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Sean Bircher said on May 12th, 2014 at 8:36 pm

WEG’s Star Wars wasn’t the first time I got to play in a fiction I loved — I came to D&D via the Forgotten Realms novels — but it was the first RPG I really played that let me break out of the confines of classes and levels. It let me immerse myself in the fiction in ways AD&D 2e could not — and it had rad troopers.

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(for one thing, I’ve always felt like people took Yoda at his word that there was no redemption once you started down the path of the Dark Side,

Yoda says nothing of the kind.

Yoda says that once you start down the path of the Dark Side, “forever will it dominate your destiny.”

That’s true. That’s obviously and graphically true. It was true for Anakin. It was true for Luke. It was true for Jacen and Kyp and Uliq Qel-Droma and a shit-ton of other people.

The point was never that fucking with the Dark Side at all means there’s no redemption. It was that dipping your toe in that pool meant, at best, you’d spend the rest of your life resisting the urge to swim.

There was no TV show, no cartoons or specials to perpetuate things,

Point of order: the two Ewok movies and the Ewok cartoon. Just because they were trying to perpetuate shitty parts of the franchise doesn’t mean they had been doing nothing with it.

It’s little wonder that the Star Wars novels felt like a natural outgrowth of the West End material, to the point where planets and technology first referenced in WEG sourcebooks became significant in the series.

Err… it’s little wonder that the novels felt like an outgrowth of that materiel not because that materiel was special and awesome, but because that was a genuine editorial diktat from Lucasarts.

Timothy Zahn goes into detail about this in the annotated edition of Heir to the Empire. When he was writing the first Thrawn Trilogy, he was sent a big box of WEG stuff and told “your stuff must be compliant with the RPG, here’s your bible.”

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I feel like there’s a lot more that could be said about the WEG RPG and the EU. I’m not the one to say it, though, because I’ve never read, let alone played, WEG Star Wars. By the time I discovered tabletop roleplaying, the d20 version was out. When I realized that I could play a Star Wars RPG, I was floored and wondered how I’d never thought of that before.

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I’ve always felt like people took Yoda at his word that there was no redemption once you started down the path of the Dark Side, when the conclusion to the trilogy was all about him being manifestly and self-evidently wrong

This is clearly shown as being wrong in the EU as well. Luke becomes a Sith apprentice to one of Palpatine’s clones, and he is redeemed.

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One of the ways the WEG Star Wars game shows its age somewhat is at the time it came out the pervading philosophy in RPG design hadn’t quite gotten around to “constantly putting official canon characters up on a pedestal and telling the players that there’s no way they can, by the numbers, be as cool as Luke or Han is kind of dumb, maybe you shouldn’t do that.” So it was one of those games where the official characters had stats and skills that actual player-made characters couldn’t achieve except through an incredibly, ridiculously lenient GM, and if players ever did somehow achieve stats like those then they would basically be snapping the game over their knee. So in practical terms WEG could have saved a bunch of time and effort by simply writing “BETTER THAN YOU” down on the official Star Wars character writeups and calling it a day.

It also adopted a bit of a condescending tone over it to the effect of “maybe one day you’ll be awesome enough to infiltrate the Death Star and escape alive” which, for a game based on Star Wars, really ought to be the default metric of PC competence.

(Also force abilities did the whole D&D thing where force users started out struggling to make ends meet with high XP point costs and such but once they got rolling could basically dominate the game.)

I’ve seen a number of people describe WEG Star Wars as “Traveller with lightsabers” and it’s kiiiiinda hard to argue with that, the default playstyle it seemed to emphasize was more “fringe drifters and smugglers scraping by doing crimes and hauling cargo and maybe eventually getting swept up into something bigger after grinding their way there” instead of “holy shit, it’s STAR WARS! DUNNNN DAHHHHH DAH-DAH-DAH-DAHHHHH DAH MOTHERFUCKERS! Pulp action and adventure in space! Princesses (or princes) in peril! Galactic superweapons! Nyeeerow-fwoosh pew pew pew!” Like, if you tell people that they’re gonna play Star Wars, that comes bundled up with certain expectations, y’know?

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EndOfTheWorld said on May 13th, 2014 at 12:44 am

Some of my best memories of being a DM involve running an ad hoc WEG Star Wars RPG during band trips in high school. It was a decent system, though not without its flaws when it came to staying consistent with the lore. Like a size-based difficulty modifier chart for using Force-based telekinesis. When I explained to a player that tossing an AT-AT was going to be really hard, he came back with ol’ Yoda’s quote about Size Mattering Not. In the end, we decided that maybe Yoda was a little bit full of shit.

