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Aurin

Brief Adventure Module Reviews (FFG / WEG / WotC)

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Thanks for reviewing Shadow Over Tarkintown! I think your feedback is all very accurate, and a few of those points I actually adjusted while running it myself (though the adventure itself never got those changes incorporated).

 

The point you make about the map is an interesting one. I'm always torn between maps meant for the GM or maps meant to be used in actual play. Maps for the GM will contain useful labels and indicators so they know what goes where. But having those labels and markers and whatnot on a map means it's not really appropriate to use with the players, since it likely gives away more than they should know when they step on the map. We opted for a "player" map, but that does lead to the issues you describe, meaning it's up to the GM to figure out and/or interpret what the things are on the map and where everything is.

 

Looking forward to your thoughts on No Safe Haven! It's a lot more ambitious and may answer some of the questions you had surrounding the story line of this one. We always meant to make this a two part adventure, though each part can stand on its own.

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Thanks Jaspor! You guys did a great job on Shadows and I'm looking forward to reading No Safe Haven.

 

The contact: When reading through this module, I was using Escape from Mos Shuuta as a point of reference where I could compare (and, as you can see above, I view that module very highly). In that module, you really only needed to know about one NPC, and that one NPC is Teemo. Everyone has some connection to Teemo in their background, and now they want to get off planet to escape the foul hutt gangster. Here, you're basically motivated by this contact that each character knows, but it's nebulous. My PCs will want to know all sorts of things about this guy - who is he? where is he? Do we need to find him in the settlement camp? Are we supposed to meet with him after we steal this thing? A way to tackle this could possibly be an "adventure in brief" section where you outline the plots of both SoT and NSH, which helps give the GM some guidance on how to steer things.

 

The map: Totally agree that this is user preference. If you only wanted to include the player map, then perhaps adding more detail for the GM to run the encounter in the body of the text would be worthwhile. A second alternative would be to add labels of "A", "B", and so on, like the maps from Beyond the Rim, and then only the GM will know exactly what everything is. A third alternative could be include the labeled map in the GM section, but put a full page map in the appendix section for GMs to print out for their players, similar to the maps that come in the AoR and EotE beginner games.

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The map: Totally agree that this is user preference. If you only wanted to include the player map, then perhaps adding more detail for the GM to run the encounter in the body of the text would be worthwhile. A second alternative would be to add labels of "A", "B", and so on, like the maps from Beyond the Rim, and then only the GM will know exactly what everything is. A third alternative could be include the labeled map in the GM section, but put a full page map in the appendix section for GMs to print out for their players, similar to the maps that come in the AoR and EotE beginner games.

 

I was absolutely going to suggest the last option: a full-page, blank "player handout" version as an appendix, while the labeled or keyed version would be in the GM section. If you wanted to be fancy, you could publish a layered version as an addendum and tack it up on your site as "additional materials."

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Hey Aurin, good and fair review. I hope you enjoy NSH half as much ;)

As to the contact, a small explanation, if not exactly justification. This adventure and the follow up were both worked on over many many months, with different writers and often large stretches of time in between. I wanted to expand on the contact, Maro Dunaste, in No Safe Haven, for many of the precise reasons you mention. In retrospect we could go back and flesh it out a little more in SoT, but now that both are available it should be reasonably easy to retrofit the info from NSH into SoT.

Side note: I've sometimes been critical on writing errors in FFG modules ("How did THAT get through?") and also authors on podcasts saying things like "I can't really remember that section". The experience of working on these mods over many months has been a huge eye opener, and I completely sympathise with those writers now!

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MrDodger - thanks for the additional color! Looking forward to seeing it come together with No Safe Haven. Taking on an entire module is a huge undertaking and I know everyone here in the community really appreciates all of the hard work and creativity invested in creating something for us. As you mentioned, it's easy to sit on this side of the fence and nitpick things so I hope it didn't come off that way :)

 

Tom Cruise - thanks for chiming in! Happy to fill any requests on specific modules if there is something that you're curious about. I still owe Brad his sortable index of modules, but first I need to get through the last of the FFG modules at the least...

