Gaming and the Expanded Universe (Part 3): Neither Here nor There
Well, here it is. The much promised third article about gaming and the Star Wars Expanded Universe. This is posted much, much later than I anticipated. I hand wrote it before Christmas while on the train sitting with some very rude girls. But that’s neither here nor there, and this brings me to the article itself.
My rather brief summary on Wizard’s first outing with the Star Wars roleplaying game left us in a sort of transitional phase: picking up the pieces from where West End Games left off as well as adapting the new content that had come out since then and what was currently coming out. Now we move into almost entirely new territory, and with content coming out from all three branches of George Lucas’ holy trinity (his expression, not mine).
I can’t explain the miniatures game, I have never played it nor am I likely to. However, there is something to be said about the fact that using the miniatures and the various maps is strongly encouraged by the writers of the roleplaying game.
Star Wars is a very character-based franchise, the various films and novels, are centred around the characters. This can also be said of the roleplaying game.
So consider this: most gamers who come to the table and want Luke Skywalker as their character are going to end up in the Great Pit of Carkoon.
Like before when Wizards look over from WEG, a lot of things had changed when Star Wars Saga debuted in 2007. Not the least, Episode III which meant the twenty-plus years of the speculations of the fall of Darth Vader and the origins of the Empire were finally answered. The saga was not complete.
In addition to this was the first of the Clone Wars content that was released prior to and directly following the film. This is significant, as before this the only things about the Clone Wars we had were hints from the Timothy Zahn novels as well as Marvel comics of dubious repute. There were also the latter end of the New Jedi Order novels and the various comic series such as Republic, Rebellion, Legacy and Knights of the Old Republic. And there’s also the games, which have moved on quite a bit since the liked of the Dark Forces Saga with Knights of the Old Republic and the various Clone Wars games.
Then there was the second wave of Clone Wars content, but we’ll get to that later.
So, after that long intro, I’ll give you a quick summary of the rest of the article. It’s going to be a little similar to the last one on Wizards, and I’ll look at two specific cases about how Wizards deals with content, one where it gets it right and the other where it gets it wrong.
Cleaning up the mess that is the Clone Wars
This is perhaps the best example of how Wizards managed to get something very confusing right. As I said above, the Clone Wars era has gone from relatively virgin territory to a well-trodden road with ruts and potholes. It is necessary to differentiate between the various “waves” of content that the Clone Wars has. Though to be honest it’s actually not that difficult.
The first wave:
- The Clone Wars comics from the Republic series
- The various novels of the Clone Wars era such as Shatterpoint, Jedi Trial and Labyrinth of Evil.
- The animated television series directed by Genndy Tartakovsky and the comics that extended from this series.
- The Clone Wars video game.
Of course, there are contradictions within the series as well as things that are not answered, but this is nothing compared to what happens in the second wave. This includes:
- The Clone Wars animated television series, including the feature-length film.
- The Clone Wars novels by Karen Traviss, Karen Miller and other authors.
- The various computer games about the era.
- The StarWars.com webcomic.
To date, I don’t think the contradictions surrounding the two waves has been addressed, and they are probably unlikely to do so soon given that they are continuing to churn out content. I think the Keeper of the Holocron still has to be drawn on the subject. But given that there are two differing versions of a story of a small pool of character in a relatively short period of time (approximately three years) the only way that I can see any sort of sense is from a historiographical point of view. But, again, that’s neither here nor there.
So, how does this relate to gaming? Well, I did state in an earlier post how in terms of continuity, it is the GM’s responsibility to accept everything. Or almost everything.
The strangest thing is, this is pretty much what Wizards have done. To look at the Clone Wars Campaign Guide one could almost not be aware that such contradictions exist, and you wouldn’t unless you went looking for them. Wizards takes the period holistically, of course not everything is included but the different sources from different waves are all given equal footing.
But really, I think the problem I have with the Clone Wars is the fact that I read too much on the era. It seems as if the less you know, the better, which looks like the opposite of one of my GM’s mantras. Yet, it does make sense in a way as the aim is to be more creative. Right? Right?
Well, this is the good. Now on to the bad which is so bad as to the point of being absurdly simple.
It’s just embarrassing
I can understand, even sympathy a little, when some content of the EU is omitted and passed over in the various RPG
sourcebooks. But getting things blatantly wrong to such an extent that Wizards have is just stupid. Such as saying that Mon Mothma was possessed by the spirit of the ancient Sith Lord Exar Kun. And it’s not just the EU that is affected, but even G-Level canon stuff! General Ackbar when Admiral is practically his first name?
Believe it or not, this is actually laziness, where people get things wrong when they can be corrected simply by the reader looking it up themselves. I’ve dealt with it in academic works, but not nearly as blatant as this.
I know this looks like the end, but it really isn’t as will be a (gasp) unprecedented fourth article where I will look at how things will go from here with Wizards.
Oh, and Happy New Year.