UnnaturalGasMember since: 2011
Well, I tried EOTE for awhile. It was fun, but ultimately too much for me to keep track of regarding character development. It went the way of most RPGs; source books pour forth, each one with its own new set of classes and trees to fluster the GM. That's my biggest gripe, and it wouldn't be that big of an issue if the core rulebook didn't feel so lacking. Like I mentioned though, that is the way things go when money changes hands.
That said, I'm running Saga again, which is great news for my players. We had a very long running campaign with characters that none of us wanted to transfer over to EOTE, so they got shelved while I dabbled in the new system. My players are beyond excited now though, as I've recently announced to them we can dust those characters off and change the fate of the galaxy. Saga feels more natural to me too; I've been running it since it came out. The trouble is, only one of my players bothered to record the story as it progressed (at my insistence), and my own notes on the campaign have been lost to the vortex that gobbles up things when people move house.
But I digress. The reason I'm making this thread is twofold. First, I would be honored to regale my artistic friends here with tales of intrigue and suspense, and it also allows me to record the game's progress without having super secret GM papers strewn about or getting lost. To be continued.
Saga was the one Star Wars game I could never get a feel for - I think I'm just not great at RPGs that require combat maps in order to make full use of the rules. WEG and FFG are my favourites, but I can understand how the growing number of sourcebooks could get frustrating to a GM.
I could never get used to not using maps. I'm a chess person myself, so I like the strategic movement element.
I looooove the maps. I like a GM that's flexible enough to work around their limitations when the narrative calls for it, to be sure, but I love the maps. When you have a big party fighting lots of dudes or traversing an intricate place, the visualisation really really helps with immersion, and just plain old keeping track of what's going on. Maps and minis forever!
I decided to get back into gear slowly, so I ran a two-player Dark Times arc wherein a Jedi Master hiding in plain sight sends his apprentice to observe a first-contact party sponsored by an agricultural concern called NepTech. Our players took on the role of the Bothan Jedi apprentice, Wesk, who was sent by his Master "to learn how peace is made", and a hired Lepi scout by the name of Perri to help assimilate with the natives and keep the NepTech representatives safe on the ground. The natives had already been doing business with smugglers, and so had acquired blaster weapons in great quantities while still in the stone age. A great deal of the planet's ecosystem had thusly been hunted into near extinction, which resulted in mass migrations and/or outright cannibalism by groups led by vicious warlords. The group had to run interference between peaceful, naive tribes and starving war parties while instructing the more agreeable tribes in the ways of agriculture and husbandry.
Between a stubborn, proud chief and a horde of armed cannibals, our Jedi learned that peace is made not by governments, but by individuals (awfully 'after school special', I know, but it felt right). This counted as his Control trial as well. Also our scout discovers her Force-sensitivity and becomes interested in the path of the Jedi. I can provide more detail, such as character stats and scenarios, if anyone needs specifics, but I'd like to keep it short and sweet for the thread. we ran that arc out in about five four-hour sessions, if I recall. I'll try to get the thread caught up to present in a timely manner.
The next few sessions took place on a mining planet reminiscent of Lando's foray on Nkllon, although not nearly as harsh. The planet itself is in its late volcanic stage, much like sullust, before the core cools enough to form relatively stable tectonic plates like ours. At any rate, thery meet up with Wesk's Bith Jedi Master, who has been able to stay in public favor as an art curator, too widely known and beloved for the Empire to attack him directly. He has a knack for remaining unnoticed in a crowd when he wants to, and people regularly bump into him. At any rate, he knows time is short to train his apprentice, and sends Wesk and Perri both into the Sense trial he himself went through half a century ago.
The mobile mining stations that have been operating here constantly rove around the planet, manned by small teams, seeking new mountains being pushed to the surface after eruptions or tectonic convergences, and park next to them before sending armies of mining droids like ants to essentially hollow them out in search of certain igneous compounds. This leaves massive cave systems in each mountain, perfect for a bit of spelunking. When combined with the terraforming flora, though, it makes for a Jedi trial.
The mappa bush is a hardy ground-cover plant that was brought to the planet hundreds of years ago when it was first determined to be viable as a mining outpost. Among its unique properties that makes it so hardy is its ability to break rock using a crystalline structure that grows around its roots. When in a large enough space, however, these crystal structures can grow quite large, and are hyper-sensitive to sound and light, converting or amplifying it into subsonic vibrations that easily destabilize surrounding rock. Of course, these crystalline roots have grown down through the ground into the hollow chambers below the mountains, so that anyone adventuring therein will have to do so without a source of light and without making a sound.
