What books should GM's not be without?

Discussion in 'Games: RPG & Miniatures' started by Rogue_Thunder, Feb 8, 2004.

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  1. Rogue_Thunder FanForce CR, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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    Jan 7, 2003
    star 6
    I'm fairly new to GM-ing (but not the game itself) and don't have much by way of sourcebooks. I do have the RCRB, the Hero's Guide, the GCG but I'm finding it near impossible to keep my game running smoothly without the Arms & Equipment Guide (which I'll be picking up next). After that which books am I going to really need?
  2. Diverjkc Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 9, 2002
    star 3
    If your games are space combat heavy, you should pick up the Star Ships of the Galaxy. It is still for the OCRB, but gives a lot of the basics of building your own ships and new feats and prestiege classes.
  3. Tremaniac Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 3
    Power of the Jedi was a well writen book, and very useful if you find yourself in a jedi centered, or jedi heavy party.
  4. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    The RCRB! :p

    Sorry.

    I concur on PotJ.

    E_S
  5. Koohii Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
  6. Rogue_Thunder FanForce CR, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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    Jan 7, 2003
    star 6
    I'm running a D20 campaign so the WEG books are useless to me.

    Yeah, the potj would come in handy since there's 3 jedi and one soldier in the party
  7. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    If you've got a 75% Jedi party; GO TEH POTJ!!1!

    E_S
  8. Fingorfin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2001
    star 4
    Yeah, POTJ is must have for a Jedi game. Of course, you'll need villians to antagonize these Jedi, so pick up the Darkside Soursebook. It is for the fist edition of the WOTC game, but the little that would need to be converted is easy enough to do.
  9. Tremaniac Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 3
    I'd say skip the Dark Side book. In addition to being a first edition book, it's a little too rediculous in some of it's villians and templates. I'd say only use it if your PCs are seriously munchkined out. Otherwise your better off whipping stuff up on your own.
  10. Fingorfin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2001
    star 4
    I'll agree that some of the characters in there are a little over the top, but that's not really an issue for me, as I hardly ever use any NPCs from the books. But the book is a great source for background and flavor of the Darkside.
  11. Crimson_Jedi_Knight Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 21, 2001
    star 4
    I'd say:

    Starships of the Galaxy
    Power of the Jedi
    Ultimate Alien Anthology (spices the game up)
    Darkside Sourcebook
    WEG Galaxy Guides (I know you are running d20 but they have more stuff on things like Jedi training and Starship modifications than WotC)
  12. Tremaniac Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 3
    It's funny, I rarely GM these days and I have everything on your list Crimson. Not quite all the galaxy guides though, some of them are tough to get these days.
  13. Rogue_Thunder FanForce CR, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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    Jan 7, 2003
    star 6
    I'm planning on having everything someday (for the d20 system anyway) but I can only get so many books at a time. Rent and insurance come first :(
  14. Kier_Nimmion Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2000
    star 5


    Imperial & Rebllion sourcebooks by WEG - most everything has been shifted over from that god awful game system, except the actual book text. Any of the WEG hard covers are also worth while having, again for the source information. The adventure journals also.

    Anime art books, especially from science fiction series and movies (Dangio, Aura Battler Dunbine, Macross, Gundam, Bubble Gum Crisis, Gall Force, Detonator Orgun, Lebsman, almost anything by Sunrise, Studio New, or Tatsunoko). These are great for vehicles, character art, buildings, occasionally maps. I use anime art books for character ideas, scan the image, slap it into a word processor and instant character.

    History books on other countries or eras, especially Egypt, Mayam, Aztec, Olmec and Incan history, legends and myths, early England, the Angles and the Saxons, Goths, Ostrogoths, Rome, Greece, Ottoman Empire, Carolingin Empire, etc. a lot of these are good to pull historical characters and events out of context, add your own spin on things, and you can recreate actual historical events within the context of the game, complete with characters based on real people. It also gives you mythology and legends for planet based societies. Also, this is A LOT of work, but it's worthwhile and educational. A lot of early Battletech history, i.e. from 2700-3000 AD is ripped off from Russian history, even down to the names.

    Neither WEG nor WOTC can boast about their Star Wars maps, so it might be worth while to dig around the internet or RPG stores for older games like Traveller, Space Opera, even Battletech for good maps, even AD&D sources can provide excellent maps even adventures that will only require minor tweaking to switch to Star Wars - the 10th level CE magic user or priest can easily become a 10th level Sith Witch, Dark Side Devotee or Sith Acolyte.

