Wednesday, December 5, 2012


INTRODUCTION (Repeated from Part 1)
One of the things I wish I had done more of in my Star Wars campaign is introduce more NPC 'crews'. Some could be allies to the PCs. Others could be rivals and still others could turn out to be enemies. Oh, every now and then I'd throw a ship captain or two (there were several neat ones in the old Minos Cluster campaign found in the D6 Galaxy Guide 6: Tramp Freighters), but for the most part, these were few and far between.

What seemed to be the barrier to me was that there weren't a lot of 'ready made' NPCs of this sort- at least not in 'official' products of the time. But looking at it now, I see a whole slew of possible ideas I could just steal from other sources (something I am not afraid of doing). So below are some ship crews who I think would make interesting encounters for a PC group in a Star Wars setting. And FYI, I am once again slanting this towards a Rebel vs. Empire time-period. So, without further ado...

This crew is based on the short-lived DC comic introduced in the late 70's…'oddly enough' right after Star Wars was released! What a coincidence! In any case, it was billed as a space-opera sort of book. I actually own a couple issues of this and found it…entertaining. In truth, though, I was a little annoyed by the main 'hero' of the book (Flint)- he was just 'too much' for me, with his bad wisecracks and worse accent. Even so, the 'Starhunters' could form a fun NPC crew for your players to bump into.

In the original story, the crew was put together by the corrupt mega-corporation that runs earth. They were sent off to find 'the true origin of man'…and got involved in a battle between powerful ancient races of good and evil. Oh, and they were genetically altered so that if they tried to return to earth, they would mutate and die, so… there.

The exact capabilities of the Sunrider are a bit vague. In fact, the Sunrider was actually destroyed early on in the series and the group commandeered another ship and promptly renamed it the Sunrider II. As far as I can tell, it was a bit larger than something like the Millennium Falcon, but still something of 'transport' scale. As with many sci-fi stories, the ship's computer ("Ozzie") is sentient and forms a member of the crew.

Donovan Flint, Soldier of Fortune
He's a swashbuckler and man of action with an outrageous moustache and goatee and an equally outrageous accent (Irish). He also has this cool blaster pistol that extends (on a chord.. powerchord?) from his wrist. In fact, I think he has two. He was 'recruited' by the corporation for his fighting abilities and rather quickly assumes a leadership role- taking over from Darcy Vale- the Corporate agent sent to lead this particular expedition. Needless to say, there is some friction between the two as well as some sexual tension.

Darcy Vale, Corporate Agent
A beautiful, talented and intelligent woman- but also one with unswerving loyalty to a corrupt corporation. One can assume from this that she is at least somewhat 'greedy'- i.e. she is being well paid and wants to continue to be. She is not happy about being 'demoted' by the rest of the crew when Donovan took over. In fact, she may very well betray the group if given the opportunity. Even so, some of the tactics the corporation uses are enough to give her some 'pause'- and may force her to reexamine her loyalty at some point.

Jake Hammersmith, Engineer (?)
I was never clear exactly what this guy's role on the crew was, though I think he may have been an engineer? In any case, he's a big, strong guy with a massive mutton-chop moustache thing. He also seems to have some kind of a past friendship with Donovan Flint and the two seem to be good buddies. Jake is enamored with the ship's computer-tech, Mindy Yano, and concerned about her health problems. He is also not a big fan of the Corporation or their manipulative tactics.

Mindy Yano, Computer Tech
A petite young woman who is a whiz with computers and electronics. She is shy and somewhat reserved but seems to return Jake Hammersmith's affection. Unfortunately, she has been suffering from siezures which the ship's doctor seem to think may have to do with the Corporations genetic tampering. In reality, unknown to the rest of the crew, Mindy was implanted with a signalling device- something that records (through Mindy's senses) the Sunrider's mission. It periodically sends off messages, and when it does, she has siezure-like symptoms.

Bruce Sellers, Ship's Doctor
An older man with short hair that is greying at the temples. Little is known of his past but he seems to be a very competent and intelligent member of the crew- good at his job and very curious about the ailment Mindy Yano seems to be suffering.

Theodore 'Mac', McGavin, Exobiologist
A wiry older man, "Mac" is a talented and extremely curious scientist. Though he dislikes being 'forced' into the current mission, he is curious if there is actually something to find out there. He seems to get along well with Dr. Sellers, with both men being quite intelligent.

Ozzie, Ship's computer
A highly-spirited artificial intelligence who seems to have taken quite readily to Donovan Flint's command. He is helpful and competent but (as I recall) somewhat annoying in his 'humorous' comments.

I don't know enough about the Series to point to any particular enemies of the crew of the Sunrider- but their main nemesis was the Corporation itself. A bunch of powerful men and women scheming to gain some great power from the discoveries of this crew- and not just for financial gain, either. Rather, they seem to want some kind of 'mystic' power (or at least, that's the feeling I always got).

The whole 'hunting for the origins of mankind' thing from the comics may be a little far out for a Star Wars setting. But not /too/ far off. What I see is much the same situation. A secret council of powerful businessmen within the Corporate Sector Authority 'recruited' a band of criminals/political-prisoners. They implanted cybernetic devices in order to ensure the loyalty of the crew- and sent along a trusted agent (Darcy Vale) to command. The devices prevent the group from taking direct action that would hurt the Council- but otherwise gives them free will.

The mission the Sunrider's Crew is sent on is to discover some ancient device- a supposedly 'mythological' artifact. I could see this as something like the 'genesis' device from Star Trek. Along the way, they would be beset by space pirates, hostile aliens, monsters, crazies, rival corporations, Imperial agents, etc. Even after Flint 'rebels' and takes over command of the ship, the Corporation (aware of things through its 'spy' Mindy) would let the ship continue, since Flint seems determined to find the artifact anyway. If the crew succeeds, the corporation could just find Flint and take what they want from him anyway.

Does this sound convoluted? Well, yes. But within acceptable limits, I think. In any case, PCs could become involved with the Sunrider crew in several ways- they could be assigned (as rebel agents) to find the 'genesis artifact' and run into this 'rival' group. Or, they could be looking for it on their own prerogative. Or it could be something as similar as a chance encounter in a remote cantina somewhere. Perhaps a couple encounters to set things up. Finally, assuming the crews get along, the PCs and NPCs could team up to find the Artifact together- perhaps taking slightly different (but mutually supporting) paths to it.

Monday, December 3, 2012


One of the things I wish I had done more of in my Star Wars campaign is introduce more NPC 'crews'. Some could be allies to the PCs. Others could be rivals and still others could turn out to be enemies. Oh, every now and then I'd throw a ship captain or two (there were several neat ones in the old Minos Cluster campaign found in the D6 Galaxy Guide 6: Tramp Freighters), but for the most part, these were few and far between.

What seemed to be the barrier to me was that there weren't a lot of 'ready made' NPCs of this sort- at least not in 'official' products of the time. But looking at it now, I see a whole slew of possible ideas I could just steal from other sources (something I am not afraid of doing). So below are some ship crews who I think would make interesting encounters for a PC group in a Star Wars setting. And FYI, I am once again slanting this towards a Rebel vs. Empire time-period. So, without further ado...

These are, of course, stolen from the classic British Sci-Fi series "Blake's 7". Alas, I have only ever seen a handful of moments from these series, but the premise is very intriguing- and happens to fit in very well in a Star Wars setting. Just replace the evil 'Alliance' with the evil 'Empire' and there you go- a whole crew of freedom fighters seeking to overthrow tyranny.

The Liberator is an advanced starship that the crew was able to... liberate. In the Star Wars universe, I see it as being a prototype Imperial warship or perhaps a prototype developed by some other planet or faction that was seized by the Empire. In either case, it would be a purpose-built warship of transport scale (thus being a bit smaller than the ship shown in the series). I could also see the ship as having been built by a race of artificial intelligences that the Empire perhaps wiped out or forced into hiding.

The crew themselves consist of the following- thrown together by circumstance.

Roj Blake
The Captain and idealist of the crew. Blake has suffered personal loss at the hands of the Empire and desires nothing less than its overthrow. He is a charismatic leader, but one prone to obsession about his task. I see him as joining the Rebel Alliance, but operating largely independently.

Kerr Avon
A computer expert (and cyber-thief) who is logical, pragmatic and self-serving- in many ways the opposite of Blake.

Jenna Stannis
The hot-shot pilot and smuggler. Despite her criminal background, she is very loyal once her trust is earned.

Vila Restal
A thief and con-man. He is smart but cowardly and has a weakness for alcohol and women.

A guerrilla resistance fighters who also happens to have Force powers. Though minor, she is learning quickly. Unfortunately, she has not learned much in the way of mental defense, thus leaving herself open to mental attacks.

Olag Gan
An ex-convict imprisoned for killing an Imperial trooper who murdered his girlfriend. He has been implanted with an experimental cybernetic device that prevents him from killing (and is evidently very difficult to remove). He is, however, courageous, strong and dedicated to the cause.

The advanced control computer onboard the Liberator. Something of an enigma, the dour Zen's true loyalties are unknown, though it does cooperate with the crew- so long as they do not put the liberator (and itself) in positions of undue danger.

Though all the characters in the TV series were human (except Zen), a GM could easily alter the races of any of the crew to give them a more varied look/feel. Who's to say Vila isn't a Bothan or Cally isn't a Togruta. Whatever your particular tastes are.

This crew would also come with its own villains- folks dedicated to their destruction and/or capture. These include:

Supreme Commander Servalan
A ruthless and intelligent woman in charge of a task force assigned to crush resistance to the Empire. She is cold, calculating and not above using her sex-appeal to get what she wants. She has a certain (sociopathic) fondness for Kerr Avon (Blake's second), and it seems as though he reciprocates- though neither trust or even 'like' eachother.

Captain Travis
A brutal and (like Servalan) ruthless Imperial soldier. He was responsible for Blake's initial capture and was seriously injured by the freedom-fighter as well- resulting in his having a cybernetic arm and scarred face. Needless to say, he sees his hunt for Blake as a personal vendetta. His blunt and single-minded approach to this conflicts with Commander Servalan's style and plans for her own rise to power... a situation that may eventually come to a head.

Using such a crew in an RPG is tricky- since they are 'heroes' in their own right- with their own storyline and such. One of my major rules for Game Mastering is to NEVER allow the PCs to be outshone by NPCs. Thus, I would see Blake's crew as an interesting roleplay encounter- another 'team' of rebels who they bump into while 'off duty' or some such. Friendships or rivalries could be formed. Then, at some future date, the PCs may find themselves in a tough spot where the Liberator Crew has to help them out- or vice versa, the Liberator might require their assitance. After several such close brushes, the PC and NPC crews might join together for some important mission. The 'tragic' ending of the Blake's 7 TV Show could easily be expounded upon in an RPG session or two- perhaps with the players showing up after or during the 'final stand' of Blake and his crew.

