|This article is designated for Gamemasters only, if you are a player maybe you shouldn't read any further.|
See also: Hazards
The Gamemaster is the guiding force of the game. If the game is fun, it will be to your credit. If it isn't you'll need to make some adjustments. But don't worry- running a Star Wars game is nowhere near as daunting as it might seem at first.
Described below are the different duties of the GM. As with any hobby, focus on what you enjoy the most, but remember that the other duties are also important.
- 1 The Role of the Gamemaster
- 2 Running a Game Session
- 3 Building an Encounter
- 4 Awarding Experience Points
- 5 Other Rewards
- 6 Building an Adventure
- 7 Building a Campaign
- 8 Additional Mythmaking in Star Wars
- 9 Additional Gamemastering
- 10 Homebrew Gamemastering
The Role of the Gamemaster
Main Article: The Role of the Gamemaster
The Gamemaster is the storyteller and referee, creator of terrible threats against the galaxy, secret master of the villainous, criminal, and ruthless, and hidden protector of the brave. The GM's responsibilities include several important tasks; each of these is outlined in this section.
Running a Game Session
Main Article: Running a Game Session
After everything is prepared, and everyone sits down at the table, you're on. It's your show. Here are some things you should consider, at the table and before you ever get there, to help make the game run as smoothly as possible.
Building an Encounter
Main Article: Building an Encounter
For purposes of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game, an encounter is defined as an obstacle, threat, or situation (Whether it be an opponent, several opponents, or a Hazard) that prevents the heroes from achieving a specific goal important to the adventure. An obstacle, threat, or situation can be overcome through smart roleplaying, combat, or Skill use. Persuading a crazed Force Disciple to surrender might require heroes to enter difficult and perhaps life-threatening negotiations, while capturing a Crime Lord might require heroes to fight their way past a squad of Thugs or infiltrate the Crime Lord's headquarters without setting off the security system.
Awarding Experience Points
Heroes receive Experience Points (XP) for overcoming opponents, Hazards, and other obstacles that stand in the way of achieving the goals of an adventure. Every opponent has a Challenge Level (CL) that determines how much XP the heroes get for overcoming it, as shown in the below table. Note that overcoming an obstacle doesn't always mean defeating it. Heroes who trick or bribe a Gamorrean Guard into letting them pass should get full XP for the Gamorrean, just as if they'd bested him in combat.
|Challenge Level||XP Award1,2|
1: Divide the XP award by the number of heroes in the party to determine how many XP each hero receives. Heroes recieve one-tenth XP for anything with a Challenge Level equal to or less than their character level -5.
2: An easy way to determine XP is that every CL is worth 200 XP. So a multiplier of 200 by the enemy's CL would get the experience that the enemy rewards.
The GM has the right to adjust XP awards depending on how rapidly he or she wants the heroes to gain levels and how easily the heroes achieve their encounter goals. Wherever possible, the GM should split XP awards equally between the heroes so that they're gaining levels at the same rate. Once the heroes accumulated enough XP to gain a level, it's time to increase the difficulty of the challenges they must overcome.
Beginning at 6th level, heroes receive less XP awards for obstacles with a CL significantly lower than their character level. At some point, low-level threats become fodder, and little experience can be gained from overcoming them. Heroes receive one-tenth XP for anything with a Challenge Level equal to or less than the heroes' average level -5. For example a group of 6th-level heroes receive 20 XP for defeating a CL 1 Stormtrooper (Instead of 200 XP).
In addition to Experience Points, the heroes can earn other rewards for their actions. As a general rule, a challenging yet fair encounter should net the heroes resources equal their average level x 2000 credits, to be divided equally among them. Easy encounters may deliver half as many resources or none at all, and difficult encounters should give 50% more at least. You don't have to hand out resources at the end of the an encounter; often it is best to save the heroes' rewards until the end of the adventure, in the form of a lump-sum payment given to them for completing the adventure's goals.
Resources can take several different forms, as detailed below. For purposes of comparison, all resources are measured in credits.
For many characters, no reward is better than cold, hard cash. This category includes credit vouchers, electronic deposits of credits into a character's account (If the character owns a Credit Chip), credit coins, or Trade Goods (Often precious metals).
Credits may be found during the course of an adventure - inside a vault in a Hutt Crime Lord's palace, in front of Trade Goods found in a freighter's cargo hold, or perhaps even in the pockets or baggage of a defeated foe. However, heroes are more likely to receive the bulk of their wealth from grateful benefactors for jobs well done.
Heroes invariably acquire new Equipment in the course of an adventure, recovering it from the field of battle, seizing it from enemies they defeat, or stealing it from a less-than secure place (Such as the hold of a captured Starship or a poorly defended warehouse).
