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Learning the Basics

   
Learning the Basics

For those of you interested in learning about the Star Wars RPG system from Fantasy Flight Games, or want to gain a better understanding of the game mechanics and how to use them more effectively in your game, this thread is for you. I have provided a brief summary of the core mechanics below as a reference, as well as a starting point for any discussions or questions. Enjoy.

This is a summary of the core mechanic as presented in the Rulebook for the Beginner Game. It is provided here as a quick primer for those who may not have any of the rulebooks, and an easy reference for everyone. Although it is an abridged version of the full rules used in the Core Rulebooks, it covers the basic mechanics used throughout the game system.

THE CORE MECHANIC
The core mechanic of the game revolves around the skill check. The skill check determines whether specific actions performed by characters succeed or fail, as well as any consequences that may accompany that success or failure. This core mechanic is quite simple, and can be broken down into the following key elements:
  • The player rolls a pool of dice for the skill being tested, along with the dice corresponding to the difficulty of the task, plus any situational dice.
  • Cancel out all the opposed symbols. If at least one net Success symbol remains, the task succeeds.
  • Uncancelled Threat or Advantage influence the overall success or failure with positive or negative consequences or side effects.

The first element involves rolling a pool of dice. When a character wishes to attempt an action, a dice pool must be assembled. The number and type of dice are influenced by several factors, such as the character's innate abilities, skill training, equipment, and the inherent difficulty of the task being attempted. The GM may decide that the environment or the situation warrants certain dice as well. Once all the necessary dice have been assembled, the player attempting the task rolls all of the dice in his pool.

The second element involves interpreting the results on the dice. The players look at the symbols on the face-up sides of each die. Certain symbols work in pairs, one type canceling out another. Other symbols are not canceled, and their effects are applied regardless of the outcome of the task. After comparing the first set of paired symbols -- Success and Failure -- the players can determine if the task succeeds. Then they compare the second set of symbols -- Advantage and Threat -- to determine if there are any beneficial side effects or negative consequences. Finally, any other symbols are resolved to add the last details of the outcome.

This core mechanic forms the foundation of the game. Other rules and effects either modify or interact with one of these fundamental elements -- the pool of dice being assembled or the results of the dice after they are rolled.

THE DICE
When a character makes a skill check, the dice allow the players to quickly determine success and failure, as well as magnitude and narrative implications of each task. To accomplish this, the game uses seven different types of dice. Each die face will either be blank or feature one or more symbols that represent various positive or negative effects. Below is the key to understanding those icons and the dice they represent.



POSITIVE DICENEGATIVE DICE
Ability Dice
Difficulty Dice
Ability is represented with green eight-sided dice. Ability dice represent the character's aptitude or skill used when attempting a skill check.Difficulty is represented with purple eight-sided dice. Difficulty dice represent the inherent challenge or complexity of a particular task a character is attempting. In simplest terms, the more Difficulty dice in a dice pool, the more challenging it is to succeed.
Boost Dice
Setback Dice
Special advantages, or "boosts," are represented with light blue six-sided dice. Boost dice represent benefits gained through luck, chance, and advantage actions taken by the characters.Certain complications, or "setbacks," are represented with black six-sided dice. Setback dice represent problems or minor obstacles during task resolution. Setback dice are not as potent as Difficulty dice.
Proficiency Dice
Challenge Dice
Proficiency is represented with yellow twelve-sided dice. Proficiency dice represent the combination of innate ability and training. They are most used when a character is attempting a skill check using a skill he has trained. Proficiency dice are the upgrade version of Ability dice.Challenge is represented with red twelve-sided dice. Challenge dice represent the most extreme adversity and opposition. These dice may be featured in place of Difficulty dice during particularly daunting challenges posed by trained, elite, or prepared opponents. Challenge dice are the upgraded version of Difficulty dice.

FORCE DICE
The Force is abstracted using white twelve-sided dice. These Force dice represent the power and pervasiveness of the Force. In dice pools, they are generally used only for characters with Force Sensitivity or under special circumstances. They are also used when the players generate their starting Destiny Pool at the beginning of a session.

DICE SYMBOLS & RESULTS
The dice used in the game feature a number of unique symbols used to determine success and failure, as well as additional context and consequences during task resolution. Understanding these symbols allows the players to more fully contribute to the story, generating memorable details and describing cinematic actions over the course of their adventures. This section defines the different symbols and describes how they may be used in play.

