We’re changing up our gaming schedule, so instead of back-to-back Pathfinder games, one of my players volunteered to run the Beginner Box adventure for Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. Since I plan to take a short break from GMing Pathfinder at the conclusion of Raiders of the Fever Sea, we decided this would be a good opportunity to make characters for an alternate game and get a handle on the system. So, just FYI, the rest of this entry is just sick with spoilers for the Beginner Box adventure, “Escape from Mos Shuuta.”
TL;DR Summary: I made an amoral scout/pilot/treasure hunting liar of a Rodian and we had a LOT of fun.
Captain’s Log: independent freighter Krayt Fang, Captain Kelko Gen dictating (translated from Rodese)
I can’t believe we had to steal this Corellian piece of Bantha poodoo. Still, it’s better than not having a ship, and far better than being stuck on that dirtball planet. Too bad that Trandoshan left his lizard stink all over the ship. I wonder if opening all the hatches and letting all the nastiness blow out into space will make things smell better?
Anyway, after getting busting out of prison, I tracked down my Bothan friend, Azira. She’s still a little idealistic, but we didn’t have time to philosophize. I also met up with a couple of human mercs (whose names I still can’t remember, honestly, they all look alike with their smooth, squishy skin), though I think one of them is a bounty hunter. I hope my name never comes across his target list. I’m not sure how we all ended up on the run from Teemo the Hutt’s goons in Mos Shuuta, but I wasn’t getting made into a jacket by those club-wielding piggies. We ducked into a cantina. I sidled up to the bar and ordered a drink. Azira clung to me and we tried to look casual. The humans ducked into booths behind us. I don’t know if it was the fact that I had a sexy female dangling on my arm or if the humans were just making too much damn noise, but we didn’t fool the piggies for long and they came at us. After spilling my drink, I blasted one of the Gamorreans, and even Azira got in on the action with her little pistol. One of the humans got his nose splattered, but honestly, it was an improvement, although, I was surprised to see a human’s face get even flatter than it already was. After dealing with the goon squad, the Devonarian bartender told us the best way to get offworld: steal a ship, but we were going to need to replace some hypermatter injector thingie first (I just fly ’em, I don’t know what makes them go).
Fortunately, one of the few resources Tattooine is rich in is junk stores. So, we found a junk shop and tried to pick up the replacement part, but Azira just had too honest a face (I know, it’s unheard of for a Bothan). The owner didn’t buy her story that were there to pick it up for the ship’s captain, and he locked down his store and sounded an alarm. We hauled jets out of there and hid in the scrapyard while Stormtroopers responded to the call. Since when did the Empire give a space slug’s butt about crime on Tattooine? Fortunately for us, the junk store owner abused his droid and Azira was better at sweet-talking droids than she was humans. The droid agreed to go back in the shop and get the part for us if she did a few minor repairs on him. The droid was more than happy to screw over his boss. (Note to self: do not buy an R5 unit. Addendum: Make sure whatever droid you buy gets a restraining bolt.)
Naturally, just getting the part wasn’t good enough. We also needed to disengage the docking clamps holding the Krayt Fang down in docking bay Aurek. The only place we could do that was Spaceport Control. Fantastic. The bounty hunter feigned heat exhaustion (not much of a stretch, honestly) just outside the control center and as I tended to his needs, we kept an eye on the personnel inside. The other human and Azira snuck around the side entrance to try to find a way to slice into the system. They must’ve been successful because they came back out with no alarms blaring and no one in pursuit. Now all we had to do was get to the docking bay and steal our ship.
Unfortunately the Stormtroopers caught up with us on the way to the docking bay. They started blasting us, but we blasted right back, so they pulled out vibroknives and tried to shank us. Stupid stormies bringing knives to a gunfight. We ended their miserable existence, and if we hadn’t shot their armor full of holes, I would’ve taken some. My clothes have proved to be poor protection from blasters, vibroknives, and clubs. The docking bay was guarded by a couple of battle droids. I wanted to just blast them, but Azira managed to sweet-talk them into letting us deliver the part to Captain Trex, after all, we were the technicians who were going to install it. I don’t know why she’s better at sweet-talking droids than organics, but whatever. I’d been clubbed, shot at, and nearly stabbed, so my temper was a little short by then.
Captain Trex wasn’t as easy to fool and he ordered his droids to blast us while he tried to eat the merc’s face and take our hyperdrive injector thing. You’d think four cheap battle droid would be pushovers, but these things Trex had would give Stormtroopers a run for their money. They nearly took Azira out, but in the end, we reduced them to parts. We weren’t able to vaporize Trex, though, and I can only hope that A) he bled out on the docking bay floor, B) he didn’t hear me say I intended to skin him and make a coat out of his hide, and C) the engine wash from us stealing his ship incinerated his stinky, scaly, carcass.
For the record, we totally didn’t steal his ship. It was MY ship to begin with and I was taking it back from him. I seem to have very poor taste, though. I never liked the YT-1300, and I don’t know what I was thinking painting it the color of rust. (Note to self: maybe I can rename the ship Rust Bucket…or Trex’s Folly heh heh heh). This stupid thing! I think it transcribed my chuckle. Anyway, I think the old Counselor-class cruisers are much nicer ships. I always wanted one with a nice luxury pod under the cockpit with a two-level apartment and a nice swimming pool. Yeah. Just gotta find more artifacts and sell them. Did you know some humans, particularly Alderaanians, get really uptight when you sell antiquities to the highest bidder? It’s junk! Who am I to argue when someone wants to give me a bucket of credits for some ancient religious icons?
