Tomorrow is supposed to be the day I pick up the core rule book and screen (and probably another set of dice) from my FLGS. After a hideous week news 'life wise,' ending in just escaping death when a 17 year old behind us fell to sleep on the motorway and smashed our car into the barriers - the prospect is joyous.
Why? Well; the system has changed my 'gaming life'. After RPGing most of my teenage and Uni life away in the 70s and 80s I had fallen into the normal 'wargame/game' life. Forays into the RPG world were spoilt by the way the systems had seem to have gone. After spening two 4 hour sessions playing D&D a few years ago I had put RPGs into the 'not for me anymore' category. I remember our beginning party being ambushed by some orcs on the way into the caverns we were going down... I think I had 3 combat turns in the about 130 minutes with a massive wait between each slot! By the end of the evening we had effectively got nowhere. I have far better ways of spending my precious gaming time thank you very much.
And that is what it boils down to I think, most of us older players out there have only a limited amount of 'gaming time' - I'm lucky I do a lot of 'work' which involves games but what I am refering to is 'me' time playing games. Spending those rare 'brownie points' on sitting around basically watching one combat encounter for the evening is not 'cost effective' at all. Playing a game like X-WIng or Saga is an ideal use of the points - games that are over in an hour means I get three games in and they are 'ALL MINE PRECIOUS' .
But Edge of the Empire is different, so far there has been little sitting down doing nothing time in the games There is always chance for a player to get involved due to the fluid initiative spots, the dice system interpretations meaning everyone needs to add to the narrative plus you may be given an extra action in some way. In fact the players HAVE to listen to the game narrative to know what is going on as the action, even if using figures, 'physical game' wise is far more abstract with less micro movement etc.
For me it has bought the 'story telling' back. RPG lite wargame rules have, I think, usurped the modern RPG game which have morphed into a type of hybrid wargame/boardgame/rpg beast which is lost in micro management and, as far as I can see, has lost the 'story telling' apart from what the GM does. The first game of EotE I ran was for a group of 'hardcore' d20 RPGers. I chuckled inwardly as I described the setting and what was occuring around them and then they waited... When I asked them why they were waiting the answer was they were waiting for me to make something happen. And this was the bit out of the Beginners module which starts with them ducking into the cantina. They had spent too many years entering a scene only to have the GM tell them to roll a dice for this, get initiative for that... It wasn't long until they got into the swing of things but it is a very subtle but important 'psyche shift' for most players I think.
So roll on tomorrow, goodies to pick up then our next session of 'Long arm of the Hutt' in the evening... Geek Heaven one feels.
Taking enthusiasm and inspiration from listening to Order 66 podcast live sessions I arranged a session of Edge of the Empire over Skype. Obvious advantage is that people don't have to travel to be together to play; the down side is that the players are not together.
But the system held up great with just the narrative to go on. Actually, one of only a couple of rpg sessions I have done without any props of any kind when I think about it. Only four of the six players could turn out for the first session, but this was OK as everyone was having to get their head around the dice system, although the two missing were the two who knew the system. Swings and round-a-bouts I suppose.
The episode we were working through is outlined elsewhere on the blog; what I'm waffling on about here is how the session went over skype. First thing I think the narrative style of dice are really going to help as players and the GM are forced to 'explain' the results in a way that fits rather than just, "You missed, next character..." There were lots of failed shots with advantages or disadvantages shown on the dice which had to be 'explained'.
"Blaster shots whizzed all around the thug, as he dodged from side to side he came into plain view of the rest of the group, making it easier to target him - the next blaster shot on him gets a boost die."
As a GM after the first few sessions of guidance I expect the players to come up with a suitable narrative explanation for how the 'advantage' is going to pan out for them... To use a rugby ref comment it will be a case of, "Use it or lose it." Obviously most groups will need a lot of supportive guidance for this to happen well. That's probably the major difference I have noticed between EotE and other d20 based systems I have played where as a player the only time one really embellishes the action is when you manage a critical hit and cleave someone in two! This is where playing over skype also helped - as there was no physical board/map to move figures around on so many hexes or squares, players were beginning to narrate their movement. Instead of reaching out and moving the 28mm character 3 hexes and then saying, "I'll hit him." players were looking at the map they had on screen and saying,
"I'll activate my vibro-axe take a run and leap over the crates in front of the thugs and try slice them up as they are reeling back from Freoo's blaster fire."
