#RPG Thoughts – Looking at “extra” rules in @FFGames Star Wars Roleplaying Game

Deep in my heart I am a Traveller roleplaying game fan. The RockyMountainNavy Boys, and especially the Middle Boy, are Star Wars fans and more into the Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game line. As I am the one called upon to Game Master (GM) sessions I feel I need to “keep up” with the rules. Seeing how a recent trip to the FLGS resulted in the purchase of a new book I decided I needed to “review the holdings” to see what I can learn to help make our sessions more enjoyable.

In reviewing the books onhand, I focused not so much on the new character classes or equipment or vehicles like the RMN Boys do. Instead, I turned to the later pages in the book which gives the GM advice on running campaigns in that book’s setting.

Edge of the Empire

Edge of the Empire is the preferred era of the RMN Boys. So these books offer the rules that the RMN Boys “expect” to see the most. I found some of the extra rules useful, and some less so.

  • Enter the Unknown: A Sourcebook for Explorers – Features rules for “Grand Expeditions” and exploration; not very appealing to the RMN Boys
  • Suns of Fortune: A Sourcebook for the Corellian Sector – The RMN Boys are absolute Han Solo fans so in many ways this is their sourcebook but for the GM it lacks featuring rules for Modular Encounters (blah)
  • Dangerous Covenants: A Sourcebook for Hired Guns – The RMN Boys like the Bounty Hunter and Hired Guns classes and all their equipment so the rules for “Paramilitary Vehicle Conversions” are awesome; for the GM “Cinematic Combat” is a way to speed up battle resolution (+)
  • Far Horizons: A Sourcebook for Colonists – The RMN Boys got this one again for the interesting mix of equipment and weapons; for the GM “Making Social Encounters Interesting” is a very useful section (+)
  • Fly Casual: A Sourcebook for Smugglers – This is a “core” book for the RMN Boys; for the GM there are lots of useful rules like revised Hyperspace Travel, Con Jobs and Scams, Heists and Break-Ins, Showdowns and Shootouts, and Gambling (ok….)
  • Special Modifications: A Sourcebook for Technicians – Another weapon and equipment heavy book; for the GM the Crafting rules and Slicing are useful (ok?)
  • No Disintegrations: A Sourcebook for Bounty Hunters – The second “core” book for the RMN Boys; for the GM the “Investigations” seems a bit out of place but is still useful when hunting a bounty (ok).

Age of Rebellion

Like any military-oriented RPG, Age of Rebellion strains under the stress of running a group of free-thinkers that is supposedly under military discipline.

  • Stay on Target: A Sourcebook for Aces – For the GM the section on Astromechs is useful for world-building flavor as is Dogfight Terrain but the whole Beast Riding seems out of place though I understand the similarities in “mounts” being a fighter OR a beast (??)
  • Forged in Battle: A Sourcebook for Soldiers – Here the writers of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game make an attempt to address the many issues that surround playing a military team in an RPG; useful GM rules cover “Strike Missions,” “Soldier Campaigns,” “Fortifications,” and different “Combat Environments” (I’ll just adapt the Mercenary rules from Traveller here)

Force and Destiny

Personally, I tend to try and keep our Star Wars Roleplaying Game campaigns to what I term “low Force;” I generally use the Force as introduced in Edge of the Empire and try to stay away from the “Lightswords & Wizards” found in Force and Destiny.

  • Keeping the Peace: A Sourcebook for Guardians – Not much here for the GM but the RMN Boys like the rules for Armor crafting (meh)
  • Endless Vigil: A Sourcebook for Sentinels – Once again, the Boys look to “Lightsaber Crafting” whereas I, the GM, study Urban Environments or Contact Networks; need to check how these Investigation rules mesh – or not – with the Investigation rules in EotE No Disintegrations and pick the one I like to run (ok…).

Multi-Era Books

This is the recently purchased book that spurred this exploration. Rise of the Separatists: An Era Sourcebook focuses on the Clone Wars TV series which the Boys absolutely enjoyed but I kinda passed on. That said, the rules for “Running Large Battles,” which is different from mass combat rules found in Age of Rebellion, and the “Optional Rules: Fighting in Squads and Squadrons” may be useful.

Putting It All Together

At the end of the day I’m content with falling back on pure GM skills and not being closely tied to an “official” mechanical implementation. I find this approach especially useful in a more-narrative RPG like the Star Wars Roleplaying Game. I’m comfortable with looking at a Player Character’s characteristics, skills, and attributes and letting the player explain how they are doing something and make a roll. After that we one can use the narrative results of the die roll to keep the story moving! Honestly, the only real rules a GM needs to know is the core mechanic in Star Wars Roleplaying Game. That said, the many “extra” rules can be helpful in creating a setting that the players buy into.

I’ll point out here that when we play, I try to stay away from close ties with canon; I prefer to place our adventures away from iconic characters and events and will only use them, if at all, in a brief passing encounter more to remind the characters about some aspect of the Star Wars universe than to try to change it. Hey, it’s a big galaxy out there with plenty of room for stories away from canon!


