6th September 2020
Sunday afternoon round Vicky's.
It's time for a new campaign. This is a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire campaign run by Ares and we begin with character creation and introduction.
This version of the Star Wars RPG happens to be the 4th iteration of the license.
It was published as 3 different product lines. Each product line concentrating on a different facet of the Star Wars setting.
Edge of the Empire focuses on outlaws, criminals, smugglers and their ilk. It is set just after Chapter IV: A New Hope and on the rim of the galaxy, where The Empire has less influence.
It's a thick, heavy book running to 448 pages.
For such a big book, character creation is pretty straightforward. Although the pertinent information is unhelpfully spread out over many pages.
You pick a race, which gives you attribute scores and XP.
Next pick a career, this gives you some 'career skills' and points to put in them.
From career, you pick a specialisation, this gives more skills and access to that specialisation's 'talent tree'. Talents can be extra abilities, permanent bonuses or special moves etc.
Then XP is spent to increase any of these.
Finally, players pick or roll for an 'obligation', 'motivation', 'cause' and 'ambition'. These are all role play driven choices.
Edge of the Empire uses a version of 'Genesys' system. Most well known for its divisive use of custom dice that replaced the usual numbers with symbols. These symbols represent success, failure, advantage, despair and so on.
Different dice represent different 'sources' of potential success or failure such as natural talent, skill, advantage, difficulty.
When a player needs to make a roll, they take dice dependant on their skill and natural ability, then they take dice dependant on the situation etc and rolls them all at once. Then the number of successes is counted and the number failures is deducted, if there is at least 1 success then the roll is a success.
Additionally, other results such as 'triumph' or 'threat' can influence the final outcome. Furthermore, these can be used to interpret the result of a roll. For example if a player succeeds with triumph, if the triumph symbol was on a skill die, then their triumph was a skilful triumph and so on.
That's basically how it works, but is it any good?
The answer seems to be; it really, really depends.
Some people swear by it, saying it gives the rolls extra depth and gives them role playing ideas and inspiration.
Others say it's a cynical ploy to get people to buy an expensive set of dice useless for any other RPG and that it's unnecessarily complex by adding unrecognisable symbols to rolling.
Me? I'm not sold on it; I've previously played a couple of sessions with it before and felt that what the dice system does, could be achieved with other simpler systems. The system also felt quite 'whiffy', there can be a lot of 'modifiers' to the result of a roll, consequently it seemed very hard to just get a success!
Still, I'll keep an open mind and see how it goes, we've got a campaign to play!
The campaign begins on the planet of 'Pasaana' with our heroes all trying to find a way to 'Coruscant' - the Imperial seat of power. They are unconnected to and unaware of each other.
Robin - played by Vicky.
An escaped human slave on the run, who has found herself on Pasaana and looking for a way to escape to Coruscant.
Utri Lya'an - played by Mark.
For over 20 years, he was the governor of an outer rim colony, who refused to submit to Imperial rule. Now marked as a rebel sympathiser by The Empire and on the run, Utri is currently in hiding on Pasaana. Utri needs to get to Coruscant as soon as possible.
M/8 - played by Josh.
Formerly an assassin; this droid's memory partition have been deleted and he was deactivated. Current location: Unknown.
Chrisyglysuum A.K.A. Chrisy - played by Matt.
Chrisy is a SJW - social justice wookiee, he fights to protect his 'furry brothers and sisters' from Imperial enslavement and oppression. Chrisy is also a bodyguard in the employ of Utri.
Pellippo Phruy - played by yours truly.
After an industrial accident, Pell was frozen in carbon for a 1000 years, now reanimated and reacclimatised, he resumed his former occupation of 'nutrition delivery technician'. Work dried up and left Pell stranded on Pasaana, he has been trying to reach the Galactic Banking Authority head office on Coruscant to have the debt that was accumulated over the last 1000 years written off.
Pasaana was a dusty almost desert-like planet located on the rim of the galaxy. A harsh and remote place to live.
'The Festival of Ancestors' was in full swing, a big event that occurs only once every forty two years and large enough to draw visitors from across the galaxy.
The festival is actually so large that the planet's population increases sixfold during the celebrations.
With being on the rim and with so many people travelling to and fro, the event is difficult for Imperial forces to regulate and a good opportunity to move around unnoticed.
