Anyway, I haven't read the beta book (was tempted, but not $50 tempted) so my ramblings here are simply founded on stuff I've read online or heard from people who have actually read, or are reading, the book. Like Kosta.
First off, FFG has decided to copy their own line of successful 40k rpgs and release no less than three standalone core books for their Star Wars roleplaying game. It's interesting that this was originally an idea put forward by Black Industries and that FFG inherited, but how it has in the end paid off for them well enough to now do the whole thing over again. The first book is Edge of the Empire which will focus in the fringe worlds and the people who inhabit them - smugglers, bounty hunters, explorers, colonists... all kinds of space riff-raff. The next book (released a year later) will be Age of Rebellion - focusing on the rebell alliance and the galactic civil war. A year after that we'll see the relase of Force and Destiny featuring jedi and the force. I'm sure that won't be the end of it though and a new cycle of books featuring the prequal trilogy (or the old republic perhaps?) are sure to follow.
From a financial standpoint I think it's a no brainer doing it this way (at least with a strong IP like Star Wars or 40k) since even the jedi wannabes will still likely buy Edge of the Empire (begrudgingly) so they can hack it and play as a jedi, and then they'll buy the force book later anyway. It's also well known that an rpg line is usually at its strongest around the launch of the core books and supplements immediately following it. Later as the books become more and more niche less people will get them and we enter into a downward spiral where books have to be niche not to cover stuff already released while this at the same time turn a certain percentage off buying them and so on. Breathing fresh life into the system by releasing new core books every year (and some core supplements for each book of course) is a smart way around this, although it can be frustrating retreading all the same ground you knew from the last book. Actually, Cubicle 7 recently announced that they won't be doing three separate core books for their excellent The One Ring rpg as originally planned for this very reason (they'll make sourcebooks instead). Commendable, yet perhaps FFG's plan is more future-proof.
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game, which is a boxed set with a thin rulebook (think quickstart rules but a little meatier), some pre-constructed characters and an adventure for them to run. There are also a couple of maps and a bunch of counters used for tracking relative movement etc. It's all very snazzy looking and even though this is obviously aimed towards people new to roleplaying I must admit I'm tempted. And again I think this is exactly what FFG is counting on. Many of us old veterans will still probably get this box just because we'll be able to get our hands on it sooner than the proper game. I think the price point ($30 from FFG but likely $20 from online retailers) is just about right to make me feel that I could probably get this and the proper game later on.
EDIT: Yepp, I got the Beginner Box a couple of weeks ago and have digested it enough to write a review. You can read it here.
The stuff you get in the Beginner Game. Swanky!
Hmm... that was a lot of ramblings about the rpg industry and FFG's business decisions. Let's have a look at the actual game shall we?!
I wasn't very surprised when I saw the similarities between FFG's 3rd edition of Warhammer Fantasy Rolepay and the new Star Wars rpg. It's their own in-house system (unlike the legacy system of 40k rpg) and while it's not been universally acclaimed I think most would agree that the core is solid. I ran a WFRP3 campaign for about a year and I can honestly say that I really like the system but I started to suffer from component fatigue as more and more supplements, containing more cards and tokens, were added. That is not to say that I'm not a fan of the concept of the cards and tokens! I think the idea is sound, it just got a bit out of hand with WFRP3.
It seems to me that they've got rid of the cards and (most of) the tokens but otherwise kept the dice pool and core mechanics. The largest change seems to be character construction and development as there are six different careers, each with three specialisations in the Star Wars rpg. Each career and specialization has its own little tree of skills that you can invest in, but you can also buy skills from other careers - creating a fairly open system where it's easy to customize your character the way you want it. Something I like. There are of course a bunch of races to choose from, including droid, Trandoshan and... Gand! Awesome! I'll be an ammonia sucking Gand smuggler for sure!
Characters can (and most likely will) start the game with different Obligations. These are basically story hooks chosen by the players for use by the GM. There are some mechanics where you roll to see who's obligation will feature in the upcoming adventure but overall I see it as plot hooks. It's a nice idea to incorporate from the start as I think it will help new GMs especially. It also feels nice and Star Warsy, considering this is fringe characters we're talking about! What would Han Solo be without his huge dept to Jabba the Hutt?!
The Hired Gun career with skill tree.
Speaking of which, having an entire game devoted to the dirty underworld and slow backwaters of the Star Wars galaxy is pretty much a dream come true for me! While jedi and the rebellion are cool it's great to see another side being brought to light like this. I'm certainly one of those guys who feel that Star Wars is not what it once used to be since the release of the prequals but stuff like this certainly make me recall fond memories of playing with Han Solo and Boba Fett action figures as a kid! Pew pew!
The characters as a group also get a ship of their own. Either a YT-1300 Freighter (Millenium Falcon), a Firespray Patrol Ship (Slave-1) or a Ghtroc 720 Freighter (the Falcon crossed with a turtle). Seeing as FFG recently announced the Falcon and Slave-1 for their X-Wing miniature game I can see some synergy between the two games. Although combat in the rpg is quite abstract and models like that would most likely just for a bit of extra immersion.
The incredibly detailed Millenium Falcon model that will be released later this year.
Also there is a Force component in this new game. You can play as a force user and there are rules for lightsabers. They are simply not all that fleshed out and there are no rules for playing a jedi (not even a lightsabre skill! Ha!). This I like, as it allows you to play someone who is force sensitive but don't really know what to do with their powers... you know... kind of like Luke. And isn't that what should be the norm considering that Vader and the Empire have hunted down and killed pretty much all jedis?!!
There are a lof of ropleplaying games that I want to play and/or lead. At the moment The One Ring is at the top of the list with the recent release of Tales of Wilderland (more on that book later. Spoiler: it's awesome!) but I wouldn't be surprised if Edge of the Empire might eclipse my desire to play TOR when it is released next year. Hopefully I'll have some people to play with by then.
So yeah... more Star Wars sheenanigans later. May the force be with you I guess!
EDIT: My fellow Swedish blogger Kosta is doing a series of posts about Edge of the Empire, chapter by chapter as he's reading it (in English). His posts about first impressions, character generation and skills are already up and more are to follow I'm sure.