Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 Finale

Here we are, at the end of 2013 and the cusp of 2014.  We have a Government we dislike, a new Doctor Who, and a Hobbit movie that's about 80% new material.  This coming year we get the Age of Rebellion core-rulebook, several neat supplements that cover Corellia and Hired Guns, and an adventure that's "Ocean's 11 on Cloud City".  We also get the rough draft of official rules for Jedi Knights later this year with the Force and Destiny Beta. 

Will I be on-hand at GenCon for it's release?  Signs point to "no", but someone might kick the Magic-8 Ball and see if the prediction changes.

Until then, I've got some updates of my own to do on the Edge of the Jedi document.  I think I finally fixed the Twin Strike issue, thanks to some feedback from Dono.  I also decided to add in a couple house rules I'm using for Force Use and for "Kinetic Combat" with the Move power.  I also officially direct folks to Dono's Ways of the Force document for Healing and ideas for NPCs with his "Injure" power.

I also did some changes to Shien and Djem So.  I made mastery in them about to redirect damage back to the attacker for three Threats or one Despair, and had them both deal base weapon damage from the attacker's weapon instead of a flat out 10 damage.  I might bump it back up to 10 damage, since it has such a high requirement to activate, and it's not negating the damage the player takes, just sends a bunch of it back to the attacker.  And it's 25 XP into a secondary (or later) talent tree.  Actually, I think I will do that.

I love it when I game design mid-post.  Makes me look so erratic and unprofessional.  Oh wait...

I think my first post in 2014 will be the Version 1.03 rules for Edge of the Jedi.  Stay tuned.


One of my presents from the Wife was a commitment to have the Jedi Shadow finished by the end of February.  The costume's been so close to done for so long, it's just fallen by the wayside with all the crap that's gone on in my home this past year (sadly that statement is more literal than I'd like).  That being said, I think we decided a whole revamp on the skirt is needed.  I'll want to save as much of the pain-in-the-ass work as much as possible, like the large-runed bottom skirt, but some of the upper layers will need re-doing.

I've noticed that the New England Garrison needs more red sabers.  More Darths.  We have Vader and Maul, and a very good Nihilus.  Occasionally we see a Revan.  But we have a ton of Jedi in Alderaan base, and our parades will include several of them.  Occasionally, Nihilus or Maul will wade into them during a parade and do a little scripted duel.  I think it would be awesome to have more of that, and that means more Darths.

I've been all about doing Darth Malgus for years now, even went so far as to pick up Ultrasaber's interpretation of his lightsaber.  There's a guy out there I'm following who's going to start doing pieces of his costume "soon".  Do I wait?  Do I start working on something else?  I'd love to do Darth Adraas, it's a sick look.  Something like "Renaissance Iron Man meets Munch's The Scream".  It's a solid look for a Sith, and it's even a solid masked outfit.  Additionally, if I am able to Malgus later, I can repaint Adaraas to be the generic "TOR Jedi Knight", since they use the same armor (only the handplates are different).

I've got a lead on a suit of this TOR Jedi/Sith Armor, and several people out there are making the mask.  Tempting.  Very tempting.

We'll have to see.

Back on the Air

Thanks to some huge help from Mr. Dan Decker of Echo Base, the All Wings Report In podcast is back on the air.  It's crude, a little rough, and doesn't do the job well as nearly as it should thanks to the absence of my usual wingman, Erich, but at least it's an episode.

Not sure when the next one will be, but I hope Erich will be back sooner rather than later.  The show suffers without him.  I'm just going to do what I can to keep it going until he's able to get back into formation...

Closing Time

I think that's going to do it for this post, and for this year.  Thanks again for everyone who's subscribed, and who visits this page from my links.  Hopefully I'll have many more posts filled with useful (or at least interesting) tid-bits in 2014!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Holiday Poem Disguised as a Blog Post

T'was the Thursday before Christmas
And while opening his blog,
Phil was wracking his brain
For a subject to log.
Gaming, or costumes,
or holiday woes?
He couldn't decide
So he settled on prose.
"He's done this before"
Some readers will tell,
Years back on a podcast
(It went over well...)
But that was long back,
This problem is now.
The "why" he should write
The "what" and the "how"
"It's the Holiday season,
I could write about that...
Of past Christmas presents
like the TIE and AT-AT."
But no, that's a cop out;
A big, lame excuse
To fill space in his blog
"It's just no use"
"I'm stuck in a rut
About a subject this time."
That would probably explain
Why he's stuck in this rhyme.
"Time to bust out
and get back on track.
To write more about gaming
and the costumes I lack."
"Malgus and Jedi
Of a Shadowy sort,
The Jedi's nigh-finished
before we had to abort."
"And then there's my dad
Our own Old Ben,
Who's looking to upgrade
His costume again."
"He also would like something
For the old 501st,
And thin out which costume
Screws his sight up the worst."
Guardsman, or Admiral
(Of the "Grand" persuasion)
Or his own Tusken Raider
For villainous occasion.
Phil smiled as he thought
Of the coming year's plan,
Of vacations, and conventions
And being his brother's Best Man.
"It'll all be here soon,
Just like this deadline.
Maybe more Jedi work
There's some points to refine."
"Like Jar'kai, or Twin Strike.
Wow, that was a mess.
How I could write that talent
Is anyone's guess."
"I think I'll change it
To a boost die for strain
To increase your dual attack.
...might not be a pain..."
"And Dono's comments
About a simpler Juyo.
'Just upgrade the attack
Like Ferocious, you know?'"
"Other than that,
it's about set and done.
No massive rewrite
Just play testing fun."
And he looked up and saw
The volume he wrote.
This long-verse poem
Instead of a note.
"Jeebus I ramble,
Look at this post.
I think I should close it
With a Holiday toast."
"Thank you for reading
And coming to my blog
And listening to my bit.
So raise your egg nog!"
"To family and friends,
On this cold winter season!
Because you're all awesome,
That's a good enough reason!"
"Keep on coming back
For more fun next year.
I'll post all about it,
Of this have no fear."
And as these things end,
In this season of white;
"Merry Christmas to all,
And to all a good night!"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Edge of the Jedi Update

Wow, I'm behind in my posts.  But that's okay; one week it was Thanksgiving, and the next week it was...something else.  Eh, regardless; I'm not going to let another week go by without an update to the old blog.  You all deserve it.  You deserve better!  I can be better!  Give me a chance!

Or at least give me until January, when I plan to re-commit myself to a weekly update.

Jedi Power Battles

One of the files I've been meaning to get around to updating is the title of the article, my Edge of the Jedi document.  I'd finally gotten a chance to playtest some of the mechanics, and take a second look at a lot of creative decisions.  After a few months of work, I'm able to present to you the next iteration of my Jedi Rules for the Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars RPG.

In addition to changes based on playtesting, there are also some new talents added from the Age of Rebellion Beta rulebook.  There are some neat toys in there, and I had to find a place for some of them in my document.

Edge of the Jedi v1.02

Just about every tree had some revision, and even a few re-mappings.  Let's go over the what and the why, shall we?


After looking at the Guardian spec, I felt it connected certain coveted talents too easily.  Where there was once a lot of lateral movement allowed in the lower branches of the tree, now there is more focused paths.  I broke the link between the 20-point Sixth Sense and Superior Reflexes.  I also added a connection between Sixth Sense and the 15-point Balance, to allow for more character choices, and less requirements to focus on Melee or Ranged benefits.  Other than that, and a correction to Jump Up that it's an Activated Talent, Guardian was pretty much left alone.


This spec received some pretty major change ups; new talents, talent shifting, and tree re-mapping.

The first area of focus was the talent Well Rounded.  It moved from a 5 xp cost talent to a 10.  It was actually a 15, at the recommendation of several in the Gamer Nation based on where it appeared in other trees.  However, with the release of Enter the Unknown, there is now precedence to have it appear at a cheaper cost.  It flipped locations with Researcher.