Feature image Rise of the Separatist: An Era Sourcebook from Fantasy Flight Games

#SundaySummary – From Scaling New Heights to a Grand Flop shoutouts to @MultiManPub, @compassgamesllc, @Bublublock #wargame #boardgame #RPG

Wargame

Game of the Week

I pulled out the Standard Combat Series (SCS) title Heights of Courage: The Battle for the Golan Heights, October 1973 (MMP, 2013) this week for my deep play. Spoiler Alert – I still like SCS titles! More detailed thoughts are the subject of a #WargameWednesday post in the future.

Courtesy MMP

The Grand Flop

Before I played Heights of Courage I pulled out Operation Mercury: The Invasion of Crete (Multi-Man Publishing, 2017). This is a Grand Tactical Series (GTS) game that I bought last year in the MMP ‘Back from COVID” sale. I had played it before and wanted to try again. Alas, it’s just too much.

I tried one of the Operation Mercury smaller scenarios; the first one in fact. After finding the right counters (because this scenario uses a special set of counters) and setting it up on the small 17″x22″ map (because, duh, it’s a small scenario) I discovered I had set up on the wrong map and needed to transfer to the larger 22″x34″ map.

FRUS-TRAT-ING.

I played out “SNAFU” which is a historical scenario for Operation Mercury. Like I wrote about before, the chit activation mechanic is used well in the game system. That said, this time I played less “the system” and more “the battle.” In the end, I was further frustrated. Yes, I like the chit activation and all it brings to the depiction of command and control but it just feels too cumbersome for me. Maybe it’s the scale – Grand Tactical is both large-scale and grand in scope which is means it takes much more time to play; time that is an increasingly rare commodity for me as we try to come out of COVID.

Courtesy MMP

Boardgames

It looks like designer Dan Bullock’s No Motherland Without: North Korea in Crisis and Cold War (forthcoming from Compass Games) is getting near to print. Dan posted on BGG that the game should start shipping February 8. Of course, with the way the USPS is going North Korea may collapse before the game is delivered….

Courtesy Compass Games

I was in my FLGS this past week and picked up Snowman Dice by Mike Elliott from Brain Games (2019). This is another game for Mrs. RMN to share with her students. This is most certainly a Children’s dexterity game or a very lite Family dexterity game. I played it with the 1st Grader and realized I had to teach her the fundamentals of dice reading; as long as she saw the part she needed she tried to use it to build instead of using only the top-facing side of the die. A good reminder about how learning and teaching games is not always as easy as one assumes.

Fanciful, but wrong (Courtesy BGG)

Role Playing Games

While in the FLGS the Middle Boy picked up a copy of Star Wars: Rise of the Separatists: An Era Sourcebook for the Star Wars Roleplaying: Age of Rebellion game. In many ways this is the sourcebook to go along with the Clone Wars animated TV series.

One interesting rule in this sourcebook is “Optional Rules: Fighting in Squads and Squadrons.” This rule enables Player Characters (PC) to take Minion-level characters and create a squad or squadron under the leadership of a PC. The PC can then order the squad/squadron using Formations. This rule helps get past one of the stumbling blocks of military-style roleplaying games; how to use characters as leaders and not simply independent actors on the battlefield.

We have not played a Star Wars RPG session in a loooonnnnggggg time. I dug up an old campaign idea and am trying to work it into some usable material. My personal preference is to play an Edge of the Empire -like campaign but knowing my Boys I need to pull in elements of Age of Rebellion and Force and Destiny too.


Feature image courtesy discover.hubpages.com

#RPGaDay 2017 – What is a good #RPG to play for sessions of 2 hrs or less?

#RPGaDay August 8, 2017

Tough one here. I have seen many “lighter” RPGs and have heard/watched one-shots that can run as little as two hours but I actually own very few.

I am going to assume that the traditional “Session 0” character generation and the like is either done before hand or pregens are used.

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Courtesy Pinnacle Entertainment Group

Of the RPGs in my collection, FATE Accelerated(Evil Hat Games) is my go-to although I admit that I have found Savage Worlds (Pinnacle Entertainment Group) to also be useful for a quick pick-up game (I have the slightly older Explorer’s Edition).

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Courtesy FFG

Of course, any of the Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars RPG Beginner Games also work. I have all four (Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion, Force and Destiny, and The Force Awakens) and I have to say that Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game is my favorite.

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Courtesy RPGGeek

Then again, I cannot pass on mentioning Classic Traveller or its latest incarnation, Cepheus Engine. There are many “sub-games” within this RPG that make great play sessions. Like character generation and the famous “you can die during chargen” game. Or gearheads designing ships. These days I even play solo using, what other than, SOLO!.

#FourRPGs of Influence

Reading the #FourRPGs hashtag on Twitter is a great nostalgia trip, as well a thinking challenge. Here are the four RPGs that most influenced me.