Friday, November 9, 2012

New Star Wars Movies...

There isn't a whole lot more to this post than a bunch of subjective rambling about Star Wars. Oh, wait, that's every post on this blog! Well, anyway, I just want to throw up some stuff I would love to see in any future Star Wars movies and some things I really hope don't happen:

What I'd love to see:

1) The original characters. Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, Lando, Artoo and Threepio. Hell, I'd love to see 'Wedge' again- and Ackbar and... you get the point. That being said, I would NOT want to see an action movie where all the action centers around 60-70 year-old folks. No, I'd want these characters to take the 'background leadership' roles to a new set of young heroes- their children, proteges, etc.

2) A focus on non-Jedi/Sith characters (at least one). Yes, Jedi are cool. But you ask any fan who the coolest character is, you're probably going to get either 'Han Solo' or 'Boba Fett'- neither of whom are Jedi or Sith. I have long said that 'non-idealistic snarkiness' was absent from the prequels, and they suffered for it.

3) Dialogue. Good dialogue. Jokes that are actually funny. Lines that don't sound stilted. Disney, you have an awesome pool of writers and directors. Please use them.

What I hope I don't see:

1) The plots of ANY of the expanded universe books/series. As much as I liked Heir to the Empire, I don't think it would make a particularly good trilogy- especially if you were using the original actors. Ditto for the Dark Empire arc. And do not get me started on the New Jedi Order books. If you're trying to appeal to a PG or PG-13 audience, you don't have a story about a war where trillions of people are slaughtered by masochistic aliens, Han becomes a drunk, deadbeat father, Luke becomes an ineffectual tool, Han's kids are killed and/or tortured by giant space-chickens until they turn to the dark side of the Force, etc.

1a) The above includes the inexplicable and jarring changes in personality of the main heroes (Luke, Leia, Han, etc.) from their characters as shown in the original trilogy. Please keep them true to what we have seen in the movies, not to some authorial need to have them act a certain contradictory, idiotic way because it advances the plot of a shitty novel.

2) The collapse of the New Republic from corruption. Seriously, the heroes of BOTH trilogies were fighting to save and then restore the Republic. To me, this means that it MUST have some merits. Billions died to restore it. Heroes sacrificed to restore it. To have it fall apart (again) from corruption in just a few decades reflects poorly on our heroes for having believed in such a system and for allowing it (on their watch) to crumble in such a short time. One would think/hope/pray that our heroes would fight as hard as they did DURING the war to ensure the survival of the Republic AFTER the war. One would also think that trillions of oppressed beings would also take measures to ensure a functional government- at least for another thousand years.

3) Any mention of midicholorians. At all. Ever.

Stuff I am still on the fence about:

1) The inclusion of popular EU characters. The two that spring to the top of this list would be Mara Jade and Kyle Katarn. I wouldn't necessarily mind the inclusion of either of these folks, except for the fact that if you DID include Mara Jade, you would have to have some kind of 'explanation' for her presence- and I already said I hoped they will NOT delve into the Heir to the Empire stuff. As far as Katarn goes? Doubt you'd need much backstory on him, he could appear in the background without much question. Could have a kid that participates in the adventure as well. Could even be a main character. That would be neat.

A short post, I know, but just some stuff on the top of my mind. How about you? What would you like to see? What do you hope they don't include?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A New Era for Star Wars?

Yesterday's news that Disney has purchased Lucasfilm was a huge surprise. My initial reaction could be best described as 'leery'. Especially with the news that they would be doing an Episode VII. Why? Because my first thought was "Please god, no. Not the stupid New Jedi Order series." And my second thought was. "Please god, no, not the Legacy series either!"

But the more I thought about the situation- the more I began to see what wonderful possibilities this opens up. Why? Because Disney is really awesome at what they do. They make entertaining movies (really good ones through Pixar) and they have extraordinarily well designed events and attractions (seriously, Disney World and all the other parks are amazing).

Yes. They are also great at making money. But in the last decade at least that seems to be a result of putting out quality stuff rather than just milking the 'direct-to-VHS/DVD/Blueray' market. And really? I have no problem with people making money if they give you quality in return. And for me, Disney does that.

An example of that:

A year or so ago, Star Tours was re-opening at Disney Hollywood studios. They had a traveling 'show' go to malls across the region to promote this. The show included a really cool kiosk style booth complete with costumed characters (C-3PO, R2-D2, Jedi Mickey and Minnie, etc.). They also had this official 'Star Tours' representative in uniform- and in character- chatting up the crowds and cracking jokes. They had giveaway items and picture opportunities. They made the whole thing a lot of fun. Why? Because they're good at it. They hire people who are good at it. They care- because they know the Disney brand stands for quality fun.

That is why I am glad to see the Star Wars brand turned over to Disney. Because they care. That's the thing that I felt was lacking from Lucasfilm alone. George Lucas just didn't seem to have the 'passion' about his creation that he did in those early years. And it shows- to me at least- in the prequels. They were 'okay' movies, but not 'great'- despite the huge budgets and awesome special effects and film technology.

What makes me feel even better about Disney acquiring Star Wars was the interview Lucas gave about the fact that he was 'moving into another phase of life', and (mostly) retiring from running a company. He said he has ideas about Star Wars- treatments for the 'next three' movies. But as Kathleen Kennedy (the new head of Lucasfilm under Disney) pointed out- they have writers working on those treatments. Lucas would be a creative advisor (the 'Yoda on her shoulder as she put it), but man... I was so excited to hear they had WRITERS. Don't get me wrong. George Lucas is a visionary when it comes to ideas- putting disparate themes and ideas together (Samurai Westerns in Space with Nazis), but he really isn't a great writer when it comes to dialogue. And he is not a great director when it comes to ACTORS. Disney on the other hand, has used a pool of very AWESOME writers and directors to make some incredible films (Toy Story, The Incredibles, Up). I can't help but feel 'giddy' imagining people of this caliber being put in charge of my favorite universe.

And this doesn't even touch on the fact that there is now a very real possibility of more Star Wars themed attractions in Disney parks. Why not a 'Star Wars Land' in the scale of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios? I can think of any number of attractions I would LOVE to see...

With all of this, I am trying to remain 'cautiously optimistic'. I am hoping for the best- because I really see a lot of potential here. I just hope it pans out. And I hope to hell I never have to sit through "Episode VII: Vector Prime"... seriously. Screw you guys. I will never forgive you for killing Chewbacca. Though even more than that, I will never forgive you for turning Han into a selfish jerk and Luke into a whining, ineffectual loser or... wait, wait.. Whew. Breathe. Cautiously optimistic. Yes, cautiously optimistic.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I have always been 'proud' of my geek status, but there are some elements of geek culture of which I am not a fan. This doesn't mean I do not like or even appreciate these things for what they are. It just means I do not 'love' them as many other 'geeks' do. In short, where many of my fellows go crazy for this stuff, I am just 'meh'. So yeah, essentially, this post is eroding some of my (admittedly prodigious) geek cred. So, without further ado, three geek things I am indifferent about:

1) Doctor Who
Simply put, the brand of sci-fi that this is just isn't my cup of tea. I prefer my sci-fi a bit less 'wacky' and a lot more grounded. While I realize how clever many of the stories are, and how long-running the series is, I have never been a big 'fan' of it and would not go out of my way to watch it. And no, it isn't just because of the crappy production values of the 'classic' series, or because I somehow don't 'get' how deep the story arcs are or even because I prefer more action to the cerebral adventures of the doctor. It is as I said: too wacky for me.

2) Bladerunner
While I can appreciate the setting and special effects and even the mood evoked in this film, I was disappointed the first time I saw it. Admittedly, this was because I was expecting an action flick and got a noir film. Even so, I have watched this several times over the years, at different stages of 'maturity', and I do not find it particularly compelling, or even well acted. For me, it is all style and not a lot of substance. Yes, I know. Blasphemy. But there it is.

3) Anime
I enjoy some anime series (Starblazers, G-Force, Robotech, Outlaw Star, Cowboy Beebop)- I do so mainly because of the awesome spectacle of them- certainly NOT for the melodramatic characters and often bizarre story twists, to say nothing of the stereotypical sight-gags and visuals that I find annoying. In fact, I generally do not like the traditional big-eye anime look for characters- but I cannot deny that nobody can pull of starships and mecha like these films do. Below are some examples of what I find annoying in anime- the obstacles that will forever prevent me from becoming a 'fan':

a) the cartoonish BIG MOUTH YELLING when characters get angry. No matter how realistic or even 'serious' a series is, characters are suddenly distorted to ridiculous degrees. It is jarring to me. And the same can be said for the HASH MARK BLUSHING or GIANT WATER DROP SWEATING, or the ever present CHARACTER STANDS THERE QUIVERING, TEETH GRITTED AS THEY PONDER WHATEVER THE HELL for minutes on end, just eating up run time.

b) Annoyingly EMO characters. Okay, I understand characters have weaknesses- things they have to overcome, but my GOD. Rick Hunter- grow a pair of balls, please. And Minmei.. shut the hell up! So damn annoying. I swear, my first watch-through of Robotech, I was just biding the moments until the next giant mecha fight.

c) Lecherous old men. I understand. It's a Japanese thing. It just isn't funny. Sorry.

d) School Girl/Sailor outfits. I understand. It's a Japanese thing. It's still creepy.

e) Cute talking animal/stuffed animal sidekicks. Just.. why? No.

f) The haircuts. Seriously. WTF is up with the haircuts?

Friday, September 21, 2012


Since I'm not able to make one big post about this (obviously) I will continue to post my overview/review of issues from the old Marvel Star Wars comics. In this post, I'll discuss two different stories:


This adventure picks up where the last left off, with our heroes returning to their Rebel base to report the disappointing results of their last mission. They are then briefed by Alliance command on new leads they have uncovered regarding the lost rebel agent (Tay Vanis) and the information he has on a new, secret Imperial weapon. Strangely enough, intercepted imperial transmissions also implicate Han Solo as having some part in this. It is decided that Luke and Leia will follow the lead to Vanis while Lando and Chewbacca track down the lead dealing with Solo.

The story follows the former duo as they travel to the neutral diplomatic space station of Kabray. Luke and Leia are posing as the servants of their alien friend Plif, who is himself posing as an ambassador from his world to the diplomatic session that is evidently being held on the station. For those who don't remember, we had met Plif the Hoojib quite a few issues ago- the cute, tiny, telepathic, energy-eating bunny-rabbit looking guys? Ring a bell?

