Monday, December 12, 2011

Star Wars Art: The Dunne Holiday Special

Just something I whipped up rather quickly.  An idea stuck in my head that wanted to get out.

I really need to learn shading and light control...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone.

And to those playing SW:TOR, as Gonzo likes to say; I'll see you with a name over your head...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Darth Malgus: Phase One

With the upcoming launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, the work I'm doing on 3 RPG Campaigns, the holiday season, and the funding and planning of a wedding in the next 15 months, doesn't now seem lik a great time to start work on another costume?

I knew you'd agree with me!

This is Darth Malgus; the main Sith villain for Star Wars The Old Republic.

He's quite a bad-ass undertaking.  Heavy armor, hooded cloak, make-up...oh, and thankfully not only is he bald, but he's also got this awesome resperator-thing that would just about perfectly cover up my goatee, so I don't have to shave it.

He's got a unique lightsaber, one that could be a little tricky to aquire or make.  And by "tricky", you should read that as "expensive".  I've got some ideas how to do the armor;

I'm going to probably go with EVA foam and build it out.  Perhaps do some resin or sintra custom pieces for the details.  For the Gauntlets I may try Sintra; I'm not sure about the availability of a Vaccuform machine for making this suit.

One of the more entertaining part will be the gauntlets.  Malgus has all these illuminated buttons and panels all over his armor.  I'm probably going to need 4-6 EL Wire inverters or similar electronics just to light this guy.  I really don't want to have one inverter running all these lights.  While it may work and be handy to have it all on one light rig, I'm worried about wires getting snagged in joints and getting torn.

Another complication are the cloth parts; Malgus has this Vader-esque undersuit.  Kinda pleather/vynil, and quilted.  He's also got the Vader Cape, with a traditional Sith Lord hood.  Attaching that to the armor is one complication.  Another is working with it so I don't step on it too much and making it strong enough because it's actually supposed to be long enough to gather on the ground.

I'm putting together a parts list now, seeing what I can start to gather.

Here we go again...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anxious Anticipation

I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t post about The Old Republic.  So for anyone who’s been waiting for it, here it is.

I wish I knew what it was about Star Wars; the stories, the visuals, the characters, the music.  I don’t know what it is that runs through me as soon as I see that legendary phrase appear on the screen.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

The blank, black canvas replaced by those glowing yellow words, receding into the distance amidst a John Williams created fanfare.  It grabs me, every time.  It hooks onto a part of me and my childhood, every time.

The more interaction I can get with the media, the more it pulls at me.  That’s why I love the various video games that have come out for Star Wars over the years (yes, even the bad ones).  Each one of those either let me adventure as one of my heroes, or allowed me to create one and join in on the epic space opera.

I wish I could explain what it is.  Is it reliving my childhood?  Is it a wish for adventure?  Is it a reliving of something I’ve just “bought into”?  I’ll be the first to admit that I give Lucasfilm way more leeway than they likely should be getting from me, or anyone for that matter.  I don’t know why, but they’ve got me.  Hook, Line, and Sinker.  I am their target audience, and they should just hook up a vacuum cleaner to my wallet, simply to cut out the middle man.

Squadron 11-11-11

It’s been about two weeks since I was finally able to get a taste of that delicious interactive narcotic that is Star Wars, The Old Republic.  For those who have been living under a rock for the past 3 years, or simply trying to ignore me, SWTOR is set about 3,700 years before the Original Trilogy of Films.  It is the descendant of Bioware’s previous jaunts into the Old Republic era, Knights of the Old Republic, and Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords.  It takes place in a time where the Sith Empire has returned, beat up the Republic, settled for an armistice, and now appears to be on the brink of ignoring that peace treaty. 

You play a Jedi, or a Republic Trooper, or a Smuggler, or a Sith, or an Imperial Agent, or a Bounty Hunter.  There are 8 unique storylines, one for every class.  More so than every other MMO I’ve played, you almost want to be an “Alt-a-holic” and make at least one of every character to play through it just to do the storylines.  I can already tell the Jedi Knight’s storyline is going to be epic.  Like “Luke Skywalker across all three films” epic, with his own finale scene against the Emperor (…am I still taking about Luke, or the Jedi in TOR?).

Anyway, on Friday the 11th, I logged in to play.  Apparently, every Weekend Test that had come before was assigned a “Squadron Number” by Bioware.  I’m not really sure why they stopped the practice with this test, but they did.  So the community named themselves, and dubbed those testing that particular weekend as “Squadron 11-11-11”.  So with the rest of my “wingmen”, I logged into the game, went to the character creation screen, and made myself a Jedi Knight named Vyktor Khoth.

And then the screen went dark.  And the phrase appeared.  And the fanfare started.  And once again, I bought into it all.

Technical Stuff

Gameplay in TOR is about what you’d expect from a modern day MMO.  Move with the WADS keys or the mouse, look around by holding down the right mouse button.  Strafe left and right.  You’ve got your radar, and your tool bars filled with various powers and abilities, consumables and attacks.  It’s still in Beta, and I’m hoping they’ve fixed some things, like the fact that the “Follow” command wasn’t working.   Anyone who’s played City of Heroes for any length of time knows the easiest way to get to melee combat range with a mob is to “Follow” the damn thing.

Combat was smooth.  REAL smooth.  Bioware has gone nuts, making it so your character reacts and responds to various attacks.  If something with a vibrosword runs up to you and swings, your character model with drop into a guard and try to parry the thing.  A series of attacks between you and the opponent reveal a beautiful dance of strikes, parries, and counter-attacks.

Powers are fun and balanced.  You feel like a hero, being able to take on multiple opponents at a time, but is still challenging.  Companions are a huge bonus in this game; after level 8 you get to have one of 5 companions follow you around, helping you our in areas you're deficient.  You can play and level a healer or a tank easily (or easier) in this game becuase your companion could be a tank, protecting you from harm, or a Damage machine, pumping out lightsaber attacks or blaster fire to help take out your opponets.

Meh, I could go on about the Tech stuff for a while...but I won't.


What gets me about TOR is that the storyline is compelling, and it matters.  In previous MMOs, you talk to quest givers, get the plot dump on why you're going off the kill Lord High MucketyMuck, or gather 15 reagents for the Potion of Awesome Stabbing, but that's it.  In TOR, you engage in dialouge; fully voiced from both the NPC's perspective and the PC's perspective.  During every interaction you generally have 3-8 chances to choose your response, and your response matters.  Your choice could earn you progress along the Dark or Light side paths, improve or worsen your relationship with the NPC (or your own companions).