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MrDodger - thanks for the additional color! Looking forward to seeing it come together with No Safe Haven. Taking on an entire module is a huge undertaking and I know everyone here in the community really appreciates all of the hard work and creativity invested in creating something for us. As you mentioned, it's easy to sit on this side of the fence and nitpick things so I hope it didn't come off that way :)

Note that NSH is done, and the announcement has been made. See https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/237143-rancor-publishing-group-presents-no-safe-haven/?p=2545315

What are you waiting for? ;)

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I'm on it, Brad! No Safe Haven will be the next one I do here. Until then, here's my review for Onslaught on Arda I. While I was reading this, I was thinking about how Shadows over Tarkintown would be a fun lead in to this module.

 

ONSLAUGHT AT ARDA I

 

Source: Standalone Age of Rebellion adventure

 

Synopsis: In Episode 1, the PCs begin the adventure with the harrowing fight through the canyon known as the Gauntlet on their approach to the secret rebel base on Arda I. Once they have safely docked their starship, they have only a little while to rest and explore the base. They are soon asked to go out on patrol with the local Vortex Squadron, since one of the regular pilots has fallen ill. During their reconnaissance flight, they find a strange device attached to one of the outcroppings. However, there’s little time to investigate, as they also spot the first signs of an Imperial attack and must race back to base to warn their comrades.

 

The onslaught comes out of nowhere, and there’s no time to ask questions. Chaos envelopes the base as evacuation plans are executed and pilots and soldiers rush to their battle stations. The imperial forces soon overwhelm the Alliance base, and Rebels can only hope to buy enough time to get essential personnel and material loaded up and safely away. The PCs are charged with wading into the assault in order to detonate explosives, sealing off the Gauntlet, and slowing the Imperial attack. They must brave the deadly laser fire of AT-STs and AT-ATs, and they fight off squads of the dreaded Stormtrooper Corps. The GM can use the mass combat rules to simulate the ebb and flow of battle as fighting rages all around the PCs.

Whether or not they compete their mission, the PCs must eventually fall back to the base only to find it brimming with sandtroopers. After fighting their way to the hangar, the party discovers another mysterious device that raises suspicions of a traitor in their midst. Once again, the Rebels call on the PCs for help, asking them to sneak to the depths of the base and rig the generators to explode, destroying any sensitive information before the Imperials overrun the base.

 

With what time they have left, the PCs board their ships and take the battle to the skies. They protect the evacuation transports while they make their jump to hyperspace, meeting up again at their rendezvous point. The Rebels pause as long as they can to remember the fallen and rally for the fight ahead. The PCs have a chance to reveal the strange device they found and voice their suspicions of an Imperial spy, but Alliance commanders relegate their concerns to the sidelines while more immediate concerns loom. From there, what is left of the Rebel fleet journeys onward to a remote planet deep in Jaga’s Cluster where they hope to reestablish a base of operations.

 

At the beginning of Episode 2, the first few days are hectic and tense as the remaining Rebels build up the defenses of their new home deep in the swamps of Jagomir. Soon, the PCs set out deep into the dangerous terrain to hunt down a fearsome predator preying on the Rebel troops. During their mission, they find more evidence of a traitor – what remains of a hidden data cache – and return to begin their search for the spy. The PCs can pursue their investigation as they see fit, interviewing or even interrogating their comrades, but morale is low, and they could arouse suspicions themselves if they do not tread lightly.

 

The PCs realize that, as they get closer to unraveling the mystery of the signal booster, they are sent on longer and deadlier missions into the marshes outside. They are tasked with exploring an abandoned pirate compound, collecting rare herbs to treat many of the wounded from the Battle of the Gauntlet, following up on legends from the time of the Old Republic, and finally establishing sensor outposts in the surrounding area to help detect any further Imperial threats. In between assignments, the PCs can begin to piece together a story from their interviews and discover new clues that lead to the spy.

 

Finally, the PCs discover the identity of the traitor, but it is too late. Exposed, Var Narek takes Setenna Hase at blaster point as he makes his escape to contact his Imperial handlers. The PCs must now track him down in order to prevent him from exposing the Jagomir base and giving Setenna over to the Imperials for questioning.

 

In Episode 3, navigating to and from Jagomir requires precise astrogation calculations that account for mass shadows and gravitic fluctuations of Jaga’s Cluster specific to each direction. Luckily, the PCs have this knowledge and Var Narek does not, relying solely on Setenna’s cooperation. This gives the PCs a chance to make up for lost time and even beat him to his destination, Ord Radama. This shortcut, however, also takes them past an Imperial patrol, and the slightest misstep means an interdictor-class cruiser pulls the PCs’ ships out of hyperspace and into a perilous confrontation with the Eternal Wrath.

