Monday, September 20, 2010

Magic Items in Star Wars

One of the things I dislike about the D20 Star Wars system— and one of the reasons it feels too much like D&D in space to me— is the whole 'items that give you bonuses' thing. Admittedly, this was more prevalent in the d20-based Star Wars video games (like Knights of the Old Republic) than in the tabletop game (from what I've seen).

Yes, I understand that some weapons and equipment would give you a benefit over others. Some things are just better made. A bonus to damage or accuracy or even a little boost to a skill. These are all things I have no problem with. It makes sense in a realistic and cinematic sense.

What I object to are items that give a bonus to something more metaphysical in nature. Like a headband that gives you a bonus to 'wisdom' or a set of robes that gives you a bonus to your Force skills. Especially if said items are 'stock' items. It isn't just one legendary HEADPIECE OF WISDOM.. its a.. headband that a whole order of Force users wore. It isn't a special set of robes infused with Force focusing crystals, its...just clothing that a particular group wore. Not only does it 'magically' give you a bonus, it is also a relatively common thing that someone, at some point, was mass producing. Even if you buy into the 'magic' aspect of it it becomes less so when it is just one of many, not a unique thing. Well, at least it does to me.

Yes, I realize that the Force is the Star Wars equivalent of Magic. But I prefer my magic to be more...well...magical. If it comes pre-packaged in numerous, interchangeable items then it feels to me like just some other kind of energy to be bought, sold, stored and used. It loses the metaphysical nature that I associate with the Force. Of course, George Lucas can be partially blamed for this, by officially reducing what was once an 'Energy Field that Surrounds All Things" to the emanations of a bunch of microscopic organisms living in the blood of a few specific individuals. Bleh.

In any case, I do not allow 'magic items' in my campaign- at least not of this commonplace nature. In fact, I can think of only two items I've ever really used. One was the Kaiburr Crystal (from the Novel The Splinter of the Minds Eye). What this artifact did was give a bonus to a Force user's power (I believe I did something like it gave the wielder a +1D across the board on Control, Sense and Alter). But this was a unique item. And one so treasured that it was usually kept locked up and secure until it was REALLY needed. Another was something of my own creation- the Darksaber. This was a lightsaber infused with the spirits of several Sith lords. It existed as a means of drawing others to the darkside. Yes, it gave all kinds of bonuses to those who used it (again, I think it was a +1D across the board, though I don't remember). But it also gave the user Dark Side points over time. And best of all, once the user was completely consumed, it no longer gave most of those benefits. The Dark Side is a tease like that- promising all kinds of power, but once it has you? Well, its content to leave you to your own devices.

So there you have it. I don't much care for +1 Lightsabers or Robes of Charisma +2 in my Star Wars campaign. Give me a few powerful artifacts with unique angles on them and I'm much more happy.

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