Friday, February 19, 2010

Statting Up The Geezers

Age and attention to age is ridiculously important in D20 Star Wars Saga Edition. Unlike, other RPGs, including other versions of Star Wars (notably WEG, I don't remember 1st edition D20) the age of characters has dramatic impact on the abilities of characters.

How dramatic? Well a venerable age character has a straight -6 across all physical abilities (STR, DEX, and CON). Pretty rough, considering how many characters in the film are middle aged and older.

But perhaps other folks running D20 don't care about the age of characters...they run their game in that same mythical limbo that allows Batman to continually act like an adult in his prime, despite being over 90 years old this year. However, when playing a Star Wars saga that takes place over years and/or decades, keeping track of the years (and how they impact both PCs and NPCs) is vitally important.

And yet ridiculously fiddly. Count Dooku seems remarkably spry for an 81 year old man in the films, thanks to the magic of CGI and stunt doubles. I mean, I certainly can't do a back-flip to save my life and Christopher Lee rattles 'em off like no octogenarian should. You'd think they (i.e. WotC) would leave the whole age thing out of it, as age seems to slow down no one, save perhaps Alec Guinness.

And yet they don't. And since my experiments with the D20 book is to use the rules as written, I'm embracing the fiddly-ness myself (sorry, Dooku, old boy). I mean, it doesn't really take THAT much more time than the rest of character creation (as D20 is incredibly fiddly with or without aging rules).

Plus, it has a very real impact on the game. Unlike WotC, whose character write-ups are TERRIBLE, I'm not inclined to make every character 19th level. But even so, they ARE high level (the Jedi Masters and Sith Lords, anyway) and so how could the mid-level characters (like Anakin and Obi-Wan) do so well against them? AGE is the balancing factor.

Poor Count Dooku (my favorite geezer). He crosses one of D20's break-points (from Old to Venerable) between Episode II and Episode III and drops several points across his stat line, while Anakin is still in the prime of his youth. No wonder he ends up a carcass ten minutes into the film.

So the question is (once you've embraced the fiddly and decided to re-write the characters) how does one determine ages of the characters?

Welp, when the two trilogy films are your Bible, you've got to go with the Bible. That's roughly how the wookiepedia folks have done it, anyway. 'Course my timeline's a little different from theirs.

Taking the films in chronological order (that is Episode I coming first), characters' ages are based on the actual actors' ages from their first appearance, unless an actual age is stated (like Chewbacca being 200 years old in Episode IV, Yoda being 900 in Episode VI, or Boba Fett being 10 in Episode II). Now when I say "actors' ages," I mean age at the time of filming. So Obi-Wan is 26 in Episode I (even though Ewan McGregor was 28 at the time of the film's release).

Now to tell when in time things occur, we base the timeline off Anakin and Obi-Wan, the main continuous characters between Episodes 3 and 4. By Episode II, McGregor is getting the age make-up, so we can't go with his actual age anymore; instead, we use the adult Anakin. Christian is age 19 during the filming of Episode II. Episode II is supposed to be 10 years after Episode I (based on the cloning order and Tyranus/Dooku's new apprenticeship to Sidious). That means Anakin is supposed to be age 9 during Episode I, and Obi-Wan is thus 17 years older than Anakin, throughout the series.

Guinness is 62 when Episode IV occurs, so Vader is age 45 (regardless of Prowse/James Earl Jones age). Everyone else is easy (Ian McDiarmind is age 54 when appears as Palpatine in Episode I...that means the Emperor is 95 years old in Return of the Jedi!).

EXCEPT that there is no date provided for the battle on Mustafar and the end of the Clone Wars. How old is Anakin when he falls to Darkness? There is no hard-and-fast date. We could use Luke and Leia's age in Episode IV and count backwards to the date of their birth...except that Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher aren't the same age despite playing twins (there's about 4 years difference between 'em)! In the end, I took the route of the wookiepedia folks here: 3 years passed between Episode II and Episode III so Anakin must be three years older (i.e. age 22). And since he's 45 in Episode IV, Luke and Leia must be roughly 23 (or 22 and a half).

With aliens and droids, of course, none of this matters...hell, none of it REALLY matters, does it? But when you start immersing yourself in the fiddly bits of D20...well, I guess one can't help but "nerd out" a bit (or more than a bit!).
; )

All to yoga. Have a good Friday folks! Posting will be light this weekend as we're heading up to Vancouver to check out the Olympics.
: )

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