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MisterJuan

Campaign idea : hybrid RPG/Strategy

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This might come through as a bit of a jumbled mess, so let me apologize for that straight out of the gates. In a nutshell, I’ve been toying with a half decent/half formed idea for an AoR campaign, which I’ll probably run both for my gaming group and online in PbP form. Ever since getting my hands on AoR and the various source books, I’ve been really keen about the idea of having a group of rebels (PCs) run through the various stages of establishing a base of operation for the Rebellion. The fact that the intro scenarios already deal with the takeover of a base (the 2 whisper base adventures) already sets the ground for that, which I’m thankful for ;) I remember seeing a thread somewhere around here where someone even suggested that the PCs, once they control the base, could upgrade it bit per bit, get more personnel, etc… which I really liked. Currently, this is what I’m considering for the original setup for the game: let the players assemble a squad for the mission, gear them up and run the takeover of the base.

 

When I say assemble a squad, I’m picturing it as allowing the players to sift through maybe two dozen “personnel file” of NPCs and allow them to choose a certain set amount of troops to fill out their squad. Let’s say there’s 3 PCs: I’d let them pick out an additional 9 NPCs to go along with them. Once the base is secure, they can assign said NPCs duties around the base, send them on missions, go on missions with them, etc… Basically, it’ll open up some interesting possibilities. Have an Ace PC? Well, in time, he can build up his own little squadron! Things like that. With time and depending on how the plot advances, the PCs could either recruit/ask for either extra NPCs or minions. Anyone have any suggestion on how to handle that? I’m just fishing for ideas J

 

The part where I’m sort of hitting a wall is how much credit (if any) should the PCs get originally to equip their squads. Should all the NPCs come with their own basic loadouts, or should a PC act as “quartermaster” for the first mission, spend credit and assign gear?

 

Same goes for the construction/expansion/upgrading of the base: should I give them set choices or let them decide for themselves. By set choices I mean every set amount of time they get to pick something from a list. Ex: get a medical center OR 4 Y wings OR a shield generator OR better blasters to be stocked in the armory. Or just make a giant list with credit cost and let them spend/save up a budget however they fancy. Again, suggestions? Ideas?

 

So, basically, this would make the game into a hybrid RPG/Strategy game, with moments centered around building up the base, planning missions, etc… and RP moments with PCs going on said missions, dealing with running the base, the surrounding planet/sector, etc…

Also… would anyone here be willing to try out this sort of game PbP or PbEmail? 

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Honestly I wouldn't make that many NPCs.  I would make up a few standard "Unit types," while the PC's should be the "Hero Units."  If they're just working with a small squad, generate a dozen random names and assign 'em.  That gives them something to yell when a guy gets blasted!  "Nooo! They got Johnny!  He had a neat scar, and that's the only thing I know about him because he's just Minion #3!"

Beyond that, you might just have a couple Rivals as squad leaders, but I wouldn't even use them all that much.  If you have multiple missions all taking place in different places at the same time, they could come in handy as stand-in PCs, but they're still a step down.

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A lot of your questions can be answered by the PCs' connection to the Alliance, using the existing Duty mechanics. At first, it'll just be the PCs and maybe a droid or two on the base, while they work to justify its existence to their superiors. After running successful missions (i.e. adventures), they may be entrusted with additional personnel, in order to accomplish more difficult missions. When they reach a Duty milestone, they can get an infrastructure or major systems upgrade for the base.

 

A couple of things to consider: 1) They should have a plan for the base, a desired end state. I'd encourage you (and them) to justify it to their superiors in character. Knowing where they want to go will make it a lot easier on you, and let you plan missions for them that tie into that theme. 2) As it mentions in the AoR CRB, cells are supposed to be largely self-sufficient when it comes to operating expenses. While the Alliance will always want their cut - and the PCs should want to give it to them - you could toss them some smash-and-grab type missions to get them operating capital to hire work done, buy upgrades, and pay their hirelings.