The previous attack had given a boost dice as Freoo had missed but explained the advantage as saying the crate that had been giving them cover was blasted and the thugs were reeling back from the shrapnel hurling towards them. There is something wildly compelling for players in a game where one can effectively 'miss' with a shot but because of rolling two net advantages and a triumph mean you can suggest that your target dives to his right to avoid being hit but stumbles and drops his weapon out of the crane cage he is using to snipe at the gang! Certainly keeps everyone's attention on the game a lot more. As does the non assigning of initiative spots to characters. One can't have a go and then wander off for 20 minutes while everyone else does theirs. As the narrative is added to by all the players and you may well get to act in a couple of initiative spots apart the players have to listen and add to. Again this was enhanced, I felt, by playing over Skype as there was no way of wandering off and coming back to look at the map/table and where the figures were to 'see' what had been going on - one had to listen.
So was it better than playing 'face to face' - well of course not, so much information is given by us non-verbally that there was obviously something missing, not being able to see peoples reactions to the dice rolls for a start which often prompts a lot of chatter/banter. With new people it often got a bit confusing as to who was talking when the action got hectic. People couldn't hand snacks or beers around etc etc.
BUT... it was a lot lot closer to the 'normal' enjoyment than I ever thought it would be, I think the way it forces the verbal description of the action to be more narrative is a HUGE plus. Couple this with the fact I was playing with two strangers who I never would have played with otherwise and two mates, who live at opposite sides of the country which means we NEVER get to play together normally, and it all added up to the supposition that if playing in a living room with a group of mates is 'sliced bread' then playing EotE on Skype is the proverbial,
"Best thing since sliced bread!"
Roll on the next session because I know it is only going to get even better...
Like always the following may contain spoilers to the 'Long Arm of the Hutt' scenario in the same way peanut butter may contain nuts. .. You have been warned.
If you read the last installments you may remember the fine, if rather bloodthirsty, group of rag tag heroes were in the back room of a sleazy bar about to be busted by the Oligarch's security force.
After locking the electric door Mat sent his rather to friendly droid out to see what was lurking in the back alley. A security air speeder and a few private land speeders were all that the droid could see and transmit back.
With blaster shots taking out the electronic lock the group decided, for once, to leave without a shoot out and nick a couple of speeders. Job done they communicated with B'an and a meeting place was arranged for a few hours time. Wanting to hide around until time they found an empty wharehouse and then figured it was quicker and less obvious to go to the meeting venue on foot. The only thing was how to hide an 8 foot Wookiee - answer was obvious, in a burka!
A walk in the park, or at least to the Spyder Club, led to be uneventful apart from a local security agent taking far to much of a shine to the burka'd Wookiee. Thankfully, for him one suspects, a good roll with advantages saw him let them pass without a revealing Stuart Hall fondle.
Meeting -check, ride out to mines- check. The group arrived at the rarher desperate looking 'New Meena' mines shortly after. Not exactly how it had been portrayed but the shanty like town inhabitants were pleased to see the group especially once B'an had announced they were here to help.
Turns out that the Tw'leks were basically being muscled out and intimidated by a group of thugs led by an unknown human called Dromb.
It took little persuasion for the group to decide that a ruck was in order. Pash, the human smooth talking smuggler, decided to head straight over to try and get an inside job. Taking off in the speeder to the cantina in the thugs quickly built but fairly impressive compound he dropped the female and bounty hunting droid off for a bit of a stealthy snoop around.
The cantina was hardly the most welcoming of places - going silent as he walked in- but the barman, never one to turn down a credit, pointed out a human called Dwebb to talk to for a job.
Meanwhile the stealth operation was going rather like a farce as the droid bumbled about in the dark. Luckily it seemed most of the thugs seemed to have two states of being. At work and in the cantina... And it wasn't work hours. But figuring they needed to go nearer the pair snuck up to a building, rounding a corner to meet one of the thugs relieving himself of a quantity of Tatooine's finest brew Starmeister Light - who was the most startled, who knows but as the pair ducked back they heard,
"V'ctor, come here mate we seem to have a couple of them there horned creatures snooping round. Let's have some fun now and maybe get us a piece of action... Now blue boy, prepare to squeal like a Gammorian..."
