[Note: this review was from April of last year, but somehow never got published. As such, it’s in a bit of my older style, but hopefully part 2 will be more new-style coherent.]
In an attempt to help you understand some future reviews on the SWRPG a bit more, I am writing this review…this one is on the core rulebook for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game. Are you ready to dig in head-first, folks?
The main rules of the SWRPG are familiar to anyone that has played d20 system. There are six ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma, Wisdom, and Intelligence), 20-level prestige classes and 10- or 5-level base classes, skills and feats…the standard set of rules for a d20 system. Now then, on to the basic rules changes. The first major one is that you don’t have hit points like in Dungeons and Dragons or d20 Modern; instead, you have Wound and Vitality Points. Vitality points are your damage-taking stamina. Once your vitality points are depleted, you start taking wound damage (and NPC classes have no vitality, making them weaker). This is the only real difference between W/V system and the hit point system. Skills and feats are expanded beyond their fantasy setting definitions, but none of the base mechanics on how skills and feats work are really changed. The other big change is Force Points and Dark Side Points. Force points power your Jedi skills, while Dark Side Points show how far you’ve slipped into the shadows.
The playable species in the core rulebook are humans (obviously), Bothans (furry dog-men spies), Cereans (Ki-adi-Mundi’s species), Duros (the Gray-like fellows from the Mos Eisley Cantina), Ewoks (you know them), Gamorreans (the pig-men from Jabba’s palace), Gungans (you know them too), Ithorians (the “Hammerhead” from the Mos Eisley Cantina), Kel Dor (Plo Koon’s speciess), Mon Calmari (it’s a trap!), Quarren (squid-heads), Rodians (Greedo’s species), Sullustans (Return of the Jedi; Lando’s co-pilot), Trandoshans (such as Bossk the bounty hunter), Twi’leks (the dancers from Jabba’s palace), Wookies (Chewie), and Zabrak (Darth Maul’s species). There’s a big variety players can choose from here, and they are all well-balanced within the system.
The Base Classes
Obviously, you aren’t going to be playing a Barbarian or Ranger in Star Wars, so let’s see our new base classes for the system.
Fringer: These are the guys on the Outer Rim that will be bopping around with their old starships and jury-rigging up all along the way. They specialize in survival, primitive weaponry, and keeping old busted-up machinery working despite all of its failures.
Noble: The Noble is a force of charisma, gaining favors, coordinating and inspiring her comrades, and gaining resource access. It’s most likely the Noble will be the smiling face that gets the crew out of trouble.
Scoundrel: This is the other “face”, but this one has a crafty side. The Scoundrel is the Han to the Noble’s Leia. Lucky breaks and other abilities mean the Scoundrel will be getting the heroes out of a tough spot.
Scout: Scouts are masters of trailblazing, evasion, and welling up their self-confidence to get bonuses to certain checks.
Soldier: Warriors of the stars, Soldiers are essentially SWRPG’s Fighters, complete with no class abilities other than bonus feats and a load of armor and weapon proficiencies.
Tech Specialist: I have a friend who played a Tech Specialist, and as she can tell you, they are fun. You’d think a class specializing in building things wouldn’t be, but hey, it is! The tech specialist can be a gearhead, a master craftsman, a skilled medic, or maybe a bit of all!
Force Adept: These are primal shaman-style Force users that wield talismans and gain secrets of the Force from their ancient techniques of learning. This is one of my favorite Force classes for its open-endedness.
Jedi Consular and Jedi Guardian: These are the two Jedi classes presented. The Consular focuses mostly on defense, while the Jedi Guardian focuses on attack. Think of the Consular as the Yoda of the classes and the Guardian as the Mace Windu, and you have the basics down.
Legacy of the Force (Skills and Feats)
Speaking of Jedi, let’s talk about Force skills! Now, on the surface, Force skills work just as regular skills do: you take ranks in them, which give you bonuses to making checks with them. However…yep, there’s that catch…there are differences. The first thing is that some Force skills require you to sacrifice vitality points when used. The second is that you need specific feats to learn Force skills. For some Force skills, all you need is to be force sensitive, but others are classed as an Alter, Control, or Sense Force skill; each of these types need one of the three feats of the same name to be considered a class skill. Now, Jedi and Force Adepts get these feats for free and thus can use Force skills freely as well, but if you want…oh, let’s say a Force-using Fringer *cough*earlyLukeSkywalker*cough*…you’d need to work for those feats as normal. This is a good system…if you like skills. Those that think that skills should be murdered in their beds in favor of a simpler, less rank-intensive system… *Peers over at the 4E table* >.> …won’t like this idea, but I feel it works. There are only the 20 basic Force powers, such as Force Grip, Force Lightning, Move Object, and Telepathy, but both supplemental sourcebooks and Force feats (more on that in a sec) add more depth to just what your Jedi (or Sith) can do.
Now then, what do Force feats bring to the table? Well, as a start, Alter, Control, and Sense are the basis of the Force skills, and let you use Force skills of their specific type untrained (as well as take ranks in them). Each of these branch out into new feats below them that provide a specific advancement in your Force powers. For instance, one of the feats in the Alter type of Mind Trick, a Jedi power any Star Wars fan should know well. As a rule of thumb, powers that alter things around you are usually Alter-based feats (such as the aforementioned Mind Trick and the feat Force Whirlwind), powers that alter yourself (such as Increase Speed and Rage) are Control feats, and precognitive powers (such as Aware) are Sense-based feats.
Guns and Gear
The stuff here is what you’d expect, from vibroblades and blasters to combat suits and Stormtrooper armor. Why am I going over it, then? For the differences we have here from main fantasy d20, of course! First, costs are in credits rather than gold, silver, and bronze coins. It’s a simpler system, and it’s from Star Wars canon, which is always a plus. Second, we have a new type of damage; in addition to bludgeoning, slashing, etc., there is energy damage. Lightsabers and blasters deal this damage type as a differentiation. I must admit that I like this system in comparison to d20 Future having laser weapons deal fire damage. Not much to say beyond that, I think. It’s good otherwise, just typical Star Wars though.
Tune in for part 2, wherein we look over vehicles, starships, prestige classes, and more in the second half of the book!