Is Star Wars RPG the perfect d20 system?

greywulf

First Post
I've been reading it through it preparation for one of my group running a game in the near future, and I'm liking what I see - a lot. Almost of the the niggles and stuff that jars about D&D has been ironed out beautifully to produce a neat, well constructed and streamlined game system.

Here's a summary of the bits that are different and (IMHO) better:

* Lots and lots of races, all of which are LA +0. Add in the Ultimate Alien Anthology and you've almost 200 playable races, many of which would fit equally well into the fantasy milieu (if you play a Jorune or Talislanta style game, anyhow). I want me some Wookiee Duskblade!!
* Free-for-all Multi-classing and class selection. Class availability is left in the hands of the DM, just where it should be.
* All classes are packed with goodness; there are very few dead levels where the class gains nothing. This means there's incentive to stick with a single class all the way to 20th, if you wanna.
* Armour gives damage reduction not Defense (AC).
* Defense increases as level improves. Yep. 20th level characters can wear no armour, cast no Mage Armour and still be harder to hit thanks to their training and experience. Just as it should be.
* Reputation bonus and the ability to gain followers after 10th level. This is a return to OD&D Name Level benefits! I love it!
* HP replaced with Wounds and Vitality; Wounds = CON, Vitality improves with level and represents the ability to turn a blow and ignore trivial blows. Cannon fodder critters don't have Vitality.
* Critical hits directly damage Wounds. Cannon fodder critters are reduced to -1 Wounds with single a critical blow.
* Miniatures use is de-emphasized, but still there if you want/need them.
* Force (Magic) use is Vitality-based. It's very easy to drop Vancian magic, Psionics or anything else in too though; just stick those classes in, give them Defense and Reputation mods and you're done.
* Goal-based XP awards. Simple, not primarily combat based and none of that CR/ECL silliness. Just "Simple" (lvlx100), "Challenging" (lvlx300) or "Extreme" (lvlx400). Perfect.

I could go on.............

The main changes (Defense and Wounds/Vitality) make for a more cinematic game where a band of heroes can plough through a load of Droids/Stormtroopers/Goblins before facing off against the main threats. Drop Action Points from d20 Modern into the mix for an optional high-octane flavour and you've something really special.

The kicker for me is this: it's a one book system where just a single volume contains character generation, combat, monsters, setting info and the gamesmaster guide. If this was a model for (dare I say it?) 4e D&D, I'd buy it in an instant.

What do you think of the Star Wars system? Good? Bad? Better?
 

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thedungeondelver

Adventurer

I don't know if STAR WARS is the perfect d20 system, but I do feel that d20 is the perfect system for STAR WARS. I never cared for WeG's d6 based system really at all.

Now if only WotC had seen fit to have brought over/converted the tons of great source material before slamming the door on the STAR WARS RPG :(

 


ShinHakkaider

Adventurer
thedungeondelver said:

I don't know if STAR WARS is the perfect d20 system, but I do feel that d20 is the perfect system for STAR WARS. I never cared for WeG's d6 based system really at all.

Now if only WotC had seen fit to have brought over/converted the tons of great source material before slamming the door on the STAR WARS RPG :(


Ahem...
 

greywulf

First Post
thedungeondelver said:
I don't know if STAR WARS is the perfect d20 system, but I do feel that d20 is the perfect system for STAR WARS. I never cared for WeG's d6 based system really at all.

Now if only WotC had seen fit to have brought over/converted the tons of great source material before slamming the door on the STAR WARS RPG :(
[/font]

I agree, on both counts. d6 was fun for over the top cinematics, but it became too easy to turn Star Wars into a Paranioa session instead - huge blaster wielding maniacs cheerfully wading into and out of situations. For our group, at least :)
 

Psion

Adventurer
I think RCR is pretty good iteration of d20 -- enough so, I'm skeptical of Saga edition. I don't think it's as good as D&D 3.5, and think that many of the contrasts between the system are not things that I'd want to pull back into D&D.

VP/WP would be the most tempting, because it solves my 4 main hangups with HP... but then, I feel that it is sort of going for a different feel.

I don't think they have the class and role balance down as well in D20 SW.

I don't at all feel that favored classes should be done away with in D&D. They are purposeful in defining the feel of races in D&D.


I do agree D&D could use goal-based XP awards and there's one thing you missed I think D&D could use... NPC classes that don't progress in HP/Vitality
 

Psion

Adventurer
thedungeondelver said:
I don't know if STAR WARS is the perfect d20 system, but I do feel that d20 is the perfect system for STAR WARS. I never cared for WeG's d6 based system really at all.

