Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Neti-Tree

The Neti-Tree
The galaxy is a big place filled with myriad and diverse species of beings. Among them, fewer are surrounded by more mystery and myth than the Neti. These mobile, plant-based sentients are quite rare, and possess powers that others might find remarkable. Among those abilities, perhaps none is regarded as more unusual than that which lets a dying Neti transition into a tree, one that is not itself sentient or mobile, but that still possesses some aspect of that being's life force.

Such is the case with a tree that grows along a sandy each on Corellia's southern continent. It is the remains of a Neti Jedi, one who was betrayed and murdered by an associate named Pel Ontago. That fellow, a Corellian who operates a chain of vacation cabins, makes a living from providing privacy to those beings who need it. He asks no questions, but happily charges the appropriate fees for doing so. Some years ago, however, he violated his self-appointed vow of silence in order to rescue himself from growing Imperial pressure.

During the Clone Wars, Corellia's neutral status was hugely benefical for Ontago's business. After all, he provided places for beings from both sides of the conflict--and for interested third parties, too--to meet and conduct negotiations. It is true that some of these were illicit in nature, but he never felt the need to intrude on them. Even so, when Imperial Intelligence came and started asking difficult questions, he knew that he needed some leverage. Unfortunately for Obah the Neti, she was that leverage.

Obah of the Agri-Corps
The situation was this. At the height of the Clone Wars, Obah the Neti was a youngling who'd been chosen for training by the Jedi, and who was on the verge of being selected as a Padawan. She had seen how the war was affecting the Order, however, and didn't like it. What was more, she felt a deep and abiding connection to the natural world, and recognized that the seemingly endless series of battles created dissonance with how things should have been. For that reason, she chose to forego entering the Order, and instead became a member of the Agri-Corps. Before long, she had established her reputation as a "plant whisperer."

It seemed that the Neti just had a way with vegetables, fruits and grains. For that reason she quickly developed a reputation, and was often called upon to travel to worlds where there were agricultural problems. That was how she ended up on Corellia, when a blight struck a local grain crop that was vital to the production of Corellian whiskey. Unfortunately for her, that was also when Supreme Chancellor Palpatine issue Order 66.

Because she was not a Jedi, and therefore not in battle alongside a squad of clone troopers, Obah avoided the brunt of that threat. Even so, those beings who wished to put themselves into the good graces of the new regime were quick to recognize her as an opportunity for doing so. Such was the case with a local bureaucrat named Pel Ontago, a mid-level functionary who was willing to exploit any means of gaining favor. He managed to dupe her by offering a means of fleeing the planet, and then using poison to murder her.

For her part, Obah managed to stagger outside of the seaside cabin in which she'd been hiding, but knew the end was near. For that reason she decided to undergo the transformation from humanoid form into a tree, albeit one that was dying. Even so, her new form concealed two secrets--her lightsaber, tucked beneath her roots, and a lingering presence, one that can assist those who use the Force to perceive the world around them.

The Cabin
Obah was hiding out in a cabin along Corellia's famed Gold Beaches when she was killed. It is in a remote location, one where beings like to go "to get away from it all." It is not too far from the local mag-lev station, however. The cabin boasts a living room area with a couch and table (1), along with a fully functional kitchen (2). There's also a master bedroom (3) and refresher (4). A ladder leads up one wall to a second lofted bedroom (5), one that is usually used by younglings.

Characters who know about such things can recognize that the tree looks dead, and doesn't bear any leaves, but is still somehow not dead. This should seem unusual, but only Force-sensitive characters can gain an impression as to why this is the case.
In game terms, Force-sensitive characters who meditate underneath the Neti-tree gain the benefits of one or more talents from the Sense power tree on page 280 of the core rulebook, as what remains of Obah's spirit helps focus their perceptions. (At the GM's discretion, other talents from future supplements could also apply.) Characters who are able to detect such things can tell that some kind of presence is inherent in the Neti-tree, although it is not possible to interact with the presence in any intelligible way.

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

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

Skills: Charm 2, Computers 1, Core Worlds 2, Deception 2, Education 1, Leadership 1, Lore 1, Negotiation 2, Perception 1, Piloting--Planetary, Ranged--Light 1, Underworld 1, Vigilance 1, Xenology 1

Talents: Nobody's Fool, Plausible Deniability, Toughened, Well-Rounded

Abilities: One free rank in each of two skills

Equipment: Clothing, datapad, comlink, hold-out blaster

Pel Ontago is a being who suffers from delusions of grandeur. He considers himself to be an important and influential being, one who has garnered interplanetary attention for himself. What he is unwilling to admit is that he is little more than pawn in schemes that are completely beyond him. Even though he betrayed and murdered Obah, they haven't done much by way of remuneration. As such, he is rather embittered toward the powers that be. Even so, if given the opportunity--such as if he encountered beings who harbored anti-Imperial sympathies and were interested in the mystery of a lost Force practitioner--he would sell them out just as quickly as he did the Neti. Ontago uses his charms and knowledge to wheadle information and favors out of others.

Using the Neti-Tree in an Edge of the Empire Campaign
Many of the ways in which Obah's legacy can be used in a campaign are detailed below.
  • If the campaign has a Force-sensitive character, meditating beneath the Neti-tree can be a good way to develop new abilities.
  • It's always possible that such a character experiences a vision containing important information, perhaps even a call to some kind of quest.
  • Should the powers that be learn of a Force spirit that survived the Purge, they would likely try to eliminate it.
  • Pel Ontago is a slippery character who would not like the truth of his betrayal to be revealed, and doesn't hesitate to arrange "unfortunate accidents" for those who are meddling in his business.

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