If we were to look at what makes Sixth World so different from Fifth Edition, one of the core differences would be the new Edge system. Gone are a myriad of dicepool modifiers. Instead, we have circumstances providing attackers and defenders Edge. Edge points are now much smaller in benefit, but can be gained far more easily, encouraging GMs to give them out a lot. It’s an intriguing new system, and I love it. But there are some flaws and frequent criticism, which makes sense because no system is ever perfect. Let’s first explain a few details, then touch on some of the criticism. (We are not touching ‘the entire system sucks, go back to SR5’, though.)
There’s quite a few options with Edge. Some of them you can spend multiples of to do it repeatedly in 1 go. You can reroll 1 die (pick: own or opponent) for 1 Edge, so can for example force an enemy to reroll 3 dice for 3 Edge (no mixing allowed, by the way: either all rerolls are by the opponent, or by you). You can spend 4 Edge to not split the dicepool on your Ranged Multiple Attack, attacking each individual with a full pool instead. Or spend 4 Edge to raise two of your 4s to 5s so you have enough hits. The limit is that you only get to spend Edge once per action. I can reroll, but I can’t reroll AND raise a die.
The second restriction is that you can only gain 2 Edge per turn. So even if you had extra edge sources, they are futile. And another is that you cannot ever have more than 7 Edge in your pool.
Now, with the setting set, time for the criticism.
- The max of 2 is penalising for efficient individuals, and means that once you reached your limit, enemies no longer have to worry about granting you Edge
Quite simply: If I fire at a grunt, and my Attack Rating is so high I get Edge, plus it’s dark because the Decker killed the lights, while I have thermographic vision and the enemy didn’t, I gain 2 edge. Then, a grunt group attacks me. Their Attack Rating sucks. It’s still dark. Doesn’t matter, I already gained my max 2 Edge this turn. So neither do I get rewarded, nor do they get penalised, because I am too good.
Of course there’s a few small details involved we’re glossing over. With more competent enemies, scoring Edge will be much tougher. And if you only get attacked by 1 grunt group, the impact will be small. (If each enemy attacks by themself, however…) But those details don’t change much of the problem: If you’re too good at getting Edge, you’re basically wasting it. Not that gaining too much Edge wouldn’t be broken, but why bother being good at it if you can’t benefit?
- The max of 7 punishes people with 6~7 Edge
I first get Edge, then I spend it. So if I’m already at the cap, I can’t gain more and have to spend first. Which means being able to carry 6+ points over instead of 5, hardly is worth it. Given how that high value comes at a significant cost in Racial Attribute Points, having it mean so little is a rub.
- AR vs DR isn’t finegrained enough
One of the biggest incomes for Edge, Attack Rating vs Defense Rating gives 1 Edge if the difference is 4+. That’s it. 2 AR vs 20 DR? 1 Edge for the Defender. 20 AR vs 4 DR? 1 Edge for the Attacker. Defender has 20 DR, but the attacker uses a Scope on that 2 AR? No Edge for the defender. On one hand, this means you don’t have to stack up crazy amounts of armor. On the other hand, it also makes it too much of an all-or-nothing. If you know it doesn’t matter, you might as well go full-out.
- Some qualities are broken compared to others
There’s several ways to get Edge through qualities and gear. Some give no matter what, some give Edge that you must spend on the action or lose it. Their conditions are of various nature, for example whenever you’re resisting Intimidation/Frightened-causing effects. And some of them are far too powerful compared to others.
- Grunt edge ain’t perfect
Grunt groups are restricted to a single Edge expense per turn for all grunts together. They also likely (not 100% certain) can only gain 2 Edge per turn. 3 grunts attacking you? One Edge expense max, 2 Edge gained max. 20 grunts divided in 4 groups of 5? Same. The bigger the group, the less efficient they are, resulting in the same problem for the Grunts as for the Players: When the max Edge gain is already reached, what good are those tactical benefits?
For those five points, we’ll later discuss possible houserules. There’s two more, for which I have more direct answers:
- There are too many options to choose from
There are 12 ways to spend Edge, plus 12 Edge actions. That’s 24 options, 26 if you include ‘reroll own’ vs ‘reroll opponent’s’ and ‘no edge use’. The criticism is that this results in choice paralysis and people may spend too much time weighing their options. This in contrast to SR5, where it was basically ‘pick 1 of 2 Initiative options or neither, reroll or explode or neither’. However, let’s compare with Run&Gun. 12 kinds of generic called shots. Plus 16 different locations you can aim for, each with multiple possible side-effects. 24 different ammo-dependent called-shots, of which some ammo types have 4. Roughly 30 options. Yet not many people complained ‘there’s too many options’ and froze for 5 minutes on their turn due to weighing all the options. Why? Because they had a preference.
The same applies in SR6. There’s basically 4 options that frequently showed up at campaigns and Open Events I was a part of: Force die rerolls, raise dice-values, pass edge to someone else, reroll all failures in a big bang. Passing Edge is what you do when you don’t need it and someone else is going for THAT big roll. The same goes for rerolling all failures. Forcing an enemy reroll vs raising your own dice tends to be ‘risk-seeking vs risk-averse’, aka do you want to risk failure but going big, or are you going for the minimal certainty, even if it’s more expensive? With that in mind, most of the time it’s quite simple: ‘I failed, do I try edge in my risk-seeking/averse standard, or do I just accept the failure?’ 26 options reduced to 2 in a heartbeat.
- Outside direct attacks, how do others gain Edge in tactical situations?
The rules talk a lot about Attacks, Hacking, or Social scenes. But they don’t touch much on gaining Edge through other means. Granted, a GM is encouraged to reward for roleplaying and such. But while a Combat Mage (or one abusing broken qualities) can easily gain Edge, a support-style Magician is far more restricted in the explicit gains.
Let’s look at it like this: Say I fire a smoke grenade. The next player can get a tactical advantage from it, which gives them a point of Edge. But I created the tactical advantage. In the case where a smoke grenade can matter (if not: sorry, there’s a very clear section about Preventing Edge Abuse in the book at p45-p46), maybe the person firing or throwing it should also be rewarded? If I make fellow runners invisible, maybe I too should get a point of Edge? The same for Illusion spells, etc: If a player, mage or not, does something that clearly creates a tactical advantage for the group, I ask GMs to please reward them for it, so Edge is not just for the combat-monkeys but also for the ones that help them set that up.
In the next posts, we’ll go into the houserules for the other five points.