Monthly Archives: September 2014

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire – The Jewel of Yavin, part 3

This entry is written from the point-of-view of my Edge of the Empire character, a Duros politico named Baniss Mulk. It will have spoilers for Fantasy Flight Game’s adventure The Jewel of Yavin. You’ve been warned!

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Duros malePersonal Journal – Day 6810 of Exile

The Grand Prix was upon us. We rushed to get our racer entered, then I took a position in the grandstand so I could watch the race. There were many teams competing, but only a few seemed to be a serious threat to our chances. One local kid seemed to be a favorite, Rocket, Rayger, Razer? I think it was Razer. Looking at the odds sheets, I realized I should’ve placed some bets. Anyone betting on us was going to be pretty rich when we won.

Naturally, this backwater planet, as cosmopolitan as it wants to be, is incapable of keeping the track clear. The racers not only had to contend with competitors shooting at them, but big, stupid jellyfish and their winged predators, too. Xena and Herrick did a good job of avoiding them, but spent most of the race lagging behind. They just couldn’t seem to push their racer hard enough to catch up to the teams that got a good lead.

Fortunately, as the race neared its end, some well-placed blaster shots too everyone out except for Razer. I was relieved I didn’t bet on us; there wasn’t as much money in a second place win. Herrick took one last, desperate shot at Razer as the local racer was just about to cross the finishing line, causing him to spiral out of control and crash in a horribly conflagration. We finished! We were the only finishers!

… and we were disqualified for causing the death of Razer. Sith spit.

As we all reconvened, my thoughts turned to how I was going to brush up my resume. I was going to need a job. We didn’t have enough money to stay for much longer (or even to refuel our ship and continue paying the docking fees). Our team killed the local favorite racer. Going incognito for a few years was looking pretty good.

A Hutt’s representative approached us before I could make my move. Our bold racing strategy didn’t help us win, but caught the attention of a Hutt who wanted us to go to the post-race gala as his representatives.

I have a bad feeling about this.

The race took up the bulk of this session, hence the write-up’s relative brevity. We had a short discussion after the game regarding the system. It was another session where many of our rolls were abject failures and the observation was made that the game system seemed to be very swingy; i.e. you either succeeded spectacularly or you failed terribly. It creates drama, to be sure, but I wish there was some way to mitigate that a bit. Failure for several consecutive minor rolls gets frustrating. The Destiny Pool doesn’t help a lot because we typically roll poorly for that, so we are reluctant to dip into it for fear of NOT being able to use it when we really need to.

While our failures in this session didn’t (and wouldn’t have) resulted in the deaths of our characters, they could have potentially locked us out of the rest of the adventure. I don’t honestly know if the Hutt inviting us to attend the gala in his name was a contingency on the part of the adventure for groups who don’t win the race, or an ass-pull by the GM to keep us in the game, as it were. It will be interesting once the game is over to go back and read the adventure to see what is supposed to happen, since we are capable of derailing ANY plot. Watching our group play is like a live-action demonstration of Chaos Theory.

Another part of the game we thought was unnecessarily harsh were some of the rules revolving around vehicles. The race used quite a bit of them and it seemed that the racers’ system strain was too low with respect to how a race should actually be run. Putting the hammer down right out of the gate uses up the majority of your ship’s system strain, one more and you’re essentially out of the race. So, you can hammer it right out of the gate and stay competitive, or play it really conservative and hope to catch up. In the meantime, the other ships are trying to shoot you down so your co-pilot has a choice: shoot back or try to recover strain. Of course the system is really swingy, so at least 1/2 the time you’ll fail to recover any strain (note: I have not crunched the math and worked out the exact probabilities, nor do I plan to do so; these are my impressions).

It was dramatic. It was edge-of-our-seat (though less so for those of us not actually piloting our racer; though the GM had us roll for some of the other teams to keep us doing something during the game). I still feel like no matter how competent you are or how well you plan, you’re 100% at the mercy of the dice, though. Maybe that’s just cynicism from chronic poor rolling, though. Or maybe, Fantasy Flight Games makes their adventures too frickin’ hard for the average group. I’m certainly going to be watching that carefully when I run my Age of Rebellion game (barely in the planning stages, D&D is still next).

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Star Wars: Edge of the Empire – The Jewel of Yavin, part 2

This entry is written from the point-of-view of my new Edge of the Empire character, a Duros politico named Baniss Mulk (may Kelko Gen R.I.P.). It will have spoilers for Fantasy Flight Game’s adventure The Jewel of Yavin. You’ve been warned!

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Duros malePersonal Journal – Day 6809 of Exile
While most of the mammals went drinking under the pretenses of gathering information, I set about disguising our racing vehicle. It wouldn’t do to enter a cloud car into the race adorned in the colors of Cloud City’s Wing Guard. I finished my task and returned to our suite. Dr. J had spent some time casing the museum while Herrick and Xena were out drinking, so the night wasn’t a total loss. Of course, if Herrick and Xena actually learned anything from their “investigation” it was going to have to wait until morning, as they were barely coherent by the time they returned.

Fortunately, they did glean some information we could use about some of the other racers. Apparently, one particularly unpleasant fellow makes a habit of shooting other racers to remove them from competition, and is skilled enough that he doesn’t get disqualified himself doing it. I thought we should try to manipulate him into gunning for our competitors, but I don’t think anyone was paying attention to me. They did like the paint job I gave our cloud car, though. Unfortunately, they ripped it apart to remove the armor plating to reduce the weight. At least they didn’t scuff up the paint too badly.

