Published on July 10th, 2015 | by Luke Turpeinen0
A Star Wars For Every Season – Part One
This year, in preparation for May the Fourth, I decided to stat up a character in every Star Wars RPG in my collection. Other things came up at the time, but now I’m glad to complete that goal!
The RPGs that we’re going to be looking at are only tabletop games; because while part of me would really like to talk about KOTOR 1 & 2, and the The Old Republic MMO, that’s not what we’re here for. On our list are: Star Wars by West End Games (1987), Star Wars by Wizards of the Coast (2000), Star Wars Saga Edition also by WotC (2007), and Age of Rebellion by Fantasy Flight Games (2015).
For the purposes of this exercise, I’m going to be stating up roughly the same character each time. The purpose is to compare the way that each system handles the same universe. Obviously the differences between the games are going to be numerous, and for many different reasons. The 2000 version is different from the 1987 version not only because WotC was determined to use the d20 3rd edition rules for everything, but because the prequels had started to come out so the setting of the material itself was changed dramatically.
I did want to try my hand at making a Jedi in each system, as I love me some magic laser sword monks, but you can’t make a Jedi in each system right now. Fantasy Flight, in their infinite wisdom, decided to publish jedi rules well after publishing bounty hunter and military rules. Presumably because that’s how they structured the release schedule of the Warhammer 40k suite of RPGs, so why not? Despite what I think about it, I can’t make a jedi so…
We’ll be taking a look at Y. T. Harker- a young, gruff, by-the-book woman who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, who works diligently for what’s right. Harker was an ace pilot for the Empire, but since seeing the fascist thugs they’ve become, she defected to the Rebellion. She still doesn’t fit in yet, military life in the Empire is much different than that in the Rebellion, and she isn’t too fond of the change. That said, she is true to the cause and will risk her life for her friends and the downfall of the Emperor’s forces.
West End Games – 1987
The 1987 version is actually the most simple in terms of rules, despite what you may have heard about RPGs from that era. The rule book is only about 150 pages long, and that’s including all of the pre-made character sheets and the quick reference tables in the back. There is little in the way of art while reading the text. Sometimes there is a blurry black and white still from the original trilogy, but those don’t happen often.
There are some amazing color pages dispersed throughout the book though. Some of them are in-setting ads, all in the style of magazine ads from the late 80s. I particularly enjoy the R2 ad, but it was the recruitment ad for the Imperial Navy that inspired me to make this character.
Speaking of which, let’s get started. Chapter One, step one: choose a template. Okay, so this is going to be my class. I have to go to pg 123 to even see a list of these classes… okay? There are 24 of these total and they’re actually more like character archetypes than classes. Ones that stand out are Arrogant Noble, Laconic Scout and the Quixotic Jedi. But we’re not making any of them, because it turns out that there are rules for making a character “from scratch” hidden on pg 81.
The only thing choosing a template really does right now is determine what attributes the character has, which will affect their skill rolls. All characters with the same template have the same attributes, but you get to customize your skills. I’ll go ahead and just make mine using the pg 81 rules though. Okay, first step, again.
“Choose a snazzy archetype name” is step one. Hmm, how about Defected Imperial Pilot! That has a nice ring to it. I know have 18 points to spend between six attributes, each point represents a d6 for any dice pool using that attribute. Y.T. is going to max her Perception and then spread the rest of the points around. A high dexterity will give her good general competence, though I don’t plan to get any skill but Blasters in that group. She doesn’t take any points in any of the Force attributes, but now would be the time to do that if she was going to.
Now I have another 7 points that I can throw into the mix as skills to further specialize my character. Starship Gunnery and Piloting sound like good places to start (these let Y.T. dodge attacks and attack back while in a ship). TIE Fighters don’t have shields so she isn’t going to have points in Shields (which is like a block action in combat). Instead, she’ll reinforce her role as an Imperial Officer and take Command. She takes Bargain to represent her ability to negotiate disputes between her troops/team mates, something she prides herself at.
I’ll just take the equipment list that the Brash Pilot uses, which gives me a Blaster, a uniform and 1000 credits to start. Not bad! That’s a lot better than the Ewok template’s spear and “collection of shiny objects”. All I have to do now is note the blaster dice mod, and copy down the stats for a TIE Fighter on an index card- because of course she escaped with one and is in the process of modifying it to suit her new needs.
One of the things I really like about the WEG version of the Star Wars experience is that you can get a spaceship and add improvements to it just by spending gold and XP. Because the spaceships rules follow the same mechanics as the rest of the game, and isn’t bogged down in subsystems, they can easily balance improvements to the ship against improvements to the character itself. The game even suggests tinkering with and improving your character’s blaster or lightsaber.