Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Rescue at Hosnian Prime

While we're waiting for the downloadable follow-up adventure, A Call for Heroes, to use with the Beginner Game for The Force Awakens, I've put together a short scenario expanding on a suggestion from the boxed set. 

Rescue at Hosnian Prime

-Nate


Friday, August 5, 2016

Review of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Beginner Game



There was a small amount of controversy when Fantasy Flight Games first announced this product; some fans of the game thought it would herald a new, fourth core series of products. Those fears were quickly quashed, however, and then it was left for people to wait until today for it to be released. Now the time has come.

           
In its layout, this set is very similar to the ones that preceded it. It comes with a map, a short introduction, an adventure booklet, a rules booklet, tokens to represent characters, and vehicles and creatures. The adventure scenario is pretty straightforward, involving a band of nomads who make a surprising and important discovery aboard a downed Corvette but run afoul of a local criminal gang. From there, however, the story takes a surprising turn, throwing the PCs into the middle of the conflict that is erupting throughout the galaxy. It even has suggestions for adventures occurring after the First Order's destruction of Hosnian Prime.

           
That, in the end, is what I think makes this set worthwhile for fans of The Force Awakens. It is the first RPG product specifically related to the new movie(s), bringing Star Wars roleplaying into the new era. To me that's notable because I started playing the d6 version of the RPG from West End Games in the late eighties or early nineties, back when there was nothing but the Rebellion Era. Some ten years later, when the prequel movies were hitting the theaters, Wizards of the Coast put out its d20 version; with that and the RPGA's Living Force Campaign, I associated those rules with the time period leading up to the Clone Wars, the fall of the Old Republic and Order 66. This boxed set, then, takes the new FFG rules and sends them into the new era.

       
In that way, the set achieves its core purpose: It provides an introduction for new players, especially for those whose first Star Wars experience might have been Episode VII. What is more, it leads right into a downloadable adventure, A Call for Heroes. This promises to explore even more of this time period, and GMs can always adapt material from the other FFG core rulebooks and sourcebooks, along with elements from the movie(s). The boxed set also includes a map of the galaxy—including the new planets Jakku, Takodana, D'Qar, Hosnian Prime and Starkiller Base—which is a nice addition. There are also stats for some of the character types who serve the First Order, the Resistance and various criminal organizations,

           
Finally, it comes with another set of dice, which are always handy.

           
 For these reasons, I believe this set is invaluable for GMs who want to launch campaigns in the new era of Star Wars.



Review of A Call for Heroes
After reading through this scenario, I've found some things I like and some that I don't. They are:
  • Positive: The document, thirty pages long, presents three separate “missions” that the PCs can undertake. One is a raid on an old Imperial communications station, another is the exploration of an old Imperial research facility, and the last is a return to Jakku to help deal with the Strus Clan enemies made during the scenario Discovery on Jakku from the boxed set. This could easily make for three sessions' worth of play.
  • Positive: These scenarios provide a good mix of encounters, with fast action, creepy atmosphere and good roleplaying opportunities at different times.
  • Negative: I wish that the scenarios had maps. While I know that the Star Wars RPG doesn't rely on maps for game play, I still like to have them to set the scene for the players.
  • Negative: Although I figured this might be the case, there aren't many details about what the Resistance (or the rest of the galaxy) is doing in the aftermath of The Force Awakens. I understand why this is, of course, since Episode VIII is still in production, but I'd hoped that there might be a few tidbits.
All in all, A Call for Heroes provides a solid resource for adventures, even though most GMs would need to do some extrapolation in order to continue developing a campaign in the Episode VII era after this scenario is finished.


-Nate


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hazards of Jakku

Detailed below are a couple of the hazards that residents and visitors on Jakku might face in that harsh desert environment. 

-Nate


Sandstorms and the Breath of X'us'R'iia
The latter term refers to the belief of Jakku's Teedo that their world's massive sandstorms manifest from the breath of their goddess. They consists of heavy winds that pick sand and gravel, scouring travelers, vehicles and buildings alike with the powerful mix. In game terms, these sandstorms can be treated like a fire, causing damage equal to their rating (generally from 1 to 3). Those passing through it can make Survival or Piloting—Planetary checks, with the difficulty determined by the intensity of the storm. Refer to page 214 in the Edge of the Empire rulebook for details regarding corrosives.