So, in they go, exclusively relying on the Force for navigation, but otherwise in complete sensory deprivation, with the Bith Jedi Master Leading the way. I made a table of the hazards they would encounter and the difficulties thereof, with failures resulting in losses of Force Points, or accumulation of Dark Side Points as fear encroaches on their sensibilities.
I don't subscribe to the whole Kaiburr crystal thing you'll see in Rogue One, so at the end of their journey and some meditation, they are guided to a crystal that has chosen them, and will be used in the construction of their lightsabers, should they continue the Jedi path.
They also find that the mappa bushes were used in an antidote for poisons used by certain Sith Lords during one of their many conflicts with the Republic, and that the plants themselves have a sort of collective memory in the Force, and they are shown visions of various Sith Lords' conquests and cruelties, while being innoculated against a number of poisons by virtue of handling and communing with the plants.
They emerge from their trial to find that the Empire has locked down the starport while searching for a criminal. He is found and excecuted after the Bith Jedi Master advises his students not to get involved, and things return to normal.
Our heroes traveled to one of their master's libraries, where they conducted research on the characters they saw in their visions. They got a name, Darth Toxis the Poisoner, and found that shrines were erected on various planets where pivotal victories were won against him during his incursion into Republic space. They headed off with Milo, a bright-eyed, middle aged Bothan NPC, to find a shrine on Thalooine, a remote planet that was, before the arrival of the Sith fleet so long ago, a thriving, peaceful place.
Thalooine, either during a cataclysmic battle, natural processes, or both, now maintains an orbit too close to its sun to be considered strictly habitable. The Thalooinian people had abandoned their planet long ago, still considering it theirs, but living nomadic lives, eventually earning a reputation as a band of pirates and gypsies. Upon the party's arrival in system, Milo negotiated with what passes for Thalooinian authorities in the system to be allowed three days to conduct 'research' on the surface. The overland travel skill challenge I presented to my players involved its proximity to its parent star resulting in six hour days of scorching heat and low gravity, and six hour nights of high gravity and frenzied predators, with violent, unpredictable storms raging for hours in-between.
They played their cards right and found the well-preserved shrine with minimal trouble (by chance completely bypassing, and thus oblivious to, the Thalooinian custom of hunting visitors to the planet), and learned about the history of the battles that took place in the system and on the ground. The Sith had attempted to alchemically alter and enslave the native people, as Sith Lords are wont to do, but were routed in the end by intervention of the Republic. In addition, they learned the locations of a few other shrines, and that the events recounted predate the formation of the Jedi Council, when Force users were a varied and rarely seen lot (this may go against canon, but any history turns to mush anyway if you go back far enough).
As luck would have it, one of the shrines about which they learned is just a quick jump away in the nearby system of Shamesh Ba.
Edit: The first mining planet they visited was Shamesh Ba. Our heroes head for a planet clalled Sidoon, and land in the capitol city of Riss.
Riss is one of the few cities on a mostly barren planet, and makes a fine tourist destination akin to cloud city because of its many profitable factories that isolate and collect charged particles used in repulsor manufacturing. The working class is composed mostly of contracted Lepi, who are prohibited from entering certain areas of the city reserved for the wealthy humans that run large-scale business affairs and governance.
Our heroes are aware from their research that the shrine they seek should be located in the area, but upon investigation, find that historical records here are regularly altered as each administrator assumes command of the city, documentation is twisted or ouright destroyed to downplay the accomplishments of previous administrators. For this reason, our heroes hit a wall and are unable to proceed further by normal means. One of the heroes is herself Lepi, which of course adds a level of complication, as she is treated as a second-class citizen and barred from conventional interaction with the majority of the population.
