Some Thoughts on FFG’S Star Wars RPG

Yesterday I wrote about West End Games’ venerable Star Wars The Roleplaying Game, today I want to muse about the current incarnation of Star Wars in roleplaying form. Recently I finally had the chance to play Fantasy Flight Games’ Edge of the Empire game and I have to admit I was very positively surprised.

Usually I am not fond of roleplaying games using custom dice, but if there’s one thing Fantasy Flight Games is good at, then it’s creating cool dice mechanics. FFG’s series of Star Wars roleplaying games uses various polyhedral dice with symbols that denote successes, failures, complications, etc. At first reading the dice is a bit fiddly, but after a while it becomes second nature. What I really like about the dice mechanic is that it provides GMs and players with a lot of space for interpretations. If you’re creative you can get a lot out of your dice rolls, which then leads to very cool Star Wars moments.

The dice mechanic is definitely one of the game’s highlights but I also love the character creation process. After picking species and class you get a couple of free skill ranks. After that you can improve your character with a number of experience points granted to you during character creation. The costs for buying new talents, improving skill ranks and attributes are the same as when you advance your character later in game. A lot of games have different systems for buying abilities during character creation and through experience, so this just feels … elegant.

I think I have written about my opinion on the physical product, the core rulebook for Edge of the Empire, already, but if not, let me share a few thoughts. As with most FFG products the core rulebook is a very well produced hardcover book with outstanding artwork. It’s quite expensivve, but you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. That being said I am not too happy with this whole “a core rulebook for every setting” scheme. Aside from Edge of the Empire which is basically Han Solo The Roleplaying Game, there are the Age of Rebellion, Force and Destiny, and the upcoming Force Awakens Roleplaying Game lines. So basically every Star Wars sub-setting gets a complete line of products which are 100% compatible. The core rulebooks are perhaps not total copy-and-paste jobs, but a lot of the material is redundant. They’ve used this scheme with their Warhammer 40K RPGs as well and I didn’t like it there either. From a business perspective it makes a lot of sense though.

So if you are a collector of all things Star Wars you can sink a lot of dough into the Star Wars RPG lines. Up to this point there are already countless source books for all existing lines and I am pretty sure FFG will produce many more as long as they are holding the license.

One last thing: can FFG’s Star Wars RPG replace the West End Games one as my go-to Star Wars roleplaying game? Hmm, that’s a tough one. I think it depends a lot on the target audience. Your regular grognard is probably more than happy with the old WEG game. But especially if you’re running a game for kids, or people who are usually not into RPGs, I recommend FFG’s game. For some reason it feels more vibrant, more flashy. Since it’s also currently in print it’s also the easier choice. But you should keep in mind that if you want the full Star Wars experience you’ll need to buy all the core rulebooks, which are quite expensive.

So what are you’re thought on the subject? Please share your comments below!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

3 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on FFG’S Star Wars RPG”

  1. I’ve played the game once and am still holding a grudge. I know that all of my complaints are GM related complaints involving misinterpreted rules and railroading but I’m still annoyed.

  2. Thanks for your recent articles on Star Wars roleplaying.

    I like the system but it is still second to WEG D6. However, FFG is now the system we play when we play Star Wars.

    Tthe price is excessive. To the point that saying it makes sense from a business perspective is a little too forgiving. Nothing about business says it has to include amoral, shameless greed. Duplicate information and six necessary specialization books for each of the three core books (each with duplicated information) is unfair to the consumer.

    But, of course, I have bought all products thus far…

    One way WEG D6 wins over FFG is the objectivity of the system. Your character succeeds if the roll is x or higher is a clear-cut pass/fail. Anyone can understand this system. FFG has a complex resolution system that is hard for new players to exploit. And when scenes get complicated or intense, I have seen veteran players start scanning the chart on the screens to give a boost die to the next player instead of thinking of a more creative use for advantages.

    This is shaping up more negatively than I mean for it to. I enjoy the system and we usually have a fun time playing FFG Star Wars. The big problem for our group of middle-aged gamers may be that we have fonder memories of WEG D6 than the ones we currently have time to create with FFG Star Wars.

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