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Concise Locket

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Everything posted by Concise Locket

  1. Two weeks ago, my group finished its third FFG SW campaign using a mix of Edge of the Empire and Force & Destiny characters. The two approaches blended together quite well as both reflected stories about characters exploring the history of the Galaxy outside of the greater civil war. While the players did encounter and defeat a group of COMPNOR agents and an Inquisitor toward the campaign's end, not a single stormtrooper or TIE fighter battle was fought. Our group was happy with the ending and everyone involved felt comfortable with the rules. For our next game, we mutually agreed on an Age of Rebellion campaign. We agreed that thematically appropriate species could be selected from books outside the AoR line but all careers would be from AoR. What I didn't tell them is that this, our fourth campaign, will be the last SW game I GM for awhile. There are other games I want to play and I don't want to burn out on Star Wars. So for my final - for now - Star Wars campaign I want to make it really special. Because Age of Rebellion is the base standard Star Wars RPG setup - the players are Rebel agents fighting against the evil Galactic Empire - I wanted to avoid the West End Games style of game, where the PCs get their marching orders from a superior and run through a series of unrelated and pre-scripted mission-based adventures. I'm a fan of Justin Alexander's Hexcrawl (specifically the urbancrawl approach, with its keyed locations, geographic movement, and exploration-based default goal) and Prep-Situations, Not Plots GM advice articles, so I decided to start building a campaign using his approaches, rather than just going adventure by adventure. I also wanted my players to take Commander and Diplomat careers and to have their choices actually matter in the grand scale of their environment. With those guideposts, I started my prep-work. Step 1: The Location Map. In order to make this concept function, I knew I needed to have the players work in a defined set of space that was smaller than the overall Galaxy. Because FFG had published Edge supplements for Hutt Space and the Corellian Sector, I toyed with both of those locations but ultimately decided against them. The Hutts are so wily and powerful that the Empire doesn't actually influence their holdings or day-to-day business so that was out. The Corellian Sector could have worked but a) canonically speaking, it would be difficult to justify the players creating massive civil unrest in a Core World sector and b) I used that area quite a bit in my past two campaigns and wanted something new. I had a PDF of West End Games' Far Orbit Project, the Rebels as space-pirates adventure, and was intrigued by the idea of a campaign set in a locked area of space that was bigger than a single sector. I considered using the Ringali Shell but, again, ran into a canonical problem of a Diplomat turning a Core World planet against the Empire. Thumbing through a copy of Essential Guide to Warfare, I discovered star maps of the Tion Cluster and realized I had my answer. The Far Orbit Project gave the players two sectors to run adventures in. Why not use the Tion Cluster and give the PCs five sectors to run in? If the PCs were facing too much Imperial heat in one sector, they could always duck into another. But there would be the underpinning knowledge that they'd eventually cross one too many Moffs. The Tion Cluster was also a great choice because, while it was set in the Outer Rim and had a lot of backwater planets in its territory, it was an area with importance in pre-Republic history, and was the most heavily populated area in the Galaxy outside of the Core. This meant that it offered ecumenopolis city planets and desert backwater worlds and ancient ruins. The Tion Cluster was also adjacent to Mon Calamari space, which made it the SW equivalent of West Germany, with two powers jockeying for influence. The Tion Cluster was ALSO the former capital of the civilian government of the Separatists which meant there were probably a lot of hard feelings bubbling under all that productivity. Perfect. My first action was to I make a regional star map based on a file I found on Wookieepedia. Some of the planets, like Lianna, Raxus, and Desevro, had pages of pre-written Wookieepedia information associated with them, pulled from WEG and Wizards of the Coast SW material. But most of them were short paragraph entries that barely told me anything. I'm great at research but terrible at writing entries from scratch so I opened my PDFs of West End Games' Planets of the Galaxy, volumes 1 through 3. Because the PoG entries are now non-canonical, for those Tion Cluster worlds that were lacking information, I cribbed high-level information from the PoG books and created semi-custom planet entries for the Tion Cluster. For example: I was able to find enough usable material to create entries for 80% of the star systems on the map. For the rest, I considered them "secondary" to the needs of the campaign and gave them simple one line entries. With all my planets assigned a population, a purpose, an economy and an ecology, I was comfortable making a high-rez map using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I had the broad strokes of the setting ready, now I needed to figure out what to do with it. Coming up in Step 2: What are the characters going to do here?
  2. Concise Locket

