Tabletop Game / Star Wars d20
aka: Star Wars Saga Edition
Star Wars Roleplaying Game
(informally dubbed Star Wars d20
) was the second Tabletop RPG
set in the Star Wars
universe, published by Wizards of the Coast
in 2000, after West End Games (creators of Star Wars d6
) lost the license. The game was based on the Wizards' trademark d20 System
, got "revised" between Episodes II
, and received a huge revamp in 2007 (read: post-Revenge of the Sith
) with the Saga Edition
. In 2010, WotC gave up their license and discontinued all of their Star Wars
brand lines, including Star Wars d20
The video games Knights of the Old Republic
(2003) and Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
(2005) were strongly influenced by this system. The influence later came full circle
with the release of Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide
in 2008—a supplement for the Saga Edition
detailing the time period of the games and the tie-in comic
The game provided examples of following tropes:
- Armor Is Useless: Armor really was useless, unless you were already almost dead. It provided damage reduction only when you were out of vitality points or against a critical hit, when damage went to wound points. So for most of a battle, all most armor did was provide a situation bonus to one ability and an armor check penalty to certain skills. ...yay? It also denied you your class-based AC and limited your max Dex Bonus. This could be designed to reflect the stormtrooper armor's uselessness. In the Saga Edition, characters gain bonuses to their Reflex Defense (the defense that keeps blaster bolts hitting you) from armor or a level-based bonus, and they don't stack. At higher levels, it's better to go into a fight naked, rather than wearing the heaviest protection you can find. However, it isn't played completely straight as the bonuses to Fortitude Defense from armor do stack and with the right talents, you can get them to stack with the Reflex Defense as well.
- Attack Pattern Alpha: This is a class of starship maneuvers in the Saga Edition. They grant several persistent bonuses to fighters in flight, but you can only have one active at a time.
- Bigger Is Better: In the Saga Edition, there's a simple way to estimate the challenge level of any given starship. Is it a fighter? It's probably low-challenge. If it has a CL of 16 or higher, there's a 99% chance the vehicle in question can cause a nasty localised eclipse, followed by reducing the eclipsed area to ash with its Frickin' Laser Beams.
- Black Magic: Characters with at least one level in a Force-using class can choose to call on the Dark Side to augment their abilities, and some Force powers are inherently "dark," such as Force Lightning. Characters who have "fallen to the Dark Side" automatically use Black Magic every time they tap the Force.
- Bottomless Magazines: The game gives limited ammo for most blasters, which makes sense as they are actually shooting plasma (ionized gas), not laser bolts. However, blaster pistols don't need a new power pack until you have fired a hundred shots (blaster rifles are slightly more reasonable at 50).
- Break Them by Talking: Sith Lords have a power that lets them do this more effectively.
- Breathless Non Sequitur: In describing a particular series of overly-chatty droid, one of the commentators in Saga Edition's Scavenger's Guide to Droids, the supervisor droid who has worked with a wide variety of model, casually notes that she had to rip out its vocoder to get it to shut up. She also comments on how a particular droid of another model that failed its master would have been turned inside out by her. This is explained if you paid attention to the text and saw that she was an EV-series droid, a supervisor droid model detailed in the book, described as having a number of units accidentally getting a torture droid's motivator installed. (The head of Jabba's droid retinue in Return of the Jedi was an EV-series droid.
- Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp". Vitality instead of regular hit points, as well as Wounds. If someone shoots at you, you could've been hit, but you expended some of that Vitality to avoid it just in time. (Thus explaining why Stormtroopers keep missing in the movies — the heroes just have a lot of Vitality.) If you suffer real damage, though (usually from a critical hit), you take Wounds — and you have far less of those (equal to your constitution score) before you die.
- Saga Edition just has hit points, but adds a condition track, which can be affected by large amounts of damage or special attacks like poison, representing actual, physical wounds.
- Class and Level System: Similarly to d20 Modern, in the Saga Edition characters begin in one of five basic classes; Jedi, Noble, Scoundrel, Scout, and Soldier. The Revised Edition had Fringer, Force Adept, and Tech Specialist (those class features were turned into talents, prestige classes, or feats in SE). Rather than having abilities be tied to each class, each class grants a series of talents and bonus feats that they can draw from. Characters only get full first level benefits from their actual first level class, however. A first level Jedi gains Force Sensitivity and Lightsaber proficiency, but a scoundrel dipping into Jedi can only choose one. Otherwise, Multiclassing is strongly encouraged.
