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Tycho / on Thu, Dec 27 2012 at 11:01 pm

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Playing Roles

There have been a few takes on roleplaying in Star Wars setting, a few official ones anyway; you could always use any old system if you felt like handling the deviations wrought by its approach to stellar conflics, and I know people who do that.  Knights of the Old Republic was essentially a re-skin of D&D, after all.  I had the old West End version, of course, with its attendant brick of six siders.  I’ve owned and played fully two different approaches from Wizards of the Coast, including the Saga edition, which some people considered a precursor to the much beloved/universally reviled Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons.

Gabriel was never “in phase” during any of these other periods, he wasn’t ready for it yet.  The only way to truly “make” him do anything is to make sure that whatever “it” is be constantly available so that when his carnivorous boredom takes hold he absorbs the stimuli I intend.  He’s like my bonsai, in a way; there is ever a strand of wire at the ready.

He’s had a “beta” copy of Fantasy Flight’s foray into Star Wars roleplaying since PAX I think, but he’s been so busy developing Thornwatch that even Star Wars couldn’t fit edgewise.  Now that Thornwatch is gestating down at Cryptozoic, the starter set for Edge of the Empire dropped at an optimal time.  He related his excitement at running the game, and his eye-gleam was such that I felt like we oughta commemorate it.

The system calls to mind the brave/weird indie stuff people keep bringing me at shows, with its opposed rolls that deliver metadata about success and failure - in this case, via deliciously abstract quantities of “threat” and “advantage.”  Some people don’t like the custom dice they’ve chosen to use, or the idea of them, but I don’t love anything more than custom dice so we may be at an impasse.  It wants you to tell stories, and it wants to help you do that; I don’t have an especially difficult time telling players a story, but if every dice roll is going to act as some kind of Twist Engine by its very nature I’m not going to leave it on the table.

The license itself contributed mightily to the evening, but why exactly is worth going into.  For people like us, either Us with the U capitalized or maybe “us” in quotation marks, maybe we sit around a table and we don our persona and we’re off to the races.  We might not remember that this is a learned skill, and when new players step into a game like this it can be incredibly scary and not fun.  They don’t know to order Otik’s Spicy Potatoes or whatever.  We were trying to figure out what made his players come completely alive at the table, first time out of the hangar, new system and funny dice and everything, because they embroidered scenes and flung characterization like champs.  It isn’t just that they knew what to do, which is what we thought at first - it’s that they knew what was possible.  They knew the moral, social, and political (for the lack of a better term) “physics” of that universe in a way that a sorcerous medieval setting couldn’t offer.

(CW)TB out.

it does not know you


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