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From tasteofsoundsfiles.wordpress.com

#1 – Classic Traveller (Published 1977 – discovered 1979)

Anybody remember the game store Fascination Corner in Arapahoe Mall in the Southeast suburbs of Denver? It was there I bought my first war-game, Panzer, by Yaquinto Games in 1979. Soon after that, I found a little black box with a very simple logo. The game was Traveller, and it was a role-playing game. Being a huge Star Wars fan, I just had to have the game. This was my gateway into RPGs. Although I had friends who played Dungeons & Dragons, I didn’t (fantasy didn’t catch my attention then, and to this day still doesn’t). I have never looked back since.

I actively played RPGs until the mid-late 1980’s. After college, my job and family didn’t really give me the time to play. Instead, I became a bit of a collector. I tried to keep up with Traveller (buying Marc Miller’s T4 and later the Mongoose Traveller versions). I tried other Somewhere in the mid-2000’s, I discovered DriveThruRPG, and started building an electronic collection of games that I had missed. Being a huge Traveller RPG fan, I stayed with GDW RPGs for the longest time. Sure, I dabbled in other systems (like the James Bond 007 RPG), but I really tried to stay away from Dungeons & Dragons. I had tried my hand at D20 Modern, invested heavily in the Star Wars: Saga Edition, and even looked at Savage Worlds, but none of then really captured my interest.

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From en.battlestarwiki.org

#2 – Battlestar Galactica (Published and discovered 2007)

Being a huge fan of the show, I just had to have Margret Weis’ Battlestar Galactica RPG. I was immediately sold on what is now known as the Cortex Classic System (which, in retrospect, is not so different from Savage Worlds). The Battlestar Galactica RPG was a major turning point for me because it was with this game that I truly embraced designs beyond the Classic Traveller system. The Plot Points system, i.e. a tangible game currency for the players to influence the story, was a major break from my previous gaming philosophy. I realized that I was too fixated on systems like Classic Traveller, with its many sub-games, which is very wargame-like and not actually a great storytelling engine. I continued to follow the Cortex system, and these days really enjoy the Firefly RPG using the Cortex Plus system.

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From en.wikipedia.org

#3 – Star Wars: Edge of the Empire (Published and discovered 2013)

While Battlestar Galactica started me on the path to narrative RPG play, I didn’t truly arrive until Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. I had got the core rule book and the Beginner’s Game and tried to play with my boys. But at first I just didn’t “get it.” What do all those funny dice really mean? One day I discovered the Order 66 podcast, and listened to their advice on Triumph and Despair. At that moment it all clicked. From then, I was sold on the the system and strongly believe that this game is the best marriage of theme and gameplay. That said, I have to say that the later volumes of this game system, Age of Rebellion and Force & Destiny don’t hold my interest as much as Edge of the Empire does.

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From evilhat.com

#4 –Atomic Robo (Published and discovered 2014)

After Edge of the Empire, I started looking for other narrative RPGs. Somehow, I happened across a copy of Atomic Robo. I picked up the game (mostly on a whim) but after reading it was so intrigued by the gaming possibilities. As fortune would have it, I also discovered a Bundle of Holding that had many FATE products. I discovered I had been missing out on a great game system. Now, in addition to Atomic Robo, I enjoy Diaspora (FATE 3.0) and Mindjammer (FATE Core). I have even played a few games using FATE Accelerated with the boys, much to their (and my) enjoyment.

Truth be told, these days I pay much more attention to the “game engine” than the actual game. I admit that my favorite “game engine” these days is FATE Core. That said, I still enjoy Traveller (and even the much-maligned Traveller 5) although the newest Mongoose Traveller Second Edition is not impressing me.

A Disturbance in the (House) Force – FFG Star Wars Games

Courtesy FFG

I guess my boys are becoming Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) Star Wars fanatics. Big T has all the FFG Star Wars RPG Core Books (Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion, and Force & Destiny) along with several expansion books. Together with Little RMN they started playing X-Wing this summer. Little RMN especially got into the system by reading older Star Wars technical books and spending his own money on expansion packs. This weekend, we broke out the Imperial Assault game – and now they are hooked again!

I believe a major factor in the appeal of the boardgames is the “toy factor;” the figures and models along with the many slick cards and tokens – not to mention the funky dice – just ooze that Star Wars feeling. Both boardgames do a decent job of capturing the feeling of the Star Wars universe. X-Wing plays fast and is deadly; just like in the movies. Imperial Assault has heroes and minions. As an added bonus, Imperial Assault is actually three games in one; a Tutorial Game to get started, a Skirmish Game (squad building) to play head-to-head, and a Campaign Game that is much like a RPG adventure series. Indeed, I wonder when FFG will come out with a way to convert your FFG Star Wars characters into Imperial Assault figures?

Bottom Line: Great games for the boys, but a bit damaging to the pocketbook. Glad to see the boys making their own investment in their gaming! In the long run, FFG has created new fans/players for life.