    Fodor's Guides: These are tour guides to cities in the US, Canada, and around the world. They have a complete listing of historical and commercial sites, museums, restaurants and night clubs, often with the most unique places receiving special attention. I use these when running modern day campaigns, but with a little work, they can be altered to Star Wars land.

    Games magazines & Video Games- PS2, Xbox, PC, Gamecube- these rags often contain cool art work, especially characters, creatures and vehicles. If you already have one or two of the consoles and a PC, buying these mags isn't a huge expenditure IF you also read the articles and use the demo discs. Spending $6-10 on a mag just to get one or two illos is probably not a good idea. Video games are an excellent source of material in art work, characters, vehciles, events, places, etc.

    Steal shamelessly - a lot of the RPG writers do it, so why not you? Borrow characers from your favorite TV shows and movies like Xena, Andromeda, Alias, Smallville, or, god forbid, Star Trek. Ever hear of a movie called Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone? Pure Star Wars! Losts of fun with Peter Strauss, Molly Ringwald and Michael Ironside. Was the #1 movie in America in 1983 for a week...then Return of the Jedi came out and crushed it like a bug.

  15. Rogue_Thunder FanForce CR, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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    Member Since:
    Jan 7, 2003
    star 6
    Thanks, K-N. Those are actually some pretty good ideas. I really like the idea of using historical figures. I could totally picture an Atilla the Hun or Temujin character being in Star Wars with a few tweaks.
  16. Kier_Nimmion Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2000
    star 5


    You're welcome.

    Encyclopedias are a good all-in-one source, though more detailed books are a better choice. And since WotC have not published a big book o' monsters yet, use the D&D books- monster manuals, the EverQuest monster manual, or the Creature Collections by Swords Sorcery Studios are a good choice for new creatures - so long as you change some of their abilities. Careful with the EverQuest monster book, they have 30 hit die rats in there.

  17. Tremaniac Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 3
    Are you looking to turn SW into a hack and slash? That's the only real reason for having a monsters compendium.
  18. Kier_Nimmion Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2000
    star 5


    Are you looking to turn SW into a hack and slash? That's the only real reason for having a monsters compendium.

    Incorrect.

    Um, Star Wars is super heroic adventuring, just like AD&D, and Star Wars has more limb removal than just about any D&D game. When you have a bunch of players stomping around with lightsabers, blasters and vibroswords, hack and slash, as you say, becomes inevitable. However, it is not necessarily the focus of a Star Wars game, nor should it be, IMHO.

    My point about the monster manual, however, was to make up for an obvious short coming in the current crop of Wizards publications - there is no Star Wars monster manual of sorts - their creatures are scattered about a dozen publications.

    Let us also not forget that Star Wars land has no shortage of freaking dangerous monsters- the Arachnor, Dianoga, Gundark, Hawk-bats, Howlrunners, Hssiss, Krayt Dragons, Massassi, Mynocks, Purella, Rancors, Sarlaccs, Slashrats, Vornskr, Wampa, and Womprat. Then there's the Umrach, Stratts, Sand Panthers, Coromon Headhunter, Skree-skaters, Steeps, and the Armadid.

    That's just a short list of dangerous, predatory and generally unpleastant creatures inhabiting the galaxy far, far away. And that's just 'monsters' and not listing the scads of very unpleasant sentient creatures with whom players will invariably come into contact with.

    So there really is no point in denying the fact that, Star WARS does tend to lend itself to combat quite well, and regardless of which system you utilize to tell your story, combat plays a very important role within the game system as a whole. It depends as well on what kind of game a GM is trying to run- a balanced adventure with a good story, an entirely 'hack and slash' series of adventures, or deep political interaction.

    My suggestion of using the Monster Manuals (and certainly not all of the creatures found within, to be sure), was merely expressing another source for possible creature encounters, nothing more. I could have easily mentioned Gamma World, Alternity, Traveller, Space Opera and other sources to borrow creatures from. Or places, NPCs, or vehicles for that matter.

