This past week marked the first true, final product release for the new Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games, the Edge of the Empire Beginner Game. It is a true beginners game, with step by step instructions for brand new RPG players, which work just fine for veterans as well. It has a streamlined version of the Edge of the Empire RPG rules which are technically still in Beta, until its anticipated release in 2013. This won't be a review of the product, but I'll throw out a few comments and a few helpful links for those who want to check it out.
I picked up the game from my local game store last night. I would have gone after it sooner, but had a few things going on around here, as usual. So, while I've had time to peruse it, I haven't tried it in actual play yet.
One of my first concerns when I heard FFG's approach to product releases was that a 400 page Star Wars Edge of the Empire book would be too intimidating for many first time players. Having introduced a lot of people to various versions of the game, I know that Star Wars has usually been an easy way to engage new players - because they already know the setting before they sit down to play. I was very glad to hear they would be doing a Beginner Game version for this exact audience.
Now that I have a copy in hand, I like what I see. The character sheet/folios mimic the sort of cheat sheets I'd been using for years for RPG demos. They include character backgrounds that mesh with the adventure, but leave the personality of the character open to player interpretation. The adventure slowly introduces the rules and dice mechanics, building them up over the series of encounters, and laying them out step by step for a beginning GM. Useful for veteran GMs, too, since the game's dice mechanics are likely very new to them.
The rulebook has a streamlined version of the rules, which I like a lot. Some of the more complex rules or options are omitted. However, there is plenty to play with for a lot of game sessions. The biggest omission are character creation rules, though you can advance the characters in the portfolios a bit.
Beyond the game itself, FFG has already released a pdf of a follow up adventure called Long Arm of the Hutt. It's in a more traditional adventure format. They also have two more characters as well. For those wondering if they should get the game now, or wait until the book comes out, there are things in the box that are usable beyond the intro adventure itself. The game comes with a full set of the custom dice - though I think it will take awhile for me to get used to the green and yellow ones. It also has a fold out deckplan for the PCs' ship, and a few typical locations that can be recycled for later adventures. There are also tokens for characters and ships, but the most useful will likely be the double sided Destiny point tokens.
For those keeping score, this is at least the third Star Wars RPG introductory style box set. D6 had the Introductory Adventure Game, and d20 had the Invasion of Theed, tying into the release of Episode 1. I never picked up either game. The d6 Introductory Adventure Game came out pretty far into the game's life, and wasn't something I needed with my limited funds of the day. The Invasion of Theed came out early, but I didn't pick it up since I had the main rule book. However, I recall using it or parts of it in a Star Wars RPG demo in the old Wizards of the Coast castle a year after the d20 game came out.
I anticipate using this game for a lot of introductory sessions. It looks great and should really engage the players at the table. It includes all the info I usually include in my cheat sheets, so that helps a lot. I'll still keep those around, though, for use with Edge of the Empire adventuers after its release.
A few other items of note:
- Order 66 transitioned over to Edge of the Empire coverage this week. Their first episode features the system's lead designer, Jay Little.
- Order 66 also started posting episodes of the Celebrity Live game. The first episode features myself, Christopher West, Andy Hurly, and GM Dom, with GM Chris running the show.
- Give the gift of gaming this year, from your local game store.