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Concise Locket

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About Concise Locket

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  • Birthday 06/13/1978

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  1. This discussion falls under the RPG truism of "the players are not their characters." Players aren't getting shot at, their characters are. Players aren't piloting starships, their characters are. Players aren't as charismatic Lando Calrissian, their characters are. Players aren't afraid of Darth Vader, their characters are. Playing a character gives a player a freedom of choice defined by the mechanics, the setting, and the outlines of the agreed-upon story. It doesn't give their character a freedom from reactions. Saying "But I'm not actually afraid!" when a player fails a fear checks is the same thing as saying "But I'm not shot!" when an NPC scores a hit on their character. It isn't relevant. If you want to get all philosophical about it, real life people are biological creatures with hardwired fight-or-flight reflexes that they can't mentally control, no matter how much macho he-men might claim otherwise. This game - and others that use fear mechanics (Call of Cthulhu, Night's Black Agents, et. all) - are simply modeling a natural and reasonable reaction to danger. If fear mechanics were baked into the DNA of Dungeons & Dragons, this wouldn't even be a discussion. If a situation is a) new and b) incredibly dangerous, hitting players with a fear check is completely within the bounds of the rules and keeping with the spirit of the game. Statistically speaking, the players are going to overcome the obstacle anyway so complaining about a few added black dice or a lost turn is very petty.
  2. Concise Locket

    Do you use Custom Loot?

    I created a custom Eklot for Ailon Nova Guardsmen my players' PCs encountered. I just took a basic spear and added a toxin from the EotE CRB. It wasn't hard. My players aren't super loot-driven so they didn't keep one.
  3. Concise Locket

    Rise of the Separatists Era Book

    Considering that digital computers first appeared in the 1950s and analog computers have been around since... forever, someone who knew what an analog computer is probably wouldn't get his mind blown by a digital computer. The divide in technological understanding at the time was due to the majority of the developed world still being agrarian. Star Wars can have digital computers but so long as they're not ubiquitous or connected into some sort of searchable, galaxy-spanning Internet-analog, they're appropriately Star Wars. Biological computers and other cutting edge and theoretical science-fiction concepts would probably be out of bounds.
  4. Concise Locket

    Am I mistaken...

    Apparently Disney was worried about losing ticket sales to actual convicted-rapists-who-plead-down-to-battery and make bad faith arguments along with posting pro-assaulting-women tweets. But that's the world we live in now. Rumor has it that Disney and Gunn are engaging in backroom negotiations but if that falls through Taika Waititi can always do it. He has the same sense of humor. My heart tells me that would be awesome but my head tells me it wouldn't work out the way we want it to. And, speaking of someone who read Marvel comics for 30 years, the MCU is kind of boring. Every movie looks the same, has the exact same plot beats, and only seems to be an advertisement for the next movie. I don't want TV directors directing blockbuster movies, I want movie directors directing blockbuster movies. I'm okay with one Star Wars movie having a different look from another Star Wars movie. I'd rather Star Wars be a setting that different directors with different tastes can play in and one in which they don't have to worry about tripping over each other. Want to do a couple of movies in the era of the Old Republic? Cool, do that. Want to do a standalone story about a fighter pilot who survives the Battle of Endor and goes on to become a farmer who gets hassled by gangsters and has to break heads to protect his family? Do that. Talking about Star Wars on the Internet is like rolling gasoline into a fireworks factory.
  5. Concise Locket

    Am I mistaken...

    Because everything is a hyper-cross-marketing campaign run by the one of the largest multinational corporations on the planet... and they haven't figured out how they can also sell you Star Wars toys and a Star Wars board game with a Star Wars video game. At least with Star Wars comics and Star Wars novels, they can stick ads in the back.
  6. Concise Locket

    Am I mistaken...

