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GMing Onslaught at Arda I

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Anyone out there running Onslaught at Arda I? I'm looking for tips and tricks to make this a fun adventure for my group while watching out for anything that might trip me up while running it. With all of the FnD talk floating around, I haven't noticed much talk about Arda and thought there should be a topic about it. (Odd that AoR doesn't have a GM sub-fourm, so I hope this is the right place to talk about such things.)

 

I've been playing RPGs for 15 years but have only GMed a few times. I'm taking one for the team and letting our "always GM" a chance to play while I take up GMing for this adventure. So really, any advice on GMing would be appreciated, but I'd love to keep the conversation focused towards running the Onslaught at Arda I adventure.

 

The group has earned around 270xp through play so far, so I'll be needing to increase some of the difficulties. Luckily it's more of a combat group so I can just add more enemies and should be fine.

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I've only read through the first Episode of Arda, but I've got a couple pieces of advice.

 

First, scrap the map. You may as well just scribble it out of the book, as it is completely useless. I don't know if you've read Episode I yet, but the descriptions of the base don't match the map in 90% of the cases.

 

For instance, when you have to escort Hase from C&C to the YT-2400 waiting for her.. which is in the primary hangar for some reason (which is full of Sandtroopers). Now.. you're able to get her to the ship without any incident.. yet right afterwards, you have to go back to C&C, and suddenly there are a bunch of Imperials in your way? If you look at the map, the hangar is tiiiny. But in all the descriptions, its pretty large. The picture has it holding, like, a handful of fighters, when the book says there are 2 Squadrons.

 

Basically, what you need to do is read through the episode and sketch out a map based on how its described and what you'll actually need to interact with to run it. If you try and use the map in the book, you'll end up stumbling around trying to figure anything out.

 

Additionally, I'd highly recommend ignoring the parts where it says "If the PCs fail this, have them re-roll by add an additional (stacking) Threat for every new attempt!" This is terrible for a narrative game, and seems to be a holdover from D20. What I'd suggest you do is, in any situation where a PC has to succeed in order to advance the story, treat a Fail as a Despair or two and have them succeed. Unless, of course, you break it up.

 

For instance, when the PCs have to set the generator to blow. If they've locked the Sandtroopers outside, and they fail the roll? Have the troopers bust in before the PCs have finished the setup. They fight, the console got singed by some blaster fire, and you have them reroll with an additional threat. Then, if they fail again, just treat it as a Pass but with the early detonation in effect. There's no reason at all to keep the PCs there re-rolling in a situation where it adds nothing to the tension or the story. Like, in that same situation, if they killed or avoided all the Sandtroopers outside, and they fail the roll the first time out? Just jump straight to the early detonation and have them get the hell out. This happens in a couple places in the first ep, and is just really shoddy module writing.

 

And lastly, work the dogfight at the end out in your head. They describe it as a fight, but its actually set up more like a chase, with the Rebels trying to get the Imps to crash as they race through the canyons. But even then, it doesn't totally make sense, as the Imps should be going after the transports.. which exit from a different canyon? And when the canyon the fighters would have to launch from is filled with AT-ATs? I don't know. Its really confusing.

 

Now, as much as I'm complaining, I think a lot of it is really well done. Its got a cool story, and some really nice individual pieces--its just that how they're linked together is pretty bad. You just need to prepare it in such a way that you've already worked out how its going to play out before you get to that part at the table. If you try and go from the book, you're going to have a bad time.

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First, scrap the map. You may as well just scribble it out of the book, as it is completely useless. I don't know if you've read Episode I yet, but the descriptions of the base don't match the map in 90% of the cases.

 

For instance, when you have to escort Hase from C&C to the YT-2400 waiting for her.. which is in the primary hangar for some reason (which is full of Sandtroopers). Now.. you're able to get her to the ship without any incident.. yet right afterwards, you have to go back to C&C, and suddenly there are a bunch of Imperials in your way? If you look at the map, the hangar is tiiiny. But in all the descriptions, its pretty large. The picture has it holding, like, a handful of fighters, when the book says there are 2 Squadrons.

 

Basically, what you need to do is read through the episode and sketch out a map based on how its described and what you'll actually need to interact with to run it. If you try and use the map in the book, you'll end up stumbling around trying to figure anything out.

 

Great advice. I was thinking of photocopying the map, but now I'm thinking that I'll draw it out. I've started reading through the adventure, but still making my way through the book. I did notice that they describe the main hanger as being 2km. That size is huge, pretty much bigger than I can imagine for a hanger, but it does explain how Sandtroopers can come up behind the heros and they not know it.

 

 

Additionally, I'd highly recommend ignoring the parts where it says "If the PCs fail this, have them re-roll by add an additional (stacking) Threat for every new attempt!" This is terrible for a narrative game, and seems to be a holdover from D20. What I'd suggest you do is, in any situation where a PC has to succeed in order to advance the story, treat a Fail as a Despair or two and have them succeed. Unless, of course, you break it up.

 

For instance, when the PCs have to set the generator to blow. If they've locked the Sandtroopers outside, and they fail the roll? Have the troopers bust in before the PCs have finished the setup. They fight, the console got singed by some blaster fire, and you have them reroll with an additional threat. Then, if they fail again, just treat it as a Pass but with the early detonation in effect. There's no reason at all to keep the PCs there re-rolling in a situation where it adds nothing to the tension or the story. Like, in that same situation, if they killed or avoided all the Sandtroopers outside, and they fail the roll the first time out? Just jump straight to the early detonation and have them get the hell out. This happens in a couple places in the first ep, and is just really shoddy module writing.

