Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Clone Wars

Since the brief mention of the “Clone Wars” in the original Star Wars movie (now dubbed Episode IV), I had wondered just what the heck the “Clone Wars” were. But it was never expanded upon in the original series- nor was it ever really discussed in any form in the many years after the trilogy came out.

The first time I can remember anyone even touching on the subject of clones was in the Timothy Zahn “Heir to the Empire” novels. Even then, things were kept more than a little vague. In these novels, the villains secure and make use of “Spaarti cloning cylinders” to create an army. It was insinuated that such things were used during the clone wars- and was assumed (by my friends and I at least) that it was the ENEMY of the Republic that used them. To me, this made sense. Cloning seemed to be an inherently ‘evil’ thing, and certainly something the Republic would fight against. Certainly, that is how it was portrayed in the novels- with the clones created serving as faceless minions of the bad guys- organic ‘puppets’ used to further the goals of ambitious beings.

It was with these limited (and somewhat dubious) sources of information that I pieced together my own theory on what the Clone Wars were. I imagined that the Old Republic was faced with invasion from a powerful outside force- perhaps they called themselves the “Clonemasters” or some such. Utilizing the technology of cloning, they ruthlessly prosecuted a war against the Republic, seeking to claim the galaxy as their own. Against the homogenous clone armies of the ‘Masters’ were arrayed the somewhat rag-tag army and navy of the Old Republic- with troops from thousands of different species and cultures struggling to survive both the attacks of their enemy and the corruption and splintered nature of their own government. Ultimately, with the leadership of the Jedi, the Republic was able to unify and prevail- only to (ironically) fall into the same mold as the Clonemasters- ruled by an Empire that increasingly demanded uniformity.

As far as the Clonemasters themselves go, I figured they were (in some way) directed or influenced by Dark Side Force users- though perhaps not the Sith. As far as the Emperor and Vader, I assumed that perhaps the ‘Sith’ were actually a splinter group of the Jedi (or rather, a dark reflection of that order)- representing those Jedi who ‘did what had to be done’ to defeat the Clonemasters- selling their souls (as it were) in order to achieve victory. I assumed that the corruption of the Old Republic, even victorious, left the government very weak after the war- easy prey to a charismatic leader like Emperor Palpatine. As he rose in power, he had to eliminate the Jedi- and replace them with his own order of ‘guardians’ (loyal to him, of course)- the Sith. Through most of my initial Star Wars campaign (from 1991 up until 2002), it was this image of the Clone Wars that I kept in the back of my mind.

I had also placed the Clone Wars some thirty years prior to the events of the original movie, instead of the twenty that is now ‘official’. The age of Obi-Wan seemed to suggest at least that amount of time. I knew this would mean that Luke and Leia were born some ten years AFTER the end of the Clone Wars, but I figured that perhaps it took time for Vader to go Evil and for the Empire to show its face as the tyranny it truly was. So perhaps Vader and his wife lived for some ten years prior to the final betrayal of the Jedi and rise of the Sith.

When Episode II came out, however, this whole theory was thrown out the window. The Clones were suddenly the good guys. While it all made sense within the plot of the movies, I can’t help but find this a little confusing and unsatisfying. The main problem I have with it is the Old Republic’s (and the Jedi’s) unquestioning acceptance of this Clone Army. Setting aside all of the ethical ramifications of what is essentially a slave army, the fact that NOBODY seems to question HOW this army came into existence (or even who the heck PAID for it) just seems stupid on an incredible level. Yes, I understand that the Old Republic was desperate for an army to defend itself, but come on. Seriously? Nobody- not ONE person questioned the ‘happy coincidence’ of finding this army at EXACTLY the moment they required it? I mean, if even one character had pondered the ramifications of this in the movie, I would have been satisfied, but as it stands, I don’t think anyone does. Sure, Obi-Wan investigates, but once he finds the army? No more questions are raised by anyone (unless I missed something?).

So anyway, there are still times when I like my own version of things just a little bit more than the official. Even so, I can’t deny that the plot of Episode II was otherwise quite enjoyable and that the deviousness of Palpatine was MUCH more interesting than anything I had come up with. There are times, however, when I still ponder a ‘mash up’ of the prequel trilogies and my own theories- which I still think have some legs to them.

What about you folks? Before Episode II, what did YOU think the Clone Wars were?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Top Ten Bond Girls Translated into Star Wars

What exploration of Bond would be complete without spending some time on Bond Girls. Is this just a shameless plug to drive more traffic to my site? You be the judge! In any case, below is the list and notes on how each would be presented in a Star Wars universe. And yes, for those bored with this Bond kick I am evidently on, I will be moving on to other things after this.

10. Domino

The bikini-clad beauty who played Number Two's number one girl in "Thunderball". Domino is representative of a lot of different bond girls- being mostly eye-candy and having little real impact on the plot of the movie. She does stand out from many of the others, however, in that she does wind up saving Bond towards the end of the movie. She shoots her abusive lover- Emilio Largo- with a speargun and then comments coldly. "I'm glad I killed him." To this, Bond quips "YOU'RE glad?".

Domino cuts a rather tragic figure, being a young woman who was drawn in by the wealth and power of an older man (Largo) only to find out he was jealous, abusive and a criminal/terrorist mastermind. By this time, however, she was already in too far to get out on her own. She lives a life of luxury, but at the price of having to spend time with Largo- who sees her only as a pretty bauble. Even so, she has a good heart and would help agents working against Largo, even at risk to herself. Her brother is an officer with the New Republic who (unknown to her) is slated to be used and then killed in one of Largo's extortion schemes.

Domino has no real combat or espionage skills, but she is clever enough and observant- and would be a good source of information to people working against her 'patron', Largo.

9. Jill Masterson

Her appearance in "Goldfinger" might have been brief, but her death (asphyxiated by gold paint) was perhaps one of the most memorable in the entire series- thus earning her a place in this list.

In a Star Wars setting, I see Jill as a human female mercenary who has recently taken work with Auric the Hutt (Goldfinger) in a general 'trouble-shooting' position. Her most current assignment is helping the Hutt cheat in 'friendly' card games by spying out his opponent's hands from a distance. Jill is simply in it for the money, and the thrill of being part of a criminal organization- she feels no special loyalty to Auric- and in fact is a bit bored and annoyed with his money-grubbing attitude. She just might 'look the other way' if agents were to interfere with her boss. Unfortunately, she doesn't quite understand just how dangerous an angry Auric can be. Jill has a sister who follows a similar line of work, though with different employers. If Jill came to harm, this sister would likely go after whoever was responsible.

Jill Masterson would have basic combat and espionage abilities (particularly surveillance). She would have been hired on by Auric because of her good looks- which both distract enemies and make her seem less of a threat. Plus, like all Hutts, Auric likes to surround himself with beauty.

8. Octopussy

Again, this was easily one of the sillier movies AND names, but like it or not "Octopussy" WAS memorable, as was her personal criminal operation- an all female cadre of acrobat-thieves who lived with her on her private island. Oh, and she ALSO ran a circus as a front for her smuggling operations.

As mentioned in previous posts, the Star Wars version of this character has called herself "Krakana"- named after a ferocious predator (think sharktopus) of the planet Mon Calamari. She was the daughter of a turncoat Imperial Spy who was killed during the rise of the Empire. A young woman at the time, Krakana immersed herself in the underworld- eventually building her own smuggling organization, taking in 'lost' women much like herself. It was during this time that she earned the name Krakana- a testament to her ferocity when crossed and her tenacity in achieving her goals. She now has her own private island, guarded by her all-female cadre of henchwomen (and henchwomen in training). She has also started up several legitimate enterprises to supplement her income (and to serve as cover for her operations). One of these is a traveling circus. Unfortunately, she's also partnered with some less than savory types during her career, from corrupt nobles (like Kamal Khan) to corrupt Imperial officers (like General Orlov). Though she is a thief, Krakana is a 'noble' thief. She doesn't kill unless pushed into a corner and she doesn't deal in slaves or other 'questionable' cargos.

Krakana is a skilled combatant in armed and unarmed combat. She is also trained in acrobatics and espionage skills. But her most useful skill is her personality- as a skilled leader, a clever criminal/businesswoman, a savvy judge of character and a charming smooth-talker in social situations.

7. Anya Amasova

Touted as being the first 'liberated' Bond Girl, Anya Amasova (aka Agent XXX) appeared in "The Spy Who Loved Me". Here, she was presented as an equal to Bond, a skilled Russian agent working both with and against the hero. For the most part, the 'liberated' thing is true, except for the fact that she gets captured, dressed in sexy clothes by the villain, and must be rescued by Bond in the end. Yeah.

Agent Amasova was raised in the Empire and mourned its fall, even as she served as an agent for Imperial Intelligence. She is a dedicated idealist, truly believing that her government represents order and peace in the galaxy- and that the Republic represents only corruption and chaos. Amasova is, however, not blind to the fact that times change and coexistence with the New Republic may very well be a fact of life. All the same, she continues to faithfully serve her own government and its ideals- and even if forced to work with the Republic, she will always seek an outcome more favorable for the Empire. Anya was recently in a relationship with a fellow agent, but he was killed by Republic agents in an operation gone bad. This has left her coldly professional, but with a burning desire for revenge against those responsible for her lover's death- even so, she puts duty above her personal feelings.

Agent Amasova is very skilled in all manner of combat and espionage operations. Though coldly professional, she can (when necessary) 'turn on the charm' to distract opponents or extract information.

6. Wai Lin

Played by Michelle Yeoh (who I love) in "Tomorrow Never Dies", Wai Lin was probably the most believably butt-kicking Bond Girl there has ever been. Why? Because she could literally kick butt (and do her own stunts).

In a Star Wars setting, Wai Lin would be a near-human native of a remote sector of space ruled by her people (we'll call them the "Iso" people). Having only recently shrugged off Imperial domination, the Isos (already a reclusive species) are in no hurry to join the New Republic- or indeed to open their borders to non-Isos. Unfortunately, some dastardly folks seem intent on stirring up trouble between the Isos and New Republic. So it is that Wai Lin- a skilled agent in her government's Intelligence service- sets out to solve the mystery and hopefully prevent a war. Wai Lin is intelligent, skilled and deeply dedicated to her job and her people- but unlike many other Iso, she sees the benefits of cooperation with the outside galaxy- and as such would work with other agents.

Wai Lin is incredibly skilled in martial-arts as well as various other forms of combat and espionage techniques. She is also a skilled cyclist and even pilot.

5. Solitaire

Certainly one of the more memorable bond girls (played by Jane Seymour), Solitaire was featured in "Live and Let Die" as the fortune-telling henchman of the voodoo-using villain, Kananga. She is also probably the only Bond Girl who was a virgin (emphasis on 'was').

In Star Wars, Solitaire is a young human woman with a natural affinity for the Force. She was found and recruited as a child by the (also Force Sensitive) Kananga, who recognized her natural ability to sense the future (Farseeing). Solitaire isn't exactly 'innocent' to the true nature of Kananga, but she is relatively loyal to him, both out of fear and the fact he DID raise her. Even so, she isn't comfortable with her life, and if given the chance to escape, she would take it- especially considering Kananga's 'attentions' becoming more focused on her since she has come of age.