In any case, both Luke and Leia are a bit shocked/dismayed to discover that there are quite a few Zeltrons present on the Kabray station. And much like Dani, they seem to be infatuated with Luke for some reason. As Luke and Leia mingle with the delegations, they look for clues as to a message that Tay Vanis had supposedly left here. Along the way, they overhear all kinds of interesting tidbits of information, and spy some alien species there they they had encountered in previous adventures: Stenaxes and Lahsbees, in particular.

The whole situation is played rather light-heartedly. Luke is constantly hampered by Zeltron 'groupies' all wanting to show him a good time. He manages to find Vanis' message, but along the way, he overhears a plot to poison one of the delegates and is them nearly caught by the Empire. Ironically, Luke uses the Zeltrons as 'cover'- allowing them to drag him back to the party, through a patrol of Stormtroopers who had been closing in on him.

Leia, meanwhile, is sneaking around as well- only to be mistaken for the entertainment. Since she was skulking where she shouldn't have been, Leia has no choice to but to take on the role of a singer- the eponymous 'Chanteuse of the Stars'.

Luke, swamped by Zeltrons, is back in the main ball room by this time- and is just in time to see Leia make her big entrance on stage- in a ridiculous wig, boa and bikin-like costume that will be very reminiscent of her gold bikini later on. Having no choice in the matter, Leia begins to sing- and does a good job entertaining the crowd. Too good, in fact. Her sultry performance accidently triggers the puberty response in one of the Lahsbee delegation, turning him into a raging Huhk (the monstrous, mature form of the Lahsbee). To make matters worse, the assassination plan that that Luke had overheard earlier goes into effect as well- with poison soup being delivered to one of the delegations.

In the chaos that erupts, Luke manages to 'accidently' spill the poisoned soup. He then, ironically, runs for cover behind some Stormtroopers who prepare to take down the Huhk... only to find that their blasters have no power. Why? Because Plif and his Hoojib friends had secretly drained the energy from the weapons in the off chance that Luke and Leia were discovered. Unfortunately, that bit of prudent forethought didn't account for a rampaging Huhk. All seems lost, with Luke and the Stormtroopers about to be pulverized. Then Leia breaks into song again- capturing the Huhk's attention- and 'soothing the savage beast'.

The adventure ends with Luke surrounded by Zeltrons, Hoojibs and Lahsbees, looking on as Leia 'tames' the Huhk with her song.

All in all, this was a fun and silly little story- a nice change from the serious tone of the previous story arc. It was also interesting in that there was VERY little 'action', but rather, a lot of talking and sneaking and clever plans and improvisation. There was actually some very fun dialogue and some clever sight gags as well. About the only thing I didn't like about the story was the whole Huhk thing, at least not how it was presented. For all its fantasy elements, Star Wars is reasonably grounded in 'reality'. The whole idea of a tiny Lahsbee instantly transforming into a giant Huhk- without any explanation of how he suddenly gained all that mass- is a little much to believe. Also, if Lahsbees are essentially the 'child' form of their species, why would they be present at a diplomatic function as representatives of their world? Were I writing the story, I probably would have omitted the Lahsbees altogether and just had the 'huhk' role replaced with some kind of big animal that had been brought in as entertainment (like a trained bear), only to suddenly go amok (perhaps as the plot of some OTHER nefarious person). Leia still could have used her singing voice to soothe it, etc. Even with these problems, though, this is one of my favorite short stories in the series.

Favorite Dialogue:
Plif (After being boorishly dismissed by the Imperial Doorkeeper): "And what qualifications do you have- outside of officiousness, boorishness and misguided snobbery- for any duty whatsoever? When the young lady and the gentleman agreed to join the delegation I lead, I assured them they would be subjected to no unpleasantness. Make a liar of me again and I assure you the Imperial governor of this satellite will hear of it!" -- what an awesome bluff/intimidation

Zeltron #1 (To Luke): "Hello there! I've never seen a man as beautiful as you in my life! Want to have some fun?"
Luke (trying to be polite): "Not really..."
Zeltron #2 (Joining Zeltron #1): "Well, we do! Don't be selfish!"
Luke (quickly and 'suavely' excusing himself): "Uh... bye."

Leia (Singing): "Like a meteor cutting across a starlit night... he brightens up my darkest hour...he's gentle, he's true... never tries to force me, oh no... and so I follow him... like the tail of a comet...I'm just his satellite yeah... never stray into any other orbit... not while he's around...I'm empty when he's away from me... my heart's a black hole... because he's the one who makes my skies a heaven."
Yeah. Wow. What lyrics.

Favorite Sight Gag:
As the rampaging Huhk that had been just about to pulverize Luke and two stormtroopers turns and walks away, one of the troopers stammers "I think we're saved!" The other promptly passes out. THUD.


This is another single issue story arc. It follows the adventures of Wedge Antilles after the battle of Hoth, though it starts long after the battle, with Luke, Leia and a nameless rebel pilot investigating a derelict transport approaching the Rebel fleet. Luke seems to think (for some reason) that Wedge, having been MIA since the battle, is onboard. Unfortunately, once they're on the ship, they find it deserted- though the ship's log is intact. Leia plays this and so we see Wedge's story in flashback form, narrated by the man himself:

The story begins with the fall of Echo Base. Wedge and his gunner, Janson, are shot down while trying to escape in a Y-Wing. They crash land, and in the process Janson is wounded. The two of them take shelter in a destroyed AT-AT until the Imperials appear to withdraw. They then sneak back to the destroyed Rebel base in the hopes of finding something that will help them- or perhaps a way to send a signal to the Rebel fleet. Unfortunately, Wedge discovers (through the base's still functional sensors) that the planet is picketed by patrols of TIE fighters in orbit- ships that would pick up any distress call he attempted to send out.

To make matters worse, Wedge finds Wampas in the base, attempting to eat a few Tauntauns who were left behind. Wedge manages to kill the Wampas and rescue at least one of the tauntauns. He uses this to help him hunt some of the local wildlife to feed himself and Janson over the coming days. Janson is in bad shape, though- just barely hanging on- but as long as those TIE fighters are overhead, they're stuck.

And then one day, Wedge returns from his hunting to find Janson has been brutally murdered. The culprits are soon revealed to be a group of scavengers who had somehow snuck onto planet through the Imperial picket and were now ransacking the remains of the Rebel base. The leader of this group is someone Wedge is evidently familiar with- Arns Grimraker, a ruthless cyborg.

Wedge manages to sneak into the scavenger camp and sabotage several of their vehicles before stealing one of their transports and lifting off. The scavengers give chase, but due to Wedge's sabotage of their navigation computers, they fly right into the Imperial patrols and are wiped out. Wedge's transport is damaged, however and he finds himself losing power and drifting without food or fuel. That's when the log ends.

Back in the present, Luke is devastated to hear of the apparent death of his friend. It's then they spy Wedge outside the ship in a space suit- alive and well. When he gets inside, he explains. He'd been outside fixing the ship. Evidently the hold of the ship had spare food and parts, so his situation wasn't as dire as the log had lead them to believe- he just hadn't had time to update it.

And so the group returns to Rebel base with Wedge. A happy ending after all.

This issue features a different writer and artists than the previous issues- and it shows. It isn't BAD, just a bit jarring when you've gotten used to a particular style. The story itself is actually pretty well done, with relatively coherent narration and monologue. I do, however, have a few problems with the plot, one major, others nitpicky. We'll start with the major.

Why would the Empire leave the Rebel base in any state of intactness? I mean, it had functional sensor systems and heating. Why wouldn't they just obliterate the whole thing from orbit once they'd picked over it. That sounds a lot more like what they'd do. I mean, the story could have been told without any major 'loss' by saying that Wedge had made his way to a rebel outpost that the Empire hadn't found... or something.

Now for something nitpicky- The author here seems to imply that Wedge and Luke were as close as brothers and that Wedge had been raised on (or at least spent time on) Tatooine in the past. Here, I think they were just confusing Biggs with Wedge for.. whatever the reason.

The author also gave Wedge an accent- either Scottish or Irish. I don't know why they did this, since Wedge DID speak in the films, and without accent. But there you go.

Also, I don't like the fact (for personal reasons) that they killed of Janson. I am glad they ignored this particular issue entirely when they did the Rogue Squadron comics. So, I guess this entire story could be considered non-canon, which is fine with me. Could easily be the story of some other Rebel pilot and would make a pretty good premise for a Star Wars RPG adventure.

Monday, September 17, 2012


I continue here with my thoughts on the next few adventures in the compilation of classic marvel Star Wars comics of the 1980s


This is a one-issue adventure that finds all our heroes (plus Dani the Zeltron, who stowed away on the Falcon in the last issue) re-united for a mission to the titular planet Lahsbane to find a lost rebel agent who apparently crash landed there. Unfortunately for the crew, things aren't going so well. The Falcon is immediately grounded with some kind of mechanical problem and the native Lahsbees (small, giggling, ewok-like critters) aren't exactly being helpful. Luke manages to get some information out of the natives- but it is bad news as well: the rebel agent is dead and it seems the Lahsbees took the data-tapes from the agent's ship and stored them in an apparently abandoned city- a city that is on the other side of a huge canyon- far from the Falcon's current position. And just when you thought things couldn't get worse, an Imperial Scout ship arrives and lands nearby. Thankfully, they didn't seem to notice the Falcon on their way in.

As Lando, Luke and Chewie set about camouflaging the ship, Leia and Dani get into a verbal altercation. Indeed, the two do not seem to get along at all. Some highlights of the conversation are as follows:

Dani (haughtily): "...I don't want any Imperial officer finding me here. I have the death sentence in six star systems."

Leia (snarkily): "As many as that? I didn't know there were so many places where what YOU do is still illegal."

Dani (angrily): "I was referring to STEALING! My partners and I have robbed and conned some very important people in our day!"

Leia (bitingly): "Oh yeah? You made a thorough mess of the only caper I ever saw you work! Your 'client' nearly killed you!"

Dani (defensively): "We fooled YOU pretty well!"

This escalates until the two of them pretty much dare each other to journey to the 'abandoned' city. They prepare to do so by commandeering some primitive balloons from the Lahsbees. As they are doing so, however, the Imperials happen by. Dani manages to distract them by dancing (which, for some reason, the Imperials enjoy, then move on without questioning WHY there is a Zeltron here...). Unfortunately, as Dani dances, Leia (hiding nearby) loses control of the balloon and is blown over the canyon. Dani only JUST manages to return in time to leap onto the balloon. Together, the two women drift towards the city.