 

Great idea. That's something that I probably wouldn't have thought of until after running the game, so I'll be sure to add it in. I like the idea that a fail means that the heros still did what they were trying to do but did it poorly because they were strapped for time. Give them the worst result possible.

 

 

And lastly, work the dogfight at the end out in your head. They describe it as a fight, but its actually set up more like a chase, with the Rebels trying to get the Imps to crash as they race through the canyons. But even then, it doesn't totally make sense, as the Imps should be going after the transports.. which exit from a different canyon? And when the canyon the fighters would have to launch from is filled with AT-ATs? I don't know. Its really confusing.

 

My group isn't the best at starship piloting and have only skimmed the rules. In the past year of playing we've only done it a couple times and we've never done a chase. This will be a perfect oppertunity to give the chase rules a spin. Great idea.

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In case anyone is interested, or for future reference, I'll log any issues I have with running the Onslaught at Arda I adventure here. Feel free to ask any questions and I'll answer the best I can.

 

Oh, and in case anyone can't tell from the intent of this thread and it being in the GM forum, there are spoilers in this thread.

 

To recap, I'm a novice GM. With the publishing of the Arda adventure, I thought it would give an oppertunity to provide our "forever GM" a chance to actually play the game that he has been running for us. It took us a bit to actually get the game going, because we had to introduce the new PC and I had to shake the new-GM jitters. We basically played for about 2 hours and ended with the group arriving at the Arda base.

 

My original thought was to make things a bit tougher on my PCs, because they aren't a starting group. However, the part I didn't realize was that they don't have much abilities when it comes to spaceships and using a size 4 ship makes things really hard. So I almost started the adventure by killing everyone off.

 

The main issue was the size of their ship. The group is an EotE/AoR split, so their main ship is a YT-1300. Piloting difficulity is based on speed and ship size. Even with the ship going speed 1, the difficulty was RPPPB against the Pilot's YYG. This was very difficult for the pilot in what's supposed to be a beginner game. The Black die was from difficult terrain, I think we forgot about the ship's -1 handling.

 

EDIT: Did the above way wrong. Difficulty should've been based on half the ship's size, rounding up. So for a size 3 or 4 ship it should've been RP not the RPPP that I had the players roll.

 

Some how they actually passed the piloting test. Then came the second part, where failure would mean rocks falling on their head. They had rolled mostly dark side points, and I didn't want to go easy on the guys, so I spent one to upgrade the difficulty. This time they rolled failure and a dispair, which ment they hit the canyon and took a bunch of damage. At that point, it wasn't terrible, however it made things worse when the monsters attack.

 

This is the first place where I had an issue with the rules as written. When the monsters attack the ship is extreme range from the Arda base. I'm away from my books at the moment, but I'm pretty sure the Arda book says extreme. Is extreme even a ship range band or is it only for personal scale? I took a couple moments fumbling through the book and tried to figure out what it would take for the ship to move from extreme to long and couldn't find it. I decided to come up with an off the cuff number of maneuvers it'd take. I went with 14 maneuvers at speed 1 or 7 maneuvers at speed 2. (I did fudge it down so if they bumped the speed up to 3 when they neared the base they could've reached the hanger that turn instead of the next. Too bad they failed that roll.) Due to the difficulty they had with passing piloting checks, I ruled that they only needed to roll a piloting check when they changed the speed they were going.

 

Now we come to the attacking monsters. Correct me if I'm wrong, but once again the ship size of 4 really made things hard on my players. The monsters are a size 1 minion group. Shooting them from a size 4 ship is a PPPP roll. For 2 turns all 4 shots against the minions missed. Even with a YYGGBB dice pool. On the third turn both guns finally hit, and then we had the reverse happen, it was too easy to kill the minion groups. The groups were 3 minions with 2 hull and no shields. A single hit from the YT-1300 gun was damage 6 + successes. Which means that no matter what, a single hit would wipe out the group.

 

Maybe my dice were rolling well, but the monsters were really messing up the ship when they hit. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but a size 1 minion group of 3 with agility 4 would roll YYGG vs P with gunnery against a size 4 ship. Even with only base damage 3, they were still doing a bunch of damage becuse I'd roll 3 or so successes. (Looking back at it, I think I may have done that wrong. I don't think they were trained in Gunnery, so it should've just been an agility roll of GGGG. Right?)

 

I was making the monsters roll piloting checks to keep up with the ship, but they kept passing all of their rolls anyway.

 

The introduction scene down the canyon is best for characters who can either pilot really well or can pilot decent but are in size 3 ships with good handling.

 

If I had to do it again, with a party in a freighter, I would've done it as a chase. When the monsters first appear I'd give them 1 free attack roll on the ship then start the chase. This would be to show they are coming out of the canyon on all sides of the ship, even in front, so some can try to get their claws in. It's also to show the party that these things can hurt their ship and that they shouldn't take the situation lightly. After the free hit, I'd start the chase with a piloting check. If the monsters win, then they can attack the ship. If the monsters loose, then they can't keep up enough to attack. If the ship goes at least speed 3, then the monsters can't keep up at all.

 

I will also say that we don't know the starship rules well enough, so I'm sure we did things wrong and/or forgot about things that we could've done. For example, the party had the copilot assisting the pilot for a blue die, when the copilot should've been doing the maneuver to reduce the difficulty of the pilot's next roll.

 

Needless to say, now that the party's YT-1300 is heavily damaged, it'll give them even more of a reason to stick around the base and do the patrol mission. (I'll have the rebels repair the ship in the meantime.) I just need to convince this group of non-pilots to actually jump into the sandspeeders. Hopefully direct orders from the commanding officers will be enough to railroad them to the next plot point.

