Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Vol 2 Issue 8: 30 May 2009

Guest Editor: David Simmons, The Rolemaster Dude

The party had been lucky again, not only stumbling on the pass through the mountains but also catching one of the supply mule trains returning from their delivery to the fort. It was a quick and bloody fight since only two of the enemy had stayed to fight while the rest ran. The party had until nightfall at the most before those that escaped the ambush reached the fort and with them the news of the attack on the supply group. It seemed everyone was in agreement, the best way get the information the party had gathered, to the Margrave, was not a direct route back to the lake and the signal beacon but a round about way that would throw off any pursuing force sent out by the fort.

So the party headed west along the mountains following them until they could cut north along the eastern edge of the swamp to get back to the Lake and the signal beacon. That first night the party decided to make a cold camp high enough on the mountainside to watch for any sign of a pursuit. As the darkness of night came those on watch could clearly see in the distance torch lights at least three different groups presumably searching for the party or at least their lost mules, which continued through the night but never getting any closer to the party’s campsite.

The next day lead to another westerly trek along the foothills of the mountains base and another cold camp set on the mountainside, overlooking the valley below. That night a the camp was disturbed not by the distance torches of the enemy but by a hungry mountain lion who had pounced down on an unsuspecting Demeyo trying to wake the rest of the party to alert them of some noise he had heard coming from higher on the mountainside. Alas, the poor mountain lion had no chance against the swift sword of Lenore who had been one of the first to be woken up by Demeyo, and had sensed the danger and reacted before anyone else knew what was happening followed quickly by Sigrin Ironfist who basically finished the mountain lion off as his swing knocked it over the side of the little area where the party had set up camp. A little while latter the party settled back down for the rest of the night without further disturbance.

The next several days passed without any further encounters or hardships and the party made it to the lakeshore along it southeast corner, one of the spots furthest from any of the lakes islands, and decided to try and set-up and start a beacon to attract enough attention to draw a friendly ship to come pick them up. Although it was a good idea nothing came of it except the loss of half a day or a little more before the party decided to go to the beacon instead of the longer trip around the lake to the only fort and safe harbor along the lake shore.

It was a moonless night, and the going was rough for most of the party who had no real light to travel by and after a few twisted ankles and stumbles, the party decided to split into two groups, (Reuben, Mal, Winterlion, Sigrin Ironfist, and Lenore) and (Demeyo, Elise, and Amwise) although the split made little sense for traveling in the dark without light since both groups were made up of basically night blind individuals and the purpose was to travel ahead and scout out and light the beacon. Although, the Demeyo group did make a little better time then the following Reuben group but mostly because the second group decided to wait behind before following.

It was well after midnight by the time Demeyo, Elise, and Amwise made it to the river with the beacon on the other side. Since they needed to cross Demeyo decide to cast a handy little spell which would allow him to cross with ease while Elise and Amwise swam across. Why this was just too easy, there was no one at the beacon, they just walked right up and lit it. Of course once their eyes adjusted to the light they did notice about nine individuals about 100 feet away on a little rise up the beach aiming bows at them, oh well it was only three to one odds “why run when we can stay and fight”, after all it was the battle cry of our little group of adventures.

So the battle was on, of course back to our second group not knowing there was a fight about to erupt and after noticing the light from the beacon, and deciding it was rather a good idea Reuben cast a little flashlight spell and away they went. Back at the beacon Demeyo, Elise, and Amwise decided the best way to fight when your out numbered is to split up and everyone go a separate direction, so that way the enemy can choose which guy to gang up on, although it seemed like they were more interested in putting out the beacon then they were of trying to follow anyone, luckily Amwise had decided to stay as close to the beacon as possible so they could gang up on him after they put out the beacon and lit up a few smaller light sources.

It was not long before Amwise was bleeding profusely and trying to swim away for his life, while Elise after dropping one of the enemies was fleeing for her life, and Demeyo doing the same after exchanging a few sword blows and some long range arrow fire between him and a group of enemy archers. Demeyo and Amwise make it away and fearing the capture of Elise meet up with Reuben’s group and decide to try and catch the enemy by surprise by heading up river and then heading back down to the lake although they do find evidence of a camp abandoned by the enemy they are no where to be seen, so the group decides to have the brave Amwise swim across and light the beacon and then draw the enemy back to the river were they either have to try and cross while under fire or fight at range where the better range and accuracy of the party can over come the enemies numbers.

