Star Wars... wars (Or "Old School vs. New School")

Monday, April 1, 2013

I'm going to start this with a disclaimer. I like Star Wars, but I in no way qualify as any kind of expert. I'm as familiar with Star Wars as anyone who's played a couple pencil and paper RPGs, both of the XBOX Knights of the Old Republic games, and read about a dozen of the books can be. Which sounds like a lot but in practice doesn't ever seem to be.
We're getting ready to launch a new pencil and paper game and it has been unanimously decided that this game shall take place in the Star Wars universe. This is not a first for our gaming group, though I definitely hope it ends on a better note than our last ill-fated excursion aboard the trusty "Aluminum Pigeon".... The weird part isn't that we named the ship that; it's that it was the best of several proposals put forth... And a huge step above the ignominious "Emperor's Bedpan".

To the point- Which system do we play? I'm a huge fan of the ever popular Saga Edition, but we recently played Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, and there's a lot to be said of this emerging game system. There's a certain intuitive flow that comes from the game, though I kind of suspect that part of that comes from the fact that the Edge of the Empire system, which utilizes a kind of soft rules, cooperative role-playing system similar to the Cortex system in the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game. That same soft rules system has had positive and negative results for us however. When we played the aforementioned MHR, the rules light nature of the system required an extremely high level of cooperation and understanding between the Watcher (I'm like 90% sure that that's what they call the Gamemaster in that system) and the players. It can be hard to adjudicate fairly when the system has a certain (fairly large) amount of arbitrariness about it.

The Saga Edition, on the other hand, while lacking the organic flow of EotE, has a definite structure to it. While there's more rules overall to keep track of, they give you a strong framework for everyone to build from. Plus, they feature a pretty sweet d20 system that was born during the transitional period between 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons and the tragically short-lived 4th Edition, incorporating the best of the rules system that was, and the rules system that was to come.

The biggest problem with Saga Edition is the same problem that plagues many Star Wars games: Everybody wants to use the Force. I mean, no duh, right? Force using mystics with laser-bladed swords is pretty much the epitome of all that is iconic about Star Wars. But it just isn't much of a game without Scoundrels, Nobles, Scouts, and Droids. Sure, a party full of Skywalker's seems like it'd be awesome, but without Han Solo and Chewie, Luke would've just been some kid killed by Stormtroopers outside a seedy bar in Tatooine (literary license has been liberally taken with the prior sentence).

So, Saga Edition would require a certain compromise on the parts of all involved parties. A gentleman(or woman)'s agreement, that, despite how totally cool it would be if your carbine wielding bounty hunter also knew how to throw Force Lightning, you will quietly take Rapid Shot and allow someone else a chance to be the Jedi this time around. Edge of the Empire, which exists in a time when the Jedi have been more or less urged from the galaxy, doesn't seem to currently contain a Force-wielding element, which helps us avoid the issue altogether.

I'm just not sure where to go with this one... Ah, well, it shall be as the Force wills.