Hey Game Fans, we’re going to continue our breakdown of Edge of the Empire from Fantasy Flight Games. Today we’re going to examine how structured gameplay works and break down the basics of what you can do in this time structure, We might dig into Narrative time as well, but that may be an article for another day. For now, we’re going to dig into Structured Gameplay, so strap in, we’re going to try and not to burn out the hyperdrive motivators.
Structured Gameplay is a way of determining the order of actions when multiple characters are interacting at the same time with potentially hostile intent. It creates a turn order that determines when specific characters are capable of acting and creates a specific period of time said characters can act within. This allows you to determine what and when your character acts and what they can do. You might have time to open a security door or steer your ship. Maybe you need to plant an explosive with only so many ticking time units left? You might have to evade hostile pursuit and have split seconds to make a decision about what you’re going to do. Let’s take a look at the steps of the Structure and figure out what you can do in a given section of structured time. Structured Gameplay Events are also referred to as Encounters.
Step 1: Determine Initiative
Initiative Order is essential to the process but it’s easy to figure out and once you have it, it’s easy to figure out how the rest of the turn should play out. Every character involved in the encounter needs to make a Simple Cool or Vigilance check. If your character is expecting a combat situation or other sorts of trouble, Cool is the check suggested. If it’s a surprise situation, then you should probably roll Vigilance. The GM will likely offer suggestions for which skill you should use in any given situation. Once the dice are rolled, the GM takes down all of the number of successes and ranks them from top to bottom. Ties are settled by Advantage symbols. Once this ranking is identified and made, we’re ready to move on to the next step.
Step 2: Assign Initiative Slots
Now this is where Edge of the Empire turns the standard idea of turn sequences on its head. The initiative ranks correspond to slots that either belong to the PCs, or the NPCs. Those slots don’t necessarily belong to a specific character, just one of the two sides of the conflict. Once the slots have been assigned to a side, the next step is ready.
Step 3: Participants Take Turns
At the top of the round before anyone acts, the players (and the GM) fill in the open slots. The PCs decide who takes an open slot (by consensus and agreement), and the GM decides for the NPCs. As each slot is filled, the character takes their action and the initiative order moves to the next slot down. Once every slot has been filled out and it’s action has been performed, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Step 4: Round ends
Once the Initiative order is finished, any of the lingering effects that the GM has to take care of are resolved and anything else that needs to be done is resolved. At this point, if the encounter hasn’t concluded, go back to step 1 and start over. If the Encounter has been completed (as determined by the GM), move on to step 5.
Step 5: Encounter Ends
After the action or tension has been resolved, the Encounter is ended. Any character abilities that are only usable “once per Encounter” or “twice per Encounter,” are usable again, and characters who have been injured or stressed out have a chance to recover.
What can you do during your turn?
So there are basically three types of things you can do in your turn. There are Incidentals, Maneuvers, and Actions. Let’s take a closer look at each one and break down what each one lets you do.
Incidentals are the quick and easy things that a character can do that require little effort or time to accomplish. There isn’t a hard limit on these, but the GM can veto you deciding to shuffle energy clips or grenades in and out of your pockets ad infinitum. Incidentals include things like:
- Speaking to another character
- Dropping an item from your hands
- Letting go of someone or something you’re holding
- Little movements (Peeking around a corner for example)
Maneuvers are a little bit more complicated and take a little bit more energy than Incidentals. They may not necessarily require a skill check of their own but they can influence an action in a variety of ways. Typically, a character can only perform one Maneuver per turn, but there are some exceptions. Some examples (and we’ll go over some specific ones and their effects next weekish) are:
- Aiming a weapon
- Moving a range band closer or farther away
- Opening a Door
- Diving for Cover
- Standing Up
Actions are critical activities that are essential to accomplishing goals and furthering a character’s ends. A character can only perform one action per turn, and it’s probably the most important thing a character is going to do in a given turn. These typically involve a skill check of some kind. Characters can have specific abilities that require using an action to activate, so read your abilities. Some examples of these are:
- Slicing a Computer
- Unlocking a door
- Making an attack (with a variety of implements)
- Performing first aid
- Climbing a wall
One of the most common shorthand references for an Action is a combat skill check or an Attack.
Now that’s a really brief look at how the Structured Gameplay mechanics work for Edge of the Empire. We’ll take a look at some specific maneuvers and Narrative Gameplay next week. We hope this helps you settle into how timing and actions work in this game and gives you a better framework for how combat happens. Game On, Game Fans.