The next change is the removal of Steely Nerves and replacing it with an Age of Rebellion talent, Force of Will.  Sixth Sense was also removed from the tree, and replaced with another AoR talent, Invigorate.  Looking at these talents in AoR, I knew I had to fit them into the Consular.  This does mean that every Consular that picks up Dedication will be able to replace their Willpower for any other Characteristic on one skill roll a session.  In all likelihood Willpower will be the Characteristic raised with Dedication, and I'm okay with all this.  The removal of Sixth Sense forces the Consular to rely more on additional training to improve their defenses, and does help convey that a pure Consular is not the greatest Jedi combatant.  I'd thought about replacing Deflect Blasters instead, but I just felt that was too key to any Jedi character to remove from the Specializations.

The Consular received a much larger re-mapping than the Guardian.  Gone are the links between Overwhelm Emotions and Deflect Blasters, and between Dedication and Sixth Sense. Overwhelm Emotions and Touch of Fate are broken, too, replaced with a link above them between Sense Emotions and Body Guard, which now links to Touch of Fate.  The progress of talents there flows nicely for a Consular who focuses as a mediator between potentially hostile parties.


There weren't too many changes to the Sentinel.  I worked in a fantastic talent from AoR; Sleight of Mind.  Replacing the 10 point Grit, the Sentinel adds a Boost die to Stealth checks against any opponent affected by Force Powers.  Grit moved over to replace Sense Emotions.  No other changes to the Sentinel specialization this time around.

Lightsaber Form Trees

None of my Lightsaber Form specialization trees had any form of remapping.  Additionally, no talents were replaced, but several were modified.

Niman: Spend a Destiny point to roll Force Rating as part of a lightsaber attack action.  If two Light Side points are scored, the Jedi may move a target at Short range to Engaged range (and then make a Lightsaber combat check against that target) or from Engaged to Short range (after making a Lightsaber combat check)
Niman Master: When using the Niman incidental action, if a total of three Light Side points are scored, the target may be knocked prone at the end of its forced movement.
These changes were made to simplify the excessive die rolling that my previous version of Niman was causing.  I also tried splitting up Niman into two Force powers from SAGA, Draw Closer and Pushing Slash.  This change makes it a simple addition of Force rating dice to a combat check, and allows a character to target an opponent at Short range (hoping they score at least two pips on their Force dice to pull them to Engaged range).   Niman Master's additional insult-to-injury of knocking the target prone after the movement is easy enough to execute if the Jedi wants.  Either roll the Force Dice first to see if three Light Side points are scored, or just add the boost die to the Combat check and Force Rating roll.  If enough Force Points to move the opponent aren't generated, the Combat Check results are ignored.

Logistically, versus a PC it should probably be a Force Rating check, followed by the combat check, that way the target knows if it needs to use talents or options like Dodge.  NPCs don't usually have this issue, as they have the always in-play Adversary talent in place of strain-costing defensive options.

Seems like that whole side of the Balanced tree got a re-write...
Twin Strike: When making a Two Weapon Attack action while wielding two lightsabers, spend 2 Advantage to add 5 damage to the first strike instead of triggering a second strike.
So this rewording allows a duelsit to-


You know, upon looking at this talent again, I suddenly see a problem.  The original intention is to stack the damage instead of splitting it, to allow the Duelist to get around the Soak value.  Instead of subtracting the full soak value from each of two 10 point hits, it only applies once against one 15 point hit (plus successes, of course).  The problem I just now realized is...Lightsabers have Breach 1.  They already ignore 10 points of soak.  This really isn't useful at all.

And already I'm making notes and changes for v1.03. *sigh*

I think I might just ditch the talent and concept entirely.  Find some other talent to take its place, or move Jar'Kai up and find a new 20 point talent.  Speaking of Jar'Kai...
Jar'Kai: Increase Melee Defense by 1 when wielding two lightsabers.

I'll admit it; I don't get how Defense stacks, or doesn't.  Or when you add.  Or when you take the best.  All I do know is I want the duelist's melee Defense to be one better than normal when wielding two lightsabers, and this seems like the best way to word it.

Soresu: Take a Soresu Maneuver to gain +1 Defense against all combat checks until the end of your next turn.  Apply 1 Setback die to all attacks made until the end of your next turn.
Intent-wise, there's no change with how it was worded before.  Previously I tacked it onto the existing Guarded Stance.  Now, it clarifies that it works like Guarded Stance, but applies a bonus to defense against all Combat Checks against the character.  Guarded Defense describes its effect as "gaining Melee Defense 1", meaning it doesn't stack with any other Defense score and pointless if you're wearing any armor granting defense (at least to me it does; remember my comprehension issues with Defense?)  Heck, now the duelist could use this and Guarded Stance and get to Melee Defense 2 and +1 ranged defense as long as he's willing to eat a penalty of 2 Setback dice to all attacks he makes for the next round.
Soresu Master: Take a Soresu Master action; until the beginning of the character's next turn, all combat checks against the character are opposed by the character's Lightsaber skill.
No real difference from before, just now it's worded differently.  By the way, the intention of this talent is for it to stack with defense and defensive maneuvers like Dodge.  In the lore, a practitioner of Soresu is nigh-uninhabitable, as long as they don't want to actually attack.  Masters are occasioanlly able to launch attacks, but even they are more about maintaining defense, and waiting for the right opportunity to strike (or parlay).  This could fit that well, I just need to playtest it more (or in this case, at all; Soresu isn't a "flashy" style, in spite of the "barrier of light" a Soresu master makes around him).

Use the Force, Ya N00b!

One of the issues I was still having with all this was the fickle nature of Force Use.  Even with three Force Rating Dice, the odds are still pretty good for a Jedi to roll no useable Force Points at all, and be stuck with a character violating decision to use the Dark Side to get them out of a poor situation. 

While looking over the stats for the Forsaken Jedi in the Edge of the Empire book, I noticed a little blurb at the very end of the Abilities header.
On the Edge: Spend 1 strain to turn one Dark Side Point into one Light Side Point, once per Force check.
This is a game-changer.  The Forsaken Jedi is able to at least score one Light Side Force point without it costing a Destiny Point and strain to use Dark Side pips to power Force powers.  I have to figure that something like this is going to be in effect for Force Users once Force and Destiny is released. 

I found this the night before may last Order 65 game session, and elected to let everyone give it a try and see how it played.  No extra XP cost, just "Boom, once per roll spend 1 Strain to make 1 Dark Side Point into a Light Side Point for powering Force Powers and Effects".  It worked extremely well.  The Swashbuckling Force-empowered duelist from the Taipani sector was able to reliably use Force Leap under the Enhance power to leap from one train to another during an epic chase scene.  The "Jedi Sage" was able to empower his Move and actually be able to use his Force power.  He might have not been able to pick up the original item he wanted, but he could at least do something.  And the Jedi Duelist...well, she's addicted to Force Use anyway, no matter what side of the Force Powers it, so she still flipped a Destiny Point to get 3-4 Force Points on a couple rolls, so it didn't really impede her character choices at all.

This ability could work well with this "Advanced Talents" option I'm hearing about coming in the Splatbooks like Enter the Unknown.  But at this stage I'm probably going to just handwaive it for the Order 65 game; just let all my Force Users have it.  It's not game breaking (any moreso than any of my other homebrewed rules, anyway) and it allows them to actually feel like they can use the Force.

Work in Progress

So it looks like I'll be doing a version 1.03 of this document sooner than expected.  Such is life.  For those of you using it, hope you enjoy the latest revisions and let me know if you come across any glaring issues.

