Thursday, October 1, 2015

"The Pirates of Prexiar"- Star Wars: Riptide, Episode 0

This week, the rebels are sent on a mission to the jungle planet Prexiar to recover supplies stolen by the notorious space pirate Dangar. There's some infiltration, some fast talking, and a thrilling speeder chase through the jungle!

It's a new campaign! We're playing the Star Wars RPG. I used to run a lot of Star Wars. My first campaign was way back in 1989. I ran another campaign in 1997 called Secret of the Force.  I ran that campaign so poorly that my players still complain about it and make fun of me to this day. I ran several Republic-era campaigns for my friends in DC that I called Legends of the Old Republic back in 99-00. And finally I tried to start a campaign called the Droid Nexus in 2004, maybe 2005? We made characters and played half a session but the campaign never started.

So, it's been fifteen years since I've run Star Wars, so I decided to take it slow, ease back into it, and not replicate any of my past mistakes.

Past Mistake #1: Funky Campaign Setting. The Legends of the Old Republic was my attempt to create the Old Republic I had in my mind, not the one George Lucas had. However, the players thought they were playing Star Wars and didn't know what to do without an Empire or a Rebellion.

For this campaign, I'm setting it during the same period as Rebels. Recognizable Imperial menace and oppression, recognizable rebellion, recognizable and relatable setting.

Past Mistake #2: Rail-Road. The reason my friends deride Secret of the Force so much was that it was written like a video game. I had episodes and scenes, and each scene was set up to be a puzzle, a battle, or a role-play interaction. The players had no choices to make in the story.

On top of that, they were trapped in a single solar system - which was the conceit of the story, but the players felt too constrained.

This time, I'm going to be more free-form. I'll give them missions to perform, but they'll have a lot more discretion. There will also be a meta-plot but I'll be careful to give the players plenty of options and choices and their choices will have significant impacts on the story.

So, because it has been so long for all of us (and some of the players were brand new to the Star Wars RPG), I decided to start the campaign with the training wheels scenario in the main rulebook: the Pirates of Prexiar.


Episode 0 
THE PIRATES OF PREXIAR

The Rebels of Auilai have been working with 
the Rebel Alliance a little while, flying a few
missions in a beat-up old Mon Cal freighter called the Riptide. They've 
mostly been transporting — and sometimes smuggling — supplies to their
secret Rebel base on Auilai.
A few days ago another Rebel transport was ambushed by the infamous
Pirates of Prexiar, led by their savage Barabel leader, Vangar.
The pirates looted all the supplies, killed the crew and scuttled the
ship. Auilai needs that cargo — weapons and medical supplies —
for an upcoming assault on an Imperial prison holding important
Alliance personnel.
The group's handler, the Shadow, assigned them 
to fly to Prexiar, the pirates’ baseworld,
land the Riptide far from the pirate camp, hike through the thick
jungle, steal back the cargo, and somehow escape. The fate of
the next skirmish against the Empire depends on the team's heroic
efforts to retrieve supplies.

The team stared down on the pirate compound from the jungle-clad hillside, assessing the situation. It was an hour or two before dawn. The compound was a large enclosure surrounded by an energized fence. A corvette sat on its landing struts, occupying the entire upper half of the compound. A pile of crates sat on the ground near the corvette, waiting to be loaded onto a nearby repulsor-truck. The crates bore the markings of the pirated transport.

The lower half of the compound consisted of temporary shelters: warehouses, barracks, a repair shed, and a mess hall. A small stream ran from the jungle and under the fence through a culvert to feed a retaining pond. A mechanized pump quietly drew water from the pond for distribution through the camp. Cylindrical guard towers sat atop tall poles at every corner of the compound. Two were situated at an open gate at one corner of the fence. Ten guards sat talking near the gate.

They developed and plan and set it into motion.

Evo broke away from the group and moved to the stream, stealthily belly-crawling up to the culvert.
Evo Shandor

The rest of the team moved quietly through the jungle to the section of the fence nearest the cargo and made themselves ready. Two bored pirate guards sat on the crates.

Evo squirmed through the culvert. He noticed that the top of the culvert was energized like the fence and contorted his body to avoid being shocked. He emerged from the pond inside the compound. It was completely dark in this corner and no one could see him. He sabotaged the pump, causing it to begin to bang loudly, then slipped through the shadows to hide under the struts of the corvette.