But as he rounded the corner with Vic in tow a stealthy lob of a rock sent them in the wrong direction in the search of, well whatever they were in search of. I need not bore the reader with the events that followed but the two thugs were hogtied and took into the surrounding rocky area and dispatched. The pair then took to getting information out of the site office they found, managing to avoid setting off any alarms.
In the cantina Pash, if you remember was trying to get to talk to the foreman who while not exactly forthcoming did think he new a sure thing (read sucker) when he saw one and got Pash into agreeing to play Sabbacc with them. Now it must be said that Pash had every intention of losing and hopefully getting into favour that way. But it seemed the Force was too strong in his tiles that day and no matter how he tried to lose he couldn't. In fact when it got to the embarrassing stage Dweeb even started cheating (which Pash noticed but ignored) and still lost; in fact due to a despair roll he lost very badly. They now just presumed Pash was cheating even better than they were and as one minion slid across and locked the door while another two reached around the bar for the Emperors Premier League standard baseball bats Pash was left wishing he had bought his com set and hidden weapons with him.
Meanwhile back in the Office the pair, after extracting all the info they could decided that the Twi'Leks deserved some revenge and torched the office. In a fortuitous act of timing the alarm sounded just as the first thug was lining up a home run with Pash's head... Dweeb yelled for a couple of them to keep an eye on Pash while the rest went to investigate. The hiding pair by this time had decided now was as good a time as any to take the thugs out, they com linked the rest of the group to, "Get down here quick..." and started shooting. Highlights of the ensuing fracas were, the Bounty Hunter droid managing to rush into short range and then stand there firing while boulders (read cover) abounded, most of the minions dying like the gooks they were and Pash's rather well aimed frag grenade...
As the group were hunting down the final thug who had legged it due to lack of moral and physical support (he could see no mates who were not bleeding or in the case of the three the Wookiee had reached, were in less than three pieces) they heard a swoop bike fire up and start moving away (the doppler effect in full force). Three of our heroes dived into the speeder and gave chase. Suitable tooing and froing was involved until Vex took the swoop bike out after taking the stabilising wings down. Although Angu gave a good account of himself he was taken out by stun, cable tied and then taken back for interrogation. In fact a slight take on water boarding using tequila soon took his will power down although it became obvious that he was babbling on about stuff the group had no knowledge of... But it was all stored on a holo-pad for further play through.
The Twi'leks were let lose on the camp and after a bit of frivolity, agreement on a monthly donation from the mine profits to the group, and general 'good blokiness' our gang took a speader back to Nabat...
While the Twi'leks continue to drain the cantina and celebrate their new acquisitions the party say their goodbyes, take some of the 'instacure' pills and head leisurely back to Nabat.
Once there codes are swapped and the group ate led into the back room at a Wampa Burger drive through where they meet the female Twi'Lek Nyn.
After passing them the 'contract' and encrypted credit chip that will be updated monthly with the percentage profit from the mine she leans in and says there is someone who would like to meet them. Sitting, hooded, in a corner is a short but stout Bothan. He looks to them with wide, intelligent looking eyes, nods a greeting and beckons the group over.
"Greetings, I am named Ota, I have heard and seen a great deal about you my friends - not in the least this..." He pulls out a holo pad projector, runs an encryption chip over it and sets it to play. A number of the party recognise it as the encrypted holo channel used by bounty hunters. The hologram shows a familiar sight. The krayt fang - the holo slows as a group walks towards it. Individual cut ins zoom the faces of the group into the foreground - the same real faces look around at each other and then back to the screen as 'Temmo' announces the 50.000 credit reward for the group... Dead, 80.000 alive. The bounty is announced in various languages.
"Gentlefolk, I thought it prudent to show you that before I put forward my proposal. One that I feel will be beneficial to us all..."
But you dear reader, like our heroes, will have to wait to see what it is.
First of all a WARNING...
Following on from these kind words is a narrative about my adventures on Free RPG day at Leisure Games in North London - a big mail order enterprise and my bricks and mortar LFGS...
