First, I'll appologize for any spoilers. Players, stop reading here.
I got the Beginner's Box for Christmas and was excited to start playing. I play with two groups, the first is my son and daughter's friends, the second is an adult group. I haven't played yet with my second group, so all of my experience so far is with the first.
The group I GMed with was two 13 year old boys, two 16 year old boys, and two 16 year old girls… so, they are a little young, but they've played quite a bit over the last few years from 4E DnD, Hero System: Teen Champions, Hero System: Fantasy Hero, and Mouseguard. I have found that they all prefer a story driven game over tactical. The 4E DnD campaign is now defunct as is the Fantasy Hero, but they still really enjoy the Teen Superhero game and Mouseguard since I've concentrated on story rather than cluncky rules for those two.
Since we had 6 players, I printed off the two additional characters that Fantasy Flight graciously made available to us and everyone got to choose their own. There was only 1 complaint from 1 player (my 13 year old son) who wanted to play a Force sensitive. Since I don't have a copy of the Beta, I had no idea how to make one for him, so he settled on Mathus… he liked how techy he was, and especially liked how he had his shock gloves… (I'm sensing he wants to be a lightning flinging Sith when we upgrade to the full blown EotE game in the Spring…). I was surprised to find that the 41-Vex droid was the only one that 2 players wanted. It was kind of amusing when one of the 2 girls chose to be the smuggler Pash, leaving one of the 16 year old boys playing Sasha the Explorer (much mirth was had by all when Sasha's player yelled out "Oska, no swipping!" when Oska decided to steal the McGuffin from the junk shop… more on that later.)
After quickly allowing them to read their back-stories, we began.
When the story begins in the Cantina, I had the Star Wars Cantina song playing. Predictibly, Oskara decided to run up to the Tw'lik dancer and ask her to hide her. She rolled a Triumph on her roll and passed easily. The dancer replied to Oska's request, "Oh, Teemo's after you, eh? I hate that guy! Quick, get into my quick change dancing costume I have in the back room and you can dance with me!" I ruled that the dancer took Oska behind the stage, grabbed something on the back of Oska's armor and with a quick tug and yank, the whole thing came off. With a wink, the dancer said, "Don't ask how I know how to do that…" She then helped in into her quick costume change dancing outfit, and they were out on the stage dancing before the others had even begun to hide.
Pash decided to hide in a booth, he succeeded but with a few threats. I ruled that he looked like a regular customer, but the patron across from him the same booth looked terrified.
The Wookie climbed easily into the rafters.
Sasha decided to go up to the bar and order a drink casually. With 3 success, and 2 advantage, I ruled that she knew the bartender and as she sat down at the bar, he had already poured and slid the glass across to her, which she caught… calmly.
The droid tried to find a serving tray and act like the wait staff, but he failed with 2 threat. I ruled that not only did he not find a tray, but he was standing in the middle of the room frantically looking around frozen with uncertainty as to what to do. (probably a bit harsh, but it was funny…)
My son's character, though saved his tail, however. He said he was going to whip out his mechanics kit and act like he was working on a malfunctioning droid. I made him take a setback die, since the droid had already made himself look silly in the middle of the room. Mathus (the mechanic) passed, despite the setback die. I ruled that with the droid's frantic twisting back and forth looking for a tray, that it actually did look like he was malfunctioning.
In came the Gamoreans. When their eyes adjusted to the dim light in the Cantina, they saw a fairly strange scene of a droid in the middle of the room begin worked on by a mechanic, 1 frightened customer sitting in a booth, and two dancing Twi'liks dancing on the stage (they didn't notice, somehow, that one of the dancing girls had a blaster rifle). The leader looked over at the frightened customer and said… "Oink, squeel, squeel…" (I played some pig noises I found at soundjax.com for effect) which I translated to, "What are you looking at, Tiny-Nose?!" (a common Gamorean insult to humans). The player playing Oska then said, "I shoot him!" (My daughter was playing Oska the Bounty Hunter… let me just say, my daughter usually plays a soft spoken healer. Of all my players, she is usually the most timid and always asks the others what she should do. It was great to see her get into her character and be more assurtive!.. something I had never seen her do before!) I then have the players roll initiative and the fight was on. Since the players surprised the Gamoreans, the fight was over quick. I think only the droid missed, and he and Pash were the only ones to take damage. Mostly due to the fact that the droid failed to tack cover the entire fight, though we kept trying to tell the player to do so. And Pash got hit on a lucky roll by the Gamoreans. One particularly funny part of the combat occurred when Sasha said, "I finish my drink as a maneuver and slam it down on the bar, and then I shoot the closest pig to me." She (remember, the player was actually a guy) rolled so well, that he killed the Gamorean in one hit and had enough advantage left over that she sat back down and ordered another drink as a second maneuver.
