My big takeaway from last night’s inaugural Edge of the Empire but also the Force game is that character advancement is total dullsville. Literally everyone is already shopping new specializations even though they haven’t even gotten into their chosen specializations. Might be an unrealized expectation of baseline badassery they’re not getting right out of the gate. Dunno, speculating.
Otherwise, nice first session. Unremarkable system-wise. Very starwarzy this time around, and I have the players to thank for that (pick up a sketchy job in a bar, check. Run like hell from terrifying Imperial Force monsters, check). I feel great about cutting computers out of the setting. Felt some grim satisfaction pushing back against “I’m sure in the future they’ll have this gizmo/service/technology” with WELL ACTUALLY it’s a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
0 thoughts on “¯\(ツ)/¯”
I have already begun tempering players’ expectations about power level. I told them that if we want to start out as barely force sensitives struggling in a galaxy held in the iron fist of the empire that we should play FFG Star Wars. If they want to play honest to god Jedi, I think Jadepunk would be an order.
I was trying to figure out how many points you would need to make someone like Luke Skywalker. The answer: a lot.
About 500 xps I think.
Your posts have given me a lot to think about for any Star Wars game I might run. Culling hacking (or slicing, ugh) from Star Wars is a good move. You’re removing Shadowrun’s Hacker Problem and it feels un-starwarzy to me.
My (unasked for) Thoughts: No Wheels. Just a flavor thing, but nobody drives a car in SW. Extremely limited out of system communications. Only big powers like the Empire and the Republic have the means. No Cell Phones, not even for droids. Droids are complicated. Protocol droids can speak 5 million languages, but can’t walk properly? Yeah, we’ve been dealing with this for like a thousand years.
Do you just have droids handle any computer-type problems? Like, how do you shut down all the compactors on the detention level if the droid can’t interface with the thinking-machine network?
Along those lines, no cell phones, but probably short-range communicators–otherwise you can’t ask that droid to shut down the compactor?
Brian Wille yeah, that’s right. If you need to talk to machines, you get a machine built for that purpose.
We have short range comms in our game.
Basically my tech baseline is 1981.
I kind of love that even though stormtroopers have helmet radios, nobody ever thought to build one into a droid (based on OT movies alone). “Who would a droid want to talk to?”
Yeah, I was thinking about 500xp too. Which is insane because even with that many XPs you still aren’t going to be able to deflect blasters like they do in the movies!
Question, Paul Beakley. I noticed that there are lots of opposed rolls in the game but Combat rolls are not one of them. That means, even with 500xp, someone still has a difficulty of 2 to hit you. There are talents in there that change things but I found that to be rather strange. It seems like if you get better at lightsaber you should be able to defend better without going to the Talents. I had been toying with the idea of making combat rolls opposed, is what I’m trying to say. Any thoughts?
Nicholas Hopkins I suspect fights get reeeeeeaally whiffy if you make them opposed. My read is that that’s what Talents are for.
Talents and actions like fighting defensive or going for cover are how you are supposed to try to not get hit in combat. Adding opposed rolls in combat would have made this way too dice heavy.
Fair enough! That seems like a good reason!
There are many things I love about FFG SW…but one of my criticisms is the degree to which it is afraid of players being awesome.
The character creation and leveling up concept is great. The execution is full of fear of players. Why do you have to waste a ton of XP to multi-class? What goal does that serve? Why do you have to choose between being dice effective and having cool character concept tricks? What goal does that serve?
It serves the triple goals of 1) imagining that a SW campaign is going to last year’s of playing the same character, therefore it must take years to work through the power arc; 2) reinforcing the classic Farm Boy to Galaxy Saving Hero trope where you start as a scrub; and 3) being afraid of letting players be too cool.
All three of those goals are ass. So if I were going to try to run FFG SW as a campaign…here’s what I would do: Double everyone’s starting XP and allow the same XP that buys powers on the power tree be used to buy skills and stuff.
Boom. Start off cool like Bobba Fett with a short power curve that gets you to the bottom of the skill tree in a handful of sessions.
Also triple the starting money (at least) cuz not even being able to afford a blaster pistol is the dumb.
Not really selling me on the game itself so far. Seems like I’d either go with Fate or the PbtA stuff I’ve been tinkering with.
