How a Pen and Paper RPG Brought ‘Star Wars’ Back From the Dead

Star Wars has ebbed and flowed over the years. This is the story of a time when it was ebbing, but a new hope had arisen, the arrival of West End Games Star Wars roleplay.

In 1987, ‘Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game’ took a pile of notes from Lucasfilm and built a universe that’s still used today

Imagine living in a time when it seemed like the Star Wars phenomenon had run its course. That’s almost impossible to conceive of now, or at any point in the last 25 years. Even in the Nineties, before the prequels had been announced, or during that terrible drought between the prequels and The Force Awakens, there were still tie-in TV shows and comics and action figures and video games and Darth Tater Potato Heads, all helping to keep the franchise alive.

But there was a time when Star Wars was completely moribund. In the late Eighties, the original film trilogy was a distant memory, the kid-friendly TV specials were done, the Saturday morning cartoons had petered out, and there were no new novels or toys on the horizon. This was an era before every single intellectual property that had ever been vaguely popular, from Point Blank to Poltergeist, got recycled. At the end of the Reagan era, it genuinely seemed to many that the lifecycle of George Lucas’ film franchise seen its day in the sun.