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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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