- The Cracker: In this game, they're known as "slicers". The revised core rulebook contains a slicer archetype, the Hero's Guide has a prestige class devoted to slicing.
- Critical Existence Failure: Largely averted:
- In the Revised Core Rulebook edition, hit points are split into vitality points, which represent the type of damage a character can shrug off relatively easily, and wound points, which represent serious injury. After running out of vitality points, the character is fatigued, suffers ability penalties and cannot run, but is still alive, and further attacks will damage wound points. (Vitality points increase with level; wound points do not.) Only after running out of wound points does a Critical Existence Failure occur. Some types of damage, like fall damage, affect wound points directly and ignore vitality points, as do critical hits. So if you roll well, it's entirely possible for a first-level character to one-shot Darth Vader.
- The Saga Edition would use hit points (for characters, vehicles, structures and objects alike), but both a damage threshold and a condition track. (Do damage equal to or greater than the damage threshold, the recipient moves down one step on the condition track, with a corresponding penalty to certain rolls: -1, -2, -5, -10, and then unconscious or unwilling-to-fight/resist.) Your character becomes unconscious if the damage is below its damage threshold, and killed or destroyed if the damage is equal to or greater than its damage threshold. An explanation in one of the preview articles was essentially that every blow failed to be serious or connect... except the one that dropped you to zero hit points.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: In Saga Edition, cybernetic replacements reduce your Use the Force check. Earlier Wizards of the Coast Star Wars RPGs reduced the benefit from spending Force Points. In any case, within the rules this only really applies to Force Users; it's even possible to become a full cyborg hybrid like Grievous or Durge without becoming a bad guy, though you have to nearly die in order to do so.
- Deadly Dodging: Saga Edition has a starship maneuver called the "Ackbar slash" which allows you to redirect an enemy attack towards another enemy ship.
- Dump Stat: Unusually for d20, the dump stat in the Saga Edition is generally seen to be Strength. It affects only three skills (jump, climb, and swim), none of which are common in the setting, and the only other thing it affects are carrying capacity (which can be easily offset by buying a cheap hoversled) and melee attacks (a rarity in a setting generally focused on ranged combat). Even dedicated melee builds can use strength as a dump stat, thanks to an array of feats and talents that allow you to use a different stat in its stead.
- Evil Pays Better: The first version of the game took the concept of the Dark Side as being a shortcut to power and ran with it literally. Using Force points lets you add Xd 6 to your hit rolls, allowing you to succeed at normally impossible tasks. The Light Side goes up steadily adding a single d6 per tier, but the dark side quickly jumps up to 3 and then 5, but then stops while the Light Side continues on to 6.
- Firing One-Handed: In the Saga Edition, one can wield a weapon with a stock with one hand, for a sizable penalty, regardless of how big the weapon really is in relation to you. Thus, a pistol with a stock (equivalent to say, a Beretta 93R) would be just as cumbersome as a full-sized rifle (equivalent to an M16A2) no matter what logic may say about size and weight.
- Gladiator Games: Occur in the Reckonings and Dawn of Defiance campaigns.
- Hand Signals: Saga Edition had handsignals in one splatbook handled elegantly as a language. Well worth the cost, if you're playing that sort of campaign.
- Heroic Lineage: Made into an actual game mechanic in the Saga Edition with the Legacy Destiny, where your normal Destinynote is replaced with a family line that grants you a special ability (usually, getting a Critical Success more-or-less when you really need one).
- Homemade Inventions: The Military Engineer and Improviser classes in the Saga Edition allow you to take this trope to ridiculous extremes, which can include cobbling together a fully functional blaster cannon using nothing more than some scrap metal and a few bits of wire you happen to be carrying, in less than six seconds.
- How Much More Can He Take?: Battles in the Saga Edition can either follow or avert this trope depending on how much damage is being dealt per attack. Lots of weak attacks can bleed off HP without any noticeable effect until you suddenly drop dead from being hit with a toothpick but powerful attacks will move your character down a condition track, making you suffer penalties to everything until you've recovered.
- Instant Expert: An explicit power of Tech Specialists; the Instant Mastery class feature gives them proficiency in a new skill at certain levels, raising any skill they previously didn't have to 4th rank (the maximum a level 1 character can have).
- Jedi Mind Trick: The Mind Trick force power has been expanded to allow you to create a momentary distraction, make an unreasonable suggestion seem reasonable, and cause the target to run away from you at top speed while screaming, among other things. Also, Hutts are a playable race (anything is) and one of their racial abilities is a huge bonus to rolls to resist mind tricks. Toydarians, too. Twi'leks on the other hand get a penalty to their will, due to Bib Fortuna, Jabba's twi'lek majordomo.
