Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Don't be hasty

One of the interesting ideas introduced in the rules expansion (and later the rules companion) for the Star Wars D6 system was the 'Haste Action'. This was a process by which you could (conceivably) jump to the head of the line in initiative during a combat round, even if you lost the initiative to another character/NPC. The Haste Action disappeared in the 2nd Edition rules, and I can kind of see why. I have a love/hate relationship with it, myself.

In typical combat, the order of actions is determined (in my campaign) by an Agility roll (representing how fast your reflexes are). The higher the roll, the earlier you act in a round. We'll use the example of a gun duel to show how Haste Actions play into this. Han is fighting Gallandro. Han rolls lower than Gallandro, so when they act, Gallandro would go first. Han, however, decides to declare a 'Haste' on his first action (a shot). This would subtract 1D from his chances to succeed with that shot, in addition to any multiple action or wound penalties he already had. He would get to fire before Gallandro. Also, since Han's shot is hasted, Gallandro would have to declare a 'Haste' Dodge in order to have any chance of avoiding the shot (i.e. he would have to subtract 1D from his dodge).

That seems relatively cut and dry, until you factor in multiple hastes—whereby (in the above example) Gallandro could declare a haste action to negate Han's and still shoot before Han's haste. The escalation goes on from there, limited only (at least to my knowledge) by the level of the skill that you're hasting. In my own game, we had to eventually limit this kind of thing, because when highly skilled characters (8D+) start spending force points and using hastes, it wasn't out of the question to have a 10-12D haste action.

This may seen excessive, but it was useful in doing what my players termed 'suppressive fire'. Essentially, one or more characters would do multiple haste actions versus an opponent. That opponent would have to do a multiple haste dodge to avoid that shot—thus lowering his dodge roll for the round. This would mean that anyone else shooting at the target—without hasting—would have an easier time to hit. In a way, this made sense to me. Suppressive fire is a real-world tactic and it works on those same principles. Someone lays down covering fire, makes the target react hastily so that someone else can draw a bead on them.

But despite liking the theory, in play, the tactic got to be a bit unbalanced. I didn't want to throw it out entirely, though, so I wound up coming up with a few restrictions. First of all, you can only declare as many hastes as you have full dice in agility. You have a 3D agility, you can declare up to 3D haste. Secondly, the person who won the initiative in a combat round can ALWAYS choose to match the number of hastes that the other player wants to use (and thus, go before they do anyway). This has eliminated both the ridiculous 12D haste actions and the one-upsmanship in declaring numbers of hastes between combatants. But it hasn't made haste actions useless. A good gunman can still lay down a respectable suppressive fire.

Some of my players grumbled at the implementation of the new rule, but oh well. I think it is a lot more balanced now. So... nyah!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

REVIEW: Mission to Lianna

This is another of what I term the 'second generation' of Star Wars adventure modules—perfect-bound booklets instead of the old saddle-stitched variety. More than most of its contemporaries, however, Mission to Lianna pointed to a trend that would become the norm in West End Game products—providing not just an adventure, but a rather complete outline of an entire planet in an almost 'sandbox' style presentation (meaning there were lots of open ends that GMs and players could explore). 

The plot of Mission to Lianna is a nice variation on the typical 'action-adventure' style of most modules, playing out (in theory) more like an espionage thriller than a balls-to-the-walls shoot-em-up/chase scenario. The Mission the players are sent on is to travel to the Industrial world of Lianna and make contact with Rebel agents there who have a 'situation' that needs handling. Upon arrival in the system, the party is witness to suspicious Imperial naval activity—some kind of experiment that gives some very strange readings on their ship's sensors. After a brief exploration of the city and several clandestine meetings with Rebel contacts and agents, the party finds themselves having to plan and execute the theft of experimental cloaking technology from a corporate skyrise. Escaping with the goods (with or without pursuit, depending on how the heist went), the character's find themselves in the midst of a lavish party—attended by corporate and Imperial types alike. Here, they must bluff their way through the guests and find a means of escape back to their ship and off the planet.