 

Keep in mind, too, that a base represents a security risk for the Alliance. It's up to the party to keep it secure and justify its use - that's why I suggest they have a plan. Is it a squadron base for snubfighters or interceptors? Is it a construction facility for some key weapons component? Is it a salvage & repair facility capable of refitting a CR90? The PCs want to be heros (of course) and have an ultra-cool base to hang out at between missions. The Alliance, in my opinion, would look at it from the point of view of cost-benefit analysis, i.e. "how badly would it hurt us if this base were overrun and all information captured by the enemy?"

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Honestly I wouldn't make that many NPCs.  I would make up a few standard "Unit types," while the PC's should be the "Hero Units."  If they're just working with a small squad, generate a dozen random names and assign 'em.  That gives them something to yell when a guy gets blasted!  "Nooo! They got Johnny!  He had a neat scar, and that's the only thing I know about him because he's just Minion #3!"

 

The issue is, I actually want to avoid the whole faceless minion thing. I'm all for them in large encounters/mass combat, but the way I'm planning things, the PCs will be able to assign those NPCs tasks. They'll be like supporting characters in a movie instead of just extras. 

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A lot of your questions can be answered by the PCs' connection to the Alliance, using the existing Duty mechanics. At first, it'll just be the PCs and maybe a droid or two on the base, while they work to justify its existence to their superiors. After running successful missions (i.e. adventures), they may be entrusted with additional personnel, in order to accomplish more difficult missions. When they reach a Duty milestone, they can get an infrastructure or major systems upgrade for the base.

 

A couple of things to consider: 1) They should have a plan for the base, a desired end state. I'd encourage you (and them) to justify it to their superiors in character. Knowing where they want to go will make it a lot easier on you, and let you plan missions for them that tie into that theme. 2) As it mentions in the AoR CRB, cells are supposed to be largely self-sufficient when it comes to operating expenses. While the Alliance will always want their cut - and the PCs should want to give it to them - you could toss them some smash-and-grab type missions to get them operating capital to hire work done, buy upgrades, and pay their hirelings.

 

Keep in mind, too, that a base represents a security risk for the Alliance. It's up to the party to keep it secure and justify its use - that's why I suggest they have a plan. Is it a squadron base for snubfighters or interceptors? Is it a construction facility for some key weapons component? Is it a salvage & repair facility capable of refitting a CR90? The PCs want to be heros (of course) and have an ultra-cool base to hang out at between missions. The Alliance, in my opinion, would look at it from the point of view of cost-benefit analysis, i.e. "how badly would it hurt us if this base were overrun and all information captured by the enemy?"

 

You bring up extremely valid points! Thanks!

 

I think that using the Duty mechanic, as you suggested is a very good idea. That definitely goes on the list. And now that you bring up the whole base justification thing, I'm starting to think that maybe I'll ditch the Whisper Base from the scenario and go with the one from the Stronghold of the Resistance sourcebook (the crashed capital ship inside a cave thing). It already has a list of progression steps established in the book which I can just mine for ideas. Thanks for the feedback!

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Desperate Allies suggests using Contribution Rank increases as a way to upgrade to PC-Controlled base (though it also provides credit values). Base upgrades that might apply to this situation would include an Armory, which might allow a basic/upgraded loadout for the NPC squads, and a Training Facility, which you could use to give an opportunity to shape the skillsets that their recruits grow into.

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I like this idea!  Here's an idea to add:

 

At the beginning, your base crew is just the PCs and a few administrative NPCs/minion-level guards.  Then, you're sent on recruiting missions to find people who can help you out.  You get a bunch of dossiers at once, and your PCs can tackle them however and whenever they want.  Some ideas for recruitable NPCs:

 

 

A mercenary who's posed interest in joining the alliance with his crew, but has been trapped on a planet by a crime syndicate, who's calling in a substantial debt owed.  Do you go in guns blazing and take out the syndicate, or help the mercenary repay his debt?

 

A strong and intelligent leader has incited rebellion on a small farming colony, but the Imperials showed up to break it up.  How will you break through the blockade and rescue this leader and the colonists?

 

A rogue Imperial official that has been feeding information to rebel spies has suddenly stopped contact.  Land on the planet and find out where they went, and see if you can bring some of the contact's network along.