Luke and Lando, just finishing the camouflage, are perturbed to discover that they have been left behind. In fact, the two seem oddly chauvinistic here- the implication being that the women are 'helpless' without them. Luke commandeers a Lahsbee glider and heads across the canyon- leaving Lando to finish repairs on the Falcon. It is then that a gigantic, shaggy-furred, hulking humanoid suddenly attacks, battering Lando and even Chewbacca when the latter comes out to help. As the fight rages, Threepio explains to a clobbered Lando- these huge things are "Huhks"- the mature form of the tiny Lahsbees.

We cut from here to Dani and Leia exploring the seemingly abandoned city. There, they find (and break into) a treasure vault containing the tapes left behind by the rebel agent as well as... well... treasure. On their way out, however, they run into a group of enraged Huhks.

Cutting back to the Falcon, Lando manages to get to his blaster and stuns the Huhk trying to choke the life out of Chewbacca. Evidently, for all their size these things are highly susceptible to energy blasts.

Back in the city, Leia and Dani are preparing for their final stand against the Huhks- only to have them collapse in front of them- having been stun blasted from behind by a smug-looking Luke Skywalker.

With the rebel tapes in their possession and the Falcon back in working order, the heroes prepare to leave the planet- only to discover that Dani is missing! Seems she's stolen the Imperial's scout craft for her own- along with a load of treasure she pilfered from the locals' vault while Leia was looking for the tapes. Decked out in her newfound jewels, Dani bids her farewell and states her intention to find her old partners again.

All in all, this was an okay adventure, even if it did have some pretty huge plot holes. For instance, the Imperials find Dani in the woods and she 'distracts' them with a Dance. It seems to me that only Lahsbees and Huhks live on the planet. Wouldn't a random Zeltron, dancing in the woods, make the Imperials suspicious?

Also, the Imperials are pretty much ignored after this appearance. They don't ever find the heroes, or the tapes and are apparently stranded on the planet at the end of the adventure. Seems weird to introduce an 'obstacle' like them and not use it.

As I mentioned in the commentary above, there is also the odd touch of chauvinism on display in this story. When Luke and Lando find out the women have gone off by themselves, they are aghast. This is really odd, considering how capable both of these women have proven to be in previous adventures. And then Luke does indeed have to show up to 'save' them. It just seemed odd to include this based upon writing in the earlier stories. At the very least, however, they came up with reasons for why Leia and Dani were unarmed at the time.

One thing I really did enjoy was the dialogue between Leia and Dani. They don't like each other, and the sniping between them is humorous. It becomes more so in future issues of the comic as Leia finds herself beset by 'annoying' Zeltrons at seemingly every turn. In fact, it becomes one of the running jokes of the series.

Favorite Dialogue:
Dani (dancing to distract the Imperials): "I love the forest in the moonlight! It makes me feel so full of.. of-"
Leia (whispering as she hides a short distance away): "You're full of it, alright. Just so long as you keep their attention..."

Leia (exasperatedly): "It's not that I mind's just that this is such a stupid way to go!"
Dani (panicked): "I mind dying!"

Unintentional humor:
Lando (after blasting a Huhk from behind): "I hope you didn't mind a little assist from the rear, Chewie..." Ummm. Yeah.

Again, the artwork in this era of the comics is my favorite. I am particularly fond of the variety of outfits the heroes are now 'allowed' to wear. This stands in stark contrast with the movie 'costumes' they were forced to wear in the early issues. Seriously, for the first year or so of the comics, Leia was in that white dress with the hair buns and Luke NEVER changed out of his farm boy clothes... was getting annoying.


This is a three-issue story-arc that finds our heroes on a diplomatic mission to the titular ocean planet of Iskalon. The story begins in "The Iskalon Effect" with some exposition. Luke explains aloud why they're on their mission, Threepio expounds on plot points from the previous missions leading up to this- namely the whole idea that the group is still looking for a lost rebel agent (one different from the one who they found had died in the last adventure). The dialogue also briefly touches on Leia's growing feeling of despair at the loss of her homeworld, of many of her comrades in the Rebellion and of Han Solo.

With this out of the way, we finally delve into the meat of this particular story as our heroes meet with the local aquatic species and discuss goings on in the area. They learn of Imperial subjugation and destruction from Primor, the leader of the Iskalon people. In fact, Iskalon itself has a garrison of troopers- seen patrolling outside the aquatic starport as the heroes carry on their meeting. Our heroes then learn that the agent they are looking for had recently visited Iskalon and was headed from there to the nearby world of Gamandar. It is decided that Lando, Chewbacca and the Droids will head to Gamandar to continue the search while Luke and Leia remain on Iskalon to deepen diplomatic ties with the locals.

Primor's son, Mone, decides to travel with Lando and his team and assist them in their mission, leaving his wife, Kendle, behind to worry. Meanwhile, Primor invites Luke and Leia to take an underwater tour of his planet.

Unfortunately for all involved. The previous discussions seem to have been overheard by a shady-looking spacer type. We see this man board his ship and and overhear his thoughts about getting an 'imperial promotion'.

The scenes shift to show the Imperials on Gamandar doing what Imperials do- opressing the locals, etc. The as-yet-unnamed Imperial Governor (who has one red, cybernetic eye with a cool crosshairs motif on it) receives the spy's transmissions and puts a plan into action. This is soon revealed to be the launch of a massive missile. Ironically, as the Falcon flies to Gamandar, they have to dodge out of the way of the missile as it heads to Iskallon- never knowing exactly what it was they passed.

Back on Iskalon, Luke and Leia return to the aquatic spaceport after finishing their underwater tour. They are shocked to see Kendle (Primor's daughter-in-law) inside the station, her water-tanks smashed- evidently the victim of some attack. Luke and Leia rush to her aid and reach her just as the Imperial missile strikes the oceans nearby. This sets in motion a massive tidal surge that crashes down on the spaceport. Thus ends the first issue of this arc.

The next issue (appropriately titled 'Tidal') picks up where the last left off. Luke and Leia struggle to survive the flooding of the spaceport. A revived Kendle tries to help them escape, but the group is suddenly attacked by another Iskalonian. Kendle promptly swims away, seemingly leaving Luke and Leia to their fates.

The story cuts back to Lando and his crew landing on Gamandar. There is a long spiel here about how they're going in undercover, even though they use the name Millennium Falcon. Yeah. I don't understand that either. In any case, they get a meeting with the local commander (the one with the cybernetic eye). We learn he is Admiral Tower. Lando, dressed in a raspberry beret and eyepatch, introduces himself as Captain Drebble. Amusingly, Drebble is the name of a former 'business associate' of Lando's, one who he apparently cheated and one who, on the planet Stenos just a few issues earlier, had put a 10,000 credit bounty on Lando's head. It is even more amusing that Lando actually uses this alias in future adventures... as we will see.

In any case, Lando pours on the 'charm' and attempts to locate the Rebel Agent (Tay Vanis)-or at the very least his droid- by posing as an enemy of the rebellion and in particular of Tay Vanis. He offers the Admiral payment in exchange for information on Vanis. Unfortunately, Tower tells him that Lord Vader wants Vanis as well, so... no deal. Tower allows Lando and his chums to leave- for the time being. As our heroes depart, the Imperial spy we saw on Iskalon appears and confirms to the Admiral that these were indeed the rebels he was looking for.

Unnoticed by Lando and the others, Artoo has slipped off by himself- having been mistaken for an Imperial droid...

Lando and the others head to the Imperial droid quartermaster- searching for Vanis' droid, whom they believe may (unknown to the bad guys) be in Imperial hands. They proceed to purchased K-3PX, who they believe to be the droid they're looking for. Once out of Imperial earshot, Lando attempts to convince 3PX of their good intentions, letting it slip that Luke Skywalker was with them on Iskalon. This seems to shock and interest the droid for some reason...

From there, we cut back to Iskalon itself. Luke, Leia and Kendle are confronted by an orange-skinned Iskalonian armed with a knife. The assailant promptly destroys the one air-tank Luke and Leia were sharing, forcing them to follow him out of the wrecked aquatic spaceport and up to the surface. They make it- barely- and discover a scene of horrific carnage. The port is in shambles and the broken bodies of the dead float everywhere amidst the wreckage. The orange-skinned local is nowhere to be seen, however. Luke and Leia survey the wreckage and are horrified that the Empire would kill so many innocents just to get them- noting even the deaths of most of the Imperial Garrison. They find the body of the planet's leader- Primor, floating with the others.

Kendle surfaces then, grieving for her father-in-law and all the other deaths. This is interrupted by the re-appearance of the orange-skinned native- who announces that all of this is Kendle's fault. Kendle once again flees. Luke and Leia prevent orange guy from pursuing, demanding he explain himself. He does so, noting that his name is Kiro and that it was Kendle who betrayed their location to the Empire- evidently in an attempt to save the life of her husband, Mone, who had gone with Lando. She hoped that turning in the rebels would save her family and her people. She was wrong. And it is at this point that Luke and Leia realize that Lando and the others were walking into a trap.

The issue ends with a shot of Lando and his team sprawled unconscious on the floor of an Imperial detention cell.

The next issue, titled "Artoo Detoo to the Rescue", begins with a scene featuring Darth Vader. Here, the droid 3PX reports to the dark lord on the happenings of the previous issues. Evidently, 3PX is an Imperial droid- though it is unclear at the moment if he was a plant, or reprogrammed or just a double agent. When Vader hears that Luke Skywalker may have been killed on Iskalon, he is furious and sets course for Gamandar right away.

Meanwhile, on Iskalon, Luke, Leia and Kiro tend to the few wounded survivors they find, but are soon attacked by a monstrous sea-beast- a Chiaki. It has been drawn by the 'feast' that all the dead bodies represent. After the monster is driven off, a new threat appears. Kendle has returned- with a horde of angry Iskalonians. She has convinced them that Luke and Leia are the ones responsible for all this destruction. Not wanting to fight them, Luke attempts to hold off the horde with Force powers. He is unable to mentally sway the Iskalonians because they can and do think as a 'school'. They are, however, frightened off by a display of telekinesis. Unfortunately it is only a delaying tactic...

Meanwhile, on Gamandar, Lando and his team wake to find themselves in a detention cell- having evidently been waylaid by K-3PX. According to Lando, the droid 'blasted' them all by surprise. All I have to say is: Wow. That's a pretty skilled droid. Admiral Tower then shows up to gloat and explain to them all that they were also betrayed by Kendle. Unfortunately for the Admiral, he is interrupted by K-3PX. The droid, acting on orders from Darth Vader, has the Admiral arrested.

