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Rappy’s RPG Reviews: Star Wars Saga Edition-Threats of the Galaxy

11 Sep

The third book to come out for Star Wars Saga Edition (after Starships of the Galaxy…for…some reason), Threats of the Galaxy basically acted as the Monster Manual for SWSE. While it would be impractical to go over each and every stat block in the game, especially after I already reviewed the rules basics of the game, I do have a plan for this. Yes, really. Plan. I totally have one.

Amount of Content

As far as content goes, the books is split up into three sections: NPCs (listed under “Characters”), creatures, and droids. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare it to its predecessor title from the previous Star Wars RPG, but I’d like to take a moment to note the chapter sizes of both, since they had similar price tags and similar page count: Ultimate Adversaries.having 160 pages and Threats of the Galaxy..erm…160 pages. Huh, so not just similar page count, exact page count.

Major NPCs: In other words, named NPCs such as the various individuals of the Star Wars universe. In Threats of the Galaxy (TotG from now on), you get 14: Aurra Sing, Bail Organa, Bossk, Captain Typho, Clone Commander CC-2224 (AKA Commander Cody), Darth Bane, Darth Maul, Desann, Guri, Jango Fett, Jerec, Lumiya, Talon Karrde, and Zakarisz Ghent. By contrast, Ultimate Adversaries had a staggering 39, including Bossk and the always-awesome C-3PX.

General NPCs: Archetypes, generic cannon fodder, and the like. Most of the NPCs section of TotG is made up by these, with 84 examples that include assassins, engineers, gamblers, and Sith Lords, amongst others. With 60 stat blocks in total, Ultimate Adversaries somewhat loses out in the numbers game in this category.

Creatures: Oh yes, you know I love my bestiaries, so let’s see what we have in comparison here. TotG has 25 creatures. Thus, the mighty 80 creatures and 8 templates means that Ultimate Adversaries easily beats out TotG in numbers.

Droids: 11 droids for Ultimate Adversaries, as opposed to TotG’s 28, means that in the main categories, we end up with both titles coming out on top in two of them.

So, as you can see, there’s a fair amount of some content in TotG…but not so much if you’re looking for monstrous beasts or name-worthy characters. What’s even more telling in this case is that TotG is near the beginning of its line’s time in the sun, while Ultimate Adversaries was the last book for The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, so in its case most of the droids and NPCs had already been done before. Yet it still comes out ahead in the case of named NPCs and creatures over its Saga Edition counterpart.

Depth of Content

Okay, now that we’ve listed out how much content is actually in TotG, what about the bang you get for your buck with each character/droid/whatever? The answer is…not really that much. A combination of Saga Edition having larger stat blocks than SWRPG and that inane-as-all-hell “short and stocky” book design Saga Edition has means that there’s just not as much writing room for flavor text as opposed to game rules, especially in sections that have sidebars. It’s thankful, then, that Star Wars is a universe that has plenty of research already done on it; otherwise, you’d kind of be up shit creek if you wanted more than some general information and “what you can do to put this in your game” as far as data goes on what you might find in this title.

Player-Friendly?

Ultimate Adversaries had an appendix of content that could be of use to players, as well as Game Masters. Does TotG provide any toys players might want to use too? Well, yes, albeit in sidebars scattered through the book and not given an index rather than in their own appendix. These options include…

Five playable species: Bith, Chistori, Mantellian Savrip, Miraluka, and Utai. There are also rules for playing Human Replica Droids (HRDs), but I wouldn’t exactly consider those a species, even if they are labeled as such.

Three new Talent Trees: The Malkite Poisoner, Master of Teras Kasi, and Mercenary talent trees give some more options to melee combatants through expert poison use, martial arts combat, and a scattering of whatever-was-in-the-junk-drawer, respectively. There are also three talents for old talent trees, but two of those are related to Sith powers.

Equipment and Vehicles: Various pieces of equipment such as Mandalorian armor, riot shields, Sith swords, and lightwhips have the potential to augment your characters, while two speeder bikes, a swoop bike, and two starships are presented for getting from place to place.

In addition to this, there are some feats and alternate game rules here and there, but they aren’t really enough to talk about. So, while not utterly invaluable to players, this title is not completely useless to them either.

Final Thoughts

So, with what I’ve just said as well as some other little things to take into consideration, what are our pros and cons for this title?

Pros

  • A good number of generic NPCs and droids.
  • Plenty of eras covered. You can find things from the Sith war droids of the Knights of the Old Republic era all the way to the Imperial Knights of the Fel Empire found 130 years in the future compared to the time of A New Hope.
  • For the most part, the art in the book is very pretty and non-intrusive.

Cons

  • The odd book shape and thick white space around the pages mean that not as much content is pushed in as there potentially could be given the wealth of information the Star Wars universe has to go on.
  • Lack of an index of enemies by Challenge Level or of things such as equipment, species, and vehicles means that you may have to dig around if you haven’t memorized the book.
  • Plenty of (admittedly often minor) errors in stat blocks that probably should have been caught by the editing team of a big-name corporate entity such as the tag team of LucasBooks and Wizards of the Coast.
  • Some of the placement choices are just plain odd, such as a beast tamer NPC being in the creatures section underneath the entry for the varactyl (the feathered lizard seen in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith), or having the different Pilot archetypes each get their own enty while the Jedi Master archetypes all fall under a single header.
  • Not a whole lot of critters, which is honestly a running trend in Star Wars Saga Edition in spite of the galaxy full of beasts and beings they had to work with.

This title would be solidly just plain and average if it weren’t for the fact that, unless you’re either sticking to very specific NPCs over generic ones or want to stat up everything yourself, you basically need this title to do Game Mastering in Saga Edition. This barely, and I mean barely, propels it to above average. 6/10.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2011 in RPG Reviews

 

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