It helps with the immersion.  The ability to "buy in" to the Star Wars experience.  You really get a sense that your choices matter, and that the story is truely influenced by what you do and say, even if it's only an illusion.  I'm sure that if I roll-up a bunch of Jedi Knights over the time I'm playing this game, I'll be able to see that my choices in my main quest dialouge don't really matter all that much with how the story unfolds.  But that's well in the future, this is now when the game's all shinney and new and full of awe.

The Last Squadron

I mentioned the whole squadron-thing the Beta Testers have had.  This coming weekend represents the last Beta Test Weekend for The Old Republic.  After Monday the 28th, it's on to polish, refine, and set up for the big Early Start weekend, beginning on December 15th.  I've got whatever time I can squeeze in from Friday the 25th until sometime late on Monday the 28th to absorb all the excitement, and play experience, until the official launch on December 15th. 

It's crazy; it feels like Bioware put visual narcotics in their game.  I can't get enough of it.  I've always considered my biggest Sin was Gluttony, and no, not because I'm an over-weight nerd (although that's a related factor).  I want to overload my senses, I want to take in so much I'm full, and then I want to take in more.  I want my cravings satisfied, and it seems like they never can be.

That is certainly the case with The Old Republic.

I'm not going to quit my job to play all the day until my money runs out.  I'm not going to neglect my responsibilities as an adult, nor my RPGs, my hobbies, and especially not my fiancee.  What I am going to do is try to take in all I can of The Old Republic, when I can, and as often as possible.

I'll be doing that this weekend, getting in all the TOR I can.  If you're playing this weekend, or any time after the 15th, drop me a line.  I'll let you know what server I'm on.

And as my buddy likes to say, "See you with a name over your head".

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Another Longshot: Go Big or Go Home

I'm returning to discussing the development of a new Star Wars Campaign, Another Longshot.  For those who may not know, this is a sequel campaign to one I ran back in 2005.  Ending in 2007 a few months before one of the players moved to Georgia on "temporary exile", the game had simply intended to be a "welcome back!" reward for when his life-choice responsibilities finished.  It's slowly growing beyond that, and it's not even slated to get on the table until the summer of 2013*.

Histroy Lessons

The original Longshot Game, run in the previous Revised Core Rules for D20 Star Wars, took place in the Rebellion Era.  It centered around a doomed-but-hopeful mission for the Rebel Alliance to steal an old, moth-balled Venator-Star Destroyer.  This particular ship was part of General Kenobi's Open Circle Fleet, bring it to Mon Cala, and have the Mon Cala shipyards restore it to fighting condition, along with it's original paint job.  The ship would then serve as a symbol from the Republic Era, and as an ambassadorial ship to travel the Outer Rim gathering support for the Rebel Alliance (and the New Republic after the Rebels won at Endor).

Most of the PCs were fighter pilots in some capacity (some were better than others), flying a variety of Alliance fightercraft.  The initial attack on the shipyard went belly-up the moment the ships jumped into the system.  The Corellian Corvette that was carrying the command staff and crew for the Venator blew up due upon arrival dueto sabotage.  The PC's fighter carrier suffered a similar fate mid-way through the raid.  The shipyard was well defended, much more than anticipated, with a Victory II Star Destroyer maintaining watch over the battle and swarms of TIE Fighters coming out of the woodwork.  Somehow, the PCs were able to cover the escape shuttles from their dead carrier to the Venator, power it up, and jump out using the Star Destroyer's back-up hyperdrive (the main one was removed long ago).

No shields, only a back-up hyperdrive, no guns, a barely functional flight deck; it's no wonder the survivors of the raid dubbed the ship "The Longshot".  It would take the Longshot fourteen months to get to Mon Cala in it's current state, and it would have to do it on a multi-jump trek to take on food, water, and supplies at regular intervals.  The Rebel Alliance wanted them to scrap the mission, stating they didn't have any more resources to devote to this "malfed-up mission", but the PCs and the command staff NPCs were able to talk the Alliance Command into letting them try.  The PCs, more resourceful than anyone expected, were able to assist in getting the Longshot to where she needed to be.  Chased by Imperial Inquisitors, bounty hunters, and Imperial seek-and-destroy fleets, the group made it to Mon Cala sixteen months later with the Longshot mostly intact.

The campaign was kind of "Battlestar Galactica meets Hunt for Red October"; that's how I ran it anyway.  The players loved it.  They all had a grand old time and looked forward to the next session.  More so, they looked forward to playing the sequel, already promised when Alex left for Georgia. 

As with all great stories (or preceived great stories), the legend grew, and more people wanted in on the sequel to "The Longshot Campaign".

Many more people.


Names That Mean Nothing To Many

I did an inventory of the players from the original game; Andrew, Joe, Sarah T, Bob, Pete, Kimber, and Special Guest Tim W.  Then there's the list of the potential players to add to the party; Erich, Ann Marie, Heather, Sarah G**, Brett, and Jeffo.  There's also the list of the "Unknown Horde", folks who may want to be in this game but are not yet considered; Random, Tim B, Whitney, Johanna, Sam Witwer***

Given these numbers, I could be looking at a 10-16 person party.  That would be an excessive number of PCs, way more than I've ever had or even wanted to have.  I could write it like the Dawn of Defiance campaign, and run it three times.  But that means that every session is scripted, with little opportunity for PC action to send it far off the rails.  Or if I let that happen, I'm going to end up writing three campaigns that vaguely use the same antagonists and story line.  At that point I might as well cut to the chase and just write one big campaign and have two parties of 6-8 players that are all working towards the same goal, just through different means... that sounds like a kick ass campaign.

Prelude to an Epic

The thought of running a multi-party campaign in the Legacy Era of Star really throws a ton of fuel onto the Fires of Inspiration.  Two parties, one more Galactic Alliance and Jedi focused, the other more Empire-In-Exile focused.  Each operating agaisnt the Sith Empire.  Both sharing stories and objectives, actively or in-advertently helping the other team with their goals.  Big Bad Evil Guys that threaten both teams.  NPCs that like some characters but not others.  Plus, there's the opportunity for "cross-over" teams and "special guest stars".

This screams "Comic Book Super-Team", doesn't it?  Cuz that's what it certainly feels like.

