Star Wars roleplaying games have existed for about 25 years now. Various incarnations, various dice, various focus and of course a lot of different sources.
The first D6 game from West End Games (WEG) pretty much kick-started what today is known as Expanded Universe (EU), which has since been expanded many times by various authors of books, computer games and comic books. Additionally a new trilogy came out from 1999 to 2005 – and now a new one has been announced. The first roleplaying game had mainly the original trilogy and some Marvel comics and games, plus the odd book as sources – WEG lost the license just before the release of Episode I. Therefore the focus of the game was very much on the rebel alliance, smugglers, pirates… and only later on Jedi and their tradition. I assume this is because very little was known outside some semi-good books, and some comic books set 3-4000 years before the movies. WEG produced a lot of their own material due to this lack of sources. This material has informed authors like Timothy Zahn and the other EU writers when writing new books. It also very much informed the creation of the three different d20 versions of the Star Wars roleplaying game by Wizards of the Coast (WotC) – and I can only assume it will inform FFGs version. WotC and their game also had the prequel trilogy to base itself off of as time went by, the first d20 version came out one year after Episode I. Therefore, I assume, they focused more on Jedi – at least over the course of the prequel trilogy and the three various d20 versions.
Jedi has always been central to the Star Wars universe, but little has been known about their organisational structure and the like until the prequel trilogy. Some comics and books has touched upon it, but little had been showed and considered George Lucas-canon. With the new films and the new game, the focus centred in on the Jedi and – I’d argue – took attention away from smugglers, rebels, soldier and pirates. You could still play these parts and campaigns with no problem, but it was obvious that Jedi or force sensitive was the “fun way”, the “intended way” (?) to play the game. The various d20 versions rebalanced and tried to make the Jedi less “broken” when compared to the other character types. To what degree of success? I assume that is down to each group of players to decide. Personally I enjoyed the RCR version – that is the second d20 version – the most, even if most agree that it was pretty broken when it came to the Jedi. The reason I enjoyed that version the most, I guess, is because of a long-running campaign and large group of players (8 players plus me, and it went smoothly!) that I really enjoyed running. I tested Sage Edition (SE) – the third and last d20 version – after it came out, but with little success. Although I mostly blame the system – and it definitely has its terrible and silly weaknesses – it is obvious that the issue was probably more related to player-constellation and player-goals, than any systemic game-ruining factors of its game mechanics innards.
So, now FFG is in the process of finishing their new Star Wars roleplaying game. The game was in a public beta-test, check out the FFG beta-forums for more information on how that went – what happens when you get an online rpg-sw geek-fest? The core book for Edge of the Empire (and a GM kit&screen) was released July 2013, somewhat delayed, shortly after two supplements were announced for release in 2013. FFG also announced the beta for Age of Rebellion in August 2013, the beta forum can be found here
This new series of Star Wars roleplaying games comes in three instalments, these are stand alone games but use the same core system and should therefore be compatible. The first game in the series is called “Edge of the Empire” and is based on the assumption that the players are a group of smugglers, pirates, mercenaries – that sort of fringy stuff that lives in the outer rim, doesn’t really care about the Empire and has little to do with the Rebellion. It’s a fight for survival type of game, treasure hunting, exploring, bounty hunting, smuggling, you name it and its there. Unless you want to be a fully trained Jedi in hiding, no-can-do. There are force rules, even a talent tree and stats for lightsabers, so it can be done with some tweaking and know-how, but there is no official Jedi-rules, no force-traditions at all. The second game is called “Age of Rebellion” and as the title suggests, its all about the rebellion. The third game is to be named Force and Destiny and this game is supposed to present Jedi rules and focus on the Force. It is assumed that a beta for Force and Destiny is to be released sometime after the AoR corebook in 2014.
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