Jump to content
Concise Locket

Help me with a campaign framework for Force & Destiny

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

Hello fellow GMs. While my next Star Wars RPG campaign is awhile away, I've started brainstorming possibilities for a new story. My initial idea was to do something with Edge of the Empire. But the adventure and story structure of EotE it a little too close to a cyberpunk campaign, and, because I'm planning a cyberpunk game with another group, I want to do something different to avoid burn out.

My second idea was to dust off my Age of Rebellion campaign - complete with the Tion Cluster setting - and run a new and improved game. Condense the best of everything I wrote into 9 locations (rather than 30), script a tighter story, and run it like a "Season" of 10 adventures (as suggested in the Dawn of Rebellion book). This is what I've been working on for the past few weeks until I had a conversation with my wife last night. 

My wife is a huge Star Wars fan and has played in all the campaigns I've run. I mentioned that, while I like the tone of Force & Destiny, it's incredibly hard for me to come up with an adventure framework to run inside of it. A couple of years ago, I ran a EotE/F&D campaign that focused on a hunt for Force-related artifacts. It ended with a goofball showdown between the PCs and the Prophets of the Dark Side in the subterranean ruins of the Iron Citadel on Empress Teta. All very Dungeons & Dragons like. Anyway, I told my wife that I was going to update the AoR campaign because I'm most comfortable with WW2-style Rebels vs. Empire stories. She then proceeded to accuse me of being a) uncreative and b) scared to run a SW game outside my comfort zone. The nerve of her!!!

Unfortunately, I think she's probably right. Mystical Force stuff is outside my comfort zone. Don't get me wrong, I think the Mortis arc and Yoda's vision quest in The Clone Wars was some of the best storytelling Star Wars has ever done. And I liked the end of Rebels. But all that was in service to the greater story of the rise and fall and rise of the Skywalkers/Chosen One. And I definitely don't want my players to be yet another set of pillars propping up Luke's journey of returning the Jedi.

So here's my request: I would like some broad stroke ideas for F&D campaigns with the following caveats:

1. It has to fit within canon. So no beating up the Emperor. It needs to be a story that can fit within the established Star Wars universe but away from the main stories we know.
2. If it's going to be another "hunt for artifacts" story, I need there to be a good reason for these artifacts to be hunted.
3. It needs to take place during the time between the formation of the Empire and the Battle of Jakku. I want there needs to be a constant threat of the Empire finding the players and killing them as a motivator for action.

Thank you in advance for any help! :)

Edited by Concise Locket

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Concise Locket said:

Don't get me wrong, I think the Mortis arc and Yoda's vision quest in The Clone Wars was some of the best storytelling Star Wars has ever done.

Between the above and your three caveats (mainly the first one), I really can't offer anything other than wishing you good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's the framework that I use for my AoR/FnD campaign.

The PC's are all members of the Alliance and all are Force sensitive.  After that I let the players be as creative as they are wont.

The next assumption is that the Rebellion is taking force sensitives and assembling them into teams (SOG in my case) so that these teams can be relied upon to use their 'special abilities' on their designated missions.

In my campaign the PC's have a special trainer who helps them get access and better use of the Force.  Mainly former Jedi in training who are also on the run from the Empire.

 

As for treasure hunting the only "mystical" thing that my players need to hunt down are kyber crystals so that they can make their light sabers.

 

It's  a big universe and a big rebellion.  Lots of special missions needed to undermine and take out the Empire.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the things I liked so much about Rebels is it managed to grab hold of a serious threat in the form of the TIE Defender, and much of the story was around how that was neutralized and so never played a part in the OT.  From a "certain point of view" the whole arc is about that, even if it only takes the limelight in a few episodes.  It's super important on a galactic scale, but is only the backdrop to the main character arcs, which IMHO makes it very clever storytelling.

So that got me thinking about the flip side for another campaign of my own, which is how the X-Wing came into service.  Never mind all the legends/WEG stuff, they are sources to draw on but not be held accountable to.  Being approached by the designers, getting the plans, setting up the production facilities, being discovered and having to flee, until finally, just in time for the Lothal run, a few are made available...that's definitely a whole campaign.  But the main thing is it doesn't have to be overt, or "all about the X-Wing".  It should be almost incidental to the main story arc, which is the growth of the PCs as they fight the Empire however and wherever they can.  In fact, no need to even mention it until somebody figures it out...  :) 

Or swap "X-Wing" with some other thing that has the potential to "turn the tide".  The A-Wings in Rebels kind of suck, but all the lore says they were the fastest and nimblest...maybe the Defender specs got reapplied...

