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

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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.

 

This is a common misconception.  This game is as crunchy as you want to make it.  The simplest example is the combat system.  Yes there is a narrative axis on the dice results, but those turn into tactical and strategic opportunities.  There is a chart of basic ways to use narrative results that basically translates a fixed amount of story-changing potential.  Lots of advantages are great, but they trigger critical hits, or a bit more damage, or a tactical advantage for the next player (dice boosts, extra damage) in a fairly fixed way.  So you end up with the best of both worlds.  You get crunch if you want it, but you can also steer things within the boundaries of the scope of the narrative result.  It's not a free-for-all.

 

You really can't go wrong getting a beginner box set, it's a decent evening of adventure and each has a more open-ended PDF followup that's worth several (3-5) more sessions.  If you like it, then you have dice.  If you don't, then you didn't spring $60 on a core book, but I will bet you will still have fun.

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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.

So, I'm baffled here, are we to "sell it to you" or are you just looking for a discussion? Because no one here can prove this for you.

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

Well those insults must have come from somewhere else because all I saw here was people being constructive or messing around.

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

Except that it really isn't. At all.

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.

Except, again, it absolutely isn't. Might I suggest finding a game run by an experienced GM and just playing the game? This game needs to be experienced instead of speculated upon. Edited by DanteRotterdam

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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.

Correlation does not imply causation.

GM arbitration and looseness of combat may be shared characteristics of some diceless systems, but in this system, all checks still require dice rolls (almost without exception), and those dice rolls work within a defined system.

That system does have non-zero-sum dimensions, which players play an equal role to the GM in determining. But in order to get to that point, you're still rolling dice.

Edited by GreyMatter

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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.

 

objection_by_phoenix_is_wright.png

 

Five stormtroopers against a moderately skilled PC in WEG, with a good blaster and dodge? You might notice them and their combined fire.

 

A five stormtrooper minion group against a roughly comparable PC from FFG? They can still do some serious hurt.

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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.

 

I smell troll.

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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.

 

 

WEG Star Wars and Ghostbusters was my gateway drug into RPGs when I was a kid. I picked up Wars way back in '86 when it first came out and I eagerly looked forward to every book they put out until their demise. And hell, I played for 10 years PAST that. I tried the WotC engine, but it just wasn't for me. I was a dyed in the wool D6 fan. To give up the game would take a hell of a lot.

 

Then the FFG engine dropped. Now I can't even think about going back.

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This game isn't a loose, diceless system that includes dice just to pretend. There are some pretty well-defined rules around and about those dice and their results. Just look at all the pedantic, nitpicky rules arguments we have on this board (I've participated in plenty). :D

Also look at this thread for some detailed questions and answers about nitpicky stuff, you wouldn't get this in an "anything goes if everyone makes it up" sort of game:

Developer-Answered Questions

Edited by Atama

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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.

 

objection_by_phoenix_is_wright.png

 

Five stormtroopers against a moderately skilled PC in WEG, with a good blaster and dodge? You might notice them and their combined fire.

 

A five stormtrooper minion group against a roughly comparable PC from FFG? They can still do some serious hurt.

 

 

Unless, of course, the 500xp character has optimized for soak....  Then even rifle-based minions are shrugged off.

 

Which means it's time to break out the vibro-weapons with pierce and lethal blows.... :)

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Unless, of course, the 500xp character has optimized for soak....  Then even rifle-based minions are shrugged off.

 

Which means it's time to break out the vibro-weapons with pierce and lethal blows.... :)

Nah. You want Breach. Or Active Stun weapons that bypass Soak. Or vehicle-scale weapons. Or Force users that can pick them up and toss them around like ragdolls.

There’s more than a few ways to skin that cat. ;)

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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?

 

Sounder?  Easier to use?  Um... oooookayyyy...

This is the easiest, fastest, simplest system I've ran.

 

That's really surprising honestly.  You're def in the minority.  The FFG system is a huge breath of fresh air for almost all of us.  However, if you need squares on your maps, the ability to calculate your die probabilities and meta game, the idea the GM is vs the Player, the idea players should die easily, want a crunchy tactical system, etc... then yeah go WEG out man.  But this is the first system that gets out of the way of ROLE playing that I've played.  I just introduced it to a bunch of d20 players at work and they're sold, abandoning their other games for a campaign in FFG's system.  But if you're still at a 'the dice are weird' place...

