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Star Wars has felt "off" to me since 1980 (essay)

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If you combine ZkinandBonez’s excellent essay (https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/star-wars-is-surrealism-not-science-fiction-essay/id/82402/page/1) with some of the thoughts in rocknroll41’s essays on his blog, particularly the 4-parter that starts at https://henrynsilva.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-real-reason-you-probably-dont-like.html, you end up with a very solid version of where my head has been for several years, though I never took the time to get it all down with references the way that the two of them have. Thanks to both for doing the hard work that I think illuminates the underlying issues so well!

I think that the (generally) unsatisfying place some of us have found ourselves with Star Wars (in toto, as distinct from Star Wars the 1977 movie) can be traced back to two specific things:

  • I am your father” (much like rocknroll41, I’ve called this line the thing that gives the series true immortality, and also breaks the universe)
  • West End Games (if you weren’t into tabletop roleplaying games in the late 80s-late 90s, you might not understand how a little game company could be this important, but I’ll go into a lot of detail below)

Before I look at how those two relate, some personal history.

Like many kids who grew up in the 70s (I was born in '67), Star Wars occupies a massive place in my childhood. It set up shop in my brain months before I even saw it - my family bought a new house and moved in the summer of '77, and that stretched the family budget more than I realized at the time, because we didn’t see Star Wars until we were offered the choice of going out to dinner or going to the movies for my sister’s birthday in October. Months before that, my cousins saw it, and I asked them to tell me all about it, after which we played “Star Wars” while running around my great aunt’s yard in the fading light of a Michigan summer evening.

The move to the new town and school was rough on me. I went from having two great friends who lived across the street to having a bully who lived across the street - after I broke my arm on my birthday in '78, he knocked on the door and asked my mom if I could come out so he could break my other arm (he was a really damaged kid whose dad committed suicide in their garage shortly after we moved to the neighborhood). My old elementary school was pretty progressive for the '70s, with multi-grade classes and the option for kids who could do more advanced work to move between teachers for subjects they were moving ahead in (which I took advantage of) without the pressure of completely skipping grades. My new school had nothing like this, so I was just another 5th grader doing 5th grade work, some of which I’d already done the previous year.

Once I’d finally seen Star Wars in October, it offered a refuge from my day-to-day life, which wasn’t really that rough compared to what many have gone through - I was still a middle-class white kid in America, after all - but it was an unpleasant mix of 90% boredom/loneliness/missing my friends and 10% fear of my bully and his friends.

I’m not sure what I did before Star Wars, but after I saw it, my days were filled with:

  • reading Star Wars comic books (there was a time when I didn’t go anywhere without the oversize Marvel Star Wars adaptations)
  • collecting Star Wars trading cards
  • drawing Star Wars characters and spaceships (with trading cards for reference)
  • reading the novelization (Christmas '77 gift)
  • reading the Official Poster Monthly
  • reading Starlog and Fantastic Films magazines
  • poring over the Sketchbook and Portfolio (and later, the Art of Star Wars books, still favorites)
  • reading (and rereading) Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (1978), Han Solo at Stars’ End (1979), Han Solo’s Revenge (1980), and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy (1980)
  • playing with Star Wars action figures (the Early Bird set was another Christmas '77 gift; my mom actually opened it and sent the card in early, so I received, and still have, a Luke Skywalker with double-telescoping lightsaber)
  • watching brief snippets of the movie with the Star Wars Movie Viewer (I had all five cartridges; see https://toyinformer.com/mikes-closet/kenner-star-wars-movie-viewer-cartridges/ for details)

(It’s important to remember that we couldn’t just watch Star Wars whenever we wanted - videotapes barely existed for home viewing back then, and I didn’t realize that I could buy Star Wars until after I bought The Empire Strikes Back in 1984; I paid $90 each for lousy pan & scan versions.)