 

I will add that I think the group enjoyed the adventure intro. They may have been frustrated in the moment because it was much harder than they could handle, but after the fact they were joking about it. Hopefully the entire adventure stays fun. I'll update when we play through more.

Edited by Jamwes

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having did my first read of EP I, i can see some issues.  I agree the Map is rather useless, considering the Transport hanger seems to be BELOW the main base. It also seems to hinge on finding the Signal boosting transponders. 

 

For EotE characters and even my players i don't see them really wanting to do the Vortex patrol.  So that means finding the device in the base

 

I think I might instead have them on a tour of some of the outer defenses, and then encounter the probe droid.  maybe even having them defend the Phase 3 Detonator location, or keeping it hidden from scouts until the AT-Ats reach it. 

 

Also I am trying to understand why any fighters would be held in reserve and available for the players to use in the final evacuation.

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First, scrap the map. You may as well just scribble it out of the book, as it is completely useless. I don't know if you've read Episode I yet, but the descriptions of the base don't match the map in 90% of the cases.

 

For instance, when you have to escort Hase from C&C to the YT-2400 waiting for her.. which is in the primary hangar for some reason (which is full of Sandtroopers). Now.. you're able to get her to the ship without any incident.. yet right afterwards, you have to go back to C&C, and suddenly there are a bunch of Imperials in your way? If you look at the map, the hangar is tiiiny. But in all the descriptions, its pretty large. The picture has it holding, like, a handful of fighters, when the book says there are 2 Squadrons.

 

Basically, what you need to do is read through the episode and sketch out a map based on how its described and what you'll actually need to interact with to run it. If you try and use the map in the book, you'll end up stumbling around trying to figure anything out.

 

Seriously? Nonsense like that makes me not want to buy it. There was a similar issue with the AoR beginners box adventure where the description didn't match the map.  As much as I love FFG's stuff, this kind of thing seems very amateurish.

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First, scrap the map. You may as well just scribble it out of the book, as it is completely useless. I don't know if you've read Episode I yet, but the descriptions of the base don't match the map in 90% of the cases.

 

For instance, when you have to escort Hase from C&C to the YT-2400 waiting for her.. which is in the primary hangar for some reason (which is full of Sandtroopers). Now.. you're able to get her to the ship without any incident.. yet right afterwards, you have to go back to C&C, and suddenly there are a bunch of Imperials in your way? If you look at the map, the hangar is tiiiny. But in all the descriptions, its pretty large. The picture has it holding, like, a handful of fighters, when the book says there are 2 Squadrons.

 

Basically, what you need to do is read through the episode and sketch out a map based on how its described and what you'll actually need to interact with to run it. If you try and use the map in the book, you'll end up stumbling around trying to figure anything out.

 

Seriously? Nonsense like that makes me not want to buy it. There was a similar issue with the AoR beginners box adventure where the description didn't match the map.  As much as I love FFG's stuff, this kind of thing seems very amateurish.

 

 

I haven't studied the map too closely, but I think it's adequate as long as you don't pay too much attention to the scale of the rooms it's fine. It gives you an idea of how everything is laid out. They just can't draw everything to scale to really show where everything is. Most of the page would just be hanger space if they drew the entire map.

 

Personally, my biggest complaint is that I wish they would publish the maps and pictures online as a PDF. Or really it'd be cool if the maps were reprinted at the end of the book. What I would like to see is maps with distinguishing notations removed so that I can show them to my players. An unmarked PDF supplement would be cool, becuase then I could print them up or just display on my laptop for my players to see. It's super awkward showing them pictures why trying to cover up game important text. Or not being able to show them maps because plot points are written on the map.

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Time for my next installment of things I’ve learned while running the Arda adventure. This time our game was only a couple hours and we mostly covered roleplaying and exploring the base. We made it up to the players discovering the probe droid.

 

My biggest comment about exploring the base was that I would’ve loved some more guidance on some of the social interactions. I’m mentioning each of the Duty sidebar stuff as the players come across it, not just if their duty was rolled for it. I’m hoping this will provide some additional flavor for the base and the inhabitants. I understand that these are just short little side quests, but they don’t really mention what can be done to resolve them. For example, when the old spy asks the players to talk with the young Rebel, the book doesn’t give any guidance on what it’d take to cheer him up. Sure, this is a great opportunity for role playing, but as a novice GM I would’ve liked some guidance on what skill rolls, if any, would be appropriate.

 

A word of advice I’d give is to read through everything a couple times. Probably even read the section you’ll be running the players through the day of. Also write down some good notes to reference back to. Some of my biggest “mistakes” is because I missed something or because I didn’t quite understand who was involved. When I read through the adventure I made mental notes on stuff that could happen and generally who was involved. Maybe my reading comprehension isn’t the best, but when I’m thrown a bunch of sci/fi names at one time they all start to blend together. Sometimes a section needs to be read a few times to actually understand what was supposed to be going on. In the “old spy” example above I actually thought and ran it that the spy was upset because the kid was killed. Shame on me for not reading as close as I should’ve and not taking good notes.

 

Speaking of good notes, I feel they are necessary. As I said, I’m a novice GM so I don’t know if all book adventures are written this way or if there is some better way to format the book. One issue I’ve been running to is that there are plenty of skill checks/dice rolls/and modifiers that are buried in the text. You really need to read the material to know everything that’ll be going on and unless you have a great memory, you need notes to remember every detail of what the players should be going through.

