An Elegant System For A More Civilized Age

Most of you probably remember the line “An elegant weapon for a more civilized age” from 1977’s Star Wars. So it’s probably no surprise that this post is about the rules of the original Star Wars roleplaying game by West End Games.

Released back in the late 1980s the game used an updated and modified d6 System which premiered with the Ghostbusters RPG. If you compare it with the later editions of the Star Wars game and other d6 System games you’ll notice quite a few differences. While a lot of people prefer the more recent editions of the game system, I still have a soft spot for the Star Wars 1st Edition rules.

Overall the 1st edition rules were simpler than the 2nd edition rules. 2nd edition not only added the Wild Die (which could lead to some very epic results and as epic failures), but also tweaked scaling, changed movement speeds form dice codes to a fixed value, changed the damage and healing system, and last but not least added Advanced Skills. Do the changes make the system better? Maybe. Do they make the game simpler? Definitely not.

Especially if you’re looking for a fast system which doesn’t get in the way of roleplaying the old 1st edition rules are probably your best choice. I am actually not surprised that the creators of the Heavy Gear d6 conversion chose to model the rules after this system instead of using the more recent d6 Space as a basis (which is pretty close to 2nd Edition Star Wars).

What I’d really like to see is a generic SF RPG modeled after the original Star Wars ruleset. In my opinion it’s closer to what I personally would like to run. Perhaps I’ll have to do the heavy hauling myself one day, if noone else does it. But you never know.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

4 thoughts on “An Elegant System For A More Civilized Age”

  1. I preferred the 1st edition rules for their simplicity.

    Its actually pretty easy to graft the d6 system onto Traveller. If using the CT character gen without the later books, then every skill level is one extra die, and your stats are divided by three and then converted to die. So a character with a Dex of 7 and Pilot-1 skill would have Dex of 2d+1 and Pilot at 3d+1 (i think Pilot was a Dex or Agility skill in the old Star Wars, maybe it was Mechanic instead, but you get the idea). 3d+1 would usually succeed against a 10 difficulty task, and practically always succeed against a 5 difficulty, which means such a character would be competent enough to be employed as a pilot, just as a character with Pilot-1 in CT would be. If using the expanded char gen from the later books or MT, then each skill level converts the same way as the stats, each increment is +1 (e.g. 1 is +1, 2 is +2, 3 is 1d, 4 is 1d+1 and so on.)

    I have been recently digging around looking for a good, simple system to run a Traveller campaign, and your blog post reminded me of how much I liked the d6 system. So now I’m off to dig up my old Star Wars 1st Edition 🙂


    1. @Chip Wright – That is a really good idea, that is using the D6 engine for Traveller, I like that.

  2. @stargazer – I also would like to see a generic “Space Opera” version of the Star Wars 1E rules. Something to run 50’s & 60’s “Imperial” sci-fi stories with.

    Have you done any of that heavy lifting yet?

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