Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Jedi Academy Training Manual

I've always been a bit ambivalent about the Star Wars Extended Universe. I approve of it in principle. I'm glad it exists. I definitely think that everyone who wants to should be allowed to write their own Star Wars stories. Yet I've never really been able to connect with it. Sometimes I'll hear about something that sounds kind of cool, like, say the Fallanassi, which is a Force-based religion that believes its adepts should submit to the Force rather than try to control it. It fills more or less the same niche as the Jedi, but it's got a totally different feel to it. That's the sort of thing I like - consistent with the established lore, but giving it new nuance and context.

But just as often, when I hear about something from the Expanded Universe, it's more like Irek Ismaren, who has lightsabers "implanted in his wrists, elbows, and knees." Sure, lightsabers are cool, but that's too many lightsabers.

I think what it comes down to is that Star Wars, to me, is a series of movies. The prequels and the sequels and spin-off tv shows can introduce whatever half-baked nonsense they want, and because it's on the screen, accompanied by pretty exploding lights. The written word has a steeper hill to climb. No novel is ever going to "feel like" Star Wars to me (though video games or comics might) and a summary of a novel in an otherwise unrelated rpg book has even less of a chance.

That being said, there are a lot of good rpg ideas in this book and it is obvious that we owe that almost entirely to the expanded universe. Like I said, ambivalence.

The main reason I bought Jedi Academy Training Manual in the first place was the expanded Force options. They seem okay. A few start to get a little outside the boundaries of what's been established in the movies (like the one that lets you touch things and set them on fire), but that's okay. If you're going to do the thing where you reskin Saga edition to be a different sort of fantasy game, this book is a good resource for giving your mages more things to do.

Overall, I liked it. It's a fairly comprehensive take on its subject matter, for being only ~160 pages, and if some of the ideas it ported over from the EU were goofy as hell (and also there are too many Skywalkers, plus Kyle Katarn was there and he and I have a history) then at least another, better idea is usually just a page or two away.

UKSS Contribution: Tricky, because UKSS is only a little bit Star Wars, but I kind of like the Wardens of the Sky. They're a Force-using tradition that has taken it upon themselves to watch for trouble in the interstellar-travel industry.

And while both the Force and space travel are unlikely to make it into UKSS, I do like the idea of a vigilante conspiracy that hangs around ports of call and has thrilling martial arts battles with pirates. So, possibly mutated, the Wardens of the Sky will have their niche.

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