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Why Doesn't Star Wars Hold More Mind Share in the RPG Market?

Eltab

Hero
I have to think that the last movie Trilogy was no friend to its own franchise. You've heard about the Heroes and their legendary Deeds since you were a little kid, you finally get to "meet" them yourself (watching the new movies) and see what they do to face new challenges - and find out they are washed-up has-beens. Sure, the special effects are cool, but the new characters are just ... ordinary.
Disappointed would-be fans do not go out to find a game that lets them "be inside" the movie too.

And the problem of finding a game (due to licensing &c) has been covered above better than I can cover it.
 

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Undrave

Hero
I’d say it’s a similar problem Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time. The strength of the source material is also its main problem.

Creating relevant characters and situations that feel like Star Wars / GOT / Middlearth / WOT seem to usually do this by referencing characters and events in the films/TV/Books. So how do you make it your own and not be overshadowed by the main storyline.

I think Star Wars does better than most with the huge body of spin off material. But to a lesser extent this suffers from the same problem.

Star Wars rpg products are something I love to read, but when it comes to running a campaign I find ideas become either totally derivative or so unlike Star Wars to make it pointless. 🤷🏻‍♂️
We played a campaign once where one player was a Jedi and the rest of us were clone troopers with different specialities. Life got in the way but it was fun.
 

Vampire, Traveller, GURPS, and others. Sure, they were far FAR behind D&D in sales, but you still seemed to notice people playing them and their products were on shelves.
For the record, it's my understanding that, at least briefly in the late 1990's, Vampire was outselling D&D. This was both as TSR's collapse was imminent and they were mismanaging D&D, and World of Darkness stuff was extremely trendy and popular.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
We played a campaign once where one player was a Jedi and the rest of us were clone troopers with different specialities. Life got in the way but it was fun.
I’m sure a lot of people play the game the same way. A lot of fun for a short to medium term but probably not a game to build you gaming group around.

I’m sure there are lots of groups that buck the trend and play exclusively Star Wars RPGs but I suspect proportionally it’s less. Though that’s a gut feel.

I feel the same about Middle Earth. Nice place to visit, lousy place to live.
 

Undrave

Hero
I’m sure a lot of people play the game the same way. A lot of fun for a short to medium term but probably not a game to build you gaming group around.

I’m sure there are lots of groups that buck the trend and play exclusively Star Wars RPGs but I suspect proportionally it’s less. Though that’s a gut feel.

I feel the same about Middle Earth. Nice place to visit, lousy place to live.
The other one, with the aforementioned house rule, where I was a Duro pilot lasted for quite a while and actually concluded. Then we took some of the players and did a Mutant and Mastermind game which also had a conclusion.
 

Hello,

It may well have more mind share than you give it credit for. I bet if you put up a poll, the vast majority of players here have played a Star Wars RPG at some point. There may not be a lot of Star Wars talk here, but there is huge communities elsewhere. I know FFG has very active forums for Star Wars as well as many places to talk D6.

Without a unified RPG tradition (As others have mentioned) it can be hard to see.
 

Malkinban

The Torn
Hello,

It may well have more mind share than you give it credit for. I bet if you put up a poll, the vast majority of players here have played a Star Wars RPG at some point. There may not be a lot of Star Wars talk here, but there is huge communities elsewhere. I know FFG has very active forums for Star Wars as well as many places to talk D6.

Without a unified RPG tradition (As others have mentioned) it can be hard to see.
You definitely correct, but I guess the more pointed question would be why any one Star Wars RPG, during the time it was being published, did not have more mind share than they did/do?

Certainly, I know of many great Star Wars RPG Communties via Reddit, Facebook Groups, and other forums.
 

I have to think that the last movie Trilogy was no friend to its own franchise. You've heard about the Heroes and their legendary Deeds since you were a little kid, you finally get to "meet" them yourself (watching the new movies) and see what they do to face new challenges - and find out they are washed-up has-beens. ...
I think this is a true statement for different reasons.

First, the bigger Star Wars gets, the harder it is to make an RPG for. When the WEG D6 game was out, there were basically 3 Star Wars eras: Pre-Yavin, Trilogy Adjacent, and Post-Endor. It was easy to make RPG books that were explicitly in one of these three categories, and they all played together pretty well. Currently, there's the Old Republic (and a few eras you could break that down in to), Prequel Era, Early Empire, Original Trilogy Era, Post Original Era, Sequel Era, and Post-Sequel. That's a lot of eras. What's worse, a lot of material published for one era won't work in another; modules for the Clone Wars won't work with the First Order, etc. It's like the fall of TSR when they had too many worlds spread too thin.

Second, any Star Wars RPG is all about the EU, and the EU is kind of a mess right now. There's a lot of material that is essentially in limbo. WEG had a lot of free reign to build the EU (lot of people don't realize how much of the EU came from the game). I can't pretend to have industry knowledge, but I imagine FFG has a lot less freedom. Even doing something as simple as a Mos Eisley splat book would become a game of "Whose history is canon now? What am I allowed to reference?"

