Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Teks Cartley and the Yelsainian Cavalry

In my long-running Star Wars campaign I have come up with quite a few NPCs-a few of them quite memorable (at least to me). When one of my players (Sharon, playing Adren) decided to have her character enter the world of swoop racing, I created a handful of NPC opponents for her. The ones I remember were Hanz Keller (a low-down, cheating ex-Imperial biker-scout), Hannah Arden (an egotistical up-and-coming pro-racer), and Teks Cartley.

Teks hails from the planet Yelsain, which I have already established to be an awesome place. Like most Yelsainians, Teks grew up on a homestead deep in the wilds of his homeworld. His family were ranchers, raising a hardy 'longhorn' version of the common Nerf. So it was that Teks learned to ride at a young age: speeder-bikes, swoops, cracian thumpers, banthas- and even 'bull' nerfs for exhibition at local rodeos. Riding herd also required a keen eye and steady hand with a blaster due to Yelsain's dangerous natural predators. And as with most Yelsainians, Teks learned outdoorsmanship, hunting and woodcraft practically before he could walk.

It was these skills that prepared Teks for a life in the military when the Rebellion finally came to his homeworld. He served with other locals in what would become an elite speeder-bike cavalry unit. At home in the huge forests of their world, the 'Cav' could swoop in on Imperial patrols and dash out again before any significant resistance could be put up. They were instrumental in disabling several AT-AT walkers using a modified version of the tow-cable attack pioneered by Rogue squadron on Hoth. Along with their infantry counterparts (the Yelsainian Rangers), the Cav helped throw off Imperial occupation, stave off an invasion and even survived weeks of planetary 'siege' before the Empire finally gave up on their efforts- needing the manpower to attempt to hold onto other, more strategic, planets in the Minos Cluster.

But the Cav's work wasn't done yet. Units of Yelsainian soldiers, including the Cav served with the newly formed Alliance sector government and fought in battles of liberation across the Minos Cluster- from the urban sprawls and coastal lowlands of Adarlon to the arid hills and plains of Eliad.

During this time, the Cav developed a distinctive personality and reputation. Daring tactics produced soldiers with a cocky, self-assured attitude- willing to take risks to get the job done. They weren't foolhardy by any means, in fact, they were well aware how crazy it was to charge gigantic AT-ATs on their tiny swoops and bikes. They cultivated an aura of 'craziness', however, both to help keep their spirits up and to give a 'mystique' to the unit to make it more intimidating to the enemy. Tactically, the Cav would sometimes 'count coup' (a tactic used by some primitive cultures). This involved attacking small groups of the enemy with non-lethal force. This had the effect of showing the prowess of the Cavalry (able to attack and get out without injury) as well as leave witnesses to go back and tell their companions what happened (spreading fear and injuring morale).

The Cav had a distinctive appearance as well. Riders in the unit wore spurs- on or off duty, in the field or on base. It was the distinguishing feature of their unit. On base they also took to wearing the wide-brimmed hats and bandanas favored by Yelsainian herdsmen- the former often decorated with elaborate braiding or piping. Buglers started to show up in detachments and some riders even went so far as to start carrying various kinds of sabers (though these were rarely used in combat). The 'mounts' of the unit were likewise personalized- often decorated with individualistic designs- personal symbols and 'war paint' (though such things were always balanced with functional needs for camouflage).

Teks fit the mold of a cavalryman to a tee. A balance of crazy risk-taker and tactician. He was a soldier by necessity, however, not choice. And despite the intense loyalty he has to his unit, he left the service following the establishment of the New Republic- the battle 'won' in his mind. At first, he returned home, toying with the idea of becoming a rancher himself. But his eyes had been opened to the larger galaxy outside Yelsain. He also missed the thrill of pushing himself to the limits of his riding skill. Finally, he decided to try his hand at professional swoop racing. Using his savings, he got himself a racing rig and passage offworld to his first race. He placed high enough to keep himself in business and earn the notice of the racing community. It wasn't long before he had a small pit crew (many of them ex cavalry members like himself) and a real standing in the racing world. Though he has yet to win a major championship like the Corellian Rally, his future as a racer seems bright- especially considering he's only in his mid twenties.

As with many 'ex' rebels, however, Teks has never 'really' left the service. From time to time he has been called upon by New Republic Intelligence for special operations that could use his particular ‘expertise’. He does this out of a sense of duty— and he’s good at it- but his true love is now racing, and probably always will be.

So there’s Teks. He’s been a fun NPC and could be used in anyone’s campaign. I wont provide stats for him as he can be geared to fit any skill level.

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