Sunday, May 27, 2018

Review of Solo: A Star Wars Story

It's been a while since I posted on this blog. For a few months I intended to have it focus on the time period after Return of the Jedi and leading up to The Force Awakens, but my dislike of The Last Jedi brought that to a halt. Happily, I really enjoyed Solo: A Star Wars Story, and am feeling some fresh energy and new direction.

-Nate



Review of Solo: A Star Wars Story
I really enjoyed watching this film. It was by no means perfect, but it did a good job of telling a scoundrel-oriented story in the Star Wars universe, one that entertained throughout and that introduced some intriguing new elements for the galaxy. Presented below are some of what I see as the pros and cons.

Pros
Here's what I liked.
  • There were some great action set pieces, including a number of chase scenes, the train robbery that's been featured in some of the trailers, and a number of cool battle.
  • The film does a good job of showing some moments that have been hinted at in other films, such as Han meeting Chewie, the Kessel run, and when Han and Chewie acquire the Millenium Falcon.
  • The acting is solid; I grew to like Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, and loved Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. Other actors were at least good, but usually better than just good.
  • There were some nods to old Expanded Universe material, including references to the StarCave of ThonBoka, the Osseon System and the Sharu.

Cons
Here's what I didn't like so much.
  • Because the film doesn't deal directly with the struggle between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire, the story doesn't have that same kind of gravitas. I think of moments like the end of Rogue One, when truly heroic actions are being taken and moments important to the future of the galaxy are happening; that's not the case in this story.
  • That's about it, really; I can't find fault with much else.

Questions
Here are some questions that remain for me.
  • The appearance of SPOILER toward the end of the film raises big questions about Crimson Dawn and how they tie into the growing conflict throughout the galaxy; I hope we have a chance to explore that more.
  • In the same way, the film shows a moment in the development of the fledgling Rebel Alliance; I'd like to hear more about that story, too.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Review of The Lost Jedi

*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*

This review contains spoilers for The Last Jedi. You are warned.

-Nate


Review of The Lost Jedi
This movie had lots of positive elements. Even so, there are other aspects of it that were unsettling or even disappointing. Presented below are some of what I see as the pros and cons.

Pros
Here's what I liked.
  • There was plenty of action. Even though the film ran longer than any previous Star Wars movie, it didn't seem to lag at all.
  • The script provided plenty of humor, too. Some of it seemed a little goofy, but for the most part it made a nice contrast to the drama.
  • As others have mentioned, the story also provides a number of genuine surprises that helped keep it entertaining.
  • I am intrigued by the scene that takes place on Canto Bight at the end of the film. That provides some potential for interesting development.
  • It was cool to see Luke and Leia interacting again.

Cons
Here's what I didn't like.
  • Poe stages a mutiny that ultimately fails, but it doesn't matter, because someone else's actions render his efforts unimportant.
  • Finn and Rose go on a mission to Canto Bight that ultimately fails, but it doesn't matter. Once again, some else takes care of it. Combined with the previous comment, this doesn't make the heroes of the Resistance seem very competent.
  • The greatest act of heroism is committed by a character introduce in this film, and who dies in this film. That worked in Rogue One because I grew to like those characters in spite of their flaws. It doesn't work here, because for most of the movie I wasn't sure if she was really a hero.
  • Two of the intriguing questions left by The Force Awakens—that of Rey's parentage and the origin of Supreme Leader Snoke—are ultimately dismissed. Snoke is dead now, and, if Kylo Ren was telling the truth, Rey's parents were scavengers who traded her for drinking money.
  • Luke spends the first half of the film arguing why the Jedi Order has to end. He hesitates when it comes to burning down the tree that contains the first Jedi teachings, but Yoda's Force spirit seems to go ahead and make that happen. Even so, by the end Luke has changed his mind.
  • Instead of developing one or both of the potential relationships for Finn (Rey or Poe), we add another character and have even less resolution.
  • In the end, we're left in the same place we were at the end of Episode VII, so it feels like this movie didn't really add a whole lot to the story. Many people disliked George Lucas's work in the prequel trilogy, but it's hard to deny that they added meanigful developments to the story.