Well, we blasted off just fine, but the hyperdrive was still broken. One of the humans, um, the one with hair, I think, or wait? Do they both have hair? Well, he had a stimpack left and got Azira back on her feet. She ran to install the injector thing while I performed miracles flying the Rust Bucket and evade the TIE Fighters that decided they needed to shoot at my ship. The humans were pretty good with the ship’s guns, but it was my piloting that saved the day, because I am A. Mazing. I got on the comm and told the Imperials to stop shooting holes in my ship, but the Imperials required explosive maintenance before they actually stopped. Azira got the part installed and we headed off to scrub the ship’s records. I can’t let it out that I let a Trandoshan commandeer my ship like that. How embarrassing.
Braddok Tal and Maximo! That was their names! I ought to make those humans wear armbands or something so I can tell them apart.
And thus ended our Edge of the Empire Beginner Box adventure. We made characters before the session started. It took four of us just about an hour to make characters from scratch, and that was with some book sharing going on and only one player (GM not included) having had experience with EotE character generation. Had we all been familiar with the system, I bet we could all make characters in 20 minutes. Character generation seems to hit the sweet spot (for me, anyway) of being simple and relatively fast, but with enough flexibility that characters can be unique. The Obligation system helps a lot with that because you get to work out your backstory while you’re making the character and it’s a good way to give all the characters in the group a reason to be together and know each other. Sure, it’s still possible for THAT One Player to create a loner who logically would have nothing to do with the rest of the group, but a decent GM can head that off before it starts.
The system itself may seem complicated, with its icon-covered dice, but in practice, it runs very smoothly. Within an hour, all the players had gotten the hang of the dice and we all enjoyed how the results affected the flow of the narrative. A miss was not just a miss. It might have set up an advantage for the next person. Likewise, a success could set up a challenge. Of course, there were complete failures and spectacular triumphs, but the mechanics never boiled down to metagamey number crunching (I have +10 that, and I get +3 to this, so I only need to roll a 2 or higher to succeed!)*.
Since “Escape from Mos Shuuta” was just an introductory adventure, it’s difficult to do a comprehensive system review, and that sort of thing ain’t my game anyway. I enjoyed the game. It felt like Star Wars, as much so as anything I’ve played since the days West End Games had the license with their D6 system. Our GM commented a few times that we were probably overpowered for the adventure since we made characters instead of using the pre-gens, but honestly, we flubbed enough dice rolls that it was still challenging. We blasted off from Mos Shuuta in the Krayt Fang with one PC unconscious and my character sucking on 1 remaining wound point. The only real advantage we had is that some of us had slightly more powerful weapons than the pre-gens, which just made the combats shorter when we did hit. In the first fight in the Cantina, my character’s carbine did a whole lot of nothing since I couldn’t hit crap, even though it was in melee range. I’m sure we even missed some rules for firing while engaged in melee, but we were all still picking up the system. Subsequent adventures (which won’t happen for at least a month) will probably be even more challenging.
So far, I do like what Fantasy Flight Games has done with the system. I won’t be running EotE at any conventions any time soon (mostly because I run “Dead Games” at Gary Con), but it might just become my go-to system for Star Wars game around my home table. The era of play is my favorite, as is the subject matter. I’ve always preferred the Star Wars underworld and Rebellion-era stuff to anything with Jedi. Jedi are problematic for me for a number or reason too lengthy to go into here. Would I like to have a real lightsaber and be able to do cool Jedi stunts? Hell. Yes. Do I want them in my Star Wars games? Ehh…not so much. In D6, Force use was a little wonky and tended to make your character suck at everything else. In the D20 variants, the seemed too much like overpowered magic-users compared to other characters (in my experience). And of course, there’s always the problem that canonically, Jedi tend to work alone or in pairs, and if you have one Jedi in the group, you always have several other players who want to be Jedi because no one wants their character to be overshadowed by the superhero (notice that in the movies, once Luke starts doing Jedi stuff, he’s usually off on his own…that’s TEDIOUS to GM). It’s like having one or two players play Captain America and Iron Man, while everyone else plays the police who are “helping” the Avengers.
* Please note, and I resent the HELL out of the Internet for making me type this: There is nothing wrong with the number crunching metagame. There are some players and GMs who enjoy that sort of thing and to them, that IS the game. I personally have grown weary of it and I really appreciated the opportunity to create a character where I didn’t have to worry about nerfing myself because I didn’t optimize a certain way. If you enjoy the number crunch of certain rules-heavy systems, you enjoy a different type of game than I do, but my preference in NO WAY de-legitimatizes your brand of fun. There is room in this world for all kinds of games. I like what I like and you’re welcome to like what you like. As long as we’re all having fun, then there is nothing wrong with any of it!
More importantly, after 13+ years of playing systems where the number crunching is an integral part of the game, I have come to realize that I really don’t enjoy it anymore. Not. One. Bit.