 

To each their own.

Edited by scotter23

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D&D 5e (good gods, 4e was soooo bad)

 

 

Yeah look theres a tonne of really great responses in this thread but anyone still trying to fight this battle is probably not someone who is sitting on the fence at the moment. Play whatever you enjoy man, if you dont like it you dont like it . I would always say give something a try but if you have and don't like then whatever other people say doesn't really matter.

Edited by kingcom

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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?

 

Sounder?  Easier to use?  Um... oooookayyyy...

This is the easiest, fastest, simplest system I've ran.

 

That's really surprising honestly.  You're def in the minority.  The FFG system is a huge breath of fresh air for almost all of us.  However, if you need squares on your maps, the ability to calculate your die probabilities and meta game, the idea the GM is vs the Player, the idea players should die easily, want a crunchy tactical system, etc... then yeah go WEG out man.  But this is the first system that gets out of the way of ROLE playing that I've played.  I just introduced it to a bunch of d20 players at work and they're sold, abandoning their other games for a campaign in FFG's system.  But if you're still at a 'the dice are weird' place...

 

To each their own.

 

You are obviously thinking of the WotC D20 Star Wars rather than WEG's D6 system. D6 has some issues, but those you mention are not among them.

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There are some types of games where I would still prefer D6. Most of these have to do with games that involve a good deal of vehicular action (an area that I feel the FFG does poorly) and none of them have to do with Force-using games (where the FFG does far better). Since most of what I play tends to have far more of the former than the latter, I still hold D6 in high regard.

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There are some types of games where I would still prefer D6. Most of these have to do with games that involve a good deal of vehicular action (an area that I feel the FFG does poorly) and none of them have to do with Force-using games (where the FFG does far better). Since most of what I play tends to have far more of the former than the latter, I still hold D6 in high regard.

 

D6 was great.  I loved my Young Jedi character who used the Force to make perfect blaster shots with his pistol, and his trusty droid R2-JX.  And the insane wookiee who kept threatening to rip everyone's arms off in the group.  Those were good times.  The FFG version is awesome but that doesn't mean the D6 version was awful, it wasn't.

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... Give a character 500 xp, and ...

 

Ahhhh, 500xp is actually a lot, so the PC in question should be strong!

 

No, it really isn't. Compare what it would take to get just the Skills up to the level of an Inquisitor (which, in Rebels are shown to not be super-high-end compared to such baddies as Maul and Vader) and then spend a fair bit on Talents and enough Specs to get a few Dedication ranks so you can get 5/4/3/3/3/2 like the Inquisitor, oh...and then buy up a few Force powers too...

 

So, no, 500 XP isn't really all that high.

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I have to say, I don't think you've gotten insulting comments from anyone here, which goes to show how much the community on the FFG forums is a pretty positive one. You did come at this thread in a fairly negative way, and have essentially shown up and demanded we scramble to defend our chosen system to you as though it matters that you approve of it.

 

If you don't like it, don't play it. If you want to like it, but are having trouble with a few points, say "hey, I want to convert but have some concerns". Whether intentional or not, what you've come here and done is say "I like this other system better, I think this company is just looking to empty my wallet, and I dare you to convert me". Sounds to me like you've come looking for a fight of some kind. Or, at the very least, that you're set in your ways. Despite that, me pointing out how I feel about it all is probably the closest anyone here has come to addressing that negativity.

 

Anyway, that point of contention aside, I'll tell you what I like about this system. Keep in mind, I've never had the good fortune to play the old WEG system - I've heard good things about it, but my first experience with SWRPGs was the WotC Invasion of Theed starter set, and I never got to play beyond that. It was this FFG system that really convinced me to aggressively seek out people to play with, and so I only really have experience with this one. My other disclaimer is that, as a person with a certain pathology that leads to immediately and suddenly dumping money into hobbies I find enjoyable, I am perfectly alright spending lots of money on this system. With that disclaimed, my thoughts:

 

This is a great system. First and foremost, it feels like Star Wars - sudden, fast-moving action; dangerous chases; twists of fate; diverse characters; intense, impactful social scenes; the whole nine yards. It isn't just the set dressing and the costumes that have that Star Wars vibe, it's every moment of every game session, and I really appreciate that. To that end, you need the dice. FFG hasn't said "here's this thing we can use to make money, we should market it and sell it - or even require it!" To see examples of that, I'll direct you to the business practices of a certain infamous UK-based wargamming company who is now selling the same units they've always sold in different bundles and packaging them with exclusive formation rules and who constantly change editions or pump out "expansion" content that quickly become required to enjoy the game with others. In the case of this game, the dice are special, but FFG has provided a myriad of ways to get them (as have the wonderful people of the internet, via free but often-quirky online dice rollers), and they are no revenue-raising gimmick: they're an incredibly powerful, unique, and enjoyable way to power a game system.

