The ships in a Star Wars RPG serve a real clear purpose beside just getting your party from point A to point B. And yes, that’s a very important purpose, considering that unlike D&D, where the party marches for a few hours, and arrives at their destination, in SW a party has to cross the galaxy. And there are no teleportation spells. So yes, ships are needed.
But a ship also serves a very important function, to you, the SW game master, in the form of adventure hooks. When you first start running a SW game, it may seem like giving the party a ship is casual affair, and a piece of equipment like any other. It shouldn’t be. It should be the most important equipment they own, and the one that carries the most weight.
Let’s look at the Millennium Falcon as an example. Think about the story that the Falcon brings with it as far as Han Solo as a character is concerned. It’s almost like these two are intertwined, and an inseparable part of each other. Look at Han’s reaction when he gives Lando the ship to attack the Death Star with in “Return of the Jedi”, you can see the thoughts of losing the Falcon almost spinning in his head.
You as a SW game master need to capture this same bond between your scoundrel/smuggler types, and their ships. There has to be an attachment there, as the ship may be the only thing the scoundrel cares about. But before an attachment or bond occurs, the player needs to know how and when he acquired this ship. This may in fact be a huge part of the campaign, finding, buying, or stealing a ship, and it would probably make for a wonderful couple of adventures. In my game however, I’m taking the tried and true Star Wars style of En Media Res in my approach.
Meaning “into the middle of affairs”, this technique starts the story with some action already happening, rather than setting it up from the beginning. At the beginning of “A New Hope”, we enter the film with Princess Leia’s ship running from a Star Destroyer, and we missed the whole setup. That’s En Media Res.
In my game, the party will have a ship, and the backstory and complications that go along with it. I’ll accomplish this via a random table I cooked up, and I’ll let the players themselves roll on it to determine how they got the ship. In my mind, this will accomplish a few things:
- It’ll make them somewhat responsible (via their roll) for the back-story of how they came to own it.
- More importantly, it’ll create plot hooks for me to develop stories around.
- It’ll take care of the transportation problem.
One thing I wanted to accomplish with the random table was to give the players the chance to be complicated by most groups in the SW Universe. There’s a chance for the fringe, the Empire and the Rebels to want to make the PC’s life impossible. Now, this really only applies to my particular PC’s because they are playing smuggler types with no allegiance to anybody. If your party is made up of a bunch of honorable Jedi Knights, this chart wouldn’t work. In my case though, it provides me with a hook that can carry over throughout the length of the campaign.
The point of this article isn’t to show my random table, although I will make it available for download, but rather to get you thinking about ships in the SW Universe. They shouldn’t be just another piece of gear, but rather a campaign-spanning source of adventure and intrigue.
May the force be with you.