Dungeon Mastering

DM Tools - CREATE YOUR FREE ACCOUNT       About Us       Contact Us       Advertise                   Subscribe to Dungeon MasteringSubscribe

4 Lessons from Star Wars Episode IV for D&D

Written by MythicParty - Published on December 20, 2015
Yes, but does Han shoot first?

Han isn’t here because he’s too busy shooting first.

Unless you’ve been sleeping in a hut in the Dagobah system you know there’s a new space movie out. But before I face my fears of record crowds I’m watching the other movies. And seeing how they can help DMs run better games. Here are 4 lessons from the 1st/4th film:

  1. If you want an epic campaign, have an epic opening intro line. The very beginning of Star Wars is a doorway for the imagination. “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” We read that and faster than the Falcon it’s clear that we’re going to be off on an adventure. In Stephen King’s Magnum opus The Dark Tower, he begins with “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.” Quicker than Roland we’re down for a journey through All-World. And beyond. To get your players really ready to explore dungeons and battle dragons, have your own version of “Once upon a time.”  
  2. Re-caps become reviews, reviews then become readiness Remember the opening crawl of marching yellow text? Of course you do. In 83 words we are totally brought up to speed. We know what’s happened not just right before (the Empire is pursuing Princess Leia’s ship) but what’s happened before that (Rebel spies stole secret plans to the Death Star) and even before that (theres there’s a galactic Civil War).  Completely caught up we can then jump into the action. So start your sessions with a short summary and this will remind everyone what’s going on and where they’re going next.  And speaking of starting with action…
  3. Begin with evocative action that will instantly engage everyone A fleeing ship races away from the viewer. Moments later a much bigger monstrous ship pursues right behind. Lasers and explosions galore. The viewer is pulled right into their duel, then onto the vessel.  And we learn that in any moment a boarding party will be coming through…  Do the same with D&D. Right away hit the party with something- anything- to grab your player’s attention. If they are getting ready to initiate a fight, have the fight come to them. If they’re in the middle of a fight, have their opponent receive reinforcements. If they’re negotiating, start the role play with a daramtic statement that will catch them off-guard. Come up with your own version of a monstrous spaceship hot in pursuit.
  4. Give the bad guys super weapons/powers but super weapons/powers with a weakness Episode IV introduced the world to 2 iconic symbols of evil: Darth Vader & the Death Star. Each had multiple strengths yet a key weakness. The Death Star was the size of a small moon, boasting 15K turbolaser batteries, 25,984 stormtroopers, & 1 planet-killing superlaser. Yet it had an Achilles Heel the size of a thermal exhaust port.  A single Critical Hit there vaporized 1,000,000,000,000 galactic credits. Meanwhile Lord Vader had his red, dual-phase function lightsaber, would force choke people anywhere he could see them, and unquestioningly call upon the full power of Imperial might. Yet his son succeeding with a Critical Success on a Diplomacy check to remind Vader that there still is good in him, motivated the Sith Lord to redeem himself and chuck the BBEG Emperor down a reactor shaft. The lesson from Episode IV is that even the darkest dark side has vulnerabilities to the forces of light. So confront the PCs with frightening opponents but give these opponents a way to one day somehow be overcome.

Episode IV is ‘A New Hope’ & if you as a Dungeon Master just follow its elements you’ll inject some newness into your games. Ok, what do YOU think are the lessons from E4? While we cue up the next movie, tell us in the comments below.

Written by MythicParty

Dog-loving, movie-watching, pizza aficionado. Content Editor for DMing.com, Project Manager for AvatarArt.com, & player of the coolest characters in a weekly D&D game. Halflings are the real heroes.

If you’re interested in helping us out, a simple way is through our Dropbox referral:

Thanks for reading.

GD Star Rating
4 Lessons from Star Wars Episode IV for D&D, 3.7 out of 5 based on 3 ratings » Leave a comment



One Response to “4 Lessons from Star Wars Episode IV for D&D”
  1. Steve says:

    You are trying, great. Not everyone knows what the Song of Roland is, for one.

    For another, don’t try to capitalize off of the New Space Movie like everyone else in the galaxy.

    Comment provided as requested. Monjoy!

 Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!