The Dawn of Defiance

Since WOTC opted not to renew the Star Wars license and had to take down all the Star Wars stuff there has been a lot of requests at Saga-Edition.com for the adventures. They are kind of a Star Wars  gamer’s right of passage. Like the Tomb of Horrors, only hopefully with much less death.

So anyway I uploaded them here in large part so that I don’t lose them myself in another computer crash.

Dawn of Defiance Campaign Standards
Dawn of Defiance FAQ
Dawn of Defiance GM’s Outline
Dawn of Defiance: Traitor’s Gambit
Dawn of Defiance: A Wretched Hive
Dawn of Defiance: Queen of Air and Darkness
Dawn of Defiance: Echoes of the Jedi
Dawn of Defiance: The First to Strike
Dawn of Defiance: The Core of Corruption
Dawn of Defiance: A Reckoning of Wraiths
Dawn of Defiance: The Gem of Alderaan
Dawn of Defiance: Sword of the Empire
Dawn of Defiance: Jaws of the Sarlacc

Been really lazy I guess.

So the Dawn of Defiance: A Wretched Hive ended, badly. Basically the Skinny is the heroes were meant to infiltrate Durga the Hutts palace and find out what his relationship to the Empire is and what “The Sarlacc Project” is. To this end one of the most vital encouters is “The Moneychanger” it’s an innoccuous little encounter that amounts to making nice with a little old man and he tells you basically every thing you need to know. There are no stats written for this little old man because there is basically no way this should ever end in a fight.

Then the heroes show up. Well ok just the one of them really. All credit where it is due to the replacement slicer, he initially did everything exactly right. He was snooping around the palace as you are supposed to although the module itself gives you little incentive to do so. It was about that time in the adventure, and it’s probably the most important of the little side encounters, it kind of has to happen. Well the replacement slicer talks to the little old man and chats him up to the point where he will tell about all he knows. Then the replacement slicer realized that he didn’t know what to ask him, so he excused himself to go get his friends, good move, solid plan to this point. This is where things spiral out of control never to return. Somehow in the turbolift ‘go get my friends and return to talk to the elderly Duro’ (He happened to be a Duro) became ‘go get my friends and perform a midnight commando raid on the eldrely Duro’s computer’ no other option was really discussed with the rest of the party.

A word about hacking, or Slicing as it is known in Star Wars, if you screw it up, it can be really, really bad.  Seriously, really bad.  So they wait for the old man to be asleep. Then they sneak into his room *roll, roll, clatter clatter* they fire up his computer *roll, roll, clatter, clatter*. And this is where things really start to go wrong. Slicing in Saga is a lot like making persuasion checks to change the computers attitude, it’s a beultiful simple, elegant system. When you screw up trying to make the system like you, which by the way can be really difficult and easy to screw up, just like when you insult somebody it gets tougher to deal with. When you screw it up bad enough, and the more you screw it up the harder it gets, so a few bad rolls in and this kind of becomes inevitable, it summons security.

In this particular case Security is a small group of Gamoreans. They can be tough these first few weren’t particularly. So there’s a fight, I pull the stats for gamorean guards from a later section in the adventure, and we battle. While the battle ensues the Replacement Slicer wakes up the old man and forces him, at blaster point I believe, to download the files they were looking for onto a Data Pad. Addled by a combination of age, sleep, and terror this takes longer than it should. The fight ends and the Duro is still working while the, I hesitate at this point to call them, Heroes hide the bodies. After a bout a minute of their buddies not reporting in for the security breach more guards show up, and some tougher ones. After that fight and some more screwing around, I called the game for the night so I could try to think of a way to not wipe the entire party out.

The next week we sat down to play and I still didn’t have a clue, how I was going to swing it. I didn’t know what the players were going to do I had the entire palace drawn out so I sprinkled it liberally with guards, bashers, and a Gamorean Warlord. Then a suprisingly dramatic event occured that spared the party, My wife broke her arm, I had to call the game and take her to the ER.