Though unskilled in combat, Solitaire has considerable skill in the Force- in particular the 'Sense' skill and various powers related to it- including Farseeing (the ability to see into the future). She 'focuses' these abilities through a deck of tarot cards- though this 'focus' is really more in her mind (and for show) than it is a practical necessity. In game terms, perhaps the tarot deck is an ancient force-artifact recovered by Kananga that actually DOES help focus the Farseeing power (perhaps giving a 1D bonus or some such?). Solitaire has also been raised to believe that losing her virginity will rob her of her ability to see into the future. This is a falsehood told to her by Kananga who simply wanted a mechanism to keep her 'pure' until he wished otherwise.

4. Honey Ryder

Ursula Andress and her white bikini established the tradition of the Bond Girl- so of course she appears on this list. Unfortunately, the character of Honey Ryder doesn't have much going for her save for her looks and her silly name. In Dr. No, she was little more than eye-candy and a damsel to be rescued (though she did offer a little advice while hiding on the island).

Considering Honey's largely 'sexpot' role in Bond, I could see applying an equally 'sexpot' stereotype in the Star Wars version of her- in this case, by making Ms. Ryder a Zeltron (an attractive, magenta-skinned near-human race known for their free spirit and lack of inhibition). Honey would be an orphan with a difficult childhood. She is at once innocent and worldly- aware that the world holds cruel 'truths' but living a simple life as a beachcomber, selling rare shells to tourists who visit her adopted, tropical-island homeworld. Honey is somewhat daring as well- willing to brave the 'forbidden' island of Dr. No in order to find the best shells. Unfortunately, this is eventually liable to catch up with her...

Though not trained in combat, Honey is physically fit and capable of defending herself in a pinch. She is also rather skilled in seamanship, swimming, diving and even survival on the tropical islands of her home.

3. Jinx

Played by Halle Berry in "Die Another Day", Jinx certainly caught MY attention in her introduction- recreating Ursula Andress' bikini scene. Unlike Andress' Honey Rider, however, Jinx proves to be a lot more capable- not just eye candy. For me, that combination earns her a high place on this list.

In a Star Wars setting, Jinx is an undercover agent for the Corporate Sector and is of Lorrdian descent (a dark-skinned human society known for being subtly expressive and natural mimics- both of which work well for a spy). She is quite loyal to her service and has had years of experience and training- enough to allow her to operate solo. She is typically tasked with operations outside of the Corporate Sector itself- most recently in trying to track down a smuggling ring dealing in stolen corusca stones from a restricted Corporate Sector mine.

Jinx is a highly skilled operative- capable of espionage and combat operations (though she excels in undercover work). She is dedicated to her employers, but is flexible enough to work with agents of other powers when necessary.

2. Teresa di Vicenzo

Whether you loved the movie or hated it, Bond's Marriage to Teresa in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is probably one of the more dramatic storylines in Bond movie history- made more so by her sudden and tragic death at the end of the movie. Add to this the fact she was portrayed by Diana Rigg (already famous for being a leather-wearing spy-girl in the TV series "The Avengers") and you have what is easily one of the most memorable Bond girls of all time.

Teresa (aka "Tracy") was born into one of Corellia's Organized crime families. She had a difficult childhood, being estranged from her father and lacking a mother (she died when Tracy was in her teens). After leaving boarding school, she set out on a 'life in the fast lane', partying with the upper (and lower) crust of society in a rather self-destructive manner. This lifestyle lead to Tracy being cut off by her father- which subsequently lead her into a loveless marriage with a Count from the Tapani sector. Woe continued to follow "Countess Teresa", as her husband left her following the infant death of their child. Tracy now finds herself at the low point of her life- growing even more self-destructive in her behavior. Her father, growing concerned seeks someone of 'character' to help get his daughter out of her downward spiral before it is too late. Fortunately- or unfortunately, Tracy seems destined to get involved with the made schemes of SPECTRE and the agents who oppose it.

Teresa isn't particularly skilled in combat or espionage, but she is capable in many other areas- including driving and many sports (skiing, swimming, etc.). She is also, unfortunately, quite self-destructive at present, willing to take enormous risks in the hopes that one of them will (finally) end her suffering. Teresa is also remarkably fearless- perhaps due to her hard life, but perhaps also to her nihilistic lifestyle.

1. Pussy Galore

With a name like that- what can you say? Introduced in the most 'perfect' of all Bond movies ("Goldfinger"), Ms. Galore stands out in many ways apart from just her name. First and foremost, she is a formidable persona- probably the first Bond Girl who held 'equal weight' with Bond himself when it came to banter and combat. Add to this the fact she had her own private cadre of beautiful, female pilots and the fact she was (according to sources) bisexual and...well, she stands out.

In a Star Wars setting, Ms. Galore would appear much as she did in the movies- a female human mercenary working for Auric Goldfinger (or in this case Auric the Hutt) because he pays well- enough to fund both her and her team of female pilots. Ostensibly this team performs aerobatic shows for entertainment purposes, but they also form an elite fighter squadron for use in the Hutt's various schemes. Ms. Galore is strong-willed AND strong-bodied- a no-nonsense woman aware of the dangerous spot she's in, but willing to take the risks to achieve her own goals (which eventually include her breaking off from Auric with her squadron, perhaps to carve out her OWN fortune in Mercenary or criminal work. Unfortunately for her, Mrs. Galore isn't QUITE as mercenary as she would lead others to believe. Crime is one thing, but the collateral deaths that will be caused in the latest of Auric's scheme (Operation Grand Slam) may prove too much for even her jaded sense of morality to excuse. Beyond that 'shortcoming', however, she is otherwise a solid 'henchwoman', loyal to her paymaster- and exceedingly loyal to the women serving in her squadron.

Mrs. Galore is highly skilled in armed and unarmed combat and is an expert pilot to boot. She has a formidable presence and isn't easily intimidated or taken in by anyone.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Top Ten Bond Henchmen Translated into Star Wars

What's that you say? Riding a concept into the ground?!? Me!? Never! So without further ado, yet ANOTHER post about adapting James Bond stuff to a Star Wars setting. This time, I'm focusing on memorable henchmen from the movies. As before, I'll try to give reasons why I chose each. And as before, I can't promise they'll be anything but subjective.

10. Mischka & Grischka

I know "Octopussy" was a lame Bond movie, but for some reason, I remember this 'team'. I mean, hey- one of them actually KILLED a 00 agent at the beginning of the film. No small feat. Plus they're twin knife throwers who work in an (at least partially) evil circus. That's worth some creepy style points. I'm sure some folks prefer the tag-team of Bambi and Thumper from "Diamonds are Forever", but...meh. They kind of sucked, for all their laughable 'kung fu' moves.

In Star Wars, I see these two being much the same as in the movies, working for a Circus that is actually a front for a smuggling operation. They are a pair of expert knife throwers- which gives them a great signature style. They are fast and deadly, but can become a bit unhinged if one or the other of them is seriously threatened or injured.

9. May Day

I can't quite bring myself to call Grace Jones a 'Bond Girl'. She's just...scary. Besides, she really was more of a henchman. Not only is she visually 'distinctive' (scary), but she also has that cool stunt towards the beginning of "A View to a Kill" where she kills a guy with a poisonous butterfly then leaps off the Eiffel tower. Not too shabby.

Because of her already 'freaky' look, I would make a Star Wars version of May Day an alien- a near human of some sort, powerfully (but leanly) built. She would be a dedicated servant to her master (Max Zorin), but unfortunately operating under the delusion that her insane boss actually cares for her (which he does not). This leaves her open for possible conversion to an ally if the true nature of her boss is ever exposed to her.

May Day would be physically powerful, much stronger than she looks. She would also be quite agile and a highly skilled personal combatant.

8. Zao

I liked this henchman from "Die Another Day" because to me he hearkened back to the 'good old days' of Bond, where the henchmen were odd/freakish in their appearance (Oddjob). I got kind of sick of the 'generic blond muscle guy' that appeared in several Bond movies (You Only Live Twice, For Your Eyes Only, The Living Daylights). In this case, you have a guy scarred by an explosion, leaving him not only hairless, albino and burned, but also with diamond chunks embedded scarringly in his face and eyes discolored.

In a Star Wars setting, I like the idea of Zao being human and getting turned INTO a freak by an explosion. That makes his appearance all the more horrific. Apart from the appearance, he has a rather generic background as an Imperial agent who eventually sides with an ambitious young officer in a scheme to work the black market- both for personal gain and to strike back at the New Republic.

Zao is an exceedingly well trained agent, trained in all manner of skills from personal to ranged combat, espionage, piloting, driving, you name it. Though his appearance may be horrific, his physical abilities are undiminished.

7. Xenia Onatopp

She kills people by crushing them with her thighs. Need I say more? Oh, and she's played by Famke Janssen and she wears tight, black outfits a lot. There. Position on this list secured. Again, I wouldn't classify Onatopp as a "Bond Girl". In fact, she never actually 'slept', with him, she just tried to crush him with her legs. What a way to go.

Being a play on the classic 'femme fatale' stereotype of the Bond universe, I see the Xenia of the Star Wars universe as a stereotype of THAT setting: Namely a seductive, pale-skinned Twi'lek. Though starting life as a slave, Xenia's murderous talents were discovered by Imperial Intelligence- which soon recruited and trained her to serve as one of their agents. It was while working for the Empire that she first met a rival agent, Alec Trevelyan. When Alec later went rogue and set up his own crime syndicate, he recruited Xenia as his lieutenant. She is a casual killer with warped sensibilities (she derives great pleasure from killing people) and has a signature assassination method of choking her prey to death with her unnaturally strong 'lekku' head-tentacles. Though quite bloodthirsty, she is reasonably loyal to Alec, likely because he allows her to indulge in her violent tendencies.

Xenia is lethal in unarmed combat and surprisingly strong for her appearance. She is also skilled in all manner of combat and espionage skills and is an expert pilot and driver to boot.

6. Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd

Like them or hate them, this assassin team from “Dimonds are Forever” was memorable. They also probably have the most number of lines spoken by any Bond Henchmen, even if it was just the polite and stilted banter back and forth between them. And you have to admit, that banter was as creepy as it was campy. Their flair for puns rivals bond himself.

True to the odd-ball nature of these two, see them in Star Wars as being two aliens of disparate appearance. I see Mr. Wint as a preening Bothan, fond of scenting his fur and always dressed impeccably. Mr. Kidd would be an Aqualish with mutton-chop style hair- who also wears a pair of tiny, round spectacles. The two are sadists who often speak in prose and finish each other’s sentences. They are also fond of bad puns as they relate to their ‘work’. As far as their ‘work’ goes, they have a flair for the dramatic, employing various oddball methods of killing, from small poisonous beasts to drowning to incineration to explosives. As far as their personal life goes, it does appear that the two of them are in a relationship- and as such, can be provoked into unwise actions if the other is injured or killed. They are nominally in the employ of SPECTRE, cleaning up the ‘loose ends’ of their operations, but occasionally hire out for freelance work from others.

Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd aren’t particularly powerful opponents in a direct fight, but they are exceedingly sneaky and smart. They will either pose as non-threatening individuals to get close or otherwise attack from ambush. They are skilled in poisons, drugs (particularly knockout drugs) and demolitions.

5. Nick Nack

A killer little person. What's not to lik-err...fear. He's definitely one of the most visually memorable henchmen in the Bond Series. I just kept expecting him to call out "The plane! The plane!"

In the Star Wars universe, I see Nick Nack as a Bimm- a diminutive race of people usually known for being pleasant and peace loving. Nick Nack can put on a show of being charming- and indeed non-threatening- but at his core he is a rotten individual who values personal wealth, power and comfort. For the time being, he has attached himself to the legendary assassin, Scaramanga, serving as his personal servant. He is loyal enough, but is really only biding his time, waiting for the day when his boss finally does meet his match and he, Nick Nack, will 'inherit' his master's wealth (and private asteroid). To this end, he oversees Scaramanga's deadly funhouse maze, triggering traps and tricks within to distract his master AND whatever opponent he is currently facing.

Overall, Nick Nack is a non-combatant, preferring to order others about when he can- and relying on his Master's presence and reputation to back him up. Even so, he is very sneaky, quick and deceptively good with thrown and melee weapons- especially in self defense.

4. Baron Samedi

Certainly one of the more bizarre bond Henchmen, Baron Samedi was a Voodoo priest in “Live and Let Die”- though I will always remember him as the 7-up guy (Nevah had it! Nevah will! Hah hah haaaaaa!). Apart from being physically imposing (the guy was very tall) he had that whole voodoo vibe going- and played with snakes as well. Oh, and he somehow survives getting shot by Bond, showing up creepily (and memorably) at the end of the film.

I see a Star Wars version of Baron Samedi appearing very much as he does in the Bond Universe. A tall, dark-skinned man with a dramatic voice and mannerisms- seeming to find amusement in the deadly situations he finds himself in. He is skilled in many different Dark Side force powers- coming from a tradition of such users (outside of the Sith) that grew among the population of a remote, tropical planet. He works with the villain Kananga, acting as high priest in the ceremonies that keep the locals in line. Though much of the work of this cult is done through intimidation and bluff, there is a dark center to it- real dark side energies that Samedi himself doesn’t entirely understand or control. Personality-wise, Samedi is, for lack of a better word, insane. He enjoys the power he has over others and the fear he invokes- and thus serves Kananga and his vicious schemes willingly.

Samedi isn’t much for direct combat. His Force powers are geared towards illusion and playing on the fears of others. Faced with direct combat, he is likely to flee, using his illusions (and his servants) to cover his escape.

3. Tee Hee

Yes, one of the more stupid Bond Villain names, but…well, they’re all kind of silly, aren’t they? Tee Hee is another guy from “Live and Let Die” and the most probably reason he’s this high on the list is that I remember commercials for this movie as a kid and I was frightened of the guy with the metal claw hand.

In Star Wars, Tee Hee is pretty much the same as you see him in bond. A big, bald guy with a metal claw for a hend. Being Star Wars, however, Tee Hee would, of course, be a cyborg- and that hand of his could be a swiss-army-knife of killing tools. As far as a personality goes, he’s a thug at heart who got his name from the fact he finds hurting people- or seeing people in pain- amusing. As far as how he GOT to be a cyborg, he had a run-in with Kananga’s pet crocosaurs while he was still a young henchman. Somehow he survived and Kananga rewarded his resilience by having him partially rebuilt. So it is that Tee Hee is both vicious and loyal.

Though passably skilled in ranged combat, Tee Hee is deadly in hand-to-hand fights, both skill-wise and because of his cybernetic enhancements.

2. Jaws

Jaws appeared in two Bond movies- “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker”. And what’s more, he actually survived both- a feat that no other henchman has since equaled. He’s also a giant with metal teeth who rips people’s throats out. As hokey a villain as he may be, he is memorable, and thus makes this list.

The Jaws of the Star Wars universe is a Barabel- a huge, lizard-humanoid with a mouth full of jagged teeth. In this case, however, I see him being augmented with a cybernetic jaw and metal teeth, capable of shearing through metal and doing MUCH worse to flesh. Jaws isn’t particularly bright, but he is nigh-invulnerable due to his incredible strength and durable scaley hide. He has an odd habit of living through things that would kill anyone else. Since he /isn’t/ particularly bright, Jaws tends to follow in the wake if villainous masterminds, doing whatever he’s told. Even so, it is possible for a boss to anger Jaws if they treat him as too much of a simpleton.

Jaws is a deadly hand-to-hand combatant with a penchant for ripping his enemies throats out. He is incredibly strong and durable, to almost superhuman levels.

1. Oddjob

Oddjob was the prototype henchman who set the bar for all who followed. Prior to him, henchmen were typically just guys with guns or knives. Not only did he have a distinctive look (that of a sumo-wrestler of sorts- in a suit), but he had a signature weapon- his metal-brimmed hat, which he threw at people with enough force to snap bone. He was the first and most memorable of a line of Bond henchmen and deserves his place here at the top.

With Auric Goldfinger reimagined as a Hutt, what else could Oddjob be but a Gamorrean. But unlike his barbarian counterparts, Oddjob puts in refined airs as Auric’s manservant- wearing fine suits and a stylish hat (which doubles as a weapon, capable of being thrown). Even so, Oddjob doesn’t speak much, and when he does, it is usually in monosyllabic grunts. He is completely loyal to his master, even unto death. He is well aware of his imposing appearance and resistance to damage and takes pleasure in showing off both when in a fight, often responding to an attack by smiling a tusky smile at his opponent.

Oddjob is incredibly skilled at hand-to-hand combat and his natural strength and bulk make it very difficult to injure him. He is also deadly accurate with thrown weapons- particularly his custom-made, gyro-stabilized throwing hat- which can strike with enough force to shatter bone. He is also a passable driver and even pilot and remarkably stealthy and spry for one of his size.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Top Ten Bond Villains Translated to Star Wars

Continuing the Bond/Star Wars mash-up theme, this post is dedicated to ten of my favorite Bond Villains and how they might translate into a Star Wars setting. Be advised that this list (like everything else on the blog) is highly subjective. I'll try to point out WHY I like the villain in question as we go.

10. Elektra King

Elektra King (from The World(Galaxy) is Not Enough) made the list because she marks the first (and so far only) Female main villain in a Bond movie. Oh, there have been plenty of female villains in other Bond movies, but in this case she was the driving force behind it all. She's also gorgeous (Actress Sophie Marceau)- which can't be said of many others on this list. And finally, she is that rare instance where Bond kills a woman in cold blood. "You'll miss me" Elektra insists. BLAM. "I never miss." Bond replies.

Elektra's Star Wars alter-ego would change little from the one presented in the source film. She is the daughter of a mining Tycoon and a noblewoman. She was kidnapped in her youth (late teens) and her father (on advice from New Republic Intelligence) refused to pay the Ransom. This left her feeling bitter towards her father- whom she already disliked because she felt he was trying to steal the 'birthright' of her noble family. Elektra was eventually rescued, but unknown to anyone, she had secretly manipulated and won-over her captor- so much so that years later he becomes her willing pawn and partner in a plan to kill her own father and destroy her business rivals.

Elektra is a human female who at first appears to be both strong-willed and vulnerable. She is a master manipulator, well aware of her looks and wiles and how to use them. Though a thoroughly 'modern' businesswoman, she also plays up the exotic airs of her noble heritage. One of her ears had been disfigured during her kidnapping (perhaps sent as part of the ransom request?) she keeps this hidden by both an elaborate earring and her long hairstyle.

While not a particularly skilled combatant, Elektra would be highly intelligent and adept at the persuasive arts- be they charm, con or persuasion.

9. Alec Travelyan

Alec Travelyan is the main villain in GoldenEye. He stands out to me for several reasons. First of all, he represents to me a 'mirror image' of Bond- an 'evil twin' or what Bond could become if he ever turned 'evil'. Secondly, he is portrayed as a one-time friend of Bond, thus bringing up the question of whether or not all that friendship was faked, or if there is some small bit of goodness left in him. And finally, he's played by Sean Bean. I like Sean Bean- and he looks suitably villainous with that fire-scarred face.

Alec Travelyan's Star Wars background would go back to the dark days of the rise of the Empire. Here, his parents- a prominent Imperial family, would have been killed during one of the very early uprisings against the Empire. He was then taken in by the Rebellion, raised by an officer there and growing to adulthood within its ranks. When he came of age, he became a Rebel soldier and then field agent, eventually teaming up with others like him. All the while, however, her harbored a secret hatred for the Rebellion for killing his parents (even if their deaths were unintended). This hatred eventually boils over, resulting in him faking his own death and using his intimate knowledge of Rebel and New Republic intelligence to strike a blow at the whole of the Government, to attempt to single-handedly bring it low.

Alec is a human, male (as befits his Imperial heritage). He is capable, brave and seemingly loyal, but ultimately a slave to his own need for revenge. In faking his own death, he was accidentally scarred by the actions of his fellow agents. In the intervening years, he has build up a criminal organization aimed at striking a mortal blow against the people that he blames for the death of his parents. Though a masterful planner, his hatred has warped his sense of reality, leaving him hollow. Unlike in the film, I see him as also retaining just a bit of the goodness he might have felt while serving as a Rebel agent- but not enough to sway him from his ultimately self-destructive course.

Alec would be a highly skilled combatant and agent, easily the equal of any player character agents sent to find him.

8. Le Chiffre

He has a French name, so of course he's bad. Just kidding! Le Chiffre stood out to me in Casino Royale by being so damn creepy as portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen. That freaky scarred eye that weeped blood. Plus, there is that whole torture scene. Ouch.

I a Star Wars setting, I see Le Chiffre as a Duros- with big, creepy eyes, one of which is scarred and discolored and (when he is under pressure) leaks blue-green blood. He is a mathematical genius and lover of strategy games and games of chance. He is also responsible for managing the finances of many unsavory underworld types, from criminal organizations to terrorists to assassins and spies. Unfortunately, he's been using THEIR money as his own, and has had a recent string of bad luck. Thus, he is using what he has left to enter into a high-stakes Sabbacc tournament and win back the funds he has lost before his clients find and/or kill him. He is utterly ruthless and calculating, willing to win at any cost (poison, torture, murder)- but he is also subtle and indirect in his actions.

Le Chiffre is a relatively unskilled combatant, but a very dangerous gambler and liar- with an almost unbeatable Sabbacc face.

7. Max Zorin

Seriously, he's played by Christopher Walken- the king of oddly creepy. So what if 'A View to a Kill' sucked. I still like Walken, and thus by association, Zorin.

Zorin is a human male that is actually part of a defunct Imperial genetic engineering program. He was raised by the scientist who 'grew' him and groomed to be the perfect Imperial agent. He nearly fit the bill, too. He was a genius and physically powerful. Unfortunately, he was also unstable- a true sociopath with no loyalty for anything but himself (or perhaps his 'father'). In any case, when the Empire fell, Zorin disappeared, emerging after the chaos as the apparently 'clean' CEO of a computer technology corporation. But while maintaining an outwardly legitimate front, Zorin indulged in numerous criminal operations, not the least of which is his current plan to ruin a rival corporation by staging a 'natural disaster' to destroy their primary manufacturing plant. True to form, he doesn't care if millions or even billions are killed in the process.

