I was jazzed. Unfortunately my brother and fellow gamers weren’t as keen on the system. After all, it just used d6s. To them, REAL roleplaying games said, “Roll d20 or go home!” Hey, we all have our preferences, and I sympathized.
But dang it, West End Games came out with some of the best sourcebooks for Star Wars ever. They were so good that Timothy Zhan used them as reference material while writing the The Thrawn Trilogy (which rebooted interest in the Star Wars universe).
When I moved to Victoria I got the chance to actually play the d6 version of the game with several girls I knew, using an introductory boxed set that had recently come out, which introduced the rules gradually while playing through the adventure. It was simple, it worked very well and became the gaming system we’d come back to over and over again.
By the time we moved to Japan, West End Games had lost the licence and Wizards of the Coast picked it up, creating their own series of roleplaying games using the d20 system. In this case I looked at the rules and went, “Roll d20? Go home!” No point in going into details, but plenty about that system did not float my boat.
Eventually Wizards of the Coast gave up the licence and Fantasy Flight took it over. I took one look at the dice and went “PASS.” I mean, seriously…
…what the hell is this? Blasphamy, thats what!
My first impression was that this was some straight up bullshit meant to take away from the game mechanics I enjoy and make it a straight up narrative storytelling game. I ignored it and stuck with the classic d6 edition.
Then I came across this comic.
This intrigued me. I realized as I looked closer that the math was still there under the hood, but it was engineered in such a way as to speed up gameplay. Your skill level is set, so you know what dice to roll. You add dice to reflect difficulty and circumstances. Roll. Stuff cancels out. What’s left in effect tells a story–not just whether you succeed or fail, but if there are any complications or benefits surrounding it.
After reading up on it more, I realized there was serious potential here. At least looking at it on paper, it seemed like it could significantly speed up gameplay while still being a game and not just make believe story time.
They introduced other intriguing ideas as well – such as having playing cards made for common NPCs, so that you can quickly pull out who you need and have all the important stats in front of you – especially important if you’re forced to improvise, as you often do in roleplaying.
People have extended this idea so that weapons and equipment can also be represented in card format, which streamlines things for players so they’re not constantly checking over their sheet to see what they have. I could see how that could help out.
In short, there is a lot to like. But it’s not without its own kind of bullshit. Namely, gouging the player.
See, the Core rulebook for Edge of the Empire is like $70-80. And here’s the problem, it’s not complete. No, some stuff is left over for their other Core rulebooks, Age of Rebellion and Force and Destiny, each of which cost the same and have a huge amount of overlap. To give you an example, the Edge of the Empire game has the stats for a Y-Wing fighter, but not the classic X-Wing. That’s in Age of Rebellion.
Now, every RPG pads things out with suppliments, but something about spreading it out to 3 core books sticks in my craw. Granted, each Core book has everything you need to play in its given setting (you don’t NEED full fledged Jedi rules if you’re playing a smuggler group on the fringe of the galaxy, nor do you need all the Rebel milliary equipment if you’re not part of the Rebellion), but in other games this overlap would be taken care of in a stand alone suppliment.
I mean, seriously, the potential money sink for this game is nothing short of ludicrous. God help you if you have OCD and you grab this game. But there are ways around it. Going back to the X-Wing example, you can find its stats elsewhere online easily enough. Basically you can stick with one of the three series and use what’s available on the Net to fill in the gaps.
So I’m looking forward to trying out this system and see how it hold up in an actual field test, and more importantly, how my players like it. It might just be that this will solve some of the time-constraint issues I’ve had in the past, which would mean I’d get to play more in the future.
The question some of you might be asking, though, is “why?”
Well, as they used to say in that children’s show Tales from the Riverbank: “That’s… another story.”