Sunday, June 26, 2016

Star Wars - part 2 "A Walk in the Park"

Episode 47: "A Walk in the Park"
June 25, 2016

Following the successful rescue of the prisoners from the Imperial star galleon Discord Anvil, the prisoners who were not members of the Rebel Alliance were released in small groups at various location to avoid any Imperial entanglements.

In the wake of their successful mission, the members of the New Jedi Order and the leaders of the Antarian Rangers traveled to the Rebel headquarters at Echo Base on Dagobah. This was Taanar Ryl's first visit to the steamy swamp planet. She landed with her master Niranya Repp aboard the Star River Venture, and they were greeted by Princess Leia and her protocol droid C3PO, who appeared to have a particular affection for First Ranger ADX.

Princess Leia called ADX away to have a private discussion, while the rest of the group split up to take care of their own affairs. Lowarra wanted to restock her supply of missiles and get in some time in the Rebel's pilot training module, while Dash had some maintenance done on the Star River Venture, and Neri showed Taanar around the base and told her about her time training there with Master Yoda - including his peculiar practice of riding around on Neri's back while she ran through the swamp. Taanar wondered if this was a normal part of Jedi training.

Neri also introduced her new padawan to her favorite meditation aid, her much-loved koogle tube (a device like a cross between a rain stick and a lava lamp). Neri swore by it as an aid to her meditation, but Taanar discovered that her shipmates had no love for the device and kept threatening to pitch it out the airlock. Taanar herself didn't find it very helpful or appealing.

After concluding his meeting with Princess Leia, ADX located his teammates to tell them that Leia had asked them to conduct an important mission on behalf of the Rebel Alliance. A high-profile intelligence resource known only as "Harvest Purple" needed to be retrieved from the planet Columex within Imperial territory. The instructions told them to leave a message on a social media holonet site looking for "swoop bike" enthusiasts. The code phrase to use to confirm the contact was "I saw the Queens of Fluxx play on Brental", to which the response was "You can dance the skippit to them."

Due to the heavy Imperial presence on Columex, it was decided that only a small team should make the contact. Neri, Lowarra, Dash, ADX, and Taanar took a YT-1210 class ship, the Mithrim Montes, which was one of the ships the team had acquired from the Banking Clan stash they had found. To pass through Imperial customs, they pretended to be an empty cargo ship looking for cargo. Everyone had to put away their weapons, as Columex was under Imperial weapons restrictions. Neri and Taanar hid their lightsabers in ADX's internal hidden compartment, along with a grenade Lowarra wanted to bring. Neri and Dash strapped on holdout blasters, much to Taanar's surprise. It turned out that the restrictions applied only to energy weapons; Lowarra's bowcaster didn't count.

After landing at the Flavian City spaceport, the group ran into some customs agents who questioned that they were bringing a proscripted species onto the planet - meaning Lowarra. Neri was able to convince the inspector that he didn't need to see her documentation by using her Jedi mind trick. The group then leased a large ground speeder and sought lodging at an inexpensive hotel near the spaceport. Once at the hotel, they observed that the major news story on the local holonet involved a woman named Mellie Limgu. Taanar didn't pay much attention to the reason the woman was attracting so much attention from the media.

Unfortunately there was a Biscuit Baron restaurant not far from the hotel, a favorite dining location of the whole group (with the exception of Taanar, who had never been to one before). Dash tried to no avail to talk her friends out of going to the restaurant and possibly drawing attention to themselves. Later she lamented having to be the responsible adult in the group. She reluctantly accompanied the others to the Biscuit Baron, where they all bought happy meals but were disappointed to find that the toys inside were no longer 'Adventures of Bleedo' figures but instead were 'Heroes of the Empire'. Everyone but Neri got stomrtrooper figures. Neri got a bantha.

While they were introducing Taanar to Biscuit Baron's enormous biscuits and lamenting that this location didn't have their favorite blue sauce, the group was interrupted by the arrival of some local constables, who wanted to know why ADX didn't have a restraining bolt, what Lowarra was doing there, and where Taanar's parents were. Neri managed to explain away all of these things by claiming that her droid didn't need a restraining bolt, that Lowarra was her hired bodyguard (which had been true in the past), and that she was Taanar's guardian. After this interruption muted their mood they returned to their rooms at 'The Flophouse'.

The following day, they drove their rented speeder to the Cerulean Gardens, where the contact had told them to seek a message on a specific park bench. Dash went to look for the message, while Neri and Taanar roamed the park pretending to be casual visitors. ADX and Lowarra remained in the speeder to avoid attracting too much attention. As Neri and Taanar sat down on a bench not far from the one Dash was heading for, Neri happened to notice that there were an unusually large number of droids about, some in the park and others in flyers overhead. The pair were approached twice by men trying to sell them spice. They began to wonder if perhaps local law enforcement were conducting a sting operation in the park.

