Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Debutante

After resolving some long-lasting computer issues, my technology is back in order. As such, here's the first blog update in too long.

-Nate


The Debutante
Once they reach a certain age, many Falleen leave their homeworld in order to see the rest of the galaxy; it's an important step in their education before they settle into a career or other life path. Such is the case with this individual, Dauna Zhirtell. She is a carefree young being with credits to spend, just looking to experience life on other worlds and amidst other beings.


Dauna Zhirtell
Brawn 1 Agility 2 Intellect 2
Cunning 2 Willpower 2 Presence 3

Soak: 1
Wound Threshold: 11
Strain Threshold: 14
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Charm 2, Deception 2, Education 1, Lore 1, Negotiation 2, Perception 1, Piloting—Space 1, Ranged—Light 1

Talents: Disarming Smile, Kill With Kindness, Smooth Talker

Abilities: One free rank in Charm; Beguiling Pheromones (suffer 2 strain to upgrade a Charm, Deception or Negotiation check against a living sentient being)

Equipment: Stylish jumpsuit, blaster pistol, comlink, 2000 credits

Dauna is a beautiful young Falleen. She has the green skin and black hair common to her species—along with the ability to change skin color and emit pheromones that cloud the minds of other beings. She is a very curious individual, and one who is still fairly naive about the ways of the galaxy. Even so, she is a game young woman, ready to try anything that sounds like an adventure.
What Dauna is not quick to mention is that her father is Keram Zhirtell, owner of Zhirtell Import and Export—and a front company for Black Sun. This gives her a strong connection to that organization, even if she doesn't know yet whether or not she wants to go into the family business.


The Transient
Dauna travels the galaxy in a GX1 Short Hauler, the Transient. This ship is a standard model, reflecting the line's originally intended purpose as a luxurious pleasure craft. Refer to page 56 of Fly Casual to find stats for this vessel; deck plans can be found on Wookieepedia at the following link.



Using the Debutante in an Edge of the Empire Campaign
There are many ways in which this character can become involved in the PCs' adventures; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • Dauna Zhirtell works well as a wild card during other adventures, a character who shows up on the scene and adds another dimension to existing business.
  • Considering her charms, it's always possible that she becomes a romantic interest for one or more of the PCs. Should that not turn out well, however, the paramour in question might find thugs working for Keram Zhirtell knocking on the door.
  • Given the growing animosity between the Falleen and the Empire, she could become an ally for characters who are sympathetic to the Rebellion. Given her shipping connections, she could provide considerable logistical support to the Alliance.
  • Agents of the Hutts might see her as a threat of Black Sun incursion into their territory, and therefore try to arrange an “accident” in order to eliminate her.



Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Sakiyan Skuir-Fish Hunters

In the oceans of Saki live the skuir fish, predators known for their teeth-filled maws and sharp appendages--and for their delicious meat. It is for that latter reason, and in spite of the prior two, that some Sakiyans hunt these creatures. One such group of hunters is that led by Captain Jeo Prann, a team that uses a retrofitted sail barge for tracking their prey.

The Sanguine
The Sakiyans use a sail barge similar to that employed by Slarr the Hutt for pleasurable excursions, but the Sanguine is modified for business. On it, the upper deck has been outfitted with four harpoon cannons, two on each side. Most of the lower deck is given over to space for processing the skuir fish, with a cooling unit for preserving them and hooks for hanging them from the ceiling. The kitchen is converted into crew quarters, including space for a small galley.


Sakiyan Skuir Hunters (Minions)
Brawn 2 Cunning 2 Presence 1
Agility 2 Intellect 2 Willpower 1

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

Skills (group only): Melee, Gunnery, Perception, Ranged--Light, Vigilance

Talents: None

Abilities: NA

Equipment: Heavy clothing, blaster pistols, vibroknives

The hunters who form the crew of this vessel are all skilled in their own right, but together the form a truly formidable team. They have been pursuing skuir-fish for years, and know almost instinctively how to react to different situations.


Captain Jeo Prann (Rival)
Brawn 2 Cunning 3 Presence 2
Agility 3 Intellect 3 Willpower 2

Soak: 3
Wound Threshold: 10
Strain Threshold:12
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Athletics 1, Brawl 1, Cool 1, Discipline 2, Gunnery 3, Leadership 2, Lore 2, Mechanics 1, Medicine 1, Melee 3, Negotiation 2, Outer Rim 1, Perception 3, Piloting--Planetary 3, Ranged--Light 2, Resilience 2, Survival 3, Vigilance 3

Talents: Expert Tracker, Forager, Grit, Natural Hunter, Outdoorsman, Stalker, Toughened

Abilities: Free rank in Perception or Vigilance

Equipment: Heavy clothing, blaster pistols, vibroknives, cybernetic lower (left) leg

Jeo Prann is a wily veteran of skuir fish hunting, and he has the scars to prove it. The lower half of his left leg is missing, having been bitten off by his prey during an early encounter. Even so, he remains dedicated to the business, a capable captain who is respected by his men. The loss of his leg has taught him that sometimes sentient beings must admit when they are overmatched.