But yeah, the Star Wars expanded universe was a lot of fun, but I couldn’t help feeling that it was drug down by certain authors taking quotes or things from the movies and treating them like universal constants.

Mon Mothma mentions Bothan Spies? Well it turns out in the EU that Bothans are the awesomest spies. Never mind that they screw the pooch in RotJ, or that the idea of a race known for their excellent spying abilities is a contradiction in terms.

Luke’s powers not working on Jabba the Hutt? Well, it turns out that ALL Hutts are immune to the powers of the force. It couldn’t be that Jabba, as a criminal overlord, had a very strong mind or that Luke wasn’t that talented with mind juju. Nope, Hutts have auto-force immunity. Also no Hutt Jedi.

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Also Moff Tarkin literally has a disease that gives him terrible body odor because of Leia’s throwaway line about his “foul stench.”

Also how basically every character that ever appeared in like three frames of film had to have an extensive story written about them somewhere.

Also everything Kevin J. Anderson ever wrote ever.

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I still miss Star Wars Minis…

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I do at least think the apparent solution – the EU is essentially in-universe stories – is a good one; it means I can pick-and-mix what I like and what I don’t like. Maybe the Thrawn Trilogy was the equivalent of an HBO biopic; dramatized at points, but very accurate. Maybe Karen Traviss’s Mandowank was Deathwatch propaganda. Maybe the nonsense in Ewoks was tribal folklore. And, of course, the Star Wars Holiday Special was what Luke Skywalker saw when he was tricked into smoking high-end deathsticks.

Still, I won’t deny, it does seem like a massive copout.

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I always saw the EU as being largely responsible for the “world building” fans associate with Star Wars. My foray into it is WAY limited (I read “Shadows of the Empire” back when it was released, and some of the Dark Horse stuff), but that was always my impression. Filled in the blanks, so to speak.

Anyone know whether the EU was abandoned for purely storyline reasons, or might it have been a licensing issue?

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@Murc: Droids and Ewoks were both off the air by ’86, and the last Ewok special had already aired by then. There really was nothing else out there in ’87.

Also, I’m aware that Yoda didn’t literally say, “There is no redemption,” but taken in the context of his later remarks, it’s clear that he thinks the only way for the Light Side to prevail is for Luke to calmly, dispassionately murder Vader because as a Dark Jedi, there’s no hope for him. And he’s clearly wrong.

Also also, the whole reason that Lucasfilm made the WEG material diktat was because it did such a good job as a universe bible. It wasn’t just arbitrary.

@Kai, EndoftheWorld: I agree, it wasn’t flawless and it did contribute to the flaws of the EU as well as its virtues. But it did contribute to its virtues, is my point. :)

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“Also, I’m aware that Yoda didn’t literally say, ‘There is no redemption,’ but taken in the context of his later remarks, it’s clear that he thinks the only way for the Light Side to prevail is for Luke to calmly, dispassionately murder Vader because as a Dark Jedi, there’s no hope for him. And he’s clearly wrong.”

That’s basically what I got from it.

Funny how absolute (Sithean?) that position is, coming from a Jedi.

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I loved the Star Wars RPG for a lot of reasons, including its use of Han’s “We’re all fine here now… how are you?” line as an example of someone blowing a Fast-Talk skill check.

My favorite bit, though, was the character templates. Players were free to create their own character from scratch, but if you wanted, there were these pre-made characters that were like half-done, and you could fill them the rest of the way in, tuning them to your needs. It was a way of having character classes without having character classes, and I adored the “Failed Jedi” template so much that it’s basically how my life has turned out.

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“Failed Jedi” sounds like an awesome concept.

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Yvonmukluk said on May 13th, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Does this mean the FFG RPG might do the same thing for the ‘new’ Star Wars Universe, do you think? I mean obviously it won’t be quite the same, but it might be a good foundation.

Assuming it still ‘counts’ as canon, too.

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“Does this mean the FFG RPG might do the same thing for the ‘new’ Star Wars Universe, do you think? I mean obviously it won’t be quite the same, but it might be a good foundation.”

I really, really doubt it. Disney owns Star Wars now and Disney is notoriously strict about what other people do with their intellectual property. FFG has the license to make games using Star Wars but in terms of “the FFG Star Wars games become the seed of a glorious new EU” then that’s hugely unlikely to happen.

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Matt: That was actually George Lucas’s original idea behind Grievous; that he was a guy with slight Force-sensitivity who used cyborg parts to duplicate a Jedi’a power and skill after they rejected him. EU writers mostly ignored that concept, though.

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The “Failed Jedi” character template was different from that, though.

Here, turns out someone’s archived it: https://in-nomen-galaxia.obsidianportal.com/wikis/failed-jedi

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