 

I’m also not a fan of the timing of how things are happening in the Arda Base. Reading straight through the adventure, it seems like the players should arrive, have a few minutes to check out the base, then are ordered out on a patrol. It’s hard to squeeze in everything that they mention you should do. For example, it’s recommended that the traitor character should be mentioned in the background in some of the areas of the base. However, he’d have to be running all over the place to keep up with the party. Especially if the party splits up to check out the base. The way I ran it, I had the party arrive at the base in the afternoon then ordered them to go on the patrol early the next morning, so they had a few hours to explore and knew what the next step would be.

 

My next complaint will be the patrol. My party was very hesitant to take on a mission they felt was beyond their skills. Only one party member has Pilot Space, and one has Pilot Planetary. They also don’t have too much in way of Agility. The party majority (Slicer, Marauder, Medic, and Force user) have Agility 2. Only the Demo guy has Agility 4. After the hard ride they had coming into the base, they were worried about being able to pilot through the canyons. It took some coaxing from me (and ordering by the General) to convince them that it’ll be within their capabilities. I would’ve preferred there to be mention of a single ship they could’ve taken instead of the airspeeders. Some sort of transport that could’ve fit them all in. I can see why they didn’t write it this way, because the airspeeders are size 2 so they can fly through the canyons fairly well and a ship which could carry them all would be size 3 and would have more difficulty, but having the option written out with page numbers for ease of reference would’ve been appreciated.

 

Speaking of airspeeders, what piloting skill should they use? If I understand the skill descriptions, Piloting Planetary should be used for airspeeders. The pilot the book references for joining them only has Piloting Space for skills.

 

Next week the party will be mired in combat. I have some plans and hope they flub up just enough to risk a TPK. I’ll post after the next game.

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Last night the group did most of the combat and almost wrapped up the first act of the adventure. Things ran fairly smoothly, but there was a few hiccups that I'd like to mention.

 

The Probe Droid is personal scale. I should've had it attack while the party was out of the sandspeeders picking up the communication device. As it was, they easily toasted the thing. Ship's weapons are over kill on personal scale.

 

Players didn't think about looking around for more information (Imperial ship and troop numbers) so when they rolled Triumphs on a few checks (communications to get through to the Arda Base) I had the Slicer make a computers check to find out more about the forces. Of course, the Dispair he rolled meant the Imperials heard his transmission too, so everyone knew everyone knew the Imperials were coming.

 

Chase with the Tie Fighters... They say to do it like a chase but they also say what difficulties for the players to roll flying through the canyon. I'm sure the intention is to follow the chase rules and do an opposed piloting check to see if the Ties can close and then do the piloting check to see if you run into anything, but with my group that wasn't going to work. They wern't skilled pilots. I had the party just roll the difficult flying through the canyon piloting checks. On a fail, the ties closed in. Triumphs and Dispair would've hurt the Ties or Players. Out of my three players, the one with the NPC Pilot succeeded on every check. One failed three out of the four checks. One failed all four checks. On the last check he failed with a Triumph and a Dispair. With those results, I allowed him to shoot at the Tie but then had the Tie shoot him too. The PC hit, but didn't do enough damage. The Tie hit with a single success, which is more than enough to destroy the Sandspeeder. At which point I gave the PC a piloting roll to crash land in the hanger. On a success they only took a few points of strain, if they would've failed I would've done some damage or perhaps a crit.

 

Next was running down the gauntlet to set the explosives. They make a point to talk about running vs walking, but there is no mechanical reason to run. I'd recommend either adding a Boost die to the explosives roll if they run or a Setback die if they walk.

 

The encounters down the canyon went as I expected. The players were focused on getting to the explosives, so as stuff came up half the party with the Demo guy kept moving while the other half delt with the issue. Such as at the cave-in, the marauder and medic helped the trapped rebels while everyone else kept running forward.

 

The creature (AFB, forgot the name) attack was one thing that really worried the group. They didn't think they were going to be able to handle fighting something that just the day before was tearing up their ship. The scene did have the creature attack rebels at an anti-infantry gun emplacement, so one of the players wanted to turn the gun on the creature. I though for a moment to say that the gun couldn't be turned around, but I let him do it anyway. Had him take a full turn getting the gun into place. In retrospect, I should've had him roll a mechanics check to add a touch of difficulty to it. The creatures aren't that hard to kill (soak 5 and WT 20) but the players were overly cautious about it.

 

At the demo charges the dice rolled perfectly. I loved the fact that the player got threat and dispair. Having the Tie fighter knock a demo charge off and forcing an athletics roll was fun. The best was when the last charge didn't go off. The demo guy just shrugged his shoulders, pulled out his grenade launcher, did a double aim, and rolled YYGGBB vs PPPP. Not only did he do it, but he also rolled two triumphs. The rest of the group now assume that he wanted the demo charge to not go off so that he could show off with the grenade launcher and make an even bigger explosion.

 

Once the group returned to the Arda base they were trying to get out of there. The pilot started powering up the ship and everyone wanted to leave. It took railroading them with requests to get the command staff out of there to get them to stay in the base a bit longer, which I suppose was supposed to happen.

 

Next week we'll start with them trying to set off the generators. I'm hoping for them to mess up and get caught in the blast so that I can have the smuggler swoop in and save them. I just want to say, "the base explodes and you all die," then start packing up before flipping some destiny points and saying, "just kidding, you wake up with the fleet after being saved from the explosion."

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Last night we played through escaping the Arda base. The group started by fighting through some Sandtroopers and reaching the C&C to find the access to the generators. To keep them moving and tension high, after the Medic healed one PC, I told them that Imperials were coming and they better move now or a new fight would start up. At that point the party made it to the C&C. After some debating, someone actually had a bright idea to shut and lock the doors to not let the Imperials in. I was halfway expecting the combat players to stand guard in the room fighting Imperials while the other half went to the generators. I think my narriation that the base was pretty much overrun with Imperials (and lack of time for adequate healing) made them fear getting overpowered. Even with a high soak Marauder, they decided to run and lock the doors. (Computer roll with a couple Triumphs made sure the doors would stay shut.)