 

Now, you may not believe me, or may think I'm exaggerating. That's fine - I could probably write a whole dissertation on why I like the narrative dice system more than more numbers-based systems, but I don't want to waste the space. I can assure you, I'm not embellishing. For one, this dice system makes degrees of success and failure apparent at a glance. A number of other systems do this - D6 may have done it - so that by itself isn't anything special. However, most systems, if they bother to include degrees of success at all, stop there. The narrative dice spice up combat and story alike with the introduction of Advantage and Threat, the impact of which is sometimes overlooked by people bemoaning the "special snowflake dice". These are an engaging way to integrate special qualities on weapons and armor, provide an alternative way to activate Crits on weapons (which are important in this system), and provide an interesting gradient in the degree to which a weapon is able to Crit. Interfacing with this system also allows for interesting and rewarding Talents/Force Powers/etc., and makes even characters who are generally combat weak able to support in a fight - the no-skill Face with the holdout blaster can provide boosts, notice important details, and even force opponents to drop weapons or drive them out of cover if they're lucky or stack on mods that provide Advantages.

 

Beyond just that, they add to the breadth of possibilities when rolling the dice. For a theater-of-the-mind system, and one whose stated goal is creating a rich narrative, this is important. The "traditional" dice system is D20 - this system, should you chose to use 1's as critical failures, can generate four potential outcomes, all along one axis: "Critical Failure", "Failure", "Success", and "Critical Success". In most cases, the Success/Fail diad are the only relevant outcomes, as a Critical Success on finding a hidden door is usually no more exciting or impactful than a regular Success. Systems that generate degrees of Success add meaningful steps along this axis, and this does a great job of informing on the narrative impact of actions, as well as often offering mechanical benefits or drawbacks - this system, then, does that just as well (or even better) than other systems that do the same. Howeer, the narrative dice system also adds an entirely separate axis to the generation of potential outcomes, as Advantage/Threat are wholly independent of the overall Success/Fail gradient. This allows for more mechanically diverse results, yeah, but its true power lies in the way it helps the flow of the narrative, rather than stepping away from it or merely existing alongside it.

 

The common example I go to (as it was the first I read, in promotional material for the game) is this: The PCs are trying to gain access to the hanger of a rival, because they need something on his ship. Traditionally, this is a pass/fail situation: you get in, you don't get in. Perhaps degrees of success can be leveraged in the same way "Fail with Threat" or "Succeed with Advantage" can, so I'll give you that other dice systems could do that, but the system allows for two more options: "Fail with Advantage" and "Succeed with Threat". In the former case, the PCs don't convince the security overseer to let them in, but that overseer does mention when the owner will be back, "so they can take it up with him if they're truly supposed to be in there". This opens the door to laying an effective ambush, slipping in as he comes out, or any number of other interesting options. The latter case could be interpreted as the overseer deciding to let the PCs in but sending some officers by to check in on them, just to be safe. 

 

Of course, this is promotional material, and an example of adding purely to the narrative to justify some nebulous amount of Advantage/Threat. So, I'll provide you with an example from just a day or so ago in a play-by-post I'm running: Some PCs, all grouped into a Lambda shuttle, are trying to pilot their way through a dangerous, twisty canyon. Somehow, they've startled a bunch of flying, aggressive reptilian creatures, which being to swarm them. In a narrative sense, one has latched onto their hull - mostly for flavor, and to illustrate that they are aggressive and they attack from up close. The pilot reacts, trying to outpace the creatures - moving further away from them - but because of the terrain, what should be an easy maneuver is turned into a check. He succeeds, gaining some distance, but there are two Threat to contend with. As per the handy chart in the Vehicles rules, I can spend those to give the creature a free maneuver, so he keeps up with the ship (they fly pretty fast). Since, in the narrative, he was hanging on rather than flying behind, I ruled that the threat represented him having a solid hold on the ship and not being dislodged by the pilot's attempt to out-pace him; the symbols interacted with the story I'd developed and let me impose a mechanical effect while opening up opportunities for solid storytelling.

