I call it luck: Star Wars Edge of the Empire role playing game

Storm Troopers and creature in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
Storm Troopers and creature in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY /

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is not the first time a tabletop RPG has taken us into the galaxy far, far away. Given its immediate playability, game mechanics, and absolute feel of immersion in the Star Wars universe, it may be the best.

Star Wars is generally a very visual medium, which makes it very easy to think about video games if one wants to enter that world. Currently Jedi: Fallen Order has a dedicated following, and despite early misgivings, Star Wars: Battlefront II has come into its own.

Some folks though prefer to roll dice rather than mash controllers when entering the GFFA, and go with a Role Playing Game (RPG). This is not a new phenomenon. The first SW:RPG dates back to 1987 and West End Games’ version. (A young Pablo Hidalgo did his first Star Wars professional work writing for that game.) WEG published updates and supplements to their game for years, until Wizards of the Coast published their D20 version in 2000.

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Starting in 2011  Fantasy Flight Games entered the Star Wars RPG market with Edge of the Empire. Set among the smugglers and scoundrels operating just outside the purview of the Empire, players could play out adventures in the seedier portions of the Galaxy.  Fantasy Flight followed their success there with two other game settings: Force and Destiny allows players to explore characters who are sensitive to The Force at various points in the Star Wars timeline; Age of Rebellion allows you to take on the Empire all by yourself as a Rebel in the Galactic Civil War. These games are sold separately, but are compatible systems, allowing a good Game Master to move their players through a campaign that could touch on any of those settings.

Fantasy Flight has also produced a beginner game for EotE which comes with a pre-created adventure specifically designed to take a group through the game’s mechanics and pre-rolled characters allowing you to start playing almost immediately.  So how is it?

I was lucky enough to receive both the beginner game a core rulebook for the holidays, and finally got a group of players together to try a session.  We stuck to the beginner adventure and characters.  This meant four players as a Twi’lek bounty hunter, the Wookiee muscle, the Human scoundrel, and a medical droid. These four are on Tatooine (a good familiar setting) in the employ of a Hutt crime lord named Teemo, but determined to break out on their own. As they figure out how to escape the city and acquire a ship, they unfortunately do not manage to avoid Imperial entanglements.

All of these factors are very familiar Star Wars without being too derivative (though I would perhaps have not chosen a YT-1300 as the type of ship they plan to steal). The characters form a good party, allowing each player to have a set of skills essential to navigating the story. Even with the beginner scenario, the game moves quickly and has the type of altercations that brought up the best moments of the original Star Wars or in the modern sense The Mandalorian.  Everyone gets a moment to shine, and the game master has plenty of opportunities to think on their feet and throw some personality behind the non-player characters.

The most challenging thing to me as an experienced role-player was learning the new dice system. Rather than straight numbers, the characters’ skill dictates how many positive dice they get versus the difficulty of the task dictating negative dice. The symbols of each are compared, letting you know if the act was successful.  Certain symbols may mean a success that still features a negative outcome, or a fail that might still result in something positive.  Although not the Force and Destiny game, there is also a dice that represents the Force, allowing for some neat surprises on any given roll.

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Photo: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980).. © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

My group completed the adventure in the beginner set in about two hours, an experience enhanced with a playlist of Star Wars soundtracks playing along. (Yes, I went in and chose specific motifs to play during the specific encounters listed in the adventure.) The game never got bogged down even as we were getting used to interpreting the dice rolls, and the included maps, markers, and stats were easily referenced while adding to the game experience.

Though the game predates the Disney acquisition, we did not run into any major conflicts with new canon. Recently, Fantasy Flight has issued The Force Awakens Beginner Game set during the Sequel Trilogy, and Rise of the Separatists, a sourcebook to include the Clone Wars era.

With a system well-suited to the fast paced stories of Star Wars, and supplements covering a variety of settings, this easy to learn game is a wonderful introduction to table-top role playing for new fans, and a good way for experienced players to enjoy the Star Wars universe from a new perspective. My group had a great time, and we look forward to playing again; I hope they don’t think Teemo is going to let them get away that easily!

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The various Fantasy Flight role playing games for Star Wars are available online and in game shops everywhere. Have you played more than one system? How do they compare for you? Sound off in comments below!