    Prepping the Next Campaign: A Quasi-Hexcrawl Approach

    My motivation are the people who would be playing in the campaign. They're a newer group, including one player who, prior to meeting me, had never played a role-playing game. Our first game was a short Numenera campaign and now we're playing Paranoia and Rifts (Savage Worlds). They responded favorably to the weirdness of those settings. Hutt Space - which isn't dominated by Humans and Imperial politics - seems like a good setting choice for a canonical game. Over the past few months I've been trying to be more receptive to what works and what doesn't with my players. Rather than just ramming through a story line, I try to keep in mind who is going to be playing through the campaign. I'm more of a "spies and politics" type of gamer but most of my players like weird and epic so I'm working to come up with campaigns that they'll like and that I'll find smart enough to be engaging. It isn't easy but I think it makes games more memorable. Thankfully, the group that played the AoR game does like spies and politics, so we're now playing a spy-based Infinity RPG game. 😀
  3. Last Shot wins for having an Ewok slicer who gets angry for being stereotyped as an ignorant tribal. The rest of it is just run-of-the-mill Star Wars stuff.
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    Prepping the Next Campaign: A Quasi-Hexcrawl Approach

    AND WE'RE DONE. We had our final Age of Rebellion session last Saturday. The story arc began immediately after the events of the Return of the Jedi. The top Imperial Intelligence heads of the Tion Cluster were meeting to decide next steps. It was the PCs' job to grab all seven of them and turn them over to New Republic Intelligence. They kidnapped two officers before deciding to cut and run. A disappointing decision but it's always their choice. Before taking off, they infiltrated the security section of the Imperial government center and turned the building's external defenses on the occupying forces. It made a big splash. Unfortunately, it also attracted the notice of the Grand Moff's command ship which entered the planet's atmosphere and began bombarding the planet per Operation: Cinder. The PCs' fleet gathered in response and the final event of the campaign was a set-piece fleet battle using SW: Armada models. They won using the Squadron rules and the Mass Combat rules. More importantly, all the players survived. The players had been gathering capital ships through the entire campaign but the story wasn't providing opportunities to use them. The final match-up supplied a logical payoff for their efforts. I asked for feedback on the campaign and the most fulfilling response was, "We never felt like you were telling us what to do. You set us up and let us go, even if it meant that we ended up doing something stupid or failed." FINAL ASSESSMENT Was this a hexcrawl, quasi- or not? No. I had a defined and pre-populated section of space for the PCs' to interact with but because the campaign wasn't set up for exploration, it wasn't utilized that way. Was this a sandbox? Again, no. In a war campaign, the goal is to defeat the enemy, not wander around doing whatever strikes your fancy. Even players who consider the faintest of guide posts a "thrice-cursed railroad" will acknowledge this. War campaigns are dependent upon a GM having an understanding of how winning and losing battles will shape the campaign as a whole. An immersive experience isn't simply painting a vivid picture, it's having an understanding of what appropriate responses will be. What did you want this campaign to be? I wanted the players to act like field generals and make grand decisions about where to apply forces and who to attack. I wanted them to act like diplomats and bring new allies into the fight. It turns out that acting like a diplomat is a lot easier for a player to wrap his head around than acting like a general. In a sense, the dramatic interplay of dialogue and negotiation is much more engaging in an RPG than simply looking at maps and saying "send troops here." If this was a board game, it would be a different story. My takeaway is that it's more important to provide dramatic character interplay interspersed with scenes of action than it is to do a space-fantasy version of Churchill in his bunker. In a war campaign game, the ideal player role is that of a commando or squadron leader, not a flag officer. The nice thing about the FFG Star Wars RPG model is that characters with diplomatic backgrounds can have skills that are useful in action scenes. What were your biggest sources of frustration? The players didn't provide me a lot of character-driven bits to work from. TV writers love it when actors provide suggestions about what to explore with their characters because it lifts a lot of the burden of idea generation off them. I'm no different in that regard. This is the burden of gamemastering players whose formative years were spent playing D&D 3.5. Dungeons & Dragons asks very little of its players and a majority of GMs simply unroll a dungeon and populate it with monsters, assuming they aren't just running a module. Narrative games are a heavy story lift for GMs and without player input it can become a drag. Luckily, I have techniques to keep myself interested in a story and stave off writer's block. It would have been nice if the players both read the career specialization descriptions and attempted to keep their character role-playing within those parameters. Agitators and Figureheads aren't the same thing. And play to your Motivations, for pete's sake! What would you do differently in the future? Along with having fewer locales, I would introduce only a handful of named NPCs and keep them around as reoccurring characters. I would set up a firm timeline of events to serve as plot anchors and have the players respond to those events however they choose rather than going in with an open-ended campaign. Was this a success? Yes. Everyone had fun.
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    Prepping the Next Campaign: A Quasi-Hexcrawl Approach

