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Star Wars and Science Fantasy

So, today we're looking at Star Wars and Science-Fantasy Roleplaying Games.





First, I should say that it's not STRICTLY science-fantasy, but it is very close as it handwaves a lot of things about how technology works (like why do TIE fighters make noise in space? - there is no really good scientific explanation for that one), but also in how it relates to the roles of heroes and villain. It's very much the story of the hero's journey (for Luke - let's disregard the other films for now), which is a classic trope to use for Fantasy.

Also, it contains space wizards and glowing swords! (Again, melee combat is usually not seen that often in science fiction).


And while Star Wars is not the oldest Science Fantasy out there, it is certainly one of the most well-known. If not THE most well-known (I know that Star Trek fans here might argue, but I consider that to be Science Fiction, which is a separate genre).


And of course, Star Wars has had roleplaying games made for it. As mentioned last week, the West End Games one is excluded here, but I wanted to mention it nonetheless, for the sheer impact it had on the Star Wars Extended Universe. Many of the things we see in the modern Star Wars universe started in the WEG Star Wars. It's a testament to how creative the authors on that game were and a huge feather in their caps. Although, I honestly believe that they do not get enough credit for the amount of work that they did.


That brings us to the other 3 Star Wars Games: d20, SAGA, and the most recent Star Wars game (annoyingly only called Star Wars) by Fantasy Flight Games/Edge Studios.

What is so interesting is how close the first two are, and how different they somehow still manage to be. Star Wars d20 was (more or less) 100% compatible with the 3.0 D&D game at the time. It was very, very close, to the point where you could legitimately have a D&D barbarian and a Jedi duking it out with their magic swords (and why wouldn't you? It's FUN!) without having to change much around in the core mechanics.


Then came SAGA Edition. Now, I LOVE SAGA (and to be honest, I was a great fan of the d20 version too), as it was what I had HOPED for 4th Edition to be. It came out between 3.0 and 4e D&D, and it was somehow a better game than 4th Edition, at least to me. Mechanically, it was well-balanced (if a bit fiddly by modern standards), but crucially I think it lost some of what made it Star Wars. (In fairness, that probably wasn't SAGA's fault, as it was where 3.0 and 3.5 were heading at the time too.) Where previously there had always been a TON of "in world lore" in the books, that was now mostly gone in favor of game stats, equipment, class options, and the like. And while that's all great, I always found that it lacked the "fluff" that a GM can base their worlds and stories on. There wasn't much to grip on to and tell a compelling story with. And it led to a 3 year period of non-RPG content for Star Wars when Wizards of the Coast declined to renew the license in 2010.


Then in 2013, we got Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. A new, bespoke RPG system, just for Star Wars. (At least until Genesys came along). Like most other fans (there's a reason I write for d20radio and support the Order 66 Podcast) I was a bit hesitant when I heard it, but when I played it I was hooked. Perhaps less than I had been with SAGA, but that is NOT the system's fault. I simply have not had the chance to play it as much as I would like (well - at all really. Moving to different countries, and new gaming groups sometimes come with caveats) and I've therefore not fallen in love with it as much as I have SAGA, but it remains a great system.


So why am I mentioning all of these today? Well, it's due to Spelljammer, as was talked about in the previous 2 weeks. There's no reason to wait - go and grab a game now and start dipping your toes in before you start jamming across crystal spheres. It's time to get weird. :)

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