 

The group is fairly experienced, so I upped the difficulties. (As I have been doing through most of the adventure.) Hard Mechanics, Daunting Computers, and Hard Mechanics (all with Darkside point upgrades) to overload the system. My intent of this was to secretly reduce the time they had to escape if they rolled failures or dispair. If they failed all the rolls, the base was still going to explode, just not on the schedule or as well as they hoped. I was hoping to catch the party in the exploding base and have the Smugglers save them. Unfortunetly they passed all of the rolls and got quite a few Triumphs in the process.

 

They got double Triumphs on the computer roll, so I had the Slicer notice something odd with the generator schematics and gave him a hard roll to investigate. This was instead of the easy computers/perception roll to notice the airshaft to the hanger as written in the adventure. He passed this roll as well, so the combat guys went about uncovering the airshaft while the last Mechanics roll was conducted. I had wanted them to get caught up with fighting Sandtroopers as part of the escape, so I would've been happy with them not finding the easy way to the hanger.

 

I told them that the generators would explode in about 8 minutes, and that we'd go to turn by turn once they exited the airshafts in the hanger. Since it took them 4 minutes to reach the hanger, they had only 4 minutes to reach the ship and escape. I put them at long range to the ship and long range from Sandtroopers who were entering through the main hanger entry. I also ruled that they needed a maneuver to get to the ship ramp and get in. I was a touch worried that they wouldn't have enough time to reach the ship, but I banked on the Medic/Tactician to provide free Maneuvers to make it easy for them.

 

Maneuvers to reach ship

Long to Medium: 2

Medium to Short: 1

Short to Engaged (on the ramp): 1

Enter the ship and get to a station: 1 - time it took to get to cockpit or gun turrets

Total: 5 maneuvers to get to the ship and take off.

 

Doable in 3 turns with double maneuvers. Most of this group did it in 2 turns.

I didn't charge them any maneuvers to get the ship up and running because they had radioed the droid on the ship to get it up and running while they were setting the generator to blow. I suppose if your players were using starfighters in the base, then the ground crews would be getting them ready as well. No sense in slowing them down too much.

 

The Marauder ran more towards the Sandtroopers than towards the ship while eveyone else ran straight for the ship. Shots on the Marauder knocked the axe out of his hand and Stagered him, but it was enough to distract the Sandtroopers from shooting up the rest of the party. He picked up his ax and sprinted for the ship just as it was powering up and taking off on turn 7.

 

In retrospect, I should've done the run through the hanger with the chase rules. That would've used rules in place to have the run and gun escape that I was looking for. I also should've remembered to narriate more about what other Rebels were doing, but I was focusing on keeping the action fast paced for the players so that they would get the feel for danger and limited time. I kept my talking short and quick, but also jumped in at times when they were talking with what the Imperials were doing to keep the threat on their mind.

 

This group doesn't do starship combat that much, so I wanted to go easy on them somewhat for the dogfight in the canyon. They were in an unmodified YT-1300 and going up against 8 Ties plus the Nemisis pilot. On the first piloting check, the pilot actually rolled two Triumphs so I didn't make him make any more piloting checks through the canyon. I gave them other rolls, such as computers to scan the Tie fighters and knowledge Warfare to know tactics to know if they shot down the Imperial Ace, that the Tie fighters would probably retreat to regroup, which would give the transports the time needed to escape. The way the initivate broke down, the Ace went first, then all of the PCs, then the remaining Tie minion groups. I had the Ace fall in behind them and hit them good with a missile, which brought the ship to half HT. (I wasn't going to use any more missiles, I would've ruled they were used up in previous dogfighting.) The PC gunners were able to shoot down the Ace, so the Tie groups broke for it. They sped past the PCs, shooting them up as they went, and some crashed into Canyon walls. PCs got one chance to shoot up the escaping Tie fighters the next turn, before they were out of range. This worked out great because it left the ship at 2 under HT and the Players in fear that the ship could easily be destroyed.

 

For how it was set up, this battle could've been deadly. I'd think that if each PC was in a starfighter, as intended, then the battle would be balanced. Having all the Imperials focusing on a single freighter becomes deadly quick. I could've/should've had other rebel starfights in the dogfight, but I wasn't prepared enough as a GM to do that (balancing all of the ships and what's going on in the fighting) and I wanted to keep the story focus on the PCs. The way I did it rewarded a few Triumphs rolled and kept the party as the heros of the moment. I do wish that they had defined rules in the adventure for how much damage to do to a ship hitting the canyon on failed piloting rolls.

 

Another way to run the dogfight would be as a chase. Have the Imperials behind the PCs and have the last of the transports ahead of them. That way the PCs are the rear guard to keep the Ties from attacking the transports.

 

I'm glad that we struggled through a few dogfights. We hadn't done ship combat yet and are now more confident with the rules. Perhaps we'll incorperate more ship combat into our normal games.

 

At the debriefing, the players wern't sure of what to say. I think the concept that they should be hunting for a traitor hasn't quite hit them yet. They almost didn't bring up the communication devices they found when talking though the events. The players just kind of rambled a bit and none of the characters are the Face, so I gave them some black dice on the roll to convince Hase, Quarno, and Var that there was a threat. (At mention that the "rebel" they saw at one of the communications device was obscured enough that they couldn't make out race or gender they started joking that Hase was the traitor.) We left it that they thought there was threat of a traitor, but there was no way to know if the threat remaind. The traitor could've died in the attack or returned to Imperial hands, so the PCs were instructed to keep quiet about it but keep their eyes and ears open.

