As folks who follow this blog probably know already, a long-running, beer-and-pretzels D&D game – the Storm Point campaign – is about to wrap up. The group wants to keep playing something, but we’ve had enough D&D for a while ((We’ve been playing D&D, first 3E and then 4E, for eight and a half years. We’d like a change.)). As we started getting ready to wrap the campaign up, I told them to start thinking about what they wanted to play next.
When they saw my copy of Edge of the Empire, they decided they wanted to play Star Wars.
I thought this was an awesome idea. I’d run the Edge of the Empire Beginner Game for some friends, and thought it worked really nicely ((That’s kind of damning it with faint praise – I thought the structure and form of the Beginner Game was pure genius for teaching the basics of the system and getting people into the game. Probably the best introductory gaming package I’ve ever seen.)). I had a lot of fun with it.
Now, I can’t stress enough that I think that Edge of the Empire is a good game. It is. The dice mechanic, the production values, the way FFG is sectioning the game into three books, the sheer volume of material – all of it is top notch. The writing is good and clear, and it gives you plenty of options, even if it is a little limited in scope compared to previous SW games ((FFG has decided to split their SW game into three books – one dealing with the scum and villainy of the remote areas of the galaxy, one dealing with the ongoing Rebellion, and one dealing with Jedi and Sith. EotE is the scum and villainy one, with limited involvement with the Rebellion and limited details on the Force.)).
But, as I read through the rulebook, I became more and more convinced that EotE was not the right game for what I wanted to do. Here are the things that made me concerned:
- The funky dice. Now, I understand why the game uses these dice, and the benefit they provide, and think that what FFG is doing with them is great. And, from the Beginner Game session I ran, I think that they are cool and worthwhile. But it’s also learning a completely new dice language, if you will. While I’m fine with doing that, I think that only about half the total group is going to read the rules, and so the learning curve on the dice for the group as a whole is going to be pretty steep.
- Limited choices for the characters. Now, the choices aren’t all that limited – in fact, there are eighteen career/specialization combinations, not counting adding the Force specialization or multiple specializations. But no Jedi, no brave rebel soldiers, limited alien species choices ((Although you can play a droid, which is awesome.)).
- Limited campaign choices. As noted, EotE focuses on the people and locations on the fringe of the SW galaxy. It doesn’t provide any support for running any other types of games. My players came up with some interesting ideas about what kind of campaign they wanted to play ((One idea was a cantina band that traveled around and solved mysteries. Now, I think that idea is both ridiculous and awesome.)), but a lot of their ideas would have had me scrambling to fill in the gaps on EotE.
- Prep time. After eight and a half years of running D&D, I’m really ready to run something less prep-intensive. EotE doesn’t look too bad, but the learning curve in the early part of the game would require a fair bit of work for me to get ready for each session.
- Seating arrangements. Yeah, this is kind of a weird one, but with the funky dice, and the learning curve building and interpreting dice pools, and the destiny point mechanic, EotE would pretty much require us to play seated around my dining table. We prefer to sprawl out in the living room, using the couch and coffee table and various comfy chairs.
I went back and forth on this for a couple of weeks, then I broached the subject with my players. I proposed that, instead of EotE, we use Fate Core to power our SW game. We discussed it and, with their blessing ((Or at least lack of protest. Silence gives consent, am I right?)), I decided to go with Fate Core.
There are some of the same problems with Fate Core: notably, it’s a new system that the players ((Some of them, anyway. Two of them were in my Feints & Gambits DFRPG game, and at least one or two others have played Spirit of the Century.)), and there isn’t a lot of support for running a SWÂ game. But the system is one I know very well, and I’m pretty good and improvising in it. And converting stuff to Fate Core is trivially simple.
The main advantages I see, beyond the fact that it will be far easier for me to run ((Which is, of course, a big consideration.)), is that it will offer the players much more of a chance to shape the kind of game they want to play, and to make the characters they want.
One thing I did have to do up front is figure out how the Force is going to work in the game. There are a number of takes on SW for Fate Core here, and they handle the Force in a variety of ways. I finally settled on making it an extra requiring both your high concept aspect and your trouble aspect to point towards it, and left the various Force powers to be stunts.
When I finally settled on that, I put together a bit of a primer for my players. Because the system is going to be new ground for some of them, and there’s a very different mentality behind Fate Core than D&D, I spelled out some basics about the setting creation and character creation, along with explaining how the Force is going to work. If you’re curious, you can download the primer here ((Just a word of warning, however: this was written for my friends, who are all adults, no matter how they behave. I use some language in the document that I don’t normally use on my blog. Not much, but still.)).
We’ve got one more Storm Point session, scheduled for this Sunday. That should wrap the campaign. Then, we start moving on our Star Wars game.
I’m looking forward to it.