Star Frontiers got me into RPGs, the Red Box Dungeons and Dragons edition got me addicted and as much as I love Star Trek, it was the West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game got me back into gaming.
I had been absent from tabletop RPGs when I stumbled into Castle Comics in Lafayette, IN and found some people in the back of the shop playing a Star Wars game. I introduced myself to the Game Master, a Mr. Louis Hoefer and asked if he had any openings. He was up for it and the following week I showed up with a Wookie Scout-type character named Loowasha.
In hindsight the name might sound like a plumber in England but whatever, it worked. They desperately needed the muscle in the group dynamic.
A few weeks later, not many, Louis needed a small break to prep for the next “arc,” he is also a school teacher and activities there were warming up. I volunteered a 1-2 session game that wouldn’t change the dynamic of the game but be a “side adventure” to the ongoing story. It worked out and Louis got to be a player for once.
I did one thing, there was a wannabe Jedi character and the game was set in the timeline right after Luke destroyed the Death Star, I gave him a faulty lightsaber that had a bad habit of shorting out.
WEG’s Star Wars RPG gets an unfair amount of grief about the game mechanic. It is a D6 based system, the number after an ability or skill is the number of six sided die that the player rolls. A character with a blaster skill of 5D will roll 5 six sided die (one of them a Wild Die), add it all up and if you meet or beat the target number difficulty then you succeed. There is more to it than that but them’s the basics. The derision the game gets is heaped upon the amount of die that you roll, that is part of the fun and unless you are one of the legacy characters (Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie) you are going to roll 2 to up to 10ish die usually.
The legacy character stats are outrageous and the write ups in the sourcebooks reflect that. Luke at the start of Star Wars should be, I think, a beginning type character.
For a long time WEG Star Wars was Star Wars. That was all you got, it predates Dark Horse comics Star Wars series and Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy; the Prequels, the video games, the comic books, the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoon and the new sequels are here now because of WEG.
The beauty of the game mechanic is that it can be relatively rules light and very quick in game play. It’s ALL addition and I am a big fan of that for teaching RPGs to gaming rookies.
It also does not use “classes” but archetypes or character concepts with a variety of alien races so you have great freedom in character design.
The mechanic isn’t elegant as it does have some flaws. Foremost is the lightsaber rule that more or less states that if you look at one wrong you are going to severe your arm with it. The Difficulty Numbers can be hard to hit but that is dependent on your GM more than anything else.
WEG was famous for their D6 system, it was intuitive and easy to teach and learn. They were also famous for using the system with various licensed settings such as Ghostbusters, Hercules and Xena, Indiana Jones and a new version of D6 that was used with their DC Universe Roleplaying Game.
DCURPG is my All Time Favorite superhero RPG system so WEG had to have been doing something right. Then again I was able to more or less create a Superman-type character at Power Level 3 named “Doctor Hero.” I broke the game but by time Louis realized it, it was too late.
Beware; my nerd-fu is strong.
Star Wars holds up so well that Fantasy Flight Games (who has the current license and their own RPG for it) re-released the original 1st edition rulebook with the sourcebook to the Original Trilogy in a nice, kind of expensive slipcase edition. I say kind of because the originals can be had used for on the relative cheap and yes the new editions have nice glossy paper and better printing.
WEG lost the license as Wizards of the Coast swooped in and created a D20 based version in time for Episode I: The Phantom Menace and a revised Second Edition for Episode II. Then, for whatever reason they created another version called the Saga Edition.
Not that this little blog is going to hurt FFG’s Star Wars profits but their system requires special die to play and most of my players either don’t have the means or inclination to buy new die every time that they want to play a new RPG. I am not inclined to either and I wouldn’t require this of my players either. THE selling points of RPGs used to be that once you bought the core rulebook(s) you could use a little imagination and the game would pay for itself.
All of this said (and admittedly having never played Saga of the FFG versions) WEG is the best one. If one wants to run a game set in any era there are plenty of apocryphal sourcebooks out there and conversion is easy. If you are into Star Wars and RPGs and don’t mind being labelled a grognard then grab a handful of D6.
Or go check out “A Homemade Star Wars RPG For My Toddler,” it may be the best one yet.