The whole espionage angle to Mission to Lianna is one of my most favorite aspects—providing yet another bit of variety to any campaign (at least in my opinion). It is quite possible for cautious characters to get through the adventure with very little combat at all. That doesn't mean a lack of challenge, however—there are security systems to overcome, turbolifts to re-wire, NPCs to con, sheer walls to climb, patrols to sneak past, etc.. It's a true test of a party's ability to do things other than fight. Unfortunately, that can be a REAL test for parties who have not built up those non-combat skills in previous adventures. In fact, I would reserve this mission for more experienced PCs, rather then novices with straight out of chargen stats (unless the players are REALLY clever). 

The 'sandbox' nature of this module is another of its strengths. Yes, there is a story line and a mission to accomplish, but there is also a nicely described world to explore, with interesting little nooks and crannies players may wish to explore before or even after the mission (perhaps on a return visit sometime in the future). But with this free-form aspect, there is also the spectre of players going 'off the reservation' on some tangent or other. This adds a lot of dynamism to the adventure, but can also cause problems for GMs if their players aren't particularly task-oriented. Another MAJOR difficulty that this free-form can cause is the the possibility that the party could entirely skip the last episode of the adventure—the swanky imperial party hosted by the local industrial magnate. From a story angle, missing the party has no real impact—but from the angle of roleplay opportunity, it would be a damn shame if they did. In my first playthrough of this, I REALLY had to finagle things to get the players to the party, and in retrospect, it felt kind of forced. But in the second playthrough, things went very smoothly in this regard. In any case, GMs should pay special attention to this area, and do some thinking ahead based upon how they think their players will react. Of course, if you're one of those 'let the chips fall where they may' kind of GMs, then it's no big concern.

By far, though, the most interesting and well done part of Mission to Lianna are its NPCs and how their various personalities and motivations weave through the adventure. And unlike many other adventures, the players will likely get a chance to interact with all of them—even the villains—in a non-combat arena. Such meetings are always a plus in my book. It makes things more personal, gives the villains (and allies) a 'face' and presence they wouldn't have if restricted only to cutaways. In this adventure, you've got Lady Valles Santhe, the seemingly loyal Imperial Industrialist who is secretly working against the New Order. You have Philip Santhe, her scheming, but not too bright son who is trying to use his imperial contacts (and the cloaking device) to gain control of the corporation. There there is Kashan Santhe, Philip's idealistic grandson, a rebel sympathizer working against both his father (whom he dislikes) and his grandmother (whom he respects, but doesn't realize is secretly on his side). The Villain of the piece is lord Rodin Verpalion, an Imperial government official on Lianna to ensure the success of the cloaking experiment. There are literally dozens of others, however, from enthusiastic rebel agents to secretaries to underworld figures to an amazing variety of guests at the Santhe party. And the players will have a chance to interact with just about ALL of them. Good times.

On a personal note, the first two times I ran this adventure, it had two very different outcomes. I've detailed it in other posts, so I won't go into it here. But it does go to show just how different approaches and playing styles can dramatically affect the outcome of even a story-based adventure. This is, in my opinion, another example of how story adventures, if done well, can be just as dynamic as any fully 'sandbox' setting. Or maybe that's just me. In any case, I highly recommend this adventure—in fact, I can't think of any real negatives to it, unless you PREFER less cerebral and roleplay oriented stuff.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


In the D6 rules for Star Wars, the Roleplaying Game, Grenades have always (in my opinion) been handled a bit strangely. I think there are a couple reasons for this. First and foremost: Grenades just aren't a very 'Star Wars' weapon. We only ever see one of them in the original movies ("Boush's" thermal detonator) but it isn't ever used. Why is this so? Because grenades (and explosives in general) can be rather anti-climactic to a good blaster fight or lightsaber duel. They're also pretty violent in the way they kill (tearing people up)—making it too mean for PG movies. They're difficult to include in a cinematic roleplay game for the same reasons: they can be too deadly and not especially dramatic (especially if they blow one of the heroes to bits in the midst of his adventure). 

