I love the West End Games stuff for the Star Wars RPG. It was definitely a simpler time, but it’s one that never, ever fails to fill me with nostalgia for the franchise. The 90s were just wonderful, weren’t they? Okay, so I may be more than a little rose-tinted, but some of my favourite Star Wars memories are from this time, and the WEG books always manage to transport me back to that time. Hell, they even have the same smell that they did all those years ago.
Dating from 1997, Cracken’s Threat Dossier is one of those delightful in-universe sourcebooks that presents a wealth of information for the game, covering some of the Bantam-era novels and giving us profiles for the planets, species and characters that we encounter along the way. I don’t want to say too much about these novels here, because I haven’t actually covered them properly on my blog yet, plus it’s been years and years since I actually read them, but let’s give a quick run-down as we move through this book.
We start with The Courtship of Princess Leia, which sees Han win the planet Dathomir in a game of sabacc. When Leia is about to marry Prince Isolder of the Hapes Consortium, Han whisks her away to his new planet, where they find native Force-wielding Nightsisters riding rancor monsters. Isolder and Luke attempt to rescue Leia, although it all works out in the end, with Han and Leia getting married, and Isolder marrying a Nightsister. The novel has one of my favourite scenes from this era of publishing, where Luke single-handedly pilots the Falcon and shows just how impressive a pilot he actually is. The book is also really quite important for later storylines, particularly the New Jedi Order.
The Dossier gives us an in-universe presentation of what happens in the book, and covers profiles for Dathomiri witches and spellcasting, including the always exciting Battle Meditation! There are profiles for pretty much everyone and everything that appears, even Warlord Zsinj who (if memory serves) barely makes an appearance at the end.
Moving on, we cover the Black Fleet Crisis next, which is a trilogy of novels that I remember enjoying a lot, although I know it comes under fire from a fair few quarters. Luke learns of the possibility that his mother is still alive, so goes on a quest with the Fallanassi, while Leia attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the Yevethan crisis, during which Han is kidnapped. Meanwhile, Lando and Lobot are off on their own adventure with some sort of sentient ship. The plotlines diverge in the middle book, and everything comes together at the end. I seem to remember this one feeling a bit more grown-up, somehow, but the Leia/Han storyline in particular was very good.
The Dossier here gives us a run-down of Fallanassi Force-powers, as well as an overview of how the New Republic government works, which is quite something! While there are profiles for several new characters, such as Nil Spaar and General A’baht, the majority of the information here is around the array of new ships in the trilogy, including an updated profile for the Millennium Falcon if players wanted to use it at this point in the timeline.
The third segment of the book deals with the Corellian Incident, another trilogy which I don’t remember a great deal about, except for an exciting escape sequence in the middle book featuring Leia and Mara Jade. The storyline is something to do with Han’s cousin, Thracken Sal-Solo, declaring the independence of the Corellian system. Things are smoothed over by the end, and along the way I think there are a couple of things that resonate for the future, including Lando getting married? I’m almost certain I’ve only read these books once, more than 20 years ago, so memories are definitely hazy!
We have profiles for all the major players once again, including Mara Jade, and a rundown of the whole Corellian system.
This is a great book for game masters and players who want to use the characters, ships, locations or what have you in their games, and really goes to show how well the WEG line sat alongside the Bantam novels back in the day. You could read one of these books, get fired up for adventure, and WEG would have you covered with all the stats you’d need to play in this universe. I think it’s tremendous, and something that happened less and less as the RPG lines diverged further from the books as time went on. Certainly by the time of Saga edition, there was less material for this sort of thing, and more of a focus on the new movies and cartoons, almost like it was trying to entice people in to play the game. I’m not about to launch into some sort of rant, of course, but I think sometimes I preferred Star Wars when it knew who its fanbase was, and catered accordingly. The balance has shifted too far towards getting new people in, and so nothing is interconnected anymore, the bar to entry is at its lowest point.
Mind you, I’m not even sure if there is a Star Wars RPG anymore, which is a whole other sad story in and of itself.
At any rate, I hope you’ve enjoyed looking back over another of the WEG books for the glory days of Star Wars role playing! I’ll try to look at some more of these things in the future, as I have the whole library up in my loft. And who knows, I might even get to re-read some of these classic Bantam-era novels before the year is out – wouldn’t that be awesome!!
9 thoughts on “Cracken’s Threat Dossier”
* dead pans *
Yeah, reading those would be awesome….
I’m not saying that I planned that specifically to see what you’d say, but at the same time, I was looking forward to this comment, all the same.
Just wait until I announce a reread of Crystal Star…
Why would you do that to yourself? It’s not even Canon anymore…
This is a serious question now, and not meant to sound snarky at all: do you like any of the Star Wars novels?
I really enjoyed reading star wars back in the day. I could overlook their lack of quality (I considered them on the same level as Forgotten Realms books) because I enjoyed the original 3 movies so much and even the prequels weren’t “that bad”. But once the EU was de-canonized and the new trilogy of movies was actively tearing apart the fun of Star Wars and Lucas only cared about the money, well, I became very bitter. This was a franchise that I grew up with (I remember me and my friends having a party when the special edition vhs tapes came out for the original trilogy) and loved. Zahn was a master in reigniting a collective love of star wars.
And I had to watch it all get flushed down the toilet by people who seemed to actively hate it.
So now all I can see is the flaws 😦
Yes, that sounds very similar to me (I think we almost had the special edition party, didn’t quite make it!) I’ve tried very hard to like some of the new stuff, but it’s getting harder and harder. Especially when you read stuff set in the same time period as a book you grew up loving, and the comparison is just dire. Don’t get me wrong, rereading some stuff I grew up loving has proven that things sometimes age all that well, but still!
The sequel trilogy just upsets me these days. I know we mentioned Lucas as storyteller the other day, but at least he knew what he was doing from the start. The sequels have brushed everything aside, some of it really interesting and thought-out, and replaced it with flashy junk that makes no sense.
It seems like we might now need the likes of Dave Filoni to rescue everything, and force things to make some kind of sense after the fact.
But anyway, this is all starting to get very ranty, isn’t it…
Yeah, star wars is one of those issues I can rant a lot about (in case you didn’t notice, hahahahaha).
That’s the problem with being a huge fan of something. The feelings that were all good get turned to bad.
And on a serious note, if I ever go overboard, please don’t hesitate to say that I’ve crossed a line. I don’t want to destroy the enjoyment others get just because I can’t experience it any more myself.
Ah, I don’t think that will ever happen. I always enjoy hearing your views, even if you disagree that Cloak of Deception is a masterpiece 😃