Sunday, November 5, 2017

Report #3: Climate Disruption Array

Early reports from Naboo indicate that the Imperial forces there unleashed some new kind of weapon, a network of satellites that disrupted existing weather patterns on the planet, giving rise to powerful storms. This seems like a purely punitive attack, planned by the late Emperor Palpatine—who once was its Senator—on his former homeworld, especially given that planet's largely peaceful history.
-Vor Sendalin, New Republic Intelligence Operative



Climate Disruption Array
Craft: Satellite array
Type: Satellites
Scale: Walker
Skill: NA
Crew: None
Passengers: None
Cover: NA
Cargo Capacity: None
Move: 70; 200 KMH
Maneuverability: 0D
Body Strength: 1D+2
Weapons: None
Cost: Unknown


This weapon consists of a network of satellites that emit energy which, when concentrated on the atmosphere of a particular world, notably increases incidents of violent weather. This can lead to heavy precipitation, strong winds, and even worse.


Climate Disruption Array
This weapon consists of a network of satellites that emit energy which, when concentrated on the atmosphere of a particular world, notably increases incidents of violent weather. This can lead to heavy precipitation, strong winds, and even worse.
Silhouette 3 Speed 3 Handling +0
Defense Fore 0 / Port -- / Starboard -- / Aft 0
Armor 1 HT Threshold 4 SS Threshold 6
Hull Type/Class: Network of satellites
Manufacturer: Unknown
Hyperdrive: Primary: None, Backup: None
Sensor Range: Special
Ship's Complement: None (Controlled remotely)
Encumbrance Capacity: 0
Passenger Capacity: 0
Consumables: None
Price/Rarity: Unknown
Customization Hard Points: 0
Weapons: None



Using this Report in a Star Wars RPG Campaign
There are many ways in which the details from this report can be used in adventures and campaigns, including the following.
  • Unlike with a lot of other options for equipment and/or vehicles, this one gives the GM a largely narrative opportunity during an RPG session. Because these satellites affect the weather on a targeted planet, they add to the challenge of operating vehicles there. Refer to Table 7-8 on page 254 of the Age of Rebellion core rulebook, or to the correspond D6 System rules, for details.
  • While characters onplanet suffer the effects of said weather, those who can reach orbit must destroy the satellites in order to stop the manipulation.
  • In this way, the satellites also provide an interesting opportunity for a GM to incorporate elements of the X-Wing or Star Warriors starfighter combat games into a roleplaying scenario. That is because some characters must fly up into space to destroy the satellites, while others struggle to achieve their ground-based objectives.
  • Of course, while the satellites themselves present little danger in a space battle, the capital ships that deployed them, along with any TIE fighters dispatched to defend them, provide the main difficulty for those who are sent to disable them.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Report #2: Imperial Sentinels


Recent reports have indicated that someone is using these droids to communicate with the splintered remnants of the Galactic Empire. Just who is sending them, however, and what activities or objectives they might be plotting, remains unknown. Needless to say, New Republic Intelligence has made capturing any of them a top priority.


-Vor Sendalin, New Republic Intelligence Operative


Imperial Sentinel
Type: Droid

DEXTERITY 2D
KNOWLEDGE 4D
Bureaucracy 8D
Cultures 6D
Languages 5D
Planetary Systems 7D
MECHANICAL 2D
PERCEPTION 2D
STRENGTH 2D
TECHNICAL 2D

Equipped With:
  • Humanoid body (two arms, two legs, head)
  • One visual and two audial sensors—human range
  • Vocabulator speech/sound system
  • AA-2 Verbo-Brain
  • Built-in holographic projector that displays the face of Emperor Palpatine
Force Points: 0
Character Points: 5
Move: 7
Equipment: Red robes

Each of these units wears red robes and has a transparisteel dome where the head would normally be; the holographic image of former Emperor Palpatine is projected inside the dome. They are used for transmitting information between remnants of the Imperial Forces, but just who controls them and what objectives they have is unknown.
Imperial Sentinel
Each of these units wears red robes and has a transparisteel dome where the head would normally be; the holographic image of former Emperor Palpatine is projected inside the dome. They are used for transmitting information between remnants of the Imperial Forces, but just who controls them and what objectives they have is unknown.

