A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
It’s a time of unrest. Warriors of light seek to restore balance as dark forces conspire against them. Wars wage amongst the many factions from the outer rim to the core worlds.
You find yourself in a cantina surrounded by Twi-Leks, Trandoshans, droids and more. Amongst the many whispered languages you hear a voice from behind you: “Greetings adventure. Come with me, there is much to discuss.”
That’s right folks! Today we’re going to be talking about the love child of two of my favorite areas of nerd culture. Star Wars and D&D. Dungeons and Droids? Droids and (krayt) Dragons? Whatever you want to call it, this article is going to be covering how to bring star wars to your table using the rules of 5e.
This article is going to be split into two main sections:
- How the rules of 5e can be modified and (force) manipulated to create a galaxy not so far, far away right at your table.
- The second is a review/guide to an absolutely amazing piece of fan-created work simply titled: Star Wars 5e. After you’ve read through the guide, check out their work in its entirety right here.
How Can You Create Star Wars in 5e?
Fifth edition D&D has a plethora of races, classes, locations, and more all within easy access. If you want to play a Star Wars themed game of 5e, all you have to do is change the names of 5e’s content to match the lore of the star wars universe.
Races and Species
One of the coolest shared pieces of the Forgotten Realms and the Star Wars mythos is the long list of humanoid or sentient species. In D&D we can play as elves, dwarves, tieflings, and more, while Star Wars comes stocked with bith, wookies, toydarians, and, quite literally, a galaxy full of species.
If you’ve flipped through the PHB you’ve probably seen quite a few of the available races and their lengthy descriptions. Hell, they’re so lore around them that we have guides further explaining each race on our website.
Luckily, you don’t need to be an astrobiologist to have the very same depth when it comes to SW species.
How to Make a Race in 5e
When putting together a race or species, you really only need a few things to flesh it out. Ability score increases, age, alignment, speed, and size define the basics of a given race.
After that, a few racial abilities are common, and can include darkvision, innate spellcasting, damage resistances, and/or some other unique ability.
For star wars, including the homeworld in your stat blocks is a nice touch, and one that can be aided by the vast resource that is wookiepedia.
Below is a sample stat block for the wookie race, along with a template you can use to create any race you want.
- Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2 and your Constitution score increases by 1.
- Age. Wookies tend to reach maturity at about 50 years, and can live up to several centuries old with little indication in their appearance.
- Alignment. Wookies tend toward good, their spiritual traditions encouraging kindness. There are notable wookies who have used their strong build to partake in bounty hunting, such as Black Krrsantan.
- Size. Wookies are taller than humans, averaging from 7 to 8 feet tall. Your size is Medium.
- Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet, you also have a climbing speed of 25.
- Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
- Natural Armor. Your thick hide provides you with a base AC of 13 + our dex modifier while you aren’t wearing any armor.
- “It’s Not Wise to Upset a Wookie.” You have the ability to add your proficiency bonus to any melee attack or damage roll or to any strength based skill check or saving throw. If you would already add your proficiency bonus you may add it a second time, as if you had expertise. You may use this ability a number of times equal to your strength modifier. You regain all expended uses on a long rest.
- Ability Score Increase. Increase one ability score by 2 and another by 1, or increase three different ability scores by 1.
- Age. Age at which the species reaches maturity along with their general longevity.
- Alignment. General species alignment. Sith purebloods might tend towards evil, mandalorians might tend towards chaos, etc.
- Size. Height and mechanic size. Most playable races should be Small or Medium, with a select few counting as large.
- Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet, you also have a climbing speed of 25.
- Racial Feature (Utility). Darkvision, flight speed, skill proficiencies or some other form of natural ability that is a result of your physical adaptations to your environment.
- Racial Feature (Durability. An ability that either provides resistance, immunity, or a bonus to AC or HP.
- Racial Feature (Unique). Some sort of feature that makes you better at doing something, be that combat, skill checks, or whatever you deem appropriate.