It recently occurred to me that, in modern terms, I grew up in a time of Star Wars scarcity - there literally wasn’t enough Star Wars to satiate our desire for it, so there was room for it to become a very personal thing. One of the key things about Star Wars for me, as it existed in 1977-80, was a feeling of almost limitless possibility. It wasn’t so much a story as a place that felt real and vast and open; a place where you could tell any kind of story as long as you got the overall feel right (Brian Daley mastered this in his Han Solo novels, which don’t even deal with the Empire; let’s just say that L. Neil Smith, in his Lando Calrissian novels, didn’t). This feeling was maintained right up until Darth Vader said those four little words, and while that decision works with the mythological underpinnings that Lucas was mining, it absolutely kills that limitless, open feeling that was in play previously. From that point on, Star Wars was the story of one guy and his problematic father (and now nephew), and everything revolves around serving that story. I was excited by the prospect of the “anthology” movies that Disney announced, with many younger directors attached, but even the might of Disney marketing couldn’t break the general public’s feeling, cultivated over four decades, that Star Wars movies = The Skywalker Saga, full stop. The Mandalorian offered some hope in parts of its first season, but after it was established as a hit, the marketing beast was awakened and it was, almost inevitably, tied back into the meta-narrative as quickly as possible.

What of West End Games? Well, that ties in more directly with ZkinandBonez’s excellent essay. As a tabletop RPG enthusiast since about 1980, I was as excited as anyone when West End Games announced The Star Wars Roleplaying Game in 1987. The first several releases in the line were excellent - the game system was perfect for the setting, The Star Wars Sourcebook gave just enough detail to flesh things out without going overboard, and several decent standalone adventures were released over the following year. However, one of the truisms of the RPG market by the late '80s was that “adventures don’t sell, sourcebooks do”. Gamemasters (and players) always wanted more general detail about the world, but GMs tended to want to make up their own adventures. West End might have hoped that the Star Wars name would change that, but I think that the sales numbers for The Star Wars Sourcebook and 1988’s Imperial Sourcebook made it clear where they should be concentrating their efforts going forward. While they continued to release adventures over the next several years, much more effort went into various sourcebooks, such as the various Galaxy Guides which included essays on many of the background characters, alien races, vehicles, and locales from each of the OT movies. Later sourcebooks went into excruciating detail on the organization of the Rebel Alliance, various smuggler havens, spaceports, planets, more aliens, various types of equipment and vehicles, criminal organizations - the list went on and on.

One of the key elements of the movies that ZkinandBonez highlighted (via Lovecraft) was “Never Explain Anything”. West End discovered that the easiest way to make money (and pay the LFL licensing fees) was to EXPLAIN EVERYTHING that was in the movies, and then make up more stuff so you can explain that, too. The success of the RPG helped get some other licensees interested in trying to resurrect the brand, and Lucas, completely uninterested in Star Wars at the time (and certainly never going to make anything beyond Episode VI), opened up the post-ROTJ era for use by Dark Horse Comics (with the prescient Dark Empire, where Luke fights clones of the Emperor) and Del Rey Books (with Zahn’s Heir to the Empire) in 1991. Crucially, Timothy Zahn was given several West End Games sourcebooks to use when writing his novels, thereby bringing their overly-detailed explanations for everything into general Star Wars canon. This led to an entire generation of fans seeing Star Wars not as a set of mythological stories with a sci-fi gloss, set in a vague but believable universe of limitless possibility, but as a science-fantasy set in an explainable, detailed world, with multiple companies working feverishly to fill in any gaps where your imagination used to do the job. Star Wars went from being a vast universe with a few simple rules to keep the feel right to an overly-defined place where it was expected that anything that didn’t already have a detailed entry in an encyclopedia, soon would.

The limitless universe that existed from 1977-1980 started to shrink as soon as Vader said “I am your father”, and just about everything that has happened since has continued to make it seem smaller. Even mainstream critics have started to notice that, while it’s supposedly set in an entire, sprawling galaxy far, far away, Star Wars feels very “small-town”. Everybody knows everybody, everything is too connected, and there are few real surprises. Disney, with all the money in the world and millions of fans ready to buy tickets for anything with the Star Wars name on it, initiated their ownership of the property by basically resetting everything back to the way it was in 1977 and changing some names.

Even The Mandalorian, which is a breath of fresh air in some ways (as ZkinandBonez points out), still stumbles frequently, sometimes by relying too heavily on existing aliens and other things we’ve seen before (Jon Favreau seems to think that fans like being able to recognize things, but I’d much rather see something new that feels right). At other times, I think it falls prey to Dave Filoni’s desire to re-canonize things from largely West End Games-based 1990s properties, which are the polar opposite of the mythological fairy tale that Star Wars originated as. So, for every Mudhorn or alien summoning speeders with a flute, we get Moff Gideon painfully quoting the “E-web heavy repeating blaster cannon” sales brochure and then brandishing the Darksaber from Filoni’s Clone Wars animated series, itself a repurposing of a (groan-worthy) name from a 1990s Kevin J. Anderson novel. We also get the reintroduction of the Darktroopers from the Dark Forces 1990s video game — an idea that works well enough in that context, where something more challenging than cannon-fodder Stormtroopers is needed as the game character advances and gets better weapons — but really doesn’t feel quite right in a dramatic context. Did Star Wars really need autonomous Iron Man suits introduced just so that they could be cut down by the existing in-universe super-hero?

