Roleplaying the Galaxy: A Good blaster, sword or whatever by your side.
Few aspects capture the genre of fantasy (and, yes, Star Wars is part fantasy) like a unique, heroic weapon. Maybe it has a storied past by the time your character comes upon it, or maybe your character is the person to carry a seemingly mundane blade or firearm into the annals of history. What battles or great feats has it witnessed? Whatever the case, there’s something truly special in the moment when a character takes up a weapon weighted with its past and/or destiny.
For Jedi, this part of their path is inbuilt along the journey to knighthood. As a part of their trials, a prospective Jedi gathers items suitable for the weapon’s construction, preferably with the various components having some deep, personal meaning, and assembles them into a dazzling, elegant weapon they should hope never to use in battle. It’s a big moment, typically used as a major turning point in any Star Wars video game narrative. What’s the blade’s color? How did the character acquire the power crystal? Has the Jedi’s path helped to shape their choice for casing, energy, or lens component choices? Have they opted for a staff, dual sabers, or a curved hilt? Give your Padawan enough time to grow, and these decisions should begin to reveal themselves all on their own.
But what about the rest of the galaxy’s citizens, who’d probably be as much a danger to themselves as to others with a lightsaber in hand? Surely they can’t have the same kind of special bond with their weapon as a Jedi.
Well, maybe not the same, but any seasoned adventurer has a weapon or eight that they trust to help them out of any impending predicaments. The obvious examples from the movies are Han Solo with his iconic DL-44, Chewie with his bowcaster, and Boba Fett with his EE-3 carbine. The Expanded Universe holds many more examples, however, including Kyle Katarn with his Bryar pistol, Ona Nobis with her laser whip, and D’harhan with his…ahem, blaster cannon head. Yep.
Players and game masters should always be on the lookout for gear that helps to bolster a character’s sense of identity. The latter, of course, must be careful to hand such things out sparingly, and not without having it feel earned. That ancient blaster you hunted and sacrificed for will start to feel a lot less special if a new and better one gets dropped in your lap every session. On especially rare occasions, maybe an entire mini-arc can focus around acquiring a powerful blade or blaster to help your team of spacefaring adventurers across the planets. So, you’ve snagged a hunk of rare ore from the vault of that Hutt crime boss that with energies that can be focused into an unstoppable ion beam? Too bad it’s worthless without the proper facilities to work it, the only compatible metalworks on record being on the capital ship of some lost civilization out in Wild Space. Let the side quest commence!
Maybe your weapon of choice isn’t even something one can tote about. Star Wars is greatly diminished without its space battles, after all, so feel free to have your ace pilot seek out the starfighter of their dreams. What appeals to their style in the cockpit? Do they pine for the speedy sabotage of a StarViper? The versatility of a Skipray? The classic silhouette and bite of an X-wing?
Quick anecdote: one of my players had a character in a former campaign who made no secret of wanting to be a Mandalorian, so when the party found the remains of an ancient Basilisk war droid on Onderon, he was over every moon in existence. What’s more, the party had already secured the trust of the indigenous beast riders, who cobbled together bits of beskar and knowhow to help the poor Fett fanboy to resuscitate the old machinery of the semi-sentient machine. Player character and Basilisk were soon a force to be reckoned with.
Which leads into my next point for game masters. Once your players have formed some sort of connection with an item in-game, you must, of course, threaten it. The handful of occasions when my player’s Basilisk was nearly lost or obliterated were among the most nail-biting that player experienced. At these times, I also discovered that I felt like that friend who’s introduced two others who subsequently became romantically involved. If that relationship ends poorly, you, they, or both will likely hold you at least partially responsible.
Besides, you like them together. Alas, adventure takes it easy on no sentient, so, just as you may have brought your players to an item they cherish, it may also be your duty to take it away.
I know some game masters delight in this, but I am not one of them. Nor do I derive some sick pleasure in the wanton slaughter of player characters…but that’s probably a topic for later.
Perhaps most importantly, when it comes to your character’s signature weapon of choice, is to let it grow with you. Modify the grip, barrel, fuselage, within an inch of its life as you acquire the credits and quest opportunities for more and more outlandish details. Grab some top-of-the-line sights for your pistol. Modify your knife hilt with the salvage from a crashed ship. Slap an ancient Gungan warlord’s spear on your rifle as a bayonet! Well, maybe not something that weird, unless you and your game master come to terms on how to make it work properly in combat, but you get the idea.
And, of course, once your character has forged an attachment with trusty implement of destruction, you may wish to give it a name. Maybe it stems from how the item was discovered, who passed it on to the character, or just something that sounds really karkin’ cool. It really doesn’t matter if your Zeltron warrior is cutting down foes with The Bite to Sever the Stars or Ol’ Rusty, so long as it helps to build upon the legend of your character and the story they carve across the galaxy. Granted, a Jedi probably won’t call their lightsaber anything special, but blades, blasters, and certainly ships can always stand to spark fear in the hearts of enemy grunts with the mention of their name.
Maybe your character is the type with little thought for inflicting damage, save with the sharpness of their tongue. If that’s the case, don’t you think your silver-tongued monarch, senator, or diplomat deserve to sport the most grandiose of robes and headdresses to lend them the spellbinding gravitas that can silence a room, crowded street, or bustling bridge? Where’d you get that getup? What’s its story? And why, oh why, is your character so positively dashing in it?
Finally, there are countless artifacts to be found among the stars that don’t pertain to physical warfare at all. Perhaps an ancient data- or holocron has crossed your character’s path and they consult it before embarking on any endeavor. Something that precious might be carted about as part of a character’s ensemble, further adding to their legend. Maybe cybernetics, robes, or armor are integral to a character’s presence. It’s hardly unprecedented in the world of Star Wars.
Always remember, though, however you envision your character, that the story you’re telling (unless your game is very different from my own) is about them becoming a hero worthy of stories, and that part of the magic of roleplaying games is letting the dice and your fellow players surprise you. Who you wish to build your character to be may not be who they’re destined to be through hundreds of hours of play (if you’re lucky). Try not to get caught up in the finished story before it’s done telling itself.
Adventure on, grab up all that sweet loot, and discover what wonders an experienced, spacefaring adventurer might have in their arsenal.
May the Force be with you!