Youtini’s Guide to Playing Star Wars RPG
Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will. -Yoda
So you want to play a game huh? Well alright ya big nerd, Youtini will show you how it’s done! Star Wars RPG is an incredible amount of fun. Never will you be able to put your vast knowledge of Star Wars and creativity to the test than with a bunch of your friends as you navigate the galaxy conquering evil and crushing your enemies. The Star Wars RPG puts you into the story unlike anything else.
Get ready to become one with the Force.
In this Guide
What is the Star Wars RPG?
There have been a number of Star Wars RPGs - or “Roleplaying Games” - over the years. The first one released by West End games back in 1987 is in some ways responsible for the vastness of the Expanded Universe since game creators had to create backgrounds and stories for the innumerable aliens, weapons, and planets only barely mentioned in the films. In many ways, the SWRPG was like the original Wookieepedia and allowed die hard fans to imagine themselves as part of an enormous universe filled with adventure and excitement.
Unlike popular video game RPGs, playing a tabletop game requires a certain amount of thinking and creativity. You are incharge of the story, the characters, and even the fate of the galaxy. Playing the game can require as little as a rulebook and some paper and pencils once you gather some friends and decide on a story. The game is in your mind... in your voice… and in your ability to tell a story. Playing for the first time can make you feel like you are actually inside the stories that we have all cherished. Walk among the Jedi. Break through a blockade. Conquer the Mandalorians. The galaxy is truly in your hands
The Star Wars RPG that most players use today - and the one that Youtini plays - is the modern one; a multi-system gaming platform developed by Fantasy Flight games first released in 2012. Currently, there are 3 different systems of play that all exist under the same umbrella of rules and dice with only a few minor differences between them:
Age of Rebellion: Join the Rebellion and fight against the evil galactic Empire with this system that adds important details about the Empire and the Rebellion with new enemies, vehicles, weapons, and story seeds
Edge of the Empire: Earn your place amongst the scum and villainy of Mos Eisley as a pirate, smuggler, bounty hunter, and other outcasts of society
Force and Destiny: Master the Force. Craft your lightsaber. Command the mystery of the Jedi and Sith.
The easiest way to think of the different systems is to think of them as the same game - the Star Wars RPG - with different eras, play styles, enemies, and stories. All three core rulebooks follow the same general steps for character creation, combat, and other gameplay with each book adding new elements to play. To get started playing, really all you need is one of the 3core rulebooks.
What do I need to get started playing?
The short answer: You need a rulebook and some people (no more than about 6 people total) to play with. Youtini has some fantastic starter kits to get you going on day one. Whether your group is online or in person, you just need some friends to play with on the regular. Playing a campaign usually takes 2-4 hours each session and you should try to play at least weekly, biweekly, or monthly. There are tons of other things you can use to play and there are quite a few RPG products that make playing all the better. Youtini has a full writeup on SWRPG products here.
The long answer: You need to study up on the game. If you or your friends have never played an RPG before, one of you should commit to being the Game Master - also referred to as the GM or the DM for Dungeon Master - until you can get the hang of playing. The GM is responsible for controlling the story, especially for new players. So that person will need to commit extra time to learning the basics of the rulebooks, watching some youtube videos of others playing, and listening to some great podcasts that we can help point you to.
Other than the core rulebooks which are must haves for anyone serious about playing, Fantasy Flight has produced some FANTASTIC beginner games that come with a pre-written story that explains the rules as you go, maps, pre-generated characters, and a full set of dice. The full set of dice alone is worth the price of the beginner kits so we highly recommend them for anyone curious about the game. Even if you already own the core rulebooks, the beginner boxes have a ton of value with all of the extras.
Basics of Play
Put simply, playing SWRPG consists of a few parts: Character creation, story development, and dice rolling. Now obviously the rules can get much more complex, but just bear with us - this isn’t a review of the rulebook.
