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Star Wars Roleplaying Game — Saga Edition 206

Posted by Zonk
from the for-those-of-you-tired-of-jedis-being-broken dept.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a ... company called Wizards of the Coast abandoned Star Wars fans who enjoyed their tabletop roleplaying game to an awful fate: product death. The Star Wars d20 product line, which saw print from 2000 to late 2004, attempted to capture the epic adventure that is the Star Wars setting within a simple quantifiable ruleset. Unfortunately, the d20 rules (circa 2000) were far too clumsy to make the RPG 'feel' like Star Wars. Even a 2002 Revised Core Rules book did little to create an intuitive play experience. Now, in time for the setting's 30th anniversary, Wizards has released a brand new edition of the rules, marking a relaunch of the product line. Dubbed the 'Saga Edition', it has completely revamped the d20 rules to meet with demands for Star Warsyness. Read on for a review of the changes, which may finally bring the fun to the galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, Saga Edition
author Christopher Perkins, Owen K.C. Stephens, Rodney Thompson
pages 286
publisher Wizards of the Coast
rating 9/10
reviewer Zonk
ISBN 0786943564
summary The newest edition of the Star Wars tabletop roleplaying game.
The first notable thing about the Saga edition of Star Wars d20? It is small. Instead of the normal 9 x 11 footprint of almost every other gaming book, Saga Edition looks more like a coffee table book, measuring a petite 9 x 9 inches. It's over 100 pages thinner than 2002's Revised Core Rules book, too. A few pages in, and it's obvious that the loss in size and thickness has not come at the price of production quality. The entire tome is full color glossy paper throughout. While there is quite a bit of art reused from previous products, there are also a number of notable original works peppering the pages. What's not there, to my relief, are the needlessly huge quotes from the movies. There are quotes, to be sure, but they're used sparingly. It is laid out to provide the maximum amount of information in the minimum space; a significant improvement over previous main books.The Revised Core Rules seemed to have a half-page-sized quote every three pages, turning most of its 400ish pages into wasted white space. Saga Edition is a tight, well crafted book.

That attention to detail extends to the rules as well, which may be the most refined version of the d20 mechanic yet released in an official Wizards product. Gone are the cumbersome concepts of Armor Class, Defense, Vitality points, and Saving Throws used by other products. The game takes a simple approach: every Star Wars character is a hero. As such, it's possible for every character to take part in every scene, to one degree or another. Character Level, then, becomes the tie that binds every other mechanic. Almost every d20 roll you'll be making is modified by your character's level; neurotically min/maxing every aspect of your character is no longer a requirement.

The difference, of course, is that your choice of class determines your character's specialties. Everyone can participate in the scene where the party flees from the Imperial Star Destroyer in a cargo ship. The star of the show, though, is the Scoundrel at the helm. Classes have been revamped to allow for several 'builds'. Seemingly taking a cue from Blizzard videogame titles, every class has a trio of talent trees. Talents accumulate from these trees as characters gain levels, allowing for my Scoundrel to be completely different from your Scoundrel. Further customization is encouraged by allowing free multi-classing. Prestige classes further this idea of customization by allowing access to novel talent trees, as well as mixing and matching talent trees from multiple base classes. The Officer, for example, allows access to trees from the Soldier and Noble classes.

The best part is, as far as I can tell, none of these classes are completely useless. The Noble, which had a poorly-understood role in previous editions, has become something of a social hacker/bard character. Smooth talking abilities and talents that improve the capabilities of her fellow characters combine into a highly effective support class. The designers have as much as admitted that these changes were prompted by the Jedi. Instead of tuning everything so that the Jedi beat everything else, the Jedi is the baseline all other classes were tuned to. Every character made under Saga Edition rules is going to be some kinda badass.

Badassery in combat is the focus of many class abilities, of course, and it's going to be easier than ever to convey that to players. Combat is dirt simple. There are very few ways to modify in-combat die rolls. The endless hunting for a +1 to hit here or a +2 to hit there will not longer be required. Even better, every character only gets a single attack per combat round, regardless of their level. High level D&D games are marked by endless dice rolling, as characters make a ludicrous number of attacks in a frighteningly short amount of time. And if you really want to attack more than once a round in Saga Edition, you can; you just take penalties for it, penalties more easily compensated for at higher levels.

