Saturday, July 12, 2014

Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook: review 2 of 2

a book so duplicitous I had to review it twice.

Review 2.
1* The buyer is not new to role playing games.
2* The buyer owns the Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook (possibly some other edge of the empire books as well) or at the very minimum is aware of and familiar with (has played extensively) FFG’s Edge of the Empire product line.


I remember when I was a kid maybe 7 or 8 years old. I was obsessed with action figures, specifically alien and predator action figures. I waited for the new ones to come out, kept track of the Toys-R-Us delivery schedule to make sure i could get mine. Each time a new one came out I was ecstatic. My favorite was the special mail away Cloaked Predator figure. it was AWESOME... then I started growing up, and suddenly had the realization that... wait a second.. this is the same exact figure as one that I had from a different pack... then i realized that several of the things i owned were just re-paints of other figures.. and i thought... wow.. I've sort of been cheated here.. i payed money for this stuff that they marketed as cool NEW products... but they are the same damn thing, they just slapped a different color on it and called it by a different name. And my fancy Cloaked Predator that i mailed away for was the worst culprit..  i thought i had something super special and new and different.. when really.. they tricked me in to paying more money for something that in the end, was basically an unfinished version of something i already owned...
That is basically what buying the Age of Rebellion core rule book feels like.
except, now I'm an adult and the regret/disappointment/anger was virtually instantaneous.

Age of Rebellion contains no compelling new material.

If FFG can sue themselves for plagiarism they should.
Here is the first paragraph from chapter 9 'the game master' in the Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook.

 Welcome to the first step in becoming an EDGE OF THE EMPIRE Game Master. While running a role-playing game can be challenging, it is also rewarding in ways different from those associated with playing individual characters. This chapter walks new Game Masters through the information needed to become an accomplished and entertaining Star Wars GM. Novice and experienced GMs alike should find useful information and advice for running this game from both a storytelling and mechanical point of view.

and Here is the first paragraph from chapter 9 'the game master' in the Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook.

Welcome to the first step in becoming an Age of Rebellion Game Master. Running a role-playing game comes with both challenges and immense rewards. This chapter focuses on helping a new Game Master get the information needed to run a successful Age of Rebellion game that captures the feel of Star Wars. Both novice and experienced GMs should find that this chapter contains useful information for handling both the rules and the storytelling aspects of the game.

Seriously? This is reminiscent of high school book report plagiarism and the vast majority of the book is like this. Ok, so lets ignore for a moment that you already purchased the vast majority of the information in this book when you bought the Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook and try to focus on what new and different things the Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook brings to the table.

Here is the grand total of NEW material you will receive from the Age of Rebellion core rulebook.
1 new Skill.
6 new Careers, comprised of 13 new Specialties.
17 new Talents.
3 new Items.
2 new Universal Specialty trees.
2 new Force Powers.
21 new ships.
1 new ship attachment.
47 new bad guys.
1 Story.

ok so now your thinking "hey, that's a fair bit of stuff there guy. I think I probably DO need this book". but... sadly, your WRONG. i'll explain. i'll go point by point on the new stuff.

The new Skill is Knowledge (warefare). Sounds neat but the skill itself is somewhat vauge. It might help support your character to say he has the Knowledge (warefare) skill. If roleplay is your focus though, what knowledge the skill does represent can easily be folded into the other skills like Lore and Education thus making this skill completely un-neccessary.
The new Careers aren't too bad really. they offer new progression options and their Specialty trees are more focused to help support the concepts of each career far better than in Edge of the Empire. You still don't need the book though.. because the Specialty tree pages can be copied and you can find them freely on the interwebs (i'll have my own versions up soon). So, you don't need the book to get 90 percent of the info you need to utilize these new Careers. there are 5 duplicated Specialty trees :(
New Talents is always good, they are a sweet honey that we all desire. there are only 1.3 new talents for each new Specialization tree, so that's kind of a bummer. You don't need the book for these either though. Like most talents the blurbs in the Specialty tree lists contain the gist of each talent. You can use the Specialization tree you copied or found on line to get the idea. if you have a question about the details, someone will have answered it already on the forums i bet.
the new items are: Anti-Vehicle Mine, Anti-Personnel Mine, Armor-Piercing Grenade. These are all extremely circumstantial and not terribly likely to come up very often, so feel free to improvise if you like.
The Universal Specialty Trees are the Recruit and the new Force Emergent tree. both pretty cool but again, they are Specialty trees and free to copy. Get yours on-line.
New Force Powers include Foresee and Enhance. I look forward to hearing of all the games ruined by the Foresee power, but once again, you can get these on line just like the Specialty trees.
New ships. ok, there are fair amount of new ships.. and i do love me some ships.. you get some really iconic stuff stat'ed out here. like the AT-AT or star destroyers. not a lot of small or mid-range stuff though. so unless you're group is in the habit of hunting down giants, these aren't likely to come up. If they do, there is ONE new rule called 'Massive' and a couple new ship actions to help you deal with their immensity. When they do though, you'll likely be running from them anyway, so having them all stat'ed won't be insanely important to your game experience. "holy fuck! a star destroyer showed up, lets get the fuck out of here.   it's shooting towards us!   I know! that's why we are leaving!" and then you're gone or dead or captured, and I'm guessing any way that plays out, the stats of the ship weren't super important.
The new ship attachment is the upgraded Comms Array..  nice.. but..... not necessary. There's other important shit you need those hard points for anyway.
New bad guys. 47 new bad guys. most of them are naturally from the rebel and imperial ranks. I admit, that having pre-made baddies on hand is incredibly helpful and useful. Sadly, most of these aren't all that interesting. I know that making bad guys yourself is a pain, but really, you can do it and if you do, your baddies will likely fit your story, your objectives and your needs better than the pre-made guys anyway.
The new story. the 21 page Perlemian Haul story is... well, i'll let you make up your own mind. You don't NEED it though... you can make up your own damn story (isn't that half the point of these games).

so yeah... if you already own the Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook...
Maybe you have a friend, who is a sucker like me and already shelled out the money.
if that's the case then YOU REALLY SERIOUSLY DON'T NEED THIS BOOK AT ALL as you can simply borrow it for a moment to fill in the gaps.

don't get me wrong though, the new material is compatible with all the old material, and it does allow you a few more options. options are nice. variety is nice.. variety...
This book is a virtual carbon copy of the first core rulebook.
It provides very little new material. The new material it does provide is superfluous, or easily obtainable (legally) without purchasing this book. This book has NO defining characteristics to separate it from EotE or justify calling it a Core Rulebook.

I will use this book... but every time I play my Ace character, i'll shed a small tear inside that will slowly drip down in to the pool of disgust and distrust that is building in my gut for the FFG star wars role playing game franchise(s)

Star Wars Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook:   3/10

1 comment:

  1. I was hoping that the new rulebook would at least offer a revised explanation for some of the rules that people seem to have trouble with, chases, flying through asteroids, etc. But the text was almost identical. That's a bummer. Plus some of the ships are really obscure, like the Praetor, instead of known ones like the Acclamator or Venator