Edge of Empire

Community Lotion 2013-03-22 13:42:28
We played our first session of Edge of Empire last weekend, and you can read the recap here.
I ran the game, and was the only one who had read the book. Almost immediately, the players grasped the dice system and found the game easy to pick up.

Character generation is very quick and easy, while still allowing for a great deal of variety; it only takes about 20 minutes to get your character ready to go. The game also has an obligation system, which works as a great plot-generator. In this game, your past can come back to haunt you, as seen here.

The game uses a dice pool mechanic. For any skill check (and combat is one as well), you assemble a dice pool of positive and negative dice, then cancel out the resulting pips, leaving a success or failure. After cancelling out, if you show more successes than failures, your skill check succeeds. What makes the game sing, though, is are two other sets of dice faces: advantage/disadvantage and triumph/despair.

For example, you could succeed on your attack check, but generate extra advantage. The advantage can be all kinds of things – improve your teammates next roll, recover strain (one of the two hit point tracks), activate a weapon’s special ability; but you can create all kinds of benefits. Maybe you hit a water pipe in the wall, sprays your opponent and making their next attach check more difficult; perhaps you destroy their cover or take out that stormtrooper’s internal com. You can fail and gain advantage; or success and generate disadvantage. Triumph and despair are more powerful versions of each. Essentially, each dice roll forces some sort of negotiated narrative, and it works, really, really well.
You can see more from the developers here.

I wrote up a simple on-the-rails adventure, with four scenes:
1) Meet your contact, get your mission
2) Ambush a smuggler and some local security and steal his ship
3) Fight off security starfighters as you try to escape into hyperspace

Almost immediately after scene 1, the players took the game into a completely different area (as seen in the recap). We rolled with it, and to a large extent, the plot generated was a direct result of the narrative die, which was awesome.

We only had one combat during the whole session, and the party split up halfway through, but still everyone was involved and participatory. The initiative system is particularly nice. Everyone rolls for initiative, the order is set up, and then individual intuitive slots become PC or NPC. For example:


Any player can lay claim to any PC slot from round to round. You don’t have to worry about lining up that special maneuver only to see it ruined by someone else’s action before your turn comes up, and you don’t have players ‘checking out’ while they await their turn.

Speaking of combat, it can get brutal. Your typical character will never have more than 12-14 wounds during his lifespan, and a blaster rifle, for example, does 9 points of damage. So, a stormtrooper is a viable enemy even to a very high-level (though there are no levels) character. The game also has a mook system. The way the dice work, the more dice you roll, the better your chance of success. Mooks perform skill checks as a group, and the number of dice rolled corresponds with the number of mooks. Your band of 3 stormtroopers attack with 3 dice, making them very good at hitting, but they attack only once, not 3 times per round. If you take out one, they now attack with only two dice.

Based on how easy it was to run the first session, I plan to almost entirely abandon any kind of pre-generated plot, and aim for a “OK, what do you guys want to do tonight?” way of playing, leaving everything up to the players. I plan on handing out rumors and news reports to prompt session ideas, like Mass Effect used, and will create 1 paragraph bounties; I'll also have a number of trade missions (move cargo from here to here for $$$) they can pick up at spaceports. That, plus the consequences of obligation plus the narrative outgrowth of their actions should be plenty of fodder for impromptu adventures.

edited by Admiral Duck Sauce on 2013-03-22 14:03:47
Community Lotion 2013-04-05 19:27:27
Session 2 recap is up: https://sites.google.com/site/starwarsahiveofscumandvillainy/home/gameplay/episode-2---the-acherin-resistence"]Second session recap is up!
We had two new players join in this session, which allowed for a reference to the classic trench run scene in A New Hope, as well as Escape From New York. I call that an unmitigated win.

The PCs also saw their first 'real' combat, both in space and on the ground. The addition of traffic for the space combat really added a nice cinematic edge, giving the crew a lot more to play with. Also, rules for actions that can be taken in starship combat by someone who is not the pilot or gunner worked well too, and kept everyone involved. Once again, the unique initiative system payed off in spades. Ground combat with 6 characters went a lot more fluid and quickly that I thought it would. It also proved how deadly the system is. Over the course of their adventuring career, you can really still only take 2-3 shots before you go down. Death, for the most part, is narrative, so it only happens when the story dictates that it does so (though if you roll extremely high on the critical injury table and have some abilities that boost that roll, you can get a mechanical death).

Thanks go to Dave, as he helped me design the Generation Kill angle for the adventure. I'm plotting in a week of in-game downtime, and gave the players a 5xp incentive to write up a few paragraphs descibing what their character gets up to. Next session I plan to go in having absolutely no idea what the PCs will get up to; we'll see how that works.
MikeS 2013-04-08 22:35:30
Have you played Warhammer Fantasy RPG 3rd edition? If yes, how similar/dissimilar is the new Star Wars? The system looks mostly the same, but it looks like they tuned it a bit, and maybe they ironed out some of the WFRPG problems.
Community Lotion 2013-09-19 15:17:49
I have not, but I Jay Little was the lead designer on both (I think) and he stated Edge is exactly as you surmised, a more streamlined, more narrative version of WFRP 3. Session report to follow soon.
Community Lotion 2013-09-19 16:09:47
Recap! https://sites.google.com/site/starwarsahiveofscumandvillainy/home/gameplay/episode-4---scuttle-me-scuppers