Skip to main content

Lessons from Star Wars

"Always in motion is the future"

When life knocks you down and kicks you in the ribs, we tend to flee into our own sanctuaries to cope.  Alternately, we tend to escape into our sanctuaries when we're happy too.  They just give us a great way to relax and enjoy the good times.

Star Wars has done all of those things for me.  It was there long before Dungeons and Dragons, and has greatly influenced my life and creative outlooks and inspirations.  I got into Star Wars when I was about 8 (this age seems correct in my memory, as I know that Episode I came out when I was 9).  My first Star Wars action figure was a Han Solo that came with a carbonite slab to freeze him in.  I was a Jawa for Halloween when I was 9, and I was young Obi-Wan Kenobi when I was 10.  My Lego building adventures always ended with some sort of epic lightsaber battle, and I always wanted to know about all of the aliens in Jabba's Palace.  I also played the Decipher Star Wars card games.  

I was excited for the prequels to come out, but I don't think I got into the first two as much as I got into Revenge of the Sith.  For some reason, that story was just the culmination of everything I loved about Star Wars.  I was in early high school, running track and enjoying a great season with friends and setting some awesome personal records, running 2 miles in under 10 minutes.  I saw Revenge of the Sith twice in theaters, and had memorized all the dialogue (I had been doing that since I was little.  Don't ask me how).

Anyway, so now that everybody can understand how prominent Star Wars has been in my life, let's look at some of the ways it has inspired me creatively and how to apply those lessons to D&D.

1. "If there's a bright center to the universe, you're on the planet that its the farthest from."
In Star Wars, every planet is a different fantastic location.  Desert, forest, volcano, etc.  Use these in your own D&D games when you try to figure out the theme of a location.  Are the heroes going to explore a jungle?  Are they climbing mountains?  In essence, pick a terrain theme and think about what can be done to make it an amazing experience.  In my Vellyn posts, I've taken the concept of snow to the next level, with avalanches, blizzards, and evil snow beasts.  You should do the same.

2."You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."
D&D games should be full of interesting characters, not just the PC's.  Populate your worlds with denizens exhibiting interesting clothing, personalities, or appearances.  NPC's make the world, from that hammerheaded looking alien to the pale skinned woman watching a podrace.  Your players will want to find out more about them, which may lead into some interesting adventures all on their own.

3. "I have a bad feeling about this."
Every adventure should have some threat to it.  That's the whole point of Dungeons and Dragons.  Great rewards require great sacrifice.  Whether this comes from infiltrating an enemy outpost to rescuing a captive friend, your players should always feel the danger of what they are about to undertake.

4.  "He was deceived by a lie.  We all were."
In order to create complex, awesome villains, hiding them in plain sight always works well.  Nothing is more shocking that finding out the person you trusted has fallen, or was always plotting against you from the start.  Whether it was a character's father, or a well loved mentor, the shock of learning their true nature is enough to make any hero question their own motives and their possible destiny.

 5. "You and the Naboo form a symbiont circle.  What happens to one of your will affect the other.  You must understand this."
Choices have consequences.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  The same happens in D&D games.  In order to fully take advantage of this, players need to be presented with choices.  Do they stop the orcs from kidnapping the baron or let the trolls destroy the homesteads?  While the heroes are saving the day in one area, what is happening in the other?  Or, in a different sort of approach, what happens when one group allies with another, as opposed to the third party?  As the DM, it's up to you to make that call.

I'm going to stop this post with those important lessons.  I've used them in many of the games that I've run, and I think they add a solid depth to any game.

We'll see where life continues to take me.  I'm trying to be strong, faithful, and courageous.

Be sure to leave your comments below, and follow me on Twitter @artificeralf


Popular posts from this blog

D&DNext and the Despair Deck

"Fear attracts the fearful." - Darth Maul
In May of 2011 (which seems like forever ago), Wizards of the Coast released a 4th Edition supplement entitled The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond.  One of the coolest things to come in the box set was a deck of 30 cards called the Despair Deck.  The deck, to quote from the campaign guide, "represents the unnatural behaviors and neuroses that can come over those who visit the Shadowfell."  I would like to that statement one step farther and say that the deck represents behaviors and neuroses that come over those who visit any place of horror.  Flipping through the deck, the cards are separated into three main categories: Fear, Apathy, and Madness.  Such traits create good roleplaying opportunities, as well as further demonstrating the horrors that adventurers face on a regular basis.

I thought the Despair Deck was a great addition to special encounters and events for D&D, and I've really wanted to c…

Revisiting the Trinket Lord

As I’ve gone back to dive into the options that are 4e D&D, I took another hard look at something near and dear to my heart: my 4e published article, The Trinket Lord. Published in Dungeon 205 (August 2012), it was another article in the Court of Stars series about the Archfey. With GenCon 2017 occurring right now, I figured it's a good time to talk about such things again.  I had always found the Court of Stars articles extremely intriguing and full of adventure hooks, but when I pitched this article, only two existed, The Prince of Frost (Dragon 374) and the Bramble Queen (Dungeon 185).
The Trinket Lord was originally pitched back in April 2012, when WotC accepted article submissions for their Dragon and Dungeon magazines. My contact for the entire process was Greg Bilsland (which was a major “whoa!” moment for me). I consider my relatively short interactions with Greg to have been extremely insightful, as he gave me a good mix of compliments and critiques and helped me im…

The Evils of Fey

"They were big and little creatures. Some were hairy with long, thin tails, and some had noses long as pokers. Some had bulging eyes and some had 20 toes. In they came -- crashing through the door, sliding down the chimney, crawling through the windows. They shouted and cried. They banged pots and pans. They twirled their tails and tapped their toes upon the wooden floor. He watched as the trolls gobbled the food and threw the plates and drank everything in sight. They continued to shout and scream, to scratch the walls and pound the floors and slap their tails upon the table. The tiny trolls were the worst of all. They screamed at the top of their lungs and pulled each others' tails." - The Brothers Grimm
In the previous post, I wrote about broadening the use of monsters in my campaigns.  I mentioned my love for the fey and the Feywild, and how I was trying to step away from it.  In today's post, I want to embrace the fey, and write about all of the wild i…