If you play long enough, you can track different ages and stages of RPG gaming and the epic stories they create. This is one of those moments in time that we can’t get back and can’t recreate (although we’ll try). They stand suspended in our nostalgia like a museum piece or an old episode of a movie or tv show that we will always remember to be just a bit better than it actually was.
It all started with a group of middle school boys and their runaway imaginations.
I had played old school D&D back in college but never run a game; always a player. But old war stories get told and, as usual, there are young boys sitting around the proverbial campfires of the storyteller devouring every word like mana from heaven. The young boy at my campfire was my oldest. And it wasn’t long before the stories spread among those young boys whom he called friends at the time and they too hungered for their own chance at adventure.
Now, there are mitigating circumstances as there most always are. I was, like many of you, a reluctant DM/GM. I had never run a game in my life and it always looked like a daunting effort that took great skill and whit. Besides that, these were middle-schoolers. If there had every been a more temperamental and unpredictable creature in any game I’ve ever played, they couldn’t hold a candle to the whims of a preteen boy. They ran hot and cold sometimes with only moments between. How could I know if they were gung ho one night and off excited about something else altogether the next? To me, that was two strikes already.
The real problem was that these were his church friends and I was an active deacon in a Baptist church in Texas. It just didn’t seem plausible to open up a D&D game with these kids knowing full and well there would be questions from concerned parents. I mean, at the time, I was having my own reservations about ever playing D&D again which I have since worked out. SO, it just didn’t seem prudent; too many variables to even bother, right?
But the excitement of a young boy, especially one that happens to be your son, to do something you already have such a passion for and, now have a chance to share in something as intimate and engrossing as an RPG, would just not allow the idea to die. Then, fate interviened in such an awkward and unexpected way.
It was 1999 and I had never missed a Starwars movie in the theater; so we had just seen Phantom Menace and so had all of his friends. Starwars was back in a big way and we took the opportunity to revisit the original trilogy also. If it did one thing, episodes one through three reignited nostalgia in the parents, but it also expanded the already burgeoning imaginations of the young. But, more than that, it gave two generations a shared fandom. Like baseball cards and fishing when I was a kid, Starwars bridged the generation gap and united parents and children alike in a love for not only a movie franchise but adventure itself.
This kind of love of a fandom a great deal of the time pours over into other ventures or collections. They might buy figures, play the video games or, like today, buy a baby yoda plushie. But my eldest and I had become engrossed in card games. It started with Pokemon and spilled over into Yugioh. We loved wrestling so we got heavily involved in the WWE card game RAW DEAL. But during this time we had picked up DECIFER’S original Starwars CCG although it seemed a bit difficult to teach preteens and was in its final years of popularity. This allowed us to pick up many cards cheap and learn more and more about the Starwars universe. We also collected a few of the newer Starwars card game: The Young Jedi set.
Now back to old war stories and the erupting imagination of a young boy. All of the above culminated to a crescendo when I came upon an interesting find. Half Price Books in Texas was a regular haunt for me when I lived there. Not only could you find books, but comics as well. But, one day, I discovered a dark corner in one of the stores. It was littered with board games and puzzles. But that’s not what got my attention. It was there I discovered the sourcebook for Westend Games Starwars D6 Rpg.
I found several source books across the next year that had been discarded as the game wasn’t new and some had lost interest. But it was like printed gold for me and my son. Buying that one book set us on a course for an adventure that lasted the next few years. It also started me on a journey as a game master that, although it fueled an unquenchable obsession that took from other writing ventures, I never regretted thus the walk down memory lane.
Besides the main rulebook, I think I had WANTED BY CRACKEN, PIRATES AND PRIVATEERS, NO DISINTEGRATIONS and HEROES AND ROGUES. I know later down the path I picked up THE THRAWN TRILOGY SOURCEBOOK which all came back to me after watching the Mandalorian recently (Check out the article recently on this blog). But, at the time, I poured over those beaten and battered tomes and I knew it was destiny. Despite what little good sense I had, a game began to emerge and I hit the dial-up internet for supplement. Soon, a game began to emerge and all that was left was a gathering of willing subjects to abandon into my own personal Starwars universe. But, as I said before, THAT was the easy part.
Before I knew it, I had homebrewed a list of Starwars aliens along with information that nearly reached 1000 strong. And, being the carless GM that I am, I opened up almost all aliens for play. And, of course, none of the middle-schoolers that gathered for my game wanted to play a human. I will go into detail about each character in later installments.
What we ended up with was a virtual hodge podge of what the genre had to offer. The basis for all the characters came from the imagainations of the boys involved and the way they played them. They have since took on a life of their own and live in breath in my notes and memories. What I found is what I’ve found in every tabletop RPG I get involved with. Something unique happens. Stories emerge that begin as a framework of my reading and imagination. But what happens in every session cannot possibly be scripted or be predicted.
Remember…these are preteen boys which already leaves room for the unexpected at every turn. Every decision, every action has consequences and always brings on things I could never be prepared for or every planned for. The way I run RPGs already leaves room for the unexpected as I’m a writer at heart and I had an idea of where I wanted it to go. But, I have to be honest with you. The story was, at least, 90% in their hands. And although I was writing one story, the story they wrote was something I could never have written by myself. But it was far more fun, amazing and entertaining than anything I could have ever jotted down myself.
That brings me to the reason I write about it. I want to take you on a journey. Come and ride along with us as we scour the outer fringes of the Starwars universe both sharing nostalgia and comically wrecking what we all love and hold dear. I developed a rough webcomic a few years back, but it doesn’t do it justice and I will probably get others who have a bit more artistic talent to do it in the near future (You can find it by searching wixsite and jackeduptales).
But come with me as we give you a unique opportunity to sit in with a group of young adventurers in what amounts to a cross between a ‘coming of age’ story and Monty Python’s Flying Circus!
So, come along and enjoy the journey of five aliens on the backside of the Star Wars Universe who were ALWAYS in the wrong place at the wrong time so of course they became….