Continuing from last time, I’m still going through the Star Wars Gamemaster Handbook, to see what jewels are contained within!
Table of Contents
Translate these episodes into Game Terms
When thinking about the Star Wars rules, remember the most important rule: this is supposed to be fun, and ignore whatever gets in the way of having fun. Make sure your desire to ‘do it right’ doesn’t interfere with the progress of the story. Keep it moving forward. Before planning an epic session, try running a test battle with 2 or 3 people to play-test the rules and work through the kinks. Some of the rules in the book are more complicated than they need to be for starting adventures. Handwave or ignore whatever slows you down or gets in the way.
There’s a lot more rule-specific advice, and some examples given, but that’s the gist of it. And damn, is that good advice. So often, when there are rules written in a book, it’s easy to treat the rules as the point. After all, why would someone right them if they didn’t want them followed to the letter? I like the free pass that West End games gives GMs in this section. Its sound advice, and should be a universal rule that applies to ALL rpgs, and all games for that matter!
Relax and Have Fun!
As your players explore the locations you’ve listed, let them explore and have fun. If they want to spend some time gambling instead of following your plot hooks, let them! As long as their having fun, then you’re doing a good job. Another way to improve the game is to treat it like a performance. Don’t say ‘your character is hit’, say ‘YOU are hit with a blaster bolt!’ Be patient with your players, walk them through the rules, and guide them through your story if they need it. Above all, RELAX! This is supposed to be fun, and not a burden.
That last part is incredibly important. If I would add anything, it would be to make sure that YOU, the GM, are also having fun during the game. I’ve burned myself out as a GM several times, and each time its because I was putting pressure on myself that didn’t need to be there.
One of the piece of advice that I’m still trying to nail down is to act in character; funny voices, strange mannerisms, etc. That’s really hard, and I hope to get better with practice. I have only been involved in theater behind the scenes, and never acted or did stuff on stage. I enjoy public speaking, but acting as a different character is a strange skill; once in which I still need practice.
The Star Wars Adventure
Treat your game like an improvised movie. You are the director, scriptwriter, actor, and even the sound effects generator! Make sure there is a lot of action scattered within your games, and spread that action across a number of different locations and planets. Use specific details to try and convey the atmosphere and uniqueness of the world and its contents.
This part was actually very intimidating to me at first. I mean….that’s a lot of pressure on one person! I always felt like I was single-handedly responsible for the entertainment and enjoyment of the players; similar to how a musician or comedian feels. But that’s not really true, and the pressure that we put on ourselves will not make the game better. Instead, try to see yourself as just another player. You’ve done a little more work than the others, but really, you will make mistakes and be trying to have fun just as much, if not more, than everyone else at the table. Don’t forget to relax!
Most GMs see failure as the end; as a game over. But this isn’t true! In Star Wars, people fail all the time, but the story continues, and characters change and grow through their failure. Don’t punish failure with death, instead give the players setback and challenges to overcome. Break their equipment, put them in a difficult situation, strand them somewhere, or give them a dangerous injury.
Dungeon World taught me a lot about this, and their advice is a little more targeted. For me, the best advice is that adventure and creativity grows from failure. One of your big goals as the GM is to provide difficulties and challenges for your players. You’re ALSO supposed to support them, and be their biggest fans as they overcome their challenges. It’s a really weird dynamic, but when done right, the players have a lot of satisfaction, while the GM has fun creating interesting and exciting challenges.
Star Wars is a huge living world with an infinite number of possible adventures and excitement! Don’t limit yourself to the stuff you’ve seen in the movies. You could play as a group of imperials putting down a rebellion; play as some normal people caught up in a disaster or conflict; everyone is the same race, on a journey or pilgrimage; bounty hunters; smugglers; escaped prisoners; alternate timelines; or just something silly, like playing as a group of ewoks.
I’ve talked about the importance of Adventure Seeds within world-building before, and this is just a small example of clever world-building. In fact, the entire Star Wars RPG line comes from that desire. West End Games knew that people would want to explore more in the Star Wars universe, and so with this section of the GM book stress the infinite world and adventure that is possible. Now, this isn’t as thread-heavy as Numenera, but there are a TON of published adventures and ideas available in separate books; making things less compressed than the Numenera corebook. Star wars is a ripe universe, with enough unexplained and unexplored phenomena to drive adventurers for MANY years to come.
Hey, this is written to you: The reader. Thanks for reading this little series, I’ve got enough material here for about 5-6 more blog posts reviewing and covering the rest of the chapters in the Star Wars GM Handbook. BUT! I need some feedback from you. I will continue writing this series if you comment below, and tell me what you like, what you don’t like, and what you want to see more of. If I don’t hear anything back, then this series will be shelved in order to explore something else. Your feedback drives my writing; I’d love to hear from you!