The next week I had a glimmer of hope, I thought it might be possible to save the party and keep the game going. A few minutes into the game, dice were being rolled already, it became clear that there was no way this could work. So the descision I was left with was how was I going to do the TPK, I could play it timidly and maybe they would live, but then how do I get them to rescue the Jedi and actually find out what the Empire is exchanging for goods and what goods are being exchanged, the money changer didn’t have that information. There was no way really.

So, Fuck it, blaze of glory it was.  After the TPK one of the players said he could run Pathfinder.

Then we did Miscon 24, It was a lot of fun, I think we had more fun than usual. At least I did.  I saw that somebody was running Dawn of Defiance part 2 A Wretched Hive, but I couldn’t convince any of my players to do it with me. Probably for the best since the GM flaked out on us. Happens a fair amount at Miscon, it’s definately worth the trip but if you sign up for a game have a non-game plan B.

The one game I did get to play in was Basic Action Super Heros (BASH) which is a really impressive rules lite game. It was run by Justin “Jay” Peters who has editing credit in the book. Apparently he rewrote two chapters for spelling and gramatical errors and none of his suggestions made it into the final book. The only problem I have with this book is, in fact, the editing. Those of us who played in the game kept our copies of the book, signed by the author for what that’s worth. It is a good game though it’s incredibly versatile, and it will probably make it into the regular rotation of games we play. The fact that’s available really cheap doesn’t hurt.

I went to a fair number of panels and checked out the SCA. I don’t know if I’ll go play with them but I’m considering it.

The Pathfinder game that sprouted up to replace the Sta Wars game is pretty good thus far. Apparently it’s a converted on the fly 4th Ed Module wich has left us wishing we had more healing a suprising number of times considering that the party has a Cleric, Druid, and Paladin. We also have a sorceror (dragon I think) and I’m playing a fighter. It’s been fun so far.

A Wretched Hive Part 1

So our medic was absent tonight, which could have been bad. The swoopers at the very beginning of the adventure where tough, tougher than they should have been. I would go so far as to say no way is that first part challenge level 3. It could be because we only had three men tonight, but I wouldn’t think generally speaking the difference would be that huge. I played them pretty straight, as written the swoopers scoot around on ther swoops and attempt to carve off bits o’ hero, while their leader hangs back and shoots with her heavy blaster pistol. Rodney Thompson in wrighting this section of the game seems to have missed that the Skirmisher talent works just as well for pistols as it does for vibroblades. After running the encounter I suspect that this May be intentional, since the leader of the vipers is quite deadly enough without using her skirmish ability with her pistol while her gangers make mincemeat of the heroes. When it became clear that she would loose within two or three rounds I had the gang leader take off followed by her one surviving gang member. The adventure says the gangers with the exeption of the leader fight to the death, but it didn’t seem to make sense here, he had 2 hp left, was down a step on the CT and his boss was taking off.

After that encounter the clone who was playing back up medic this game patched everybody up and they all headed to the cantina without much of a plan. A few hundred credits later and some mediocre rolls of the dice and they where headed off to the warehouse district to look for a scummy devaronian who may know where to find Durga the Hutt.

This turned out to be an interesting fight. The excavation droids where kind of cool, but only one survived long enough to get off an attack and by that point he was down the ct enough to turn a hit into a miss, would have been neat though. The thugs, where pretty much useless, the dice pendulum swung back the other way from the incredible success of the swoopers to the absolute uselessness of Durga’s thugs. I have never rolled so many fours in my life. every other attack was a 4 which with their bonus of 3 made for 7, at third level that makes not much of a challenge for anybody. The devaronian who they where sent to capture on the other hand made an interesting battle. I’ve never had much faith in sneak attack in this game it’s really hard to get somebody flat footed, but he was sniping like a mad man. It was sometimes two or three rounds between attacks but at 5d6+ a pop it was worth the wait. He did almost take out the new Duros scoundrel (who replaced the droid scoundrel who was taken out last week) but it was a terrible dammage roll. Which led to the first bad roll for a snipe check, which ended the fight. The adventure says Raden surrenders if reduced below 10hp well he had way more than that he had thus far only been caught in the periphery of a stun grenade blast for a total damage of 3 hit points but he was looking down the barrel of two blasters with no where to go and nothing he could do. So next week we do the interogation and the part will start trying to get on Durga’s good side, it looks like it should be pretty fun.

