The Star Wars Edge of the Empire beta rulebook presents a robust set of mechanics to encourage the portrayal of Force Sensitive characters in the fringe setting. These fledgling Force users are not Jedi Masters or Sith Lords. Instead, they are clumsy, untrained, and undisciplined adepts going about their business in the galaxy, trying to make a living and probably frightened of these strange, new powers.
That said, as we look towards the coming years and the release of more Jedi-focused rules for Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars RPG system, there is a coming need to represent the light/dark dichotomoty of the Force and the struggle its users have in resisting the temptations of the Dark Side. This post aims to provide a House Rule for a concise, robust mechanic that gives Force Sensitive Edge of the Empire characters a meaningful choice in how they use their talents and a means for telling a compelling story about power and corruption.
There are two facets of the Force: a light side and a dark side. The light side of the Force is a more difficult path, full of restraint and discipline, but it is also the path of virtue. The dark side, however, is the path of villainy. It offers quick access to power, shortcuts the victory for the impatient. Though the dark side offers an easier path, it is not stronger than the light side. The dark side is also seductive, offering an increasingly harder challenge to overcome its grip as the would-be Jedi slides further down its shadowy path.
When activating certain Force Powers, a Force Sensitive character will be asked to roll a number of Force Dice equal to his or her Force Rating. Characters can use each result of a light side point to activate their Force Powers with no penalties. However, the temptations of the Dark Side always loom.
Force Sensitive characters may, at any time, Embrace the Dark Side. Doing so allows the character to use any number of dark points generated on Force Die rolls to activate their Force Powers. This benefit lasts for an entire scene or encounter. At the end of this time, the Force Sensitive character permanently reduces his or her Strain Threshold by 1. At the Galaxy Master’s option, certain morally-reprehensible actions on the part of a Force Sensitive character garner additional penalties to his or her Strain Threshold.
At the end of each week of in-game time, a character may make a Formidable (ddddd) Discipline check and remove 1 point of permanent Strain Threshold penalty for each Success. At the Galaxy Master’s option, the Force Sensitive character can instead take on a difficult quest of atonement (see Y is for You’re My Only Hope) to reduce his or her Strain Threshold penalty. In either case, the path back to righteousness is never easy.
Lastly, a Force Sensitive character who chooses to Embrace the Dark Side ignores all Force-related Strain Threshold penalties for the duration of the effect. This ability can be used ad nauseam, the character never facing the true cost of his or her power-hungry actions at the expense of even greater debt. If left unchecked, the temptations of the Dark Side (the ability to access additional a faster source of power and to ignore the consequences of past abuses) will prove to be far too alluring. It is a constantly increasing moral burden that must be shouldered. A character reduced to 0 Strain Threshold in this way falls completely to the Dark Side, becoming a N is for Nemesis, and is no longer a playable character.