The Junk Shop:
The first thought of the players was to tell the owner that they were there to pick up the part for Vex. Pash attempted his deciet check and failed, but with a couple advantage. The owner saw through the lie, but was impressed enough by the audacity of Pash, that he didn't kick them out. Meanwhile, the other players were acting like they were perusing the shop. Two of the character followed the disgruntled R5 droid into the junk yard out back and asked if the droid was happy with the owner. The droid said, "Beep, Beep, Bloop…" (again, I played some R2-D2 sounds) but translated to the mechanic, "No, he's mean to me constantly kicking me…" Oska then bargained with the droid to help them find and steal the part and they would take him with them. Surprisingly, she passed her Negotiation roll. The droid pointed out the McGuffin sitting on a work bench, ready for Trex to pick up. Oska said she was going to hide hide the device in her new dancing clothes (having ruled that she had put her armor back on, and that the device was about the size of a baby and weighed about 20 pounds)… She then started walking out of the shop… while Pash was still negotiating with the store owner. She failed her skullduggery roll, but had a few advantage. So, I ruled, "as you head towards the exit, the owner looks up and yells, 'Hey, what are you doing? Get back here!' just then, the R5 droid, runs right into the shop keeper tripping him to the ground." The players decided to make a run for it and ran out the door after Oska. (The mechanic had made a successful roll to pop the restraining bolt off of the R5 droid earlier when they were negotiating with it.) The Wookie, however, decided to make one intimidation growl on his way out… He succeeded with some advantage which I ruled that the shop owner was so frightened that he froze in fear while laying there on the floor.
This encounter was pretty easy. Pash decided to bluff his way in and talk to the Overseer. He charmed the heck out of her and promised to come back and take her on a date when he came back. With a triumph roll added to his success, the Overseer swooned over Pash. She unlocked the docking clamps with a blush. (I made a note of this for later use… I have a feeling that the player is going to forget about his promises to the Overseer… which I will use against him if they ever come back… hehe)
The only problem we had with giving experience is that some of the players didn't want to spend it on the limited choices given to them. So, one of the players looked up how to spend experience in the rules book (which I haven't read yet), and showed me that they could spend 5xskill level experience points for class skills and 10xskill level for cross-class…… so, I ruled that they could do that, so long as they spent correctly. I'll check their characters later to make sure, but I trusted them to do it right) Most just chose what was given to them but two chose differently.
This was by far the most boring of the encounters. I'm not complaining, it was just the most straight-forward. The wookie took a lot of damage since he decided to run towards the long ranged stormtroopers, but the others chose to take out the closer of the two groups. After dispatching them, they grabbed the rifles the stormtroopers were using to get the longer range. They then took out the long range troopers. In hind sight, I probably should have added a third group of stormtroopers to make up for the 2 extra players, but I didn't.
Someone elsewhere on the forums was talking about how the players kept failing… I didn't get that impression at all. In fact, my players kept succeeding with varying amounts of threat and advantage. They didn't fail very often. When they did, it was rarely combined with threat, it was usually with advantage…. more on my thoughts on this in a little bit.
This was a cool fight. The players didn't want to waste time and ran in shooting. The only real funny part was when they told the R5 droid they had brought with them from the junk shop, to go to the control room and shut the doors to the landing bay. I had the droid make a discipline roll, which he failed… so I ruled, on his way up the stairs, he blew a motivator and started smoking and spinning in circles… I played the R2-D2 droid squeel for effect. (hehe). The players didn't want Trex to show up again, since he and the spaceport droids did a ton of damage to the players, so they had the wookie crush the Trandoshian's head… (I was a bit mortified that these teenaged players were out for blood!!!)