As presented in the RP, it seems that Grenades have been given somewhat wimpy stats. Perhaps this is to keep them from being too deadly. But to me, it just makes them somewhat useless. For example, a typical grenade does 5D damage. On the average, this means that your typical stormtrooper in armor (or PC without armor) could survive a blast at point-blank range and wind up simply 'wounded'. Yes, you can wound a 'group' of people with grenades, but still it is just a single wound.

In speaking with a friend of mine (Philip) who was in the army for a number of years, I have come to discover that grenades are a LOT more powerful than most people give them credit for. If you're at point blank range, you're going to wind up a lot more than just wounded—armored or no. And if our 'primitive' grenades are that powerful, it stands to reason that those in the Star Wars universe would be even more so. 

But again, since the D6 game is a cinematic system, you don't want to make grenades into instant-PC-killers, either. You need a balance. That's what I've been playing with by altering both the stats of the grenade itself and the way you resolve attacks with it.

First of all, I've upped the damage on them from 5D to 7D. This means that your average Stormtrooper/PC is going to be double-wounded (and in many cases incapacitated) by a point blank explosion. The trick (and the thing that balances this out) is NOT GETTING HIT at point blank range. You see, every grenade has different 'rings' of area-effect damage around it. In the point blank circle, you take the full 7D damage. In the next ring out from that, you take 5D, in the ring out from that, you take only 3D.

An attack by grenade is made as usual—by comparing the attacker's Throw-Weapons skill roll versus the defender's Dodge roll. Then consult the table below:

If Defender's roll <   Attacker's Roll then the defender takes 7D Damage
If Defender's roll >= Attacker's Roll then the defender takes 5D Damage
If Defender's roll >= Attacker's Roll +5 then the defender takes 3D Damage
If Defender's roll >= Attacker's Roll +10 then the defender takes no Damage (they have gotten out of the area of effect).

Alternately, you can include my standard increased damage roll for defenders who really botch their Dodge roll. For every additional five points by which the defender missed his dodge he takes another 1D of damage (up to twice the base damage of the grenade). Thus, if someone really, really really screwed up, they could be looking at 14D damage from a standard grenade. 

In my campaign, this has made grenades useful, but not overpowering or instantly lethal (at least not to PCs). 

All this having been said, however, most games I've run have usually been VERY light on the use of grenades. Part of this is due to the fact my players enjoy the cinematic aspects of play more than the "kill them all" part. And part of it is likely my own tendencies. I don't have NPC's use grenades very often, and so there's a kind of unspoken 'truce' between my players and I. You don't overdo it with the grenades, neither will I. Still, I think we both like to keep them handy in case we need them. For my part, they're good for keeping the Jedi honest (can't parry Area Effect). For the player's part, they're the hail-mary play when they're being swamped by baddies (or need to blow up something big). 

And finally, I'd like to discuss a few of the Standard grenade types I use in my game (most of which are different from those presented in the game).

Concussion Grenade
Damage: 7D (Energy)
This is the standard, modern grenade in use by most galactic militaries. It is, in essence, an 'energy-fragmentation' grenade—throwing out bolts of plasma and raw energy instead of metal shrapnel. As such, it acts as an 'Energy Weapon' in regards to armor penetration. The 'concussion' name is a bit misleading—as real world concussion grenades are actually less-lethal munitions designed for distraction and disabling. In Star Wars, it follows the naming traditions of energy-missile weapons like 'Concussion Missiles'. 

Stun Grenade
Damage: 7D (Energy—Stun)
This is much like a concussion grenade, except it explodes into blue-white stun energy instead of killing plasma.

Fragmentation Grenade
Damage: 7D (Physical)
This is a low-tech grenade in the Star Wars galaxy, throwing out bits of shrapnel (fragments) instead of energy. As such, advanced armors are more effective against it.

