I was perusing twitter this morning while at work - I know, that's bad - and I came across some tweets that the beta for the Fantasy Flight star wars RPG had released its first errata. Intrigued, I looked into the game a bit more and I found this info page. Take a moment to check it out. Today, I want to go over my initial reactions to what is on that page, the good and the bad. Feel free to join the discussion in the comments.
No Jedi Makes Me Sad
The first thing that makes me sad is the way they have chosen to break the game down. Th Star Wars RPG is going to, in fact, be three different games. The first game, Edge of the Empire, is going to be about Bounty Hunters, Smugglers, Scoundrels, and Freight Haulers on the titular edge of the empire. The second game is going to be about fighter pilots and the means of waging war. The third game is going to be about the force, jedi, and the traditions therein. This makes me sad because, honestly, it's not an approach I can endorse. Jedi, and the Force, are the thing that makes Star Wars unique. FireFly has bounty hunters and smugglers, Battle Star Galactica has fighter jokes and their craft, but only Star Wars has the force and jedi. In a real sense I think Fantasy Flight is missing out on capturing an iconic part of the universe from the get go, and that could hurt sales. After all, part of the reason people always complained about jedi in the other games was because almost every game had someone who wanted to be a jedi. Considering all of the major movies focus on a jedi, and only a handful of the books don't have one in the main cast, is that even all that surprising?
Hopefully this doesn't hurt the product too badly, and hopefully the other two games - which should make it a complete Star Wars universe game - don't take too long to come out after the first game, but we'll see. On twitter I likened this to selling a Halo RPG with no options to be a Spartan. In a related event, the Dragon Age RPG had some issues early on too when people were upset there was no way to be a Grey Warden.
Special Dice Are Worrisome
To follow up bad with bad, the fact that the game requires its own dice - and boy are they unique - is also worrisome. Requiring an accessory directly reduces the ease to introduce someone to the product. Granted, the dice used are supposed to be the same for the X-Wing miniatures game coming out, but that only helps a little bit (though it has me excited for a possible tie in with the Fighter Pilot RPG and the minis game.) My concern here is that one, the game will slow down if someone doesn't have the special dice the game requires because equivalents will have to be looked up on a chart and two, the game will slow down because - at least at first - everyone is going to have to figure out what the faces of the dice mean.
Both of these things make the game harder to get into, and harder to introduce someone new to gaming to. After all, with D&D you can just tell the person to roll the D20 and that higher is generally better for them. With Roll and Keep you can tell them how many dice to roll, how many to keep, and that - again - higher is normally better. How do you simplify that with these dice?
Die Rolling Has Me Intrgued
On the good side, I am intrigued by what FFG is trying to do with the die rolling mechanic. They want the dice to actually give you narrative/cinematic success chances. Basically, the die roll isn't just for success or failure, but for more specific things as well. One of the examples used is that you manage to wrestle the gamorrean to the ground, but end up having your blaster fall just out of reach in the process. This tells me that they want the core die rolling mechanic to make things more give and take, where even in success situations could get harder and lead to more cinematic events happening without issues of GM unfairness coming into play. I could totally get behind that notion.
More To Come
Those are the three big things I have. Ultimately, my first two are ones that won't impact me too much but have me worried for the brand as a whole. I want the Star Wars game to do well, mostly because I have wanted to run a Star Wars game that lasts forever and a day now. I've asked my FLGS about grabbing the beta, and if they don't I'll probably grab a copy for myself. The system has me intrigued, and even though I have some issues with FFG's 40k line of games, they still have a good track record of capturing the feel of the universe in their games.
What do you think?