It was an ok plan but really only Demeyo and Winterlion have any real skill at the bow, and of course the plan goes awry when Amwise is chosen to be the one to sneak across and light the beacon, since he is the least likely to stick to any plan, and of course goes charging in to throw his daggers at the enemy as they once again appear over the little rise up the beach from the beacon. Although his throw is deadly and he drops another enemy Amwise receives several answering bow shots and two find there mark and once again Amwise is bleeding and and fleeing for his life trying to make it back across the river.

Luckily once again the enemy’s priority seems to be putting out the beacon (Man these guys are dumb, I mean if you did not want the beacon lit why leave all the stuff to light it in the tower?) Anyway, as they rush to put out the beacon Reuben closes his eyes and pulls back the arrow and as it reaches his ear releases and when he opens his eyes low and behold he hit someone and not only did he hit someone it was one of the enemies and it dropped him (Reuben is now thinking of joining the marines you know one shot one kill).

After a minute or two of exchanging arrow fire the party has collected Amwise from the river, and backed up to a range were only Demeyo and his longbow have any real chance to hit anything but the ground, and Elise having re-appeared from somewhere up the beach a long boat has been spotted and after a short exchange of who are you and why should we care the crew from the boat decide to bring the group aboard leaving the enemy on the beach and the Margrave’s army to deal with them.

After a couple of days travel back to Maethelburg and reporting their findings to the Margrave, the party decides to rest in the city before once again traveling out to the south to try and find out what kind of numbers this Dread Lord and his followers actual have and how real is the threat to the March and its Islands.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pondering a mini for Lenore

As I'm also a LOTR fan, it doesn't bother me that this fig is more expensive than anything from Reaper and also only available with a horse as I'd be able to use her for Rolemaster as well as LOTR gaming. This is where I'm leaning. I really think this is an awesome fig and would love to paint it.

Reaper Minis is the standard mini supplier for most of my RPG interests for the simple fact that they have a huge catalog of good quality figs that are joyful to paint and easy on the pocketbook. Here are some ideas:

Vol 2 Issue 7: 18 Apr 2009

There was one particular girl that stood out from the rest..
Hearkening back to Vol 2 Issue 4 we were introduced, briefly, during the ballet in the Margrave's throne room, to a young and particularly skilled warrior-ess - a shield-maiden or guard in the Margrave's service - who was particular handy with the blade and adept at dispatching daemons back to the black abyss that they were spawned from. She was a welcome ally in that battle and was asked about by several of our number after the fight in discussions with Lord Howe and the Margrave.

Thus we welcome Ruth as Lenore, formerly of the City Guard of Maethylburg (aka "Laketown") and presently on assignment from the Margrave to assist the Stewards of the March. Thats us.

My pocket sketch of Lenore is Eowyn: medium-length dirty-blond hair, broadsword-and-shield bashy warrior in full chain armor. She is murderously lethal with her sword, a skilled and tough weaponmaster, but she is slow to provoke and tends to hold back in a fight until or unless she has been strongly provoked. Then, watch out!

Off to see the Wizard
Over the next week or two I spent almost all of my time in the archives and libraries of the Margrave, Lord Howe, and the unnamed Court Magician trying to learn all that I could of these Dread Lords and their history. I didn't pick up much, but such as I did I considered valuable snippets. Several of us had recently leveled, and my improvements went almost entirely to academic and scholarly pursuits. I've tried to work on this, but apparently my Old Common is spoken with a bit of an accent. The analogy that comes to mind is one of a French-native Professor of Literature who is extremely fluent in English attempting to speak with a Boston accent. Its all the same language and he's really fluent at it, but he just doesn't sound Bostonian.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
Lucky us! How could we be so fortunate? We were tapped to go out on another mission! This time, back downriver to the east to the coast and to explore along the way. Somewhere out there waiting, somewhere, were very servants of the Dread Lords that we had tangled with in the past. And based on that entanglement, they presumably had more servants and soldiers in more forts that could be teleported in on short notice as reinforcements for anywhere we might show up. So we decided to make this the slow and scenic trip passage to the coast, having still never actually made it that far.

