The Best Star Wars RPGs

24 April 2024
In a rich world, it's no surprise RPG players have explored Star Wars for some time. We take a look at the history of Star Wars RPGs, arguably the best ones, and how it's grown from the very first adaptations to the modern games in play today.

Written by George Chrysostomou

It should come as no surprise that the Star Wars galaxy has played host to a huge array of roleplaying games across the franchise’s history. Although the initial movie launched in 1977, an expanded universe of storytelling would build for decades afterwards, with each era allowing for a new array of worlds and characters to dive into. Whether it was because of the movies, books, comics or even video games, fans wanted to interact with this universe in a more personal way and therefore there was always a need for an RPG. 

Related article: How Star Wars RPGs redefined Sci-fi

West End Games (1987-1999)

In 1986 West End Games produced a Ghostbusters RPG, which would form the groundwork for Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, just a year later. The game went to great lengths to provide a definitive and immersive take on the Star Wars universe and used a variation of the classic D6 System which West End Games was known for. It was titled D6 due to the pool of six-sided dice players had to roll, and was identified by its introduction of exploding dice where rolling a six meant another roll was added, and a character system shaped by attributes and skills. With the 2nd edition launching in 1992, a revised iteration in 1996 and the 30th anniversary celebration releasing in 2018, West End Games’ reimagining has stood the test of time and was supported far beyond its expected lifespan. 

A book cover, showing the large Star Wars logo with ROLEPLAYING GAME written beneath. The image is a black galaxy with a Milennium Falcon on the front and TIE fighters and persuing

West End Games' Star Wars RPG was the first and biggest!

With around 140 sourcebooks and guides published alongside the original core book, West End Games truly made the most of possessing the Star Wars licence. LucasFilm felt that the world the company had built was so extensive, that the rulebooks were often used as guides for creators who were adding to the Star Wars expanded universe in their own right. Timothy Zahn for example, the creator of Grand Admiral Thrawn and best-selling author, used the roleplaying game as a bible for George Lucas’ universe. This RPG is still held in high regard today, as a fantastic toolkit which gave Games Masters and players genuine freedom to create and explore. West End Games’ text partially exists in canon today, with some species, planets and weapons lasting beyond those initial rulebooks. It was only when the company went bankrupt in 1998 that this incredible collaboration came to an end, but the bar was raised for its successors. For those interested, the game was later retooled and released as D6 Space (which you can find on Drive Thru RPG).  The 30th Anniversary edition of it was also published by Fantasy Flight Games

Find a copy of Star Wars: RPG from West End Games on Amazon

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Wizards Of The Coast (2000-2010)

The second company to be given the licence to craft a Star Wars RPG was Wizards Of The Coast, who forged a now out-of-print rulebook based around their D20 system. This game engine was initially created for the 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons and was identified by its 20-sided dice, attribute modifiers that impact a player’s rolls, and a tighter focus on a progression-based level and class character system. While Wizards launched the RPG in 2000, it created a Revised Edition in 2002 and then a Saga Edition in 2007 which actually changed the rules and forced players to relearn the basics. While this later streamlined version might have split audiences, due to its simplicity but accessibility, Wizards Of The Coast made a good effort overall in putting their own stamp on the Star Wars RPG series. 

A copy of the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars RPG is available on Amazon. 

Cover of Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars RPG, with a composition of characters from the prequel trilogy

It might be a controversial entry, but an important one in the Star Wars RPG history. 

Fantasy Flight Games (2012-2020)

Fantasy Flight Games crafted the latest interpretation of a Star Wars RPG, utilising a unique gameplay system which is carefully crafted for this franchise. However, the studio has taken inspiration from the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition, with Fantasy Flight ironing out the mechanics through a long beta program. This particular version has gone from strength to strength since, with the title framed around multiple lines including Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion, Dawn of Rebellion and Force and Destiny. With Fantasy Flight Games also producing miniatures for their other Star Wars titles, the RPG can be elevated by the use of these cross-platform products. 

A red book cover for Star wars Age of Rebellion Roleplaying game. Luke and Leia are on the front, and the background is a space battle.

Star Wars Age of Rebellion RPG lets you fight the good fight!

Edge Studio (2020-Present)

2020 marked the end of Fantasy Flight Games’ run on the Star Wars RPG, with Asmodee moving the licence to Edge Studio, who has continued on this exact same line. Edge Studio has now published reprints of the original texts, which act as new starting points for a modern generation of players to access this system. There appears to be no plans to overhaul the game, so as of right now future Star Wars releases could be incorporated into this current RPG. 

A mostly white book cover for Star Wars Edge of the Empire Roleplaying game. Hans Solo and Chewbacca are in the foreground, with the Millenium Falcon in the background being shot at.

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire lets you play as an outlaw

Which Is Best Star Wars RPG? 

Taking all of these versions into account, it’s almost impossible to choose a standout and fans will be able to make very specific arguments about each system. For the nostalgia, it’s perhaps the West End Games version that is the most important in Star Wars RPG history, especially because it helped to maintain relevance for the franchise in the late 80s and throughout the 90s. But modern players will find that the current version is the most accessible, adaptable and mechanically original. Star Wars RPGs have been on an incredible journey and all provide players with the opportunity to live out their own galactic adventure.

Related article: Star Wars through the Ages on Tabletop

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