Were I to plan and run a game like this, it would pretty much necessitate the ending, or indefinite hiatus, of all my other Campaigns (maybe with the exception of my Earthdawn game, because I may need a change of pace, and I don't see me being able to get that to it's conclusion in 18 months.)  I'll be running two seperate campaigns, but more than that I'll be juggling the connective tissue between the two campaigns, tracking how actions affect the overall plot, and coming up with ways to make each team affected by the failure or success of the other.

So Order 65, you're on notice.  Brothers in Arms, your time is nigh(-ish).  I will have to finish both of you by Summer Blockbuster Season, 2013.  I have a campaign to write, dammit.

 A potential PC Party...?

* "Coming Summer 2013"...sounds like a movie teaser trailer.  Note to self; make a teaser trailer for Another Longshot...
** I hold out hope against hope that I can get her back to the table.
*** Why the frell not invite him, am I right?  I hear he's got a girlfriend who lives in MA...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Alpocalypse 2011

Quite simply, there are times I love this damn hobby I'm in.

This is one of those times.

I'm the scout leading us in.

This is my second time performing with Al.  Damn it's fun, and dammit he's such a nice guy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Costuming...Costuming Never Changes

When I first went to Dragon*Con in 2009, one of the outfits I brought with me was a Lone Wanderer outfit from the game Fallout 3.  My lovely fiancee made a jumpsuit that looked pretty good, I made a Pipboy 3000 out of an old armor bracer and MDF wood, and I wandered around Dragon*Con with it on.  What was more fun was walking around Washington D.C. on the way home in it (Fallout 3 takes place in "The Capitol Wastes", and you can go to many of the National Monuments and Museums in-game).  I hit the Air and Space Museum, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, the Mall (with the Washington Monument in the background)...good fun.  Got some decent photos which I should probably post up one of these days, but I knew I could make it look better. 

I wasn't happy with my Pipboy, so I ended up selling it when someone asked me about it.  Since then I know someone on the Replica Movie Props forums has used the Pipboy Clock that came with the very expensive Survivalists Edition of the game to make some realistic looking and wearable Pipboy 3000s.  I have a lead on one of them, and with my replaying/finally-getting-around-to-finishing Fallout: New Vegas I have a sudden hankering to break out the Vault-suit, fix it up, and make it look all nice for Halloween.

"I'm sorry, I can't hear you over how awesome this armor is..."

(...I wonder if I can get my fiancee to go as a Raider girl.  Or Joana.  Or Red Lucy.  Or wait, if she does the accent I might have to choke her...)

One thing I did notice in my explorations of the Internet; there are some awesome folks out there making props for Fallout games.  There is no way I could afford to pick up a suit of T-45a Power Armor, like I saw at Dragon*Con this year.  It looked great, but...gah.  Too Expensive for me.

I dig my Vault Suit, that's for sure.  What I really want to do is make it look even better.  There are leather pieces I didn't do when I put the suit together.

Vault Jumpsuit

There are some Leather cuffs I should make.  If I make them removable, I can differentiate between the standard Vault Jumpsuit and the Utility Suit.  Not sure I like the look of the boots for the Utility Jumpsuit, however.

The Vault Jumpsuit also has this leather...half collar/strap that runs over the left shoulder.  I should be able to make that, but how to attach it?  If I want to just leave it as the Vault Jumpsuit, and not make the cuffs removable to do the Utility Suit, I could use Velcro.  I wouldn't want to permanently attach it, in case it needs to go through the wash (  Maybe it's something I can work out with an old friend; Rare-Earth Magnets...

Utility Jumpsuit
 And then there's the belt; that shouldn't be too tough.  Belt blank, maybe buy and cut up a second one to make the leather squares that run along it, and do a custom leather piece for the back.  Make the buckle out of Styrene over a metal belt-buckle blank and it's good to go.

Armored Vault Suit
I could even upgrade and do the Armored Jumpsuit.  That could be fun, and it gives me some neat add on pieces that I might be able to use for other costumes, at LARPs or the like.  Problem is, that's a lot of leatherwork, something I have little experience with.  Ah well, anything worth doing is worth learning how to do...

I'd love a Nuka-Cola cap, but custom embroidery is expensive...

I'm also interested in authentic weaponry from the game...

  • The Shishkabob would be fun, but I might have some problems getting the gas tank...
  • This Combat Shotgun is okay, and kinda neat, but were I to make it, I'd want to build the "trap-version" and mount it at head height by a door in my house.
  • I really want to make one of these Laser Rifles.  It looks sweet, and it's made mostly out of MDF.  Mostly.
  • I could always start with a Laser Pistol, and see how that goes.  (EDIT: Oh look...awesomeness in a step-by-step basis!)
  • A cop-out would be turning a Nerf Maverick into a 10mm Pistol.  I should be able to do that on a weekend...
Then there's just the neat accessories, like Stim-packs, Skill Books, and the other items that can be found lying around the world of Fallout.

So I've got some propmaking to do, and looking at the calendar I've got very little time to do it.  With two LARP weekends creeping up, the only time to make props will be during the week.  We'll see if and how that goes.

Still, it's worth doing, because I think a well-done Vault Dweller/Lone Wanderer looks really, really good.

Or maybe I'll just break down and do the Courier...

A Matter of Great Import, Part Two: Elites

After a few days of exploration and jotting down ideas, I have a general idea on how the import of "Solo" and "Elite" could work.  As mentioned previously, the idea is to add in tougher and more tactically interesting opponents without needing to go through the time consuming hassle of advancing NPCs and assigning new Talents and Feats, and giving them unreasonable amounts of Force Points and Destiny Points just to help them survive an entire round of PC actions. 

In the Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide, there's a section that covers the creation of new Elites and Solos, and adapting lower creatures to be Elites and Solos.  That provided a very basic and general guideline to follow.  I also went through the Monster Manual and picked out some abilities that I liked, monster powers and effects that I felt would be not only easy to adapt to Star Wars, but also fit what we've seen in the Movies and Cartoons.

Elites: The Best of the Best

The DMG talks about Elites as tough monsters, worth twice the normal amount of XP.  In a previous post I applied one of the pre-made Elite templates to a Stormtrooper to make a Stormtrooper Sergeant.  It worked otu pretty well, and after digging into the DMG even further I came across the rules to create a new elite creature.  Some of it applies, some of it does not.

Adjust Hit Points: In 4E, an elite has a number of Hit Points equal to twice the base creature's hit points, plus twice it's constitution score.  That doesn't really transfer exactly to SAGA edition, so let's just leave it as "Double the base NPC's hit points".

