Thursday, July 10, 2014

Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook: Review 1 of 2

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book.. so I decided to review it twice.
you may see why after reading both reviews.

Review 1.
1* The buyer is new to role playing games.
2* FFGs’ Star Wars: Edge of the Empire product line does not exist (or at minimum, the buyer has and never will have any desire to purchase or utilize any of that product lines material.)
 Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook provides everything needed for both players and Game Masters alike to jump in to the Star Wars universe at one of its most exciting times. From the introduction, the reader is thrown into the Rebel ranks and sets the on an adventure to defeat the evil Empire.
The rules clearly state that the focus is on Role-Play and the heavy use of Narrative to keep things moving along smoothly. Like most RPG’s the rules can take a while to master but in Age of Rebellion they are clearly written and you will quickly pick up the basics. The dice system is interesting as well as dynamic, supporting the narrative style of the game and pleasing those of us who enjoy throwing fistfuls of dice down as frequently as possible.
As players begin to create characters they will find several options from race selection to careers and specializations. There are 8 familiar and recognizable races to choose from including the Gran, Droids, and even the race of our beloved Admiral Akbar, the Mon Calamari.
There are 6 Career path options each with 3 specialization trees as well as a ‘universal’ tree for those who are just starting out, or just can’t decide yet. Maybe you’d like to be a Diplomat who dabbles in computer hacking, or maybe augment you’re Ace Pilot’s skills by learning some Scout Talents. With the games system designed to let players branch out however they like over time, players will find there are plenty of options to keep them interested for quite a while. The special abilities you gain from your Careers Talent trees help separate you from the commoners, but don’t forget your basic skills.
A large list of Skills are the core of what your character can do and how well it gets done. Purchase up to 5 ranks in a skill to roll more dice and have the advantage. Skills vary from combat skills such as Melee and Gunnery, to more esoteric skills like Knowledge (core worlds) and Astrogation.
The skills are described in detail. You’ll learn what each one is good for, what it can and in some cases can’t, do. The book even gives options on how to interpret dice results for certain kinds of skill checks, which helps both players and Game Masters keep things moving smoothly.
Once you get past the character creation, there is a fairly standard fair of gadgets and gizmos, arms and armor that are available to the players. Save up and buy that fancy armor, if you don’t you might want to invest in a Bacta Tank. Even the weapons and armor in this game can be further modified. The modification options are somewhat limited, but even the small selection dramatically increases the overall number of ‘options’.
Of course, no Star Wars universe would be complete without some of those iconic Spaceships and imperial walkers. Fear not, Age of Rebellion provides stats for speeders, AT-ATs and even Star Destroyers. The ship combat rules are a bit less streamlined than the rules for personal combat, but they still get the job done. I imagine that most combat would not be ship combat though as player characters would be hard pressed to purchase a ship that would last more than a round against a star destroyer. Even in smaller ships though it’s still a generally dangerous and final a prospect to have your ship blown up in space seeing as how, when that happens you rapidly go from ‘meat bag in a box’ to ‘meatsicle out in the cold depths of space’ assuming of course that you aren’t immediately turned into ‘meat mist’ by the initial blowing up part…. Aaaanyway.
One thing that is likely to disappoint players is the apparent lack of Force related powers or abilities. There is a singular Force related Talent tree, and three basic powers you can acquire. You can move things with your mind, use the force to enhance your own physical abilities, or see the future. The powers here can be quite powerful, but the players won’t be able to just pick up a lightsaber and have the powers of Vader. Of course, that all makes some sense, since the Age of Rebellion is set in a time when there are no Jedi and the Force is a nearly forgotten thing.
The Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook has a nice section to help Game Masters set things up and lead a group of players. It’s not the most in depth help I’ve ever seen, but it’s a start.
There is a starter story in the back, a short mini-campaign that your GM can run called the Perlemian Haul. Its got bad guys, good guys and other stuff I won’t spoil for you, but it’s pretty well done even if it is fairly short.
When your done with the Perlemian Run, there is also a moderate helping of bad guys and locations to choose from that are already stat’d up and ready to go.
All the pieces are there. Good concepts, good rules, lots of choices, no glaringly horrible oversights, a little bit to get you started and a boat-load to keep you going.
For new GMs and new players who love the Star Wars universe Age of Rebellion is going to be a ton of fun.

-1 for not having more… stuff (just in general, more stuff is nice)
-1 for minor gripes about ship combat rules and very minor gripes about the books organization.

As far as Core Rulebooks for a new RPG goes, this is pretty great. 8/10

Review 2 still in the works. Should find time in the next couple days.

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