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ddbrown30

Advice Needed - Player wants to play exiled Black Sun operative

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I'm starting up a new group soon and one of my players has an idea for his character that I'm having trouble resolving. Basically, he want to play someone who used to be of a medium rank in Black Sun (well below Vigo or a Vigo's lieutenant, but higher than a grunt) but was kicked out after making some kind of mistake. He specifically does not want to have a character that is on the run from Black Sun as he feels this backstory is cliched. In other words, the character did not choose to leave but also Black Sun is not trying to kill him.

My first and main issue with it is that Black Sun is known to be incredibly ruthless and unforgiving. I'm unable to see a situation where a failure was just met with a dismissal. Which leads to my second issue which is what does being kicked out of the Black Sun truly entail? Like, at some point, I feel like there's gotta be a, "if you come back here, you're dead," or, "if you talk to X, you're dead," or even, "if we compete with us, you're dead." Otherwise, this PC gets all of the benefits of the reputation and contacts of a low level crime lord without any drawbacks.

Anyway, any advice on how to handle this situation (beyond just saying no to my player, which I would prefer not to do) would be appreciated.

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If he's loyal but seemingly incompetent, they may cut him some slack if he's personally favored by someone up high. The thing is, they will simply never give him anything important to do ever again, and they'll do what they can to prevent him from getting any compromising information. He's not kicked out, but he never gets the memos and is essentially forgotten for business purposes. If he proves himself more competent in some way (say joining up with a group of PCs that inevitably do amazing things) then maybe they'll reconsider. Until then, it's important that he know that Obligation of being inactive is on him. He has to take the efforts to stay uninvolved, because if he doesn't, then they may decide to off him.

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Maybe Black Sun want him to roam with no seeming attachments or real information just to see what he would do with it; only to turn up one day and offer him the opportunity of a life time; betray/do something about a local crime lord, succeed, he becomes a made man again just like the old days. Fail? Then his life his forfeit as black sun has "a reputation to consider, if you aren't gonna do your role, heads are gonna roll."

Alternatively maybe Black Sun framed him for something that a Vigo did; got him sent down for some years and now he's back out of prison with a tainted reputation he didn't earn. This disgraced status lingers on the character like a plague, even among other underworlds, something really nasty even by underworld standards. The thing is, part of the expressed condition the character was allowed to be free was accepting the full blame of that crime and all the stigma that went along with it; any attempt to reveal the true culprit or clear his own name will draw black sun's Vigo who had set him up in the first place; it's very likely that each Vigo runs Black Sun as their own business thus an issue with one branch might not affect or even interact with several others, a measure Xizor ensured would keep control of his compatriots, thus having the player character have only one branch of Black Sun that they are aware of makes the organisation seem much smaller from his characters perspective. Perhaps and occasionally hinting toward the fact that people are watching him, occasionally confronting him, spitting on him would drive home the fact that the character covered for something truly horrific that maybe the Vigo had personally done; but needed a fall man for it.
 

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Maybe he has a brother/sister/father/mother/lover still inside Black Sun, who has pulled in a lot of favours not to have him killed?

I like the idea of his dismissal being a little like the main character in 'Burn Notice'. He's left with no money, no contacts or resources, his reputation shredded. 
He might not even know why this has happened to him, which may provide a story hook along the road somewhere. Especially if the mistake was seemingly trivial but actually formed part of a bigger picture he wasn't aware of.

 

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A lighter version of the above: He was a part of a crew on a job gone wrong and he was the only one that got nabbed.  Despite deals offered and threats made he didn't crack, never snitched and did hes prison time like a loyal soldier.

Now out, he has eyes on him (the police know, they know, who he is connected to but they just can't prove it) so he can't reconnect with his old associates.  Those that prize loyalty don't want to see him harmed... but can't risk reaching out.  Those that see him as a liability won't move against him just yet as he is under just enough scrutiny.

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2 hours ago, Urbane Spaceman said:

Maybe he has a brother/sister/father/mother/lover still inside Black Sun, who has pulled in a lot of favours not to have him killed?

