How to Run:Star Wars Saga Edition
In the main, the contents of this page are drawn from the thread, SWSE - Any advice for running the game? Any additional sources will be cited in the text.
Probably the first thing any Internet-enabled GM or player should do is download the SagaSheet Excel document.
Do not leave Destiny until the end of chargen. Make sure it's one of the first things you discuss in the middle of all the stuff like where and when the game is set and who the characters are. Destinies are, I think, a lot like Keys in The Shadow of Yesterday; a great way for your players to tell you they reckon will be fun about their characters and their corner of the Star Wars galaxy.
This may be my personal taste here, but I'm tempted to go as far as saying that you should never let a player just hand their character's Destiny over to you. Let them know that you're willing to let them defer picking a Destiny until they find something during play that they want to base a Destiny around, but try and avoid them just handing the biggest opportunity they have to tell you what's cool about both their character and the game world over with a shrug. - IMAGinES
While they don't always look it, Nobles and Crime Lords are the most powerful characters in the game. Because of the way Saga is set up, anything that grants additional standard actions, especially immediate standard actions, is a godsend. A Crime Lord and a Sith, working in concert can act like an Infinite Force Lightning Generator. This is awesome. - OldKentuckyShark
Bahama'at's Rule of Thumb for NPC Nonheroic Levels
The ratio is relative to the relationship to the PCs (so in a game where Vader isn't the primary focus, for example, Vader may be downgraded from his stats in the book to 'mere' lieutenant as below). This also works if by pure serendipity a character not initially planned to be a major antagonist manages to capture the imagination of the group (that one Stormtrooper manages to keep surviving combat with the PCs, that Commerce Guild minion you ridiculed) - as they become more important to the game/characters, you change the ratio and they accumulate narrative immunity that keeps pace with the PCs.
Your total minion - 100% nonheroic levels
Your slightly above average minion (the Stormtrooper officer, the elite goon) - 75% nonheroic, 25% heroic (usually 1-2 levels, enough for a talent or two and some better hit points).
Your "challenge" encounter (my example for this in my game are Stormtroopers from the 501st) - 50-60% nonheroic, the rest heroic. Gives them some teeth, but they are still hampered. This character is usually 2 or more levels below the PCs average level (obviously at the very low levels this isn't possible).
The villain's lieutenant/right hand/subcommander (in essence, the Vader to your Emperor) - 75-90% heroic. They should be almost equal to a full character, with just enough softness so the PCs don't use up too many Force Points/Destiny Points dealing with them. This sort of character is also within 1-2 levels of the PCs in either direction (your crime lord's lieutenant may be a level below them, your Darth Maul may be a level above them).
Ultimate villain (your Darth Sidious/Malak/Cadeus or whatever) - 95-100% heroic. I put 95% because sometimes a level or two of nonheroic can be useful (they do get a wide variety of feats at that first level) or it takes the hard edge off the villain. This sort of villain I usually put several (3+) levels above the PCs - this is the showdown that is resolved by previous actions taken in the story, or in a face to face confrontation it is supposed to be the fight where Destiny/Force points flow like water.
PCs are quite competent. At third level, feel free to throw dozens of 1st level peons at them and they are likely to win in exciting fashion. No one in our party has even come close to death yet (statistically) although the Jedi was in definite peril from the 3rd level Dark Jedi and the Scout got incapacitated by a wookie in session two (who knocked the Scout silly with his bare hands). Also, Force Points can pull a character's bacon out of the fire. As long as a PC has at least one remaining, he is unlikely to actually DIE on the spot from the stray critical hit or mishap. - PaladinCA
The Force is strong in this one. My concerns in the game are that my two Force users will outstrip my non-Force user. So far, it hasn't happened, but the Jedi kicked some serious butt last session until he ran into the Sith apprentice. Thats when the Noble saved his bacon with a Force Point driven critical hit. My players are third level though and I haven't seen the mid-levels of the game yet. - PaladinCA
I've run two games so far with players in the 8th-12th level range. While the Force-users are a bit more potent, it's not as bad a discrepancy as the previous version of the game (or WEG's version). Once players realize that the game allows them to be more flexible, it's an amazing transformation. - Ifshnit
I have four Jedi and a Scout in my game. The Jedi are balanced by expanding feats and skills to use the Force effectively. They also need several high stats. That plus getting into the fray balances them in combat. Outside, the Scout shines, because all of his skills. - Ceti
Dark Side Score
The Dark Side Score has the potential to cause as much argument as alignments in D&D. Through the Dark Side Score, the game’s rules and you as GM judgment the morality of the player characters’ actions, something that some players will object to. The best way to forestall any objections is to sit down with your players and discuss the Dark Side Score before the campaign starts and make sure that the whole group has the same idea of what constitutes morality and the grounds for increasing a character’s Dark Side score in the game.
Read the Dark Side Score section of The Force chapter out to your players or let them read it. Make sure they understand that while there are no benefits to earning Dark Side Points, there are no inherent drawbacks either. In Saga Edition, Dark Side points are more like the Humanity Score in the independent RPG Sorcerer; they’re the character’s incidental music that lets the group-as-audience know how far the character has turned to the Dark Side.
Some topics worth discussing are:
- Will non-Force users have Dark Side Scores? This is a matter of some debate as the text is fairly ambiguous.