Be judicious when giving out valuable Equipment as a reward. If the heroes find valuable Equipment too often, they will be tempted to spend several minutes after every battle looting bodies for usable gear and later reselling their hawked goods, and this can quickly derail or slow down an adventure.
Always point out notable Equipment that you want the heroes to have ("The Scout Trooper's sniper rifle seems intact, and you can see a Targeting Scope mounted on it"). Meanwhile, never mention mundane Equipment that isn't meant to be useful, or emphasize why the Equipment is either unusable or undesirable ("The smuggler's Blaster Pistol is dirty and rusted, a cheap knock-off of a BlasTech model. You doubt he ever took the time to clean or maintain the weapon"). If your players still spend too much time looting, you should strictly enforce the Encumbrance rules and subtract the value of salvaged Equipment from the rewards you give them.
Building an Adventure
Main Article: Building an Adventure
An adventure- sometimes called a mission- is a collection of related encounters designed to fit together, creating a cogent storyline for the game. Some adventures are only short episodes in the campaign or interludes between longer adventures. Others represent significant missions, while still others form the backbone of the campaign.
Building a Campaign
Main Article: Building a Campaign
The term "Campaign" refers to the ongoing game created by the Gamemaster, a linked set of adventures or missions that follow the escapades of a group of heroes. A Campaign might have a single ongoing storyline- such as the overthrow of the Empire - or several, shorter plots. The "Classic" trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi) is an example of a Campaign with a single ongoing storyline. In this "Campaign" we follow the adventures of a central group of heroes- a group that changes slightly over time as individual heroes come and go- who generally work together to accomplish their goals.
Additional Mythmaking in Star Wars
Main Article: Mythmaking in Star Wars
Over the last fifty years, more and more writers have begun to deliberately use what Joseph Campbell coined the monomyth. Through extensive study, Campbell came to believe that nearly all myths, even if from radically different times or places, kept to the same basic structure with the same basic stages. In essence, the monomyth speaks to all people in all places in all times because it represents a commonality of human experience and understanding. It is a powerful storytelling tool when used properly.
George Lucas made deliberate use of the monomyth when creating Star Wars, which is part of what has made these space opera stories become modern myths that have endured now through several generations. In fact, the monomyth and its elements have become so central to the Star Wars franchise that if it were missing, whatever it was missing from would not be Star Wars.
This series of articles will explore the monomyth and its elements as they apply to Star Wars and teach you how to use them in your Star Wars roleplaying games. Adopting them as practice will not only make your games more epic, they will take on an undeniable character that can only be part of the modern myth that is the Star Wars franchise.
In this first article, we will explore the nature of the Hero and then go on to look at other character archetypes in the following two. In articles four and five, we will explore the various stages of the hero's journey. At each step along the way, we will show how these concepts were used in different pieces of the Star Wars franchise.
With other eras available for play, this does not nullify the above concepts presented. However, with different eras comes different challenges, environments, galactic events, and social interactions. Below will be article links to direct you to appropriate eras where you can find information to flesh out your universe.
Old Republic Campaigns
Main Article: Old Republic Campaigns
The galaxy is torn by war. The Old Republic is fighting for its survival, and everywhere the enemies of civilization- The Krath, The Mandalorians, The Sith- threaten to shatter what tenuous hold the Republic has on the galaxy. Lightsabers clash on nearly every planet, and few worlds remain untouched by the violence of the times. This is the galaxy into which heroes in a Old Republic Campaign must venture forth, and it is a galaxy that teems with adventure possibilities.
Clone Wars Campaigns
Reference Book: Star Wars Saga Edition Clone Wars Campaign Guide
Main Article: Clone Wars Campaigns
The Clone Wars embodies traditional warfare better than any other war in the Star Wars saga. Whereas the Galactic Civil War features guerilla warfare against a monolithic Empire, the Clone Wars are a struggle between two more evenly matched forces using more conventional tactics and strategies. Battles of the Clone Wars involve two comparable military forces clashing on expansive and exotic battlefields in a struggle to capture and secure territory. The Republic and the Confederacy are vying to be the dominant ruling body of the galaxy, and both sides commit millions of troops- Clones and Droids- in an effort to stop their foes.
The Clone Wars lead millions of ground troops to fields of battle throughout the galaxy, and the heroes of a Clone Wars Campaign quickly find themselves drawn into these conflicts. Part of the excitement of a Clone Wars campaign is that everywhere the heroes go they find conflicts close by. Few places in the galaxy avoid conflict. The Jedi are fighting and dying on the front lines of these wars, sending the Order into decline. The corrupt leaders of the Confederacy use Droid troops to advance their agenda, aided by the sinister leadership of villains like General Grievous and General Loathsom. The galaxy offers the heroes no sanctuary from the effects of the Clone Wars. Even when visiting distant, backwater worlds, they might see secret rendezvous points for Republic military forces or even entire populations toiling day and night to power the Separatist war machine.
