That Star Wars feel
True, I had seen The Phantom Menace in 1999 when it came out, but thought little of it. It was not until I saw mere snippets of the Original Trilogy in a documentary featuring George Lucas, that Star Wars captured my imagination. And then weeks later, when I saw the Original Trilogy for the first time, I became a fan. I was a late comer, but better late than never. And unlike a lot of second generation fans who came late to the saga, The Empire Strikes Back still remains my favourite film of the six.
What brought on this trip down memory lane? Well, it was part of a conversation I had recently after I ran a Dungeon & Dragons 4E game for them which resulted in killing off their character. The question was, how I ran Star Wars games differently to D&D. The answer, I told him, was to go for that cinematic feel which I demonstrated by outlining the start of my next campaign.
Now, I am not going to do that on here, but I will break down I this post how I run Star Wars differently as best I can.
At One with the Galaxy
I have said this before and I will say it again: one of the things I try to convey in Star Wars games is the hugeness of the galaxy. Star Wars is played on an enormous canvas that is almost beyond the imagination of most players where many different things happen. There is a diverse amount of cultures, cimates, topography, species, motivations and loyalties. These may or may not have effects on the players, just as what the players do my or may not have an effect on the rest of the galaxy.
However, if you can put the players in an influential battle that they have control over. Where if they succeed or fail has dramatic consequences for billions upon billions of people in the galaxy, that is the feel of the Saga. Who would have thought that if not for the actions of a farmboy from Tatooine, the Empire would have been able to hold the entire galaxy in terror with his superweapon? It takes some working if you want to stayin the eastablishd universe, but starting small and thinking big can get you here.
And speaking of thinking big…
Despite The Lack of Pictures
In deep space somewhere in the Outer Rim, a large asteroid sits among smaller ones with the pale blue of the Crombach Nebula in the distance. Emerging from hyperspace just at the edge of the field is a YKL-37R Nova Courier, following a precarious course through the asteroids as it makes its way to the large one.
In the cockpit is a female Zabrak in the pilots seat and beside her a rather dark Wookiee.
Zabrak: Steady now, Chulimrarl, we want to get our passengers back there to the base in one piece.
Chulimrarl: *growl hrrrallll harrrrrr*
Zabrak: I know these drift charts look dangerous, but trust me and maintain our course. I’ll let them know down there so they can get out the welcoming committee. (She activates the ship’s communicator) This is Taborea Vantell, captain of the Spectres Dawn hailing Navoius VIII, Manarai Echo Lyra. Request landing, two packages for expected delivery.
Back in the small passenger compartment of the ship, Tua Malik and Marcus Webber are strapped securely in their seats. The ship is jarring about in a rather alarming way on its progress through the asteroid field. It’s been relatively recently that you joined the Rebel Alliance, and you were told that you would be needed for an unspecified mission and sent to this forsaken part of the galaxy with only the promise of an explanation when you arrived. There have been a few delays as the ship had to skirt around a few Imperial convoys, and you are arriving later than expected. Source
That was the opening post for the Theatre of War campaign and is little different from an opening spiel that I would give a real-life game after the opening crawl except for the fact that I had much more time to form what I had to say. Much like with the opening crawl, you need to start big and the bring it down to the level of the players. Paint the picture first, then put them inside it.
Just don’t over-do the descripton, you may just end up putting them to sleep.
Those Extra Touches
I know most of what I have said is about thinking big, but even the smaller things that make up the Star Wars saga give a feel that one is actually in the universe without it seeming like a neverending fantasy tour.
There is also a truism when apply the various tropes of story-telling into gaming that I learned from Agatha Christie: people like it when stuff the have read about or seen in movies “happens” to them. Don’t ask me why, but it is well worth to borrow from the Star Wars films themselves to capture that feel. At least once in a while.
And lastly, for that little touch of the Saga, you cannot go past one man’s sheer genius: John Williams.
May the Force be with us all.
Note: By the time his is posted, I’llbe in the air. Unless everything goes well, you’ll know what happeed.