Friday Refresh; Episodes I-III

https _blogs-images.forbes.com_olliebarder_files_2015_12_starwars_japan-1200x675.jpg?width=960Star Wars canon is complicated, and more to the point, is not a franchise that could be rebooted without severe polarization of fanbases.

The idea of rebooting the prequels is not original.

How about hiring amazing writers and figuring out how to disassociate from the prequels without negating them as canon?

Think of it as Episodes I.v, II.v, and III.v. (See what I did there, I’m so clever).

Less No Jar-Jar, more Kurosawa. No more weird, if inspired ideas about Boba Fett and stormtroopers.

Less CGI, more sense of scale and wonder.





13 for 13th: Star Wars

dc42732ca94c1105cf5ecbc5c7fb0ad1--boris-vallejo-star-wars-posterOn the 13th day of each of the 13 months, we will bring you some content and ideas for 13th Age, our absolute favorite D&Derivative game.

This month, we are presenting to you an idea, so that come May, you can run a Star Wars game!

Is it Space Opera, or is Fantasy in Space?

Does it matter?

I know there is a current, licensed Star Wars game out there.

But, I think a fun, engaging, Star Wars flavored game could be had using 13th Age with minimal alterations.

Keep magic to a minimum, unless force users. Use the monk or psion for jedi/ force users.

Use the Force:

One thing 13th Age does not have is Hero Points, luck points, etc.

Call it the Force.

The Force is an energy field generated by all living things.

Characters begin with 1 Force Point, and gain 1 Force Point at each level.

Force Points can be shared between characters, if one character has none left, and if they have not used a Force Point on a particular action.

Force Points refresh every session.

(I do not like systems that reward certain types of play, as the game sessions can break down to arguing about whether a particular action qualifies as heroic or in-character, etc. One Force Point per level solves this.)

Force Points allow a character to add to an action (d20) roll.

Non-Force Users add 1d6 for every two levels. 1d6 for levels 1-2, 2d6 for levels 3-4, etc.

Force Users use points in a different way: they must decide to tap into the Light or Dark Side.

If they tap into the Light Side, they roll an additional d20(s), and keep the best result.

If they tap into the Dark Side, they can add 1d6 to a roll as Non-Force Users.

Force Points may be spent after a roll.

And, Dark Side points may be spent after a Light Side point.

Example: The Young Padawan (2nd level) Blaba Nopec is attempting an action. Their first d20 roll is an 8. They spend a Force Point and roll another d20: 11, which is still not good enough for a success. They can tap into the Dark Side and add 1d6 to the roll.

If a GM is feeling truly sinister, and wants a Star Wars game that is about the Fall of Jedi, they can offer another dark Side Point to continue adding dice. In the above example, Blaba only rolled a 2 on the d6, which was still not a success. He has accumulated 1 dark Side Point, the GM offers him another d6 for a second Dark Side point…

Additionally, they must track their expenditure of Dark Side points. A character can accumulate as many Dark Sides points as their Wis+Cha modifiers. Once they have accumulated as many, they are lost to the Dark Side? Can they be redeemed? Of course, but it is not an easy path.

What about Icons:

  • Jabba
  • Darth Vader
  • Obi-Wan
  • Lando
  • Boba-Fett
  • Imperial Senate
  • Han Solo
  • Admiral Ackbar
  • Grand Moff Tarkin
  • R2-D2
  • Emperor Palpatine
  • Princess Leia
  • Wicket


Game the Game: Imagine If: May the 4th

sw-splinter-of-the-minds-eye-4In the year 1977 the film Star Wars was released. Before the Star Wars Holiday Special, 1978 brought us the follow-up to Star Wars, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.

The popularity of Star Wars led to the premiere of Battlestar Galactica. Sci-fi was reinvigorated.

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was intended to be a low-budget sequel had the film not been so popular. At the time, there was no Internet, and no one had any way of knowing this.

But, jumping off from this, and imagining an alternate reality where Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was more canon than not, and Star Wars was a moderate success, what if the franchise was one and done in terms of films? What if a spin-off series aired on television.