As Admiral Tower is dragged off, R2-D2 shows up. He's been working 'undercover' all this time, pretending to be an Imperial droid. Amusingly enough, previous scenes have shown various officers around the base taking credit for Artoo's good work. In any case, he quickly frees his companions. As Lando and the others escape in the Falcon, Tower's execution is ordered by a hologram of Lord Vader. Tough luck.

Back on Iskalon, the situation grows dire. Luke, Leia and Kiro have to repulse attacks by both the angered natives and surviving Imperials. Things go from bad to worse when Kiro is wounded and begins to 'drown' in the air. As Luke and Leia struggle to get him to the water- another, monstrous Chiaki shows up. Its then that the Falcon arrives, blasting the beast. It collapses onto the platform wreckage. Ironically, it lands on Kendle, killing her.

Kiro is saved, but Mone, broken by the loss of his father and wife, returns to his people and decides that they will all retreat beneath the waves and have no further contact with off-worlders. And so the story ends- with death, tragedy and the loss of a possible ally to the Alliance. Whuf.

Overall, I liked this story, but again, there were some major holes in the plot. The most glaring of these is the fact that Lando openly uses the name Millennium Falcon when landing on an Imperial controlled world. He 'disguises' their presence by claiming that the ship belongs to Mone- because this evidently will throw the Empire off the scent. Okay, Yeah. I don't follow.

Secondly, there is Lando's plan to get information on Tay Vanis. Seriously? The best he could come up with is to go directly to the Empire? Still, I can't fault him entirely, indeed, I find the whole situation amusingly reminiscent of an RPG session in which the players come up with a somewhat sloppy plan then try to muddle their way through it... while the GM just sits back and gives them enough line to hang themselves with.

The oddest problem I have with the plot, though, is the fact that there are three traitors when there doesn't need to be. Why even include the character of the Imperial spy when the same purpose could have been served- and more dramatically- by Kendle. I mean, both the Imperial AND Kendle told Tower all about the rebels and their plans. These traitors have been brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Dept. Oh, and then there was K-3PX. Did he really need to betray Lando and the others when they were already betrayed... why would tower let them walk out of his headquarters at all when he already knew they were rebel spys....

All that being said, the CORE story is a solid one. For Lando and his crew there is good 'caper' action. For Luke and Leia there is a lot of angsty soul searching going on. And then there is the ending, which is surprisingly 'down' for a Star Wars comic, but fits pretty well with the 'desperate' tone of the post-Empire Strikes Back era.

It should also be noted that this adventure marked the introduction of Kiro, who would become and important supporting character in issues to come, even if he /does/ remain on his homeworld at the end of this particular one.

Favorite Dialogue:
Admiral Tower (bored): "" That's very interesting, mister...?"
Lando (disguised as Captain Drebble, with his arm slung around the Admiral's shoulder): "Drebble. Drebble they call me. "Drebs" to my friends. See, Admiral Tower, the way I got it figured is a man wants to do business in a new playce, first thing he oughtta do is drop in on the guy in charge and-"
Admiral Tower (incredulous): "Really? And do many people call you "Drebs"?"

Friday, September 14, 2012


I had been waiting anxiously for this particular volume to come out, as it includes several of my favorite storylines from the Star Wars marvel comics of the early 1980's. What I'm going to do now is run through the various story arcs and give a quick review (or rather my opinions) on the writing and the artwork in each. Since there are a lot of stories present, I imagine this is going to take me a few posts to cover completely.

In case you had forgotten, this volume picks up where the last one left off, in the months after the capture of Han Solo (during the Empire Strikes Back). As before Han's friends are searching the galaxy to try and find Boba Fett and prevent him from delivering Solo. Before I get going on the first story, I'd like to discuss this running 'motif'. The assumption in these comics is that Boba Fett is having to run a 'gauntlet' across the span of the Galaxy. I had always kind of thought that Fett just flew back to Tatooine, but...well, in these books, it is a months-long odyssey at least. Every story begins with the characters on a mission to help track Han down or explaining why they are NOT doing so (i.e. they're on another, more immediately important mission). Reading the issues back-to-back, this gets kind of old, but if you look at the book as a monthly thing, well, it can almost be forgiven. In any case, I'll try not to belabor this point as I go from story to story.

This story arc is told in two issues, the first titled "The Search Begins", the second titled "Death in the City of Bones". In the adventure, Princess Leia heads off with Threepio to track down a lead on the planet Mandalore. It seems that Dengar (presented as a compatriot of Boba Fett) has been seen on the planet. Leia wishes to capture and question the bounty hunter to see if he knows the route Fett is taking with Han's carbonite-encased body.

What she finds instead is an Imperial sponsored slaving operation being opposed by a Mandalorian freedom fighter by the name of Fenn Shysa. Fenn is presented as having been a comrade of Boba Fett and one of the few survivors of their unit of 'Supercommandos'. While Fett left to find his fortune in the stars, Fenn and his friend Tobi Dala returned home- only to find their world in the grip of slavery and tyranny. Apart from this backstory, Leia also discovers that Fenn's rebels have captured Dengar. The crafty hunter refuses to talk, however, unless the Princess helps him escape. Using her feminine wiles Leia manages to distract and overcome the Mandalorian and free Dengar. Unfortunately, she is quickly betrayed. Evidently the hunter had some kind of tracking device on him which leads the local Imperials right to him.

Leia is captured and taken to a forbidding fortress constructed inside the skeletal remains of a truly colossal beast (the titular 'City of Bone'). Here, she is introduced to the Suprema, an odd-looking, reptilian being in charge of the Imperial slaving effort on Mandalore. Her imprisonment is short-lived, however. Fenn, having infiltrated the base in a suit of Stormtrooper armor, manages to rescue Leia and his previously imprisoned friend Tobi Dala as well.

Things escalate quickly from there. As Fenn's rebels attack the city from the outside, Slaves turn against their captors within- inspired by the running firefight of Leia and the Mandalorians versus the Imperials. Unfortunately, Dala is mortally wounded during the battle. Urging the others to go on, Dala manages to cause an explosion in the base which takes both his life as well as the Suprema's. Leia and Fenn escape, with Dengar in tow. Unfortunately, questioning reveals that the bounty hunter doesn't know anything about Fett's whereabouts. Thus, the mission ends in failure and disappointment for Leia, though with the consolation that Fenn and his rebels have struck a major blow in their own fight for freedom.

Though there are numerous canonical problems with this story (the origin/timing of the Mandalorian Supercommandos, for instance), I am actually quite fond of it. The action is fast-paced and feels very 'Star Wars' to me, with chases, and captures and running gun-battles. Likewise, the overall storyline struck a chord with me. So much so that I used it as the basis of a mini-campaign in my tabletop game, where my PCs joined up with Fenn and his rebels to finally defeat the Empire, once in for all.

Some things I laugh at include Fenn's last name: Shysa. Which, pronounced phonetically, sounds a lot like a rude word in German. Also, I found Fenn's pseudo-Irish (or Scottish?) accent to be odd. But the comics tended to do that when they tried to make a character sound 'exotic'. In fact, later in the series, the writers give Wedge Antilles a similar accent- which is very odd considering he actually SPOKE in the movies- and without accent.

As an interesting, final note, the expanded universe has retconned various aspects of this story. 'The Suprema' was classified as being of the Falleen species of reptilian humanoids. However, he does not look remotely like any representation of that species that I have ever seen. The 'City of Bone' has likewise (and very oddly) been retconned into being the ruins of a Mandalorian theme park. The giant skeleton is now explained away as a gigantic building/sculpture that was the centerpoint of this theme park. Yeah, because that is SO much more believable than it being just a giant skeleton. Meh.

As a fun side-note, the Mandalorian adventure ends with a epilogue that will lead into the next adventure. Chewbacca and Lando are onboard the 'Wheel' gambling space station (visited MUCH earlier in the comic series) and find out that Bossk and IG-88 (again portrayed as compatriots of Boba Fett) are going somewhere that Lando and Chewbacca do not seem excited to go. I like the fact that they used the Wheel as a location again, even if it is such a short little touch-point. It helps to add 'depth' to the setting they're creating in the series. At least in my opinion.

Favorite Dialogue:
The Suprema: "Ahhh, fire. I like fire in a human. It sizzles so nicely when squelched."
Leia: "Tell me, Suprema, does the Empire give special training in arrogance--or are you one of the lucky ones with natural talent."

Fenn: Say pal, didja know yer shoelaces was untied?"
Stormtrooper: Gosh, no. Thanks, I guess they must've…HEY! WAITAMINIT! Stormtrooper boots don't HAVE laces!
Fenn: I know.
THWOCK (sound of stormtrooper getting pistol-whipped)

This 'era' of the comics is probably my favorite when it comes to artwork. Those involved were Gene Day and Tom Palmer- the latter of whom continues through many issues past these. Unlike in the earlier 'Chaykin' era, the characters look like 'themselves' (though aren't slavishly always in the same 'costume'). The technology looks like it does in the films (for the most part), too. I am all for artistic expression, but when you are basing a work off of something people are familiar with, I think there should be some compunction to represent that subject in a manner that LOOKS like the source material. Call me crazy.

The next three issues of the comic series ("The Stenax Shuffle", "Return to Stenos", and "Fool's Bounty") detail the adventures of our heroes on the planet Stenos. The first such story is actually a flashback to an earlier mission that took place previous to the Battle of Hoth. To me, it seemed like an excuse to have a story featuring Han Solo again- who was no doubt a very popular character in the comic series, just as he was in the movies. In fact, the cover art for this first issue has a starburst touting the fact that it features Han Solo.

The Stenax Shuffle finds our heroes on the planet Stenos, looking to find a rebel cell that has failed to report in. While searching the ruins of a temple that the rebel group had been using as a base, the heroes find a group of smuggler 'friends' of Han Solo: Corellian ner-do-well Rick Duel, Dani the female Zeltron and Chihdo the Rodian. Duel claims to have been part of the lost rebel cell and convinces the rest of the group to help take up their 'mission' of finding a lost statue of great religious significance to the Stenax (a hostile, winged-humanoid species native to the planet).

The two groups work together for a time, though neither side really trusts the other. Amusingly, Han seems to be a bit wary/jealous of the attention that Rik Duel seems to be paying to Leia. Likewise, Luke seems totally flustered by the attention paid to him by Dani the Zeltron (presented here for the first time as an over-sexed, uninhibited humanoid species with magenta skin and hair).