Likewise. I was part of groups that played other SF systems before WEG SW came out, and the game didn't last long in our groups, as it didn't really measure up to other systems of the day.
 

delericho

Legend
I strongly disagree. While d20 could have made for a wonderful Star Wars game, the actual implementation leaves a lot to be desired IMO.

greywulf said:
Here's a summary of the bits that are different and (IMHO) better:

* Lots and lots of races, all of which are LA +0. Add in the Ultimate Alien Anthology and you've almost 200 playable races, many of which would fit equally well into the fantasy milieu (if you play a Jorune or Talislanta style game, anyhow). I want me some Wookiee Duskblade!!
* Free-for-all Multi-classing and class selection. Class availability is left in the hands of the DM, just where it should be.
* All classes are packed with goodness; there are very few dead levels where the class gains nothing. This means there's incentive to stick with a single class all the way to 20th, if you wanna.
* Defense increases as level improves. Yep. 20th level characters can wear no armour, cast no Mage Armour and still be harder to hit thanks to their training and experience. Just as it should be.
* Reputation bonus and the ability to gain followers after 10th level. This is a return to OD&D Name Level benefits! I love it!
* Miniatures use is de-emphasized, but still there if you want/need them.

Okay, all of these I agree with.

* Force (Magic) use is Vitality-based. It's very easy to drop Vancian magic, Psionics or anything else in too though; just stick those classes in, give them Defense and Reputation mods and you're done.
* Goal-based XP awards. Simple, not primarily combat based and none of that CR/ECL silliness. Just "Simple" (lvlx100), "Challenging" (lvlx300) or "Extreme" (lvlx400). Perfect.

And these I don't disagree with. Although, in both cases they're just alternative systems that do their jobs well, but not necessarily better than the D&D mechanisms.

* Armour gives damage reduction not Defense (AC).
* HP replaced with Wounds and Vitality; Wounds = CON, Vitality improves with level and represents the ability to turn a blow and ignore trivial blows. Cannon fodder critters don't have Vitality.
* Critical hits directly damage Wounds. Cannon fodder critters are reduced to -1 Wounds with single a critical blow.

The main changes (Defense and Wounds/Vitality) make for a more cinematic game where a band of heroes can plough through a load of Droids/Stormtroopers/Goblins before facing off against the main threats. Drop Action Points from d20 Modern into the mix for an optional high-octane flavour and you've something really special.

In theory, this is correct. In practice, it really doesn't work like that.

Armour as DR has the effect of making anything that adds to damage (most notably Power Attack) far more powerful. Additionally, since the DR only applies on a critical hit, this change has the effect of making armour almost worthless. Making that change is fine, in principle, but in practice it necessitates a lot more rebalancing of the combat rules than is done here (or Unearthed Arcana).

The VP/WP system has the odd effect of actually making PCs extremely combat-phobic, which works against the cinematic feel that seems to be the goal. A high level PC won't simply wade through dozens of mooks (as they would in D&D), because there's always a 1 in 400 chance that any attack will be a critical hit, and you can only take two or three of those. And, in fact, where Jedi with lightsabers are involved (or any character with Sneak Attack) that number drops to 1.

Arguably, the VP/WP system is more 'realistic'. Ironically, the hit point system would have fit the source material a lot better, IMO.

The kicker for me is this: it's a one book system where just a single volume contains character generation, combat, monsters, setting info and the gamesmaster guide. If this was a model for (dare I say it?) 4e D&D, I'd buy it in an instant.

While a one-book system has its charms, one of the great strengths of D&D IMO is the range covered by the core. Given that very little outside the core is well-supported (especially in Dungeon magazine), the last thing I want to see is a reduction in the scope of the core rules. YMMV, of course.

What do you think of the Star Wars system? Good? Bad? Better?

The other thing I didn't like about Star Wars is the starship combat system. In the first version of the game, it was really clunky and awkward. In the revised edition, the system was improved a lot, but it still didn't take enough account of the differences between an X-Wing flown by Luke and an X-Wing flown by "Red 6". The system should have been much closer to the regular combat system, IMO, with the snubfighter somehow 'inheriting' its hit points from the pilot.

Unfortunately, there are two things I really wanted from a Star Wars game: lightsaber duels and starship combat. The Star Wars d20 game failed me on both counts.
 

greywulf

First Post
Good points, all, thanks. I didn't know there's a new version coming out. Boy will Mark (my player) ever be hacked off! :)

Balance is less of an issue for our group, whatever the game. Good game balance comes from good games mastering, not bad rules. That's something D&D doesn't seem to understand.

