Archive for the ‘Star Wars Saga Edition’ category

Monday June 13, 2011-Two scoundrels and a Wookiee enter a bar…..

June 13, 2011

Before they even enter the hotel, Lando flips a credit chip to Chewie and tells him “rooms are on me, I get my own.”  Of course he does this in front of a few porters, doormen, and people who always hang outside of any hotel; if there is a woman he winks at her.  He walks right through the lobby like a politician, ignoring everyone around him; even Han pauses with Chewie so they can organize the logistics of renting rooms.  Lando walks with purpose, going directly to the bar as if he had been there a dozen times.  Lando is in the mood for something and he has plenty gold to buy it, without paying a dollar more.  That gold is charm. …

So, in Star Wars’ Saga Edition the group of Heroes gets some rooms at the local Hotel.  Many GMs, myself included, could quickly gloss over this fact.  Yet, some players would protest, some players want “color” and “hero definition” where a hotel bar could be an opportunity.  After all, Lando cannot demonstrate his suave and charming side while piloting the Millennium Falcon.  Being a good GM, I let the player play out a color scene for his hero, Lando. 

The player wants to use his charm and charisma to get a little nookie.  WHY, this is D20, who really knows?  Maybe the player just wants some of that old time rag; piss off the other players by showing off their Hero’s skills, or maybe there is a lead of some sort to work out later?  One of the amazing things about D&D and D20 is that players can call for scenes and skill rolls that have every little consequence on the current situation.  Yet, at the same time, the more they gather the more they can use against you, the GM.  Some players use a shot-gun approach, especially if you use any bonus with “natural 20’s.”   The more BS rolls they make the greater chance to get a “natural 20” which gives them a useable boon.  Unfortunately, there is no mechanic to address this situation within the game.   

Anyway, let’s get back to the game; roll for “somthum and somthum.”  That is how D20 deals with it, make a roll for “somthum and somthum” if you make it, then you got somthum; if not, then you didn’t.  Now comes the stupid ass complications, are you making an ability or skill check, what skill are you using, is this an oppose roll or using a DC number, should you use everyone within the room Will Def as a DC?  The problem with D20 is that the system only deals with the immediate results of an action, not “officially” anything else.  It does not matter what you used roll, all that matters is if you succeed or fail.  This simple go/no-go roll makes it really boring for all the players, including the Jerk-off who requested the roll in the 1st place. 

And then there is semantics, you just want to get some nookie? Okay that is an easily DC 10, you rolled a success!!! You are awakened by a man screaming for Lola in the lobby and hall.  The amazing woman that you met last night has been replaced by a frighten abused woman, whose name happens to be Lola.  The player never said what type of “somthum” he wanted.   

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April 28, 2011- And then there were three.

April 28, 2011

You know, gaming groups are a lot like garage bands; if everyone joins just to play, then everything goes great.  If people show up with their own agendas, then it turns into a soap opera of drama.  Personal hopes and dreams are really big distraction to a group who are trying to do one single collective task.  Most failed garage bands had one person who wanted to be the next big hit, wanted to find their own voice, or simply hook-up with another member.  The band fails when those members realize that they are not going to be able to get what they want by using the band.  That is the real sin of the whole thing, a person trying to exploit the group to get what they solely want. 

I think my Star Wars Campaign was destined to be just as much as a failure around the dinner table than if I we tried to rock out in the garage.  After all, half of us had our own hidden agendas and now we cannot exploit the group to get them, so we want to leave the band.  My son has already left the group, so now there were three.  I had my own agenda involving my son, which now makes me question if we should continue.

The thing is I suddenly understand how I was messing up the whole band with my own agenda.  What I need to do is choose an instrument and just play.  Not try to do anything beyond what the group is trying to do.  Unfortunately, we have not been just playing; so, the question is whether the rest of the band wants to continue playing?   

April 25, 2011-More Storms in April

April 25, 2011

This month is turning out to be a disappointing month.  Not only did I not get my Apocalypse World game started but now I got the talk from my son that I have been speculating would happen since December- “you know Dad, I am getting bored of Star Wars, pretty much all role-playing, and I think I would rather play RPGs on the X-box.” 