Dark Times Campaigns
Reference Book: Star Wars Saga Edition Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
Main Article: Campaign Guidelines
The heroes in a Dark Times Campaign rise to the occasion to fight the growing threat of Imperial oppression. When Supreme Chancellor Palpatine declares his New Order, few realize its sinister, oppressive intention. Many people accept it as a reasonable solution to the turmoil caused by the Separatist uprising. The average, law-abiding citizen who views galactic government as a distant concern sees Palpatine's speech as yet another seemingly meaningless policy announcement, heralding at most a gradual change in daily life. Some who have misgivings about the declaration of the New Order keep quiet, either because they fear Imperial reprisals or because they feel powerless to oppose such a galaxy-spanning tyranny. Those aware of the brutality of Order 66, people who recognize Palpatine's true Intentions, and the growing number of galactic citizens who witness or experience the Empire's increasing oppression and brutality realize that they must risk their lives and sacrifice their way of life to fight Imperial domination.
These heroes can make a difference in the galaxy. This is a time when general sentiment gradually shifts from perceiving the Empire as the rightful government of the galaxy to seeing it as an oppressive tyranny that pushes the galaxy to the brink of civil war. A Dark Times Campaign focuses on the heroes who become aware of this threat early in the struggle and quickly move to oppose Imperial treachery. These daring few stand out from those who feel too complacent or too intimidated to devote their lives to take action against an increasingly cruel Empire. Through the heroes' actions, galactic sentiment begins to shift against the Empire, eventually creating the climate in which The Rebel Alliance will be founded in the years to come.
Rebellion Era Campaigns
Reference Book: Star Wars Saga Edition Rebellion Era Campaign Guide
Main Article: Rebellion Era Campaigns
In any society, citizens rely on the government for security: laws to define civilized behavior, officials to enforce those laws, punishments for those who break those laws, and so on. The sacrifice of some beings' freedoms for the safety and security of all seems to many during The Rebellion Era to be a reasonable exchange. However, a few beings know that power, corruption, and oppression go hand in hand, and those beings oppose tyranny through acts of sabotage or open rebellion.
The heroes in a Rebellion Era Campaign can fight for either side of the conflict- The Galactic Empire or The Rebel Alliance- or even act on behalf of fringe elements such as smugglers and pirates. Heroes can be upstanding Imperial citizens lending their aid against the Rebellion, or they can be freedom-loving Rebels working to bring down the Emperor.
Whichever side the players choose, The Rebellion Era is rife with possibilities and pitfalls, opportunities and obstacles, and nobility and villainy.
Legacy Era Campaigns
Reference Book: Star Wars Saga Edition Legacy Era Campaign Guide
Main Article: Legacy Era Campaigns
At first blush, campaigns set in The Legacy Era might seem very similar to those set during The Dark Times and The Rebellion Era. The monolithic Empire rules the galaxy, there are no Jedi, and the criminal fringe has risen to prominence. However, in many respects The Legacy Era is wholly unique, with a flavor and feel all its own. While The Legacy Era shares many common elements with other popular time periods, this section helps present some of the unique elements that can be emphasized to give a Legacy Era Campaign its own feel.
Reference Book: Star Wars Saga Edition Scum and Villainy
Main Article: Fringe Campaigns
Crime, it can be argued, is one of the building blocks of society. Although illicit trade and commerce are certainly unethical, and perhaps even immoral, the rule of supply and demand sometimes prevents necessary goods from reaching those who need them most- except at exorbitantly high prices. Smuggling enables important cargos to reach their intended targets, without the costly and time-consuming red tape of a slow (And at times corrupt) bureaucracy. Certainly, the smuggler makes a profit from supplying needed goods; without profit, he or she could not afford to remain in business. Still, a reasonable markup is what draws the line between smuggling and profiteering.
Heroes in a Fringe Campaign might be those who have taken to a life of crime to make their fortunes, embracing expediency over ethics and using guile and force to do what others need hard work and cooperation to accomplish. Alternatively, the heroes could be noble-spirited individuals struggling to rise above their environment and make something of themselves, fighting the temptation to take the easy way out.
All this is rich, fertile soil for fringe heroes to grow and thrive- both as characters and as criminals who might one day come to control their own criminal empires.
Reference Book: Star Wars Saga Edition Galaxy at War
Main Article: Military Campaigns
Military Campaigns can portray the heroics of a high-flying Starfighter squadron or the trials and tribulations of a special-forces unit wallowing in the mud. The most important difference between a Military Campaign and a more conventional one is the mood and tone. Military Campaigns are structured. Even though the morality of the conflict might be unclear, the objectives are well defined.
