The Analog Gamer: Knights & Legends

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… no longer ago actually. Before the Rebellion against the Empire, before the emo Darth Vader years, before the Clone Wars and even before George Lucas destroyed the Force with Midi-chlorians there was an age of bold knights and heroes. An age filled with warfare against the honorable yet ruthless Mandalorians and the misguided second Sith empire.

The era that brought Star Wars back to its core fantasy roots in Bioware’s excellent Knights of the Old Republic and the promising (but incomplete) tale of The Sith Lords on the PC and Xbox finally gets the pen and paper treatment in the latest edition of the Star Wars RPG.

The Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide sets the bar high for continued products in Wizards of the Coast’s Star Wars SAGA line by providing an excellent and well constructed overview of the mid-republic era.

While many players seem to favor the romantic conflicts of rebels and empire I’ve always been far more a fan of the far past of George Lucas’ universe. Partially, I think because Lucas himself is not around to despoil it with furry teddy bears toppling elite shock troopers and Rastafarian space klutzes. The Knights of the Old Republic setting portrays the galaxy far, far away during a turbulent time.

Early in the setting the Jedi hold sway but they aren’t the stale, stoic Jedi of the prequel trilogy. The order is disparate and scattered and one of many force using factions in the Republic. There are countless pressures and numerous foes who can stand up next to the Jedi in power so running a game in this era definitely feels more balanced and easily allows players to mix and match character types with ease.

The KotOR Campaign Guide does everything a guide to running games during this time should. It introduces new races from the fiction that are in prominence during this time frame, granting players even more options. It introduces technological equivalents to the beloved modern Star Wars tech like the predecessors of R2 and C-3PO, the Corellian YT-1300 and everything casual fans will know from the films but that were not around hundreds of years before The Phantom Menace.

The history of the era is well defined and laid out. Factions like the Mandalorians, Sith and Republic all get sections of the book devoted to explaining their role in a KotOR campaign and optional classes, powers and abilities unique to the era and the time. Characters from the two games and even the Dark Horse series are liberally ingrained throughout the book. Ever wonder what Darth Traya’s stats were? What about Zayne Carrick or Master Lucien Draay and his Jedi Covenant? Along with the descriptions you also get explanations for how to integrate these concepts into your games.

The best thing about the book has to be that it introduces an era where the players need not feel cramped by the “Big three” roaming around saving the universe. The Jedi Civil War, Mandalorian Invasion, Sith War and Dark War all provide great backdrops for just about any sort of Star Wars game without hamstringing you regarding the role your character will play in helping Han, Luke or Leia save the galaxy or fending off the Yuuhzan Vong invasion.

If there is a failing in this product it is simply that it can’t please everyone. The ancient Sith era, and the happenings of the old Tales of the Jedi comics are mentioned but not truly highlighted here. This is a book about the more recent Old Republic tales. Nomi Sunrider, Freedon Nadd and his uprising get mentions, but entities like Darth Bane are nowhere to be found in these pages.

Fans of the older era are best left finding a used copy of the classic D6 Tales of the Jedi source book and converting that information themselves. There is also a lack of information on Jedi and Sith artifacts, though Sith Alchemy and the special lightsaber crystals represented in the video games get game rules to reflect the variance in lightsaber tech during the KotOR era.

There are a number of additional campaign guides coming soon, including the delayed The Force Unleashed book that promises to open up the Jedi power base a lot. If Wizards’ staff can maintain this level or usefulness and quality in these products they will be easy to recommend.

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