Adjust Defenses: Here it states to increase up to three Defenses by +2.  In SAGA, there are only three Defenses, so let's change that to only two increases.

Add 1 Action Point: Here I'll give the Elite a Destiny Point, and require that it only be spent on another set of actions during the encounter.

Adjust Powers and Abilities: Now here's where things get creative and interesting.  It's als where a lot of my discoveries in the Monster Manual can come into play.  We're looking for additional opportunities for the Elite to make actions or attacks, since it's supposed to be representing two creature's worth of opponents.

Recharge when first bloodied: This is a little hard to work since SAGA doesn't have a "bloodied" status, technically.  It does have the Second Wind ability, which can only be used when the character's Hit Points are at half their maximum or below.  Also, there aren't a whole lot of "Encounter only" powers unless you're a Force-user with Force Powers.

What I think will work is allowing an Encounter Abilitly, Talent, or Power to recharge when the character takes their Second Wind.  Doing so is only a Swift Action in SAGA, so they'll still have their Move action and Standard actions.  If the NPC doesn't have any Encounter abilities, then maybe have it get another Destiny Point specifically for another set of actions.  This only happens when the character first takes a Second Wind, so if they have many Second Wind opportunities, this won't occur multiple times.

Immediate Actions: Next the DMG recommends giving the NPC the ability to attack in response to something the PCs do.  Some options include "when attacked and missed", or "when attacked and hit", or even "when the PC's more adjacent to them".  It could be an immediate reaction, in the case of attack rolls, or immediate interrupts, in the case of movement.  How nasty could a vibro-axe weilding Elite wookie be if any time a PC hits him, he howls in range and hits back?  What about a grappler that can take an immediate interrupt any time a PC enters and adjacent square and make a trip attack?  Or a Sith Lord that can activate a Force Power when someone moves adjacent to them?

Multiple Attacks: This is another way for an NPC to beef up it's damage capabilities; give it another attack during it's turn.  Either as a swift action, or allowing to use Double or Triple Attack as a Standard Action each turn.  This has the potential to be nasty...or useless.  In SAGA, Double attack imposes a -5 penalty to all attacks that round.  Triple attack imposes a -10 penaly to all attacks that round.  Add in the penalites for Dual Wielding weapons and your BBEG will be making a lot of attacks, but is unlikely to hit with any of them. But then again, having Double Attack is a big deal, and being able to use it often is key.

So what I do?  I think that depends on the character in question, and their abilities.  I think for melee characters, allow them to make an immediate attack against someone who either hits or misses them in melee combat.  For ranged attackers, allow them to use Double or Triple attack as a Standard action.  For Grapplers or Martial Artists, I love the idea of Tripping your opponent as they come within range.

For the stacking multi-attack penalites, I'd say reduce the penalty by 5 unles for some reason their attack rolls are very high to begin with.  Then they may not need the bonus.

Elites are supposed to be tough creatures on their own, but supported by allies.  They're tough nuts to crack, and a serious threat on the field, but they can be handled with good tactics and a little luck.

Finally, let's see how this could all work by applying the Elite status to a Super Battle Droid...

Sergeant Dae

On rare occasions a Super Battle Droid will manage to survive several campaigns against Republic forces and Jedi Knights.  When this occurs, that Battle Droid can retain a bredth of knowledge and experience in battlefield combat.  These droids are allowed to keep their experiences, and are not subjected to standard memory wipes.

Such a series of events has occured for SBD-43, a droid known as "Sergeant Dae" to his masters.  Sergeant Dae fought in several campaigns in the Outer Rim Seiges, somehow able to survive several encounters with Clone Troopers and even a few Jedi Padawans.  His superiors recognized that Dae could be a valuable commodity when the usual Tactical Droids or humanoid commanders were unavailable.  They also saw that Dae had gained some savagry and ferocity over other Super Battle Droids.  Sepratist Commanders usually assign Dae to front-line action, where his ability and skills can be used to their fullest.  They don't send him out to be needlessly slaughtered; Sergeant Dae is usually assigned a group of Super Battle Droids to assist him in his tasks, and to provide defense and support in combat. 

SBD-43 "Sergeant Dae"
Elite Medium droid (4th-degree) nonheroic 6
Init +3; Senses Perception +8
Destiny 1 (only for free set of actions)
Languages: Basic, Binary
Defenses Ref 14 (flat-footed 14), Fort 14, Will 10
hp 42; Threshold 14
Immune: droid traits
Speed 6 squares (walking)
Melee unarmed +6 (1d3+1)
Ranged wrist blasters +4 (3d8) or
Ranged wrist blasters +2 (4d8) with Rapid Fire
Fighting Space 1 square;  Reach 1 square
Base Atk +4, Grp +6
Attack Options: autofire (wrist blasters), Charging Fire, Rapid Fire, aid another (+4)
Abilities Str 14, Dex 11, Con -, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 7
Feats:  Armor Proficiency (light), Charging Fire, Rapid Shot, Toughness, Weapon Proficency (heavy weapons, rifles, simple)
Skills Perception +8
Systems: walking locomotion, remote receiver, backup processor, synchronized fire circuits, 2 hand appendages, integrated comlink, vocabulator, plasteel shell (2 armor)
Posessions: wrist blasters (blaster rifle)

Veteran Droid: When Sergeant Dae is first reduced to 21 hit points or less, Dae immediately gains and spends a Destiny Point to get a full turn of actions.

Droid Reflex Response: When Dae is hit by an attack, he may make a ranged attack as an immediate reaction.

Interesting...but it still looks...cluttered.  I'm going to have to see how this looks with the standard 4E format for stat blocks...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lando's Used Shipyard: YT-1300

This is the text for the new Segment I'm doing on a seemingly monthly basis for the Order 66 Podcast.  I'm working with fellow Star Wars nut and D20 Radio contributor FULONGAMER.  We're actually using sound-files of Billy Dee Williams for the "Lando" lines.  Folks liked it, and we hope to do many, many more in the future.  For clarity sake, my dialouge is in Red, while FULONGAMER's is Black.

EDIT: This is odd...all the text after this line, which appears in the "edit" screen, is not appearing on the published page.  How irritating...

