Hey Game Fans, today we’re back with another look at the wonderful Role-Playing Game Edge of the Empire (and its cousins, Age of Rebellion and Force and Destiny). Originally i was going to walk through the process of building a character and then i had a momentary brain work. Making a character (and walking you through the steps of it) isn’t going to be that helpful if you don’t know what the numbers on the page mean. So we’re going to start with a breakdown of a character, show you all the moving parts, and then next week we’ll show you the how to build section. Strap in, Check your ammo, and make sure the coordinates are good. Let’s talk about Edge of the Empire.
We’re going to be using the character sheet as our frame of reference for this, so if you want to follow along, i suggest you grab the form fillable character sheet from the Edge of the Empire resources post on the FFG Forums (you can find that here: https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/85616-compiled-resources-list/).
Let’s start at the top and work our way down, shall we?
The top of the character sheet has a simple headline “Character”. Immediately below that is Character Name, (This is where the name for your character goes, fairly straightforward and self-explanatory), Species (Your character’s race), Career (Your character’s job), and Specialization Trees (what areas of expertise your character has in their job). To the right of this, underneath the Edge of the Empire Logo is a line for your name. That’s a lot of stuff, let’s take a look at what it means.
Yep, you have to have one
Your character’s species is essentially what race your character is a member of. There are dozens of races that have been introduced so far into this gaming system, so you can be anything from a calm and cool Chiss to a rampaging Wookie. What species does for you as a character is it sets the base levels of your attributes (more on those to come), can give you a couple of interesting perks, like Chiss Infravision, or Wookie Rage, and it tells you how many experience points you have to create your character. It also details a lot of cultural background information, languages, and other information that will help you develop your character’s personality and background.
Career is a critical choice for any character. In the context of Edge of the Empire, it represents the particular set of skills and traits you’ve acquired over your pre-gaming life, and how you can use those skills to be a nightmare to a variety of other criminals, idiots, and other people who get in the way. Available careers for beginning characters are :Bounty Hunter, Colonist, Explorer, Hired Gun, Smuggler, and Technician. Careers open up an assortment of skills and specializations that can enhance your character’s role and capabilities in the game.
Specialization Trees are specific areas of interest and activity within the larger career. Bounty Hunters for example can be Gadgeteers, who use a variety of nifty tools and gizmos to catch their prey, or they can be assassins, who collect a very specific bounty for a specific task. These open up additional career skills and talent trees. Talents are additional perks, bonuses, or tricks that a character can use to get ahead, make money, or otherwise put holes in bad guys. A character can purchase access to additional Specialization Trees that open up more options as they get more experience.
This is you, put your name here
Right below the Character box are four attribute boxes. These are derived values that represent a character’s ability to resist damage and avoid being hit. They are Soak Value, Wounds, Strain, and Defense. Wounds and Strain have a Threshold Value and a Current Value, and Defense has both a Melee Value and a Ranged Value.
Soak Value is the amount of damage a character can ignore before taking damage. Whether through heavy armor, thick fur, or a variety of other methods, a character’s Soak Value is subtracted from damage dealt to them before applying it to their wounds. Soak’s base value is equal to the character’s Brawn attribute, modified by armor or other talents, traits, and factors.
Wounds represent the amount of punishment a character can take before being knocked unconscious. Calculating Wounds is fairly simple, add your character’s Brawn attribute to their Species starting value. (At creation you can spend experience points to increase your Brawn, and this will increase your Wounds, after creation, increasing Brawn does not increase Wounds) You can further augment your Wounds by picking up talents like Toughened.
Strain represents the amount of mental stress your character can handle before being stunned or incapacitated. Calculating Strain works just like wounds, except you substitute your Willpower for Brawn. You can further augment your Strain by picking up talents like Grit.
Defense is your character’s ability to not get hit by incoming attacks. The default values for both melee and ranged defense are 0, but can be modified by armor, or taking specific actions in combat.
These are the key elements that define a character. They are set at a species basic level, and a player can either improve them directly with experience points at character creation, or by picking up appropriate talents from their specialization trees. In terms of game play, for every point you have in a given characteristic, you add one green die to your dice pool when performing a task with that characteristic. The six characteristics are Brawn, Agility, Intellect, Cunning, Willpower and Presence.
Brawn is a measure of both physical strength and toughness. Characters with high Brawn values are often physically imposing, hard as nails or both. This is the characteristic for hurting people in melee combat, shrugging off injuries, and otherwise doing extremely physical things.