Personal Stuff

I'm currently enjoying a warm house in cold weather, during my most favorite time of the year.  There are lights up, my ipod is currently cycling 245 different Christmas songs, and I'm really starting to get my Holiday Spirit on.  If my future isn't looking bright, it's at least looking bearable and more favorable than not, and sometimes that's all it takes.

Happy Holidays, folks...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Brevity Is Not Usually My Style, But Its Been A Long Month...

Dear Blog,

Today I woke up with heat in my house.  It was a very good day...

Seriously; I could hide, like,
five bodies in there!
In all seriousness, I'm happy to report that my heating issues have been dealt with.  New furnace, new duct work, happy Darth.  There is now a good amount of  heat in my home, and just in time.  Next week is supposed to be "Damn Cold".
As an odd consequence to this home improvement, I discovered a "void" in my home's floor plan that would cater quite nicely to a new closet.  Some nut-job just threw up a wall, instead of making a closet.  The home has space issues to begin with, why would you wall off 48 cubic feet of usable space?! 

Talking with a carpenter to see what they think it would cost to convert into useable space. 

Three's a Charm

Anyway, games!  Just ran my third session of my Wild Cards game.  I have a standard that I live by...more of a track record, really...that if a game can make it through three sessions, then it'll go.  It'll get the momentum it needs to carry on for years.  I've had one anomaly to this in recent years, my Earthdawn game only made about a year of games before "game-fading".  It fell apart around the time that the 2012 LARP season started, as soon after I started house hunting and house packing.  My new home doesn't cater well to large groups of people, and my own attention to the campaign faltered, so it sadly is off the radar.

Could it be run online?  Eh, maybe.  I'm finding it difficult to run games entirely on my PC.  It's one thing if I'm running a game with half my PCs in the room, and the other half on Roll20.  Especially if the ones online have web-cams.  My current Wild Cards party has one person with a webcam, the rest are all still images of the players.  And even then they're about 200 pixels high.  It's hard to connect with the players, at least that's what I feel.  No visual cues, can't tell if they're engaged or looking at websites between combat actions.

It is only the third game, though...  *shrug*  Maybe it'll change.

Also, my gaming space is pretty tight.  I'm at my desk, crammed in the corner of my library.  My "table top real estate" is pretty tight.  If I try to have a book open in front of me, it doesn't work out too well as far as room to type goes.  Heaven forbid I need to have a second book open too, as that will be in my lap.

Eh, maybe it's time to figure out a new desk set up, or room layout, or something else entirely.

As far as the campaign goes, I'm having a pretty good time.  I'm going to try to keep the Wild Cards episodic for now, with every 3-4 games being one story.  Maybe the 4th "episode" will tie directly into their back story.  I figure we'll need at least three episodes to get the PCs used to each other, and with me, really.  I've got two new PCs (never before played), one PC who I've had at my table twice before (a campaign that only made it to session two), and two "hardened veterans" who will likely be able to see several plot themes coming.  The vets are the only ones who have played together in prior games, too.  I think.  Regardless, it's a real new group so it'll take time to gel.

Still, at least I'm gaming regularly again.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


It's Halloween kiddies, and since this blog is devoted to Star Wars gaming and Star Wars Costuming, I'd be remiss if I didn't devote today's blog to the half that I haven't talked about much lately.  I'm currently sitting at work in my Jedi Knight outfit, since my office is very "festive friendly" today.  It'll be interesting when I head to the Mall at lunch to get my weekly comics.  I doubt I'll change out of it. 

I had intended to write a blog post about my plans for Darth Malgus.  There's a nice gentleman in the prop-making community who's doing 3D printings of parts for my new favorite bald-headed Sith.  He's already got a re-breather kit finished, and is working on the arms and legs now.  He plans to produce the chest, shoulders, and biceps and offer it all in a kit.  First round of production is planned for January.

I was all over this.  It was going to be tight, financially, because I also wanted to go to GenCon this coming year and get the Force and Destiny beta rulebook...oh, and hang out with the Gamer Nation, but you know where my loyalties lie.

Sadly, I go some news today that put a shotgun blast to both of those plans.  There's been a death in the family; well, at least within the household.  My oil furnace.  We thought it was a $200 replacement part to fix, but come to find out there was a fire in the furnace where there wasn't supposed to be, and it fried a lot of the wiring.  It cannot be fixed, it must be replaced.  My repair bill just became a $2000 replacement fee.

I don't know where I'm going to find $2000; my credit is maxed and my savings are gone.  But that $2000 eats up any thoughts I had for Malgus or GenCon.  I can't justify either of them now.  My annual bonus?  Gone, right into the furnace (literally).  My tax return?  Now going to go to all the things I wanted my bonus to pay off so I could afford GenCon and Malgus.

I'm in a right funk right now.  But one step at a time, and my first priority right now is getting $2000 for the new furnace so I don't freeze in the wilds of New Hampshire.

Wish me luck, I'm going to need it.

Oh, and if you could, kick Murphy in the balls for me when you see him next.  It'd be a big help.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Eons: A Universe of Uses

Here's a post I started, in part, in May.  I'd thought about publishing it then, but decided that it would make more sense to save and re-visit later in the year.  More readers would have a chance to get the game I'm about to talk about, and would be of more use now.

Back in April when I went to Reapercon 2013, I was blessed by GM Chris and GM Dave with one of the two prototype copies of Eons.  I've had a blast playing this game (or perhaps a supernova...).  Since then, I've obtained my actual production copy and have had more chances to play.  The game is awesome.  If you're looking for a resource management game with a touch of science where you play a god (er..."Cosmic Architect") then Eons is for you.

So after listening to the wisdom and advice on creating campaign worlds in the Order 66 Podcast Episode 9; Go West Young Sam, it occurred to me that the building of star systems was sounding very similar to the building of your galaxy in Eons.  I started bouncing around ideas, considering card interpretations, and came up with the following "extra-gaming" use for Eons.  The idea is to take the stack of Eons playing cards and use them as inspiration for the details of a star system you're creating for a table-top RPG.

Option One: "Single Hand" System

This is the simplest option for creating a planetary system for your game; deal yourself a standard Eons hand of seven cards, and lay them out in front of you.  This method of system creation is good if your PCs decide to go off the rails and head off in another direction from where you planned. It's also good for a one-shot encounter if you can't come up with anything that session and need some ideas.

Hopefully, you'll pull a star, a couple planets, and maybe some interesting Cosmic events.  This method could result in a system of nothing but stars, or nothing but planets.  Thankfully, science accounts for most of this.  There are many multiple star systems in our own galaxy, why should the Star Wars galaxy be any different?  Drawing a hand full of planets could be just as interesting.  Perhaps a series of rogue planets are currently moving through the area.  If you pull a "life" card in such a system, run with it.  There could be exogorths in the system.  Civilization could mean a space station, or a derelict battle fleet, or a pirate base.

Lay out the cards with any stars drawn to the left, and any planets drawn to the right.  Use Supernovas to remove stars from the hand, or simply discard them.  Apply Life and Civilization cards to planets as desired.  Come up with a name for the stars and planets, or use the names right on the card (I recommend at least making them more "Star Warsy"; apostrophes and hyphens abound).

Option Two: Number of Planets

The next option is to take the entire stack of cards, and either select or randomly roll for the number of planets to be in the system.  I recommend not using a ten-sided die for this.  Using a 6 sided one would be better.  To lower the odds of it being a 1 planet system, add 1 to 3 to the result of the roll.

Now, start turning over cards until you have a card spread that contains the number of planets you rolled.  This could take a while, and lead to some very interesting star systems with nebulae, black holes, and neutron stars in it.  Use these navigational hazards to their fullest.  Nebulae are easy to do, and the planet could even reside within it.  Neutron Stars and Black holes make excellent locations for research facilities that may or may not have been turned into pirate bases or secret military installations.

