Welcome to the first of August, of Lammas and Lughnasadh, of the first day of Gen Con, and, of course, the beginning of our month long celebration of RPGs — #RPGaDAY.
This year marks a significant change. In years past, each day had a specific question to answer. Not so in 2019. This year we’ll wrap our heads around a single word prompt which will hopefully inspire us to add to the #RPGaDay experience and help spread the word about tabletop RPGs.
The first word for #RPGaDAY 2019 is (insert obligatory drumroll) “FIRST“.
So many directions one can go with this, but one I don’t think I’ve covered before is “The First RPG I created”, non-professionally of course.
That honor (using the term loosely) goes to Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. This should not be confused with the West End Games RPG of the same name which launched in 1987. No, my version, meticulously handwritten in pencil into spiral notebooks, was begun late May, 1983, mere days after the release of Return of the Jedi, though the germ of it was planted as I walked out of the theater on the 25th.
I was two months into my 17th year and had been playing D&D since ’78. Appalled by what I saw as a deconstruction of Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, I decided to put my years behind the DM Screen to work and develop a sequel to Lucas’ Trilogy centered on the Dark Lord of the Sith.
In my Star Wars RPG, I sought to undo the wrongs I felt inherent in Lucas endcap to his trilogy. Yes, it played out the same, but I had Annakin Skywalker’s Spirit torn in two, with the good side becoming a Force Ghost alongside Obi-Wan and Yoda, while the dark side of his essence manifested inside a spare suit of his armor on Mustafar.
Now, as the ultimate source of evil in the galaxy, Vader assumed command of the remnants of the Empire and began a concerted effort to reclaim what the Emperor had lost.
I also used this as an opportunity to salvage Boba Fett, having my players learn that the bounty hunter had slain the Sarlacc and was operating a thieves’ guild out on the fringe of the galaxy, his criminal empire spread across several frontier planets, far from the prying eyes of the Alliance.
While firmly grounded in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons’ 2nd Edition, I had three distinct notebooks: one for character creation filled with character classes and Jedi abilities; another compiling NPCs of every surviving character from the movies and comics, as well as newly invented ones; and one filled with ships, weapons, and locations.
It was a real labor of love and a lot of fun. We played it until I went off to college in the Fall of ’84. I’ve no idea what happened to those notebooks, but I would love to run across them some day. A lot of fond memories are tied up in those things…
— Bob Freeman