Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scope and Scale

There was a time when I used to read all of the Star Wars novels. I did it twice, in fact. Of course, the first time around there were only ten of them—one for each movie, a trilogy for Han Solo, a trilogy for Lando Calrissian, and Splinter of the Mind's Eye. All told, it was maybe two thousand pages of reading, and I loved it. The second time around there were more of them, including Tim Zahn's groundbreaking trilogy, The Truce at Bakura, Kevin J. Anderson's first trilogy, to name a few. I enjoyed those books, too, but gradually I started to lose interest in them.

One of the reasons I didn't like them as much was because their scope and scale didn't mesh, in my opinion, with that of the movies. In A New Hope and Return of the Jedi we see the Rebels destroy the first and second Death Stars (not to mention defeat the Emperor and Darth Vader, and restore freedom to the galaxy). That's exciting stuff. If one follows the novels, however, it turns out that those superweapons aren't all that impressive. After all, the Sun Crusher doesn't just blow up a planet; it can explode a star. The Galaxy Gun and Centerpoint Station can destroy worlds from halfway across the galaxy. And that doesn't even account for the Darksaber, World Devastators, and others.

All in all, those story elements for me cheapened the value of the events and deeds in the original trilogy. (Don't even start me on the New Jedi Order storyline, which makes the events of the movies seem inconsequential by comparison.) In my mind, a good Star Wars RPG adventure should fit into the existing scope and scale of the Trilogy; the heroes should contribute to the battle against the Empire, but not outshine what happens in the films. Essentially, their deeds should be woven into the fabric of the Star Wars universe in such a way that the players can say, “Our characters accomplished this, while the heroes in the movies were doing that, and they don't contradict each other.

Here are some examples.
  • One of my favorite campaign finales was when the heroes stole a handful of X-Wing fighters from an Imperial research facility and delivered them to the Rebel base on Yavin IV in time for the first Death Star attack.
  • During another scenario, the heroes helped extricate an Imperial officer's loved ones from “protective custody,” thereby allowing the officer to defect to the Alliance.
  • The heroes' deeds could always have a major impact on a specific planet, such as by defeating the Imperial forces on Tatooine at the same time that the Battle of Endor is happening.
Each of these made for exciting and meaningful action in which we made significant contributions to the Alliance, but didn't overshadow what Han, Luke, Leia, Land, Chewie and the droids were doing.

Tierfon Base
One other thing I'll mention is that Wookieepedia has a good article about the aforementioned Tierfon Base, including a map of the facility.


  1. As we have discussed many times, Nate, I couldn't agree more. Two items always struck me as strange with respect to the Star Wars Expanded Universe and RPG items:

    1. Outdoing the plot of the movies (bigger!, better!, faster!)...a big pet peeve of mine
    2. Roleplaying as the main characters. Not so bad, but including stats for the main good guys always seemed a bit odd. Do people really want to play AS Luke? Really? This one isn't a huge pet peeve, but I mention it anyway

  2. This is coming from the guy who had his character make a Seduction check opposed to Princess Leia's Willpower effort. I'm not going to mention the outcome, but I will say that the wild die can be fickle.

  3. Roleplaying *as* Princess Leia would be odd...roleplaying to win the affection of Princess Leia is completely understandable. Nate.