Sunday, January 25, 2015

Star Wars #1 Review

Two Wednesdays ago, Marvel Comics (/Disney/Lucasfilm) published the first issue in its new line of Star Wars comics. This was a bittersweet event for me. I first started reading Star Wars comics with Dark Horse's release of the Dark Empire title back in 1991. While I didn't love everything that Dark Horse produced, I though they did an excellent job of maintaining the brand. When Disney acquired Lucasfilm last year and announced that Marvel would regain the license, I was sad to hear it. Even so, I was interested to see what Marvel would do in the aftermath of the consolidation.

To Marvel's credit, this premiere seems to have been highly anticipated--so much so, in fact, that my friendly local comic store was sold out when I went to buy the issue on the next day, and so I had to wait a week in order to do so. C'est la vie.

As a first impression, I like the art. It's fairly straightforward, and the characters look how they're supposed to look. The action starts up quickly, and there are a number of moments that really capture the Star Wars feel.

On the other hand, I'm concerned about the focus and scope of the storyline. It features the main characters from A New Hope--and doing a nice job of including Chewie and the droids in meaningful roles, by the way. It also brings in Darth Vader. While I can understand starting the series with a bang, I'm worried that we'll see too many near-miss confrontations between Luke and Vader, and that it will become tiresome. I'd also like to see more original characters, ones that might actually be killed during combat. Only time will tell, I guess.

-Nate

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tests of the B'omarr

Presented here is the first of what will hopefully be a series of puzzles that B'omarr monks could use to test the PCs.

-Nate


Tests of the B'omarr
Members of the B'omarr Order have their knowledge and intelligence tested in a variety of ways. This includes tests of logic, familiarity with sacred teachings, and the ability to remove oneself from physical worldly concerns. Presented below are some puzzles that B'omarr monks might use as a challenge for visitors who wish to deal with them.

The Puzzle Box
For this test, the PCs are presented with a broad, flat metal box with an elaborate grid engraved in its top, along with six rings of six keys. Each ring holds six metal keys; all of them on a given ring are engraved with the same number: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8. They are given one clue: “Seven is the key; what is the correct order?”

1






2






3






4






5






6







The key to this puzzle is remembering that the numbers one through six, when divided by seven, produce repeating decimals that all use digits matching the numbers on the keys—and all in variations of the same sequence. To that end, the correct order of keys is this:

1
1
4
2
8
5
7
2
2
8
5
7
1
4
3
4
2
8
5
7
1
4
5
7
1
4
2
8
5
7
1
4
2
8
5
6
8
5
7
1
4
2

If the PCs are able to devise the correct order, the box opens. Inside is a small scrap of parchment with a single question: “What comes next?” The correct response is either 0.999999, repeating, or, more simply, one.



Monday, January 12, 2015

Monks

Detailed here are some of the characters who can be found in the B'omarr Monastery.

Initiates (Minions)
Brawn 2 Cunning 2 Presence 2
Agility 1 Intellect 2 Willpower 3

Soak: 2
Wound Threshold: 5
Strain Threshold: NA
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills (group only): Brawl, Discipline, Perception, Vigilance

Talents: None

Abilities: NA

Equipment: Robes

These new members of the order may lack in many of the refinements that their superiors possess, but they bring plenty of zeal. To them are given such tasks as guarding the monastery, performing manual labor, and the like. They perform these tasks with cheerful efficiency, knowing that enlightenment will eventually be their reward.


Acolyte (Rival)
Brawn 2 Cunning 2 Presence 2
Agility 1 Intellect 3 Willpower 3

Soak: 2
Wound Threshold: 12
Strain Threshold: 14
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Brawl 1, Discipline 2, Education 1, Lore 2, Medicine 1, Perception 2, Resilience 1, Survival 1, Vigilance 1, Xenology 1

Talents: Grit, Natural Scholar, Researcher, Resolve, Well Rounded

Abilities: One free rank in each of two non-career skills

Equipment: Robes

Those monks who persevere through the initial testing process begin to learn the secrets of the Order, growing in wisdom and fortitude. They are charged with oversight of the monastery, commanding the lesser initiates.


