The Average Gamer

Friday Night Unplugged #10: Edge of The Empire Beginner Game

Welcome to the 10th great and bountiful Friday Night Unplugged. This week’s column takes us to a galaxy far far away using a few printed maps and the power of our minds. No we’re not talking about becoming Jedi. Instead we took a look into Edge of the Empire, a Star Wars RPG aimed at beginner enthusiasts and dabblers.

Edge of The Empire

What is it?

Edge of the Empire is a role-playing game, thought not the kind we’re used to talking about here on The Average Gamer. For some, those words inspire visions of basements, cardboard swords and large tomes. For others it is the lodestone of tabletop gaming, as it represents a truly social experience. Many of you may already be familiar with RPGs in this format, some of you won’t. For the sake of those that aren’t, let me explain how a tabletop RPG tends to work.

  • One player is the Game Master or GM. They lead and control the story events, describing the outcome of the players’ actions.
  • The other players take on the role of Player Characters, using either pre-generated or self created characters. They make choices within the GM’s story by saying what they want to do.
  • Actions, attacks and many other things are all made with skill checks using attributes on the player sheet – these are most commonly controlled with dice rolls.

Here’s a video demonstration showing a typical beginner’s game of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons:

Edge of the Empire comes with a pre-created adventure. While fairly linear, this does include prompts for the GM, full-colour maps of locations and pre-printed character sheets with stat explanations.

A note on the dice: The dice used for skill checks in Edge of the Empire are varied. In most cases players will be rolling basic green dice, where the spread of successes is guaranteed, and advanced yellow dice. The yellow dice have more successes and bonus achievement symbols that may let a player take another action before the round is up. Difficulty is set by the number of purple dice rolled. This dice has the failure symbols. Failures negate successes one for one but if you have at least one success remaining you have passed the skill check.

Edge of the Empire in all its minimal glory. Where's the board?

Edge of the Empire in all its minimal glory. Where’s the board?

Let’s Play!

The Edge of The Empire starter adventure can be completed in 1-2 hours depending on how and what the players do. What you will read below is an extract from a play session. I took on the role of the Game Master, Fi and Josh both have experience with RPGs though have never played one in the Star Wars universe. We’re joined by Matt and Jake, Matt is a keen roleplayer with an interesting imagination and Jake is still new to the RPGs so is fairly inexperienced.

The cast:
Fi: Oskara, a Twi’lek bounty hunter.
Josh: Lowhrick a an escaped wookiee gladiator.
Jake: Pash a human pilot and expert smuggler
Matt: 41-VEX a repair and medical droid.

The Scene:
The group are on the run from notorious mob lord Teemo the Hutt. Looking for a way out they hear of a locally-docked freight ship called the Krayt Fang. They plan to steal the ship but have one problem. It’s missing a part. We join them as they attempt to acquire the part from a local junk shop owner, Vorn.

The junk shop is obvious. Its large front yard is filled with scrap and as they approach the shop you see an old R5 droid zipping past, closely followed by a wrench. A voice shouts “You bucket of bolts!” with a husk that shows his age.

Fi: Can we go in?
GM: Sure. Is everyone going in?
Group: Yeah.

The door is wide open. Inside are more shelves with scrap metal in all shapes and sizes, and a man is hunched over a low counter. The gang walks in and as he scans over your ragtag group he wipes back his hair and says “Welcome customers! As you can see I have anything you might want… for the right price of course.”

Josh: So what are we looking for?
Jake: A hypermatter thingy
Matt: The Hypermatter Reactor Igniter?

41-VEX is the first to speak up as the walk in the shop “We’re looking for a Hypermatter Reactor Igniter?”. Vorn stops and thinks for a second before starting to speak. “Yes a Hypermatter Reactor Igniter. I have one of those but it’s already been promised to Captain Trex. He needs it for the Krayt Fang.”

Matt: That’s the ship we want to steal right.
GM: Yes it is.
Josh: Can we just kill him and steal it?
Fi: That might not be a good idea.
Jake: What if I pretend Trex sent us to pick it up?
GM: You want to do that?
Jake: I can try.
GM: Okay, so what do you want to say?

Pash sidles up to the counter. “Hi,” he says. Vorn looks at him with an impatient expression and simply says “Yes”.

“Trex sent us to pick up the part, you know. You wouldn’t want to disappoint him,” Pash says, hand down by his pistol.

“Is that so,” mutters Vorn.

GM: Roll a Deceit check.
Jake: Okay.