An additional decrease in the fiddly-factor comes from skills. Instead of requiring you to track skill points, which must be slotted into a dizzying array of strangely over-specific disciplines, skills in Saga Edition are a binary state. Either you're trained or untrained in a skill. Thus, a skill roll looks like this: d20 + half your character's level + relevant ability score (strength for climbing, etc.) + 5 if you are trained. That's it. This mechanic, then, allows even the Princess Leia to fly the Falcon for a short while, or a merciless bounty hunter to sweet talk a taciturn guard; or, at least, it allows for the possibility of such a thing happening. There are far fewer skills as well, with specific uses outlined in the book. The skills Spot, Listen, and Search have all been combined into Perception, for example. This one skill also allows a character to ascertain an object's wealth (Appraise) and see through duplicity from another character (Sense Motive). Thus, with fewer skills to keep track of, players and GMs are encouraged to make heavier use of the few that still remain. Fun without the fuss is the order of the day.

The rules section that benefits most from these rule revamps is the vehicle combat section. Formerly an arcane labyrinth of edge cases and complex maneuvers, simple skill checks and combat tests now allow dogfights and space-based combat to drop neatly into the middle of a Saga Edition campaign. For example, ships are now functionally creatures; characters inside the ships alter die modifiers, and can act independently, but there is no longer a need to keep elaborate track of ship statistics as opposed to crew statistics. The two are now one and the same.

Though I've yet to have the chance to roll dice in a Saga Edition campaign, it's hard not to be impressed by the rule changes this book represents. Essentially the cutting edge of tabletop RPG rules, Saga Edition has the benefit of more than seven years of modern roleplaying design and dozens of gaming books to prove out ideas. The book was helmed by Chris Perkins, a Dungeons and Dragons R&D veteran, and it really shows. It's been a long time since I read through an RPG manual with such enthusiasm; the clarity and precision with which the designers have conveyed their ideas does nothing less than inspire excitement. Based on a tried and true mechanic, eschewing complexity for approachability, and integrating tightly with the miniatures game for even more simplicity, this may be the best product WotC has put out in years. While I'm not eager for a D&D 4th Edition, more products like this make such a concept seem much less repugnant. Highly recommended for tabletop playing Star Wars fans, and anyone interested in the future of d20 game design.


You can purchase Star Wars Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, Saga Edition from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Star Wars Roleplaying Game — Saga Edition

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  • by Trigun (685027) <evil@nOSpaM.evilempire.ath.cx> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @01:24PM (#19479857)
    Is there a saving throw against hype?
    Does a +10 charisma for small children give you an extra six trillion credits?
    Can we actually slay George Lucas?
  • Rules size (Score:5, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @01:28PM (#19479917) Homepage Journal

    Instead of the normal 9 x 11 footprint of almost every other gaming book, Saga Edition looks more like a coffee table book, measuring a petite 9 x 9 inches. It's over 100 pages thinner than 2002's Revised Core Rules book, too. A few pages in, and it's obvious that the loss in size and thickness has not come at the price of production quality.

    I should hope not. The massive and unwieldy size of the 9x11 rule books stems from the inexpensive printing of such sizes. By printing on such large paper (usually in mono-color black and white) they can reduce the cost of both printing and binding. Just run the paper through the printer, staple, and fold.

    Printing in smaller sizes is bound to be a sign of quality rather than the lack thereof. Especially if grayscale, color, or (*gasp*) glossy paper are used.

    Now if someone could just rewrite the Starfire rules in a format that makes sense to those new to the game... *grumble* *grumble* (Yes, I spent some God-aweful amount of time trying to decode rules that were listed completely out of order, spread across two volume for no real reason other than to confuse you.)
    • Now if someone could just rewrite the Starfire rules in a format that makes sense to those new to the game... *grumble* *grumble* (Yes, I spent some God-aweful amount of time trying to decode rules that were listed completely out of order, spread across two volume for no real reason other than to confuse you.)

      That would require the SDS to become organized and such. And update their ordering and web site. Since the Starfire community is rather small, I just don't see that happening any time soon, unfortuna

      • That would require the SDS to become organized and such. Since the Starfire community is rather small, I just don't see that happening any time soon.

        And yet if SDS doesn't get their act together, the Starfire community will only get smaller. It's a wonderful catch-22.

        Not that I'm holding out any sort of hope that SDS will listen to the fans and redouble their efforts with proper investments and expansion of the Starfire universe. If they were smart, they'd be using the latest Starfire book from White to pro

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      The massive and unwieldy size of the 9x11 rule books stems from the inexpensive printing of such sizes. By printing on such large paper (usually in mono-color black and white) they can reduce the cost of both printing and binding. Just run the paper through the printer, staple, and fold.