 

After the PCs have escaped, they make their way to Livien Magnus, the capital city of Ord Radama, where they have only so much time to determine where Var Narek plans to go with Setenna. They are given the chance to make contact with two separate Rebel cells to help them in their quest and learn the distressing truth behind Var’s treachery: the Imperials manufactured the death of his family and framed the Rebel Alliance to turn him to their cause.

 

The PCs can explore the various districts of the City in order to find details that will help them lay a trap for the traitor. Eventually they discover the location of the Narek manor and pursue Var to the estate on the outskirts of the city. They confront him but not before the spy’s handler, Malau Jocaos and his Stormtrooper forces surround and attack the mansion. The desperate firefight results in the death of Var Narek. Malau Jocaos retrieves Setenna and brings her back to Livien Magnus, and a chase ensues when the PCs follow him on their speeder bikes or in their ship.

 

They follow him down a dark alley and fight through the tunnels that lead to the Imperial Intelligence Service headquarters deep under the Imperial Opera House. The adventure climaxes as the PCs face off against an AT-ST with only their blasters at their sides and their wits about them. They catch up with the spymaster and recover Setenna, giving the Rebel Sec-Force a chance to fight another day.

 

Location: Arda I, Jagomir, Ord Ramada

 

Good for: Beginning a campaign or rebels early in their career

 

View: This module sets the gold standard on what an Age of Rebellion module is in my mind. The first act of this adventure is the best encounter that I’ve read in FFG material that I’ve read to date (and may be the best overall encounter that I’ve reviewed so far). This act has the feeling of the Battle of Hoth, and the author did a wonderful job creating individual encounters for the PCs to shine in the midst of a gigantic invasion of the rebel base. Act two, however, left something to be desired, and is what held this module back from receiving a perfect score. While I like the idea of the PCs helping settle the rebel cell at a new base, the encounters were sort of bland. The other major development of act two is where the PCs begin an investigation to find the traitor among the rebels. While an investigation in itself is fine, the data isn’t organized in a way to make for easy facilitation by the GM. Even after reading this section twice, I don’t think that I could properly conduct an investigation session well, would need to do a bunch of additional side work to be fluent in all of the NPCs (there are many) and help guide the PCs. Quick takes on the investigation element: (i) the PCs will immediately figure out who the traitor is on the first interview, (ii) the players wont enjoy this section because they will feel lost, and won’t know what to do next, (iii) the GM should prepare two “cheat sheets”, one for himself/herself and one for the PCs. The GM sheet should have all of the NPCs, descriptions, position/rank, why they may be a suspect, why they aren’t, major plot points to convey, and the reference page. For the PC sheet, this one should simply have a roster of the NPCs and descriptions to the extent the PCs know them with a bunch of places for them to take notes so they can try to triangulate around their investigation. Act three comes back strong. The beginning of the act feels very Rogue One, with the PCs looking to get in contact with the Rebel cell on Ord Ramada, then do some searching for their kidnapped friend. One of my favorite locations was the Imperial Opera House, with imperial banners fluttering in front of the building. The imagery really invokes a heavy Nazi propaganda / WWII feeling. The final chase scene seems a little forced and far too cinematic than most players will enjoy ( a lot of hand waving and escaping of important evil NPCs which could leave a bad taste in players’ mouths). The act ends with a bang, as the underground fight with the AT-ST has some really fun elements to it. Overall, not much that I’d add or change here, as this is a very strong module all around. For best use, I’d recommend introducing the PCs to the base at Arda I and the NPCs therein a few modules (but not too many) before you plan to run Onslaught. Get them somewhat familiar, and get them attached to their base before bringing on the invasion.

 

Rating: Excellent (4.7 / 5.0)

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As promised, No Safe Haven! Also, a quick reminder to re-follow this topic if interested. I had a hard time finding this thread with all the new changes to the board! Just wanted to say that I thought you guys did a great job on this one.

 

NO SAFE HAVEN

Source: Standalone fan-made adventure by Rancor Publishing

Synopsis: In act one, the PCs realize that their Imperial pursuers are closing in, but fortunately one of them knows of an offshore island sanctuary known as Haven-Besh where they may be safe, at least for a while. The group realizes that the best place to secure transport to the island will be at the Cap City Seaport, which is also where the contact that informed them of the imminent attack on Tarkintown has requested a meeting.