What might it look like? Changes from the draft of the back were made because of budgetary constraints, Lucas was thinking ahead, so, sets and props would need to be reused from the film, and the budget would be mean and lean.

  • The series would start with an adaptation of the novel.MBDOUTL EC026
  • Main characters would be Luke and Leia (who are still attracted to one another, presumably, they are not related), Halla (portrayed by Francis Sternhagen), Hin or Kee, who would have been allowed to live in the adaptation, and then extrapolating and not-needing to reinvent the wheel, Dusque Mistflier and Finn Darktrin from The Ruins of Dantooine, Anakaret and Dannan Kelvan from Razor’s Edge; R2 and 3PO would have supporting roles, as their appearances were expensive.
  • There would be arena battles, space pirates, discos, romance, comedy, and drama!

3783663_origHow might you see what this series might be? Grab a copy of Retrostar and tune your dials to:

  • Thematic: 1
  • Plot: 3
  • Cheese: 3
  • Recurring: 2
  • SFX: 6 (Lucas’ idea of low-budget is very high for television)



She Can Fly: What if I Don’t Want to Wear a Metal Bikini?

Like any child born after 1983 (and many born before that), I was raised on a steady diet of Star Wars movies, toys, and games from an early age. I remember watching the original trilogy with my older brother multiple times. Luke was my favorite, and I thought Han Solo was a real jerk to Leia (remember, I was a very small child, so some nuances were lost on me; I used to wonder why Leia and Luke didn’t get together in the end, because I had a very selective memory about them actually being siblings).

But there was something more than Han Solo’s curt attitude towards Leia that bothered me, even as a five year old:

Where were the girls?

When I was in third grade, my best friend had his birthday party at the Smithsonian, which had a special exhibition of the costumes of Star Wars. All my guy friends marveled at the cool costumes of Luke and Obi-Wan, Darth Vader’s helmet (and what was underneath), and Han Solo trapped in carbonite. But I, the sole female of the group, had three costumes for someone like me: Princess Leia’s white dress, the sexy leather ensemble of a twi’lek, and the infamous metal bikini.

Even when the three sequel episodes came out, there was a clear gap. No matter how badass Leia was, or how intelligent and capable Amidala was, there was a clear division; women were secondary to men in Star Wars. Sure, they could succeed, and even be unusually strong representations of heroines, but women were never the “heroes.” Women always had to be, at best, the attractive romantic counterpart to the male heroes, and, at worst, beautiful, but silent captives, sex symbols, or canon fodder (especially if they were older or unattractive).

New York Magazine put together a video compilation of all the female speaking rolls in the original trilogy, excluding Leia. The results show the disparaging difference between female characters in the movie and male (keep in mind, the collective runtime of the first three movies is well over 300 minutes).

It’s unequivocal to argue that taking Leia out of this compilation is proving some kind of fallactical point. Even including Leia, the male characters of Star Wars undoubtedly speak far more than all of the female characters. Simply look at the ratio of lead male characters to female: it’s 2:1.

What it comes down to is, it’s not fair for there to be one woman of note and so many men (Han, Luke, Obi-Wan, Darth Vader, Yoda, Lando, Jabba….even C3PO and R2-D2 are presented as male). It’s a matter of numbers, and a matter of equality. And this is coming from a white, brunette woman, a woman who looks pretty darn close to Princess Leia. Imagine how hard it is for women of color, who’s best representation in the original trilogy (and in all Star Wars movies thus far) are Jabba’s green and blue-skinned dancers.

Director J.J. Abrams has specifically spoken to the point that Star Wars was always a “boys movie.” Speaking as a woman who watched Star Wars, it was a boys movie. No matter how many female fans there are, or how deeply they love the series, the movies were never about the female characters, or for women in general. I hope Abrams’ statement that the Force Awakens is “a movie that mothers [can] take their daughters to” is true, because that would represent a tangible shift in the gendered marketing of sci fi films in general.

On this, the eve of the debut of Star Wars: the Force Awakens, I offer my hope that this newest installment of the giant film franchise, which promises to have more speaking females than the first three (possibly the first six) films put together, not only follows through on its promises, but also features more variety of characters, aliens and humans, that represent our current world: people of all colors, sexualities, and genders.