Last night I live-streamed a game of Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, Under a Black Sun on YouTube (which can be found here). Below, I give my thoughts on the game, the process of setting up a live stream, and the Edge of the Empire system in practice.
I felt like the game went pretty well. I organized it through the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group on Facebook and had 5 PCs as of Wednesday morning. Life being as it is, we ended up only having two PCs able to join us for the game itself. While many skills and party roles were ignored from a lack of players, I could tell that both of my PCs enjoyed themselves. Neither had played Edge of the Empire before; One owned the Beginner Game (and never played it), but the other had only played “homebrewed RPGs”, never taking part in a game with a formal system and rule set.
Both players took to the system like a kid with candy. Within seconds of the opening crawl, they were suggesting actions and gathering dice pools like pros. One of the original complaints about the Star Wars system when FFG first took over the license was the need for special dice. People believed that they would be confusing to implement and that using the standard 7 polyhedral dice players already owned would be more comfortable to players coming from other systems. Well, last night’s game disproved both of those points as my PCs were interpreting their own pools rather quickly and effectively. Everyone had a great time with the story of Under a Black Sun, the setting, etc. Not sure how watching it turned out, but playing was a blast.
My only desire from the game was that we had more PCs join us. Both players were very combat focused, leaving many social and investigative skills neglected. Since I ran a pre-made adventure, there was very little flexibility in what checks the PCs had to make in order to find information. For example, in Zelcomm Tower, there is a lot of information about the bounty hunter stored in various computers around the office. After a few unsuccessful Computers checks earlier in the game, both were determined to avoid touching computers altogether. Had Jovel been in the group, she could have sliced into any terminal and retrieved the necessary information. Instead, I took what they needed to know and hid it elsewhere. I think it worked, as the PCs are heading to the final encounter knowing exactly where they are going and how to get there. We did have to end the session without completing the adventure, so there will be a follow-up stream in the coming weeks to finish where we left off.
Setting up the stream was actually fairly simple. Once I set up the YouTube channel to allow streaming, I simply created an event and filled out the description and information for it. Then, about half an hour before starting the stream, I launched Google Hangouts from the event’s page. After sending the links off to my players, we made sure everyone either had the Hangouts Dice App (found here) or a set of physical dice to play with, adjusted sound levels, etc. When everything was ready, I clicked a large, green “Begin Broadcast” button at the bottom, and the stream began. Again, it was all VERY easy to do.
I have actually run through (most) of this adventure twice now. The first time was with my local home group around a physical table with the physical dice, and the second time was last night on Hangouts. I must say, the Edge of the Empire is the perfect system to play on Hangouts because everything is “theater of the mind” style narrative descriptions, from combat to social interactions. Other systems that can be played without maps and minis would work well, too. There is Roll20 integration in Hangouts if you would like to play a more traditional RPG, but that also means more work for you to set up.
As far as the Edge of the Empire as a system, I love it. As a Star Wars nerd, it’s easy to fall for the setting and environment. But the mechanics are really where the game shines. Gathering dice pools are great fun and simple to do when you understand where the different die come from. Having the ability to change the difficulty by adding more dice to the pool or upgrading a die makes adjudicating results easy. For example, if the left over threat is from the black Setback die, you know that the wet, rain-soaked streets caused you to have trouble while accomplishing your task.
The dice mechanic also means that your players know exactly how they did on the roll. No more “Hah, I got a 19! There’s no way I missed any clues hiding in the swamp!” (even though only a 20+ would work) The players then can be made responsible for narrating their results, drawing them into the creative process and easing the GM’s burden slightly. I love seeing a roll and asking “describe what your advantage means” and seeing what they come up with. This system truly encourages group story telling more than almost any other RPG I’ve seen.
In this particular adventure, there are no Jedi or other Force-sensitive creatures to contend with, so I cannot speak to their effect on play. The EotE setting revolves around Han Solo and his ilk, casting you as members of the downtrodden and outcast from society. My PCs did not seem to have any issue with their role as social deviants, instead reveling in the lack of defined morality. The setting is rich with content and intrigue to explore, even without the flashy laser swords that so often overwhelm the Star Wars mythos.
I encourage you to check out the video from last night’s stream. Leave comments and feedback for me! Of course, things like “better camera/mic” will come with time and money. I want to produce good content for you to enjoy, so help me improve as we go with your feedback. Thank you for your support.