Having taken a group of players through the Edge of the Empire Beginner Box for the Star Wars RPG, I was very keen to go through Age of Rebellions equivalent. Age of Rebellion continues the excellent tradition of Edge of the Empire by providing more of the funky dice this system loves, several excellent full color character portfolios, an adventure, high quality color maps of whisper base and some more tokens of various antagonists like stormtoopers, AT-STs and speeder bikes. Basically stuff that is going to be useful to anyone running a long term game and not just specialized for this boxed set in particular.
Once again it just has to be mentioned how terrific the support for this product is from Fantasy Flight Games. There are two additional free characters on their website if you want a little more variety and an extension of the main adventure a well. The best thing about both of these is that they are also entirely free, so go download them and have a look! Really, before I even get into the actual play report and my general thoughts let me just say that you should definitely get into this. It doesn’t matter if you start with Edge of the Empire or Age of Rebellion, as they are both incredibly high quality products, which are a perfect introduction to roleplaying games as well.
One thing that I will note with some interest is that Age of Rebellion has clearly considered the extra characters being released on the website. Unlike Edge of the Empire, both of the extra characters actually have their own tokens on the sheet that comes with the game. This is pretty good and really helps to integrate the extra characters into the product as a whole, while they felt like more of a bonus with Edge of the Empire. It’s worth noting that this is an incredibly minor point here, as both beginner boxes give you four full color portfolios in the box, but it is nice to see them do this.
In any event, I had four players initially for this and sadly lost one a little into the game due to another commitment – but overall had more than enough to get a good impression of what was going on.
Play Report: Infiltration of Whisper Base
Age of Rebellion starts with a group of rebels, or more specifically in this case some rebel soldiers and their mercenary allies (I allowed players to pick characters from either Edge of the Empire or Age of Rebellion), about to enter into the garage of an imperial installation called Whisper Base. Unfortunately during this process it draws some attention and we get the first interaction with the rules, as each character in turn is asked to hide to prepare to ambush the encroaching Imperials. This opening is basically designed to give the players an easy view of how the rules work, notably the dice with the various odd symbols on them (again all of these players were new to the Star Wars RPG).
One thing I will note is that I got a little confused how the adventure and the map aligned description wise in this encounter. As the text in the adventure seems to assume one door – the Garage – while the combat/hiding text clearly implies the players are well inside the base. Do the Imperials come from inside or from outside? In any event I made my decision to have the players inside of the garage with the imperials coming from the left hand corridor, just to make life as simple for me as possible. I also believe, but can’t quite remember, that someone actually messed up attempting to hide from the Imperials. A problem with a box getting stuck was the reason IIRC – in case you’re wondering I ran this a while ago! – so a fight rapidly broke out.
This fight proved to be fairly difficult actually, mostly on account of the players rolling utterly terribly for the first round in particular. Of course, Engineer Ackbar (the Mon Calamari engineer character, it took 10 seconds for this name to stick I assure you) managed to turn this fight around really quick once he got the AT-ST working. With the initial Imperials cleared out of the way, I allowed the players to interact with the first “roleplaying” encounter of the scenario – with a combat droid converted to be a janitor. This droid is rather delightful, as he’s written as a bit of comic relief (at least in my view) with the way he views the aftermath of this battle. Naturally I played this up, with him attempting to “mop” up some of the dead Imperials and as half-heartedly as possible.
Here I had to make an impromptu decision, because the players decided they would “liberate” the droid from his control bolt. Naturally without a control bolt, being a battle droid model and having some decent statistics (this guy is evil with that broom!) he was well worth taking around. As I knew one of the players would be leaving about half-way through, the droid NPC would be a handy extra in fights and wouldn’t disrupt any balance combat wise. So I decided to reward their decision to negotiate with the droid and free him of Imperial control rather directly. In case you’re curious, this would be a rather interesting parallel with my Edge of the Empire group liberating the grumpy astromech droid.