    The Marvel comic books range from Great to Above Average. With the exception of the current Lando mini-series which suffers from being boring, they've all been winners in my book. I broke my ban on reading tie-in novels and the current post-Disney crop have all been mostly fine with a few stand-outs. None of them are bad in the way SW books were bad in the late '90s. At worst, they're a little on the safe and dull side, though, surprisingly enough, the Battlefield video game tie-in novel was really engaging. I suspect this trend of dullness and unimportant side-stories will continue until after Episode IX releases and authors have some more freedom to explore Luke Skywalker and the Force post-Return of the Jedi. From the perspective of giving gamemasters good tools to run good tabletop games, the FFG RPG line has been solid. The rules are effective and the supplements actually provide useful new bits and suggestions for both players and GMs. But from a world-building perspective, they've really been a dud, post-Disney. On the one hand, I like that the EU was wiped away and creators have a fresh slate to pick-and-choose Legends material to incorporate into new canon. On the other, I really, really liked Suns of Fortune and Lords of Nal Hutta and, after what's come out recently, I'm worried that I'll never see an interesting thematic setting book again. Though I liked parts of it, the first Era book didn't exactly knock my socks off. Half of it was dedicated to cross-over brand appeal, with its providing stats for major characters and the Death Star. That's great if you want to simulate Ahsoka fighting Darth Vader but for those of us who are trying to create new stories with new characters, which I suspect is most gaming tables, it's useless filler.
  7. Concise Locket

    Prepping the Next Campaign: A Quasi-Hexcrawl Approach

    You're welcome. I think certain games benefit both the players and the GMs if they're run as a sandbox: D&D, Earthdawn, and similar high-fantasy games can function well as sandboxes since exploration is a major theme of that genre. But Star Wars? Not so much. I do think there's a happy medium between pre-scripted campaign and open sandbox. Branching storylines and non-linear gameplay are good tools for GMs and allow players to maintain quite a bit of agency. In a "web" style campaign, players can make many different choices, leaping from strand to strand, but eventually all paths lead to a distinct central story point. Although this is technically branching, the central plot issue has only one answer, and no matter how the players reach that answer they must end the story in a specific manner or at a particular place. This allows you to control the climax and resolution. You can add blockages which force players to check in with your pre-planned structure as they move through the game. This gives the illusion of a sandbox but in reality you're just laying out the rails without making a bunch of noise about it. Having strong NPCs that react to the PCs - helping them or hurting them - makes the world feel more real and gives the GM another tool to direct the player without railroading them. I should have relied more on my NPCs than I did and I should have introduced fewer NPCs. If you look at The Clone Wars and Rebels, the secondary cast was actually pretty small. This isn't more realistic but it is more dramatic.
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    Prepping the Next Campaign: A Quasi-Hexcrawl Approach

