So i’m sure that some of you have been at the game store and seen Fantasy Flight Games’s full throttled run into the Star Wars Intellectual Property. I’ve been playing Star Wars in one form or another since 1995, and have loved every iteration i’ve seen. I’ll admit, i was a little hesitant when i saw FFG’s entry into the line, mostly because the Dice confused the crap out of me. I don’t like seeing dice fly across a table and not being able to rapidly figure out what just happened. In the spirit of inviting all of you in, we’re going to take a closer look at FFG’s new dice so you can avoid the wall of confusion.
So yeah, we’ve got some new, interesting dice to identify and figure out just what sort of mischief they are up to. Let’s look at the evidence. My friends tell me that every time the dice are tossed, the story evolves along narrative lines, and each roll can change the outcome of the adventure.
Yep, I have absolutely no idea what any of that means. Let’s take a closer look at what the dice are, and what they represent in the game.
Positive Dice Group
The Positive dice group represent the potential positive outcomes associated with a task. Boosts, Proficiencies, and Abilities all fall within this pool.
Boost Dice: The Boost Die represents the benefit of having the right tools, the right contact, or other things that just happen to break a character’s way. Thematically they are opposed by Setback Die.
Ability Dice: The Ability Die represents a character’s aptitude or skill when attempting checks. These Die form the basis of most checks, and have positive, beneficial symbols on them. Thematically they are opposed by difficulty dice.
Proficiency Dice: The Proficiency Die represents advanced training on the part of a character, or can be added to a dice pool by expending a Destiny Point (More on those later).
Taken together, these three types of die represent the positive chances of success a player has when rolling the dice. However, a dice pool doesn’t just have positive dice in it.
Negative Dice Group
Setback Dice: The Setback Die represents a host of potential problems that negatively influence the chance for success. Trying to fix a broken repulsor coil in the rain for example. These dice are thematically opposed by Boost Dice
Difficulty Dice: The Difficulty Die represents the inherent difficulty of attempting a particular task. Repairing the welds on a speeder compared to rewiring a broken hyperdrive, for example. These dice are thematically opposed by the Ability Dice.
Challenge Dice: The Challenge Die represents elite levels of adversity and opposition. Bluffing your way past local guards is one thing, but those are Imperial Stormtroopers, for example. These dice are full of ruination and can spell the downfall of an action.
These dice represent the challenges and setbacks that are part of attempting an action in Star Wars. There is another Die, however.
The Force Die: The Force Die is generally only used by Force sensitive characters, but it is also used to determine a character’s pool of destiny points at the beginning of a session.
What Does It All Mean?
If you’ll notice, Each die has an unusual assortment of lines/squiggles/pictographs that each mean something different. Let’s break down those symbols and see if we can make heads/tails of this.
Success: Success symbols are essential for completing tasks as a part of Dice Pool. They are cancelled out by Failure symbols. If there are any Success Symbols left, the check succeeds.
Triumph: Triumph symbols count as Success symbols, but, it’s also possible to spend Triumphs to make extremely positive consequences occur beyond simple Success or failure
Advantage:Advantage symbols represent incidental benefits beyond success or failure. They cancel (and are cancelled) by threat symbols. They other thing to keep in mind regarding these symbols is that they are always beneficial, even if the check itself fails.
Failure:Failure symbols represent difficulties that prevent success from occurring. If more Failure symbols show up on the dice than successes, the check has failed.
Despair: These are the supercharged versions of Failure Symbols. They count as Failures, but the GM can also spend them to make extremely negative consequences occur as well.
Threat: Threat symbols represent unpleasant consequences or side effects. These symbols cancel out advantages (and are cancelled by them as well). The effects of these dice occur whether or not the check was a success or failure.
The Force Die has white circles (the Light Side of the Force) and Dark Circles (The Dark Side of the Force), but those are governed by slightly different rules we’ll cover later on.
So now we’ve got some dice, and we know what the symbols mean, let’s see if we can explain this again.
Dafro the Enraged, (A Twilek Smuggler with anger management issues) is attempting to outmaneuver the TIE Fighters that are actively looking for a freighter matching his. So far, they’re at the edge of sensor range, but they could find him at any time.
Dafro has 3 agility (which means he has three green dice) and Piloting 2 (which means he can upgrade 2 of those green dice to yellow dice). Avoiding a Tie Fighter Patrol is going to be an average task for the sake of this, which means we’ll be adding two purple dice to the pool. Dafro’s player will pick up his 1 Green, 2 Yellow, and 2 Purple dice, and let them fly across the table.
(From my old friend Chase, who’s been playing this version much longer than i have. His example is much more nuanced and discusses possible outcomes of the dice result)
“Dafro has 3 agility (which means he has three green “Ability” dice) and Piloting 2 (which means he upgrades 2 of those green dice to yellow “Proficiency” dice). The Game Master decides that a single, opposed, Piloting check will be required in order for him to avoid a Tie Fighter Patrol. The Patrol consists of 2 Tie Fighters in a Minion group. They have an Agility of 3 (This means we’ll be adding three purple “Difficulty” dice to the pool) and as a Minion group each Minion after the first upgrades the check (changing one of those purple dice into a red “Challenge die”) due to Piloting (Space) being one of their Group Skills. Dafro’s player will pick up his 1 Green, 2 Yellow, 2 Purple, and 1 Red dice, and let them fly!
The Narrative Dice will then help tell the story of what happens. Does Dafro succeed in outmaneuvering the Empire? Just a simple success or failure could happen but with Narrative Dice many other outcomes are possible. Success with uncancelled Advantages could allow Dafro’s Player to indicate that one of the TIEs pushed their engines a little too far, earning a black ‘setback’ die in any further Piloting checks. Even succeeding, if enough threat symbols are left uncancelled, the GM might say that the Empire has tagged Dafro’s ship for inquiry! Failed but with advantage? Perhaps the Ties are on his tail but Dafro’s Player asks if he could spot a cargo ship that he could fly near to try and get them to back off on the next round! Failed to avoid them and generated threat? Dafro’s anxious maneuvers got him nowhere but fast, with the GM having each threat becoming a system strain dealt to Dafro’s starship from overtaxed systems. A Triumph generated by one of his yellow “Proficiency” die could represent Dafro’s Player having one of the TIEs colliding into some space debris and disabling or destroying their ship, taking them out of the encounter. A Despair rolled on the Red “Challenge” die could mean GM has the TIEs call in backup and a third TIE joins in their Minion group! Since Triumphs and Despairs do not cancel, it is possible for both of these outcomes at the same time. And these are only examples, let your imagination flow through you!”
What happens after the dice are rolled is a matter for another article. Now i know that our Good Friends over at Hyper RPG are gearing up for a Star Wars RPG show, and if i can read (There are 0 guarantees on that), they are doing Character Creation this week. I’ll try and put together an article on character creation and what all those numbers mean for next week’s article.
Happy Gaming, and remember you can fall into Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars Rabbit Hole here, https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/#/universe/star-wars
Game On, Game Fans