Xena told us about banking droids that she saw, which changed our idea of what the bank job portion of our task was going to be. Dealing with a droid would be easier than breaking into a physical location; much less chance of getting shot, I should think. I made a mental note to go to Bespin Buy and pick up a restraining bolt. Meanwhile, we all paid a visit to the museum. The security cameras were well-hidden enough that none of us spotted any. I found that idea ludicrous to say the least. The Guide Droids in the museum were of great help, as long as we acted like tourists. The instant we tried to get more specific information from them that had nothing to do with the exhibits, they became annoying and unhelpful. I did find out the museum had changed hands since it’s original construction, so I paid a visit to the bowels of the city and the ugnaught-run Construction Guild.

After a bit of haggling, I acquired a complete schematic of the museum from the Construction Guild. Apparently, the ugnaughts have no particular loyalty to the tall folk who run the upper levels, but even still, it required lubricating his palms with most of the remainder of my money. We could now plan our post-auction nocturnal excursion to the museum with competence! Xena wanted to try a test run of hacking into the city’s central computer, and lacking an astromech, the only way to do that was to find a connected terminal. Unfortunately, since publicly accessible terminals were unsuited for this task, that meant trying to access one in a governmental building. We discovered these are under extremely tight security.

Regrouping as the day drew to a close, we went over what our tasks were:

  1. Win the Grand Prix
  2. Go to the Gala/Auction
  3. Bank Job to retrieve the credit bid on the jewel
  4. Museum Job to retrieve the jewel itself
  5. Escape
  6. Profit!

With a sinking feeling, we all looked at each other and realized we ALL had a very bad feeling about this.

Some of our dice rolls didn’t fill us with confidence. Fortunately, the odds of dying horribly, eaten by jungle monsters, was much lower this time, but the risk of failure was just as great. It also seemed that the majority of the tasks we needed to do rested on the shoulders of one person: our slicer who also happened to be the most proficient atmospheric pilot (played by my wife). She’s really feeling the stress of carrying the whole plan on her shoulders. I’m not as stressed about it as she is, since she’s consistently rolled best out of all of us. Still, having all our eggs in one basket like that does worry us. I guess we’re going to have to do what we can to aid each other over the next two sessions.

I’m still sold on the game system itself. It’s a nice blend of dice-crunchy and narrative, and while I wouldn’t say it’s rules-light, it does hit a nice balance. The dice themselves take less than an hour to get used to and the more you play the game the faster the task resolution takes. I’ve heard some complaints that it’s too fiddly and there’s too much micromanagement of equipment, particularly weapons, and space combat is  terrible. All I can say is, so far, none of that has been an issue for my group. Maybe that’s our skilled GM making up for shortcomings in the system, or maybe it’s just our play style.

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Star Wars: Edge of the Empire – The Jewel of Yavin, part 1

This entry is written from the point-of-view of my new Edge of the Empire character, a Duros politico named Baniss Mulk (may Kelko Gen R.I.P.). It will have spoilers for Fantasy Flight Game’s adventure The Jewel of Yavin. You’ve been warned!

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Duros malePersonal Journal – Day 6808 of Exile
After a dull, dull flight, we have arrived at Cloud City on Bespin. I still marvel at the circumstances that led me to become aligned with this motley crew. I was unable to learn much about the Chiss, Herrick, except that “Herrick” is not his full name. The pink-skinned human, Xena is a little more open, but still a mammal, as is the twi’lek doctor, whom I shall refer to as Dr. J. None of them seem particularly interested in helping me restore my people to Duros and righting the wrongs the Empire has perpetrated there, but at least the reason we are on Bespin may serve to further my goals. We have learned of an opportunity here to acquire an item of great value: a gemstone known as the Jewel of Yavin. It will be a righteous caper, an old-fashioned heist, if you will, but the end result will serve the greater good.

I hope.

Aris Shen was our contact, the daughter of our benefactor, Arend Shen. We were to meet her in the market just past our landing bay in Port Town. Finding Aris in the crowd was easy enough, so easy, in fact, that several long coat-wearing, begoggled thugs also found her. It seemed ill-advised to let them apprehend her before we found out the details of this job for which we were hired, so we intervened after agreeing upon a rendezvous point. Naturally, the Chiss couldn’t keep it (his blaster) in his pants and took a potshot at one of the thugs. I didn’t want the Wing Guard to come down on us, so I made a scene. I grabbed one of the thugs, screaming bloody murder. Chaos gripped the marketplace and Aris got away as we distracted the thugs.

We finally got to the rendezvous point and Aris took us to her father, where he laid out his plan for us: We were to infiltrate the upcoming auction, drive up the selling price, then after the auction, steal both the Jewel of Yavin and the money. We were given a list of people we could manipulate into getting into bidding wars with each other, and introduced to another part of the plan. In order to be allowed into the auction in the first place, we were going to have to become semi-famous or at least flash-in-the-pan famous. We were going to accomplish that by entering and winning the Grand Prix. Fortunately, a Storm IV twin-pod cloud car would be provided for us. 1000px-Cloud_Car_NEGVV

The Grand Prix took place shortly before the auction, so we had a day to gather information and figure out how to manipulate the other players. Hopefully, the mammals can keep up their end. Scheming is much easier without sweat glands and other pesky mammalian autonomic anatomical responses.

Not much else to say about the system. We built new characters for The Jewel of Yavin right after the demise of the characters we used in Beyond the Rim. Hopefully, they’re more suited for the adventure. Our GM indicates he thinks we can wrap up this adventure in two more sessions. I hope our dice don’t betray us the way they did at the end of Beyond the Rim.

Once this adventure is done, I’m taking back the reigns and running games again. It is likely the choice will be D&D 5th edition, as it is the new shiny and everyone wants to take it for a spin after the positive experience we had with the Basic Rules. I’m considering running Tyranny of Dragons, though adapting a Pathfinder adventure path is also on the table.

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