  19. DexRicon Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 1
    The Monster Manual is of questionable value. It depends on what you want Star Wars to be. If you want it to be character based intrigue and one on one battles or massive kill 'em alls.
    Monsters are, in general, mere plot devices in Star Wars. As well they should be, as most of the time they're not interesting in a galaxy where sentient beings have pretty much dominated. Most serious monsters encountered are under the control of others anyway. There's a reason, after all, that SW RPG has a dozen pages devoted to creatures while D&D has 300.
  20. Kier_Nimmion Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2000
    star 5


    The Monster Manual is of questionable value. It depends on what you want Star Wars to be. If you want it to be character based intrigue and one on one battles or massive kill 'em alls.

    I believe I said something to that effect.

    Monsters are, in general, mere plot devices in Star Wars. As well they should be, as most of the time they're not interesting in a galaxy where sentient beings have pretty much dominated. Most serious monsters encountered are under the control of others anyway. There's a reason, after all, that SW RPG has a dozen pages devoted to creatures while D&D has 300.

    Erm, it depends entirely on the nature and flavor of game one intends to run, doesn't it?

    Rather in D&D there are two basic types of encounters; random and set piece. Getting jumped by trolls while in the woods is pretty much a random encounter. Whereas sneaking into the cave that may or may not be the summer home for a wintering red dragon is a planned one.

    I myself was looking at the issue, not from a specific point, but rather a broader more general aspect. However, I agree with the assessment that monsters in Star Wars tend to be plot specific, i.e. the rancor and the sarlacc, and to a lesser extent, the wampa. However, the space slug was a random encounter, Han could have picked any old asteroid to set the falcon down in. That was a random encounter.

    More to the point, running a Star Wars game where all of the monsters are there for a reason would get a little tiresome. After a few encounters of that kind, players will wise up and basically start planning on there being some form of zoobeast in that ancient Sith temple they wish to explore or if on Geonosis, they can expect the GM to try and capture them then feed them to the nexxu and the reek. Pretty boring if that's the way it is supposed to be.

    No. Monster encounters in Star Wars can be of any variety as they are in D&D- random, set piece, whatever. Which goes back to my initial point that there aren't enough monsters in Star Wars land. Besides, almost everyone knows what a wampa or rancor is, dropping something new on them, in this case an adjusted or slightly altered monster from another source, is just good GMing.

  21. JoinTheSchwarz Comms Admin & Community Manager

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    Nov 21, 2002
    star 8
    Yeah. I've used creatures and opponents from Traveller, Rifts and D&D in Star Wars, and I'm one of those GMs that find combat to be boring.
  22. Tremaniac Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 3
    Look, you can use it for supplemental challenges for PCs, but if you were to compile the creature list from various sourcebooks, SW Insiders, etc. etc., a Monster Manual is not really necessary. Monster encounters should take a backseat to NPCs. After all, realistically, how many bear/shark attacks occur compared to man to man violence?
    The other problem with a monster compendium is that according to D&D, other sentient creatures are monsters as well. If you use that logic in SW, the entire Alien Anthology is a potential Monster Manual.
    And yes, StarWars does lend itself nicely to combat, but it was never intended as solely a hack and slash, in any edition. Sure, SWD20 may lend itself to it thanks to D&D3e, but it shouldn't substitute it for the adventure and heroism that come with the SW galaxy.
  23. Kier_Nimmion Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2000
    star 5



    The other problem with a monster compendium is that according to D&D, other sentient creatures are monsters as well. If you use that logic in SW, the entire Alien Anthology is a potential Monster Manual.


    That depends, how many 36-hit die, fire breathing, spell casing ewoks are there? 8-}

    And to be honest, I find the idea of a Gammorean dressed all in black with a silk cape, flying around by night, charming and drinking the blood of young ladies, kinda amusing.

  24. Tremaniac Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 3
    Hmmn, Epic Ewok Spell Chucker. Gotta remember that one. You know, after reading the X-Wing novels I've come to accept that there may be a few intelligent Gamorrians, but Vampiric Pigmen? I don't think I'm ready for that yet. Come to think of it, I don't think anyone in the galaxy would be.
  25. Crimson_Jedi_Knight Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 21, 2001
    star 4
    Hmmn, Epic Ewok Spell Chucker. Gotta remember that one. You know, after reading the X-Wing novels I've come to accept that there may be a few intelligent Gamorrians, but Vampiric Pigmen? I don't think I'm ready for that yet. Come to think of it, I don't think anyone in the galaxy would be.

    Which would make the encounter all the more interesting.
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