    Jumping back to the current and ongoing Age of Rebellion game... I just finished my final set of notes for the campaign and filed them in my binder. I anticipate 3 - 4 sessions remain and we will be done. Now seems like a good time to look back and file my observations of how this process turned out: Observation 1: If your players aren't naturally inquisitive, don't waste your time writing up notes for Knowledge Checks. We're in the tail-end of story arc 10 of 11 and I still have to be proactive with "Can I get a Xenology roll? Can I get a Knowledge: Warfare roll?" questions. Otherwise the players will never get critical information. If players put points into skills, it's up to them to use the skills, not the GM to remind them that the skills exist. Observation 2: I spent a lot of time writing planet blurbs for locations the players never visited. I didn't hate the process. Researching the Star Wars galaxy is always fun! And I'm pleased with how the map came out. But it was a lot of time spent on an activity that didn't have a tangible payoff. I think it's important for Star Wars campaigns to have reoccurring locales as it breeds a sense of familiarity and attachment in players. Having 40 locations runs counter to that. In my campaign, the total of visited worlds was 9 and even that could have been cut back to 6. If you're considering following in my footsteps, limit yourself to 10 or fewer potential worlds to visit. Observation 3: On other gaming forums, I see players lamenting being railroaded by GMs. I think that's a fair complaint. However, I'm no longer convinced that "sandbox play" is really a solution to the problem... or that players actually understand what being railroaded means. Even super-sandboxy Pathfinder modules like "Kingmaker" (which is a really, really good campaign that I recommend playing if you can find a group to play it with) have underlying narrative train-tracks running underneath them. Table-top gaming is a different beast than playing something like Skyrim. In a video game, you can take your time checking out random mountains, listening to birds, and picking flowers. But, unless you're doing a raid, video games aren't social activities. Unless a GM is simply an amazing wordsmith and create an amazing visual tableau that enraptures other people for hours, that kind of activity will bore most players. GMs who aren't actively guiding their players are probably doing their players a disservice. While I'd love to believe that every gaming group is made up of improv actors and the GM can just sit back and watch, that's the exception, not the rule. At the end of the day, Star Wars isn't Star Trek... it's not about exploration, it's about fights between good and evil. Focus on strong narrative conflict and less on terrain mapping because table-top RPGs are about creating an interesting narrative as a group. All other considerations are second. Observation 4: Going big is awesome but it's impossible to maintain forever. As you're developing your campaign, come up with two or three major set-piece battles and interject them strategically in the campaign... and save one for the climax. For the rest of the campaign, use small-scale skirmishes and military-related challenges that require using other skills. Use your Diplomat characters often, especially when it comes to recruiting new fighters to the cause. Observation 5: But, also, don't be afraid to give your players big toys. As a Contribution reward, I gave my players a Home One-type Star Cruiser. Star Wars isn't a supply lines and quartermaster simulation, it's a big epic space fantasy. Plus, your players are playing the Rebellion so even if they have a capital ship, the Empire has 10 bigger ones waiting in the wings. Observation 6: War stories become pretty repetitive pretty fast. There are only so many interesting ways to run a scenario where a group of PCs break into a fortress or prison. Once you find yourself repeating themes, it's time to wrap up the campaign. Observation 7: Set up some reoccurring villains by allowing one or more NPC Imperials to escape death at the hand of the PCs. Maybe they were a Minion TIE fighter pilot but when they return to face the PCs they're a TIE Ace. Observation 8: A final table-top RPG battle between the Big Bad Guys and the PCs is tough to pull off in a way that's both narratively believable and accommodates all players. Luke faced Darth Vader and the Emperor by himself and ONLY AFTER allowing himself to be captured and ONLY AFTER being tempted by Vader at Cloud City. A really good GM can, on the fly, weave together story-lines so that players eventually come face-to-face with the Big Bad after a year of playing... but to be emotionally effective, that requires the PCs have a near-photographic memory of past events. Plus, tying 3 to 5 disparate player personalities into one story is hard enough. The Age of Rebellion Squad/Squadron and Mass Combat rules do a good job of simulating epic battles so it's perfectly acceptable to have the Big Bad personally leading the opposing forces rather than running a 1-on-5 showdown at the top of the tower.
  9. Concise Locket

    Interesting ideas for dangerous Imperial plots?

    You can do a WMD story-line that doesn't involve a gun that blows up planets. For my Age of Rebellion campaign, a recent story arc involved delivering a plague antidote to Dellalt. The Imperials were testing a bioweapon on the lake-dwelling sauropteroids in anticipation of deploying it on nearby Mon Cala. The Imperials deployed fanatical, aquatic Ailon Nova Guardsman as project guards.
  10. Concise Locket

    Rarity and Loot as an Axis of Play

    In my Age of Rebellion game, we have 5 PCs and approximately 6,000 NPCs. The players have indirect command over a Rebel Sector Force which includes a naval compliment of a Home One-type star cruiser and several smaller capital ships. Any sort of basic combat gear or reasonable vehicle, up to and including X-wings, is available to them.
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    Rise of the Separatists Era Book