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

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

Skills: Core Worlds 2, Education 2, Negotiation 2, Outer Rim 2, Perception 1

Talents: None

Abilities: Droid (does not need to breathe, eat or drink and can survive in vacuum and underwater, immune to poisons and toxins)

Equipment: Red robes


Using this Report in a Star Wars RPG Campaign
There are many ways in which the details from this report can be used in adventures and campaigns, including the following.
  • Exactly what information these droids might have in the memories is left up to the GM. Some possibilities include plans for Imperial military operations, details about supply chains and funding for them, locations for unaccounted high-ranking personnel, and the like.
  • The droids could very well be equipped with self-destruct mechanisms similar to those built into Viper probe droids, in order to protect their secrets.
  • Needless to say, the Imperial remnants seek to recover any units that fell into New Republic hands by any means necessary.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Report #1: The State of the Galaxy


In the aftermath of the Battle of Endor, it's imperative that we establish just what is fact and what is rumor. With that in mind, here is what agents of the New Republic need to know in order to pursue their business.
-Vor Sendalin, New Republic Intelligence Operative

The Battle of Endor
First and foremost, the second Death Star has been destroyed. That much is indisputable; wreckage from that battle station currently hangs in space above, and rains down upon, the Sanctuary Moon. Moreover, many vessels from the Imperial fleet have also been disabled or destroyed, most notably including the Super Star Destroyer Executor.
More important than all of that, however, is the fact that Emperor Palpatine and his enforcer, Darth Vader, are dead. They were, per the testimony of Commander Luke Skywalker, aboard the Death Star, and were killed—or failed to escape—before it was destroyed. While those claims have not been independently verified, I'm inclined to take Commander Skywalker at his word.

Operation Cinder
It seems that Emperor Palpatine might have anticipated the defeat of the New Order by the Alliance to Restore the Republic at the Battle of Endor, since he apparently set up this plan as a contingency to just that situation. This included the following actions.
  • Note: This information was discovered by a team of Special Forces Pathfinders on computers in a secret Imperial facility on the moon of Endor, opposite to the base that projected the energy shield for the second Death Star, as well as an ISB black site facilty on a world known as the Wretch of Tayron.
  • Cawa City on Sterdic IV was the location of fierce fighting, including starfighters used against AT-AT walkers.
  • The deployment of a climate disruption array in orbit around Naboo can only be an act of specific act of revenge against that world, since it is thence that Palpatine hailed. The tide of that battle was turned by General Lando Calrission, leading a strikeforce aboard the Mon Calamari vessel Mellcrawler II.
  • Other targeted worlds include Abednedo, Burnin Konn, Cadovant and Commenor. Whether Palpatine targeted them due to some kind of prior grudge or because of a particular strategic value is not known.
  • Following those actions, Commander Skywalker and Lieutenant Shara Bey infiltrated an Imperial facility on the planet Vetine in the Merrick Sector. While the objective of that mission is not officially known, scuttlebutt has it that they were seeking to recover remnants of one or two trees kept there that had grown in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.

Imperial Military Remnants
In spite of that victory, many soldiers and officers of the New Order continue to fight against the New Republic—to which they still refer as the Rebellion. Some of the more notable figures, suspected or known to be active still, are the following.
  • Commander Iden Versio of Inferno Squad.
  • Captain Lerr Duvat of the Star Destroyer Torment.
  • Admiral Rae Sloane, aboard the Star Destroyer Vigilance.
  • Grand Moff Ardus Kaine of the Super Star Destroyer Reaper.
  • Admiral Zsinj, aboard the Star Destroyer Iron Fist.

Imperial Governmental Remnants
It should also be noted that the locations and situations for a number of the Emperor's close advisers remain unaccounted; these include Mas Amedda, Sly Moore, Ars Dangor and Sate Pestage. More information about them is forthcoming. The prior two are likely somewhere on Coruscant, and the latter may have been killed in the destruction of the second Death Star, but that has not yet been confirmed.

The Galactic Underworld
While this may seem tangential to the conflict between the New Order and the Alliance to Restore the Rebellion, it is important to note that at least two organizations that are prominent in the galactic underworld have recently suffered setbacks. These may or may not be of use to the establishment of the New Republic, but are included here on the offhand chance that that should be the case.
  • On the planet Tatooine, rumor has it that crime lord Jabba the Hutt has died. Some say that this is because of an explosion aboard his sail barge while attending an execution at the Pit of Carkoon, but rumor has it that a visit from certain agents of the Rebel Alliance may have been instrumental in the slug's death.
  • Given that, events on the planet Coruscant are perhaps even more notable. Following an explosion in the tower belonging to Prince Xizor of the Black Sun syndicate, rumor has it that the Falleen head of that organization has also been killed. Here again, scuttlebutt has it that agents of the Alliance—possibly the same ones—may have been involved.

