Game Reviews for PC, PS2, X-Box, Playstation, CCGs, Pen and Paper Role Playing and Table Top Games, plus Movies, DVDs, and Anime!

     " While upon first glance you may be saying 'Impressive… most impressive,' you will have to unlearn what you have learned, or leave your wallet in a galaxy far, far away. "

      Title: Star Wars Revised Core Rulebook by Wizards of the Coast

      Format: Space Opera D20 RPG

      Reviewing Monkey: Genghis Kong

      The Hype: Updated and expanded core rulebook for the Star Wars D20 game, including new races, new character and prestige classes, improved rules systems, and information from Attack of the Clones. But while all that's nice, the real question is, is it worth buying this updated core for a game that started all of a year and a half ago?

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Story and Drama: As with almost all gamer geeks out there, this monkey is a die-hard, lifelong fan of Star Wars and all that is associated with it (with the exception of Jar Jar Binks and the revised origin of Boba Fett). From films to novels to comic books to role-playing games, Genghis Kong is a Star Wars aficionado. That being said, the Star Wars Revised Core Rulebook is very big on vital information and very small on story. It is, of course, a standard D20 core rulebook-it has everything you need to make a character and run the game, but it does not bother itself with story details beyond encyclopedic accounts of the setting, races, playable time periods (of which there are three-Old Republic, Rebellion-Era, and New Jedi Order), and equipment. There is very little prose or flavor fiction in the book, and story details are presented in as organized and sterile a fashion as possible. All of your major bases are covered as far as factual information goes, but unless you're planning on playing a campaign set to follow one of the theatrical Star Wars films, you'd best hope your Gamemaster knows how to take an idea and run with it. 3 out of 5.

      Layout and Presentation: The book is presented in a very clean and logical fashion, complete with a detailed index and a glossary of basic D20 terms. Sections are done in the standard front-to-back Wizards of the Coast design, making the book easily navigable by anyone with experience with their products (be it Dungeons & Dragons, Ravenloft, Forgotten Realms, or whatever), with a helpful selection of numbered tables for easy cross-referencing of rules. The colors and border art chosen aren't bad, but they're a step down from the first edition of the rules, looking a little gaudy and dated and depicting some sort of sci-fi image whose purpose I cannot put a name to. Artwork and photo stills from the films liberally fill the pages, which while sensible has a bit of a jarring effect as they will randomly switch back and forth within a chapter without reason, and most of the pictures don't necessarily have anything to do with the pages they're featured on. About 2/3 of the artwork in the book is re-used from the original core book for the D20 version of the game, with the rest either being new sketches by the same artist (who is very talented and does great work) or re-used samples of famous Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars paintings recognizable as concept art from scenes in the original trilogy. In an interesting design decision, all of the previously black-and-white images that were re-used for this edition have been colorized. While the artwork in the book is impressive, the majority of it is old news from the previous book, and is by far outnumbered by the movie stills which take up the pages and are of limited relation to the sections they adorn. 3 out of 5.

      Playability: One absolute improvement in this version of the Star Wars D20 rules set is that the space combat rules are approaching playability. In the original version of the rules, starship combat was so cumbersome and unintuitive that groups were scrapping them wholesale in favor of off-the-cuff homebrewed systems that might actually work instead. Seeing this plight, Wizards released Starships of the Galaxy, a supplement with two alternate rules systems for space combat-advanced and simplified-neither of which worked any better. Finally, someone at Wizards of the Coast decided that the view inside his ass was not answering any questions, and actually took his head out of his ass and wrote down a working rules set. While still overly complicated and requiring group strategy to decipher at times, this fourth set of rules is actually playable, much to the delight of monkeys who actually wanted to, oh I don't know…fly an X-Wing. Other small rules changes were made as well, by adding popular D20 rules from other games to Star Wars (such as attacks of opportunity), as well as fixing a few small glitches that previously made no sense (such as Force Using classes and armor rules). However, Bill Slavicsek (the line developer for Star Wars D20, who was previously the line developer for Star Wars at West End before it choked on its other useless, non-selling properties like an ostrich one-gulping a medicine ball) still insists on his backward, fun-reducing Dark Side Point system. This roleplaying equivalent to cockblocking prevents players from being "evil" by penalizing them in their abilities and forcing eventual deterioration and corrosion of abilities upon them for doing what every other D20 game in existence will allow-playing neutral evil characters. I think it's about time Star Wars grew up and allowed alignments, as giving characters Dark Side Points for being "bad" is the role-playing game equivalent to elementary school hall monitors-unpopular, uncool, and voted least likely to make it through the day with his lunch money. 3 out of 5.

      Desired Content: The Star Wars Revised Core Rulebook was purportedly released as an update to the game and rules, including fixes to the most unpopular or unusable rules and adding in the things demanded most by rabid bulletin board posters. In reality, it proves itself to be a vehicle for selling more books simply because it has all the kewl stuff from Attack of the Clones in it. While some of the broken rules systems are, in fact, fixed- they shouldn't have been broken in the first place. Further, the fact of the matter is that anyone with ten minutes and a liberated sense of game values could have found these "updates" for free on someone's Star Wars D20 web site. The begrudging addition of the Tech Specialist character class (which Wizards is still bitching over because they thought it was "unnecessary") and the six new playable races (five of which can be found in other supplements, and the last of which-the Zabrak-has no bonuses or appeals for anyone and was added in for people who want to play "Darth Maul's Race") do not make the book a necessity. The vast majority of new feats and prestige classes were cribbed from other Star Wars supplements (I know, I have them all), and the bulk of the book is just reprinted information from the first edition. For a book purportedly meant to fix problems and give new, valuable information, the Revised Core Rulebook falls flat, creating a very large problem of its own-it doesn't have enough new material to warrant a Revised version. 2 out of 5.

      The Verdict:

       You may be the biggest Star Wars fan of all, but I tell you this, my monkeys-if you bought this book thinking it was a hyperspace jump departure from a 1.5 parsec old original version, you'd best snatch up your double-bladed lightsaber and bust some teräs käsi moves on the opposition under the name Darth Wrath, because the Force isn't with you this time. While upon first glance you may be saying "Impressive… most impressive," you will have to unlearn what you have learned, or leave your wallet in a galaxy far, far away.

      The Good: Usable space combat rules, new character races, and updates to the Clone Wars era.

      The Bad: Not nearly enough changes to justify a new release.

      The Overall Ugly: Whatever that thing is on the right-hand border of the pages.

      What it's Worth: About half what they're charging.

Buy it direct from

Copyright © Game Monkey Press, Game Monkeys Magazine. All Rights Reserved.
Game Monkeys(tm) 1999 Game Monkey Press