Monday, 8 July 2013

Edge of the Empire: Core Rulebook Read Impressions - Part II + Bonus

Howdy everyone!

It figures the night I try to both finish both writing down my impressions of the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook and actually get a chance to listen to the Order 66 Podcast live, my internet decides to be squirrelly. Oh well, I must press on!

As we dig in to the later chapters, we begin to see more new material; the stuff that makes you buy the book if you know the system from the Beta and Beginners game; the stuff I've been waiting for.

Chapter VII: Starships and Vehicles

Cleaned up rules and layout, with an expanded vehicles profiles section. There are still a few iconic ships missing from the section that are more likely to be touched upon in Age of Rebellion. That said, I like that they listed stats for many of the more obscure starships. If I have one peeve, it's that the image for the GAT-12H Skipray Blastboat has a major flaw in its design. (#fanboyproblems)

[As I mentioned in my previous post, stats for the Ghtroc 720 have been removed, but are still available here at Triumph & Despair, and C. Steven Ross just posted custom starship sheets for the Wayfarer, Lambda Shuttle and Luxury 3000 Space Yacht (my old Saga Edition group's ship of choice)]

Chapter VIII: The Force

Now this chapter underwent major errata corrections in the Beta, and boy did it need it; it was by far the most confusing chapter to try and wrap your head around. The layout now makes more sense, and the wording is a bit clearer; but to be honest it still could've used more clarification.

One area that is confusing is the listing of the Upgrades for the force powers, they don't appear to be listed in any semblance of order when presented, such as by general location on the force power tree or even in alphabetical order. What makes this even more difficult is the Upgrades share common names, but the specific effects might differ.
Here's an example: There are three Control Upgrades, and three Range Upgrades in the Sense Force Power Tree. The three Range Upgrades grant the same effect and are essentially ranked upgrades (this makes sense for them all the share the same name because they all do the exact same thing); whereas the three Control Upgrades for the tree each grant a different effect; this means that if you're reading the more in-depth description of an upgrade listed on the page, you have to read through each Control Upgrade in the force power tree to find out if a) it's the version of Control Upgrade you're looking for, b) its relative position in the tree, and c) if you can purchase it. Each of the three Force Powers suffers from this lack of organization of it's upgrades and makes cross-referencing more time consuming.

This could've been alleviated a bit by giving each Upgrade an identifier of some sort, such as a numerical one (Control Upgrade I, II, III, etc) that flows left to right in descending order on the tree. I don't think such an inclusion would've been a problem given that most Upgrades can only be purchased in an order dictated by the tree anyway.

Let's hope that FFG gets this ironed out by the time they put out Force and Destiny. ;{١

Chapter IX: The Game Master

This chapter has been greatly expanded from the eight pages in the Beta book, to nearly forty. Many GM sections of the RPG books tend to be fairly similar, but it's always nice to see new advice, whether it's generic or genre-specific, and this chapter has plenty of both. I know for a fact that veteran of every Star Wars RPG Sterling Hershey was the author of this chapter, and his expertise shows in the writing.

EotE Dice Pool example - Success
The chapter touches upon a tons of aspects of GMing, such as managing groups, running games, storytelling, interpreting the dice pool with examples, using Boost & Setback dice, using Strain, using Fear, Destiny Points, Obligation, Motivation, et cetera.; there's even an interesting sidebar on Using Music and Props. They certainly cover all their bases and I am serious impressed of the wealth of knowledge and advice in this chapter.

