Watching the latest episode of The Mandalorian, probably the best thing to come out of Star Wars since Rogue One, I experienced one of those ‘What was that?’ moments. Now, I’m sure the title has already done a bit to spoil that episode, but, if you haven’t seen The Mandalorian, Chapter 13 named ‘The Jedi’, you should probably move along.
NAME DROPPING JEDI
First of all, a big fan of the show, but that’s not totally why I’m here. This blog is dedicated to roleplaying games of all types, new and old. And the name Ahsoka, the afore mentioned Jedi, dropped brought me back a couple of decades.
“Grand Admiral Thrawn’
‘What does this have to do with roleplaying games?’, you ask? As stated before, over 25 years ago, I was heavily involved in a Starwars RPG produced by Westend Games. My middleschooler and his church friends had asked me to run a game and I wasn’t sure introducing the pastor and deacon’s kids to D&D was a good idea at the time. About the same time, I found the main rulebook for the game and became enamored with the idea of running something in the Starwars universe. From there, much like every game or idea I’ve ever had, it became an obsession.
“What does this have to with Ahsoka dropping the name ‘Grand Admiral Thrawn?’ , you ask? (Ya know, if you keep asking questions, we’re never going to get through this)
My obsession turned into a collection (that I was forced to sell years ago) or D6 Starwars books that supported the game. And THAT is where I learned about Grand Admiral Thrawn. For a little backstory, Timothy Zahn had written a trilogy of books that had Luke, Leia, Han, Chewy and a whole army of other characters square off against the Grand Admiral that had become very popular. One of my greatest sins is that I am not an avid reader of novels or long works of fiction. Being a writer, that bugs me, but I do, however, pour through a good deal of written info. I am a researcher at heart. So peering through as many sourcebooks as I could get my hands on was a pastime for me.
I, then, came upon
The Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook.
Now, at first, I was reluctant to buy it seeing as I never read a word of Zahn’s books. But, for the GM especially, these sourcebooks were like Cliffnotes for rpgs. So, I had to. I just had to. And read them I did and, I have to say, it was one of the most detailed, info filled books I bought of that ilk. Now, I was already late to the game. There was no online catalog where I could buy a book or a download, so I got what I could from a discount book store in the area. That’s where the adventure began and, with The Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook, it continued.
There were so many things in that book that really excited me. I mean, Thrawn was an imposing bad guy with an armada of Star Destroyers. He was a master tactician; the last of the admirals from the Empire. (The three books AND the sourcebook was set after Return of the Jedi and was one of those great sources that continued the Starwars legacy that the latest movie trilogy decided to ignore totally to their detriment.
But where the trilogy ending with The Rise of Skywalker failed, The Madalorian has succeeded with the fans in a big way. And this inclusion of Thrawn in the Star Wars Universe is just the tip of the amazing iceberg that this series has begun and continues to be for true fans of the genre. From the most infinitesimal details of assassin droids, bounty hunters and aliens galore to the growing list of known stars that are becoming a part of the universe we love.
Rosario Dawsom as Ahsoka was just the latest inclusion that has the fans of the Clone Wars series cheering for more. Carl Weathers and Gina Cararo as regulars have really added to the mystique of the series. There have been amazing Cameos by stars like Nick Nolte, John Leguizamo, Giancarlo Esposito, Mark Hammil, Richard Ayoade and even directors like Taika Waititi and Jon Favreau. So I can’t wait to see who plays Thrawn.
But, as I said, Thrawn takes me back to the D6 Westend Games Roleplaying game. And, although I never had the Grand Admiral show up in any of my games, he was out there since my game was run during the trilogy era as well as Crimson Empire’s era. (Check out Crimson Empire. It’s a Darkhorse comic that was set around the same time). And I also drew a lot of inspiration from that book with characters, aliens and other tidbits that I hope they, at least, allude to in the next episode.
First up, the coolness of a post-Return of the Jedi Imperial Fleet was paramont with The Chimaera being his flagship. On top of that, having the only surviving Imperial Admirals being a non-human (Chiss actually) is SO iconoclastic.
Thrawn was in league with a clone of a Jedi that was mad with power, Jorus C’baoth. There is no mention of Ezra Bridger so he wasn’t around during the trilogy, but showed prominently during the Clone War series. Check out the Vanity Fair article about Ahsoka’s importance to the Star wars story.
She (Ahsoka Tano) along with Ezra Bridger and Admiral Thrawn may also be a key to the future of Star Wars… Vanity Fair article by Joanna Robinson
And I hope the above is true. It would do Starwars good to have some new foci for the next direction. And The Mandalorian is proof positive of this as they showcas a myriad of worlds and a plethora of aliens. And they are obviously not afraid to reference the old cannon that the ‘new’ Starwars has, to their detriment, shied away from.
Many of those ‘cannon’ characters and races are found in The Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook. About every major alien is referenced as well as the planets they come from.
Some of the items that influenced my game heavily which I would like to see in any Starwars setting are:
One of the races that made an impact on my game in the form of major NPCs was the Noghri, a badass, vicious muscle with bite.
These furry lizards were known for their ability to ‘push back’ the force. I never got to use them, but I thought they’d be fun to include. The mad Jedi mentioned above used them to aid in creating viable clones in a shortened amount of time.
Thrawn also found them handy to protect himself from the bothersome Jedi,
Picture is from Thestarwarsdatabase on Weebly
FARFIN, planet and
Gotta mention it because our original campaign started on this planet and I was obcessed with these catlike/monkey aliens with prehensile tails and amazing agility. reminds me of the Tabaxi from 5E D&D.
Artwork from Alien Encounters (D20 sourcebook)
There will be more of these walks down memory lane as we go along. Starwars D6 games were an interictal part of my gaming career and I’ll never forget it. If you think about doing a Starwars game, D6 isn’t a bad way to go. I liked it beter than the D20 set that came out after it. Pick up the main books and, definitely look into The Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook. It will give you most of the aliens and planets you will need to run a campaign.
You can find the original info in the Thrawn Trilogy written by Timothy Zahn which consists of Heir to the Empire (1991), Dark Force Rising (1992), and The Last Command (1993), which were published by Bantam Spectra.