Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Rogue One and the Star Wars RPG

A long time ago and not all that far away I used to hear a common complaint when it came to the Star Wars RPG:

"Eh, the main story's already been told. I don't want to play second fiddle. There's nothing else to do."

First it was at the local game store, in the college dorms, and at the occasional con.

Later it was online. There was a lot of this attitude online.

It used to annoy me. I used to try and open their minds. "Hey, you know there are a lot of other things going on besides the Skywalker stuff. There are comic books. There are novels. There are a lot of other places to steal plots from. Heck there are other SF RPG's like Traveller from which one could adapt material. By the late 80's West End had multiple published adventures to give examples of the kinds of things a party could do in the Star Wars Universe - and those are just the easy options.

By the mid-90's the West End RPG was in full swing with a ton of sourcebooks and adventures. The comics were going again, and the novel line was rolling hot. We started exploring the Old Republic. The TIE Fighter and X-Wing computer games opened up some new territory for play. We were given the "Shadows of the Empire"  multimedia plotline.

I still heard that there was not anything really interesting to do with a Star Wars game. Often from people who raved about the Dark Forces PC game.

By the end of the 90's we had a new movie and plans for two more! Whoa whoa whoa! If there's nothing left to do with the universe how are they doing a new movie? Oh wait, it's a prequel about how Darth Vader gets to be Vader so it doesn't count!

Early 2000's we complete a new trilogy, get a new RPG with a whole new take on things, more sourcebooks and adventures, oh - and we get a new computer game about the Old Republic.

I'm still hearing it.

We get a new TV series about the clone wars - nah, it's too much jedi/too high powered/ a kids show - pretty much any excuse you can think of to ignore the single best new era for an RPG camapign since the original movies.

We get another new movie "but it's a sequel so it doesn't count".


Now we have a new series set prior to the rebellion with almost no connection to the original trilogy  AND we have a movie coming out that is neither a prequel nor a sequel nor a remake of any prior material. Coincidentally both of these are scenarios that have been played out by anywhere from a dozen to a thousand RPG groups over the last 3 decades. We also have yet another new RPG out with a whole new set of adventures and sourcebooks. Not to mention another wave of novels, comics, and computer games.

And I still hear it!

It amazes me that in the face of almost 30 years of additional Star Wars stories from comic books to computer games to TV shows to additional movies I still see people who a) don't have any idea what to do with a Star Wars campaign when given the chance to run or play in one or b) even worse, object to the idea of a Star Wars game at all because they don't think there's anything else to do outside of the movies. I don't think you have to be a huge Star Wars nerd to have picked up on some of this stuff.

For me, Rogue One is the final nail in that coffin. You don't get to say that anymore as an educated position on the subject. It's been disproven in every form of narrative media we have today.

So I'm not going to try and convince anyone who says this that there is another way anymore. I'm just going to let it go and talk to someone who isn't still living in 1983.


WQRobb said...

Sure, you don't get to defeat Darth Vader or Boba Fett, but as you have said plenty of people have found plenty of gold in the hills of the Star Wars universe, so to speak. I can't figure out if complaints just come from people who need to complain, or are too lazy to come up with their own corner of the SW universe to explore, or what.

Adam Dickstein said...

Once again you've said something I've been meaning to say, or trying to say for years, and better than I ever could.

Be gone cowards with no imagination! Your excuses do not cut it. Just speak plainly - You can't figure out how to game in the Star Wars universe because you feel the characters and stories you'll create are inferior, and don't compare to those in the films.

To you I say - THE PREQUELS! Surely even you all can do better than that.

Blacksteel said...

Thank you gentlemen. I keep thinking it's died out but anytime I think about running a star wars game and start poking around online I come across this attitude and it just baffles me.

Adam Dickstein said...

Kidding aside, such things have always baffled me.

I've even encountered it when suggesting Star Trek, even though the shows themselves clearly indicate there are other ships, having other adventures.

I've addressed this on my blog on more than one occasion; the idea that some universes do indeed feel tight and hard to move around in. Star Wars and Star Trek are not among them.

I'm hard pressed to get excited about running Lord of the Rings, or Babylon 5 because it is implied in those IPs that, well, what you're seeing - that is IT! That is what is going on. The end all, be all as it were.

However, I firmly believe a good writer, or GM, could certainly find room in those settings to run great games.

In Star Trek, Star Wars, and many others it just seems to be a no-brainer.

Blacksteel said...

I've never tolerated it in Trek - right from the start they were running into other ships and old derelicts and random aliens. Plus there was no overarching plot that changed the universe. It's a perfect setup for a really nice RPG campaign.

Weirdly, I too have a hard time thinking about a Babylon 5 RPG campaign. At one point I owned all of the d20 books for it and was trying to come up with a campaign idea. I had one about junior officers trying to keep a ship together after losing their commanders but it's a fairly small story alongside the big series arc and I realized I might rather do it in Trek anyway. I think there's not enough "space" and not enough future history to really find enough room to comfortably run a long campaign there for me.

LOTR I have been pondering as there's a new 5th Edition adaptation out for it. I'm still stuck as far as what I would set up for a campaign. What's your goal? Carve out a kingdom? get filthy rich? That works for a D&D/Newhon/Conan campaign but it seems a little raw for a Middle Earth game. Reopen Moria? Could be fun but now you're playing a megadungeon game in Middle Earth! I'd happily play the game if someone wanted to run, but I haven't settled on a campaign idea I like for it yet.

Monkapotomus said...

Here here! I agree completely. You have a universe with smugglers, pirates, rebels, an Empire, and loads of aliens spread across multiple star systems. There's got to be space to run a game in Star Wars somewhere. I think Adam hit it on the head though about the difficulty people have.

Being fairly knowledgeable on LoTR I find that I can run games there but it requires a little education on the time period and they often tend to be smaller / shorter stories. During the final war for the ring there are many places at war besides just Gondor and there are a lot of interesting time periods prior to the books to game in. It is definitely a setting a find where having some familiarity with and understanding of the world helps.