EDIT: An interesting side-note; as I was laying out the cards and explaining what I was doing to my wife, she stated that I was doing a tarot reading.  I found it to be a rather crude analogy, but a strong enough one that I couldn't really refute her commentary.  It's like that between us.  Often.

Interpreting the Cards

Regardless of how you decide to use the cards (or your significant other's observations), interpreting the draw is important to the layout of your Star System.

Stars: These are the most basic cards to decode; it's the core star your planets (if you have any) orbit around. It's possible, and often likely, that you'll end up with multiple star cards. That's okay, you can either weed them out with any Supernovas you draw, toss them from the hand, or use them to represent binary, trinary and other multiple star systems.

Planets: Odds are, if you're developing a star system you're going to want some planets of some sort in it.  That's usually why the players are going to the star system in the first place.  Eons has the four basic planet types; molten, gaseous, liquid, and earthen.  As George Lucas has shown us, any one of these planet types can support life and civilization of some sort.

Life: Either the planet has life on it or it's at least able to support life of some sort.  Alternately, if you have a hand with no planets, Life could represent space-born creatures like Mynocks or the aforementioned exogorths (space slugs).  It could also be for sentient gas clouds, living space mold clinging to asteroids, or any number of fantastical living beings. 

Civilization: Tons of options to use with this card.  In the game Eons, you can't play Civilization without Life.  In this use, Civilization is separated from Life.  There are many instances of civilizations within the Star Wars universe that exist on planets without life.  On such planets, Civilization represents protected shelters, colony worlds, sprawling domes cities protecting the inhabitants from the harsh environment of the planet.  It represents massive hovering cities in the atmosphere of gas giants, or floating platforms on seas of toxic, but valuable liquids.  Even molten planets work, with element-enriched mining facilities on molten lakes of fire and lava.  One could argue that places like Nar Shadda and Coruscant are earthen planets with Civilization, but no Life, simply because the entire world is urbanized.  In a system without planets, Civilization represents asteroid bases and space stations.

Nebulae, Neutron Stars, and Black Holes: Small and Large nebulae breath interesting life into any star system.  You could have planets in the system orbit through the nebulae, and come up with the effects such an orbit has on the planet.  Stretch your creative muscles.  It might simply disrupt communications and travel to and from the world, but it could also interrupt life; requiring the residents to remain in enclosed cities while the planet is within the Nebulae.  This usually means something is valuable enough on the world to make such inconveniences worthwhile.

Neutron Stars and Black Holes represent much more lethal navigational hazards.  Even with Star Wars science, it's hard to come up with a reason one of these would be in a star system.  Most likely they're at the edge of one, and their unique properties affects life and travel in the system.  As mentioned above, these stellar phenomena make great subjects of study, attracting scientific and military installations to them.

Meteor Strike and Cosmic Collisions: Now we start getting into cards that are not stellar bodies, but galactic events.  These two cards effect change upon planets, and drawing them should do the same to the bodies within the star system.  Meteor Strikes can be a few things; one is literal, a meteor has hit a planet.  That means that the meteor likely came from somewhere nearby, and perhaps there is a ring around the planet in question.  Multiple Meteor Strikes in your hand could mean a full blown asteroid belt lies in the system.  Another interpretation is that it's not a meteor strike, but a meteor cloud that the planet passes through from time to time, much like our own.  Or a comet in the system that orbits the star and passes by the planets in the system.

Cosmic Collisions are planetary altering events.  Used literally, it can signify an event that either ended life on a planet or possibly civilization.  It doesn't have to be an extinction-causing asteroid, though.  It could be something more artificial, or man-made.  Maybe a brutal war occurred and destroyed much of the population.  Maybe a period of tectonic instability (natural or artificial) altered the planet.  Or a huge cruiser accidentally hit the planet at lightspeed.  Or orbital bombardment from a fleet of ships devastated much of the surface.

Supernova: This one is very similar to the previous set of cards, but affects stars (and really, the entire star system).  If your hand has a lot of stars, you can simply start using Supernovas to remove stars from the system on a one-to-one basis.  Maybe the Supernova represents a Star evolving from one type to another (from Yellow Dwarf to Red Supergiant, for instance), obliterating worlds in the process.  Could be why the system has no planets, if you didn't draw any.  The death of a star in a multi-star system could really shake things up, and bathe the area in cosmic rays and high radiation for millennia to come.

Taken one step further towards the abstract; maybe the system altering event wasn't the death of a star, but something else. Could have been an invasion. Or the rise of a Dark Side cult on one of the planets, subjugating the system's populace.  Anything that alters something within the system as a whole could be represented with a Supernova card.

An Example is in Order...


I think it's time for an example of what I'm talking about.  For this example, I'm going to use a simple 7 card draw, your basic hand in Eons.  Let's see what I get...

Okay, so I got a Red Dwarf star (there's a joke in there somewhere...), two Liquid Planets, one Earthen Planet, Life, Cosmic Collision, and Meteor Strike.  Not bad!  The star is easy, we've got a red star that has three planets orbiting it.  You can ignore the Eons game rule that limits how many planets a type of star can support.

I'll place the first Liquid planet near the star, and have it be a planet of liquid toxic chemicals with a higher boiling point than water.  Hot, steamy, and lethal to most living beings in the galaxy.  Next I'll place the earthen planet, and the second Liquid planet will be farther out.

I could say that the Life card is tied to the Earthen planet, or the second Liquid planet, but I think I'm going to be a little more abstract and say that Life will apply to the system, not just one specific planet there in.  Both of those planets will support life.  With a cosmic collision and a meteor strike card in the hand, I'm going to say there's an asteroid belt in the system, too.  Let's place it between the first and second planet.  The "planetary altering event" is usually something bad, but in this case I think I'll have it be something positive; a sudden tourist trade to the system.

The name of the Star on the card is Reese 2-14.  Going with some "L33+ Sp34k" and dropping some letters, we'll call this the Reezla System.With two planets capable of supporting life, but no civilization to speak of, we'll consider this a newly found or under developed colony planet.  The corporation that found the system wanted to colonize it, or at least tap into it's resources found on Nixev (the first Liquid planet), but found it to be too expensive and dangerous.  Perhaps it's too far off the space lanes for someone other than a major corporation to undertake.  In the mean time, some of the creatures on the second planet Cael's Hope (Earthen Planet) are vicious predators and attract the elite hunters of the galaxy.  The more temperate liquid planet Rydel has abundant sea life, great for sport fishing.


The Reezla System

Let's put this draw into the Star Wars galaxy...

The Reezla system has few minerals for corporations to exploit for profit, but another company has started to cash in on the offerings of the system.  A tourist company has tapped into the potential for the sport hunting and fishing market and offers exclusive "Big Game Cruises".  Guests travel aboard a Mon Calamari cruiser to the Reezla system (the actual tourist cruisers, not the ones the Rebel Alliance put guns on).  This cruise departs from a nearby system, where the wealthy tourists enjoy several days in hyperspace gambling, dancing, and partying before arriving in the Reezla system.  The cruiser, being made by the amphibious Mon Calamari, is able to set down on Rydel's oceans.  Guests on the ship are able to enjoy a few days at sea while smaller sea skimmers take sport  fishermen out to catch "the big one".  Then its on to Cael's Hope, where posh shuttles transport hunters down to the planet to a specially designed base-camp, and go on safari for the most dangerous creatures around over several days.  Daytime hunts are followed by lavish bonfire parties in the base camp compound, protected by a specially designed perimeter fence and armed guards.

Recently, a band of pirates has uncovered an asteroid base that the original explorers established to start mining operations in the system (a common trope for pirate bands in the Expanded Universe).  They are preparing to ambush the next cruise to the system, and prey on it's wealthy clientele when they reach Cael's Hope, and most of the armed personnel (and tourists) are away on the planet.  Their plan could work too, unless some meddling PCs get involved...

I came up with all this in less than 10 minutes.  A system that's just aching to be used in a campaign or episodic one-shot.

