Friday, 1 July 2011

Star Wars Plus

A while ago I mentioned my interest in running a Star Wars game, and also noted how the oppressive weight of that franchise's canon has more or less scared me off. I had considered the Knights of the Old Republic era as a more friendly gaming environment, but I have since managed to read the relevant campaign supplement for Wizards of the Coast's version of the game, and it didn't strike me as particularly evocative, presenting the setting as that same old sprawling, intimidating expanded universe, only with the dates cranked back a few thousand years.

I realised that I was after something with the energy of the first film and the old Marvel comics, and then the solution to my problem became apparent.

So Star Wars Plus then. The general idea is that only the first film is canon, and then everything else is fair game. So Darth Vader killed Luke Skywalker's father, Luke and Leia needn't feel bad about liking each other in that way, and Han shot first. I have not yet decided if Jabba the Hutt is a fat bloke in a fur coat.

This approach should eliminate a lot of the setting's accumulated cruft while retaining an essential familiarity, allowing for a bit more freedom of play while still being Star Wars; if the players kill Luke Skywalker -- accidentally of otherwise -- it's not going to affect the events on Cloud City or Endor, because those events may not necessarily happen.

So that's the idea. I'm still a long way off having this ready for play -- I don't even have a system for it yet, although Savage Worlds is a frontrunner -- but at least I now have a solid core idea from which to work.


  1. Rolling back the Star Wars canon was exactly how I ran a brief campaign. It was a hoot to plug back into the wonder and mystery that it had in my youth.

  2. I've heard of several groups now doing exactly this. It really is a fun thing to do.

    In particular I would encourage you to abandon everything you might assume about the Jedi. If you take only the information given or inferred by Obi Wan in the first film (and perhaps Yoda in the second), then they can turn out very differently.

    (I like to think of them as people from all walks of life who belong to a semi-secret semi-religious sect. That is, people know about them, but don't know or don't care about their vows to protect the galaxy).

  3. This sounds like a terrific idea, I look forward to hearing how it develops!

  4. That's kinda how I do it -- right between Star Wars and Empire (though I let the events of the latter stand). I'll use Hutts and some other aliens from Jedi, but that's it.

    Oh. And A-Wings.

  5. PS: D6 is free now. Just a reminder.

  6. I totally dig this. I'm looking forward to seeing how it rolls out (no pun intended). I loved the "original" movie, and I actually also liked the Marvel Comics stuff, with the exception of that stupid green rabbit dude from Issue #8 (or maybe he appeared in #7... I can't remember off the top of my head).

    One thing I would do if I were to run a Star Wars game like this is to push the Clone Wars a lot farther back in time than just like 20 years or whatever. I think we chatted about this before on your blog (or maybe you and I were chatting on someone else's blog about it), but I always felt that the Clone Wars had been a ways back in the past, and that the Empire had been around for a lot longer than just 20 years. I mean, sheesh - the Soviet Union was around for like three and a half times that long!

    And, yeah, I know that Leia says to Ben "You served my father during the Clone Wars", but you can just ignore that line. :) I always thought Ben was a lot older than he appeared anyway. So, you can pretend Leia said "You served my great-grandfather during the Clone Wars."

    And, I agree that Savage Worlds would make a great system for this.

  7. Well, I've yet to revisit the source, but I'm not sure there's anything in the first film to say that the Clone Wars were all done and dusted before rise of the Empire. So I don't know if there's any reason why Obi Wan couldn't have served and still have the Empire be a much older entity (and yes, I think we did discuss this at Grognardia).

    Perhaps Alderaan and her allies were some of the last holdouts against Imperial rule, and the Clone Wars were their final acts of rebellion before being subjugated.

    Thanks everyone for the comments, and thanks Rotwang for the reminder about the d6 system; I had forgotten about it.

    Jeff, I remember seeing something at your blog about this, but I couldn't find the post, or I'd have linked to it too.

  8. I always had the idea the Clone Wars were the previous generation, but the official revelation of what they were about and which side the clones were on took me by surprise! (I liked Timothy Zahn's interpretation.) Some good alternate source material would be Splinter of the Minds Eye and Brian Daley's Han Solo books.

    On the subject of rebooting like this, one of the regulars on did something similar with Trek (which is quite common - see JJ Abtams, or the awesome Straczyinski-Zabel treatment) but then pulling his favourite elements from later shows back in (he had Captains Picard and Kirk as near contemporaries). It can work quite well if the players are able to shed their expectations.


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