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Concise Locket

Prepping the Next Campaign: A Quasi-Hexcrawl Approach

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Two weeks ago, my group finished its third FFG SW campaign using a mix of Edge of the Empire and Force & Destiny characters. The two approaches blended together quite well as both reflected stories about characters exploring the history of the Galaxy outside of the greater civil war. While the players did encounter and defeat a group of COMPNOR agents and an Inquisitor toward the campaign's end, not a single stormtrooper or TIE fighter battle was fought.

Our group was happy with the ending and everyone involved felt comfortable with the rules. For our next game, we mutually agreed on an Age of Rebellion campaign. We agreed that thematically appropriate species could be selected from books outside the AoR line but all careers would be from AoR. What I didn't tell them is that this, our fourth campaign, will be the last SW game I GM for awhile. There are other games I want to play and I don't want to burn out on Star Wars. So for my final - for now - Star Wars campaign I want to make it really special.

Because Age of Rebellion is the base standard Star Wars RPG setup - the players are Rebel agents fighting against the evil Galactic Empire - I wanted to avoid the West End Games style of game, where the PCs get their marching orders from a superior and run through a series of unrelated and pre-scripted mission-based adventures. I'm a fan of Justin Alexander's Hexcrawl (specifically the urbancrawl approach, with its keyed locations, geographic movement, and exploration-based default goal) and Prep-Situations, Not Plots GM advice articles, so I decided to start building a campaign using his approaches, rather than just going adventure by adventure. I also wanted my players to take Commander and Diplomat careers and to have their choices actually matter in the grand scale of their environment. With those guideposts, I started my prep-work.

Step 1: The Location Map.
In order to make this concept function, I knew I needed to have the players work in a defined set of space that was smaller than the overall Galaxy. Because FFG had published Edge supplements for Hutt Space and the Corellian Sector, I toyed with both of those locations but ultimately decided against them. The Hutts are so wily and powerful that the Empire doesn't actually influence their holdings or day-to-day business so that was out. The Corellian Sector could have worked but a) canonically speaking, it would be difficult to justify the players creating massive civil unrest in a Core World sector and b) I used that area quite a bit in my past two campaigns and wanted something new.

I had a PDF of West End Games' Far Orbit Project, the Rebels as space-pirates adventure, and was intrigued by the idea of a campaign set in a locked area of space that was bigger than a single sector. I considered using the Ringali Shell but, again, ran into a canonical problem of a Diplomat turning a Core World planet against the Empire. Thumbing through a copy of Essential Guide to Warfare, I discovered star maps of the Tion Cluster and realized I had my answer. The Far Orbit Project gave the players two sectors to run adventures in. Why not use the Tion Cluster and give the PCs five sectors to run in? If the PCs were facing too much Imperial heat in one sector, they could always duck into another. But there would be the underpinning knowledge that they'd eventually cross one too many Moffs.

The Tion Cluster was also a great choice because, while it was set in the Outer Rim and had a lot of backwater planets in its territory, it was an area with importance in pre-Republic history, and was the most heavily populated area in the Galaxy outside of the Core. This meant that it offered ecumenopolis city planets and desert backwater worlds and ancient ruins. The Tion Cluster was also adjacent to Mon Calamari space, which made it the SW equivalent of West Germany, with two powers jockeying for influence. The Tion Cluster was ALSO the former capital of the civilian government of the Separatists which meant there were probably a lot of hard feelings bubbling under all that productivity. Perfect.

My first action was to I make a regional star map based on a file I found on Wookieepedia. Some of the planets, like Lianna, Raxus, and Desevro, had pages of pre-written Wookieepedia information associated with them, pulled from WEG and Wizards of the Coast SW material. But most of them were short paragraph entries that barely told me anything. I'm great at research but terrible at writing entries from scratch so I opened my PDFs of West End Games' Planets of the Galaxy, volumes 1 through 3. Because the PoG entries are now non-canonical, for those Tion Cluster worlds that were lacking information, I cribbed high-level information from the PoG books and created semi-custom planet entries for the Tion Cluster. For example:


Function: trade, agriculture
Government: trade guilds
Population: 66 million
Major Terrain: plains, forests, urban, seas
Major Cities: Pasmin City
Major Exports: foodstuffs, bulk trade goods
Major Imports: luxury goods, bulk trade goods
Background: Pasmin is a temperate world that focuses on trade, which is restricted to Pasmin City, and agriculture. Huge farms cover the continents, producing grains and vegetables for export to planets throughout the sector. The world’s dominant terrain is rolling fields, with many sections of lush forest. Most visitors only see the sprawling spaceport of Pasmin City. It is the only true city on the planet, standing tall in the middle of simple farms.

I was able to find enough usable material to create entries for 80% of the star systems on the map. For the rest, I considered them "secondary" to the needs of the campaign and gave them simple one line entries.


Arramanx (Population: 9.8 billion; urban manufacturing; oligarchy).

With all my planets assigned a population, a purpose, an economy and an ecology, I was comfortable making a high-rez map using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

I had the broad strokes of the setting ready, now I needed to figure out what to do with it.

Coming up in Step 2: What are the characters going to do here?

Edited by Concise Locket

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Step 2: What Are the Characters Going to Do Here?
When our group decided that an Age of Rebellion campaign would be our next game, my players immediately started in with the usual pre-campaign chatter:

"A Clawdite spy would be so cool!"
"I wanna be an Ace pilot like my character that died two campaigns ago! Should we be a squadron?"
"Not to be too derivative but I want to be a Chiss commander."

And so on.

These conversations were happening before I had the setting locked down and the tone of the discussion was a debate between setting the group up as a squadron of fighter jocks that takes on unusual missions, like in the Dark Horse Rogue Squadron comics, or as a more typical mixed group of PCs that does commando-style raids. I didn't chime in very much other than to provide a cost-benefit analysis of each choice and suggesting career Diplomats could be pilots if they wanted to spend some points in Piloting (Space).

Until Rogue One was released last December, the idea that the Rebel Alliance is an Alliance and not a uniform organization is an idea that seemed to get pushed into the background. Having played the WEG D6 game in my youth, I recalled the concept of the Sector Force being spelled out in the Rebel Alliance Sourcebook. Alliance command - Princess Leia, Mon Mothma, et. all - weren't just the direct leaders of a small, highly-motivated army. They were assessing and assisting smaller resistance groups that were operating in tandem or independently of other Rebel assets. If you were trustworthy and did a good job at upholding the values of the Alliance, you got greater access to Alliance resources. The concept of the sector force was just background fluff for both the WEG and WotC Star Wars games but FFG actually put together a simple rules framework that brought this idea to the forefront. 

