Galaxy Guide 8: Scouts (1993)

Galaxy Guide 8: Scouts is one of my favorite West End Games Star Wars RPG books.

This moves entirely away from other Star Wars media and is the first stand-alone book the company published dealing with the New Republic Era. With the fall of the Empire, Scouts gives players a chance to do something new in the Star Wars universe: explore it.

This is especially novel since pretty much every Star Wars story from every era (including the latest films) deals with some sort of struggle against an evil empire (and, usually, a super weapon). Scouts is one of very few attempts to find a new kind of Star Wars story.

The premise is simple: the Galaxy is vast and much of it is unknown, so get a ship and a crew and go make it known, world by world. Much of the book is given over to fleshing out how scouts operate and survive, as well as a rules system for generating new star systems and planets.

This is, honestly, a very different sort of science fiction. While the potential of running a game about surveying planets, interacting with new cultures and wrangling with corporate colonialism is enormous, it doesn’t feel quite at home in the Star Wars universe. This is a fairly explicit design choice, I think – one of the scout droids is called the MULE, or Mechanical Universal Labor Eliminating Droid – you can see it in the background in one of the illustrations. That is pretty close in both name and design to the Multiple Use Labor Element of the 1983 Atari videogame MULE, which is directly inspired by Robert A. Heilein’s (pretty yicky) novel Time Enough For Love, which contains a genetically modified pack animal used for galactic colonization. That seems like pretty good evidence that the designers were thinking about different sorts of sci-fi.

Kind of on a tangent, I know. My point is, this is of not a lot of use to a general Star Wars game and there isn’t a ton of West End Games material that can be mined for a Scout-focused campaign. That makes it pretty intriguing in my book: what could have been?

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