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Matter of Great Import

One of the most enjoyable things about being a GM, to me, is memorable combat encounters.  I really enjoy crafting an interesting fight location, populating it with memorable opponents and complex (yet fun) terrain and hazards, and running my PCs through a fight they'll talk about for months.  One of the biggest problems I encounter is the survivability of certain NPCs, specifcally the Big-Bad-Evil-Guys (BBEGs).  I either have to give them so much that they could one-shot a PC, or I make them close to the PC's level, he gets tag teamed, and blanket-partied into the ground in two rounds.

On the other end of the spectrum, I enjoy giving the PCs a room full of targets that they can mow through, but I don't like the NPCs being no threat to the heroes.  If I have a group of five 8th level heroes, and I give them thirty standard Battle Droids to face, those droids are toast, have a 5% chance to hit the PCs (by rolling a Natural 20), and the PCs engage in the chore of tearing them up by going through the motions.  I want to beef up the droid's attacks and damages, but not their crunchability.  If I add more levels, they'll get tougher.

This is assuming I make my NPCs "play by the rules of advancement".  One question I've been asking myself a lot lately is "Why do they have to?"  After an enjoyable and insightful conversation in the Post Show of the most recent Order 66 Podcast, I'm starting to put thoughts to paper (or keyboard, in this case) about adapting some runes for monsters in D&D 4e and porting them over to Star Wars Saga Edition.


The first step is Minions.  In 4e, these crunchtastic targets are generally equal to the PCs in attack rolls, a little sub-part on the Defense numbers (the number needed to hit them), and deal a set amount of damage (usually the average for the weapon's damage dice, rounded down).  They may also have a neat trick or two that they do, like shift "X" number of squares after a PC misses them, or get +1 to attack rolls when adjacent to another NPC Ally of their type.  In all cases, they have 1 hit point and never take damage on a miss (so missed AoE attacks that usually do half damage do no damage to minions).   Minions are worth 25% of the normal XP award for an NPC of their same level/Challenge.

GM Chris [on the Order 66 Podcast] has developed his own set of rules concerning Minions.  He will make an NPC with the usual number of stats, Feats, and Talents, but they'll only be able to take one "hit".  One successful attack, and they're done.  If they get hit by an Area-of-Effect attack that misses, they are assigned a "half hit".  Presumably this is to allow someone to pop some AoE attacks (like setting a blaster to Auto-fire), miss twice (dealing half damage, normally), and still being able to drop the Minions in two rounds.

I like this rule.  I can throw the PCs against B1 Battle Droids, Sith Troopers, Stormtroopers, or Pirates and the PCs will hewn through them with every hit.  Also, it makes them a viable threat.  That takes care of the first part; crunchy-yet-threatening.  But what about the second thing I wanted to do for them; increase their tactical ability in combat.

There are many talents and feats that I could use for this, but paging through the Monster manual comes up with some interesting ideas.  I could assign an extra ability to the various Minions.  Looking at Goblins, they have Goblin Tactics, which allows them to shift 1 square when they are missed by a melee attack.  Neat ability, something I could see giving Pirate Minions for when those pesky Jedi or Axe-wielding Wookies get in their faces and miss.  Hobgoblins get Phalanx Soldier, where they gain a +2 bonus to AC while at least one hobgoblin ally is adjacent to them.  I could see this as an ability for Battle Droids, or Stormtroopers.  Two enemy groups that are routinely seen fighting adjacent to each other.  These types of bonuses favor the tactics we've seen various "thugs and mooks" take in Star Wars media.  It could work with a little refinement.

Serious Threats

You've taken three days to carefully sculpt, tweak, and hone your BBEG's abilities, talents, and feats to make them a devastator on the battlefield.  You look at your work, and then look at the PCs just-as-carefully-sculpted abilities, and at their number of Destiny Points.  You come to the realization that, by following the rules of NPC and Character Creation, your BBEG is a two-round threat.  The PCs simply have enough Destiny Points to auto-crit your NPC to Hell and back.  Or worse, the PCs are so honed that they don't need Destiny Points, and can utilize high powered attack rolls, weapons, and twinked out Use the Force checks to render your NPC useless. 

What they need is an edge, one that isn't just leveling up the NPC to be 5 or 6 levels over the PCs.  Digging into the 4e Dungeon Master's Guide, I came across "Templates".  This may be the starting point for what I'm looking for.  While "Death Knight", "Lich", and "Mummy Lord" may not be viable right out of the box, several others are. 

Look at the "Battle Champion" template.  It gives a bonus to it's Defenses (AC and Fortitude), +1 Action Point, +8 hit points per level, and several useful tactic abilities that could translate well to Saga Edition.  Battle Lord Tactics grants an extra d6 of damage to allies that are flanking an enemy with the Battle Champion.  Battle Talent allows the Champion to score a critical hit with a 19 or 20.  Finally, Inspiring Assault heals the Battle Champion and all Allies within 5 squares of him by a number equal to half the Battle Champion's level.

How could this look?  Let's add this to your average Stormtrooper from the SECR.
  • Reflex Defense would increase to 18, and Fortitude Defense would increase to 14.  Not too shabby...
  • +1 Action Point could be 1 of two options, either give the Stormtrooper Force Points (I'd give him 3), or give him a Destiny Point to purely spend on another round of actions
  • Hit Points would increase to 42 (Base 10, +8 x 4 non-heroic levels).  That's one beefy Stormtrooper commander
  • Because the Stormtrooper is a ranged attacker, I doubt Battle Lord Tactics would come into play much, but if it does, it's a bonus d6 damage for any of the Stormtrooper Commander's allies.
  • Battle Talent is just pure awesome, and potentially very deadly.  I see this NPC as a hefty threat to 2nd and 3rd level characters, characters that could be killed by a well rolled Crit from a Blaster Rifle.  But hey, that's what Destiny Points are for (spent by the PC target to negate an attack all together), am I right?
  • Inspiring Assault could shine, but it could also not come into play much at all.  Odds are the PCs will mow down the average 10 hit-point Stormtrooper without much trouble.  Healing everyone 2 HPs when the Stormtrooper Commander hits won't do that much unless the PC's just dropped the Stormtrooper and didn't kill them.
Supposedly, this Stormtrooper Commander is worth twice the normal XP for such an opponent.  Looking at the numbers, I'd probably tweak that to three times the award.  This guy is beefy, at least equal to a 2nd or 3rd level Soldier.  Maybe even more-so, with his ability to score a Crit 10% of the time and the extra full round of actions once per encounter.

