Assume that you are invited to join a Star Wars campaign (RPG system doesn’t matter for this exercise). As you sit down, the GM mentions that the first movie (Star Wars IV: A New Hope) is the only canonical source.
The GM then informs you that the campaign starts a few months after the destruction of the Death Star. The galaxy is plunged into chaos as the Rebel Alliance discovered that Grand Moff Tarkin had been head of a military coup that had been manipulating Emperor Regis. With Tarkin dead and his superweapon destroyed, the Emperor laid the blame at his feet and tried to make peace with the rebels. From the shadows, Darth Vader and several Moffs couldn’t let that happen, and they assassinated Regis. With the galaxy in turmoil, Princess Leia tasks the PCs with finding and protecting the former Emperor’s daughter, Regina, who is now the rightful Empress. Only through her can they hope to stabilize the galaxy.
Meanwhile, Darth Vader is actively searching for new recruits for a renewed Jedi Order. They, like him, wear the Jedi armor of old, which looks exactly like Vader’s save for color and mask stylings. Luke Skywalker, meanwhile, attempts to learn the ways of the force on his own, with some help from the voice of Obi-Wan and others knowledgeable in the ways of the Force. He’s distracted though, because while he and Leia have professed love for each other, she’s royalty and, as a Queen of refugees, she needs to marry a King in order to keep her line royal.
Oh, and did I mention that Darth Vader is not a cyborg nor a Skywalker (he really did kill Luke’s dad), and that the citizens of the Galactic Empire are entirely human? Tatooine is on the fringe and a human Jabba the Hutt continues his smuggling operation, having forgiven Han after he repaid the debt. If the PCs play their cards right, Jabba could be a powerful ally in securing and transporting the new Empress.
Would this be cool to you? Or are you ready to toss scale models of A-Wings, Cloud City, and AT-ATs at me?
The reason I bring this up is because I’m currently running a Dungeons & Dragons campaign using the most recent rules (commonly called ‘5e,’ but I’m not sure if that’s official). Given what to me feels like an old-school vibe, I wanted to reach back and use an older campaign world. As it turns out, I have the original box sets of some of them, and I wanted to be able to use them as-is, without worrying about the (in some cases) decades of development since. Can I run a World of Greyhawk campaign using only the folio or a Forgotten Realms campaign using only the grey box, or would it ruffle the feathers of players around the table who are used to the canon that’s been added since and will second-guess my every move?
In the end, I dodged the bullet by choosing a setting that my current players know nothing about (Harn, if anyone’s interested). Still, the question intrigues me; would my group accept a game world that’s been stripped to its origins and rebuilt from scratch, or would they fight me every step of the way whenever I stray from what’s known?
Since I’ve thus far dodged the bullet, how about you? Have you ever taken a setting that was familiar to your players and turned it into something different? How well did they react to it? How would you feel if you were playing in a game where canon as you know it was scrapped in large swathes? Would you be game or would you decline to play in it?