Review: Star Wars RPG Legacy Era Campaign Guide

2009 September 3
by Vanir

It’s review catch-up time here at Stupid Ranger! Today, I’m reviewing the Star Wars RPG Legacy Era Campaign Guide. This book has been out for a couple months, but it might be worth a look if your Star Wars campaign needs some new life.

136 Years After A Long, Long Time Ago In The Same Galaxy Far, Far Away

Unfortunately, I walked into this having neither played the latest incarnation of the Star Wars RPG, nor having read the Star Wars Legacy series of novels upon which this campaign guide is based. Thusly, my knowledge of this era of the Star Wars timeline comes completely from this book. It kind of reminds me of when I picked up a ton of Who’s Who in the DC Universe and The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe comics when I was a kid, and knew digest versions of all the characters’ histories without actually having read the comics. So, based on that, allow me to give you a brief synopsis of the setting you’re plunging your characters into if you use this sourcebook:

The book even starts out by saying something to the effect that Obi-Wan used to refer to the rise of Palpatine’s Galactic Empire as the “dark times”, and if he saw these times he would probably call Palpatine’s time the “sort of dingy grey times”. The galaxy is a freaking mess. The New Republic is gone. The Jedi are all but wiped out, and the few that remain are outcast fugitives. A new Galactic Empire took over everything, but then the Sith overthrew the Emperor and now a Sith Lord sits openly on the throne. The overthrown Emperor still is trying to get his old job back. By the way, did I mention the new Sith Emperor (Darth Krayt) is a freaking sandperson? There is, of course, a Skywalker around to try to save the universe. Except he’s a bounty hunter, and he’s kind of a douche. Mostly I say that because hunts Jedi sometimes. However, he has a hot girlfriend from a race of sex people and a secret agent mom. And he’s trying to be better. He swears! Except he got kidnapped by Darth Sandpeople and now he’s learning how to use dark side stuff, but for good.

Yeah, the galaxy is pretty screwed. That’s where your PC’s come in.

Everything Old Is New Again

One interesting thing about this campaign setting is that since the galaxy’s all effed up, people tend to reuse stuff. They explicitly say you’ll see weapons, ships, characters, etc. from every other era of Star Wars because it’s all still around. Probably the coolest part for me about this is encouraging players to make their characters a descendant of a Star Wars character they’re familiar with. In addition to just having this be a cool-factor for roleplaying purposes, characters descending from certain families get special abilities. For instance, Skywalker descendants (in addition to the chance to not be a douche) get a power that increases their force powers greatly when they use it. Descendants of the Solo family get some sort of mechanics bonus. (No idea what to do if you’re descended from his kids he had with Leia. That’s probably another sourcebook.)  My favorite of these was if you’re descended from Greedo’s family – in which case you get a survival check bonus. I’m guessing that’s either because of karma. Maybe it skipped Greedo’s generation?

There’s lots of new ships and places to go and races. There are a few new classes of note. My personal favorite are the Imperial Knights, who guard the deposed Emperor. They’re like Jedi, except they only work for the emperor and they’re not about mysticism, just using the force to protect and defend like any other tool or weapon. Also, their armor is based off the stuff Darth Vader made his out of, which apparently made him way better at lightsaber-duelling. The Sith also have a specialized Knight Hunter class, trained specifically to kill anybody who isn’t using a red lightsaber. Their armor is based off the Crimson Guard’s. Sort of.

Do, Or Do Not. There Is No Try.

This seems to be like a book that will make Star Wars: Legacy fans who also play the Star Wars RPG really, really happy. For the rest of us, I’m not real sure. To be fair, it’s not really the designers’ fault. The campaign guide gives you a very shallow overview of the events that have occured, and some history and (usually) pictures of all the new stuff you’ll be using and doing, but I get that same feeling I had when I first played Knights Of the Old Republic. Everything seems kinda Star Wars-y, but you’re not really invested enough in it to care. KOTOR, by way of excellent storytelling, won my heart over. You’ll probably have to do the same with your players if they’re unfamiliar with this new stuff.

My only real complaint with the book is that finding anything specific inside it is very difficult. There’s a broad table of contents, and there’s an appendix that lists people by challenge rating, but for other stuff you have to hunt for it yourself. Things are arranged by faction rather than by what it is. I tried to look up Rogue Squadron, whose section I wanted to mention in this article, and eventually stopped trying.

Barring that frustration, if you liked the Legacy books or you want to try something new, I think this would be a worthwhile buy.

I did realize something very important while reading this book. In this new setting, Darth Krayt basically wipes out 10% of the populace of Mon Calamari and enslaves the rest. If I ever become a Sith Lord, I’m modifying my lightsaber to coat everything it cuts in a layer of fried breading and I’m going hunting at Mon Calamari. My name will be…. Darth Cuisine.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. September 3, 2009

    The truth, and this is just my personal opinion, is that I’ve never been a fan of bumping into movie characters in SW games. Or their cousins, or their neighbors, or whatever.

    To me it just makes a galaxy composed of billions of worlds, a tad bit small.

  2. September 13, 2009

    Just to clarify: The Legacy Era Campaign Guide is based on the Dark Horse Comics of the same name, rather than the Star Wars: Legacy novels. Confusing, I know — I didn’t realize the difference until I heard about the campaign guide and decided to check out the comics. Here’s volume 1:

    And this is a case where you don’t want to judge a book by its cover; it’s really much, much better than the cover art would have you believe.

    I think the book’s indexing issues are par for the course with WotC these days; in both D&D and Star Wars they’ve been happy to hack the index to provide more pages of content, thinking that’s what gamers want. Me? All that content is useless if you can’t find it (and yeah, I’m having the same issue looking up Rogue Squadron and the other Legacy squadrons).

    This time period’s great for anyone who wants to run a “throw everything (including the kitchen sink) into the sandbox” sort of campaign. As you point out, this era is a huge hodgepodge anyway, so no one will care if a new Sith Lord pops up somewhere or an errant Skywalker bastard starts adventuring on the Outer Rim.

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