Thursday, October 30, 2014

Star Wars (finally)

Well I've been meaning to write this for a long time, and I've been talking about it for the last few entries, but here it is finally, a post about the Star Wars game we've been playing for the past few months.

We're playing the current Fantasy Flight Star Wars Game (using both Edge of the Empire and Age of Rebellion). We've got several of the supplements and we're using those too. Some supplement books seem to be better than others (and some are bafflingly absent, like why on earth is there a supplement about Colonials, but NOT one for Scoundrels?!).

While I'm talking about the products themselves, I really wish they had a license that let them sell PDF's there are certain things that'd be a lot easier to find in those big books with a simple text search. Hopefully when the license comes up for renewal (and hopefully Fantasy Flight will be able to renew), maybe they can negotiate PDF rights.

The system itself is a bit of a mixed bag for our group, but on balance I like it, as do most other folks in the group. The game uses sets of custom dice of various shapes (d6's, d8's and d12's, as well as some d10's that are only used occasionally for force related stuff). They also sell a dice rolling app and the book has some info in it on using traditional numerical dice, but it feels like that'd be pretty clunky. At first when I heard about this it sounded like a cash grab to me. "Hey if you want to play this game you'll have to buy some dice from us, or buy our dice rolling app!" But as soon as we played our first session (on Free RPG day in fact! We picked up the Age of Rebellion beginner box and gave the very on-rails adventure in that box a spin), I realized this was not just a gimmick but actually a pretty interesting way to adjudicate an RPG system. You create dice pools based on your skills and the GM adds negative dice to those pools to represent complications and the general difficulty of tasks. There are mechanisms to upgrade or downgrade both the positive and negative dice. Once you have the final pool figured out you roll, and then start looking at which symbols came up. Different symbols cancel each other out and in the end you are left with the final pool, representing success or failure, and any advantage or disadvantage you might have (you can fail with advantage, or succeed with disadvantage). This opens up a lot of interesting narrative possibilities to explain the situation, though the game also gives you plenty of spelled out mechanical options for how to use your successes, failures, advantages and disadvantages.

The game has an interesting class system (they call them careers) which gives characters a lot of
defined options, but also doesn't really pen anyone in too much. Multi-classing is incredibly easy and even without multi-classing any skill is available to anyone, though it's cost in XP (the system has players spend the XP they earn to buy new skill ranks, or special abilities called talents) might be higher if it's not a career skill. It's pretty easy to build any sort of character you want from the generalist jack of all trades to very specialized characters.

Most of the major alien species from the Star Wars universe are present (and more keep coming out in new books), and all feel pretty well put together mechanically. The species you pick gives you some small changes but isn't generally central to how your character plays which I think is about right for a Star Wars game.

There are some ambiguities in the rules that have caused problems for us as a group. There are also some parts of the system that seem to want you to play the game in a very crunchy rules-heavy way, and other parts that are very open to interpretation with very few rules of any kind attached. That's not a terrible thing but sometimes the tension between those two approaches and especially the places where a really rules heavy section of the rules interacts with a very rules-lite seciotn can make things a little weird and hard to adjudicate at times. But overall I really like the system and I've been enjoying playing with the group of outlaws we've put together. Overall I'd recommend the system!

Have you played this game? Played any other Star Wars RPG's? Got any questions about the system? Let me know!

Good gaming!

-The Duke of Brandonshire