On a different note, I'll just be a curmudgeon for a bit:  I hate the whole "hunt for artifacts" thing as a main motivation.  It's fine if it's incidental to the story, or part of the larger arc, but it should never be the sole purpose of the PC's efforts.  Rebels handles this, too, really well.  They never really needed the Sith holocron in its own right, its purpose was to further character growth and fuel both PC and NPC actions.  But the story would still work without it.  So I would just caution against making the story about artifacts.  Just because it's an F&D story doesn't mean it has to be all about the Force, if you think about it, most of the media rarely is...they talk about it a bit, then do (or do not), but most of the story is about their relationships to others.

Which leads to a final question:  is there a need to limit things to one game line?  If everybody wants to be a Force user I guess that limits your options, but otherwise, a mixed crew should still be able to work, artifacts or no.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, HappyDaze said:

Between the above and your three caveats (mainly the first one), I really can't offer anything other than wishing you good luck.

To be transparent . . . 

My campaign is YOUR IDEA HappyDaze!  

I basically stole YOUR idea!  ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, whafrog said:

One of the things I liked so much about Rebels is it managed to grab hold of a serious threat in the form of the TIE Defender, and much of the story was around how that was neutralized and so never played a part in the OT.  From a "certain point of view" the whole arc is about that, even if it only takes the limelight in a few episodes.  It's super important on a galactic scale, but is only the backdrop to the main character arcs, which IMHO makes it very clever storytelling.

So that got me thinking about the flip side for another campaign of my own, which is how the X-Wing came into service.  Never mind all the legends/WEG stuff, they are sources to draw on but not be held accountable to.  Being approached by the designers, getting the plans, setting up the production facilities, being discovered and having to flee, until finally, just in time for the Lothal run, a few are made available...that's definitely a whole campaign.  But the main thing is it doesn't have to be overt, or "all about the X-Wing".  It should be almost incidental to the main story arc, which is the growth of the PCs as they fight the Empire however and wherever they can.  In fact, no need to even mention it until somebody figures it out...  :) 

Or swap "X-Wing" with some other thing that has the potential to "turn the tide".  The A-Wings in Rebels kind of suck, but all the lore says they were the fastest and nimblest...maybe the Defender specs got reapplied...

On a different note, I'll just be a curmudgeon for a bit:  I hate the whole "hunt for artifacts" thing as a main motivation.  It's fine if it's incidental to the story, or part of the larger arc, but it should never be the sole purpose of the PC's efforts.  Rebels handles this, too, really well.  They never really needed the Sith holocron in its own right, its purpose was to further character growth and fuel both PC and NPC actions.  But the story would still work without it.  So I would just caution against making the story about artifacts.  Just because it's an F&D story doesn't mean it has to be all about the Force, if you think about it, most of the media rarely is...they talk about it a bit, then do (or do not), but most of the story is about their relationships to others.

Which leads to a final question:  is there a need to limit things to one game line?  If everybody wants to be a Force user I guess that limits your options, but otherwise, a mixed crew should still be able to work, artifacts or no.

 

I also liked the TIE Defender subplot on Rebels. The Expanded Universe being relegated to Legends status has definitely been a boon for me. There's decades worth of now non-canonical material to exploit and remix. 

In answer to your question: my need to limit to a single game line is primarily based on keeping the players motivated in working together. Two campaigns ago, my players were split between EotE and F&D characters and it worked... okay. Around the later point of the campaign, keeping the party working together became a serious challenge. I know my players well enough to know that, unless they're all working towards similar goals, they're going to fracture. The contrast of a smuggler and an ex-Jedi working together makes for a great story in the hands of a good writer but in the practice of a game, most players are too lazy or self-centered to commit to a dramatic bit like that and keep it interesting. They'd rather just accomplish personal or narrative goals and move on.

As I mentioned above, artifacts don't need to be the MacGuffin for the campaign and I don't find them particularly interesting on their own. What I was asking was, if someone was pitching that as story motivation, provide me a reason behind it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Mark Caliber said:

To be transparent . . . 

My campaign is YOUR IDEA HappyDaze!  

I basically stole YOUR idea!  ;)

You didn't steal it; you may have based it on the same idea I had, but you took it up and made it your own.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've watched very little of Rebels, but between that show's sibling Inquisitors, and Palpatine's retinue of pale fogeys first seen in RotJ, it seems easy enough to introduce layers of characters and organizations that work under canon -- and I think it can be done outside of the direct Skywalker circuit.

I figure you'd still want all setting elements in play -- Empire, Rebellion, megacorp intrigue, scum 'n' villainy -- to keep it from feeling too much like a supers game. Usual themes of clandestine orders, seeking knowledge, crossing time through history (without scavenger hunt), honor and codes, temptation, redemption.

An obvious source for inspiration would be the Zatoichi series, but -- even though they're more readily mined for EotE -- my favorites The Wire and Justified have enough unforgettable clashes of wills that you could translate into Jedi adventures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Concise Locket said:

3. It needs to take place during the time between the formation of the Empire and the Battle of Jakku. I want there needs to be a constant threat of the Empire finding the players and killing them as a motivator for action.