To play SWRPG, you need a character. Where are they from? What species are they? What is their story? All good characters require a good amount of thought and planning. First, you decide your character’s background and story. Then you decide their species, career, and specialization. The rulebooks and extra sourcebooks have TONS of different combinations. If you can dream it up, then you can play it. That’s the beauty of a tabletop RPG. Your limit is your imagination. There is a great document on character creation here.
You and your GM should plan a “Session 0” where you all get together, plan your characters, and discuss the type of story you want to play. Do you want to do a heist? Or would you rather fight the Empire? Again, your limit is your imagination. What story you decide on will dictate which core rulebook you mostly rely on in your play.
Most situations are played out with a dice roll. The character you develop will have stats on their characteristics and skills that will determine the type of dice you roll and how many. The type of situation you are resolving will dictate what skill is used to make the dice roll.
For example if you walk into a new room that could be hiding Imperial secrets, your GM may ask you to make a “perception check.” You would look at your character sheet and learn that your skill allows you to roll 3 green die. The GM tells you that the secrets are pretty well hidden so the check is against a difficulty of 3 which means you will also roll 3 purple die. You gather your 3 green die and 3 purple die and roll them all together. The green and purple die have symbols that cancel each other out and some quick math will tell you whether or not the check was successful and if there are any consequences for the roll. If the check was a success, your character may spot a bit of a map hanging out of a drawer or a small hidden camera in the corner of the room. Dice rolls determine the outcomes of these storytelling scenes.
If you want more details on the basics of play, Youtini is planning a getting-started guide, but for now, here’s a great video outlining some of the most important stuff.
How to set up your first online game just like the crew of Youtini
You’ve read the basics and we’re sure you’re convinced that you want to dive in right away - right? Well here’s everything you need to get started.
What you need:
- Video conferencing software
- A webcam
- A decent microphone
- Character Sheets and other game-enhancers
Video Conferencing Software
First things first: connect with your friends.
You will need some way to communicate if you are not physically in the same location. On top of simply connecting with your friends, we believe that you have to actually see them. Human emotion, real facial reactions, and genuine interaction is what makes SWRPG so fun. Thus, we recommend using video and not just audio to play. There are a number of solutions for video conferencing that Youtini has tried in our conquest to improve our gameplay. Here are our recommendations
Developed specifically for gamers, Discord supports video and audio conference calling with multiple people. We have found the call quality, video quality, and connection quality more than adequate for most gaming situations. Every time we’ve tried something else, we come right back to Discord. It’s really fantastic. The only other solution that beats Discord in terms of video quality is Zoom. But Zoom will cost you $15 a month to use. Our only complaint is that Discord takes some getting used to and requires a little more setup up front. Once that’s done however, it’s easy peasy from then on.
To use Discord you will need a free account. Once you are all set up, we recommend you download the desktop app and send friend requests to your other players in Discord. Once you are all friends, all you have to do is start a group message and hit video call and BOOM! You’re in business.
- Great quality
- Easy to use once it’s set up
- Requires some up front setup
- Every player needs a Discord account and you must send a specific friend requests
- Lack of advanced video/audio settings makes troubleshooting video/audio problems particularly difficult.
Youtini has had a generally positive experience with Zoom. We definitely agree that Zoom’s video quality is second to none. BUT, that comes at a price. You are limited to a 45 min with a group of more than 2 in the free version (as of September 2018). You could of course hang up and call back, but who wants to do that? The basic paid version with unlimited calling cost $15 a month.
Lately, we have been using Discord exclusively to handle our live streams, though if you are serious about having a high quality picture, you should consider Zoom if you are planning on streaming. However, learn the game before you get too hung up on streaming.
- Best picture quality
- Super easy to set up. Open a call, send an invite link to all the players. No friend requests required.
- Complete control over audio/video settings
- Free version is limited to 45 min calls
Option 3: Google Hangouts & Skype
SWRPG gamers used to swear by Google Hangouts. There was a fantastic plugin that allowed real SWRPG dice rolls to occur in the chat box, making Google Hangouts the all-in-one solution. However, Google has discontinued plugin functionality, making Google Hangouts a less attractive solution. Youtini has found that Google Hangouts is extremely power intensive and running it out of a browser window leads to connectivity issues. Hence, we recommend Discord first.
