Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bloodline Review



Yesterday I finished the newest addition to Star Wars literature, the novel Bloodline by Claudia Gray. This one had me excited for a while, for multiple reason. For one, I quite enjoyed Gray's young-adult-oriented Lost Stars. For another, this is the first adult novel since Aftermath to deal with the time period between Episodes VI and VII, and this one is a lot closer in time to the events of The Force Awakens.

This novel did not disappoint. While it's not the most action-packed entry in Star Wars literature--along that line, I think it's hard to top any of Brian Daley's Han Solo novels--this one held my interest throughout the story. There are some action scenes, but they take second place to the drama that comes from political intrigue. Although that might not sound so exciting, it really was. It was interesting to see some of the machinations in the New Republic Senate that lead up to the formation of the First Order and the Resistance, especially as they directly affected Princess Leia. I can't say too much without spoiling things, but secrets are revealed that have heavy ramifications.

Perhaps most importantly, Gray does a good job of capturing Leia's character. Her voice--internal and when used to address other characters--rang true to what we know of Leia from the movies. She has some good interaction with Han, too, in scenes that help to explain their situation in Episode VII. There are some new characters, too, who are likable without overshadowing our main protagonist. Finally, the novel includes a foldout political poster that captures the spirit of the novel well. All in all, Bloodline sets the bar high for any other books set in this time period.

-Nate

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Special Modifications (P)Review

This one's a little late, but c'est la vie. Presented here is a preview of what people can expect to find in Special Modifications, 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 technicians in the galaxy

Chapter 1 (Pages 10-41): “Expert Artificers”
This section provides more information about smuggler backgrounds and obligations; three new species--the Dug, Besalisk and Mustafarian (with two varieties of them); three new specializations--the Cyber Tech, Droid Tech and Modder; more technician motivations; and two new signature ability trees--Inventive Creation and Unmatched Calibration.

Chapter 2 (Pages 42-63): “Tools of the Trade”
This chapter introduces more than a few ways for using tools as weapons, along with some new armor types. There are also some new cybernetic enhancements and slicing tools, along with lots of new modifications for weapons and armor. Rounding out the chapter are half a dozen new vehicles and even more new vehicle enhancements. 

Chapter 3 (Pages 68-96): “Ingenious Creations” 
The focus of this chapter is running Edge of the Empire campaigns for technicians. That includes suggestions for creating technical encounters during adventures, guidelines for how they can earn a living, and extensive tables for building new items.

All in all, Special Modifications seems to be a very solid addition for players who wish to portray these characters, giving them lots of options for handling their own business and helping their companions do theirs.

-Nate

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Force Awakens Beginner Game from FFG

This please me. It is appropriate for May the Fourth to pass on FFG's announcement of a new beginner game boxed set for The Force Awakens; this seems to indicate that the company has a good future relationship with Disney/Lucasfilm. 

The Force Awakens Beginner Game

-Nate 


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

May the Fourth

For those who live in the Twin Cities metro area, Fantasy Flight Games will be hosting a night of game demos with an X-Wing tournament on Wednesday, May 4th. Check it out.

May the Fourth (2016)

-Nate

Friday, April 1, 2016

Two Beasts and a Droid

No, that's not the title of a new holovid sitcom. Here are stats for three new potential adversaries.

-Nate


Gorgodon (Rival)
Brawn 4 Agility 1 Intellect 1
Cunning 2 Willpower 2 Presence 2

Soak: 6
Wound Threshold: 16
Strain Threshold: 12
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Athletics 2, Brawl 3, Perception 2, Resilience 2, Survival 3, Vigilance 1

Abilities: Thick hide (+2 to soak value); poor vision (suffer a setback die on Perception checks relying on sight); scent (gain a boost die on Perception checks involving smell).

Equipment: Claws (Brawl; Damage 5; Critical 3; Range [Engaged]; Knockdown), Fangs (Brawl; Damage 7; Critical 3; Range [Engaged]).

This predator is vaguely humanoid in appearance, with short legs and huge arms. Its mouth is filled with rows of sharp fangs for gnawing the flesh of of its prey. .