Under Development

I really like where this is going.  It's going to surprise some of my players, for sure, but I hope it's going to be fun and challenging for them.  As I work on the details and development of this "4e import", I'll update my progress here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Long Time Ago...

It's sadly been quite a while since I had the opportunity to update this blog.

(Aright, to be honest and fair I've had plenty of opportunity, I just haven't had the mental drive to.)

I'm going to take a moment or two and try to back-fill in what's been going on in my Costuming and Gaming career since last we spoke.  I've started a new, non-Star Wars campaign, returned to one of my Star Wars campaigns with feelings of trepidation, and went to Dragon*Con 2011.


As mentioned in a previous post, I have returned to the lands of Barsaive and am running a new campaign set in the world of Earthdawn.  Called the Exiled Lords*, the campaign will focus on a band of heroes drawn to the village of Asylum, and their discovery of two great legends; the Books of Scale and the Exiled Lords.  The game just completed it's second session, and the PCs are being very forthcoming with keeping the Obsidian Portal site for the game up to date.  This is because there are mechanics in the game that reward Players for keeping journals of their hero's exploits.  I've also devised mechanics for awarding the PCs more experience for contributing to the website.  In a game system where you spend Experience Points to improve your character's abilities, there's a ton of motivation to write a few paragraphs to get enough XP for a new Talent or to improve an old one.

Go and check it out if you're curious.  The PCs are doing a heck of a job.

Star Wars: Brothers in Arms

Back to the main focus of this Blog; Star Wars gaming.  I ran/returned to my Clone Wars Era campaign this past Monday night, and it went okay.  There's a lot of cob-webs to shake loose, a new character to introduce, and a general feeling of dread on my part.  We really only had time for one space encounter and a bit of roleplaying that led into a set up for a combat encounter at the start of the next session. 

As is typical with any social group, a lot of time was lost in the game session catching up with each other.  Some of us hadn't seen other players for months, and a lot has happened over the summer.  I'm just as much an offender to the "tangent of stories" as the rest of the players, I found myself side-tracked at least three times when I should have been bringing the focus of the evening back to the gaming table.  I figure it's going to take another 2-3 sessions before we get back into the groove of gaming, and are able to stay focused.

I still wish folks would refrain from dropping the innuendo-fueled comment of "That's what she said!" at every humorous opportunity.  It's a rampant problem in that game.  Cure for the first twenty times, but it's gotten old.  To me, anyway.

There are two hurdles in this "re-launch"; first is that I lost a Clone.  When we started we had three clone troopers; a character going Arc Trooper, a support clone trooper who was actually Force sensitive, and a Clone Commando named "Professor".  The player of "Professor" wasn't having fun with the Follower system and it really colored his perceptions of his Clone Commando he made.  We tried various mechanics, including using the Droid's Protocol system as a base for handling his followers, but nothing seemed to be working well.  He wanted to stop playing Professor and has swapped out to a Bith Jedi Knight.  I didn't get to see the character until that night, because the player procrastinated in even making the character (he had 3 months; what the hell, man?)  I haven't even really had a chance to see the character and review it, so I'm glad that the first encounter was a space encounter that the Jedi wasn't really built for.  Now I have a copy and can review him.

Thanks to my brother for taking a look at the Jedi, and noticing the player chose Phase for a Force Power.  I don't allow Phase in my game.  This is Star Wars, not X-Men; no "Kitty Pride Tricks" in my campaign.  Now I have to look it over and see if there are any other issues with it.

With the loss of the Professor, and the character evolution of the Force Sensitive Clone Trooper, the game is starting to feel less and less like a "Brothers in Arms" situation.  The players are all the same, but the in-play dynamics have changed.  It could all just be me not being in the mind-set of the campaign after 4 months, or it could be more of a feeling of writer's block with where to take the game.  It's something that I'll have to figure out and play out over the next few weeks.

Dragon*Con 2011

An amazing and good time.  Anyone who's into TV and Movie Stars, Sci-Fi and Horror, and Costumes needs to go to this Con.  I spent way too much money there (I'm looking at you Ultra-Sabers...damn you and your Convenction Discount prices!) and had a great time.  Sadly I caught the "Con Crud" and in the drive back to New England gave it to my Fiancee.  I've still got a cough that I can't quite get rid of...

Bumped into Sam Witwer, of D20 Radio fame (he also does this side project, acting in Sci-Fi's Being Human TV Series as the vampire Adian).  Sadly didn't get a chance to talk to him for very long, but it was nice to be able to shake his hand none the less.  I had much better luck talking with Star Wars authors Mike Stackpole and Aaron Allston.  Two very cool guys, and fun to just shoot the breeze with. 

I'll get up pics of the costuming I did soon, I just don't have them accessible right now.  Commander Fil in the Georgia heat, and my contribution to a Renassaiance JLA costuming group.  It was awesome.

That's it for now.  Back to blogging, and back to growing Fragments from the Rim.

* Yes, I totally stole the name from the forthcoming Sith Empire guild the D20 Radio listeners plan to form when The Old Republic MMO launches later this year.  It's a solid name!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Update from the Rim

Greetings, true-believers.

I'm still here.  The blog has not died.  I've been distracted for a few weeks with the creation of my Earthdawn campaign

Not to jump games too much, but I've had a long, involved history with Earthdawn.  It was the game that helped me find a lot of friends when I went to college.  Back in 1993, it was one of the "Hot Games" on the market, something else to play besides D&D.  I ran about three campaigns back then, and gamed the hell out of the world until 1998 when 3rd Edition D&D came out, and that was the new "Hot Game".

Since then, my friends would occasionally try to tempt me back to Earthdawn, but I had become burnt out on the system.  You run something for years, you need a break.  That and I wasn't too impressed with what Living Room Games changed, or didn't change, when they took it over.

Now here I sit, twelve years later, putting together a campaign in a world I haven't touched for over a decade, yet feels like I'm coming home after a long trip away.  My buddies' perseverance has paid off, and I'm developing another game that has the serious potential for awesomeness.

I'm still creating for Fragments from the Rim for the Order 66 Podcast, still running Order 65, and Brothers in Arms, and still developing Another Longshot, but now for a change of pace I'll have Earthdawn too.  It will be interesting to see what Legends get told this time around.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Star Wars Miniatures: Done Sluggy

Well...I guess I was on a roll...

The Asteroid was spray painted in black primer, then added a layer of grey primer.  A healthy coating of Applebarrel "Plaid", and some spot work with GW Mud wash.