 

Now, if you introduce Triumph/Despair as their own symbol, you further diversify your outcomes. Traditionally, Triumph-equivalent effects only happen in conjunction with Success; the inverse is true for Despair. Furthermore, unlike the other symbols, they're not mutually exclusive. Trying to figure the resulting mess out is a true exercise in creativity and storytelling, and the results - while often varying from hilarious to gratifying and impactful - always feel very much like the sort of thing you'd see in a Star Wars movie, show, or book.

 

To me, it's these sorts of "didn't go as planned" twists that define Star Wars - success can always bring more danger; failure can open new, interesting doors to run and gun through; well-laid plans can have far-reaching and sinister repercussions; and something great can be snatched from something terrible. That feeling is important to me as an appreciate of Star Wars, and those possibilities are important to me as a storyteller; the dice provide both of those, and are a welcome addition to my collection on those merits.

 

This doesn't even touch on the different types of dice available - especially the Boost and Setback die, which are a much more convenient way to adjust difficulty/ability based on situational factors and a great aid to storytelling and mechanics - or the fun you can have by rolling a single pool of dice and "reading the bones" like some kind of epic diviner. Things like that could be whole paragraphs on their own, but I don't see the point in really going off about them here. Just know that, beyond the benefit you get from the symbols - the main benefit of the dice system as a whole - you also get ease and enjoyment of play (at least in my opinion) as well as powerful tools ot of the dice themselves and how the pool is constructed and rolled.

 

There's a very neat system wrapped around those dice, too. Everyone has already touted the Force system in this game, and beyond agreeing that it's incredibly well-done (minus one or two basic complaints, like Influence making any high FR character a suddenly too-competent Face), I will leave that one alone. You've also got the Destiny Points and the general progression of players as major boons of this system, and I'll talk some more about those instead.

 

The Destiny Point system is easier to talk about, and it is amazing for all the reasons the dice are amazing. I believe it is the effects of this ebbing and flowing resource that you refer to when discussing the "diceless" nature of the game. The GM can flip these if they want to justify some particularly horrible use of their power ("suddenly, reinforcements!" or "but he escapes!" or even "at the last moment, the ceiling breaks in and the rival treasure hunters - not bothering with the gauntlet of traps like you have - descend into the musty cave on high-tech fast ropes, snatching the artifact out from under you"), essentially allowing the use of maniacal plot twists while justifying them through a mechanical system and making them feel appropriately impactful. The PCs can flip them to add things to the scene, as well: "but there's a hatch down to a trash compactor!" or "we have breath masks on the ship!". Once, I even had PCs not gifted in Athletics flip one to say "there's a rope ladder left here by previous explorers, next to their skeletal remains". Solved that problem. They function in a capacity outside the "diceless" nature you discussed previously, too; they are also a way to make checks more difficult/easier for both sides of the table as well as the fuel for otherwise-overpowered abilities. And, unlike a lot of other "game breaking" resources, they aren't ever lost. They simply ebb and flow from the PCs to the GM and back again. Admittedly, this is a tricky concept for newer players, and they likely will hoard their Destiny Points. Once they understand the GM is more than willing to spend them and that they will get them back, however, it simply becomes a risk/reward assessment on the part of the players.

 

Player progression, on the other hand, is a convenient label for much of the system, and so more difficult for me to address. Overall, it is consistent, though the GM can set the pace. Personally, I adore the concept of XP as currency, rather than XP as resource accrued against a threshold; even at a trickle, for the most part a player can usually add something to their character every session. And, as there's not technically a cap on what you can achieve, there's always some direction to evolve in. The blend of narrative, thematic focus and progression possibilities is really furthered by the "career/spec" system. The FFG game isn't exactly class-based, but it isn't purely skill based. Your career and starting spec give your character a focus, and provide easy access to a set of skills, but you can do anything. Combining two specs - especially if your GM gives you enough free XP at character creation to get a second - opens up serious possibilities for fulfilling most concepts right off the bat. The ability to buy new specializations in play allows characters to grow and evolve... hopefully alongside their personal story. A Solider (Trailblazer) could find out he's Force sensitive, opening up Warleader as a really fun option; alternatively, that same soldier could discover that his tactical control of the battlefield and fire/maneuver tactics puts him as the de-facto "in charge" presence during a firefight, making Instructor or Tactician a great avenue for growth. Man, that soldier could even realize that his focus on keeping everyone safe, effective, and in cover puts him in the role of Medic more often than not, and that he's actually really passionate about keeping his fighting unit in working order.