Making a Big Bang


For all the crazy details Game Masters have to come up with, sometimes it's nice to have some help in crafting the galaxy the characters are living in.  In less than 2-3 minutes, a GM with a copy of Eons can come up with some pretty interesting details about a star system the PCs encounter while going "off the rails".  Or with 10-15 minutes, the GM can get some ideas and breathe life into a new star system, just waiting for pcs to explore.

Eons; crafting galaxies across the gaming cosmos, one system at a time.

Want a copy of Eons? Order it from Gamer Nation Studios, or check with your friendly local gaming store to get a copy! Even if you don't use it for this, it's an AWESOME game!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Balancing Acts

Joy of wondrous joys!  I can blog from my work computer again!

No longer am I stuck with XP and IE 6...or 7.  Or whatever dinosaur I was saddled with.  Now I'm on IE 9 and can actually type things in this field on my Blogger page.  Hopefully this will go a long way to getting back on track with my weekly updates.
How very "Miami Vice"...

This week marked the start of my "Wild Cards" campaign.  The first pc group in my multi-party "Another Longshot" game, the Wild Cards mixes Star Wars with "The A-Team".  I'm planning on it being more episodic than over-arching.  There will be sub-plots that carry from one game to the next, like clearing their names and getting revenge on the Sith that set them up for war crimes.  For the most part, however, the group will be getting together every other Tuesday night over G+/Roll20 for a couple hours, and kicking around the Edge of the Empire in small, 2-3 session adventures.

Translation Trouble

It wouldn't be a Star Wars game, or any sci-fi space opera game really, without "The Ship".  This game is no different.  The backstory is that the Wild Cards stole a military ship to escape their stockade, but traded it in to a contact one of the PCs knows to get something less conspicuous (or traceable).  Fiddleback selected and recommended a ship from one of my favorite sources; Star Wars Gamer issue #2.  That particular magazine was the second issue of the old WotC-printed, Dragon Magazine equivalent for their d20 Star Wars game.  The article was called "A Legacy of Starships" by Owen KC Stephens with art by Jeff Carlisle.  It gave write ups and stats for ten different and never before seen Corellian Engineering Corporation freighters, from eras just before the Prequel Movies to well after the latest novels. 
Old school, yo

This particular craft Fiddy selected was the YV-929 Armed Freighter.  Top of the line during the end of the Galactic Civil War, 130 years later the ship is a relic and an antique.  The thing is a brick; great armor and shields for a transport, with a solid cargo hold.  It boasts some pretty significant armament too; triple-blasters, concussion missiles, ion cannon turrets, and oddly enough two light turbolaser cannons.  This was of particular note because turbolasers have always been the realm of frigate-sized capital ships and higher, in just about every iteration of the game.  They were light turbolasers, for sure, and would merely threaten a capital ship for a moment or two, but against a similarly sized transport the turbolasers would pound it to scrap in short order.

This was back during the OCR days (Original Core Rulebook).  Since then the game updated to Revised Core, and Saga Edition.  The 929 didn't make an appearance in Saga, but the starship construction stats made it pretty clear that you can't mount turbolasers on your average Space Transport.

Several months back, the ship appeared in the Equipment Labs series of articles on the GSA Website.  Agent 35 did a good job pulling the ship over to FFG stats, and included all of its unusual armament.  These were the stats that Fiddleback showed me during the game on Tuesday.  I was all over it, but then I noticed in my copy of the Age of Rebellion sourcebook that the YV-929 is fully and officially statted out!  Some of the stats were better than Agent 35's, like sensors, handling and shields.  Some were worse, like customization hardpoints and the armament.  The number of missile tubes were decreased, and the turbolasers were removed entirely.

My conundrum is to stick with the official FFG stats, or the ones from Star Wars Gamer?  Most of the official stats are just fine, and I had no issues with those.  I'm a little put off by there being only one Customization Hardpoint, but the ship is pretty well tricked out on its own. The lack of Turbolasers takes away a pretty flavorful, and potent, feature of the starship.  I can see why FFG removed it, it sets a really bad precedence for mounting anti-capital ship guns on a PC's craft.  Everyone would be doing it, and things would get real interesting in the galaxy with all these ships mounting serious military hardware.

A Matter of Scale

Art by Jeff Carlisle
The big reason the turbolasers were so nasty in d20 was the multiplier.  Vehicle weapons did more damage than personal weapons, usually to the effect of doubling the damage rolled.  Capital scale weapons, like the turbolasers, multiplied that by five.  So even if the damage you're rolling is low, in this case 3d10, you're quintupling the number rolled.  That's an average of 5.5 per die rolled, 16.5 on a 3 die total for an average of 85 damage per successful hit.  Considering that an X-Wing's laser cannons average 66 damage (6d10x2 damage), that's not that much more damage.  Even maxed out the light lurbolaser only deals 25% more damage than the X-Wing's quad laser blast.  Both will still paste enemy fighters that lack shields, and two solid hits will clear everything else.

Turbolasers in FFG are just as nasty, but on a different level.  X-Wing lasers deal 6 damage, in a galaxy where TIEs can only take 6 damage before being blown apart.  Sure, they have an Armor rating of 2, but X-Wing guns have "Linked 3", which means the attacker can spend two Advantage to trigger another hit on the target, up to 3 times.  Two 6 point hits will paste a TIE.  They also have a range of "Close", meaning the fighters need to move in to be able to hit each other.

Light Turbolasers have a base damage of 9, one more than a proton torpedo.  They have Breach 2, meaning they ignore 2 points of Armor with each hit.  They do have "Slow-Firing 1", which relegates the cannons to every-other-round attacks.  But the big thing they have is a Medium Range.  They can start laying in on enemies from quite a fair distance away, even farther away than proton torpedoes and concussion missiles.

What kind of damage could PCs do with turbolaser cannons? 5 hits would take out a Bulk Transport.  A YT-1300 like the Millennium Falcon would be pasted in 3.  Even Corellian Corvettes and Marauder Corvettes are threatened, to a degree.

It's not like the PCs would be in an unstoppable battle-tank, though.  The YV-929 has good shields, and good armor, but it's not impervious.  The single customization hardpoint also limits the upgrades that can be undertaken.  It can't increase its armor or shields.  If it does decide to go up against a Corellian Corvette, it'll get two shots off before the Corvette responds with potentially four of its own (two light, and two medium turbolasers).  Aside from the turbolasers, the YV-929's weapons are decent, but limited.  The triple blasters are awfully light, potentially not even breaching the Armor on some enemy craft.  The Ion turret is slightly better.  It carries missiles, sure, but with a limit of 10 per launcher they need to be rationed, especially if the players can't resupply too often.

Yay or Nay?

I'm tempted to say that the turbolasers are in, but it comes at a cost of the one customization hard point.  I'm also tempted to just give the players the turbolasers and try it, see if it becomes a problem.  I could always take them away with a well timed Despair result on their part, or a Triumph on the part of an attacker.  I could replace them with some beefed up Heavy Laser cannons.  I've got choices, and time will tell how it turns out.

Worrying about the game balance of imaginary weaponry; I'm such a nerd.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Campaign, Old Campaign

Talk about your blog hiatus.

I’m still here, still plugging along.  I’ve got some other writing on my plate right now that is taking up a lot of my time.  Nothing as interesting or mysterious as what Fiddleback is working on, but at least I’m writing for a couple games again.

Campaign One

The first is my Order 65 campaign.  The heroes are hot on the trail of a mysterious clone captain who was witness to the assassination of Chancellor Amidala twenty years ago, that General Kenobi, Skywalker, Dooku, and Sepratist Marshal Qui-Gon Jinn were all at.  The heroes found that someone secretly recorded a meeting between two clone officers after the attack.