Using the Hunters in an Edge of the Empire Campaign
This vessel and its can be incorporated into an Edge of the Empire campaign in many different ways; a few of the possibilities are detailed here. 
  • The PCs could encounter the Sanguine and its crew after a larger-than-normal skuir fish pulls the sail barge into the water, necessitating a rescue.
  • When a spoiled Core Worlder decides to join the crew for an expedition, he or she might hire the PCs to come along on the trip. 
  • The PCs could encounter XYZ at a location such as Haiuk's Lodge and, if they offended him, find themselves involved in an honor duel.
  • When the crew of the Sanguine finds something unusual--and valuable--in the belly of a skuir fish, they might seek out the PCs to help deal with it.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Quay

Recently I've been rereading the Tales short story anthologies that were published in 1995 and '96: Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, Tales of the Bounty Hunters and Tales from Jabba's Palace. They've proven to be a mixed bag, which I expected; some of them take seemingly mundane characters and weave interesting backgrounds and experiences into the greater tapestry of the Trilogy, while others head off in outlandish directions. They've also provided some inspiration for Edge of the Empire ideas, however, and all in all they've made for a fun trip down memory lane. 

Here's the first bit of inspiration, a cheap electronic device known as a quay.


Quay
Cost: 10 credits; Weight: 0.5 kg

A quay is a small electronic device that generates random answers to spoken questions. It contains limited voice recognition software that responds to particular speech patterns, namely the inflection generally used to form interrogatives in the language for which it is programmed. While for most beings it is simply a novelty item, for some—rumor has it that the Weequays who work for Jabba the Hutt worship one as a god—the device’s responses carry considerable weight of truth.

To determine the quay’s response, simply roll percentile dice.

Result / Response
1-8 / “It is certain.”
9-16 / “Without a doubt”
17-24 / “It is decidedly so.”
25-32 / “Signs point to yes.”
33-40 / “As I see it, yes.”
41-48 / “Outlook good”
49-56 / “Cannot predict now”
57-64 / “Better not tell you now”
65-72 / “Don’t count on it.”
73-80 / “Very doubtful”
81-88 / “My reply is no.”
89-96 / “My sources say no.”
97-100 / The device processes the question but takes more time to respond; roll again.



Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fly Casual (P)Review

Presented here is a preview of what people can expect to find in Fly Casual, released this week by Fantasy Flight Games.

Page 1: Crawl

Page 2: Credits

Page 3: Table of contents

Page 4: Short fiction

Pages 5-9: Overview of smuggling in the galaxy

Chapter 1 (Pages 10-39): “Free Traders”
This section provides more information about smuggler backgrounds and obligations; three new species--the Falleen, Gotal and Quarren; three new specializations--the Charmer, Gambler and Gunslinger; more smuggler motivations; and two new signature ability trees--Narrow Escape and Unmatched Fortune.

Chapter 2 (Pages 40-63): “Tricks of the Trade”
This chapter introduces more than a dozen new weapons, three new types of armor--I especially like the Smuggler's Trenchcoat--a dozen new equipment items, two new types of drugs and four weapons attachments. There are also two airspeeders, a speeder bike, two landspeeders, fifteen starships (including the Interdictor), nine vehicle modifications and a new weapon system.

Chapter 3 (Pages 64-117): “It's Just Business”
The focus of this chapter is running Edge of the Empire campaigns for smugglers. To that end, it presents suggested payouts for cargoes of differing rarity and restriction, modifiers to profits for haggling, different kinds of occupational hazards, effects for hyperspace travel that doesn't go as smoothly as intended, a gazetteer of hyperspace travel times, obstacles for heist scenarios, rules for blaster showdowns, a new game of chance called hintaro that uses EotE dice, guidelines for smuggling organizations, rivals and enemies, and effects of reputation.

All in all, Fly Casual seems to be a useful resource for smuggler characters who want to go out and haul some cargo. I can see using this material during adventures, or even between bigger storyline events to represent more typical business for these characters.

-Nate

Friday, February 13, 2015

Lulu Ogrin's Inaugural Swamp Skimmer Open Race

During his extensive travels on Nal Hutta, Lulu the Gungan has become intimately familiar with much of its swampland. Sometimes, when he is in a hurry to serve his Hutt bosses or just feeling board, he experiments with a type of repulsorlift piloting that he calls “swamp skimming.” This consists of decreasing the amount of lift from his skiff's repulsordrives, letting it skim a bare meter above the surface. That makes piloting more challenging, of course, but also more dangerous and more fun.

