Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dungeons & Dragons and Star Wars

As I put the finishing touches on my eleventh or twelfth Star Wars themed Dungeons & Dragons character, I thought I would take time to say a few things about how Dungeons & Dragons (4th Edition) and Star Wars intersect.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a television show currently (as of this writing) entering its fifth season.  It fills the gap between Episode II and Episode III.  As I see it, it is the Star Wars content that everybody thought they were going to see with the prequel movies.  It revolves around the Clone Wars, it displays a galaxy at war, and shows us the slow degradation of our alleged protagonist, Anakin Skywalker.

However, as it is an ongoing television series, it is much more than that little piece of story about the man who would be Darth Vader.  It is about the entire war, not just the few characters who's names we remember from the movies.  The creators of the show might be some of the world's biggest Star Wars fans as they often go out of their way to fill the show with bits and pieces of Expanded Universe trivia while crafting out a galaxy we thought we knew so well.  Quite frankly, I consider it the best Star Wars I have ever seen.

But what does this have to do with Dungeons & Dragons?  When I started making pre-generated characters for Dungeon & Dragons: Encounters, it was because there had been a definitive drought of characters provided by Wizards of the Coast.  Although I understand their intent in doing so, I felt like many players liked the ability to try out new character classes and features via the Encounters program yet did not have the time to make their own characters.

As I found interesting, iconic characters to convert to D&D format, I started to realize that I had made a significant number of Star Wars characters.  Star Wars characters seemed like an easy thing.  People would walk into Encounters, never having played Dungeons & Dragons, but could immediately get a sense of what their character would do because they knew the character.  Anakin Skywalker?  Whine a little bit and then start killing things with reckless abandon.  Obi-Wan Kenobi?  Talk a lot and belittle Anakin.  C-3PO?  Complain a lot.  I considered these iconic character a resounding success.

But why are we fighting Drow and Spiders, Master Plo Koon?

After having made five or six of these Star Wars D&D characters, a good friend asked me why I did not consider writing my own Lair Assault or One-Shot Adventure using Clone Wars material.  Wasn't going after Mordai Vell in his underground Dawn Forge just as reasonable as breaking into the Separatist facility to rescue R2-D2?  It made sense.  Choose a group of six characters and go after General Grievous aboard his flagship, the Malevolence.  Or, battle the Sith Assassin Assajj Ventress during the Battle of Christophsis.  This seemed a great plan.

I am more powerful than any Dragon, my dear Obi-Wan...
Although still hard at work on this, my first attempt has been to recreate the fifth episode of the first season, entitled "Rookies."  The episode begins on the Rishi moon, where a group of newly commissioned clone troopers have been stationed to monitor for Separatist incursion.  Their job?  Maintain the "All Clear" signal unless invasion by the Separatists is imminent, thus warning the rest of the Republic of the attack.

Alright, brothers.  We have to save the Republic from the clankers.
By the middle of the episode, it has become an adventure of five characters as they attempt to retake the Rishi station from Commando Droids who are masking a Separatist fleet's invasion into Republic space.  Captain Rex, Commander Cody, Echo, Fives, and Hevy must fight off a Rishi eel, get back into the station, defeat the Commando Droids, and deactivate the "All Clear" signal.  Of course, trials and tribulations face them as droid reinforcements arrive to secure the outpost.  Soon, they are forced to do the unthinkable and one of them makes a great sacrifice for the Republic.

That sounds like a perfect one-shot D&D adventure!  So, what started as an attempt to liven up my Wednesday D&D Encounters game has turned into a project building Star Wars themed adventures and encounters.  Although not for everybody, it demonstrates that with the right homebrew mindset, the Fourth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons can do quite a bit and make it fun.

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