Additionally, the population of Pasaana tend to favour loose, baggy and free fitting clothes, making it easy to hide a face and move around.
The festival was in full swing, crowds were large, they were also loud, bustling and raucous. Amongst this buzz of activity, a Rodian planted a sign outside the starship 'Windbreaker' which was parked at the edge of the starport.
Flights to Coruscant, very cheap! Leaving in an hour.
Pell approached the Rodian and was told the price was three hundred credits.
"Hmm," said Pell. "I only have a hundred credits, maybe there's another way I could get passage?".
The Rodian said if Pell agreed to help with a 'task', then he could have free passage.
"Hmm," said Pell. "Free passage is good, but not knowing what this task is, is bad. On the other hand, how bad could it be?".
So Pell agreed and was allowed access to the ship.
Utri and Chrisy had also spotted the sign and approached the Rodian. When they discovered the price, Utri's attempts to negotiate a discount fell on deaf ears, however, Chrisy's more 'personal' strategy of haggling was effective in getting the discount needed.
Meanwhile, Robin was close by and unbeknown to all three, during the more heated moments of their negotiation, she took the opportunity to slip past unseen and enter the starship. Robin saw a handful of other passengers in the main cabin, avoiding them she quietly went into the hold.
As well as Utri, Chrisy and Pell, there was a pair of old women and a middle aged male passenger.
The crew consisted of several Rodians.
Once everyone was safely strapped in, Windbreak took off, anyone looking out of an aft facing viewscreen could see Pasaana shrink away as we left her behind.
Once the Windbreaker was free of Pasaana's gravity well, everyone could unstrap themselves and move about freely.
One of the Rodians came in and took Pell aside into another room and spoke with him.
He said it was time for Pell to fulfil his promise. The Rodian told Pell his task was to go back in the cabin and murder all the other passengers and then take all their money.
"Hmm," said Pell. "Murdering people is bad! But money is good!".
Pell went back into the passenger cabin.
In the hold, the first data that M/8's awareness subroutine logged was the completion his OS boot-up self-diagnosis. His power core had been activated and connected, all his subroutines and systems were coming on line. M/8 noted that several subroutines were installing themselves into his behaviour and self-preservation partitions.
M/8's memory partition was almost entirely empty.
M/8 performed a situational scan: He was in some sort of room, he was in some sort of cage along with a number of deactivated droid components.
In the next cage was a adult human female - woman. She was covered in blood, his bioscan revealed her fluctuating vital signs were very weak; expiry was imminent.
Meanwhile Pell and the Rodian had entered the cabin.
"Hey everybody," Said Pell. "The Rodian wants me to murder you all for your money. Would any of you have a problem with this?".
An uproar came from the passengers, but before they could react, the Rodian dragged Pell back out of the room and shouted at him.
Pell responded by saying that they didn't seem to want to be murdered, he found it all a bit confusing?
The Rodian pulled his blaster on Pell.
Back in the hold, the woman looked at M/8 and through the cages she held something small up to him. The bioscan revealed it was a infant human male - baby boy, vital signs were relatively weak but stable. It was emitting some sort of loud audio communication - crying.
One of M/8's behaviour subroutines instructed him to take the baby from the woman. Another subroutine instructed him to assign the baby to priority one in his self-preservation partition.
Finally, a subroutine assigned the baby the designation 'Wilfred'.
Without a seat to strap into, the take off had been rough on Robin but she had now recovered her wits.
Whilst in the hold, she heard some crying? Robin moved around to get a better view, she saw the blood covered woman handing a baby over to a droid?
The woman was gasping as she told the droid that she had reactivated and reprogrammed him to look after the baby, his new programming would not allow him to refuse to do so.
She went on to say that he must take the baby very far away, away from The Empire. No one must know why he is important, his father was important.
Outside the cabin; brandishing his blaster, the Rodin ordered Pell to drop his own blaster.
"Hmm," said Pell. "If he shoots me, it would be bad. But if I drop my blaster-." Pell pulled out his blaster as he finished the sentence, "- it would be even worse!".
Pell and the Rodian exchanged blaster fire!
The gunfire drew attention, Utri and Chrisy came running in, as did two Rodian crew members.
