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Sell me on FFG's game versus West End Games' Star Wars RPG.

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I have a bunch of minor annoyances with FFG's take on a Star Wars RPG that is really driving me back towards the now-ancient d6-based West End Games books. The only one big thing is the blatant cash-grabbery of it all (splitting the 'core rules' into 3 books, with HUGE redundant sections and duplicated information? Speciality dice?), but there are a lot of little things that add up to that one big thing and make me just want to shrug and go, "Nope."

 

And I actually have bad memories of the WEG RPG, I just know it's a much sounder, easier-to-use system with a lot of existing books and information. The first system with a wild die concept, for example - and the fact that character creation can take 5 minutes, tops. The more I look at FFG's system and the more I try to plan for it the

 

 

So, sell me on the newest incarnation of the Star Wars RPG. What is actually better about it? Why should I bother with it, other than to give money to my FLGS instead of buying long OOP books?

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My current campaign was planned to be in the WEG system. After playing two sessions of the FFG system, I decided to switch it to the current system. I don't necessarily think one system is superior to the other; they both have their pros and cons.

 

Ultimately, I found that the system was as ideal (if not more so) for a group of new gamers, with mechanics that allow for easy flow. The final tipping factor, though, was not an official element, but OggDude's character generator, because it meant less babysitting for me during character creation. Not to mention, I just like that it's still an active product. Not that the items in it that weren't part of WEG's system can't be homebrewed, but it makes less work for me.

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(For me) The narrative dice system is better than anything else I have played before.  The possible variety of the check results and possible ways to read them make such difference comparing to all other games. My imagination and creativity as a GM doubled or tripled since I have started playing this system. Of course you have to unlearn all what you have learned while playing old-school RPGs. Now I barely can look on anything else (except Trail of Cthulhuy) and I am converting all my favorite systems (WH, Fallout) to this one.

 

And although I am playing EotE, I keep buying the WEG books which are a wonderful source of information and inspiration (was my favorite system for the long time). BTW, some fans produced the 3rd edition of the CR, very nicely done.

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The old WEG game was my first introduction to roleplaying in the Star Wars universe, but it was high-crunch, poorly balanced, and never really felt to me like it was truly Star Wars. It always felt like it was some other sort of roleplaying game, and then they just sprinkled a bit of Star Wars flavor on top.

But that was first edition, back when there was only one book. I got out of the WEG game before any of the add-ons shipped.

The additional WEG publications that I have seen seem to be very crude, compared to that first book. A little bit better than I could do with a typewriter and a photocopier, but not by that much. But I never actually played in any games that used them, so maybe there’s more content there below the underwhelming cover.

For me, once you’ve adapted to role playing in a more cinematic theater-of-the-mind style, the FFG game system seems much more like “real” Star Wars to me.

And FFG does have a very high standard of quality to their products, compared to anything else I’ve seen. And that helps me be even more immersed in the game.

FFG doesn’t publish books the way they used to. There’s not a “GM Manual” versus a “Players Handbook”.

Except for Adventure books, there is a little something for everyone in most books that they publish. And I think that this is a good thing, even if it does mean that there is some duplication of some content across other books. That is a compromise that I am happy to take.

At the end of the day, you have to choose the game system that works for you. And the FFG SWRPG system isn’t going to work for everyone.

There should be no shame or stigma in choosing to play in a different version of the SWRPG, either from WEG or WotC.

If those systems work better for you, then by all means, you should probably play them instead of what FFG is putting out.

In that case, the only issue you will have is that there isn’t really any new content coming out for those older systems, but you could choose to use the content that FFG is creating in much the same way that some of us use the older books from WEG or WotC. You could take inspiration, story lines, artwork, and whatever else works for you.

You have to do what’s right for you. Not what other people tell you what’s right.

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This game feels more like Star Wars than any other tabletop I've played.  I played the old WEG and the D20 version.  And I enjoyed them.  But like Brad says, they were more like standard RPGs stuck in the Star Wars galaxy with species, tech, and planets out of the movies and other media.

