Today Star Wars: The Last Jedi premieres, and as I count down the hours to it (12 to be precise as I write this post), it’s got me thinking about the movies, my experiences with them, and inevitably as a gamer, how the Star Wars saga influenced my role-playing games, both with the official RPG games and with RPGs in general.
I saw Star Wars, later titled Episode – 4 A New Hope, in theaters, in 1977. I was blown away. I’ve told this story before many times. My mother was in a business trip when the movie premiered. Star Wars premiered in March in the USA, but in October in Puerto Rico, the details are here in this newspaper article, mind you it is in Spanish. You can see the newspaper ad below this paragraph. My mother, got me all the action figures she could find and brought them back from her trip. Not knowing what these toys where I ignored them until I saw the movie. Then everything changed! My Star Wars toys became my favorite toys. I must have played a thousand different stories using them.
I began playing RPGs four years after Return of the Jedi, but I was a BIG fan of Marvel’s original Star Wars comics and the newspaper strip. The movies had ended but I was still a fan. I remember reading in some magazine, I’d like to say it was The Dungeoneer but I am not sure, an idea for a magical library in which the characters would open a book and C-3PO and R2-D2 would appear, then followed by Darth Vader! I used the idea in my D&D game and a character lost a magical sword cut by Vader’s lightsaber.
While that might have been a cheap trick, the idea of heroes and the hero’s journey (not Campbell’s ideas per se, but the structure in its broadest terms, even if I wasn’t able to verbalize it as such) was well ingrained in my mind by the Star Wars template, and many other properties that used the same myth as a basis for their stories. I would often associate heroics with specific roles in Star Wars. It certainly colored my idea of heroes in an RPG, the player characters were not dirty murder hobos fighting for a few scraps of treasure in a deadly dungeon. They were larger than life mythical heroes, and it influenced the sort of games and campaigns I played for a long time.
Then there was the official RPG… Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, by West End Games, also known as Star Wars D6. It came out in 1987, but I got it in 1989, and many of my assumptions of what the Star Was galaxy was, were defined by this game and its sourcebooks. I wasn’t alone, you can read a bit about it here, and here. I owned all three versions of the D6 book: First Edition, Second Edition and Second Edition Revised and Expanded; and many of the supplements. Strangely, I was never able to get a campaign off the ground. However, I knew people like my friend Ramón Luis, his epic Star Wars campaign is the stuff of legends! This game is a classic and it set pretty high bar. People still play it and fans produce content for it. There is even going to be a reprint of the classic game.
I would of course own both WotC versions of the Star Wars RPG, and SO MANY of their pre-painted ships and minis. It was with the release of the Star Wars Saga Edition that I finally managed to run a successful Star Wars campaign, 10 years ago in 2007. I posted a series of articles on my Star Wars Infinities, or alternate storyline campaign, here in the blog, you can find the first one here. I have not played Fantasy Flight Star Wars games, but all I hear are good things and I would certainly want to give them a try.
That I haven’t played that much Star Wars RPGs doesn’t mean it has not been influential in my games. Most of the sci-fi RPG campaigns I’ve run, whether consciously or unconsciously, have been influenced by several elements of the series. Mythical space warriors, scrappy rebellion, and I always love a setting with a lot of aliens. The movies, cartoon series, books, comics, novels, have all been formative for me.
Combined, the Star Wars films are the movies I’ve seen the most. When I try to explain to someone how I love movies with a sad ending where the heroes fail, I’ll often refer to The Empire Strikes Back. I can spend hours taking about Star Wars, not unlike I’ve done with my friend Anibal this week. I grew up with Star Wars and it’s a part of me, of how I enjoy entertainment, of the games I play. Its influence is undeniable.
Just to give you sense of how much I was into Star Wars growing up, I was aware of the Obi-Wan is a clone, OB-1 theory. I don’t remember how, but I did, and even used some of that idea for my Star Wars Infinities campaign. Sadly, we only finished the first arc of three I had planned for that game. I also was convinced that Lars Owen was Obi-Wan’s brother. Wookieepedia explains were that came from here, scroll down to the Behind the Scenes section. And they were brothers in my campaign. There is so much Star Wars trivia in my brain that I can’t always recall where it came from, and I know a LOT of people who know far more than I do.
Tonight, I’m going to go see The Last Jedi, on IMAX 3-D, and hope it will add to my sense of wonder and excitement about the happenings a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Let’s see if it inspires me to play some Star Wars themed RPG again. I’ve been dying to try some Savaged Star Wars, of which there are many conversions out there, or maybe make a Star Wars conversion for Stars Without Number (that’s the link to the free version of the Revised Edition). We’ll see…
If you want to know my thoughts on The Last Jedi, follow me on Twitter as @Sunglar I’ll try to keep it spoiler free! Thanks for taking this trip with me down memory lane. Have a great week and an even better weekend. May the force be with you… always!