SO SPOILER ALERT - SPOILER ALERT - SPOILER ALERT
Imagine Sheldon shouting that and you may well get the idea.
So if you are still reading and intend to play the adventure at some stage - stop now! See I warned you, don't come bleating to me when it spoils the fun.
Arriving at the shop I was like a little wannabe Stormtrooper kid at Empire Day eve... Just gimme my pressie and let me get playing. Hats off to FFG (yet again) as the freebie adventure booklet was up to their normal awesome standards - when one can get it as a pdf I suggest you do as it also serves as an excellent primer for new players. Once I had my pressie in one hand, coffee cup in the other I headed to the allocated table and awaited my new gaming buddies and GM_Yam. Niceties out the way we were told to choose a character. It was my first time playing, as opposed to running, the game and I knew which character I wanted - a Wookiee. Not that this would be a surprise to most people who know me but wait - I had a legitimate reason. Anyone who could not converse in my native language would be met with wookiee speak from my (apparently out of production) SFX ap and ....
Would you trust this Doctor to manipulate your joints?
My chosen one was a Wookiee called Grabow by name, Doctor by trade. Yep dear readers you indeed read that correctly- A DOCTOR. I quickly came to the conclusion that he had to be a chiropractor and his obligations were from when he has had to borrow money to pay off some malpractice 'out of court settlements'.
Character settled, new colleagues wokkieed at - it was time to head off on a few hours of escapism.
Our motley crew had been 'asked' by the Pyke family to return their favours (read decrease their obligation) by entering a building that supposedly belonged to the Black Sun Organisation and slice into their computers to get information on a spice delivery which had gone astray. What appeared to be an easy job turned pear shaped when Jovel our Bothan slicer uttered a stream of expletives; just before the alarms went slightly haywire. She claimed it was someone else who was tampering and all eyes turned to Mative (the human smuggler) who had a rather guilty look on his face and used; not for the last time; the phrase, "It wasn't my fault..."
To cut your perusing time down by a load let's just say we got out of their fast via our droid driven taxi only to be pursued by a number of Black Sun security guards; who I imagine were worried more for their immediate personal security once word got back to their bosses, than they were from our gang hanging out of the sides of a beat up taxi speeder... Little did they know!
Blaster shots zimmed off the side of the taxi, swoop bikes swept around the return fire when Grabow (who was feeling a bit left out of the action only having a short range 'holdout pistol' (I'm a doctor honest; I don't shoot people) idly shot up at a vid ad screen holding cable that stretched over the street they were re-enacting a scene from (insert any car chase scene laden TV show here) down. (one yellow, one green trying to outdo three purple difficulty dice and two black setback dice later saw a look of disbelief flash across GM_Yam's face as one triumph, 2 net advantages and one net success was rolled). Swinging down behind the taxi the vid screen laden cable took out 2 swoop bikes and a air speeder - a contented wokkiee noise emanated from the front seat. Other notable bits of the chase were Matwe's wild shooting that took off the arm of our droid driver - "It wasn't my fault..." and the wookie managing to grab one swoop bike rider off his bike, grab the ID lanyard (yes even after thousands of years people still insist in wearing them outside the place of work) and then drop him to the ground below. Remember folks its not the fall that is deadly - just the landing.
Information gleaned from the incursion was downloaded to Jovel's data pad and then taken to their contact, a besalisk called Chopper who ran a vehicle scrap/repair shop. Again cutting a longer narrative rather short the four armed jolly chap relayed the info straight to the Head Pykee and informed the group that his boss was pleased and that their obligations had been cut... Even Grabows settlement for Chopper's step brother whose slight manipulation had gone wrong the year before. When dealing with a wookiee chiropractor and being smarmy enough to try to say what you wanted doing in the Wookiee's native tongue it is probably best to practice the slight guttural nuances that distinguish the phrases "Gee my two shoulders are sore can you sort them out?" from "Gee my shoulders are sore can you take them out?" Grabow had always insisted that it was a misunderstanding. But back to the story on hand. It was also relayed to the group that a further substantial amount of obligation could be paid back by making the double crossing bounty hunter scumbag (who the downloaded intel plainly showed he had just given the missing spice to the Black Sun mob for a slightly higher margin of profit) pay... By pay they meant stop breathing; but you get the general gist.
