Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Doing Star Wars Right

Like Kiel, I’m often bit by the run-a-Star-Wars rpg after watching one of the new movies. (Never felt this way when watching the original trilogy, mostly because I was so taken by what the pros had done with the setting. Not so much anymore.) While I’ve never done as much work on creating a Star Wars game as Kiel has, here are my thoughts on what one would look like:

  1. Heavily Character Based. Everything is about the characters and revolves around them. But not only the characters individually but as groupings. Luke’s faith in his friends wasn’t his weakness, but his strength. These movies, each and every one, have been about relationships. I’d put that front-and-center in a Star Wars game by:
    1. Creating a quasi-class system where each class has a nice little expertise niche carved out for itself, but where the abilities of the different classes have powerful synergies. A pilot and a mechanic working together can make a ship do things neither alone could. A diplomat plus a warrior can play good-cop-bad-cop in negotiations and interrogations. Getting attacked by a Jedi and a sniper is far worse than being attacked by either alone.
    2. Give relationships actual mechanics. Being siblings creates synergies (Luke calling for Lea while hanging from the bottom of the cloud city), being romantically involved creates synergies (maybe by being able to boost each other’s skills a la Han and Lea in front of the bunker on Endor), and being able to call on the aid of NPCs the PCs actually invest time and effort into.
    3. A pile of dice in the middle of the table the group can decide together to spend on any one roll they agree is important enough to warrant it. Yeah, it’s a dissociative mechanic, and generally I don’t like those, but this very much fits the feel of a Star Wars band coming together and supporting one another. Maybe instead it’s dice that each PC has, but that get boosted if given to another player?
    4. Base most of character advancement on this. Sure, Luke becomes a more powerful Jedi over the course of the first three movies, but he’s an aberration. Han’s already a hot-shot pilot; his growth arc has nothing to do with his skills and everything to do with his relationships and moral fiber.
  2. Remember that, while swashbuckling combat is a part of Star Wars, it’s not what Star Wars is about. To that end, I’d avoid fights for the sake of fights and instead of a usual combat system adjudicate every fight with a variation of Daisy Chains of Death & Destruction. The fighting in Star Wars is almost never about killing someone, and almost always an obstacle that must be overcome to achieve a goal.
  3. And I’d keep in mind that the Jedi are mystics first and warriors second, and make the higher plane they operate on mechanically significant to the game. Morality in Star Wars isn’t quite black-and-white, but it’s pretty central to the original stories, and making that work in the rules is important to getting the right feel.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a solid framework. Though I am not sure how or even if I could GM Star Wars these days.

The jedi are mystic first . . . made me remember how much I disliked the prequel/ Clone Wars re-envisioning Yoda from mystical teacher to killer muppet badass.

trollsmyth said...

Thanks! Yeah, I found Mr. Miyagi Yoda far more impressive than spinning-Cuisinart-of-lightsaber-death Yoda. ;p

JB said...

Wow...in all my years of reading your blog, I don't remember reading any of your Star Wars posts. These are fantastic.

The last couple days, I've been scratching out some notes for a little something-something SW-related, and...well, these ideas are definitely going into the stew. Thanks for that.
; )