Tip Within a Tip: The ability score increase section for the template stat block is known as the custom lineages ASI. In 5e, more and more races are receiving the sort of build your own treatment instead of being pigeonholed into a specific class because of their ASI.
Feel free to keep the “choose your own” method for all of the species you transpose, so that your players may create the character they want to play.
If you want to take the really easy route, and I’m talking really easy, you can always just do some name changing. We’ll already be doing it with one race, humans. Why not do it with any of the races you want to play as?
Tritons make a great template for Mon Calamarians, Quarren, and Nautolans, and really just about any other water-dwelling species. Gungans! I knew I was missing one.
It’s a really easy copy and paste that can be done for most races. Gnomes become jawas, elves and the many subraces they half become the variety of human adjacent races like twi-leks and mirilians.
The list goes on and there’s not a lot of creativity involved, it just takes an understanding of the species involved, and I’m going to wager a guess that if you’re willing to put work into home brewing your own Star Wars game inside of 5e’s rules than you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with the difference between a Hutt and a Rodian.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything gave us an excellent way to make characters feel like they were our own with custom lineages. Simply choose a race as a template, assign ability score increases as you see fit, pick a feat, and then pick darkvision or a skill proficiency and there you have it, your own custom race.
This method is perfect for creating races entirely, and is basically how I formatted the New Species stat block in the section above. The main difference is that feats exist, and there’s a large list of them to choose from. It also puts the creation in your player’s hands, making your life as a DM so much easier.
As it may become clear as we go through this article, some of the feats might need some reworking, but as long as there is good communication between you and your players, everything should be fine.
Combat in Star Wars 5e: Magic, Martial Weapons, and more
Weapons, spells, and many other things that are commonplace in 5e have to take up different forms when being converted into a setting such as star wars.
From energy weapons to blasters, force sensitivity to actual magick, there’s a lot that needs to be considered in order to understand 5e combat in a star wars setting.
Weapons of Star Wars
“Hokey religions and ancient weapons or no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
Blasters are going to be one of the most important weapons we see in a Star Wars rpg. That’s just pretty straightforward. Instead of bows and crossbows, you can get used to DL-44 heavy blasters and bowcasters (Han and Chewie’s signature weapons, respectively).
That being said, there are still plenty of melee weapons that statistically don’t have to look much different than the weapons we use in 5e. Ligthsabers, vibro-axes, spears, and various cultural weapons are still common enough to be wielded by your characters.
Below is a small sample of suggestions on how to convert existing 5e weapons into weapons appropriate for any bounty hunter or jedi.
Some of the damage types might not be one-for-one, blasters dealing fire damage might be more appropriate, or you might want to replace an existing damage with Energy.
Dealing energy damage is appropriate for all sorts of plasma blades and blaster rifles, and might be a great consistent damage to bring into the game.
Another thing to consider is personalized weapons. While magic items are commonplace throughout D&D, magical artifacts are a bit harder to come across in the sci-fi galaxy of star wars.
Allowing players to seek out tech upgrades or just weapons with better technology is a staple of Star Wars video games and an excellent way to make your players feel connected to the worlds you are building.
Magic in Star Wars
Spells are a huge part of D&D, and they can definitely still be present in a Star Wars version, even if that takes some work. Through the force and technology, you can pull just about any 5e spell over and make it fit beautifully in a galaxy far, far away.
Crazy old space wizards living in the desert aren’t the only times we see magic used in star wars. There are many ways to utilize the force, and the jedi, sith, and nightsisters are but a few factions that use the energy which flows through us all to create incredible things.
Most magic that the force allows is done through manipulation of minds and matter, but powerful force users can do all sorts of things from creating duplicates of themselves to pulling all the heat from a living organism.
In fact, the abilities we see in the movies just scratch the surface of what is really possible. Check out all of the force abilities listed here. Many spells can be performed by a powerful force wielder with the right knowledge and training.
