With any game line, there are products you hope to work on, or those you wish you had the opportunity to contribute to. As a freelancer, and even as an employee, passing over a particular project often means losing the opportunity to ever contribute to that specific product. There may be opportunities down the road for something similar, but never that exact thing.
This week, Fantasy Flight Games announced the Star Wars Edge of the Empire Beginner Game. It's an introductory set for newcomers to roleplaying games and, obviously, Star Wars roleplaying in particular. As might be expected, it comes with pregenerated characters, dice, fold out maps and a simplified rules set.
I wasn't one of the designers of the Beginner Game, but I would have jumped at the chance to contribute. I was glad when I heard something like this was in the works, because a hardback book of several hundred pages is highly intimidating to newcomers to any RPG. I might be a bit biased, since I first learned D&D from the "Red Box" Basic Set (though mine was the earlier, magenta shade). It was a good stepping stone on the way to the more complex AD&D 1st Edtion books.
I've spent a lot of time introducing new players to every version of the Star Wars RPG. Sometimes at home games, sometimes at RPGKC game days, but mostly at game conventions. One of the great things about introducing someone to a Star Wars RPG is that they have an almost built-in knowledge of the setting. It's already familiar, leaving just the game rules to be explained at the table.
It's rare that I ever get a convention game with a group of players who all know the system. Some might know a previous edition, others might know a similar system. With a fairly regular turnover of editions over the years, those are both common occurrences. Even with d6, there were different iterations.
I usually design my convention games with this in mind. That's not to say I don't get into some fairly dense Star Wars Expanded Universe material at times, but I always provide a familiar reference point, or at least a pretty complete explanation within the character backgrounds.
While I didn't get an opportunity to work on the Beginner Game, I was happy when asked to write the adventure for the Star Wars Edge of the Empire Beta. Crafting an adventure that introduced game mechanics concepts wrapped into an appropriate scum and villainy style of story with a familiar Star Wars feel was a fun challenge.
Getting the right level of scum and villainy was important. To tie into the Han Solo-style conflict with a Hutt gangster, smuggling was a given. I intentionally chose something that was pretty low on the smuggling morality scale. That leaves a lot of leeway for the players to take on characters of whatever level of shadiness they desire. They might be a wayward hero, someone forced into working for a Hutt, or something darker and more sinister. Picking a particular bounty to pursue or highly illegal or distasteful goods to smuggle would have forced the characters into a darker world that might not have met thier idea of what Star Wars is about. Better to provide a lighter starting point to get things rolling, and let the players and GMs explore their own ideas of how they like to play the game in their own adventures.
So, I'm very much looking forward to the Beginner Game. I'm also interested in seeing how the character portfolios work, given that I've been experimenting with various amounts of game mechanics detail right on the character sheets over the past few years. That gets back to making it easier for newcomers (and even experienced players) to understand the subtitles of their characters, right at the table. Plus the maps just look cool.
And, the Week 3 Beta update is now available on the FFG site. This one looks mainly at gear and equipment.
Don't forget, the Coriolis Defect RPG kickstarter is still going. It is designed by lead Edge of the Empire, and X-Wing Miniatures designer Jay Little, and if the kickstarter is successful, I'm scheduled to be a contributing writer on the project. Thanks for the support.