Game Day: Shopping for a Star Wars KOTOR campaign

Our Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic campaign is kicking off next week. That fact, combined with the timely arrival of a gift certificate to, has me shopping for some last-minute tools and goodies, including game master screens, battle maps, miniatures, soundtracks, and background material in the form of graphic novels and video games.

Tabletop Battles

As with the KOTOR video games, our campaign will be based on a starship freighter. We anticipate having the occasional starship combat, and that led me to search for some black battle maps.

Chessex makes a black, 30mm hex-based battle map which looks cool. Granted, Star Wars uses squares rather than hexes, but I don’t think we’d lose much by making the switch (and I think there are guidelines for doing exactly that in the D&D 3rd Edition Unearthed Arcana). It’s something of a moot point though, since the maps seem to be on backorder pretty much everywhere.

Another option is Hotz Mats’ “Deep Space Felt Game Mat”. These felt maps are available in squares or hexes, with star, nebula, or solar flares, and I gotta say, they look pretty cool (check out the photo gallery).
That said, as my friend Damon pointed out, we can accomplish this on our own by spray painting poster board and applying a grid. From a cheapskate perspective, this appeals to me, but buying a battlemap has the advantage of requiring zero effort.

When we playtested the Saga Edition for my review, we used some of Wizards’ Star Wars minis. We were pleasantly surprised to see how well they reinforced the feel of the Star Wars universe, especially when coupled with the scifi-themed battle map included with the core rule book.

Wizards released KOTOR-themed minis to go with the RPG, and seeing how well minis worked in the playtest, I think I need to buy at least a couple of boosters for the game. I’m also tempted to pick up a set the Star Wars Galaxy Tiles.

Like Wizards’ Dungeon Tiles, Galaxy Tiles allow GMs to various science fiction-themed maps (space stations, starship interiors, etc.)

The Star Wars Gamemaster Screen is part of a new generation of heavier, sturdier GM screens (though not as sturdy as the Ultimate GM Screen of DOOOOOM. I like using a screen; it’s handy for quick reference, but more importantly it gives me a space to put my stuff. The guys in my group are like mutant goldfish, expanding to fill whatever space is available to them (and yes, I include myself in that description when I’m on that side of the screen).

Hitting the Right Note

Music is an important part of the Star Wars universe, and I can’t imagine running a game without it. That said, we’ve all heard the original Star Wars soundtracks a thousand times over, and while we may love that music, it’s gotten familiar.

Enter the Star Wars: Episodes I through III soundtracks: They build on the familiar themes of the original trilogy, but venture off in new directions. While opinions of the prequels vary greatly in our group, I think we can all agree that the soundtracks still rock. Using them in our campaign will let me evoke the feel of the trilogy we love, but with music that we’re only passingly familiar with. I have Episode I; I’m planning on getting Episode II and Episode III.

Literary Inspiration

I’d forgotten this before getting the Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide, but Dark Horse comics has published two KOTOR-related titles. The first, Tales of the Jedi is set at the dawn of the KOTOR age and tells the story of the Great Sith War. These books were released well before the video games, back in 1992 or 1993, and I think I have a couple of them squirreled away in my comic book collection. Dark Horse has collected these books into a series of Ominibus volumes.

I’m looking at picking up Star Wars Omnibus: Tales of the Jedi, Vol. 1. It’s a hefty book — 395 pages — and includes the stories “The Golden Age of the Sith,” “The Fall of the Sith Empire,” and “Knights of the Old Republic”.
Volume 1 takes place about 40 years before the start of our campaign. I remember liking, but not loving, these books, so I think I’ll dig out my old comics before picking up this omnibus edition.

Dark Horse has also publishing a KOTOR book that takes place shortly before the video games, at the dawn of the Mandalorian War. This series could potentially be ideal as source material for our campaign, which is taking place about five years before the Mandalorian invasion. I’m looking to get Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Vol. 1: Commencement (or at least add it to my birthday wishlist…)

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