You see, I am a divorced Dad that lives about an hour away from his kids which only allows me visitation every other weekend.  Playing Star Wars was a good way to bond with my oldest son; it was something to do over the weekend and gave special attention from me to him.  In December, he transferred schools and moved in.  Over the last four months he has found more things to do around our home than he could by just visiting every other weekend and has received that fatherly attention you can only get by living with your father.  When you are a visiting Dad, you want the all the weekends to be good; so you don’t worry about the little things, you turn a blind eye to a messy room, and empathize about school and grades because they are not your responsibility.   A weekend Dad has to accept that he does not have any direct control over his children but rather influence which is directly related to how receptive your children are to you.  Pissed off kids, generally, are not at all receptive to your opinions, so you want to keep them happy. 

Living with your child is a completely different setting which changes nearly all the dynamics.  That messy bedroom for two out of fourteen days is now messy twelve out of fourteen, no blind eye turned for that.  School and Grades are now my responsibility, so I have to directly get involve.  Sure I can still empathize once every three months when we have a heart to heart talk about his feelings towards school; but I also have to make sure he is turning in assignments every week.   Instead of worrying about what we can do, I worry about what he is doing.  Also, he gets to see my bad days and normal flaws, which can be shelved for two out of fourteen days.  In other words, we are getting normal parent/teenager relationship.

All of this has taken the luster out of gaming together, which I figure would happen down the road when I agreed to having him live with me and Laura.  I hoped it would not be so soon, that the game would be compelling enough to keep his interest.  However, can a teenager keep his attention on a game that happens at most-once a month?  No, not really.  So, when he talked to me this gaming weekend about not wanting to play, I complemented him on his honesty and courage.  I was disappointed but not angry, I understood where his heart was coming from which lessen the pain- I did hound him about his homework. 

Many people say that they game to get away from their life that it is an escape and that they can be briefly somebody else who is not them.  I never really understood that, because life has this way of following you around.  When try to stop it, it is like putting post in a field, life just walks through the gaps.

Pete

4/8/2011-Clone Wars Story Arc-Part Two-The Basic Story “All Roads Lead to the Core”

April 8, 2011

Chess Game Cliché –The Heroes and Villain have to win the hearts and minds of the populas.

Cat n’ Mouse Cliché – The Villain is at the forefront of every conflict.

The Villain

The female Besalisk, Major Shahhat, is the villain of this story.  By lumping Lucas’ Cannon about this species with the background of the Mythical Basilisk, which the species is tied to, creates a visual inhuman threat.  Major Shahhat is an imposing creature on sight and her motivations are poisonous extensions of greed.  An obese octopus destroying most of what is around her, while hording what is left.  If a Hutt symbolizes complacent gluttony; then this Besalisk symbolizes resentful greed.    Major Shahhat not only will take what you have, but is insulted by the fact that you have it.  She is a large bloated six arm and four legged creature of hate that the heroes will need to overcome.  Her troops and tactics reflect her personality. 

The Story

With the Trade Federation controlling most of the Rimma Trade Route, the Separatist’s military leader Major Shahhat wants to move deeper into the galaxy.  She desires to seize the riches of the Core Worlds, starting with Herglic Space.   This sector, with an incredibly large docile species, can easily be a launching point to take opulent Core Worlds.  Besides, Herglic Space’s luxury is nearly comparable to those of the Core Worlds; an appetizer before the entrée. 

Her invasion begins before the Battle of Geonosis with poison and panic.  Endorsed by Count Dooku and backed up financially by the Retail Caucus, Major Shahhat buys both; the means for propaganda and inter-sector manufacturing on 26 (of the 40) star systems.  The first corporation, The HoloMarket Corp, has started a subversive crusade to create fear and panic through Holonet broadcasting.  The Second corporation, The Enlighten Funding Foundation, is removing the middleclass while destroying the efficiency and quality of the sector’s manufacturing.  After the Battle of Geonosis, Major Shahhat secretly moves her droid troops into the sector for her invasion.    

Twists

The real twist within this story is that the troops are the Cat n’ Mouse.  As the heroes pit their troops against the Separatist’s, Major Shahhat moves them around fairly effortlessly destroying anything she held.  The real Chess Game is dealing with the population’s attitude, which means chipping away and undoing the propaganda and economical machine that Shahhat has set up. 

Another twist about this story is that; as the heroes use the military, the more damage and change is inflicted on the population.  Herglic Space starts out as a near utopian suburb, only to be slowly turned into a polarized military complex.

