Anyone familiar with Fantasy Flight RPGs knows that while they are pretty good at making good games… the Force is not particularly strong with their editorial teams. The more I run my Age of Rebellion game (and my experiences with Edge of the Empire added on) I realize that while many things about the system are very well done, the core rulebooks have some… quirks. I thought I’d touch on a few of these today and see how others are addressing these things in their games or what suggestions those familiar with the system might have.
The Duty Mechanic
First of all, did they have to call it “Duty?” Some gamers are perpetually 7 years old and well… duty. Kidding aside, Duty, like Obligation is a solid mechanic and works well enough to trigger in play and to give players something for their character to focus on during missions. But between the Beta and the final version, Duty definitely changed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like that change translated through the whole system team… because not only do they reference the old way of handling Duty in the core book , but nowhere (that I can find) do they provide any explanation or guidance about how to award Duty to PCs for their actions.
Now, I’m just faking this because I can and my players are happy enough with their Duty rewards but… I’ve been GMing a long time. A little guidance would be helpful for a new GM. Also, it just seems like a pretty serious oversight.
So Piloting is still the biggest bit of contention for me and my players. I have two pilots in the group, a transport pilot and a starfighter pilot. And they are about as good as they can be as early career characters but the game definitely does not make them feel awesome. The difficulty for the basic piloting check is ridiculous. Flying the shuttle at full speed, the pilot is facing a difficulty of 1 difficulty and 2 challenge dice. That’s before any setback dice, etc. And they are making piloting checks every round in combat. It’s so rough that outside of combat/action scenes I don’t make them use Piloting checks at all. The difficulties are brutal. And overall, the Pilot talents really don’t help the issue much as most of the early ones make the ship go faster; which only adds to the difficulty. It also bears pointing out that the difficulty for piloting checks is not in the piloting skill or the Fly/Drive maneuver. You have to find it elsewhere.
We’ve debated whether or not there was an intent that players should need to roll for Piloting each turn in combat but we inferred that this was indeed the intent – it’s never specifically called out – based on two factors. The first is that speed matters in starship combat and that’s the penalty for failed rolls is loss of speed and the sidebar on page 243, “Combat and the Piloting Skill” which implies that pilots will be making lots of piloting rolls during combat but without the turn by turn Fly checks… a pilot can go an entire combat without rolling a single piloting check.
Honestly, with the difficulty of Piloting checks, well, I haven’t run the actually statistics but it seems likely that the typical TIE Pilot minion will never be able to run their fighter at full speed. (Probably 2 Ability and 1 Proficiency die with 3 Boost die against 3 Difficulty and 2 Challenge dice.) Let’s just say, no one in the game wants an A-wing anytime soon.
We realized fairly early on that nowhere in the book does it tell you how long it takes to program a jump with Astrogation. Advantage shaves the time and there are talents which do the same… but there is no baseline to work from. Not that we’ve been able to find. And we’re in the second game in the series now. In Edge of the Empire this was an oversight. Age of Rebellion was a chance to fix it. We poked around on the forums and stuff (ugh) and settled on a baseline of 6 rounds to program a jump. I was happy with that, my player was happy with that, and it adds an appropriate level of tension to combat encounters which is lost by… “oh, incoming fighters? I hit the hyperdrive button.”
This is long enough so I’ll wrap up. There are other quirky bits – healing, equipment (do you realize that restricted is only ever mentioned in one place and the explanation is nearly useless?), but I don’t want to dump anymore. We enjoy the game and we are all old hands enough that we can muddle through. But for such a huge book with so many rules, you’d think that some very obvious stuff like the three I’ve mentioned above would have made the cut. I don’t know, maybe it is just me.
Let me know what you think and how you do it in the comments below. And thanks for reading.
 p41 – In Step 6: Invest XP they still reference raising Duty with starting XP; p325 – 2nd paragraph – “Characters can gain Duty at character creation.”
 p254 – Stellar Phenomena or Terrain