With the recent release of Andor, the newest television series slicing a vertical piece out of the Star Wars universe, fans are witnessing the origins of one of the Rebel Alliance’s unsung hero. He begins as a cynic and a who’d rather toe the line to stay out of trouble, and the series will explore how the scales fell from his eyes and led him to join the cause.
It’s the sort of backstory that comprise tasty tabletop RPG characters, and indie designer Jess Levine would agree - her new title going rogue 2e uses the Star Wars story, along with the Rogue One film from 2016 as the foundation for spinning yarns about heroes forged from the stuff of common folks.
Just released, this second versions updates an expansion originally meant for Riley Rethal’s galactic 2e. That game is now its own 32-page book that can be used on its own for a group of two to five players eager to wage anti-fascist war against and pay the ultimate price for what they believe is right.
If you recall Dicebreaker’s coverage of Rethal’s own dip into the Star Wars inspiration bucket, the game adopts the Belonging Outside Belonging system created by Avery Alder and Benjamin Rosenbaum. That means no dice and no facilitators (GMs, DMs, etc.) are needed - just a group of friends and several tokens to act as fuel for drama and storytelling.
The playbooks in going rogue 2e all draw from the main cast of Rogue One: The Spy, The Leveraged, The Knight Errant, The Convert and The Loyal can be traced fairly directly onto the characters of Cassian Andor, Jyn Erso, the pairing of Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe, Bodhi Rook and K-2SO, respectively. A special pseudo-playbook entitled The Bond personifies the link between The Loyal and one other player in the group, which will be a boon but also an obligation to uphold.
Each has their own moves to use during play that stretch across three categories and interact with the token system in specific ways. Strong moves require spending a token, lateral moves allow players to give a token to someone else, and vulnerable moves grant that player a token. The story plays out in scenes as characters narrate what happens, calling on moves when appropriate and using their tokens to shift the story in a direction that suits their characters motivations, fears and agendas. The token economy forces players to interact in different ways to afford moves that can upset the status quo in their favour - whether they achieve this through teamwork or manipulation can only be discovered during play.
Levine’s own twist comes from the addition of a clock mechanical called Fates. The typical example used in promotional material describes The Sacrifice, a countdown to the ultimate fate for all characters. The boxes are filled as the collaborative story reaches certain thresholds, granting everyone involved access to some choice moves that ultimately end in narrating their pivotal final moments. Are they able to transfer the Death Star plans before the base explodes? Do they hold off the enemy’s advance long enough to collapse the bridge? Do they have any poignant final words?
Different elements of the setting also have their own moves that players can embody and exert. Both sides of this galactic-wide war are not inert powers, and the characters will need to navigate political obstacles, operational security and probably more than one security checkpoint to win the day.
Rogue One’s story of resistance against rising fascism found quite an audience in 2016’s North America, and it's no surprise its premise is still inspiring creators a few years later. Direct and radical action might not be as de rigueur these days, but it can still inspire us to search for the spark of something similar within ourselves. Plus, the heroic but anonymous sacrifice is prime dramatic fodder any day of the week.
More information about going rogue 2e can be found on the game’s Itch.io’s page, and it can be purchased for a limited time in a bundle that also includes galactic 2e. Anyone looking for more Star Wars-inspired tabletop content will be happy to know Levine is also the author behind the excellent I Have the High Ground, which explodes the dramatic exchange of words before the duel between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi into a deadly game of back-and-forth posturing that ends the moment someone draws steel.