I always like to have a bit of a Star Wars fest around Easter time, and this year is no different. I’ve been watching the movies in chronological order for the last few weeks, and last weekend it was the turn of Rogue One. I’ve seen a lot of stuff out on social media recently that calls it the most underrated Star Wars movie, and while I tend to think that belongs more to Solo, nevertheless I think these anthology movies do tend to lie forgotten while the main saga movies get all the attention. I do wonder if we might be in for more soon – I’m sure I’ve heard that Disney are going to be making an announcement soon about future movies? I hope so, at any rate!
At any rate, I do like Rogue One. While Solo will forever astound me for the fact that it shows us Corellia and Kessel, planets that loom so large from the EU lore it’s ridiculous, I think Rogue One succeeds brilliantly in providing a direct prequel to A New Hope, the uncanny valley CGI notwithstanding. Seeing a planet like Jedha just blows my mind as to the possibilities for more of that kind of fall out from the Jedi Purge, and I hope we do see some similar stuff in the Kenobi and Ahsoka shows, which might afford a glimpse into the religious underground, almost.
The movie definitely has that retro look down, and fits perfectly into the feel of A New Hope with the clunky tech, and even the hairstyles of some of the actors. While the story does at times have that feel of a video game or RPG adventure, as the heroes go from place to place in their search for the next clue, I like the fact that it follows that structure, somehow, seeing as how the story of the Death Star plans was originally told through those sorts of media.
Of course, we also have the Andor show to look forward to, which will hopefully give us yet more of the gritty reality of the Rebellion. I loved the idea that we get a side of the Rebels that the movies never really shows – the grim and dirty stuff that these people do just to survive. The Empire is, after all, a totalitarian dictatorship, and it stands to reason there would be some pretty horrible stuff being done on both sides of the war. It’ll be interesting to see how far the TV show takes that narrative, though with Forrest Whitaker back as Saw Gerrera as well, I imagine we’ll get some fairly grim war story type of stuff coming our way.
As is my tradition this time of year, I’ve also been taking a look at some of the old West End Games roleplaying game books that I have. I love these things, and I think I pretty much have the full set (might be one or two still to find) It always feels like coming back to my Star Wars roots, somehow, when I crack open one of these with their breadth of creativity and those black and white drawings.
Hideouts and Strongholds is the sort of resource book that WEG churned out throughout their tenure with the Star Wars licence, where they produced plenty of things that you could copy and paste into an adventure or campaign with little to no difficulty. As perhaps you might expect, it’s full to the brim with story hooks and stats for a huge variety of locations, which might serve as a base of operations or a bolt hole for a particular group, either your own adventuring group or for the enemy, and you have to go in there and crack it open like an egg. A huge variety of stuff is on display, from rebel outposts to Imperial installations, crashed starships to glacier fortresses. There’s an extensive rundown of starports, and we even get such tidbits that tell us how precisely moisture vaporators work. It really is a treasure trove, every type of base has a map that describes the layout and features shown, and any defensive weaponry has stats for use in the game. Given that the overall idea of the book is to provide you with ideas and so on, it’s one of those that would very easily translate from game system to game system, especially if the system you’re using already has stats for, say, an anti-infantry laser battery.
No Disintegrations is an adventure sourcebook for bounty hunters, a class of character that was well-supported during the WEG line (they even had their own Galaxy Guide). There are five full adventures to play through with bounty hunter groups, which come complete with a whole host of twists and turns to be thrown at the players. The adventures range from recovering artefacts, tracking gamblers, to evading the bounty posted on themselves. I always like to see how these books incorporate the larger (legends) universe, and the adventures take us to Abegado-rae to The Wheel, as well as a host of other planets, some of which were created for this book. It goes to show how big a role the WEG stuff played in those early years of Star Wars development.
Both of these books were quite late additions to the line, of course (I have a feeling that Hideouts and Strongholds was one of the last to be published), so had a lot to fall back on by this point. Even when they were coming to the end of the licence, it’s great to see this kind of detail still being produced, and it’s the sort of thing that makes me a bit sad that I never got round to playing this back in the day!