Tangler Grenade
Damage: 7D (Grappling)
This grenade is designed to capture it's target(s) by exploding into a mass of extremely resilient and adhesive fibers. The 'damage' of the grenade is the Strength roll that a target must overcome to break free. An entangled target can attempt to escape more than once, but each time they fail, the strength of the entangling fibers increases by 1D (the thrashing about actually tangled them up worse). Given time, the fibers will eventually dry out and break down. They can also be dissolved by a special solvent. Tangler grenades are very expensive and rather rare.

I've been toying around with other grenade ideas—such as Ion grenades that specifically affect droids/vehicles, but I haven't quite nailed down the specifics on those. In fact, I kind-of see Stun Grenades as almost their equivalent. In any case, that's all for now. Enjoy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Adventure Outline

The following is an adventure I came up with—based upon a somewhat odd source. See if you can recognize where it came from (I'll tell you at the end). I have set this particular adventure in the New Republic Era, but it could easily work during the Old Republic, or even Rebel Alliance era (with a little fiddling).

Arrival at Nova Terras
The PCs are a team of Alliance Intel/SpecForce agents (troubleshooters) on their way to a remote Republic world of Nova Terras on the outer rim—one recently plagued with pirate attacks and several acts of what could be sabotage. The party begins onboard their ship/shuttle, approaching the planet. 

As soon as they emerge from hyperspace, they pick up signs of a battle going on between a local fighter patrol and what appear to be pirate fighters. The players assist (if they wish) and drive off the pirates—much to the chagrin of the proud flight commander in charge of the local fighter forces (LtCommander Danton)—who felt he had the situation under control (despite the somewhat sluggish behavior of his pilots). 

Upon landing, the party is confronted by Danton (who chews them out). But in the midst of that, one of his pilots (Lt. Regis Soroyan) collapses, obviously ill. As he is rushed off to the infirmary, the planetary governor, Huer, arrives, along with his female chief of intelligence—Director Deering. They chastise Danton, then take the party to a conference room in the Government building. There Governor Huer explains that a sickness has broken out all over the planet in the past few days—though it has hit particularly hard in the planetary defense force (including Fighter operations). The local medical director, Dr. Mallory, has been working on a cure—and announces in the meeting that he has found the source—processed food coming from the planet Vistula (a nearby neutral planet with good relations to the Republic). Mallory leads the team back to his lab to further discuss his findings. When they arrive, however, they find the place in shambles, most of his assistants dead—and one missing.

Cutaway: Vistula
A robed man delivers a particularly viscious and fanatical speech to a cavern full of robed worshippers. He tells them how soon they will receive everything they have suffered for all these years. How soon the world will be theirs—and then the stars themselves! The people chant "Kaleel" his name. He then calls for them to give up any 'unbelievers' in their midst—so that they might be purified. A woman in the crowd shouts out that her husband spoke against Kaleel. The man is seized and taken forward. There, Kaleel reaches his hand out towards the man, struggling and held by his guards. When he touches the man's head, he screams and writhes in pain, then slumps down, dead. The people chant more, in a frenzy, as Kaleel departs.

Once away from the throngs, Kaleel is joined by a group of people—including a grizzled man in a military uniform. "Report, General Galen." Kaleel orders. Galen does so, informing him of the state of affairs with Nova Terras' defense forces. "And agent Tallah has reported—their research efforts have been set back by at least a week". Kaleel is pleased, but points out that the New Republic may still rally behind their governor. Galen smiles evilly and assures him. "That won't be a concern." 

Cutaway: Nova Terras
As the pc's escort the governor and his entourage through the government park—back to his headquarters—A shadowy figure in the bushes readies an odd, boomerang-shaped weapon, pouring a vial of hissing, poisonous fluid onto its blade-like edge.

Assassination Attempt
The PCs must prevent the death of the governor as the assassin strikes. If hard pressed, the assassin flees. If captured, he commits suicide. Markings on his body, however, are reminiscent of those found among the desert people of Vistula.