      Printing in smaller sizes is bound to be a sign of quality rather than the lack thereof. Especially if grayscale, color, or (*gasp*) glossy paper are used.

      Wizards of the Coast doesn't print many gaming rulebooks that aren't

      • by DeadChobi (740395)
        I miss roleplaying. Stupid college and its utter lack of roleplayers.
        • I miss roleplaying. Stupid college and its utter lack of roleplayers.

          I did plenty of roleplaying in university, but nowadays everybody is playing World of Warcraft, and the RPG market is shrinking.

          But it may bounce back again in the future. I think it shrunk after the initial success of Magic the Gathering, but that success eventually brought the gaming hobby some mainstream attention, influx of new players, and I think some of those did eventually end up in the RPG hobby. Perhaps WoW will have a s

    • Printing in smaller sizes is bound to be a sign of quality rather than the lack thereof. Especially if grayscale, color, or (*gasp*) glossy paper are used.


      Is that why the Where's Waldo books were shrunk? Because I'll take the larger ones over my bleeding eyes.
    • The massive and unwieldy size of the 9x11 rule books stems from the inexpensive printing of such sizes. By printing on such large paper (usually in mono-color black and white) they can reduce the cost of both printing and binding. Just run the paper through the printer, staple, and fold.

      Nonsense. Regardless of the size of the paper - the steps are the same.

      Printing in smaller sizes is bound to be a sign of quality rather than the lack thereof. Especially if grayscale, color, or (*gasp*) gl

      • Quality comes from layout, typeface selection, binding design, paper selection, etc... etc... Plus QA on the layout, printing, and binding processes. Glossy paper is like artificial colors in your sports drink - it makes everything bright and neon, but is totally unrelated to the quality of the total product.

        I don't disagree per se, however I would like to point out a few things:

        1. "Standard" paper sizes don't require cutting. Ergo, they are cheaper and easier to produce.

        2. Layout, typeface selection, bindi

        • by Randolpho (628485)
          <blockquote>4. If someone spends money on having their books cut to size, properly bound, and printed on glossy paper, they're more likely to have spent the money on quality services necessary to produce a quality product.</blockquote>

          You'd *think* this was true, but WotC always seems to skip one amazingly important step: PROOFREADING!

          The book is lousy with typos. I'm sure the next printing will include the errata...
    • by 2short (466733)
      What in the world are you talking about? The 9x11 rule books in question are all hard cover, full-color, glossy paper. Or on some you can get the extra-fancy leather bound edition.

      Some guy printing up his stuff at the local Kinkos might save money by going with a specific format, which I asume is the deal with "Starfire".

      But we're talking about Wizards of the Coast, a division of Hasbro. They can go with whatever size they want. I'd say they usually go with 9x11 because it's the industry standard, but a
  • by magarity (164372) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @01:29PM (#19479921)
    Instead of the normal 9 x 11 footprint of almost every other gaming book, Saga Edition looks more like a coffee table book, measuring a petite 9 x 9 inches.
     
    Aren't "coffee table books" the really big ones? How is more petite more like a ctb?
    • by Nasarius (593729)

      Aren't "coffee table books" the really big ones?
      Yes [wikipedia.org]. For obvious reasons. This is what happens when idiots try to use big words or clever phrases.
    • by dave562 (969951)
      I thought the same thing. The coffee table books are those ridiculously big books that try to consume as much real estate on the table as possible to make it nearly impossible to actually fit a cup of coffee, or anything else for that matter on the table.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      Aren't "coffee table books" the really big ones?


      Yeah.

      How is more petite more like a ctb?


      "More petite" isn't. Square is, because lots of ctb's are, unlike most gaming rulebooks, square.

      (Then again, 9x9 compared to 9x11 is, to me, more "short and squat" than "petite".)
  • by Stanistani (808333) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @01:31PM (#19479963) Homepage Journal
    The other day posters were complaining about the Sopranos not being 'news for nerds.'

    Today they whine about this - Hey!

    *slap*

    D&D - Star Wars - this is what this site was built for!

    Enjoy!

    Capisce?
  • by brouski (827510) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @01:31PM (#19479971)
    Nothing signals success for a Star Wars RPG like a relaunch!
    • by Chas (5144)
      Yeah. But I'd want to be able to actually HIT my intended target on occasion...
      • by Fred_A (10934)

        Yeah. But I'd want to be able to actually HIT my intended target on occasion...
        If you want to be true to the movies, stormtroopers rarely, if ever, hit anything.
        • by Chas (5144)
          I guess that makes me more of a Trekkie then.