I immediately decided that I wanted the players to take ownership of the successes and failures of their choices and that meant letting them operate independently of Alliance Command. At least from the start. If they wanted to build their own rag-tag fleet, they could certainly do so. If they wanted to coordinate rebel activity on the planetary level, they could do that too. They wouldn't just be striking random targets and stealing McGuffin devices, they would be influencing the politics of their region of space. If they did a really good job, they would attract the Alliance's attention and be offered equipment in exchange for becoming a formal Sector Force. But what if they wanted to be a bunch of Saw Guerras who saw the ends justifying the means? That could be interesting too. What's nice about this system is that while, like all games, it's a behavior modification tool that rewards actions that the GM finds beneficial, it doesn't punish players for going a different way. Sure, access to the Alliance gives them intelligence reports, a flight of top-rate Y-Wing pilots at their disposal, and maybe a capital ship or two, but what if they don't want that? Hmmmmm.

I nailed down three key values for this campaign:

  1. It will be a character-driven, not mission driven, campaign. This means I'll be doing a lot of prep-work to get the setting going but if I'm smart, minimalist in my approach, and use pre-created fluff for jumping-off points (planets, NPCs, etc), I can minimize the waste.
  2. Players will build their own organization. They will recruit their own soldiers and operatives - giving Commanders an important role - and they will influence the support and resources that they receive from local systems - giving Diplomats an important role.
  3. Actions will have rewards or consequences. Or both. Big actions will have BIG rewards and BIG consequences.

I came back to the players with this pitch: "The Rebellion has been unable to get an active cell going in the Tion Cluster. Due to their importance as manufacturing and cultural centers and due to their proximity to Mon Calamari influence, the five sectors are locked down as tight as the Core Worlds. Your role in this campaign will be to build an active and successful Rebel organization in the Tion Cluster."

They thought it was a great idea and mutually agreed that a mixed group of PCs with different careers would be the way they would go. I decided that they would have a pre-written starter adventure in which they set up their first base (the Defiant Core base from Strongholds of Resistance was a good concept as the group's successes would allow they to bring new aspects of the base "on-line"), so I told them they'd be starting with a shuttle. The husband of one player may be joining us as a fifth but, for now, they've settled on a Commander (a former Imperial who is furious he was passed over for promotion [a possible red flag for the Rebel Alliance (I talked him out of being a Chiss)]), a Diplomat (a former Separatist Senator), a Soldier, and a Spy. So, for the time being, I don't need to worry about personal-scale pilot-to-pilot combat encounters unless, perhaps, the Commander wants to be a Squadron Leader.

With a Diplomat locked in, I wanted to set up each planet in the Tion Cluster with an Imperial Loyalty rating from -10 (a planet in full-on revolt) to +10 (they remember that you can't spell "Empire" without "Emperor"). For example: 


Imperial Loyalty: +3
Function: luxury goods, entertainment
Government: representative democracy
Population: 2 billion
Major Terrain: forest, plains
Major Cities: Calamar, Terril, Esprix
Major Exports: wine, art, luxury goods
Major Imports: manufactured goods, electronics, tourists
Background: The planet Derellium is a leading agricultural world in the Tion Cluster. Famous for its wines, some Cronese wine collections include centuries-old Derellium vintages. Derellium settlements have a quaint, rustic ambiance that appeals to citizens of the densely populated Cronese Mandate. The cities feature exciting and colorful hagglers’ markets, where tourists gleefully pay exorbitant prices for charming native wood crafts and sculptures. The underbrush of local forests provide an undisturbed playland for amateur naturalists.

With a +3 Loyalty rating, Derellium knows that the Empire is responsible for buttering its bread and sending wealthy Core Worlds tourists to purchase its artisan cheeses. However, it's not so loyal - or, at least, it doesn't care enough about Galactic politics - that a good pitch from some plucky rebels wouldn't change its mind.

I knew I wanted at least one world in open revolt, so I assigned Felucia with a -10. The natives are engaged in a full-on guerrilla campaign against the Empire but they lack any sort of resources or technical expertise to go much further. Felucia is too valuable for its medicinal herbs for the Empire to just reduce it into ash. So the Felucians and the Imperial Army are locked in a low-intensity but on-going conflict.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Desevro, an urban planet of bigots that was sterilized via bombardment by the Old Republic in ye olden tymes. Thus it will never, ever support anything that would return the Galaxy to the Republic system of governance. Go Empire! Boo aliens!

The campaign locations are in place. Next comes, Step 3: Ally and Enemy GM Characters.

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Normally I'm heavily in support of episodic adventure development that doesn't focus much on big strategic level thinking. This however intrigues me. I want to see how this unfolds as it looks like you built a rather open world concept with sufficient structure to tell a larger scale story without devolving into a runaway speeder...

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12 hours ago, Ghostofman said:

Normally I'm heavily in support of episodic adventure development that doesn't focus much on big strategic level thinking. This however intrigues me. I want to see how this unfolds as it looks like you built a rather open world concept with sufficient structure to tell a larger scale story without devolving into a runaway speeder...

Hey, me too! :) This approach is completely new to me.  In terms of my SW GMing history, for my first couple of campaigns, I plotted the entire thing from start to finish. For my last campaign, the choices made by the players moved the game in a certain direction but I still had The Big Bad Guy pre-planned. There will still be Boss Level Bad Guys for this campaign but I'm not going to funnel the players toward them.

I want to break out of my comfort zone. I push other GMs to go more for a situation-not-plot approach but even I fall back into old comfortable habits. And I end up boring myself. My players are entertained but I just feel tired. Plus, the #1 complaint I hear from every non-GMing player on the Interwebz is that their GM doesn't give them agency. Well, my beautiful babies, my players will have what they want. Most of my group has been together for 8 years - and I've GM'd for 99% of it - so they know I'm not going to screw with them.

