The Star Wars Role-Playing Game: Second Edition, Revised and Expanded
Author: Bill Smith, Peter Schweighofer, George Strayton, Paul Sudlow, Eric S. Traumann, Greg Farshtey
Company/Publisher: West End Games
Line: Star Wars: The Role-Playing Game
Cost: $30 (US)
Page count: 288 pages
Capsule Review by Bradford C. Walker on 08/04/99.
Genre tags: Fantasy Science_fiction Space Old_West Asian/Far_East
By the gods, I'd forgotten just how much I love this game.
I had the first edition for the longest time, and the games I ran were just wonderful. That changed with "Rifts", and after a few years the rampant idiocy and munchkinism of the available gamers turned me off. Even after "The Star Wars Companion", I didn't really get back into playing. Not long thereafter, "Vampire: The Masquerade" arrived and I fell into the goth-angst-wearblack crowd. It was a time of great darkness.
While I knew, and followed, the second edition I never got into it. No one wanted to play because everyone around me fell into the World of Darkness, stuck to Shadowrun, reverted to AD&D, or fell away into something else entirely. Thus, even if I wanted to return to the light, I had no one to guide my way. It was a trying time.
Now I'm playing a padawan in a wonderful Star Wars campaign. It's been close to ten years since I last played this game, so relearning the rules took some doing. Then I fell in love all over again, and I ran out for a new rulebook as soon as I could think of doing so. It's just beautiful.
For those who don't know, this is the source of WEG's D6 game engine. Your character's stats and skills have die ratings, such as 3D+2, instead of "90%" or "Five dots". You roll that against a difficulty assigned by the GM, and equally or exceeding it means success. That's simple, easy to explain, and it works very well.
To get the proper flavor, some additional rules make it into the engine. The first is the Wild Die. This die is designated by the player, and it's usually a die that looks significantly different from the rest (somehow). It's not a seperate die, so you're still rolling the usual amount. The kicker is this: if the Wild Die rolls a six, you roll again until you don't get a six; if the Wild Die is a one, you tell the GM and he tells you what to do next. (Most of the time, you add it to the total as normal and then suffer some sort of nasty complication.)
The second is the use of Character and Force Points. Both represent the Force, but the former is much more powerful. You may use one or more Character Points to augment die rolls; this is concidered to be an unconcious use of the Force and thus isn't of concern to those who are not Force-sensistive. Force points are concious uses of the Force, and thus matter to all characters; a spent Force point doubles all die codes for one round, regardless of what actions you perform. (You don't want to spend all of your character points during play, or you'll be lacking when you want to improve your character's stats or skills.)
The game uses the Scaling rules originally printed in the Companion, but the wonky bits of the old rules are gone. The summary is that smaller-scale targets are harder to hit, but easier to damage; the reverse is true of larger-scale targets. The details vary with the exact situation, but this will suffice for now.
While it's not encouraged, you can play villains--including Dark Jedi-- right out of the rulebook. This book, printed before the Special Editions (let alone "The Phantom Menance"), assumes that the game will use the Rebellion or the New Republic eras for campaigns. With the release of the prequel trilogy, in addition to "Tales of the Jedi", it's now very possible to play Old Republic campaigns. (I'm in one as of this date.) All of the rules needed to play a Sith Lord, as seen in the films or in the comics, is already in print. (You'll need a copy of the Tales/Jedi book to make full use of the Force powers, but that's to be expected.)
The system runs very fast, and it's easy to put together combats and chases that are both easy to run and exciting to the players. (It has to be, considering the source material.) Since the game uses only relative speed and distance, people who dig pulp action or space opera will have no problems adapting to this game's method of handling these affairs.
With the smashing success of "The Phantom Menace", and the ease with which anyone can create or convert stuff into this particular system, it's an ideal choice for an introductory RPG. Get those fans, be they young or old, to give this game a go and soon you'll be well on your way to creating new life-long gamers. It's also just perfect for a good family activity, which is something that more of us will run into as we get older and raise children of our own.
Don't let this wonderful RPG fade away. Get a copy while you can!
Style: 5 (Excellent!)