Trekking this time down the north side of the river, laying somewhat low and living off the land along the way, we charted it to be about a week's march through territory roughly comparable to Nebraska before we reached the vicinity of the trail leading south to the Keep-On-The-Lake. We bypassed this and pushed on, still on the north of the river, all the way to the coast. Another week to get that far. Along the way we had few couple encounters on about an every other day basis with some giant flying bird. We later identified this to be a giant falcon and its pet human rider, or perhaps the relationship went the other way.

It took some doing, some wandering, some almost-but-not-quite getting lost, and a lot of everyone but me getting well and soaking wet, and we found ourselves to the south side of the river near its mouth, and we hit upon some tremendous dip-net surf fishing that had me landing a awesome specimen of some rockfish right about the time that falcon-boy made his dawn patrol. That was a good pucker-factor event, but for some reason we didn't turn out to be very important (or obviously edible) because the rider turned his mount to exit the area without stopping to talk to us.

Reuben was particularly upset over the gall of this rider to snoop and check up on us, make low passes without talking to us, and for just flying off without so much as a how-do-you-do. So he pumped out a lvl-11 Summoning-XV and targetted "Giant Falcon" before the bird could get more than 100yd away. I've seen him do his "Summon Fish" and "Summon Bigger Fish" act before, but this new "Summon Giant Falcon" act trumps them all. We didn't know if it would work. Nobody knew. Are Giant Falcons intelligent, like Tolkien's Giant Eagles? Or are they just big falcons? Maybe they're magical, or maybe they're just bred magically, or maybe they're just fantastic but not particularly intelligent. Turns out they're more of the last category, as his Summoning-XV was enough to do the trick.

Within a few seconds, what should our wondering eyes should appear but an irate rider and his pt giant falcon. We tried to be friendly, but in the interest of future diplomatic relations we let him go. Although I'm sure Gene regrets not holding back some points to spend on Animal Husbandry: Giant Falcon and Riding: Giant Falcon should we have chosen the alternative and captured the bird.

We represent the Lollipop Guild
After waving goodbye to our new-met acquaintance we set off again on foot to the south following the coast. We were no longer really making any serious attempt to hide, as I think we would have enjoyed having birdman come back for a friendly visit on his terms. As long as it turned out to be friendly. Instead, what met us was a delegation of people from the birdman village. After some introductions and discussion, it was agreed that we would travel with the Village People back to their town and meet with their Village Council.

Reuben played me up as some high and mighty noble, presumably as bait for a trap or as a crude practical joke. Lenore picked up on the idea that the Village People were being less than totally honest when they claimed they didn't know anything about the Keep-On-The-Lake or the people therein. But in the spirit of pursuing diplomatic relations and perhaps some day Free Trade we travelled with them for about a day and a half before coming to their little burg.

This far south along the coast the land was getting a bit more rugged, and inland were rising hills and mountainous terrain. The Village People had their town terraced into the side of one hill like a series of hobbit holes, and on the next hill over was the aeyrie for the giant falcon riders. Our escorts took us to their meeting place and told us it would be fun to stay at the YMCA. We avoided the obvious song, because at this point it was really starting to smell a bit like a trap.

On one hand, I didn't like us getting shut inside a dusty old mead hall, empty of everyone but ourselves, to cool our heels waiting for the Village Council. Neither did Reuben, who kept guard at the door. But on the other hand, if they wanted us dead we'd be dead and be starting a new campaign. So I didn't think they wanted us dead, they could be friendly, but didn't seem exactly to be enemies. So I played it honest. Reuben had set me up as some high and mighty noble, so it was up to me and my eloquent diplomacy to do something.