          *Shouted* "We come in peace!"
          *Whispered* "Shoot to kill."
        • by Anthony (4077) *

          Yeah. But I'd want to be able to actually HIT my intended target on occasion...
          If you want to be true to the movies, stormtroopers rarely, if ever, hit anything.
          Unless they are firing at Jawas and their trading craft. Obi Wan seemed impressed in "A New Hope" :) I agree though, the stormtroopers who wiped out the Jawas must have been the exception.
    • I could have joined the Stormtroopers, but they found out I could actually aim and shoot at a target and sent me home.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArsonSmith (13997)
        You mean you couldn't follow orders and heard the rebels back to their ship as part of the plan? As a quote from the movie Tarkin, "This better work, Lord Vader, I'm taking an awful risk." It did work, they tracked the ship to the rebel base. If not for the luck of blowing up the deathstar that would have been the end of major support for the rebellion.

        Instead go back and watch again. Both the opening scene and the sandcrawler scene. Blast open the ship door way and begin blasting rebel fleet troopers,
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @01:40PM (#19480111)
    neurotically min/maxing every aspect of your character is no longer a requirement.

    It was a requirement before? The amount of fun you could have in a game was determined by how high a certain attribute was, as opposed to the interaction you had between the players and the GM? I guess if you measure success by "I can do more damage in less time than you, therefore my character is cooler and I win the game" it's a requirement...

    The endless hunting for a +1 to hit here or a +2 to hit there will not longer be required.

    See above. It doesn't matter if you can get a +1 for a flank attack or +2 because you're within 10' of the target. The dice really, honestly, seriously don't matter that much. Why undergo "endless hunting" to get a bonus to a roll? Just roll the die, see what happens, and take it from there. The GM's not out to get you, and if he is, he's a bad GM.

    Thus, a skill roll looks like this: d20 + half your character's level + relevant ability score (strength for climbing, etc.) + 5 if you are trained. That's it.

    "That's it," spoken like it's really simple. Simple in comparison to cross-referencing the results of four die rolls on six tables, sure, but that's still needlessly complex.

    This is one thing that has always bemused me- how some people are so focused on the mechanics and gaming the system that they miss the fact that they're playing a game with friends. You're telling a story together, you're solving puzzles together, you're (get this) role-playing together. Yes, of course, there's no one way to play a RPG, who am I to tell people how to have fun in a game, but it seems all too often people misspell the first word in the abbreviation: it's role, not roll. Kudos to WOTC for making this "fun without fuss," at least.
    • by Valdrax (32670)
      It was a requirement before? The amount of fun you could have in a game was determined by how high a certain attribute was, as opposed to the interaction you had between the players and the GM? I guess if you measure success by "I can do more damage in less time than you, therefore my character is cooler and I win the game" it's a requirement...

      I think what he's saying is that there's no longer a feeling that you have to play a certain type of character to feel "useful" in the party. If you're okay playing
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lockejaw (955650)

        I think what he's saying is that there's no longer a feeling that you have to play a certain type of character to feel "useful" in the party.

        I'd say that's a problem between you and your DM. Every class is good at something, and if it's not in your campaign, blame the DM, not the system.

        The d20 standard system is a gamist system. All its rewards are geared towards triumphing in combat. If you don't pay attention to that in character design, the game will not reward you as much as those that do.

        Sure, if

        • by Valdrax (32670)
          I'd say that's a problem between you and your DM. Every class is good at something, and if it's not in your campaign, blame the DM, not the system.

          Yes, but what gains you experience, levels, and character growth in d20? What element of play is the system set up to guide the players towards? What is the focus of the rules? In d20, it's generally combat, unless d20 Star Wars had some sort of XP mechanic that I'm not aware of. (I've only played the d6 and older WEG versions.)

          You shouldn't absolve the syste
          • by Lockejaw (955650)

            Yes, but what gains you experience, levels, and character growth in d20?

            You may have a different edition or something, but my copy has a section on story-based awards. There's obviously no tables for looking them up, since the value of an accomplishment really depends on the campaign, but it's not difficult to assess about how much some non-combat accomplishment is worth (importance to storyline, difficulty of task, resources made available, etc.). It's also not hard to let the PCs get some loot out of non

    • Rules Matter (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ChaosDiscord (4913) * on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:12PM (#19482003) Homepage Journal

      Rules matter.