Meanwhile, Dash found the message from the contact and left the token to show that she had picked it up, a bag of hazel sprouts. But a service droid told her that littering wasn't allowed, and she was forced to pick up the bag and take it to a waste receptacle, where she tried to make it obvious while at the same time blending in with other rubbish. Neri had warned her by commlink about the large number of droids in and around the park, so they decided to meet at the speeder and return to their hotel.

As they drove toward the hotel, Dash opened the message from "Harvest Purple" and found that it was instructions to meet the contact that night at a club called Club Syndrome, and wear a red jacket. Fortunately the swoop biker jacket Dash had acquired just after their arrival in Flavian City happened to be red.

On the way to the hotel they went through the Biscuit Baron drive-through and picked up more happy meals. This time Neri got an Emperor figure, but it sadly melted when Lowarra dropped it in a cup of soda after being told by Dash that such toys were reputed to be equipped with listening devices.

That evening they went to Club Syndrome as instructed. Dash went in alone, while the rest accompanied Neri as her entourage. Dash was soon approached by a woman who spoke the code phrase to her. This woman turned out to be Mellie Lemgu, wearing a brown wig to disguise her blond hair. Just after Lemgu made contact, two ISB agents appeared in the club, blocking the exit. Neri and Lowarra staged a distraction so Dash and Lemgu could leave, while the two women tried to deflect attention from Lemgu by kissing and pretending to be a couple. Lowarra feigned intoxication and Neri pretended to be angry with her, and the group left the club.

Dash and Lemgu took a lift to the roof garden, where they encountered some swoop bikers who began to flirt with them. While the two women chatted with the bikers, Lemgu purloined one biker's keys. Dash then used her holdout blaster to blast another, and the duo stole two swoop bikes and escaped the club. When the bikers tried to pursue them, the rest of the group in the speeder briefly blocked their way.

As they left the club behind and headed back to the Mithrim Montes, Mellie Lemgu announced, "Take me to the Wheel."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Star Wars: A New New Hope

Before I present my summary of our Star Wars RPG session last night, let me provide some backstory. My husband and several of our friends have been playing a Star Wars campaign about twice a month for a couple of years. This game is run using the Saga Edition d20 rules system specifically for Star Wars. The campaign is set during the time period represented in the original movie trilogy, but with a major twist: Han Solo, Chewbacca and the Millenium Falcon arrived at the Mos Eiseley Cantina on Tatooine a little late, and missed out on the opportunity to give Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker a lift to Alderaan. Instead, the player-characters are the ones who took Obi-Wan and Luke to the Death Star to rescue Princess Leia, aboard their ship, the Sky River Venture. They did eventually meet Han Solo and befriend him, which has proved a bit of a problem, as he and Dash have an attraction but Neri has been told by Master Yoda that she must find a way to get Leia and Han involved with each other.

The player-characters in this campaign have since become members of the Rebel Alliance, just like Luke did in the original movie. Luke was unfortunately captured while they were aboard the Death Star, and they were unable to rescue him. Eventually the PCs helped to destroy the Death Star, instead of that role going to Luke. Luke has returned as a trained Jedi, but in this version of the story he may have had most of his Jedi training indirectly from his father Darth Vader. Consequently the PCs took a long time to trust him. Meanwhile one of the PCs, Neranya Repp (played by my husband) has realized she is Force-sensitive and has become a Jedi herself, trained first by Obi-Wan Kenobi and later by Master Yoda.

Recently the PCs have come to realize that perhaps the Jedi weren't the nicest people and it wasn't a good idea for them to have become part of the Republic military. They also realized that the Rebel Alliance weren't always treating them with respect or appreciation for all they had done for the Rebel cause. They had become a bit disillusioned. The turning point came when their droid companion ARD, a former Sith droid who has been mind-wiped many times, was nearly destroyed by Darth Vader (who also severed Neri's hand during the same encounter).

After his Wookiee friend Lowarra installed ARD's back-up memory chip in a new body, ARD began to remember many amazing things about his past. He realized he had served the Sith during the Old Republic, 4,000 years prior to the current events of the campaign. He also knew that during that time period, the Jedi did not involve themselves in the political or military affairs of any government. They were an order of monastics, who only interacted with the rest of society in order to perform altruistic deeds. After learning of this, the friends Neri, Dash, Lowarra and the renamed ADX decided that together they would reform the Jedi order in the image of its long-ago form, as well as reinstating the Jedi support group of non-Force users known as the Antarian Rangers. ADX had also told his friends that during the Old Republic, sentient droids were treated as full citizens, something he wished to see again and something his friends agreed with. As their first step in that direction, ADX was given the position of First Ranger in the Antarian Rangers. He, Dash and Lowarra would lead the Rangers while Neri and Luke Skywalker led the newly reformed Jedi.