Curate (Nemesis)
Brawn 2 Cunning 2 Presence 2
Agility 1 Intellect 4 Willpower 4

Soak: 2
Wound Threshold: 12
Strain Threshold: 13
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Brawl 1, Discipline 3, Education 2, *Lore 3, Medicine 1, Perception 3, Resilience 2, Survival 2, Vigilance 2, Xenology 2

Talents: Confidence, Dedication, Grit, Intense Focus, Knowledge Specialization*, Mental Fortress, Natural Scholar, Researcher, Resolve x2, Stroke of Genius, Toughened, Well Rounded

Abilities: One free rank in each of two non-career skills

Equipment: Robes

Only the most dedicated individuals achieve of the levels of self-discipline and understanding claimed by these monks. Indeed, for them the only further step is to have their brains removed from their bodies so that they can spend the rest of their lives contemplating the mysteries of the universe unhindered by mortal distractions. Most of the time, any given temple only has one curate in it.


Using the Monastery in an Edge of the Empire Campaign
This location and its inhabitants can be incorporated into an Edge of the Empire campaign in many different ways; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • Given their ceaseless contemplation of the universe, the B'omarr monks are first and foremost a source of information. This is especially appropriate for PCs who pursue the way of the Jedi, since the monks have studied Jedi teachings hidden from the Imperials.
  • The monks expect something in trade for their knowledge, however; ancient scrolls, datadisks and even holocrons are their preferred method of payment.
  • Should one or more of the PCs decide to join the Order and follow its tenets, the situation could provide some excellent roleplaying opportunities.
  • If the monks were to be threatened by outsiders (as is detailed in the Firestorm plot), they might seek out troubleshooters who could help with the problem.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

The B'omarr Monastery

Located in the depths of a Nar Hutta swamp, this tower rises four stories in height. It is built from roughly cut local stone and has a pointed, sloping roof made of cast durasteel. It is located well away from commonly traveled routes, providing the monks with the seclusion and solitude they need to contemplate the galaxy's mysteries.



The Monastery
Refer to the appropriate map for the following location descriptions.

Level 1
The tower's ground level can be accessed via broad double doors. Normally a pair of guards are stationed here; they question visitors and, if the monks approve, grant them access to the monastery. A spiral staircase leads up into the tower as well as to its lower level, although a door requiring a passcode (or a hard Skulduggery check) bars the way to the latter. Beyond that there are also eight pillars that support the upper levels.

Level 2
On the next level up the staircase opens into the refectory, which is dominated by three tables with chairs. This is, of course, where the monks (those that still have bodies) take their meals. Doors provide access to the kitchen and pantry. Windows provide natural light in all but that last area.

Level 3
Monks are quartered on this level; each cell is furnished with a bed, a desk and a chair, and has a window that can be shuttered closed.

Level 4
This level is little more than an open platform with the roof supported by pillars; a guard rail encircles its perimeter. The monks use it for meditation and relaxation.

Level 0
The heart of the monks' efforts toward illumination are based here in this underground level. There is a library for reading and discussing texts, with three tables and chairs. Doors lead to an infirmary that has three beds, used for emergencies and for those times when monks coose to have their brains removed from their bodies. The final chambers, with shelves lining its walls, is where disembodied individuals sit in darkness and contemplate.




Wednesday, January 7, 2015

d6 Flashback

This is a quick post to mention two things. One is that I'm continuing to update the previous "Firestorm Plot" post, including working on a B'ommar Monastery map.

The other is to publicize a new PDF available in support of the old d6 System-based Star Wars RPG from West End Games. That was the system with which I started playing Star Wars; my friends and I played through numerous campaigns in high school and college, and they were a blast. This PDF presents articles, short stories and adventures in the style of the old Adventure Journal, and I hope this is the first of many issues.

WildSpace Magazine Issue 1

-Nate

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Firestorm Plot

This post introduces a plotline that will be developed over the next few weeks.

-Nate



The Firestorm Plot
One of the glaring weaknesses of the Imperial Fleet, made particularly evident at the Battle of Yavin, is its vulnerability to attacks by small, maneuverable starfighters. In theory the Lancer-class frigate is supposed to provide a solution to this weakness, but in practice it has not proven to be effective. For that reason one Imperial strategist, Captain Ebla Muir, has begun researching two seemingly different lines of inquiry, hoping for a discovery that can make the Lancer more effective.

The first investigation involves technology used by the Trade Federation before the Clone Wars. In that case, some of the Neimoidian pilots and technicians were given cybernetic implants known as datagoggles that linked them to their ships' computers and control systems. Although it granted them tremendous boosts as far as interface speed was concerned, it was not without paying a physiological price.