Ralph Mazza Yes it’s to give the game a long running time and not make it jump from killing womp rats to battling the empire in 2 sessions. To your point though one easy thing about having a default slow pace character development with lots of options is that it’s much easier to speed it up. On the other hand if you start out super badass but want to run the farm boy mode it’s much more difficult to slow it down.
True…but is there really a) anyone out there who is going to run a SW campaign for years to appreciate such a long power curve; and b) who isn’t already going to do it using WEG d6?
I’m dubious. So dubious that it strikes be as a huge fundamental product line management mistake to cater to a demographic that doesn’t actually exist.
An even bigger mistake is that they know that demographic doesn’t actually exist…which is why they’re churning out splats by the dozen. No game group needs 57 races and 140 skill trees if they’re just going to be playing the same 5 characters for years.
Better: realize that your target audience is going to be playing 3-5 session mini-campaigns topping out at 10 tops. Design the game around that, allowing a single group to pick up and play a ton of little story arcs of different characters involved in different parts of the rebellion.
There’s an audience for it. I can say I’m personally in it and I’d definitely run it with FFG and not WEG. That system left a bad taste in my mouth. However I’d also happily run a higher powered more compressed version of FFG as well and just crank the starting character points.
Matt Wilson its a great game. I put it as one of the top 3 game designs to come from mainstream publishers* in the last 10 years.
The Basic Box (flavor of your choice) is really all you need.
*actually, since I’m not really a raving fanboy of the indie-scene for the last 10 years it might be in my top 3 period.
Chris Groff ok.
Ping me in 5 years to let me know you’re still playing and finally got to the bottom of the tech tree 😉
Ralph Mazza okay, you may have sold me on at least checking out one of the basic boxes.
Probably won’t, for likely the same reason I won’t naturally get a 20th level D&D character. But that’s separate from enjoying the journey.
But if my tech/force adept jawa ever gets there -oh mama!
Matt Wilson , John Stavropoulos has a Basic Box for Edge.
And the Basic Box for Force now. There are some goofy parts but I love that you can effectively roll a Natural 20 and Natural 1 at the same time (in D&D terms).
You can even have the players roll all the dice, which I thought you couldn’t do.
The only thing I don’t like is that combat is super traditional in a 90s, whomever goes first has a huge advantage with negative consequences piling up, but then you still just go back and forth, turn by turn. It also has the same issue as Apocalypse World where players keep rolling 7-9 on Act Under Fire, leaving the GM to keep coming up with interesting options… except in Star Wars it is this many times worse. In some cases there are useful lists of options to choose from but it can get out of hand quick. But this can also mainly be my inexperience here.
Matt Wilson Okay, if you want to hear why you should be “sold” on FFG’s take on Star Wars, I have some thoughts on that:
* If you want a game that offers tactically interesting fighty pew pew, FFG’s got you covered in all three core books. Crunchy but not map-level bonkers-crunchy. Lots of economic and positioning decisions. Honestly it’s pretty fun. And there’s a lot to get your head wrapped around, so if you also enjoy at least some system mastery, also a good choice for that.
* If you like systems that organically generate yes/no and/but results, the FFG dice have got you covered there, too. Now, I’m a little iffy on just what all to do with the gradient of and/but results the system can generate — I have the feeling my players feel a little screwed when they get, you know, five Advantage and I’m like “uhhh…take an extra blue die on the next roll” — but fundamentally it’s nice. And it happens every time you touch the dice.
* The speed of character advancement is trivially addressed, as long as you’re comfortable bridging the gap that FFG has left. Their XP scheme is so underexplained as to be basically “give as much or as little as you want,” which TBH is also pretty close to Stars Without Number. I think it’s broadly assumed in mainstream roleplaying that advancement is the facilitator’s primary cookie, and everyone who’s gonna play will modify to suit anyway.
* I think there actually is a decent advancement system built into the specialization trees, especially if you drop another $30ish per class and buy the additional book. More trees and they also have uh…Signature Abilities, that basically extend your tree downward even further. But, yeah, the baseline game is full-throated bildungsroman. Because Campbell and D&D.
And I think that’s it.
My thought was, to address the progression through talent trees (there is, to be honest, a CRAZY number of talent trees!), is to do it like a movie. Play for a little, get a little better, then have a hard break and dump about 150xp on everyone. This would allow everyone to experience the game at different power tiers while still adhering to the 10 or less campaign postulated above by Ralph Mazza (a good guess, in my estimation). Do it like the breaks between the movies where Luke goes from fodder to badass between Empire and Jedi.
