Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Star Wars m20?

My Star Wars game, that I'm a player in, not GM, continues apace.  We played again this weekend, and after two sessions, have mostly "recovered the game" from our disastrous side trip to the Shining Market (which I personally don't think was disastrous at all--in fact, if anything, it was quite profitable and certainly very fun.  But I've always had a hard time with conforming too closely with pre-written campaigns anyway.  I never run them, but sadly, I seem destined to always play in them, since the GMs who run in my group all run that way.)

The announcement of Star Wars Rebels about a week or so ago, the new animated show that will premier on DisneyXD in 2014 and replace the excellent Clone Wars show on Cartoon Network, which I guess is actually now complete, and only awaiting the release of the 5th and final season on DVD to be nicely wrapped up, partly fuels my renewed interest in the franchise.  Clone Wars was one of a two-pronged approach that I'm fond of telling my fellow Star Wars fans was responsible for rehabilitating the franchise after the prequels so nihilisticly damaged them.  Clone Wars wasn't always excellent--among the main characters we have a number who are frequently quite annoying and whiny--Ahsoka is difficult to like for at least the entire first season, if not further on, for example.  And while Annakin isn't the terrible black hole of soul and charisma that he manages to be in the prequels, he's not my favorite character by a long-shot either.  But it's still a good show, contributes meaningfully to the canon while also being very enjoyable to watch, and managing to feel like Star Wars much more so than the prequels ever did.

The other prong of that rehabilitation (as well as being a prong in my renewed interest) is The Old Republic, series of games by BioWare (although one of the three games in this series is actually by Obsidian.)  I hadn't played too much of the actual Old Republic game, because I'm not much of a fan of its format as an MMO, but it's an odd MMO that plays more like the RPGs that preceded it in the series, I believe.  I've had a new graphics card for months ready to install, with the express purpose of making playing this game easier, but I haven't (still) gotten around to it.  That hasn't stopped me from starting the game back up again anyway; being a full (mostly) game in free-to-play format has made that easier than ever.  Long live the Empire!  My newish bounty hunter character has been fun, although I'm playing him mostly like a "light side" bounty hunter rather than a dark one, making him more like a Han Solo-ish scoundrel than anything else.

Between the two of those, and my kids' own interest in what I do on D&D night, which was piqued considerably more by my telling them that it's actually Star Wars, at least for now, I'm thinking of deferring my m20 DARK•HERITAGE test in favor of an m20 Star Wars test.  Luckily for me, there are already two drafts of an m20 document; a draft 1, and a draft 2 which adds more detail and more options.  Curiously, I'm interested in paring them down to a draft 3 which is even more lightweight than either.  Plus, I've been tinkering with my own take on Star Wars, a kind of "revisionist Star Wars" if you will, a la the concept of Revisionist Westerns.  Curiously, the prequels and much of the other more recent material in Star Wars is already fairly revisionist, although sadly, I don't know that it's necessarily deliberate.  My own setting conceits aren't exactly apologists for the bad guys, but they are a bit more sympathetic to them, as well as critical of both the Republic, the Rebels, and the Jedi in particular.  This is based entirely on canonical material mostly within just the movies themselves, supplemented a bit by material from the Clone Wars.  And, like the Legacy comic book (sadly for me, I had a similar idea long before they did, but then they went and published, making me look like the copycat.  Oh, well.) I moved it far enough into the future that I can feel free to do what I want to with the setting; an idea that I originally got after playing Knights of the Old Republic (which went backwards in time to do the same thing.)  Because Legacy did what I wanted to so well, in many ways, I specifically borrowed some ideas from it; the Roan Fel Empire as an evolved descendant of the Imperial Remnant, with its systematized Imperial Knights as rivals to the Jedi, is directly reflected in my Monarchy, for instance.

So, for the next little bit, in addition to my regular DARK•HERITAGE updates, as well as my updates on various other topics that I can't help but throw out here, off topic as they may be, I'll also continue the m20 series, focusing on my adaptation of the system to Star Wars, and some more noodling around with the setting as it will be in my game. 

For those who care about this sort of thing, my approach to canon is also perhaps less than rigorous.  Or, more accurately, I try to be rigorous in terms of following what I allow, but what I allow is considerably less expansive than the entire Expanded Universe, much of which I'm explicitly ignoring.  I consider canon to be the six movies, and the Clone Wars cartoon show (which, technically, includes the 7th movie, since the pilot was expanded into a full-length feature film and had a theatrical release.)  I also consider the Old Republic material (including Knights as canonical, or mostly so, although of a "junior tier" to the movies and tv show.  Any inconsistencies are chalked up to the Old Republic era being so long ago that some of the details have been lost or confused.

In reality, this isn't a big deal, though--I'm setting my Revisionist Star Wars 1,000 years after the Battle of Endor.  The actual events that led to the Jedi Purge, the otherthrow of the Old Republic, the actions of the Chosen One to bring balance to the Force, and his son Luke's re-establishing of the Jedi Order (albeit under somewhat different guidelines and principles) are all nearly legendary now.  This gives me the power to ignore anything I don't like without having to explicitly disallow it: I just claim that things have changed in the intervening 1,000 years.

Despite the fact that my Star Wars is billed as revisionist and somewhat more critical of the "good guys" and somewhat sympathetic to the "bad guys"--in reality, all that is mostly to justified all of their continued existance for all this time.  It's certainly not my intention that Revisionist Star Wars no longer feel like Star Wars, but like some kind of "anti-Star Wars".  Although I will point out, like I said, that the demythologizing of the Jedi as nearly infallible fonts of wisdom and goodness was substantially done (albeit probably mostly unintentionally) by the prequels already, so I'm not exactly going way out on a limb here after all.

Also--one thing I realized about playing Old Republic is that I really like the non-Force using classes.  Some of the source material (prequels and Clone Wars in particular) made such a big deal out of the Jedi, that they seemed to be the real movers and shakers in the galaxy, while everyone else had to play second fiddle.  I didn't get that vibe nearly as much from the original trilogy.  It is absolutely my intention that a highly capable bounty hunter or gunfighter--a Cad Bane, or Boba Fett equivalent, for example, would be completely capable of going toe-to-toe with a Jedi or Sith and expecting that they could win.  I'm not going to fall into the trap that Lucas more and more fell into of making his villains too cartoonishly incompetent.  That leads to stupid things like Obiwan thinking that it's a good plan to just jump out in the middle of a meeting of all the bad guys and saying, "Well, hello there!" and that actually being a good, workable plan because his antagonists are so incredibly stupid and bumbling, and he's so incredibly cool.  This is, of course, only good game design to make all classes potentially equal, but it stands more and more at odds (at times) with the source material, so it needs to be explicitly mentioned, I think.

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