Agility governs tasks of manual dexterity and kinesthetics. Characters with high Agility are often nimble, graceful, or gifted with superhuman reflexes. Shooting a blaster, flying a ship, or avoiding being seen by imperial stormtroopers all fall under the banner of Agility.
Intellect is a measure of book learning and theoretical problem solving. Characters with high Intellect are often cogent, precocious, and highly capable of solving a variety of tasks. Mechanics, Computers, Astrogation all fall under the banner of Intellect.
Cunning is a measure of creativity, craftiness, and deviousness. Characters with high Cunning are extremely creative in how they approach different tasks, and are quick witted. Deception, Perception, and Survival all fall under the banner of Cunning.
Willpower is a measure of self control, discipline and mental fortitude. Characters with high Willpower are calm, measured, and always in control of the situation around them. Coercion, Discipline, and Vigilance all fall under the banner of Willpower.
Presence is a measure of charm, charisma and confidence. Characters with high Presence are extremely sociable, outgoing members of society. Often, they are the life of the party. Charm, Leadership and Negotiation all fall under the banner of Presence.
The next section down lists four different skill areas that a character can have ranks in the skills in. General Skills cover the day to day operations of life in the Star Wars universe. Combat skills govern shooting guns and aiming cannons. Knowledge skills cover specific content areas that a character can know things about. Custom skills represent very specific skills that only apply to specific areas, like lightsabers, or esoteric forms of art. In each box, you’ll see the name of a skill, it’s characteristic in parenthesis, a check box for career, and an indicator for ranking.
Note 1: The characteristic in parenthesis is important for constructing your dice pool for the skill check.
Note 2: The Career checkbox is important because career skills are easier to improve than non-career skills.
When building a dice pool, a character uses the higher number between the Skill Ranks and the Characteristic Rating to determine how many dice they can use. The Smaller number between Ranks and Rating are the number of dice a character can upgrade to proficiency dice.
The Bottom of this front page has a long table for weapons. We’ll go over weapons in much greater detail when we cover gear in a couple of weeks. Suffice it that you should be able to keep track of all of your implements of doom and destruction in this chart.
At the very bottom of the front page are two boxes. One is for Total XP, the other is for available XP.
This is the total accumulated experience points your character has acquired over the life of the game.
The Available XP is the amount of unspent experience points that your character available to spend on talents and skill upgrades.
The back page of the Character sheet fills in some more useful information and keeps track of the incidentals like gear, talents, and some other information. Let’s take a closer look.
Why does your Character do the stuff he or she’s doing? Does he or she have a greater cause that motivates them to fly casual, or gun down thugs and miscreants? What’s the driving force, and how is the character going to pursue it? This is primarily a role-playing motivation, but it can also be one of the things that finds your character work, ways to spend credits, and otherwise move the story along. Your motivation can change during game play, just ask Han Solo.
Obligations are one of the more interesting mechanics for Edge of the Empire and will be getting a complete article of its own. Obligations will get you into and out of interesting adventures across the galaxy, so embrace obligations. The important things to remember for tracking it on a character sheet are:
- Everyone has an obligation, regardless of who they are and how powerful they are. Everybody owes someone at least one favor.
- Obligations are tracked numerically, with a value between 5 and 100, the lower the obligation, the less intense it is.
- You can pay down your Obligations over time, but never below a value of 5.
All of your character’s biographical data, goes here. Describe your character in the little boxes, and have fun.
The Next section is basically a giant section for gear and other stuff. You have a box for Credits, because everyone needs money. You’ve also got a box for Weapons and Armor, Personal Gear, and Assets and Resources. If you write small, you can track a lot of stuff in these sections, so have fun with your gear. Star Wars is a universe that loves stuff from custom starships to secret bases. Embrace the fun of it, and remember, it takes credits to buy cool toys.
Talents and Special Abilities
The bottom of the sheet has a chart for the talents and special abilities a character can pick up throughout their career. Each line on the chart has a section for the name of the talent, it’s page number, and a brief description of the ability. Talents and Special abilities are often the things that differentiate two characters of the same species and career. They give amazing options for customization and specificity of what you want your character to be.
Closing Thoughts and Things to Keep in Mind
I hope that this gives you an idea on how to read a character sheet for Edge of the Empire. This is by no means an exhaustive breakdown of how a character is made or how it plays on a tabletop, but it is a starting place to read a character sheet and identify a character’s strengths and weaknesses. Next week we are going to either:
- Build a Character so you can see how that works
- Discuss Obligations in detail
- Talk about Star Wars: The Card Game
- Something completely different (Suggest away)
Let us know which one of these things you might be interested in, and we’ll see what sort of trouble you can get into. Game on, Game Fans.