August 19, 2015 | by Joe Lastowski
Review: Star Wars: Force & Destiny… Much More Than Space Wizards

A long time ago in a publishing schedule long, long forgotten, the third of the Fantasy Flight core rulebooks for the Star Wars RPG was announced. Though Force and Destiny (F&D) has been delayed many times since its original release was announced, the final version of the book has at last been released, and it is a joy to read.

sw04While it is one of three core rulebooks for the Fantasy Flight Star Wars roleplaying system, F&D is ideally designed to be used on its own. The starter set (sold separately) has premade characters who are all sensitive to the ways of the Force in one way or another, and the book talks about how it may be less fun for a non-Force-using character if everyone else gets to be magic space wizards. However, the systems are compatible, and unlike other compatible systems that never should have been combined (I’m looking at you, 2nd edition White Wolf World of Darkness games), it is very possible to use the rules & ideas in F&D with a party composed of mostly character from the previous two core books, Edge of Empire (EoE) and Age of Rebellion (AoR). They even give some guidance to GMs about holding back on some of the Jedi awesomeness at first, waiting till a character has reached 150 XP before giving a chance to get a lightsaber, and giving non-Force-users other bonuses (a new ship, a chunk of XP, etc) at the same time to keep things more on the level.

The previous two core books had group storytelling devices that could affect how different plots interacted with the game. EoE featured Obligation, which represented the often negative plots that drove you out to the edge of the galaxy, and which might pop up to hinder you or your party at any given time. AoR used Duty, a representation of your worth to the Rebellion, which could lead to any number of plots getting assigned to you based on your job in the Rebel military structure. With F&D, though, the mechanic is much more personal. The Morality rating is a number between 1-100 that represents where you sit on the binary good/evil, light/dark scale of the Force. Everyone starts at 50. When you do things that might be considered selfless, good, or “light sided”, the GM keeps track. Similarly are you tracked when you do things that might be evil, selfish, or “dark sided”. At the end of each session, the GM rolls some dice & compares it to the number of good & bad things you did that game, and your morality score may shift as a result. If it gets super high, you become a beacon of peace & goodness. If it gets super low, you have fallen to the Dark Side. Your morality score also determines whether or not you can utilize different Force Point options rolled at any given time.

Force points are something else that create an interesting mechanic that can fuel storytelling. Normally a Force-sensitive character rolls a special die (or dice) with light and dark dots on each face. The number of each represents your pool of available light and dark side points to spend fueling the Force power you use. Particularly evil characters cannot use light side points to fuel powers, but there’s always a chance for good guys to call on the Dark Side & let their morality slip a bit. However, some of the new powers are likewise binary, depending on how you fuel them. For instance, Heal and Harm are the same spell, depending on whether you power it with the light or dark side of the Force. This creates some interesting storytelling options, and also introduces some reasonably noticeable consequences for players who are not careful with their morality ratings.

sw01One thing that caught me off guard was the artwork in this book. It is absolutely GORGEOUS, and clearly demonstrates that they took the time to find artists who really cared about the characters of the Star Wars universe. And it’s not all one style, either. There are 64 artists listed in the credits of the book. That’s both impressive and staggering, but even more impressive is the fact that EVERY ONE seems to have brought their A-game to this project. Not a single image is off, and this may be the first ever roleplaying book I can say that about.

The breadth of the information in this book is also impressive. Sure, you get new Jedi classes, Force powers, races, light saber crystal options, new ships, and even Force martial arts… but I did not for a second imagine that they’d include stats for the Force-hunting Vornskr or the Force-negating Ysalamir from Timothy Zahn’s popular Thrawn books of the late 90s, or that we’d see stats and story for the Mandalorian Basilisk war droids from the Old Republic publications. While the Disney logo is clearly on the back of the book, this text has no problem dipping into favorite no-longer-canon Expanded Universe sources to give fans of the Star Wars universe all sorts of little extras. There’s even a lovely history in the back of the rise & fall of the Jedi, different perceptions of Force users throughout the galaxy across the ages, etc. And for newer fans who are excited by shows like The Clone Wars and Rebels, there are also stats for playing a Togruta (fan favorite Ahsoka Tano’s race) and for fighting against the Inquisitors.

sw03While the hardcover book is quite hefty (450 or so pages) and carries a similarly hefty price tag ($60), it is definitely worth picking up. A lot of care was put into these pages, and you get way more than anyone would expect to get with a core book. It really feels like a love note to Star Wars fans, and I desperately hope that it is a precursor to the kind of fan-conscious, story-centered content we all hope to see in this winter’s Force Awakens film.

Born at a very early age, Joe has thus far proven to be unkillable. A writing teacher, longtime role-player, and fire performer, Joe is one of the few DMs on the planet who can accurately describe, from first-hand experience, how awesome it is to have a flaming sword in your hands. A member of the Doctor Who Club of Western Massachusetts, his interests range from Star Wars (including the EU) to Marvel's X-Titles to classic Anime (Robotech, Escaflowne, Lodoss War, etc) to old and new Who. He regularly runs 5th edition D&D Encounters at his local gaming store, a weekly Fantasy Flight Star Wars game, and a far-too-infrequent home game of 4th ed D&D (annoying things like "schedules" and "adult responsibilities" keep it from being more frequent). Joe is a frequent contributor to a variety of roleplaying podcasts, a blogger on game-related web sites, and a frequent speaker on panels and game organizer at conventions in the western Massachusetts area.

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