Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game
Not long ago, in a galaxy all too close... greed and corruption held sway, George Lucas had decided to put Star Wars Films behind him and move on to other ventures such as Willow and Howard the Duck, Kenner had not released a new Star Wars toy since the underwhelming Power of the Force series in 85 and people were starting for forget about a Galaxy far, far away. It is a time known to Star Wars fans as "The Dark Times". But there is hope! A small band of fans with a dream and a license set out to save the Star War franchise and in their efforts managed to help shape all Star Wars lore from cannon to legends thereafter.
Star Wars the Roleplaying Game was released in October of 1987 by West End Games, it would go on to have no less than 102 additional supplements, adventures, and game aids as well as last an unprecedented 12 years. In it's earliest form the game simplified character creation by having players chose from different archetypes seen in the Star Wars universe. Players could play as a Tongue-Tied Engineer, a smuggler, an old senatorial, pilot, mercenary and more. Each character had 6 attributes and below each attribute are several skills. Each attribute has a "Dice Code", meaning the number of d6s you may roll to any given test in that category. Combat was always very fluid and swashbuckly, whenever you're attacked you will always do a resistance check, you're not just going to stand there waiting for the gm to foll x amount of damage on you, you're actively trying to to resist and play an active role in your defense rather than feel vulnerable. It ensures quickness and engagement of all players in a given session.
The Force plays a role weather you're a force sensitive or not, it moves through all of us and binds the Galaxy together. Every player will be given a Force Point and at any time during a skill check a player may choose to spend their force point and will then subsequently double their roll, allowing something grand and cinematic to occur. Something remarkable, something massive. Once a force point is spent it is gone, except; if you used the force point in heroic deed, one to save and benefit others and not yourself, you will keep your force point and in-fact gain another. However, if you used it for selfish needs, you will gain a Dark Side point, when a player has too many Dark Side points they are extensively dead, or at least no longer a viable player character, they become a villain and the GM takes control of that character for now on. If your character is a Force sensitive than they will have extra skills that they may spend force points to as well but they are quite limited, I can say from experience that playing a force sensitive character in this game gave the feeling of a long and argues process to better once self, much as it is portrayed in the Original Trilogy rather than the more modern takes on force sensitives like the vastly overrated and uninteresting Galen Marek aka Starkiller in the vastly overrated and near perverse sense of hyper macho power fantasy driven junk that was the Force Unleashed video game series. The force is a discipline and the mastery of ones self and once attunement with the force was not a path for everyone and even birthright was not enough to make you a true Jedi.
The Star Wars Sourcebook was one of the earliest and the most detailed in its time guide for star wars lore, background characters, history, cultures and more available at the time. The staff at west end games were obsessed with learning about the universe and would pester George on numerous occasions wanting to pick his brain so they could codify a cannon before such things were even a common concept. Funfact and slight digression; Today Lucasfilm has a dedicated Lucasfilm Story Group who's entire responsibility is to determine Cannon and where the story goes, the man most notable on the board is Pablo Hidalgo who just so happened to have began his Star Wars Carrier writing for this book and later supplements. The book contains all the stats one would need in the game for everything now covered in the core rulebook; equipment, vehicles of every verity, droids, bases. Also included here are the stats for all the heroes and villains of the Original Trilogy in case you should bump into one on your journey though the galaxy. The influence of this book on star wars fandom and extended lore can not be overstated. It was here that the names of alien races that were never mentioned on screen were finally identified, such as the names of alien races like the Twi'lek, Rodians, and Quarren who are now all staples of the Star Wars universe. These two landmark releases would be the first spark that would end The Dark Times, showing there was still life in the saga and pointed an arrow to the future and of a rejuvenesce in the Force. A Force Awakening as it were...When 1991 came around and fans mark the releases of Tom Veitch's comic Dark Empire and Timothy Zahn's novel Heir to the Empire as the official end of the Dark Times we can thank West End Games for providing both authors with numerous supplement in order for them to serve as references for their works and the expanded universe at large.
Last October and November marked the 30th anniversary of these releases and Fantasy Flight Games hoped to have this commemorate reprint in gamers and collectors hands by Christmas, but due to at this time unknown circumstances the book was released this July, nearly a year from it's announcement prior to GenCon 2017 and 7 months past the projected q42017 release they stated earlier. Better late than never is very much how I feel about the delay but I do with FFG would be more transparent about their delivery issues rather than radio silence on the clear development issues they have in house, I mean, how hard is it to print 30 year old books in time? It's not like they've changed anything... right? Well, I can safely say that the text remains nearly fully intact. I compared this release with my originals from 87' side by side and I only noticed a hand full of times where a sentence might have been re-written and only to make it more clear. What was striking to me was the amount of images that were mirrored from their original versions or ones that were outright changed. After some examination I realized the mirroring was only to correct mistakes actually in the originals. I never noticed that the photos of Han and Luke were reversed in the originals making them appear left handed for example, the FFG flipped these to make them more accurate. The replacing images however are sometimes very odd. I won't go into detail now but if you wish to see the side by side examples, I've posted them on RPGGeek in this post and this. None of these changes really bothered me at all however, in fact it made it more interesting for me as a star wars collector to have both this edition and the original more because of the differences. What does currently bother me is that FFG have yet to put new scans of the character sheets available on their website so they may be easily printed. Old ones exist on numerous websites out there but the fact that FFG haven't done it tell me that this is more of a commemorative release in their minds and not one they expect people to be gaming; which is a shame because re-reading these books for this I've come to realize this game is still oh so playable. While hardcore rpg curmudgeons will complain about edition creep or throw around words like "broken" to silence people, I advice you to ignore those and give this game a chance if nothing else than for old times sake. The fact that these milestone releases are back in print is a boon for old fans looking for nostalgia porn, collectors of the obsessive degree, and new players alike. With roleplaying reaching the edges of the mainstream with the success of D&D5e and the advent of online streaming shows dedicated to roleplaying, a new generation has unearthed a joy many of the indoctrinated have already known: That roleplaying is the ultimate form of gaming and interaction with your friends. With that and with this release comes the opportunity to play one of the greatest rolepalying games thought to be long forgotten and out of print for all eternity.
Last year for May the 4th I wrote a piece for the site about how much Star Wars meant to me and a great deal of it was spent musing about my time with the Star Wars RPG. When I thought back on those times I felt moved to tears by how much this game meant to me and how it help shaped me to who I am today. The lessons I learned playing those games back in the day with my fiends, the stories we told and resonate still to this day with me. Even though it might not mean the same to anyone else, how could I not give this re-release my full support? I implore anyone out there reading this to pick this up and enjoy it on whatever level makes your happy, but don't miss out because the way FFG are going who knows if we'll ever see these again.
May the Force be with you. Andres