I'm in a bind - I'm finally getting to run a game in a system I really like using a campaign concept I came up with years ago but I can't really spill the beans here because my players haven't figured out the big picture just yet. They know it's different, they just don't know why. The odds they would read it here are small but I want to see the look on their faces as they figure it out. Another session or two should do it.
Let me say this: The biggest complaint I hear (and have heard for years) about playing a Star Wars RPG is that "We already know what happens". This is a very narrow point of view - it's a big universe, both space-wise and time-wise and there are a lot of places and eras to play in without being upstaged by the movie characters. I've never felt constrained by knowing who blew up the Death Star and all of that story because I've never felt like that was the only thing to do in that universe.
Some people feel that way though so it can be a factor. Two things that drove my concept for this game:
- I read somewhere that the best science fiction follows all the laws of physics that we know about now except for one. it might be FTL travel or psychic powers or whatever interests the author but that's a good place to start. These stories typically examine the impact of that one change on a society like the one we know now. It's an interesting way to focus in on a particular idea.
- The best alternate history novels follow the history we know up to a particular point in time where things happen differently. The story then examines all of the differences that flow from that one change.
One of the attractions of using a known universe like Star Wars is the chance to interact with familiar things, but it loses a lot of the appeal if it turns into a museum trip where you can look and talk and maybe touch but cannot make any real change. Even if the GM tells the players that change is possible, a lot of players are reluctant to do so, to take actions that would send things "off course".
In my experience the best way to get over that is for the GM to make the first change. This lets the players know that it's OK and they aren't trapped in a movie or expected to stay on the rails. Once that happens, in a big bold way, they know anything can happen - and you're off and running!
I feel like I'm being too general here so fine, I'll get specific: How is this Star Wars campaign different? Well, it follows canon completely up to The Empire Strikes Back. Then, near the end, one thing changes: When Vader says "Join me", Luke, battered and bloodied, says "OK". After that, a lot of things start moving and the rails disappear.
So that's my big reveal for the campaign. it's the same universe we all know and love except that one man, in a moment of crisis, made a different decision - and changed everything.
Now to see what my players do with it!