Starting out as a mashup of Flash Gordon, pulp sci-fi and fairytale, Star Wars was a mythology for the Space Age, and it succeeded far beyond its creator’s wildest dreams. In the first years of its existence, it felt like the most amazing sandbox imaginable, a place where anything could happen and any story could be told. Unfortunately, Lucas made a decision during the writing of the first sequel (and it was absolutely a decision at that point, not something that was always intended) that kneecapped the storytelling potential of the universe he’d created. This transformed the Star Wars saga from one of many possible stories in this universe, to the only story that ever really mattered - it’s been wall-to-wall Sith vs. Jedi, “always there are two”, and “who are my parents?” ever since. Compounding that issue, when Lucas lost interest in the universe he’d created, the voluminous, ill-advised background material that was created out of economic necessity by a little game company in Pennsylvania became a sort of bible for a decade of Expanded Universe stories, fundamentally altering the nature of the Star Wars universe. All of the explanations added via the Prequel Trilogy do similar damage to the implied background of the original, ironically proving that Lucas did in fact choose correctly when he decided which part of his vague, expansive outline would make for the best single movie (in his hands, at least).

Star Wars was never really intended to depict an explainable world (as ZkinandBonez ably explains), but because of its production design and some vague bits of dialog, it had incredible implied scope and breadth - the “used universe” approach implies history for everything, but doesn’t spell any of it out. The vast majority of the detail added since the late '80s is completely at odds with the very nature of the original story, but there’s no way to go back. There are multiple generations of fans for whom the original Star Wars is just a quaint old movie, a bit of a footnote in an ever-expanding media empire that produces an endless supply of new information to deepen their knowledge of a universe that was never designed to have such depth, and for me, really can’t support it.

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A wonderful essay!

I totally agree with almost everything you say here, despite coming to the movies in the early 90’s. I have often wondered what a spiritual continuation of the original film would look like, and I think it would have to be unconnected from the original in time and space. Imagine a show or movie set in this vast galaxy but we are unaware of if Luke and his friends exist in the far future, the far past, or presently on the opposite side of the galaxy. That level of separation would be incredible.

Perhaps a group of colonists, stranded on a barren world for centuries, desperate to find some technology to let them escape while battling aliens from within the mysterious world.

Maybe a lone mystical warrior from time unknown who battles for peace and justice between two warring star systems.

Imagine an alien race mapping the stars in their dark nebula, encountering a monstrously large ship full of identical human soldiers in cryogenic stasis and their misadventures when these soldiers awaken.

Take it away from anything we can place and the imagination runs wild. Thank you for reminding me why I love this universe.

You probably don’t recognize me because of the red arm.
Episode 9 Rewrite THE SHATTERED SWORD (Complete!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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Great essay, Pakka. Glad I could be of some help to verbalize some of your thoughts.

Yes, the WEG source-books, though delightfully geeky and partially responsible for keeping the franchise alive for a few years, really did transform it into something quite different from what it originally was. I personally don’t mind there being some connectivity, especially when it’s narrative based, so the “I am your father” element works well for me because it has such a mythic vibe to it. And it’s interesting how you pointed out the possibilities of the 77-80 years, and I agree that the comics did a great job to tell new stories without shackling it down with lore, because I’ve heard people make a similar argument that they feel that SW was always meant to be the mythological tale of the Skywalkers and they therefore ignore the side stories. As a franchise it’s a real tough nut to crack, and although Lucas definitely intended for it to be a fairy-tale without having to make logical sense of it all, I don’t think even he fully knew what the core of the franchise was. But then again stories do evolve over time, though the WEG interpretation definitely took a more Star Trek-type of approach to it. I don’t think it’s coincidental that the EU and all the sourcebooks coincided with the second Star Trek boom in the late 80’s and 90’s, not to mention the internet which has made it far easier for fans to share ideas and over analyse things.

