Musing on Star Wars themes in RPG

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Because the core themes of Star Wars are devotion and love (and the complex ways these interact and sometimes conflict)?

Yoda tells Obi Wan that Luke, by going to Bespin to try and save his friends, is ruining his training. But in fact he is completing it. That's the core of Star Wars!
Star Wars is a huge setting where you can tell lots of different stories. An RPG shouldn't be focused solely on the emotional core of one part of it.

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That's just the way the story happened to work out in my view. Having mechanics that  make the story work that way would actually make the whole thing less meaningful to me.
Well, if you don't think that Star Wars has themes, or perhaps you don't think that those themes should matter to a Star Wars RPG, naturally that's your prerogative.

But the question asked in the OP was this:
So if there were to be a rpg based of the themes that make Star Wars what it is, what would these themes be and how could they be represented mechanically?
That's the question I've addressed.

If you think that the difference between Star Wars and (say) Alien is that only the former has light sabres, then your answers will probably be different from mine.

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
That's just the way the story happened to work out in my view. Having mechanics that  make the story work that way would actually make the whole thing less meaningful to me.

Yes. Even if my 5e games all those sorts of interpersonal connections happen and are a big part of the game, without any sort of system/mechanical support.

And as for them being especially important in Star Wars, I can't think of a setting that doesn't have those sorts of connections. Even the original REH Conan stories has that.

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
If you think that the difference between Star Wars and (say) Alien is that only the former has light sabres, then your answers will probably be different from mine.

If one only wants to consider the first movie, then maybe. But if we examine the whole canon, in the second movie, Aliens, interpersonal relationships are huge. Ripley's commitment to Newt. Her initial hostility to Bishop because of her trauma with androids, which turns into trust. Her budding affection for Hicks.

And who could forget how poignantly Vasquez's final moments demonstrate her bond with her teammates? (I need to go find a tissue just thinking about it...)
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aramis erak

There is a fate flavor that is built for the Star Wars style space opera - standalone core, haven't had a chance to read it fully yet... VSCA's Elysium Flare, by Brad Murray. I was really hoping for his planetbound hell-scape world project to come out...
Brad also did the much acclaimed Diaspora RPG, which is more The Expanse type tone. (ANother case of "Was I shopping in my sleep? How did it get in my DTRPG Library?")
A slightly older one, Starblazer Adventures, looks like it could do Star Wars' themes just fine...

I've not played that RPG (it's a version of Genesys? a game enging I know for featuring funky dice, but not much beyond that). But I definitely found your characterisation of it very interesting!
directionality is backwards, there, Pemerton... Genesys is a revision of FFG star Wars' engine.

The lineage is WFRP 3 → FFG Star Wars → Genesys, dropping bits along the way. (WFRP had more kinds of dice, and lots of cards with mechanics built so that the cards are the sanest way to represent things; FFG SW drops several kinds of dice, and the whole cards element, and most of the talents can be summed up in a short paragraph. Genesys does away with the talent trees for the professions, instead giving universal ranks and costs...)
L5R 5e (which is the FFG Roll & Keep version) is a blends of L5R 3rd, 4th and FFG starwars, but dropping from 7 kinds of dice to 2, but expanding talents a bit more than SW...
AIR is the D&D 5E variant.

There are a lot of themes across the nonology...
  • Duty -
    • vs family,
    • vs hardship
  • Necessary Evils to stop worse ones
  • Coming of Age (Anakin, Padme, Luke, Finn)
  • Finances vs moral crusades
  • Racism
  • raw ability vs finesse and training to apply it with
  • Reuniting of families. (Sadly, muchly posthumously, by deathbed rehabilitation/reconciliation)
  • the power of lies.
  • Loyalty


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think a RPG in which random person XYZ has the same chance of finding Luke on Hoth, and has the same significance when spotted by Luke, as Han does, is not doing a good job of fitting and exemplifying Star Wars themes.

Some other examples I think of are R2D2 and C3PO getting to stick together when sold by the Jawas; Han saving Luke during the Death Star run; Chewbacca finding C3PO on Bespin; the rescue of Han from Jabba by his friends; Luke being able to withstand the Emperor to save his father.

I think an impersonal resolution framework is not well-suited to this sort of thing.
I think all those events other than the two droid ones maybe, want exactly to a fairly impersonal resolution framework, with limited player resources to take over that framework for a single action or scene and just succeed. Han finds Luke because he goes into an impossibility and spends a force point or whatever, not because the framework is based on feelings rather than ability. Feelings should modify the results of an impartial resolution system, not be the primary drivers of resolution.

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Hot take - SW is a lot about teen angst

Masks is about teen angst, but superheroes

SW Masks could work, maybe. If you wanted to focus on the teen angsty parts.

aramis erak

Indeed, coming of age is an important aspect that I failed to identify. Good catch.
For me, that's the second strongest of them... and while some would lump Skill & Finesse vs Raw Power, we get a bunch characters with Power vs Finesse elements that are somewhat transcendent of the coming of age element...
In order filmed
  • Luke - lots of power with the force, no finnesse, limited and LONG road, only finally resolved in Ep IIX vs Ben & Yoda
  • Anakin/Vader vs Qui-gon then Obi-wan
  • Asoka and both Obi-wan and Anakin (TCW)
  • Rey and Kylo - both in relation to Leia. Leia is subtle with her use of the Force, but stupidly powerful.
    • After all, Leia's likely how Han winds up a force ghost...
    • Kylo is not stronger than Rey. He is much more skilled. (But apparently not as skilled as Leia...)
    • Rei is clearly the powerhouse when she takes on daddy... needing Kylo's assistance. Turning kylo light side just in time to die.
The only "redemption arc" that doesn't wind up in a pretty immediate force ghost is Luke himself... but he, too, goes to be one with the Force.
This is why I break it out from the coming of age - because for many of the characters, there's also the Coming of death element.

"Luminous beings are we! Not this crude matter!" Master Yoda, Ep V

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