Star Wars: Far Horizons Review
Before we get to the review, Asheville Comic Expo is this Saturday! Your favorite local gaming bloggers (FLGB?!) will be organizing and running a lot of the RPG tables. If you haven’t reserved your seat for a game or two, check out the warhorn! Never signed up for any public games on warhorn before? Check out our handy guide from last week.
The most recent sourcebook for Star Wars Edge of the Empire is Far Horizons, which expounds upon the colonist career. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know if I would pick this one up. Out of all the careers colonist is probably the least exciting option, and having to follow the awesome Dangerous Covenants? Good luck.
After flipping through it I became a lot more interested. From the core book the colonist specializations are Doctor, Politico, and Scholar. This book adds Entrepreneur, Marshall, and Performer. It also goes into some really great detail for new obligations and backgrounds for the existing specializations, as well as the new ones. New species are Arcona, Gran and Chevin.
Entrepreneur is similar to the trader, but with some talents that actually depend on the flow of credits. Sound Investments gains you 100 credits per rank at the start of every session. Greased Palms allows you to spend 50 credits per rank to upgrade a social check (Charm, Deception etc.) and Throwing Credits allows you to ignore the strain penalty from a triggered obligation. Most of the other talents on the tree have to do with finding items, and getting a better price for what you sell.
Marshall is a very intriguing class, especially for those smaller parties that need PCs with a balance of combat and social skills. Essentially the sheriff of a colony, how you would come to be part of a band of adventures can pose some very interesting plot hooks and obligations! There are plenty of talents in the tree to make sure your character can do well in combat like durable, grit, point blank, and quick draw. The most intriguing new additions are Good Cop and Bad Cop. Good Cop allows you to spend two advantage from a Charm or Negotiation check to upgrade a single ally’s subsequent social check, per rank. Bad Cop is similar, but you spend the two advantage on a subsequent Deception or Coercion check per rank.
Last of the new specializations is Performer. I had thought this would be the least interesting of the three, but with nice mix of social and melee skills, you can create quite an intriguing and well-balanced character. Not to mention all the interesting narrative benefits and complications that can come with being even a small-time celebrity. One of the interesting new talents for the performer is Biggest Fan. Once a session, a performer can make a hard charm check and if successful, an NPC in the current encounter becomes that character’s biggest fan. This can drastically decrease difficulty checks for social encounters, or the NPC may be willing to do favors for the character at the GM’s discretion. There is a big caveat that GM’s may rule some NPCs ineligible to be targeted by this if they are central to the plot.
There are two new signature abilities, which haven’t come in to play at my Star Wars tables yet, but are somewhat interesting. Insightful revelation allows a PC to learn valuable information about the current situation they did not previously have. All it will cost you is two destiny points and a hard knowledge education check. I get the spirit of this power, but it doesn’t seem like it would come up very much and doesn’t seem to me to be an apex ability if you’re telling a good story. The other one in Unmatched Expertise, which allows a PC to reduce the difficulty of all career skill checks by one for the rest of the encounter, again for two destiny points. This could be cool, but by the time you unlock this you are going to be pretty amazing at most of what you can do, and may have the unintended consequence of making boss fights a cake walk, or starting a difficulty arms race between the players and the GM.
The next section in the book is new equipment and vehicles. Once of the most intriguing weapons is the sonic rilfe, which has the unique quality not being subject to light-saber deflection. This could prove handy for GMs looking to challenge young Jedi in the upcoming Force and Destiny chapter of the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG. Also interesting is the Riot Shield which adds to melee characters defensive options as well as the alternate version that allows for a slot to support a rifle, albeit at the cost of a setback die. The gear section includes a forensics kit if you want some CSI in your Star Wars, as well as a Thunderhead Portable Entertainment System which is sound amplification and lights for performers that would make one heck of a distraction.
The vehicles add a few options for parties that need a landspeeder, or one that is designed as more of a paddy wagon with six holding cells. There is also stats for a police interceptor landspeeder, as well as a few automated vehicles that include the stats for the vehicle in addition to the droid that drives it. There are a couple of light-freighter ships appropriate for PCs, most notably the HWK-290 from Dark Forces and flown by Kyle Katarn. The capital ships include a unarmed silhouette 6 freighter, and a silhouette 7 Luxury Starliner. A lot of awesome missions could happen on a star-cruise.
The third section of the book is geared toward the GM, but has a bunch of great advice for coming up with hooks and backgrounds for every colonist specialization. It also has some great advice about keeping social interactions interesting, and making medicine check more compelling for doctors by adding pressure based on location, time constraints, or triage. Towards the back of the section are Colonist Contracts, which are short 3-act synopses of adventures that include a twist or unexpected complication. This is a GM gold mine for ANY group, especially an episodic gathering at a friendly local gaming store. It also includes some longer campaign outlines with several episodes planned out.
Furthermore, there are rules and a system to setup a homestead or business as a base of operations. One of the most fun experiences I’ve had with a homebrew D&D campaign is when our party of Dwarves bought a tavern, and used it for a base of operations, and as a revenue stream. The same idea applies here and is really well laid out. It gives you prices in obligation or credits for upgrades and upkeep, as well as plenty of ideas for what the business could be about. Beyond that, there are colonist jobs, and what the typical pay would be if you have a day job, as well as suggestions at the very back for multiclassing in interesting combinations. Cybernetic Chop Doc? Start as a doctor, then add outlaw tech. Sector Ranger? Start as Marshall, then add Scout. Intelligence Agent? Start as a scholar then add thief.
Overall I’m way more impressed than I thought I would be with this book. It has excellent value for both PC and GM alike, and may be the best sourcebook yet. Fantasy Flight continues to hit homeruns!