Oh and the guys leveled.

This Week’s Gaming

Apparently I’m a lazy ass and haven’t done anything with this all week.

Wednesday we had our Pathfinder game it was what it is. We where apparently supposed to work for the head of the bakers and brewers guild even though we factually know that she and the entire government are corrupt and have systems in place for the abuse of power. We are fighting terrorism except the terrorism doesn’t matter, and nothing we do really feels like it maters. It’s horrible that these atrocities that happen don’t really seem to have any effect. The number of dead after each attack is just a number, It’s not like there are any fewer people in the city when it’s done.

Then last night we had our Dawn of Defiance game. It was pretty rough. The converted commando droid was destroyed, it was really only a matter of time, but that time was up pretty early in the night.  The heroes rested up from their encounter’s last week and then followed their guide to the Imperial Prison Facility to rescue Admiral Varth. The first place they went was the medical bay where the battled a med tech his droid and two Felucian abominations. The battle started out a little rough because the charge was led by the scoundrel droid.  It took a little bit too long for the Med Tech’s strategy to really start working and by then it was pretty much too late. He did manage to summon a squad of stormtroopers though.  They managed to destroy the droids brain before continuing on.

I have a problem with groups of bad guys in my games. The problem is that I think of them as people with motivations of their own and where I imagine that Rodney Thompson had intended me to just have them rush in guns-a-blazin’ I end up having mine use squad tactics, it gets pretty dangerous. Anyway the good guys capture the medbay, and by the time they are done they desperately need it’s services. They still have to rescue the Admiral and plant the bomb in the communication center.

Before his unfortunate demise at the hands of the Stormtroopers he summoned the Med Tech managed to tell the good guys which door was the prison. The Force sensitive soldier managed to put up his DR10 before going in which was a good thing. It meant that the warden droids absolutely could not do anything to him. The clone managed to get some shots off but did not contribute meaningfully until The force sensitive soldier managed to get the guards pinned down.  Once the guard room was cleared they tried using the computer to open the doors but only succeeded in locking it down. In the end they ended up using a fusion-cutter to get through the door and rescue the prisoners including Admiral Varth and the replacement for the Noble who died last week.

Then it was onto the Communications Center, well actually they hit the storage room first, but since they where not in dire need of a mop they moved on to the Communications Center. Now most encounters come with a leader type character of some kind. This guy makes everybody way more dangerous, and my players figured this out pretty quickly so now the leader occupies the same very special place that the mage does in most D&D gamers minds. So they enter the communications center and shoot the officer straight away. That still left the Communication Techs who are Imperial Army Soldiers and pretty dangerous in their own right. Not as dangerous as the good guys, though so they managed to skate through this encounter with minimal resources expended, they almost left the Lt.’s code cylinder which is needed later so that might of been interesting.

Of course they try to sneak back out the way they snuck in and of course that way is now guarded by a hoarde of Stormtroopers and an AT-ST, as the adventure says “Can’t get out that way.” Which leads to the turbolifts and the climactic battle of the adventure. The first thing I noticed about this encounter is the only way in is for everybody to load up on the turbo lifts and head up, the second thing I noticed is that this is also the first encounter where the Stormtroopers have grenades. Did I mention I have this problem with making the bad guys fight in a way that makes sense? Between the two giant mutant Felucians, the four Storm troopers (and their pet frag grenades),  and the officer (who probably shouldn’t be included since he did not get to act even once before being mowed down by autofire).  The party came as close to a TPK as we’ve had yet. Indeed I specifically made the descision not to TPK them at one point when the soldiers had between them 4 HP left, and the new Twi’Lek scoundrel was also wounded, and they where all standing whithin the blast area of a frag grenade, and the only stormtrooper left still had his.

