Tuesday, February 12, 2013

d6 Star Wars - A 1st Edition Flashback

Yes, this is the sourcebook, I've used the RPG cover a lot

I made some posts about d6 Star Wars back in 2011 as I was trying to get a game going with the Apprentices and was appalled at the amount of mechanical nonsense getting in the way of my game. Where was the fast and furious dice-tossing I remember? Bunches of weird skills, tons more charts than I remembered, a load of very specialized skills and special-case rules - it just was not the same as what I recalled. I posted stuff (you can find them under Star Wars and under Rules Mongery over there on the right) that I liked but I think I overdid it a little as I struggled to turn Second Edition Revised and Expanded into the game I wanted. It is a very pretty book but don't fall for the trap! It's a ton of work to undo all of that stuff! Instead I found a simpler path and went retro.

I recently re-acquired a copy of the first edition rules and this is the game I remember. We didn't play it a lot but it left a very distinct impression and the only game that's really come close to that particular feeling is Savage Worlds. Re-reading this version reminded me why.

I see the DM is going for the win this time
A shorter, saner skill list. Fewer charts and tables. Still-clean rules for most of the situations that will come up in a typical RPG - no, we don't need 14 (literally!) different mechanical repair skills, from armor to droids to walkers to star cruisers! Somehow this version survives with only 4! I think this is a fair example of the bloat I'm seeing as the game expanded and the designers tried to make it into a system that could accommodate every possible kind of campaign. Somewhere the focus on making it run like the movies was lost. Maybe the EU had something to do with it, trying to shoehorn in everything a wide group of authors could think of was bound to stress the mechanics at some point. It doesn't need to be everything to everybody - put the core in the box/book and let the DM's tweak it to fit their game!

FIne, we all burn a force point!
I also think that some desire to run long-term ongoing campaigns led to the over-diversifying of the skill system to ensure there were niches where everyone could shine. I get this to a point but again, 14 mechanical repair skills - that means I'm not counting medic type skills here - tell me that this went way too far. Do you really need to be the guy that has Walker Repair but not Hover Repair and not Repulsorlift Repair, or Droid Repair? The same kind of thing happened with a lot of the piloting skills and the combat skills as well. How big is your party anyway? No wonder the militaries all used clones or robots - I've got a droid specialist, then a space fighter specialist, then a space transport specialist, then a starship specialist - it's crazy!

The D20 version went the other direction - it started off somewhat clunky and honed things down to far-more-star-warsian-than-many-believe-a-d20-game-can-be in it's final Saga edition. D6 started off awesome and then lost its way.

If only I had taken repulsorlift repair!
So if I was starting up a speedy Star Wars game today and wanted to go d6 what would I do? It's pretty simple, I would go with 1E. I'm sure there are some balance issues in there, and I really like the wild die which was added in a "rules update" that came out after this book, so I'm not saying it's perfect, but I think it's a much cleaner start than 2ER&E. I'd rather go back to the beginning and solve the problems as they come up than start with a bunch of solutions to problems I don't know I would ever see.


Barking Alien said...

I loved D6 Star Wars and still do. Honestly it is easily one of my top 10 favorite games.

The key to it in my opinion is that 1st Edition is too simple, 2nd Revised and Expanded is too complex (or more specifically, they overcomplicated the game and gave us a rulebook that was less well organized).

Plain old Second Edition is just right.

Schottenjaeger said...

1e Star Wars d6 was my second RPG (after Holmes Basic); I still love it and run it.
For me, the best part of 1e compared to the other editions is the flavor and humor of the books. Flip to the section on using the Survival skill - or indeed most of the others - and there's a pithy conversation between the players and GM that feels like something you'd get in actual play. It encourages a fast-and-loose, cinematic, and light-hearted playstyle (like the original trilogy..).
The later editions seem to be trying too hard to be DRAMATIC, and lose a lot of the drama and pulpy flavor of the originals.
Throw in the ads, the asides, and the punchier character descriptions, and you have one Hell of a game.