Unsurprisingly to everyone, things fall apart once the statue is found. Duel attempts to betray everyone. First, he betrays the heroes to the local Imperials, causing the Stormtroopers to show up. Second, he betrays the Imperials by letting the Stenax know that the idol was found. Thus, while the Imperials attack our heroes, the Stenax attack the Imperials. In the confusion, Rick flees, intending to take the idol and sell it elsewhere. Unfortunately for him, the Imperial Governor was expecting this treachery and is waiting at Duel's ship. And just as unfortunately, Han, Leia and the rest manage to turn the wrath of the Stenax back onto Duel and the Imperials by telling them where their 'god' is and who has it. Thus, our Heroes flee the planet, even as Duel and the Imperials are swarmed by the Stenax.

With that flashback complete, we return to the present and turn to the next issue of the comic: "Return to Stenos". In this issue, Luke and Lando set out into the main starport-city of Stenos in search of clues to the whereabouts of IG-88 and Bossk, both evidently seen on this planet. Artoo and Chewbacca are forced to remain on the ship since only 'humanoids' are common on this planet (this seems a bit contrived to me, but I'll go with it).

Unfortunately for Luke and Lando, their attempts to keep a low profile are quickly scuppered when they enter their first cantina. Here, a man by the name of Drebble recognizes Lando and claims he was once cheated by him. He offers 10,000 credits on the spot to whoever captures Calrissian. A massive gunfight erupts in the cantina. Luke and Lando barely manage to escape- mainly through Luke's newfound Jedi leaping and lightsaber wielding abilities. They flee through the streets from an angry mob only to run into Rick Duel and Dani- who also seem to be in hiding. Dani in particular seems to be glad to see Luke- and again, Luke is amusingly flustered by her attention.

Luke tentatively agrees to help Duel and Dani find their lost friend Chihdo, but is quickly pulled away by Lando, who has spied someone moving a carbonite-encased body through the streets. The two report back in to Chewbacca and Artoo before pursuing the carbonite 'package' to a suspicious building. They break in only to find that it is Chihdo encased in carbonite, and that the whole thing was a trap set by Bossk and IG-88, who have the two surrounded. The issue ends on this cliffhanger note.

The next issue begins with Luke and Lando surrounded and seemingly doomed. At the last moment, however, Rik Duel and Dani emerge from hiding to aid them. Unfortunately, Bossk and IG-88 have too many henchmen- and iG-88 utilizes a powerful 'sonic shriek' to partially nullify Luke's ability to fight. In the end, Rik and Luke manage to escape. Lando and Dani are captured.

As Rik and Luke attempt to formulate an escape plan, we cut back to Chewbacca and Artoo, who have grown tired of waiting and sneak into the spaceport to take matters into their own hands. The two of them set about trying to recruit the Stenaxes, though the hostile Natives seem 'reluctant' to say the least. Meanwhile, Dani and Lando manage to escape from their captors- only to flee right into a carbon freeze chamber. Here, Bossk intends to freeze them in preparation for the capture of Luke (the big prize here).

Luke and Rik duel show up just as Dani and Lando are about to get frozen. But instead of battling, Bossk's men, they simply tackle Lando and Dani to the ground just before a wave of Stenax spears cut into the bounty hunters. It seems that Chewbacca was able to convince them to help afterall- simply by gaining their respect as a fearsome warrior. Bossk and IG-88 flee in the confusion.

The story ends with Chihdo saved and Rik Duel scheming on a way to get the Stenax to work for HIM. Luke, Lando, Chewie and Artoo leave disappointed- having reached a dead-end in their search for Han Solo. As they leave the planet, however, they find out they have a stow-away in the form of Dani, who has grown bored with Rik's schemes and wishes to pursue her capricious infatuation with Luke for a while.

I owned (and still own) two of the three comics of this story arc (the last two) and I always loved them. The story was lots of fun, with good quips by Lando, Luke and just about everyone. It was a nice mix of action and humor. I especially giggle at the scenes of Chewbacca 'sneaking' through the city- which include an especially exaggerated 'sneak' posture for him. Good stuff.

What really sold me on the story, however, was Rik Duel and his crew. Here we see what is essentially another 'adventuring party', only one that isn't at all 'heroic'. To me, Duel is very much a picture of what Han Solo COULD have become if he hadn't maintained a conscience. I particularly like that Duel and crew are 'villains' but of a notably 'grey' variety. They aren't evil per-se, rather, they're just incredibly greedy and self-centered.

Being a teenage boy at the time of these comic's release, I was also enamored with Dani the Zeltron. A promiscuous, magenta-skinned space babe? What's not to like? She was a fun character and I loved the interaction between her and Luke (and later Leia). I also respected the fact that the writers of the comic never abandoned the whole idea of Luke as a 'farm boy at heart'. He is completely (and amusingly) flummoxed by the attention Dani lavishes on him. He also never takes advantage of that. I like to think its because he's a 'nice guy' and that's what has always endeared Luke to me as a character. He's not the 'babe of the week' kind of hero. He's the paladin, and it is quite amusing to me to see how the knight in shining armor reacts to the femme fatale.

Favorite Dialogue:
Han Solo (nervously jealous of Rik Duel's attention towards Leia): "Chewie, you stay here and keep an eye on.. on Leia. And things."

Rik Duel (later, yanking on Solo's chain): "I'll stay here and keep an eye on..on Leia. And things.

Lando: "Luke, you've got to leave this to a man with some style. A man of subtlety. A man who knows his way around cities. You go blundering around with that direct approach you usually favor and someone might remember that they've seen you here before. At least we know *I* won't be recognized."
(a split second later)
Angry Voice: "Stop that man! He's Lando Calrissian! I tell you that man is a cheat! He robbed me! Ten thousand credits to the one who captures him for me!!"

Luke (as gunshots zip by): "Did you really cheat him?"
Lando (as more gunshots zip by): "Luke, among men of business, 'cheat' is a subjective term. It's open to some very broad interpretations…"
Luke (as still more gunshots zip by): "Great."

As stated in the intro, this is going to take a few posts to cover everything, so... i'll see you when those future parts are written.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mr. Welch's List - Revisted

Mr. Welch's List has been a favorite of mine for years now- and has been featured in my 'links' section since I started this place. Every now and then I like to go back to his site to catch up on his ever expanding list of "Things Mr. Welch can no longer do during an RPG". It is a must for all gamers. Fun fun stuff. Below are some of my 'selects' from his most recent batch, starting at the 1500 mark... I've divided them into a few categories for your reading pleasure.

First up are the Star Wars and 'general gaming' related items. Heh heh.

1510. The Movie Phone Guy can't be the voice of the ship's computer.
1519. In the middle of a Black Ops I can't sell my niece's band candy to the hostages.
1525. I will not waste critical successes on drumming.
1526. Can't use my pistols to communicate in Morse Code.
1528. I can't ask the bad guy if I fired 40,000 rounds or just 39,999.
1532. If its cheaper to buy a new gun than reload the old one, there's a problem.
1533. Even if the rules allow it, can't have a belt fed pistol.
1534. I will raise my hand if I've already heard the the DM's riddle.
    (Personal note: Yeah. Everyone has heard that Tolkien Egg Riddle)
1549. The totalitarian government tends to notice large purchases of cows, trebuchets and surveying gear.
1551. During the Black Ops all cell phones go on vibrate.
1559. Any mention of Life Day gets everybody a dark side point.
      (Personal note: Starring Beatrice Arthur!)
1571. Can't bluff the Empire at Hoth with just a whole bunch of snowmen.
1581. I will stop using crew as hit points.
1584. Even if the rules allow it, you can't sneak with a running chainsaw.
1595. We aren't raising the villain from the dead because we haven't killed him enough yet.
1596. Even if she's the most dangerous, the party doesn't appreciate me killing the naked chick first.
1600. Even if the rules allow it, I can't mount a flamethrower on a knife.
1611. Even if she started it, no setting the princess on fire.
1618. Any character even remotely resembling Mr. B Natural is dead before the first dice are rolled.
    (Personal note: What does that make me, boy?!)
1633. If Plan A was 'Beat it out of him' Plan B can't be 'Just ask nicely'
1637. 'Dibs' is not a term of bereavement.
1647. Any character requiring the GM to tab more than 10 pages of rules for reference is vetoed.
1650. Venting non-essential crew to the void before payday is not an acceptable cost cutting measure.
1659. Just because he has specialization in observation skills does not mean 'he likes to watch'.
1666. If if takes more than five minutes for the debris to stop falling, I need to pick a smaller gun.
1667. When told to distract the bad guy they didn't mean by playing Wham over their commlinks.
1668. When told to distract the bad guy they didn't mean by shooting the guy standing next to him.
1669. When told to distract the bad guy they didn't mean by setting him on fire.
1675. If an enemy fails a stun check, that does not give me a free hit for flinching.
1676. Before I get it on with the green chick, I'll make sure she's supposed to be that color.
1678. I don't get any XP for anything I killed in a flashback.
1687. No following a minute behind Gold Leader and just shooting down Vader.
1699. The Astromech appreciates it if we'd stop using him for ordinance delivery.
1707. In the middle of a black ops, can't play 'will it bounce' with the penthouse furniture.
1718. I don't have to name everything we discover after myself.
    (Personal note: Not OtherSpace—LevarSpace!)
1722. No building a Gatling Gatling gun.
1734. We aren't continuing the mission until everybody is clear on the term "Going in hardcore"
1755. Calling my shot means 'Where I want to hit him' not 'Where I want him to land.'
1757. The princess' menstral cycle doesn't factor into her rescue.
1761. Star Destroyers are already baby proofed.
1775. Just because I spared the villain's life doesn't mean she owes me a first date.
1776. They don't make weapon grade schnauzers.
1808. Even if I buy enough for everybody, snuggies alone will not raise crew morale.
1809. If I get to pick my position in a star spanning empire, can't pick Fire Chief.
1815. Can't have a gun capable of using other PC's as ammo.
1829. Darth Vader does not need his air filter changed.
1834. Star Destroyers don't have help desks.
1868. Playing "The Who" doesn't give me a bonus to forensic checks.
1873. Stormtroopers will only fall for the broken comlink trick so many times.
    (Personal note: Same goes for "Omega Particles")
1881. No shooting the Quarren at the start of the adventure, even if it would have immediately solved the last four adventures instantly. (Personal note: So true)
1898. No hiring Anakin Skywalker some Twilek hookers, thus removing his reason to become Vader.
1901. Even if my Jedi has a Scottish accent, can't have a plaid lightsaber.
1902. Playing a Gamorrean doesn't violate anybody's religion.
1906. I will ask permission before performing an autopsy in another character's hideout.
1907. No putting the villain's fake bio on and letting the stalkers do my work for me.
1909. Combat boots don't give bonuses to CPR checks.
1922. Can't air hump the king from behind while he's performing demagoguery.
1927. Can't filibuster other characters.
1928. Nobody is going to buy the disguised wookie as a jawa with a pituitary problems.
1940. Blasting the distress signal from orbit is forbidden, even if it would have avoided the last six ambushes.
1982. Even if the GM's pet NPC has tons of plot armor, can't use her for cover.
1989. Can't set the Death Star to stun.
1990. Even if we crashed the opening of the last eight adventures, still have to name our new starship.
    (Personal note: So true)
2002.  No flashbacks to the death of the disposable expository NPC at the start of the adventure.
2003.  Any gun who's damage is best described in scientific notation is vetoed.
2006.  Torpedo spheres don't just go off on accident.
2007.  No taunting Darth Maul with the fact Uncle Owen had more lines, more screen time and a more memorable death.
2032.  If I ever trick the DM into telling us the only way to make money mining is to work the shaft, all my characters die.  Not just in this game either.
2033.  Even if the rules allow it, I can't conduct a television interview and maintain a choke hold at the same time.
2036.  Darth Harmonious is not a real Sith Lord.
2037.  No matter how many times it's already been retconned, I can't change the story of the origins of the Sith every time we play.
2038.  Even if it's a friendly pick up game, it's a bad idea to dunk on Vader.
2065. Even if I buy off the Nemesis disadvantage doesn't mean we can't still be enemies.
2066. Snipers don't appreciate their spotter yelling out "BOOM HEADSHOT!"
2067. Can't have a gun that can inflict lethal damage with just the bullet's windshear.
2076.  If I'm commissioned to build an artillery gun, they don't mean a gun that fires howitzers.

