Well, the game has been wrapped up. We played three fairly full sessions. And, although there was definitely a lot more room to explore, it felt like enough of a climax that we were happy to stop playing (it doesn’t help that one of our players is leaving the city, so scheduling more sessions might have been difficult!).
I think we all had a good time, and enjoyed what the rules brought to the game. Sure, they’re not perfect for Star Wars, but they worked pretty darn well. They were few things that didn’t feel right or didn’t fit. We had little trouble in terms of adapting the rules. The ability to die and come back to life (by choosing +1 Weird, in most cases!) felt very Star Wars-like (especially with the JJ Abrams films, which love to do the whole “Oh, no! He’s dead!” fakeout scene, and use it on multiple occasions).
None of us loved the “Do Battle” move, but, on the upside, there was never any confusion about how to use it. Players almost always chose “Fight hard” (+1 harm), as it was devastatingly effective against NPCs. (But it helps to explain why two of them died - and came back - in the third session!)
In the third part of our game, most of the mysterious convergences happening on Tatooine came to light, although the players were just starting to figure them out, learning bits in dribs and drabs. The most mysterious character was “The Butcher”, who turned out to be a Jedi in hiding, wearing a mask and some kind of cybernetic device in his skull after being mortally wounded by Darth Vader.
Our smuggler, Marsh (a Brain-picker ), it turned out, was transporting a young princess frozen in carbonite, who was actually a Rebellion agent trying to get in touch with Rothschild (a Gearcutter ), a former Imperial cynernetics engineer working for the Butcher. The smuggler rather accidentally (in typical Star Wars fashion!) joined up with Valiant-1 (a Vigilant ), a former Imperial droid who was also looking for Rothschild, since Rothschild was his creator (and, in fact, had placed a portion of his brain matter into the droid!).
Local slumlord Teemo the Hutt was after the cargo, knowing that there was a high bounty placed on the frozen Princess, so there was some wild canyon chase action when Teemo’s Gamorrean guards pursued the smuggler’s ship. Teemo had all kinds of mercenaries trying to find the girl!
Meanwhile, a local enforcer named Ambergrease had sold out the Butcher to the Empire, using Imperial support in a plan to take control of the Cistern (the only source of fresh water, and the Butcher’s hideout) and then to take over the town from Teemo.
However, the PCs, being intrepid, killed several inflitrator Stormtroopers, as well as, eventually, when all this came to a head in a shootout at the Cistern, killed Ambergrease, whose corpse now floats in the water supply, tainting it with a metallic tang.
There was a particular Star Wars-y moment when Valiant-1 one pushed a floating coffin (the carbonite container) into a crowd of the Butcher’s followers, knocking them over like bowling pins and then leapt off the coffin, somersaulting over those who remained standing, and made his escape. Classic!
They stole a whole bunch of cybernetic details and data as well as a mysterious Dark artifact (never seen “on screen”, just in a dusty box) from the Butcher’s vault, figured out that Rothschild was the Princess’s long lost father, and made their escape. Rothschild managed to jerry-rig a floating gurney-like contraption to carry the materials, which was a Star Wars-analogue of Tenser’s Floating Disk.
Presumably the sequel would deal with their pursuit by both the Empire and the Butcher, a man whose Light or Dark affiliation is heavily in question.
We had fun adapting some of the details in the playbooks to the game, although, to my regret, I never quite managed to tie in the whole “wolves of the mealstrom” bit successfully (despite having some ideas for how that tied The Butcher, Marsh, and the darker personalities in the Emperor’s service together, it never “made it to the screen” in our limited time). A few failed “open your brain” rolls provided short cut scenes hinting at a dark past or grim omens of a dark future, which I enjoyed narrating (though I’m not sure how the players felt about these!).
I liked how the storylines converged on the mysterious cybernetic secrets worked on by the Empire. My idea was that Rothschild’s experiments were key to technologies used in Darth Vader’s machine suit, as well as the Butcher’s head trauma. The Rebels were trying to get Rothschild on their side to find a way to neutralize or defeat Darth Vader, while Rothschild’s daughter, Leora, hoped to turn The Butcher back to the Light. Marsh, the smuggler, however, shared some dark destiny with the Butcher, which would play a bigger role in future sessions, were we continuing to play.
I didn’t spoonfeed the background story or situation to the players, so I don’t know if it was as engaging for them, discovering it in pieces and hints, rather than seeing it all at once.
The nature of all the supernatural stuff in the ruleset lends a bit of darker vibe to the Star Wars setting and anything related to the Force, but this is a nice lens through which to see Star Wars and relates nicely to the way this stuff is presented in the newest films (weird psychic connections, coincidences, and whispers from the past - all very maelstrom-like).
Were I to make a serious go at playing Star Wars with the Burned Over ruleset, I’d feel pretty good doing so. I’d want some more clarity on how to use “open your brain” (presumably, it would work for all uses of “trusting the Force” and similar situations, and that might require either some thought or a new move), and I would want stronger character transformation mechanics, since the Star Wars film feature dramatic character arcs, and it would be nice to have some support for this from the system. Aside from those two things (and maybe some greater clarity on ship to ship combat), we had a lovely time and I would gladly do it again.