I'm finally getting through a load of Rogue One books and material, so as I went I thought I would note a few ideas about using the information for Star Wars role playing game sessions. I was largely waiting until I was able to see the movie multiple times before diving too much into the available background material, novel, etc. I wanted a chance to form my own ideas and opinions based on just the movie, as well as take advantage of multiple showings to really get a good look at everything going on in the background.
Likewise, I put off picking up the soundtrack and then further put off listening to David Collins' first discussion of the music in his Star Wars Oxygen podcast. In that respect, I was glad I did. my first impression of the music was that it included a lot fewer recognizable themes than I expected to hear through at least the first two thirds of the movie. However, I was able to pick up more of the music in later viewings, and found more there than I first thought.
Getting back to RPG ideas, I've noted in several blog posts over many years, going all the way back to my Delusions of Grandeur blog on Starwars.com, that the Star Wars tie-in guides and books make for a fantastic range of sources that can be mined for all kinds of things. With Rogue One and The Force Awakens, these guides are proving even more useful because they are primary sources of new information, instead of compilations of previously known stories and items. Don't overlook the power of using the books for visual reference, which further adds to the experience as well as illustrating items for players who may not have discovered them previously.
- Concept art and photographs of various characters can inspire a wide range of player character and nonplayer character ideas. The images show great details for costumes, as well as possible venues and origin points.
- Concept art of vehicles is particularly useful for bringing unique vehicles into the game when the players want more signature craft and equipment. The GM can also use such ships to challenge player characters with craft they have never encountered before, and and surprise players with vehicles they don't already know the capabilities of.
- Likewise with using illustrations of various aliens in different stages of the design process.
- There is a seemingly never ending supply of equipment in these books. Some of it is called out and cataloged, but most of the smaller pieces that can be found in pictures of characters and locations are noted.
- Since the movie is so new, not a lot of background history or other in universe information is immediately available (wookieepedia notwithstanding). However, there are small data points scattered throughout many books that can give a larger picture of the place or item in question.
- The Ultimate Visual Guide includes a map showing the galactic locations of the star systems mentioned in the movie. As usual, they really get around the galaxy in this movie.
Beyond sources, there are some interesting challenges in bringing people and locations used in the movie into a game session. Exactly how much depends on the time frame of the adventure or campaign. The most obvious challenge for a post-episode IV campaign is that the major locations are destroyed, and the main characters don't survive. This doesn't eliminate them from use, just in the way they are used.
- You could easily see Force and Destiny characters traveling to Jedha in a vain hope to unearth artifacts from the city's wreckage, or seek out unlikely survivors. They might start at the massive crater, then seek out other locations on the planet that are connected in some way to the Force and possibly find past pilgrims to the world.
- PCs could be friends or relatives of some of the Rogue One crew, Saw's rebels, or even one of the other Imperial scientists. The connection with Saw could be particularly useful and interesting with his recent introduction into the Rebels series.
Another common way to connect RPG characters to the events of the movies is to include them in battles or other events where there are a lot of Rebel personnel involved. That method still works with Rogue One, with challenges.
- For a dramatic campaign or adventure ending, the PCs could be among the Rebel reinforcements that make it to the ground, with the players knowing the characters will never make it off the planet. I actually ran something similar with Jedi PCs who found themselves in the Jedi Temple when Order 66 occurs, and Vader shows up for the first time.
- PC ships could easily take part in the space battle, like the appearance of the Ghost.
- Yavin IV is a very busy place, and already has a map in the Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook.
On my first viewing of the movie, I immediately thought the Ring of Kafrene made a fantastic RPG location. Better yet, it survived the film. However, it is unexpectedly missing from the Ultimate Visual Guide aside from a map reference. The novel has a bit of info. Maybe the increasingly inaccurately named Complete Locations books will cover it someday.
Do not overlook the usefulness (and fun) of the Rebel Dossier by Jason Fry. He noted somewhere it has an old West End Games style feel, and it totally does. If you liked the sidebars and vignettes in the old WEG books, you must pick it up. Does the name Arhul Hextrophon sound familiar?
So, there's a start. More to come.
In other news, FFG announced Force and Destiny Disciples of Harmony, the consular sourcebook.