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"Are You Afraid, Jedi?"

Ran Star Wars last night and had a great time; the players certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves, as well, even though laurie_robey's Jedi Padawan got pounded into the deckplates by the end.

Their mission has been to find a minor gang boss and bring him back to the Alliance for questioning; the boss in question had holed up in a droid factory/asteroid mining facility with nobody but the droids to keep him company at first -- but one of the campaign baddies sent a Dark Jedi disciple to "keep him company". They spent the previous session searching for leads (ignoring the "you could always ask the local Hutt" suggestion I gave them early on, so I had to do some quick thinking to accommodate the direction they went instead). The net result of that lead them to the gang boss's right-hand man, who they looked up last night.

The right hand man (who actually turned out to be a right-hand Gungan) was perfectly happy to sell their target out -- the boss's paranoia and generally squirreliness after dealing with would-be Sith Lords for too long had turned him into more of a liability than an asset. I was pleased with how that encounter turned out -- Jar-Jar Binks is so very annoying that the actually-not-bad Gungan species as a whole tends to get shafted, so I very much wanted to set up an encounter with a Gungan that was pretty cool (in a ruthless gangland kind of way).

So off the heroes went to the asteroid factory. The ship combat, which basically consisted of running their small transport through a gauntlet of barely-functioning (but still dangerous) old Scarab battledroids patrolling the asteroid field, went very well. It's gonna take us a little practice to keep from having to flip pages as much during the fight, but mechanically the scene was very smooth. Going by the math, it should have been a fairly challenging encounter, except that reducing the droid brains from "Expert" pilots to "Untrained" pilots in order to bring their CL down to what a party of 2nd and 3rd level characters should be facing, hosed the battledroids' attack bonus so much that they could only hit the party's ship on a 20 even at point-blank range. The only damage their ship took was when jamesbarrett's pilot got just a little too close to an asteroid (BWANG!) -- fortunately the shields sucked it up.

On the other hand, the players couldn't hit a barn either, due to high range penalties and bad dice rolls. The droids took more damage overall bouncing off of asteroids than they did from the players. (Of course, that was jamesbarrett's strategy and why he kept deliberately flying near them -- antiquey old droid brains is dumb!)

Once they got into the factory, things got a little more dicey. I set up the factory with a patrol of four probe droids but lots of stuff to hide behind, and gave the players a chance to notice the probe droids before the probe droids noticed them. The design intent was to give the stealthier members of the party (probably hantamouse's Squib) a chance to sneak in and find the terminal that told the probe droids to stand down. However, knowing that players are a perverse lot, I also only put four of the droids in so that it would be a relatively easy fight if they just went in guns blazing.

Or so I thought. :P

They went in guns blazing -- and the probe droids suddenly had magical dice. >.< Particularly when it came to chewing on the Jedi. Looking back on it, it might have been better with only two probe droids, as they were intended to be a speed bump, not a big fight, but until now the party has gone through CL 1 threats like tissue paper, and as I say, the encounter was intended to be avoided rather than bulled through. By the end of the battle, laurie_robey's character had taken her second wind and was still hurting -- plus their attempts to use Treat Injury on her completely failed. So they went straight up the lift and into the climactic encounter with their Jedi hurting.

Which was bad, because the climactic encounter was with the Dark Jedi guarding over the boss, plus a handful of battledroid bodyguards.

The battledroids were dispatched quickly -- CL 1 just like the probe droids but only two of 'em even got off a shot, go fig -- the Dark Jedi was another matter entirely.

For this campaign, I stole the Warforged from the D&D "Eberron" setting and altered them such that they are more like cyborg revenants powered by the Dark Side, and this Dark Jedi was one, built with the Warforged-only feat that bumped his armor value way up. He was actually Jedi 2/Soldier 2 and had the "Elusive Target" talent as well, meaning that once he was in a melee with somebody, he was practically impossible for anyone shooting at him to hit.

