Saturday, May 5, 2012
My son played in a 4th edition D&D game today.
I was going to write about how today was Star Wars day- May the Fourth be with you! and all that, I actually have had Star Wars on my mind as a result of the Star Wars blitz that's just everywhere today. So I guess I'll talk about that a bit first. My first experience with any Star Wars RPG was the D6 West End Games version, and I have a bunch of stuff for the game, and I have run a couple of different campaigns set in the WEG Star Wars system. Sadly, they were failures. Not that fun wasn't had, but something went wrong.
I think part of the reason they were failures was that WEG D6 Star Wars was one of the 1st non-D&D games I ever tried to teach myself and others how to play. I think the other, and perhaps bigger, part of the failure of my WEG Star Wars experience was that my players were all D&D players; sure they were Star Wars fans too, hell they'd been Star Wars fans since before they were D&D players, but the fact that they'd been D&D players for years before WEG came out with their Star Wars RPG meant that they went into Star Wars with a D&D mind set. The D&D mind set is distinctly not a heroic Star Wars rebellion against the Empire type mind set. Yes, people will argue that Han Solo did it all for the money, OK, whatever, he had Jabba the Hutt to pay off. My real problem was that everyone wanted to be shadier than Han Solo, they wanted to be Boba Fett, only working for the rebels, but only because the game made them. Worse than that, after every single firefight, they were looting corpses like in D&D, stripping off Stormtrooper Armor because it was better than their own stuff, taking weapons, real non-heroic, non-Star Wars type stuff; and how do you enforce a "feel" on the universe?
Years passed, I pretty much gave up on WEG D6 Star Wars RPG, I just assumed I'd never find the right group to play with, then the prequels came out and pretty much screwed the whole thing up anyway. I gave WotC D20 Star Wars a shot, I bought every single issue of Star Wars Gamer that the released, yes, I was the one, and eventually I found a group of people willing to give me a shot GMing that game. I dropped the ball there too. I didn't actually own the book at the time, my friend Mark did, I had an introductory adventure to run, which I familiarized myself with, but, to be honest, I am always better with my own material or material that I alter to suit my needs. In my hubris, I assumed that my intimate familiarity with 3rd edition D&D would be enough to get me over the hurdle of not being actually familiar with the specifics of the rules of D20 Star Wars, so I was unprepared I guess. That kind of soured me on the experience, and I was getting soured on 3rd edition D&D at roughly the same time, so there may have been some synergy there.
I had also been hearing via the internet how WotC D20 Star Wars just wasn't as good as WEG D6 Star Wars had been. Then I started hearing things about how a GM that knows too much about a universe can make it suck for the players, and I wondered if maybe that was my problem, I was projecting what I thought Star Wars should be like onto my players, rather than letting them play out their own stories in the Star Wars universe. Mind you, I've heard the same argument made about canon-nazis that question a GM's calls because they violate some obscure bit of canon, and I'd never tolerate that nonsense at my table.
Now, over the last couple of years, my wife has offered on several occasions to run Star Wars games for us, mostly for the kids and me, but I guess anyone in the group would be OK to join; I keep buying new stuff for her, hoping something will catch her interest, I bought the Saga edition book back when it was still available, I have a couple of other Saga edition books I have found on bargains on EBay, I have the D20 Revised and the Original, several copies of each and several sourcebooks for each WotC edition. I bought tons of the Star Wars miniatures, mostly from the first few sets, both because I like the miniatures and because I was using them to tempt my children into playing a tactical wargame with me, it kind of worked for a while. I have even bought more WEG D6 stuff on Ebay over the course of the last year or so trying to tempt my lady into running a game, I don't think it's going to happen.
Then tonight I took my son to a 4th edition D&D game tonight. He made a Thief character, he said it was the most powerful character he's ever played and he kind of liked it. He was the only human in the party.