Star Wars: Edge of the Empire

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is the first of Fantasy Flight Games' core installments of the third iteration of Star Wars Roleplaying Game, following West End Games' (1987–1999) and Wizards of the Coast's (2000–2010) tenures with the venerable Star War IP. Fantasy Flight's later installments, Star Wars: Age of Rebellion and Star Wars: Force and Destiny, use the same game system as Edge of the Empire, so the latter's core rulebook (published in 2013) will be examined here as exemplary of the game line as a whole.

Core Mechanic

The core mechanic in Edge of the Empire (referred as a "skill check", pp. 9-24) uses pools of custom dice to resolve player actions. For the purposes of this survey, these dice come in three sizes (d6, d8, and d12) and two variations: positive (whose faces contain varying combinations of Success and Advantage symbols) and negative (containing Failure and Threat symbols). Each die has a special name in the system, which we will omit in favor of functional descriptors. The simplified procedure is as follows:

  1. The player declares their character's objective and how they attempt to achieve it.
  2. The GM and the player negotiate which secondary stat ("skill", ranging from 0 to 5) applies to the attempted action, which also determines the applicable primary stat ("characteristic", ranging from 1 to 6), since each skill is associated with a specific characteristic.
  3. The player creates a pool of as many positive d8s as their character has points in the higher of the two scores chosen in step 2, then replaces ("upgrades") as many of the positive d8s with positive d12s as they have points in the lower
  4. The GM adjudicates the difficulty of the action and adds a corresponding number of negative d8s to the pool, from 0 (trivial task) to 5 (formidable task).
  5. The GM and the player negotiate any situational factors affecting the outcome of the action, then add to the pool a positive or a negative d6 for each significant advantage or disadvantage, respectively.
  6. The player rolls the assembled dice pool and tallies up each symbol independently.
  7. The gradient of success is based on the intersection of the Success-Failure and Advantage-Threat axes: if the player rolled more Successes than Failures, the skill check succeeds (Yes), otherwise, it fails (No). However, if there are more Advantages than Threats, Yes becomes a Yes-And, while No turns into a No-But; conversely, if Threats outnumber Advantages, Yes turns into a Yes-But and No, into a No-And.
  8. The GM and the player narrate the outcome of the character's action, with the former spending net Threats (if any) to introduce in-fiction complications, and the latter expending net Advantages (if any) on beneficial side-effects of their action.

When a player character's action is opposed by another PC or an NPC, an "opposed check" (p. 24) is made instead: at step 4, instead of the GM setting an arbitrary difficulty, the opposing character's player determines the skill (and the corresponding characteristic) they use to resist the action and use the same procedure as in step 3 to add negative d8s and d12s to the dice pool. The action then resolved as normal.

Social Skill Interactions

The particulars of using persuasion mechanics are described in the "Social Skill Interactions" side bar on p. 113, which details how to make "influence checks" with the core mechanic. An influence check is a skill check made by the agent and opposed by the patient's skill (unless the patient is not a single individual but a group, in which case the GM sets the difficulty instead). The agent's objective and approach determine both their and the patient's skills that contribute to the dice pool. The system also factors in any existing agent-patient relationship by adding positive or negative d6s to the pool if said relationship is characterized by trust or mistrust, respectively.

  • Charm (and the corresponding characteristic Presence): The agent attempts to persuade the patient by being nice to them; the patient opposes with their Cool (Presence).
  • Coercion (Willpower): The agent attempts to scare the patient into submission; the patient opposes with Discipline (Willpower).
  • Deception (Cunning): The agent lies to the patient in order to gain their cooperation; the patient opposes with Discipline (Willpower).
  • Leadership (Presence): The agent invokes authority (real or perceived) to command the patient; the patient opposes with Discipline (Willpower).
  • Negotiation (Presence): The agent attempts to make a profitable exchange of goods or services with the patient; the patient opposes with Negotiation (Presence) if they make a counter-offer or Cool (Presence) if they don't.

We observe once more that persuasion mechanics in SW are primarily designed for the "PC agent, NPC patient" configuration, with no additional guidance offered for "NPC agent, PC patient" and "PC agent, PC patient". Likewise, influencing larger groups, while referenced in the side bar and in the Leadership skill description (p. 111), is mostly left up to the player's role-playing performance and the GM fiat.