EotE Dice Pool example - Failure
One thing I find a bit amusing is a that sidebar talks about 'That Star Wars Feeling' and it mentions how horror isn't a common genre in Star Wars and should be limited in its use. Yet, the introduced rules for Fear checks seem to go against this somewhat. I know that fear and being afraid of something are different than being horrified, but when an example of a Formidable Fear check is "combat against things incomprehensible to one's mind" or "fear so crippling that sanity cracks" that begins to sound like its dipping into horror territory. (Cthulhu Mythos meets Star Wars? Now that would be an fun and interesting alternate universe campaign...) I find the concept of Fear checks an interesting addition to a Star Wars RPG, as we'd normally equate the heroes as being fearless against any threats; but remember that fear is a path to the dark side of the Force, so it makes sense from a thematic point. It's also nice that when a group encounters a rancor there's a bit of mechanical support to tell them they probably shouldn't tangle with this ferocious beast. And it's suggested Fear checks are best applied in unusual or infrequent situations, so that sounds good to me.

There are a good number of pages dedicated to pretty much everything one would need to know for creating adventures and running campaigns. The last couple pages cover a few interesting alternate/optional rules such as: passive checks, alternative initiative rules, and one-check combat resolution.

Chapter X: The Galaxy

Wow, this chapter is amazing! It's jam packed with break downs of all the astrographical areas of the Galaxy and their social/economical/political leanings with a gazetteer of several famous planets; it's like the Star Wars Essential Atlas (one of my favourite books) condensed into a chapter with emphasis on generating story and plot hooks for your game group.

One thing that caught my eye is a piece of art in the section discussing hyperlanes; the exact piece is seen the the Beginners Game except in I believe as an earlier draft, because the woman in the picture's hair is a different cut and colour. It's funny little things like that I notice. :p

Chapter XI: Law and Society

This chapter covers the largest influential groups of the Galaxy: The Empire, The Alliance, Black Sun, and The Hutts, along with some of the smaller groups like the Corporate Sector Authority (there's even a sidebar for Ploovo Two-For-One, whom I was going to work into my last EotE game), the Zann Consortium, the Tenloss Syndicate (one of my earliest posts was homebrew rules for them in Saga Edition, perhaps I should see if I can update it for EotE), and the Bounty Hunters Guild.

Following that we get a primer on the various laws your characters are highly likely to end up on the wrong side of.

Chapter XII: Adversaries

We get an expanded bestiary as it were of a large assortment of Minions, Rivals, and Nemeses your PC's may encounter. There's a wide variety and the system easily allows one to modify a pre-existing NPC to create just the right adversary.

Chapter XIII: Trouble Brewing

And last but not least, the final chapter of the book is an adventure called Trouble Brewing. I don't want to spoil it, but here's the basic gist of the adventure: the group learns of an individual named Bandin Dobah who is causing trouble for a community of smugglers and fringers on Formos, and they soon become embroiled in said trouble.

Trouble Brewing

Browsing through the adventure, it looks pretty well written and structured, with optional encounters that can be thrown in to add variety or flavour. I'll try to post my future impressions on the adventure when I run it.

Final Thoughts and Impressions

The beginning of my read through was a little boring, as I already read and new the majority of the rules, but when I reached the later chapters (especially The Game Master, The Galaxy, and Law and Society) I was drawn in. Though a hefty I think it's weight in content is well worth it's price.

Bonus Note: Yesterday was the launch of The New Order 66 Podcast kickstarter, and whilst I was listening to the podcast it already met it's funding goal in the first 12 hours; and as of me writing this, has reached over 300%; and there's still 24 days left! Stretch goals ahoy! Even if you're a long time fan of the boys like myself, or a new time listener $20 nets you a bunch of growing swag including a set of map tiles by master cartographer Christopher West of Maps of Mastery, various tokens for roll20, and a custom module for Edge of the Empire written by co-host of the Order 66 Podcast, GM Chris called Dead Man's Hand and an adventure by the other co-host GM Dave called Ice Station Zulu.

And there's more to come! Stay tuned!

And if you haven't heard Order 66 before and enjoy Star Wars RPGs, get off your duff and do it!

May the Force be with You! ;{١

Unrelated P.S. Better Than Any Man, the Free RPG Day adventure for Lamentations of the Flame Princess is now available on PDF for as much (or as little) as you want.