As Dr. Mallory gets to work trying to put his research back together again, Governor Huer asks the party to assist Director Deering in investigating this crime. The plan is to take the young pilot, Regis Soroyan, back to Vistula—as he is actually the son of that planetary ruler, here as part of a military exchange program. They are to serve as his honor guard while the young man goes home to recuperate. Under this guise, it is hoped they will not offend the Ruler of Visula—and will be able to quietly investigate the goings on there. As part of their gear, they will all be assigned micro-locators and other spy gear. Director Deering will accompany them, as will LtCommander Danton and one of his pilots (Lt. Fields)—the latter two flying escort in their fighters.

Arrival on Vistula
The party, along with Deering, Dalton, Fields and young Regis Soroyan, arrive on Vistula without incident. There, Sultan Soroyan hosts a lavish reception feast, complete with entertainment—dancers, jugglers, musicians and the like. The Sultan is grateful they have brought Regis back to recuperate. He is curious about this illness, however—and Nova Terras' inability to cure it (in fact, he is somewhat insulting in his insinuations). The governor's aide, Jalufa, tries to smooth things over—and urges them to eat up. If the players are hesitant to eat, the governor assures them that it is fine, imported food (the local fare is too plain for his tastes). Observant players may notice that there are very few droids on the planet. Even if they don't, the Sultan will brag about how they don't need such things—that the Desert People do just nicely as servants—and much more pleasing to look at, too (at this, he gestures to some of the serving girls). He goes on to blather that he purchases these people quite cheaply from one of their own—a nomad 'entrepreneur' named Kaleel. Regis, Soroyan's son, is present at the dinner, for the sake of decorum, but abstains from eating, due to his condition. He speaks out against his father and slavery—but unless backed by a PC, he will back down. Any PCs who rail against slavery at this point are met with confusion from the Sultan—as things have always been like this.  During the dinner, one of the slave girls, Ryma, accidently spills some wine on one of the PCs (preferably a male). The Sultan is infuriated, and sends her off, even as she tries to clean up the mess. The PC in question finds that the slave girl has slipped him/her a message, however—to beware of Jalufa.

Cutaway: Kaleel's Desert Retreat
A woman in Nova Terras uniform meets with Kaleel. The two embrace intimately. "Tallah. It is good  you are back.. and successful." She is somewhat dismayed at this point. "But not completely, my lord...Mallory's data was destroyed...but our assassin failed to kill Governor Huer!" Kaleel puts it all off, turning to pet a small, but vicious looking lizard pet, perched on a nearby stand. "A minor is the arrival of his agents here on Vistula." "! They could-" Tallah interjects. She is cut off. "Do not worry yourself...the fool Soroyan knows nothing. And Jalufa will ensure these agents learn nothing as well..." "But if they do, my lord..." "If they do..." Kaleel repeats menacingly. Suddenly, his pet writhes in pain, then curls up and drops to the floor, dead.

After the feast, the players are each taken to lavish private chambers within the Sultan's palace. There, a slave waits for each, willing to tend to any need. (Of course 'any' depends on what rating your campaign has...). One of the PCs (the one that the slave girl Ryma had warned earlier) finds that his slave is none other than Ryma. She sets some music playing to obscure her quiet but intense talk with the player: warning him that Kaleel is behind all the turmoil lately—he rules her people with an Iron fist and she suspects he plans to do away with the Sultan and take the entire planet. She is one of a few of her people working against Kaleel. Her brother was as well, but he disappeared while investigating a food processor plant #347. She suggests that this place may have clues to the plan. She also says that Kaleel isn't just a man, he's a 'sorceror' who can win over the wills of most men and even kill using his mysterious powers.

It is hoped that the players have the gumption to sneak out and investigate the processing plant. If not, Director Deering suggests they do so. She intends to do a bit poking around at the palace itself, leaving it up to the players to sneak out. Thankfully, Ryma knows a little used way out through the gardens. She bids the PCs good luck, then returns to her duties.