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

Soak: 3
Wound Threshold: 12
Strain Threshold: 11
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Athletics 2, Brawl 2, Computers 2, Mechanics 1, Perception 3, Ranged—Light 3, Stealth 3, Vigilance 1

Abilities: Adaptive camouflage (add 2 boost dice to all Stealth checks); infrared sensors (ignores setback dice on Perception checks due to darkness).

Equipment: Autoblaster (Ranged—Light; Damage 6; Critical 3; Range [Medium]); Claw legs (Brawl; Damage 4; Critical 3; Range [Engaged]; Knockdown); self-destruct mechanism

The chameleon droid, a modified version of the old spelunker droids, is upgraded with an adaptive camouflage that mimics the surrounding terrain. It was developed by the Confederacy of Independent Systems for reconnaissance and sabotage missions; these two are the survivors of one such assignment that pitted them against the Jedi temple on Ilum.



Nerfs (Minions)
Brawn 4 Agility 2 Intellect 1
Cunning 2 Willpower 3 Presence 1

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

Skills (group only): Brawl, Survival

Talents: None

Abilities: Silhouette 2

Equipment: Horns (Brawl; Damage 7; Critical 3; Range [Engaged])

These herd animals seek little more in life than obtaining food and water and avoiding danger. They are not aggressive by nature, but can become violent if they feel threatened.
  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Small Massassi Temple

Presented below is a small Massassi temple, one that requires some puzzle-solving in order to find its treasures. 

-Nate



The Temple of the Heavens
The temple is a smallish step pyramid, one similar to those occupied by the Rebel Alliance more than thirty years prior. It sits on a small island in the middle of a river. The grey stone is covered with moss and vines, making it blend in with the surrounding terrain. Failing that, they might need to resort to more drastic (and perhaps destructive) measures.


0. Entry (Not Pictured)
Given the quality of this pyramid's construction, along with the vegetation growing on it, interested parties must make a hard Perception check to find the removable slab at the top of this pyramid. From there, it's a ten-meter drop to the floor of the main chamber (see below for details). The entrance is represented by the six-meter-wide circle depicted on the map.

1. Orrery Chamber
The center of this temple is filled by a single chamber, one that itself is dominated by a broad ring cut from the stone, along with a structure in the middle that resembles an altar. It is two meters in diameter, with a small hole in the center and a series of twenty-four holes in the surrounding edge. What is more, around the outside of the room there is another circular structure, this one perforated by 201 holes. Their purpose may only become apparent once the PCs possess the keys that should be used with them (see below for details).

2. Cells
Surrounding the orrery chamber there are twenty-four smaller rooms, each six meters square. They provided space for meditation when the Massassi still lived and worshiped here. Now they sit empty, with two exceptions that are detailed below.

3. Gundark Nest
In one corner of the structure the aquatic gundarks have built their nest. They have laid eggs within it, and thus are very protective of the area.


 4. Tomb Raider
Characters who explore the cells and make a hard Perception check notice the corpse of a Human wearing a tattered and rotting jumpsuit, with a water-clogged blaster pistol on his or her hip. What is more, in a satchel this ill-fated treasure hunter has three items. Each is a gemstone fitted atop a thin metal spike; one is green, the second is mottled red and cream, and the third is orange. Although the PCs might not recognize the fact right away, they are the key to accessing the temple's hidden chamber (see below for details).

5. Hidden Chamber
The PCs can gain access to this room as long as they manage to solve the aforementioned puzzle. If an when that happens, a circular staircase opens around the base of the central altar, descending into the darkness below. At the bottom is a round chamber twenty meters in diameter, one that has stone sarcophagi lining the walls. While the remains in this tomb have long since broken down into dust, there are still a few physical artifacts remaining. These include a massassi lanvarok and a handful of ammunition disks for it. At the GM's discretion, there could be more items as well.