Unfortunately he is under suspicion by his immediate superior, who is hosting a pazaak tournament on his private yacht and wants the potential traitor within his sight at all times. The PCs may use their gambling skills or if all else fails brute force to secure the yacht and make their way to Haven-Besh.

The PCs have a chance to rest, recuperate, and discover the sights, sounds and personalities of the sanctuary in act two. Unfortunately, the respite may be short lived, as it seems the PCs activities may be bringing unwelcome attention to the island hideaway. The PCs may need to say farewell to their new allies sooner than they expected, but who knows if they might be able to return in the future?

If the PCs are going to get away from Lothal in act three, they’ll need a ship. Unfortunately there is an imperial operation underway, led by the Imperial Security Bureau and the Emperor’s personal enforcer, Darth Vadar, to capture a high profile rebel cell that has been causing greater problems on Lothal than the PC group. The PCs must gain favor with the Gray Syndicate, a Lothal criminal network, in order to infiltrate the Transport Ministry and find a suitable ship to get them off world. Maybe they can use the confusion of the ongoing operation, and competition within the ranks of the ISB to their advantage?

Location: Lothal, but could take place on any Imperial-controlled planet

Good for: Any beginning heroes

View: This is a fun sequel to the first fan-made Spark of Rebellion module, Shadows Over Tarkintown and continues the origin story of a group of a group of down on their luck spacers and their escape from an Imperial settlement camp off the planet of Lothal. Overall, I really enjoyed this module and thought that there were some really creative mechanics and scenes that sparked a whole host of other ideas for me. While some of the scenes were a bit confusing (below) and there were numerous proof reading mistakes (something that was better in SoT), there is still a lot to love and borrow for any GM looking to spruce up his or her campaign.

Notes / highlights:

Pazaak Side Bar - unclear how the card draw works. Do I do one of each of the actions and then choose which one I'm doing? The rules say that I can check the side deck but don't define what that means.

Boat Encounter: I really like how the pazaak tournament is set up so everyone can engage, and the specialty rolls for each of the players makes it interesting and exciting. A must-use for any gambling focused session. I also found the gravball and mag glove to both mechanically and thematically fun.

Gray Syndicate: this section allowed for a number of small montage / side quests while the PCs work off some obligation for a local gang. I absolutely loved this mechanic where the PCs can choose which jobs they want to undertake to earn their access.

Haven-Besh: While I really liked the rebel NPCs and all of the flavor, etc., I didn’t much care for the location of Haven-Besh itself.

ISB Plot: I feel that the ISB wheels within wheel plot is too nuanced to come out during game play and it will be difficult for have the trail of breadcrumbs come out in the right way. Additionally, by having the major villain basically give the PCs an out, it takes too much agency from them. The PCs need to feel like they earned escape in my view.

Ministry: Even though I like the alarm aspect to it, the ministry itself felt a little forced. This is near the climax of the action, so I’d pick up the pace here to quickly get to the end. This was saved for me by the end, however – the PCs getting to select which ship to release from lockdown is a cool touch, and I really enjoyed the docking bay encounter where the PCs need to race the mechanics that are dashing to close the hangar doors.

Escape into hyperspace: similar to my gripe about the ISB plot, I feel that the beacons in space takes agency away from the PCs and needs to be tweaked.

This is definitely a strong module with a wealth of interesting stuff that has a place in the beginnings of an EotE or AoR campaign. As I thought about if I were to use it, I’d make the following modifications:

I’d cut out the entirely of the boat hijack piece, and have the PCs travel directly to Capital City. Once there, I’d really play up the lockdown and curfew aspects of the City, perhaps with an encounter or two of my own devising. I’d split the McGuffin into two – (i) the imperial codes through the Gray Syndicate, (ii) the location of a rebel cell from the local rebels in Capital City. I’d run the obligation mechanic for each of them, with the local rebel extremists wanting an assassination of a local imperial / gov’t official, and the Syndicate running the shakedown for protection money and code stealing encounters. This will solve the same function with one getting you into the Ministry and the other getting you the plot hook to the next module.  Rather than using Haven-Besh for the rebel location, I’d move the location either inside or in the surrounding area of the Capital City (perhaps put the hiding spot in the sewers?). Once in the Ministry, streamline the sneaking, do the unlocking of the starships, then escape the ISB agent rather than the plot as the module follows. For the beacons as the PCs escape, switch this somehow to be the PC’s contact at the Ministry who provides the cover to give them safe exit (and probably make the PCs know that he sacrificed his life to get them off world with that stunt).

