Fantasy Flight Games has been a long time favorite of mine. Recently they have come to light to many more people because of their good products and licenses they have acquired. While EA partnered with Disney for all Star Wars video games, Fantasy Flight acquired the rights to produce Star Wars table top games. They have released several wonderful games that make this fanboy extremely happy.
Edge of the Empire is one of three core books for Fantasy Flight’s pen and paper Star Wars roleplaying game. This particular core book focuses on the scum and villainy of the galaxy. It features six careers: Bounty Hunter, Colonist, Explorer, Hired Gun, Smuggler and the Technician. Each career has three base specializations that, when chosen, narrow down what your character is capable of doing and trained to do. These specializations actually look similar to various talent trees found in other games. Along with your career you can pick your species from a list of six classic aliens, droid or human.
You also have six basic attributes, or Characteristics and Skills, to help flesh out your character. This all seems fairly common to your table top RPGs. That’s where the similarities stop and my enjoyment rises, dramatically.
There are no levels. You earn experience points and spend them to increase your character’s abilities. This is one of my favorite features about this amazing system.
Fantasy Flight takes this no-level system and maintains a balancing act that should be featured in Cirque du Soleil. Not a single enemy, ability or stat is too strong or weak. Even if you think you can find a loophole in the system to make an overpowered character, this system contains contingencies for contingencies in every single aspect I can find. I know that in past RPG sessions that used various other pen and paper systems it seemed the group, Game Master included, eventually came across something a character wanted to do and there were no rules covering how to check results for this task. This whole system crafted by Fantasy Flight seems to cover everything a player would want to do and then some, without relying on the typical default to Game Master’s ruling which can be unbalanced. Do not let me mislead you though, the Game Master still has the final say in all rules.
The most fantastic part of this system is that it does not use normal dice. It uses a unique set of D6, D8 and D12s. They contain unique symbols: Success and Failure, Advantage and Threat, Triumph and Despair. You form a pool of dice based on the difficulty of the task and your abilities and skills, then roll away. The paired symbols above cancel each other out until what is left is the final result. You can succeed with negative effects if your roll results in multiple successes and multiple threat symbols or other combinations. The opposite is also true, failure with positive results. The GM, and sometimes the players, then use the result of the dice pool roll to convey what happens via story telling. For example: A player is attempting to open a locked door using their Computers skill. They roll and the result ends in 2 success and 2 threat. The successes mean the door is unlocked. The threat however, may result in an alarm going off, or the door opening to reveal a squad of Stormtroopers with blasters drawn and ready. On the opposite end, a roll resulting in 2 failure and 2 advantage may result in the door not unlocking but the character spotting an alternate escape route, or the door locking completely, not allowing more troopers through.
This game is what I had been wanting for some time now. This isn’t your classic dungeon crawling RPG. Combat, while balanced better than any other system I’ve seen, is not the main focus. The GM, players and dice all tell a story. That is your main focus, telling a story together that takes place in that galaxy far, far away and is as cinematic as the movies. This has quickly become my absolute favorite, and one of the best in my opinion, pen and paper role playing games. I suggest any Star Wars fan or any RPG fan try this system out as soon as they can.
Oh, and don’t let me forget, may the Force be with you!