      The rules tell you what the game is really about instead of what it claims to be about. A game might promise "exciting pulp action," but if the conflict system is highly lethal you're not going to see lots of exciting pulp moments in actual play. The heroes will either die quickly and pointlessly, or they'll become cautious. The very tone of the game is set by the rules.

      The rules impact a player's success at fulfilling their vision for their character. To take Star Wars for example, say I want to be a great pilot. However, the rules set has enough complexity and tradeoffs that I accidentally build a decidedly sub-optimal pilot. As a result, another character, for whom "be a cool pilot" wasn't their goal but who is better at working the system, is the best pilot on the team and regularly outdoes you. That's no fun. Or maybe your vision is a dangerous Jedi, but poor choices in character generation mean a lone storm trooper is a major threat and a pair is insurmountable. Not terribly fun. Ultimately, having to resign yourself to being the hanger-on to the team because of lack of rules master isn't fun. A player should play a bumbler because they want to, not because they are forced to.

      Now, a GM can fudge or outright ignore the dice to lead to more desirable results, but then why are you rolling? Your success and failure ends up having little to do with your preparation and design and is in the hands of the GM fiat. The resulting success is hollow.

      A GM can modify the rules to try and improve things, but then you're playing a new game. If the rules need to be modified to make it better, surely the publisher should try to improve their source material so their customers don't need to do so. At the very least it will same countless GMs from wasting their time fiddling with the rules.

      This is why the Star Wars overhaul is important. If it works, there should be fewer cases of PCs failing to meet expectations. The new tone of the rules says, "You're really cool all the time." The old set of rules said a bunch of things, including "You can be exceptionally cool in some ways if you've mastered the rules, but if you haven't you have a real chance of being just mediocre," and "You can be really cool in a few areas, but totally useless in others, or you can be unexceptional in a bunch of ways." Neither one of those seems to reinforce the pulp space-opera feel of Star Wars. The new rules help balance the playing field. A group of players, some of whom are love studying and using rules, and some who don't, have a more even chance of satisfying their visions for their characters.

      Ultimately the focus on "role" play instead of "roll" play is the entire point of these changes. The resulting system, if the changes work, will encourage role-playing. If it works, it's a huge win for everyone.

    • The amount of fun you could have in a game was determined by how high a certain attribute was, as opposed to the interaction you had between the players and the GM?

      that's like 50% of the game, dude. there are *TONS* of gaming syles besides ROLE-playing. story teller type games where you work with the GM to tell a story are fun, but so are rules heavy games where you square off against the GM. min/maxing is what you do to survive in those hack and slash campaigns. and don't get me started on the "evil

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcvos (645701)

        i agree that d20 was in improvement because it lightened the load of rules that stood in the way of getting people to play compared to 1st and 2nd edition AD&D or many other rules systems. it also paved the way for more social and RP centric players (i.e. girls). however, for a good many people, especially introverted types, trolling the rules was a way for not exactly social creatures to play and be an effective part of the game.

        Social RP in d20? The system is quite explicitly designed around tac

    • by DeadChobi (740395)
      Your comments are exactly the reason I dislike D&D. You spend almost 3 hours min/maxing the crap out of your character and in the end you're still just a level 1 peon who can barely swing a sword without cutting yourself.

      If you want a social experience, play a game designed around socializing like Exalted or WOD revised from White Wolf. The introduction says it all by suggesting it's just a way for people to get together and tell a story. The philosophy isn't about the numbers, it's about spending time
      • If you want a social experience, play a game designed around socializing like Exalted or WOD revised from White Wolf.

        That's the same reason I still think RuneQuest 2 (before Avalon Hill destroyed it with v3 and Mongoose took the worst parts of D&D and merged them with RQ to make v4) had the best pencil and paper RPG of any game I've played. Simple, elegant, and easy to understand and use, they facilitated roleplaying by their emphasis on acquisition of skills (through use). A newcomer to the game co

  • by Graff (532189) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @01:43PM (#19480141)
    Personally I think the d6 system that West End Games had for the original Star Wars RPG was close to perfect. It was simple, fun, and didn't get in the way of storytelling. Here's an article on the system: Star Wars role-playing game (WEG) [wikipedia.org]

    It was easy as a Game Master to assign difficulty numbers to actions and have the characters roll against them. The die rolling was fun (everyone loves lots of dice) and the wild die added an element of excitement to the roll. I once had a player roll the wild die 4 times! Everyone around the table was going crazy, especially since that roll saved their butts.

    Advancement was easy and made sense, the skills system worked well, and the source material was amazing. The source material was so good that Lucasfilm considered it an authoritative source for Timothy Zahn when he was writing Thrawn Trilogy.