"Feed me freighters..."

Sluggy got a mix of Reapers Ochre, Reapers Purple, and Reapers Grey.  White for the highlights, Bedalb Black wash for the wrinkle stripes.

The wrinkles look a little thick, but this is a close-up shot.

His teeth were pretty easy, a stripe of black with a series of white lines and triangles.  It actually looks prett good.

Now to box it up and ship it to Texas.

GM Chris...I hope you like it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Star Wars Miniatures: Sluggy

So a while back, GM Chris of d20Radio's Order 66 Podcast posted a need for a mini.  He's running a couple games at GenCon 2011  and said he needed an Exogorth, more commonly known to Star Wars fans as "The Space Slug".  Chris asked what he could use to properly represent the strange creature, and several people gave good suggestions.

Feeling in a crafty mood, and having a minor background in "Green Stuff" putty and miniatures painting, I offered to make one for Chris.

Now, I admit, one of my problems is I procrastinate.  I think he asked about the Exogorth back in March.  And it's now July with only a few weeks left to the con.  But hey, progress.

The asteroid is a styrofoam block, cut and reshaped with a hot foam-cutter.  Sluggy is made from...of all things...a fake vegetable.  Some kind of chili-pepper, I think.  I took an inch of "Green Stuff" to smooth out the pepper to make the slug, adding in some ridges and patches to give him some character.

All he needs is to get painted and detailed and he'll be ready to go.  I'm giving myself a deadline of next Saturday to get "Sluggy" in the mail to Chris.

I hope he likes it, and I hope his players do too.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Plotting a Return to the Age of Legend

I'm sitting here at my cube on lunch, finishing my meal, and flipping through my old 1st edition, well loved, spine split and peeling, corners rubbed to near nothing copy of Earthdawn (by FASA!). 

I haven't picked up this book in over fifteen years.

Why am I picking it up now?  because some crazy-ass friends of mine picked up on the fact that while I love running Star Wars SAGA edition, I'm hankering for a different flavor to supplement my favorite sci-fi game.  Their argument was that back in college I ran a MEAN Earthdawn* game, and my friends who still love the system and it's latest incarnations wonder what I could do with an Earthdawn game.  With my current capabilities and experience in running scores of enjoyable campaigns, they tempted me to see how it woudl go. 

Now, I'd successfully held off their advances and pressure for several years now.  Not sure why, because really the system was solid.  Maybe it was because I did play Earthdawn a lot back in the day.  I had three campaigns going; Fitchburg State College Prime, the Keene Game, and Fitchburg State College Two (after Prime went away).  I played the hell out of that game, and it was my main game until D20 rolled out with D&D 3rd Edition, and OCR Star Wars.  From there on, WotC was my master, and they got my money.

The fact that FASA folded didn't help either.  I was in a very "No company support, not interested in the game" mentality, and when Living Room Games took over the franchise I didn't want to "start over". 

But now it's been over fifteen years.  I've learned a lot, and I've really refined my style of storytelling and gamemastering.  Is it time to return to the land of Barsaive?  A time of Adepts, and Dragons, and the Horrors of the Scourge?

Maybe it is.

* As a funny side note, thanks to the bombardment of Cialis and Viagra commercials in recent years I can no longer abbreviate Earthdawn to "ED".  Damn you, Pfizer!  Damn you!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Star Wars Art: Woken

Here we go again.

Just a start. 

Put some pencil down on paper, scanned it into the computer, popped it into Corel Paint Shop Pro X to play with the Levels until I ended up with a black-and-white line drawing, and then moved it into Painter 11 to start the rendering.

This is the rendered pencil image with paint laid-down on a 50% transparent layer of color.  Once I have everything blocked out for color, I'll go to 100% (no-transparency).  Trying to decide if I want to render this one like the Stratt and Moff Anitlles, or if I want to do it with more line art.

Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Another Longshot Development: Websites

Soon after I decided to document the development of the Another Longshot campaign, it dawned on me that there were simply many things I wouldn't be able to document on a public forum.  Let's face it, depending on his roll, documenting the development of Moff Fulton Antilles could be a severe spoiler for anyone who reads the campaign.  I can't go over the stats of NPCs, or why I'm giving them the abilities I'm giving them, else when the PCs encounter them they'll know what to expect and ready countermeasures for them.

So does that mean I can't talk about developing Another Longshot?  Does it mean I can't share what's going on in my head about it all?  The thoughts I have?  My creative process?  Hell no.  It just means you won't get the crunch, but you can get some of the fluff.

Obsidian Portal; Obsidian Awesome

To start off with, Obsidian Portal; once again I shall heap on praises for the website and services they provide.  If you're a gamemaster preparing and/or running a campaign, and your PCs are not only tech-inclined but also willing to contribute (or can be bribed to, I'll explain later...), "ObPort" is for you.  I now have 4 campaigns up on their own Obsidian Portal pages.  Now, I'm a subscriber to their service, so I'm not capped at two, but if you're just running a game, and want a neat online page to store campaign info, and be accessible from wherever you find the internet, this is it for you.

Bribery is the Best Policy

One thing I do is bribe my PCs to contribute something meaningful to the website.  If they contribute art, a character write up, a session summary, or something else like that I give them one of two benefit during the next game session; a free Force Point or a free D20 reroll.  It must be used that game session, so they can't save them.  This has gone very well with some of the players in my Brothers in Arms campaign, and has resulted in some very nice write-ups of my sessions.  It's also resulted in some massive hits from a certain Togorian Privateer with a love of power hammers.

One thing I'm considering is a sort of "Above and Beyond Award".  If one of my PCs goes the extra mile and updates something for the website with something great, I'll award them a Destiny Point.  I'm unsure if it would be a "Must use this session" condition, or if it can be saved.  I'll ponder that further, and announce it to them if it becomes and option (or if I'm so amazed by something done for my game website).

Map Quest

I keep finding new things in Obsidian Portal.  Awesome things.  Apparently, they have a Maps tab on their campaign pages.  These map files can accept a file up to 1028x1028 pixels, and put it into an browsing engine like GoogleMaps, where you can zoom in, move around the map, and even make markers and notes on it.  I've added the Arcaster Sector to the Maps page for Another Longshot.  The Arcaster Sector will be at the edge of known space in the Star Wars Galaxy, along the border with the Unknown Regions.  I took the eight planets presented in the Unknown Regions sourcebook for Star Wars Saga Edition and put them all into one sector.  They all have a unique feel to them and offer the potential for many poltlines and unique developments in the campaign.  I also added in a few other systems, like Arcaster itself which will serve as the Capitol of the sector and the home base of Moff Antilles.

