Merric's Musings

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Edge of the Empire woes

Merric Blackman
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Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
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I spent some of my free time today looking over my recently acquired copy of Edge of the Empire, the newest Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games. I haven’t picked up all that many of the rules yet, as I really didn’t have that long to look at it. Oh, that and I was rather frustrated by the awful state of much of the explanations and the poor editing of the book.

An example:
“Obligation plays a vital role in defining a Player Character. Defined simply, Obligation represents the debts a Player Character owes. These debt may be physical (money owed, services that must be repaid, or a binding contract) or they could be intangible (a feeling of responsibility for a friend’s well-being, the duty he feels to help his family, or a favour owed to someone else. A character’s actions can often be guided by his Obligation, and in Edge of the Empire, Obligation is a vital aspect of a character that can have very tangible effects on his development.”

Well, it’s wordy – but not too bad. However, then comes the next paragraph:
“During character creation, players must not only customize their characters by selecting skills or characteristics, but also by choosing what sort of Obligation the character has. An Obligation may be a large outstanding debt, the PC being blackmailed for services, owing a crime boss ‘favours’, having a price on his head, or being locked into a binding contract.”

I’m sorry – didn’t we get the definition of Obligation in just the previous paragraph? Why are we getting it again? It doesn’t really help that after these three introductory paragraphs we get a subheading, “What is Obligation?” Again? How many times do we need the same information?

In fact, this section is far more about how you choose your starting obligations, with a few words as to the format of the descriptions. This is poor layout and organisation, and it recurs throughout the book.

The section on the key mechanic of the game – the dice pool (which uses special dice) – suffers from the same long-winded descriptions. We get explanations of what the symbols mean. We learn how to construct a dice pool. And then we get a section on interpreting the pool – which includes explanations of what the symbols mean. Argh!

The book also flat-out lies to you:
“In Edge of the Empire, any character concept found within the Star Wars universe is possible.”

That is true, unless you want to play a Jedi, the rules for such being notably absent from the book.

There’s useful advice for the GM, of course:
“The GM should give the players an idea of what sort of campaign he intends to run for the players.”

Oh, that’s good. For a moment there, I was worried he was going to run a campaign for a completely different set of players. (The sentiment is good, but the phrasing is woeful. Either use ‘for them’ or omit the last three words).

A few oddities managed to make their way into the rules:

“After determining this initial value, further increases to a character’s Brawn rating do not increase his wound threshold”, and “After determining this initial value, increases to a character’s Brawn rating increase his soak value.” I love having part of the rules work differently to other parts. There’s probably a good reason for this design, but it reads oddly to my inexperienced eyes.

The greatest problem with the book, however, is the poor choice of font and size. Quite simply, it’s a book I find difficult to read as the text is relatively faint; certainly so compared to, well, about everything else I read, but certainly the 4E books. The Talent Trees in particular have a very small font which when combined with the narrowness and faintness of the font may require magnification for my elderly eyes.

We also get the wonderful decision of putting dark blue font on a black background for some quotations in chapter headings.

There may be a wonderful game in here, but the book is not making it easy to find.
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Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:37 pm
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