POSITIVE RESULTSNEGATIVE RESULTS
Success
Failure
  • Success symbols are critical for determining whether a skill check succeeds or fails. One Success symbol is cancelled by one Failure symbol. If there is at least one Success symbol remaining in the pool after all cancellations, the skill check succeeds.
  • Success symbols also influence the magnitude of the outcome. For example, in combat, each Success symbol is added to the damage inflicted to the target. Generating four net Successes would inflict four additional damage.
  • Failure symbols are critical for determining whether a skill check succeeds or fails. One Failure symbol cancels one Success symbol. If there is at least one Success symbol remaining in the pool after all cancellations, the skill check succeeds. Multiple net Failure symbols have no further effect.
Advantage
Threat
  • The Advantage symbol indicates an opportunity for a positive consequence or side effect, regardless of the task's success or failure. Some examples of these positive side effects could include slicing a computer in far less time than anticipated, finding an opening during a firefight to duck back into cover, or recovering from strain during a stressful situation. One Advantage symbol is cancelled by one Threat symbol.
  • It is possible for a task to fail while generating a number of Advantages, allowing something good to come out of the failure.
  • The Threat symbol is fuel for negative consequences or side effects, regardless of the task's success or failure. Some examples of these negative side effects could include taking far longer than expected to slice a computer terminal, leaving an opening during a firefight which allows an enemy to duck into cover, or suffering additional strain during a stressful situation. One Advantage symbol is cancelled by one Threat symbol.
  • It is possible for a task to succeed while generating a number of Threats, tainting or diminishing the impact of the success. The GM generally resolves Threat effects.
Triumph
Despair
  • The Triumph symbol is a powerful result, indicating a significant boon or beneficial outcome. Each Triumph symbol provides two effects:
  • First, each Triumph symbol also counts as one Success in every means previously defined as a Success.
  • Secondly, each Triumph can be used to trigger incredibly potent effects, which are detailed elsewhere.
  • Players gain both effects with each Triumph symbol, they do not have to choose between the Success or the special effect trigger.
  • The Despair symbol is a powerful result, indicating a significant bane or detrimental outcome. Each Despair symbol imposes two effects:
  • First, each Despair symbol also counts as one Failure in every means previously defined as a Failure.
  • Secondly, each Despair can be used to trigger potent negative effects, which are detailed elsewhere.
  • Players suffer both effects with each Despair symbol, they do not get to choose between the Failure or the special effect trigger. As a Failure, that aspect of the Despair can be cancelled by a Success as usual, however the second aspect of the Despair result cannot be cancelled.

Edit: This is not the post you are looking for. Move along.

Curious about the new mechanics? Wonder what all these strange dice and odd symbols do? Ready to do more than just read a fraction of the rules and form an uneducated opinion about the game?

Ok, I get it. This game is not for everyone. Its different, and not what you're used to. The problem is we've come to expect certain things in our roleplaying games when we see them over and over in every system. So the first thing you need to understand is that this is NOT your typical RPG. Then you need to actually play the game with some friends. Reading about it is no substitute for the experience. And finally, allow yourself some time to reflect on your observations to decide if this game is the right fit for you and/or your group. Because it may be overwhelming to take in a lot of new ideas at first, but using the basic mechanics in play is very easy to learn and drives the entire game system in pretty much the same way.

When I brought this game to my old D&D group, there were a few learning blocks we had to hurdle as a group. First and foremost, we had to get used to the idea that this game is focused entirely on the narrative of the story. All of the dice and mechanics are geared to help you, as a group, to collectively tell the tale of what happens to your band of characters. We had to quell our inner-munchkins to stop optimizing every dice pool. Our old way of thinking--that our goal was to maximize our potential success in everything our characters did--was a detraction from the real enjoyment of the game itself. The dice were not meant to measure the effectiveness of our characters, but simply help us decide what happens next.

Unlike other game systems dominated by combat and power-ups, fights were much more abstract and low-key. That's not to say they were unexciting or forgettable. You just didn't need to kill everything on the board to win, or feel the need to be rewarded with greater pieces of equipment to make you even more competent in your next dozen battles. In fact, combat doesn't even need to be fair. Faced with overwhelming odds? Try to surrender. Or find another way out. The story will go on.

My last bit of advice is in regards to character builds. Really, there's no bad choices. Play the character you want to play, not because someone thinks there's actually a "best" way to play it. There are no real limitations on the specializations and skills you can take, only costs and whatever rules your GM makes. Anyone can fire a blaster, anyone can pilot a ship. The only real difference is the aptitude and skill you invest. A character optimized in a specialized skill or trait only shines as often as he/she is able to perform that one trick. Just like characters in a (good) book or movie, the most memorable ones are the ones that can learn and grow. And, again, this game is focused on the story's narrative.

I hope this may generate a little more interest on the topic. There may be more to come.

Just noticed this thread.
Unfortunately I don't have time to post my thoughts right this second as I'm about to head off to my regular sunday game.
Edge of the Empire by FFG.

Short version, I like it in that it's relatively quick to play and does promote creative storytelling over railroading in terms of moment to moment play.
The dice are a little annoying to tabulate and cancel out all the various opposing symbols. On the up side you don't need to make quite so many rolls to keep the game moving as in some other systems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpatulaODoom View Post
Just noticed this thread.
Unfortunately I don't have time to post my thoughts right this second as I'm about to head off to my regular sunday game.
Edge of the Empire by FFG.

The dice are a little annoying to tabulate and cancel out all the various opposing symbols. On the up side you don't need to make quite so many rolls to keep the game moving as in some other systems.
Huzzah! The thread lives!

There is an official dice rolling app that does the cancelling for you. Very handy in that regard. It's only $5, which is considerably less than what you would pay for one set of physical dice. And it includes regular polyhedral dice and dice used for the X-Winb miniatures game if ever decide to get into that.

Hey thanks for posting this, I have always wondered about FFG Star Wars but was afraid of spending the cash to get the system as they have it set over so many different books etc. This allows those of us who are not familiar with the system a chance to look at it.

Now only thing to do is run a game for us noobies. (Hint hint)

Friend of mine runs an Edge of the Empire game mixed with Force and Destiny for us. For me, its great fun. I like the dice and the mechanics. Though, 2 out of 5 people dont seem to agree, though mostly about the dice. I've bought most of Force and Destiny and dont regret it. Going to eventually run a game once I'm more secure in the mechanics.







 

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