 

Next week we'll start up with Act 2.

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This last week we didn't do much. Basically just book keeping from wrapping up act 1 and then going on the patrol to look for what jumped the scouts. My only real comment was that I didn't utilize the difficulty of walking in the swamp better. I should've required athletics rolls for movement during combat.

 

Other than that, the players didn't research the mound of dirt at all. Their line of thought was that scouts came out there. There's a mound of dirt. One of the scouts must be the traitor! They were going to launch into interrogations on the scouts as soon as they got back. I had the old spy master jump in and give them the traitor finding mission to keep them from going all accusatory too soon. Now that they know the ramifications of what those actions would be, I hope they would proceed with caution. If they start accusing people next week, I'll have the Rebels turn against them and start claiming the players are the traitors. All the issues started after the players showed up anyway. ;)

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It has been a while since I’ve posted in this thread, but I thought I’d post a few more observances while my group continues playing through the Arda I adventure. We just wrapped up Act 2 and I don’t expect Act 3 to take too long.

 

Act 2 took a lot longer to play through than I expected. Part of it was because attendance was spotty for a month or so. (Stupid gamers with stupid children having to go to stupid PTA meetings and ruin the group’s fun. *pouts*) The other part was because our play sessions were rather short and there is a lot going on in the investigation and players following up on false leads can result in a lot of good role playing but not much in the ways of advancing the storyline. The long stretch of time hurt solving the case because the start of every session was spent trying to remember where they were at, what clues they had gathered, and what the next plan would be. Having a group note taker would help a lot through investigations that will take more than one session to solve.

 

I had some problems with running the mole hunt. The first was that our group is more combat oriented than it is talky. They did have a good slicer, so computer investigations were decent. However, because they have combat characters it was hard for the players to figure out what it was that they were going to do for the investigation. Because they didn’t have talking skills, the players were afraid of flubbing the talking rolls so they were reluctant to try.

 

Basically, the way it worked was that I asked the players what they were going to do and what skills they were trying to use. Based upon what they say, I looked at the listed skills in the Arda adventure and give them the details from that skill roll but reflavored for how they were trying to do things. This seemed to work fairly well, but there were some difficulties.

 

One complaint is the players trying to remember the names of everyone on the base. I’ve seen several posts on this board which comment on how this isn’t acceptable. That the players should remember all of the names and if they don’t, they should be taking notes. The reality of the matter is that they just had 15 names, jobs, races, hobbies, interactions, ect thrown at them. It’s hard to keep track of all of that, especially when they only have a couple minutes of “face” time with each character. Perhaps there are ways around this, such as giving the players an accurate roster with all of the names of everyone on the base. That way they could write notes on the paper and cross people out as they are no longer considered the traitor. Another would be to run a long term campaign and use all of the names and faces. Even though these names are brought up in Act 2, they couldn’t been mentioned in Act 1 during the missions to get to know the base or to flesh out faceless rebel characters. The way we handled it was to take one investigation thread at a time. Their rolls would pull up one of the red herrings, they would investigate it to the fullest, prove to themselves it wasn’t the traitor, then search for a new suspect.

 

Related to the thought above, is that it’s hard to do an investigation in a fictional world. The players were used to everything mentioned to them to be important. Why would I mention a NPC skulking around the base if that wasn’t the mole? That’s fine for the false leads, but it makes it hard to weave in any weird stuff about the actual traitor. You mention that character too much and the players will latch on to it and investigate it based on the hunch that the GM said that name a lot so it must be the bad guy. The way I did it was to just keep mentioning background characters to flesh out each of the rooms they go into. But like I said above, some of this was lost in the noise because the players had a hard time remembering all of the characters. Throw around General, Commander, Senior Advisor, Major, Lieutenants, pilots, Diplomat, Assistant, and other support staff enough times and it just becomes background noise and the players forget who was who.

 

Some of the false leads are pretty bad too. At the end of act 1, the players see someone trying to remove an Imperial communication device and then get lost in the crowd. My players refused to believe that a Wookie, Ithorian, or even a C3PO type protocol droid could’ve fit the part. In fact, they were firmly in the belief that only a Human could betray the Rebels to the Empire because only a Human would be stupid enough to work with the Empire. (And to a lesser extent that a book adventure would only be written with a Human as the bad guy.) It was hard enough to get them to follow down the Bothan lead. In fact, it might be more interesting to change the actual traitor’s species. That would keep the players on their toes.

 

As for how the investigation worked out, I let them make some skill rolls and try to find leads. Then I’d have someone come to them with an urgent mission to break up the investigation. Perhaps we don’t have a rigid enough play style, but trying to decide how much time was spent on the investigation each day was hard to determine between me and the players. The players wanted to squeeze in more stuff in the day or before the urgent mission they were being sent on. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to actually track time and when talking to players remind them what time it is periodically.

 

After I gave them enough false leads, and they were finishing up the “side quests”, I finally started clueing them in on who the traitor was. From there it was pretty much wrap up. Although, after spending so much time on a mole hunt, they wanted to be 100% sure they were right. They conversed with Hardon on who they thought it was and he mentioned scanning the found devices for DNA. Once that was done they went to the base commanders.

 

The end of Act 2 happens at the speed of plot. Most of my players were OK with that, but some were a little bummed they couldn’t just jump in the middle of the way. Gamers are so used to being the actors and being told that their character watches something but can’t do anything about it frustrates them. It’s hard for me to read through a colored “read out loud” plot box to my players without them jumping in the middle to say how their character reacts. When I say a guy comes out of nowhere and takes a hostage and flees, some complain that they didn’t get a Vigilance to try to see him first or an initiative roll to try to stop him. They don’t like it when actions happen in front of their characters when they can’t do anything about it. It’s the same problem as cut scenes in video games. Take that for what it’s worth. Either play through as it was written or come up with ways to make the players feel more involved.

