So, I’ve read through a fair bit of the Edge of the Empire book and the first thing I have to say is that this book needs a LOT of editing. My reading was focused on the Obligation system and it feels like large portions of text were copy-pasted.

This book has been an absolute chore to read.

And now I know what the mechanical implications of Obligations are!

See, a group will tend to start with an Obligation threshold of 40-50, assuming they don’t take on more Obligation at first level to get bonus XP. But why wouldn’t they? Actually, it’s possible for a group of 4-5 players to have an Obligation threshold of 90-100 from the get-go.

What are the drawbacks? Well, for most of the group, when the GM makes an Obligation check (rolling against the aforementioned threshold), rolling d00 under that number means everyone has a marginally reduced strain threshold.

Strain threshold? Think SAN, but more like regular hit points.

Actually, strain threshold is a combination of environmental effects hp, combined with mental hps and vitality/fatigue. You can spend them and convert small quantities of damage to strain, but if you pass the threshold you pass out.

Strain threshold admittedly makes plenty enough sense when you consider the sheer number of Call of Cthulhu products Fantasy Flight Games publishes.

But okay, when Obligation is triggered, it temporarily lowers your SAN.

So, how much SAN do you have? On average, about twelve. How much does Obligation typically reduce your SAN? One to two points.

A negligible amount.

But wait! What if you exceed 100 Obligation as a group? Well, that one’s a toughie. It means you can’t spend XP to advance your skills, buy new featstraits, and you can’t advance you character’s um, class … career.

Does that matter?

Well, it creates an interesting dynamic because in character creation you can accept additional Obligation (as mentioned above) to receive bonus XP for building your character. After that, you can really only take on additional Obligation as an alternative to spending money. (Take on Debt.)

So like, you can get bonus XPs but if you go over a certain amount you can’t spend any. I said it was interesting, yeah? Just work it out with your group.

You’re also technically limited to how much extra Obligation you can take on at the beginning — twice what it would normally be. So, not a lot on an individual level. It’s when you add everyone’s Obligations together to determine the “threshold” that it feels like a lot.

Now, the two primary Obligations I see really working in-play are “Debt” and “Favor.” And, those seem to cover things pretty similar ideas. Either you need something really badly, so you borrow money (Debt) or get someone to do it for you (Favor). Then you’re um, indebted to them. Either way.

Some of the other Obligations don’t make quite as much sense emerging through play — I mean, not typically. Addictions might spontaneously arise in PCs due to a variety of reasons. And I mean, I guess Family can become important after the start of the game. They just don’t seem quite as obvious.

Now, there is a penalty system built into the game if the players don’t address their Obligation when it comes up — see, when you determine the party’s Obligation threshold you’re also supposed to keep track of whose Obligation is triggered when the check indicates SAN decrease.

Generally speaking, when your Obligation comes up your character gets the spotlight because bounty hunters are on your trail, or you really need a freaking drink, but if you don’t actually do something to ameliorate the situation, three “strikes” causes your Obligation to increase by 5 points.

So, avoiding the problem causes it to get worse, I suppose.

But the book doesn’t provide much in the way of guidelines for GMs to “settle” Obligation. Like, at all. This is something that might have an entire chapter or sub-heading, and FFG suggests that you don’t need to see a direct correlation.

I should point out this is a four-hundred-fifty page book.

I’m not… a hundred percent behind this game. And that’s politely overlooking the dice. I get that the dice have received critical acclaim. Still.

On the whole, I’d estimate that 30-50% of this book is unnecessary. The sheer volume of copy-pasted rules text, repeated examples, and just… extra stuff makes this book look a lot more impressive than it really is. I don’t think I’d actually want to play the game, there’s just too much of it.

I felt the same about Laundry Files, but it’s 60% the size.

And I just can’t care about the pretty pictures in EotE.