Solving the Puzzle
The altar in the middle of the temple, along with the ring around it, represent the relative positions of the system's primary star, the planet Yavin and its fourth moon. In order to access the secret chamber, one must place the green gem spike into the center hole, and then the red and cream one on the outside ring of the altar and the orange one in its proper place, representing the positions of those bodies in the night sky. PCs who don't recognize this connection might make hard Education checks to realize that the device is a primitive type of orrery.  

Monday, March 28, 2016

Slarr the Hutt and the First Order, Part 2

Changes in Personnel
Given the passage of thirty years, it should come as not surprise that there have been changes in staffing at Slarr's palace. Most notably, second in command to the Hutt there is a triumvirate of beings—one old, one new, and one who is somewhere in between.


Slarr the Hutt (Nemesis)
Brawn 6 Cunning 4 Presence 4
Agility 1 Intellect 3 Willpower 4

Soak: 5

Wound Threshold: 18
Strain Threshold: 15
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Brawl 2, Coercion 4, Computers 1, Cool 3, Core Worlds 2, Deception 4, Discipline 3, Education 1, Leadership 3, Lore 2, Melee 2, Negotiation 4, Outer Rim 2, Perception 4, Ranged—Light 2, Resilience 4, Streetwise 4, Survival 1, Underworld 4, Vigilance 4

Talents: Greased Palms, Grit, Know Somebody, Master Merchant, Plausible Deniability, Rapid Recovery, Sound Investments x4, Toughened, Wheel and Deal x2

Abilities: Awkward, Ponderous (refer to page 407 of the core rulebook for details); Adversary 2

Equipment: None

Slarr Uwanesh Diann—although few know his third name—is a relatively young Hutt, is well established in the world of organized crime. As such, he is a force with which to reckon in the galaxy. Slarr runs his organization out of his stronghold on Nal Hutta, and commands a growing ensemble of criminal beings. His activities include the production and distribution of illicit drugs, gunrunning and slavery. Most notably, however, he acts as a go-between for agents of the First Order and the parts of space controlled by the New Republic. Like others of his species, Slarr is ruthless in his pursuit of profit and power. While he is happy to share his ill-gotten gains with inferiors who prove useful to him, in the end he looks out only for himself.


Tenrep “Little Dianoga” Cray II, Aqualish Soldier (Rival)
Brawn 4 Cunning 3 Presence 3
Agility 2 Intellect 1 Willpower 3

Soak: 6
Wound Threshold: 17
Strain Threshold: 10
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Athletics 2, Brawl 3, Coercion 2, Knowledge—Underworld 1, Leadership 2, Melee 2, Ranged—Light 2, Resilience 3, Streetwise 2, Vigilance 2

Talents: Defensive Stance, Durable, Intimidating, Natural Enforcer, Street Smarts, Stunning Blow, Toughened x2

Abilities: Free rank in Brawl and Resilience; can breathe underwater

Equipment: Padded armor, blaster pistol, truncheon

Known as the “Little Dianoga” because he is his father's son, the younger Tenrep tries very hard to fill the shoes of his elder. This is especially the case following his father's death while protecting Slarr from a would-be assassin. Even so, the younger Cray recognizes that his father fought for freedom, and that Slarr's current cooperation with the First Order is really just a return to the type of autocracy experienced under Emperor Palpatine—which itself was a betrayal of the Separatists' efforts during the Clone Wars. For that reason, although he acts as the chief of security in the palace, Cray has begun to question whether or not he is on the right side of this growing conflict.


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

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

Skills (group only): Brawl, Gunnery, Melee, Ranged—Heavy, Ranged—Light

Talents: None

Abilities: Can breathe underwater; remove a setback die due to cold or wet conditions

Equipment: Heavy clothing, blaster pistol, comlink

These thugs are oafish and none too bright, but effective in combat. They are quite loyal to Captain Cray, so it would take a good deal of persuasion for them to betray him.


