Galactic 2E is a new tabletop roleplaying game inspired by the Star Wars universe and focusing on the ties that bind its cast of characters, as well as the billions of workaday people and their imperial rulers.
Designed by Riley Rethal, creator of titles such as Doikayt and the upcoming Venture & Dungeon, Galactic 2E plays in the same thematic sandbox as Lucas’ (and I guess Disney’s) trilogy of trilogies but eschews Campbellian plots for stories that imbue the interpersonal with a special kind of magic. There is still an overwhelming hegemonic force - here called the Mandate - and a band of upstart rebels, and there’s still a mysticism filling the ostensible void between celestial bodies, but players are encouraged to ground their space operas with relationships.
Galactic 2E uses the Belonging Outside Belonging system developed by Avery Alder and Ben Rosenbaum - sometimes called No Dice, No Masters - and provides a GM-less tabletop experience where players embody their own characters as well as the universe itself and the vast forces that hope to bend it to their distinct whims. As the name implies, players don't roll dice and instead rely on inherent attributes and abilities in conversation to unspool a jointly created tale.
Characters use playbooks such as The Diplomat, the Scoundrel and The Defector to determine the abilities and motivations unique to their experience. The archetypes will be immediately familiar to anyone who has watched a Star War, but Galactic 2E digs into what those tropes communicate at the table and especially to each other. They express power and desire through three key types of moves - strong, lateral and vulnerable - that spend, give or gain a player tokens, respectively.
These tokens act as a narrative currency, allowing a player to enact their will on the story in concrete ways that should be taken seriously. Alternatively, they can act as brokerage between themselves and another character, fueling an emotionally resonant - or fraught - scene that enriches the very personal story a group of players are collaboratively telling.
Take The Scoundrel, for example. This Han Solo-esque type can spend tokens to escape at the last second, land some absurd feat of maneuvering or otherwise look extremely cool in action. But in order to do so, they either need to build a relationship with another player’s character or use their vulnerable moves: tell a secret, pick an unwinnable fight, or ask a question that reveals the Scoundrel’s well-guarded belly. Far from undercutting the inherent charm of this type of character, the brush strokes of humanity - or even humility - lets the brighter tones stand out in contrast. So it goes for the rest of the playbooks.
If this sounds like Jay Dragon’s Wanderhome or Jamila Nedjadi’s Balikbayan, Rethal said on Twitter that those titles and more directly informed her designing Galactic 2E. Fans of those titles or any tabletop game that refocuses popular media through a collaborative lens will find something to appreciate here.
Galactic 2E is on sale through May 4th for the unofficial but widely celebrated Star Wars Day and can be found on Rethal’s Itch.io page for a sale price of $12 (£8).