When I open up my word doc and see the adventure outline for my GenCon Module displayed before me, and I get to those several pages of stats for the 20 PC characters, I feel like I should have a much larger sense of dread than I do. Like I should feel that it's some kind of Herculean task that I have to surmount. Instead, I actually have a sense of excitement and anticipation. I'm cobbling together new ideas, and figuring out what stats work best for which characters. It's fun; I like working on projects such as this.
And this one should take up a lot of time, that's for sure.
To recap; I'm writing a one-shot module for play at GenCon where the Players assume the roles of the companion characters to a storyline hero from Star Wars: The Old Republic. Since I want the players to have an option which heroic team they portray, I'm adapting all twenty Republic companion characters to Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion, my own Edge of the Jedi document, or a combination there of.
For the past two weeks, I've been going through the various books as well as my copy of the Old Republic Encyclopedia. That book has been an invaluable tool and resource for this project, and will continue to be so well into it's final draft.
A Matter of Scale
First point I decided upon (or maybe realized very quickly) was that all of these characters will not be created equal. I'm not giving these avatars a set amount of XP and that's it, or making sure they all have a certain spread of stats. Many of them do, but it's more important to me that each character be able to fill the role they had in the game. There were five roles that each hero had a companion that fulfilled it; Melee Damage Dealer, Melee Tank, Ranged Damage Dealer, Ranged Tank, and Medic. A nice "Class Pentagon" as it is. Each team met each of these roles in different ways. Sure, there were some pretty close parallels, like Kira Carsen and Nadia Grell both being Melee Damage Dealers with their saberstaffs, light armor, and Force powers, or Aric Jorgan and Sergent Krusk with their Assault Cannons for Ranged Damage Dealing, but even between those pairings there are differences when I put them together. Aric is a by-the-book leader who cares for his team, and is used to interactions with commanding officers while Krusk is nearly a sociopath who will sacrifice himself and his team if it means completing the mission. These translated into different social and background skills. They may look similar at first glance when I post them, but there are differences.
Then you get into the role that has the widest disparity of resolution; the Medic. First there's Doc, an actual doctor. Easy, right? Same with Elara Dorne from Havoc Squad; give her the Medic spec from the Soldier career and she's good to go. Tharan Cederax is a puzzle; he's a scientist, and a genius one who works more with computers than biology. Probably picked up his medical training while studying cybernetics. Or maybe because it was a Tuesday; he's kinda brilliant like that. Guss Tuno is a conundrum; a Force Sensitive charlatan who's been running con games on various worlds. I almost wonder if he's healing the Smuggler's companions by Mind Tricking them into thinking they're fine.
So while I put together the four teams, I had to look at the character's most-likely Specialization(s) in the Role Playing Game, and in some cases jam in skills that allowed them to fulfill their role in the "Pentagon". I can foresee that some teams are going to have an easier time of it. Sessions with Havoc Squad should have combats that go a lot easier for them than ones for the Smugglers, but maybe not as the Smuggler team will have some tricks and options that Havoc Squad doesn't. We'll have to see; that's what play-testing is for, right?
Another thing I have to do is make sure every character has something to do; a moment to shine. For some, it may just be that they're awesome at combat. I'm still looking for clues in their backgrounds and in the Crew Skill Bonuses they provide the Hero in SWTOR for ideas. Aric, for instance, gives a +2 bonus to Critical Rolls for Diplomacy in The Old Republic. That tells of good social skills of some sort. Not sure if it'll be Leadership, or Negotiation. Charm doesn't seem right for him, and it's certainly not Deception. It's a work in progress, but I'll see what hole is missing in Havoc Squad and see if Aric's diplomatic nature can help.
But that's the sort of thing I'm looking for; seeing when each character can have the "I can do that!" moment. There's the possibility for a couple speeder chases in this adventure, so who's got the Piloting (Planetary) skill? Who's going to be best at it? Who do we have for Mechanics? Or Computers? Who knows the Underworld and the Outer Rim, and who's got the know-how to listen to the word on the street with Streetwise.
I've got five characters on each team, so I've got some room to stretch out.
The Force is With You (yes, even you Guss...)
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that each team has a Force Sensitive in their party. I've only played the Trooper to Chapter 2, and my Smuggler is still on Ord Mantell so I had no clue that later companions were Force sensitive. This opens up a wide variety of opportunities for players to influence the game with the Force. The Knight's party lucks out by having two Force users, but there's the potential for an unusual quirk to one of them; Scourge is a Dark-Sider. He SHOULD be rolling Force Dice and using the Dark Side results to power his Force powers. I plan to test it that way and see how it goes. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't.
Again; that's what testing is for.
There's very little overlap with the Force Powers. Kira seemed to fit best with Enhance and Sense, while Scourge just felt like he should have Move and Foresee (makes sense for anyone who's read the novel Revan). Nadia has Move, and Influence. Yuun has Sense and Enhance like Kira, while Guss has Influence and Foresee, but not a heck of a lot of either. More evidence of "All character are not created equal". As long as they're all fun to play, however, it should work regardless of any disparities in spent XP.
Fluffernutters and Crunch Bars
That's enough for design theory for this post. I'm sure some of you want to see what I've come up with on my first pass for PCs. If anyone out there has played the storylines for these Companions and notice any huge oversights, let me know. I forgot that Scourge had the Foresee power until I was writing this very post, so I'm certainly not perfect in my memory of Star Wars fluff. I'm going to post soon after this one and have it exclusively for one of my player parties. I figure we'll all be able to find them better in my post history if I can zero in on a post title that identifies "Havoc Squad", or "The Voidhound's Crew".
Let's get this started, shall we?