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Step 3: Ally and Enemy GM Characters
If you like spy stories and/or games in which you slay vampires, check out Night's Black Agents from Pelgrane Press. The Dracula Dossier supplement provides one of the most intriguing ways to run a setting-and-notes-heavy improvisational game. Dossier's premise is that the novel written by Bram Stoker isn't actually a novel, it's a highly-redacted after action report written for British Intelligence when it attempted to recruit Dracula as a secret agent. The Dracula Dossier comes in two parts; a version of Dracula with spy-related commentary in the margins and a thick GM's book that contains locations, character dossiers, and artifacts that correspond to the novel. Events in the novel are key-coded to the GM manual with corresponding numbers. The characters in the GM manual include notes for running them as allies of Dracula, allies of MI6, or innocents caught in the crossfire.

As I've been putting together my campaign I've realized that my approach is somewhat similar. My map and its corresponding planets are the written-in-stone "setting," but everything else I come up with is on a strictly take-it-or-leave-it basis. This means that the GM characters that are integral to the setting need to be fully fleshed out but characters that the PCs might encounter in a one-off situation can be a couple of lines of description or a motivation.

Because I have neither the time nor the inclination to create a hundred characters from scratch, I went to the D6 Holocron and pulled down copies of Cracken's Rebel Operatives, Wanted by Cracken, Alliance Intelligence Reports, Fragments from the Rim and every other supplement I could find that focused on Star Wars GM characters, including issues of the Star Wars Adventure Journal. All of these books were chock full of character sketches, which is just what I needed.

Every Star Wars story has the Big Bad Guy. Vader is the most memorable character in the franchise but Tarkin was the guy-in-charge in A New Hope and actually the most terrifying character in the entire franchise. Vader murdered the Jedi but Tarkin committed on-screen genocide. Seeing as how Age of Rebellion is military-story focused, I definitely wanted an black-glove wearing space Nazi as the boss monster. 

Adventure Journal 3 introduced The Pentastar Alignment, a small Imperial successor state that sprung up after the Battle of Endor. The head of the Alignment was Grand Moff Ardus Kaine, described as being the successor to Grand Moff Tarkin and commander of a squadron of 24 Imperial Star Destroyers led by an Executor-class Super Star Destroyer. Apparently he was an early Palpatine loyalist, one of the founders of COMPNOR, and a bit of a Daddy's Boy, so I immediately knew that this was my bad guy. Because Kaine's Scourge Squadron cruises around the Outer Rim crushing Rebels, it would make the perfect antagonist for a group of PC Rebels operating in a cluster of five sectors.

Since he's now a Legends character, I tweaked Kaine's background so that he would be a native son of the Tion Cluster and blended in some Legends Tarkin material:


Ardus Kaine is the successor to the late Wilhuff Tarkin. Born on Lianna in the Tion Cluster, his father, a pro-Human bigot, was a powerful but bitter merchant who felt he was looked down upon by the nobles of the Republic. Vilardo Kaine pushed his sons Ardus and Gideon to pursue power. Gideon joined the Republic Judicial Forces while Ardus pursued politics, eventually becoming a Lianna representative in the Galactic Senate. An early ally of Senator Shrev Palpatine of Naboo, Ardus supported Palpatine’s calls for greater security measures when Vilardo was killed by pirates. When Chancellor Palpatine reorganized the Republic into an Empire, Kaine ensured the smooth transition of the Grand Army of the Republic into the Imperial Military and was a key figure in setting up COMPNOR, a move that would have pleased his father. For his loyalty, he was given the governorship of several Core Worlds and later became Moff of the Alsaka Sector. After the death of Wilhuff Tarkin, he was promoted to Grand Moff of Oversector Outer, a move he saw as a personal rebuke. He wished to be near Palpatine on Coruscant, making important policy decision, not tucked away in the Outer Rim, cleaning up Tarkin’s mistakes. Kaine is entering late middle age and though his face is permanently creased with a scowl, his hair remains free of gray. He wears his hair slicked back and has a noticeable widow’s peak.

I then jumped to putting together a list of potential allies that the PCs could encounter. Cracken's Rebel Operatives made this really easy. Most of the notes I pulled were simplified entries:


Sarchen Snyle is an Imperial customs inspector. He is meticulous and projects an air of imperious and angry authority. He is also a Rebel partisan and sees that certain customs offenses committed by Rebels are overlooked. He speaks in very dramatic tones and louder than necessary. His assistants focus more on not arousing his anger than on their jobs. When he saw a colleague beat a freighter captain to death for a minor violation, he knew there was something wrong with the system he worked within.

When I began pulling these lists together, I was assigning GM characters to specific planets. I then realized that if the PCs never visited that planet, the GM character would never come into play. The Dracula Dossier's approach to this problem was to "tag" each GM character with general descriptors that would fit the character but were broad enough that the character could apply to multiple locations. So I went back and removed specific planet references and began applying a tag to each GM character.


Morrina Reugus is a senior starport traffic controller and a Rebel ally. She monitors landing ships for codewords and phrases and personally handles landing protocols for these ships by putting them in docks with lax customs inspectors. Her parents ran a respectable shipping business but when one of their ships was caught running weapons, the Empire shut them down, charged her parents with treason, and executed them. She dresses in a starport controller’s uniform, which she keeps neat, and ties her hair in a neat bun while on duty. She’s very serious about her job.
Tags: Government, Spaceport

The ally tags I've come up with thus far are:

  • Aristocrat - character comes from a powerful family
  • Business - character is money motivated
  • Child - character is a minor
  • Criminal - character is wanted by the civil authorities
  • Droid
  • Government - character is in the employ of a government
  • Imperial - character is in the employ of the Empire
  • Intellectual - character is known for using his brain (scientist, teacher, slicer)
  • Military - character is a soldier
  • Mobile - character either owns a ship or is stationed aboard one
  • Non-Human
  • Socialite - character is very charming/seductive
  • Spaceport - character either works at a spaceport or does his business there
  • Urbanite - character is found in big cities
  • Wealthy - character has financial resources

What I'm hoping will happen is, when the PCs are in a spaceport on a random planet and need to find a source of information, I can find a GM character with the tags of Criminal and Spaceport and have the character fit the bill.