I laid out honest: how we're from thousands of miles to the north, how we currently serve the Margave of Meth-something, where (on a map) we came from, what we've seen, and how we came to be there at that time. Apparantly the Elder wasn't prepared for such a bombshell to be laid at his feet, as he promptly kicked us out of town and told us never to come back. Ever. Turns out that this village is some loosely aligned thrall of the Dread Lords and owes them some fealty although they're not particularly good supporters of the despotic regime. We didn't have time to get into the economic details, but it seems that the Dread Lords have many such little enclaves and have been passing off a bundle of lies about how the Laketown people are Public Enemy Numero Uno. Seeing us in person, and knowing how friendly we were to his birdman patrol, he was willing to give us the benefit of the doubt but we really needed to get the heck out. And so we did. Promptly.

The Battle Of The Wilderness
These Dread Lords are really starting to become an irritating rash on the countryside. We're about 2 weeks on foot from home, but we decided to once again take the scenic route. This time, staying to the south side of the river. It really needs a name. Since the land near it reminds me of Nebraska, I think we should call it the Platte River. Still living off the land, trying to hunt along the way, low use of magic, trying to stay undetected in enemy territory. Funny thing is that this territory is not interlaced with roads and trails connecting different places. Its more like virgin wilderness. We eventually made it far enough south to reach the mountains, and it seems like the mountains might actually be passable back to the east so maybe the lack of roads/trails is a fluke. But still, nothing seems to connect the Keep-On-The-Lake with anything else. Trudging west, paralleling the ridges, we eventually found a pass approximately due south o the Keep. A true AHAH!

map of the ho chi mihn trail that the vietnamese rebels used during the warFluke, bad timing, torment from the GM, payback for avoiding all of the other combat encounters for the last 8 hours of RPGing, we stumbled randomly into a mule train and had a bit of a meeting engagement. More of a chasing engagement. We could have caught them, but we had to let them escape. The mules were empty. But now we know where their Ho Chi Minh Trail is.

Wookiepiedia is fun

I like the storytelling and interaction parts, but its a tough juggle when everyone has a slightly different interest or approach or maturity level. But you get that sort of mix with a bunch of adults, so its all part of being the GM. I need to make sure to include more time with miniatures and boards/maps instead of being purely verbal, and a little bit of action or suspense each game helps keep everyone's interest level high. Not familiar with Universalis, Spence, but maybe I should be.

We play once or twice a week in the evenings for one or two hours at a time. We played a little last night, pure verbal, primarily filling in background information and interacting with each other and with some NPCs.

They met a young security officer (Panaka) who is one of the Senator's guards, and some other canon characters like Senator Kim's young son Rohnar (my kids don't browse the wookieepedia often, but they're thrilled when I name-drop movie characters into the game). They discovered some backstory regarding Senator Kim and Prefect Palpatine. The girls wanted some scoop on Palpatine, their host, so they did some detective work (Use Computer, Gather Information, and some Knowledge rolls) and made some phenominal rolls. Not enough to get any DC30 scoop, but enough to get a few DC25 nuggets. Turns out Palpatine rose to prominence on Kim's staff, rising from "bureaucrat" to "political aide-de-camp", when the nobody Kim championed some high-profile legislation regulating the corporate banking industry and directly affecting the InterGalactic Banking Clan (Muuns). Senator Kim made his mark as a Reformer over the objections of the Banking Clan, and Palpatine has since directed two re-election campaigns to landslide victories. Alas, their detective work was not done in secret, so we'll see how that plays out. So far they haven't scooped anything sensitive or illegal, and Palpatine is a master at covering his tracks.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

The PCs started as lvl2 heroes, with 2 of them deciding to be multi-class: Jedi/Scoundrel (Zabrak) and Jedi/Noble (Twi'lek). The other two are single-class Jedi (Human and Twi'lek). My kids rolled enviable, but imperfect, stats: the two girls rolled some preposterous numbers balanced by some pathetic numbers, while my wife and son rolled solidly decent and nothing below average. Everyone did better than a 28pt-buy RPGA start, although the girls have very unbalanced distributions.

