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Force and Destiny Review

August 3, 2015

swf02_book_leftThe circle is now complete. When I left you I was but the learner. Now I am the master” – Darth Vader

With the final core book released, Fantasy Flight Games has completed the last major chapter of a truly innovative and dynamic role playing game that captures the feel of the movies. Force and Destiny is the book that deals with the Jedi part of the universe. The first in the series is Edge of the Empire that deals with the underworld or frontier characters, from explorers, to colonists, bounty hunters and smugglers. The next major release focused on military careers and the central struggle between the rebels and the empire in Age of Rebellion. This most recent book focuses on rebuilding the Jedi, and the temptations of the dark side.

While scoundrels in Edge normally have obligations (usually to gangsters, but possibly something more innocuous like family), and rebels in Age have a specific duty to the rebellion in Age, force-sensitive PCs in Force and Destiny have a morality mechanic. It is a 100 point scale, and all PCs generally start at 50. If a force user drops below 30, they have fallen to the dark side. If they rise above 70, they become a light-side paragon. This morality mechanic is the most compelling of the obligation-like mechanics in any of the 3 systems. PCs have the opportunity to gain conflict points throughout a session.

swf02-cliffrunnerOne of the easiest ways to accrue conflict is tapping in to the dark side of the force by using dark pips that come up on the force die to power force powers. When using a force power, PCs roll the white 12-sided die that has both dark and light pips on the faces. Seven of the sides have dark side pips, five of them have white. When a PC declares they are using a force power and dark pips come up, they can spend a destiny point, and gain as many conflict points as dark pips that they use for their powers. Beyond just easy power, morality scores can be triggered by the PCs actions (or inaction!) which can introduce some truly compelling choices. In a time when Jedi are hunted to the edge of the galaxy, PCs need to be careful who sees them use their powers. To make this system really shine, think about a situation in which the wrong person has identified a PC as a Jedi: how does that PC keep that person quiet? Coercion? Murder? This is the quick path to the dark side. There is even a handy table 9-2 on pg. 324 which provides potential conflict points to bestow if Jedi’s abuse their power, or do nothing to stop terrible acts. Surprisingly, this extremely useful table is *not* on the GM’s screen for Force and Destiny.

The path to redemption is a bit random for my taste. At the end of each session, each Force PC rolls a d10. If the number is less than conflict earned that session, they slip closer to the dark side by the difference. If the number is higher, they adjust their morality score closer to the light. I think there should be a second table of redemption point bonuses. Saving bystanders, or showing kindness and wisdom in resolving disputes between NPCs could cancel out a set number of conflict points. Rolling a d10 seems a bit too random to me, and what does it represent?

swf02_atarusideimageDespite that, the morality system is my favorite out of obligation, duty and morality. The book also provides suggestions for using all 3 if you have a group of characters from each book, or even using all 3 for each character if they have multi-classed into several careers. Speaking of careers: those included in Force and Destiny are well done. They borrowed several from options in Knights of the Old Republic: The Consular, the Guardian, and the Sentinel. Beyond the KotOR careers are the Mystic, the Seeker, and the Warrior. Each have three specializations, most of them include one specialization that is a certain lightsaber fighting style, often using a different characteristic other than brawn for those checks. This allows for lightsaber duels based on intellect or willpower and each has signature talents associated with them that may focus on offense, defense, or stealth.

The force powers detailed in this book had some unexpected surprises. Included is Battle Meditation (again from KotOR) which allows your allies to be more effective in battle. Mechanically, this means adding an automatic success to combat checks. The dark side of this power dominates the minds of your allies and enslaves them to your will. Bind allows you to hold up your enemies, and immobilize them. The dark side of which does damage to the target (force choke!). Enhance allows you to add successes to certain skills and force jump. No real dark side to this one. Forsee allows you to get vague hints of the future, and as it progresses can modify your initiative checks. Heal/Harm is pretty obvious, but once you gain mastery of this, you can restore someone to life or straight murder someone to restore life to someone else. The two sides of the majority of the powers provide a lot of variety.

jedi-clump2The included races are some of the best, and represent some of the more iconic Jedi from the movies and cartoons. The only repeats are humans and Twi’lek. Beyond that we have Cereans (cone-head like guys), Kel Dor (my favorite, Master Plo Koon!), Mirialan (Luminara!), Nautolan (My other favorite Kit Fisto!), Togruta (Shaak Ti, Ahsoka Tano), and Zabrak (Darth Maul, Savage Opress). The flavor text and background is outstanding on all. Much like the other books, Force and Destiny also has an outstanding Galaxy chapter that details locations significant to Jedi, and possible adventure seeds in every region of space. It also has a very detailed history section, which it is careful to preface as “legends” as the official timeline has thrown out a lot of what was considered EU or Expanded Universe Star Wars material that was released in the 90s and early 2000s. Also, the adventure included with the Game Master’s screen is intended to be a continuation or run just following the adventure at the end of the book. While each previous screen included an adventure, they were never directly related to each other in Edge or Age.

swf02_betterpartofvalorIn each game, once you gathered a party, you would generally have one large resource to be shared by the party. In Edge, this was generally a light freighter like the Millennium Falcon. In Age, you could have one medium ship, a squadron of fighters, or possibly a base or stronghold. In Force and Destiny, there are some compelling options. You can choose to start with a holocron that allows you two skills to become career skills, as well as offer guidance and possibly teach force powers (as PCs mechanically spend XP). You can also choose to have a mentor who can make force powers easier to learn, or choose a G-9 Rigger, which looks just like Anakin’s ship in early clone wars seasons.

On it’s own, this would be a really fun game. The careers and specializations are diverse enough to create a balanced party of force-sensitive PCs. The adventure seeds of discovering lost Jedi and Sith temples and gathering parts to assemble a lightsaber alone would offer several awesome nights of adventuring. Combined with Edge of the Empire and Age of Rebellion, you can design any possible archetype from the Star Wars universe, and enjoy telling your own awesome tales a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

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