Golun Tosek, Majordomo (Nemesis)
Brawn 4 Cunning 3 Presence 3
Agility 3 Intellect 1 Willpower 3

Soak: 5
Wound Threshold: 16
Strain Threshold: 11
M/R Defense: 0 / 0

Skills: Astrogation 1, Athletics 3, Brawl 4, Cool 3, Coordination 2, Discipline 3, Lore 3, Medicine 2, Melee 4, Negotiation 2, Perception 3, Piloting—Planetary 1, Piloting—Space 1, Ranged—Light 3, Resilience 3, Skulduggery 3, Stealth 3, Streetwise 2, Survival 2, Underworld 2, Vigilance 3

Talents: Anatomy Lessons, Dodge, Grit, Lethal Blows x2, Master of Shadows, Outdoorsman, Precise Aim, Quick Draw, Quick Strike, Stalker, Targeted Blow

Abilities: One free rank in Resilience; one free rank in Outdoorsman talent

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

Golun Tosek is a cold-blooded killer, nothing more or less. He believes without a hint of doubt that sacrifices earn him the favor of M'dweshuu, and that he will attain through it some kind of glorious standing in a sublime supernatural hierarchy. He is insane. Indeed, that is how he came to take over as Slarr the Hutt's majordomo—by murdering the old Gran who formerly served in that role. Although Slarr is generally pleased with Golun's service, what the Hutt does not know is that this Nikto serves another master, in the form of Snoke.


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

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

Skills (group only): Athletics, Brawl, Perception

Talents: None

Abilities: NA

Equipment: Clothing

These Nikto are rough individuals who work for Slarr because they don't have many other options. Even so, the fact that they have a relatively comfortable life working for Slarr buys a certain amount of loyalty. They know who feeds them and puts a roof over their heads, as it were.


Traborn Yerg, Human Technician (Rival)
Brawn 2 Cunning 3 Presence 2
Agility 1 Intellect 4 Willpower 3

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

Skills: Astrogation 2, Computers 4, Education 3, Gunnery 1, Mechanics 4, Piloting—Planetary 1, Piloting—Space 1, Ranged—Light 2, Skulduggery 3, Streetwise 2

Talents: Grit, Side Step, Solid Repairs, Speaks Binary, Tinkerer x2, Toughened, Utility Belt, Utinni!

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

Equipment: Blaster pistol, comlink, datapad, toolkit

Traborn Yerg serves Slarr by acting as an intermediary between the burgeoning First Order and the Corporate Sector Authority, the primary means by which agents of the former laundered their credits through the latter. In this way, Yerg has risen to a position on par with that of “Little Dianoga” Cray and Golun Tosek. Even so, his newfound influence and wealth do not distract him from his chief passion of building gladiator droids. Indeed, Slarr the Hutt has even asked him to begin building an army of these droids, ones that can be used to begin attacking ships throughout the New Republic. (Slarr the Hutt has it on good authority that opportunities for piracy are about to improve considerably.)


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

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

Skills (group only): Athletics, Brawl, Computers, Perception

Talents: None

Abilities: NA

Equipment: Clothing

These technicians are recruited from the ranks of the servants and trained by Traborn Yerg to work in the palace's comm center. Because they know they've been spared from more difficult tasks by him, that gives Yerg some influence over them. He hasn't been willing to exploit that arrangement, however, because of the security that working for Slarr gives him.


KLR-1 (Rival)
Brawn 2 Cunning 1 Presence 1
Agility 2 Intellect 1 Willpower 1

Soak: 3
Wound Threshold: 14
Strain Threshold: 12
M/R Defense: 1 / 1

Skills: Athletics 1, Brawl 2, Cool 2, Gunnery 2, Melee 2, Perception 1, Ranged—Heavy 2, Ranged—Light 2, Stealth 1, Streetwise 1, Vigilance 2

Talents: Dodge, Grit, Lethal Blows, Precise Aim, Quick Draw, Quick Strike, Targeted Blow

Abilities: Droid Qualities, Inorganic, Mechanical Being

Equipment: Armor equivalent to armored clothing, blaster pistol, blaster carbine, vibrosword


Once an experimental prototype known as “Killer,” Traborn Yerg has begun mass-producing these droids to serve as agents of his Hutt master.