In the hold, the woman's final action was to hand M/8 a small object wrapped in cloth. Her vital signs signs ceased and his memory partition logged that she had expired.
M/8 unwrapped the object; a subroutine in M/8's knowledge partition identified it as a 'Jedi medal'.
Robin chose this time to reveal herself to M/8, concerned for the baby. She told M/8 that the child needed feeding and a nappy!
Then the sounds of blaster fire echoed through the hold and Robin retreated into the shadows.
M/8 observed the infant, his situational scan revealed that it appeared that some sort of biomass was leaking from it?
A fight ensued. Utri, Chrisy and Pell against the three Rodians.
One of the Rodians was killed by Pell, Chrisy grabbed the other two and slammed their head together, the result was somewhat predictable and they were both knocked out. Chrisy stooped down and searched them, they had some creds, pistols and a note.
He picked them up and carried them into the hold. In there he saw a droid in a cage holding a baby, an uneasy looking woman in the shadows and another dead woman in another cage.
At the cabin, Utri had returned to calm down the other three passengers.
Meanwhile Pell did not see any other Rodians.
"Hmm," Said Pell. "No more Rodians attacking us is good. But no one flying the ship is bad!".
Pell entered the cockpit just in time to see another smaller starship, it appeared to be attaching itself to Windbreaker.
Matt's 50 Fathoms campaign ran for 40 sessions.
Link to it here.
Originally, the main focus of this website was going to me my West Marches campaign, but as circumstances have changed, so will this website.
I'm 're-jigging' the blogs on this website a little.
The West Marches Blog has become The RPG Blog.
Now all blogs related to all new RPG campaigns I play in will go here.
I will add links to completed campaigns here as well.
It's been about a year since I last ran a session of 'The Surrendered Lands'. I think it's safe to say that the game is now dead in its current form.
Unfortunately, job changes and real life had gotten in the way, making it harder and harder to play.
But the real killer was losing the venue - which was my old place of work. With it I lost most of my pool of players, which are needed to make a west marches game work.
Also; as I write this we are still in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown here in the UK. Social distancing is likely to continue well into June at the very least and The Surrendered Lands was never designed to be run in any way other than face-to-face.
But it's not all bad. It ran for 15 sessions and I enjoyed them all.
I will always remember the dilapidated old goblin tower with fondness.
With the benefit of hindsight, there are a few things I'd do differently.
When I originally envisioned the game I did so with 6 players in mind, this was a mistake. If I were to do it now, I would scale the game for 4 players instead. It's easier to get 4 players for a session and the pool of players can be smaller. Also the sessions would play a bit quicker.
Furthermore, D&D 5e assumes a party size of 3-5 players and the game is scaled for this. It can of course accommodate extra or fewer players, but that requires an additional step of calculation. So 4 players, I now think is a good number.
The material I wrote needed to be a bit tighter and focus the players direction more effectively. Players should get hints that lead to locations, that lead to further hints, etc. In video game parlance this is known as 'Quest chaining' or probably more accurately 'leaving a breadcrumb trail'. That's what I needed to do better. But I found it quite hard to start one without knowing how it was going to end.
Earning XP for gold; it's an idea I still like, but D&D 5e isn't built to accommodate this play style. It was something I didn't realise this until a few sessions in. Because I was awarding XP for getting treasure it was necessary to reduce monster XP.
I reduced monster XP by 90% to compensate. Perhaps it was a bit too much, maybe 75%?
As a result, I had to triple or quadruple the gold that the PCs received.
The consequence of 'XP for gold' was that PCs would accumulate a lot of gold and 5e essentially has no 'money sinks'. PCs aren't required to build castles when they reach 10th level any more and the 'magic item marketplace' from previous editions has gone (Rightfully so in my opinion.) and this means they have very little to spend their money on.
Perhaps I should have awarded 5 XP per gold? Or even 10? Do away with monster XP entirely and give 10 XP per gold?
Other than that, the sessions seemed to go well enough and people said that they enjoyed it, but then again, they would.
So, for now, 'The Surrendered Lands' is done. Perhaps it'll return someday,
The fifteenth session of 'The Surrendered Land' is now up.
That was a long haul.
You can read it here.
Reading, writing, playing and painting are things I do.