Monday, February 8, 2010

Hidden Gem: Legacy Era Campaign Guide for Star Wars Saga Edition

At Con of the North last weekend, I had a lot of great experiences. It was my first real small-time gaming con, and I was very excited to see what kind of small mom-and-pop kind of operations I would discover this past weekend. One of things that was scaled down appropriately were the amount of retailers in the main convention room where free space was also available. It was an interesting space as the 10 - 12 retailers lined the walls for open gaming. If it wasn't your turn in whatever game you were playing (usually Neuroshima Hex! for us), you could easily turn your head and take a peak at the nearest dealer table to see what they had to offer.

One of the offers that definitely turned my head was a stack of Legacy Era Campaign Guides for Star Wars Saga Edition for $10.00 a piece. I realize support has fallen away from underneath the Saga Edition rules, but I did not expect to find deals this quickly. Maybe it's something in particular about the book that makes it worth so much less than all the other supplements. Could it be the setting? It is fairly new and only supported via the pretty neat Legacy comic series. It could also turn off some traditional fans of Star Wars since, although taking place over 130 years After the Battle of Yavin, it's still surprising that the Skywalker of this generation is a deathstick-addict ex-jedi running blindly from his destiny. Or maybe it was just over-produced? I don't know, and that doesn't matter so much to me as I only dropped $10.00 on a $40.00 hardcover.

I took the opportunity of the four hour drive home to read through the first half of the book. We get some nice fleshed-out descriptions for new playable species of old favorites, which all books give us (and is a really cool feature of Star Wars role playing) including the Chiss, Yuuzhan Vong, and Weequay/Klatoonians as well as some setting-specific races as well (basically races more prevalent during this time period like the Nagai or based on main characters such as the Zeltron).

Besides being a setting that really expands player's abilities to play Yuuzhan Vong, the campaign guide provides two new things for Saga Edition: Legacy Items/Destinies and a cannon-free timeframe. Legacy items and destinies offer the chance for players to create characters loosely connected to the characters we all know and love from the movies, comics, and anything else. Sure a player could make a character for a rebellion era game with the last name "Antilles" but it would be fairly cheesy and falls too close into "long-lost sibling" territory. Instead, with legacy items and destinies there's a chance for a descendant, maybe a long lost cousin, niece, nephew, whatever, legacy character to play up the past family connections while not being too on the nose. Legacy items skirt this a little close for my taste - I would never allow any character to find Luke Skywalker's lightsaber for their own use for example since this would likely be forever lost of in a museum. Of course it could be a fun item to include as a major McGuffin for a mission, but I hardly need stats to make that happen.

The other aspect I love about the Legacy book is that it gives an open galaxy free of characters with so much baggage they couldn't afford a one-way flight from Chicago to Indianapolis. Yes, we get a lot of good setting fluff in the form of the Sith Empire, Roan Fel's Empire-in-Exile, and Galactic Alliance chapters (which is a really nice twist on classic good vs. evil Star Wars play as well!), but the setting is bogged down by this. Instead, since it's well into the future, anything from any star wars series before it can fit in. The text even recommends using previous popular designs as kind of a retro-chic standard of design for modern-day aircraft and weapons. It's fairly meta, but I like thinking of what was actually popular in Han Solo's day and how it would have been subteltly reinvented for Cade Skywalker's modern world. It's a nice trash heap of a setting for this purpose. More importantly, the future is really not determined at all at this point, and even if one were to start a Legacy campaign to coincide with the beginning of the comic series events, with the exception of killing a main character like Cade Skywalker or Darth Krayt, there's a ton of room to add on to rather than replace the cannon of the setting.

Enough of my gibbering, to sum it all up - I haven't read all the campaign guides for Saga Edition, but from what I have read, Legacy's my favorite so far.

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