Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Star Wars RPG Campaign: Episode 1 - Why Star Wars

I recently completed the first chapter of a Star Wars RPG campaign and I wanted to write a bit about what motivated this campaign, the approach I’m taking, changes I’ve made to the cannon and where I hope to go with it.

So, why Star Wars?  That's a good question.  I've always loved Star Wars, since I saw the initial movie release back in 1977, but I've never been a Star Wars fanatic.  I enjoyed the sequels and tolerated the prequels, but I was never into the books or the cartoons, or the rpgs.  Star Wars was a visual medium and playing the game in my imagination on a tabletop just didn't appeal to me.  I was happy to relive my childhood with the occasional viewing of the original trilogy, watching the light saber duels that are all that's interesting about the prequels, or the watching the SW Rebels cartoon.  So doing a SW rpg wasn't high on my list.

I have since come to realize that I was thinking about it all wrong.  If you really think about it, Star Wars isn't science fiction; it's a fantasy series with science fiction elements.  It has magic (the Force), it has wizards (the Emperor), it has knights (Jedi), it has rogues (bounty hunters & smugglers) and it has dragons (okay, not really, but the Death Star kind of "breathes fire" with a little stretch of the imagination...?).  So it has a lot of the usual fantasy tropes, but it's disguised as a science fiction story because of the space ships and laser guns.  Once I realized this, I started coming up with all kinds of ideas for how a SW campaign might work.  After all, I've run fantasy RPGs for 25+ years now.  Fantasy I know.  

But I get ahead of myself.

First of all let me say that I’ve never run or played in a Star Wars RPG before besides a one-shot game long ago of the West End Games D6 version of the game and then a one-shot last year of the Edge of the Empire beginner set.   I wasn’t really impressed with either, quite frankly.  My gaming career has mostly been centered around D&D, with the occasional foray into other games like Call of Cthulhu, Warhammer 40k RPG, Numenera, and so on. I have purchased many other games and have always had an interest in trying new things out, but my only real success has been in running D&D games – that’s what I get players to show up for and come back to.   Since my group could only get together very infrequently, I pretty much stuck with the game I knew everyone would play – D&D. 

However, over the last few years, our gaming has dwindled down to almost nothing and I found myself wondering if my group had lost interest or life was just not going to accommodate us.  That changed recently when I decided to try out online gaming over Roll20.  I had a mild interest in this when I first learned about it a couple of years ago, but never seriously entertained playing online, preferring face-to-face gaming.  But since that wasn’t happening much anymore, I decided to give it a go and convinced three of my players to try it out.  It worked out better than I had imagined and has since allowed me to run a weekly game, which I hadn’t been able to do for years.   Of course, we played D&D, but I started to wonder if I could sneak in some other games to scratch that itch, since I had a regular thing going now.  I mentioned this to my players and they seemed to be open to the idea and, in fact, one of my players has been wanting to play SW for a while now and mentions it from time to time.  Plus, with the new movie rekindling childhood memories, I figured this is a good time to see if I could make a SW game work.

So, I decided to give the Star Wars RPG a shot!  My next big decision was to choose which system I’d use for my Star Wars game.  I’ll talk about that in my next segment.