Edge of the Empire – Star Wars RPG Review
I recently picked up the Core Rulebook for Edge of the Empire, just minutes before a game session being held at our Friendly Local Gaming Store, the Wyvern’s Tale. I wasn’t completely new to the rules, having picked up the beginner game a few months ago. I had really enjoyed running the beginner game for some friends, and so I had high hopes for the big book. It did not disappoint.
Weighing in at 448 pages, the book contains everything you need to run an Edge of the Empire game, other than the dice (more on that later). It is filled with rich full-color illustrations and is very nicely laid out with relevant sidebars and examples for different aspects of the game.
Edge of the Empire focuses on worlds around the “outer rim” of known space. The character careers and specializations reflect this Space-Opera meets Wild-west sort of feel. Each career has 3 specializations. When combined with the different race options, there is a huge variety of character options in this book. Careers include: Bounty Hunter, Colonist, Explorer, Hired Gun, Smuggler, and Technician. Each have three specializations which allow access to skill-trees that reflect that specialization. For instance, the three specializations for Technician are Mechanic, Outlaw Tech, and Slicer. A mechanic is mostly going to focus on skills that keep ships operating smoothly, An outlaw tech focuses on improving and modifying equipment and droids, sometimes with less-than-legal components! A slicer is unmatched in computer skills and accessing systems to gain advantages through information, or control over those systems. That is a LOT of variation in one career!
The system itself is a unique balance of rules-light improv, and rules-heavy tables and mechanics. My favorite aspect of both the combat and skill system is that it isn’t as simple as hit or miss. When you roll a check you assemble a dice pool. The dice pool is made up of positive dice from your skill and proficiency dice, as well as boost dice that represent any factors that may be in your favor, and the negative dice made up from difficulty dice, challenge dice, and setback dice representing everything that is working against the action you are trying to accomplish. For a very difficult task, you add more negative dice to the dice pool. Rather than just being numbers on the dice, there are several symbols that can come up. On the positive dice you have symbols representing successes, advantages, and triumphs. On the negative dice you have symbols for failure, threat, and despair. For an action to succeed, you need to roll more successes than failures, but here is where it gets interesting: whether or not you succeed you can create an advantage or a setback. For instance, if you try and shoot a storm-trooper with your blaster, you may not roll enough more successes than you do failures, meaning your shot missed. However, if you roll more advantages than you do threats, your shot has had some advantageous effect. What that is is up to you and the GM to make up. Maybe your shot hits a coolant pipe near the storm-trooper, reducing their visibility which makes it harder for them to attack you! Mechanically this adds negative dice to their die pool on the next attack, but you decide the flavor to make the action awesome! Conversely, you may get enough successes to hit, but you may also generate a threat. This could be shooting the storm-trooper in the chest, but the force of the hit backing his body into an alarm button on the wall! Your imagination is the limit, just like what every good RPG should strive to be.
Ship to ship combat is done in much the same way, and in my experience moves quickly and is action-packed. There is a conversion table for regular dice (d6, d8 and d12) but looking up all of those and figuring out which is cancelling what would bog down the action to the point where the dice really become worth it. There is also an application for the dice for iOS, Android, and Kindle, for $5.00, but if your interest is piqued, I would recommend the Beginner Game, which includes a set of dice, a two-sided map, character and baddy markers, and an excellent adventure that throws you in to the action right away. I’m looking forward to running this for the guys, hopefully for many sessions to come!
– Many players will be familiar with a lot of the “feel” and details if they are Star Wars fans
– Narrative action system combines the best of mechanics and improv for a cinematic, fast-paced combat
– Tons of options for characters and backstories
– Custom and expensive dice
– High buy-in between the Core Book (MSRP $59.95) and dice (MSRP $14.95)
– No PDF version of the book