This is essentially what the player suggested, although he originally wanted it to be Xizor which is a hard no.

2 hours ago, Urbane Spaceman said:

I like the idea of his dismissal being a little like the main character in 'Burn Notice'. He's left with no money, no contacts or resources, his reputation shredded. 
He might not even know why this has happened to him, which may provide a story hook along the road somewhere. Especially if the mistake was seemingly trivial but actually formed part of a bigger picture he wasn't aware of.

The thing is that being dismissed from a government intelligence agency makes sense. They're not going to just murder you because they're the "good guys." The burned agent also isn't going to start up their own competing intelligence agency. The agent would have to choose to directly interfere with with the agency in order to draw their ire. Even in Burn Notice, they give him the old, "if you stay here we won't touch you, but if you leave, we're hunting you down." It's this kind of ultimatum that's missing from my player's situation.

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6 minutes ago, Aluminium Falcon said:

A lighter version of the above: He was a part of a crew on a job gone wrong and he was the only one that got nabbed.  Despite deals offered and threats made he didn't crack, never snitched and did hes prison time like a loyal soldier.

Now out, he has eyes on him (the police know, they know, who he is connected to but they just can't prove it) so he can't reconnect with his old associates.  Those that prize loyalty don't want to see him harmed... but can't risk reaching out.  Those that see him as a liability won't move against him just yet as he is under just enough scrutiny.

This doesn't line up with the player desire. He wants to have been kicked out not simply unable to connect with them. It also doesn't really line up with the world of Star Wars, particularly the structure of EotE. Since the PCs have their own ship, it would be laughably easy to disappear into the outer rim and reconnect through various contacts. Given the freedom the PCs have, true surveillance is virtually impossible.

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11 hours ago, ddbrown30 said:

He specifically does not want to have a character that is on the run from Black Sun as he feels this backstory is cliched. In other words, the character did not choose to leave but also Black Sun is not trying to kill him.

Honestly? That's a fine Obligation option right there. Obligation doesn't have to be a death-mark, just something that's always hassling you. In this case he'd have it two ways. On the one hand he might have trouble dealing with people who think he's still Black Sun. On the other he might have trouble with Black Sun showing up and wanting a favor or two (since they did him a huge solid by simply letting him walk.)

 

I'd say for the actual backstory, try mixing and matching. So like, the guy was a big up-and-comer who impressed the Vigo in a (relatively) minor incident when tagging along on a meeting with the Player's Lt.  The Lt. botched something up but did so in a way that made it look like it was 100% the Lt's fault. Maybe something as simple as the Lt. got picked up by the cops and while the Player and his co-goons went to the Vigo with a pretty sound rescue plan proposal, the Lt. rolled. With the Lt. having spilled the beans, his entire portion of the operation is now compromised, so the Vigo decided it was best to cut his losses. He had the Lt. murdered while in protective custody, executed a few of the more talkative goons as an example, and cut everyone else loose.

"You guys are lucky, if I disappear you all, it's clear Lt. Chumsky was tellin the truth and everyone left alive is getting arrested. If you all just go your separate ways and don't say nothing to no one, maybe Chumsky was just talking out his thermal exhaust port and tryin ta land a kushy witness protection placement. Just remember where ya came from. If I come callin, you better answer up. Maybe once things blow over we can find a new gig for ya all... Oh... and I even think one of you talked? You'll be joining Chumsky in that crater."

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Job gone wrong; Black Sun thinks he's dead. (Not hunted by them).

Plus mild amnesia. (explains why He ins't quick to return to them, and conveniently also explains why a Medium level Black Sun operative is now level 1:P).

 

Both of these allow you as the GM to still use this backstory as plot, but control its impact and when it occurs. Example: Someone in a bar recognizes him, but only once you are ready to introduce some Black Sun Drama into your plot.

