Hokey Religions and Ancient Weapons
Using the Force in STAR WARS (R): Edge of the Empire (TM)
“Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s some all-powerful force controlling everything.” –Han Solo
The Star Wars®: Edge of the Empire™ Roleplaying Game is set after the events of A New Hope. The Rebel Alliance has destroyed the evil Galactic Empire’s powerful Death Star. Now, Imperial forces strike back, throwing the galaxy into war.
Meanwhile, throughout the galaxy, belief in the Force has become nearly extinct. The Jedi are gone, the vast majority hunted down and destroyed by the Emperor and his minions. If any survive, they do so in hiding at the farthest edges of the galaxy. The Galactic Empire regards the ability to use the Force as a crime punishable by the harshest measures. In a few short decades, the Galactic Empire has managed to destroy nearly all evidence of the Jedi, and most of the galaxy has since forgotten the order and dismissed the Force as an ancient religion.
However, there are still those rare individuals who believe in the Force and those even rarer few who can draw from its power. These Force sensitive individuals have to learn how to use the Force on their own. The Jedi order is gone, there is no one to train them, they possess powers they barely understand, and they risk falling to the dark side without even realizing it. On top of all this, a young Force user must keep his connection to the Force a secret, or risk being hunted and destroyed.
Despite all these difficulties – or, perhaps, because of them – players may wish to assume the role of an exiled Force sensitive character in Edge of the Empire. The desire is natural enough; the Force is at the heart of the Star Wars universe, and few figures light up the imagination as much as a character able to sense dangers before they arrive and who can draw upon the power to move objects with a thought.
Force sensitive characters are extremely rare in Edge of the Empire, and as they stand apart in the universe, they stand apart, too, within the game’s mechanics. Today, Lead Producer Sam Stewart provides insight into the development of the game’s Force mechanics, how players can create Force sensitive characters, and how such characters might fit into an Edge of the Empire campaign.
Lead Producer Sam Stewart on the Force in Edge of the Empire
“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” –Ben Kenobi
The Force has always been a key part of Star Wars. Far from a “hokey religion,” it’s probably the most iconic aspect of the setting. Accordingly, Edge of the Empire allows players to take on the role of Force sensitive characters who’ve gone into hiding on the edges of civilization. These individuals have the ability to touch the Force, but using that power can make them targets for the Empire.
When we were designing the way the Force would function in Edge of the Empire, one of the first things we wanted was to make it distinct from the rest of the game. That desire led to the development of the Force die.
The Force die is a twelve-sided die with “light side” and “dark side” symbols on it. There are eight light side symbols and eight dark side symbols on the die. These numbers represent the balance of the Force between light and dark, but the distribution of these numbers is notably unequal. Five die faces have light side symbols, while seven die faces have dark side symbols. On the other hand, the die faces with light side symbols are more likely to have multiple symbols than the faces with dark side symbols. This means that while the dark side is often easier to access than the light side of the Force, the light side is just as powerful and can even be more rewarding if the Force user is willing to exercise control.
When a Force user draws upon the Force, he rolls one or more Force dice in an attempt to generate light side symbols, which he can then spend as Force points. Each Force power, as well as some minor Force sensitive abilities, requires a certain number of Force points to activate. The more Force points the Force user generates, the more he can do with the power.
A Force user must pay attention to the balance of the Force.
But what about the dark side symbols? Well, for most Force users, these are effectively “blank” results. Edge of the Empire assumes that the “default” for Player Characters is that they’re playing good people. However, if the player wants to tap into the dark side of the Force, he can suffer penalties to generate Force points from these dark side results as well.
Becoming Force Sensitive
Now, how do Force powers fit into the rest of an Edge of the Empire campaign? Well, first it’s important to note that nobody in this game is just a Force user.
Any player wishing to create a Force user must first select a career for his character and a specialization within that career. Only then can he spend additional experience on the Force Sensitive specialization that gives access to Force powers. That player will also have to spend even more experience on the actual Force powers, and each Force power has customization options, which require even more experience to unlock. What this all means is that a Force user is investing quite a bit of experience on being a Force user, which means he’s not investing that experience on skills or talents that his group will still require to play the game.
As a result, Force users will almost certainly be better at doing some things than other characters, and they will just as likely will be worse at others. More importantly, perhaps, is idea that they’ll be accomplishing some tasks differently; they will utilize the Force to aid them in circumstances where other characters must use straight skill.
Force users can approach situations in ways that other characters cannot.
Using the Force in Your Campaign
As a player and playtester, I’ve seen Force users depicted in several ways.
Click on the above image for a better look at the talent tree for the Force power, Sense.
One player made a young thief and slicer. She was Force sensitive, but only had a small amount of experience invested in the Sense power. She relied primarily on her skills in Computers and Skulduggery, but every so often she used Sense to gain advantageous knowledge of what her opponents were thinking. In one memorable instance, she learned that the group’s armor-covered adversary was actually a droid!
Another player created a young fringer who desperately wanted to be a Jedi – or at least he wanted to become what he thought a Jedi was, based on old holovids. He invested most of his experience into his Force abilities, and he used them whenever he could. This included situations where he would have been better served not using his powers, but whether he succeeded or failed, he enjoyed playing true to his character’s concept. However, as he invested more and more in his abilities, he grew very competent at using the Force to accomplish specific tasks. Primarily, these involved moving things with his mind and using Sense to enhance his combat abilities. Outside of combat, though, he wasn’t as proficient and tended to take a back seat, letting other characters do the talking, or slicing, or healing, or repairing their starship.
In Edge of the Empire, as in the movies, the Force permeates and binds all things. While Force users may be rare and the Jedi order destroyed, the Force can never, itself, be truly eliminated. Force sensitive characters can learn to draw upon its power to accomplish truly remarkable feats, but their efforts come at a great cost. Will you learn to master the Force before you are hunted and destroyed? Or will you focus your energy elsewhere, developing and honing the skills you need to survive as one of a handful of characters living lives full of adventure in some of the galaxy’s darkest and most dangerous locales?
In our next preview, we’ll learn more about the GM's role and experience in Edge of the Empire!