Skype has been on the way out for a while now in the RPG gaming world. Connection issues have plagued the service for some time now to the point that hardly anyone seems to be using it. If you use it regularly and know it works for you though, then by all means, give it a try.
Most people are familiar with Google Hangouts and Skype
Lack of functionality
These days, if you don’t have access to a camera, you’re basically living in the stone age. If you have ANY laptop, then you probably have a camera. If you don’t have a laptop, then you probably have a smartphone. All the video solutions we have recommended so far will work on a computer OR a tablet or smartphone.
On the other hand, if you want to step up your camera game, getting a dedicated webcam can dramatically improve your play experience. Decent cameras can be picked up on Amazon. Here are some of our recommendations:
- Amazing picture quality
- Easy setup
- Glows blue and looks awesome
- Cost $50
- Lack of video settings on Mac
- Better quality than stock webcams
- Not as good picture as the C920
- Lack of video settings on Mac
For simple play, you don’t need much of a mic. Truthfully, you may be able to get by with the stock mic built into your phone or laptop, but you will get a lot of background noise. For simple play, that may be ok with everyone. On the other hand, if you can’t handle Matt’s loud chewing, or Eric’s mom yelling at him that his Hot Pockets are ready, then plugging in some iPhone headphones with a mic or investing in a cheap gaming headset makes a huge difference.
Both Corey and Matt on the Youtini team own a set of these headphones. They report them to be pretty comfortable and reliable given they are so cheap. Sound quality is not bad either. These aren’t Turtle Beach Headphones, so expect $25 of quality. But they work fine so what else could you ask for?
- Cheap at $25
- Decent quality
- Cheap-ish quality
You can’t play SWRPG without dice. Either get some real dice - which we highly recommend - or use an online tool. Having a real set of dice in your hands makes a big difference and we aren’t just saying that because we sell the dice. If you are playing online though, using an online tool may be a more practical option. We have tried a few different dice rollers and have some thoughts on which ones are best.
This is the online tool that we use in our Youtini Plays SWRPG games. It’s simple and looks great. You create a room for you and your friends and you can all see each other’s roles - something most apps don’t let you do. Get in the habit of refreshing the page every so often though. The app sometimes has trouble keeping everything in sync.
Other Dice Options:
Ok so that’s not its official name but we’re not sure it even has one. Anyway, this roller is, in our opinion, the best-looking one. But it doesn’t save rolls and you can’t connect to your friends. It can be used offline though and if you don’t need to save rolls, then this is a good option.
D1-C3 Discord Bot
Also written by SkyJedi, this one is a dice roller that operates inside Discord’s chat window. You type things like !roll ggppp to roll 2 green die and 3 purple die and it shows the result in the chat window. It’s pretty clever but takes some getting used to. There is a full list of commands here. Also of note, the bot does more than just dice rolls but you can explore that on your own.
Character Sheets and Other Game-Enhancers
- Bastion Kane’s Character Sheet
- Printer Friendly Version
Note that Youtini has a plethora of other great RPG downloads here.
If you want to sync up your character sheets with your GM, simply install Google Drive on your computer and set up a shared folder amongst all the players and put your original character sheet files in there. If you edit the sheet, the GM will automatically have it in his folder since its synced between.
Visual Game Enhancers
There you have it. The Star Wars RPG. We have given you everything you need to get started with your first game. You have access to the books, the character sheets, and all the tools you need to play. All you need now is some friends to join you. Luckily, we know a great place to find some great folks to start a game with. Head over to the Youtini Cantina Facebook Group and put together a crew or hit up the Youtini RPG Shop to grab your Starter Kit.
The SWRPG is an incredible game. It unites fans all around the world and we are excited that you’ve decided to play. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to reach out. Until next time my friends.
May the Force be with You
- The Youtini Team