Rating: Strong (4.0 / 5.0)

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TRAITOR’S GAMBIT (DAWN OF DEFIANCE EPISODE 1)

Source: WotC Adventure Path (Free PDF)

Synopsis: After a chance encounter on a space station with a desperate agent of Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan, the heroes negotiate with a local crime lord to obtain valuable cargo intended for the Senator. Once they deliver the cargo, the heroes learn that it is actually a man frozen in a carbonite who carries secret information for the Senator. Based on this information, the heroes the heroes are hired (as friends of Bail Organa, enemies of the Empire, or freelance entrepreneurs) to fly to the planet Felucia and discover the fate of a turncoat Imperial Admiral. If the Admiral still lives, they are to bring him back to Alderaan.

The heroes arrive to find Felucia under tight Imperial control. After a brief skirmish with some Imperial starships in orbit, their ship makes a hard landing on Felucia to avoid detection. The ship is damaged, though Captain Okeefe believes that it can be repaired. Once they are prepared, the heroes venture out into Felucia’s jungles in search of signs of civilization. After fighting their way through the local flora and fauna, they discover a hidden village of Felucians that have fled into the jungles to escape Imperial oppression.

The heroes negotiate for a guide to take them to a nearby Imperial facility known to the locals only as the “Vanishing Place.” In truth, this is a prison for Imperial dissidents and traitors where Admiral Varth is being held. The heroes prepare to set off for the prison when a cry goes up in the village – a scout trooper has just spotted the village and is headed back to alert the Empire! This leads to a chase scene in which the heroes ride kybucks in pursuit of the scout trooper. Once the trooper has been stopped, the heroes convince the Felucians to lead them to the Imperial base immediately so that they can rescue the Admiral and stop bringing danger to the hidden village.

The heroes and their guide set off for the Imperial prison facility. It is heavily guarded from the outside, but the Felucian guide knows a secret way in. Once inside the base, the heroes find it more lightly guarded. During the search for Admiral Varth, the heroes come across a communication from Imperial Naval Command indicating that Inquisitor Draco is en route to Felucia to take custody of the Admiral. The heroes fight their way through the facility and eventually find Admiral Varth in the detention block. They free him and head back to the secret entrance where their Felucian guide supposedly awaits their return.

Unfortunately, the heroes find trouble instead. Their guide lies dead, and Imperials are gathering outside the facility. About this time, Captain Okeefe sends the heroes a message. She has completed repairs to the ship and can pick them up when they are ready. On their way to the roof, the heroes must deal with the cruel Captain Vichera and his genetically modified bodyguards. Once they reach the roof, they board Okeefe’s ship and blast off from Felucia.

The adventure concludes as the heroes bring Admiral Varth to the rendezvous point designated by Senator Organa. There, the heroes are introduced to the Nebulon-B frigate Resurgence, which has been commissioned by Organa to serve as a mobile hiding spot for the Admiral. Aboard the Resurgence, Admiral Varth is debriefed and provides the heroes and Senator Organa information related to a top-secret Imperial project.

Location: Sel Zonn Station (Brentaal), Alderaan, Felucia,

Good for: Fringers and spacers of all types, a good transition into getting the PCs caught up in the Rebellion

View: This is on the list for best Star Wars module of all time. It captures the essence of the SW galaxy perfectly through a wonderful combination of encounters. All of the encounters in this module are good and even then there are two real standouts – the meeting with Switch, the faulty protocol droid crime boss (along with the subsequent negotiation to purchase a rebel agent frozen in carbonite) and the chase scene on beastback through the Felucian jungle.

Though I haven’t played through this module, I could see a couple of points creating a lull in the action, particularly the downtime searching for the Felucian viliage, and the dungeon crawl within the prison facility. I’d recommend shortening these two scenes a bit to make it a bit more punchy and get to the more exciting parts of the adventure.

While this module was originally written to take place years before Battle of Yavin, it can easily be rejiggered to fit any timeline by replacing Bail Organa with any Rebel sympathizer. Further, the locations within the module are flexible as well, and can really take place anywhere in the galaxy.

This module was very well done and a real treat to read. I’m already looking forward to reading the next in this series but Traitor’s Gambit sets a very high bar.