Of course, there’s something else we haven’t discussed that, when significantly advanced, is nearly indistinguishable from magic. Science! Or technology, but you get the point. Technology is what allows so many amazing things to happen in Star Wars and it’s something your players should have access to.
In much the same way a 5e artificer uses their tech to cast spells, an engineer in the Star Wars universe could create incredible tech capable of insane abilities.
Armor follows much the same philosophy as weapons. How we calculate armor doesn’t really have to change at all, but we can definitely see some fun name changes for variety and immersion.
There’s also unique Star Wars armor like a mandalorian’s beskar armor. This armor, made of one of the most durable metals in the galaxy, is so strong it deflects blasters and can withstand strikes from a lightsaber.
Including this and many other types of durable armor might seem difficult, but it really only has to be a matter of resistance/immunities. In your homebrew world, beskar armor might be only resistant to energy-damage, or it might be immune and have a vulnerability to do another damage type, maybe cold?
You get to decide because it’s the world you’re building.
Creating Homebrew in 5e
One of the best parts of Dungeons & Dragons is it’s vast capacity to be used for storytelling. It’s like when we were kids pretending to be superheroes and could do whatever we wanted.
The difference between playing pretend and playing D&D is that we have some rules put in place as guidelines. Kyle can’t suddenly be laser-proof when I tell him lasers come out of my eyes.
The rules, or mechanics, of 5e are some really well thought out guidelines that essentially constitute an agreement between everyone at the table when we sit down to play a game. They are just guidelines though.
When it comes to all of the things we’re discussing here, the people, places, and things that constitute the world we’re trying to create, nothing goes against those guidelines.
Skill checks, the way combat is run, and how we deal with social interaction are all really important, and don’t have to change. The way we use dice to control the outcome of the game is a mechanic that doesn’t need modifying.
The only things we’re changing are the details, and essentially most of these are just giving new names to existing 5e material.
5e Classes in Star Wars
Not all of the classes which we play in 5e D&D have a simple counterpart in the Star Wars universe. If you’re looking to use the classes as a basis it’s important to strip the classes down to their core and see how they fit in.
For example, fighters are individuals who have intense martial training. Everything else about the class is a bonus detail. The question to ask is: “Could I see this in Star Wars?” The answer is of course you can!
On the other hand, druids don’t have a simple reflection. Sure some Jedi are more attuned to nature, but we don’t often see the use of ensnaring vines and summoned up thunderstorms. For the same reason, rangers might not be a class you want to convert.
Warlocks, Wizards, Paladins, Clerics, and Sorcerers can all be roped up into the concept of a force user, so maybe that means being a force user is more aligned with a character’s background.
This is a decision you have to make, but one that can be made with your group as a whole. If only one person wants to play a Jedi that is very clearly a paladin rip-off, your work is done.
If everyone wants to play their own unique force user, it’s probably worth discussing which classes or subclasses have what they’re looking for.
Backgrounds vs. Classes
There is a difference between a character’s profession and their archetypal skill set. In 5e, just because someone is playing an Echo Knight doesn’t mean they have the noble status of knighthood.
In the same way, there are a few Star Wars lifestyles that are better left in the background category. Bounty hunters and smugglers are two such groups that, while archetypal in nature, don’t necessarily have a shared skill set.
There are bounty hunters like Boba Fett who are skilled in deception, combat, and weaponry, who might very well fit the rogue class. Then, there are those like Cad Bane who are much more versed in using technology to their advantage, like an artificer. Bane and Fett are both excellent bounty hunters with incredible reputations, but they definitely belong to different classes.
When you’re deciding which classes to bring into your game, try not to make any professions into classes, it can very quickly lead to confusion and disagreements.
Galaxy Building in 5e
The DMG has a lot of information on how to build your own world; it even touches on how to incorporate different planes of existence. An important part of an immersive Star Wars experience is that your character’s travel to different worlds, and feel free to explore space itself.
Luckily for you, the galaxy already exists! We’re dealing with a source material that is well documented, so you don’t have to worry about building your own hyperspace lanes.
