The Meeple’s Eye View is an in depth review of one of the many games in our board game library. As the Malted Meeple has become Northeast Ohio’s role playing game hotspot we have decided that it is time to start reviewing some of our favorite role playing systems as well!
Published by Fantasy Flight Games, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire takes players to a galaxy far far away. Players roam from Tatooine to Kashyyk in search of fame and fortune, as they are invited to become the scum and villainy of the Star Wars universe.
The core rule book offers players the chance to play as a variety of familiar Star Wars species, including Wookies, Rodians, Humans, and Droids. Players also select a career such as bounty hunter, smuggler, technician, or hired gun. Careers have three distinct specializations each with its own unique talent tree. The core rule book also contains plenty of weapons, star ships, and other equipment the players can use to cause trouble. Players also have the option to customize their gear by adding their own personal modifications.
Edge of the Empire uses an innovative dice mechanic known as the narrative dice system. The system utilizes different dice to represent the skill of the characters and the difficulty of the tasks. The players and the game master build a dice pool to resolve skill checks. The player adds dice to the pool to represent his natural abilities, skills, special abilities, and positive circumstances. The game master adds dice to the pool to represent the difficulty of the task and any special circumstances. Instead of numbers, each of the dice have special symbols. After the dice are collected and rolled, the game master interprets the result. Many of the symbols cancel each other out, but if at least one success remains un-canceled then the check was successful. If all of the successes were canceled then the check was a failure.
It is entirely possible for someone to fail a check and still have something good happen. Perhaps a player misses a shot with their blaster, but they hit a control panel and shut off the lights, making it easier to escape. It is also possible to succeed at a check and for something bad to happen. For example, while hacking into a computer the player finds the file they were looking for, but they unknowingly alert security to their presence! The players are encouraged to help tell the story by suggesting what the outcome might be.
In Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, everyone owes something to someone. It could be that someone has placed a bounty on the character’s head, they have a large gambling debt, or perhaps they have some kind of addiction. At the beginning of each session the game master rolls to see if anyone’s obligation comes in to play that session. The obligation mechanic makes players think about what drove their characters to the edges of the galaxy.
The core rule book dedicates a small section to “capturing the Star Wars feel.” Of the Star Wars role-playing games I have played, this is by far the most innovative. The narrative dice system allows for players to move seamlessly between role-playing, combat, investigation, and slinging dice. The rule book is fully illustrated with art inspired by the rich history of Star Wars. Better yet, this single book is all you need to get started! It contains all of the rules for character creation, rules for players and game masters, a rogues gallery of nemeses, and a small module for the game master to run.
As mentioned earlier, the narrative dice system uses symbols instead of numbers. The biggest learning curve in the game is getting used to how the dice pools work and how to read the symbols. However, like most role-playing games, after you have played a few sessions it becomes second nature. Another minor quibble I have is that some of the specializations are mechanically more useful than others. This isn’t really a problem if you are running a plot driven campaign; however, it could be a problem if your group is combat focused. It is a minor quibble, but one worth noting.
Anyone who frequents the Malted Meeple knows that Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is one of our favorite role-playing systems. The system has a lot of ancillary material available, including more species, specializations, planets, and campaign modules so you won’t be short on material anytime soon!
If you are a serious role-player, or a Star Wars fan, you owe it to yourself to give Star Wars: Edge of the Empire a try. As both a serious role-player and a huge Star Wars fan, I am proud to give this innovative role-playing game two blue light-sabers up!
Karington Hess is a lifelong gamer whose passions for hospitality and all things game-related led him to Ravenwood Castle, where he served as an Innkeeper before joining The Malted Meeple. When not pouring beers, crafting milkshakes, or teaching boardgames, Karington can be found behind the DM’s screen, weaving intricate stories for his fellow gamers.