tisdag 25 september 2012

Talents in Star Wars, makes you ”kinda” special

Talents, sounds cool – I mean, one would expect something like talents in a RPG to make you more than special – actually it could be the thing that defines your character most of all. In some games – like different FATE variants, aspects define you and also give you significant power (compared to skills) when you use them. In a Swedish RPG – Svavelvinter – the abilities/skills really define you and in FATE stunts really give you an edge – or at least you can’t fail to get the effect of a stunt.

In SW:E talents are something in between all this, in my opinion often weaker, more resembling specializations to skills. In the beginning of the chapter the player actually gets informed that talents often are narrow and as such skills might be better if you want to be good at doing stuff – related to the skill in hand.

Talents are bought in talent trees, of which you can have a total of three. If you get a fourth talent tree you loose all talents from another one. Some talents are permanent – approximately 50% of the talents in each tree – and follow even if you change tree.

When you’re buying a talent you have to have all the previous talents in the path to the selected talent (and I suspect that the cost more as you move down the tiers – numbers in the margin?).

It’s really hard to assess if the talent are really good or not as I’m not already really familiar with weapon damages, soak values etc., but I can say this: if you select a talent with at blue or black die (boost and setback dice), in one third of cases it won’t matter as both types have two blank faces. This is actually something I dislike – if you pay for a talent – the least you can get is a bonus that is a bonus, not just a bonus in two thirds of cases. I minor thing, since some trees don’t have very many talents with dice associated to them.

So, to summarize talent – I get the same feeling as I got in WH3, not very useful if not a very special circumstance and probably (in some cases) not worth spending xp on. It, will be interesting to read about the Force as there are some Force talents (but also Force powers it seems).

Whats done better with talents, compared to WH3, is that ther aren’t any cards and you don’t seem to have to activate and tap them – but I might be wrong –  and maybe the Combat chapter will resolve this.

söndag 23 september 2012

Star Wars – Skills – enough or too many?

The way roleplaying games use skills and the amount of skills – tells you something about them. 

I remember – from the Golden Age of my roleplaying (the 90’s) – how the amount of skills increased as new splat books were added, and soon we had a “Light a fire” skill, which many a characters excelled in.

So when reading the skills chapter in Star Wars: Edge of the Empire (hence SW:E) I asked myself a number of questions. Number of skills?  Weighting between social and combat skills? One or many knowledge skills? And finally the description of skills – e.g. did they have explanations for how to interpret extra symbols in a roll.

For a start – these are the actual skills in the core book: astrogation, athletics, brawl, charm, coerce, computers, cool, coordination, core worlds, deceit, disciples, education, gunnery, leadership, lore, mechanics, medicine, melee, negotiate, outer rim, perception, pilot (planetary), pilot (space), ranged (heavy), ranged (light), resilience, skullduggery, stealth, streetwise, surveillance, survival, underworld, vigilance and xenology.

Quite a few in other words, but on the other hand quite a few skills involved in social conflicts, and also a box and table describing how the different social skills (coerce, deceit, leadership, charm and negotiation) interact with two opposing skills (discipline and cool).

Six knowledge skills, and the possibility of adding more – might not be my cup of tea, but doable. The risk being that some of them wont be used even if players have them.

Regarding the combat skills – there is nothing out of the ordinary. Other things I noticed include the possible overlap between Cool and Discipline (could have been one skill), the use of Surveillance to  use ship sensors and that it seems you use different skills to oppose in social conflicts (rather than using the same skill or at least having that option).

Each skill has a description of the use of symbols (e.g. success, triumph, threat) or referral to the combat or space travel chapter. But once again all this data is hidden in plain text, instead of using small tables or boxes. I sincerely hope they will change this.

So, all in all, the skill chapter didn’t hold any real surprises and I think its okay although I would have preferred fewer skills.

fredag 21 september 2012

Star Wars - CharGen

Well, well - after a slow start, Star Wars Beta picks up speed in the second chapter – Creating a Character. Here we get acquainted to the concept of Obligation, different species to play as well as the six different careers: bounty hunter, colonist, explorer, hired gun, smuggler and technician.