When it comes to sci-fi systems we're used to playing Traveller, so gaming in a universe where the rules aren't geared toward making combat almost certainly fatal is going to make a welcome change - I'm looking forward to my first firefight where I'm not scared for my character's life!

We've run d20 Modern, Mutants & Masterminds and D&D games (among others) for the past year or so, and thaey're all good in their own way, allbeit with a slighty different feel to each one. M&M is superb, but wouldn't work for Fantasy. Not the way we play it, at least. d20 Modern is too....um..... clean cut (though I love the concept of the classes). Star Wars is the first time I've read a set of d20 rules and thought that they would handle d20 Fantasy better than D&D itself. I'm impressed.

delericho, considering you "strongly disagree" you seem to agree with a lot of my points :) I'm interesting in your thoughts about the effect that Wounds/Vitality and Defense has on combat, and now I'm looking forward to it even more - I want to test it out for myself. What you say about caution makes sense; I agree, that does indeed go against the intention of the rules and how it /sounds/ like it should be played. I want to see that for myself. My group isn't afraid of pulling back in combat and using tactics and cover where it's possible rather than charging gung-ho, so it might not be a problem for us. I agree with you about light saber battles not being as well covered as they could be.

Hmmmmmmm..............
 

HellHound

ENnies winner and NOT Scrappy Doo
Not a fan of WP/VP, I think the MDT system in CoCd20 was better. The armor as DR seems to do next to nothing in this system - might as well get rid of armor completely.

I also prefer classless play, and my d20 modern game got rid of all the classes, for instance.

As for the miniatures thing, I don't see any real difference between D&D and SWd20 when it comes to the emphasis on minis. In fact, we use minis a lot more in my SWd20 games than in my D&D games.

I do like the number of LA+0 races
 

Turjan

Explorer
I like Star Wars d20 pretty much, because it's a very concise system. The body of rules is managable, and the classes don't have an extensive but very narrow set of weird ability combinations coming with them. This said, the SW d20 has a few balance problems. And I'm not really a fan of how the VP/WP system was implemented, although I'm not the one to complain about the reduced importance of armor. I don't like its deadliness, though.

The new SW d20 Saga Edition will go to back to hitpoints combined with a five step condition track, similar to SW d6. There will only be 5 classes, customizable wilth many different feat trees (which means they encompass all current classes). The skills have been simplified. And all classes can be potential force users. It's a bit early to say whether I will like the new system, but it sounds interesting enough that I will have a look at it.

Let's see whether this is nearer to the mechanics of the KotOR computer games. I liked them because they were very clear, although the game used quite a few "invented" abilities (feats) in order to plaster over some of the balance issues.
 

Victim

First Post
Our group mocks Stars Wars d20 as a game done in a weekend. Bad classes, magic, ship combat, equipment, races, damage system, etc.

Just because the races don't have an actual LA doesn't mean they don't deserve them. Races with 4 arms and sneak attack as a racial ability aren't LA zero. VP based magic means guardians are superior force users.
 

Greg K

Legend
Could d20 be a great system for Star Wars? Yes. Has it been? Not as far as I am concerned. Then again, I don't like the DND style class structure and/or hit points per level for any licensed game based on novels or film.
 

JVisgaitis

Explorer
At first I thought this was referring to the new Star Wars and I was confused as I didn't think it was out... One thing that bugs me about Star Wars is Wounds and Vitality. I'm sorry, but I think its way too lethal. I agree that it increases the danger level and such, but I think there can be a better mechanic for that.
 

smootrk

First Post
Is SWd20 perfect? not really sure if I would say perfect, but I like a lot of aspects of it.

Now, hearing that the new version has aspects of the D20 Modern system makes me think that they took a good thing and really made it better. Seems like the marriage of the best of both systems to me. I am looking forward to getting that book this May.
 


greywulf

First Post
Well, I guess it's true. Ask 10 gamer's their opinion, and you'll get d20 different answers :)

Interesting how many people didn't like the system much (or thought it broken) while I like it a lot. I guess differnet people, different needs and expectations. That's cool too.

I'm really drooling for the new release of Star Wars now; if this game takes off (it's going to alternate for a while with my own Ptolus campaign) I'll pick it up when it's released.

Thanks for the feedback, folks!
 