Processing Plant #347
The PCs have to sneak into the processing plant, past guards and workers. Eventually, they discover something in the packing plant—an unknown substance is being laced into the shipping containers themselves. An isolated sample of this may help Dr. Mallory find a cure more quickly. At some point, a fight and/or chase is likely to break out as the character's escape with (or without) their findings.

Cutaway: Back at the  Sultan's Palace
Director Deering is poking around the palace when she comes upon Ryma being interrogated by Jalufa—who demands to know what she told the offworlders. She protests doing anything wrong at all. Jalufa evilly tells her that "Kaleel will make you talk". Deering moves in to help the girl as the men try to take her away, but she is overwhelmed and taken prisoner herself. As the two of them are dragged off, Deering quietly activates her homing device.

Rescue Mission
The PCs return to the palace shortly after Deering's abduction. In fact, their homing/distress signal goes off just as they get there. LtCommander Danton arrives, confused at Deering's disappearance, but raring to go rescue her. If the PCs tell him of their discovery at the plant, he will want to send the sample poison back to Nova Terras with his wingman, Lt. Fields. He will then want to go after Deering. Again, it is hoped the players will be proactive in these decisions, rather than waiting for the NPC to guide them.

If the players come forward with their information to the Sultan, he is confused and angry, and refuses to believe them. But he will likewise not hinder them in their efforts.

Following the homing beacon, the players take their ship off into the wilderness in pursuit of Deering and her abductors. 

Cutaway: Kaleel's Command Center
Kaleel and his General Galen discuss the arrival of their prisoners—Deering and Ryma, and notice that there is an unidentified craft coming in. "The rest of Deering's people." Galen announces. "You know what to do, General." Kaleel replies. With that, the general activates a sophisticated defense grid, which employs planetary shields and a series of ion batteries."

The Player's ship comes under sudden assault. At worst, they'll be shot down in the desert. At best, they'll be forced to land to avoid the defenses (I'd prefer this, since I HATE forcing the players to always crash their damn ship). Either way, they'll have to spend a little time trudging through the desert to get to Kaleel's mountain fortress (where the homing device tells them that Deering is).

Cutaway: Kaleel's Fortress
Deering and Ryma arrive at the fortress and are escorted to Kaleel—only Deering manages to escape (with some help from Ryma). As Kaleel's men search for the rogue Agent, he confronts Ryma in his command center. She is fearless of him, despite his menacing her with his 'touch of death'. This angers Kaleel. He says she isn't worthy of dying that way, and so has her taken off to the 'pit' to die. Still angry, he sends Tallah and Jalufa off to recapture Deering.

Desert Trek
The party, plus Danton, trek through the desert to Kaleel's fortress. They are attacked by vicious desert predators (Humanoid, ghoul-like creatures) and have to fight them off. They finally near the fortress and see a series of huge cavern entrances—each serving as a hangar for hundreds of fighter and attack craft and thousands of soldiers. Enough to overwhelm the weakened forces of Nova Terras. Danton volunteers to go steal one of these craft and escape—to bring word to Governor Huer that an attack seems imminent—and that they need to pre-empt it if at all possible. Again, hopefully the players will come up with some kind of plan like this themselves, but if not, Danton will make his suggestions. 

Into the Fortress
The party infiltrates the fortress, hoping to find Deering and/or Jaleel. After some sneaking, provided they follow their homing device, they'll find Deering—or.. not really. It is actually Tallah, who has recaptured Deering and was using her homing device to lure the PCs in. The PCs can either be captured or fight their way out. 

Cutaway: Danton's Escape
Whatever the result of the battle, Danton is able to use the diversion to steal a ship and flee. Galen activates the defenses, but too late to capture the ship. Kaleel, angered, orders the mobilization of all his forces. The invasion begins now!

If the party is captured, they are taken to Kaleel, where (under heavy guard) he gloats about the invasion to come, and the cleverness of his attack. He introduces his general—an ex Imperial mastermind who will direct his fanatical troops in battle. After conversing with the players for a time, he will threaten them with his death touch—but will back off if they seem unafraid. In any case, he won't take a chance with it and sends them off to the "Pit" to die, too. 