- Kill 'em All: The finale of the Living Force campaign, set during Revenge of the Sith and the Jedi purge, was designed to be nigh-impossible to survive, especially for Force-sensitive characters. Any such characters who did survive were forced to go into hiding from the Empire.
- Love Makes You Evil: In one sourcebook, this is used as a justification for Jedi not being allowed to love. More often than not it leads to anger, jealousy and the dark side.
- Luck Manipulation Mechanic:
- Revised Edition had the "Lucky" class feature for Scoundrels, giving them a reroll once a session (higher levels giving additional rerolls up to a total of four).
- Most species in the Saga Edition have the ability to roll a single skill twice and pick the best result.
- Master of Your Domain: The game allows trained Jedi to enter a hibernation trance that drastically reduces their need for air, water and food.
- The Metric System Is Here to Stay: The 3rd edition rules used metres, when literally all other games based on the d20 System were based on the imperial system.
- No Cure for Evil: In the early editions, having a high Dark Side score inhibited your Light Side powers, like healing others. In the Saga Edition, having a Dark Side score of any kind prevents you from spending Force Points to enhance your Light Side Powers. Certain Dark Side Talents (namely Embrace the Dark Side) prevent you from using Light Side powers. Maxing your Dark Side score creates a situation where there is literally No Cure for Evil; the character becomes GM-controlled (subject to Rule Zero, of course). Star Wars is also an environment where, most of the time, Redemption Equals Death, so even if the GM gives your character back, you probably won't have him back for long. Certain Sith talents, though, allow healing (in a life-force-vampire sort of way), and characters of any alignment can use a Force trance to speed their natural healing up. And averted by the Dark Transfer Force Power (buried in the first statblock about halfway down the page), arguably better than its Light Side counterpart.
- No Sell:
- Various (typically Force related) talents allow characters to No Sell everything from Poison to the Jedi Mind Trick. Specific Force powers like Rebuke and Negate Energy allow characters to reflect Force Lightning or ignore Lightsaber attacks.
- The Yuuzhan Vong are disconnected from (and thus immune to) the Force. Specifically any aspect of the force that targets Will Defense. Like in the novels, Telekinesis and Force Lightning work perfectly well. Unlike in the novels, abilities like Battle Strike, Malacia, Force Track, Cloak, and pretty much any other power that doesn't target Will defense also works fine. They're also completely locked out from learning Force Powers or Talents, or gaining Force Points (the game's Luck Manipulation Mechanic), and any talent that uses them. It's not easy being a Force-Immune invader in Saga Edition.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: The Saga Edition is fairly balanced on the stats front, but Dexterity is often viewed as disproportionately important. It determines how accurate you are with ranged weapons (which is most of them, unless you have a melee-specific build) and how good you are at avoiding both melee and ranged attacks. In addition, dexterity is the governing stat for more skills than any other, including some of the most useful ones (namely Initiative, Pilot, and Stealth). It's not impossible to build a character without focusing on dexterity (certain Jedi and Noble builds can get away with it), but a character with a low DEX stat has some significant built-in pitfalls that need to be dealt with or worked around.
- Pistol-Whipping: The Saga Edition has a talent that lets one do that: Gun Club. A later talent builds upon that, allowing one to use weapons with bayonets as double weapons.
- Plot Armor: The newer editions have "Force points" which can be spent on temporary bonuses. The older Revised Edition had vitality points to represent hits as tiring near-misses, and critical hits could very well kill you since they bypassed them.
- Poke the Poodle: Characters trying to become dark side classes (like Darkside Marauder) often resort to quick acts of minor evil, euphemistically called Jawa-Kicking (after the comment in the core rulebook that describes darksiders of a certain degree to be "so evil, they would kick a Jawa just because they can") to rack up Dark Side points for use in powers.
- Popularity Power: The Revised Core rulebook gives all the main characters average stats. Coupled with the fact that they are poorly built, this actually means that the Luke (circa Episode IV) of the core books is weaker than many heroes on their third or fourth adventures. Fortunately, later supplements improved the NPC quality, bringing the heroes to an even level with the average PC.
- Private Military Contractors: There's a mercenary talent tree specifically for this type of character.
- Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Pre-Saga Edition, Vitality (quickly regenerating, representing the character's ability to avoid severe injury) acted as "shields" and Wounds (the character's real meaty hit points, hard to restore) as "health".
- Right Makes Might: True to the source material, the game makes Dark-side Force users advance in power more quickly than Light-siders, but have a lower cap, meaning that a high-level Light-sider has an edge.