It wasn't long before the Gungan recognized an opportunity to make some credits through this type of activity. He scouted out a potential course, one that would provide plenty of obstacles for the competitors, and then planned how to make it marketable. Then he pitched the idea to Slarr the Hutt. Somewhat to his surprise, Slarr liked the idea. In fact, the Hutt offered up a sum of 10,000 credits as the prize for the winners. Thus sponsored, Lulu put out an open call for competitors.


The Competition
Characters introduced in previous blog articles can provide plenty of competition for the PCs in a race such as this; here are just a few of the possibilities.
  • The Trandoshan hunters from “Conversion”
  • Togala Genu, Xexto hotshot from “The Rival”
  • Golthani Ru, a Corellian who works with “Ma'char'ba the Ugor and His Scavengers” (and keep in mind that her sister, Tescali, pilots Slarr's sail barge)
  • Sen Wral, a Shistavanen who leads a band of “Nerf Rustlers”
  • Kerwen Chee, a Corellian who pilots a “Mag-Lev Train”
  • A group of ne'er-do-wells who've developed a reputation as “The Shipjackers”
  • The Togorian pirates of “The Fireclaw Horde”
  • The mix of beings who operate “Captain Zate's Interstellar Traveling Chop-Shop”
As always, of course, this also provides the GM with a good opportunity to introduce NPCs for future use.


Preparations
Those who wish to participate in the race must purchase a Bantha-II cargo skiff in order to do so. What is more, Lulu inspects each one in order to make sure that the repulsordrives have been properly limited. Given that, the PCs are free to use talents or credits in order to boost the functioning of their skiff. They also have a chance to meet the competition, as an introductory “meet-and-greet” is held at Haiuk's Lodge for everyone involved.


Sabotage?
Of course, spending some time rubbing elbows with one's competitors also provides opportunities for cheating. The GM can represent this by having an opponent (or someone hired by an opponent) make a Skullduggery check opposes the Perception efforts of a PC. Success allows the cheater to introduce some kind of flaw into the PCs' skimmer, such as a fluctuation in the repulsorfield, a flicker in the propulsion system, or something similar.


Gambling?
Characters who wish to do so are free to bet on the outcome of the race, with wagers up to 1000 credits being accepted. Success pays an amount equal to the initial wager multiplied by the number of competitors in the race.


Involving All of the Players
Since only a few of the PCs are likely to be involved in adjudicating the race, other players might be given the job of making checks for the opposing teams.


The Start
When the time of the race arrives, competitors are directed to an open patch of relatively flat and dry ground (area 0 on the map). There they are directed to the starting line, and Lulu himself begins the competition by firing a slugthrower.



The Course
Refer to the appropriate map for the following area descriptions. To conduct the race, have the PCs and their competition make a series of checks, and keep a tally of their total successes and advantage. After two circuits of the course, the winner is the racer or team who has the highest number of successes; use advantage as a tiebreaker. In the event that two characters are tied at the end of the second circuit, the two pilots in questions should make opposed checks until one is the winner.

The first part of the course is known as “The Boil.” It's a section of swampland that covers a volcanic vent, causing the fetid water to bubble and churn. To simulate this, have someone in each skiff make a hard Vigilance check to notice an impending eruption. Then, apply any advantage or threat from that check to the driver's hard Piloting—Planetary effort. Totals from the second check are applied toward determining the winner.

Next up is the section called “The Tumble.” It is a section of hills that act like a slalom course for the skimmers. This time the driver should make an average Strength check, with the results from it being applied to that character's Piloting—Planetary effort.

Finally comes the area known as “The Tangles.” It is a bracken of twisted and gnarled trees through which the racers must steer their skiffs. This requires a hard Perception check by someone aboard each skiff, with the results from it being applied to the driver's Piloting—Planetary effort.
Note, too, that failure on any checks causes two points of hull trauma to the skiff in question, as does a despair result. (Failure with despair, therefore, causes four points of hull trauma in total.) Vehicles that suffer too much damage are eliminated from the competition.


Unexpected Developments
It's always possible, of course, that events happen which are complete unanticipated by the competitors. These add drama and difficulty to the race; a few options are presented below.
It could happen that fog rolls in across the course. Should that happen, all characters suffer a setback die to their checks, unless they have some kind of perceptive ability that overcomes the obscurement.
There's also the chance that a dragonsnake erupts from the swamp to attack the 'skimmers. In that event, it latches onto the side of the skiff, attacking available targets and adding a setback die to all piloting efforts due to the unbalanced load.

