Monday, December 3, 2012
OTHER CREWS (PART 1): BLAKE'S 7
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...
THE CREW OF THE LIBERATOR
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.
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.
A computer expert (and cyber-thief) who is logical, pragmatic and self-serving- in many ways the opposite of Blake.
The hot-shot pilot and smuggler. Despite her criminal background, she is very loyal once her trust is earned.
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.
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.
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.
USES IN THE GAME
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.