Opening Moves:
The PCs are in the right place at the right time to save the lives of a bunch of civilians at a space station, and simultaneously attract some praise from other Jedi. They're supposed to be part of a peaceful delegation from the Jedi Temple sent as visitors and observers at the Galactic Games. Basically, the "kids" get a free pass as visitors to the Games since they're supposed to be "escorted". They're seperated from their escorts while in a space station over Alderaan and witness a "freak accident" that destroys the ship they're supposed to board, cripples the space station, and nearly wipes out the entire Board of Directors of the Trade Federation. All at once. Canon event for this year: all non-Neimodian members of the Trade Federation BoD are killed/assassinated in a takeover which results in a pure Neimodian BoD and Nute Gunray becoming Viceroy. The PCs witness this and are stuck in a docking concourse of the space station during the accident. They commandeer a bulk transport and shepherd all the civilians to safety before the docking concourse collapses, thus saving a bunch of lives. Pure heroism. The stuff of Jedi holovids. They're instant heroes to the galaxy, all with preposterously high CHA stats so they're natural photogenic kids in front of the cameras. Their mothers would be proud.

Jedi Gambit:
There has been what is obviously a huge nefarious well-orchestrated plot against the Trade Federation, which could easily result in a huge hue-and-cry "Galactic Incident[tm]" if the TF plays it that way. The mandate of the Senate is for the Jedi to investigate this and solve the problem. The ideal investigators are "johnny on the spot", except that this is a job not suited to non-attached Padawans. I've conveniently machinated an excuse to send the Padawans unescorted to Naboo to the Games, while their "escorts" take on the "mission". Except they've lost their transport (kaboom!). Enter the deux ex machina. A Consular transport vessel conveniently en-route from Corsucant to Naboo already on Senatorial business is rerouted to make a stop at Alderaan to pick up the PCs. That vessel is on assignment to the Chommell Sector Senate District, Vidar Kim Senator, and is bearing Palpatine (his personal aide and chief of staff) back to Naboo. Yes, I am that evil to dangle Palpatine, Sith Apprentice, in disguise right under the noses of the PCs and they can't do a darn thing about it because they don't have any proof of anything. If my wife or kids knew that according to Expanded Universe canon, Darth Plagueis is a Muun I'd even go so far as to allow Palpatine to be observed taking a secretive holo-call from some Banking Clan representative or a hooded/robes Muun. Before they board, their "goodbye kiss" meeting with their former escorts, the PCs are presented with loaner lightsabers and the promise "we'll see you on Naboo in a couple weeks".

In the background:
Their mothers ARE proud. The ones who aren't already dead. The Zabrak was born to Spacers, a distant cousin of Mace Windu's own Master, from a family who owner-operate a pathetic run-down bulk transport plying the Outer Rim in competition to the budding Xizor Transport Systems. Their biggest anti-piracy safety factor is that they're too low-budget to maintain their own artificial gravity plates, everyone knows it, and thus they're not worth the hassle of attacking. Seeing his family's ship is like watching a homeless guy pushing a shopping cart full of beer cans to the recycling center: you kinda feel sorry for him, but he's taking care of himself and if you're of criminal intent he'd be too much trouble to rob. One of the Twi'leks is slave-born from Nar Shaddaa and her mother is dead; her father unknown. Does he recognise the face in the holonews? Unlikely. The other Twi'lek? Born to a lower tier family on the reconstructed Taris, which in my campaign turned out just as bad as it was the first time around (see KOTOR and the Star Wars: KOTOR comic books). Yes, her parents will recognise their little girl on the holovids, be proud, brag, and then get stomped by a local swoop gang. Somewhere down the road, if she continues to keep her CHA=19 face in the public eye, the older Twi'lek is going to have some "bad dreams" about her family on Taris coming under some "undue influence". A hook to lure a charismatic Jedi to the Dark Side is exactly what a Dark Jedi or Sith will be looking for.

Star Wars Saga Edition campaign

My kids, especially the older two (girls) do a lot of "lets pretend" roleplaying inspired by favorite books and movies. They wanted a different sort of game. I was thinking something Harry Potter-ish or something Star Wars. Star Wars won, by popular acclaim and my preference. Besides, I've been looking for an excuse to try the rules and I've been positively dying for an excuse to get my wife to drop coin on RPG material (she actually did the legwork and made the purchase for me, to my amazement). Rules in hand, source material only a google away, lets have some fun with the kids.