 

That ability for growth is meaningful. Obviously, I've already waxed eloquence about how different combinations of specializations, skills, and timing go into your character's story. That's because this is really important to me, and I generally play in games which require (or enforce myself, when I GM) that XP expenditure has to be justified by actions/themes from the past or touched on during the "downtime" the character experiences between now and next session. Even with that restriction, there are nearly infinite possibilities to make your character unique, and - if you want - something as simple as skill ranks can factor in to "who" your character is. Why do you have a single rank in Medicine when it's not a career skill, for instance? But the progression also shows through in the mechanics of the game. Not every Talent comes up every time, and some are generally accepted to be more frequently useful than others, but every session (or handful of sessions) you can at least add something to your character that adds useful functionality. Meanwhile, Force Powers and Signature Abilities allow for game-changing but well-balanced abilities for characters who have put the effort in to get them, making saving that XP also a worthwhile choice. Even those humble skill ranks are important: lots of ranks in a skill can make up for a lower Attribute, but each rank in a skill that upgrades a die to a Proficiency die also increases the chance of Triumph. Like I said, I don't know anything about WEG D6 Star Wars, but I know that, compared to the other games I've played, the chance of a critical success is static. This isn't the case for FFG Star Wars, and it makes spending XP rewarding.

 

This is all nice for diverse characters, but it's especially rewarding for players who put a lot of thought into their characters' crunch. Picking trees and talents that synergize well can result in a character that's really fun to play - and not because FFG held your hand to get there, like even 5E DnD pretty much does. That makes the feeling of a well-designed character even better. Choices in where to put skill ranks, and when to prioritize buying skills vs. talents allow you optimize to your heart's content. Still, even if you try to min-max the crunch, you never become overpowered. So far, aside from a few weapon Qualities and Talents that people generally agree are a bit strong, or the rare thing such as a high Force Rating with Influence, the most "abusive" thing I've discovered is playing a Zabrak Warden. Why? Wardens like Coercion Advantage, and Zabraks give a free one. That's literally all there is to it. And even in those instances where people find an "overpowered" option that they abuse, like one of those Talents or Qualities, the GM has a lot of different avenues to minimize their effectiveness. Sunder or enemies with Bad Motivator can limit overpowered weapons, we've already talked to you about handling Soak-monsters, and even that Influence power I like to complain about has its counter: Force-immune NPCs.

 

The other thing about power creep that the community here is going back and forth about is enemy scaling. The honest truth is that it's very doable to scale with any party; it's sometimes difficult to say if 5 stormies can challenge a high-XP PC, but I will say that, unless they're specifically built to handle high-damage mobs, combat is brutal in this system. That isn't to say characters die easily; it takes a lot to actually kill a character or nemesis. They can, however, be dropped fairly quickly. And if your players are built to tank a platoon of stormtroopers, the GM still has two options: reward the players for their development and ratchet up the challenge (let them slaughter those stormies, but bring in some AT-STs sometimes or something) or hit the PCs where it hurts (by throwing things at them they aren't built to handle). The point is, there are always options, and because of them the game rarely breaks.

 

The other honest truth? There are so many other things I could talk about with this system that I think are great - some of them are present in a lot of other systems, and I don't realize that, while others are unique to FFG SW. The ultimate point, however, is this: unique or not, the interplay between all the different elements of the FFG system creates a fun, mostly well-balanced system that feels very much like Star Wars and serves its primary purpose - to, at every level, help the people who play it tell a really engaging story. I can assure you it's an enjoyable system. From a rules standpoint, it's worth trying at least. I don't know what your issues with the actual system are - you didn't actually mention anything for us to give you real feedback on - but I feel that, for the most part, this is a sound system worth giving a shot. My only actual complaint would have to be the vehicle rules; at face value they're great but they get a little tricky in practice. Otherwise, while it might take some getting used to, it all works.

 

Enough about the system, though.

