The Force will be with us, always…


If you haven’t heard the news yet, allow me to be the one to break it to you. Wizards of the Coast announced earlier today that they would be not be renewing the license for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game or the Star Wars Miniatures Game. Star Wars.com later confirmed it.

This is not altogether unexpected, but it is still worth to take a moment to reflect what this means for the system and roleplaying within the Star Wars universe.

Firstly, this is not the end. While Wizards will have no more books coming out after The Unknown Regions which is due out this April, this does not mean the system will die. I know people will still play, this sort of thing happens with game systems and people still play them. I know this announcement is not going to stop my online game or the real time one I am trying to piece together at the moment.

There are even advantages to this, rather similar to those who only start to read through a series of books once they have all been published, While they don’t get caught up in the hype and anticipation with fellow fans while the series is incomplete, once everything is done it can be appreciated as a whole.

Of course, it is a disappointment that there will not be any source books to fill the gaps in continuity such as in the New Republic/New Jedi Order era or even to go alongside the MMO The Old Republic in a similar fashion to The Force Unleashed and Knights of the Old Republic books. However, when we look at what we do have and what can be done with it, I think we can sort of seem satisfied.

So, what is the status of Star Wars Saga Edition now that it is ending?

Firstly, we have a cohesive and adaptable gaming system, that is simple without being simplistic.The authors of Saga Edition (and there are many) have managed to create a system that can be adapted for various settings and difficulties (something else that I can get to later) that still captures the feel of Star Wars.

This is a system that, at least from what I have seen, has been widely accepted and used among gamers, and these are the same ones who will quickly spurn a new system for its previous incarnation (D&D 4E for 3.0 or 3.5 for example). I have yet to see any criticism of Saga in this light with comparison with the previous rulesets, though perhaps I am looking in the wrong place. Of course, the West End Game d6 game is an exception.

Secondly, Wizards have given us enough content to cover the entire span of the Star Wars mythos. Yes, I know I am being generous here and there are certain eras that need a little conversion and a lot of homebrew, yet it is possible and workable providing you have the time and inclination. And when you look at the content that we do have, it’s fairly comprehensive.

I can sit down with my players and ask them the big question “When do you want to be in this game?” and then go from there. Myself or my players can pick a particular era for the content, flavour, style of play or a desire to be creative. I can choose whether to stick to canon or allow the players to make their own. For a system from a franchise that relies so much on established characters and set events, there’s a lot of room to move and make it your own.

And we are also going to have the time to do so when you consider things carefully. I don’t think that the Star Wars license is going to be handed on to anyone anytime soon. New editions take years to make and playtest and negotiations with companies licensing take even longer. I’d estimate around three years at least until we are starting to see a new edition, and while it might be handed on to another company, Wizards may just pick it up again. It has happened before.

And finally, the lack of official content means fans can step in and fill the gaps that are left or need to be revised. I have heard today that an unofficial New Republic/NJO era campaign guide is being planned.

So, if you’ll raise your glasses with me, this is the beginning of the end of the official content, and perhaps the start of a much more interesting time in gaming.

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~ by katanageldar on January 29, 2010.

3 Responses to “The Force will be with us, always…”

  1. As a guy who really follows the political economy of game companies but a newb to the pen and paper gaming scene, I’m seriously curious as to why this happened.

    Did WotC just pay too much for the license and decide not to renew in order to focus on the development of existing products with better ROI. Did the SWMs and SAGA suffer from the recession — and I don’t mean that in an overdramatic let’s attribute all business decisions to the recession kind of way — or did LucasLtd simply raise their terms.

    I get the feeling there’s a bit of double talk in the WotC statement. I’m not implying a lie, but I do believe that they’re being deliberately polite and gracious in this announcement, as opposed to how Activision dealt with the Star Trek videogame license a few years ago.

  2. [...] Geldar wrote a nice post about the recent announcement by Wizards of the Coast, where they declare the end of the Star Wars [...]

  3. @level1gm I agree — we’ve got a nice solid system that we can use to play in any era. While I’m sad to see Saga Edition go, I think it will remain my gaming group’s primary system for the next 2-3 years (and far longer than that if interest holds)

    @Matthew I think it’s a combination of licensing costs and internal costs. Star Wars: Saga Edition was the odd man out WotC these days; all of their in-house R&D was directed at D&D 4E, while Rodney and an army of free-lancers worked on Star Wars. When 4E was in development, they could justify development time spent on Star Wars because they could import ideas into 4E (e.g. the array of Defenses replacing Saving Throws).

    But now, well, Saga’s 3.x roots become more of a liability from a design perspective, especially as they try and roll out new 4E-specific rulesets (like Gamma World and the Red Box Set). Easier to pull Rodney in to work on Dark Sun and other projects, and retask/eliminate those freelancers than to keep on publishing something that’s tangential to your core business.

    Entirely conjecture on my part of course, but I can see it being a likely scenario. Throw in the headaches/legal costs associated with running the canon gauntlet with Lucas plus higher licensing costs, and I think you get the demise of Saga Edition. :(

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