 

This game is really built to have cool, imaginative things happen, using the rules as written and not just by having the GM and players make stuff up outside of the rules.  Just some examples of things that happened in our last session (we played last night)...  A guy comes out in a cobbled-together AT-ST that he rebuilt with spare parts, but the main guns failed before he was able to deploy them (our Technician using the "Bad Motivator" talent to point out how it lacked proper heatsinks just before it shorted out).  I snuck around to flank the thing because it had armor missing on the sides, but I rolled a Despair result on a successful Stealth check, and some debris fell on me and trapped me temporarily.  Our Technician also used another talent to make a contraption from junk scattered around which tangled up its legs, making it fall over at one point.  During the fight I got a great hit on the guy piloting the AT-ST after shooting through the cheap plastoid panels on the side and got a critical wound that had him bleeding out.  All this cool stuff that we didn't struggle to make up on our own, because we were guided by the properly-themed talents and dice mechanics built into the system.

 

It's not only combat that works that way.  Searching through a wilderness, tracking down a contact in the bad part of town, even haggling over the price of a starship repair can lead to interesting results using the mechanics of this game.  It's not just a "succeed or fail" like old Star Wars games, you can sometimes have something cool happen when you fail or something devastating when you succeed.  And we have intangibles like Obligation which cause additional complications to the characters' lives, and give goals beyond just becoming more wealthy/powerful.

 

A great thing about this system is that as novel as it all is, it makes sense and it doesn't take long to get used to it.  Our sessions go pretty smoothly now that we've been playing for awhile.  I can't say that for every game system that's tried to do something new.  For example, as much as I love the Fate system, and as similar as it is to this system in ways, it never quite got to be smooth for us.  I'd love to play a game like The Dresden Files again (especially to return to our old campaign) but I know that we'll still hit the occasional brick wall as we try to figure out how something is supposed to work.  That almost never happens in our Star Wars sessions anymore, except when we need to look up some piece of minutia (which could happen in any RPG).

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The only one big thing is the blatant cash-grabbery of it all (splitting the 'core rules' into 3 books, with HUGE redundant sections and duplicated information? Speciality dice?)

 

It's not a cash grab. Or would you rather have a 900 page book that costs you 150 bucks?

 

Buy what you want to play: Rebels vs Empire, Jedi-a-gogo, or Life Amongst Gansters and just play that. Problem solved, easy peasy.

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Each of the game systems has a number of problems, and a number of things they excel at.  You just have to decide which is better.  For me, FFG is the way to go, at least at the moment.  But WEG will always have a place in my heart.

 

As I see WEG vs FFG (Using RAW, no houserules):

 

Dice System

WEG - Easy to understand.  Fairly solid, but if dice pools got large, multiple actions could get rather ridiculous.  Wild die was always fun.

FFG - Takes getting used to.  Narrative system engages your players, and rewards awesome descriptions.

 

General Mechanics

WEG - advancement tends to be slow (can be good or bad).  But a single basic stormtrooper with a blaster rifle can still hurt a PC with massive levels of experience.  Everything was defined as to how it works.

FFG - characters add abilities and skills quickly.  Opponents become outclassed quickly, as most characters (PC and NPC) go down fast.  Offense rises much faster than defense.  Give a character 500 xp, and a basic stormtrooper minion won't even slow him down.  GM has to define how to do a lot of things, and PC's can easily argue a different skill's use for the same activity.

 

Force Use

WEG - Force use is either useless parlor tricks, or suddenly overpowering.  There is only a very brief range where you can reliably use powers, but not outshine all non-force users.  

FFG - Very well balanced, early force use is useful, later force use is cool, but doesn't overshadow normals.

 

Vehicles

WEG - Vehicle combat is quick, solid and understandable.  Until you try to cross scales (Personal to Starfighter, or Starfighter to Capital), then the entire system fails horribly.  Vehicle modifications were unwieldy.

FFG - Narrative vehicle combat and chase rules can be a pain until you and your players get used to them.  Shields don't function the way they have in any system before.  Personal vs. vehicle scales can be a problem.  I really like the hardpoints for modifications, but wish they had some modifications to base systems you could do, without having to have a signature vehicle.  Also wish you could convert cargo/passenger space to hardpoints and vice versa.  Some squirrely rules regarding removing weapons from hardpoints, even when swapping for others.

