Talents, sounds cool – I mean, one would expect something like talents in a RPG to make you more than special – actually it could be the thing that defines your character most of all. In some games – like different FATE variants, aspects define you and also give you significant power (compared to skills) when you use them. In a Swedish RPG – Svavelvinter – the abilities/skills really define you and in FATE stunts really give you an edge – or at least you can’t fail to get the effect of a stunt.
In SW:E talents are something in between all this, in my opinion often weaker, more resembling specializations to skills. In the beginning of the chapter the player actually gets informed that talents often are narrow and as such skills might be better if you want to be good at doing stuff – related to the skill in hand.
Talents are bought in talent trees, of which you can have a total of three. If you get a fourth talent tree you loose all talents from another one. Some talents are permanent – approximately 50% of the talents in each tree – and follow even if you change tree.
When you’re buying a talent you have to have all the previous talents in the path to the selected talent (and I suspect that the cost more as you move down the tiers – numbers in the margin?).
It’s really hard to assess if the talent are really good or not as I’m not already really familiar with weapon damages, soak values etc., but I can say this: if you select a talent with at blue or black die (boost and setback dice), in one third of cases it won’t matter as both types have two blank faces. This is actually something I dislike – if you pay for a talent – the least you can get is a bonus that is a bonus, not just a bonus in two thirds of cases. I minor thing, since some trees don’t have very many talents with dice associated to them.
So, to summarize talent – I get the same feeling as I got in WH3, not very useful if not a very special circumstance and probably (in some cases) not worth spending xp on. It, will be interesting to read about the Force as there are some Force talents (but also Force powers it seems).
Whats done better with talents, compared to WH3, is that ther aren’t any cards and you don’t seem to have to activate and tap them – but I might be wrong – and maybe the Combat chapter will resolve this.