Zorin is a highly skilled combatant and agent as well as a skilled businessman. He is not afraid to 'get his feet wet' with the dirtywork, either. In fact, he enjoys indulging in killing people personally, finding the work...amusing. In short, he is truly insane.

6. Emilio Largo

Portrayed by Adolfo Celi, Largo established the cliché of the eyepatch-wearing supervillain. How can you NOT love the guy who inspired Austin Powers "Number Two".

I see Largo as a Corellian (human) masquerading publicly as a shipping tycoon while secretly serving a second in command to the shadowy 'SPECTRE' terrorist organization. While putting on airs as a 'respectable businessman', Largo's darker nature isn't far beneath. He is ruthless, power-hungry, a casual-killer and abusive (particularly to his lady friends). He also hates to lose, and can be goaded in this manner. Largo is currently working on a plan to extort money from the New Republic by stealing Imperial superweapons (star-destroying 'resonance torpedos') from the Republic before they can be decommissioned. He operates this pan out of his palatial, asteroid-base estate (which comes complete with a pen of rare, killer Mynocks) and his private Yacht (which actually houses a break-away high-speed escape craft).

While Largo does not like to face combat situations himself, he is a skilled enough combatant (if somewhat out of practice). He is a master planner and schemer who prefers others to do his dirty work. He is also a highly skilled pilot and EVA specialist. Though he fancies himself a gambler, he is not as good as he thinks he is.

5. Kananga

Kananga, portrayed by Yaphet Koto in the 'blacksploitation' Bond movie "Live and Let Die", is notable for a couple reasons. The first is that his alter ego (the drug Kingpin Mr. Big) is so goofy superfly that it is hilarious. Secondly he dies one of the more gruesome deaths in the series (inflated by a compressed air capsule and 'popped'). Third he has this creepy voodoo/fortune-telling vibe that isn't ENTIRELY dismissed as 'fake' in the movie- which leaves room for an interesting and entirely Star War 'twist'.

In a Star Wars setting, I see Kananga as a dark-skinned human who happens to have some ability with the Force- specifically the Dark side. He is no Sith Lord, but he knows enough to help set himself up as dictator of a small, independent planet and to manipulate the people of that planet by perpetuating a cult dedicated to dark spirits. Sure, most of it is just for show, but there is more than a little truth to the real power behind this man. He is aided in his task by the acquisition of a Force sensitive young woman (Solitaire) who he acquired as a child (perhaps by killing her parents?) and raised to be his 'apprentice' and private soothsayer (and eventually, lover). Outwardly, Kananga portrays a refined and sympathetic ruler attempting to lead his world through the chaos of the disintegration of the Empire and the Rise of the new republic. Behind the scenes, however, he runs a ruthless spice production and smuggling operation under the alias of "Mr. Big". In both endeavors, he makes use of bloody pseudo-religious dark-side practices to spread fear in his enemies and to keep his own people in line. His immediate goals are to build his criminal organization, though his ambitions may spread beyond this as his personal power grows.

Kananga is a relatively skilled combatant, but prefers to work from behind the scenes. His Force skills are self-taught- and limited for the moment, and center mainly around generating an aura of fear and in the ability to 'read' his opponents and manipulate his underlings. He relies on Solitaire for her innate talent of precognition- and keeps her 'pure' by having taught her that her power will go away if she ever has sex- a falsehood she believes in, since Kananga raised her.

4. Dr. No

Dr. No was the first bond Villain and set the bar for those who followed- even if he did wear that incredibly silly plastic trash-can 'radiation helmet'. I don't think any list of Bond villains would be complete without him in its upper echelons.

In a Star Wars setting, I envision Dr. No as a half-breed Chiss/Human- tall and lean with pale, bluish tinged skin and reddish tinged eyes. He had a brutal childhood in the streets of his remote homeworld. Due to his intelligence and ruthlessness, he managed (despite his half-breed status) to achieve rank in the a major criminal organization there- but quickly sold them out and fled to the galaxy at large, taking work from various criminal and terrorist organizations along the way- even serving for a time with Imperial Intelligence. During this time, he suffered extensive injury to both arms, resulting in them being replace by cybernetics. He specifically chose metallic replacements due to their intimidating appearance. Eventually, he was recruited in the ranks of SPECTRE and set out to spark more conflict between the New Republic and Empire in order to bolster SPECTRE sales of weapons and the like to both sides.

Dr. No would be a powerful hand-to-hand combatant, making deadly use of his cybernetic hands. Even so, he typically shuns such physical activity, preferring to act indirectly through underlings-and perhaps getting some perverse sense of pleasure in threatening and 'punishing' them when they fail.

3. Scaramanga

I am aware that "The Man with the Golden Gun" is NOT the best movie. Not by a long shot. But the character Scaramanga was a great concept- and he was played by Christopher Lee. That man is a genius at playing creepy bad guys. Plus? He had three nipples and a custom gun that fired only one shot- all he ever needed to get the job done.

Scaramanga in Star Wars would be very much like the one seen in the movies. A human assassin for hire, but one with extensive personal power beyond his 'station' (such as his own personal asteroid base and semi-official protection from the Hutts, who often employ him. His origins are quite odd- having been raised in a circus, performing feats of marksmanship. His only real friend there was a Bantha that was part of the show. One day, the Bantha went berserk and the local policemen had to kill it. Scaramanga retaliated by killing the policemen- and thus found his calling. Unlike many other Bond villains, Scaramanga has no grandiose plans for world domination. Rather, he is content to simply live in opulent style and continually 'test' himself against the best marksmen and killers the Galaxy has to offer. This is his true passion, proving that he is the best. He does this by first gaining the notice of a potential rival then luring them to his private asteroid. Once there, he engages them in combat in his deadly, purpose-built funhouse maze.

Scaramanga is one of the deadliest marksmen in the Galaxy, and is quite talented in all manner of combat and espionage techniques.

2. Auric Goldfinger

Starring in the film that bears his (last) name, Goldfinger is easily one of the most memorable Bond villains in what is arguably one of the best Bond movies ever. But yes. His name is just silly (which is while I will refer to him as 'Auric' through the rest of this profile). He has what is one of the best villain lines ever in response to Bond's question: "Do you expect me to talk?". Goldfinger: "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to DIE!". It is delivered with such cheerful menace. Love it.

In a Star Wars setting I see Auric as a (relatively) young Hutt- just a bit more mobile than Jabba, but no less ruthless and cunning. He is completely obsessed with Aurodium, a scintillating gold metal valued throughout the Galaxy. While masquerading as a legitimate businessman, he secretly smugglles the metal. Not content with his already vast wealth, Auric seeks to increase the value of what he already has by irradiating (and thus making useless) a major amount of the New Republic's own stockpile of Aurodium. Thus he is planning something he calls 'Operation Grand Slam', a raid on a highly defended New Republic banking vault. But Auric is not just greedy, he is completely amoral, crushing any who get in his way. He is also elaborate in the deaths he inflicts on his enemies, sometimes killing them via asphyxiation with Aurodium paint; Other times having them cast into molten pits of the metal; and still other times utilizing cutting lasers to vivisect them. Another defining trait of Auric is his dislike of losing. He wants to win, no matter what the endeavor- and is willing to cheat to achieve his goals.

Auric is not a combatant- he operates through his army of skilled henchmen and past them through other, minor crime families. He is highly intelligent, but also arrogant and prone to dramatics even when more direct methods might be more efficient.

1. Ernst Stavro Blofeld

The ultimate Bond villain- appearing (in one form or another) in many different movies in the franchise- even if we don't ever get to see what he looks like until "You Only Live Twice". I mean, come on, the deep, faceless voice, the hands stroking his cat as he sits in audience over SPECTRE. It is GREAT melodramatic stuff.

I see Blofeld very much as he is shown in the movies- a bald human of medium build with a scar running through one eye. He is the ultimate mastermind behind SPECTRE and its Galaxy spanning terrorist and criminal activities. Like the other villains mentioned before, he is utterly ruthless- with no patience for failure within his own ranks. He is involved with schemes ranging from simple extortion of money to the destruction of planets to the toppling of Galactic governments. His one weakness, however, is his tendency to 'show off' to his enemies, keeping them alive when he should kill them- just to prove his own superiority. He is, of course, never without his pet- in this case a pleasant looking, but actually quite vicious white-furred beast his henchmen found on some remote world. In this case, it is not just for show, but also his final line of defense against would be assassins.

Though Blofeld is a genius in the realm of planning, organization, manipulation and ruling through fear, he is at best a passable combatant- preferring to allow others to do the fighting and dieing for him. Being a 'planner', Blofeld has the nasty habit of ALWAYS having a plan-B, C, D, etc.. in case things go bad- he's always got an escape route.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

No, Mr. Fett! I expect you to DIE! (Star Wars Bond Part 3)

And now we enter the ‘modern’ era of Bond, with a succession of (comparatively) short-lived leading men portraying the role. Overall, I am less familiar with these movies than the ‘classics’. This might have something to do with the fact that, they seem to get increasingly more complicated (plot-wise) as the decades roll by. As you’ll see below, some finagling (major and minor) was needed to convert these to a form usable in a Star Wars setting.

The Living Daylights

This adventure has the Agents rescuing an Imperial defector- only to have him quickly recaptured by 'the enemy'. In investigating the matter, the agents discover that the 'defector' was actually running a spice smuggling ring- using Imperial money he was /supposed/ to have been spending on weapons from an arms dealer (who is also in cahoots). To cover his tracks, the General seeks to turn the Agents against a rival Imperial general- getting them to kill him and thus pave the way for the villainous general to cover up his misdeeds. The investigation eventually leads to a desert world under Imperial occupation. There, the agents must team up with local nomads to assault the Imperial military base being used as the drug-smuggling headquarters.

License to Kill

In this adventure, a drug lord severely injures a friend and fellow agent of the heroes before fleeing back to a 'neutral' planet, outside the influence of the New Republic. The agents must go 'rogue' to bring this crimelord to justice by infiltrating his organization and bringing it down from the inside. Mixed in with all of this is a false religious 'front operation' for the drug lord and a climactic chase scene involving gigantic space-tankers hauling drugs mixed in with their explosive cargos.


This is a rather problematic movie, in that the plot revolves around a satellite weapon that fires an EMP Burst- as with 'world threatening' plots, satellites aren't a huge threat in a universe where space travel is common and satellites can be (relatively) easily found and destroyed. You could go with the whole "cloaked" satellite, thing, but I already used that ploy in Corusca Stones are Forever. So something new will have to be used here. Also, to be done WELL, there should be a set up far in advance of this mission- a friendship should be established with a fellow Republic Agent and an effort should be made to make that person trustworthy and valued. You'll see how this comes into play later...

The agents are assigned to destroy a chemical weapons facility (controlled by the Empire- or at least a faction thereof). During this mission, their fellow agent (and old friend mentioned above), is killed by an Imperial Officer. The heroes manage to escape and destroy the plant. All of this should happen quite a while prior to the actual "GoldenEye" mission- to the tune of at least a year (preferably more)- as a separate short adventure or even as the prologue to another mission.

