The Analog Gamer: Legacy
The Star Wars SAGA RPG is officially one of my favorite games to read lining right up there next to the old West End Star Wars D6 RPG, Pinnacles’ Deadlands and Kenzer’s Aces & Eights. While I’m currently buried in fantasy mayhem in my two ongoing RPG games every new SAGA release not only entertains me and enriches my Star Wars fanboyish knowledge of the galaxy far, far away, but it also demonstrates that if I ever get the opportunity to play in a game rather than run it I’m going to insist it be Star Wars SAGA.
Every time I begin a discussion of Star Wars with a game group I seem to have the same frustrating results.. “Star Wars would be great if I didn’t already know how it ended.” Is the most common response I get.
It seems a lot of gamers have their impressions of what adventuring in Star Wars can be locked into the films they enjoyed. I’ve even had the “Star wars is a generational saga about the Skywalker family and their impact on the universe” George Lucas paraphrase thrown back a few times.
Well guess what folks, that may be true of the George Lucas story and his cinematic campaign, but this is an entire galaxy full of folks. Lots of planets to explore, many cultures to experience and lately even, thanks to Dark Horse Comics and Bioware/Obsidian lots of time to play within. I professed my love of the Knights of the Old Republic setting in a previous column, and with the reveal trailer for the upcoming Bioware Old Republic MMO making fanboys lose it, I think the resistance to playing in that setting may start waning.
Getting away from the 800lb. Gorilla in Star Wars: The Rebellion, Darth Vader and even the later Expanded Universe canon of the Yuuzhan Vong and New Republic can be a challenge.
How do you tell your own tale in a world so universally loved?
Well one answer is to use an era your players are not as familiar with, and to that end I’d highly recommend the “Legacy Era” based upon the ongoing Darkhorse Comic Star Wars: Legacy. Recently Wizards of the Coast released their Legacy Era campaign guide to help you do just that.
The Legacy era, as you’d expect from the name, deals with the period of time long after the New Republic. The universe has moved on but is not completely unfamiliar to those not well versed in Star Wars outside the films or cartoons. Many of the same elements still exist – there is an Empire, a Republic and the Sith are a major factor in the state of the galaxy. Jedi are rare and hunted but the Empire has its own form of force using knight. This is a good time to set any adventure and since the future is unwritten those who care to avoid changing the story have little to worry about.
For those who are simply collectors of the books or are looking to see what new mechanics races and crunchy bits populate the Legacy Campaign, Wizards has included the usual 5 races, including strangely the Yuuzhan Vong and the Chiss (Grand Admiral Thrawn’s people) –which possibly confirms that there will not be a New Jedi Order/New Republic era sourcebook anytime soon.
Every era book and supplement so far has added the usual variety of starships, vehicles and opponents suitable to each era along with expanding on the a core concept. Legacy, as you might guess, expands on the Destiny concept with the new Heritage and Legacy concepts. Players can now create characters with a historical link to earlier great names in the Star Wars saga without fear of “breaking the timeline” by making someone Luke’s long lost cousin Jobe.
These features grant little role-playing focused advantages or change a character in some iconic way to reflect the heritage, for instance Corran Horn, one of the main X-Wing novel characters was descended from the Halcyon line of Jedi and had trouble using telekinetic abilities but learned mind-influencing powers easily. Descendants of Admiral Ackbar gain military tactical skills. Etc.
The Legacy era is a darker time than most of the Star Wars settings. There is an awful lot of evil in the universe and without the Jedi order to establish light and order this is a great time to play scoundrels and fringers. Force use is not just limited to the Jedi/Sith axis either so players who want to expand their magic warrior ethics will find some less black and white options in groups like the Imperial Knights of the Emperor in exile, and pyromaniac Ember of Vahl.
This book continues the excellent trend of useful and well written Star Wars RPG books. The SAGA books all offer utility to fans of the franchise and RPG players alike. Even if you are not a huge fan of the future setting or dislike the comics there is a verdant ground for storytelling in this setting that shouldn’t be overlooked.