Of course, you’re free to fudge things as much as you need to in order to fit the story you want to tell.
A Galaxy Far, Far Away
Galaxy building, or prepping, since it’s already built, requires a few things. You know I’m all about doing the work for you, so here are the important things with all the research links you could ask for.
- Star Wars Galaxy Map – This map is extremely detailed with just about every known planet and hyperspace lane accounted for. Seriously, it’s an amazing accomplishment and has everything you need, including links for each planet to relevant websites that tell you everything you need to know.
An era to put your characters into
- Before the Republic (37000 – 25000 BBY) – Planets are full of mysterious forces, wars, and fledgling empires. This is the beginning of interstellar travel, the force, and many other staples of the mythos.
- The Old Republic (25000 – 300 BBY) – The republic grows alongside the jedi. Plenty of crime, sith, and etc. put up opposition to the organization of planets.
- The High Republic (300 – 82 BBY) – The height of the republic, currently being explored in novels and hopefully film soon.
- The Fall of the Jedi (82 BBY – 19 BBY) – The republic begins to fall as dark forces manipulate from the background. The clone wars happened during the last few years of this era.
- The Age of Rebellion (19 BBY – 5 ABY) – The Galactic Empire rules over the galaxy while seeds of rebellion spread, eventually organizing in the Rebel Alliance that takes down not one, but two death stars.
- New Republic (5 – 28 ABY) – The Rebel Alliance helps to bring about the New Republic, but there is unrest throughout the galaxy and a huge power vacuum to be filled.
- The Rise of the First Order (29 – 35 ABY) – Remnants of the galactic empire form the First Order. In the years 34 and 35 ABY we see the war between them and the Resistance.
- After (36 ABY – ???) – Who knows what will happen after the events of Rise of Skywalker. Will the Yuuzhan-Vong show up? That could be up to you.
An understanding of the political and social climate of the galaxy
I tried to give light summaries of the different eras and what’s going on, but you can get a lot more information here. In the timeline I provided there is a bit of a mix between canon and legends lore.
I strongly encourage you to use whatever era you and your group are most excited about.
Star Wars 5e
I have to say, I love nerds. Not just the candy either. The amount of passionate work put into the Star Wars 5e website and sourcebooks is tremendous for a free set of fan-made content.
They really go above and beyond to take all of the things I’ve mentioned above into account so you don’t have to do much more than sit down and play the game.
The fan content currently includes four books: the Player’s Handbook, Scum & Villainy, Starships of the Galaxy, and Wretched Hives. More books are planned, but the current sourcebooks have everything you need to play an in-depth game.
Worlds, character creation, weapons, tech, the Force, and so much more are explained in-depth with the mechanics to really make them work.
What’s Different? Star Wars vs. D&D
Using the 5e rules as a template, Galiphile and their team has created a functioning Star Wars gaming system. As I discussed in the homebrew section, there are quite a few things that need to be explored to make Star Wars work.
Here’s what they’ve changed:
- Races → Species – The races section of the SW5e PHB covers a list of 30 species, all of which are rooted in the SW universe with their own unique features and traits.
- Classes – Ten classes are included. Each class has subclasses and a further archetypal breakdown that is similar to a Warlock’s Eldritch Invocations. Some classes are conversions, like the Guardian being a reskinning of the Paladin, while some classes are brand new, like the Scholar, who focuses on tactics and knowledge.
- Backgrounds – These backgrounds now include feats, offering some extra level of customization for players.
- Spells → Force and Tech Powers – Changing spells to powers and cantrips to at-will powers, SW5e has created a system for “spellcasting” in the star wars universe. They’ve also, naturally, created a plethora of amazing powers that are as inspired by SW as they are by D&D.
- More – Plenty of other small changes have been made to really smooth out any rough edges. Combat, exploration, equipment, and even some skills have been modified in wonderful ways to match the space opera we all know and love.