Jake is playing Pash, a smuggler. His profession relies on him being a smooth talker. This is shown in his skills by him getting to roll the advanced yellow die alongside the standard 2 green. This is an easy test so only 1 purple difficulty die is added to the test. Unfortunately both of Jake’s green die roll blank faces and he only manages to roll 2 successes on the yellow. The difficulty die rolls a face with 2 failures, leaving Jake with none.

Jake: I got 2 success and 2 failures.
GM: You failed to deceive him.

Vorn stands up straight. “Why don’t I just call him and ask? I’m sure he’d love to know someone was impersonating his crew.” His whole body language changes; he looks stronger than he did slouched over the counter.

Josh: Told you I should have killed him outright.
Group: No.
Fi: What if we offer him more than Trex?
GM: It might work, you can try it.

Oskara pushes Pash out the way while the Wookiee and droid stand near the shop entrance. “Look we really need this Igniter, what if we can come to some sort of deal?”

Vorn considers the offer and leans back over the counter. “I’m listening,” he mutters.

GM: Roll a negotiation check Fi.

Fi is playing  Oskara, based on the fact she only rolls 3 green die for this skill as listed on her sheet we can see she isn’t much of a talker. As she’s negotiating  we also roll the red dice for Vorn. This is the same as the yellow dice but with failures instead of successes. She rolls lucky with 2 green die rolling successes. The purple die rolls a blank and the red die only manages a single failure.

Fi: Okay, I got 2 success and 1 failure.

Before the gang has a chance to say anything Vorn seems to reconsider. “Okay, I know you guys are in a hurry and I don’t want any trouble. Sometimes I get better offers and that’s all Trex needs to know. I’ll sell you it for 600 credits but don’t come back here.”

Oskara thinks for a second then the gang gather their credits together and hand them over to Vorn. “Pleasure doing business with ya.” Vorn sticks his cap on and whistles for the droid. “You useless thing, do something good for a change and fetch the HRI for these good people.”

GM: The droid beeps back into the room and holds out a small drive about the size of your hand.
Matt: I’ll take it, droid to droid.
GM: Okay, cool.

The scene closes as the gang walk out of the shop, HRI in hand, successfully avoiding violence to get the part they needed. Just.

 So what just happened? That went rather smoothly, and it seems like the group picked the right way to get the HRI. The brilliance of RPGs is that any number of situations can occur if the players think outside the box. They could have spoken to the downtrodden R5 droid and had him bring the HRI out while they distract Vorn. They could have killed him outright but that might have caused problems down the line. If they wanted to, the group could have even offered to do some grunt work in exchange for the HRI. It all comes down to the players’ choices and of course, the luck of the roll.

What we liked

I’ve played and GM’d a fair amount of RPGs and the most difficult part is always introducing players to the new world, a new ruleset. More often than not this means spending large amounts of time rifling through rule books trying to find the right pages and tables and some preparation beforehand. Edge of The Empire on the other hand is designed to be played out of the box. You can start the first adventure straight away without even reading the rulebook. When it asks you to make the first check, it explains about checks; when you first jump into combat, it explains that. It’s short but perfectly placed, only giving you information as and when you need it rather than bombarding you with text before the game even starts.

From a player standpoint everyone enjoyed it. There were plenty of options in each situation to allow a certain amount of freedom. The custom dice made calculating successes simple, there was no complicated adding and working out of modifiers or bonuses which can have a habit of putting off new players as it slows the pace of the game.

Edge of the Empire has custom dice. Just look at all the colours!

Edge of the Empire has custom dice. Just look at all the colours!

That’s what Edge of the Empire does best; easy. There’s no overcomplicated rule system, no 200-hour epic quest (though there’s no reason why you can’t create one on your own using the provided rulebook as a basis). The scenario you run through is varied enough to teach all the mechanics and while it may feel restrictive to experienced players, that’s really not who this is aimed towards

So should you buy Edge of The Empire? Yes, you should. Grab a box, grab some drinks and snacks and kidnap a few friends. There are few Friday nights better than sitting around a table laughing as a group of vagabond bounty hunters and traders argue about the most ridiculous way to commandeer a ship and escape a planet, from seducing the pilots to impersonating repair crews or trying to sneak in through the roof. For better or worse you’re all in it together.

Star Wars. Edge of The Empire: Beginner Game is currently available for £24.99 at Travelling Man.

While our adventure didn't see us steal a cruiser and fight stormtroopers there's no reason yours can't.

While our adventure didn’t see us steal a cruiser and fight stormtroopers there’s no reason yours can’t.

Next Week on Friday Night Unplugged:

Next week we’re checking out a heavily RPG-inspired board game that includes one of the things that is surely missing from the majority of games we’ve covered so far – a campaign mode with different paths to completion. Join us as we delve into the darkness of Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Second Edition.

One Comment