Because I want recruitment to be an important part of this campaign, I put together a list of local insurgent groups and mercenaries that the PCs can attempt to sway to their cause. For example:


The Kintoni Base Irregulars are a small, ragged company of quasi-Rebel soldiers, specializing in missions so dangerous that the members of the company are known as “dead men.” The unit commander, Bink Pierce, is a former lieutenant with the Rebel Alliance who is noted for his utter contempt of line officers. The company is currently homeless and highly mobile, searching for a headquarters. The group is currently fragmented into sub-units, each with a couple dozen members, spread over many different systems and looking for action to get involved in. While the Irregulars have many different specialist skills their discipline is so lax, and its commanders are so disliked by Rebel Command, that they are considered expendable. The Irregulars have a high success rate but they are known to suffer up to 95 percent casualties on missions.
Tags: Mobile

Fragments from the Rim introduced pro-Imperial mercenary groups like the First Sun Mobile Infantry and the Ailon Nova Guard so they were put into the antagonist column. I also like the idea that the PCs will go up against armed professional soldiers who aren't necessarily Imperial military. I also included mercenary groups, like Star's Nova, who only work for money so if the PCs can pay their bills, they'll have another source for firepower that doesn't involve tugging on patriotic heartstrings. 

With that done, I jumped back to the Imperial side and thought about what that would look like. The Far Orbit Project detailed how the various branches of the Imperial government would react to Rebel piracy, so I cribbed the idea. I also liked the idea that not every Imperial - or pro-Imperial government - would react to the PCs the exact same way.

  • Imperial Army and Imperial Navy - While Scourge Squadron is in the Tion Cluster, the local moffs will defer to Grand Moff Kaine. Scourge Squadron has its own Army detachment but both Scourge Army and Navy personnel can tap local sectors for reinforcements. 
  • Imperial Customs - Imperial Customs will react if the PCs target shipping or attempt to smuggle contraband. Note to self, develop a liaison character between Customs and Scourge Squadron.
  • Imperial Security Bureau - The ISB is the face of COMPNOR and provides the political officers. Kaine's aide is an ISB agent working in Surveillance. ISB will handle the anti-PC propaganda and distort their activities to make them look like terrorists and pirates. They will make every other Imperial's life a living hell.
  • Imperial Intelligence - Intelligence will play the long game with the PCs and may even work against other Imperial elements so that they can figure out what the PCs are up to. The Scourge Squadron Intelligence liaison is a dispassionate, hard-nosed operator dressed in white.
  • Local Law Enforcement - The Sector Ranger units of the Tion Cluster will step in when the PCs interact with the criminal underworld. I have an undercover cop character who will shadow the PCs and attempt to prosecute them in a sector court. Local systems patrols and cops will do the same thing if the PCs make too much noise on one planet.
  • Imperial Corporate Suppliers - While the Rebel Alliance will frown on the PCs going full-on pirate, businesses that do business with the Empire are fair game. Most companies will have security detachments that will protect their physical sites from intrusion.

Because the Empire is notorious for glory-seeking and back-stabbing, each leader of the various Imperial groups has his or her own agenda. For example, some creative rework of Wanted by Cracken characters gives us this:


Admiral Gaen Drommel is the fleet commander of Scourge Squadron, answering directly to Grand Moff Kaine, and commands the Executor-class Star Destroyer Reaper. Drommel will encourage rivalry and competition among the captains that serve him, seeing it as a source of amusement. He often drops hints about a great accomplishment another captain did in hopes of causing the other captains to push harder. Drommel is a dark-haired, middle-aged man with a receding hairline and a trimmed beard. He had a fondness for using a riding crop on slow-acting subordinates. Drommel’s aide and captain of the Reaper is Captain Dor Reader, late of the Star Destroyer Krieger.

Born on the border of Hutt Space, Arndall Lott joined the Imperial Army directly from the Academy and was quickly promoted to sergeant after demonstrating considerable skill in walker operations. He served a two year tour of duty under the command of General Veers, leader of the army detachment assigned to Lord Vader’s fleet. He was eventually promoted to general and placed in charge of the army detachment assigned to Grand Moff Kaine. Lott is an incredibly clever commander and is not averse to fighting using guerilla style tactics and deceit, such as slaving walkers remotely, a style that most Imperial Army commanders find extremely distasteful. General Lott is viewed as Admiral Drommel’s equal though the Admiral never fails to remind the General that it’s Navy equipment his troops and equipment ride in. Lott is a middle aged man with stubble on his scalp and a pencil-thin moustache on his lip. He also sports a very distinctive scar over his right eye and down his cheek and he has a small mole on the left side of his face. He has a close working relationship with Captain Iolan Gendarr, commander of the Star Destroyer Reliance. It is believed that Lott is helping Gendarr to quietly replace Admiral Drommel.

Perhaps the PCs will be able to take advantage of the Imperials' inability to trust one another, maybe not. Either way, it's nice background detail and provides character motivation... even if it's all the same motivation. 

While I'm not planning on Edge of the Empire-style spice smuggling in order to drum up money, I did flesh out the Tion Cluster's criminal element by pulling together several Legends groups with varying degrees of influence:


Outside of Coruscant, the Tion Cluster is home to Black Sun’s most powerful holdings. Based in a nigh-impenetrable underwater castle on Tion, a Mon Calamari Vigo named Perit oversees much of the regional day-to-day operations, which include all manner of criminal activities. Formerly a slave owned by a Sienar Fleet Systems executive, Perit was freed by Black Sun’s current Underlord, Xizor. Impressed by Perit’s technical abilities, Xizor made the Mon Calamari his personal assistant and trained him as a slicer. When Xizor was elevated to Underlord, he gave Perit his former territory. Perit is known to be a master of technological and computerized crime and he sits on the board of directors of several corporations active in the Tion Cluster. He surrounds himself with a small army of assassin droids and owns a personal starliner, the Red Tide.

Control of the spice trade in the Allied Tion sector is held by the Mandroxan co-op. Made up of three principle criminal organizations, the Manliss Enterprise, the Droxian Traders Legue, and the Anavill Smuggler’s Guild, have agents in every major star system in the Tion Cluster. Based on Lianna, the Manliss Enterprise makes up the heart of the co-op. The Mandroxans are ruled by a triumvirate, also known as The Council of Three; Artur Manliss, a second generation gangster, Sehvorah, a Herglic business executive, and Parmella Trillidor, a smuggler lord. The co-op uses an effective patronage system – those who pledge allegiance are guaranteed full protection against rival organizations. The Mandroxans are known to be completely ruthless. Rather than bribing Imperial agents, they simply kill them. With a recent connection to Black Sun, the co-op has been growing its influence.