If the party is not captured, they still have to try and find Deering, as well as Kaleel and his command center. They might also decide to split up and sabotage the attack force. In any case, try to work it so they stumble upon "The Pit". Perhaps some of the guards are laughing about the prisoners being taken there to die...

Cutaway: Nova Terras
Danton arrives to scrape up an attack force from any able-bodied pilot. Unfortunately, most are still down with the illness and unable to fly. Danton takes whatever he can get—young recruits, old reserves—and launches to return to Vistula.

The Pit
The PCs will approach this area either as prisoners, looking to break out or as free-agents, looking to break out the prisoners. The Pit itself is a huge, jagged chamber filled with hissing steam geysers and foul hot-springs—a volcanically active area deep beneath the fortress. Deering and Ryma can be found here, the latter suffering from heat exhaustion, the former doing her best to hold off the local predators (see below) with a club-like rock. As prisoners, the only way out may be to climb some of the treacherous walls (climbing and jumping checks, and maybe some acrobatics or force skills) and see if any of the vents lead out (one will, of course, leading to a deserted hall in the base). This will be opposed, of course, by nasty, steam-breathing worm-like critters that live in the area. If the PCs are trying to break in from the outside, they have to overcome a squad of Kaleel's guards (and if they're having a bit too easy of a time, have them face one of the above-mentioned steam worms). In any case, it is hoped the PCs and NPCs will escape.

Cutaway: Holy War
Kaleel addresses his soldiers with an uplifting speech—telling them that the day of judgement is here. The promised land is within their grasp. He sends the warriors off to man their ships, turning to Galen to lead the battle. The General assures him victory.

Once free of the Pit, Ryma splits up with the party, saying that she must rouse those people who secretly oppose Kaleel—it is now or never for them. The rest of the party has a choice to make, to go after Kaleel or to go after Galen. The latter option can be brought to them by having them see Galen's ship lift off or hear broadcast in the base about "all ships synch with general's tactical system now". It is possible the party will split up to go after BOTH Kaleel and Galen. More power to them if they do.

Cutaway: Space Battle
Danton's forces arrive in Vistula just in time to see Galen's armada lifting off. They have no choice but to engage now—hoping they can at least slow him down to give Nova Terras more time. Scene fades out as the battle is joined.

Space Attack
Any PCs who decided to go after Galen can find an 'extra' fighter craft lying around. Or perhaps even go back to their own ship in the desert (if it is still there). Their mission in the space battle will be to take out Galen to throw off the enemy fleet's command and control. If t hey don't realize this, then they're going to have a difficult time of it, since they will be greatly outnumbered. 

Ground Attack
Any PCs who decided to go after Kaleel find a difficult fight to his command center, but are soon aided by Ryma and her rebels. If none of the party went after Galen, then make sure to do another cutaway of the Nova Terrasian ships being  torn apart in battle. 

Eventually, it is hoped that either the Ground or Space attack will be successful. At this point, do a Cutaway to Kaleel

Cutaway: Kaleel's Command Center
Now visibly nervous, the religious leader barks orders to his people—to ready his escape shuttle. One who questions his sudden lack of faith is slain by his touch. Kaleel and any of his remaining Lieutenants (Tallah or Jalufa) try to escape.

If there are players on the ground, they can lead Ryma and her rebels to intercept Kaleel. If not, do a cutaway to Ryma and her people doing just that. In either case, Kaleel will threaten them with his touch of Death, but Ryma isn't afraid. As it turns out, Kaleel has only rudimentary Force powers, any who are strongwilled can easily shrug off his powers. After a brief struggle with his guards and lieutenants, Keleel is taken by Ryma and her people (unless slain by the PCs) and the day is won.
The players are hailed as heroes for their efforts. The Sultan of Vistula steps down and turns power over to his son, who is more wise than he ever was. Regis promises to free Ryma's people and join the republic. Oh, and of course, Dr. Mallory comes up with a cure for the sickness.