Because of those difficulties, the strategist has also been researching the traditions of the B'ommar monks. Those ascetics have a long-established tradition of removing their most enlightened practitioners' brains from their bodies and planting them in nutrient-filled jars connected to spider-like droids. By discovering their surgical secrets, Captain Muir hopes to devise a more effective means of implanting the Neimoidian datagoggles.

Opening Salvo
The PCs could first become aware of this plot when they meet an escaped test subject, a Human by the name of Terun Dovis. His cybernetic implant is malfunctioning, leaving him prone to attacking characters that he deems to be threats. This encounter can be dropped on the characters at any time, either between other adventures or while in the middle of other business. Dovis walks into the middle of whatever they are doing and opens fire with his blaster.

Terun Dovis, Cyborged Gunner (Rival)
Brawn 2 Cunning 3 Presence 2
Agility 4 Intellect 2 Willpower 1

Soak: 2
Wound Threshold: 12
Strain Threshold: 11
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Astrogation 1, Computers 2, Cool 3, Gunnery 4, Mechanics 2, Medicine 1, Perception 3, Piloting—Planetary 1, Piloting—Space 2, Ranged—Heavy 3, Ranged—Light 2, Resilience 2, Vigilance 3

Talents: Debilitating Shot, Exhaust Port, Overwhelm Defenses, True Aim

Abilities: One free rank in each of two non-career skills

Equipment: Ragged uniform, blaster rifle, malfunctioning datagoggles

Terun Dovis makes quite the first impression. He is dressed in the tatters of a black Imperial Navy uniform, the kind worn by gunners. Instead of the clamshell-shaped helmet, however, he has datagoggles affixed over his eyes. He is unshaven and dirty, and babbling incoherently—things like “Enemy sighted,” “Must complete the mission” and the like. Then he just starts shooting at a random character. Given his appearance and his skill with heavy weapons, this should be a dangerous but intriguing event.



Interested Parties
In the aftermath of the attack, the PCs should have some questions to ask. What is more, a number of NPCs are also interested in learning the story behind this seemingly random attack. A few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • The proprietor of any establishment damaged in the attack—such as Haiuk the Whiphid or Vius the t'Landa Til—could demand answers about why it happened and who's going to pay to fix things.
  • Recognizing the Imperial uniform and the unusual datagoggles, agents of the Rebel Alliance such as Nog and Cham Teleus would want to investigate the matter, and are willing to pay like-minded beings to do so.
  • Minions of the Hutts such as the technician Traborn Yerg might covet the technology, or even recognize this Imperial activity as a threat to his boss's interests.
Whatever the case, the PCs should have some motivation to investigate this business further.

Additional Information
The PCs can also use their skills to gain some more information. An average Mechanics, Warfare or Xenology check reveals that the datagoggles are device used by the Trade Federation in the years leading up to the Clone Wars, and that they allowed pilots to interface directly with their ships. A Medicine check of a similar difficulty confirms that the device seems to be malfunctioning, causing considerable mental strain to the attacker. Medical treatment might be needed to keep Dovis alive, but the malfunctioning of the device means he can't be returned to consciousness at the moment.

The Imperial Response
Once the PCs have had some time to process these details, Captain Muir and her Imperial goons arrive on the scene. They move to secure the situation and, if he is present, to take Dovis into custody. She asks bystanders about what happened here, more to gauge what they've learned than out of any real concern for any damage or injuries caused. This interaction could allow the PCs to learn a little more about the situation, or at least to confirm that the Empire wants to hush up the incident. They need to be careful, however, lest the captain becomes worried about how much they know.

Captain Ebla Muir, Imperial Researcher (Rival)
Brawn 2 Cunning 2 Presence 3
Agility 2 Intellect 3 Willpower 2

Soak: 2
Wound Threshold: 12
Strain Threshold: 12
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Astrogation 1, Computers 3, Core Worlds 1, Discipline 1, Education 3, Gunnery 2, Leadership 1, Lore 1, Mechanics 3, Medicine 2, Melee 1, Negotiation 2, Outer Rim 1, Perception 2, Piloting—Planetary 2, Piloting—Space 2, Ranged—Heavy 1, Ranged—Light 2, Vigilance 2, Warfare 2, Xenology 1

Talents: Black Market Contacts x2, Gearhead, Grit, Larger Project x2, Signature Vehicle, Toughened

Abilities: One free rank in each of two non-career skills

Equipment: Imperial uniform, comlink, blaster pistol, datapad

Captain Ebla Muir is fervently dedicated to the cause of wiping out the Rebellion. She is also a gifted technician, an ability she uses in developing new weapons for the Empire. The latter trait she inherited from her parents, who were techs aboard a corporate transport; the prior she developed when they were killed during an attack by pirates believed to be associated with a rebellious organization. Now she combines the two qualities in an effort to wipe out all of those who threaten peace and security in the galaxy.

