Book Review: Hero’s Guide – a Star Wars D20 RPG Supplement

The Hero’s Guide is an accessory book for the Star Wars d20 role playing game from Wizards of the Coast. It was written by JD Wiker and Rodney Thompson, and designed for use with the Revised Core Rulebook. This book is now out of print and considered hard to find, though I was able to find a copy at my local bookstore. It sells online for almost double the sticker price.
As the title of the book suggest, this sourcebook is designed to help you get the most out of your heroic characters. It makes a great addition to the Core Rulebook because it offers so many new enhancements, including new feats, prestige classes, rules for joining different factions, and even new equipment. There’s something for everyone in this book, and that’s why it is in such high demand now that it is no longer in print.

The first chapter is on Character Creation and basically gives you advice on how to assign ability scores and ways to make your character more than just a sheet full of statistics. This very short chapter helps give the gamer an idea behind the essence of role playing in that it is more than just rolling dice and adding up numbers.

The second chapter is on Character Archetypes, and it describes ways to multiclass your characters using unique character types that enhance certain abilities. This is a fascinating chapter if you can put it to practical use, and the idea is that it allows you to get the most out of the flexibility of the wonderful d20-based gaming system.

The third chapter, which is also the second largest in the book, is on Skills and Feats. It doesn’t have any new skills, but gives a lot of specific ways to use the ones previously described in the Revised Core Rulebook. I thought these sections were great because it gives you ways to handle some of the unique situations that arise when using Skills.

The Feats section of chapter three contains many new feats to use with your characters. There’s something for everyone here, though a large part of them are combat-oriented. One of the really useful ones is called Guardian’s Guidance, and it allows you to help another player while in combat by giving that player an added bonus when you both attack the same enemy. Another good one is the Ranged Disarm, which allows you to disarm an opponent from up to 10 meters away. There are also quite a few new Force feats, including one called Up The Walls that allows you to briefly walk up walls. Jedi characters will particularly like the new Jedi Lightsaber Form feats described at the end of this chapter.

Chapter four deals with Prestige Classes, which are extra classes that a character can take on. This idea is also widely used in Dungeons amp; Dragons, and it allows the character to take on a more specific direction with the way they use their skills and abilities. Most of these prestige classes require that your character have already gained a few levels in order to meet the prerequisites for the class. One of the really good prestige classes defined here is called the Infiltrator, which comes with a lot of added features for being stealthy and sneaking around, as well as doing sneak attack damage. Every party needs one of these ninja types.

Chapter five deals with Factions, and I must admit that none of my gaming group have yet delved into this aspect. The idea behind character getting involved in factions is to more clearly define who their friends and enemies are. If a GM (game master) works factions into the gameplay, it would be very useful for the players to at least be familiar with these different groups. These factions also include new prestige classes and other features that players might find enticing.

The sixth chapter of this book deals with Equipment, and it gives a lot of information on communications devices as well as weapons and armor. There’s some really good stuff in here, including a somewhat creepy section on prosthetic limbs that enhance certain abilities, but also come with side effects. Hopefully, my character won’t be needing anything like that.

I think chapter seven is the main reason why anyone would want to by this book, because this chapter deals with Combat. It details some very specific combat-oriented functions, and also clarifies some of the rules that might have been a little foggy in the Core Rulebook, such as the concept of flanking. I was very pleased to see that it also covered the rules behind throwing lightsabers.

Chapter eight deals with the Force and includes even more prestige classes as well as some new feats. Chapter nine briefly details some information on using Droids in the game and how to keep up with their statistics when playing them like characters. Doesn’t everyone want a droid sidekick?

If you go to the publisher’s website, you will find some ‘web enhancements’ that are meant to go along with this book. They can be downloaded for free and I recommend that you do so to get the full and complete book.

This book is only 160 pages long, and for some odd reason it doesn’t include an index. Not having the index is a real problem for this type of book because its pages are so packed full of information that is broken into segments. I have no idea why the publisher didn’t bother to include an index when most RPG books have one. In my opinion, the lack of an index automatically brings this review from five stars to four.

If you happen to find a copy of this book at your local book seller, by all means pick it up. The sticker price is $29.95, but these books sell on eBay for $40-50 and at this time Amazon sellers have it posted starting at $75. I sold my copy and turned and made a nice little profit off it. I never realized how much these books were in demand until I saw the prices they were fetching on eBay. The main reason I sold this book was to have the money to buy a copy of the Saga Edition rulebook for the Star Wars RPG, which was released in June 2007.

Besides being a good investment opportunity, the Hero’s Guide is also a great resource for players of the Star Wars d20 Role Playing Game. It features lots of new ways to spruce up your characters along with the game, and I think it’d make a worthy addition to any campaign if you can find it at a reasonable cost.