Friday, March 21, 2014

GenCon Module: Rapid Development

Today I learned something new, or tried.  I finally learned how to set up Blogger so I can write the post, send it to Blogger as an email, and have it turn that email into a draft.  This will hopefully circumvent the problems I've been having updating the blog from work, where the work computers won't interface with Blogger because they purposefully have to keep IE at an earlier version than 90% of the frikkin' Internet.
That's the way it should have worked, anyway.  The problem is the email address must not be set up right, because the blog post I emailed to the address I selected has yet to show up in my Drafts list.  Oh well, better a day late than not at all.
But I digress...
Last week when I posted about a module idea for GenCon (and learned that the spellchecker on my tablet needs work).  Since that post, it's been like the creative floodgates in my mind have opened and development ideas are flowing out onto the proverbial (computer) page.  It's been crazy; I blink and there's a new scene, a new idea, a new encounter that I don't think has ever been done before in Star Wars.
It should be, as my brother said when he read about the premise, "HI-larious".
Forming Ideas
I wanted to write something "fun".  I don't often write games that specifically are designed to take place in single sessions, but for GenCon this is pretty much a requirement.  I may be able to run this once, or I might get the chance to run it several times.  Either way, I want to squeeze it in to a 4 hour block; the standard gaming block for Con Games, as I've encountered it.
So the game needs a set-up, a few encounters, and a finish, all in four hours or less (hopefully, not much less).
The idea I had for the party was simple, yet elegant; the PCs are the Companions from the heroes of Star Wars The Old Republic.  Originally, I was going to just use the "romantic interest" characters, and pull them from all four Republic Classes (sorry, Empire-lovers, no Sith-side characters in this adventure).  That would have given a decent swath of characters to chose from.  It seemed balanced, initially.  There are two damage-dealing Jedi-characters (Kira and Nadia), two healers (Doc and Elara), two tanks (Corso and Irreso), and two ranged damage dealers (Aric and Risha). 
Each player would choose one of the heroes and play the "spouse" of that character; and that's where it went wrong.  While it looks balanced, in actual character selection could miss out on key roles for survival.  In one example, we could end up without any healers if the Knight player selected Kira instead of Doc and the Trooper player Aric instead of Elara. Also, from a set-up standpoint it seemed a little convoluted to have the spouses of the Heroes of the Republic all conveniently hanging out together while their husbands and wives are all off on some grand adventure they can't go on.  That's when the next idea popped into my head that presented a solution.  A big, work-intensive solution.
The PCs wouldn't be drawn from all the heroes, they'd be the companions of one of the heroes.
Each hero has five companions...okay, six if you count C2-N2. 
...fine, seven if you include HK-51, but lets forget him...and Treek, the Ewok.  *sighs*  Fine, I'll get specific...
Each hero has five main companions; a damage dealing melee character, a damage dealing ranged character, a ranged tank, a melee tank, and a healer.  That, right there, is a balanced combat party.  Add to this that each of these characters have a fully fleshed out backstory, as well as stats that grant bonuses to certain skills in-game.  These give us valuable insights into the non-combat skills they might possess in a Table-top game.  For example, Aric grants crit bonuses to Diplomacy missions, which tells me he's probably got some Negotiate or Coerce in his skill tree.  Sgt. Rusk has led squads of troops, which hints at Leadership.  Tharan is a brilliant scientist, qualifying him for Knowledge skills.  Risha hid out with smugglers and crime-lords, and likely picked up a lot of Streetwise.
And how do we get these PCs together?  They already are!  It makes a lot more sense for the Hero to be away from his or her ship, and have their entire crew left behind and available for a potential adventure while the Trooper is off fighting against Korugga the Hutt, or the Jedi Knight is off attacking the Maelstrom Prison for the umpteenth time.  Since all the Flashpoints and Operations in SWTOR show the heroes being transported to their mission by a third party, they've even given me an excuse to explain why the Companions have the Hero's ship.
The Premise
So where does this being?  It begins on Carrick station, the most likely point where the Hero is called away by the Republic, and their companions can relax and await their return.
The ship's communicator sparks to life, presenting the logo from the Office of the Supreme Chancellor.  Accepting the transmission, the Chancellor herself appears, seemingly relieved she reached the Hero's ship.  She says that a situation has arisen that could mean the end of the Republic, or at least the loss of countless lives.  She needs the Hero to undertake a mission to Nar Shadda, and discovers from the Companions that the Hero is currently unavailable.  Out of time and luck, the Chancellor concedes that the Hero's Companions have proven resourceful in the past, and may be strong enough to save the Republic...not that she has any other options.
The companions take their ship to Nar Shadda where they dive into the seedy underbelly of the criminals and evil-doers of the galaxy, attempting to complete a mission that pits them against cartels, crime lords, and even agents of the Empire.
Sounds like fun, huh?
The only problem is that I don't just want to choose one hero and make a set of NPCs for that one crew. I mean, I could make it a Havoc Squad mission and stat out just those characters. I'm sure it would be fun, but I'd wonder how the Jedi Knight's team would complete the mission. Or the Smugglers. Or the Consulars. So why not stat out all the companion crews, and leave it to either group consensus or random chance to see which crew the players get to portray?
Which means I get to come up with stats for 20 possible PCs!
I must be insane.
So expect the next few weeks...possibly be filled with stats for Yuun, Doc, Qyzen, M1-T4, Bow'daar, and all the rest of the companions.  And maybe even a surprise or two.
Hey, it's a project.  I can write about my projects.


  1. Good news Phil! You can skip Corso. Nobody wants Corso. Nobody. Especially not with that damned grappling gun*.

    *That should be some sort of special sign, you remember when Corso had a grappling gun.

    1. But that's half the fun of character selection; finding out who gets picked last. It's like galactic dodgeball, or something.

    2. I should totally give Corso a grappling gun, too...