Nicholas Hopkins that’s really solid. Yeah. That’s when you’d write your next crawl, too, and do a hard situational reset. I like it!
Ralph Mazza, reviewing a post you made earlier, can you clarify the thing where you talk about xps being the same for buying skills and powers? I thought they already were. Is this a character creation thing? I don’t get it.
Yeah, I meant
instead of: Spend 15 XP, choose to increase stats or buy powers.
Do: Spend 15 XP, increase stats and buy powers.
Conceptually the same idea as fixing benies. You know the problem where the game does “use this benie for a cool thing, or horde it for XP” and the easy fix is “use this benie for a cool thing and then spend it as XP”
Why make players choose between getting better vs. getting cooler.
I still don’t understand. Where is there a breakdown like that in the EotE style character creation/progression rules.
I suspect I totally missed this and we’re already doing what you’re suggesting. But I like to know when I’m breaking rules on purpose and when I’m just dumb!
I’m glad I’m not the only one who has been having a lot of these issues with the FFG Star Wars system… Our game collapsed after 10 sessions of not really feeling like we were getting anywhere with character development.
In the game you get XPs, yeah? There are rules for using those XPs to buy up skill levels, yeah? Or, instead you can buy a cool power off the talent tree with them (like 5XP per tier iirc). So for any given packet of XPs you can either increase a skill to get better, or buy a talent to get cooler.
I’m saying why choose. Let the same XPs do both. Increase a skill and get a power with the same packet of XPs.
So you are just doubling the progression rate.
Oh oh. Interesting.
Chris Groff, yes but in a way that doesn’t just let you double up on effectiveness.
The neat thing about the talent trees are that they give you unique little things that (mostly) no one else can do. The things make you better, but make you better in a way that also makes your character more interesting than just raw ability. So this way you don’t have to choose between, you get to be both better and cooler.
If I were lead designer on this product, I actually would have skipped paying to level up skills with XPs completely, made all Improvement tree based, and then just tied a choice of skill level ups to each Talent.
“Oh, so you bought Talent X? Ok, also take a level in either Skill A or Skill B”
The thing with the way they did design it is that it’s easy enough to modify it in away you want. Way easier to build up then strip it down.
Yeah, I find that a bug not a feature. I shouldn’t have to fork over hundreds of dollars and then finish designing the game too.
Regarding the rather large range of possible outcomes, success, fail, despair, advantage ect ect. This looked like an interesting solution.
Triumph and Despair are rather unnecessary symbols. I think they’re a hold over from wanting to specifically have chaos and comet symbols as a thing in WH. So that may be an interesting alternative. But I’m not sure what the point is if reducing degrees of success to a binary. Seems wasteful.
Triumph and Despair don’t cancel out they mean something happens outside of the success/fail for the action. They have some charts for examples of what they could map to, but they aren’t limited to them. Also the charts are there primarily for combat situations to keep some balance much the same as they were in WFRP 3. I’m non-combat scenes they can be subject to more interpretation.
Ralph Mazza I can definitely see the merit to your idea! A little hard to implement as written since talent spends and skill spends are different sized chunks. Hard to synchronize. “Pick a talent and then increase one skill by 1” would be easy.
Timothy Stanbrough yeah…I read the Alexandrian blogs before starting this game. He has really different priorities than I do, hard for me to connect with either his beefs or his solutions.
Yeah. If I were to try to do it, I’d probably wind up with “it took 6 points to raise the skill, that gives you a 5 point talent with a 1 point credit towards something else, or a 6 point credit on something more expensive.”
Fiddly, as such work-arounds tend to be.
Or alternatively, I’d revise the skill costs to just be tiered in 5 point increments too.
If you want to stream line it you could remove the XP system entirely and do something like every other session you can increase a talent or learn/improve a skill. Every 4 sessions you can increase a stat as well. You still have other circumstantial bennies you can get during a session like cash/good and paying off your debts etc…
Honestly I’m leaning hard toward a mix of solutions:
1 skill and 1 talent from your tree every session.
4 each skill/talent ups, and an optional specialization tree change OR +1 to a stat, every new arc (4-5ish sessions), chunk-wise like Nicholas Hopkins proposed (that’s sticking with me). When I run a crawl, that’s when you’ve joined the rebels or discovered you’re force-sensitive or evolved your business from piloting to robbery, or whatever.