A Guest RPG Lab Report by Jeff Hall
In my first foray into running RPG Lab, I was lucky to run something I know intimately well – Star Wars Edge of the Empire. One of the reasons I decided to run EotE is that I have been writing for the game for FFG and I wanted to bring some of that experience to the table. With all the Star Wars hype that has been happening as of late, it was also prime time to get more people talking about this great game.
The Character Creation system for EotE is very well done. You are given templates to choose from and then a pool of experience to help you flesh out the character you want to make. The game does not use Levels, so this allows for a lot of flexibility in how you structure your character. Fantasy Flight has made a large number of player aids and specialization decks to have all the information you need right at your fingertips.
Character generation was simple and straightforward. with a level-less system you have a LOT of flexibility with creating your character. Understanding the cost of increasing various character qualities is a little tough at first, but there are numerous player aids that put all of the information on a page or two to assist with the XP calculations. Overall, I was very impressed with the amount of flexibility both in creating your character, and also in the many ways you could expand those options as you gain XP. If you can imagine it, the game will let you build it.
I was pleased with the simplicity of the process, and the speed at which someone (like me) is able to pick up the book cold, get the information necessary to make a character of a type they want, and put that all down on paper in less than an hour. And that hour includes some degree of table chatter, so an experienced player could probably do things in half the time.
Ummmm … It’s Star Wars. 🙂
That said, breaking down the Star Wars game into three distinct RPGs has allowed FFG to flesh out the game system and universe in many interesting ways. Edge of the Empire’s ability to explore the seedy, underside of the SW Universe allows for very interesting stories to be told. Heroes and Villains can rise and fall far from the battles against the Empire if the GM wishes. There are limitless opportunities for fantastic storytelling!
It’s Star Wars, so setting materials are both varied and plentiful. Our game took place both on planets that were iconic to the movies, and some that I had never heard of, but the tone of Star Wars remained consistent. The game system was also flexible enough that almost any Star Wars resource material could be used to create the world, city, or setting you desired without much effort.
The Star Wars RPGs utilize a unique dice system that is an evolution of the story dice introduced in Warhammer Role-Play 3rd Edition. While daunting at first, once you begin play the dice merge seamlessly with the story and help craft a very robust narrative. Achieved a success with some Advantage? Well then perhaps you shot out the door controls while blasting at those Stormtroopers! Made your computer roll but ended up with four Threat? Unknown to you, a silent alarm has been tripped and enemies are closing in. There are tons of great ways to interpret the dice in a session.
The custom dice are a wrench; to play properly you need two sets, but everyone at the table can use the same two sets. Beyond the dice, the system seems to be consistent whether working with interpersonal tests, personal combat, challenge tests, or vehicle combat (like spaceships), and this is a good thing. The system is also notable for allowing for qualified successes and failures (the “yes, and…” and “no, but…”), critical successes and failures, additional increase or decrease of difficulty through boost and setback dice, and stepping up dice through the use of shared force points (which sadly makes them available for the GM to use later in a cosmic balance sort of thing).
I think it’s a great system. At first the custom dice had me a little put off and intimidated (I’ve been tied to the d20, d10, and d6, for a long time…) but after a few rolls of the dice with the custom symbols and seeing how they represent success, failure, and additional narrative results, they were a lot of fun. Given the total flexibility of character generation it’s also important to make sure the group of players are diverse in their skills and abilities
I had an absolute blast running Edge of the Empire. I had a fantastic table of players who all really dove in and embraced their inner Star Wars fans. I would love to see these characters and players again in the future blasting off across the Outer Rim!
This was my second RPG Lab experience, and I think it’s a great program. These are the kinds of things that set apart Games and Stuff from other retailers. They are the reason I chose to spend a little more in the store instead of online to save a few bucks. It’s a fantastic program to expose players to new systems they’ve never tried, or maybe never event heard of. Four weeks is just long enough to get into a system and truly evaluate it. One-shot single session games are great, but they often leave new players constantly trying to play catch-up in a swirl of new mechanics. With RPG Lab, I’ve started to feel really comfortable by the end of the first or second game, so there’s still 3 more sessions to relax a little and enjoy the system now that I’ve got the basics down. Jeff’s module was fantastic, and kept the tone of Star Wars consistent throughout. It had a good blend of many game mechanics including combat, space combat, negotiations, and at one point pretty much pleading to a Hutt for our lives. It was balanced and challenging, but never so much so that we felt the challenges were impossible to overcome. It certainly felt heroic.
I was pleased with the players I got a chance to game with and the responsive GM. I’m coming back to the hobby after a decade-and-a-half away and this is just the sort of experience I needed to feel comfortable at a table. I’d definitely jump at the chance to play with everyone again.
Good, as usual. The best RPG Lab showcases the system and setting, and presents use cases for various aspects of the system (the aforementioned interpersonal, combat, or challenge tests), and this one did all of those.
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