Is the Force still with the original Star Wars roleplaying experience?
While it may not be the most elegant RPG in the galaxy, Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game is a shot of pure, unadulterated fun that gleefully ditches any trace of grit in favour of space-opera heroics.
The tone of the entire thing is firmly set in line with the hybrid sci-fi/fantasy of the original Star Wars trilogy, long before the muddy tone of the prequels or melancholy feel of Rogue One and The Last Jedi. It’s designed to give a group a chance to blow their way through the galaxy and feel like they’re the heroes of their own adventures rather than just another bunch of renegades.
This is understandable, of course, as the game was first released more than 30 years ago, long before the hint that there could be any more movies waiting in the wings. And though some older systems can seem a little complex to modern tastes, Star Wars: The RPG holds up surprisingly well. In fact, it’s possible to explain everything important about the rules, build a party of characters and get down to fast-talking Imperials in only a matter of minutes.
Of course, it helps that the core mechanic is incredibly simple, with everything from firing a blaster to manifesting force powers requiring you to roll a handful of regular d6s and maybe add a small bonus to the result. How many you roll depends on your skills, while the target number you want to hit depends on how tough the task is.
And that’s pretty much all there is to it.
Instead of devoting hundreds of pages to rulings and character options, Star Wars: The RPG instead has a major focus on guiding the GM as they put together adventures. Though the advice is probably older than most of the people playing, the small sections on suspending disbelief and setting tone – such as reminding you that Star Wars relies on silly noises – are utterly timeless. It would almost be worth picking up the book just for the crash course on GMing heroic adventures alone.
There are signs of rust here and there, such as a reliance on tables and charts that can slow down play and the lack of an index in the rulebook, but Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game holds up magnificently.
Designer: Fantasy Flight/West End Games team
This review originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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