So, I've digging deep into the Second Edition backer preview, as well as the earlier preview materials that have come out, and I’m increasingly impressed with the work that’s gone into it and the strength of the results.The rules changes and simplifications are the most obvious tweaks — multiple overlapping skills have been consolidated, hacking rules have a “streamlined” mode that works for 90% of the situations, while leaving complicated bits for the dedicated infosec scenarios; etc.
Character generation (and updating charsheets when resleeving) is radically simplified, and players I’ve taken through it actually enjoyed it — a huge deal for anyone who’s introduced a newbie to EP1’s flexible but insanely math-and-blind-choice-heavy chargen process. In particular, the “blind choice” quality is gone from chargen, replaced by a more Transhuman style Package-driven approach lets people pick backgrounds, interests, and careers, then tweak the results rather than flailing to divvy up 1000 points before knowing what’s useful.
The new pool points (a replacement for hard morph stat bonuses) make it feel a little more Fate-like, but no moreso than that variant rules for using Moxie found in Transhuman. In gameplay, it flows really well, fixing the untenably unbalanced Speed mechanic from EP1.
All of those mechanical details, though, pale in comparison to the subtle production work that’s going into EP2 — stuff that is easy to overlook but has an incredible impact on how easy it is to kick off a game and get new players into the “fun stuff” fast. All the pregens that come with EP2 are grouped into complimentary four-character teams of criminals, gatecrashers, Firewall proxies, and so on. Each charsheet also notes on their disposition towards the other members of the team. I was iffy on that when I first saw it, but the impact for new players was really impressive. It gave then enough to have fun with during their first session, at a key time when they were trying to find their footing in a complex world.
Second detail: It’s easy to miss when reading through the book, but *literally* every topic is laid out to fit nicely on a 2-page spread, or a single sheet front/back. Basic hacking actions you can take? 2 page spread, with notes and tables. Kinetic weapons? Same. Psi rules? Yep. The end result is that it is SUPER easy for a GM to print off a handful of double-sided sheets and keep them around as reference for FAQs at the game table, or hand to a player whose character has a fairly unique skill others don’t need to worry about. Previously I’d whipped up those handouts myself, and I was perfectly ready to do it again in EP2… but as I flipped through the book, I realized it was *already done*. Things just magically fell on even page boundaries. As someone who’s done long document publishing and layout, I can say that @adamjury’s work is a staggering love letter to every player and GM who will pick up EP2. It warms my heart.
There’s lots of other bits to love — more evocative Psi fluff and effects that make it less “space magic” and more “lovecraft parasite”; a pack of two-page quick adventures that are great for intros and one-shots; etc etc etc.
But after the wait, I’m relieved — and excited.