First, the rules. Being familier with other iterations of d20 and Star Wars and having read some lukewarm reviews online, I was honestly expecting Saga Edition to be kiddie-fied: beneath my highbrow RPG standards, but perfect for my kids. I cut my RPG teeth on D&D when it came in a little box and Greyhawk was still cool. I was 11 or 12; girls mature differently so surely 10-11yo girls should be fine for Star Wars SE. I still think of "SE" as "Streamlined Edition" not "Saga Edition" and its not a bad way of looking at it. It fits, but isn't really derogatory. Having fewer details to keep track of is good for everyone and nice for me as a GM since I can do more "on the fly" roleplay encounters.

If you're familiar with d20 anything (including many Star Wars computer games), you're at home with Star Wars SE. You get your core 6 stats, bonuses and penalties come at the same levels you're familiar with. The d20 is king. You roll a d20, add modifiers, and compare to a target number which may be fixed based on difficulty of a task or may be something rolled in opposition to your number (high roller plus modifiers "wins"). My kids have all played Star Wars Miniatures and Star Wars Starship Battles so they all grasp the d20 concept readily. Now d20 is rolled for more than just initiative and attacking. It is also rolled for skills.

Previous versions of Star Wars RPG had characters earning "points" towards skills with each level, distributing their improvements in various ways. Now life is much simpler. Like D&D4, you're either Trained or you're NOT. Anyone can use any skill (few exceptions), being Trained gives a bonus and having Skill Focus in the skill gives a bigger bonus. Not Trained? Skill is probably still usable, but without the bonus(es) you'll rarely roll well enough to do anything complicated. I honestly think that this is totally appropriate for a "heroic" sort of Space Opera genre such as Star Wars where the PCs are supposed to be Heroes and Better Than Normal. So sure, everyone can pilot a starfighter, ride a bantha, fly a speeder bike, juggle lightsabers, and do zippy things with computers; those with TRAINED SKILL simply do all of the above better, faster, more reliably, and can do so under combat conditions. Now instead of being able to pile on all of your skill improvement and focus your character in a specific way, all of your skills generically and simultaneously improve with every level. Thus, higher level characters will always be able to do everything better than a lower level character AND have more opportunities to earn Skill Focus and get even better. At moderate character levels there is little need for "specialist NPCs" who help with some specific task because 1) there are only ~20 skills to worry about in the first place, and 2) the higher level character is better at everything.

The skill formula: level/2 + STAT modifier + 5 (trained) + 5 (focus). A lvl10 character has had +4pt for STAT advances (+2pt every 4 levels), so an UNtrained lvl10 Hero will be at least as good at any skill as a TRAINED lvl1 Non-Hero.

The end product of this is that if you allow your PCs to interact with and "use" higher-level NPCs for help (a Jedi Master, for example), that higher level character will be able to do things he's good at like a Demi-God and things he's not good at better than the PCs who are "experts" and can easily dominate a game.

This lack of attention to detail would be anathema to a campaign-hardened Rolemaster/Spacemaster player but "just works" in the context of Star Wars.

The previous edition of Star Wars RPG (Revised Edition), had this concept of Vitality Points. I loved it. If you took a big enough hit, it might kill you outright regardless of how many HP (Hit Points, you n00b) you had. But the statistical math of this worked out such that if you primarily gain XP by combat encounters, AND the difficulty of your encounters scales with your character level such that you have the requisite 13.4 encounters-per-level, you have a ~13% chance of spontaneous death every level. So now there is this Damage Threshold, same as Vitality Points, and if a hit exceeds your DT your "condition track" deteriorates. You take negatives on all your rolls the worse it gets, until you're KO'd or killed. Lots of things can deteriorate your "condition track" (mental attacks, electricity, poison, torture, etc) so it is possible to get KO'd before you lose all your HP. Like D&D4, you get healing surges in the middle of a fight. SW-SE calls it "second wind", and you spontaneously rest and heal in the middle of a fight. Or pop a Red Bull, get slapped with some Jedi Healing (aka "Vitality Transfer"), regenerate, or just be so darned tough that you can spontaneously heal multiple times. None of this (usually) improves the condition track, so you'll still be fatigued even if you have lots of HP.