Character Building in Star Wars 5e
I could go on and on about the wonders of SW5e, but this is an intro, and they’ve already done all the work. I will, however, give you a taste of what building a character is like to highlight some of the coolest features.
Now, I wanted to make a sort of Star Wars version of my artificer character, Bilrin Pebblebeard. Unfortunately, I can only see my little gnome friend being represented as an Ugnaught (Kuiil from The Mandalorian) and that is a race that is not represented.
While the race you want to play might not be fleshed out within the rules of SW5e, you can easily make your own following the guidance in my homebrew section above. Still, I’ll make a character using only what SW5e gives me. I guess it’s time to play a Bossk style character. Let’s do this.
In the stat block below any notes are in italics. That’s where you’ll find explanations for things that might not immediately make sense.
3rd-Level Trandoshan Scout; Hunter Technique archetype
STR 17 (+3); DEX 12 (+1); CON 13 (+1); INT 14 (+2); WIS 11 (+0); CHA 8 (-1)
HIT POINTS and AC
Hit Dice: 3d10 (1d10 per Scout level)
Hit Points: 24 (1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per scout level after 1st)
Armor Class: 14 (see Equipment.)
Armor: Light armor, medium armor
Weapons: All blasters, all vibroweapons
Saving Throws: Strength, Dexterity
Skills: Athletics (STR), Piloting (INT), Technology (INT)
- Mesh armor (Medium armor, Base AC = 13 + Dex modifier (max 2))
- Vibroclaw, Vibroclaw (two simple vibroweapons)
- A hold-out and a power cell (a simple blaster and ammunition, deals energy damage by the way, I swear I didn’t know this before I wrote about energy damage in the above section. It’s just very intuitive.)
- A dungeoneer’s pack (different but similar contents to what you might be used to from 5e D&D)
- A wristpad (used for casting tech powers)
It would be a bit much to include every feature and piece of information about a 3rd level character, so I’ll touch on a few exciting things.
Ranger’s Quarry – An ability that is essentially the 5e ranger’s favored foe feature.
Techcasting – At third level Skikhssigg would have 5 known tech powers and 3 tech points available, with a max power level of 1st level. That means they can cast 3 tech powers at 1st level, regaining expended charges on a short or long rest. Intelligence is your techcasting modifier. The following are a few powers I selected to highlight what that might look like.
- Energy Shield – You quickly create an energy shield. Until the start of your next turn, you have a +5 bonus to AC. This includes the triggering attack.
- Execute Command – You command a droid or construct. They must make an INT save against your tech save DC or follow a simple command you give them. Commands include Flee, Deactivate, and Approach, but are only limited to your imagination and DM’s discretion.
- Cryogenic Blow – The next weapon attack you make deals an extra 1d6 cold damage. If the target fails a STR save, it gains a level of slowed for the duration. At the start of each of its turns, the target can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Hunter’s Prey – Almost an exact copy of the ranger conclave ability of the same name.
Now I want to make this very clear. I wrote the first section of this article before looking into SW5e. All of the things I brought up were the natural thoughts that a lover of both Star Wars and D&D would have. To see almost everything I thought of executed in very similar ways does two things for me.
First, it’s extremely gratifying and makes me think I might have some idea what’s going on.
Second, it shows us that converting the mechanics of 5e into a Star Wars rpg is going to have some consistent issues that always rise to the top. SW5e has done an excellent drop of addressing these, and the team continues to put in more work so you don’t have to put in hours of research.
SW5e definitely gets my vote to receive the rank of master. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to combine Star Wars and D&D, here it is. Even if you want to follow my homebrew tips or pursue your own route, I highly suggest reviewing their website to get some pointers.
If you do want to follow their system verbatim, remember that you might need to do a bit of work to get exactly what you want. Not every race or archetype is represented, and die-hard Star Wars fans might want to fine-tune the system even more, but it’s a great place to start.
As always, happy adventuring, and a very special, may the force be with you.