Didn't the Empire pretty much "find and kill" all of the Jedi?  So doesn't that make it somewhat Rogue One-like as far as everyone not making it?  Not sure it really fits canon by having a group of survivors walking around and not dying.  Pretending a group of them will make it is sort of anti-canon. 

FaD typically has players as part of the Order or part of some secret Palpatine group.  Another typical theme is everyone starts a Jedi.  What if they were just ordinary people living their lives and having jobs?  Then during some town meeting, some hooded figure walks through and points them out in a crowd, "THERE! The woman.  That bartender!" (Some sort of mystic force jedi detection or test).  Maybe everyone in town has to "take the test"?   The ones who fail are locked away and not told why.  While in captivity, everything is cryptic.  Obscure tests are given (allowing them to use their minimal force powers to some extent). "Move this candle without touching it! Concentrate on this picture!  Run this obstacle course!" In essence, THIS is their training. No typical padawan, no master.  Like test subjects, they want to see who responds and how they respond.  An npc or two are taken away and never seen again, adding to the mystery. But that might be too dark for your group's tastes.  

After that, it could go many ways.  Could be an anti-Vader Imperial on the down-low. Could be the Emperor's plans. Could be a good group trying to identify and save force sensitives.  PROs? Your players don't know which way it will go. They cannot foreshadow the ending.  They don't know who to trust (adding intrigue and leading to a great reveal). They'll be ordinary people like Luke with gifts unknown to them at the time.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

There are lots of examples of the Force having some degree of awareness of events in the galaxy. Just as one can use the Force, from time to time the Force will use select beings (see Leia surviving in deep space in TLJ) Does this mean the Force has plans or intentions for some of us? Why only some of us and not others? The Force seems to create and destroy life at whim, with little regard for the consequences and for purposes far beyond the understanding of most beings. Why does it do this? If the Force had a consciousness, would it be good or evil? Would we even be able to tell the difference?

Awhile back I wanted to come up with a premise that investigated these ideas... and also added a touch of Cthulhu mythos to Star Wars. This is what I came up with...

The PC's are hired or brought together by a scholarly being who sends them on what seems to be a simple but mysterious fetch quest to find his missing partner/associate. This being does not use the Force himself, but he and his associate were studying a fundamental question - Why do some fall to the dark side, and not others? Their years of work gave them no answers, but they learn of a mysterious group who seeks the same thing, and claims to have possibly made a breakthrough. The PC's pursue various leads and follow a trail until they find the associate has joined a mysterious shamanistic cult that seeks the answers to these questions that we are not meant to know. They believe that the dark side is not truly evil, but simply an inevitable stage in the pursuit of enlightenment or forbidden knowledge- one that many never make it out of, but which must be endured if one is to grow as a person. They perform rituals, some beautiful, and some hideous. The rituals have wildly varying outcomes. To some they do nothing. To others, they bring madness or horrible destruction as they are consumed by the dark side. And for a select few, they grant incredible powers, amazing insights, and blissful harmony with the Force, albeit for a limited time. Tension comes from the fact that the PC's cannot be sure if it is a corrupt trait or flaw that makes some go mad and unleash chaos, or if to pursue this knowledge or practice the Force in this way is to court madness itself. 

From here you can go lots of places. Maybe the PC's decide to stay and try to learn how to overcome past traumas. Or gain insight and learn about some personal thing they seek. Or they just try and destroy the cult. Or they leave and risk the select few who gain great power spreading this knowledge throughout the galaxy. Whatever they do, they cannot wait long, as the Empire is on their trail, and may even already be aware of the cult, and is using it to farm new acolytes of the dark side. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could eschew the idea of the players being any sorts of agents for anyone at all in the overall sense and just be on a quest for survival. The players could all be students at an Inquisitorious training center somewhere in the Deep Core, who (each for their own reasons) decide it’s time to GTFO. I think you and the players could have lots of fun with the reasons for leaving, especially if they all tell you but have no mandate to share honestly with the others. The goal of the campaign for the players is to escape the Empire. They keep going outwards, eventually realizing the only place they will be safe is if they go into the Unknown Regions, far from where the Empire can touch them. Obviously giving them a starship would make this a somewhat easy task so I would have them have to stow away, book passage on different ships to different places, etc, but there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong once they get the ship, including the fact that in Aftermath Empire’s End it describes the space beyond the Unknown Regions as incredibly dangerous to navigate. I think you could run it as almost an Odyssey. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always liked the idea of running a game where the PCs were former padowans who somehow managed to survive Order 66, whether just by luck or because their master saved their lives whilst sacrificing themselves.

That way their powers are fairly underdeveloped, giving room for them to grow in game plus, as their training was incomplete, it also gives the opportunity to choose their path between the light & dark side of The Force.