Strength / Difficulty
1 / Easy
2 / Average
3 / Hard



The Sinking Fields
Located in Jakku's Goazon Badlands region, these areas can trap and drown unwary travelers. In game terms, passing through them requires a hard Survival or daunting Perception check to notice the hazard; failing that then requires an Athletics or Piloting—Space effort, with the difficulty determined by the size of the creature or vehicle in question. Failure on that second check means that the creature is treated as drowning, or that the vehicle is trapped in the sand, forcing passengers and crew to evacuate it (and thus attempt Athletics checks). Only intervention by another creature or vehicle can rescue the victim. Refer to page 214 in the Edge of the Empire rulebook for details about suffocation.

Size / Requirements
0-2 / Make a hard Athletics or Piloting—Planetary check
3-4 / Make an average Athletics or Piloting—Planetary check
5-8 / These vehicles and creatures are generally too large to be trapped in the sinking sands, but can be sucked in by them if they are incapacitated. 

  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Wrecking Crew

Here are some adversaries for use on Jakku. 

-Nate


The Wrecking Crew
In stark contrast to the inhabitants of Sim-Neleg Village is this band of cutthroats, employed by Slarr the Hutt. They scour the wrecks in search of lost materiel and, more importantly, secrets.

Wrecking Crew Member (Minions)
Brawn 2 Agility 2 Intellect 2
Cunning 2 Willpower 2 Presence 2

Soak: 3
Wound Threshold: 5 each
Strain Threshold: NA
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills (group only): Mechanics, Melee, Perception, Ranged—Light

Talents: None

Abilities: None

Equipment: Heavy clothing, blaster pistol, truncheon, toolkit, comlink

These individuals are rugged and skilled. Motivated by a combination of fear and greed, they are unswervingly loyal to their Hutt employer.

Yahd Denosk (Rival)
Brawn 3 Agility 3 Intellect 2
Cunning 2 Willpower 2 Presence 2

Soak: 4
Wound Threshold: 15
Strain Threshold: 12
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Athletics 2, Brawl 2, Cool 1, Melee 3, Perception 1, Piloting—Planetary 2, Ranged—Light 2, Resilience 1, Survival 2, Vigilance 1

Talents: Feral Strength, Frenzied Attack, Knockdown, Lethal Blows, Toughened

Abilities: Free rank in each of two non-career skills

Equipment: Heavy clothing, heavy blaster pistol, vibrosword, comlink

Yahd is, to put it bluntly, a thug. He fills the role of enforcer for the group, acting as the not-so-subtle threat behind Iera's leadership. He's not very bright, but he is tough and adept when it comes to causing other beings pain.

Iera Denosk
Brawn 2 Agility 3 Intellect 2
Cunning 3 Willpower 2 Presence 3

Soak: 3
Wound Threshold: 12
Strain Threshold: 13
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Charm 1, Cool 1, Coordination 1, Deception 2, Gunnery 2, Mechanics 1, Medicine 1, Melee 1, Negotiation 2, Perception 2, Piloting—Planetary 2, Ranged—Light 3, Skulduggery 3, Stealth 3, Vigilance 2

Talents: Black Market Contacts, Dodge, Grit, Stalker, Street Smarts

Abilities: Free rank in each of two non-career skills

Equipment: Heavy clothing, blaster pistol, vibrodagger, datapad, comlink

Iera is the face of the Wrecking Crew, a former street thief who now makes a comfortable living running this salvage operation for Slarr the Hutt. She sees herself as something of a pirate, the captain of a sail barge for now, but with aspirations of one day commanding a fleet of vessels.

Mineto Huru
Brawn 2 Agility 2 Intellect 3
Cunning 2 Willpower 2 Presence 2

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

Skills: Astrogation 1, Computers 2, Gunnery 1, Mechanics 3, Medicine 1, Outer Rim 2, Piloting—Planetary 1, Ranged—Light 1, Skulduggery 1, Underworld 2

Talents: Solid Repairs, Speaks Binary, Tinkerer, Utility Belt, Utinni!

