The Mandalorian is great, but if you want more than what the show provides, it can be yours in Edge of the Empire!
Unless you’ve been living in a dark, secluded cave for the past few months, you’ve probably heard about Disney+ and all the wonderful content it provides. From various new and exciting Marvel projects to all the Disney Channel Original Movies one person can handle (binge responsibly), Disney+ is a veritable nerd Mecca for those young at heart or generally in the mood for some fun. As the months and years roll on, Disney will be rolling out various original shows that will only be found on the platform, which has the internet teeming with excitement. However, we got our first taste of this fresh new content right at launch with a brand new Star Wars IP, the Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian introduces us to the titular character as he tries to make a name for himself among his people and continue to be the best there is at what he does. He’s a rootin’, tootin’ just about anybody shootin’ merc who gets a particularly well paying job from some less than desirable fellows. As he reaches his target, things begin to be a bit unclear, and our Mando is left with some serious choices and a COMPLETELY ADORABLE little burden. Many people have reviewed this show by calling it “Cowboys in Space,” but that just feels too simplistic, so I’m going to say it’s like Cowboys in the Outer Rim of a Galaxy Far Far Away. Nailed it. Checkmate.
I absolutely adore this show. Without spoiling anything, I can say there was one aspect that initially bummed me out, mainly because I’ve always been in the “we need less Force people” camp, but I quickly go over that with the aid of the show’s treatment of the space-wizard mumbo jumbo. On the surface, the show drips with grit. The Mando has zero reservations in dispatching anyone who gets in his way or really just inconveniences him. Even in dire battles, he remains collected and focused until the bitter end. People get punched and stabbed and split in twain by automatic doors, and the Main Mando hardly even spits a grunt through his cold, metallic helmet. However, the magic of the show is what lurks under this rough, sandblasted surface: Heart. From the aid the Mandalorian receives, to his overall motivation and brief blasts of backstory, to his interaction with his surprising target, this show has all the heart and fun that a Star Wars story should have. It is dark at times, sure. There are some stories that just have to be, but this story never loses it’s Star Wars charm and THAT is impressive.
As I watch these episodes (two so far with a third releasing today), there is one thought that just rockets through my mind: I really miss playing Edge of the Empire. For those not in the know, Edge of the Empire is a tabletop roleplaying game centered in the Star Wars Universe. Made by Fantasy Flight Games, Edge of the Empire (often just referred to as “Edge”) was released some 6 years ago in 2013 and has since seen multiple source books for new classes, settings, gear and races release, as well as new installments called Age of Rebellion and Force & Destiny. Edge holds a particular place in my heart compared to the other two installments because it chooses to focus squarely on the Outer Rim, an area in the Star Wars Universe that is far away from the Imperial center and is rife with scoundrels, gangsters and all manner of untamed lands. It’s the region of the Hutts and is where we first find Luke Skywalker in a New Hope. It’s a lawless, reckless, merciless region, and, well, feels like Cowboys in Space.
When I first started playing Edge of the Empire, it was being run by a close friend of mine with a group of other close friends. Only half of our group had ever really played any sort of tabletop, so it was a very special moment for me getting to share this hobby with people I cared about. As time went by, it became difficult to maintain that campaign and it dissolved into the background of our lives. Years later, I picked up the mantel and began running my first ever campaign in this setting. At this point, I had been buying up all the books for each of the installments and had a hefty arsenal to create from. I formed a campaign focused on a vigilante group called The Sabres. As time went on, the story of the Sabres grew and evolved. It was an absolute delight telling these stories with some of my best friends, and eventually we made it to the end. After 3 years of solid campaigning, the Sabres story came to a close. It was an exciting journey and it left me with such an intense love for this system and setting. While my group has dabbled in the other two installments, Age of Rebellion and Force & Destiny, we always default to Edge of the Empire in all it’s muddy-booted glory.
So, I’m here to say, if you are enjoying the Mandalorian and find yourself absolutely wanting more, consider checking out Edge of the Empire. It’s really an incredibly well put together system. It utilizes special dice, not you typical D20 set, and the mechanics of these dice allow for a variety of narrative outcomes to checks. That’s the main focus of this system: narrative. It doesn’t bog down gameplay with grids and distances, it doesn’t involve math beyond counting various symbols that negate each other. You build a dice pool based on your aptitude in a skill and then add negative dice based on the difficulty of the check. Pluses negate negatives and whatever the result is, that’s what you get. It’s like a Fudge system in that way, but adds a unique spin. Instead of just pass/fail symbols, you have various symbols that add either advantage or disadvantage to the roll. So, it’s possible to pass in a bad way or fail in a good way. You could succeed but make something else more challenging, or you could fail but give your neighbor some aid. Its a fluid and organic system of acting out challenges and combat. Every action leads to beautiful storytelling and unpredictable outcomes.
The stories you tell in this system are also incredibly open to the Gamemaster. The beauty of the Star Wars Universe is that it is so incredibly VAST. There are so many planets you could set an adventure on that give you the freedom to build the world YOU want to build. Not to mention, even being on a planet people have seen, say Tatooine, it’s still a whole FRIGGIN PLANET. Even though we’ve seen the region Luke lives and where Anakin was showing us what is indeed pod-racing, there is still a whole MASSIVE planet. You can build a region you see fit even if the planet has been on the screen before. As for the stories, it’s up to you. The Outer Rim is lawless by nature, and admittedly that also makes it a region of opportunity. Are you a beacon for justice, hoping to cleanse the galazy of chaos? Are you a hapless monster hunter just trying to make a name for yourself? Maybe you a mercenary who betrayed on their last big score. Or an Imperial fanatic trying to bring the truth of the Emperor to the savages of the wastes. It’s nearly endless what stories can be told here, which is why I’ve been wanting so long to have more movies and shows focused around the area.
And hey, maybe you don’t have it in you to come up with something off the top of your head. No worries, Fantasy Flight has THREE separate pre-made adventure books that are ready to guide you onto an epic quest. The treacherous treasure hunt of Beyond the Rim, the harrowing heist of Jewel of Yavin or the breakneck bounty hunt of Mask of the Pirate Queen will all provide you epic adventures to get you on your way to building an Outer Rim narrative. If you want a quick way to dive in, there is also a Beginner Box available with all you need to dive in head first. Head on down to your local game shop and ask them to order you one!
I seriously can’t recommend this game enough. I honestly think anyone with passion for Star Wars should give it a try and the Mandalorian’s popularity only confirms for me how much people are absolutely yearning to hear and tell stories of the Outer Rim. So pocket your holdout blaster, fire up your YT-2400 and take to the stars!
And grab a handful of stimpacks…. you’ll need them.