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Star Wars fans need this: the tabletop RPG that defined the Star Wars universe is coming back

If you're a Star Wars fan, you can probably rattle off a dozen alien species names without even thinking about it. But did you know many of those details came from a 30-year-old tabletop RPG? The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, released in 1987 by West End Games and accompanied by a definitive Star Wars Sourcebook, both had a massive impact on the Star Wars universe. Now they're coming back in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Fantasy Flight Games (the same company behind the Fallout board game (opens in new tab)) has announced (opens in new tab) a lovely looking 30th Anniversary Edition box set for the Star Wars RPG, complete with the original text, designs, and a special foreword from Lucasfilm story boss Pablo Hidalgo. Some of its elements are no longer canon but the RPG is still helping to shape the Star Wars universe; its chapter on "Designing Adventures" was such an effective deconstruction of Star Wars storytelling that Hidalgo used it as inspiration for the current Lucasfilm Story Group writer's bible.

This Glixel (opens in new tab) piece has more background on the RPG's impact. It's especially cool because the books didn't establish all these details as part of some deliberately planned intellectual property rollout. The Star Wars license was losing momentum in the late '80s and West End happened to come in with a compelling offer. A few years later Timothy Zahn, now known as one of the biggest authors of Star Wars expanded universe fiction, was handed the sourcebook and told to use it as a reference. Thanks to all that, everybody knows the dancing slave girl with tails on her head was called a 'twi'lek' (before she became 'rancor lunch').

Also: don't just marvel at the sourcebook, you should totally get a group of your friends together to play! Even if the rules sound a bit too old-school for you, there are plenty of modern-day tabletop options (opens in new tab) for Star Wars adventures.

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.