- What are the consequences of turning fully to the Dark Side? Will PCs remain playable or become NPCs?
- Earning Increases:
- The use of the Force as a first resort in solving a problem, even if you’re using non-lethal powers like Force Stun.
- Letting evil occur by inaction.
Pay special attention to the paragraphs on atoning. Ensure your players know that they can spend Force points to reduce Dark Side Score on a one-for-one basis, and that it assumes that the characters have spent some time in meditation and doing good works (this can happen off-screen, of course, but if a character does something particularly good, generous or altruistic in play, suggest they consider burning a Force point). Also assure your players that you’re willing to discuss Dark Side Score increases after any session; as an increase only has an overt or mechanical effect if a given PC’s Dark Side Score is pushed over its Wisdom, this should be no problem.
Throughout all of this, be mindful of the balance you're striking. Star Wars' morality appears clear-cut but has many seeming exceptions when examined closely; your yard-stick should be "fun drama". Be willing to compromise your own views on Star Wars' morality in service of what will be fun for the group (yourself most certainly included here).
As such, be very careful if your game is regularly interrupted by players disputing increases of their PCs’ Dark Side Scores. Extended out-of-character arguments over rules are very rarely fun. Reassure players that your aim is to provide a fun session and that you're willing to discuss any issues once play is over. If during-session arguments continue, there's probably a bully at the table (be warned; it may be you). - IMAGinES
Equipment really doesn't matter in Star Wars, and it can take a while for players to figure this out. Money is also largely unimportant. Other than really expensive high-end armor, lightsabres, battle droids, or star fighters, there's really nothing worth buying that can't be replaced at the drop of a hat. This can be very liberating, or very frustrating, depending on the player; some people are just natural gearheads, and Saga doesn't support the gearhead ideology very well, no matter what the web enhancements say. For these players, I reccomend introducing "prestige" gear: fancy colored lightsaber crystals, antique Mandalorian armor, double-secret encrypted commlinks, rare starship mods, souped-up swoop bikes, etc. It doesn't need to actually do anything, but it makes gearhead types and collector types feel better. - OldKentuckyShark
Beware the power of Destiny Points. Level 5 characters who have been saving their Destiny points can and will defeat a Level 12 Sith Lord without taking losses. Believe it. - Egyptian
That's only if it helps their destiny's with each player having max 5 destiny points (1 per level) You're not supposed to spend destiny points on things that have nothing to do with your destiny. - Sindalor
Watch the movies. Get a feel for how actions typically happens. Minions are time and resource-killers, they are not and should not be expected to actually do significant damage to heroes - just delay them long enough to fail in their objective. - Bahama'at
I send mooks in waves and have some heavies handy, so I can balance the situation:
- If it's too easy, more show up.
- If it's too hard, stop sending them in.
- If it starts getting boring, finish the combat.
I also like to assign goals for combat. So instead of just having a fight, players need to get to the turbolift, break through a door under fire or fix the ship, while holding off the opposition. - Ceti
I threw upwards of thirty mooks a combat and didn't really slow combat to a crawl as per previous editions (although it still took a little while) and the players were able to feel heroic as they just mowed 'em down. What's also nice is that you can throw NPCs with hero levels at or just slightly above the PC's average level and actually have them be a threat all by themselves. - Ifshnit
Terrain and Battlemaps
Think terrain - dynamic terrain, dramatic terrain. Make the fights seem cool to players. - Bahama'at
(I normally achieve dramatic and dynamic terrain) narratively (I just inform them of the changes, and my players can interject further changes if it fits the mood and their actions), but in concrete form for one chase scene I played through we used a map plate from Roborally for the Episode2-like guts of a giant construction droid running amok. - Bahama'at
Transport-size star ships are floating coffins if you don't have the Vehicular Combat feat. Even with it, they're pretty rough: the -10 Size penalty is difficult to overcome, no matter how good a pilot you are, and they don't have much in the way of hit points. Other than that, the ship to ship combat rules are pretty darn fun, and easy to grasp. Starfighter combat is fast, and occasionally vicious: even mook ships like TIE fighters and Z-95s do significant damage, and ships don't have inflating hit point pools (on the other hand, most PCs of 10+ level will reliably survive the destruction of their ship, if they have a spacesuit). - OldKentuckyShark
In designing a campaign you do have a double edge sword, there is a lot of material out. The Expanded Universe has been developed quite extensively through comics and books. Lucas has made a point to keep everything consistent as possible between all things Star Wars, to the point where game designers need Lucas’ approval to use characters. Additionally, other publishers can use anything printed from one publisher. Fortunately, you do not have to read everything that is out there to know what is going on. The SW community has brought most information online. I use Wookieepedia to look things up, there is also the Holonet. This is an excellent source of material. The drawback to all this is that Wizards has not scratch the surface of all this material for the game. So expect to have to create and make things. I have had make racial stats for Besalisks, Gree, Ubese and Polite (my own race); fighter ships for Gree, weapons for Gree and Polite, a ship for the characters. All that was for the first adventure. The other drawback to this massive amount of information is that there already is a history. So you have to choose how much of it are you going to follow. I am playing during the New Republic and have dumped most of that history at that time and what “would” happen. - Phlophouse