 

Imperial forces have lost control of a prison station near the fringe to a large-scale riot that saw local forces captured or killed.  Many of those captured were rebel sympathizers, but the rest are hardened criminals that refuse to have anything to do with the war.  Can you rescue the rebels and return them to the Alliance, and can you convince the criminals to join the war on your side?

 

 

 

Each of these presents an opportunity to not only gain more personnel for your base, but also lets you recruit capable NPCs to act as your secondary task forces.  Doing these missions also cements your place in the Alliance as a whole; you start off as little more than a scouting force, but you quickly become something akin to a Special Forces team.

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When I say assemble a squad, I’m picturing it as allowing the players to sift through maybe two dozen “personnel file” of NPCs and allow them to choose a certain set amount of troops to fill out their squad.

 

I'm working with a campaign that does something A LOT like this and here's my advice:

 

1) Set up maybe like a dozen Characters generated using normal Player Character generation rules. Make them at different XP levels if you like (if you like, ask and I'll give my suggestions on that). Make them varied, and get some players suggestions on "who they want kicking around the base."

 

2) Make them effective, but built (at least initially) with some fluff to them, don't just build supermen. Additionally, add an interesting backstory to each, setting ground work for big campaign reveals, adventure points, and so on. So like if you want an Imperial spy to be a big campaign event, you can do things like ID the spy, but you can also do things like drop in a spy for the Bothans as a kind of red herring. Also you can build against the grain a little too. Perhaps you have a Pilot that's all talk, you can do something like build a Agitator with plenty of ranks in piloting. You can also laydown options like having character X know a secret about character Y they can blackmail them with, Character Z has a secret objective, and so on.

 

3) Categorize the characters (Fighter, Healer, Face, ect)  Have the players flip through a shortened dossier of all the players pick at least one character from each category (and build at least one of their own). That way they can always have a "right man for the job."

 

4) As each mission/adventure is laid out, let the player select a mission group composed of 1 player to 1 character. These will be the "leads" in the adventure and the primary characters controlled by the players. This will keep the combats from bogging down checking for dozens of NPCs.

 

5) When not in combat the players can jump around and even use any leftover unclaimed characters if they so desire (though they won't have access to the full writeup)

 

6) Get the GM Kit and Lead By Example. The GM kit provides rules for leading large groups of minions, foe those larger encounter where you want like 30 guys fighting at once. Lead By example provides a mass combat system that allows you to tie in an encounter chain so it flows like a larger battle, but you don't have to manage an actual large battle.

 

 

Award XP as a pool for each player instead of by character. So like they'll get 25XP for that last session, but they'll have to expend that across 4 characters instead of one. Motivate the players to spread it out a bit by reminding them that since they have such a big character pool to choose from, you won't be afraid to do things like have one of them be the traitor, or get killed, or whatever. So any character could disappear at any time.

 

 

The part where I’m sort of hitting a wall is how much credit (if any) should the PCs get originally to equip their squads. Should all the NPCs come with their own basic loadouts, or should a PC act as “quartermaster” for the first mission, spend credit and assign gear?

 

Both.

 

1) The playable characters all should have a baseline gear set that fits the core character concept. Don't lock yourself down with a credit cap, just think "what is the minimum gear this person will almost always have on their person?" and give them that. A little flourish is ok here and there, but keep it small, not everyone needs body armor, or even a weapon (more on this in a sec).

 

2) Actual NPCs (mostly minion) will be roughly the same way, but also set up deployment kits too. The troopers around the base will probably have something like a blast vest and helmet, a blaster rifle, and a comlink. That's it. When sent on a mission you upgrade them to carry extra reloads, a backpack, environmental gear, and anything else that is 100% vital for mission success (narrative restrictions apply of course). If it's space mission with EVA requirements, they all get spacesuits or vacuum suits, but they don't automatically get expensive night vision gear just because it's going to be a night mission.

