The Star Wars franchise is going through a significant period of expansion. After the success of Disney+’s The Mandalorian, multiple new TV projects have been announced that take place in the same period of time between the end of Episode 6 and the start of Episode 7. However, another new part of the franchise, the new series of books and comics set during the High Republic, takes fans back to the galaxy’s distant past.
The past has been a fruitful setting for Star Wars RPGs since the first Knights of the Old Republic released in 2003, giving the storytellers enough freedom to tell their own story in a universe with broadly established factions and features. The Knights of the Old Republic games were, unsurprisingly, set during the era of the Old Republic. However, a new RPG set in the time of the High Republic would have one huge storytelling opportunity that Knights of the Old Republic did not.
The High Republic existed around 200 years before the events of A New Hope. Knights of the Old Republic, on the other hand, was set 4000 years before the original trilogy. This might imply that a game set during The High Republic would have less storytelling flexibility because of its closer proximity to the main series. However, there’s one big difference that could allow a High Republic RPG to really shine.
The High Republic is a time of Jedi dominance across the galaxy, with the order even able to build temples in the Outer Rim which are long abandoned by the time Luke Skywalker leaves Tatooine. It has not yet been made clear how many Sith there are during this period (in the old continuity, this would fall into the era of the Rule of Two) or whether or not the Sith will still have a significant role to play in any of the stories of the High Republic. For now, however, the High Republic shows what the galaxy would be like under Jedi control, which is ultimately the ideal for most characters in the main Star Wars sagas.
This has the potential to explore more moral grays than Star Wars’ classic Light Side versus Dark Side dynamic. What does it mean for an ostensibly “good” religious order to spread out over the known universe, intervening in local politics and building their own temples to spread their religion on other species’ home worlds? How do some of the Jedi ideas about morality negatively affect people when they have the chance to apply them on a galaxy-wide scale? Why is it that time and time again people have turned back to the Sith and the Dark Side in the Star Wars universe, especially after experiencing the High Republic era?
With the premise that the High Republic could explore more complicated moral quandaries than Sith vs. Jedi, there are reasons this could be particularly exciting for an RPG. Part of the success of The Mandalorian has been its focus on a main character who operates slightly outside of the class Light/Dark binary. This was especially true at the start of the series, though it has taken a more traditional route since then. Players in a High Republic RPG would have the opportunity to create far more morally complicated and developing characters than the settings of previous Star Wars RPGs have encouraged.
Star Wars has always had its overarching battle between Light and Dark, but the opportunity to play an individual character who exists far below the stakes of that multi-millennia-long conflict could make a High Republic RPG one of the most interesting Star Wars stories to date. What remains to be seen is if Disney will allow further Star Wars RPGs, and if so, which developer will be brought on to bring them to life.