The guards near the cargo looked at the direction of the noise. Two guards broke off from the gate to investigate.

The rest of the team moved to the gate. Balin stayed behind and used the force to coordinate the actions of the team (Enhanced Coordination). They moved as one, linked as if by a single mind.

Balin's astromech droid moved with them, but got stuck in the mud. Before he could squeal in protest, Eggs, Emily, and Oba hushed the droid and together pulled it out of the muck. They carried the droid to the fence. There, Balin directed the astromech in using its tools to disable a section of the fence. They then slipped through the fence and moved quickly to eliminate the two guards.
Oba Womber

Oba accidentally bumped into a crate, knocking off a piece of equipment. The two guards turned shaply towards the noise but were surprised by Eggs and Emily. Emily knocked out one guard but it took Eggs and Oba together to disable the other guard.

Evo darted under the corvette and checked on the rest of the team. With reassuring thumbs-ups all around, Evo moved to the controls of the repulsor-truck, Oba laid down out of sight, and Eggs and Emily began loading crates onto the truck. Balin stayed in the jungle.

Eventually, a guard from the gate casually walked up to the group. Curious about the activity, the guard asked why they were moving the crates so early.

Evo replied, "Captain Vangar ordered us to have these moved into the warehouse before dawn."

The guard looked dubious. Unconvinced, he said he'd heard no such orders and said he'd have to check on that. As he moved to climb the ramp into the corvette, another guard began walking towards the group. Evo made a command decision and powered up the truck,  shouting, "Let's go!"

The team loaded the astromech droid onto the truck and climbed on board. The guards drew their weapons and began shooting. Eggs and Emily started shooting back. Evo backed the truck up to the gate and Balin ran out of the jungle and hopped on. Evo then put the truck into full thrust and took off towards the gate.

The team shot their way out of the gate as Evo careened the repulsorlift truck down the jungle path.

The repulsorlift-truck sped through the jungle as dawn broke. Prexiar's surface terrain is one of millions of overlapping craters, each crater creating circular mountainous ridge-lines. At the center of each crater is a plain and a swampy lake, usually with a small island at its center. The walls of the craters are covered in dense purple jungle. Pink and mauve clouds cling to the sides of the ridges.

Evo was unsure whether he was a good enough pilot to take the truck off the trail into the jungle, so although he had no idea where the trail led, he stayed on the path, hoping to get far enough away and hike back to the ship. As the sun rose over the ridge, the team took stock of their situation. Everyone was safe and uninjured. Balin crossed his legs and went into a kind of meditative trance. Eggs and Emily arranged the crates so that the medical supplies and weapons were at the center, protected by the other unrelated cargo crates stacked on top.

Oba, alerted to oncoming danger via his attunement with the magic power he called Aqua Vitae (Danger Sense), looked behind them and shouted through his cold metallic vocalizer, "WE'VE GOT INCOMING!" Emily and Eggs took rear-facing positions as a column of six speeder bikes came into view and opend fire with their blasters.

The bikes broke from their column, some staying on the path and other moving through the jungle to come alongside the truck. Emily and Eggs took cover behind the side-walls of the repulsor-truck and opened fire, Emily with her blaster rifle and Eggs with his twin pistols. Together they managed to take out two of the pursuing pirates. The remaining pirates pulled their blaster pistols and opend fire on Evo, Eggs, and Emily. A few managed to hit Emily but the shots were deflected by her Ubese armor. Evo heard scrambled chatter over the commlinks but was unable to activate the decoder.

At one point during the battle, Balin's meditation croshed a threshhold. He opened his eyes and stared blankly off into space. He reached out with the Force, controlling the battlefield with his mind, altering the ebb and flow of movement, attack, and defense, providing an advantage to his allies (Battle Meditation). After two more pirates were eliminated, the remaining two decelerated and gave up their chase.

The team breathed a sigh of relief. Oba lay down, exhausted, and took a short nap.

The truck emerged from the jungle into the wide clearing at the center of the crater. Ahead of them lay a swampy marsh at the center of an open plain.

TO BE CONTINUED!

Technically, Oba's player was exhausted and left early, depriving them of Danger Sense, and I sprung the walker ambush on them and shouted TO BE CONTINUED. But I'm revising that so that we can start next week with wither Oba sensing the ambush or allowing them the perception test to detect the ambush. Then, if they fail, they are ambushed, but if they win they can decide to avoid the ambush entirely.