More by luck than by judgement (although it can be sure that this is not how the group saw it) the next stop on the 'find out more about the scum bag Kaa'To Leeachos (the nikto bounty hunter) was the Zelcom Tower; a high tower of legitimate business offices which hid certain, lets say more nefarious goings on. Amazingly (well due to amazing rolls no matter how many difficulty dice were added and a very high number of triumphs rolled) the group got in and out and found out the probable location of Kaa'To's hideout and rendezvous for a delivery of arms later on in that evening. If this was a highlights reel then at this point dear reader you would be seeing the amazingly well played out pretend argument between Matwe and the Wookiee that was done to mask the noise of the rest of the gang breaking through a wall into the main office in the building and which not only distracted the security but ended with them arguing and bickering amongst themselves as they took sides.
This was due this time by the rolling of two net TRIUMPHS !
So circumnavigating a possible 2-3 set piece scenes and with no actual shooting since the initial pursuit (much to the consternation of Trayseek our Tranndoshan gun fiend) the gang set of to lay in wait for Kaa'To in the industrial complex just out of the city.
How, dear reader, can what happened at the complex be conveyed to you in any sort of believable way. Despair and triumph mixed with explosions, stealth moves that makes your dear old memaa's hip breaking bounce down the stairs look like a Delta Force model operation, and ending in Kaa'To (evilly) laughing so much he fell tripped over the railing and fell disarmed straight in front of a rather angry Grabow. To use a well known ancient phrase:
"Job well done..." so long as you don't look too hard!
All in all it was a rib tickling, fear inducing trip through the StarWars universe which showed exactly what Edge of the Empire is capable of producing. We hardly touched on quite a lot of the set pieces outlined in the book yet the action kept flowing and we got there in our own unique way without really realising that that wasn't quite the way it was supposed to go. Now I have been on the other side of the dice so to speak it just confirms my thoughts that this game is just ... Freekin' Awesome and that FFG have to be the best games company out ...
Now I've been through some skirmish rules in my time. Had the Wotc figures with all sorts of rules and all sorts of success. Non, except maybe my Flying Lead rules and they are only ok. Now I think the Edge of the Empire combat rules are quite slick, quick and very cinematic. So I've been trying them out just for skirmish games and they work damn well. Just got to make up some skirmish based stats - less stats and skills than the rpg etc.
Found a fantastic starter adventure done by the d20 radio guys which is ideal for up to six Pre-gen characters. Smuggling and Imperial intrigue on the Edge of the Empire. It's even set partly on Cloud City.
Thinking of doing it as Skype sessions - so looking for 6 smuggler types to be the crew... Let me know :)
Seven of us gathered the other night to play the Star Wars rpg from FFG called Edge of the Empire. We had previously worked through the beginners box scenario and the adventures continued on as the freighter the heroes had nicked took to light speed away, from the Tie fighters who were close on their tale.
Dice aps at the ready, experience spent and domestic arguments over milk over - the gang were all set to go:
So the thrown together companions managed to escape the attentions of the Tie Fighters and set to have a bit of a rest and recuperation... However, a few interruptions soon were at hand. Firstly there was the rancid odour that seemed to permeate every corner of the ship. This, they decided could not just be put down to the fact that the previous Trandoshian owner had dubious eating and hygiene issues. The rank smell seemed to be affecting the poor old wookie the most, if the projectile vomiting was anything to go by. It did put everyone else, except Vex, off their game as well though. Escpecially for the unfortunate few who seemed to get in the vomits flight path...
Vex had a few injections at hand that stilled the Wookie's stomach slightly. He was sure he had smelt the odour before but was not quite sure where. It seemed there were other troubles brewing onboard though. Pash communicated that there were various warnings appearing on the VDU in the cockpit that he could make head not tail of, except for the low fuel flashing sign; seemed they could have done with highjacking the ship a few hours later.
On the whole the gang worked out all the problems pretty well, they managed to disconnect the tracking device (thus saving themselves a warm welcome when coming out of hyperspace), they got rid of the smell which turned out to be rotting Wookie pelts (which were given a respectful exit out the air lock), turned the gammorian opera music and klaxons off, found a quantity of credits and a Twi' lek prisoner whom had been destined to be given to Teemo the Hutt but was still in the bounty hunter's hold. A mysterious few pieces of chitin were also found.