    I have tried playing the Star Wars d20 system and I have come to the conclusion that there is no point in playing anything but the West End Games d6 version. They got it right the first time and there is really no reason to switch to the flavor of the week.
    • I've played the old d6 version and the first two d20 versions, and while I like a lot of what was in the d20 versions, the games that we remember the best were the old d6 campaigns.

      I'm a little fuzzy on the reviewer's concern for balancing the Jedi class--as though they should be balanced with everyone else in combat. Jedi are badass in the previous d20 editions--but they pay for it in their skills, feats, and behavioral limitations. It doesn't make sense in terms of the game universe for them to be on

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lightwarrior (73124)
      I'm a huge fan of the West End d6 system, and it sounds like the Saga edition is hearkening back to that simpler time. That plus a sub-$30 price tag online is enough for me to give it a shot.

      Note on the article: the "traits" system reminiscent of WoW's talent trees was included in d20 Modern. It might have been included before that, too - but comparing it to something internally consistent (like a RPG) might have been a better analogy than stretching for WoW (though the WoW reference will undoubtedly reac
    • by chazzf (188092)
      I was just thinking about that when I ran across your comment. The old second edition sourcebooks were often worth having in their own right just for the concept artwork and background information. The core rulebook told you everything you needed to know about the game mechanics and gave you a decent launching point (a cantina, natch) without getting you bogged down in the rules. Besides WEG, the only Star Wars role-playing game I've really enjoyed was the original Knights of the Old Republic. d20 to be sur
  • by Orleron (835910) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @01:43PM (#19480149) Homepage
    I've got a bad feeling about this.
  • West End Games..... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon @ g m ail.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @01:45PM (#19480181)
    I liked the West End Games version better. Too bad it's probably history since West End Games is gone (bought by Wizards of the Coast).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_role-playin g_game_(WEG) [wikipedia.org]

    • I also preferred the d6 version of Star Wars. The rules were superior and the sourcebooks were amazing.

      However, I have begun to wonder if the different system is the whole story. When I played a failed Jedi under the West End rules, he had a lightsaber and some mishmash Jedi powers but he was well-balanced for play. His advancement had to do with overcoming alcoholism and finding an alien master of the force. He was not the leader of the party, but when sober he was formidable in combat... however fla

    • West End Games still exists. See http://westendgames.com

      WotC did not buy WEG out. They just bought the Star Wars license after WEG lost it.

      (The Wikipedia article had an poorly-worded sentence that could be interpreted your way. I just fixed it.)
  • D&D v4.0 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moderatorrater (1095745) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @01:47PM (#19480207)
    Could these changes foreshadow the 4th edition of D&D?
    • These are just optional Rules in the d20 SRD (System Resource Document). I know I read them as optional rules in multiple places.

      They consider this the 'dumbed-down' rules, essentially.

      And yes, these are freely available for download. You can play with everything but the actual critters for totally free.
  • by Lockejaw (955650) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @01:52PM (#19480259)

    That attention to detail extends to the rules as well, which may be the most refined version of the d20 mechanic yet released in an official Wizards product. Gone are the cumbersome concepts of Armor Class, Defense, Vitality points, and Saving Throws used by other products.
    How is this a good thing? I can understand why people might not like the Vitality/Wound system as opposed to straight HP (though I think V/W removes a lot of weird things that can happen with HP), but the rest are really pretty important in determining what characters are likely to win in combat.

    but there is no longer a need to keep elaborate track of ship statistics as opposed to crew statistics. The two are now one and the same.
    It's not like you had to do much re: crew stats before. You'd declare your action, make any relevant check, and move on.

    Is the next edition of the rules just going to make it a free-form RPG?
    • Actually one of my favorite parts of the system. It actually cost you something to use some of the badass Force powers or maneuvers, and managed to make the game still lethal for even a high-level character: even a Jedi lightsaber/weedwhacker could take a critical hit if he was unlucky.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Is the next edition of the rules just going to make it a free-form RPG?

      There's no need, we already have the Amber Diceless RPG, and you can use that "system" (such as it is) for the development of any type of game.

      Highly structured gaming systems are best left to computers; if I want my fate to be ruled by mechanisms and random numbers, then I can sit down at my PC. Humans can tell stories, and should.