Abilities: Free rank in each of two non-career skills

Equipment: Clothing, toolkit, datapad, comlink, blaster pistol

Once, Mineto Huru lived the simple but comfortable life of a starship technician on Nar Shadaa. He ran afoul of Slarr the Hutt when a vessel he'd repaired malfunctioned, however, causing an embarrassing and expensive crash. Now he's been given the job of refurbishing salvaged items on Jakku, a throrougly uncomfortable place. While he does his job well, he also keeps an eye out for a find that he could trade for his freedom, leaving service to the Hutt forever.

The Sail Barge Raptor and Outrider Skiffs
The Wrecking Crew is based out of a converted sail barge, one very similar to—but not nearly so opulent as—the one operated by Slarr the Hutt. For deckplans, refer to a previous article.


The difference is that this one is outfitted with light repeating blasters, one mounted in front of each stairwell and one in the front of the upper deck. There is also a heavy repeating blaster mounted in the middle of the raised platform in the rear. Scavenged junk is stacked in the middle of the upper deck, while the main deck is filled with projects on which the technicians are working.


The Wrecking Crew also uses a number of cargo skiffs as outriders; the link above is a printable PDF with miniature-scale deckplans for three of them.

Using the Wrecking Crew in an Episode VII-Era Campaign
This band of cutthroats can be incorporated in a campaign in many different ways; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • During any kind of activity for PCs in the Jakku desert, these beings could come along to complicate matters.
  • When a scavenger comes stumbling out of the desert, half delirious from the heat and telling of a valuable score, the race is on to find the wreck and claim the valuables aboard it.
  • This all becomes even more complicated when a tremendous sandstorm arises in the vicinity of the find.
  • When scavenging proves less fruitful than they'd like, these cutthroats could resort to stealing salvage from rival groups such as those at Sim-Neleg Village.
  • If Mineto Huru found something really valuable, the Human might seek outsiders with a ship who could take him offword for a share of the profit.
  • In that case, locals could seek out offworlders to help deal with the problem.



Monday, July 18, 2016

Village Inhabitants

Detailed here are some of the NPCs who can be found in Sim-Neleg Village.

Typical Villager (Minion)
Brawn 2 Agility 2 Intellect 2
Cunning 2 Willpower 1 Presence 1

Soak: 3
Wound Threshold: 5 each
Strain Threshold: NA
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills (group only): Athletics, Brawl, Mechanics, Melee, Perception, Survival

Talents: None

Abilities: None

Equipment: Heavy clothing, toolkits, truncheons

These rugged individuals have banded together for the purpose of reclaiming a life from the rugged Jakku desert. While not especially imaginative or altruistic, they are quite resilient and clever when it comes to finding and refurbishing what might otherwise seem to be junk.


Duwo Sim, Sullustan Salvager (Rival)
Brawn 2 Agility 3 Intellect 3
Cunning 1 Willpower 2 Presence 2

Soak: 3
Wound Threshold: 12
Strain Threshold: 12
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Astrogation 1, Computers 2, Education 1, Mechanics 3, Melee 1, Negotiation 2, Outer Rim 1, Perception 3, Piloting—Planetary 1, Ranged—Light 1, Vigilance 2

Talents: Contraption, Fine Tuning, Gearhead, Redundant Systems, Skilled Jockey

Abilities: One free rank in Astrogation skill and Skilled Jockey talent

Equipment: Heavy clothing, datapad, comlink, blaster pistol

Duwo Sim is a smallish Sullustan who dresses in protective clothing and oversized goggles. While not particularly gregarious, he enjoys tinkering and deals fairly with the other beings in the village. Indeed, those who earn his respect can win his friendship, but he is initially distrustful of outsiders.

Sonjah Neleg, Ithorian Scout (Rival)
Brawn 2 Agility 1 Intellect 2
Cunning 2 Willpower 3 Presence 2

Soak: 3
Wound Threshold: 12
Strain Threshold: 14
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Athletics 1, Brawl 1, Discipline 2, Leadership 1, Lore 3, Medicine 2, Melee 2, Negotiation 1, Perception 2, Piloting—Planetary 1, Ranged—Light 1, Resilience 2, Survival 3, Vigilance 2, Xenology 1

Talents: Beast Wrangler, Expert Handler, Expert Tracker, Forager, Outdoorsman

Abilities: Free rank in Survival skill; Ithorian Bellow (see page 58 in the Age of Rebellion rulebook for details)