After a few years (and many missions in between), the agents are sent on a mission to investigate a suspected member of the emerging "Janus" Crime Syndicate agent. Despite the heros' best efforts, the Agent manages steal a prototype shielded starship capable of withstanding EMP. This same ship is later used to kidnap Imperial scientists at a remote research facility-which evidently was producing some kind of EMP weapon. This is detonated to cover the escape (made possible by the shielded ship). After doing some poking around in the underworld, the good guys finally encounter the man behind Janus, their former friend and partner, now seeking revenge for the supposed loss of his parents due to the Rebellion (and by association, New Republic). His plan is to launch an EMP weapon against a major New Republic banking hub- destroying or disrupting electronic records for billions of institutions. The result would be a major financial collapse. After several adventures, the plot climaxes onboard a seemingly innocent looking space station in orbit of the banking world- upon which the 'GoldenEye' EMP has been mounted. Here, the agents must destroy the weapon and stop their former friend, once and for all.

Tomorrow Never Dies

The plot here involves a Galactic Media mogul who wishes to expand his 'empire' into new territory (say a remote sector of space ruled by an isolationist government NOT allied with the Republic or Empire). Working with corrupt officials among the isolationist government and by stealing Republic Military code devices, the Mogul intends to trigger a war between the republic and the Isolationists (we'll call them "Isos")- a war which would eliminate certain Iso politicians allowing his puppets to take control. As a 'bonus' this war would mean good for ratings on his networks. Utilizing a stealth ship, the Mogul fakes an incident between a Republic Frigate and Iso starfighters, resulting in destruction on both sides and steps being taken towards war.

Into this twisted plot are sent a team of Republic Agents- investigating the Mogul Network's 'exclusive' knowledge of this incident. Along the way, the Agents pick up an ally in the form of an Iso counterpart. Together, they manage to track the Mogul down to his stealth ship and struggle to stop this instigated war from going any further.

The Galaxy is Not Enough

Much like GoldenEye, this adventure works best if some forethought is given. The (seeming) villain here (Renard) should be introduced in an adventure months or even years prior. He should be grievously wounded and 'obscurely killed'- only to resurface here, very much alive.

This plot begins with Republic agents recovering money stolen from a prominent Corporate executive. Unfortunately, the funds were booby trapped and the exec is killed. Sources point to this being the work of Renard, thought dead. And signs point to him threatening the daughter of the Corporate Exec. The agents are therefore assigned to protect this daughter (Elektra). After foiling attacks and uncovering the theft of an Imperial superweapon (a grav-shock torpedo capable of causing tremendous planetary damage), the agents actually find that Elektra is behind the whole thing, with Renard her willing servant. The adventure culminates in a showdown with Elektra followed by a race to stop Renard from launching the weapon against the mining operations of a rival corporation- see, the whole thing had been a ploy to to drive up the value of her own company by demolishing the mining operations of a rival. A sub-plot of the whole thing involves a personal vendetta between Elektra and one of the Republic Agents' superiors- who Elektra holds responsible for the abuse she suffered when kidnapped by Renard during her childhood.

Die Another Day

As much as I loved this movie (and Halle Berry in it), I find it hard to translate- not because of any plot deficiencies, but rather because its plot mirrors other bond movies in regards to yet ANOTHER satellite being used to wreak destruction- as was done in Diamonds are Forever and GoldenEye. But if you can get past this cliché, then the following might work.

There are two ways to handle the set up for this. The first could be to have the 'prelude' to this adventure happen over a year before the actual body of the adventure. The second could be to run the adventure much like the movie, with the Republic agents being captured and held by the enemy for over a year. In fact, this would be one of those great places to 'let the cards fall where they may). If the characters manage to escape, then postpone the rest of the adventure for a year (game time). If they are captured, then run things as seen in the movie- with the agents being held, tortured and eventually returned to the New Republic as part of a prisoner exchange.

The prelude involves the characters thwarting a young Imperial officer (named Moon) who is dealing in smuggled goods. They thwart this and (apparently) kill moon. As mentioned above, they either escape or are captured. In either case, over a year passes before the plot continues...

The agents are eventually sent on the trail of an enemy Agent, following him to a tropical resort world and an odd "Gene Therapy Clinic" run there. The trail eventually leads to a young corporate tycoon who is developing a satellite network that will (ostensibly) be used for directing sunlight for agricultural production. After an encounter with the tycoon at a luxurious "ice hotel" (built for his satellite unveiling), it is discovered that the tycoon is none other than Moon, who had undergone radical treatments to heal and assume this new identity. His plan (which admittedly has changed a lot from the source material) is to use his seemingly innocent satellites (now in position over a vital, New Republic agricultural world), to kill the New Republic Chancellor, visiting the planet for some reason or another. The adventure culminates in a duel onboard Moon's control ship.

Casino Royale

While the premise of this story is solid enough, it is really geared more towards a single player- moreso than most other Bond movies, even. Still, with some modification, it could work for a group. The overall premise is that the New Republic agents are sent to a gambling resort (perhaps Cloud City or The Wheel at Ord Mantell) in order to bankrupt an enemy agent/terrorist who is trying to win at a high-stakes Sabbac tournament. At least one of the heros will actually be participating in the game. In between rounds, however, is all manner of intrigue as the terrorist attempts to eliminate his rivals. This would culminate in a final conflict with the terrorist- either the characters going after the terrorist (if they lost the card game) or the terrorist coming after them (if the characters won).

A sub-plot of the whole story would be the Character's government contact in all of this (Vesper), who seems to be on their side- and might even romance one of the characters- but who is ultimately out to steal the money for herself in order to pay off debts to a criminal organization (SPECTRE).

Quantum of Solace

This adventure picks up on the tail of the last, tracking down the SPECTRE agent responsible for Vesper’s betrayal in the last adventure. Before they can question him, however, another traitor in New Republic Intelligence kills him. The trail leads from there to a powerful eco-businessman (Greene), who is curiously buying up seemingly worthless land from the dictatorial government of a remote world. As it turns out, Greene has actually found rare minerals there and intends to use his possession of them to leverage a coup of the planetary government and gain control of it for SPECTRE. The whole thing culminates in a battle with SPECTRE agents and soldiers of the local government in a remote, new eco-hotel that is not yet open to the public. Questioning Greene, the players discover leads to more SPECTRE agents…and thus the saga continues.

There is a whole sub-plot running through the adventure about the character’s own agency thinking they have gone rogue. This could work into the adventure organically- if the players screw up once or twice, their own boss might try to pull them out, resulting in the players actually HAVING to go rogue to finish their mission.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For Jed-I Only (James Bond Star Wars - Part 2)

This is a continuation of my 'Star Wars Bond' plot ideas. This time, we're delving into the Roger Moore area. This is the Bond I grew up with, unfortunately. It is also the most campiest and silliest of the Bond Eras. Even so, there are more than a couple nuggets of goodness to use in a Star Wars espionage campaign. So here we go:

Live and Let Die

Investigating the Dictatorial ruler of an independent planet, agents soon discover that he is the mastermind of a huge drug cartel. The villain is assisted in his operations by a 'fortune teller' capable of seeing into the future. The villain has also adopted a local 'voodoo cult' to keep his workers in line and terrorize his enemies. The adventure largely takes place in the bayou's of a remote swamp planet and culminates in the infiltration of the Villain's personal island fortress.

Man With the Golden Blaster

New Republic agents seem to have run afoul of a legendary assassin and become embroiled in the quest to find/recapture a stolen energy converter that promises revolutionary progress in the field of fusion power generation. After tracking the assassin (who is known for his gold-plated custom blaster), through various exotic settings, the agents finally confront him in his isolated lair and must do battle in his fun-house like maze- as well as recover the energy converter.

The Spy Who Loved Me

Unfortunately, the central premise of this movie just doesn't translate well into a Star Wars setting. For instance, the villain's central goal of sparking a nuclear war so that he can create an underwater utopia just doesn't work. Plus, the whole plan depends upon subs armed with nuclear weapons. Even if you DID base this on a single planet, and the guy somehow succeeded at destroying civilization 'on the surface', the New Republic (or any other government) could come in afterwards and arrest the guy for his crimes. So yeah. Destroying the world isn't as viable a threat in Star Wars.

That having been said, it could still be possible to use elements of this adventure in a very different way. For instance, perhaps the villain isn't stealing naval vessels to spark a war to 'destroy the world', perhaps he's just stealing them because he's a pirate. Only he's a clever pirate, so he's trying to make the New Republic and Empire blame each other for the losses. Or even better- perhaps the villain is trying to start a war between the Republic and one of its possible ALLIES. Either way, it's a bit less 'dramatic' than an 'end of the world' scenario, but still fun and doable. The adventure here would culminate in leading the captured ship crews in liberating their vessels while simultaneously destroying the villain's flagship. Considering the 'aquatic' nature of the villain in the movie, here we could have something similar, though perhaps of an aquatic species, like a Quarren or Mon Cal or some such.


Apart from being just plain silly, Moonraker shares the problem of the previous movie. The central plot revolves around destroying and remaking the world. And once again that doesn't hold as much emphasis in a Star Wars setting. It could work, however, if you changed the plot dramatically- making it about a villain who is developing a planet-killing biological weapon. The adventure would culminate in an attack on the villain's secret base-ship in order to stop him from successfully testing his weapon on a heavily populated world.

For Your Eyes Only

In this adventure, the Agents are sent to recover a New Republic decoding device lost when a spy ship crash landed in the depths of an ocean world. Adding to the difficulties faced, a criminal/smuggling organization seems intent on killing the agents and getting the device themselves. Investigations lead from a snowy resort world to the warm waters of the ocean planet where the device was lost. The adventure climaxes as the Agents (with the help of a friendly smuggler band) raid the villain's mountain-top monastery/fortress.


Yeah. The name Octopussy? Way too silly. So instead we'll talk about a scheme that involves a trio of apparent villains: A ruthless Khan from a remote exotic world, his dangerous smuggler ally- a woman known as "Krakana", and a rogue Imperial General with dreams of weakening the New Republic for a new series of attacks. The General has been working with the other two in smuggling/selling Imperial treasures via the cover of a circus that Krakana operates. Secretly, the General intends to replace one shipment of Jewels with a powerful bomb (some kind of anti-matter device)- to be detonated while Krakana's circus performs at a major New Republic military base. The agents must thwart this plan, battling Khan's henchmen and ultimately infiltrating the Circus in an attempt to stop the bomb before it goes off.

Never Say Never Again

Never. Seriously, never.

View to a Kill

In this adventure, the Villain (a genetically engineered madman and former assassin turned businessman) intends to cripple a corporate rival by causing a massive earthquake to destroy their primary production facilities (in effect, it will likely sink an entire continent). This would also result in millions of innocent deaths. The agents begin to investigate the villain, eventually tracking him down to his mining operation (which is actually working to cause the disaster). The adventure culminates in a battle with the villain as he attempts to flee in his starship- which perhaps gets accidentally lodged in the wires of a suspension bridge...or perhaps even within the support system of a huge surface-to-orbit 'skyhook' (or 'beanstalk').