There was a section of my essay that I ended up removing (it got a little bit off topic) where I talked about how loose canon was treated back in the 30’s and 40’s, using the Universal monster films as an example, arguing that it related not only to how pop culture was just starting to become a thing, but also how the lack of home media made it kind of pointless. Back then you saw a film once, maybe a few more times if you really liked it, and when it was no longer in the theater you simply couldn’t see it anymore. So if the sequel broke continuity you had no way to go back and check and as long as it felt right (by sticking to the core plot and themes of the previous story) no one really cared. It is completely possible that this modern fascination with lore and continuity is simply a natural development of how we consume media these days, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does put SW in this really weird place. My essay was an attempt to at least acknowledge this, but also to point out that even if a franchise evolves and starts to include a more rigid narrative, I would at least encourage creators to treat the setting with an appropriately surreal approach (and quite a few do this reasonably well IMO).

Original Trilogy Documentaries/Making-Ofs (YouTube, Vimeo, etc. finds)
Beyond the OT Documentaries/Making-Ofs (YouTube, Vimeo, etc. finds)
Star Wars is Surrealism, not Science Fiction (essay)
Amazon link to my first novel; Dawn of the Karabu.

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First, thank you very much for this. It is very insightful.

That said, having lived through the same time period, this is not how I see things. I too devoured everything I could get of Star Wars. To a point. I did not have a source for comics. I ended up getting lucky enough to get the next 9 (#7 to #15) comics after the movie adaption. I had the the 3 Han Solo books (love them and think Solo is an excellently done lead in to them) and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. All devoured and absorbed before Empire came out. But my real love was the action figures and vehicles. I and my friends collected everything we could. I expanded on it by customizing and making my own vehicles and characters. For me Empire was not a limiting factor. The characters and additional worlds expanded the universe even more.

I should also add that after Jedi, with no new Star Wars content, I became a fanatic Star Trek fan. It really started before Empire with Star Trek the motion Picture. But Franz Joseph’s tech manual and general plans really sparked my interest. This is where the West End Games really only added fuel to my imagination. I became the game master and got really creative. I ate up all the manuals and loved the detail, but could always imagine more. The sky was always the limit. I loved to mix things. Other books and movies were often fodder for both the older action figure play and later role playing adventures. I can see why for some all the detailed information might take some of the mystery out of it, but for me there was always more. It still is a never ending fountain of ideas.

I also found that when I went to see TLJ and TROS, that I was transported like I remember the movies doing when I was a kid. I was absorbed into the world and lost in the story.

And we differ on our feelings on the interconnections that now permeate the Disney Star Wars universe. I like what Filoni has done because I’ve seen that sort of odd connection myself. To me that is just one web of connections and I know there can be so many more.

So for me none of those things that you feel limit the world in any way limit the world for me. Rather the contrary, it makes it real for me and my imagination soars to think of all the unexplored corners we can yet get stories for. And Lucas continued with no explaining too much. In fact the PT suffers for lack of explanation. I have spent a lot of time looking at the deeper events surrounding Palpatine and Anakin and love the story that is revealed. I think the ST also follows that paradigm and I think that is one thing people dislike about it.

There is plenty of room for multiple opinions and I really enjoyed reading this and appreciate your point of view. Thank you again.

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NeverarGreat said:

A wonderful essay!

I totally agree with almost everything you say here, despite coming to the movies in the early 90’s. I have often wondered what a spiritual continuation of the original film would look like, and I think it would have to be unconnected from the original in time and space. Imagine a show or movie set in this vast galaxy but we are unaware of if Luke and his friends exist in the far future, the far past, or presently on the opposite side of the galaxy. That level of separation would be incredible.

Perhaps a group of colonists, stranded on a barren world for centuries, desperate to find some technology to let them escape while battling aliens from within the mysterious world.

Maybe a lone mystical warrior from time unknown who battles for peace and justice between two warring star systems.

Imagine an alien race mapping the stars in their dark nebula, encountering a monstrously large ship full of identical human soldiers in cryogenic stasis and their misadventures when these soldiers awaken.

Take it away from anything we can place and the imagination runs wild. Thank you for reminding me why I love this universe.

Thanks so much for reading my (lengthy) essay, and for your kind comments! I really couldn’t ask for anything more than that last sentence.

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ZkinandBonez said:

Great essay, Pakka. Glad I could be of some help to verbalize some of your thoughts.

