For my first time being a GM (like a DM but less dungeon-ey), I decided to run the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire beginner game. I had a lot of fun running this adventure and (I think) my players had a lot of fun adventuring in this adventure. So here I present to you my thoughts on the beginner box for Star Wars: Edge of the Empire.
What is Edge of the Empire, and why did I choose it?
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is a roleplaying game set in the Star Wars universe created by Fantasy Flight Games. So why did I choose Edge of the Empire for my first time running the game and why might you want to choose it?
Well, first and foremost, Star Wars is awesome. It is a great franchise and a truly vast universe in which to play. Where Star Wars really shines as a setting for your first game though is that, unlike say Dungeons and Dragons, almost everyone knows Star Wars and knows the basic rules of the Star Wars universe. This really helps get the players invested in the game. What also helps is playing next to a TV where you can use a Star Wars Intro Creator to kick the game off in style, setting the scene and immersing the players with barely any effort at all.
Edge of the Empire is one of a set of three Fantasy Flight Star Wars Roleplaying games. Where Age of Rebellion and Force and Destiny allow players to take on the roles of a band of Rebels and a party of Jedi, Edge of the Empire throws players into the much grittier lives of smugglers and criminals operating on the fringes of society. To me this is not only makes it the coolest of the three Fantasy Flight Star Wars games, but also offers the most freedom to the players.
The Fantasy Flight Star Wars roleplaying games (of which Edge of the Empire is just one) use the Genesys roleplaying system. Or, more accurately, the Genesys system is a generalised version of the Star Wars Roleplaying system. Either way, it doesn’t matter, it’s good. I really like this narrative dice system. The symbol-based dice are much more accessible than the number heavy offerings of older style RPGs. I also like that at it’s core you try to do something and you either succeed or fail and then the advantages and threats then do something alongside that. This gives much more variety to the potential outcomes of all of your actions and I love that you can easily succeed but something can go horribly wrong anyway.
I have to say that the deciding factor when it came to getting into the Star Wars roleplaying game in general, was probably listening to the amazing Silhouette Zero podcast by Chris Ing and his brother, Matt Ing. This has probably my favourite RPG podcast to listen to for the past year or so and I would highly recommend it. Listening to this podcast made me really want to get involved and run the game for myself. If you’re thinking of playing a Star Wars roleplaying game, I’d recommend you give it a listen. It’s also worth mentioning that I doubt I would have stumbled across the Silhouette Zero podcast at all if it were not for the excellent Party of One podcast, which is a fantastic way of finding out about different RPGs which you might not have heard of otherwise.
I also managed to get my hands on a copy of the Core Rulebook in excellent condition on ebay for an even more excellent low price. But as someone who had never played a roleplaying game before, let alone run one, I wanted the safety net feeling that comes with starting out with a beginner set so I bought that as well.
What’s in the box?
The box is not of the sturdiest construction, so while the art on the front of the box is fine, it is not a nice box. That said, I don’t really care. It’s all about what’s in the box for me. So what is in that box?
- 1 32-page Adventure Book, 1 48-page Rulebook, and 1 Introduction Sheet
- 4 Full-Color Character Folios
- 1 Full-Color Double-Sided Foldout Map
- 14 Custom Dice
- 8 Destiny Tokens, 35 Character Tokens, and 5 Vehicle Tokens
So far so ordinary, really. The 48-page Rulebook is fine, although the rules do differ from those of the core rulebook in a couple of places. One of the key issues with the Rulebook is that there are no rules for character creation, not even a heavily cut-down version. Personally, I think that’s fine as the point of the box is to introduce new players to the game and to use the pre-generated characters. These characters do have proper (if different to those in the core rulebook) talent trees which can be used to extend adventure into a longer campaign. However, if you do want to create your own characters you will have to get your hands on a copy of the Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook.
The Character Folios are a nice piece of work and are definitely better than just a single character sheet. The folios have a bit of back story on the back and a nice picture of each character on the front. What makes these so much better for new players than a character sheet though is what’s inside. Each folio has two character sheets, one for the beginning of the adventure, and one, more complete version for the second half of the adventure. Each character sheet is also annotated with the most important rules for the players to know, helping to make sure that no-one is ever left feeling like they don’t know what’s going on. At the end of each Folio, every character has their own unique talent tree so that they can develop over future adventures if you want to continue their story.
The map is pretty much exactly as described. It is made of paper but at least the artwork is nice. One side is a YT-1300 Corellian light freighter in a hanger, which is more than a little bit run-down, even compared to the Millennium Falcon. The other side is split into three panels. Half of this side is devoted to a map of Mos Shuuta and the two panels making up the other half are a couple of the more important locations in Mos Shuuta.
The included dice make up about half of the value in this box if compared to buying them separately. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is possible to play with regular dice, but that would involve looking up what you got on a table every time you role. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like much fun to me.
The tokens that are included are pretty nice. The artwork is good and they are made from card of a decent thickness. There’s also lots of them. Far more, in fact, that you need to run the adventure included in the box. This is great as it gives you the opportunity to keep going beyond the adventure book, or, if necessary, throw in a little extra challenge for your players. I can’t help but feel that it would be worth paying a little bit more to get some proper pawns though.
What’s the adventure like?
The adventure is designed to last two sessions, and the pacing works pretty well here, with the players (and the GM) being introduced to the mechanics of the game through some introductory combat, some chitchat with unpleasant characters, and the opportunity to sneak around a bit.
In the first half the players hear about a way to escape from the small port town of Mos Shuuta on Tatooine, and then have to collect what they need to escape the planet. There is then a pause where the players are rewarded with some juicy xp, and some very limited character development decisions which I think does a good job of teaching how character progression in the Genesys/Star Wars RPG system works. Then in the second session (or second half), the players encounter some more dangerous combat and then get to make their daring escape.
Personally, I enjoyed the first half of the session much more than the second half. The second half involved much more combat and not much else. Now it does say in the book that your players can stick around to explore the town a bit more but, given that they are supposed to be escaping which typically features quite high up on ones to-do list, it seems unlikely to me that many players will hang back to find the nearest florist.
Is it worth getting?
I bought this game from Thalia in Germany for EUR 22,77, but checking their website at the time of writing it is now on Thalia.de for EUR 41,99! I really can’t recommend it at this inflated price. It is a decent beginner set but it just isn’t worth paying that much for it. But if you can get it at a more reasonable price and you and your friends are new to Roleplaying games, or just new to the Fantasy Flight Star Wars Roleplaying games, then I would definitely recommend this as a good place to start.
For those in the US, you can buy direct from Fantasy Flight Games for USD 29.95. It looks like in Germany you can get it from Fantasywelt for EUR 23,96 and in the UK you can grab it from Leisure Games in London for GBP 27.99. Of course, I would highly recommend checking out your local game store before going online.
Compared to the similarly priced Pathfinder Beginner Box, the Edge of the Empire Beginner Game doesn’t quite reach the same mark in terms of component quality. I would definitely not mind paying an extra $5 or so to get some proper pawns and a flip mat included in the box. However, just because it isn’t as good as the best RPG beginner box on the market doesn’t mean that it’s bad. All together, this is a nice little box that certainly gives you everything you need to get started with the Fantasy Flight Star Wars Roleplaying Game.
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