The Sabrin Ring is the largest criminal enterprise on Eibon. Led by Lady Miletta Sabrin, the Sabrin Ring focuses on large-scale extortion, forced labor, the manufacture of illegal goods, loan-sharking, and credit laundering. An influx of Black Sun credits, accompanied by intimidation of the corrupt Eibon government, has allowed Sabrin to remain undisturbed by law-enforcement agents. Sabrin has been known to use forced labor as “employees” for her various illegal activities. Her gang has approximately 4000 members. Miletta Sabrin was born surrounded by the luxuries of the Core World of Alsakan and a family with important political connections. She fashioned a distinguished military career that included the suppression of several Rebel underground cells in the Thanium Worlds She was later appointed Prefect, and afterwards Governor, of the Felucia system. However the destruction of Alderaan horrified her and in the following months she could not stop her overzealous subordinates from torturing Rebel sympathizers. However, after a rival Imperial governor “accidentally” killed her son she decided she was through with the corrupt Empire. Though she abandoned her post, her husband was killed in an Rebel commando raid. Rather than returning to the Core, she decided to carve out her own petty kingdom. Vigo Perit, hearing of her skills in capturing forced labor loaned her equipment at a reasonable rate. In return, Black Sun received a share of the profits.

The newest member of the Outer Rim slaving community, the Vornax Slaver’s Guild has a reputation for grabbing only the highest quality life-forms using skilled slaver “specialists.” Operating more like a corporate entity than a criminal enterprise, the VSG is known to take care of its own. No captured slaver is held in Imperial custody for more than 30 hours and the families of members are well taken care of should a member be killed or incarcerated. Before any operation, the VSG runs a cost-benefit analysis and will use its membership to carefully infiltrate target zones. Success leads to promotion. The guild is run by a central coordinating committee of 12 members and it’s believed to have 12,000 members. Top members include Avril Gesh, a scar-faced former peasant farmer who killed his overseer, Seland’Ir, a Verpine outcast, Rei Kas, a violent man with a bushy beard and a former member of the Jrahl Ferrin gang, Krassis Trelix, a former Imperial military supply officer with an exaggerated opinion of himself, and Yanix Dev, a cold-blooded Rodian mercenary with the demeanor of a business executive.

I also pulled together pirate groups, freelance criminals, bounty hunters, and assassins from WEG Star Wars materials. They might be antagonists, they might be allies, or they might be background fluff. I don't know at this point.

The next step, Step 4, is to figure out a timeline of events for the campaign in the Tion Cluster and lose adventure frameworks.

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That planet info sheet is awesome! I'm brand new to tabletop RPG'S and this is my first time GMing, and after running a few sessions in a linear fashion (EotE beginner game into act 1 of Long arm of the Hutt), I'm trying to work in a situation-not-plot style for the rest of our campaign, and I will definitely be using this as a template for building my adventures! Can't wait to hear more about what you're doing with this!

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I have to say that this is inspiring too see!  I too am a newish GM.  Mostly of my past games have been D&D 5e.  But I'm looking to hopefully do a SW game in the future.  So this is really awesome as it's something I really hope to do at some point in time.  Keep up the good work and keep us posted!

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INTERLUDE: The Importance of Open Communication
While I've been working on the pre-planning of the campaign non-stop, I recently realized that communication with my players had died. Not wanting them to think I'd flaked out, I messaged everyone and gave a status update. While excitement was expressed, after I provided some high-level details I was hit with a lot of questions.

Off the bat, I told the players I was anticipating having "build up a base" be a part of the campaign. The reply from two players was that of confusion. When I'd told them the idea of building a rebel cell up from scratch, they thought they were starting with a small, rag-tag fleet of ships, like the end of Empire. One player wanted to go out the gate with the career of Fleet Commander. "Uh.... no," I told them. Realizing that having played SW RPGs since the WEG days gave me setting knowledge that the rest of the players didn't, I explained how the Alliance Fleet was one of the two major strategic elements for the greater High Command, the other being their Main Base. I also explained that, other than major capital ships, rebel ships didn't have the supplies to float around space indefinitely, so a base was a requirement. I followed up with the suggestion that, if the players wanted to make stealing/acquiring ships a part of the overall campaign, rather than waiting on the Rebel Alliance to reward them one ship at a time when they hit another Contribution Level, that could be accommodated. The idea didn't seem to gain traction but the players agreed to rethink their character concepts.

While taking a Sunday stroll with my wife, she admitted to not being all that jazzed about playing a Soldier. We've gamed together since we first met and, while she played a pilot character in the past two campaigns, she told me she's never felt like she got to be the cool Poe Dameron-type of pilot she's always wanted to play. We've played all kinds of games together, from Shadowrun to Pathfinder/D&D to Nights Black Agents, and she feels like SW is the only game with the narrative and mechanical flexibility to play a vehicle pilot that isn't pigeonholed into being the bus driver. So she's ditched the Soldier for an Ace, though she hasn't narrowed down what Specialization to start with.

The two players I'd been speaking with got back to me. One had an idea for a Diplomat and a Squadron Commander hybrid, which, to me, felt like Wedge Antilles from the X-Wing comic books, so that worked. The other, the guy who wanted to be a Fleet Commander, came back with a Diplomat (Analyst) and Soldier (Medic) concept to which I said, "Uh... whut?" His rationale was that if the team got hurt, he'd have a medic character on hand who could patch people up. We've played two previous campaigns without a dedicated "healer" and got along just fine so I asked him to provide me with an example of a fictional character that was a hybrid of the World War 2 battlefield medic and they guy in the war room pushing little tanks on a map with a wooden stick. I'm waiting to hear back on that though I reiterated that stealing ships was still a good on-going adventure idea.

I didn't mention it in my correspondence, but it did dawn on me that breaking people out of their D&D or Shadowrun team slot mindset ("okay, you're the healer, you're the hacker, you're the meat shield...") was going to be an ongoing process. I have reiterated over and over again that FFG SW is a very flexible system, so a dedicated whatever isn't necessary for a campaign to be both fun and successful, and that I was going to provide adventure hooks that would work with what the party brings to the table. I absolutely was not expecting players to come to my pre-built dungeon with a mathematically optimized party. That was literally the opposite of what I wanted. I want proactive players, not reactive players.

Anyway, I'm glad I reopened communications when I did because if everyone came to the first day of the campaign with player characters that hadn't been discussed before hand, we'd be off to a bad start.