 

Character Generation

WEG - Easy character generation, just stats and skills.  I liked not having classes.  Characters start very weak compared to any named character in the movies (which are all statted out).  A character that plays for years would usually not match up to any named character (Even the stats for Luke at Yavin ... where I consider him to be a fairly new character)

FFG - Character generation is easy (especially with Oggdude's program), but you have lots of choices, and need to have a character concept in mind.  Characters start inexperienced, but not feeling weak. You could see how you could compare to movie characters, and can feel like you match or exceed them fairly easily. 

 

Combat

WEG - didn't like the damage system.  It seemed rather limiting.  Did like that you didn't magically become more damage resistant over time or gain health.  Low level opponents challenge high level characters.

FFG - health and strain models well.  Low level opponents do not challenge high level opponents unless you use waves of them, or use them as ablative armor for bad guys.  There is definitely a possible arms race to mod out your weapons.  Don't like how fast offense rises compared to defense.  The only defense that seems to be everywhere is boosts to soak, or wound threshold.

 

Special Rules

WEG - Force points were a pain in the butt.  No one wanted to spend them, unless they knew they would get them back.  Did not like the dark side rules, too much reward to get 1 or 2, but lose your character very easily.

FFG - Destiny pool is a great idea.  Minions are nice.  I like the Duty and Obligations as RP and backstory items, but hate the mechanics for them.  Morality is a good start, but there are a lot of holes in it.

 

In general, you find both good and bad in both systems.  I had an extensive house rules setup for WEG, which sealed a lot of the more major holes, but deviated heavily from RAW.  FFG, I have a few, but not as many.  Some were houserules simply because we misread the rules, and once we figured it out, liked how we played better.  (I can only think of 3.  I use x5 for vehicular scale, use a fixed initiative order, and kill minions 1 at a time).

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I like how the dice system works. Combining together the hit roll, the damage roll, and the 'oh, this random benefit/problem occurs at the same time' works well. 

 

Plus, there are some very nice bolt-on rule elements which stay very genericly flexible. The 'showdown' bit from the smuggler book is cool for 'high noon' gunfights, but works perfectly well for a lightsaber duel.

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The first Impression a lot of People (me included) get when they see the Special Dice is negative (Money grap etc.) but after playing for more than a year of FFg Star Wars i have to say the Special Dice are one of the greatest asset of the game. They are easy to use and offer a non linear Resolution that would not be possible with Standard dice.

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If you've got your heart set against the FFG system then I think it's going to be very hard to convince you of its merits. I haven't looked at WEG version so I can't compare here.

 

You say it feels money-grabby; Having all the species, careers, specialisations and Force powers in one book would be overwhelming I think. I kind of agree that one core book would have been a better model, but I think for a player of casual interest, just picking up the core book with the theme that interests them is sufficient.

 

I don't think the custom dice are money making feature. I think they are needed for the innovative and different core mechanic. It's quite a paradigm shift away from wanting to roll higher numbers, to wanting to roll more overall successes.

 

The game system isn't to everyone's tastes. But I think it's worth having an open mind about.

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Maybe it's just that I played Warmachine/Hordes before so I was used to the concept, but cross-compatable but distinctly seperate games are fine. I never played WEG, but WotC core book tried to pack everything in one and it just felt thin. Star Wars covers too much ground to put everything in one book. As was said above, talk with the group to see what type of game the group will play, then get the one core book the game needs. If a player wants to make a character from a different game, have them get the book or something.

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Nothing anybody can say will change your opinion on something as subjective as a game system you might or might not like. The only real way to know for certain is to try it yourself.

 

The three CRBs might be a matter of division to some, but the game itself is fully playable with only one book. It just depends on how you, and anyone you will play with, views Star Wars itself. Some say Star Wars is the Jedi, lightsabers, and the Force, some say it's starfighter battles and capital ships, some its blasters and criminals, some say it's all three. Each of the books is tailored for one of those three POVs, and they're all compatible.