 

I think Act 3 will go fairly quickly. Half of Act 3 is trying to find information on where the Traitor might go when he shows up. I find this kind of weird because the PCs are just learning about the planet while twiddling their thumbs waiting for him to show up. It’s a lot of research just to find his house. And even then, you don’t know that’s where he’s going until his ship appears in the system. Don’t get me wrong, there is cool stuff to do and see on the planet, but it just feels like filler. Once the players verify his ship hasn’t arrived yet they just need to wait for him to arrive then follow the ship.

 

The other issue is that none of the characters in our group are human. The characters don’t feel comfortable as non-humans walking around an Imperial world. They don’t think that they could get much information by trying to blend in with the Imperials at the restaurant, opera, or Imperial palace. So, I think for my group I’ll cut that part short, have them figure out his address fairly quickly, have the traitor show up, then run the combats to the end. Running it that way, I think Act 3 could be done in a session or two.

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Nice to read through this now because I just did a pre-read of Arda and have similar concerns.  There's a lot I did like on first read (some of the challenges have great commentary on how to use the narrative dice, or are just interesting, like taking out the AT-ATs).  However, the traitor and mole hunts seem to suffer from the designers forgetting the 3-clue rule:

 

http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/1118/roleplaying-games/three-clue-rule

 

I don't plan to run this soon, but it will definitely require tweaking.  I also don't think the lead time for the players Act 3 is sufficient.

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I'm glad to hear that this will help you out when you run Arda. I'm a novice GM, so I just took the adventure, read every word once, skimmed it and jotted notes later, and also skimmed the likely night's events day of the game. I agree that there is a lot of great content on how this game is "supposed" to be played.

 

As for the investigation itself, I agree that it requires tweaking. They list page after page on all these false leads but only mention a couple times, mostly in a sidebar, how to clue the party in on the traitor. To me, investigation feels like it was written as a video game with timed events. That the players need to fail X times before getting an accurate clue and/or being told the answer. Plotting everything out and following the three clue rule would help it feel like a true mystery. (Thanks for the link, it's a great read.)

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We finished up the Arda adventure this week after finishing up Act 3 in a single session. The group seemed to enjoy the adventure. There is some tweaking that other GMs might want to do to make it an even better experience. Hopefully my posts in this thread will help.

 

The group that we had were all non-humans and most were combat characters, except for the slicer. When the Rebel contact on the last world gave some ideas on how they could track down the traitor, the group grumbled. The thought of going to a fancy restaurant, opera, or even the Imperial palace sounded like suicide to them.

 

The Mon Calamari went to the restaurant, but he was a fish out of water. Flubbing enough rolls and nearly getting kicked out of the place, one of the natives said that he could tell more if they went to the burrows. Once there I fed the brown box information about the Imperials wanting to take some stormtroopers to the spy’s house to meet him later that night. With that information, the slicer could drum up an address.

 

Back at the space port, the slicer was checking data files to see if the traitor had arrived yet. When it was confirmed that they were there first, he set up the ship’s scanners to search for the ship when it came in. I made him roll a computers check then to set it up in such a way to not raise attention, like he was doing maintenance on the scanners or something. I would imagine that if a ship was actively scanning for a long time while docked in an Imperial held star port, that it would raise suspicion. After hearing about the address he sliced up the address. At that point I had the scanners pick up the traitor’s ship flying across the city towards his home address.

 

As discussed in other posts above, I found the first part of Act 3 to not be necessary. The party just needs a few key pieces of information. They need to know if the Traitor had arrived yet and where he was going. Just about all of this could be done from the space port with good computers rolls and a quick chat with the local Rebel spies. I suppose there would be a lot of room for some interesting sleuthing if a party was built for it or if the party wasn’t afraid of being locked up for being aliens on an Imperial held world.

 

The fighting to the end the group thought was a bit of a railroad. I’m a novice GM and I wanted to play through the whole adventure, so I didn’t reward them with an early win. However, their actions at the Traitor’s mansion could’ve been that way.

 

When they arrived at the mansion the party split up. A couple went to the parked starship to ensure no one was on it. A couple went to the garage and shed area to try to disable any vehicles found in the garage to keep the Traitor from escaping. One worked on setting up a booby-trap at the front gate for when the stormtroopers did show up.

 

This was when the Traitor shot from the upper floor of the house. The Force sensitive character Jumped upstairs and chased him through the house while the rest of the group went about what they were doing. They knew the Force guy would be turns ahead of them in the house and they wanted to prepare for the known stormtroopers that were coming. I could’ve let the party have time to search the shed to find the prisoner, but instead I had the storm troopers show up right after the Force guy hit the Traitor with the desk he was hiding behind. At that point it went into full combat on the front yard while two of the characters searched the house for the prisoner.

 

I’m not sure what the book suggested for stormtroopers, but I hit my party with two squads of five at the front gate. The first squad was eliminated by the booby-trap and the second squad fought the party. When they were wiped out, I had a second truck full of stormtroopers drive through the front yard and park at the shed. This let the combat characters have a group to fight and left a group and the shed hidden by their truck. I described it that the people inside of the house could see that there were stormtroopers back there and gave one turn of fighting. The grenade guy threw a glop grenade over the truck to get the stormtroopers, but the big bad was safe in the shed loading the prisoner onto a swoop bike and escaped.