Rating: Stellar (5.0 / 5.0)

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I was vastly underwhelmed by the Dawn of Defiance story arc. While the core was okay, I don't think any of the chapters escaped my Red Pen unscathed. Badguy motivations that made no sense, bad guys that turned out to have Joker Immunity one too many times, and a climax that needed some serious work. For example, chapters 5 and 6, where the players have to infiltrate the Inquisitor's fortress on Courscant - the facility gets blown up and it's clear that unauthorized personnel hit the instillation. The game as written had the second half of that game as casual, that the players get to retreat to their safehouse and plan their escape from the Empire. 

This is nonsense.

The Empire just had a major, top secret facility destroyed. The Empire is going to be hunting the rebels at every turn. This should be tense, paranoia should run high, danger should lurk around every corner. The GM should keep the pressure on, not allowing the tension to slack for a moment. The players don't get to plan, they get to run and dodge and avoid capture by the skin of their teeth.

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I wasn't going to say anything, but since Desslok broke the ice...

I was also disappointed with Dawn of Defiance; so much so that we never finished it. The first few chapters aren't bad, though the Nemesis died several times in our play-through. Chapter 5 is excellent, but is essentially a side-quest that has little to do with the overall story. Chapter 8 had a lot of potential as a concept, but was poorly realized. The "climax" of the campaign in Chapter 10 was ridiculous and almost-certainly fatal for any group of PCs not specialized in starfighter combat. After reading ahead, we quit between chapters 5 & 6.

I really wanted to like DoD, and I did at first, but it's all downhill from the first few chapters.

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I was able to salvage the game in a couple of ways:

* The Big Bad Inquisitor for the story? I dumped him and used a bad guy from one of the player's past. This, of course is only right and proper GMing.

* The Chapter 4 side quest that felt superfluous? I used it for my annual Halloween game, filled the planet with Sith artifact animated zombies, had Big Bad Inquisitor chase after it. This was the first showdown where "Nobody could have survived that!", but I made her death so over the top and obvious that she was destined to come back that it took the sting out of her coming back. It was a saber fight over a lava river in an exploding volcano about to be overrun with Zombies, with a Star Destroyer about to crash into the whole mess. When she toppled over from the last saber strike and fell into the darkness below, I used the exact phrase "Nobody could have survived that", and the players accepted it - but that was a trick I could only get away with once.

* An extensive re-write on the two chapters on Courscant to keep the pressure on as mentioned above. When they get back to the rebel fleet for some badly needed rest, they find the Empire attacking and have to jump in the thick of it again. They catch sight of an extensively cybernized Big Bad Inquisitor fleeing the command ship with the groups NPC Padawan that they have been nurturing captive. The Inquisitor gets away, and that glimpse is enough to keep the badguy as a threat without the Joker Immunity.

* The Inquisitor turns and brainwashes the padawan so the next time the canned game has the Inquisitor just barely get away again, it's the brainwashed friend that they have to fight to the death. Plus the Inquisitor taunts them from afar via hologram.

* Chapter 8 was fun, after I overhauled it. Mostly I added an imperial Moff and some stormtroopers to the guest list so the Jedi heavy team had to keep their Force on the Down-low. They also got a chance to fight with the Stormtroopers against the bigger pirate threat.

* For the Climax that needed fighter pilots, I divided into three missions: a team to disable the Sarlacc's shields, a team to hit the platform and a team to fly into the Sarlacc to strike the final blow. That way they players could volunteer for whatever task they felt they could handle and I would simply move the final showdown with the Inquisitor to whatever mission they chose. We did wind up doing the starfighter portion, but I pretty extensively hand-waved it as a chase (this was back in the D6 rules without a chase mechanic) and let them use the teams YT1300 because of course there's enough room to fly around in a Star Destroyer with one of those. 

There were probably some more re-writes I did, but that was the major plot points I recall off the top of my head. It was a very, very long time ago when I ran that.

Edited by Desslok

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Hey folks! I love and encourage the debate. I'm always very interested to hear others' opinions on modules, particularly once they've been game tested, since I'm always going to have at least a somewhat skewed view since I'm only reading through the for entertainment. But from what I hear from Desslok and Snuffy, it's more of an issue of mid-to-late modules being poorly constructed / less realistic than they should be and needed significant updates.

