Sunday, September 30, 2012

Edge of the Empire Reference Sheet

I put together this reference sheet today.  My goal for the Advantage/Triumph Table (which was the impetus for this whole sheet) was to make something that's as easy to reference at the table as possible.  The two tables as presented in the book are good for clarity, but ultimately the "wall of text" doesn't lend itself to quick reference during play.  I feel that this is the simplest form possible for the presentation of this information, since it combines threat/advantage into a single table and consolidates mechanically similar entries into single, concise entries.  For example, "immediate free maneuver" is all I need to know when trying to figure out what I can do for a given advantage/threat cost; obviously if it's threat that maneuver will benefit the opposing side.  Moreover, I don't need separate entries for each combination of a PC/NPC gaining a boost/setback die, split across two tables.  All I really need to know is that for 2 advantage or threat, someone can get a boost or a setback die.  Whether the outcome is good or bad for the attacker depends on whether you're spending advantage or threat, and since that's obvious at any moment in time I don't need the table to spell it out for me. 

Also on this table I've formatted the font based on the use of the entry.  Bold lines are things that I can see coming up most frequently, so I want them to jump out at the user.  Italics are narrative options, so they'll be both situational and dependent on the player's creativity.  If you don't have something narrative specifically in mind, the eye can gloss over the italicized text pretty easily.  Non-formatted text are things that, while useful and should certainly be included in the table, seem like they're unlikely to see quite as much use.  If a player wants to try something unusual s/he can reference the table a little more carefully, as opposed to just glancing over the bold entries (which if done as a default should speed up play).

I also felt it important to include the difficulties for personal ranged weapons and starship weapons, if for no other reason than that they operate differently, which can be potentially confusing.  They'll also most likely be the most frequently used attacks.  While most players will probably memorize at least the personal weapons table pretty quickly I still thought it was important enough to include.  Melee/Brawl attacks, on the other hand, would just clutter up the sheet since it's trivial to remember that they're always made at average difficulty. 

Invariably healing and recovery are things that I tend to have to look up regardless of what system I'm running.  Specific recovery rules never seem to "stick" in my mind; I blame it on all of the vastly different healing rules present in the different editions of D&D.  In any case I wanted all of the recovery options for wounds, critical injuries, and strain to be all in one place.  No use wasting time rolling Cool to recover Strain if the Medical check that was just performed on you already recovered it with advantages. 

In a narrative combat system it's easy to get caught up in just "going with it" and making up rulings that certain infrequently-used maneuvers get forgotten or messed up.  For example, during my solo playtest I'd forgotten that Guarded Stance also gives your own attacks a setback die, and I didn't feel like flipping open the book to confirm a rule I thought I already knew.  Mostly, having a maneuver list keeps players from thinking too hard about the possibility of a maneuver that they may have forgotten about; reference the chart if you're unsure, otherwise ignore it and go for the standbys of moving, diving for cover, and aiming.

Starship maneuvers, on the other hand, really do need to be listed for easy reference.  For one thing there's probably only 1 pilot in most groups, and why force the burden of memorizing more specific rules on just one player?  I can imagine that starship combat also happens less frequently than personal-scale combat, making specific maneuvers easier to forget.

Unfortunately I didn't have room for the starship action "Gain the Advantage," and there's a handful of other starship rules that I'd like to include on a sheet.  At some point I might make a "Starship Character Sheet," which I doubt will take up a full page.  The remaining space can be used to write down some of these more specific rules for easy reference.

Yes, there's other stuff that could be included on a reference sheet (falling damage, dangerous atmospheres, etc.), but trying to include everything would result in too much paper clutter.  I really wanted to keep this to one page, and the fact that there's some extra starship stuff doesn't worry me too much because each group will probably want a starship reference sheet anyways.  Maybe at some point I'll make a separate sheet with the more situational stuff on it, but I wouldn't print it out and hand it to players; the less people have to look over the quicker things go at the table. 

3 comments:

  1. Oh man, I was just starting to put together my own reference sheet and found this blog whilst trying to track down some fonts to use for advantage and threat. Thanks much!

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  2. Replies
    1. The W is for weapon specific effects.

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