 

Despite asking for feedback to help assuage your concerns about the system, you didn't list a single point of contention. I can talk all day about why like it, but until you produce actual concerns, no one here can address them. The one thing you actually mentioned was a fear that this system represents a cash grab by FFG. I already explained to you how I feel about that, and I think the message has come across pretty clearly from a few other people here, but I'll take a moment to try and talk that one through, since it's the only thing from your original post I can really answer:

 

Yeah, there's a lot of stuff.

 

Like others have said, though, you don't need it. If you like the system, you'll probably want it, I'll admit that, but that's true of almost any game. Pathfinder immediately springs to mind. But even DnD 5e, which has slimmed down on available books, necessitates two $50 (USD) books to play, and strongly recommends a third. I mean, try playing DnD without a Player's Handbook and a Monster Manual. That's a $100 minimum to play the game... plus, you will have to buy dice if you don't have any. Keep in mind that anything but a D6 is considered a "specialty die" to most lay persons. Now, I know WEG - what we're comparing this to - only had one core book, but I'm looking at the astronomical list of supplements released for it and I'm having a hard time imagining enjoying a game with only the CRB. Even if you could somehow avoid buying things like "The Rebel Sourcebook" and the "Campaign Guidebook", you probably had to buy a new core book when it evolved to 2nd edition.

 

With FFG, all you need is one $60 Core Book and some dice. Each CRB has a great selection of specs/careers, equipment, theme-appropriate adversaries, and GM information. They're complete games. That isn't to say putting them all together isn't something to aspire to. I own all three, and I will say that doing so has really enriched my games. Say what you will, but combined material is nice; even if you chose a thematic focus from one game, including careers/specs/equipment/adversaries from the other books is helpful. Again, it isn't required, and you can, at least, get equipment/ship/adversary stats from OggDude's. But, if FFG designed the systems to interface, and if it's rewarding to combine them, why are they separate in the first place? Is it legitimately a cash grab? I don't think so.

 

Let me explain: as you've said, they repeat some content between CRBs. So, is this a basic cash grab, or is there a reason this is somehow justified? To get to that, you have to figure out what they repeat and why. Obviously, the core mechanic is detailed in each book (though AoR introduces Knowledge (Warfare) and FaD introduces Lightsaber as skills, so...); basic rules for the Force are also repeated (though, again, obviously expanded in FaD). Finally, extremely ubiquitous equipment, ships, and enemies appear in all three books. This does take up a lot of space, and you don't really need to see stats for a TIE/ln three different times. Some content, however, has to be written for the people who only get one game line. It goes without saying that, even if you end up with all three, people generally start the game on one system that interests them the most, buying into others slowly. Some other people never get more than one. Certain things, then, have to be repeated.

 

After all, each book touches on a specific theme. Some people don't like the criminal element parts of Star Wars or the idea of tracking down ancient artifacts in musty, gods-forsaken worlds - in other worlds, some people are only going to buy Age of Rebellion. Similar but superfluous arguments can be made for only purchasing one of the other CRBs. These books, then, all need some information on the basic mechanics and the "staple" equipment/enemies/things. Imagine the alternatives:

 

  1. Everything is in one CRB. It's uncomfortably large - in fact, it might be impossible to bind as one book - and costs an unacceptable amount of money. It includes content you will likely never use, but have to pay for.
  2. Everything is in one CRB. Nothing is well-developed, and all the diverse, strong, and salient themes that go into "Star Wars" are diluted until the whole game feels rather bland. The game costs a reasonable amount, though. Perhaps supplements are released that expand rules, but these would then cost money and possibly even override a lot of CRB material.
  3. The CRB focuses on one theme of Star Wars - say, Edge of the Empire-like material - and you have to pay to get a "Rebellion manual" or a "Force guide" on top of the regular CRB, meaning that people who want to start by GMing a Rebellion or Force game have to pay more than they do now just buying the AoR CRB.
  4. The CRB has stats for everything and developed rules, but absolutely no flavor or GM advice, forcing you to buy those separately.

