A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, West End Games produced the original Star Wars RPG. First published in 1987, fresh on the heels of the award winning Ghostbusters RPG, West End Games (WEG) created one of the most entertaining and simple RPGs ever.
The Star Wars RPG perfectly immerses the player into the well known and well loved universe of Star Wars. Complete with images from the movie and full color fake advertisements from the Imperial Navy and Galaxy Tours’ Four Week Grand Galactic Tour. This hard cover book contains everything you need to join the Rebel Alliance against the forces of darkness and defeat the Empire. Everything except a few 6 sided dice that is. An elegant system, for a more civilized age, the conflict resolution system is entirely D6 based so you can simply pilfer the Yahtzee set and you’re ready to go. The resistance based system sets difficulty points for various tasks and the dice pool stats and skills determine the characters abilities. The system is smooth and painless for even the greenest game master with only the slightest of prep time. It would later evolve into the WEG core D6 system released as a stand alone universal RPG a decade later.
When the game was first released in 1987 it was immediately supported by a wealth of supplemental material and sourcebooks. Not that anyone would need it but with the sourcebooks and campaign books, even someone who’d never heard of Star Wars could experience the adventure and excitement of the original trilogy. So detailed and immersive were these supplements that Lucasfilm even sent a set to Timothy Zahn for research material before he started writing the Thrawn Trilolgy. By 1998 WEG had created a 2nd edition rulebook and nearly 150 various supplements before losing the license to Wizards of the Coast, who, along with their trademark D20 system, also brought all the glitz and polish of the prequel trilogy and most disturbingly, the option of playing dark side Jedi.
The beauty of the WEG version of the Star Wars RPG isn’t just in its simple mechanics or its immersive and respectful tribute tothe original trilogy, although all of that plays a part. No the real joy of playing this game lies in its innocence. This game represents everything that the Star Wars franchise originally represented. Heroism Bravery, Honor and Adventure. While the Jedi character type grossly imbalances the party, the Jedi Code is strictly enforced. In fact, to some extent the code is enforced on all characters regardless of their force sensitivity. While doing heroic deeds can earn force points, used to fuel force powers for jedi or to influence die rolls with other characters, doing evil deeds or acting maliciously runs the risk of earning your character a dark side point. Each dark side point increases the likelihood of turning to the dark side. If your character turns, the GM takes your sheet and you become and NPC enemy. A brilliant carrot & stick to help reign in those players with immoral tendencies, and enforcing the overall tone of heroic adventure for the game.
While there have been a lot of changes to the Star Wars universe lately and the newest version of the game by Fantasy Flight Games will likely see updates very soon to reflect this, the original feels as comfortable and well worn as that old VHS of the original, pre special edition Star Wars.
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