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bonus Blog #1 “shadowrun Starwars” A few years ago I had just finished playing Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) for the second time and by the time I was about to start the sequel (also for the second time) I was feeling pretty jazzed about the prospect of a Star Wars RPG. Wizards of the Coast was in the process of releasing the Saga Edition (the fifth Edition of the game) and I wasn't all that pleased with what I saw. At this point 4th Edition D&D was out and it was proving to be a huge failure. As far as I could tell, the Saga Edition was based on 4E so there was no way I was going that direction. Instead I opted for the REvised edition (based on the 3.5 D&D engine). This had some advantages in that we just got done playing a World of Warcraft RPG (based on the same engine) and it had tons of books available. It made a lot more sense to focus on a game system we were already familiar with rather than try and learn something new. I based the campaign in the KOTOR time period and tied it heavily into the lore of the two games. We had a ton of fun and the game went very well though it didn't exactly end the way I envisioned. Due to the decision to allow an old Player to come back, the story got completely derailed and most of the group ended up being killed when they deliberately destroyed a Sith Battlecruiser in a successful attempt to kill the main villain(s) of the story. The galaxy was saved and anyone who had the ability to take advantage of the real threat was dead. The threat still existed but it was again lost from all knowledge and would be a story for another generation (fun fact, I'm planning another Star wars campaign to finally finish up that dangling plot thread though more on that below). Actually heard at the table when the ship was destroyed: BEn: OH MY GOD! I'm a Darksider. I'm going to be condemned to Force Hell! Jeff: What do I care, I'm about to be ONE WITH THE FORCE. Fun Fact #2: It was Jeff who decided to destroy the battlecruiser with everyone on board. Anyhow, fast forward a few years and the pull of the Force is again upon us (an Awakening perhaps?) and I am once again feeling like I'd like to run a Star Wars RPG. Two things are for certain this time, 1: I do not want to use the 3.5 rules set and 2: there is no way I am dropping $60 for the core book of the new edition (and Lord knows how much money of supplements). It's getting great reviews (at least from the people I know personally) but $60 is a bit steep. Over the last year I've been playing the Shadowrun 5th Edition RPG and I was struck by how easily it would be to adapt the engine to Star Wars. The magic System (which I really like by the way) runs very similar to how the Force is depicted as working and pretty much every Force using archetype from the old Expanded Universe can be recreated easily using the existing magical abilities from the core book. It also turned out to be a very smooth process to convert the 3.5 races over to Shadowrun as the various key abilities & stats do have a direct corollary in the 5th Edition rules set. Long story short, I decided to go for it. For the most part the conversion has been a pretty smooth process. In a lot of ways it actually made the Shadowrun game easier to play because it cut out a ton of content from the core book that doesn't exist in the Galaxy Far Far away. It also simplified things by making certain aspects exclusive to particular character types (such as the fact that most of the time the only characters with significant hacking abilities are the Droids). You don't need to worry about Cyberspace, there are no TEchnomancers, Astral Projection isn't a Jedi ability and Summoning is almost non-existant. On the plus side, the rules for cybernetics pretty much cover most of what you'd need for Droid characters (something that was lacking under the previous version we'd used) and the Bio-tech rules hANDLEd MUCH OF WHAT YOU'D NEED FOR sITH aLCHEMY. In the old Expanded Universe, Sith were known to have the ability to transform ordinary creatures into dangerous monsters using the power of the DArk Side. All in all, the whole project is more an issue of time (which I don't have nearly enough of) as opposed to difficulty. Almost everything I need is already contained in the core rule book for Shadowrun with a slight facelift/reskin to match Star WArs. The only areas where it would require new material be written are in regards to weapons (Star WArs has its own unique selection), vehicles and Meta-Force abilities (advanced force powers) for those characters that go for higher levels of initiation in the Force. The existing vehicle rules are great but the core book doesn't have much to say about air vehicles or spacecraft so I need to put a lot of work in there as well. Weapons will be pretty simple, it's mainly a matter of just figuring out what their stats would be based on the usual Shadowrun guns vs Star Wars Lore (again, more an issue of time). Where I'm going with all this is that I would like to share the results with people. I expect this effort to be ready for actual play some time in the next three or four months (probably about the time my Shadowrun Campaign will be winding down). Is there anyone out there that would like to try out Star Wars under this rules set? I do intend to make the whole conversion document available but I'd like to reach out to anyone who might like to actually use it. If this sounds like fun please feel free to drop me a line on Facebook. I'd enjoy discussing the project and sharing the results with you. Any feedback from actual play would be cool too. I'm planning to run the game during the Rebellion era (when Jedi were rare) however it might be fun to see how things go for anyone who wants to play during different time periods. That's all for now, Hope to hear from my fellow gamers. Woody