 

3) The players can request or otherwise try and scrounge additional gear as needed. Forgo money and shopping and just say the base comes with supplies and work out from there. The negotiation for this will be with the base quartermaster (great slot for a bastard NPC) Like with troopers, anything that's reasonable for the base to have and the characters to need for a mission just requires a copy of their orders and the QM hands it over (stuff like three days of rations for a 3 day mission is pretty duh). But as the stuff the players want gets more exotic and unnecessary you can either make it unavailable, or require a check to talk the QM into issuing it to you. This folds back on 1. By not giving the players a ton of neat gear to start they have to look at this part and think a little. Whats more important, does the technician REALLY NEED a blaster rifle, or is it safe to assume he's not going to be doing any fighting on this mission and instead see about getting something else?

 

 

Same goes for the construction/expansion/upgrading of the base: should I give them set choices or let them decide for themselves. By set choices I mean every set amount of time they get to pick something from a list. Ex: get a medical center OR 4 Y wings OR a shield generator OR better blasters to be stocked in the armory. Or just make a giant list with credit cost and let them spend/save up a budget however they fancy. Again, suggestions? Ideas?

Outline the campaign first.

 

The thing here is maybe you want the base to come with certain upgrades. Or perhaps other upgrades will be game breaking or derail the campaign somehow. And some may look cool to be players, but be worthless in the actual campaign story..

 

Once you have a general idea where the campaign will go, you can start to think about what upgrades the players can get and not get. Ideally the players will be able to choose just about anything they want, but if there's somethings they'll never need, or that would disrupt the game, you'll need to know to keep them out of reach so the players can focus on the important things.

 

Again, don't sweat a budget too much, just go with the story.

Edited by Ghostofman

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Yet another approach to consider.

 

I've been thinking about a campaign with a completely different Sci-Fi franchise that organically deals with custom bases and then has teams go out on specific missions.  So yeah, kind of what you're describing.

 

In short, the players would have their Adventuring PC's, the typical guys who get down and dirty.

 

BUT, you would also set aside time (5-15 minutes) where the players would play the CO level/Board of Directors and deal with the logistics of base construction/maintenance/resource acquisition/etc.

 

Now here's the real trick; taking the decisions of the "Board" and then assigning the PC's to missions based on the direction presented by the "Board."

 

The way I conceptualized, it, the "Board" would be handed 3-5 options, each of which would tie directly to a given adventure or access to equipment or other useful resources.  You could also free-form these meetings so that the players push for another useful direction as they build up and manage the base.

 

Don't forget those pesty "random" encounters.

 

 

Another thought for PC's; you could have the players design "groups."  So for instance the players would have fighter pilot characters for those encounters, Soldiers, for dealing with combat situations, and the "Fixer" team who deals with trouble that can't be dealt with a blaster or fighter.

 

 

MisterJuan, I get what you're saying about having multiple NPC's or minion groups that the PC's could pick as teammates.  I've played in campaigns where this has worked very well.  As a player it can be fun fleshing out these otherwise "cardboard cutouts."  Be prepared to hand these "NPC's" to the players with total control.

 

Note that I haven't tried this with the Star Wars rules (yet*) but the mechanics are pretty easy and streamlined so this could work VERY well with your group.

 

 

* Our group is looking to transition our campaign and some of the players are talking about taking a different direction where we have multiple friendly and 'reliable' NPC's that we interact with as a Mercenary Group.  So we might try to sort through some of these same issues over the next couple of months too.

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Also, and this is just a thought, check out Desperate Allies, and the old WEG Hideouts and Strongholds (check the D6Holocron).

 

Desperate Allies is the FFG book that talks to rebel bases. It lays out base types, upgrades and so on.

 

Hideouts and Strongholds, while an older supplement, still provides a lot of interesting information that can apply to your campaign (one of the nice things about bases is they don't have many of the kind of stats that don't translate easily). The thing that's kinda cool here (in addition to the many examples of different base types) is it also breaks down base building a bit, going over details you might not have considered but may want to include. If the base runs off solar panel arrays or a fossil fuel buring generator is at it's core, just a fluff part. Power is power is power. BUT that fluff can translate to a campaign design. IF your base runs off solar, it needs a footprint on the surface for the array that makes it harder to hide. A fossil fuel plant is easier to hide, but also needs that delicious fuel, which the players may need to "acquire" regularly. So on.

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