There are very good odds that come December 17th, a lot of people are going to be in the mood to play characters in a galaxy far, far away. Rules and hacks exist all over the internet for playing Star Wars in whatever system the GM prefers, but there are also several official RPGs that have dutifully supported fans’ desires to play space wizards and scoundrels throughout the years. Each of these official RPGs have different strengths and picking the game that fits the group will offer the best chance of creating memorable stories that rival the exciting adventures on screen. Though the Fantasy Flight Games version is the only one currently in print, the rest were popular enough that copies can usually be found at used bookstores, well-stocked game stores, and other places on the web.
Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game (1987)
The first official Star Wars RPG came out just in time for the 10th anniversary of A New Hope and a few short years after Return of the Jedi seemed like it was the last time there would ever be a Star Wars movie. This influential RPG kept the fandom alive and expanded the universe long before there was a need for Wookieepedia, offering a lot of information about the Rebellion Era during its three edition run. The simple system uses a six-sided dice, which means it doesn’t require a lot of investment in the additional supplies that RPGs often require. Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game is best for groups that want simple rules or film lovers that may want to try an RPG for the first time to test the waters.
Star Wars Roleplaying Game (2000)
When the prequels were released at the turn of the century, so too was a new official Star Wars RPG. Its d20 and d20 revised rules kept some of the elements of the previous sets, but mixed in a class and level structure familiar to players of Dungeon & Dragons. This was also the beginning of the Star Wars Miniatures Game, which is still kicking around for fans of that style of RPG. Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder players often find this version the easiest to jump to if they don’t want to learn an entirely new game system.
Star Wars Saga Edition (2007)
The 30th anniversary of Star Wars saw the franchise in a much difference place than when the first RPG was released. Hundreds, if not thousands, of comics, novels, short stories, and other tales had defined the universe beyond the films. The galaxy’s timeline now extended thousands of years into the past and hundreds of years after the films. This revision of the d20 rules not only offered a new flexibility and a step away from standard D&D mechanics (while still staying true to the basics), but it also provided sourcebooks sets for a variety of time periods for fans of Clone Wars, Knights of the Old Republic, Legacy and more. Game Masters looking to set their Star Wars game in a different time and place in that galaxy far, far away will find this version to be the most flexible of the official RPGs.
Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion/ Force and Destiny (2013-2015)
Fantasy Flight Games surprised the gaming industry when they announced they were producing Star Wars hobby games in 2012 and shocked Gen Con attendees with beta copies of their first corebook, Edge of the Empire, at the convention.
In general, the FFG rulebooks return to the original films and provide a more focused experience for each of the lines. The recent The Force Awakens Beginner Game mixes all three lines and offers precious additional information for fans of Episode VII. Edge of the Empire focuses on scoundrels scraping by on the fringes of the war. Age of Rebellion offers adventures for characters fighting in the Rebel Alliance. Force and Destiny gives players a chance to explore what it would be like as the remnants of the Jedi hunted by Darth Vader and his forces. The games are cross-compatible and offer a few more modern design influences, like shared narrative mechanics and a dice app which is compatible with the entire FFG Star Wars line. For fans that want to walk into an FLGS and walk out with a game that directly connects with their favorite part of that galaxy far, far away, these games are a very strong choice.
What is your favorite way to experience Star Wars in a tabletop RPG? Let us know in the comments!
Images provided by Wookieepedia
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He writes about kaiju, Jedi, gangsters, elves, Vulcans and sometimes all of them at the same time. His blog is here, his Twitter is here and his meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.