Yes, the WEG source-books, though delightfully geeky and partially responsible for keeping the franchise alive for a few years, really did transform it into something quite different from what it originally was. I personally don’t mind there being some connectivity, especially when it’s narrative based, so the “I am your father” element works well for me because it has such a mythic vibe to it. And it’s interesting how you pointed out the possibilities of the 77-80 years, and I agree that the comics did a great job to tell new stories without shackling it down with lore, because I’ve heard people make a similar argument that they feel that SW was always meant to be the mythological tale of the Skywalkers and they therefore ignore the side stories. As a franchise it’s a real tough nut to crack, and although Lucas definitely intended for it to be a fairy-tale without having to make logical sense of it all, I don’t think even he fully knew what the core of the franchise was. But then again stories do evolve over time, though the WEG interpretation definitely took a more Star Trek-type of approach to it. I don’t think it’s coincidental that the EU and all the sourcebooks coincided with the second Star Trek boom in the late 80’s and 90’s, not to mention the internet which has made it far easier for fans to share ideas and over analyse things.

There was a section of my essay that I ended up removing (it got a little bit off topic) where I talked about how loose canon was treated back in the 30’s and 40’s, using the Universal monster films as an example, arguing that it related not only to how pop culture was just starting to become a thing, but also how the lack of home media made it kind of pointless. Back then you saw a film once, maybe a few more times if you really liked it, and when it was no longer in the theater you simply couldn’t see it anymore. So if the sequel broke continuity you had no way to go back and check and as long as it felt right (by sticking to the core plot and themes of the previous story) no one really cared. It is completely possible that this modern fascination with lore and continuity is simply a natural development of how we consume media these days, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does put SW in this really weird place. My essay was an attempt to at least acknowledge this, but also to point out that even if a franchise evolves and starts to include a more rigid narrative, I would at least encourage creators to treat the setting with an appropriately surreal approach (and quite a few do this reasonably well IMO).

More great points there, especially how the Star Trek resurgence might have influenced the 1990s EU, and the historical treatment of canon over time due to the difficulty of repeat viewing. I agree that stories naturally evolve over time, and once one movie becomes three, then six, it’s hard not to start filling in more of the lore (but I do wish that “filling in” had been done better, or in a way that didn’t feel as at odds with where things started). I completely agree that Lucas never really understood exactly what it was that people responded to so strongly in the original (not that it was ever just one thing, of course).

I agree that “I am your father” fits the mythological nature of the saga, and Lucas certainly doesn’t owe us a universe that works for anything beyond the story he decided to tell. I do wonder, though, how Star Wars would be seen today had he left us with a universe that had more room for stories beyond the Skywalker Family Drama. It would also help if he didn’t act like so many things came down to him on stone tablets, rather than just being choices he made along the way.

Thanks again for your essay, and for reading mine!

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yotsuya said:

First, thank you very much for this. It is very insightful.

That said, having lived through the same time period, this is not how I see things. I too devoured everything I could get of Star Wars. To a point. I did not have a source for comics. I ended up getting lucky enough to get the next 9 (#7 to #15) comics after the movie adaption. I had the the 3 Han Solo books (love them and think Solo is an excellently done lead in to them) and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. All devoured and absorbed before Empire came out. But my real love was the action figures and vehicles. I and my friends collected everything we could. I expanded on it by customizing and making my own vehicles and characters. For me Empire was not a limiting factor. The characters and additional worlds expanded the universe even more.

I should also add that after Jedi, with no new Star Wars content, I became a fanatic Star Trek fan. It really started before Empire with Star Trek the motion Picture. But Franz Joseph’s tech manual and general plans really sparked my interest. This is where the West End Games really only added fuel to my imagination. I became the game master and got really creative. I ate up all the manuals and loved the detail, but could always imagine more. The sky was always the limit. I loved to mix things. Other books and movies were often fodder for both the older action figure play and later role playing adventures. I can see why for some all the detailed information might take some of the mystery out of it, but for me there was always more. It still is a never ending fountain of ideas.

I also found that when I went to see TLJ and TROS, that I was transported like I remember the movies doing when I was a kid. I was absorbed into the world and lost in the story.

And we differ on our feelings on the interconnections that now permeate the Disney Star Wars universe. I like what Filoni has done because I’ve seen that sort of odd connection myself. To me that is just one web of connections and I know there can be so many more.

So for me none of those things that you feel limit the world in any way limit the world for me. Rather the contrary, it makes it real for me and my imagination soars to think of all the unexplored corners we can yet get stories for. And Lucas continued with no explaining too much. In fact the PT suffers for lack of explanation. I have spent a lot of time looking at the deeper events surrounding Palpatine and Anakin and love the story that is revealed. I think the ST also follows that paradigm and I think that is one thing people dislike about it.