Not a bad little adventure, eh? Oh sure, it needs tweaking and planning (I like to do a lot of 'what ifs' when I outline an adventure, to try and plan for an tangents players might think of). I'm sure most hard-core sci-fi fans have figured it out already, but this is actually the plotline of an old Buck Rogers two-part episode "Planet of the Slave Girls". Just goes to show you that interesting ideas can come from very odd (and hokey) sources. 


As you may have been able to tell from the lack of posts recently, inspiration is a fleeting thing. One minute, you can be up and brimming with thousands of ideas and the gumption to write pages and pages about them. The next? Well, the ideas may have fluttered off into the nethers of your brain and that gumption? Well, it took the bus out of town. Unfortunately, it has been the latter for me this month. I don't often talk about personal, non-Star Wars related things in the blog, but this post is just a bit of that. We had a round of layoffs at work. It was nothing MAJOR of course (but that's easy for me to say—I still have my job (thank god)). But it sucks to see friends and co-workers go away. Alas, it's just a sign of the times. Lets hope they change soon. Maybe it's mopey or whatever, but things like that tend to 'drain' my inspiration in a lot of ways. However, I'm fighting my way clear of this one, finally, so I hope to be posting regularly once more. You'd think with the dozens of  'projects' I have going, I'd never run out of things to say, but.. ah well. Anyway, enough of the past—on to the future.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Star Wars Collection

I am really not a collector—at least, not with most things. Most of this is due to the fact that through most of my life thus far, I have simply not had the money to be one. There were a couple notable exceptions, however—one of them being Star Wars gaming books.

As I've discussed before, my fascination with the movies went all the way back to 1977 and the original film. It wasn't until the early 80's, however, that I was first exposed to sci-fi gaming—in the form of TSR's Star Frontiers series. It wasn't quite Star Wars, but it was fun. I quickly snapped up every book that was put out for the series. And for the first time, I actually was 'collecting' something. Unfortunately, Star Frontiers didn't survive too long. I still have all the books, though, and I find a lot of their information quite inspiring and usable in other sci-fi campaigns.

In 1987 the Star Wars RPG came out and I immediately became a huge fan of the rules. I had kind of accidently collected all the Star Frontiers stuff, but with Star Wars I made a conscious effort to collect all the books. For a while, I was able to keep up with the releases—and indeed I threw several modules into my campaign that must have been 'hot off the presses'. Unfortunately, I went through a very rough patch in the mid to late 90's—financially, that is. Thus, a lot of books passed me and my empty wallet back. 

Come the 2000's, however, I found myself in more solid footing—and also found myself addicted to eBay. Again, I very quickly bought up everything I could find. I was very obsessive about it, in fact—probably spending a bit more money than I should have on a few books (some of the Star Wars adventure Journals, for instance). But as it stands now, It is probably easier for me to list the books I DON'T have, rather than the ones I do. 

In many instances, my books are in very 'used' condition. They travelled with me to and from college, from dorm to apartment to house, across half the country. I wish I had done a better job of keeping them up, but on the same note I'm kind of proud of just how used they are. I played the hell out of them, and every crease, wrinkle, tear or stain reminds me of all the good times those books have 'soaked up' through the years.

With the bankruptcy of West End Games (sigh) and the Star Wars license passing to Wizards of the Coast (sigh) and the D20 system (double sigh), a lot of the gusto of collecting gaming books has gone away. I own a remarkable number of d20 books now. I find them quite pretty to look at and they occasionally have some interesting information,  but overall, they don't hold a candle to "The Classics"—and when you throw in the exorbitant prices, they kind of leave me a bit sour overall, wondering at what might have been.

In any case, I look at my Star Wars collection now with a very geeky sense of pride. And some day, I will probably round it out with the remainder of the d20 books, just for the sake of being a 'completionist'. In the meanwhile, I'm just going to enjoy being in a position to have all of this great gaming information literally at my fingertips—creases, stains and memories included.