Nuts, I think I may have just given something away.

I'll keep updating here, and on the Obsidian Portal page.  If you're a GM, check them out.  I feel it's an investment of time that pays off in the long run.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Star Wars Art: Moff Fulton Antilles

More art for the Art-Minded.

Tried something different here, a background.  I think it came out okay, if not simplistic.

I thought you also might like to see some of my process.  The boot on the right is colored with a "conte" brush in Painter 11.  After I change to a Blender brush and smooth it out to look like the boot on the left.

Neat, huh?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Star Wars Art: Bandit (Final...ish)

Well that happened a lot sooner than I thought...

It's not perfect, by any means.  I'm not happy with the angles on the bottom of the astromech portion, they're not parallel.  I might change it, I might not.  At any rate, I am happy with how the program and Wacom tablet are coming together.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Star Wars Art: Bandit (Work in Progress)

In preparation for my upcoming campaign "Another Longshot", I'm doing an art piece for one of my lovable droids from the predecessor campaign.  B4-NDT is a mash-up mechanic droid and astromech, who somehow has survived over a century of dodgy maintenance, incomplete memory wipes, and conflicts in operating systems between his two processors.

I've managed to get most of the shading on his upper half, and will likely get to his lower half later this week.  I also need to give him a nice coating of grime.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Episode 78: Battle Meditation

Let us regain our focus, Gamer Nation, as I bring you the 78th installment of Fragments from the Rim.

When Timothy Zahn wrote the Thrawn Crisis Trilogy, Star Wars fans were first exposed to a seemingly-powerful Force Ability that allowed Emerpor Palpatine, and Joruus Caboth in Zahn’s books, an edge over their opponents in combat.  This ability was explored further in the Tales of the Jedi series of comic books, and once more in the first Knights of the Old Republic video game.  That’s right, I’m talking about Battle Meditation, a power that has seen various iterations over the years, from uber-powerful to talent-wasting ineffectiveness.

Setting the Way Back Machine for the 1990s and the West End Games days of Star Wars Gaming, Battle Mediation was a powerful ability, able to affect tens of thousands of individuals, reducing one of their attributes while increasing allies attributes by the same amount.  The downside was that the character with Battle Meditation was doing nothing for the entire encounter except sitting in a lotus position sustaining the power.  That’s all your contribution to the combat was; maintaining Battle Meditation.  It also took five minutes to “set up”, so you’d better know the enemy fleet is coming, or that ground assault is on its way and have time to prepare to get the Battle Meditation in place.

In SAGA, we see the power flip to the opposite end of the spectrum in just about every regard. Now instead of 5 minutes to activate, it’s a full-round action and a Force Point.  Instead of tens of thousands of beings affected through-out the star system, it’s all allies within 6 squares of you.  Instead of decimating your foes ability to fight, you bump up your allies attack rolls by 1.  And it’s an insight bonus; it doesn’t even stack with a Noble’s Born Leader talent.  Heck, it doesn’t even COMPARE to Born Leader, which is Line of Sight and a swift action to activate.

That’s actually the only thing about Battle Meditation that is better than Born Leader, no Line of Sight restriction.  The other thing is that you can get the insight bonus to attack rolls, where a Noble with Born Leader does not.

But let’s look at what someone can do with Battle Meditation.  In the Knights of the Old Republic campaign guide we were given several talents that could make Battle Meditation a viable character choice.  The first is a standard Jedi Talent; Improved Battle Meditation.  It now only costs a swift action to activate Battle Meditation, instead of a full-round action. Next, the range of Battle Meditation is now a 12 square radius, greatly increasing the range of the bonuses and penalties the power applies.  Third, enemies within the radius of your Battle Meditation now suffer a -1 penalty to attack rolls.

Now we have a talent that harkens back to the original feel of Battle Meditation, decent range, and can be used in a moment.  If you’re willing to invest completely in Battle Meditation, you’ll need to go into Jedi Knight and pick up two talents from the Jedi Battlemaster tree; Defensive Circle and Jedi Battle Commander.  Jedi Battle Commander simply makes the +1 insight bonus a +2.  Defensive Circle allows you to grant some protection to those in your Battle Meditation.  As a swift action, you and any allies affected by your Battle Meditation gain a +2 insight bonus to Reflex Defense, lasting as long as they are affected by your Battle Meditation. Additionally, you gain a +1 bonus to your Use the Force checks to Block and Deflect for each adjacent ally wielding a lightsaber.

For all these talents, you have to have Battle Meditation, obviously.  Defensive Circle is the only one where you need to also have Jedi Battle Commander and either Block or Deflect to get.
So a level 10 Jedi Knight with all these talents can, as two swift actions, spend a Force Point to grant himself and all allies within 12 squares +2 Insight bonus to Attack Rolls and Reflex Defenses, penalize all enemies attack rolls by -1, and grant himself a +1 bonus to use Block and Deflect for every adjacent lightsaber wielding ally.  You know, that doesn’t sound too bad at all.  

So what’s the best type of Jedi to use this?  To really be effective at providing this party buff, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the middle of your party.  A lot of your movement is going to likely be spent maneuvering yourself to keep all your allies within your 12 square radius.  That pretty much limits you from charging to the front lines and wailing on a Sith with your lightsaber.  I feel that if you’re going to take this path that you devote yourself to a Force Wizard type of build.  Get a bunch of Force Powers you can use at range, like Move Object, Force Blast, Force Stun, or Ballistakinesis.  Look at Force Disarm too, it’s pretty good with the right Force Technique.  If you really like to hit enemies with your light saber, look at the  Lightsaber Force Power Draw Closer, which can bring a foe to you and let you hit it with your saber as one standard action.  For your talents, take Deflect and Redirect Shot.  You’ll need Deflect or Block for Defensive Circle, and if you’re not going to be in the front line much anyway you’re likely to be a target for ranged attackers.  Might as well maximize your defense and your ability to send the shot back at an enemy.

Looking over this, I think this could be a really fun character to play, and a great boon to the rest of the party.  I just don’t know if I could suffer the 10 levels of play it would require to get there.

Sabers off until next time, folks.  For Fragments from the Rim this is DarthGM wishing you 20 side up, and 1 side down.