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kenobi. Obi-Bond Kenobi (Part 1)

As a game master, I am an unabashed thief of ideas from just about anywhere I can get them. I can’t help but look at the entire span of James Bond movies and think that they could be modified into some GREAT Star Wars adventures. Of course, some concessions would have to be made. For instance, it seems to me that they would work best in a New Republic Era setting, where the players are operating as agents of the government versus agents of other governments- though in a time when open warfare is not as common. Likewise, the plots that revolve around ‘destroying the world’ tend to loose a lot of their ‘oomph’ when you’re in a galaxy with millions of worlds. Even so, I like the idea of these conversions. Below are some of my initial thoughts on how the plots of the movies could be modified to fit a Star Wars, New Republic Era setting. I’ll begin with the ‘classic’ Sean Connery films, but I will delve into the after-Connery era in future posts.

Dr. No

Strange signals are disrupting New Republic communications in an important border sector with the Empire- thus leaving the area open for infiltration and attack. The signals are tracked to a tropical tourist destination on a remote world. From there, the agents track down leads on a mysterious "Dr. No" and his private island fortress. The adventure culminates with the players having to sabotage the Doctor's signal jammer in order to prevent it from covering the approach of a large Imperial (or other villain) Attack. However, they also find that a third party is actually responsible for the operation- a shadowy group calling itself 'SPECTRE'

From Ord Mantell with Love

The agents are sent to recover a secret Imperial decoding device from a supposedly defecting Imperial agent on Ord Mantell. Meanwhile, the whole thing is a ploy by the Terrorist Organization (SPECTRE) to re-kindle the war with the Empire so that they might profit from the chaos. The adventure proceeds through various intrigues on Ord Mantell itself- with agents of the New Republic and Empire fighting a shadow war. The adventure culminates in a showdown with a SPECTRE agent on a small passenger liner traveling through a series of small, lightly settled worlds (a kind of 'Orient Express' in space).


While investigating a supposed smuggler/crimelord with an unhealthy love of precious metals, agents uncover a plot to destabilize New Republic currency. The villain intends to raid and pollute (via nuclear 'dirty bomb') a major vault containing rare precious metals. The adventure ends in a showdown at the vault itself- racing against the henchmen of the villain to shut down the bomb in time.


While in transit to a New Republic base for safe disposal, Imperial superweapons (lets say…missiles capable of causing a star to go Supernova) are stolen by terrorists who seek to extort money from the Republic. The agents follow leads to a powerful businessman who is actually a front for the Terrorists. The adventure culminates in a showdown on the villain's private space-yacht as he tries to escape capture by flying through an asteroid belt.

You Only Live Twice

The deaths of the agents are faked in order to throw off enemies. In the meanwhile, New Republic and Imperial patrol ships alike have been disappearing in a particular area of space. A shooting war threatens to break out unless agents can discover who is causing the disappearances. During the investigation, the agents undergo cosmetic surgery to mimic the near-human species of a planet suspected of housing the terrorists responsible for the attacks. The adventure itself culminates in an attack on the secret volcano fortress of the terrorists, thwarting their next attack.

On The New Republic's Special Service

An old enemy seeks to gain influence over Galactic affairs by placing brainwashed agents throughout the various governments of the Galaxy. Agents are sent to the suspected lair of this villain- a remote alpine 'spa' which houses the subjects being brainwashed. They find unlikedly aid in the form of a weathy noblewoman but must ultimately rescue her by leading an attack on the villain's mountain-top fortress.

Corusca Stones are Forever

In tracking down a Corusca stone smuggler, the Agents come upon a plot to build a cloaked starship that can fire devastating orbital blasts- while cloaked. The adventure leads the agents through various venues of a gambling/pleasure world and ultimately to the Cloaked starship itself to confront the villain.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Starship Weapons

I've often noticed some oddities in the game statistics for the weapons we see mounted on Starships in the Star Wars movies. Namely, the damage ratings we see for the various laser cannons. For instance, a standard 'laser cannon' has a damage rating of 4D. A 'dual' laser cannon (sometimes listed as two 'fire-linked' laser cannons) does 5D. Damage, while a quad laser cannon does 6D. If you think about it, this seems odd. I mean, 'logically', shouldn't a 'dual' laser cannon do twice the damage of a single? But obviously this is not the case or intention in the game. Why is this so?

Well, in part it may have something to do with the fact that SOME cannons (such as those on the X-Wing or Falcon) don't fire simultaneously, they alternate- thus providing an increased rate of fire- presumably without overheating or overtaxing the systems providing power to the weapons- i.e. the weapons don't all fire at once, but they do cycle rapidly from weapon to weapon, allowing one set to cool/recharge while the other set fires. But when we look at the TIE fighter, this doesn't seem to be the case. Rather, BOTH cannons seem to fire simultaneously at a rapid rate. So, umm, yeah. That KIND of blows that theory- unless you want to believe that maybe the 'dual' cannons both fire at a lower overall power, but combine to inflict more damage than would a single cannon, while still reducing the overall draw on the ship's power systems. Ummmm, yeah. Guess that will have to work, because I have no other explanation.

In the old X-Wing and TIE fighter games, you could actually select your mode of fire with multiple-barrel systems. I.e. an X-Wing could fire a high-speed, low damage mode where each of its four lasers fired in turn OR it could fire a medium speed, medium damage mode, where two cannons alternated off with the other two OR it could fire in a low speed, high damage mode, where all four cannons fired at once. The first mode gave you a greater chance of hitting (you could spray away, keeping up a constant but low-impact stream of damage) the latter made it harder to hit (you could only fire one shot every second or so) but did more damage if it hit. Even dual-cannon craft could switch modes between alternating fire and both cannons at once.

Why do I bring any of this up, you ask? Well, because I am STILL working on 'standardizing' the weapons of the Star Wars RPG- trying to apply a single kind of logic to both personal and vehicle scale weapons. But trying that leap between 'player scale' and 'vehicle scale' is still problematic, especially when it comes to automatic weapons- which I could count just about every type of vehicle weapon as. At least the ones shown on fighters in the movies. They generally don't fire a single shot per trigger pull, but rather a spray of shots. But to have fighters follow the 'autofire' rules I have come up with would be cumbersome in the extreme. And this has all brought me around to the point where I am probably going to revamp and simplify my autofire rules so it will work for both characters AND vehicles.

In fact, I am now beginning to see part of the 'fire-control' bonus to hit that vehicle weapons have is actually due to the fact that they fire a burst rather than a single shot.

Anyway, as you can probably tell, this is a rambling post mostly following stream of consciousness. I'll cut it off here to avoid causing any more confusion, but if anyone has any ideas on this matter, I'd be glad to hear them. Thanks.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Review: Star Wars Omnibus 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

I recently bought volume two of the Star Wars Omnibus: A Long Time Ago… and have been enjoying reading it- though the source of that enjoyment varies from story to story, as you’ll see. Below are summaries of the various story arcs to be found in this collection of 1970’s and 80’s era Star Wars comics. And with each will be included my personal opinions of each.

This is one of the comics I actually owned when I was a kid- and still have today (though it is in terrible condition). It tells the story of Han and Chewbacca hiding out on a remote world to fix their ship, only to be tracked there by Jabba the Hutt and his henchmen- in direct pursuit of the Crime Lord’s bounty on the smuggler. Things go from bad to worse when our heroes discover that not only are they trapped in their cave hideout- it is also infested with Stone Mites- insect parasites created as a biological weapon during the clone wars. Through luck and guts, Han and Chewie manage to escape this death trap, only to be cornered by Jabba’s ship. Fortunately for the good guys, Jabba’s craft had been infested with Stone Mites, requiring the crime boss to agree to a ‘deal’ with Solo in exchange for his own life.

I loved this story. It was a fun little one-shot that felt totally in keeping with Han and Chewie’s personas. I was a little disappointed with Jabba himself, however, as he was portrayed as a yellow humanoid monkey-like guy with white whiskers and an orange jumpsuit. This guy was later retconned to be a representative of the Nimbanel species who was a representative of Jabba, not Jabba himself (even though he was referred to as such in the original comic). Apart from the story, I also enjoyed the name of Jabba’s flagship: The Voidraker. Nice. The idea of the Stone Mites was cool as well, and even though I haven’t yet, I’d still love to introduce the little all-consuming buggers in an adventure of my own.

This was an odd story, but that’s fitting considering it is the final chapter in a series of equally odd stories about the self-hating Valance the Hunter. Valance is a cyborg with a loathing for droids. In his previous encounter with Luke, however, he was impacted by the boy’s friendship with his droid companions and has, by the time of this story, turned over a new leaf. Here, he is tracking down a Rebel deserter who knows the true identity of the pilot who destroyed the Death Star. Vader is also tracking this man down so that he might learn Luke’s true identity. Valance stands between Vader and the deserter in order to keep the Dark Lord from the information he seeks. As he puts it, Valance is trying to buy Luke the time he needs to train and get better, so that when he DOES face Vader, he will be able to defeat him. The duel between Vader and Valance is short and brutal. Valance manages to slow the Dark lord and even wound him-prompting Vader to try and recruit him. Valance refuses, however, and is ultimately killed. In death, though, Valance’s sacrifice inspires the deserter to kill himself rather than divulge Luke’s identity to Vader.

To me, it seemed odd for Valance to suddenly turn so noble. But then, his motivation had always seemed very odd to me- so I just went with it. The fact that Vader didn’t know Luke’s name after all this time seemed odd to me as well, considering Luke had (as I recall) been known by name to other Imperials by this point. But again, I went with it. All in all, the fight between Valance and Vader was pretty good- showing off how badass Vader really is at this point. Again, I am reminded that villains and heroes alike always feel ‘greater’ when they are fighting worthy foes.

This is another stand alone story where Leia is on a solo mission to the Imperial industrial planet of Metalorn. There, she is to meet with the locals and attempt to foment revolt. The planet itself is under martial law, with the inhabitants fed imperial propaganda to show them that resistance is futile and the Empire is all powerful. This is show in a scene where a child tries to plant a seed in the polluted ground of Metalorn, only to have it destroyed by a Stormtrooper. Meanwhile, Leia is quickly discovered and must flee hordes of stormtroopers and the advanced security systems of the planet itself. Through guile and bravery, she manages not only to escape, but to show the people of Metalorn that the Empire is not nearly as invincible and infallible as they would have others believe. The story ends with the child from the beginning planting another seed and tending to it- representing the seed of Rebellion Leia had planeted among the populace (Okay, so its probably a bit trite and clichéd, but for a comic of this period, it's a nice touch).

This was another solid little story that I enjoyed quite a bit, even if it did portray the Empire as a bit simplistic in its tactical sense. This story also marks the reappearance of a recurring villain: Baron Orman Tagge, who is, in my opinion, a great and unique foil. I also liked the fact that Leia was shown (once again) to be quite capable of taking care of herself in dangerous situations. She may be a ‘princess’, but she’s no damsel in distress.