I'll keep that in mind as I read through the remainder of these puppies and would love to hear any specific changes you made on a module-by-module basis to make them more playable.

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A WRETCHED HIVE (DAWN OF DEFIANCE EPISODE 2)

Source: WotC Adventure Path (Free PDF)

Synopsis: At a briefing aboard the Resurgence, Admiral Varth explains that part of his responsibility in a secret Imperial scheme known as the Sarlacc Project was to arrange the covert exchange of resources through a Hutt crime lord on the planet Cato Neimodia. Captain Verana orders the heroes to travel aboard Captain Okeefe’s transport to Cato Neimodia, make contact with the Darga, the Hutt gangster, and discover what he’s trading with the Empire.

First, the heroes must find one of Darga’s underlings, a Devaronian named Warrick Raden – at a ruined warehouse. Though Raden does not wish to help them, the heroes must convince him to lead them to a hidden location in the city of Zarra. The building is in fact Darga the Hutt’s palace, which the crime lord took over after it’s previous inhabitant (a high-ranking member of the Trade Federation) vanished, leaving it abandoned. The heroes enter the palace and are granted an audience with the Hutt. Darga has ordered them brought to him so he can size them up, and he offers to let the heroes stay in his court for a few days, giving them a chance to impress him and gain his trust.

The heroes stay in the palace’s guest quarters. During the final night of their stay, any Force-sensitive characters begin to hear whispers, as though someone were trying to communicate with them telepathically, and they feel a tugging in the Force toward one of the other rooms. Following the whispers, they discover a secret set of chambers below the guest quarters. Inside is a comatose woman, older and gray with weathered features, who is hooked up to machinery that is keeping her unconscious. Once the heroes revive her, they discover that she is a former Jedi master named Denia who has been kept comatose ever since she fell in battle during the Clone Wars. Unfortunately, the heroes’ meddling hasn’t gone unnoticed, and Darga calls the palace guards, leaving the entire building in an uproar.

As the heroes fight their way back to the upper levels of Darga’s palace, they quickly discover that the Hutt is living up to his species’ reputation for cowardice. Terrified at the prospect of having a Jedi loose in his palace, Darga flees to his space yacht and takes off for the planet Bespin. Though the Hutt leaves town in a hurry, his minions remain behind to finish off the intruders.

Location: Cato Neimoida

Good for: PCs continuing the story from DoD 1, somewhat of a plug and play adventure for any adventurers sent to curry a Hutt’s favor

View: While definitely liked this one, I didn’t totally love it. The goal of this module is to give some teasers into the Sarlacc Project, the Empire’s top secret project for galactic domination. The Sarlacc Project is first introduced in the PC’s briefing by the newly freed Imperial turncoat from Episode 1, which feels a bit rail roaded, but totally needed to convey enough info to get the players interested.

This module contains a very large number of encounters, typical to the WotC adventures of this era, which in lies my biggest complaint. It felt that the author was trying to drag a fairly long side quest into a full length adventure by adding a bunch of additional filler to fill out a few gaming sessions. While none of the encounters are bad, in my view, I think a number of them could be cut to streamline the module, hit the high points, and keep the action flowing.

That said, I really enjoyed the mechanic of how the PCs can gain (or lose) Darga’s trust through their actions with each encounter throughout the module.

Here’s a quick rundown of the encounters:

Finding Darga’s palace: this is a pretty long encounter where the PCs track down a swoop gang and follow the bread crumbs to figure out the location of the Hutt’s palace. It’s a pretty bland encounter that’s mostly set-up for a later encounter where the PCs need to make a moral choice (below). Recommendation: simplify this as much as possible, perhaps just write-in the capturing of the adventure hook to skip this all together.

The execution: the PCs are asked to execute the swoop gang leader in front of the Hutt’s hangers-on for Darga’s vengeance. Recommendation: definitely a keeper, but perhaps cut much of the capture of the swoop gang boss to make this faster.

Gladiators: a gladiator fight within the Hutt’s entertainment pits, where the PCs can wager or participate. This one is a bit of push to get a combat in this module, and makes for an easy cut.

Slavers: this interaction moves the plot forward and is pretty interesting. Recommendation: include.

Droid racing: this one was kinda meh in my opinion. Similarly to the gladiators module, this one felt like an excuse to get the pilot some action. I wouldn’t include as-is, but could adjust this one to make it interesting. Rather than being some weird VR headset thing, perhaps change this to make the racing PC actually on droid-back or riding some alien creature instead? Recommendation: probably worth including after a -write but meh as is.