- Rock Beats Laser: The rules state that while energy shields will stop any energy weapon, up to and including the ubiquitous lightsaber, a simple slugthrower or sling can penetrate it. And using that ruleset (namely the Scum and Villainy sourcebook) it was possible to develop weapons that could be used to take down shielded enemies in an area larger than a major city, so long as it was clear line of sight to them.
- Rule of Cool: The Saga Edition has the Second Wind mechanic, Force Points, and Destiny Points, which work as Rules FOR Cool. The Second Wind ability allows a heavily beaten character to pull himself back on his feet and return to the fight for a short duration. The rare Force Points significantly increase the chances for success in critical situations, while the even rarer Destiny Points can almost guarantee success when it is vital for everything he fought for. (Like having only one single shot left before the Death Star blows all your friends up.)
- Sanity Meter: In the Saga Edition, there is an implicit sanity meter (which only the GM can see) for Force-using characters. If one of these PCs uses the Force in a way that is considered evil they start to move towards the Dark Side of the Force. This differs from the Force alignments in the video games because once the PC gains enough dark side points the player loses control of them, and they become an evil NPC.
- Scaramanga Special: The Saga Edition has a modification called componentization, which allows a weapon or other piece of equipment to be broken down into pieces that appeared to be (and had at least limited functionality as) other devices.
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The Saga Edition cover has Darth Vader Force-Choking You.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The game is fairly idealistic. Sure, there's plenty of bad things in the galaxy far, far away but it's still a heroic Star Wars Space Opera.
- Splash Damage Abuse: Intentionally built into the mechanics of the Saga Edition. The Reflex defense of an empty square on the battle map is 10. When a target is in the blast zone of an area-effect weapon, including the autofire mode on a gun, an attack that misses the target's Reflex defense but hits Ref 10 does half damage; an attack that fails to hit Ref 10 does no damage because the attacker didn't even hit the squares he was aiming at. In the earlier edition, lobbing a grenade onto an Defense 10 square was a lot easier than shooting the antagonist the GM made, but not much easier thanks to numerous Game Breaker builds in the core rule book.
- The abuse can be abused. Some character options gave characters the ability to take no damage from area-effect attacks that would deal half-damage. A character with this ability could (and, knowing player characters, probably would) stand in the middle of a crowd of enemies and just drop grenades and thermal detonators at his feet, taking no damage while everyone around him gets converted to chunky salsa.
- Sword and Gun: The Master Privateer in the Saga Edition has a series of three talents for this. When you have all three of these talents, you can move and make up to 6 attacks in the same round (three with each weapon). Oh, and the melee weapon can be a two-handed (and thus more powerful) one like a vibro-ax.
- Too Awesome to Use: Destiny points and, to a lesser extent, Force points in the Saga Edition.
- 24-Hour Armor: The Saga Edition gives penalties for sleeping in armor. Endurance is a skill that you must check against or you get no bonus from sleeping in the armor.
- Universal Driver's License: Any character is assumed to be able to at least operate any vehicle, no matter how exotic, although training is available to learn special piloting abilities and maneuvers. The game explains that Star Wars vehicles have fairly standardized controls. A bit of a stretch if one compares, say, a speeder bike to a starship — not to mention any of the more unusual vehicles, like those with legs.
- The starship aspect is mitigated a bit in the old edition, where anyone who isn't trained for piloting a starship (of the right kind: freighter, starfighter or capital ship) suffers a penalty on their pilot checks.
- Vancian Magic: The Vancian system was completely scrapped for this game. Force powers have no limit on uses and are used by making a skill check, though your character does have a limited supply of Force Points you can use to make them more powerful or give yourself bonuses, and the powers themselves pull from the user's Vitality Points.
- Zig-zagged in Saga Edition. There are a few built-in uses of the Use the Force skill, but most of the "good" abilities are in the form of Force Powers, which a character add to a "Force Power Suite" by taking a feat. A character can use a Force power in an encounter, in which case it is removed from their suite, but returns after the encounter. Some abilities will allow a character to return a used Force power to their suite during an encounter. The basic concept was recycled for Starship Maneuvers, allowing ace pilots to pull all sorts of fancy tricks.
- Weak-Willed: A character with a low Wisdom score is vulnerable to a Jedi Mind Trick. Notably the rules state outright that Twi'lek's tend to be weaker-willed on average than humans (in game terms they have a Wisdom penalty). Hutts on the other hand have a Wisdom bonus reflecting their strong willpower.