This is the story of an old enemy from Han’s past returning to plague him and his companions. The evil “Majestrix of Skye” is a tall, winged humanoid who is evidently a student of Darth Vader’s (thus she has Force powers, which are revealed later in the story). Han had run afoul of her early in his smuggling career and had only just managed to escape her vengeance. With her reappearance, and the murder of an old friend, Han decides to finally quit running and face the Majestrix. This sets up a visit to the planet Skye where Han is captured and turned over for torture while Luke and Leia manage to convince the oppressed people of the planet to rise up in revolt. They succeed due to the fact that Luke’s arrival on the planet was ‘foretold’ as a sign that the time was ripe for the Majestrix’s downfall. In the end, Luke fights an aerial duel with the Dark Jedi and defeats her, freeing the planet.

This story is told in a “King Size Annual” and is not surprisingly ‘king-size’ in length. It is also notable in that it is illustrated by ‘guest artists’ rather than the guys who worked on the rest of the series thus far. Visually, I actually preferred this team of artists to the normal ones, but that is subjective, I know. Story wise, this is a solid story arc, ending with a memorable duel. Its funny now, however, that in the final pages of the story, Luke is told of Ben Kenobi and his two students having once visited the world of Skye. It is insinuated that one of the students was Vader and the other Luke’s father. Heh. Well, not quite, huh?

This story arc extends over four issues of the comics and features the Tagge family of villains once more. This time, the Baron and his brother are on Tatooine, developing a new weapon to use against the Rebellion in their never-ending quest to ‘one up’ and humiliate Darth Vader. In this case, the weapon consists of a pair of huge towers that generate between them a field of cold so intense that it destroys anything caught within. This is given the appropriate (if somewhat corny) name of “Omega Frost”. Unfortunately for the bad guys, the existence of the weapon is stumbled upon by Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, both of whom had been visiting Tatooine for different purposes. Luke is captured while trying to learn more about the device, but Han escapes to warn the Rebellion.

The Alliance sends a fleet of cruisers to destroy the weapon before it can be used against the planet Junction (home to numerous rebel sympathizers). Unfortunately for the Rebels, the attack on Junction is just bait to lure the Alliance fleet into an ambush with the Omega Frost in an asteroid corridor approaching the planet. Luke frees himself (defeating Baron Tagge in a lightsaber duel along the way), but finds his escape craft sabotaged. Unable to warn the Rebel fleet, he instead tries to disable the Omega Frost generators before they can be activated. He succeeds just in time, resulting in the Alliance Fleet breaking through and engaging the unprepared Imperials at Junction. Here, Tagge’s ship is destroyed and he (and his scientist brother) are apparently killed.

Quite honestly? I loved this whole story arc. I owned (and still own) the first comic in the series, and still remember marveling in the novelty of the people actually returning to Tatooine. Luke visits his old Farm, finds a couple of his friends (Fixer and Cammie to be precise), and even winds up in the Mos Eisley Cantina again. To me, it was a fun jaunt down ‘memory lane’- but with a lot of new twists. Once again, the Tagge’s prove to be interesting and unique villains. The Baron faces Luke, only to find that for all his training, he is outmatched by the young farm boy. The Baron’s scientist brother is a great contrast to his brother, cold and logical- but those traits fail him when he is presented with the unexpected. The ONLY part of the story that I still have a problem with is the whole concept of Omega Frost itself. I mean, they show it working in space by having asteroids in its area of effect suddenly begin dangling huge icicles. That’s just.. dumb. And could intense cold even have that much effect on ships designed to operate in the cold of space? I… honestly don’t know the answer, but I tend to believe it wouldn’t be as dramatic as the comics suggest. But…whatever. I enjoyed the story enough to just chalk the whole “Omega Frost” thing up to pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo.

This three-issue story-arc tells the story of Darth Vader finally learning the identity of Luke Skywalker setting a plot in motion to destroy the Rebel hero. Central to the Dark Lord’s gambit, is Domina Tagge, the sister to the ill-fated Baron who had been ‘kept innocent’ of the intrigues of her family by being placed on the world of Monastery, home to the religious group known as the Order of the Sacred Circle. Vader convinces Domina to aid him by telling her that it was Luke who killed her brothers (this is untrue in several ways, since Vader himself has both presumed-dead Tagge brothers held in stasis on his own ship). It is even insinuated that Domina receives some training in the Force from Vader (which is displayed later in the story).

The plot begins with Domina paying a visit to the Rebels and asking them to ‘argue their case’ to the Order of the Sacred circle. The Order evidently wields great influence throughout the Galaxy and would make a valuable ally to the Alliance. Luke (more than a little taken in by Domina’s looks and words), agrees. Han and Leia (the latter creepily (in retrospect) jealous of Domina), will be (unknown to Luke) backup in the operation- keeping tabs on him through a audio uplink from R2-D2 (Luke’s companion on the mission).

Upon arriving on Monastery, Luke has a series of encounters that portray him in a bad light to the religious order there- not the least of which being the rage he displays upon meeting the Imperial ‘ambassador’ to the planet- Darth Vader. Through her own wiles and force manipulation, Domina plays Luke for a sucker, eventually leading him (and through him the Rebellion) to be condemned by the the Order. This sets up a ‘final’ confrontation between Luke and Vader- a duel which Domina chooses to have held in a place known as the “Crystal Valley”.

Meanwhile, Han and Leia have been listening in and, on their way to help Luke, are captured by the Imperials- on Vader’s ship no less. They manage to escape and get to Monastery- only to find that they have a Stowaway. Baron Tagge has somehow escaped from his stasis prison and intends to save his sister from Vader’s Machinations (though he also intends to destroy the Rebels).

The whole thing comes to a head in the Crystal Valley. There, Luke and Vader discover that Domina chose a place that could easily kill BOTH of them- what with spear-like crystals constantly bursting through the earth. Luke and Vader clash, then get separated. Baron Tagge escapes the Millennium Falcon (which had crash-landed just outside the Valley) and finds Vader- but is once again defeated. Luke encounters Vader again and apparently kills him- only to find that in actuality, he had been battling (and killed) Baron Tagge. Seems that Vader had spared the Baron then used the Force to cloud Luke’s mind so that he thought the Baron was Vader. Why would Vader do this? Why to ‘teach Tagge a lesson’ for one, and to test Luke’s strength for another.

In the end, with more crystals erupting, Luke decides that discretion is the better part of foolhardiness. He flees, eventually finding Han and Leia with Domina. The woman realizes she’d been tricked by Vader, but is now more directly angered at Luke since he really DID kill her brother this time. And so Luke is banished and the Order of the Sacred Circle does NOT throw its influence to the Rebel cause.

This whole arc was a lot more grim than previous adventures— perhaps picking up on the tone of the Empire Strikes Back, which had come out the month BEFORE the final issue of this story arc. Overall, I liked the story an awful lot- especially the twists and turns of the plot. For the most part, they all made sense- though the death of the Baron in the end just seemed a bit too much to me. I mean, there was already deception within deception going on and this only complicated it. Even so, none of the bad points of the story remotely outweighed the good. It is probably one of the strongest story arcs in the comics and Domina Tagge was positioned to become a rather interesting new villain/foil (though I’m not certains he was ever used again).

As an amusing footnote. The final issue of this arc contains an epilogue in which Jabba the Hutt (again the Yellow monkey-man from previous issues) discovers that Han Solo had a part in the death of Crimson Jack (a notorious space pirate from very early on in the comics). It is revealed that Jabba was a financial backer of Jack and thus lost a lot of money by Solo’s actions. This sparks Jabba to once again put a price on Han’s head, even though he had removed it several issues prior. Again, I can’t help but surmise that this was because of the events shown in the Empire Strikes back.

Despite the fact that the issue previous to this one announced that the NEXT issue would be the official comic adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back, the next issue was actually this one-issue story. We pick up with Luke and Leia on a mission, being attacked by the Empire. They flee, but their ship’s hyperdrive is damaged, resulting in a jump that takes them into a starless ‘void’, far outside anything known to them. There, they encounter a huge, alien ship. With no other recourse, they board the vessel, only to discover the dangers of its odd, techno-organic construction and come under attack by a seemingly insane droid that thinks Luke and Leia are just part of its imagination- an ‘entertainment’ cooked up for it by the ship itself. Upon learning the truth, the ship itself tries to expel Luke and Leia. Due to Luke’s self-sacrificing attempt to save the princess, the ship stops trying to kill them. It is then revealed that the ship and its sole crewman are now ‘melded’ into one entity. They are the last survivors of a war that happened eons ago. They want nothing more than to be allowed to continue to drift in the void, away from conflict. Even so, they were touched by Luke and Leia’s care for eachother, and agree to return them to their own Galaxy. Once there, the alien ship is attacked by the Empire. The alien vessel easily destroys the Imperial Star Destroyer, drops off Luke and Leia, then returns to the void.

This is probably one of the weirder Star Wars stories, in that it deals with technology and circumstances FAR outside the ‘normal’ for the setting. Even so, it doesn’t feel out of place. Just another example of the inclusiveness of Star Wars as a Sci-fi setting. Again illustrated by ‘guest artists’, this story has a completely different look from others in the series- which only seems to add to its odd, other-worldly quality.

The official comic book adaptation of the movies spans six issues of the comic, and utilizes (once again) a different team of artists than the ‘main’ series of comics- in this case Al Williamson, an artist who I really enjoy. Here was one of the first times I was relatively ‘satisfied’ with the look of the various vehicles and characters as something reminiscent of what I saw in the movies. The adaptation itself was pretty faithful— though as with the first movie adaptation, some liberties were taken here and there and the dialogue differs in places. I won’t go into this much more, since the comic IS pretty much just the movie. But one amusing little easter-egg I found was one frame of the comic set in Cloud City. While the heroes are shown in the background, one of the denizens of cloud city walks in the fore. It took me a moment to recognize this person, but it is actually a representation of George Lucas, based on a still taken from the filming of the original movie. So Lucas gets a cameo in his comic. Fun.

Once the adaptation is over, we’re back to the ‘usual’ artists again (much to my disappointment at the time). Even so, this next single-issue entry into the saga is actually quite good. In the wake of the Imperial victory at Hoth, a weary rebel ship struggles to find its way back to the fleet rendezvous. Unfortunately, they are intercepted by a specially modified probe droid that blasts its way onboard and eliminates the crew. From there, it makes contact with its Imperial masters, then takes control of the ship and sets course for the Rebel Fleet- with the intention detonating the ship’s reactor in its midst. Luke, recovering from the wounds suffered during his duel with Vader, stumbles upon the probe-controlled ship while patrolling in his X-Wing. He is promptly shot down after mistaking the vessel for a friendly. Luke manages to eject and, along with Artoo, board the probe-ship. Hero and sidekick soon discover the probe droid in charge of the ship, even as they manage to avoid its attempts to kill them with various automated components of the ship.

Luke tricks the droid into changing course by announcing that he is Luke Skywalker. The droids new programming is overridden by its ‘standard order’ to take Luke into custody. It turns around and starts to head back to the Star Destroyer that launched it. Meanwhile, Luke feigns his own incapacitation, then uses the Force to keep his life-signs at a low level. This tricks the probe droid’s sensors into registering Luke is ‘no longer a threat’- even as the Rebel makes his way to a crucial control linkage and severs it. The ship momentarily disabled, Luke and Artoo make it to an escape pod and eject. The probe ship continues on its course, heading right for the Star Destroyer- and with its reactor still primed to explode. The Imperials try to destroy the probe ship, but cannot before it impacts. The Imperials and the probe ship are all destroyed and Luke is picked up by the Alliance.

