So, apparently, WoTC/Hasbro has surrendered the RPG license for Star Wars to Fantasy Flight Games. The new RPG is now in an open Beta test and copies were sent out to game stores this past week. Looks like FFG is sold out online, so the best bet is to call around your local game stores and see if they have any.
I've been playing and GM'ing Star Wars since back in '87 with WEG. I have a lot of fond memories of the WEG system, and D20/Saga was kind of a letdown for me. So, I have mixed feelings about this new game. However, after reading through the copy I managed to snag, some of my fears are alieviated.
-Multi-dice system similar to Warhammer Fantasy, with symbols rather than numbers. The beta book came with a sticker sheet to convert various dice and there's a handy table that's clearly marked if you want to use conventional dice before the specialized ones come out. There's also an iOS/Android dice roller app for $5 in the stores.
-There's going to be three 'core' books, Edge of the Empire being the first and focusing on the fringe characters of Star Wars, set in the classic Rebellion era. The next book will focus on Rebellion characters and the third book will focus on Jedi and the Force.
-There's a limited amount of Force ability detailed for character creation, appropriate for the Rebellion era. There's no system for making full Jedi or Jedi in training yet. Think of it as the start of 'Star Wars Galaxies', where players have to muddle through to discover and develop Force abilities; there's no training or mentors yet.
-Talent Tree system where you spend XP to get Talents related to your Career that can boost your dice rolls or remove hindrances to your rolls.
-'Destiny Pool' where the players roll at the start of each session to determine how many and what kind of Force Points are in the pool. Players use Light-side points, GM uses Dark Side Points. When a point is used, it flips Sides, so after a player uses a Light Side point, it becomes a GM-usable Dark-Side point and vice-versa. An interesting system for building towards a heroic climax by enduring the bad stuff the GM tosses at you.
-An 'Obligation' system where all characters start with some kind of Obligation, be it a debt to a Crime Lord, a Wookie Life Debt, or the responsibility of providing support for your family. The more Obligation the players take on as a group, the greater the chance that someone's Obligation will come up in a session, causing stress for all the PC's.
-PC groups start off with a ship, but with very little in the way of extra funds unless you want to take on more Obligation. PC's start with 500 credits and a good blaster pistol costs 500 by itself.
So, initial opinion: promising. I approve of starting off with the Classic Rebellion Era setting and severely limiting Jedi and Force powers right off the bat. Similar to the WEG approach, Force use and Jedi are supposed to be rare and something special, and the new game really makes you work at being a Force User, rather than a simple level system. The focus of the game is obviously in the new 'narrative' style of game design philosophy, creating mechanics to bring drama and role-playing to the forefront rather than pure dice rolling. The layout of the book is pretty straightforward and easy to follow, with only a few hiccups (it took me a while to find out where starting cash for PC's is). A good mix of PC alien species (Bothan, Gand, Rodian, Trandoshan, Twi'lek, and Wookie), along with the option to play a Droid PC. The dice mechanics are fairly straightforward, with attribute and skill dice providing successes and advantages and opposing dice creating canceling failures and hindrances.
All in all, I'm looking forward to what FFG has in store and revitalizing my old Star Wars games.