As soon as the party spotted him, laurie_robey's Jedi went straight after him -- not unexpectedly. And if she hadn't, he would have gone straight after her anyway. (To quote a line of his from the adventure intro, "I was created to destroy Jedi.") Everybody else concentrated on the droids and getting the now-incoherent gang boss back to the lift.

To laurie_robey's credit, she fought smart -- fighting defensively, retreating to break out of melee with the Dark Jedi so that sirfox's gun-toting, grenade-tossing scout could wail on him -- but going into the fight already wounded, and the fact that she was 2nd while he was 4th, she was simply outclassed and ended up getting kicked down the stairs. But she did keep him busy long enough that the party could get out of the office with the gang boss and then flee the factory posthaste, disabling the elevators to delay the Dark Jedi long enough for their escape, and blowing his ship parked in the hangar bay to bits as they took off, leaving him stranded in the factory while they got away.

For the record, sirfox, those grenades were working. He only had 8 hit points left when you guys got out! ...although he still had a Second Wind coming.

On the whole, I was very pleased with how it came out. There's even a recurring villain now! :D And I'm really jazzed about running more soon, which is a way I haven't felt about Star Wars for a long time. The previous WotC attempts really just didn't work very well, but SWSE is almost perfect. I wish I'd had this ruleset back in 1987! :D

Unfortunately, as written it does have one major flaw: the chapter on building and balancing encounters is, as Mel Brooks would say, "authentic frontier gibberish." So the climactic scene of this story went through several incarnations before it was finally run -- including one which I can see now would have been a guaranteed TPK, even though as far as I can tell it's exactly spot-on according to the book. (Four B1 battledroids, two B2 battledroids, and Warforged Zath 6th level instead of 4th? EEEEEK!)

Luckily for the heroes, I've been frequenting the WotC SWSE boards for the past week and found the threads where people howled about this defect shortly after the game came out, so I also found the original designer's recommended fix. Apparently, he originally built a completely different (non-gibberish) system that got cut for whatever reason; for the benefit of players he posted a quick-and-dirty version, thus:

Determine total party levels (TPL)
To figure the total "challenge levels" (TCL) of a given encounter of desired difficulty:

Simple Encounter: TCL = < TPL/4; single highest CL = highest hero level (HHL)
Challenging Encounter: TCL = TPL/4 - TPL/2; single highest CL = HHL + 1
Extreme Encounter: TCL = TPL/2 - TPL; single highest CL = HHL + 2
Overpowering Encounter: TCL = > TPL; single highest CL = HHL + 4 or more

When I found that, I was like, "Well sheesh, why didn't you just SAY so?" The formulae may seem like gibberish to non-gamers, but to someone experienced with gamemastering, it should be pretty straightforward.

As it is, I was balancing this adventure with the idea in my head that there were five heroes instead of four (usually we have an NPC party member), which skewed the numbers a bit high. But the party did well and achieved their mission goals. So, well done! :D

-The Gneech

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
satyrblade
Mar. 9th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
I have deeply fond memories of our old Star Wars game in the late '80s. And as I recall, you two have a PERFECT miniatures collection for such games!
the_gneech
Mar. 9th, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC)
With the current miniatures game line, it's only become moreso! ;) Compared to what I had to work with at the time, I feel positively spoiled for resources, now! :D

-TG
satyrblade
Mar. 10th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
Icon love and campaign nostalgia kick.
catsnightmare
Mar. 9th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
Sounds like the fun I'm having in my own Star Wars group. Though I still think you're insane for even bothering with D20 Star Wars in any format.
the_gneech
Mar. 9th, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC)
Hey, don't knock SWSE 'til you've tried it. :) They really have done a great job!

-TG
hossblacksilver
Mar. 11th, 2008 06:13 am (UTC)
Sounds sweet. (n)_(n)
hossblacksilver
Mar. 12th, 2008 02:49 am (UTC)
Oh, you might enjoy my latest LJ entry
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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