 

If nothing else, I wouldn't dismiss the dice as a gimmick or a cash grab, seeing as they are the foundation for the game itself. The way Force points and Force dice work is actually one of the cleverest systems I've seen for magic/energy point management in a game.

 

Really, the best way to test if you like the system or not is try a beginner game. They teach the base rules step-by-step, includes a set of dice at a better value for what you're paying than just the dice themselves, and other nice things. And if you don't like the system, you've only spent 20-30$ (depending on where you buy it) rather than the 60$ of a CRB.

 

And I know nobody gives a flying bucket about the fluffy flavor text, world building, lore and setting material and whatnot, but chapter 10-13 of each book (100 or so pages) has a different focus in content than each other.

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And as far as money grabbing goes, WEG was just as bad as everyone else.  They issued supplements and adventures, each with a few species and equipement.  Then they printed collection books, followed by additional new material.  They capitalized on every major book and comic release they could.  The sheer volume of WEG's books is impressive.  

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1. It's an entirely new system, and it's easier to use than anything WEG ever did once you learn the basic concepts.

 

2. That system feels more Star Wars than any other system I've ever played. It is incredibly flexible, dynamic, and -- wait for it -- fun.

 

3. Hardest system to powergame I've ever seen. Minmaxers and Munchkins won't have much fun here, and that's OK with me.

 

4. The dice system puts power into the hands of the players, giving them agency using a system mechanic in a way that goes beyond "I hit the [X] with my [Y]."

 

5. Social Combat.

 

6. Publisher support with no power creep. (I have not seen another system release so much material that does not relegate earlier material to the dustbin due to power creep.)

7. The books are flat-out gorgeous.

 

8. Easiest system to GM I've ever played.

 

9. Tactical combat can be exactly as complicated as you want it to be -- whether you exclusively use the theatre of the mind or 4e D&D-style grid positioning, the system will support your take on the matter.

 

10. Narrative. Simply put, this system puts it front and centre without over-gaming it.

 

I won't respond to your comment about "cash grab", because if you honestly feel that way about how they've divided up the system, you probably won't have much fun.

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So, sell me on the newest incarnation of the Star Wars RPG. What is actually better about it? Why should I bother with it, other than to give money to my FLGS instead of buying long OOP books?

 

In addition to all the other pros mentioned:

 

This game scales much better.  To put it simply, the D6 dice mechanic kind of blows.  As a PC, most of the time you suck, then there's a brief middle period of character development where there's tension and excitement, and after that you're totally awesome.  The Force is even worse that way.

With the FFG system, I've been hosting a semi-regular campaign for a couple years now, throwing the PCs a pretty hefty amount of XP, so they're all over 500+, and it's still easily scaleable.

 

As well, I really like how the Force is represented in the game.  It's far simpler than WEG and works really well.

 

Also, this:

 

8. Easiest system to GM I've ever played.

 

Except for last session's first-time use of a Force power, I haven't had to look up a rule in the book for months.  Once you understand how to use the dice system, you don't waste any time jumping into and out of the story scene.  There's no boring delay while somebody digs through the rules to find some obscure mechanic that is different from everything else.

 

I will mention the cash grab, and IMHO you're simply misinformed about it.  Granted, FFG has to make money or they lose the license, but the margins on roleplaying games are pretty slim, and getting all the bugs out of a gaming system takes time.  So FFG might have had two choices:  R&D and test for 3 years with zero revenue stream and hope it doesn't bomb; or...release the simplest product first and use the real world testing to refine the product.  They chose the latter, and it was a good decision.  The game mechanics are solid, with only a few small anomalies (e.g.: Autofire+JuryRigged) easily fixed.

 

As noted, you can always pick a single core book.  You get the full experience, you don't need them all, until you want to specialize in Force users which is the only time you need F&D.  If you want the most "generic" experience, pick Edge of the Empire, there's plenty in there to keep you going for years.

 

I thought WEG was pretty neat...back in 1989 or whenever it came out.  Gaming has moved on since then, for much the better.