Our Lepi hero, Perri, makes contact with the Lepi workforce and finds accomodations for the group among them in run-down ghettos, unaware that the Lepi maintain middle-class warrens beneath the city due to their distrust of outsiders (a series of unfortunate low rolls). Among the decay and detritus of the ghettos, they find a gibbering, decrepit Lepi who maintains no ties to the other Lepi there. He speaks in a distinct accent about horrors, death, and ghosts, and sells poppets made of trash. He doesn't remember his name, but in moments of relative clarity he recalls insistently that he is 'not the king'. In meetings with him, and piecing together what historical documents they can find, the group learns that he was among a wave of contracted Lepi many decades ago who worked in a facility in an outlying, and currently off-limits, region called the Glaze, named for its perpetual lightning storms. The underground facility there would cunduct the lightning strikes into a series of particle accellerators that would use the power spikes to isolate and collect the aforementioned particles. The facility was closed down abruptly, and no records exist of the aftermath.
Upon questioning, Not-the-King recalls briefly that he is the only survivor of the facility's abrupt closure, but, overcome by deep grief, would rather ramble on about the dolls he makes and their names. There are nine of them. The group has bought some to help with their Gather Information checks to get this much out of him, but he no longer wants to answer questions. The group has a run-in with some Lepi hooligans that are upset that they are consorting with the crazy old heretic, and it becomes apparent that the Lepi here are very superstitious.
The group rents a speeder on the black market, as it is both hazardous and illegal to visit the Glaze. They proceed into the Glaze, dodging lightning strikes, and find an entrance to an underground facility.
The next session, in the Glaze facility, is among my favorite sessions of all time. I put alot of love into it, and it came out just right. It was a horror story, so I dimmed the lights and put on some creepy asylum sounds from tabletop audio.
Our intrepid heroes enter the Glaze facility on the outskirts of Riss, and are immediately greeted by the stench of death and decay, and feel an overwhelming dark influence in the area. They are greeted, upon their entrance via a side-tunnel, the dessicated corpses of several Lepi who appear to have hung themselves from conduits above. Upon examining the bodies, they find two types of ID cards. Some of them were strictly facility staff, and others were from a security firm, but they clearly arrived, and subsequently died, at different times.
The facility itself is built around a particle accellerator, and is appropriately donut shaped, with two levels seperated only by metal grates. Passages are standard sci-fi cylindrical, with the occasional control or transformer box sticking out, and all the conduits and pipes you could ever need running along the ceiling. In its current state, flickering lights and leaky pipes abound, and our heroes find more and more bodies, all Lepi, all apparent suicides. The lower level is flooded, on account of the aforementiond leaky pipes, and remains can be glimpsed drifting along from time to time.
As our heroes advance to explore the facility, the creepy sounds intensify and the lights flicker more frequently. they hear what must be giggling (fun fact: international law prohibits "writing, telling, producing or otherwise conspiring to do the same, any kind of horror story that does not feature a giggling little girl"). One cannot be sure, but one might've seen a flash of movement up ahead. Conduits and pipes creak and fall from the walls and ceiling, aimed at the characters, with increasing frequency. Any rooms they enter are furnished as one would expect; old desks and chairs with the same dessicated Lepi bodies slumped over them, apparent victims of bludgeoning or strangling. It would appear as well that a number of Lepi staff perished when their heads were driven into computer displays. The few displays that haven't been destroyed flicker with the lights and seem to show snippets of security camera footage featuring ghastly images of a line of Lepi workers shambling off of a ledge into a particle beam, or feet dangling from off screen, and the like. A use computer check, along with a bit of tinkering to stabilize power draw, would allow the players to peruse the footage to their hearts' desire, confirming that the entire population of the facility suddenly and methodically committed mass suicide.
As they reach a section of grate that has collapsed, a water main breaks and washes one of them down into the flooded lower section, effectively isolating them. They are each accosted by a ghostly presence that follows them and alternates taunting and encouraging them in shifting voices about their insecurities as they navigate the facility trying to find the other. There is a kind of a Force haze muddying their ability to pinpoint the other's location. The creature then shifts into a mirror image of the character they're addressing, but markedly without that character's insecurities and deficiencies, and challenges them to a duel, to demonstrate what they could become if they worked harder to better themselves. In this particular instace, both players happened to decline the duel because I only game with insightful people; the ghostly dopplegangers dissipate, and it turns out that they would have been fighting one another.