But obviously it was the old Twi'lek who caused the most curiosity. It turned out that he was called Bur'an B'an and was high up the organisation of a small band of rebel fighters on the mining world of Ryoth. Exactly who they were rebelling against and their number seemed to be up for debate, but as Ryoth was the closest, cheapest planet to get fuel and not draw too much attention to themselves coupled with promises of help from B'an meant that the gang were quickly heading there. In fact the boost from the astro-navigation update they had managed to acquire on Mos Shuuta meant that they got there ahead of a few bounty hunters who were hot on their trail since Teemo had figured out that the mass defection and the missing bounty and ship were somehow linked - even Hutts can piece together such thing.
With help from B'an the landing eventually went smoothly and the gang were introduced to the rest of the resistance cell. With a few promises of help our earnest characters had soon agreed to help out the Twi'leks at the nearby Ryll mines where a bit of not too friendly coercion seemed to be taking place which was forcing the Twi'leks out of business. However, as is often the way, the road to a comfy nights sleep before going to right the wrongs of the universe were interupted by droid given news that some dodgy figures seemed to have landed at the space port from Mos Shuuta; and by inference from Teemo... Paranoia does not, as we all know, mean that they ARE NOT out to get you and our favourite characters decided to go and and see if they could spot the probable bounty hunters. Trying to do anything inconspicuously on a predominantly Twi'lek world with a grumpy and still a bit pukey Wookie was not very likely to be successful.
Bounty Hunter types were soon spotted and could have happened without incident if it wasn't for the wookie getting a bit too excited; jumping up and down pointing is probably not the best way to keep oneself from being noticed ....
What followed was a classic wild west shoot out happening in a seedy underground shopping mall. With only minor injury our friends took the bounty hunters out and even managed to get a prisoner. Yanking him into the bar they were staying at one could be excused into thinking that all was going to plan. Unfortunately the cleared streets and very loud alarm and sirens possibly pointed to another version of how well it was going ...
Such is the mantra that should be on every gamers lips and one I did not heed. The previous post outlines my day. But fear not readers (or at least reader as I'm sure at least one person reads this) the story of Darth and the black squadron can continue to a happy conclusion, so long as I wipe the first 3 games from the data chip!
"Pilots of Black Squadron," Vaders gasping for air dulcet tones exploded in their ears.
"Today you will serve the Emperor with me as we cut out a boil of pus from the Imperial torso... Rogue imperial navy pilots have joined with a woman bounty hunter to try and kill the Emperor as he joins us."
The pilots held their collected breaths... Could Lord Vader be serious? This could be their glorious moment. Four blips simultaneously appeared on their VDUs.
"And here, my pilots, they are... Do not let me down.
It seemed the two fleets closed on each other with surprising speed. Banking in Vader pointed out the traitor Soontir Fil.
"Bring me the traitors carcass..." the pilots were eager to please Lord Vader but Soontir shot and rolled out, the skill of the Vetran stunned the pilots.
But Vader led the way and a sharp turn saw all of them bear down on Fil. Even shaking Tam with a hit before rolling out couldn't save the traitor. A seeming storm of green laz fire trailed after him. He didn't stand a chance. Vader hit Kath the bounty hunter hard, taking most of his shields out.
It dawned on the bounty hunter that the other two tie pilots were out of position, what were they playing at. Maybe the unique shape of Vader's advanced custom tie put too much fear in them, maybe they were just out of the academy. Either way it was obvious it was up to her. She banked right after Vader, if she could just take him down. But Vader rolled out and seemed to burst into his flank. Out of fire arc... Damn.
Then the Fire Spray jolted... Darth and Lightman hit her hard at close range. Her VDU displayed the damage. It wasn't looking good.
Meanwhile she saw the other Black Squadron pilots break off and go after the rogue academy pilots. They got on their tail and never got of, bolt after bolt hitting them.
Using her back arc Soontir hit the Dark Lord hard, but not hard enough. Almost simultaneously the rogue ships evaporated.
"Well done my pilots... The Emperor will be happy.".
With beaming smiles Juno led HER black squadron back to the destroyer.
Works in Education as a teacher and consultant.