Roleplaying the Galaxy: A Pebble in the Galactic Ocean
There are dozens of reasons why someone, when faced with the opportunity to travel the stars, might decide that they’re instead wholly content to remain on their current planet, and nearly as many why a player, new or otherwise, might make the same call with their character in a roleplaying game. Rather than darting about from system to system, these characters instead carve out a life for themselves on a single, Type I rock, never breaking atmosphere.
One driving factor in choosing to remain dirtside might be an obligation to the people of a planet. A group or organization may depend on an individual’s expertise or leadership, perhaps without even knowing it. Think of all the stories where Obi-Wan lent a helping hand around the deserts of Tatooine, always managing to stay at the periphery of anyone’s notice, until his fateful voyage with a young farm boy. And the Force only knows what sort of shenanigans Jolee Bindo got up to in the jungles of Kashyyyk while hobbling Czerka efforts. Mechanics, security, doctors, and more can also be essential in the operation of an organization. Roleplaying groups thrive on humble beginnings.
Consider, too, scenarios across the history of the galaxy that saw armed conflicts dragging out on a single planet for months, or even years. Such a concentrated war front (in the context of Star Wars, at least) is rife with dramatic possibilities. What makes this planet so worth fighting over? Is this system caught up in the fiercest fighting of a larger-scale conflict, simply because it’s unfortunate enough to fall on the front lines? Are your player characters the defenders? The Invaders? Or is this a conflict contained to parties native to the planet?
Alternatively, maybe the only thing keeping the campaign stationary is player character inability to relocate. Countless civilians across the galaxy can’t count a hyperspace-faring vehicle among their belongings, and many among them lack the credits even to secure passage off-world. What sort of crisis could find these everyday people that would make for an interesting story? Vile overlords, such as the Rakata, clamping down on slave races?
Farmers combatting industrial expansion that threatens their livelihoods? Killik swarms threatening to overrun Alderaanian colonists?
Or, perhaps, what’s keeping everyone tied to a single planet is the fact that, as far as the known galaxy is concerned, interstellar travel simply doesn’t exist. This could drop a campaign far enough prior to Corellian and Duros shipwrights unlocking the secrets of the modern hyperdrive as to leave most cultures isolated from each other, or it could mean that, for whatever reason, this planet, system, or even sector advanced differently from, and has yet to make contact with, the greater galaxy. Some of my favorite examples of this sort of premise can be found in various guides and roleplaying sourcebooks (which I’ll probably get around to reviewing in more depth).
The Kilian Rangers (explored more here, by fellow contributor, Jason Dietzel: https://www.theexpandeduniverse.com/post/force-organizations-kilian-rangers-by-jason-dietzel) have their own, self-contained Jedi-like traditions, and there are many other organizations that typically stay in their little corner of the galaxy, such as the Baran Do Sages. More on those two specifically can be found in Wizards of the Coast’s Rebellion Era and Power of the Jedi sourcebooks, respectively. The largely reclusive Ganathans, from Dark Empire II, are practically Star Wars steampunk (permit me a rather unmanly, “Squee!”), and The Darkstryder Campaign from West End Games offers up the Aing-Tii as an intriguing group of Force-users. As a final example (though far from the last available), the Nexus of Power sourcebook from Fantasy Flight Games paints a fantastic world rife with adventure seeds in the form of Weik. Now, I know purists even purer than I will be quick to point out that NoP holds content from the Disney era in the form of Lothal, but it also recounts the events of Tales of the Jedi (mentioning Naga Sadow, Ulic Qel-Droma, and the Krath by name) when it comes to worlds like Ossus and Empress Teta, so this scribe prefers to look at it like Lothal sneaking into Legends continuity, should anyone care to make use of the fact. Anyway, Weik is one of my favorite FFG contributions of all time. In no more than eight pages, the writers expand on the planet’s mention in the core rulebook, densely detailing the planet’s culture, history, and, most exciting of all, a microcosm of the larger conflict between Jedi and Sith in the form of the Paladins of the Adamite Tower versus the shadowy Lucite Astromancers. I’ve yet to play in or game master a campaign on Weik, but you can bet it’s on my list! The feudal society and low tech level sees the Star Wars premise through to its gloriously medieval conclusion. King Arthur meets Star Wars! It just…makes me so happy!
Ahem, anyway, as you can see, there’s no shortage of ways one might contrive to set an entire campaign on a single world in the Star Wars galaxy. And here, once again, I must bother you all with further tales of my Klatooinian Jedi character, Korrigosh (custom-portrayed above by the inestimable Micah Champion: https://www.micahchampion.com/).
Though both campaigns in which I’ve played my angsty dog-boy have been rather short—in relation to the fifty-plus session campaigns I tend to run, at least—I think both are prime examples of how to conduct an entire campaign (or at least the bulk of it) within the confines of a single world. You’ll, of course, remember Korrigosh’s trials after crash-landing on the planet Dathomir with his Padawan comrades, but he also went on to undergo a rather harrowing adventure on the aforementioned (and highly troubled) world of Empress Teta. For anyone keeping score at home, the first campaign was run by David “Danos Fel” (who also plays Hideyoshi in our system-hopping podcast), and the second by Stephen, the man behind Rien “I’m a karkin’ merciful wound in the Force!” Vervoosi.
After his out-of-body encounter with his deceased master in the Valley of the Jedi, via Dathomir’s Infinity Gate, Korrigosh returned to a post-Ruusan Reformations Coruscant, ultimately informing the remains of the council that he’d not be accepting his advancement to knighthood. He’d instead work with an aged archaeologist of the order as a third-party agent, eventually reuniting with his former companions as events on Empress Teta demanded Republic involvement; Korrigosh’s mentor had gone there and vanished.
So, caught up in Jedi business once more, Korrigosh journeyed to the Koros sector with his one-time classmates, finding himself wrangled into a time of terrorism and political intrigue…which may or may not have seen him halting a sabotaged procession by rapping about his previous adventure on Dathomir. Did I mention his Presence rating is appallingly high?
Long-ish story short, Korrigosh and his companions managed to stymie the efforts of dark cultists who sought to dredge up power from the planet’s past (which involved my wife’s Wookiee character hurling our Jawa buddy across a large chamber with a lightsaber), but not before Korrigosh found himself briefly and willingly enslaved to the Hutt lord he’d failed to kill years earlier. To spare the mission his old rival’s wrath, Korrigosh offered himself to the Hutt, devising a way to rebuild his lightsaber in captivity and liberate his fellow slaves.
When it came down to it, though, Korrigosh stayed his blade from ending the Hutt, instead striking a bargain that he’d never again set foot on Klatooine; a sizable bargaining chip, as the Hutt’s main concern was that Korrigosh might incite his people to rebellion.
The deal struck, day saved, and his mentor recovered, Korrigosh reluctantly finally accepted his appointment to knighthood within the Jedi, though he vowed that he’d try to help rebuild the order better than it had been before. Where that conviction might take him, only a potential third campaign can tell…
Both of Korrigosh’s adventures thus far, though, paint disparate but equally valid pictures of how one might conduct a full campaign in a single setting. The Star Wars galaxy is rich enough that even a limited location can hold ample storytelling opportunity, and, at times when elements of the galaxy might enrich things further, said elements may have a way of coming to you, should players and game master prove creative enough.
Take the time to explore your immediate surroundings, utilize all sources at your fingertips while boldly adding to them, and may the Force be with you!