Exploring the palace: all of these are good. The run-in with the birds at the observatory and the discussion with the Hutt’s moneylender should both be included.

Visit from the protocol droid: the tie-in to Switch, the droid gangster from Episode 1 seems like a real reach and a bad way to feed the PCs information. The PCs will likely collect a lot of this information along the way and doesn’t need to come through this channel. Recommendation: definite cut.

Imperial visitors: Undercover Imperial operatives show up to negotiate with Darga and hints at is he heart of the breadcrumbs for the next module in this series. I enjoyed that basically Darga is looking for a “yes man” that agrees with his negotiation tactic! Definite include.

Hidden enemies: assassins at the PCs for no good reason other than to add some combat to the module? Totally unnecessary. Recommendation: an easy cut.

Rescuing Denia: in the basement, the Hutt has a fallen Jedi Master locked away and attached to a machine to keep her alive. I enjoy the concept and the execution of this one from rescuing the Jedi to fighting their way out of the Hutt’s forces, including his Force-sensitive majordomo. My real question is why did Darga keep the Jedi alive and in stasis? While it doesn’t come up in this module as to why, I think it is important background for the GM to know and is worth making up. Perhaps the majordomo wants to use her as leverage with the Empire? Perhaps thinks he can sell her off somehow? Recommendation: include.

Lastly, I wanted to say something about usage of this module. I feel like this one has more value in an AoR game that would allow the players to experience the seedy underbelly of EotE, but may feel too vanilla if it is just another grimy Hutt palace.

Rating: Good but not as good as Episode One (4.0 / 5.0)

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Ah, reading your overview, I remember what I did with Chapter 2: I dumped Denia. The idea of "The only reason I exist is to hand out missions" really bugged the **** out of me. I was able to swap her with that Padawan that the team found that got kidnapped and turned.

So yeah, if I were keeping Denia around, build her up as more than just the Mission Giver, have her exit stage left in Episode 8 and force a showdown with her towards the end. MUCH more impact on the story than just "The force tells me to tell you to go to Bespin" or whatever.

 

(Oh and just to give him some color, I turned Darga into a playah pimp daddy. Cheap malt liquor, gaudy clothed for his guards, blinged out his palace - he totally stood out from the rest of the hutts that way)

Edited by Desslok

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8 hours ago, lupex said:

This site has some really good reviews of the original west end games adventures, and other articles, to supplement the excellent work of Aurin 

http://starwarsdakota.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/my-top-10-star-wars-adventure-modules.html?m=0

 

Wow, they thought rather highly of the Game Chambers of Questral. I've never actually ran the game, but I've read the adventure up and down several times. The list of notes of changes I'd have to implement to make the game good is longer than the page count itself. That thing is a train wreck, hands down the worst game WEG ever put to paper.

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Wretched Hive - I didn't have a problem with Denia as presented in the module, outside that I think it's pretty far fetched that Darga and his majordomo would keep her alive on a stasis machine without some intricate plan (and that plan isn't provided in the module). Your complaint seems to be about Denia's role in the upcoming modules, which I'll pay a close attention to as I get there. I personally thought it was a decent / plausible way to meet a Jedi in the ANH time frame and would be a good excuse to act as a mentor for any force-sensitive EotE character.

Game Chambers - I'm with you here. Several years ago I read the review and thought it sounded great, then read the module. I didn't really see what all the fuss was about. While I really liked the first half of the module where the PCs make contact at the bar, then run into the beast of burden being effected by the mind control device, then the floating palace with the pit fight, the back half of the module devolves into a hack and slash dungeon crawl that falls flat for me.

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I do remember playing it back in the day and making a pretty good couple of sessions out of it, but I probably adapted it as I went as I do with most adventures.  So fun but not overly memorable.

I guess a lot of it comes out of what you find fun and interesting at the time, I mean Aurin actually really liked Onslaught on Arda 1, whereas I thought it was full of holes and too many GM fiat moments to make it workable.  As long as we all enjoy when we play then it's ok to have different views on the same adventure.

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I've just discovered this thread through a Google search and I have to say, it's fantastic.

Could our friendly neighbourhood mod please pin this post? Or perhaps this can be added to the compiled post?

Edited by ddbrown30

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