Clone Wars Story Arc. Part One-Writer’s Perspective

April 5, 2011

 

Overview of Era

Although this era has been defined by Lucas’ three prequels, “The Clone Wars” has its own distinctive setting despite all of George’s “poetry elements.”  The greatest element is how much the Jedi Order has become institutionalized and centralized in comparison of all the other eras.  All Jedi are trained on Coruscant under the laws imposed by the High Council, those Jedi who do not fall in line with the High Councils’ wishes are marginalized within the Order.  Furthermore, this is the only time where the Jedi Order is fully apart of the Republic’s bureaucracy.  High Council members meet with the Republics’ Executive and Legislative Branches on a daily bases.  In many ways the Jedi Order seems to function as a fourth branch of the Republic, a catch-all branch assuming duties to support the other branches of government- let’s call it “the Gopher Branch.”  The final distinction is that the whole galaxy is being torn apart by a 19th -20th century style of warfare.  It’s a war on all fronts by two groups of equal power; the Republic is being led by the Gopher Branch.  The two big “poetry elements” that this era gives us is; first, the metaphorical dehumanization of war becomes literal through the use of cybernetics and tissue scaring by the Force and second; a Jedi Purge book-ending the era. 

This era is defined by war that is feels like World War One and Two, industrialized armies of equal strength covering a vast amount of space and resources.  The war is a Chess Game Cliché on any level or scale; from the squad leader all the way up to the Generals.  Each side is so equal that only the specialized qualities of each leader are pivotal against the other to determine victory.  As a GM, if you want huge battles, highly developed villains, and pressure on each decision the heroes make; the Clone War era is your choice.  Unfortunately, the Star Wars Mega-plot is extremely heavy handed in this era.  No matter what story arc a GM creates; in the end, there is a three day period that the Republic successfully conducts a Jedi Purge, destroys the leadership of the Separatist Government, wins a galactic war, and declares an Emperor to lead the Republic. 

The Golden Rule of Clichés: To follow my own rule, we need to graft another cliché and/or bring in a good twist, to give some depth to the story.  Any of the other three clichés are feasible.  The Cat n’ Mouse Cliché can create a more of a Vietnam or Korean War feel to the game.  The heroes are moving forward in battle towards the Big-Bad-Guy, only to lose ground or have the battlefield shift making dramatic issues for heroes.  A Daisy-Chain Cliché fits within a story element where the heroes need to pursue something in addition to their own strategy to gain the upper hand.  Yes, the Master Mind Cliché works well, as every gain the heroes get includes a counter attack by the villain.  Personally, I would want to avoid the Master Mind Cliché because they easily dominate the next two eras.

Conclusion

For this story arc, I am planning to combine the Chess Game and Cat n’ Mouse.  I am dismissing the other two because, the Master Mind Cliché fits with the next two proceeding eras and I just did a Daisy Chain Cliché with KOTOR.  I do want to keep thing mixed up and semi-original.   For a twist, I think I will make the Separatists good guys compared to the Republic.

3/30/2011-KOTOR Story Arc-Part Two-The Basic Story “A Covent of Arcs”

March 30, 2011

Daisy Chain Cliché-The Heroes have to secretly hide “The Three Arc of the Codex” before the Jedi Purge.

Chess Game Cliché- The Heroes need to out maneuver the Jedi Council in hiding the Codex. 

The Story

Just before the Jedi Civil War, before Darth Revan and Malak reveal their evil intentions, the Jedi Master and Watchman Prod-yoke foresees the coming of the Jedi Purge.  The High Council finds Master Prod-yoke’s claims of the future as hysterical and deranged, labeling the Watchman as an alarmist.  Deep down the Masters can recognize that the High Council could easily be dissolved along with all their work to create a centralized Jedi Order, however they simply cannot see all Jedi destroyed.  Council Member Vrook Lamar does not easily dismiss Prod-yoke’s claims as the rest of the High Council does, but rather takes an interest in this Watchmen’s actions.