[CLICK] “…-saw what I did. He killed her! Not Dooku, not Jinn, HIM! You saw it too!”
“That’s enough. You have no idea what was going on in that room. The general says-”
“Says what?! That she was ‘ending the war by conceding half the Republic to the Separatists’. I don’t believe that, and neither do you!”
“What I believe, CAPTAIN, is that the General just prevented us from losing this war by not only killing the leader of the Confederation and capturing it’s Marshal of Armies, but also avenging the tragic murder of our beloved chancellor at their hands. That’s the general’s report, so that’s our report too. Do I make myself clear, CAPTAIN?”
“…sir, yessir.”
“Good, now take your squad and secure the Count’s transport. Have Sergeant Cards prepare it for lift off, and take it back to the rendezvous point. We’re calling in the Vigilance to pick us up, now that we’re no longer a secret mission and now a recovery operation.”
“Sir, yessir.”
“Look, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry about General Skywalker. He was a good man.”
“I’m sorry too, Commander.”
“…sighs Dismissed, Captain.”
[sounds of boots striding off]
“Dozer-Four, this is Cody.”
“Dozer-Four, copy Commander.”
“Code Crimson-Red, Sheathipede-class shuttle en route to point Niner-Four-Echo. Airborne in four minutes”
“Four clones. Hit it clean, Dozer-four. They deserve a quick death.”
“Copy Commander, inbound to target.”
Reports were that the Separatist shuttle was shot down over the Judland Wastes, but someone saw something rocket away from the stricken craft before it crashed.  Possibly via jetpack?

It’s been a fun campaign, writing my own Alternate Universe to the Saga.  I am looking forward to bringing it to a close.  I doubt I’ll get there by the end of the year, especially with the conflict of schedules.  Maybe wrapped up by the Summer of 2014.  We’ll have to see.

Campaign Two

In the meantime, I’ve finally assembled a group of PCs to try out my A-Team inspired campaign.  It will be one of the few campaigns in the “Another Longshot” multi-campaign, dubbed “The Wild Cards”.

In 130 ABY, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These soldiers promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Outer Rim Territories. Today, still wanted by the Empire, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the Wild Cards.

The game is set in the “Edge of the Empire” (Legacy Era), but most of the PCs are using Careers from Age of Rebellion.  Since the theme is “ex-military”, most PCs found better fits with those careers and specializations.  The game is actually going to be a weeknight game, run bi-weekly like my old Brothers in Arms campaign.  The main difference is that this is going to be entirely on-line, via Roll20.  Dangerous to put my faith entirely in technology, but with circumstances what they are it’s the only way I can make this work.

Other Hiatus

On the podcasting front, I’m without-show for a little while.  Without going into details, my partner in podcasting who handled the whole tech aspects of the show will be unable to participate for the foreseeable future.  This throws an immediate monkeywrench into some plans, and a larger one into others.  Hopefully, everything can get straightened out in our lives and we can get All Wings Report In back on track for 2014.

In the realm of the other main topic of my blog, costuming, there’s been a lot of change happening in the Rebel Legion and 501st Legion.  Staying away from politics, my tenure as the XO of Alderaan Base came to an end on October 1st.  No harm, no foul; my CO decided to not run again this year and has moved into the XO position herself.  I’m the new Base Membership Officer, which basically means I help review and approve costumes on a local level, and help out the local members with costume guidance and direction.

There’s a second reason I was fine with this move, but that won’t become apparent for a little while.  Perhaps five to six months or so.  I’ll keep you all posted.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A New Hope

Or maybe I should title this The Next Generation!

...nah, wrong IP.

 A funny thing happened a few moments ago when my sixteen year old stepson asked me about the Edge of the Empire book, and if I picked up the core rulebook at some point.  (Mind you, I've had it since July, but it's mostly been living in my laptop bag.)  With a wary don't-ruin-my-stuff look and matching tone to not ruin my stuff, I dug out the book and handed it over.  He gingerly sat down on the couch and started flipping through the 400-page text.  Occasionally, he's made comments and observations that I'm well versed with ("Wow, droids get 175 xp to start with!" "Can anyone be Force Sensitive?" "It's neat how everyone has to have an obligation.").

What strikes me as odd, and I suppose it shouldn't, is that he is starting to take a real interest in the RPG.  He's flipped through others in the past, mostly Mutants and Masterminds books.  I ran him as a PC the first time I played through the EotE Beginner's Module, "Escape from Mos Shutta".  There he played the rampaging wookie, and was always trying to smash foes with tables, street lights, benches, other enemies, and pretty much anything other than the devastating vibro-axe the wookie comes equipped with.  I found this to be acceptable, and typical for a sixteen year old who's main interests are Madden 25, Call of Duty, and high school Football.

This is the same stepson who I introduced to the Star Wars saga at age seven (with his mother's permission, of course).  He loved the saga, enjoyed the ewoks, and even found Jar-Jar funny.  Frikkin George Lucas was right about that character; the kids loved him.  Since then he's played with Star Wars legos, a few figures, and dabbled a little bit in Star Wars costuming for a few Halloweens (kid made a great padawan Anakin for a few years there).

"This is going to take a lot of work..."
He even is interested in joining the Legions in a couple years.  He's got a costume in mind, even made a decent Halloween outfit for him several years back.  He's thinking he'd like to re-do it and "go pro".  I've made a promise to him that if he has the motivation, and he works on it, I'll not only help him make a great looking Cade Skywalker, but I'll buy the parts and make his lightsaber for him as a reward. 

Kinda surprised he wasn't interested in Jacen Solo, until I realized there are many more images of Cade looking badass, and many more instances of Jacen being a douche.

Anyway, back to gaming; I suppose the next step is to actually get him into a recurring game.  While I have my Wild Card game starting up soon, that's going to be on a weeknight and probably run until 10pm.  He's got an early bedtime, so that won't work for him  (his mom keeps him on a short leash, prevents him from being an uppity snot.  It's called "parenting".)

I do have a hankering to convert over some of the old West End Games modules and run them with Age of Rebellion rules.  Not only will this get him into a game, but it'll also get me playing with X-Wings again.  There's a lot to be said for the classic era.

Somethings Gotta Give

I've noticed my posts have become fewer and farther between, and when I do post I'm tending for them to be brief snippets, and not these longer, more interesting pieces.  I'm kinda in a bit of a slump, on multiple levels.  As I mentioned in my last post, it's one of the reasons I'm starting up the Wild Cards campaign, I need something to break this slump I'm in.

Here's hoping it works out.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Determined to get this blog back on track, I'm back with another Update Thursday!  I've been pretty scatterbrained lately, and I blame a giant heaping ball of stress that's taken over my life right now.  Sadly this monstrous anxiety ball has crept it's soul-sucking tendrils into many aspects of my life; marriage, creativity, work, attention span.

Yes, attention span. Right now I've got the focus of a 2 year old golden retriever after eating an entire bag of pixie sticks in a forest full of grey squirrels who have also eaten entire bags of pixie sticks.  I'm trying OH SO TRYING to get focus to do anything.  I'm forcing myself to get the first leg of my next Star Wars campaign off the ground.  Trying to get some practice and learn a thing or two about being a Tanker in Mechwarrior Online.  Trying not to mash up the Edge of the Empire system into a Mechwarrior campaign.


Opening Hands

The first part of getting out of Funkytown is getting a regular campaign under my belt.  The start of my Another Longshot campaign has been a subject in this blog for well over a year now.  I remember I was going to do updates to catalog the creation of my campaign, developing NPCs, locations, modules, set-pieces, and scenarios.  Well, that good intention fell by the wayside.

...I also just spent 5 minutes right now browsing the D20 Radio boards, and can't remember why I went there...

Where was I...oh, right.  Another Longshot, and more specifically getting another campaign going.  I need another bi-weekly game.  The last one I ran, Brothers In Arms, kept me focused.  It forced me to sit down and create for a game every other week, and let to some real good game sessions and experiences with my friends.

