Thursday, June 9, 2011

Games I'm Running, Part I: Star Wars Saga Edition, Anakin Takes a Bullet

I was pulled into the Star Wars RPG by the video game Knights of the Old Republic, a wonderful RPG by BioWare. Frankly, I consider it to be the best bit of fiction to hit the Star Wars Universe since The Empire Strikes Back. A strong story, with deep characters, and so replayable that you really don't do the game justice until you play it as both male and female characters, as well as dark and light.

As a result, I got into Wizard of the Coast's (WotC's) d20 Star Wars RPG right about the time of the transition from Original Core Rulebook (OCR, built on a modified version of WotC's D&D 3.0), to the Revised Core Rulebook (RCR, built on a modified version of WotC's D&D 3.5). I ran a lot of games with RCR, but liked when Saga Edition came out even more. It was simple, and the character classes a lot more customizable.

One of the things that has always dogged me about running Star Wars games set in the time period around the six movies is what to do about breaking canon, and what to do about the main characters and villains of the film. There's a wide variety of opinions on the best way to handle canon.

Some GMs quietly herd players away from the big events and characters of the films. As a player, I wouldn't personally find that to be satisfying. Having the players making diversionary raids in another system while Han, Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, Lando and Wedge are blowing up the Second Death Star in orbit around Endor just didn't seem fun to me.

Of course, other GMs will let their players run into movie, novel, comics, and TV series characters, which sometimes will lead to the GM going into shock when the players kill Darth Vader in the First Act...or worst still, giving him an implausible escape rather than let him die in the First Act.

I decided to avoid all these dilemmas, and throw the A-Plot of most of the films out. I thought the way I did it was rather clever. For those of you who remember Episode I: Too Much Jar Jar, not enough Jedi, er, The Phantom Menace, one of the big scenes is Anakin's podrace on Tatooine. There's a great sequence where a group of Tusken Raiders (Sandpeople) are standing on a bluff well above the course, and taking potshots at the racers as they pass the location. One of those shots grazes Anakin's podracer, but he manages to keep it under control...and this is where I blow things up.

In the immediate prologue, I described a sequence to the players where that bullet instead strikes Anakin through the right temple. While the shot might or might not have been fatal with Star Wars Medical Technology, the resulting rather fiery crash when Anakin loses consciousness and control of his vehicle is.

Needless to say, Anakin loses the race (as well as his life), Qui-Gon loses his bet to Watto, and therefore, the group's only means of escaping Tatooine, which now gives Darth Maul plenty of time to hunt down the Jedi there before they can ever return to Naboo. Maul fights a desperate lightsaber battle with Qui-Gon Jinn and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. I actually statted up the characters and ran the battle as a combat. In the simulated combat, pretty much the same thing happens. Maul goes after Jinn, burning hit points, and killing the aging Jedi Master, while Obi-Wan blows a load of Force Points, and takes down Darth Maul.

That's where the players begin. Their job is to rescue Padme Amidala, Obi-Wan, and the rest of the Queen's retinue before the Trade Federation can send a boatload of droids to kill them.

More importantly though, Anakin is dead, which means there will be no more Skywalkers. The Sith are still there. Some of the supporting characters are still there (Obi-Wan is the Master to a young Jedi apprentice that is one of the players). The players can take center stage.

This is the game I've wanted to run, and have been running off and on for a couple of years.

No comments:

Post a Comment