They find a side tunnel off of the Director's office which leads into a hewn cavern containing the shrine they have been seeking, and around it are nine Dark Side Force spirits that address them in the voices and images from their earlier encounter. They exlain that they were part of a ritual to resurrect Darth Toxis immediately after the loss he suffered here, to which this shrine was erected. They have been bound to this area below the perpetual storm for thousands of years, feeding on the blood of whatever creatures they could reach, and have come to the conclusion that their lord is not coming back for them. After their failure to spill the blood of their most recent targets, they have given up, deciding instead to help the heroes hunt down their wayward Darth. They explain that Toxis is very much alive; as their spirits are bound to his through the ritual, and as long as he lives, they endure in ghost form in this place. They present the group with the Sith bone dagger that was used in the ritual and ask that, when they meet him, they kill him with it, both as a spiteful symbol of their treachery, and as it is sure to keep him from benefitting from his tenuous immortality. When asked about how to find him, the ghosts inform the characters that due to the nature of this ritual, he will be found under a perpetual storm.
The heroes get what they need from the inscriptions on the shrine and continue exploring the facility, squeezing through a blast door to an abandoned underground train station riddled with recent remains of adolescent Lepi who have attempted to enter the facility from the warrens as a rite of passage in an arc the players did not pursue. The characters decide to exit through the service tunnel through which they entered initially, and return overland to the city. They stop by Not-the-King to tell him the spirits there have been laid to rest. Force sensitive characters are given the option of trading an existing Force power for one that can remove insanity. If used on him, the power gives him the clairty to recall that he was on a security detail sent in to clean up the bodies of the staff that committed mass suicide that day, but even they went mad and began killing themselves and one another. He resisted the voices telling him to hurt himself and others and narrowly escaped, but his soul was tainted by the dark influence.
At the spaceport, Milo tells the characters that he has an errand to run, so they'll be making a stop at a planet called Bo-ha. During the trip, he has them watch a holofilm drama about a medical ship called the Life Star. His late wife won awards for her performace in the movie, and he tears up a bit as they watch it over some hot chocolate.
You must put all your heart into your play sessions. Very nicely written and I hope you continue.
You're too kind.
We're significantly further along in the game; I'm trying to get caught up in a timely manner. My players have gained at least a couple of levels since then, and I've even gained players, as my kids finally got good enough grades to join in.
Upon arrival at BoHa, Milo tells the player characters that he will be running errands for a week or so, and the less they know about it, the better. He uses his winnings from some sabacc games on Sidoon to load up on benign consumables like water and foodstuffs in bulk, and takes off in the Specter.
Our heroes find themselves in a typical commerce city but are quickly beset by demonstrators upset about the mistreatment of animals called sloofs in a nearby mining system. The characters are given pamphlets about the poor orovores being systematically exterminated so that Roor Mining Concerns can expand their mining operations.
The sloof itself is a foul-smelling, slow moving wad of metallic fibers that excretes an even more pungent digestive enzyme that breaks down metals on which they feed. Wholly unpleasant, but to each his own.
As our characters extricate themselves from the protestors and sit down for breakfast at a cafe, they notice several well-dressed men sitting at a table in the corner, obviously looking out for trouble. A large hover-truck stops outside of the cafe, and armed protesters pour out of it, opening fire on the diner's occupants indiscriminantly. It becomes obvious to the players that these new arrivals are gunning for the well-dressed men. After a hail of gunfire, the cafe is thuroughly riddled with carnage, and the perpetrators drop their rifles and scatter. Perri, the Lepi, gives chase, while Wesk, the Bothan, renders what aid he can to the victims, to include the lone survivor of the well-dressed men.
Perri catches up to one of the suspects and wrestles her to the ground, while Wesk learns that the man in the suit is Quinlan Roor, CEO of Roor Mining Concerns, and that he has a vested interest in being escorted back to his ship in as timely and discreet a manner as possible. Perri's quarry is seized by local authorities, who take Perri's information for a follow-up investigation in the coming days.
Perri returns to Wesk outside of the diner and the two proceed to sneak Mr Roor to the spaceport, hearing snippets of conversation along the way that indicate armed mercenaries are looking for him. Thankfully, through some stealth and deception, they get him to his ship without incident, and are rewarded with 1000c and his gratitude, and an assurance that they may contact him someday if he can return the favor.