Equipment: Heavy clothing, force pike, suvival gear, comlink

If Duwo Sim is the brains behind the Sim-Neleg Village operation, then Sonjah Neleg it the village's soul. In addition to training and caring for the dewbacks that the villagers use for exploring Jakku's wreckage fields, Sonjah is an adherent to the Church of the Force. She provides medical care—what she can, anyway—to those who need it, and tells stories from the days of the Jedi as a way of teaching these beings how they should live and work together. While Sonjah is friendly toward newcomers, she is not naive; the Ithorian knows that criminals would happily take advantage of her and her fellow salvagers, and that the First Order would like to stamp out any remaining traces of the Jedi and their teachings.



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sim-Neleg, Scavenger Village on Jakku

Many of the scavengers on the planet Jakku live a solitary existence, dwelling by themselves in isolated places and selling what materials they can scrounge to shady, self-interested brokers. There are exceptions to this rule, however, groups who have banded together to work for a common good. One example of this is the beings who live in Sim-Neleg Village. 



The Village
While it might not look like much when compared to the settlements on other planets, on the harsh and arid world of Jakku, this is almost a little slice of paradise. The buildings are made from cut stone covered in a coating of whitewashing clay. None are taller than one story in height, allowing the desert winds to blow across them. All are built around a central square, in the middle of which stands the village's moisture vaporator.

A typical house in the village (1) has a common living space with a kitchen and table (A), along with a larger bedroom (B) and one or more smaller bedrooms (C). There is also a compact but serviceable refresher unit (D). Typically these homes are occupied by a family or by a few unmarried scavengers.
The hub of daytime activity in the village is Duwo Sim's shop (2). Here, scavengers bring their found items to clean and prepare for sale. The main work room (A) is filled with low tables for that purpose. Off of that are a refresher unit (B) and a storeroom for items that are ready to sell (C). There's also a kitchen for Duwo and his assistant, along with their bedrooms (D and E, respectively).
Next door to the shop is the home of Sonjah Neleg, the dewback wrangler. It is laid out much like the other homes, with living quarters (A) and a fancier refresher (B and C), along with a kitchen (D), storage area (E) and bedrooms (F and G). More notable is the fenced-in dewback pen and covered stalls (H), where a handful of those creatures are kept.

What looks like nothing more than a small comm booth (4) is in fact a shrine for the Church of the Force. There is a compact workstation and vidscreen. While this is generally used for contacting nearby settlements and ships in orbit, those who know the proper codes can access a database with teachings about the Jedi Order. (Note that these detail the history of that group, not ways of using the Force.)

After the workday is finished, activity in the settlement tends to take place in the small cantina (5). Rather than having its own proprietor, the cantina is a place where the locals come together to share food, drinks, and whatever entertainment they can muster.


Using Sim-Neleg Village in an Episode VII-Era Campaign
This village and its inhabitants can be incorporated in a campaign in many different ways; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • PCs who crew a tramp freighter could be hired to deliver supplies here and thus have a chance to interact with these beings.
  • Alternately, the PCs could be natives of the village; this option gives the GM a chance to use the settlement rules from Far Horizons, as well as the shop rules from Special Modifications.
  • One who has medical training could even be called on to provide aid to an injured scavenger or even help deliver a newborn dewback.
  • When the scavengers run afoul of a ruthless salvage gang, they might turn to outsiders for help settling the conflict. This could involve claim jumping, payment of protection money or something similar.
  • During a nastier-than-normal sandstorm, some of the village's scavengers go missing; they ask the PCs to help find them.
  • A vicious beasts lurks in the nearby desert and begins preying on unsuspecting scavengers.
  • This could be a stop on a Force-sensitive character's path to learning more of its mysteries; these beings might even have met Lor San Tekka, and perhaps know some of the lore that otherwise would have died with him.
  • The discovery of a long-lost Imperial vessel in the sands of Jakku, one that holds important secret information, draws unwanted attention to this settlement.
  • After the destruction of Tuanul Village by the First Order, some of the scavengers begin calling for militant action against that organization. Others disagree, however, arguing that it's just too powerful of a foe.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Demo Characters

Here's a PDF presenting five characters for use with demo scenario that I printed previously. 

Demo Characters

-Nate