Author and game designer Jason Richards waxes philosophic on writing, muses about RPG design, offers insight into his current projects, and imposes many exaggerations and outright lies on the people of the Internet.
I'm not less than three weeks away from running my first of three Star Wars RPG one-shot adventures, all of which will lead up to the start of a new campaign. I thought I'd spend a few minutes discussing the setting, my plans, and what is in store for the players.
For starters, you might consider catching up on what was discussed a few weeks back on this subject, where I asked a number of questions about what I might or might not include. Once you've done that, feel free to read on for the details of the campaign. Where will it be set? And when? And who will populate this world? Answers follow.
The proper era: Rise of the Empire
This game will take place, I believe, starting in 17 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin, as per the standard timeline). This places it two years after Revenge of the Sith, during the Dark Times, when Darth Vader and other of the Emperor's servants have already made great strides in extinguishing the Jedi light from the galaxy. Yet, the Empire has not yet reached the zenith of its power. It will be several years, yet, before legendary Stormtroopers and TIE Fighters and Star Destroyers exist as we know them from the Classic Trilogy. Pockets of civilization, while officially in the hands of the Empire, have yet to fully accept the new balance of power in the galaxy. One such place is the Elrood Sector.
Setting the stage: The Elrood Sector
If you recall the previous discussions regarding the planning of this series of games, I was looking for some out of the way system to enjoy the proper setting. Being distant from the events of the just-completed Clone War and the yet-to-come Galactic Civil War allows characters freedom of movement and action. If, somewhere relatively unknown and set apart from the greater conflict, the player characters blow up an Imperial starship or kill a Dark Jedi or assassinate a rebel leader, it's not going to be someone that must be erased from the important existing canon as the game progresses. I mean, the starship destroyed won't be Vader's flagship, the Dark Jedi killed won't be Mara Jade, and the rebel leader assassinated won't be Mon Mothma, because none of those things or people have any business in this obscure area.
I searched around, and came across the perfect setting, already prepared and mapped out. The chosen stage is the Elrood Sector, a set of star systems mapped and detailed in Planets of the Galaxy, Volume III and then updated and reprinted in The Star Wars Planets Collection. Both are by West End Games and use the incredibly awesome D6 system. The sector is out of the way, is only passingly mentioned in any non-gaming Star Wars medium, and contains the perfect amount of detail for an original campaign. The materials presented in Planets III should be used as a textbook for game setting design. It's full of little tidbits that can be used as adventure hooks, has a few areas that are intensely detailed, and everything else is generally fleshed out in a manner that any of it can be used or ignored without causing problem. I highly recommend it as a setting for any sci-fi game, not just Star Wars. It could be easily converted, and actually as I read it I thought that it would make for a good Firefly sort of game.
The cast: Ships and Clones
As I noted, the Empire as we know it from 0 to 4 BBY does not yet truly exist. I found that I needed to answer the question of exactly what was the tech of that era out on the Rim.
Capital ships: Eventually, by around 10 BBY, the Elrood sector would play host to two Imperial-class Star Destroyers, the Thunderflare and the Stalker (though the Stalker's canon usage is a little bit hazy). These classic Star Destroyer designs were well in use by 17 BBY, but presumably not on the fringes, where Clone Wars era Venators might still be servicable. Also still in use, particularly in areas not bristling with threats to the Empire or in need of heavy occupation, was the Acclamator line of assault ships. For my game, the Imperial powers will wield one Venator Star Destroyer, one Acclamator used primarily as a troop carrier and cruiser, and a second Acclamator used as a fighter carrier.
Fighers: The TIE Fighters known to all Star Wars fans were put into production roughly a year prior to this setting, but I'm assuming none had yet reached Elrood, instead being first mass-deployed when the Thunderflare and Stalker arrived on the scene. So, I'm relying on V-19 Torrents and V-Wings, and perhaps a few ARC-170 fighters, in addition to various patrol craft.
Stormtroopers: Non-clones, as well as clones not from Jango Fett's line, were present in the Imperial Stormtrooper ranks prior to 17 BBY, but again, it seems unlikely that a fringe sector like Elrood would get such new recruits, instead being manned by existing personnel. To start, all Stormtroopers will be Jango Fett clones, but that will change very, very soon into the game. Cue evil Game Master grin.
Politics: Elrood was ruled in the absence of a Moff for some time by Afren Hul, Imperial governor of Derilyn, the system that was the seat of Imperial power in the sector. Eventually Moff Villis Andal would take control, but even then Hul did most of the heavy lifting. In 17 BBY, I'm ruling that the Moff has yet to be assigned. The Imperials hold control over only the Derilyn system and the neighboring mining system of Berea, but their presence is intended to be enough to hold sway over the remaining worlds.
The first game: Rebels
In 17 BBY, there isn't really a Rebel Alliance as we know it from the Classic Trilogy. Sure, there were powerful people seeking to undermine the Emperor, and a doubtless gathering of resources, but such efforts had not extended to the Outer Rim. Where there is oppression, however, there will always be opposition. For the fist game, the characters will be playing some of that opposition in the form of business owners, miners, and Derilyn security forces intent on casting a blow against the Empire. I'll have character sheets up for everyone to review, soon enough.
Sound like a game you'd be interested to play? The second game will put the players into the shoes of the Imperials, and the third will cast them as pirates and smugglers. After that, we'll see what direction the players want to take it.
By the way, I don't know all that much about Star Wars. At least not enough to spout all of the above. If you're a fan, be prepared to lose some hours perusing The Rancor Pit and the great collection of knowledge that is Wookieepedia.
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