Sunday, March 24, 2019

Review WEG Star Wars 30th Anniversy Set.

Review: WEG Star Wars 30th Anniversary Edition

My first campaign ever was with FGU’s Space Opera RpG, set in the Star wars universe. However, by the time the actual Star Wars RPG was released, I’d moved on to dating. Before last night, I’d never run or played this system at all. Before last week, I’d never even looked inside one of the books. 

Watching the the Clone Wars show with my son and reading Archie Goodwin and Carmine Infantino’s run on Marvel’s original Star Wars comic rekindled my  interest in in the franchise. I really enjoyed the Force Awakens and (especially) Solo, too. And just out of curiosity, mostly, 
I’ve been looking at this set since before it was actually available. 
Anyway, I scored a big art commission, got paid, split the money with my wife and bought myself a whole bunch of comics- and this game. 

The set includes reprints of Star Wars the RPG and The Star Wars source book.

First physically- it’s fantastic. The slip case is sturdy; the books are hardcover and pleasing to hold. The interior photos and the graphics have charm and communicate an awesome space opera aesthetic. 
The only drawback to the presentation of the game is a separation of some combat stuff between the mechanics chapter and the combat chapter- and a few missing things, or things that should have a heading, but do not; however, this is mitigated to a high degree by thurough cross referencing. All in all it’s a wash. Organization is adequate. 

The system is amongst the best I have ever seen. I’m absolutely taken by it’s simple elegance. 
Another thing about the system and the rules, that frankly blows my mind, is if it happens in the movies and its cool or sounds cool- there’s likely a cool system for it in the game. Can you: Angle the deflector shields; use parsec as a logical sensible measure of travel time; plot a course though Hyperspace in an cool and exiting way; engage in an exciting chase; get snagged by a tractor beam- fuck yeas you can. 

I can’t say enough good things about the system, and there is only one thing I dislike about it and it was easily remedied. 

The PCs are in no way even half as competent as Luke on his first day off planet.  The version of Luke presented in the Sourcebook is an OP demigod, but that’s not even what I’m talking about. You cannot with the system as written create a character that has the skills Luke has when the movie starts- much less Han or Ben. 
This is a weird design choice, and I’ve seen it before- Hollow Earth Expedition PCs are crazy anemic, for instance. This is some kind of “earn your fun” shit that is endemic in RPGs and, frankly has no place in Star Wars.  
Other points of interest. The game has a mechanic to turn you character into an NPC if you do too much terrible shit. 
The environment is friendly to players. Things go their way when it’s possible and sometimes when it’s not.
Referees are strongly cautioned against killing characters 
Finally the book is 141 pages long; with 94 pages of rules and related; a character sheet; 3 pages of charts at the end; 17 pages of character templates; 5 pages on designing adventures and a 15 page adventure. I probably dropped a one in there somewhere. We’re all gonna make it. 

The sourcebook is a collection of descriptions and diagrams of common technology; starships; droids; creatures and aliens. The Wampa failed to make the creature section, but the Taun Taun is in there. Weird. The movie characters are all stated up and are incredibly OP. You’d be all like Mon Mothma, baby, why the fuck they stat you? And then she would hand your entire party and a platoon of storm troopers their collective ass.  
“Don’t call me Baby”

Other than that the source book is really cool. 

Our game was rocking. After months of play testing my own thing, followed by several weeks of trying to sort Icons die mechanic and poorly organized text, it was a relief to play something so well designed and easy to run. Improvisation- something I’m normally not on board for as it limits player agency, if I’m pulling consequences of their choices out of my ass, is very easy in this game, and it’s Star Wars, consequences are pretty easy to work out ahead of time. Further if you hit a rough patch, just toss in something from the movies. I did it like three time last night. We stated during the battle of hoth.  My (home made) encounter tables were mostly stuff that happens in the movies. 1. Pitched battle 2. Ice Fall 3. Wampa; 4 storm troopers; 5 something explodes; 6. Lorquan Qu’all, minor lord of the Sith. 
The characters are now tasked with finding a new planet for the Rebel base. 
Which brings us to my final point and another aspect of the game that has only emerged over time- and that is the crazy amount of additional material- and I’m not tlaking about EU stuff or RPG supplements. I’m talking about awesome DK picture/ map books; encyclopedias and art books and all that stuff. It is so easy to stat up creatures, NPCs and ships you don’t really need game books at all. 

Sadly, there are no complex rules on financing a 30 year mortgage for your starship. Otherwise if you’re running a game with a space empire- even some of the most esoteric aspects of the setting, Star Wars are common knowledge. This one campaign (of two that I can think of) where you don’t have to worry about the players not reading the setting material. 

Our cannon (So Far)


  1. It is a really well-done game, for certain.

  2. Damn right. This game is so solidly built, it still feels contemporary after three decades. An elegant system, from ... actually, from the age of chart-based hyper-realism with 1d1000 hit location rules and lovingly tallied cover modifiers? Yeah. That makes it even more intriguing. How did it happen?

    1. Building on the basic chassis of Ghostbusters, I'm guessing, though that doesn't explain how Ghostbuster came to be.

    2. Let's ask Sandy Petersen about Ghostbusters. I thought Greg had reminisced about it somewhere but if so I can't find it.

      METAL EARTH IS BACK. Like new comic book day on steroids!

    3. Who else is going to use obscenities as punctuation

  3. I picked this up, too, after having had the original when I was young and remembering how fun it was. Will delve soonest, esp. with your supporting my memories of how it ran.

  4. In many ways the 2nd editions ruined the simple elegant system that took five minutes to create a character after picking a template. It needed some tweaking but not a total revamp and rules bloat.

    1. I agree that it doesn’t really need more than a couple of changes- and even those are done easily at home. The last thing I want is 100 pages more rules.

  5. Great post and overview. The slipcase looks killer. Wanted to let you know I linked to this post on my blog and mentioned it on my podcast this week.

  6. Back in the 90's I ran a campaign using 2nd Edition that took the characters from just before the Battle of Yavin to just after the Battle of Endor. We loved it.

    I picked up the 1st Edition anniversary set and found that overall I like 1st edition better than 2nd! While there are some things I may retro-fit, overall I think 1st hits my sweet spot better. And I can retro-fit anything I want from 2nd.

    While it's true that you can't make Luke out-the-shoot, a starting PC is still going to outclass the example mooks given in the system. And a little leveling goes a long way in the system. I let my players start with a few more dice than the base rules and it bumped their power level noticeably.

    WEG put out some of the most amazing sourcebooks ever. I recommend their Imperial Sourcebook as one of the most useful for anti-empire stuff, and the Corporate Sector Authority sourcebook for obscure pre-Expanded Universe fun.

  7. I’m down for some pre EU stuff. It is interesting ot read the intros to the original Marvel years collections (I just got the second omni). Lucas kept personal oversight over the comics for the entire time of Marvel’s first series. It’s specifially why, for example, Russ Manning got fired from the newspaper stip and Goodwin and Williamson got hired.