Unusual Terms Hi, My name is Woody Arnold. I like to write comics and play RPG's. People tend to write about what they know and so I am writing a Blog about RPG's (specifically how to run them) and how those storytelling techniques apply to other things. With almost 30 years under my belt I think I might have something valuable to say on the subject "but" people who aren't familiar with RPG's may not know what I'm talking about. For the uninitiated you can find an ever expanding glossary of terms below (terms in Bold have definitions elsewhere in the Glossary): aI: Artificial Intelligence; This is a term for extremely complex computer programs that possess the ability to think and reason like people "or" are sufficiently well programmed to make it look like they can. They aren't necessarily considered to be alive though that depends on the genre and setting you are using. Boss Fight: Also known as the Boss battle, it is uncertain if this term originated with video games (likely) or ported in from RPG's. This refers to an Encounter where the Players are taking on a major villain, an extremely powerful enemy/monster or the main leader. In video games the main bad guy is usually way more powerful than the characters however in RPG's he is often comparable in power or just a little higher (possibly benefiting from better gear). The main threat can come from traps, some aspect of the environment or more henchmen/soldiers. Campaign: This would be a series of sessions of a Role Playing game that are played in sequence and form ongoing chapters in a continuing story. I can be anything from two session to five years worth of play (or more if you're really dedicated). Character: In RPG's, this is the identity that is assumed by the Player. It is a specific individual that is created using exact rules, recorded on a character sheet and usually created using several dice rolls (for randomity). Characters are distinguished by such things as Basic Attributes (Strength, Endurance, Intelligence, etc.), Race, Skills and Special Abilities. Different types of gear can be equipped on the character as well (sometimes granting additional special abilities). The pan difference between Pen & Paper RPG's as opposed to video games is that RPG's grant about a million times more control over customization and character selection. Cyberpunk: Named after a Role Playing Game by the same name, the Cyberpunk genre usually takes place in a near future with significant advances in technology including cybernetics (often available to the average citizen), advanced weaponry, virtual reality internet (see Decker below) and oppressive governments or corporations. It is usually presented as a dark future setting though this is not always the case. Psychic powers or magic may be elements of this genre. The Shadowrun RPG and Ghost in the Shell would probably be the two most famous examples of Cyberpunk. Decker: In the Shadowrun RPG a DEcker is a person who uses a Cyberdeck to become a super hacker. A Cyberdeck is a powerful piece of computer hardware that allows for full immersion VIrtual REality and includes powerful programs to assist in the process of hacking. This sort of thing is common in SciFi stories, especially those taking place in the near future. the best example of this process can be found in Ghost in the Shell: Stand along complex. Fantasy: This is the Genre made popular by such novel series as Conan and Lord of the Rings. The first Role Playing Game (Dungeons & Dragons) was exclusively a fantasy game. The Fantasy Genre commonly includes magic (with great variability in how common it is), medieval european tropes (though other cultures are often substituted or included), fantasy races such as Elves & Dwarves, classic monsters such as Orcs & Goblins and fantastic creatures such as Dragons. Castles, epic quests and magic artifacts are frequent tropes of this genre. Encounter: This is a RPG term that refers any battle or dramatic social situation that can occur in the game. Encounters don't necessarily have to be deadly but are expected to be challenging (or just entertaining). A general rule of thumb is that if the GM instigates the encounter it is either dangerous or moves the plot forward in some way. If the Players instigate the encounter they probably expect to win and at least think they have the advantage. Boss Fights are not generally referred to as encounters. Game Engine: Also known as a "system," this term refers to a specific rules set that is used to run a RPG. It covers all the specific rules that are used to run the game and address specific situations. Frequently a particular game will have rules that are specific to itself however it is not uncommon for a company to use the same set of rules for multiple games it publishes (or to license a popular rules set to another company). See also, Game Mechanics. Game mechanics: This term refers to the rules of a RPG however it also covers, more specifically, how they are arranged (compared to other games) and what is specifically done to address certain in-game issues. It covers such things as how combat is handled, damage, skills, character creation, etc. Think of it as being similar to the programming that runs a video game except that a flesh and blood person had to do all the computing as opposed to a machine. Game Time: This is the amount of time that occurs during the course of the story, which is going to be very different from the amount of time your Player's experience. Game Time is very fluid in that you