I loved this plot. It was pretty well thought out and involved a lot of clever ideas by Luke and Artoo in order to get out of their situation. I could easily see this translated as an RPG adventure for a single player. Great stuff.

This single-issue story follows the exploits of Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca as they search for clues to Han Solo’s whereabouts. They run afoul of the Empire and escape into a ‘distortion’ in space which takes them to an odd ‘pocket dimension’. There, they find a strange world evidently controlled by an Alien man named Cody Sunn-Childe. Evidently Cody was a hero of the Rebellion many years ago who disappeared without a trace. It is discovered that Cody was actually defeated in battle only to be transformed by a mysterious ‘fire’ into a being of almost godlike powers- able to shape things around him to his liking. This ‘pocket’ dimension is of his creation- a place to hide from the horrors of war and from his own darker side. He has also gathered others of like mind around him. Chewbacca is somewhat taken in by this seemingly idyllic place, especially when he finds another Wookiee there. Lando, however, is angry that Cody turned his back on the rest of the galaxy to ‘hide’ here- especially when he has the power to make a difference in the REAL world. The argument comes to a head when the Empire manages to enter this pocket dimension. Lando and Chewbacca try to fight them. Cody at first does nothing, then gives in to his darker side, conjuring up gigantic demons that tear the Imperial ships to pieces. Shocked at what he has done, Cody suddenly calls off the attack and allows the Empire to obliterate his world- and him along with it. The Falcon escapes as the dimension collapses. The Imperials are not so lucky.

Yeah. If the above sounds really goofy to you, then it is nothing compared to the actual goofiness of the story. Cody Sunn-Childe himself looks like an escapee from a Space Ghost cartoon. Goofy to the extreme (to say nothing of his already goofy name). The whole ascension to godhood and ability to warp reality is likewise really outside of the ‘feel’ of Star Wars. At least it is to me. Prior to this, such mystic powers were either explained away as an aspect of the Force or as some incredibly high-tech relic of a foregone age (such as the ‘Rider in the Void’). But this is just presented as… magic, or some divine galactic power outside of the Force. And neither of those explanations really appeal to me. Even setting aside all this weirdness, you are left with a Lando and Chewbacca who just don’t act like we see the characters act in the movies. Lando is downright blunt and hot-headed- not at all like the suave smooth-talker we saw in the movies. Chewbacca is inexplicably soft-willed. As if the mere presence of another Wookiee would suddenly cause him to forget that Han Solo was in trouble and needed his help. They never even explained if the other Wookiee was a male or a female (though I suspect the latter). Even so, it isn’t as though Chewbacca was the ‘last of the wookiees’ or anything. And besides, doesn’t he have a family back on Kashyyyk? Bleh. Anyway, suffice it to say this is one of the more ‘problematic’ stories for me. I don’t like it and I couldn’t even see how a ‘modification’ could save this storyline.

This is another story that I still have the original book from. It is a single-issue adventure in which the Alliance has recovered an Imperial Warbot. They are trying to figure out how the thing works in order to pinpoint its weaknesses. Unfortunately, the one they have is beyond their ability to repair. This is when Luke decides to take it to the quasi-mythical ‘Droid World’- an artificial satellite ruled by a Cyborg, Kligson, who dislikes organics. Luke himself must wait on the ship, since organics are NOT allowed. Artoo and Threepio board and meet with Kligson. The deal is that he will repair the droid and keep it- but that he will give the Rebels the technical schematics for it. Kligson offers Artoo and Threepio the chance to ‘live free’ with him on Droidworld, but the two actually prefer to remain with their ‘friend’ Luke. Meanwhile a prototype Imperial Stormtrooper droid, ZX-3 (Kligson’s second in command) plots to usurp control of Droidworld, using parts from the Rebel’s captured war-droid to complete his own. He strikes as Kligson talks with Threepio and Artoo, seemingly killing the Cyborg. Threepio and Artoo manage to escape, but are just about to be killed by the ‘evil’ droids when they are inexplicably saved…by Kligson. Seems he had suspected ZX-3 of treachery and planted a droid duplicate of himself (though it pained him to see even this destroyed). He goes on to explain that he had, in secret, been building his own forces up to put down this coup. A battle erupts and in the end, Kligson’s forces win. ZX-3 is destroyed and the Cyborg mourns the loss of so many of his friends. True to his word, the Cyborg provides the Alliance with the schematics for the War droid. After Artoo and Threepio return to Luke, the entirety of Droidworld suddenly lurches into motion- engaging before-unseen engines and heading off in search of isolation- and peace.

This is another solid adventure, probably one of the more tightly ‘scripted’ stories in the comics as a whole. I also like that it gives a chance for Artoo and Threepio to be the ‘heroes’ (or at the very least, the focus of the adventure).

This adventure revolves around Leia and the droids escorting a Viscount Tardi to the neutral banking planet of Aargau. Evidently, Leia is going there to finance a squadron of X-Wings, evidently by utilizing the Viscount’s holdings as collateral. Unfortunately, Vader shows up with a trio of shady looking companions who turn out to be assassins hired to kill Viscount Tardi before all the bureaucratic work for the loan is complete. The first hulking assassin is killed when Leia uses a ‘gravitational field disruptor’ that multiplies his weight and causes him to sink into the ground. The second assassin is killed when he shape-shifts into a tiny butterfly and Leia ‘accidently’ steps on him after artoo sprays him. The third assassin is killed during a planetary military demonstration when he telekinetically directs a missile at the Viscount, only to hit himself (since Artoo had cleverly projected a hologram of the Viscount over the assassin- and vice versa. In the end, Vader confronts Leia directly and winds up killing the Viscount himself- who turns out to be a robot double of the Viscount, who had died weeks earlier! Unfortunately for the Dark Lord, Leia had already managed to secure the loan she needed by using the Alderaanian crown jewels as collateral. Hah! She outsmarted vader. Or did she? Seems Vader’s whole purpose was to get his hands on those jewels, which he manages by bribing bank officials. So, Leia leaves with money for her Squadron of X-Wings and Vader leaves with the Jewels.

Umm. Yeah. If the above seems as confusing and pointless as it sounds, then I am doing this story justice. I’ve read this adventure a couple times over now, and even after that, I’m not entirely sure I ‘get’ the plot they were trying to convey. Why did Leia and Vader go through all this trouble? Why did they even NEED Viscount Tardi involved. And you know, I’m not even inclined to try and go back through this story again, as there are just so many things I do NOT like about it. The whole ‘Gravitational field distruptor’ seems way too ‘high tech’ and dangerous to NOT be considered a weapon (Leia isn’t prosecuted because it officially isn’t a weapon). The whole shapeshiter who is able to shrink down to the size of a bug is stupid and pushes the bounds of believability for the established physics of the Star Wars galaxy. Even the Force seems to have ‘rules’. This power just seems to be ‘magic’. And then there is the Telekinetic assassin hitting himself with a missile because of Artoo’s holographic projection. Since when was Artoo able to projecta a REALISTIC image of ANYthing? GAH it just makes no sense. Neither does Leia’s whole plan of allowing vader to kill the Tardi droid duplicate so her deception would not be discovered by the medical scans that are required to leave the planet. Ummm… wouldn’t they examine the dead body anyway? And in the comic, it was shown that the ‘Viscount’ had like.. circuits and wiring exposed when Vader hit him with his lightsaber. You’d think the local docs and police might notice something like that. GAH again! And then there is the lame addition of Leia pointing out specifically that Viscount Tardi was a ‘specially programmed, non-sentient droid’… uhhh.. okay. So, that’s just to make her own droids feel better that she intended for the droid-Tardi to be killed… whatever. This story is just a mess and I’d just as soon forget about it. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the title of the story comes from the ‘Third Law’ of the planet Aargau, which states that “Willfully conspiring to defraud, discredit or deceive the Bank of Aargau” was punishable by death.

This story finds Luke, Leia and the droids responding to a distress signal on a remote world. There, they find a young man and a crazy old alien. The former is the lost prince Denid of Velmor. The latter is his loyal servant, “Jedi”, who is now crazy and believes he is a Jedi due to a head injury he suffered during their stay on the remote planet. Luke and Leia decided to return Denid to his home in an effort to reclaim the planet from the Imperial backed usurpers who have taken control of it. Leia pretends to be a Denid’s lost noble betrothed while luke plays the role of Bounty Hunter Korl Marcus- who supposedly found the lost prince (this role comes complete with Luke wearing a beret, moustache and eyepatch. Heh, fun.). As a side-story, Luke grows annoyed with the crazy “Jedi”, seeing him as an embarrassment and a slander to the TRUE nobility of the Jedi Knights.

The intrigues begin right away, of course, as the bad guys (Denid’s brother (Anod), a shady advisor (Zelor) and a female Imperial Captain (Traal)) plot to kill the returned prince. How do they intend to do this, you ask? Well, Traal ‘seduces’ Luke (disguised as Korl) to get him to do it. Luke/Marcus ‘agrees’, but then goes to warn Leia- only to find her and Denid (who had been flirting earlier in the story), in a passionate embrace- with Denid proposing that Leia marry him, for real. Things come to a head the next day during a royal hunt, when Luke betrays the plotters and attempts to foil the assassination. In the fight, however, both Denid and Leia are apparently slain by Anod. A distraught Luke battles the three bad guys on his own, but is nearly killed by Traal, who attempts to shoot him in the back. Luke is saved at the last moment when the crazy old “Jedi” (who had ‘sensed’ danger earlier), arrives and throws himself between Luke and the shot- sacrificing himself. It is then discovered that Anod had only stunned Leia and Denid, thus there is at least some kind of a happy ending. In the end, Leia doesn’t marry Denid and leaves with Luke, pausing only for a moment to give “Jedi” a burial in space. Luke salutes the old man and confronts his own prejudices- realizing that nobility can be found even in the stranges places- or people.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit- at least for the most part. The core plot was (in sharp contrast to the issue just BEFORE this) well thought out and clearly executed. I also have a soft-spot for Quixotic Jedi, and “Jedi” definitely fits that role- and in a lot more endearing way than the goofy “Don-Wan Kihotay” of earlier issues. The only thing that really bugged me about this story was the fact that Leia would so soon just seem to forget about her love for Han Solo and engage in snogging a guy she’d just met. It made her character feel shallow and not at all like Leia. In fact, she had very little part in the story at all, which kind of bugs me. Overall, though, it is probably one of my favorite issues (and one I still own the original comic to). It was also notable in that it marks a change of main artists. Gone are Carmine Infantino and Carlos Garzon (who’s artwork I always found to be a bit too… odd), and in are Walt Simonson and Tam Palmer, who’s style I really like. Not only do the characters look a lot more like the people in the movie, the worlds and vehicles are a lot more recognizable and less ‘funky’ as well.

In any case, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next Star Wars Omnibus and relive the rest of memories of “A Long Time Ago…”