I need that again.  So, why not start it?

Just like my last weeknight game, I've got a mostly new group of PCs.  The PCs are all former members of an Imperial Stormtrooper Special Forces team during the Legacy Era.  They were framed for and convicted of a crime they didn't commit.   Still loyal to the true Emperor, but wanted by the ruling government, they survive in the Outer Rim as soldiers of fortune.  They are known as the "Wild Cards", because calling them the Aurek-Team would have been too blatant...

They're the prelude to Another Longshot.  It's also probable they may be the start of the Imperial segment of the campaign.  I'm in the character development stage, and hope to have my first weeknight session over Roll/20 the first week of October.


Gah, sorry.  My mind doesn't want to write anymore it seems.  Probably best to cut this short for a week, and try again next week.  Maybe I'll be in a better state of mind.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Summer Vacations

It's been a while since I've posted on this blog.  It's summer time, and a lot happens away from the keyboard that tends to eat away at my time.  Work has also been pretty busy, which makes me forget about extraneous things like my blog.

It doesn't help that my normal work computer doesn't seem to like Blogger anymore.  I can get to the Post screen, but the out-of-date IE won't let me click on the text box to actually write anything.  That certainly slows me up.

Galactic Events

Let's talk about developments in the Star Wars gaming world.  GenCon just happened, and I didn't get to go.  Kinda sad, as I would have been able to pick up a copy of the Age of Rebellion Beta Rulebook.  Much to the surprise of everyone, FFG decided to move forward with a Beta for the next chapter/installment of their RPG.  New races, new careers, Rebellion Era ships, and even new Force Powers and Talents.  Thankfully, I've got a Fellow Legionnaire who was kind enough to pick me up a copy, and will be sending it to me Post Haste.

I'm sure this book will affect my Jedi trees somehow.  It also means that the possibility of a Force and Destiny Beta Rulebook is high, and should be at GenCon 2014.

I need to get my ass to Indy next year...

Galactic Warfare

War...war never changes...crap, wrong IP.

I spent last week on vacation.  Didn't really go anywhere (except to a water park and an amusement park on the same weekend).  Just me and the wife home alone for several days.  Fair amount of yardwork done, some relaxation, and a truckload of hours on Mechwarrior Online.  I'd "owned" the game with their Founder's Program for more than a year, but it wasn't until recently that I was really able to play the game.  Apparently my Graphics Processor couldn't handle the game.  Now, with an affordable upgrade, my machine can actually play the game on decent settings without it being a slideshow.

I'm having fun with it. Found a great guild to run with based on the Skye Rangers brigade; a Federated Commonwealth unit.  They're a large guild, divided up in a similar fashion to the actual brigade (3rd, 4th, 10th, 17th, 22nd, and 25th Skye Rangers).  They also have sub-groups for the Tamar Cavaliers, Kell Hounds, Grey Death Legion, and Snord's Irregulars.  After a few weeks of playing, I actually got invited to play in their competitive 12-man unit, the 1st Skye Jagers.  These are the top guys in the guild, running and practicing 12 man teams for tournaments.  With the next round of tournaments starting up soon for the "Run Hot Or Die" league, I might be able to get some actual competition in and see how I do.

 Galactic Isolation

But aside from that...I feel pretty cut off up here. I'm definitely feeling removed from not only my gaming community, but also my social community.  Sadly, this isolation is starting to really kill my creativity.  I've had many bouts of interesting ideas planted in my head that never germinated into anything.  I've got campaigns I want to run, stories I need to get back to but...nothing.  Can't keep focus on story-writing.  Can find the mental focus to stick with game writing.  I look at my gaming schedule and think "why bother, I can't get my PC party together for another 3 months". 

This is why I really loved the Monday Night Clone Wars game I had going for a while, Brothers In Arms.  I had to create, because I was running every other Monday night.  I kept my skills sharp, ready for the PCs to tangent.

I keep saying I need to get back to that, to get playing RPGs on a bi-weekly basis, even if it's over Skype or G+.  I need to kick myself until I can get the momentum going to run something.

A bi-weekly Edge of the Empire game...or Age of Rebellion (when my copy arrives). 

Yeah, I think it's time to make this happen.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fantasy Flight Imports: Part 5, The Jedi Knights

I'm starting to write this on Tuesday night, July 23rd, listening to FFG Devs Jay Little and Sam Stewart on the Order 66 Podcast.  They're on talking rules, and taking rules questions.  I've got several in the mix, but I'm wondering if they'll get to them with all the commentary and tangenting.

It's Friday now, having completely missed Thursday.  I blame work, overtime, and a desire last night to watch giant robots beat the crap out of kaiju.  The week is still hectic, the phone at work is still ringing, but I'm on my lunch break and want to get this closer to done.

I've got two characters left to cover in my Saga-to-Edge conversion, both of them Jedi.  Both of them drawing exclusively from homebrewed rules for careers and talents.

Tycho Ventor (Skywalker)

It's an alternate universe, a galaxy different from the one George Lucas presented.  Late last year, this PC found out he's actually the son of Anakin Skywalker, and that padawan of Kenobi's that the group fought on Centerpoint station (and knocked out a bridge window and blew her into space to defeat) is his sister.  After a trip to Mortis, which no one remembers, it's time for him to start along the path of eliminating the greatest threat the Jedi Order has known in recent memory; Supreme Chancellor Obi-Wan Kenobi.

To anyone not following my Order 65 campaign, this may seem strange...

Like everyone else in the party, Tycho was converted on a 300xp award scale.  He's a Force Wizard, someone who's more skilled with Force attacks than lightsaber combat.  That actually doesn't translate too well to EotE, given the lack of any real offensive Force power other than Move.  Fortunately, most of Tycho's attacks were based on telekinesis, so we can replicate a lot of his Force Powers pretty well.

Here's a brief rundown on how Tycho looked...
Human Male Jedi 7, Jedi Knight 2
Str 10, Con 10, Dex 16, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 14
Skills: Acrobatics, Galactic Lore, Perception, Pilot, Use the Force.
Talents: Telekinetic Savant, Telekinetic Prodigy, Dark Side Sense, Resist the Dark Side, Echoes in the Force.
Feats: Force Training x3, Skill Focus (Use the Force), Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (Lightsabers), Unstoppable Force, Force Regimen Mastery.
Force Powers (14): Force Slam, Force Whirlwind, Mind Trick, Farseeing, Move Object x3, Force Shield x2, Rebuke x2, Vital Transfer, Negate Energy, Force Track.
Force Regimens (4): Quiet the Mind, Telekinetic Practice, Vo’ren’s First Cadence, Vo’Ren’s Fourth Cadence.
Force Techniques: Force Point Recovery
Anyone who's played or read through Edge of the Empire, and my Edge of the Jedi document can see where this is a challenge.  There is no Farseeing, no Force Track power.  His main defensive abilities, Rebuke, Negate Energy, and Force Shield, don't exist.  There are no Force Regimens in the game.  Doesn't matter; the focus of this Jedi is Force Use, so that's where I focused the spending of XP. 

Working with the player, we started in the Consular tree.  Tycho's aiming for as much Force Rating as he can get, so let's see how we got there.  I was still working with update 1.01 at this time, and hadn't moved Well Rounded to the 15pt row.  We started there and picked up Gunnery and Pilot-Space; he's playing Luke Skywalker, and he's supposed to be a hot pilot.  From there it's as straight a shot to Force Rating as we can get; Researcher, Grit, Nobody's Fool, Steely Nerves, Touch of Fate, and finally Force Rating.  From there we go to the Balanced Lightsaber Style tree starting at Side Step, and then taking Shii-Cho and Natural Duelist.  We skip Steely Nerves because he already bought it in Consular, and can go right to his second Force Rating talent, giving him a Force Rating of 3.

