Posted March 13, 2013 by Jon Burrows in Games
 
 

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Preview

Edge-of-the-Empire-Box-Art
Edge-of-the-Empire-Box-Art

Star Wars:  Edge of the Empire Preview

Four fringers – a merc, a gladiator, a droid and a smuggler – rely on their wits and each other as they flee the wrath of a Hutt cartel. Together, they must face Gamorrean thugs, swindle disreputable traders, flee from Imperial patrols and steal a Corellian freighter if they plan to survive. This is the adventure set forth in the “Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game” published by Fantasy Flight Games, and it is bursting with potential.

The core rulebooks to the “Star Wars: Edge of the Empire” RPG are not slated for release until the second quarter this year, but the beginner game demonstrates what this system can do. “Edge of the Empire” introduces a fascinating new dice mechanic featuring unique symbols instead of numbers– serving both to simplify play as well as add to the storytelling process. Success and Failure symbols determine whether a character succeeds or not (simple, right?). But there are also Advantage and Threat symbols, which allow the players to really tell the story of how their action occurred. These values do not affect the success of a roll, but flavor the outcome.

Maybe your Success and Advantage roll for a Negotiate check convinces the trader to sell you the part at a discount. A Success roll with a blaster will hit, but if you also rolled Threat then perhaps the guards in the other room heard your exchange and come running. A perfect example of a Failure/Threat roll can be seen in “Return of the Jedi” – not only does Han fail to open the bunker door on Endor, he manages to close the blast doors as well.  The beauty of this mechanic is that there isn’t a set table of “things that happen on an Advantage/Threat roll.” You get to make it up yourself, allowing everyone at the table to contribute to the game in their own way.

I should also mention the Triumph and Despair values which imply something major just went down, but without access to the finalized rules–which I assume go into greater detail on the significance of these symbols–we were unable to take full advantage of those rolls when I played.  In total, there are seven different types of dice, though only six are used for rolling skills.  Each die has a different balance of values and each has its own specific purpose.

Dice-Chart

Player input is the heart of the system: the rules are simple, elegant and sparse for this very reason.  Characters have few moving parts, relying instead on the player to infuse them with nuance.  Gradation of the difficulty of an action is determined by adding different dice to the roll.  You just add up the number of like values showing and whichever value there are more of determines the outcome of your roll. (In other words, Successes versus failures and Advantages versus Threats.)  Apart from counting all the different symbols for each roll, there isn’t any on-the-fly math you need to worry about, something I know will appeal to many gamers.

Personally, I cannot wait to try the real thing when it comes out.  That said, if you prefer a more realistic simulation RPG experience full of hard numbers and rules that account for everything a character can do, or find the idea of role-playing what your character does for every other roll, this might not be the best fit for you.  I definitely recommend you give “Star Wars: Edge of the Empire” a try.


Jon Burrows

 
An exclusive writer for Geek Smash, Jon hails from Mississippi and has a passion for music, comic-books, and writing. He collects antique cars and enjoys shooting handguns. Jon sings in his church choir, volunteers his time helping the Salvation Army at local events and doubles as Santa during Christmas season.