 

The real question, though, is: even if things are repeated, is there enough material unique to each book to make either choosing one over the other or buying them all worth it? I could tell you that the answer is "yes", but let me just try to convince you instead. Each book has, unique only to it:

 

  • A full and developed section of character archetypes and specialties appropriate to the theme, complete with a well-written series of blurbs to help guide the development of a character's story within these archetypes.
  • A unique mechanic that - while sometimes under debate about its execution - completely alters the flavor of the core mechanic to make each "core" system interface with the theme in an interesting way.
  • Options for starting resources that further the theme of the book, further tying to party into it.
  • A diverse list of equipment and ships that do a good job at being connected to the focus of the book.
  • An adversary list tailor-made and -organized to be appropriate for the types of adventures the book covers.
  • An whole chapter devoted entirely to looking at the galaxy and lore as a whole from a point of view relevant to the theme of the book, discussing issues, cultures, organizations, planets, and narrative directions that go into detail about things of import to people GMing that system. This is truly a lot of information, and even if we Star Wars-savvy individuals don't always look at it, it contains a lot that can be really useful for GMs and players in coming up with material/tone/details for their game.
  • different chapter on GMing that game from a mechanical standpoint. This is technically repeated across books, in terms of its framework, but the details are tailored to each theme and do a great job of helping the GM work with the specific requirements of each individual system; there are sections about the unique mechanic, and the advice on "session/adventure/campaign" help give people a good feel for the different sorts of stories that can fit into a galaxy as big as Star Wars.
  • A session or two long introduction adventure in the back of each book that's actually pretty decent across the board.

 

So what benefits do we get from three different books instead of one big (or woefully small) one? Well, first, there's a lot of interesting information that we'd miss out on; the three lore chapters alone are bigger than any of the supplements this game sees. Content would have to be cut just to get it all to fit. Also, there is no unifying Star Wars "tone" that would be appropriate for one adventure, so what would we do with the "end of the book module"? We can all agree that, however we feel about the three CRBs, the entirety of what Star Wars represents is made up of a lot of very different themes that mean different things to different people. The guy who wants to take the fight to the Empire isn't going to like the adventure from FaD; the woman who really wants to revive the Jedi won't want to take part in the crime-type behavior of the EotE adventure. So on and so forth. And no one is going to enjoy a weak adventure that fails to combine elements appropriately or has no tone at all.

 

That brings me to my other point: each book does a great job at being laser-focused on one topic. I feel that FFG has pretty well identified the major themes of Star Wars as a whole and grouped them as tightly as possibly without muddying them. You've got the seedy, living on the fringe feel; the warfare, fight for freedom elements; and the mystical/mythical/moral quandary that is the Force. While each book combines things we could break down further - nailbiting starfighter battles and that trench scene in Empire, Han Solo smuggling and charming his way through the underworld and Rey scavenging to survive on a dead-end world, Force mysticism and the martial prowess of the Jedi - they're combined as far as they can be without losing the focus on that quintessential Star Wars element. As a GM, you can craft a game from all three that mixes elements to taste in an individual group, but as a concise, clear, and thematic book, the three lines benefit heavily from being held separate.

 

For those reasons, I don't think FFG is money grabbing. Are they trying to make a profit? Yeah, so is every other RGP... except, maybe, DnD 5e, but that has to be them apologizing for the ridiculous array of books that went into 4e. But I think FFG's publishing in an ethical, customer-focused way that presents a solid product that acknowledges that Star Wars is, above all else, highly thematic. They're giving those themes due respect, allowing customers to choose which to focus on, and giving people options without limiting them or forcing them into purchases that don't fit their interests.

 

TL;DR - You asked a complicated question and I gave you a complicated answer.

Edited by Kestin

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I disagree. 500xp can bring you to the apex of a character concept easily (non-force user that is.)

Comparing individual enemies to party members is never a good idea and something you would never do in a different system.

We're probably not going to agree here since I've always said that 150 XP was way too low for a Knight-Level character and I've routinely started games with 300 XP characters just to allow for broader concepts. IMO, the only way 500 XP takes a character to the pinnacle of the character's concept is if that concept is very narrow. I tend to like more broadly capable characters, and those can get very expensive very quickly.

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I disagree. 500xp can bring you to the apex of a character concept easily (non-force user that is.)

Comparing individual enemies to party members is never a good idea and something you would never do in a different system.

 

It would have to be a narrow character concept.  The PCs in my game are ~500XP, quite decent in their chosen areas, but the "broadly capable" part is really only just beginning.  Some of it can depend on equipment I think, I'm not that generous with it and I don't give the PCs much time to "go shopping".  But I can see us easily going another 500XP and not feeling like they are gods among the ants.

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