Shout Out – Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars

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Star Wars is no stranger to the tabeltop roleplaying scene. It’s first entry, West End’s Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, kickstarted their entire expanded universe. Since then, Wizards of the Coast gave it three tries in d20. But, the most recent contender, Fantasy Flight, has really knocked it out of the park.

The focus on narrative is only the start of what makes this system stand-out. Building off the dice mechanics of Warhammer 3rd Edition, it also for a lot of information to come out of nearly every roll. It really helps keep every roll interesting, dynamic, and meaningful.

One of its greatest strengths is also its weakness. Fantasy Flight divided the game into three game lines. Each one focuses on a type of adventure that characteristics the Star Wars universe. Edge of the Empire is for smuggling and criminal enterprises, for Han and Chewie. Age of Rebellion is for military action and sticking it to the Empire, for Leia and Early Empire Luke (Wedge, if you like Legends EU). Force & Destiny is for exploring the history and mystery of the force, for Return of the Jedi Luke.

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Each one really drives down those three core pillars (criminals, rebels, and wizards) and gives a very structured experience that fits that kind of game. This includes new classes, abilities, and even how characters influence the narrative Obligation for Edge of the Empire driving criminal interactions versus duty in Age of Rebellion driving soldiers to fight and morality for Force & Destiny dealing with the eternal struggle of light and dark. The three game lines are cross-compatible: you can have those mixed hero adventures like in the movies.

However, they felt the need for each game-line to be stand alone. That means a corebook for each one. That means shelling 60 USD for each game with a lot of repeat material. While you can just buy one, it does feel like a cash grab. There is also no PDF option which really hurts it. If you could buy all three corebooks for 15 USD a pop, that wouldn’t be too bad. But 60 USD a pop is asking a lot.

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That said, on the subject of cross-compatibility, Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars solves the “Jedi problem:” the fan term for the fact that Jedi often are gravely more powerful than their non-force sensitive counterparts. While the Move power is a little stronger than most likely intended, the system does an amazing job of balancing force sensitives and non-force sensitives allowing for those mixed adventures to go a lot better than in its predecessors.

As the intention is to model Force Sensitives in the Rebellion Era, Force Sensitives are a lot, lot weaker than their Prequel counterparts, as a quick aside, so don’t expect to be like the Jedi of old.

This system has probably the best system to deal with the force, especially the difference between the light and dark sides of the force. Essentially, it’s handled by a special d12 that has 1 more side (7 to 5) showing Dark Side points, but more sides showing 2 Light sides point. In other words, you will more often get the ability to fuel dark side powers, but the light side, when it does trigger, is more likely to be stronger. The quick and easy path versus the path of dedication. This mechanic is one of my favorites in this game and very true to the series.

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On the GM’s side of things, NPCs are very easy to make, unlike in the three d20 Star Wars, which saves a lot of time on prep. Since it takes the Burning Wheel ethos of “easy to beat-up, but hard to die”, while enemies can very easily overwhelm low-level, unprepared PCs, it’s hard to kill them allowing you to go more “whole-hog.” Worst-case: they get captured, tortured, and rescued or left for dead in a hostile world. Whatever makes sense. This makes GM a lot easier, quicker, and more open to “by-the-seat-of-your-pants” GMing.

A quick warning. For whatever reason, Fantasy Flight is only officially supporting the Rebellion Era. This will require you to do some of your own tweaking for other eras, until FF releases a supplement or fans make their own.

If you can get it for a decent price — it’s getting up in the years so it might be easy to get cheap copies –, I highly recommend it.

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