    Playing around with a campaign that takes place in Hutt Space... The Factions Quanaalac Kajidic. Contact: Troonol the Hutt. Ally: The Shell Hutts. Primary Foe: The Zann Consortium. Besadii Kajidic. Contact: Durga the Hutt. Ally: The Yahk-Tosh. Primary Foe: The Shell Hutts. The Shell Hutts. Contact: Gheeta the Hutt. Ally: Quanaalac Kajidic. Primary Foe: Besadii Kajidic. The Yahk-Tosh. Contact: Lord Gar-Oth. Ally: Besadii Kajidic. Primary Foe: The Sakiyans. The Sakiyans. Contact: Queen D'Shar. Ally: Zann Consortium. Primary Foe: The Yahk-Tosh Zann Consortium. Contact: Admiral Jerid Sykes. Ally: The Sakiyans. Primary Foe: Qunaalac Kajidic. The Timeline The Imperial Navy’s focus on the growing rebellion in the Outer Rim has given the Zann Consortium an opportunity to expand its sphere of influence. Vowing revenge on his old “friend” Jabba, who left him to rot on Kessel, Tyber Zann’s “navy” moves into several territories in Hutt Space, including the Si’Klaata Cluster and the Akkadese Malestrom. With the spice mines of Kessel threatened, the Hutts begin to sit up and take notice. Troonol the Hutt, commander of the largest Qunaalac fleet, agitates the other Hutt kajidics to either join the Hutt military efforts or supply resources to push back the Consortium. Gheeta the Hutt of Circumtore immediately agree to help though Circumtore’s resources are limited. The other kajidics make outward promises of support but because interesting times make for profitable opportunities, most do not follow-through, choosing a “wait-and-see” posture. Members of the Besadii clan opt to take advantage of the situation. Durga the Hutt, a Black Sun vigo, orders the construction of a To-Sharr Uuta Shipworks port at Circumtore, which is located a hyperspace crossroads. On the surface, the To-Sharr serves a similar role to a merchant’s guild, providing discounts and assistance to members. However, it’s a front for Black Sun, providing intelligence and money laundering services. Frustrated by the incursion into their territory, the Shell Hutts work to sabotage the project, both by appealing to the Hutt Ruling Council and through deliberate acts of violence against Besadii. Word of Durga’s actions make their way to Lord Gar-Oth, a Yahk-Tosh. The Yahk-Tosh are evolutionary relatives to the Hutts and though they control their own small interstellar empire, which includes their homeworld of Xolu and the planet of Far Pando, they are considered a client species. Recognizing the power of an alliance, Gar-Oth presents himself to Durga. He claims to have learned that the Sakiyans are supplying the Shell Hutts with advanced repulsorlift technology. Durga tells Gar-Oth to stop the flow of technology to Circumtore, promising him control of the Sakifwanna colony world in exchange for his success. The devious Gar-Oth, flush with Black Sun financial resources, begins moving on Saki, seizing control of the planet’s largest repulsorlift technology company in a hostile takeover. Not only is he now in charge of a major economic engine, soon he will have his own planet! Queen D’Shar, ruler of Saki, is left aghast by the Yahk-Tosh’s blatant disregard of Saki’s forcefully held independence. Unfortunately, the Hutts’ “hands-off” attitude is one based on several millennia of failed invasion attempts rather than respect. Thus, the Lords of Nal Hutta will never spare the effort to dislodge Gar-Oth. Left with no other choice, D’Shar reaches out to Admiral Jerid Sykes of the Zann Consortium. In exchange for assistance in dealing with Gar-Oth, the Saki will supply the Zann Consortium with intelligence on Hutt defense assets and some of the best spies and assassins the galaxy has ever seen. Campaign Resolution Questions Do the PCs take up arms with Troonol the Hutt or join forces with Admiral Sykes? Do the PCs help the Shell Hutts against Durga or help Durga build his port? Do the PCs help Gar-Oth or Queen D’Shar?
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    I thought it was pretty good. I think it was the weakest of the new Star Wars movies but I think all the new Star Wars movies are good.
  7. Concise Locket

