Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I don't think I'm alone when I assert that Star Wars SAGA was one of the best iterations of the 3.X family, and almost certainly the best released by WOTC itself. It found a sweet spot where customization, balance, and ease of play could all mostly coexist. Despite, or because of, generic base classes and a multitude of playable species even low level characters could be wildly different without being unbalanced. Some realism and accuracy is sacrificed to speed of play in combat, but it maintains a great deal more depth than a miniatures game. All in all, I loved it, and couldn't wait for a D&D 4e based on these rules.

Then 4e came, and it was not what I envisioned. Don't get me wrong, I personally think 4e is a beautifully crafted game, but it sacrifices entirely too much meaningful customization and verisimilitude to balance and ease of play for my liking.

So instead I've attempted to reconstruct what 4e would have been if it were SAGA.5, instead of a new system. The biggest change in the "feel" of D&D SAGA versus 3.5 is the magic system, which uses an analog of SAGA's Force powers, which are skill based, have limited affect and graduated success. More abstract spells have been changed into Talents or Rituals. Classes operate as in SAGA, with Talents at odd levels and bonus feats at even levels. Base classes are generic and few (Just Fighter, Rogue, Magic-User, Cleric), but many "missing" classes have become Talent trees and prestige classes. As in SAGA, mulitclassing is not penalized.

Some of the stuff I liked from 4e makes an appearance her as well. The basic classes are mostly divided into the 4e "roles" (Figher=Defender, Rogue=Striker, Magic-User=Controller, Cleric=Leader), but I'd like to think that more divergence is possible here than in 4e. Rituals also make a comeback, but are just as inspired by d20 Modern's system as 4e's, and are still under construction. I'd like to come up with a system of monster creation that is as simple and streamlined as 4e's, but that has me stumped right now.

Anyway, I'm going to be posting a lot of stuff, so check it out and tell me what you think. Fell free to print this out and play it. I'd love some real playtest feedback, as I'm sure I overlooked some glaring opportunity for powergaming somewhere. Here's a quick rundown of the larger changes and a few of the minor ones:

Google Docs Full Text 5-23-12 version

Character Sheet .pdf

These rules require the use of the Star Wars SAGA Core rule book and the d20 SRD. The required portions and a summary of changes:

Chapter 1: Abilities - no change

Chapter 2: Species - Human species entry is unchanged, the rest is discarded and replaced with the races presented here.

Chapter 3: Heroic Classes - Principles of class and advancement are unchanged. Multiclassing rules are slightly altered (see below). Classes are replaced with those presented here.

Chapter 4: Skills - Skill mechanics are unchanged. The skill list has changed, but any skills that exist in both games work as described in SWSAGA Core.

Chapter 5: Feats. Some additions, some changes from “Force/Destiny” to “Action/Plot”. Mostly unchanged.

Chapter 6: The Force - In-combat spells use the Force Power rules for "memorization" and execution. The Force powers are replaced with the spells presented here.

Chapter 7: Heroic Traits - Destiny Points are replaced with Plot Points, though you could easily use the former system if you prefer.

Chapter 8: Equipment - Replaced with the “Equipment” section of the d20 SRD, altered by the rules presented below. So far these new rules include a number of special materials, masterwork qualities and a new system for determining encumbrance. Rituals, magic items and magic item construction will be included here upon their completion.

Chapter 9: Combat - Unchanged

Chapter 12: Prestige Classes - Principles of Prestige Classes are unchanged, classes themselves are replaced.

Chapter 14: Game Mastering - Unchanged.

Chapter 16: Allies and Opponents - New System for Monster creation. Under construction.

Misc. rule changes

Multiclassing: When you multiclass you also gain a new trained skill from your new class list as long as the new class has more starting trained skills than your original one and you have an Int of 12 or greater. You do not gain this benefit when taking a prestige class.

Action Points (replaces Force points) may be used to add 1d6 to any d20 roll. This must be applied after you roll, but before you know the result. Action points are also used to augment spells. Your character gains 5 + 1/2lvl action points every time they level up, but action points left over from the previous level do not carry over and are wasted.

Plot Points (replaces Destiny points) are more powerful and can be used for several purposes, but only when the outcome of the action is vital to the narrative (DM discretion). Characters gain 1 plot point per level, and they do carry over for level to level. The DM may also reward plot points to characters for good RP, especially when that RP is not in the best interest of that player’s continued survival or accumulation of wealth.

You may use a Plot Point to

-Take a standard action out of turn
-Automatically succeed at one skill check
-Automatically score a critical hit on one attack
-Negate a critical hit scored against you
-Restore yourself to 1/2 your total HP and your normal place on the CT as an immediate action
-Get a clue from the DM on how to proceed in a given situation

Note: SR = Shield Rating
      CT = Condition Track