Posts tagged Edge of the Empire
Nope, the title is not a typo. I’m talking about the problem of linear wizards versus quadratic warriors. Sure, the other way around gets a lot of publicity, especially with Dungeons & Dragons 3.x and Pathfinder. And indeed, it is a problem when high levels warriors stab an enemy and only dealing a quarter damage while wizards conjure a firey malestrom that outright kills all the enemies.
But that pales in comparison to the travesty of linear wizards and quadratic warriors! I mean, what good is it to spend years with your nose in a book studying cantrips if your warrior counterparts are slaying gods? These problems do crop up occasionally in roleplaying games, but they are much more prevalent in other forms of media.
Conan the Barbarian for instance has warrior classes being severely overpowered compared to magic users. They have to spend days of preparation and ritual in order to pull of magic (although it can be impressive at times). But in combat, they’re just normal people in a robe that Conan can kill without them so much as get off a magic missile! Apparently in some of the later books, magic is said to be declining due to Conan setting up a kingdom based on logic and reason (or something). So Conan’s power grows while wizards’ power actually shrinks!
Lord of the Rings codifies the problem pretty well. Let’s face it; Gandalf did diddly squat with his magic throughout the series. He starts off by telekinetically shoving Saruman off his feet and using a Light cantrip in Moria. As he levels up in the series, he gains the ability to shine a magic flashlight against the Ringwraith to scare them off. You could blame this on the XP tax of getting resurrected, and in all fairness, he did manage to pull off exorcising Saruman from Theoden who seems considerably more powerful, but even still, Gandalf’s feats of magic are pretty weak.
Compare this to the warriors in the series. Gimli and Legolas start off killing just a few orcs in Moria, then advance to swathing through dozens and dozens of orcs on the battlefield, not to mention taking down an entire oliphaunt. Aragorn levels up to the point where he can take advantage of the Followers provided by AD&D 2nd Edition rules and gains an entire army of soldiers as well as an undead army, not to mention gains a fair amount of prowess in battle on his own. Even Merry managed to level up enough to be able to kill the Witch-King himself (which is even more ironic considering that a scene from the Extended Edition shows that the Witch-King handed it to Gandalf earlier in the film).
In fact, the only way that Gandalf is able to do anything remotely effective is to switch to his sword and become more like a warrior. He fights in battle this way and even kills the Balrog not by using his magic, but by stabbing it repeatedly. Clearly, Lord of the Rings has a problem with Gandalf advancing linearly (or flatlining) and everybody else quadratically outpacing him.
I’m really surprised that this glaring issue hasn’t received more attention. The various Lord of the Rings RPGs figured that nobody would want to play a wizard so they just make everyone the overpowered warriors. Star Wars: Edge of the Empire makes bounty hunters and smugglers pretty effective so I have to as: will they overshadow Jedi? Superheroes games like Mutants & Masterminds or even the Platinum Warlock’s own Cold Steel Wardens falls into this trap with Batman-type martial superheroes being on par with, if not superior to the X-Men?
We as gamers need to fight back! If you’re against linear warriors and quadratic wizards, then be concerned that the pendulum doesn’t swing to far and we wind up with linear wizards and quadratic warriors!
And yes, this is all a parody.
Saturday I arrived in the Dealer Hall when it opened and got a quick look at the place. Boy is it massive! I only got to visit a few booths before I had to go off to run Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. Just like last year, I volunteered for Cubicle 7’s Demo Team which gave me a great opportunity to run one of my favorite systems and get some store credit while I was at it.
The scenario they gave me was called “Ghost Engines” and was actually a pretty decent scenario involving body-swapping aliens, gargoyle-like people, and a trans-dimensional train. It was a pretty enjoyable scenario that kept everyone engaged. I have to say that the writing quality for premade adventures for the line have improved markedly over the years. Maybe one of these days I’ll throw my hat into the ring too and write up a scenario to submit to Cubicle 7.
It’s become a tradition at the larger cons for Pinnacle to run a Savage Saturday Night event where dozens of Savage Worlds games are run. The turnout for GenCon was unprecedented and I would estimate that at least 50 games were run, all with full tables! I handed out as many cards for Wild Card Creator as I could, then got roped into a Gilligan’s Island game. As hard as it is to believe, I’ve never seen the show, but I was told that all I really needed to do was hear the theme song and I’d be good.
We played a somewhat modified crew of the original five on the ship. I wound up being the millionaire’s cousin; an Olympic athlete. It’s not every day that your Savage Worlds character gets to wield a javelin and a discus! Not long after we crashed, we fought a boar. Feeling overconfident, I decided to throw my Olympic javelin at it with a called shot to the eye (–6)…and made it! The boar was instantly killed by the assault and we had a tasty meal.
Unfortunately, Gill went missing and we had to go look for him. Turns out that he found himself in some Mayan ruins and put on a headdress that turned him into an ancient Mayan sorcerer king that could summon mummies! After half an hour of whiffs from both sides, we finally managed to get the stupid headdress off of him, patch up the ship, and complete our three hour tour.
Sunday was devoted entirely to roaming the Dealer Hall and it took a good six hours to do so, including stopping to play a few demos. I wound up picking up the new Doctor Who Card Game, The One Ring: Tales of Wilderland, five Paranoia supplements for a buck each, the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game, and $3 used book describing all of the original worlds of Torg (one of the most inspiring settings of all time in my opinion). Not a bad haul.
I also got a chance to watch a demo of Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, the first of three role-playing games for Star Wars. Fantasy Flight Games has elected to follow their Warhammer 40k RPG model and release multiple rulebooks each focusing on a different aspect of the universe. Edge of the Empire focuses on bounty hunters, smugglers, and scoundrels while the upcoming Rebellion vs. Empire and Force and Destiny books will focus on soldiers and Jedi respectively. The rules are cross-compatible so you can mix characters from any of the books. They also use specialty “narrative dice” like Warhammer Fantasy 3rd edtion. Although the beta rules were available for purchase, I ultimately decided to save my $30 for when the real thing comes out.
I was surprised to see just how many companies were running Kickstarters; I saw no less than 15. While I imagine there are a greater number of RPG-related Kickstarters around the time of GenCon than at other times of the year, it was surprising just how important that crowdfunding platform is in the roleplaying game industry (or if you’re cynical, how glutted it is).
And at the end of the day, I got to visit the booth for Mythic Era of War Games, the company founded by one of Wittenberg’s own alumni (no website yet, so I can’t link to their stuff). Perhaps next year Journeyman Games will have its own booth as well.
All in all, it was a great trip and I’m glad that I got to go. If you ever get a chance to visit, even if it’s just for a day, take the opportunity!