  • Uncanny! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bieeanda (961632) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:07PM (#19480449)
    I was just discussing with a friend the other day, why I can't stand to play D&D any more. Frankly, it's all the number crunching and the min-maxing. Back when I started with 2nd Edition, that kind of thing was considered anathema-- "munchkin" to borrow the term that was used. When 3rd came out (and with it the first printing of the new Star Wars game), I was leery at first-- but the simplified mechanics won me over, because I can't stand doing math when I'm trying to have fun. Unfortunately, the number crunching came back with a vengeance-- 3rd and 3.5 had design aesthetics that strongly matched that of CRPGs (the concept of item 'slots', and a wide variety of 'buffs'), including the concept of character 'builds' tweaked for maximum efficiency. Munchkinism was no longer anathema, but virtually required.

    This vaguely excites me, if only because they've stripped the numbers down again and apparently made an effort at developing a game that's fun, instead of an exercise in spreadsheet manipulation. Unfortunately, I don't think it's likely to last, because mudflation, feature creep and rule proliferation is pretty much necessary to sell additional sourcebooks. Nobody wants to buy the Complete Book of Twi'leks unless it comes with rules (and illustrations) for Doing That Thing That You Do With Your Lekku.

    • by Maul (83993)
      Min/Maxing exists in just about every game. If your 3/3.5 edition campaigns required extreme munchkining, the it was only because your DM was using munchkined NPC enemies and/or poor at balancing the session on the fly.
    • by The Rizz (1319)

      Frankly, it's all the number crunching and the min-maxing. Back when I started with 2nd Edition, that kind of thing was considered anathema-- "munchkin" to borrow the term that was used.

      If anything, 2e was worse for min-maxing than 3e. In 3e you can make a fairly unoptimized character build and still be useful in play. In 2e, you had better find just the right race/class/kit combination if you expect to be useful at all past level 7 or 8 (and don't even bring up multi- and dual-classing). In most 2e games I've played, with 6 to 8 players you'd usually end up with 2-3 characters who were the primary badass characters, and the rest were just sorta there during the combats - if you weren't o

    • I was just discussing with a friend the other day, why I can't stand to play D&D any more. Frankly, it's all the number crunching and the min-maxing. Back when I started with 2nd Edition, that kind of thing was considered anathema-- "munchkin" to borrow the term that was used. When 3rd came out (and with it the first printing of the new Star Wars game), I was leery at first-- but the simplified mechanics won me over, because I can't stand doing math when I'm trying to have fun.

      Really, it comes dow
  • by v3lut (123906) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:11PM (#19480497) Homepage
    If you can't play Star Wars without a chart to tell you if a heavy blaster kills you more than a light rifle, you've missed the entire point of roleplaying games.

    The Story.

    Don't get me wrong. I understand some people need structure in their gaming experiences, and sometimes GMs need structure to control the players. But you don't need to spend 30-50 bucks on a main book and a hundred dollars on More Books just to play Star Wars. When you were a kid, you probably did it with sticks and no dice at all.

    Imagine watching d20 Star Wars on the big screen. Before Luke and Leia go for that famous swing, there'd be 10 minutes of measuring the distance of the swing, checking the working load on the cable, verifying the sturdiness of the pipes the grapple attached too, checking Luke's strength vs Leia's weight, and rolling constantly for the Stormtroopers trying to open the door.

    At that point, I've stopped eating popcorn.

    Write your own system. Throw out the charts. Tell stories. It's more fun, more memorable, and a heck of a lot cheaper.

    If you like spending money, then take that 150 bucks and buy 10 indie games you've never heard of, and spend some time reading their systems and learning how to take a few rules a long way. Check out octaNe or Dust Devils or Shambles or any of a hundred others.

    Money, and time, well spent.
    • I agree with you that rules shouldn't be the focus of play. The indie games are worth checking out. But I have significant doubts about the indie game crowd's focus on "story". Story is a rather high-level concept, something you don't necessarily see unless you step back from the experience of playing. The most satisfying moments I have experienced and witnessed in RPGs have been more immediate: the excitement of diving out the window just as the bomb goes off, the players huddled around the candle fla

    • If you can't play Star Wars without a chart to tell you if a heavy blaster kills you more than a light rifle, you've missed the entire point of roleplaying games.

      The Story.

      Right.

      Excepting for the people who play to "see" exciting a new things, a sort of fictional adventure tourism. This is one of the appeals of pulp action games, science fiction and fantasy in general. The Eberron setting in D&D has decided elements of this. Sure, story is nice and all, but that they had a cool fight top of a spe

    • Write your own system. Throw out the charts. Tell stories. It's more fun, more memorable, and a heck of a lot cheaper.