    Creating PC Problems

    1. As often as it's interesting for you and the players. 2. Whatever you want to throw in so long as it doesn't feel like a "random encounter;" i.e. "Oh no, a swoop gang wants your drugs! Roll for Initiative." The actual act of selling drugs isn't very interesting. Check out HBO's The Wire. The drama comes from the character interplay in a city where it's debatable who the good guys and bad guys are. The actual drug sale should be the last action in a series of tense events revolving around negotiation, hiding out, keeping your fear in check, and deciding who's trustworthy and who's a snitch. The challenge should be for the PCs to figure out who's a good buyer.
  8. 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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
  16. 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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Prepping the Next Campaign: A Quasi-Hexcrawl Approach

    My players and I are still working our way through a The Dracula Dossier game so I haven't had a lot of mental energy to put to this. But... I decided a few weeks ago to swap the Zann Consortium with Guavian Death Gang. I like the idea of using a canonical criminal organization that doesn't have a lot of canonical material written about it. I'll write up some NPCs in the next few days.
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    Could use some help getting my creative juices flowing.

    Is this an Age of Rebellion game or an Edge of the Empire game? I ask because, tonally, fighting the Empire is a different animal than Average Joes working on a freighter and trying to pay the bills. Unless the players are all freighter workers and, coincidentally, also happen to all be Rebel sympathizers, why would they even care if the Empire is trying to frame a group of confederates? Also, keep in mind that in The Expanse, the protomolecule plot was a fairly small conspiracy run by a corporation, not the United Nations or the Martian Congress. If you want to emulate The Expanse, I'd suggest sticking to Edge of the Empire and using some aspect of the Corporate Sector Authority as your Big Bad Guy, not the Empire. Yes, the Empire is the defacto bad guy in Star Wars but they're so big and control so much that the players are going to feel helpless. Rather than having the pirates working for the Empire, have them be mercenaries in the employ of a biomedical company that's a member of the CSA. While on a run through the Corporate Sector, the PCs' ship is boarded. The players have to fight off the invaders in order to protect the ship or, at the very least, to survive long enough to make it to an escape pod. When the PCs make it to safety, they find that they're wanted for piracy by the CSA Security Police. If the PCs want to clear their name, they will have to piece together who attacked the freighter and why, all the while avoiding the authorities and trying to find someone who believes that they're innocent. The backstory could be that the freighter was transporting a biological agent on behalf of Chiewab Amalgamated Pharmaceuticals Company. It turns out, said agent is super-illegal in CSA space - it has a super-scary name like "The Red Reaper" or whatever - and Chiewab hired an independent freighter to ship it from a Chiewab development lab in one part of the Corporate Sector to a depot in another part of the sector. An independent freighter would allow Chiewab to avoid Espo suspicion and attacking the freighter and killing the crew ensured there were no witnesses who could report a suspicious package to the Authority. Once Chiewab discovers that the PCs are still alive, they'll send freelance bounty hunters and mercs after the players.
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    Star Wars Adjacent Music

    The Mass Effect soundtracks might work for you.