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Ah, and by the way, you only need one rulebook, you can choose which sourcebooks you like (don't need any of them) and can use a lot of the old sourcebooks for fluff, so where's the money grab? You can throw money after them (and I do), but there's no need. And - who wrote that - it is the system that most feels like Star Wars.

 

Edit: P.S.: No scales! You have signature for size, but it all works the same way.

Edited by Spraug

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I was skeptical of the new dice at first, then I played around with the system a little, played the starter set a little bit with my usual crew of casual gamers, and thought, "this is pretty good."

Then I played Shadows of a Black Sun with a few dedicated nerds.  You know, the crazy kind of people who will actually read and understand the rules?  And I discovered something unexpected.

This is the fastest system I've ever played.  Seriously.  These guys were jumping right in, taking cover, spending maneuvers properly, passing boost and setback dice around, and we finished the adventure in about an hour.  I've never done that before.  You need players who are excited about the system, and don't need a lot of guidance every session, but it can move really fast.

Regarding the "cash grab" argument:  Each core book is a complete game.  Don't buy them all at once.  Force and Destiny right now is $40 on Amazon, probably $60 at your local game store.  I'll admit the dice are pricey at $15 a set, but see if some of your players can't pitch in a set.  We're working with 2 sets right now and it's been plenty, so that's $90 if you're going the expensive route.  If you hit up Amazon and the dice app instead, you're looking at $45.  For a product you can use for years and years.

Seriously, I mean it about not getting all three Core books at once.  When I run this game, I'm running one game specifically.  I have two parallel campaigns going right now (Edge of the Empire and Force and Destiny), with a little bit of crossover.  So yeah, the Jedi might show up in the Edge of the Empire game once in a while, and the Droid Outlaw Tech helped the Force users out, but in my case it's definitely a crossover, not a combined game.  They're thematically very different.  After we wrap up some storylines, we may combine the two into an Age of Rebellion campaign with elements from all three games, but it will be an Age of Rebellion game.

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Don't buy the dice separate. Buy beginners boxes. Then you get maps and tokens and an adventure etc. 

 

I'd second this idea. There's very little to lose in getting the boxes rather than the dice packs. The map in the recent Force Awakens box is worth the price of admission alone.

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So I assume then you're still playing 1st edition every other game you've ever tried?

Nope. Shadowrun 5e, Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition, D&D 5e (good gods, 4e was soooo bad), and the best evidence of me not being a grognard is that I've played Battletech since 1991 but when they released Alpha Strike I wholeheartedly converted.

 

But a new system has to prove that it's better than the last one, and it's something I'm still not sure about with FFG's Star Wars.

 

 

But, from (actual constructive, not just insulting) comments I've gotten from here and elsewhere, I've realized something about the game:

 

It's a diceless game masquerading as dice-based.

 

It's a bit of a contradiction, but the high level of GM arbitration, the general looseness of actual combat rules, and ability of players to manipulate scenes without rolling dice are all highly indicative of mostly diceless systems.

 

That isn't a bad thing. I have fond memories of the (one) Amber Diceless RPG session I played, and I've personally GM'ed an entire session of Star Trek from the back seat of a car on a road trip while pretending to roll dice for everyone and just making it up as I went along.

 

Seen from that angle, it is actually interesting to me. But some players just don't LIKE diceless, and I don't blame them. They want crunch and numbers and restraint on what the GM can do. This... might be a good blend.

 

And it's not like WEG's d6 system is perfect, I know that good and bloody well. (and it was initially created for a Ghostbusters RPG, so someone's comments about how it felt like it was for another game is spot on!)

 

 

Or I might just give up and go with Savage Worlds. It has a near-perfect mixture of crunchy and looseness, and is one of the smoothest games I've ever run in 26-ish years.

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Um, no? Not really? I mean, one of the names that get used a lot is the narrative dice system.

 

I don't know what you mean by 'loose,' but combat is pretty precise, and includes a fair bit of rolling. The ability for players to manipulate scenes is through dice rolling (as the rules state, players can choose to narrate positive results as they wish, while GMs use the negative and NPC rolls); in fact, most of the fancy talents is players using dice results in different ways, or making certain skill checks to do certain things.

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