Now for a few D&D related things. And yes, I do enjoy making fun of elves.

1503. Despite what the rules say, it doesn't take 45 minutes to choke a 10th level fighter to death.
1535. The spell is called Prismatic Spray, not Taste the Rainbow.
1536. Before we start the dungeon crawl, I don't have to have my monk oiled down.
1585. Vegipygmies are not a part of this complete breakfast.
1619. If the elf is rolling badly doesn't mean we need to water him.
1657. My halberdier is not guisarmed and dangerous.
1658. The words "Rock Opera" will not appear in any of my wishes.
1671. Before entering the dungeon I will take off the "I'm with tasty -->" tabard.
1683. Killing the orc horde by drowning them all at once is heroic. Killing them by drowning them one at a time is an alignment check.
1689. 1/3 of the elf homeland's GDP does not go to hair care products.
1720. Contrary to popular opinion, the girdle of masculinity/femininity does have a noticeable effect on elves.
1735. "Come here often?" is not what you say when rescuing the princess from the necromancer's dungeon.
1737. There is no par on a dragon.
1782. I will remember we're playing 4th edition and stop using my imagination.
1784. Some grizzfarb says I have to stop making up gnomish profanities.
1796. The halfling language is not just baby speak.
1797. Getting the dwarf fixed isn't going to improve his disposition.
1849. There is too an elven word for monogamy.
1850. There is also an elven word for heterosexual.
1864. Even if paladin starts with P and that rhymes with T, it doesn't stand for trouble.
1865. No wasting Music Man references on a 10th grader.
1877. I will stop asking the high elf for a hit.
1878. Elves are not all backstabbing, untrustworthy weasels, but you never hear about a dark gnome do you?
1910. I don't need to know the melting point of orcs.
1932. I will stop telling people the elf is openly fey.
1953. A lifetime subscription to Cosmo is not an elven racial bonus.
1963. If I can't use the dwarf to beat a guy to death, that including beating him against the dwarf.
2030.  Elves do not get a racial bonus to the skill Trade: Interior Design
2070. The spell is "Heat Metal", not "Detect Piercings".

And finally, some miscellaneous stuff, mostly chosen for personal reasons...

1506. It is not automatically assumed whatever vehicle my cop commandeers is a monster truck.
1517. Checking to see if the Mad Slasher is dead is ok, dismembering him with a shotgun is overkill.
    (Personal note: I disagree)
1521. While not lethal, Ferris Wheels aren't exactly healthy to vampires.
1540. Can't lure out House Laio mechwarriors by announcing a Chinese Firedrill.
    (Personal note: For you, Todd)
1574. I do not have to scan the Romulan ambassador for cooties.
1601. Cephalopods do not get bonuses to attack Japanese women.
1623. Can't thwart the Cylon's massive attack just by installing Norton Antivirus.
1759. Doesn't matter what I just killed with it, the howitzer is not going to qualify for holy relic.
1830. Deer Season is restricted to rifle or bow. Not greco-roman.
1851. Can't use woodchippers as shotguns against vampires.
1904. Prepping for the adventure means memorizing spells and buying gear, not coming up with a safety word.
2004.  Just because I took the large advantage does not let me rampage through Tokyo at will.
2009.  I will make sure when the GM asks what my fetish is if he means voodoo bag or brunettes with short hair.
2063. Despite Hawkman, Batman, Antman and Spiderman, Red Snapperman is not a legitimate superhero name.
    (Personal note: Red Snappa. Verry tasty!)
2075. Just because I can, doesn't mean I have to land my Veritech like Ironman on the deck of the carrier every single time.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What the Force???

A friend of mine made a blog post about a news outlet's 'coverage' of the recent Star Wars Celebrations event.

You can check the post out here

 Essentially this is a case of someone at a news agency (probably a junior writer or intern, judging by the quality of the writing) going to a Star Wars convention, taking pictures, then writing 'funny' captions about them. Oddly enough, this was posted as 'news' on various sites around the nation. Not an editorial. Not a 'opinions' blog page. But as a legitimate news story.

In addition to all the points my friend made in her post (which I agree with wholeheartedly), I would just like to add that, for me, this article fails mainly because it just isn't funny. Seriously, we all know how cool the Daily Show is, but whoever wrote this: You are no John Stewart... or Triumph... or Onion News reporter. The 'humor' mostly dull. And where it isn't dull its derogatory- and it is exactly the kind of half-assed attempts at media humor that the Daily Show loves to jump on. So, to the author of this 'article': If you're writing news. Write news. If you're writing comedy...look for a new job.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Luke didn't use his lightsaber

So, something strange I noticed in the original Star Wars film (Episode IV)- something that totally goes against the conventions of most movies. In the beginning of the film, Luke receives his father's lightsaber from Ben Kenobi. Later, we see him practicing with it onboard the Millennium Falcon. And then... well, that's pretty much it. He does not use it for the rest of the movie. In fact, I'm not sure you even SEE the thing after that scene on the Falcon. He doesn't have it with him on the Death Star, or when he gets to the rebel base or... even at the awards ceremony.

I never really noticed this before. But in retrospect, it is very odd. Especially when you consider the fact that Lucas had no idea if Star Wars was ever going to HAVE a sequel. Normally, when a hero in a movie gets a 'cool legendary weapon', he damn well uses it. But not here. So, is that bad writing? or Forethought? or... what? I'd like to chalk it up to the latter—that Lucas knew that Luke would slowly build up to using his lightsaber. But... well, I just don't know. Either way, I don't recall it ever mattering that much to me. In fact, I thought the blasters were cooler anyway.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kuat - Wonder of the Galaxy

For the longest time, the planet Kuat was just a name- the location of the famous 'Kuat Drive Yards'- producer of massive warships. I'm not sure exactly when the planet/system was first detailed- though the first I remember was in the late 90s, in one of the D6 RPG system books titled 'Platt's Starport Guide'.

In this sourcebook, Kuat is depicted as a 'restricted' kind of system, where most space traffic doesn't actually go the planet. Rather, traffic is directed to one of three massive space-station complexes at the edge of the system. Later depictions of the planet (in the d20 system, as I recall), don't reflect this. Rather, Kuat is shown as having an artificial 'ring' around it. These, I imagine, are the legendary 'Kuat Drive Yards'- though I don't recall anything actually designating them as such.

I actually love the idea of Kuat having a massive ring of stations orbiting it. I can see this as something that could have evolved over time- with various space-stations and tethered 'skyhooks' being established in equatorial orbit. Gradually, more and more would have been constructed and interconnected until they formed a ring surrounding the entire planet.

I could also see this as being a 'wonder of the galaxy', when you consider just how HUGE that ring would be in terms of area. Okay, so it wouldn't be a 'Dyson sphere' or anything, but it would be damn impressive.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Star Wars Celebrations

So, last weekend I did something I've never done before: I went to a Star Wars Convention—Star Wars Celebrations in Orlando, Florida. Some might wonder why a big Star Wars fan like myself has never been to one of these. Well, the short answer is that I don't particularly like crowds. I always thought it would be a hassle- both to get there and to actually do anything in the crowded convention hall. I also have to admit that part of me was not looking forward to having to deal with obnoxious Star Wars fans- you know, those stereotypical folks who can make you feel embarrassed to call yourself a Star Wars fan.

What really 'sold' me on the idea this time was the fact that so many of the original cast members of the movie were going to be in attendance. Most notably (for me), Mark Hamill was going to be there. Evidently he doesn't often go to these things. And then I found out it cost $125 for his signature. But... well, that didn't really deter me when it came down to it. I had friends interested in going to this convention, too (Sharon and Philip) so why not. Orlando is only a couple hours from where I live.

Long story short, the convention was quite enjoyable. There WERE huge crowds, and lots of lines, but I was pleasantly surprised by how nice everyone was. From the folks hosting the convention to attendees like me. If there were any of the 'bad stereotype' fans in attendance, I didn't run into them. Most people were really cool, and the costumes were awesome (though I still don't understand why folks dress up in Star Trek uniforms for a Star Wars convention).

As a fan of toys (and collecting toys), I was in heaven. There were all sorts of awesome things for sale- stuff I'd been looking for but couldn't find elsewhere. And oddly enough, things seemed to be rather reasonably priced. Okay, so maybe I spent too much for one item in particular, but darnit, I really wanted those "Cammie and Fixer" action figures.

As far as the premier/corporate presences at the convention, they were pretty cool as well. Hasbro had a great display set up for their current and new-release toys. They also had some neat photo-op stations around their booth- including the emperor's throne and a huge action-figure case that you could pose in. Disney, as always, was awesome. Seriously, those guys know how to present themselves well AND make it very easy to buy their stuff. I wound up getting an awesome 'rebel alliance' phone case from them for my iPhone.

Lego deserves a special mention here as well. They had a huge 'pit' of blocks for little kids to play with as well as 6 or 8 big tables set up with the 'standard' legos for bigger kids to play with. They had dioramas of Hoth, Tatooine, Naboo, etc. I had to laugh at all the parents hovering around their kids, urging them to go see something else. Nope. All the kids wanted to do was stay there and play legos. Can't say I can blame them.

