The 1 Lesson from Star Wars Episode I for D&D

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Screw the Sarlacc; this is Jabba's "new definition of pain and suffering."
Screw the Sarlacc; this is Jabba’s “new definition of pain and suffering.”

This is #3 in our series about tractor beaming ideas from Star Wars. Since we began with IV, then went to V, you were expecting this to be on VI, RotJ. But much like a Jedi mind trick, that’s not the movie you were looking for.  At least, not yet.  What do I mean? Allow me to introduce- The Machete Order.

Now basically what this is, is the best way to see Star Wars taking into account the various problems of the prequels.  The creator of The Machete Order, Rod Hilton, mostly solves the issues that occur when watching everything in Release Order (the order that they were made) or the issues that occur when watching in Episode Order (the order George Lucas intended).  And that solution is to create a brand new, blended arrangement that has the movies go like this:

  1. Episode IV: A New Hope
  2. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Episode II: Attack Of The Clones
  4. Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
  5. Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi

Obviously the missing Gungan in the room is Phantom Menance, which, like an arm in a Tatooine cantina, has been completely cut off. Meesa not sad about that. Or the dropping disputed trade stuff. Or the removal of pretend princesses. Or the now missing midichlorians.

But most importantly, crucially even, is that seeing them in this revised sequence saves the surprise of Vader being Luke’s father. And no, not everyone knows that.

Instead, with II & III shown in the middle, they become a flashback of what Vader has declared to Luke, with RotJ still at the end.  It sounds simple, but the change is profound & Rod walks through the rationale for this mix in a very lengthy (4,607 words lengthy) explanation.

So how does all this tie back in to D&D?  Well, regardless of whether they come from our own minds or from professional game designers, too often our fantasy dungeons contain rooms, sections, and even entire levels that are boring. And time-consuming. And just don’t do enough to actually advance the plot. Yet we still slug through these parts anyway, mostly because they’re there. When really this flotsam and jetsam could be removed right out of our campaigns. To not only make them shorter, but better.

However the lesson that Phantom Menace teaches us as storytellers is to go a big step further. If any one part of a storyline is not up to par with the remaining parts, drop it.  Even if it means discarding a whole movie or a module from a series. Shed whatever dead weight you have to if it makes the remaining pieces better. Keep the strong stuff, discard the detrius. Look, I love Paizo’s Adventure Paths although let’s look at the some stats.  As I write this there are 18 different APs, each of which is made up of 6 Chapters.  I haven’t read all 108 of them but basic math tells me that odds are good there’s at least one Episode 1 among them. And that calls for a lightsaber. Or, maybe a machete…

Well that’s our advice for today. Is getting rid of an entire module too far? Not far enough? Let us know in the comments below as we gear up for the next movie in our marathon, Episode II.

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2 thoughts on “The 1 Lesson from Star Wars Episode I for D&D”

  1. Pingback: 2 Lessons from Star Wars Episode II for D&D | Dungeon Mastering - Dungeons and Dragons blog, DM tips, D&D books, RPG fun

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