I think both of those things are huge hurdles before you even start discussing whether or not people liked the sequels and the toxicity of the fanbase.
 

Malkinban

The Torn
I think both of those things are huge hurdles before you even start discussing whether or not people liked the sequels and the toxicity of the fanbase.
I think these are only hurdles because people are making them hurdles. You can easily make an adventures that are pointed at a specific era and then have a sidebar with suggestions on adjusting them to different eras. Much like WotC does with their adventures. Want to use this in Eberron? How about doing this. Want to set this in Greyhawk? Place this here and adjust this.

In terms of supplemental materials, they don't have to be so era specific. Star Wars is a universe where technology changes slowly if at all and advancements that are made tend to be lateral rather than vertical ones.

I won't get into the reception of the movies, although there is merit there.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I figure there's also a strong tendency for a game that is setting-specific to have a lower cap of player interest than one that is more setting-agnostic. If you want to run a Star Wars game, you need an entire group that's into playing Star Wars, specifically, where i don't need a group that all wants to play in one specific setting to play D&D - I can more easily craft my setting to fit player desires with D&D than Star Wars.
 

Second, any Star Wars RPG is all about the EU, and the EU is kind of a mess right now. There's a lot of material that is essentially in limbo. WEG had a lot of free reign to build the EU (lot of people don't realize how much of the EU came from the game). I can't pretend to have industry knowledge, but I imagine FFG has a lot less freedom. Even doing something as simple as a Mos Eisley splat book would become a game of "Whose history is canon now? What am I allowed to reference?"
It's not in "limbo", they rebooted it in 2014 and created a complete separate canon for the new Disney materials.

You've got the original pre-2014 canon of Star Wars, that LFL now brands as "Legends", and the post-2014 canon they brand as "Canon" that includes the controversial sequels.

It's not a matter of "whose history is canon now", it's more a matter of which of the two existing canons are you going to use? The fact that the two are largely incompatible in a lot of ways means that most adventures, plotlines, and character backgrounds not closely tied to one of the 6 films will not fit into both canons.

The Star Wars RPG fanbase has been running ongoing campaigns for years, decades in some cases, before Disney, and weren't about to throw out campaigns and vast amounts of setting knowledge because they made a marketing decision one day to reboot Star Wars and only keep the 6 films and the (highly controversial in many parts of the fan base) TCW series.
 

I think these are only hurdles because people are making them hurdles. You can easily make an adventures that are pointed at a specific era and then have a sidebar with suggestions on adjusting them to different eras. Much like WotC does with their adventures. Want to use this in Eberron? How about doing this. Want to set this in Greyhawk? Place this here and adjust this.

In terms of supplemental materials, they don't have to be so era specific. Star Wars is a universe where technology changes slowly if at all and advancements that are made tend to be lateral rather than vertical ones.
IMNSHO, it's a bit harder with SW. Moving from Eberron to Greyhawk, a wizard goes from being a typical facet of society to a rarity. You may have to justify equipment availability differently and have a few villagers change their attitudes, but it's not an insurmountable challenge.

Moving from Phantom Menace to Revenge of the Sith to A New Hope, your Jedi shifts from being a revered religious figure, to a kill-on-sight enemy of the state, to a forgotten relic of a mystical age. The reactions to pulling out a lightsaber will vary quite a bit.

As for technology changes, I would like to point out that wookieepedia currently lists 13 different classes of Star Destroyers, and that's ignoring subclasses and at least two classes that have been removed from the EU. Technology should advance slowly in SW, but a million variants of "It's different in this book/video game/movie" have prevented that from being true.
 

ART!

Adventurer
The canon issue is interesting, because my group doesn't seem to care about such things. They're a pretty wild bunch, though. I could run a SW game with a mix of vaguely conflicting EU and new-canon stuff, and no one would wink an eye. We play a lot of Forgotten Realms D&D 5E, and no one cares about the continuity there, either.

So, I don't know. If we're talking about mass popularity, I don't think casual SW fans - the folks you would want to draw in with a new SW game (I know, I know - the word-of-mouth of fans is important in getting the ball rolling - sometimes) - know or care about SW continuity, and wouldn't notice incongruities. They're just in for a cool SW-feeling ride.

Or something.
 

It's not in "limbo", they rebooted it in 2014 and created a complete separate canon for the new Disney materials.

You've got the original pre-2014 canon of Star Wars, that LFL now brands as "Legends", and the post-2014 canon they brand as "Canon" that includes the controversial sequels.

It's not a matter of "whose history is canon now", it's more a matter of which of the two existing canons are you going to use? The fact that the two are largely incompatible in a lot of ways means that most adventures, plotlines, and character backgrounds not closely tied to one of the 6 films will not fit into both canons.