At a first impression, Captain Muir comes off as being businesslike and cold. She warms up to beings who share her love for technology and the Empire, however, and can even be friendly with those who earn her respect and trust. So far that hasn't happened for many beings, however.


Imperial Stormtroopers and Stormtrooper Sergeant—Refer to pages 420-1 of the Age of Rebellion core rulebook to find stats for them.


Next Steps
Following this confrontation, the PCs have a number of options; a few of these are detailed below.

Tracking the Imperials is one possibility. While they are not being open about their activities, they are also not operating with total stealth. To that end, the PCs might be able to tail them back to their local base of operations. Doing this requires a hard Survival check , with modifier applied as appropriate. Success lets the character(s) in question follow as the Imps board a Bantha II cargo skiff and trek through the nearby Nal Hutta swamp to the B'omarr monastery. The GM is, of course, free to add chance encounters with creatures such as a dragonsnake in order to keep the pursuit lively.

Another option is for one or more of the PCs to plant a tracking device aboard the Imperials' skiff. Doing this requires both an average Mechanics check to rig up a suitable piece of technology, and a Skulduggery effort opposed by the stormtroopers' Perception efforts in order to put it in place it without attracting attention. Should the latter effort fail, enterprising characters might be able to talk their way out of the ensuing confrontation using a Deception check opposed by the stormtroopers' Discipline result, with modifiers applied for a good or bad story.

Failing either of these two options, the GM might allow other methods for investigating. This might include accompanying Lulu Ogrin (the Gungan swamp gas harvester; see above) on his rounds, programming droids and sending them out to conduct reconnaissance, or the like.




Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Rival

It's been a slow month for me due to issues with my laptop, but I'm back up and running now. Happy New Year to all, and here's looking forward to lots of Star Wars in 2015.

-Nate



The Rival
There's something of a fellowship among hotshot smugglers and other beings who fly for hire. After all, these characters recognize that they experience similar dangers working for the same types of employers. Even so, there's also a sense of competition among them, always trying to outdo one another when it comes to demonstrating their skills and showing off their ships. Take, for example, the record for the Kessel run set by Han Solo and Chewbacca, broken by BoShek, and then later reclaimed by the Human and Wookiee partners.


Togala Genu, Xexto Hotshot (Rival)
Brawn 1 Cunning 2 Presence 2
Agility 4 Intellect 2 Willpower 1

Soak: 1
Wound Threshold: 10
Strain Threshold: 10
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Astrogation 2, Computers 1, Cool 2, Gunnery 3, Mechanics 1, Piloting—Planetary 2, Piloting—Space 3, Ranged—Light 2, Streetwise 1, Vigilance 2

Talents: Confidence, Corellian Sendoff, Dedication, Grit, Koiogran Turn, Shortcut, Showboat, Skilled Jockey

Abilities: One free rank in the Confidence talent; Additional Limbs (one free maneuver per turn)

Equipment: Heavy blaster pistol, long-range comlink, A/KT Wing Commander armored flightsuit

Togala is a brash, boastful pilot; the only thing he enjoys more than piloting his ship in dangerous situations is telling others about it later. Even so, he is friendly with other pilots and loyal to those who earn his respect. He has no love for beings who lie or cheat others (but taking a little license in storytelling is another matter entirely).
Togala flies an R-41 Starchaser starfighter, the Pursuit, for special “small package trade” delivery assignments.


Using Togala in an Edge of the Empire Campaign
This Xexto hotshot can be incorporated into an Edge of the Empire campaign in many different ways; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • Most notably, Togala can compete with the PCs for jobs and glory.
  • A Hutt or other employer could send him to help the PCs if a job goes wrong—and he won't let them hear the end of it, of course.
  • Alternately, the PCs could be sent to retrieve him from a sticky situation.
  • The Xexto could eventually betray the PCs if someone makes him an offer he can't refuse.