Up, Up, and Away:
Since I had 6 players, and the booklet only had rules for 4, I made up on the fly another position to run the targeting computer. With a success, they could give one of the gunners a boost die on their attacks. They then had 2 working on engineering, 1 to install the HMRI, the other on Damage control, 1 piloting, 2 on gunnery, and 1 on the targetting computer. Everyone had something to do. It was getting a little late… we had been playing for 6 hours by now, with about a half our to eat some pizza, so, again, I didn't add any extra tie-fighters for the extra players. Besides, I figured that since they only had 2 gunners, it wouldn't do to give them more targets. I also felt that the space combat was a little lacking after all of the cool stuff we did earlier. I thought about giving the encounter a little more urgency by having more Tie-fighters show up each round. But I could sense that the players were getting a little tired, and I couldn't think of how to make the space combat a little more fun (I was getting tired myself). It ended up being: pilot maneuvers and gains advantage, gunners aim and attack, targetting computer making his roll and giving a boost die, engineer 1 triumph his HMRI installment roll, and the other engineer getting rid of some strain on the ship… yawn… Fortunately, the ship combat didn't last long… again, let me say we were all getting tired.
I ended the session by telling the players, that the last tie-fighter blew up a little too close to the ship and a big piece struck the ship. As soon as it did, they started to hear a klaxon and pig noises… again, I played a klaxon sound and repeating squeels and oinks from soundjax.com … having read a little bit of "The Long Arm of the Hutt" adventure. (I like ending my sessions on a cliff-hanger, so the players want to play again soon… hehe)
We LOVED the system!!! By the end of the Cantina encounter, the players had the basics of the dice mechanics. I would have to agree with those who have claimed that the dice mechanic is intuitive after just a few rolls. All of my players were leaning over everyones rolls just to see what would happen. I have never had this much excitement over dice rolls! It took a few promptings, but eventually, the players started to come up with creative ways to spend their advantage and I started to get a better feel for how to spend threat. Most of the time, I used it to give players strain since I didn't want to take up all the spot-light time, but it was nice to have a mechanic that encourages role-playing instead of roll-playing. There was a bit of advantage/threat fatigue involved (the fatigue of trying to come up with creative uses for spending these), but I think that it was only because we weren't used to it. Knowing when to just spend it on giving a boost/setback die, or take fatigue off, etc. and when to come up with something creative to enrich the story is just going to take time to get used to it.
I know I probably made a few mistakes here and there rules-wise, but the beauty of the rules, is that after a little bit of time, they become somewhat intuitive… Much, much easier than a d20 game… and light years easier than my rules heavy Hero System (that I still love, but for different reasons). I've played the Saga Edition for Star Wars… and yes, I like that system too, but I'm not really into leveling systems. And, I never did understand or get into all of the rules. I felt like the story-telling "narritive dice" system is a breath of fresh air! I felt empowered to make narritive decisions and less tied down to rules minutia. It was easy to play "on the fly." I can see how easy this game is going to be to plan as a GM.
Having 6 players was a little difficult. I was pressed to give each player an opportunity to shine. Sasha in particular is a bit redundant with Oskara skill-wise, but the players who played each, did a nice job. My concerns were a bit unfounded. I do, however, think the session would have run a little more smoothly with only 4 players, but I was pleasently surprised that it wasn't too difficult to adjust… much easier than most gaming systems.
Might I suggest getting a few other Star Wars books that I have… I have the Star Wars New Essential Guide to Aliens, the Star Wars Atlas… and others. I was able to show pictures of the R5 droid from the Star Wars New Essential Droids book. I also let the players read about the planet Tatooine in the Atlas book. It helped to emmerse the players into the setting. I plan on making them roll knowledge rolls to be able to read different entries in my other books.
Anyway, I've been going on long enough. If you have any questions or advice, feel free to ask or suggest. I plan on taking my other role-playing group through this adventure as well. I'll be sure to make comments as to the differences and similarities between the two groups. (sorry for any mispellings… I was typing fast and didn't proof read)