Star Wars Stay on Target review
In some ways, I wish Fantasy Flight would make some kind of misstep, so these reviews would sound less like a broken record. Alas, the latest FFG Star Wars Age of Rebellion sourcebook for Aces ‘Stay on Target‘ is fantastic. It makes great use of the standard 96 pages allotted, and is an awesome resource for both players and GMs. This review is going to be fairly extensive, so if this is all you have time for: this book is a must-buy for Age of Rebellion fans.
The book is broken down into three parts, the first, Behind the Stick, focuses on the PC side of things with new Ace-specific backgrounds, specializations, new species, talents, motivations, and a couple of signature abilities. Very similar to what we’ve seen in other career sourcebooks, but if it ain’t broke… This book introduces the Beast Rider, Hotshot, and Rigger specializations to the existing Ace specializations of Driver, Gunner, and Pilot.
The Beast Rider is probably the furthest departure from my preconceptions of an Ace in the book. At first glance it seems like it would be too specific and situational to be effective unless you were running a wilderness campaign. However, the Ace’s core skills of Astrogation, Cool, Gunnery, Mechanics, Perception, Piloting (Planetary), Piloting (Space) and Ranged (Light) allows you to fill the roll of a traditional wheelman, while supplementing that role with outdoorsy talents and skills like Athletics, Knowledge (Xenology), Perception, and Survival. That makes for a really well-rounded character, especially suited to smaller parties. Not to mention having a massive beast in your cargo hold instead of a landspeeder for getting around planets is just awesome.
The Hotshot is a much more traditional archetype when considering the role of an Ace. To the typical skills all Aces have access to, hotshots can double up in Cool, Piloting (Planetary and Space) and start with a rank in Coordination if they like. Coordination is a fairly rare skill, and can come in really handy out of the cockpit. Almost all the hotshot talents are firmly in the pilot seat, and as a result, they are fantastic at being specialists behind the controls of any craft. Hotshots thrive on taking risks, and pushing both their ships and themselves beyond normal limits.
The rigger is a very compelling blend of a mechanical innovator, who isn’t afraid to find the parts he needs from unsavory sources. Much like the Outlaw Tech, but for ships rather than gear, Riggers get the typical Ace skill options, as well as the option to choose to ranks from Gunnery, Knowledge (Underworld), Mechanics, and Resilience. They benefit from working on their “signature vehicle” and have lots of cool talents about customizing vehicles, as well as black market contacts. This is a really valuable addition to any party, as most games I have run you always need a mechanic, and you always need somebody who can find parts and equipment. This is probably my favorite of the three.
New playable races introduced in this book are the short, bat-like Chadra-Fan, the many wrinkled masters of the outdoors Dressellian, and the six-limbed Area 51 looking Xexto. Chadra-Fans start with a 3 in agility and intellect, as well as a rank in mechanics; Perfect for the rigger. Dressellians seem similarly purpose-built to be beast riders. They start with a rank in survival and upgrade checks involving advanced technology due to being primitive. Xextos get a free maneuver each turn, but are still bound by the 2 maneuvers per round rule. That could really save a lot of strain and help out in combat, either space or ground.
The second section, Cleared for Launch, details some pilot and beast rider specific equipment, as well as a lot of ships and vehicles. The weapons include a couple of beast-taming melee weapons, and a few interesting blaster. The armor section has a really cool armored flight suit that can be used in space in emergencies. The gear is a little bit sparse but does include a few astromech droids, and later in the book details how to use them as NPCs as well as additional maneuvers and options for PC astromechs in a fighter with an Ace.
This section really shines once we get to vehicles. It includes land vehicles with flak cannon anti-aircraft stats, a very fast and rare two-seater speeder, and a 1-L Light repulsor tank. Air vehicles include a very fast two person airspeeder, a racing swoop, and the big bomber featured on the cover: the PTB-625. This fairly massive silhouette 4 relic from the clone wars has plenty of armament and crew positions to allow the whole party a chance to soften Imperial installations and infrastructure. I just hope you have a good fighter escort or a better gunner.
Starships include stats for the E-wing starfighter, the H-60 bomber (precursor to the B-wing), the ugly duckling H-wing, the very cool looking R-41 starchaser, and R-60 T-wing interceptor, the Heavy95 upgraded headhunter (shown here with awesome P-40 warhawk paintjob), V-wing interceptor, and a whole page of new and specialty TIEs (Hunter, Interdictor, Aggresor, and the cloaking Phantom). Also included are three battleships, the Ton-Falk escort carrier, the quasar fire-class escort carrier, and the massive Silhouette 8 secutor-class battlecarrier.
After the vehicles there are a few modifications for ships, including adding an astromech socket, a gravity mine launcher, hardened circuits, physical countermeasures, and a slave circuit to allow remote control and activation of ships systems including weapons!
The third section ‘Dangerous Sorties’ is geared towards the GM. Interestingly the first section deals with integrating Aces not only from the Rebellion military, but Aces from the civil side of government as well as privateers, with a letter of marque from the Alliance. The Astromech section is really cool, because not only does it give you specific actions you can take as an Astromech PC like Watch Your Back and Target Lock, it provides rules for running an Astromech NPC if your Ace is in a fighter with an astromech, but there is no droid in the party.
This section also details some great adventure ideas using different aspects of the Ace’s skill set, as well as advice about what other PCs can be doing during space combat. Later, it goes into dogfight terrain ideas like asteroid or debris fields, and nebulas, with some great tables of suggestions on how to spend advantage, threat, triumphs and despairs for those particular terrains. I really like that they included despair results for both successful and unsuccessful checks, as those mixed result rolls can be the most difficult to come up with the narrative. There is also a table for large space battles, as a capital ship clash is much more likely in Age than it is in Edge.
The next part is on beast riding rules, as well as a fairly extensive catalog of potential mounts. The book wraps up with a section on Ace mission ideas, and also addresses that while the career may be called Ace, to become an Ace in a particular organization it may require a certain number of confirmed kills, and having an allied or enemy rival Ace could provide some awesome roleplaying opportunities.
This book is excellent. While I’m still waiting for a Bounty Hunter sourcebook for Edge of the Empire, awesome releases like this will keep me busy until then!