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One possible option is that while the PC may have done something to foul up a job, it was their immediate superior that wound up taking the heat for the failure, with the PC being shown the door due to their past association with this now-deceased superior and a very stern warning that if the PC blabs about Black Sun's secrets or tries to work against Black Sun's interests, then an unmarked grave with a relatively intact corpse is the best that character can hope for in terms of retribution.

If the PC is good at Deception, perhaps they were able to spin things so that the Vigo that was the head of the particular branch of Black Sun the PC worked for concluded the immediate superior was the one to blame, and considers themselves very lucky to be out of a job but having their skin and vital organs intact.

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I think a key question is whether or not the player wants or intends to draw on Black Sun connections. I think that drives somewhat how underground their connection can be.

You could play on the sectorised factor, in that he was under a Vigo that was quite adept at keeping their operations secretive, and they were eliminated in a way that chunks of their operations became leaderless, and in some cases collapsed. Maybe the PC was within such a section. The thread here does lead to a new Vigo possibly trying to bring such threads back together. This gives the PC a fair degree of freedom in terms of being part of Black Sun but not really anymore.

If being kicked out is a key point for the PC you'll have limited options if you want Black Sun to be totally ruthless. I think the soft-hearted superior pulling favours is probably one of the only options. Just a wild card, but what if the PC had a child still deep in Black Sun and totally loyal, who has totally cut ties with their PC parent for the failing that led to banishment, but it was the child's 'gang leader' that pulled strings to protect the PC. Gives you a few NPCs to play with too.

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The PC had an identical twin that was not in Black Sun. Black Sun did attempt to off the PC but when the hit came down, it killed the twin instead. The PC quickly realized it was best to pull a switch and now lives the twin's life. Black Sun believes PC is dead, so they're not after him. The Vigo that ordered the hit even sent flowers to the funeral...

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I have another option: Collateral success during a job that went horribly wrong could lead to dismissal on lighter terms.

eg: "OKay, finding the extra lillium shipment and turning that over with that spice haul was a good thing and the boss is okay with that.  But your one job on the run was to keep his nephew alive.  Sure that snot slimmed kid couldn't figure out which end of the blaster to hold, but the boss can't let that failure go.  Bit of advice.  Walk away and don't show your face here no more and I'll see to it that the dust settles."

Something like that.

And that Black Sun tattoo is going to cause some issues.  Word gets around.  And members of the Black Sun may be more suspicious of him than the rivals.  He may have it bad both ways.

There are a lot of good and different ideas that I think could work here.  At this point I think you and the player could come up with something that works from this thread.

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I've been liking the honorable discharge ideas that others are putting forward. Perhaps the character put in many years of good service to the Black Sun and then made a mistake that would normally call for death. The Black Sun decides that because of his good service previously, they are going to allow him to live, but he is never to interfere or attempt to rejoin the Black Sun or its operations.

Then you could play that in the main story as the PC's get a job that comes a little too close to the Black Sun and the character has to find a way to skirt around this and keep his neutrality.

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On 10/31/2018 at 8:26 AM, ThreeAM said:

Job gone wrong; Black Sun thinks he's dead. (Not hunted by them).

This is the superior option, or better yet, they know he's alive and are hunting him.

It's easy to understand why a player would like little to no tension involved with their obligations, but a GM's job is to create tension and let the players try to resolve it. No tension = boring. Player characters should be driven like stolen cars. That's why the obligation mechanic is there - stuff getting in the way while you're trying to accomplish goals. Hunted by gangsters screams action movie; honorable discharge (wtf?) from the mob screams PBS documentary. Might as well take an obligation of hay-fever and nut allergies.

Edited by Lorne

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46 minutes ago, Lorne said:

This is the superior option, or better yet, they know he's alive and are hunting him.

It's easy to understand why a player would like little to no tension involved with their obligations, but a GM's job is to create tension and let the players try to resolve it. No tension = boring. Player characters should be driven like stolen cars. That's why the obligation mechanic is there - stuff getting in the way while you're trying to accomplish goals. Hunted by gangsters screams action movie; honorable discharge (wtf?) from the mob screams PBS documentary. Might as well take an obligation of hay-fever and nut allergies.

