Hello and welcome again to The Force Does Not Throw Dice, the very irregular ETE feature devoted to tabletop roleplaying games in the galaxy far, far away. It’s been a long time since my last piece but, after seeing the warm reception that my Star Wars RPG tweets usually get, I’m going to try to change things around and turn this into a more regular feature. So expect more RPG rants in the near future!
Last month we asked Twitter for suggestions for future features, and the topic of this month’s piece was inspired by Mario Escamilla’s question on the use of VIPs in the game. So first let’s define a VIP as any canonical non-player character, from a main character like Luke Skywalker to a secondary character like Officer Thanoth. Using canonical characters in your game is, to many gaming groups, intrinsic to roleplaying in the Star Wars galaxy. If we used the jargon from the old GSN Theory classification method, we could classify Star Wars RPG as a “setting simulation” system: although there can be a variety of approaches and many divergent campaigns can be played, one of the most common objectives is to make the game feel like it’s set in the Star Wars universe. Some Game Masters find that, alongside using known worlds and technology, one of the easiest ways to make sure that the game is unequivocally set in the galaxy far, far away is to have an established character guest star in it.
Yet using VIPs in your Star Wars game is not as simple as it sounds, and can bring some unexpected headaches if not thought through. Although all published settings come with their own canonical characters, be it the wizard Elminster from Forgotten Realms or the various corporate chairmen from Shadowrun, few can claim to have any characters as ingrained in popular culture as Han Solo or Darth Vader. So let’s take a look at some common challenges and mistakes when it comes to using VIPs. Let’s ask ourselves a few questions.
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HEAVY SPOILERS: ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE
Light and darkness
When Disney bought Lucasfilm and brought Star Wars back from the obscurity of tie-in media and into the 21st century of cinema through The Force Awakens, one of the most commonly heard complaints was that the movie was too safe. Unlike the prequels, that for all their failings had tried to explore new narrative territory, the first movie in the sequel trilogy seemed happy to give us three fantastic new characters and then drop them in the middle of common places, well-worn storylines, and a neverending series of cameos and winks to the past.
While it can certainly be argued that this nostalgic exercise was exactly what Star Wars needed to be a commercial powerhouse once again, Rogue One takes the opposite approach: it takes place in a very safe point in the timeline, one where X-Wings and stormtroopers and even Darth Vader are common place; it takes one of the most often told stories in Star Wars lore, that of the damned theft of the damned Death Star plans; and what it gives us is the most audacious Star Wars movie so far, one more than willing to alienate its typical family-friendly audience for the sake of telling the story it wants to tell.
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The Star Wars universe, despite originally depicting a very Manichean struggle between good and evil, has become in the decades since the original movie a very morally nuanced place. I’ve mentioned before that if I look at the current status of the franchise, I’m tempted to consider Star Wars to be more of an anti-war story than a war one, but that’s a debate that we’ve had on this website very recently. Personally, I feel that although the original trilogy no doubt romanticized armed insurgency, George Lucas’s point of view on war and violence had evolved and become considerably more pacifist by the time the prequels and The Clone Wars rolled in.
Behind the curtain of space fantasy, George Lucas told the audience about things like false flag operations, the military-industrial complex, and factionalism in insurgencies. The heroes of the story, the Jedi, lose because they get involved in war. War itself is bad. If we look at the totality of the material that Lucas himself produced under the banner of Star Wars, behind all of the heroics and the swashbuckling, it sure appears to tell us that war sucks. But is there a way to add a bit more nuance to this message without negating it? » Read more..
You want some primo Star Wars? I got you, fam.
So, this is my thinkpiece on why Bloodline is the greate– nahhhh, let’s talk about Children of the Jedi.
Picture yourself on the Internet, and try to imagine that everyone hates something that you love and hold dear. I know, unthinkable of, right? That kind of online hate? Who would do that? So you won’t believe how offended I was when Mike said that this new section, Fatal Faves, was going to spotlight indefensible areas and works of the Star Wars universe that we still love anyway, because fuck it. Because honestly, I feel like I’ve been defending Children of the Jedi for the last twenty years in a pretty badass lonely crusade, like some long-haired Toshiro Mifune ronin or some overweight Leonidas yelling “Roganda!!!!” before charging alone against the masses of the haters. So yes, I’ll say it here: I love Children of the Jedi and I don’t hate myself for it. Not most of the time. Sometimes. Only when it gets dark.
In this fandom saying that you love Children of the Jedi is like playing a selection of the best moments of RuPaul’s Drag Race before a Westboro Baptist Church congregation. If you admit that you drink the Kool-Aid of the Eye of Palpatine, you are hated by the Legends fans, you are also hated by the movie purists, hell, you are probably hated by people that have never read a Star Wars book but just found out that the book has a tuberculous plant called topato and a pet called pittin. “What’s wrong with you, freak!? Didn’t you recently throw a fit over the use of stupid words like flimsiplast instead of human words like paper? Why don’t you go back to your stupid continent? God, I’m a staunch Hilary supporter, but I’m voting Drumpf just to see you walled out of my country!” » Read more..
Han rolled first!
Hello and welcome again to The Force Does Not Throw Dice, our irregular feature devoted to the world of pen-and-paper roleplaying games set in the Star Wars galaxy. This time we have a slightly different treat to offer.
For the past weeks I’ve been quite busy rediscovering a fantastic classic aventure called Tatooine Manhunt and writing a retrospective on it. During the research process, an idea came to me: a classic roleplaying article, the one you would find in fanzines back in the 1980s and that you can still find in several blogs around the Internet. I’m talking about a random table, on its most Gygaxian nature.
In the following table, you are going to find one hundred bounty hunter concepts, ready for you to flesh out and use in your games. Use this table if you desperately need to give some character to a random bounty hunter encounter (something that happens often in Tatooine Manhunt), if your players have been naughty and you desperately need a hunter to set their sights on them, or if you simply want ideas. If you don’t have time to stat them out, don’t worry about it: use the stock bounty hunter stats you will find in the rulebooks, no matter the system.
These descriptions are short and sweet, describing the general appearance and their weaponry, what usually makes a bounty hunter memorable; you are expected to flesh out the rest of the character, discard what you don’t like and change it to your liking. You might also want to use this table as a springboard of ideas for your fanfiction: feel free to do it! That’s the point.
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