I still prefer Vitality Points. I think the concept does a better job of movie visuals like Leia being dropped by a single shot from a blaster, but not dying. Or any of the various people who get arms/legs/both chopped off and walk/crawl/climb away.

Overall, I do like SW-SE. I like how starting character classes are streamlined into 5: Jedi, Noble, Scoundrel, Soldier, and Scout. Everything else is a Prestige Class. The differentiation between Consular and Guardian Jedi is made in Talents, which are available equally to any Jedi (plus many more). I didn't like how D&D4 simplified Magic Users into "guys with a special ability to cast X spell", but the concept works well for Star Wars. It fits the genre: you pause, meditate, recharge, and back use of the powers you just expended. Just like Qui-Gonn pausing in the middle of his fight with Darth Maul. But you never hear about Jedi having to sleep to recharge their connection with the Force or memorize "spells".

So we started a bit of a campaign with the game rules.

Saga Edition is supposed to be written to be suitable for any era of the Star Wars Saga. The three main eras that the game rules refer to are: Rise to Empire (everything before the culmination of Episode III), Empire (Episode III through culmination of Episode VI), and New Republic (post-movies). I further subdivide this timeline into Old Republic (anything further back than ~100 years before the Clone Wars), Fall of the Republic (the last ~50 years of the Republic), Clone War (the timeline between Episode II & III), Empire (until about Episode IV), Rebellion (IV-VI), and New Republic. I have mixed personal reviews of a lot of the post-Empire novelizations, so I don't care to go beyond that even though it is all "canon". What the kids wanted was to be "Jedi". What we wanted was an age when Jedi aren't refugees, outcasts, or criminals. I wanted a campaign that didn't focus entirely on combat, war, and battles. That left me working with either Fall of Republic, or New Republic (esp New Jedi Order). Either could work; my joy of political machinations tipped the scales to Fall of Republic.

I set the campaign we have now in 945 ARR (55 BBY), or 23 years prior to the Battle of Naboo (Episode I) and 33 years prior to the Battle of Geonosis (Episode II). Anakin Skywalker has not yet been born. Obi-Wan is a toddler. Qui-Gonn is a Master, but has a different Padawan (Obi-Wan becomes his 3rd). Darth Plagueis is still alive, Sidious is his Apprentice, and Maul has not even been born yet; Palpatine has not been elected Senator yet. Mace Windu just completed his Trials. Many of the "supporting characters" of Episode II and III are young or have not been born yet. Jango Fett has not become Mandalore yet. Thats the era.

What I did was to "cast" the PCs (my 3 kids old enough to play plus my wife) as Younglings or Padawans, but without Masters (and thus no lightsabers, ain't I a stinker). They've all been, for whatever reason, passed over and are almost old enough to get kicked out and sent to the Agri Corps with other "failed" wanna-be Padawans. But not quite. They have one last hope, that of being noticed by a Jedi Knight or Master.

It is 945, the year of the 5th Galactic Games. A lot of other big events happen in the Expanded Universe timeline this year, so I've conveniently woven a bunch of them together into a single storyline. The Trade Federation is at this moment vying in the Senate for a Free Trade Franchise. They're a huge sponsor of the Galactic Games. They're vying for contract to build a new spaceport at Theed on Naboo. Instead of putting the Galactic Games ("Olympics") on a single planet, I've decided to distribute different event types to different planets so all the games can be simultaneous and simulcast on HoloNet to the viewers back home on Coruscant. The aquatics events are on Naboo, hosted by the local government and sponsored by your friends the Trade Federation. Much of this arranged behind the scenes by an up-and-coming able bureaucrat and administrator, a Senate Prefect (senior aide to Senator Vidar Kim of Naboo) named ... Palpatine.