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Item - Imperial Double-Cross


Series: Star Wars Role-Playing Game
Author: Schweighofer, Peter
Illustrators: Bobko, Tim
Hawran, Rich
Vilardi, Mike
Date: 1997
ISBN: 0874315026 / 9780874315028
Product Code: 40601
Length: 64 pages (158 sections plus short stories, rules, introductions and an epilogue)
Number of Endings: 7 (5 in "Tibanna Pick-Up" chapter and 2 in "Dead Bantha Gulch")
User Summary: You are a 14-year-old living on a boring world where everyone is preoccupied with commerce. Your first mission is to escape to a life of adventure, and things just get more complicated from there....
Demian's Thoughts: This book is an attempt at introducing new players to the concept of role-playing. It eases the reader into the idea with the help of a short story and very brief (optional, in fact) rules based on West End Games' now-defunct Star Wars Role-Playing Game. Apart from the possibly off-putting observation that role-playing is a variant of "Let's Pretend," the introductory material seems effectively designed, and I can certainly see someone being intrigued by it without being scared off by the role-playing concept. Alas, it doesn't seem like the book actually succeeded in its goals, if its continuing dusty presence on store shelves and in clearance bins is any indication. It's probably a matter of marketing -- there's little point in creating a beginner-oriented introduction to role-playing if you're just going to put it on store shelves with all the role-playing stuff where only veteran gamers will look at it. If it had been formatted to better fit in with the Star Wars novels, perhaps things would have been different. Perhaps not, though; there are many who say that the days of using solo adventures to promote role-playing are long past, no matter how good those solo adventures may be. I don't necessarily agree, but I do admit that solo adventures don't seem as novel as they once might have....

Anyway, once the introductory material is done with, the rest of the book alternates between chapters of the solitaire adventure and third-person short story interludes. The writing is adequate (though not particularly outstanding), and the story is familiar but with a few mildly interesting touches (the bounty hunters' den is nicely described, for example). I wasn't really satisfied by the book, though. I was victorious on my first try, and the whole adventure went by very quickly, leaving me with the feeling that I missed quite a lot of details. Unfortunately, since the story is obviously very linear (the fact that it's split into chapters forces this to be the case), my motivation to replay things and see what I missed is very low. Perhaps a beginner would be more willing to revisit the adventure, but it still seems that the author has wasted time writing a lot of sections that will never be read -- the balance between freedom of movement and linearity of story isn't right. Having lots of options isn't all that interesting if they all have the same ultimate result. I was also frustrated by a bug that I came across -- at one point, I destroyed an AT-ST Walker and was told to make a note of this fact. Later on, the same AT-ST Walker was destroyed again, making my accomplishment meaningless. This doesn't make the gamebook unwinnable or affect the mechanical side of things in any way, but it's obviously a major blow against coherency of story. It really should have been caught in editing. Oh well; this was a noble effort, but one that was perhaps doomed from the start, and one which should have been polished a bit more before release. The red-boxed D&D Basic Set still holds the crown for best introductory solo adventure, and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

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Play Aid

Star Wars RPG: Imperial Double-Cross Character Sheet