Game Review: Coruscant and the Core Worlds & Ultimate Alien Anthology

CoruscantandtheCoreWorldsby Ron McClung

 

Coruscant and The Core Worlds
(Star Wars Role Playing Game d20)
Wizards of the Coast

When I heard that Wizards of the Coast was doing a guide to Coruscant and the Core Worlds, I did not get overly excited. It did not excite me because I was running a game in a different region of space and I do not usually use “planetary guides” too much in my campaigns unless I design a campaign or adventure around the region they describe. However, because I wanted to support the line and WotC has surprised me in the past, I bought it. I am glad I did.

One of the best parts of the books is right in the first few pages—a very comprehensive table of contents. It is helpful to the way I gamemaster because I am usually “winging it,” so anything I can grab and look up quickly is good. The table of contents not only lists each of the 29 worlds described in the book, but also divides out the “extras” by category: New GM Characters, New Species, New Feats, New Equipment & Vehicles, New Starships, New Prestige Classes, New Creatures, and New Droids.

This book also has a lot of “extras.” Not only does it contain descriptions, histories, and specific locations for each world, but it also has feats, species, and other additions. Of all these things, the extras are mostly GM Characters. However, along with the GM characters, it only has one prestige class (the Seyugi Dervish), six feats, and the species are listed with short descriptions. As for the rest, there are eight species, a long list of specialized equipment, five starships (including the TIE/Ad Defender Prototype), a host of creatures, and four droids—all interesting and occasionally handy.

The introduction gives you advice on how to campaign in the Core Worlds and how each character class would fit in the region. It also details the Star Wars Universe era-relative information. Also included is a full color star map of the region with “zoom windows” for three regions that contain many of the worlds described within.

Starting with Coruscant, each world is given sufficient treatment with descriptions of the planet, the people, its history throughout each Star Wars era, and important locations. Of course, Coruscant is given a little more treatment than the others, including a large list of GM characters. Each world is also pictured but not mapped. Following that is a list and description of locations on the world. Each location is given between one and three paragraphs of text, generally describing it and its importance to the world. Despite the fact that the planets aren’t mapped out, there are several maps of locations throughout the books—a total of 32. Each map ranges in detail from general to very specific and can be handy if you are visiting those locations or something like them.

One of the most interesting and useful items in each section is the GM “adventure nuggets” at the end of each world description. Marked “For the GM,” a GM will find short paragraphs describing adventure ideas for that particular world. I find this most useful because most “nuggets” can be re-written for any planet, or at least any similar planet. I find myself scanning them a lot now when I am searching for new ideas in my current campaign.

Also included towards the end are the Allies and Antagonists, where all the GM characters appear. These GM characters range in level from 3 to some as high as 17. Featuring crime lords, prominent diplomats, alien mystics and anything in-between, it is a good rogues gallery for ad-hoc character generation.

The smattering of art that is in the book ranges from moderately cool to good, but it does not contain a lot. It is quite apparent when you look through the book that the authors tried to pack a lot of information into a small space, which I think is smart. It is also apparent that WotC recognizes the fact that many of these worlds were already covered in more detail elsewhere—like West End Games products—and does not want to rehash too much. However, it does cover enough for those that do not have the WEG products or access to them.

Overall, I feel like this is a much better book than similar books in the past. It does not blow me away, but it is better than I thought. I can see myself using it more than I had planned. The content is extensive, and it is a good read. Along with the planets most movie fans would be familiar with, it also covers many worlds found in the Extended Universe. I recommend this to all Star Wars gamemasters and collectors. It is not essential, but it is definitely cool to have.

 

UltimateAlienAnthologyUltimate Alien Anthology
(Star Wars Role Playing Game d20)
Wizards of the Coast

There is one scene in Star Wars that I remember most of all. Because I have always had a passion for monsters and aliens, it stuck with me. Even today, with the more defined and fluid characters in Episodes 1 and 2, nothing has struck me more than this one scene.

I am referring, of course, to the opening scenes of the Mos Eisley Cantina, the “wretched hive of scum and villainy” where you see all the myriad aliens. That blew me away at the age of eight when I first saw it. I loved it.

So, when I got into role-playing I had to have lots of aliens. When the game didn’t have enough, I would take them from some other source. Now I play Star Wars d20, and this book is a dream come true to me. 180 species to play with—every shape, size, and culture you can imagine. I was excited, to say the least, when I heard it was coming out. And when it did, I had it as fast as I could get it.

This has to be the second largest book next to the Revised Core Rulebook to be put out for Star Wars d20. At 224 pages, it details 180 races from all different sources—some old West End Games species are revisited (like the Anomid or the Kerestian) and others are brand new from Episode 2 (like the Gossam or the Muun), while some are races that have been in the Star Wars Extended Universe (EU) for a while, but have never been given form in any role playing game (like the Yuzzem).

Each species is fully fleshed out, with paragraphs on Personality, Physical Description, Homeworld, and Adventurers—notes for players that want to play that race. Also included are sample names, Age in Years, complete Species Trait lists, and Commoner Stats. However, the text is not accompanied by a drawing of the race. A group of four aliens are drawn on every other page, each labeled so as to discern which one is which. Although some would see this as a drawback, I don’t. They are drawn to relative scale and it’s much easier to get an idea of the size of each species. Each picture also has a scale in meters along the side, showing height.

And this book does not end after the last alien. The end of the book has twenty-five pages of new Prestige classes and feats. Most of these are specific to a species or type of species. An example is the Aerobat that applies to flying species only. But there are also other Prestige classes like the Telepath that any Force-using character can use. The new feats are listed in the first appendix. The second appendix expands on the Yuuzhon Vong, redefining each existing class in Vong terms.

The final interesting gem in this book is the index by homeworlds—a listing of all the worlds mentioned in the text and where they are in the book. This is very useful if a GM is trying to keep up with the multitude of planets that keep sprouting up in the Star Wars universe.
Overall, I would say this book is excellent. The art is very well done, although I do feel the interpretation of some of the aliens’ appearances are a little off. It’s a hefty volume that no gamemaster or Star Wars player should do without.

 

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