This article originally appeared in Pyramid #7
STAR WARS RPG HARDBACKSStar Wars The Movie Trilogy Sourcebook
Published by West End Games
Designed by Grant Boucher and Michael Stern
Han Solo and the Corporate Sector Sourcebook
Published by West End Games
Designed by Michael Allen Horne
I still remember standing in line for three hours at a time, over and over again, in The Galleria in Houston to see Star Wars. I cut class to see The Empire Strikes Back. And I skipped work here at SJ Games to catch the very first showing of Return of the Jedi. (I think Steve has forgiven me -- as I recall, he came along . . .)
Even though it's been over ten years since the last movie, the Star Wars cachet is still going strong. Novels by writers such as Timothy Zahn and Brian Daley, fans at SF conventions and West End's Star Wars Roleplaying Game are all a big part of the series' continued popularity. And now that the next trilogy of films by George Lucas seem to finally be getting off the ground, that popularity can only grow.
Which is great news for West End. For the company that has given us Paranoia, Ghostbusters, TORG and Shatterzone, Star Wars is now their "franchise" game. And judging from these two hardback supplements, they're taking very good care of the franchise, indeed.
The Movie Trilogy Sourcebook is just that -- (almost) everything you ever wanted to know about all three films. You get complete game stats and background stories on every character, major or minor, from the films -- many of whom didn't even have a name in the original movie! Remember the various odd-looking aliens in the Mos Eisley cantina? They're all here. The snow creature that captured Luke on Hoth? It's in here. Lando Calrissian's co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon in the attack on the second Death Star? He's in here. The Imperial Admiral who botched the attack on Hoth and got killed by Darth Vader? He's in here. And so on, and so on. The thoroughness of the book is amazing.
The book is written like a history of the events of the movie, and many "primary sources" are included to add to the realism. There's a letter an anonymous X-Wing pilot wrote to his mother the night before the attack on the Death Star; excerpts from General Dodonna's diary about how he discovered the fatal flaw in the Death Star; a first-person account of Lando's first meeting with Darth Vader. It all makes for very entertaining reading. Couple that with lots of stills taken directly from the movies, and bonuses like full-color reproductions of all the different movie posters and "concept art" done during each film's pre-production phase, and you've got a package that goes far beyond a mere game supplement. Star Wars fans everywhere will thoroughly enjoy this book, whether they play the RPG or not. And that's why these books are West End's "franchise" -- they do sell (and quite well, thank you) to a large number of non-gamers.
The Han Solo and the Corporate Sector Sourcebook is not quite as good as the Movie Trilogy Sourcebook, mainly because it doesn't have any photos from movies to use as illustration. (Instead, the book depends on line art that is, at best, passable.) The Corporate Sector Sourcebook details the part of the galaxy where Han Solo plied his trade in the two Brian Daley "prequel" novels, Han Solo at Star's End and Han Solo's Revenge. The coverage is just as excellent as in the Movie Trilogy Sourcebook, though -- every character, no matter how minor; first person accounts (even an "interview" with Solo conducted by the historian author of the book, Voren Na'al); a complete rundown on all the major companies of the Corporate Sector and how they interact; and complete game stats on all sorts of starships, ground vehicles, weapons, droids and more. This book has less broad appeal than the Movie Trilogy Sourcebook, and will be enjoyed most by Star Wars RPG players wanting to bring the Corporate Sector into their campaigns, and readers who are fans of Daley's novels.
When West End first acquired the Star Wars license, I was one of the people who thought it was a bad idea. It had been too many years since the movies had come out, the license would be too restrictive, and so on. Shows how much I know. By expanding the Star Wars universe beyond the parameters of the original films, by putting out a product that appeals to more than just gamers and -- perhaps most importantly -- by hanging on to the license long enough to be in a position to cash in when the next round of movies come out, West End has got themselves a huge winner.
-- Scott Haring
Article publication date: June 1, 1994
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