I ran 3 sessions of the Star Wars Edge of the Empire Beta at KC Game Fair. It was my own scenario called Payoff. The main plot was simple - the PCs owed two different crime lords a lot of credits. They get the opportunity to make enough to pay one, but not both, back.
I knew that nearly everyone at the table would be brand new to the game, so I kept things simpler than in past convention games. They had starting characters, along with a cheat sheet with dice symbols and a brief outline of the combat round, attacks, etc. I didn't include any character backgrounds, though I probably would have thrown in something short if I'd had a bit more time. I gave an overview of the system and dice, and a brief background as to their current situation, then jumped right in to the game.
I went into the game with a much more open plot that I've used at times in the past. I basically had 3 big scenes. The characters were entered in a starship race that could pay them enough credits to pay off one of the crime lords they owed money to. For the crime lords, I used some characters out of my old Flashpoint! Brak Sector book.
The first scene was before the race. The PCs were prepping for the final race in the series, against 4 other ships. After the intro, I left it up to them as to what they might want to do before the race. They could do nothing, they could try to sabotage or impede their competitors (as it turns out, they were trying to do as well), or some other action. The three groups handled this all very differently. One group went straight for the direct distract-and-sabotage a competitor. The second group made a deal to sell stuff to a previously defeated crew, which then inadvertently provided a distraction for the PCs, while a second competitor messed with everyone else. The third group used their Obligation to take on more (Obligation) debt to bet more money on their own ship, and bribe race officials to give them the secret course layout ahead of time.
The second scene was the race itself. It was much more straight forward, with the characters making piloting checks to navigate the dangerous space and planetside course, deal with damage from collisions and close calls, and other competitors. Think a combination of a trench run and pod race. The first race was a bit too easy, so I upped the difficulty the next time. The second race ended at the wire, with an ultra narrow PC victory. The third was literally a wreck from the start, and the PCs eventually pulled ahead by rolling slightly better than the horrible rolls by everyone else.
The third scene was again more free form. The PCs are given their prize money, when representatives from both crime lords appear to retrieve payment, immediately. They are not happy to see a rival also demanding the cash. The first group made a pretty easy deal, because I didn't have equal amounts owed to each side. The second group had a tougher decision, but thanks to some great negotiations, paid off one side and made a deal to do more smuggling runs for the other side to make up for it. The second group also convinced their closest competitor to join forces with them to get revenge on a third competitor that had tried to sabotage everyone else before the race. It worked. They overwhelmed the crew, claimed their winnings to pay for some of the damage to the PCs ship, and helped themselves to some engine and other parts for the same reasons.
The last group was....dominated by Warhammer Fantasy RPG players more used to a all for one and one for me style. The Captain made the mistake of letting the Wookiee hold the cash. He gave it to the guy he owed. The captain was then stuck with nothing to pay off his debt. The group thought he might get the cash from the big bet a third character placed on the race, but that guy took the money and ran (with the Wookiee). As things were going poorly, a fourth character tried to steal the ship, but the unknowing captain decided to run for it and came aboard just in time to take it back. So....character backgrounds usually prevent that sort of PC backstabbing, but at least it was in the spirit of the Edge of the Empire...if the darker edge.
Since this was my first convention experience running the same adventure multiple times in a short time frame, I expected some revelations. Most people liked the dice, but not all. Some thought they were too fiddly, especially during the race (which admittdely could be simplified by my choices).
One thing that surprised me was that after the game, I wasn't as worn out as I normally was after running a 4 hour convention round. I started thinking about why that would be, and I decided it was that I didn't have the constant math that Saga or D&D 3.5 or 4e or even Savage Worlds has during combat. As a GM, in Saga, I'm constantly rolling dice, adding bonuses, comparing numbers, rolling damage, applying damage and repeating with the next GM character or PC. It seemed to hold up through all 3 sessions that I wasn't as drained after the game. We'll see if that continues when I run more complex adventures in the future.
So, everyone had fun, and that's really the most important thing.
FYI, the Beginner Game is due out next month. More info here.
Look here for what is in the box.
And here for a rules overview.