Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Edge of the Empire (Beta)

2012 © Lucasfilm Ltd., I guess

At Gen Con – just after his disappointing D&D Next playtest – your humble host attended Fantasy Flight Games' 2012 'In-Flight Report' presented by FFG Publisher, Christian Petersen.  As many of you know, at that time Petersen announced that FFG will produce not one, but three Star Wars® roleplaying games.  The beta version of the first, Edge of the Empire (hereinafter EotE-B), was simultaneously released as “a limited edition, 224-page softcover rulebook.”  In this case, 'limited edition' means a print run of 5,000 copies.  Your humble host is given to understand that FFG has sold out of this product; but it had a cover price of $29.95.  Anyway, everyone attending the announcement received a complementary copy.  Thus, your humble host came to be in possession of this tome.

There is a capable review on RPG Geek and this dude looks like he might post a lot about the game.  There also seems to be more forum chatter about it than there are womp-rats in Beggar's Canyon.  So why are we discussing this on Thoul's Paradise?  The blog description says, “old school role-playing games” and EotE-B is certainly not old school.  Nonetheless, your humble host is compelled to express his views on the game in his endearing, idiomatic fashion.  It is as if a great cosmic force has selected him for this purpose; it is his...destiny.  In any event, Thoul's Paradise is not forsaking the old school; weekly posts delving into old school games will continue unabated.

EotE-B uses “special dice” in a dice pool mechanic evidently related to that used for FFG's iteration of Warhammer.*  This is not surprising, given the same publisher and Jay/Jason Little, EotE-B's primary designer, was also on WFRP's design team.  Doubtless, FFG will sell physical dice at some point in the future, but for now FFG is selling a dice app.  A dice app?  Such a thing offends your humble host's 'old school' sensibilities.  Fortunately, there is an alternative – putting stickers on blank dice.  EotE-B comes with a sheet of stickers, but you can make your own if you download an image of the sticker sheet from the EotE-B support page.  (Character sheets are also available for download.)  The fruit of your humble host's labor appears below.

A protocol droid provides scale

The dice seen in the photograph are 16 mm.  The d6's and d12's have a white base color; the d8's are ivory in an attempt to affect an organic synergy.  One sheet provides stickers for the fourteen dice appearing here:
  • Two d6 Boost dice (light blue)
  • Two d6 Setback dice (black)
  • Three d8 Difficulty dice (purple)
  • Three d8 Ability dice (green)
  • Two d12 Proficiency dice (yellow)
  • One d12 Challenge die (red)
  • One d12 Force die (white)
Ability, Proficiency, and Boost dice are 'positive' dice while Setback, Challenge, and Difficulty dice are 'negative.'  Positive dice have success symbols and negative dice have failure symbols.  To determine if a 'check' or task is successful, a 'dice pool' is composed and the dice are rolled.  In essence, if there are more success symbols than failure symbols among the results, the check is successful.

For the sake of example, let us say that a character wants “to make the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs.”  There are three basic factors that are used to determine which and how many dice to use in the dice pool:  characteristic, training, and difficulty.  For our hypothetical Kessel run task, we will adopt the presumption that the appropriate skill is 'Astrogation' which is associated with the 'Intellect' characteristic.  Let us further say that the character's Intellect is two (average) and Astrogation is three.  The larger of the two numbers tells us how many Ability dice to roll and the smaller number tells use how many of these dice are upgraded to Proficiency dice.  We start with three Ability dice and two are upgraded.  If the Kessel run is 'hard' in terms of difficulty, three Difficulty dice are added to the pool.  As of now, the dice pool consists of one Ability die, two Proficiency dice, and three Difficulty dice.

Advantages can be represented by adding Boost dice to the pool and complications can be represented by adding Setback dice to the pool.  For instance, if our example character was using a ship that had “special modifications,” one or two Boost dice might be added to the pool.

There are symbols other than Success and Failure on the dice.  An 'Advantage' symbol “indicates an opportunity for a positive consequence or side effect, regardless of the task's success or failure.”  A 'Threat' symbol is just the opposite; in fact, Advantages and Threats cancel out one another.  Advantages and Threats “do not directly impact success or failure, only the result's magnitude or potential side effects.”  Triggering a Critical Hit is one example of how an Advantage might be applied.

There is one 'Triumph' symbol on the Proficiency die.  If rolled, it represents a Success as well as opportunity “to activate...potent effects” that would otherwise require several Advantage symbols or that are above and beyond what Advantage symbols can accomplish.  The negative dice version of the 'Triumph' symbol is the 'Despair' symbol.  It appears once on the Challenge die; it has the effect of a Failure symbol and it “can be used to trigger potent negative effects” such as having a weapon jam.

*  It is possible to use “normal dice” and consult a table, but this is less than practical.  EotE-B also employs “regular” d10's for percentile-like rolls.


  1. Eeeehh, the dice thing is still putting me off. I think I would just grab the app, and not just for the sound effects.

  2. I'm surprised you havn't gone all reviewy on FASA who made a return at GENCON 2012 after the 9 years they were shut down and considering they had divested themselves of their Battletech Miniatures/RPG/Fiction Assets. They returned with an old style Space Scifi RPG about Colossal Starships that would have appealed to any Starwars Fan.

    1. I suppose you are referring to Fading Suns. It may seem otherwise to my readership, but the sad fact is I am a mere mortal. There are only so many topics I can address. If FASA gave me a free copy of beta rules, I would be all over that. However, I don't think beta rules are available, so there is little for which I can go 'all reviewy' (so to speak).

      At some point, I may discuss the FASA version of Star Trek.