A big galaxy far, far away…(Part 2)
Last post was so long that I decided to break it into two posts, I’ll continue where I left off. Which was finding the room to move in a published setting.
All of the players at the table are Star Wars fans, in varying degrees but the reason we all started to play was because we were fans of the franchise, the game came later. And because we already have some degree of knowledge about the Star Wars franchise, there’s a lot I don’t need to explain to the players as well as lot the players don’t need to explain to me.
There is a very powerful temptaion with choosing a setting that you are a fan of: you can let the fan within dominate everything else. This could potentially turn into a fantasy journey akin to a Hollywood star tour (pun not intended) of various events, places and people of the galaxy.
“And on your left, ladies and gentlemen, you can see the Battle of Yavin. This pivotal conflict with the Empire’s superweapon space station, the Death Star, will decide the fate for the entire galaxy.”
This can be avoided with some compelling storyline for the players, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use big events at all. I like to think of them as signposts for the players, both in-game and out of game and I use them for story-cues so the players can orient themselves in regard to what has happened and they know what to expect, so can plan their character development accordingly. An example is to use the galaxy-spanning media that is so much like this galaxy due to it’s on-going coverage as well as it’s immeidate assesibility. An event like the destruction of Alderaan or the invasion of Coruscant would be big news, that the players may know about even if it does not directly involve them.
The one draw back of these big events exposes another of the larger problems of using a well-known and well-documented published campaign setting. Big events, though they form part of the larger story which exists whether the players know about it or not, are not the story of the player characters. The events of the Prequel Trilogy is the story of Anakin Skywalker, Padmé Amidala and Obi-Wan Kenobi; the events of the Original Trilogy is the story of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo. These characters are the heroes (even tragic heroes, in the case of Anakin) of their own story. Is it too much to ask for the players to be the heroes of their own story?
In the last post I talked about elimitating these character from the story, and it’s a big ask of players to be asked to forget Luke et. al., and I think any GM that is considering it that is reading this blog should immediately reconsider. It’s not just a cheap shot, it’s rather lazy. While re-enacting the Battle of Yavin may make a fun and non-serious session, actually dfoing it with a “stand in” for Luke Skywalker and Han Solo could go very, very bad. And who said the players wanted to re-enact?
I have said this quite a few times in this blog and I’ll say it again: this is really about the players. But finding room in a well-documented era for players to have their own story can be a little tricky. But it’s not impossible. You can have your cake and eat it too; you can have be creative and still keep within the confines of the larger story that the players know about; you can have a group of PC Jedi with a battle for the Republic and then throw Order 66 at them.
Personally, I think this incorporation actually enhances a game experience. As in terms of stories, people don’t just like what they know, they like what they know happening to them. Hence the saying “I’ve always wanted to do that.”
Maybe this is why I chose the Clone Wars as opposed to a less-documented era such as Knights of the Old Republic. From my work in fan fiction, I am well aware of the delicate act of balancing my story with someone else’s.
And of course, since the players are the heroes of their own story, there’s a lot that isn’t known until it’s done. You can and can’t prepare for the unexpected, and I always find the unexpected the best part about gaming.
~ by katanageldar on August 11, 2009.