In the coming days, the characters are contacted by an Investigator Stantz, who is heading up the follow-up investigation. He questions each of them individually, and determines that one or both of them is hiding something (they neglected to tell him that they escorted Mr Roor back to his ship, and denied any knowledge of the fact that it was an organized hit). It comes out in the interview that Stantz is a former Sector Ranger who was relegated to his current unimpressive post due to political maneuvering. He understands that the characters are involved more than they let on, but expresses that he would just like to get the case wrapped up quickly, and could do so if they can do him a favor as well. He suspects that one of the ships that has arrived recently belongs to a mercenary group who has armed the eco-terrorists, and if someone were to provide him a manifest and/or computer log from said ship, he could prove his suspicions and make a case against both groups.
It is at this point that we meet a human (NPC) freelancer named Kaine and his Twi'lek ward, Naline. They are investigating an attack on a medical convoy in the Druz system. The stories on the 'net are that a Jedi terrorist led a group of pirates against the medical convoy, and the poor, beleaguered Empire was not able to protect these innocent people from such a heinous attack. Kaine and Naline suspect all is not as it seems in the case, as they had previously been approached by a private party to escort that same convoy through an Imperial blockade. The evidence they have gathered so far is that one of the ships involved in the attack has made its way here to BoHa, and if they can get the computer logs from the ship, they could discern what really happened.
Milo returns, and both groups set out to board the [Tooth of the] Apex [Predator] and get the information, each unaware of the other.
Scooby-Doo hijinks ensue, and the whole thing culminates in a shoot-out with the crew of the Apex, peppered with introductions. Everyone gets what they want (aside from the crew of the Apex), and Stantz encourages the players to leave the planet as soon as possible.
In current events, the Empire continues its occupation of a seditious Cerean colony, and is cracking down on posession and trade of religious and cult-related artifacts in light of the recent surge of unprovoked Jedi attacks on decent, hardworking Imperial citizens.
Our heroes hit it off and set off to meet up with Master Xodi in the Augur system, an unimpressive, fully automated agricultural planet with few human settlements. Caine, the human freelancer NPC, and Milo are aboard Caine's ship, the Workhorse, and Perri, Wesk, and Naline are aboard the Specter, which is expected to arrive at least a couple of days ahead of the slower Workhorse.
Upon arrival, the Force sensitive Perri and Wesk sense their master in danger, and sensor scans reveal Imperial ships in the system. While the Workhorse maintains some safe distance, the Specter swoops into the middle of a ground pursuit, taking fire from a nearby Imperial shuttle. Perri leaps out into the amber waves below, hitting the ground running, literally, alongside Xodi, and the two continue their flight from Imperial ground forces, toward an automated processing facility. The Specter breaks away to avoid the Imperial shuttle, and lands behind the aforementioned facility. It appears that Xodi has somehow managed to convince the native fauna to aid him, as the giant flying rays above drag their long tails like plows along the ground, kicking up all manner of obstructive debris for much-needed concealment.
Wesk and Naline join Perri and Xodi inside the building, and the group proceeds to play a cat-and-mouse shootout with the Imperial forces converging on the facility. There is a lull in the fighting, and the notorious Commander Keenes enters with much ado, addressing Xodi personally. Xodi agrees to a parlay, and uses the Force to hide his allies so long as they do not attack. Keenes does his villain's exposition, citing his shrewdness in tracking down the Jedi through the new market regulations, while the rest of the group walks right out the front door in broad daylight. A duel breaks out, and it is immediately apparent that this Keenes has dealt with Jedi before. The group assesses, from what they observe of the fight, that Xodi is more intent on weakening load-bearing columns than striking at his opponent, and as the Specter rockets away, the building is observed collapsing, presumably with Keenes, Xodi, and scores of Imperial troops within.
The Specter backtracks along its previous route to catch the Workhorse between adjustment jumps. Our Force sensitive characters can feel that Xodi is alive, but are unable to determine anything else about his disposition or location.
The Specter and the Workhorse hang in space as the crews contemplate their next move. The 'net reports an industrial accident in the Augur system, and the fortuitous survival of one Commander Keenes, but conspicuously fails to mention any Jedi involvement.
*Upon arrival, the Force sensitive Perri and Wesk sense their master in danger, and sensor scans reveal Imperial ships in the system. While the Workhorse is still days away, the Specter swoops into the middle of a ground pursuit, taking fire from a nearby Imperial shuttle.*
Also, I changed 'Kaine' to 'Caine' for my own notes, given that I just happened to roll the name 'Keenes' for the Imperial NPC.