If you’re interested in playing a Star Wars RPG game, there are a lot of options out there. Lots of them are official (we’ve talked about them before in our article Star Wars TTRPGs: Which One Should I Play?), but there are unofficial versions as well, like the Star Wars 5e adaptation rules you can find in various places online.
The most recent official game release is the Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) publication. It’s great, but can be a little bit intimidating to get started with, not the least due to the sheer number of books that are available to a player or a DM. But once you really get into it, it's not too hard to wrap your head around. Here’s our basic rundown of the system: the mechanics, character creation, and the overall setting.
The Mechanics of FFG's Star Wars RPG
One of the more intimidating aspects of the Star Wars RPG is the mechanics of it. It uses the Genesys system, which opts for symbols rather than numerical totals. There are different types of dice: challenge, difficulty, and setback dice, which give failures, threats, and despair results that impair the players’ attempts to do things, and ability, boost, and proficiency dice, which give successes, advantages, and triumphs, which allow and enhance the players’ actions. There are also force dice, which generate influence from the dark and light sides of the force.
Most checks are made by the players themselves, with the GM determining the exact difficulty of each roll. They gather a number of dice equal to their skill in a certain check, and add what boosts they might have the benefit of due to the situation, as well as a number of negative dice determined by the difficulty of the check (an average check requiring 2 challenge dice, and increasing from there). The symbols on the negative and positive dice cancel each other out, with players hoping that they’ll come up with more positive results than negative ones in order to succeed.
Greater results, like triumphs and advantages, can also be spent on health recovery, boosting other checks and players, and generally making things easier down the line.
Character Creation in FFG's Star Wars RPG
All 3 sourcebooks use the same character creation system, allowing them to be used interchangeably. You can make a character that starts out as a smuggler, but learns the ways of the Jedi, or who becomes a diplomat over time.
The general system is an XP-based system. You start out by choosing your species, which gives you a base set of stats and abilities, as well as a set amount of XP to start with (usually around 100). Then you choose a profession. That profession gives you proficiency in a certain number of skills, as well as access to their talent tree. Then you can use your XP to buy talents, increase your stats and proficiencies, and generally make your character your own. You can even buy more talent trees, and gain access to all the talents and abilities thereon.
When you’re done with that, you’ll need to set your motives and obligations (obligations being more mechanically impactful, since they allow the DM to force the players to roll with greater difficulty until they’ve taken action to account for them), and buy your equipment.
If you find that you don’t have quite enough XP or credits to build just the character that you want, don’t worry – taking extra obligation can get you more money or XP to spend!
The Setting of FFG's Star Wars RPG
The FFG Star Wars games are set approximately around the same time as the original trilogy of movies: A New Hope, Revenge of the Sith, and Return of the Jedi. One could also argue that it includes the duration of Rebels, the animated children’s show taking place during approximately the same era. The exact dates aren’t set in stone, but it generally includes weapons, ships, and events surrounding the Empire and the Rebellion. There are sourcebooks that allow you to place your own game during the Clone Wars, the early rise of the Empire, or the sequel trilogy. But the main sourcebooks will keep within the 20-30 years that are most firmly associated with the original movies.
Of course, the Star Wars galaxy is wide and varied – there are 3 sourcebooks to choose from, each with mostly the same mechanics, but slightly different options for characters, play styles, and character creation.
Edge of the Empire
Edge of the Empire is the Han Solo of the FFG Star Wars games – it deals with the planets on the edges of the galaxy, the lawless planets run by smugglers and crime networks, and all the dangers thereon. Playing in this part of the Star Wars RPG will see you building a bounty hunter, gambler, smuggler, colonist, or other individuals from the edge of society. These games will see you and your players planning heists, causing chaos, and generally fighting to survive on planets like Tatooine or Nar’Shaada.
Age of Rebellion
Age of Rebellion is the Princess Leia of the FFG Star Wars games – it deals with the Rebellion against the Empire, fighting to stop tyranny in epic space battles and undercover intelligence missions. Playing in this part of the Star Wars RPG will see you working for the greater good as an ace pilot, a genius engineer, or a clever spy, all the brave and ambitious members of the Rebel Alliance. These games will see you and your players infiltrating spaceships and bases, saving alien planets, and doing their best to fight the evil of the Empire all across the galaxy.
Force and Destiny
Force and Destiny is the Luke Skywalker of the FFG Star Wars games – it deals with the Force, and those who have the power to wield it, particularly Jedi. It also introduces a morality mechanic, since using the Force, either the Light or Dark sides of it, has always had tangible consequences in Star Wars. Playing in this part of the Star Wars RPG will see you building a jedi or other force-user, specializing in any number of unique and interesting force techniques and paths. These games will see you seeking out lost Jedi artifacts, outrunning Sith Inquisitors, and generally finding balance and hope in a desperate galaxy.
For all that these sourcebooks deal with different parts of the galaxy, these are not entirely disconnected. They are fully usable between each other, and can be mixed together freely, not just for character creation. After all, Han, Leia, and Luke all worked together, didn’t they?
Have you played the FFG Star Wars RPG before? Which book did you use? Did you enjoy it? Let us know in the comments below!