Turjan

Explorer
Victim said:
Our group mocks Stars Wars d20 as a game done in a weekend. Bad classes, magic, ship combat, equipment, races, damage system, etc.
Heh, too true. The sad thing is that the system has been jury-rigged now for years. I like the Jedi Counseling that tries to save the tech specialist (bolding for emphasis mine):

[sblock]Q: My players and I have some problems with the tech specialist class. It has the lowest skill points of any heroic class (tied with the soldier and Jedi guardian), medium base attack progression, only a single bonus feat at 1st level, and no proficiency with modern weapons (such as blaster pistols). On top of that, you're guaranteed never to master more than two tech specialties, and the most attractive one -- mastercrafting -- costs a ton of XP to use! On account of all of this, I've never had a player who wanted to take levels in the tech specialist class, even if their character concept seemed to fit. They'd all prefer to be a scoundrel, a fringer, or even a soldier than portray a "techie" character. Do you have any suggestions to make this class more attractive?

A: These are common observations about the tech specialist class. The original intent was to make it a noncombat class (thus the lack of blaster pistol proficiency) that was really good at a handful of technical skills (thus the low skill points). Nevertheless, here are some ways to make the class a little more attractive to players. These variants may be used individually or together:

Variant: Tech Specialist Bonus Feats

In this variant rule, the tech specialist class gets bonus feats at 1st, 6th, 12th, and 18th level, chosen from the following list: Artistic*, Cautious, Cybernetic Surgery*, Dodge, Gearhead, Inventor*, Kit-Bashing*, Low Profile, Sharp-Eyed, Spacer, Starship Dodge, Starship Operation, Surgery, Technical Wizard*, Weapon Group Proficiency (blaster pistols), Zero-G Training. The tech specialist still must meet all prerequisites for the feat to select it. This change allows the tech specialist to be proficient with blaster pistols at 1st level if desired.

* Feat found in the Hero's Guide.

Variant: Stacking Tech Specialties

In this variant rule, the Tech Specialty ability is changed so that each time the character gets it, he selects one new specialty at +1, and all previous specialties also increase by +1 (to a maximum of +3). Thus, after a character has gained six Tech Specialty abilities, he'll have four at +3, one at +2, and one at +1. This encourages the tech specialist to select his chosen specialties early in his career, but he can still gain competence and even mastery of more than a few different specialties over time.

Variant: Cheaper Mastercrafting

In this variant, the XP requirement for mastercraft items is reduced to 1/100th of the cost of the item. The Inventor feat from the Hero's Guide reduces this to 1/150th of the cost of the item. This change makes the XP cost of mastercraft items more in line with the equivalent XP cost for making magic items in Dungeons & Dragons.

Variant: More Tech Specialist Skill Points

In this variant, the tech specialist receives (6 + Int modifier) x 4 skill points at 1st level, and 6 + Int modifier skill points at each additional level. The tech specialist class skill list is not changed.[/sblock]I repeat that wonderful sentence: These variants may be used individually or together. This means that the class is still not overpowered if you ramp it up with all four power-ups. Or maybe it is. I have the feeling that nobody of the designers knows or cares.
 

greywulf

First Post
Our group mocks Stars Wars d20 as a game done in a weekend. Bad classes, magic, ship combat, equipment, races, damage system, etc.

The thing is that the same could be said of the whole of d20, including D&D. The only thing that's changed is the number of weekends :)

d20 is itself a cobbled together system that kinda-sort-almost works. It's got rules-that-fix-rules bolted onto the top of lecacy systems like some kind of engineer's nightmare. But it's fun despite (or perhaps because of) all this, and that's why we play.

I'd rate Star Wars as one of the better systems of the bunch for the reasons given in the OP; it's not without flaws - as your quote about the Tech Specialist proves so well - but it just wouldn't be possible to create a d20 system without them*.

* Though Call of Cthulhu d20 comes pretty darned close. CoC doesn't work for me as a Fantasy system though; I like my classes in Fantasy. Dunno why. But I do.
 

arscott

First Post
thedungeondelver said:

Wow, how long before WotC throws this baby out with the bathwater?

Delver, I think you're being really unfair to WotC here. The terms of their license with Lucasfilms basically allowed them to either make the SW RPG or the SW miniatures game, but not both. And the minis games are so much more profitable for WotC that, from a business standpoint, there was only one real choice.

And, though it's nice to dream about RPG publishers abandoning sound business practices in order to focus all their production on your personal wants, remember that if WotC didn't make decisions with their pocketbooks in mind, they wouldn't have the recourses they need to get the SW license in the first place.

And it's pretty clear that WotC hasn't abandoned Star Wars so much as set it aside until they could do it properly: Under their new license with Lucasfilms, they've got a new edition of the SWRPG, The SW minis game, and a new SW spaceship combat game.
 

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