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Step 4: The Timeline
It's a shame that West End Games's Far Orbit Project for D6 Star Wars was their final product because it was a really good one. It broke a campaign framework down into three phases, with each phase escalating the response from Imperial forces to rebel piracy. The Contribution Rank mechanic from Age of Rebellion provides a similar function: the Empire gets more aggressive with the PCs as the PCs become more successful.

As I've been putting together a timeline for my campaign, I've realized that the timeline of the game doesn't need to be a literal tracking of time. Rather, it should show what happens as the PCs are more successful in their mission. So for my campaign, I've married the FOP faction escalation tracker with the AOR Contribution Rank system to create a pretty reasonable reaction timeline to the PCs' actions.


·        Rebel Alliance: The PCs are considered untested collaborators and are both held at arm’s length in order to protect the security of other Rebel cells and through the lens of suspicion as the PCs could be Imperial agents. It would be utterly foolish to trust a group of unknowns. However, the Alliance is willing to supply basic equipment and vehicles that it has in surplus.

·        Imperial Government and Military: The PCs are unknown to the Imperial government and are operating beneath the Empire’s notice.


·        Imperial Security Bureau (COMPNOR): ISB Surveillance considers the PCs a low-risk threat and suggests re-education as a first course of action, followed by imprisonment.

·        Imperial Intelligence: Intelligence has little motivation to capture the PCs as their value is low.

·        Imperial Military, Sector Rangers, and Systems Patrols: The Navy will hunt down faceless Rebel scum if they are operating as a group but as individuals they are not worth the effort. The Sector Rangers will open a case file on the PCs but will take no immediate action with actionable evidence. System Patrols in affected systems will be on the look-out for criminal activity.


·        Rebel Alliance: The PCs are considered trusted collaborators and have earned a level of trust and respect from Alliance High Command. At this point the PCs will be considered a formal Sector Force of the Rebellion. Tactical-level equipment and vehicles are offered to the PCs though no intelligence sharing is permitted at this time.


·        Imperial Intelligence: Intelligence’s Renik branch becomes aware of an active rebel cell in the Tion Cluster and moves to locate, observe, and protect the PCs. Renik is extremely interested in the intelligence-gathering potential of the PCs’ low-threat cell. By tracking movements and activities, they want to know how wide and deep rebel spynets are and perhaps where any forward rebel operating bases are, if they can slip a tracking device onto their ship.

·        Sector Rangers: A Special Enforcement Officer begins deputizing local law-enforcement officials in locations where the PCs have struck. An undercover operation has begun in order to infiltrate any fringe groups the PCs have had contact with.


·        Imperial Security Bureau (COMPNOR): The PCs have earned a reputation for minor notoriety with ISB’s Investigation branch. It is believed that re-education could turn the PCs from their cause, but it is unlikely. Enforcement branch has posted a low-paying bounty for the capture of the PCs. If the PCs are taken alive, they will go through the ministrations of Interrogation branch and then be summarily executed.

·        Imperial Military: The Imperial military has no sense of humor about rebels. Sector forces will make locating and capturing the PCs a priority.


·        Rebel Alliance: The PCs have earned the respect of Rebel High Command. When available, corvettes and gunships will be supplied along with minor strategic intelligence, though the PCs are not a major priority for Alliance Intelligence.

·        Imperial Military: Grand Moff Kaine has become aware of a rebel cell operating in the Tion Cluster and has privately vowed to eliminate the top military officers and sector moffs if the situation is not dealt with decisively and immediately. A detachment from Scourge Squadron begins operating in conjunction with local sector forces.


·        Imperial Intelligence: Imperial Intelligence is now frantically trying to find the PCs. Believing them to possess strategic intelligence about the Rebel Alliance, Renik has handed its information to the Sedition branch in order to create prediction models of the PCs’ activities.

·        Imperial Office of Criminal Investigation and the Sector Rangers: Under pressure from the Coalition for Progress’s Justice Branch, the IOCI comes under a great deal of pressure to track the PCs down. The Sector Rangers are under less pressure as it’s not expected that they can go toe-to-toe with an armed uprising but they are expected to step up patrols.


·        Imperial Security Bureau (COMPNOR): The ISB has dismissed the possibility of rehabilitating the PCs and are instead working to imprison them, hoping to keep them alive indefinitely as a target for Interrogation. Enforcement has raised the bounties on the PCs, attracting the attention of more hunters.

·        System Patrols: The presence of Rebel activity might be used as an excuse by the Empire to absorb local forces into the Sector Rangers, or even centralize system militaries – something the system governments want to avoid at all costs. The patrols are eager to find and destroy the PCs as fast as possible.


·        COMPNOR: The Coalition for Improvements uses the existence of a rebel cell in the Tion Cluster as evidence of treachery at the highest levels of the various sector governments and launches a general purge approved by Redesign branch. This is unlikely to have any direct effect on the PCs, although word of mass purges may encourage the rebel cell. The Coalition for Progress’s Commerce branch considers the existence of a rebel cell in the Tion Cluster as an excellent excuse to centralize control of commercial shipping and manufacturing and begins reorganizing Imperialized corporate security forces, whether the military is interested in protecting them or not.

·        Imperial Military: Imperial Navy patrols, skirmish and recon lines are stepped up to search for the PCs. These forces are mostly comprised of small ships. Large ships – Imperial-class Star Destoryers, Victory-class Star Destroyers, and so on – are not detailed for this search although if such vessels encounter the PCs they will certainly take action by contacting nearby Scourge Squadron elements.


·        Rebel Alliance: The PCs are considered vital collaborators. They are highly respected by Alliance High Command and have even earned minor but notable political power. Alliance Intelligence has begun sharing sensitive information with the PCs.

·        The Empire: The Imperial propaganda machine is taking this chance to paint the entire Rebellion as a nest of thieves, pirates and murderers as well as terrorists and agitators. In general, however, the activities of the PCs are not revealed to the general public and they are considered a classified matter.


·        IOCI, Sector Rangers, and System Patrols: The Imperial Office of Criminal Investigation posts a 10,000-credit reward for information leading to the capture of the PCs and failure to report them is considered a severe crime. The Sector Rangers gain direct emergency power over local system patrols. This sets a precedent in the Tion Cluster that the Empire has overriding power in cross-sector space law-enforcement emergencies.