I must say, I really like the Obilgation – actually I would like to incorporate this into any future games I’ll help produce (realistically, just Coriolis, at the moment). Obligation is as the name implies a debt, unpaid favor, family duty, addiction or whatever you think would be interesting for your character. Or just roll on a table if you can’t come up with it by yourself. The obligation is a value ranging from 5 to 25 at the start of the game for each character but it´s added together when used in the game. Technically at every session the game master rolls a D100 and if it’s below the total obligation, the corresponding characters Obligation comes into play this session. The character reduces his strain threshold (used in “mental” conflicts) by 2 and all other characters by 1 – and this doubles if you roll was a double (eg. 11, 22, 33). As the strain threshold normally is 12 (for a normal human) you can sort of figure out the possible effect.

You can also use the Obligation to get stuff, favors etc but if it rises above 100 the whole party won’t be able to relax (and spend xp) until they have resolved their Obligation(s).

Moving on to species – I suppose here you get what you expect ­– in my case you can play wookiees, humans, droids and twi´leks among others, and each species description is short and inspiring – the opposite of how the first chapter felt like.

The six different careers with 3 specializations each (bounty hunter: assassin, colonist: politico etc) are what makes me want to play SW! Each specialization ahs its own talent tree, describing which talents you can choose from as well as how they are interconnected (see below). Talents resemble their namesake in WH3, by having different effect that are sometimes due to added boost or setback dice or adding bonuses to abilities, attributes etc.

After you bought your talents, career skills etc you choose (or roll) Motivation, which resembles an aspect in FATE but doesn’t seem to be compelled in the same way. And finally you get to choose a ship – among three different types – whose names don´t elicit any recognition for my part – but I have come to understand that one is the “Millenum Falcon” and one “Slave-I”.

After reading this chapter – I have regained my Motivation to play the game ­– it can actually be very good, we´ll see.

onsdag 19 september 2012

Wall of text Wars

I recently acquired the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beta. It's taken me a while to read it (and actually read any part of it). Anyway.

My first impression of the new Star Wars Beta RPG was it's marvelous smell, fresh of the printers. The next impression was the massive amount of text - Wall of text, as a fellow nerd, succinctly put it.

I know that it is a beta version but my first impression didn't alter after I read the first chapter, with the game mechanics. My friend's prediction is that I won't get thru the whole book - which isn't a bad bet. I'll try - and we will see what happens.

The first chapter describes the game mechanics and is rather tedious to read. The mechanics are similar to Warhammer FRPG 3.rd edition, with custom dice, that you add together depending on abilities, skills, the difficulty (two different kinds), and the situation (positive and negative). There are of course also Force dice and two 10-sided dice.

The basic dice pool consists of two to four different kinds, and you read the in a similar way as in WHFR3. 

Other key elements are the Talents, Destiny points (read: Fate points) and Obligations, and this is the more interesting part. The amount of Destiny points wary from session to session depending on the roll of the Force dice, which I like and Obligation ads motivations and also mechanical features to the game when it comes in effect.

I feel that the whole first chapter needs a lot of graphic descriptions of dice pools and less text, because it's actually too boring to read. And I suspect that somebody native to English might explain it with less words - but i don't know for sure. The newly announced Beginner box might help - I'll probably get it, for this reason alone.

The next chapter - Character generation - looks more interesting. If you can't wait, read ahead on Fire broadside. 

måndag 3 september 2012

Star Wars RPG Beta has arrived!

Okay, so I'll try in this in English, since there might be some folks abroad interested in this. Big day today – my Star Wars: Edge of the Empire beta arrives from the US, and i could finally have a look at it. Smelled nice, fresh from the printers and I must say – it's crammed with stuff, just paging through it is absolutely marvelous! Have a look yourselves and please excuse the lame commentary...