    This is the first RPG release for FFG's take on Star Wars that I'm completely blasé about. Blame the unnecessary pages spent providing stats for the Death Star and Rebels characters in Dawn of Rebellion. Blame my inherent xennial hesitation to committing resources to prequel era role-playing supplements. I appreciate that Lucas did something different with the prequels. I own The Clone Wars on Blu-Ray. Overall, the prequel-era is a net positive for me. What the prequels lack is the David and Goliath tension that most RPGs focus on. The Clone Wars were Palpatine's false flag operation, resulting in two equally matched science-fiction armies of numbered drones blasting each other. From a story-telling perspective, that was just an action set-piece to break up the character interplay between Obi-Wan and Anakin (and Ahsoka). Unlike the original trilogy, the war stuff was the least interesting part of the prequel era. Add on the very regimented life of clone soldiers and Jedi commanders and you have a setting that deflates narrative tension and removes character agency. Obviously, if you aren't playing to canon, your mileage will vary.
  12. Concise Locket

    Any news from GenCon?

    I'm still annoyed that the Death Star has received an RPG write-up but not the Super Star Destroyer. I saw the prototype 3D-printed Armada model at the Fantasy Flight booth and the thing is an enormous piece of plastic. I picked up Cyphers and Masks after a 45 minute wait in line. It's pretty good. It has a lot of useful suggestions for slicing and some Spy-centric story advice that I find helpful. The competitionist in me is happy that I now have three complete game lines. I would have been fine with FFG sunsetting the Star Wars RPG line but I'm glad to hear that they have, as yet unspecified, plans for it moving forward. I'll keep my fingers crossed that those plans include products that I'll find useful in my future campaigns. I'm also pleased that the line developers are pursuing a Gensys-powered Android cyberpunk RPG. That product will have a built-in audience and they've already done the setting work in their Worlds of Android book.
  13. Concise Locket

