So, there I was in Half Priced Books again. Perusing the usual haunts: Science Fiction, Fantasy, RPGs, Action Adventure. Invariably I made my way to the bargain section, where everything is $1-$3. A few paperbacks catch my eye, but nothing screams "Buy me!" Until I look down at the bottom shelf. There, in a row about a foot wide, is a small collection of RPGs and splat books. Mostly old White Wolf stuff and some Shadowrun supplements. But right there in the middle of it is a copy of the West End Games' Star Wars RPG., 2nd Edition. I used to own the original one (there's a copy of that one there too), and I had always wanted to check out the improvements in second edition. And for the bargain price of $3, even the few nicks and bruises on the book aren't enough to keep it out of my basket.
As I said, I used to own the first edition. I remember getting it at Disneyland in 1988 after riding the Star Tours ride for the first of at least a dozen times. I never actually got to play it, but I rolled characters, made up stories, designed ships, aliens, droids and my own templates. This was a great game, and I eagerly carried my new book in anticipation of reliving some simple pleasures.
Flipping through my latest geek acquisition, I am transported back to a time when the Star Wars universe was still unfathomably huge and mysterious. A time before the prequels, when Darth Vader's origins were still shrouded in mystery. When Jedi were legends, and the Jedi Council not much more than a myth. The Clone Wars are long over, and relegated to history, much like our own World War II. The Old Republic has burned, and from its ashes has risen the enigmatic figure of Palpatine and his Galactic Empire. And the underdog Rebel Alliance fights to bring freedom back to the galaxy.
This is the Star Wars I fell in love with. Not the padawan-infested miasma of visually stunning, yet contextually hollow stories. This is the gritty space opera where nothing can replace "a good blaster at your side." Where smugglers and rogues fly tramp freighters, and brave Imperial blockades, gangsters, bounty hunters and all sorts of unknown perils for a chance at a few extra credits to carry them over until they strike it big. A galaxy where a farm boy can dare to dream of something more, and have that dream fulfilled in ways he never imagined. Where princesses needed rescuing, where evil warlords destroyed planets out of spite, and where even the most self-centered scoundrel can show true heroism in the face of certain death.
I miss that Star Wars. But, today, I feel like I got a small part of it back again.