There is plenty of room for multiple opinions and I really enjoyed reading this and appreciate your point of view. Thank you again.

Thanks for taking the time to read the essay, and for your thoughtful comments. I also went through a Star Trek phase in the 80s, mostly around the FASA roleplaying game and, especially, their Starship Combat Simulator.

I’m certainly not out to tell anyone what they can and can’t enjoy, and I’m glad you’ve continued to get so much joy out of so many permutations of the Star Wars universe.

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 (Edited)

This is a very interesting essay there and it reminds me of a similar conversation I’ve been having on a totally different thread wherein a somewhat vaguely defined game universe has been expanded to the point where we’re having arguments about which edition was better and where we’re supposed to go to fill in all the gaps… instead of what we used to do in the old days, which was to just make up whatever we wanted to fill them.

It makes sense why a company would milk a franchise like Star Wars for all it was worth and why fans of past material (or as a writing crutch) would dip into game material to sell more product to fans eager for more explanations and lore (not realizing it would possibly limit the appeal).

Since this is a work of the imagination, there’s nothing stopping the individual from just making it up and drawing their own conclusions.

Because now you have something like this:

Wow, great movies, everyone, excellent choice. So what did you think?

I think Han Solo, after the movies, settled down with Leia and raised a happy family. Luke starting training new Jedi and the Rebels restored the Republic.

No, I think they got divorced after their kid turned to the dark side and went back to their old lives. The Empire was too big and was never truly defeated, and so they fought it for the next several decades until an even bigger threat came along…

Well, actually… in this official encyclopedia here it says…

Actually, before you read that, let me correct you with this new updated official encyclopedia that defines that one as no longer canon…

Well actually, I am George Lucas and I always intended that the Empire and the Sith would just keep returning.

Well actually I’m Kathleen Kennedy and you sold it to me fair and square, so yes that happened but not quite like you remember it…

Well actually I’m Disney and you all do what I say, so let me think about this… probably some from over here, and a little from here and maybe a bit more over here…

I imagine playing the Star Wars RPG (the original one) and sitting down with some friends. How cool would it be to just make stuff up (as the gamemaster) without being beholden to anything other than the original films themselves? I can guarantee when it came time for someone else’s turn, even if they agreed to the premise, they would start subtly or not so subtly introducing things from the various continuities that they happened to like…

I actually bought the vintage books not too long ago (RPG, original source book, plus Rebel and Imperial source books), to get a glimpse of that “early EU” even before the Zahn novels, but haven’t actually played it yet with anyone. I also heard it was based on the Ghostbusters RPG, and that now what we used to think of the Star Wars RPG (the second one?) is now a generic sci-fi game system anybody can use for free (is that true?).

<i>TCBOO</i>

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KurganX said:

I actually bought the vintage books not too long ago (RPG, original source book, plus Rebel and Imperial source books), to get a glimpse of that “early EU” even before the Zahn novels, but haven’t actually played it yet with anyone. I also heard it was based on the Ghostbusters RPG, and that now what we used to think of the Star Wars RPG (the second one?) is now a generic sci-fi game system anybody can use for free (is that true?).

First, thanks so much for reading the essay, and for your comments. You really got at the root of some of what I was trying to say - that the “official” Star Wars has changed several times over the decades, leading to different generations of fans having radically different expectations of what Star Wars is, at its heart. This isn’t defined just by generations, of course - plenty of people my age loved the 90s revival and all of the original EU material, and there are younger fans who only like the OT (or a subset even of that). The key thing is, as it has changed over time, Star Wars has failed to remain something that a wide cross-section of fans can actually agree on.

Believe me, there have been many times when I have thought about just diving into the final version of the West End Games main book (the 2nd Edition, Revised and Expanded) with nothing else and seeing what kind of universe I could bash out of it, trying to maintain the feeling I had over 40 years ago now. Haven’t found the time or motivation yet, but who knows? I do know that I think the mechanics of the WEG version are much closer to what I think they should be than the later Wizards of the Coast system, or the current Fantasy Flight Games system.

In regards to the generic D6 game system, it’s not quite free, but the PDFs are available very cheap - you can find them at https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/3020/Nocturnal-Media/subcategory/5328_28740/OpenD6---West-End-Games- . There are other publishers who use the OpenD6 system, as well, but D6 Space is probably closest to the original Star Wars RPG in mechanics.