could skip forward hours, days or even years (glossing over what ocured in the interim) while a 2 minute battle could take more than 3 hours to play out. Gamer: This term refers to anyone who plays games of any sort on a regular basis as a hobby (and occasionally a profession) however it is often taken to assume that a person primarily plays Video Games. See Pen & Paper below. Genre: This would be simply defined as a particular style of world setting which includes such things as styles of clothing, tech level, the presence of psychic abilities or magic, specific races and other specific things that are usually associated with that genre. Every genre has certain things (sometimes uniqute to that specific setting) that fans have come to expect. GM: Game Master. This is the guy who runs a Role Playing Game. also known as a DM (Dungeon Master), referee and all manner of other clever things. Megacorporation: These would be corporations that are so big and powerful that they can stand toe to toe with national governments. They are truly global conglomerates with holdings in every continent and participate in a wide variety of business ventures (frequently being so diversified that they are also completely self-sufficient). Megacorps are commonly depicted as being completely separate from national government and not bound by their laws even when operating on their soil (corporate land is considered to be sovereign territory). Megacorps are a key part of the shadowrun RPG and are a common element of various sciFi settings. Pen & Paper: Pencil & Paper would probably be more accurate, but this term is generally applied to the tabletop rPG genre to distinguish it from the video game RPG Genre. Historically speaking, Pen & Paper came first however the video game industry stole the term to describe the video games (such as Final Fantasy) that were being created based on this style of game. As a result of the massive jump in popularity of the Video GAme Genre in the 80's & 90's, video games overtook their predecessors and the terms RPG & Gamer came to be applied more to people who played video games. As a result it became necessary to clarify and redefine the type of game when one refers to himself as a Gamer to avoid any confusion. Player: These are the people in a Role Playing Gamer that are actually playing. Usually they only get to control one character at a time. RPG: Role Playing Game; It's a lot like improv acting with rules. A Game Master sets up the scenario and the Players (who have fully fleshed out characters with all kinds of cool special abilities) get to go on an adventure. It's very similar to games like Final FAntasy however the storyline is usually waaaay more free form & flexible. Session: this is a single session of a Role Playing Game, usually running about 4 to 6 hours depending on the group. setting: For Role Playing Games, the term "Setting" refers to a particular game world that the characters exist in. This is a technical term separate from (though similar to) the usual dictionary definition. A Setting in an RPG would usually fall under a specific Genre but have qualities and characteristics that set it apart from other world settings. Differences could include such things as higher or lower levels of technology, the presence of magic (to greater or lesser degrees) and unique countries & histories. Space Opera: This is a sub-category within the SciFi genre that usually focuses on faster than light space travel, encounters with alien races, interstellar wars and space exploration. Good examples of this would be Farscape, Star Trek and Star WArs. Super Heroes: This term is jointly owned by Marvel & DC (or more correctly Disney and Warner Bros now) but is also used to describe the Genre these companies created. The Super hero Genre is usually contemporary and focuses on exceptional individuals with special powers, skills and/or training that set them apart from normal people and allow them to accomplish superhuman feats. Characters in this setting are either Super Heroes, Super Villains or some sort of secret organization (or government) that is involved with or opposed by either group. The Heroes are usually champions of the average citizen while the villains tend to be focused on using their abilities to make money, get revenge on a hero or dominate the world. Epic battles between heroes and villains are common. Space travel and contact with alien races is a common Trope of this Genre. In this Genre the world usually looks the same as the current time period however the average tech level will be a few grades higher and specific people may possess technology that is centuries ahead of the average. The comics published by Marvel & DC are great examples of this Genre as are the films produced by those companies. Table Top: Though technically it could refer to RPG's This term generally refers to board games and occasionally card games as they must be played on a flat table top. This term was recently popularized on Will Wheaton's show on GEek & Sundry. TPK: Total Party Kill; This is a scenario where all of the characters are wiped out in a single evening without being able to bring in replacement characters. This is frequently the end of the story whether it was planned or not. Trope: websters defines a Trope as "a common or overused theme or device." BAsically a Trope is a common element you will see in a particular Genre and forms part of the flavor of it. Tropes are not necessarily good or bad but are instead just what is usually done and the quality or effectiveness of it depends a lot on who is telling the story and the interest level of the person experiencing it.

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