I don’t go out of my way to kill characters. I think there is a balance that has to be maintained. TPKs are not fun for anybody, least of all the GM. After you kill an entire party you rack your brain going over the encounter again and again trying to figure out what you could have done differently. This isn’t a bad thing it helps you not make the same mistakes again and again, or maybe that’s just me. The game is not fun at all for the players if there is no risk what so ever. That said I also don’t tend to go out of my way to not kill characters, I think the risk of character death is important to keep players invested in the game. So three games in I’ve killed two characters I need to reconsider the strategies used by my NPCs to make the game a little less lethal. To that end I’m instituting two optional rules from Jedi Counciling 114 “Old Wounds” and “The Edge of Exhaustion.”

Star Wars: Dawn of Defiance (Part 2)

The game went pretty well I thought except for the minor glitch that the Noble died.

Some parts of this adventure are somewhat poorly written. For example the first real encounter in part two where dice are rolled is against four Felucian scouts in a pond. The adventure has them hiding, by lying prone on small islands sticking out of the pond. Now the part of this that doesn’t make any sense is that they can breath underwater, and their plan is to ambush the “Imperials.” So why do they hide in the only places they can be spotted rather than take advantage of their ability to completely submerge themselves in the water right next to them. Once we get over that nonsense. They are all hiding on different islands and the map is reasonably huge. So their tactics state that they close into melee as soon as possible using mighty swing if they can. Well given the size of the map, and that the water covering most of it is difficult terrain, and that they don’t have any particular gift for crossing difficult terrain, and that their defenses suck, and that they only have 11 hitpoints to begin with, the period that it takes them to close into melee is greater than the remainder of their lives.

The chase scene was fun though, even the fight at the end was fun even with poor niles being reduced to 0 hit points in the middle of a river and drowning. The campaign standards don’t allow for the replacement of a character in mid adventure, but given that the final portion of the adventure is in a prison it seems like as good a place as any to bring in a new character, and we are already not sticking religiously to the campaign standards.

Dawn of Defiance: The Traitor’s Gambit (Part 1)

We had our first game last night, I thought it was pretty successful.

At the promenade shootout I nearly killed the Noble, but he spent the Force Point to stay alive. I was a little concerned about this given that this was that players first game in about a decade.

The woman that they where supposed to rescue was not so lucky. She starts with 2 HP and a damage threshold of 6. The module states in the stormtrooper tactics that they will use their weapons (Blaster Carbines) set to stun on her and set to lethal on anybody who interferes. Well 3d8/2 averages out to 6.75, which outright kills her, and that particular stormtrooper rolled pretty well. Fortunately the adventure accounts for that pretty well.

After that they failed to make the information broker friendly enough to admit that he even has the information they need. Again fortunately the adventure accounts for that pretty well. And they did end up getting the Alderaanian security agent frozen in carbonite and getting off of Zel Sonn station.

Next week the meeting with Senator Bail Organa and probably the rest of the Traitor’s Gambit or at the very least part 2.

Dawn of Defiance Week 1

Aside from the guy who has never played SWSE before not showing up, I felt like character creation went fairly well. It seems like we hae a pretty coherrent party.
We have a Force Sensitive Human Soldier, who is not as you would imagine a jedi being force sensitive, he’s more one of those uncannily lucky untrained sorts. We have a Clone former soldier turned vagabond. The third character we have tonight is a reprogrammed commando droid slicer, It seems likely that he will come to regret the descision to be inherrently illegal. Not to mention the fact that he is likely to bring up unpleasant memories with many of the good guy NPCs in the campaign.
Hopefully I can get together with my fourth man so he can create a character this week.