      ...or just buy yourself a copy of the HERO System 5th edition revised [wikipedia.org] and run *any* type of game that you can think of in any setting at any time. I have played a lot of RPG systems over the years and this is the only one I have come across, with the possible exception of Chartmaster [wikipedia.org], which tries to do the same thing but doesn't do it as well as HERO does, that literally allows you to run
    • If you can't play Star Wars without a chart to tell you if a heavy blaster kills you more than a light rifle, you've missed the entire point of roleplaying games.

      The Story.

      Almost. The entire point of roleplaying games is to Have Fun. If you Have Fun via the story, then focus on the story. If you Have Fun by powergaming the rules, then find a bunch of like-minded buddies and munch out until your mom makes you go to bed.

      Some people like wargames-in-RPG-clothing, preferring strategy to story. Even a Mon

  • I played a little bit of the original variant of the d20 Star Wars game, and I don't see how the ruleset bound it from not feeling enough like Star Wars. A good GM is never bound by the ruleset, and I feel that I played with a GM talented enough to make our sessions fun and exciting. In fact, the close similarity to 3E DnD was helpful as we weren't hampered by having to totally relearn a whole new system.
    • I played a little bit of the original variant of the d20 Star Wars game, and I don't see how the ruleset bound it from not feeling enough like Star Wars. A good GM is never bound by the ruleset...

      Rules matter [slashdot.org]. If they didn't matter, you could have just used 3e D&D and saved yourself $30. But apparently D&D wasn't quite a good fit and you felt that the Star Wars rules might be a better fit. Hopefully they were.

      Now, did your GM fudge things, tweak, ignore, and modify rules? Then you weren't,

  • I think I can safely say this story cancels out yesterday's Soprano's article [slashdot.org]. All is well with the /. universe once again, carry on.
  • Screw the RPG (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cyno01 (573917) <Cyno01@hotmail.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:39PM (#19480853) Homepage
    Wizards killed the Star Wars CCG, bastards...
  • A few pages in, and it's obvious that the loss in size and thickness has not come at the price of production quality. The entire tome is full color glossy paper throughout.

    Am I the only one who looks at modern role-playing game manuals and gets a headache? This obsession with four-color printing on every page needs to go. The stupid doo-dads around every page number and obnoxious icons do nothing to improve the readability of the book. They probably do, however, help to justify charging $30 for a book t

    • by kria (126207)
      And an AD&D manual gives ME a headache as I try to find the right one of the 470 charts to consult... :)
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:22PM (#19481363)
    As a kid we used to play the 1st version of the RPG that must have been released back in the late 80s. It was far more a slick a production than all of the other RPG books out there (I probably played 10-15 in my life), had humor (Storm Trooper recruitment posters and astromech droid ads), and a very cool dodge-first combat system. Everything was driven from D6s as I remember and accounted for armor penetration (idiotically omitted from games like the Robotech RPGs).

    My favorite feature of the games though was that it distilled Star Wars down to its crucial elements for GMs to follow:

    1. The characters are as unimpressed with their own gadgets as you would be with a remote. A ship's capatain should never shake his fist at a target on a giant view screen and yell to his crew "Fire the proton torpedoes!".
    2. Technology just works. Don't worry about silly rationalizations like you see in Star Trek (sorry fans). But, know the limits of the technology.
    3. The world is black and white. Some people just haven't picked sides yet. Very Romantic (not the soap opera definition).
    4. The banter between characters is so colloquial. No technobabble.

    My one disappointment with the new SW movies was that they'd forgotten these elements.

  • is the best system to run Star Wars in.
    It catches the easy to remove Secondary characters A.K.A Mooks, and still makes for tough villains.
    I hate it when the heros end up in a 1 hour fight with 4 stinking guards. It's not about the guards, it's about the story, the heros, the epic villains.

    I want a game where the player is pretty good at the beginning, not after 2 years of play.

  • If you *really* wanted to run a campaign set in the Star Wars universe and you were willing to do a bit of work fleshing out some of the details then you could have used the HERO System [wikipedia.org] to run your game and it would have been a hell of a lot better than WotC d20 Star Wars. I know that HERO is a bit complex, but it really works well in groups of older gamers (who have better than high school level of education) with previous experience in similar RPG type games. The problem with d20 and similar simplified sy
  • That seems to be a review of the rules of the game. Thanks.

    Where's the review of (what there is of) the setting info? Please just don't say 'Who needs it? It's Starwars!' :)

    How about mentioning the index is godawful?

I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)

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