The group decided to separate themselves from the Rebel Alliance, though they would still work alongside the Rebels to perform actions such as freeing prisoners and providing food and medical supplies to groups being oppressed b the Empire. Shortly after this decision was made and Neri announced the reformation of the Jedi, she was contacted by a reporter who wanted to interview her. Thought everyone was concerned that this might be an Imperial ambush, they agreed to meet the reporter. When he arrived at the meeting location, he revealed that his true intention had been to ask Neri to teach the ways of the Jedi to his daughter.

This is where I come in. I've been attending the game sessions with my husband for some time, occasionally helping the GM by running an NPC. A few times I expressed a bit of envy that my friends were involved in such an exciting game. So when the GM decided to introduce a padawan for my husband's character, he invited me to join the group and run the padawan as my character. He even allowed me to change the character's race and gender to suit my own preference, as the introduction of the padawan had happened at the end of the session and very little information about the character had been presented to the other players. Moments after the character was revealed, Imperial forces attacked and the new apprentice's father was killed.

Last night was my first session of the game as an official player. It's going to be interesting playing a 14-year-old, first-level character when the rest of the group are 12th or 13th level. But I think it will be a lot of fun. I can't wait for our next session.

Apologies to my fellow players for any mistakes or omissions in what follows.

Star Wars - Episode #46: "Apprentice Ship" 

Neranya 'Neri' Repp - female Corellian (human) noble and Jedi
Dashell 'Dash' Creel - female Corellian (human) pilot and computer expert
Lowarra - female Wookiee warrior and mechanic
ADX - sentient droid warrior and tactician
Taanar Ryl - female Togruta Jedi padawan

The starship New Hope, carrying Neri, the Antarian Rangers, and Princess Leia, had traveled to Verdanth to take supplies to besieged Bothans there and release prisoners from an Imperial detention facility. Han Solo and Chewbacca flew in aboard the Millenium Falcon to decoy Imperial TIE fighters and customs corvettes. After the Imperial ships had been destroyed, teams traveled to the planet's surface to complete their mission, handily wiping out the battle droids that were guarding the detention center.

Taanar Ryl had only been with her new Jedi master Neranya Repp for a little over a month, and had never seen such massive destruction before. She was shocked when she felt the deaths of the crews aboard the two Imperial customs corvettes. She was awed by watching Neri and her friends eliminating the droids. Neri lifted a transport vehicle with her Force power and smashed it down atop several droids. She also used her lightsaber to deflect blaster fire. Lowarra and ADX were equally impressive, Lowarra blasting droids with her rocket launcher and ADX with his built-in blaster cannon and well-placed grenades. Lowarra even saved Taanar when she was targeted and the courageous Wookiee interposed to take the blast herself. Taanar was inspired to overcome her feelings of inadequacy to shoot at the droid that had tried to shoot her, but her skill with a blaster didn't equal her desire.

Though young Taanar was disturbed by the sight of Imperial guards who had resisted and been shot, her heart was lifted when the Bothan prisoners were released and expressed their gratitude to her master and the Rangers. After the teams had freed the prisoners and Dash had accessed the computers to acquire some information they sought, they blew up the detention center on their way out.

Back aboard the New Hope, Neri received a communication from Luke Skywalker, who had gone to seek a Jedi who had survived the Jedi Purge, Kanan Jarrus. Skywalker reported that he had spoken to Hera Syndulla, leader of the Rebel Phoenix Squadron, who told him that Kanan Jarrus and his padawan Ezra Bridger had gone missing after Ezra was turned to the Dark Side by contact with a Sith holocron device.*

Later they received news of an Imperial convoy transporting high-profile prisoners. Han Solo joined them to advise them that the star galleon carrying the prisoners would drop the transport pod and send it into hyperdrive at the first sign of danger. ADX devised a plan to use the New Hope to ambush the convoy and distract the galleon, while the Sky River Venture latched on to the transport pod and followed it when it went to hyperdrive. They decided to take some of the old Trade Federation combat droids they had acquired as back-up troops.

Although it required some expert piloting skill, Dash was easily able to shadow the transport pod and pursue it when it went to hyperdrive. By the time this happened, the New Hope had all but destroyed the star galleon despite its heavy shielding. The small contingent of guards aboard the transport pod was easily overpowered and the 24 prisoners aboard the pod were released.

Once more aboard the New Hope, Neri took time to talk with Taanar and encourage her not to bottle up her grief over her father's death. If she didn't feel comfortable speaking to her master, she should seek out someone else such as Dash or Lowarra with whom to share her troubles.

At the end of the session Taanar reached 2nd level.

*Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla, and Ezra Bridger are characters from the animated tv series Star Wars Rebels.