    Prepping the Next Campaign: A Quasi-Hexcrawl Approach

    Here's what I've come up with for the major NPCs for this campaign. Because this is a game about shifting alliances, these NPCs can serve as either employers or antagonists, depending on choices made. Wherever possible, I adapted existing Legends materials that was scraped from the recesses of Wookieepedia. The Guavian Death Gang stuff I made up almost whole-cloth. I'm sorry if my take doesn't match your personal head canon. Black Sun: Vigo Savan is a Falleen of House Sizhran and the niece of Prince Xizor, the Underlord of Black Sun. Most of her family, including the Falleen King, were killed when an Imperial bio-weapons factory on her home world was damaged. To prevent the spread of a contagion, the Imperial military sterilized the city. Savan was off-world at the time with her uncle, attending to Black Sun business. Savan has maintained a low profile over the years, working herself up through the ranks of her uncle’s criminal empire. When her uncle had Vigo Green executed, she took his place on the council of vigos and inherited his criminal spy network. Adept at both disguise and strategic planning, she has earned her position through her own willingness to get her hands dirty. Anyone who hints at nepotism on behalf of her uncle finds their necks broken moments later. Savan maintains her own small estate near the ski resort at Mount Lorrist on the wintry planet of Corfai. Corellian Diktat: After the dissolution of the Corellian aristocracy 300 years ago, the democratically elected Corellian Council set up a system of governorship that would be led by an individual with the title of Diktat. While the official head of state for Corellia, and rivaling the Sector Moff in political power, the reality is that the Diktat serves as the mouthpiece for Corellia’s business interests. Daclif Gallamby is the current Diktat. A plain and unassuming Human male with dark hair, sunken eyes, and a thin and colorless face, Gallamby is the architect of Corellia’s unenthusiastic supplication to Imperial power. The Empire's rapid naval power build-up began following the Clone Wars. With the shipyards of major military contractors, such as Kuat, operating at full capacity, Corellia was chosen as another site for construction of Navy ships, including the signature Imperial-class Star Destroyer. Gallamby authorized ground-based manufacturing, a violation of centuries of Corellian environmental standards since the Great Re-Tooling. This led to the fouling of the landscape of Coronet City and a rise in organized criminal activity. Ship-building returned to orbital facilities after a decade-long spree. The Coronet region has cleaned up its industrial effluvia and resumed its place as a major tourist attraction. Unfortunately, organized crime remains a major problem. While Gallamby plays the role of protector of Corellia, he takes his marching orders from the Corellian Engineering Corporation, Corellian Mining, and the other corporations that are based on his world. Gallamby lives and works out Corona House, the historical residence and office palace of the chief of state. Gorensla kajidic: Sorvo the Hutt heads the largest Hutt syndicate operating in the Core Region. While the Gorensla kajidic’s Core operations are paltry in comparison to Black Sun’s, Sorvo is shrewd in both avoiding traps set by the Empire, Black Sun, and Black Sun’s Hutt allies in the Besadii kajidic. Sorvo’s star rose to prominence after the fall of Ziro the Hutt of Desilijic kajidic. Sweeping up Ziro’s gambling establishments on Coruscant during the final years of the Republic provided him an influx of capital. These credits were redirected into Gorensla kajidic’s primary criminal enterprise: smuggling. With the subsequent smuggling crackdown by the Imperial Navy, Sorvo’s services were in high demand among the independent criminal class in the Core. Sorvo is an average sized Hutt though he is physically stronger than most. Most Hutts express their displeasure by feeding their victims to pets or having an underling torture or kill them but Sorvo prefers to get his hands dirty by beating them to death. Sorvo’s face can be described as “sleepy.” Sorvo’s residence is a floating private island on the ecumenopolis world of Dorsis. Guavian Death Gang: The Guavian Death Gang is a new addition to the Galactic Underworld. Founded by former Brommstaad Mercenaries member Arl Nidder, the Guavian Death Gang provides military services to underworld organizations and engages in its own brand of illegal activity, primarily black-market weapons sales, gun-running, assassination, and kidnapping. Utilizing stolen Gank technology, the group enhances its red-armored foot-soldiers with cybernetics in exchange for loyalty oaths. The origin of the syndicate’s name is a mystery. Archaeologists associate the name Guavia with an Old Republic war priestess of the Pius Dea era. Nidder is a Human male, dark-skinned and scarred from years of combat. However, other than a standard prosthetic arm to replace a limb lost to a Black Sun battle droid, he remains wholly Human. Nidder fancies himself as a businessman, a general, and a religious leader. He has a strong bias against non-Humans and does not allow aliens into his organization though he will contract them for work. The Guavian Death Gang’s primary base of operations is a large, hollowed-out asteroid in the Sileria system. Kaldo Syndicate: Baron Benton Kaldo (see Suns of Fortune, p. 47 – 48). Sacorrian Triad: The Sacorrian Triad are the mysterious, tyrannical, and patriarchal rulers of the agrarian planet of Sacorria. It is believed that the Triad is made up of one Human, one Drall, and one Selonian though what passes as a government on Sacorria refuses to comment on the matter. When contracting outside employees, the Triad utilizes droids or scrambled holotransmissions to provide instructions. An employee never knows which member of the Triad he or she is dealing with and will often receive contradictory orders if two members of the Triad are working in opposition.
  14. Concise Locket

    Group Implosion and Video Games

    Session Zero: tell the players what you expect of them and what you expect of the game. I have told players that I expect them to work together in order to beat the Big Bad Guy or solve the mystery. You're literally playing Star Wars. It should not be a creative strain for them to emulate the hero characters they've seen for years on the screen.
  15. Concise Locket

    You can't save everyone...

    You can't pre-script cinematic moments as anything other than box text. They usually occur as an organic part of the game play. Another issue is that you allowed a Force & Destiny career character in an adventure module that was scripted for Age of Rebellion characters.