·        The Underworld: Elements of the Tion Cluster fringe were probably aware that the Rebels were active weeks or months before the matter became public. Crime lords may be quite happy to sell assistance, arrange black market deals, sell arms or ship modifications, and generally profit on the situation. They’re equally willing to turn the PCs over to the Imperials if the PCs become valuable enough – although most crime lords would probably cut a more complicated deal for immunity, favors or cessation of criminal investigations.


·        Imperial Intelligence: Imperial Intelligence has a quiet, professional fit over the PCs’ exposure, and further increases attempts to track them down as they are considered high-value targets. However, the Ubiqtorate orders that the PCs be eliminated. A Crisis team is assembled, with Infiltration and Assassination branches assigning agents to the mission. An Adjustment agent is also assigned, without the knowledge of the Crisis team.


·        COMPNOR: The Select Committee of COMPNOR is outraged over the PCs rebel activities and the ISB leadership orders the Tion Cluster sectors to solve the problem. Unfortunately for everyone involved, ISB tends to make problems vanish by looking for traitors. The ISB isn’t going to be effective against the PCs, other than bringing in higher-paid bounty hunters and assassins, but will make witnesses and involved patrol officers miserable as they try to root out Rebels.


·        Imperial Military: Grand Moff Kaine becomes directly involved as the entirety of Scourge Squadon, lead by the Super Star Destroyer Reaper, begins to hunt the PCs. The Imperial military goes on full alert posture as supplemental capital ships are placed in each system and rumors abound of elite TIE fighters being deployed.


·        Rebel Alliance: The PCs are now members of the Alliance High Command and command immense political power in the greater Rebel Alliance. The PCs hold the formal ranks of General or Admiral in the Alliance and Admiral Ackbar is willing to supply the PCs with capital-grade starships. By this point, the PCs may have bases in each of the sectors of the Tion Cluster.

·        The Empire: The PCs have made it to the Empire’s Most Wanted list. All Imperial and loyal local security forces of the Tion Cluster are dedicated to capturing and killing the PCs. Failure to report the PCs to the authorities is tantamount to treason.


·        The Empire: Following the destruction of the second Death Star and the death of the Emperor at the Battle of Endor, Grand Moff Kaine moves to consolidate the Tion Clusters into his personal fiefdom. However, without the resources and support of a centralized Imperial government, the Empire’s standing in the Tion Cluster is weakened. Without the backing of Coruscant, COMPNOR-backed agents flee from revenge-seeking Imperial military officers. The Sector Rangers voice their official support for the New Republic and several powerful systems, either seeking freedom from oversight or in an attempt to establish their own pocket fiefdoms, openly rebel against the Imperial military.


Next, let us look at player campaign goals.

Edited by Concise Locket

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And we're back.

Step 5: Player Campaign Goals, Part 1
When it comes to creating situations, not plots, we have to ask ourselves, "How do we build tension between the PCs and the primary opposition?" and "What would the opposition in the game do if the PCs weren't a factor?"

Tension is built over time and that means keeping the PCs and the primary antagonist separate for as long as possible. Because the primary antagonist for this campaign is Grand Moff Ardus Kaine, that shouldn't be terribly difficult. The man is responsible for maintaining order and security in a massive swath of the Galaxy, so it's unlikely he and the PCs will meet face to face until the very, very end or if ever. The PCs may shoot a proton torpedo through his command ship. Given the structure of the campaign, Kaine may not even know the PCs' names until the halfway point. When he does know who they are, he may simply taunt them through Imperial propaganda.

The next trick is to avoid overly-investing in any one bad guy. So far, I have several "boss level" antagonists that are little more than a name, a job, and loose idea of what they look like.

  • Admiral Gaen Drommel. Commander of the Executor-class Super Star Destroyer Reaper and senior-most Navy officer. Dark-haired, middle-aged man with a receding hairline and a trimmed beard. Encourages rivalry and competition among the captains that serve him, seeing it as a source of amusement. Stereotypical old money Kriegsmarine-type pompous a-hole with a riding crop.
  • General Arndall Lott. Senior-most Army officer. Middle aged man with stubble on his scalp and a pencil-thin mustache on his lip. Sports a very distinctive scar over his right eye and down his cheek and he has a small mole on the left side of his face. A clever commander and is not averse to fighting using guerrilla style tactics and deceit. The Erwin Rommel of the leadership who is apolitical and believes that war has rules.
  • Special Agent Elena Shelvay, ISB. Shoulder-length brown hair, blue-eyes, a slim, athletic build. Undercover as Grand Moff Kaine's personal aide. She's the NKVD secret police type who disappears traitors.
  • Director Byro Allet, Imperial Intelligence. His silvery white hair betrays his age, but he has the will and stamina of a much younger man. Overconfident. He's dedicated to the Emperor but isn't a fanatic about it. Sees war as a big game.

The next level down are the reoccurring bad guys. If this was a TV show, these would be the villains who pop up once every few episodes. They can die at any time and if the PCs can they will probably try to kill them. But the PCs should have to work to make that happen.

  • Field Agent Cass Maston, ISB. Mid-30s, pale, with light-blonde hair. He is actively hunting the PCs by personally following their trail. Your basic black leather gloved Gestapo type.
  • Officer Narra Mesyne, Sector Rangers. Dark-haired woman with stylish white streaks in her hair and a blue tattoo over her left eye. Often goes undercover as a swoop racer. If she knew the PCs personally they would be friends but the war has put them on opposite sides of the law.
  • Captain Tanda Pryl & Captain Akal Zed. Commanders of competing Imperial-class Star Destroyers. If the PCs are being attacked by the Navy, one or both of these officers is leading the charge. One is a younger woman who grew up in privilege and influence, the other is an older, bald man who was raised in a strict military tradition. They hate each other.
  • Colonel Vel Terno, TIE fighter squadron leader. Basically the Red Baron to the PCs' Snoopy as World War 1 flying ace.
  • Commander Kayn Sommos, stormtrooper legion commander. Ruthless and vicious, he's the bullying thug of the campaign who wants to choke the PCs to death with his bare hands.

Another interesting trick to consider is that none of these NPCs has to be introduced in any sort of special way. If the PCs win a fight against a group of baddies, and at least one escapes, that person may, retroactively, turn out to be one of the above antagonists and is dedicated to wreaking vengeance. "Do you remember me, you Rebel scum? I survived your little attack on Desevro!"

