I finally got my hands on a copy of this book on Friday, and spent the weekend devouring it cover to cover, and I have to say that I am very, very impressed with the quality of material that Fantasy Flight Games has put forth in their first supplement. If I can look forward to the rest of their releases being just as good, they’ve made the decision to spend my money on them instead of another company a very easy one.
Enter the Unknown is billed as a sourcebook for the Explorer Career, and it does a phenomenal job of focusing in on this Career and the various Specializations that fall under it. The book itself is divided into three sections. The first section contains details on creating an Explorer character and includes write ups on various backgrounds that characters may have come from and ways they may have gotten into the lifestyle. This is followed up with Explorer focused Obligations, including several that aren’t included in the Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook: Fervor and Sponsorship. It also includes a new type of motivation that was written with the Explorer firmly in mind – Discovery. Whether it’s finding the ruins of a lost civilization that he’s been seeking his entire life, finding ancient tech that can be adapted to modern uses, or simply finding out what he is capable of, this helps provide the Explorer character a direction during play.
The chapter also includes three new species that fit the vein of the Explorer Career as well as three new specializations for it. The species are the Chiss, the Duros, and the Toydarians. The Specializations are the Archaeologist, the Big Game Hunter, and the Driver. Both the Duros and the Driver are exactly as we see in the Age of Rebellion Beta, so if you’ve read that material, there will be no surprises for you here, but the other two species and Specializations are brand new. The Archaeologist is you typical Indiana Jones type of character – someone who can one day be an academic sitting behind a desk and the very next be exploring a recently unearthed tomb of a long dead warlord on the Outer Rim. The Big Game Hunter is a very straightforward talent tree, and it includes everything the name conjures up. He’s tough, he’s good with a gun, and he can find, stand up to, and take on the toughest creatures in the galaxy – whether they be man or beast – without flinching. The Driver is the consummate wheel man. He is to speeders and swoops what the Pilot is to snub fighters and tramp freighters, and is capable of pushing vehicles beyond their factory limits as well as making them operable again when he pushes them just a little bit too hard.
The final thing included in the first chapter are our first glimpse at Signature Abilities. They take a lot of play and dedication to get to, and they are expensive to purchase and upgrade, but they are good. A player chooses which signature ability that he wants to attach to the bottom of one of his in-career talent trees. Each Signature Ability includes a basic form, and then has eight upgrades below it that can be purchased, making them an interesting cross between talents and Force powers. The two Signature Abilities included in this release are Sudden Discovery and Unmatched Mobility. These abilities are activated through the expenditure of Destiny Points, and each provide their own unique and powerful effect on the game. I won’t go into any more detail on them, but lets just say that I am very, very pleased with our first look at these and can’t wait to see more of them down the line.
The second chapter of the book is nominally targeted towards Explorer characters, but most characters will find something of use in it, whether it is a new weapon or piece of gear. Simply put – there are a lot of fun new toys in this section of the book. There are several new blaster weapons, slug throwers, and melee weapons (including the vibrospear!) as well as a few new pieces of armor, and a lot of gear including portable perimeter fences, distress beacons, beast calls, and any number of other things designed to help someone survive in the unknown. It also includes several new droids designed for hunting and exploration as well as a dozen new profiles for vehicles and starships from fighters all the way up to capital ships. We are even treated to seeing the fan-beloved Ghtroc 720 make its reappearance into the game after it was cut from the Core Rulebook.
The final section of the book contains about 25 pages of advice for the GM on running adventures and campaigns for groups that contain one or more characters of the Explorer career, including how to get them into the action, how to keep them in the action, how to develop rivals and antagonists, adventure seeds and a small handful of groups that could be used as sponsors for the party. This section also includes some general advice on creating memorable NPCs that won’t overshadow the player characters as the stars of the game, tips and tricks on including horror and foreshadowing effectively in your game, and tips on designing an adventure.
All told, this book was well worth the price. It really sold me on the Explorer Career in a way that the Core Rulebook had been unable to – so much that I think the next character I roll up will use one of the new specializations. If you have any interest about any of the material that was announced with this book, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Fantasy Flight Games really outdid themselves in defining just what a sourcebook is and should be with this release, and it gives me a lot of hope that we’ll see a long and most importantly healthy line of products for not only Edge of the Empire, but also for Age of Rebellion and Force and Destiny when we get those full releases.
Until next time. I’ll see you out among the stars.