As for myself, I was fixated on a gigantic diorama of Tatooine that was constructed by folks at the Con. There were dozens of paper-mache and other 'craft-built' buildings and terrain features mixed up with dozens of action figures and vehicles—everything from a tusken raider village to downtown Mos Eisley to a pod race. I know that as a kid, I would have been practically glued to that.

But more than all these 'draws', I came to the convention with the hopes of catching a glimpse of some of the stars. I was not disappointed. While standing in line to get in to the con, my friends and I heard a commotion from accross the room. This soon revealed itself to be Anthony Daniels (Threepio) making his way up and down the lines, saying hi and taking photos with fans. Just so cool of him to do that. It was cooler still when he plucked my friend's kid (Alex) out of line and took a photo with him. Hehe. It was all the more awesome in that Alex was wearing an R2-D2 shirt. Too cool.

Now, when I had heard that Mark Hamill's autograph was $125, I had dismissed the notion of shelling out that kind of money. I'm just not an 'autograph' kind of guy. Sure, I had mulled it over, but had pretty much written it off. Until I got to the con... and saw the line for his autograph. And saw it wasn't very long.. and.. yeah. So I payed for the autograph. I got to see Mark Hamill- the guy who played Luke- my personal hero from age 7 onward. As I told my friends afterwards. I felt like I was 7 years old again. All I could think to say to him was "hi" and "you're awesome" when I was leaving the autograph booth. Thankfully, the kid in line in front of me was more talkative and actually asked him a few questions. Mark Hamill seems to be a nice guy- at least he was with our little group. And btw, his favorite episode was episode V.

So, yeah. The con was fun. It wasn't until afterwards that I realized how much stuff was going on that I missed. All the panels and events and such. If I ever go again, I'll have to look into those.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

And Speaking of Vehicle Scale Weapons...

I've never really been satisfied with the way the official Star Wars D6 handles differences in scales when it comes to damage. In the First Edition rules, it was stated (roughly) that the listed damage of vehicle weapons would be doubled if used against a character-scale target. Thus, a 6D Quad Laser cannon would do 12D versus a humanoid target. This worked well enough—until you got to the reverse: a TIE Fighter with a 2D hull could rather easily be heavily damaged/destroyed by just 2 or 3 shots from a standard blaster rifle (which would do about 2D+2 damage in vehicle scale). Now, I know TIE fighters are supposed to suck, but.. not THAT much.

In the First Edition 'Rules Companion', the whole idea of 'die caps' were added. For example, a person using a 4D Damage blaster pistol against a landspeeder with a 2D Hull; If the attack hit, 4D were still rolled, but the 'cap' on the die was 3. Thus, anything OVER a 3 became a three. Instead of a max damage of 24, you'd have a max damage of 12. I didn't particularly like this- for one thing because there were a LOT of different scales. Character, Speeder, Fighter, Walker, Capital, etc., so you really had to use a chart to figure things out. Also, mathematically, the rolls for 'capped' weapons were skewed to always roll towards the upper end of their range: for instance, with a cap of three, if you rolled a 1, it counted as a 1; a two, it counted as a two, but if you rolled a 3, 4, 5 or 6, it counted as a three.

In all honesty, I don't even remember what 2nd Edition used to solve these scaling problems, because I had already kind-of worked out my own system by that time. I have been refining it ever since and pretty much now I use a very simple (in my opinion) way to handle damage between targets of different scales.

There are three scales in my system:

Character (things the general size of a human)
Vehicle (things from speeder-bike size to light freighters)
Capital (things from medium freighter size to star destroyers)

Theoretically, there is a 'gargantuan' size category, for things like the Death Star, but I can't recall a single time where I ever needed it in my own campaign.

Damage between scales is simple:

For every scale you go up from character-scale, the number of dice is divided by three

For instance

A heavy blaster rifle does
6D character scale damage
2D vehicle scale damage
0D+2 capital scale damage

An E-Web 'blaster cannon' does
9D character scale damage
3D vehicle scale damage
1D capital scale damage

A quad-laser cannon does
18D character scale damage
6D vehicle scale damage
2D capital scale damage

A turbolaser does
36D character scale damage
12D vehicle scale damage
4D capital scale damage

Of course, this means I've had to adjust the hull ratings of some of the vehicle slightly lower (for instance, the X-wing now has a 3D rather than a 4D hull, because... seriously, 4D was just a bit too much).

Again, I like this because there is some symmetry to it. For instance:

An 'average' human has a 2D strength and the average blaster pistol does 4D;
An 'average' starfighter has a 2D hull and the average laser pistol does 4D

Now, keep in mind there ARE different modifiers for HITTING things of different scales/sizes, this system only covers damage taken when something is hit. And obviously, if you're a player character, no matter how strong you are, you do NOT want to get hit with a turbolaser.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vehicle-Scale Weapon Damage and Fire Control

As much as I love the Star Wars D6 system, there are things in it that require explanation/rationalization as to why they are so—explanation beyond simply ‘game balance mechanics’. Or at least they do for me. If a player asks me ‘why is this like this?” I like to have some kind of answer for them.

What I’ll be talking about in this post in particular are the combined mechanics of vehicle-scale weapon damage and fire control. Damage is pretty self explanatory—the damage the weapon dishes out. The more powerful it is, the more it does. Fire control represents an ‘assisted aiming’ system that most vehicle-scale weapons have—the weapon’s ‘targeting computer’, if you will.

We’ll start with damage—but before we do, I want to gloss over the whole problem D6 has with wildly varying stats. For instance, a basic ‘laser cannon’ is listed in various Star Warssource materials as doing anywhere from 1D to 5D damage. This seems to have no rhyme or reason to it—it was simply a number picked by whoever authored the source in question. For the purposes of moving this discussion forward, I’ve come up with my own ‘rules’ for standard damage per weapon type. Here is a brief example:

A ‘blaster cannon’ is lighter than a laser cannon and does 3D damage
A ‘laser cannon’ is the standard vehicle weapon and does 4D damage
A ‘heavy laser cannon’ is heavier (duh) than the standard and does 5D Damage

I like the symmetry here between vehicle scale weapons and character scale weapons. For instance, the standard blaster pistol does 4D character scale damage; the standard laser cannon does 4D vehicle-scale.

At this point, the system seems to work. Where the ‘wrinkle’ comes in is when you have ‘fire-linked’ weapons. For instance, the 2 laser cannons used by the TIE fighter. Logically, one might assume that if two 4D weapons are fired simultaneously, the resulting damage would be 8D. Yet, the stats in all of the sourcebooks list the damage of a ‘dual laser cannon’ as 5D. Just 1D higher than a single cannon. Similarly, the Falcon’s ‘quad laser cannon’ does not do 16D (4x4D), but ‘only’ 6D.

How to explain this…

The best that I have come up with is that ‘linked’ weapons do NOT fire simultaneously, but rather alternate to keep up a higher sustained rate of fire that a single weapon can not. Thus, a craft hit by a dual laser cannon isn’t (necessarily) hit by both blasts every time- but odds are you’re going to do more damage when you hit. Maybe one hit is square, and the other is just a graze, or maybe both blasts hit, but both are grazing shots. The D6 system is very abstract when it comes to damage anyway, meaning that a bad damage roll already DOES indicate a ‘grazing’ shot, while a good roll indicates a more solid hit. Thus (I feel), the adding of a D or two of damage helps reflect this AND keeps damage rolls in game balance’.

My general rule for this is as follows:
A ‘single’ weapon does its base damage
(example, a laser cannon does 4D)

A ‘dual’ weapon does its base damage + 1D
(example, a dual laser cannon does 5D)

A ‘triple’ weapon does its base damage +1D+2
(example a triple laser cannon does 5D+2)

A ‘quad’ weapon does its base damage +2D
(example, a quad laser cannon does 6D)

I also feel rather ‘justified’ in this explanation by what we see in the films. Weapons DO seem to alternate their fire. TIE cannons alternate. X-Wings seem to fire their lasers in sequence. The Falcon’s quad guns fire 2 x 2, etc.

Now, all this having been said, how does Fire Control fit into all of this? Well, I am of the opinion that Fire Control is NOT just the targeting computers on the ship, but also a factor of the rate of fire that vehicle weapons put out. In vehicle combat- particularly ‘dogfighting’- it is VERY difficult to hit a moving target. This is why cannons mounted on modern aircraft are of the ‘automatic’ variety. They fire a ‘stream’ of rounds at an enemy in order to increase their chances of hitting with a few of those round. The same is shown in the Star Wars films.

So, for me, the fire-control of a vehicle is part computer, part rate of fire. Say your average TIE fighter has a fire-control rating of 2D. In my opinion, 1D of that would be the actual assistance of the computer, the other 1D would be from the ‘burst fire’ effect. A vehicle with a 1D fire control would have only a basic target computer and rely almost entirely on the burst effect to help them hit targets. A vehicle with a 3D fire control would rely more on its computers (providing 2D) and less on its burst effect (which still just provides 1D). This has no actual effect on the mechanics of the system—you would never roll 1D for computer then 1D for burst effect, but I do like to THINK of the system in this manner.

Also, if you consider that burst effect and want to add some more depth to your vehicle combat system, you could allow different fire modes on weapons that could alter both the weapon damage and fire-control. This is a concept I always enjoyed in the old X-Wing and TIE Fighter video games.

In these games, if you had a craft with dual weapons you could switch between the standard alternating shot to a ‘dual fire’ mode, where both weapons fired at the same time. The effect in the game was that your rate of fire dropped (it took longer between shots for both weapons to recharge) and with it your chances of landing a shot, but when (if) you hit, you did more damage. With a quad-firing weapon (such as an X-Wing or TIE interceptor) you actually had 3 fire modes. The ‘standard’ was firing alternating pairs of weapons. But you could also switch to a mode where each laser fired individually, in turn. This upped your rate of fire (and chances to hit), but lowered the damage when you hit). Likewise, you could switch all four weapons to fire simultaneously. This resulted in a very slow rate of fire, less chances to hit, but more damage if you did hit solidly.

In game terms, this could work simply as follows:

For dual-weapons:
Alternating Mode (standard): Damage normal; Fire Control Normal
Dual-Mode: Damage +1D; Fire Control -1D

For triple-weapons:
Alternating Mode (standard): Damage normal; Fire Control Normal
Triple-Mode: Damage +1D; Fire Control -1D

For quad-weapons:
Alternating Mode (standard): Damage normal; Fire Control Normal
Single-Mode: Damage -1D; Fire Control +1D
Quad-Mode: Damage +1D; Fire Control -1D