The Jedi Watchman creates his own council, the Preservation Council, who are Jedi that believe in his prophecy.  This group is dedicated in preserving the Jedi Order; although they strongly feel they cannot prevent or escape the upcoming Jedi Purge, they believe that their teachings and ideas can survive.  They create the Arcs of the Codex, three specialized chest that house a holocron each with specific teachings of the Jedi.  Their intentions are to hide each Arc of the Codex somewhere throughout the galaxy to be used after the Purge by the Stko Skared, the new Jedi who will need the teachings. 

The heroes will be given the job by Jedi Master and Watchmen Prod-yoke of hiding the Arcs of the Codex.  Each of the Arc of the Codex represents one of the three tenants of the Jedi Code; Self-discipline, Responsibility, and Public Service.  They will be hidden on a planet which properly corresponds to their codex (sort of vague and under interpretation by the GM on what it means to “correspond” but that will be in part three.)   Naturally, the more the heroes try to hide their actions the more sources of information and political capital they use, gaining more and more attention of High Council Member Vrook Lamar.  Thus a Chess Game of resources between the Jedi High Council and the Preservation Council is firmly established.  Yes, the second twist is that the real antagonist is the Jedi Council itself. 

The Final Twist

In all actuality, the holocrons are worthless; the Arcs themselves have all the holocron data written in binary on the surface of the Arcs themselves.  However, the Arcs are built out carbonite and within each of them is a Force-Sensitive Pre-adolescent left in a state of suspended animation in the species of the world that the Arc was left on.  Jedi Master Prod-yoke and the Preservation Council believed that these Stko Skared, Sleeping Force-Sensitives, within their frozen state would escape detection from the wrathful Sith set on destroying all Jedi.  Years later, they would emerge as the New Jedi with all the teachings they needed within the very beds they had slept in for so long. 

Conclusion

I feel that this is a really good story arc which embraces cannon and has a few surprises that will take the players for an entertaining ride. 

Pete

3/29/2011-KOTOR Story Arc. Part One-Writer’s Perspective

March 29, 2011

Overview of Era

“Knights of the Old Republic” has many unique elements that tie into the standard George Lucas “poetry” of Star Wars.  The greatest unique element is that the Republic fails or nearly fails on so many levels and yet will survive to become the colossal authority and bureaucracy seen in episodes’ 1-3.  A well-populated, yet fractionalized, Jedi Order will try to consolidate power within their own and fail with their first galactic crisis; because they see themselves as a separate institution from the government and their problems.  The Republic does not have a large blanket of influence either, but rather a web of stringy trade routes that connect the systems that they control with wide gaps of uncontrolled and unexplored regions- all within the Republic’s own backyard.  Additionally, the galactic civilization has a plethora of aggressors; there is the Sith, Mandalorians, Hutts and all those other assemblages of governments to fight against.  Top all this mayhem off with a past of lost empires and dictators that have left their mark on the galaxy.  It also contains two George Lucas “poetry elements;” First, a gigantic weapons in the Star Forge and Mass Shadow Generator, Second, a Jedi Purge that ends the era.

This era is ripe for the Daisy Chain Cliché; after all, the two videogames that defined the era used this cliché.  If you are a more creative GM who wants to bring their own worlds to the Star Wars Universe; then both this Cliché and KOTOR are good choices because there are plenty of open spaces for you to fill in and then have your heroes explore.  Furthermore, the whole Mega-plot can easily be dismissed because how loosely controlled the galaxy is.  If you want to make a collation of planets to replace the Republic, go ahead you don’t have to struggle with cannon here. 

The Golden Rule of Clichés: To follow my own rule, we need to graft another cliché or bring in a good twist to bring in some depth to the story.  Any of the other three clichés seem rather feasible.  The Cat n’ Mouse works well for the same reasons as does the Daisy Chain, exploration into new parts of the galaxy.  The Master Mind can work by using any of the enemies of the era-Sith, Hutts, Mandalorains, or something new.  The Chess Game could work also because in this era war seems to be conducted around figureheads and their fleets rather than holding strategic points with armies. 

Conclusion

For this story arc, I am planning to combine the Daisy Chain with the Chess Game Cliché and add a few twists and end up with a moral dilemma.  I rejected the other two clichés because; the Master Mind is done so often in RPGs and there are other Star Wars eras where it is the dominate cliché; and the Cat n’Mouse combined with the Daisy Chain I thought would really just drag out.  I think as a twist, instead of going to find or get stuff, the heroes will have to leave things or hide them. 

Pete