Winning a war requires teamwork, planning, and the skills to get the job done. Discipline is also important, because it provides a structure for the military machine. Even the lowliest trooper is expected to follow orders. If the trooper refuses to do so, the ripples of the insubordination can be felt even in the highest echelons.
This chapter explains how to establish the necessary tone and mood of a Military Campaign and how to convey to the heroes that they are a part of a conflict that is much larger than any individual solder. In addition, you can learn about military characters and what makes them tick.
Reference Book: Star Wars Saga Edition Galaxy of Intrigue
Main Article: Intrigue Campaigns
In addition to The Force, the galaxy is bound together by one other factor- intrigue. Republic Senators bluster and pontificate in the Senate Rotunda on Coruscant and engage in secret deals behind closed doors. Criminal masterminds scheme for profit and power, sometimes behind a facade of legality and legitimacy. Corporate CEOs try to maximize profits and expand their market shares while trying to force the competition out of business. Even a simple avenue in an obscure settlement on Tatooine can hold a wealth of secret deals, power struggles, and tangled relationships- all potential hooks for adventure.
An Intrigue Campaign can occur during any Era of Play, so Gamemasters have full leeway in when and where the game can take place. During The Old Republic Era, corporate power expands and The Sith operate openly. The Rise of the Empire Era is thick with intrigue, espionage, and intelligence gathering, not only between the Republic and the Separatists, but also among neutral or otherwise unaligned planets and organizations- each with its own motives and agendas. The Dark Times are rife with paranoia and treachery, with the heroes facing the unbelievable might of the Empire. The Rebellion Era pits The Rebel Alliance against Imperial forces for years, leaving tremendous room for any intrigues the Gamemaster and players develop.
In an Intrigue Campaign, the heroes delve into the tangled skein of intrigue to foil plots and expose the truth. As with Fringe Campaigns, the heroes do not have to be the most law-abiding or altruistic individuals, and in fact, characters who strictly adhere to legal behavior can derail a campaign to a certain degree, since breaking and entering, assassination, extortion, and illegal slicing are standard themes. In most cases, the heroes are the underdogs, going up against powerful political organizations, corporations, or criminal networks. Secrecy and duplicity are the tools of an Intrigue Campaign, and even trust can be employed as a weapon. Nothing is as it seems in this type of campaign, as layers are peeled away to reveal deeper, darker secrets threatening the safety of the galaxy and the balance of good and evil.
Reference Book: Star Wars Saga Edition Unknown Regions
Main Article: Exploration Campaigns
Every Star Wars film begins with the same words, which remind us that a galaxy full of adventure waits for us. Untold worlds exist beyond the many already known by name. Exotic creatures wait after the next hyperspace jump to aid or confound fife heroes. Every roleplaying session with your friends is an opportunity to explore new worlds together and create classic adventure stories. The galaxy is a big place. Every world is an adventure waiting to happen.
One of the great appeals of Star Wars is the exotic locations where stories can take place. Every planet seems familiar, yet has a unique element that makes it memorable. From the giant forests of Endor to the endless deserts of Tatooine, the worlds of the galaxy reinforce the familiar yet fantastic tone.
No matter the era of Star Wars, the galaxy offers thousands of unexplored worlds. Explorers continually push beyond the frontier and expand the fringe. Some operate as part of a governmental body, looking for worlds to colonize and conquer. Some operate as employees of galaxy-spanning companies that seek new worlds to exploit for profit. And others operate on their own in small, battered ships, trying to carve out a home in the spiraling void.
This chapter includes suggestions on how to make worlds that will resonate in your stories. It has resources and advice for building new worlds, as well as a planet generator to help when time or inspiration is lacking. It also suggests different ways to bring the theme of exploration to the forefront of your Star Wars campaign. And, because attitudes about exploration differ throughout the eras, summaries of those attitudes are included here. This chapter introduces two campaign outlines that have exploration as their central theme. Each of these campaigns offers suggestions on how to customize the campaign to best fit your play style. Also check out the tips and guidelines on how to include exploration as a theme in an ongoing campaign.
The following pages detail gamemastering for a variety of more obscure campaigns. These articles are either created through homebrew content, or by conversion of previous iterations of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game.
Main Article: Archaeological Campaigns
Under the auspices of the Obroan Institute for Archaeology (Jedi Department), the Hanna Institute of Antiquities, and the hastily created New Republic Archaeological Corps (NRAC), archaeological projects are undertaken throughout Ossus. Excavations of The Great Library, The Chamber of Antiquities, and other sites attract xenoarchaeological teams from across the galaxy.