Tycho dove heavily into Move, taking 3 Magnitude Upgrades, 2 Strength Upgrades, 2 Range Upgrades, and the first Control Upgrade (able to deal damage with Move).  If he rolls well, Tycho can move 4 objects up to Silhouette 2 a distance of two range bands with enough force to deal damage.  He can also replicate Force Slam and Force Whirlwind with this spread.  To replicate the disorientation of Force Whirlwind, Tycho will want to spend Advantages and Triumphs rolled on the Discipline check to penalize his target.  Tycho has enough Influence to pull the occasional Mind Trick, and Sense to be able to upgrade the difficulty of two incoming attacks.  That's really the best we're going to get with his Force Defense at this juncture, until more Force Powers are released (or home-brewed).

After playing for 4-5 hours (without a single combat encounter, I might add), the player marveled at how tricky it was to be a Force Wizard in EotE.  Force Rating 3 sounds like a lot, but the few times he rolled the player only drew one Light Side point.  According to Anydice, you've got a 63% chance to roll 2 Force Points or more.  Only a 32% chance to roll 3 or more Force Points.  More often than not, Tycho is going to have to choose upgrading range, magnitude, or strength.  That could be real problematic for combat.  Force Rating 4 is slightly better, giving him just about even-odds to get three Force Points that he can use.  While the player's initial impression is that his Force Wizard concept is now broken, he seems willing to see where it goes.

Nicaela Euripedies

Oh, Nicaela; my lovely, darling Jedi Amazon.  Have you been reading up on the latest incarnations of Wonder Woman?  Because there are many similarities here.  Strong, sword-wielding women, both are characters willing to tread on the edge of darkness in the pursuit of justice.

My difficulties for Nicaela were vast.  First, not only was she a custom career, she's also a custom race.  no one, not even the Unofficial Species Menagerie, had done a conversion for Miraluka.  There's just so much to her character, that with the way I made the home-brewed Jedi Career makes her build go off sideways in some areas.  If I had an extra 50-100xp, she'd be perfect (more on this later).  So, more so than any other character, I had to go with what "best fit" and "felt right".

Here's what I'm working with.

Miraluka Female Jedi 7/Jedi Knight 3
Str 16, Con 12, Dex 10, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 14
Defenses: Fort 22, Ref 21, Will 24
Skills: Acrobatics, Perception, Use the Force
Talents: Block, Deflect, Weapon Spec (Lightsaber), Shii-Cho
Feats: Force Training x2, Weapon Focus (Lightsaber), Skill Focus (UtF), Instinctive Attack, Power Attack, Cleave, Great Cleave
Force Powers (8): Battle strike, Kinetic combat, Draw Closer, Negate Energy, Surge, Assured Strike
Force Techniques: Force Point Recovery

Let's get the race problem out of the way.  Through many ideas and incarnations, I ended up going with the suggestion of a couple folks on the D20 Radio Forums;
  • All Stats at Base 2
  • Force Sight: Removes one Setback die caused by low-light conditions
  • Free Skill Rank in Perception or Vigilance
  • 100 starting XP
With that as a base line, my first issue was her starting XP.  I spent 30xp into Willpower and 70xp into Brawn to get it to 3 and 4 respectively.  4 is a little high for her Saga version, closer to an 18 than a 16, but giving her such a high Brawn makes her more of a tank and melee monster.  This definitely fit her playstyle over the years.

She's a combat Jedi, so naturally she started with the Guardian tree.  With the Shii-Cho talent and the Draw Closer lightsaber power (Niman), the next tree for her is the Balanced Lightsaber Style tree.  To cover the cost of buying another rank of Discipline (to qualify for the Balanced tree), I needed to give her a total of 15 starting Obligation (everyone else has 5, except Lucas who had 10).  Based on her role-playing choices and backstory, I found a couple good fits.  Nicaela likes to use the Force; a lot,. to the point that it's actually a minor addiction (that she can try to work off through game play, if she wants to).  This has caused the Jedi Order to become a bit more strict and is "keeping an eye on her".  This can cause some stress to her and the rest of the party as it affects Nicaela's mood.

No one likes being around a moody Jedi.  Well...maybe, Padme; but look what happened to her.

Talents! Two ranks of Uncanny Reactions makes her Vigilance checks all kinds of interesting, rolling 3 green Ability Dice and 2 blue Boost dice. Precise Aim replicates her Assured Strike power, and Shii Cho Master takes care of her "mass mook killing" feats (Cleave/Great Cleave).  Shii Cho, Deflection Training, and Deflect Blasters covers her Lightsaber defense powers.  Niman allows for some "Saber and Force" combo that she had in Saga Edition, except that now she has Pushing Slash instead of Draw Closer (which is what my Niman Mastery talent covers).

With Force powers, I had to shave points some more.  She has enough Move to grab a Silhouette 1 target (person-sized) and move them around.  She can also rip items off of mountings or out of people's hands, and manipulate objects as if she were handling them.  That last one covers her Kinetic Combat power, except that its now a little bit better.  Now she can technically use her talents as if she were wielding the lightsaber.  As a consequence to all this, Nicalea also now effectively has Move Object, allowing her to move things around even to the point of being able to deal damage with them.

So, as I said, it's really a best fit solution, but I think she found it to be a fun one.

Final Thoughts

I finally ran my first Order 65 game while using the Edge of the Empire ruleset.  It was a solid 5 hours of recap and plot reveals.  Finding out and deciding where to go in the campaign.  They had opportunities to have or avoid combat, and ended up avoiding all of it.  It was solid and fun.

Sadly, I didn't get much of a chance to test my combat talents from my Edge of the Jedi document.  I may not get a chance to before October, either.  A consequence of gaming with many folks with many interests and obligations is that entire months are booked solid well in advance.  We are talking about running these characters and stats through an old combat encounter over Roll20.  I'd certainly like to do that, if only to see how my talents play out.

One thing that surprised me is how unreliable Force Rating 3 is for generating enough Force Points to run powers without the Jedi having to draw on the Dark Side.  Out of three rolls, I think Tycho had one roll that could activate the power he wanted.  Nicalea had a similar issue, except that her character said "ta hell with it" and flipped that Destiny Point and took that strain and activated her Move power.  It was awesome, and an aspect of her character that never came out before because the player kept thinking more tactically, not narratively.  She was really pleased with this, and I think we're going to see a lot more of Nicaela's dark side.


I built all these characters (from my Fantasy Flight Imports articles) on 300 awarded points, and only dipped into bonus XP from taking on more starting Obligation where it fit and was desperately needed (Nicaela).  That was based on the Beta Rulebook, where the award per session was 15 for a good session, with occasional bonuses for major milestones.  Now the official Core Rulebook lists the session award at 20xp plus the occasional bonus 5xp for milestones.  Jay Little also went so far as to say (on the Order 66 podcast) that a good measure is "5xp per hour of meaningful gaming, where the story is moving along".  He states that your average game session is 75% actual gaming, 25% people BS-ing around and having out-of-game commentary. 

Assuming these numbers, the Order 65 characters are probably closer to 375-400xp.  I'm probably going to end up awarding these additional XP, but not yet.  Not until I get a chance to see how the cahracters play with the stats they have.  I'll let the PCs get used to what they've got and then give them this extra XP to buy what they want.  I may give suggestions if I just couldn't fit in something (like Nicaela's Draw Closer/Niman Mastery ability), but ultimately I'll let them spend it where they want it. 

Man, this post took a lot longer to get out there than I thought.  It's Monday the 29th now; one week after I started working on this document.  Maybe I'll change gears and go into ranty banter on the First of August.  Or maybe I'll do something else entirely.  We'll have to see.

Likes long walks on the beach, candlelight dinners,
and guys who slaughter entire clans of Sandpeople.