Using this Report in a Star Wars RPG Campaign
There are many ways in which the details from this report can be used in adventures and campaigns, including the following.
  • The end of the Galactic Civil War puts agents of the Rebel Alliance into an unusual position, having to start acting as the new government in the absence of the Empire.
  • This situation could be exacerbated when criminal elements—possibly ones that were once controlled by Black Sun or Jabba the Hutt—ramp up their own activities, believing that there's no law enforcement able to stop them.
  • Even worse, places like Mos Eisley on Tatooine and the Underworld on Coruscant could erupt with all-out gang wars as criminals vie for control of their now leaderless organizations.
  • The PCs could be part of a Republic strikeforce sent to detail with Operation Cinder on one of the aforementioned planets; the Imperial attack there might use another climate disruption array, or it could take another form.
  • There's also the matter of cleaning up after the Galactic Civil War; the injured and ill need medical treatment, captured Imperials must be disarmed, etc.
  • All the while, remnants of the scattered Imperial forces keep fighting, refusing to accept defeat. Given that their supply lines are disrupted, they might even turn to criminal elements to acquire the materiel that they need.
  • It's possible that more secrets are buried in computer systems like the ones on Endor and the Wretch of Tayron. These could include weapons development projects, locations where prisoners are being held, and the like. (The Firestorm plot is one possible example: http://talesfromtheedgeoftheempire.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-firestorm-plot.html.)
  • As the New Republic government becomes more established, its judicial system might focus on capturing certain ex-Imperials who committed especially grievous war crimes and bringing them to trial.



Friday, October 20, 2017

New Republic Intelligence Reports

For a while now I've been trying to decide on a direction for this blog. I'm excited about the new movie coming out this year, but it's hard to do too much speculating until the new trilogy is complete. There's interesting potential, however, in the time period between Episodes VI and VII, the start of the New Republic. With that in mind, this post is the first in a series that'll look at that period, starting with the Shattered Empire comics and the Aftermath novels. 

Oh, one other thing: With Fantasy Flight Games republishing the D6-System Star Wars RPG, I've decided to start dual-statting relevant articles. 

-Nate 


New Republic Intelligence Reports
There's an old saying that “knowledge is power.” Here, in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor, New Republic Intelligence is acting on that belief; it is the hope of High Command that better communication will give us an advantage over the increasingly scattered remnants of the New Order. With that in mind, I have been tasked with transmitting a regular series of reports as updates to officers, soldiers and other agents in the field about this conflict.

-Vor Sendalin, New Republic Intelligence Operative

Vor Sendalin
Type: New Republic Bureaucrat

DEXTERITY 2D
KNOWLEDGE 4D
MECHANICAL 3D
Communications 4D
PERCEPTION 3D+2
Con 5D+2
Investigation 5D+2
Search 4D+2
STRENGTH 2D+1
TECHNICAL 3D
Computer Prog/Rpr 4D

Force Points: 1
Character Points: 5
Move: 10
Equipment: Average clothes, comlink, 175 credits, sporting blaster

Vor Sendalin is a rather nondescript Human male, of medium height and build, with dark hair and eyes—just the sort who can blend in with the crowd in most spaceports. While he has minimal combat training, his vigilant awareness and keen mind allow him to notice details in situations that might escape other beings—abilities that make him a capable intelligence analyst.
Vor Sendalin
This rather nondescript Human male, of medium height and build, has dark hair and eyes—just the sort of being who can blend in with the crowd in most spaceports. While he has minimal combat training, his vigilant awareness and keen mind allow him to notice details in situations that might escape others—abilities that make him a capable intelligence analyst.

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

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

Skills: Computers 2, Core 1, Deception 1, Education 1, Negotiation 1, Outer Rim 1, Perception 2, Vigilance 1, Warfare 1

Talents: Codebreaker, Defensive Slicing, Grit

Abilities: One free rank in two non-career skills

Equipment: Clothing, handheld comlink, light blaster pistol, 175 credits, (Ranged—Light; Damage 5; Critical 4; Range [Medium]; Stun setting).



Using Vor Sendalin in a Star Wars RPG Campaign
There are many ways in which this intelligence operative can be used in adventures and campaigns, including the following.
  • Vor Sendalin makes a good regular contact for the PCs, presenting them with information about, and objectives for, various missions.
  • In this way, he serves as an intermediary between the PCs and the NPCs who are in charge.
  • If he was ever given reason for doing so, this operative might decide to spy on the PCs to make sure that they are truly loyal to the New Republic.
  • Should the operative himself ever be turned by the enemy, he would become a real danger to the fledgling New Republic.