Given the dangers present by the course itself and the aformentioned developments, it could happen that the PCs' or one or more of their opponents crash their 'skimmers and thus cause injury to the drivers and passengers. This could present a moral dilemma for more altruistic characters, or a shot at redemption for the PCs if they are losing the race.



Rewards
In addition to claiming the 10,000-credit prize, the PCs could also attract the attention of a wealthy sponsor, possibly a Hutt, who seeks capable pilots with a variety of additonal skills for other races or even for entirely different kinds of business.



Races such as the Inaugural Swamp Skimmer Invitational can provide a sense of connection and continuity in a campaign, since they can recur annually throughout the course of play, and thus bring the PCs back to a familiar location. Similarly, they're also a good way to introduce rivalries with NPCs, ones that could start out friendly but then turn nastier as the stakes increase.



Friday, February 6, 2015

Bounty Points

In a Star Wars roleplaying game, questions regarding how much of a bounty should be offered for various criminals can be important. This article attempts to quantify a system for answering those questions. First, presented below is a table—based on the Reputation score from Wizards of the Coast's D20-based Star Wars RPG—to keep track of just how notorious criminals can become. Every illegal activity of which a character is suspected earns that individual a certain number of bounty points. That total, in turn, determines how (in)famous the character has become, along with what kind of bounty might be offered.

Bounty Points
Relative Reputation
Reward Offered
0
Unknown
500 credits
1 to 2
Hometown
1000 credits
3 to 5
Homeworld
2000 credits
6 to 9
Star system
5000 credits
10 to 14
Many systems
10,000 credits
15 to 20
All systems
20,000 credits
21
Galaxywide
50,000 credits

Refer to pages 384-5 of the Edge of the Empire core rulebook to find the five classifications for crimes against Imperial law. Those classes are listed below, along with the bounty points that each of them earn.

Crime
Penalty
Class Five
0 bp
Class Four
1 bp
Class Three
2 bp
Class Two
4 bp
Class One
8 bp

Additionally, certain circumstances can modify the bounty points earned (at the GM's discretion, of course). Some of these are listed below.

Circumstance
Modifier
Destruction of Imperial or other government property
+1 bp
Injury to an Imperial or other government official
+1 bp
Having a connection to the Rebel Alliance (minor)
+1 bp
Death of an Imperial or other government official
+2 bp
Having a connection to the Rebel Alliance (major)
+2 bp
Public display of Force powers
+2 bp


The GM might also wish to add a setback die to attempts by characters at maintaining a low profile, if they are in a place where they are considered to be known. For example, a character with six bounty points would suffer a setback when in his home star system, while one with twenty-one bounty points would suffer one everywhere in the galaxy.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Lords of Nal Hutta (P)Review

Presented here is a preview of what people can expect to find in Lords of Nal Hutta, released this week by Fantasy Flight Games.

Page 1: Crawl

Page 2: Credits

Page 3: Table of Contents

Page 4: Short Fiction

Pages 5-7: Introduction

Chapter 1 (Pages 8-39): “Criminal Empires”
This section provides a history of the Hutts and an overview of their political system. That is followed by detailed descriptions of four major—Desilijic, Besadii, Quinaalac and Gorensla—along with shorter descriptions of eight more. That is followed by breakdowns of the major Hutt criminal enterprises, such as slavery, spice dealing, gunrunning and other smuggling, black marketeering, piracy and gambling. There's also information about the Hutts' relationships with the Empire and the Rebellion.

Chapter 2 (Pages 40-91): “Hutt Space”
This chapter is a gazetteer of planets in Hutt Space. It presents Nal Hutta, Nar Shaddaa, Varl, Kintan, Klatooine, Saki, Sriluur, Toydaria, Vodran and Ylesia, along with Kwenn Space Station. Each of these writeups includes planetary information, details about specific places of interest, and stat blocks for creatures and characters who can be found there. There are also shorter writeups for seven other worlds.

Chapter 3 (Pages 92-117): “Player Options”
Articles on the FFG website have already mentioned the four new species presented in this section: Hutts, Ganks, Nikto and Sakiyans. There are also fifteen new weapons, two types of armor and various modifications and other gear. That is followed by a dozen new vehicles and starships.

Chapter 4 (Pages 118-144): “Modular Encounters”
Following the example provided by Suns of Fortune, this book presents five detailed encounters ready to be dropped into any Edge of the Empire campaign.

All in all, Lords of Nal Hutta has the high production values to be expected from Fantasy Flight Games, and the content seems to be a solid mix of fluff and crunch. I'll report back with a more critical review once I've had a chance to read the book.

-Nate