The next thing I need to figure out is, what is the big bad guy trying to do? Grand Moff Tarkin wanted to blow up planets that rebelled. Emperor Palpatine wanted to be an unchallenged, immortal god-king. Darth Vader wanted to be reunited with his lost son and, with him, rule the galaxy.

These are all appropriately high-stakes motivations but are beyond the scope of what I want to do with a World War 2-style fantasy space campaign. I'll need to think on this.

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I can't like this post enough times - the amount of leg work will pay huge dividends when it comes to rolling out the game. Over the last year I've mulled over something similar, focused on the Reach. So I'm super excited to see how you continue to progress on this!

I have one question and one suggestion for you:

Question: even in building this gigantic Star Wars sandbox, don't you still need to "prep plots" in some way in order to make the sectors seem real and living? Basically, don't you need to know what Kaine, Drommel, and the other host of baddies are up to if the PCs are sitting around twiddling their thumbs? By outlining their agenda, doesn't that indeed shape a plot? Or is this just semantics? 

Suggestion: there are a number of modules that you could do some reworking that would fit very well into this style campaign. I'll have to go back and look at my notes for the ones that I've earmarked for the same thing (above), but off the top of my head - Onslaught at Arda I (could be a set of rebels that the PCs come into contact with, or could be the base that they establish and could use this as a major setback midway through the campaign); friends like these (good early to mid adventure where the PCs need to rally support and build influence in a region); tramp freighters (the WEG module - has a few adventure hooks for the PCs recruiting pirates to go attack an Imperial prison asteroid to free a rebel militant); missions to Lianna (fits well given your location choice); Dawn of Defiance episode 7? (the one where the PCs go to an Imperial planet to recruit a sympathizer); Argovia Strike (Imperials put together a blockade / sensor net to track the movements in the region, PCs need to show up and sabotage the computer facility that runs it)

Hope this helps!

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Dude, this is absolute gold.  Seriously.  I'm stealing so many of your ideas.

On 03/05/2017 at 4:08 PM, Concise Locket said:

Because I have neither the time nor the inclination to create a hundred characters from scratch, I went to the D6 Holocron



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10 hours ago, Aurin said:

I can't like this post enough times - the amount of leg work will pay huge dividends when it comes to rolling out the game. Over the last year I've mulled over something similar, focused on the Reach. So I'm super excited to see how you continue to progress on this!

I have one question and one suggestion for you:

Question: even in building this gigantic Star Wars sandbox, don't you still need to "prep plots" in some way in order to make the sectors seem real and living? Basically, don't you need to know what Kaine, Drommel, and the other host of baddies are up to if the PCs are sitting around twiddling their thumbs? By outlining their agenda, doesn't that indeed shape a plot? Or is this just semantics? 

Suggestion: there are a number of modules that you could do some reworking that would fit very well into this style campaign. I'll have to go back and look at my notes for the ones that I've earmarked for the same thing (above), but off the top of my head - Onslaught at Arda I (could be a set of rebels that the PCs come into contact with, or could be the base that they establish and could use this as a major setback midway through the campaign); friends like these (good early to mid adventure where the PCs need to rally support and build influence in a region); tramp freighters (the WEG module - has a few adventure hooks for the PCs recruiting pirates to go attack an Imperial prison asteroid to free a rebel militant); missions to Lianna (fits well given your location choice); Dawn of Defiance episode 7? (the one where the PCs go to an Imperial planet to recruit a sympathizer); Argovia Strike (Imperials put together a blockade / sensor net to track the movements in the region, PCs need to show up and sabotage the computer facility that runs it)

Hope this helps!

You don't need to prep plots so much as set up a list of rumors - or in the terms of a war game, a list of pieces of actionable intelligence with varying degrees of reliability - and tag each location with one of those pieces. For example:

  • Lianna - Sienar is developing a prototype TIE Fighter that uses a cloaking device. 
  • Saheelindeel - The local Saheelindeeli are willing to provide agricultural products without reporting it to the COMPNOR's Commerce division.
  • Ank Ki'Shor - Survivors from a recent Rebel defensive action against the Empire have gone underground with the locals and are awaiting extraction.
  • Eibon - A mercenary company has set up shop in the mountains and may be willing to take on anti-Imperial contracts.

And so on. If the PCs bite on a rumor, I'll flesh it out in-game. If they don't, I didn't waste time prepping materials that don't get used.

I have all the FFG SW books and I've pulled the entire D6 Holocron to my laptop and have access to both published adventures and some general WEG D6SW source books. If I need guidelines on how an adventure should "flow" or what a location should look like, I can glance through those on the fly. I'm in the process of writing a more traditional, fully-fleshed starting adventure for our first few sessions but the intention is to set up the campaign and establish some ground rules with regard to how the campaign should feel and what's considered proper behavior on the part of the characters.

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Step 5: Player Campaign Goals, Part 2
I was struggling to come up with a motivation for Ardus Kaine when I realized I'd already given him one.

In talking with my players, we settled on having the group start with three Y-wing fighters as we have five players. The trick was coming up with a reason why the PCs would start out with three Y-wings when they aren't starting out attached to the Rebellion at-large. I was considering taking back the Y-wings and just giving them a stolen Imperial shuttle when an idea hit me:

The players were the surviving members of a rebel cell that had been broken by the Empire in the minutes before the campaign started. In the introductory, scripted adventure I've just written, the players' Y-wings are approaching a shadowport located in a backwater star system in the Indrexu Spiral. Their ships are beaten up and, for all they know, they're the last surviving members of their original movement.

I've already established that there are other insurgent groups in the Tion Cluster so Kaine's motivation is to simply stamp out all the rebel activity. If the PCs weren't around, he would succeed. Boom. Easy. Where Kaine differs from a character like Tarkin is that Kaine motivated to maintain order so he can return to his cushy COMPNOR gig. He doesn't actually like handling military affairs as he considers himself more of a politician or a high-end bureaucrat. 

Player Character Generation Update
We are scheduled to have our first session at the end of the month and my players are solidifying their final character concepts. So far we have:

  • A Falleen Agitator who will have a secondary specialization of Squadron Commander. A former Separatist Senator, he's not necessarily keen on re-establishing the Republic.
  • A Cerean Rigger who will have a secondary specialization of Analyst.
  • A Human Pilot.
  • A Clawdite Infiltrator.
  • A (presumably) Human Commando or Heavy.

I couldn't ask for a better cross-section for careers.

Up next, handling and recruiting factions.

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