Review: The Star Wars Sourcebook

  • The Star Wars Sourcebook (Hardcover)
  • Publisher: West End Games
  • Authors: Curtis Smith & Bill Slavicsek
  • Pages: 142
  • Release: October 1st, 1987

A long time ago … 1987 to be exact, Star Wars was entering the Dark Age. After three movies, two Ewok spin-off, two cartoon series and a Marvel comic series, the franchise seemed dead… seemed, because game manufacturer West End Games (WEG) launched the Star Wars Role playing game that year, that (as it turned out later) would play an enormously important role in the future of Star Wars …

When I discovered this game (also a long time ago) at a local game fair in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, I immediately purchased it … not so much for the game but for the many expansion books. WEG published various source books and Galaxy guides for this game. These releases contained information that was unique at the time (no internet, hardly any Star Wars books). Where the Galaxy guides contained information about the characters from one of the three films or a planet, the source books were of a somewhat broader nature: both the Rebels and the Imperials each had an edition and there was also a general one: The Star Wars Sourcebook, a true Star Wars bible in the late 80s / early 90s. This 142-page hardcover first gave the reader detailed descriptions of things like ships (how long are they? What are they?), weapons, characters, droids, aliens, bases (including floor plans) … even a specified overview of Han Solo’s debts with Jabba the Hutt. All this information is accompanied by short stories and statistics that can be used for the game. ‘Despite’ these (not abundant) statistics, the book does not feel at all as a part of a game, but more as an informative Star Wars book. In the late 80s / early 90s, this was groundbreaking and opened the doors for even more Star Wars books. It’s no coincidence that not many years after this release Timothy Zahn’s The Thrawn trilogy appeared which was the beginning of the Expanded Universe Renaissance.

I hear you think “Ok Dennis, you convinced me! But … the book is more than 30 years old so it won’t be easily available.” Good news: game manufacturer Fantasy Flight Games published special 30th anniversary reprint of the source book and the role playing game book.

For me personally this book has an enormous nostalgic value. As mentioned, I discovered it during the ‘dark years of Star Wars’ in which there was hardly anything to be found. The Special Editions and Prequels were lightyears away and this book was ‘A New Hope’. Even the paper still has that characteristic old-school smell so that I can always imagine myself walking around the game fair in Eindhoven.