 

That was the first point where the group felt that they were on a railroad. They wanted an opportunity to stop him before he got away. Perhaps a better GM than I could tell the events in such a way for the players to not feel this way. As for me, it felt like cut scenes in a video game where the player can’t do anything.

 

The traitor’s dying breath told them about the tracking device on his watch to find the prisoner. The group found his sudden change of heart to be strange. Since they didn’t try to talk him down earlier, the change of heart was sudden. In retrospect, I could’ve kept him alive but severely injured and let the party medic struggle with what to do with him, but I wanted the whole party involved in the chase to the end. (What probably would’ve happened would’ve been that the medic would’ve left the party to try to stabilize the Traitor, possibly taking him back to their ship.) I probably should’ve also just had him die and them notice the GPS thing beeping or something.

 

Anyway, the battle through the sewers was kinda wonky too. To be honest, I wasn’t as prepared as I should’ve been. I’d recommend perhaps mapping out the sewers or having a handle on what things would look like and how big the rooms were. I should’ve just given them fleeting glimpses at the bad guy while they kept getting stopped by stormtroopers. As written, it’s presented in such a way to make the players feel that they can do something to stop him before he gets to the boss battle room. Sewers can’t be that big, so just keeping him at extreme range isn’t realistic at all.

 

Then we get to the boss battle… There is the big bad guy, a squad of stormtroopers, and an AT-ST. I’d recommend spending some time figuring out the layout of the room and the size of it and all that. I’d also suggest giving the AT-ST something to do on the first turn of combat while giving hints to the players on what to do about it. Maybe have it walking into the room on that first turn. If any of the AT-ST’s guns hit a player, it’s game over. (The good news is that they don’t kill, only crits can kill.)

 

There are a few things the players can do to damage the AT-ST. Hiding behind columns to have the roof cave in. Opening grates to trip it up. Opening a water valve to wash it over. Or finding the weapons locker with a rocket launcher in it. Let’s address the rocket launcher. The weapon deals 20 damage. The AT-ST is Armor 3. Which means, to do one point of damage, the player will need to roll 20 successes to do an effective roll of 4 damage before Armor. This just does not work.

 

Perhaps the best way to handle the AT-ST fight would be to do it narratively. Don’t actually roll combat dice. Just describe the scene and have the players deal with it without rolling for initiate or entering structured gameplay. Deal a couple points of damage to players here and there as the AT-ST’s shots come close to hitting or from the stormtroopers providing covering fire.

The way my group dealt with the AT-ST was they did called shots to throw grenades into the open windows. For our game, and the amount of time that we had, it was an adequate solution.

 

After that, the Force user used Move to throw the Wookie Marauder between the prisoner and the big bad guy. At that point it was game over.

 

All in all, Arda was a lot of fun. There is plenty for combat characters to do and plenty for the Face characters to do. The adventure was designed for a beginner party, but it’s easy to up challenges or just tack on another group of bad guys as needed. I would recommend this adventure. There are also plenty of oppertunities to expand the adventure in each section to make the game last longer.

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Very helpful, thanks.  Again, you nailed what I was feeling when I read through it, regarding the final chase, etc.  I'd make the getaway dependent upon a roll so it's the dice doing the railroading, not the GM, and if that ends it early, so be it...though I'd probably have a "plan B"...

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The party doesn't find the prisoner until the GM lets the prisoner be found. Plan B could always be that the prisoner is stored in the last place the players look or even in the house next door. If there are a couple of options thought out ahead of time then it's easy to switch gears and pick a different path to get to the final showdown. Such as, the prisoner was already taken away orsome information about the Rebels was sent out via currier. Heck, the starship that the traiter traveled on could be a plot point. There could be ships logs or astrogation data in the computer systems which could be used to track back to the Rebel base.

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Hey, I've really appreciated reading through your summary, and my group is about to hit the third act. Your experience has been really helpful.

One thing I did notice tho... The missile launcher. I'm not sure you have it right. So, an at-St armour is 3 (30 planetary) the missile launcher does 20 and has breach 1 (which is -10 soak). 30 armour - 20 damage - 10 breach = 0

Therefore any successes they rolled are straight damage to the hull threshold.

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Hey, I've really appreciated reading through your summary, and my group is about to hit the third act. Your experience has been really helpful.

One thing I did notice tho... The missile launcher. I'm not sure you have it right. So, an at-St armour is 3 (30 planetary) the missile launcher does 20 and has breach 1 (which is -10 soak). 30 armour - 20 damage - 10 breach = 0

Therefore any successes they rolled are straight damage to the hull threshold.

 

Thanks for reading and the feedback. I'm glad that these long winded posts were helpful.

 

As for the missile launcher, I must've not noticed it had breach. In light of that information, I'd agree that any successes they rolled are straight to damage. However, the rules are foggy on how the personal to planetary scale conversion goes. You need to do excess of the Soak to do damage, but is that anything in excess is at least 1 damage or do you need to be in excess by a full planetary scale to do damage?

 

Would 1 success grant you 1 planetary damage and then 11 successes are needed for 2 planetary damage?

OR

Would 10 successes grant you 1 planetary damage (because it's a 10:1 ratio) and 20 successes are needed for 2 planetary damage?

 

I think most people play with the later but I would have no qualms with the former. I believe that I've read on here that some people play the later but do allow crits once the armor is bypassed by the single point of personal, which results in no damage but a crit roll and is based on the exact wording of the crit/armor/damage rules.

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Ah! You make an excellent point... I didn't think of the conversion for damage...

Yeah, if you didn't count it straight (and straight is not logical to me after what you said) it would be useless! Weird...

Thanks again, you've given me more to think about. :)

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