In any event, the next step along the way was to move through to the shuttle bay and ensure their quarry – the Imperial commander of Whisper Base – couldn’t get off world easily. Taking control of the shuttle could be rather important in future as well, so it was definitely the first step along the way – at least after the players paranoia getting to them and deciding to set traps *everywhere* in the garage. In any event eventually they went to the shuttle and had a really interesting idea, which was definitely off script but worked with my decision to have some Edge of the Empire characters in here.
Essentially the players decided to use the bounty hunter to “fake” their way into the hanger to get to the shuttle – ostensibly to take some rebel prisoners off world. Given that the bounty hunter would have a suitable license, they hoped it would fool the guards and they would at least get the jump on them. Unfortunately, the guards in the hanger were fairly sharp and the pool of negative purple and red die proved too much! Their ruse was up and we rapidly began a brief – but extremely violent – firefight to secure the shuttle!
This was unfortunately the point where the player of Engineer Ackbar had to leave, so I chose to use the shuttle as a convenient device to explain why the character left. Someone had to stay behind and guard the shuttle to ensure that none of the Imperials could use it to escape – especially their commander. Plus it might be handy if required later on for an impromptu rescue or similar. I decided to go with this solution, because I honestly didn’t want to play a full character myself and it was easier to just adjust later combats down instead.
In any event, the next point of business was to actually capture the Imperial Commander in question – but first there was sabotaging the communications room and then a battle with stormtroopers in the hallway. Like with Edge of the Empire, the battle against the stormtroopers actually went pretty well with only a couple of players being badly injured. Nothing that some stim packs couldn’t fix anyway! Here the players eventually came up to the command center and tried to trick/bribe/threaten their way in and eventually succeeded. Once in they soon discovered that the commander wasn’t present and he had managed to get around them through a vent! Leaving the droid behind to watch the Imperial staff at the base, the characters headed right towards the garage.
This mini-escape sets up the final part of the adventure and the part that I honestly didn’t quite get. Here the players chase down the commander in his little AT-ST, in their own commandeered AT-ST or some speeder bikes. The only issue is that the speeder bikes are literally armored like wet sand-paper, so I’m not sure how you’re supposed to survive any potential shot from the AT-ST on them. In any event, while this chase and fight scene was really fun, I found it much harder to run as dramatically than the equivalent Krayt Fang escape from Edge of the Empire. In any event, the commandeered AT-ST and even the lone player on the speeder bike were genuine heroes in this encounter – eventually taking the commanders AT-ST out and accomplishing their mission.
Whisper Base was now in the hands of the rebel alliance!
Overall both myself and the players really enjoyed this boxed set and in many ways, I’m struggling to really think of new things to say over what I already did when I wrote about the Edge of the Empire beginner box. Both are excellent products with incredibly solid contents, fantastic free support on FFGs website and the adventures themselves are well written while also being easy to run. I guess if there is any real question I should address it’s if you should buy this or Edge of the Empire (assuming you have only one choice in the matter). It’s a bit of a hard question, but I personally thought that Edge of the Empire was the overall more fun adventure. I especially felt that the finale was much less confusing, because the “Take Shortcut” action in Age of Rebellion didn’t make that much sense to me overall.
I also prefer the overall theme and setting trappings of Edge of the Empire more than Age of Rebellions military actions style of adventure/campaign. This is something that is 100% personal preference though and honestly, you will not be disappointed if you just flipped a coin and bought whatever one won.
Verdict: Once again I highly recommend this to beginners to the genre of RPGs and veterans alike. Much of it will be extremely useful for future adventures and it’s a brilliant introduction to the games rules. It’s precisely what a beginner’s boxed set should be, even if I feel that Edge of the Empire Beginner Box nailed some of the themes a lot better than this particular adventure did.
Disclosure: This boxed set was purchased from a store with the Guild’s own Galactic Standard Currency.