Deep in my heart I am a Traveller roleplaying game fan. The RockyMountainNavy Boys, and especially the Middle Boy, are Star Wars fans and more into the Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game line. As I am the one called upon to Game Master (GM) sessions I feel I need to “keep up” with the rules. Seeing how a recent trip to the FLGS resulted in the purchase of a new book I decided I needed to “review the holdings” to see what I can learn to help make our sessions more enjoyable.
In reviewing the books onhand, I focused not so much on the new character classes or equipment or vehicles like the RMN Boys do. Instead, I turned to the later pages in the book which gives the GM advice on running campaigns in that book’s setting.
Edge of the Empire
Edge of the Empire is the preferred era of the RMN Boys. So these books offer the rules that the RMN Boys “expect” to see the most. I found some of the extra rules useful, and some less so.
- Enter the Unknown: A Sourcebook for Explorers – Features rules for “Grand Expeditions” and exploration; not very appealing to the RMN Boys
- Suns of Fortune: A Sourcebook for the Corellian Sector – The RMN Boys are absolute Han Solo fans so in many ways this is their sourcebook but for the GM it lacks featuring rules for Modular Encounters (blah)
- Dangerous Covenants: A Sourcebook for Hired Guns – The RMN Boys like the Bounty Hunter and Hired Guns classes and all their equipment so the rules for “Paramilitary Vehicle Conversions” are awesome; for the GM “Cinematic Combat” is a way to speed up battle resolution (+)
- Far Horizons: A Sourcebook for Colonists – The RMN Boys got this one again for the interesting mix of equipment and weapons; for the GM “Making Social Encounters Interesting” is a very useful section (+)
- Fly Casual: A Sourcebook for Smugglers – This is a “core” book for the RMN Boys; for the GM there are lots of useful rules like revised Hyperspace Travel, Con Jobs and Scams, Heists and Break-Ins, Showdowns and Shootouts, and Gambling (ok….)
- Special Modifications: A Sourcebook for Technicians – Another weapon and equipment heavy book; for the GM the Crafting rules and Slicing are useful (ok?)
- No Disintegrations: A Sourcebook for Bounty Hunters – The second “core” book for the RMN Boys; for the GM the “Investigations” seems a bit out of place but is still useful when hunting a bounty (ok).
Age of Rebellion
Like any military-oriented RPG, Age of Rebellion strains under the stress of running a group of free-thinkers that is supposedly under military discipline.
- Stay on Target: A Sourcebook for Aces – For the GM the section on Astromechs is useful for world-building flavor as is Dogfight Terrain but the whole Beast Riding seems out of place though I understand the similarities in “mounts” being a fighter OR a beast (??)
- Forged in Battle: A Sourcebook for Soldiers – Here the writers of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game make an attempt to address the many issues that surround playing a military team in an RPG; useful GM rules cover “Strike Missions,” “Soldier Campaigns,” “Fortifications,” and different “Combat Environments” (I’ll just adapt the Mercenary rules from Traveller here)
Force and Destiny
Personally, I tend to try and keep our Star Wars Roleplaying Game campaigns to what I term “low Force;” I generally use the Force as introduced in Edge of the Empire and try to stay away from the “Lightswords & Wizards” found in Force and Destiny.
- Keeping the Peace: A Sourcebook for Guardians – Not much here for the GM but the RMN Boys like the rules for Armor crafting (meh)
- Endless Vigil: A Sourcebook for Sentinels – Once again, the Boys look to “Lightsaber Crafting” whereas I, the GM, study Urban Environments or Contact Networks; need to check how these Investigation rules mesh – or not – with the Investigation rules in EotE No Disintegrations and pick the one I like to run (ok…).
This is the recently purchased book that spurred this exploration. Rise of the Separatists: An Era Sourcebook focuses on the Clone Wars TV series which the Boys absolutely enjoyed but I kinda passed on. That said, the rules for “Running Large Battles,” which is different from mass combat rules found in Age of Rebellion, and the “Optional Rules: Fighting in Squads and Squadrons” may be useful.
Putting It All Together
At the end of the day I’m content with falling back on pure GM skills and not being closely tied to an “official” mechanical implementation. I find this approach especially useful in a more-narrative RPG like the Star Wars Roleplaying Game. I’m comfortable with looking at a Player Character’s characteristics, skills, and attributes and letting the player explain how they are doing something and make a roll. After that we one can use the narrative results of the die roll to keep the story moving! Honestly, the only real rules a GM needs to know is the core mechanic in Star Wars Roleplaying Game. That said, the many “extra” rules can be helpful in creating a setting that the players buy into.
I’ll point out here that when we play, I try to stay away from close ties with canon; I prefer to place our adventures away from iconic characters and events and will only use them, if at all, in a brief passing encounter more to remind the characters about some aspect of the Star Wars universe than to try to change it. Hey, it’s a big galaxy out there with plenty of room for stories away from canon!