The Star Wars RPG fanbase has been running ongoing campaigns for years, decades in some cases, before Disney, and weren't about to throw out campaigns and vast amounts of setting knowledge because they made a marketing decision one day to reboot Star Wars and only keep the 6 films and the (highly controversial in many parts of the fan base) TCW series.
Well, I guess that means my previous list of eras should be doubled to include both "Legends" and "Canon" versions of each one.

Also, there is a problem of things moving from "Legends" to "Canon" and being really confusing. Thrawn is present in Canon, but his original story (Heir to the Empire) is from Legends and is completely incompatible. Holocrons and the Doppleganger force power were part of Legends (Dark Empire) until the instant they showed up on the Sequel Trilogy. Z95 Headhunters and TIE Defenders were relegated to Legends (video games) until they randomly showed up as Canon in "Solo" and "Rebels".

If you can keep these things straight in just two categories of "Legends" and "Canon", I'm sincerely impressed. For me, there's those two categories and a huge grey area in the middle where the answer might change with the next movie/show/game/etc.
 

So, I don't know. If we're talking about mass popularity, I don't think casual SW fans - the folks you would want to draw in with a new SW game (I know, I know - the word-of-mouth of fans is important in getting the ball rolling - sometimes) - know or care about SW continuity, and wouldn't notice incongruities. They're just in for a cool SW-feeling ride.
I believe you are deeply and dangerously underestimating the power of nerd rage.

:)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Moving from Phantom Menace to Revenge of the Sith to A New Hope, your Jedi shifts from being a revered religious figure, to a kill-on-sight enemy of the state, to a forgotten relic of a mystical age.
To a forgotten relic of a mystical age... like Eminem. The span from Order 66 to A New Hope is only about as long as it it takes Luke to grow up - a couple of decades. The prequels really screwed that up.
 

To a forgotten relic of a mystical age... like Eminem. The span from Order 66 to A New Hope is only about as long as it it takes Luke to grow up - a couple of decades. The prequels really screwed that up.
There are definitely similar real-world examples of a group of people with religious or martial significance going from being respected public figures to being practically kill-on-sight in the same country (due to a new totalitarian government) within 19 years time. I'm not sure if naming the examples would fall afoul of the no-religion/no-politics rules here though.
 

If you can keep these things straight in just two categories of "Legends" and "Canon", I'm sincerely impressed. For me, there's those two categories and a huge grey area in the middle where the answer might change with the next movie/show/game/etc.
Why would I bother to keep them separate? That implies I care anything about the new Disney stuff or pay attention to it in any way. I don't care. I actively avoid the new Disney stuff.

If I've been playing, running, and learning the Star Wars setting for ~25 years, why would I change anything just because Disney says they want to reboot Star Wars to make some sequel movies? I've got ~200 novels, ~900 comic books, ~100 RPG sourcebooks, 3 TV series, 2 TV movies (not counting the Holiday Special), ~50 other reference books, dozens of video games, and 2 MMORPG's (one of which is still ongoing). . .enough setting material for a dozen lifetimes, without worrying about what Disney is going to change next.

I don't care if the TIE Defender or Thrawn or Z-95's were included in their reboot or not, it doesn't change them being in the pre-Disney Star Wars, the one LFL now calls "Legends". It's not like retroactively Thrawn ceases to exist from 1991 to 2014 just because they made him a villain for their kids cartoon.

That's what you're missing, that there is a community of SWRPG fans, but they aren't at ENWorld, which has traditionally been a place mostly for D&D and d20 system, games instead of all RPG's. There are plenty of gaming groups and gaming culture for Star Wars that is chugging along happily and not letting Disney's reboot announcement of April 25, 2014 affect anything, or incorporating anything from their new movies.
 

John Dallman

Explorer
I suppose a way to phrase the question is: Why doesn't Star Wars capture more mind share in the RPG community?
I saw the first film, first theatrical run in 1977, in the cinema at age 16. It did not grab me at all, and I've always felt I had something more interesting to do rather than watch any more.

I've learned a little about the franchise from other sources, and none of it has stimulated interest. If the only RPG being run in a group was Star Wars based, I would always run something else, rather than play SW.
 
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MarkB

Legend
Talent and feat consolidation, along with relaxing of prerequisites, are the two main types of edits we considered making to Saga before giving up.

Still a very fun system to play, regardless.
I always felt that the system was about two steps away from being a true classless system. If you broke it out into purely Feat Trees and Talent Trees, and allowed people to choose a smattering of proficiencies at the start, you'd be practically there.

Honestly, the only major hurdle was the different attack-bonus progressions, so if you switched the system to 5e-style bounded accuracy, and used something like Backgrounds to carry some of the weight of initial skill/proficiency selections, I think you really could get rid of classes altogether.
 

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