That's my thinking on this as well.  I have an EOTE character who has Black Sun hunting him but there's a twist.  He's a gambler who won big on a card game fair and square. Unfortunately, his opponent worked for Black Sun and was gambling with their money instead of his.  When confronted, he claimed that my character cheated him out of the money.  They, of course, killed him for losing it but put a bounty on me for "cheating them"

As the guy is dead, it makes it very difficult to prove that it was a fair game and I had no idea that he was gambling with money that was not his so I'm on the run still.

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3 hours ago, Lorne said:

This is the superior option, or better yet, they know he's alive and are hunting him.

It's easy to understand why a player would like little to no tension involved with their obligations, but a GM's job is to create tension and let the players try to resolve it. No tension = boring. Player characters should be driven like stolen cars. That's why the obligation mechanic is there - stuff getting in the way while you're trying to accomplish goals. Hunted by gangsters screams action movie; honorable discharge (wtf?) from the mob screams PBS documentary. Might as well take an obligation of hay-fever and nut allergies.

I never said anything about this being his obligation. He's purely talking backstory. If he thinks it's cliched and doesn't want to be hunted by the Black Sun, that's his prerogative. We're all telling this story together.

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1 hour ago, ddbrown30 said:

I never said anything about this being his obligation. He's purely talking backstory.

Then there's no issue. If you're okay with it, just allow it and move on. The main purpose of backstory is to explain who a character is and what they do. In play, it is almost completely overshadowed by the immediacy of (a) the over-arching reason for the party being together and (b) personal obligations. 

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7 hours ago, Lorne said:

Might as well take an obligation of hay-fever and nut allergies.

"You're holed up in the bunker waiting for the shelling to cease so you can get back out and grab that AT-Hauler. Someone notices the ration packs lying around and shares them out. Suddenly your throat closes up..."

I do find it hilarious, but I also love the idea of someone using it too.

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4 hours ago, ddbrown30 said:

I never said anything about this being his obligation. He's purely talking backstory.

Are you sure?  :)  I mean, he was pretty specific, and even wanted his "backstory" to give him access to a powerful NPC.  To me that smells like "I want an ace up my sleeve just in case".  Nobody comes up with something like that without expecting to get something out of it.  So that in turn requires significant Obligation, or some other important story mechanic that can bite both ways.

It would probably be useful to hash out just how important this backstory is to the PC.  If it's just information, and it's not going to have any impact going forward, then his past should carry no mechanical weight.  He has no contacts, and nobody who meets him will care or believe that the Black Sun was part of his past.

But I have to say it's like a cherry bomb that turns out to be a dud:  it could have been interesting, but now it's worse for not delivering.  He might as well have been a janitor in some nameless monad on Coruscant for all the interest it provides.

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10 hours ago, whafrog said:

Are you sure?  :)  I mean, he was pretty specific, and even wanted his "backstory" to give him access to a powerful NPC.  To me that smells like "I want an ace up my sleeve just in case".  Nobody comes up with something like that without expecting to get something out of it.  So that in turn requires significant Obligation, or some other important story mechanic that can bite both ways.

It would probably be useful to hash out just how important this backstory is to the PC.  If it's just information, and it's not going to have any impact going forward, then his past should carry no mechanical weight.  He has no contacts, and nobody who meets him will care or believe that the Black Sun was part of his past.

But I have to say it's like a cherry bomb that turns out to be a dud:  it could have been interesting, but now it's worse for not delivering.  He might as well have been a janitor in some nameless monad on Coruscant for all the interest it provides.

I mean, this is kind of the whole point of the thread. He wants something I feel gives him a lot of benefit and I need to find a reasonable drawback. Since he doesn't want it to be that he's hunted, I came looking for advice.

Not every backstory has to be governed by rules, especially when you have the right group of players. I let the same player be a several hundred year old human who looked 30 in our last D&D campaign just because it was cool and was fertile ground for storytelling.

This is a player that enjoys creating and getting into characters and I want to support that.

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