Since The Clone Wars they have been forced to live by their wits, hiding what powers they have to avoid Imperial interest.

I’d always planned on limiting the action to one planet to start with, helping the population fight Imperial oppression or The Criminal Underworld until things got too hot & they’re forced to leave the world & head out into the galaxy. Maybe they hear of a surviving Jedi who can teach them more about The Force.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Idea 1: A campaign I'd love to run would feature a group of Force-sensitives who work for the Empire. They might be Inquisitors in training, or they might be a super-secret branch of the ISB, Emperor's Hands, or whatever. But the conceit of the game is that they discover that someone high up in the Empire is seeking out invaluable Force-enhancing artifacts that date back to the Rakata, the Celestials, or some other ancient civilization. If the Imperial in question gathers all of the pieces of this ancient device and gets it running again, it will mean the Empire wins the Galactic Civil War. Think something even more powerful than a Death Star. Only the PCs discover that the technology will also wipe out 90% of life in the galaxy or some other dire consequence.

The game thus takes on a cloak-and-dagger, X-Files kind of resonance, where the PCs have to decide whether to gather the artifacts for the Empire to use, or somehow get to them before the Imperial big bad does and thereby stop the untold destruction the weapons will wreak.

Idea 2: Everyone is a member of a non-Jedi Force tradition. Perhaps the Ysanna, or Chalactan Adepts, or Baron Do Sages. When the Empire rises, the PCs have to help either hide their group or convince the Empire they're harmless... or useful in some other way.

Edited by SavageBob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/1/2019 at 7:42 PM, AceSolo5 said:

I always liked the idea of running a game where the PCs were former padowans who somehow managed to survive Order 66, whether just by luck or because their master saved their lives whilst sacrificing themselves.

That way their powers are fairly underdeveloped, giving room for them to grow in game plus, as their training was incomplete, it also gives the opportunity to choose their path between the light & dark side of The Force.

Since The Clone Wars they have been forced to live by their wits, hiding what powers they have to avoid Imperial interest.

I’d always planned on limiting the action to one planet to start with, helping the population fight Imperial oppression or The Criminal Underworld until things got too hot & they’re forced to leave the world & head out into the galaxy. Maybe they hear of a surviving Jedi who can teach them more about The Force.

I've also liked this idea. In my head canon the best story I could come up with was that there was a group of  Jedi and Padawans who were seriously anti-war/pacifists within the Jedi Order and they left the order at the outbreak of the Clone Wars, going completely off the grid and into hiding. This group mostly escaped Order 66 and most of what Darth Vader has been up to between RotS and ANH is trying to track them down. If it's a group of padawans who left the Jedi, then it explains why they aren't powerful and gives them room to grow. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ahhh, star wars, the setting where everyone wants to be mystical space hobos! Personally, I cannot stand the idea of *just* a Force and Destiny campaign. People who seek artefacts usually have an overriding agenda one way or another that ties into the greater galaxy so usually it's best to mix it. Either with Edge (being largely drifting in the fringes of imperial space, or just dealing with being effectively a criminal by nature due to the empire) or AOR if your looking for full blown heroic pulp action. 

I find edge works particularly well because a lot of force sensitive groups are usually forced into the shadows by the empire anyway. Night Sisters? If any survived Grevious's purge then I imagine the Empire would be actively hunting to tame or destroy them. Jedi? Gotta remember that these people aren't necessarily the good guys, a mixture of desire to stay away from attention combined by the status of being hunted is a potent hodge podge to making a compelling anti-villain who is more then willing to do anything to get revenge. A jedi who went on to become a criminal mastermind would be a fasinating villain who would want to expose the PC's to the harsh reality of the galaxy. 

Even then, a great number of villians like Hutts, Black Sun, the Pike Syndicate or Crimson Dawn (who up to a time was run by Maul himself, boom, another major antagonist!) who might have either access to force artefacts (collected them not knowing what they are) or have access to force sensitive individuals who just by the viture of their nature act as a foil for the PC's; a separate villain who never had a education in the force but is keen to learn how to use these strange powers that have made life so easy, and take them higher.

Key thing is, you are only hunting for artefacts on force forsaken worlds on a trinket if you want them to be. That is only one of the potential adventures. Take the Jewel of Yavin, that is a heist adventure that has a mega Kaber crystal up for grabs. Take a few notes out of the Ocean (insert digit here), mission impossible. It doesn't mean avoiding some of the typical tropes, such as having a mentor figure that the party will spend some time with and stories of redemption, but there's a lot more to a Force and Destiny adventure then just taking a few tickets out of old martial arts movies, but it's about people hunting for the big score so that they can prequire enough resources to eventually build a safe haven, or attempt to kill the sith following them or whatever. Just because the players can't change canon doesn't mean the characters should also know that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...