Fantasy Flight Games Releases Star Wars RPG Beta!

Calling all fans of Star Wars! All wings report in!

Fantasy Flight Games has officially released a working Beta of the rules for Star Wars – Edge of the Empire at GenCon today. They handed out numerous copies of the rulebook at their panel at the convention and are selling more of them for $30 at their booth.

For those of you not in attendance, do not fret. You can also order your copy off of their webstore for the same price, not including shipping.

From FFG’s press release:

To encapsulate the operatic grandeur of the Star Wars universe, the Star Wars Roleplaying Game will be presented in three epic installments. These take place during the height of the Rebel Alliance’s struggle against the Galactic Empire. Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is the first of these installments, focusing on the fringes of society, on the scum and villainy of the galaxy and the explorers and colonists of the Outer Rim. In this game, players take on the roles of hard-hearted bounty hunters, roguish scoundrels, charming smugglers, or fearless explorers trying to survive and thrive on the edges of civilization. Visit our description page to learn more.

In the second installment, Star Wars: Age of Rebellion, the players take the fight to the oppressive Galactic Empire as cunning spies, cocky pilots, and dedicated soldiers in the Rebel Alliance. Finally, in Star Wars: Force and Destiny, the players become figures of legend; the last surviving Force users in the galaxy. Hunted by the Empire, they must stay alive, and more importantly, stay true to the ideals of their forebearers—the fabled Jedi. Each of these independent game lines stands alone as a unique gaming experience while fully integrating with the others to form a single unified system.

Now, I waffled for a good hour or so before I finally pulled the trigger on this one. $30 is a lot of pay for a Beta version of the game that will still be receiving feedback from the fans, but I personally know  that I will hate myself more if I don’t jump on this and miss getting one. The 224 page soft-cover rulebook is a limited edition release. So if you want one, you had better act fast. It’s the only way that you will be informed enough to make a concrete decision when the game comes barreling out of the gate at full price next year. (Fantasy Flight has always been good at creating mass cases of sticker shock for their products.)

Reports are already beginning to trickle out of the convention, and my Twitter feed and Facebook wall are jam packed with people talking about it. We have been hearing about apparent similarities between this game and Fantasy Flight’s Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game, and we know that the game will require special dice to play. The Beta comes with a sheet of stickers that allow you to turn your normal, polyhedral gaming dice into the dice necessary to play. There has been some grumbling about this, but I for one don’t mind. Strong dice mechanics are something that I really enjoy in my games, and having a set of dice that is made for one game and one game alone really helps you to tie the dice into the themes of the game more than is always possible with your basic polyhedral dice sets.

Sterling Hershey. The man with the coolest name in gaming.

Fantasy Flight has also confirmed that there will be three different games released. It is unsure whether the games will be connected, or if each of them will be a standalone roleplaying experience with it’s own themes and motifs, something Fantasy Flight has been known to do with it’s Warhammer 40k line. This has also led to some grumbling, as it sounds as if the games will be more tightly focused thematically, and limit the player options somewhat. Whether or not this is actually going to be the case remains to be seen, but it is a valid concern. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea to jump into some stormtrooper armor and blast that Rebel scum for the glory of the Empire, having that option is never a bad thing. And if they do wait to introduce the Force in the third set… well, that does set all sorts of warning bells off in my head. Everyone, and I mean everyone wants to play a Jedi at some point. So, hopefully the option is there in Edge of the Empire, with the greater focus coming in a later set.

We also know that freelance game designer Sterling Hershey worked on this project. Sterling is a Star Wars veteran and has worked on every release of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game that has been released, from the West End Games version of the game in the late 80s and 90s to all three versions of the game that was released by Wizards of the Coast. Podcaster Brev Tanner of d20 Radio said that Mr. Hershey was “surprised that they released the Beta of the game this year, but that he is relieved to finally be able to talk about it.”

The 900 pound gorilla.

Many people are speculating whether or not this game will be able to top the popularity that the most recent release of the game – Star Wars Saga Edition – had with the fans. Speaking as one of the fans that is in love with the tight mechanics and cinematic action of the Saga Edition rule set, it can safely be said that it is going to be a tough act to follow. But the fact that Sterling Hershey was on board with this game and the knowledge that Fantasy Flight Games has traditionally released very solid games helps to alleviate some of those worries (and some of the pain my wallet is feeling after the purchase).

But with all things, only time will tell. I hope to have my copy in my hands early next week and will have a full review of the game for you at that time. Until then, remember to fly casual.

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