With it being May the 4th, and it being “Star Wars Day” / “May the 4th Be With You” / you know the drill, I figured I should do a Star Wars post.
So here is the short version:
DO. NOT. BASE. A. ROLEPLAYING. CAMPAIGN. IN. THE. STAR. WARS. UNIVERSE.
If I was clever, I would put those little clapping emojis between each word.
You would think that a universe with spaceship, laser swords, dirty cantinas, ray guns, space magic, and more weird aliens than an ICE detention facility could hold would be an awesome place to game. It’s not.
Everyone wants to rub shoulders with Leia, Han, Chewie, Lando, etc. But they also want to remain true to the canon. Which means you cannot do anything strange or universe shattering.
Shortly after The Force Awakens came out, our group decided to try and do a game of survivors from the attack on Luke’s Jedi training facility. Because not much had come out other than the movie, we were just wingin’ it as far as what the attack was like. I decided that Kylo Ren attacked with a bunch of Stormtroopers. That way I could explain how their characters got away. Rather than the elite ex-Jedi students coming to slice and dice them with lightsabers, I had them assaulted by never-ending waves of Stormtroopers, so that they would be convinced that fleeing the planet would be a good idea, rather than just serving the story. The ex-Jedi and Kylo Ren were killing fellow students in the background. That was a mistake.
Because we all knew how the attack went, they knew they had to flee and fleeing was their only option. The story of the movie immediately cut down our gameplay options. Later they met a character who wanted them to liberate a planet from the First Order..all good fun right?
Then more information came out about what “officially” happens after Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens…and some of my players wanted the game to conform to the new canon. I have mentioned all this before, and I probably will again in the future, but I have never felt as much as a failure of a GM than that moment. The realization that staying true to the canon of the universe was more important than cool ideas in gameplay. I am not saying you should be inconsistent in the universe, just that you should not let someone else tell you how to play in YOUR universe.
We already established that the First Order was well established shortly after the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi, so when the new canon said that they were unknown at the time period of our game, I wanted to fire that new canon…out of a cannon…onto the set of a Cannon film so it could be blown up! However, not all were convinced of what I wanted to do the canon. Luckily, we ended the game after the liberation of the planet, so we did not get into too many “lore fights”.
Don’t use established universes as settings, particularly not one as well-explored as the Star Wars universe. As the Alt-Right DM and the fine folks at Geek Gab say, create a short description of your game world…and GO! Don’t be tempted by the allure of George’s money maker! You think that you have got it easy because so much is already explained for you, but that is not the case. You will spend more time not stepping on the metaphorical toes of the setting, than creating interesting content for your players to interact with.
You want to play a game with spaceships, magic, and laser guns in it? You want a framework of a setting to hang your own creativity on?