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Starfall - Mission report
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udat
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2020 6:37 am    Post subject: Starfall - Mission report Reply with quote

Is this the right place to scrawl some notes on a play session?

My board game buddies and I have wrapped up Tatooine Manhunt, and last night we started Starfall. We are playing using Roll20 while we are all in lockdown because of COVID-19. I've spent more time than I care to admit taking photographs of my Imperial Assault minis to use as tokens in Roll20.

As published, Starfall starts with the players in captivity with no equipment. I didn't want to rob them of all their personal gear, especially as they had received some of it at the conclusion of the previous mission and hadn't even had a chance to use it yet. To get round this, I ran an intro scene where the Alliance commander that gives them this new mission tells them that because they suspect that Wallex is walking into a trap, they want to send the PCs along, dressed as typical aides, as an "ace in the hole". That way the Rebels left their normal gear/weaponry behind to be collected if they survive the mission. One of them is an Ewok, which seemed like an unlikely aide, so he pretended to be Blissex's pet for a bit of a laugh.

Starfall begins proper with the PCs in jail, forcing open the door, and creeping around the detention block in total darkness. I built a map in Roll20 using the advanced fog of war and line of sight engine, so that the PC's light source sensibly revealed only what they could see, and they could see shafts of light from NPC light sources, but not the NPCs or those bits of the map. It worked pretty well and was quite atmospheric. Probably more than running the game "normally." The Rebels managed to over-power the detention block guards (whom they successfully ambushed in the darkness) and steal their kit. Then they recovered Wallex from his cell, fought the Interrogation Droid, and made their way to the turbolift shaft.

This is where I had to get a bit creative with the scenario. As written, the characters have to make an easy "Climb/Strength" roll to negotiate the ladders on the lift shaft walls. I set the difficulty at 6, the lowest end of "Easy", but still, two of my five players failed that check. The Engineer and the Ex-Imp have Str of 2D+1 and 2D+2 and they got 4 and 5. If that initial skill check was failed, the scenario says they need to make an Easy Dex check to catch the ladder, and a Moderate Str check to hold on. Both made their Dex check, but failed their Str rolls (10 on 2D+1 isn't easy). As written, that would have killed those two PCs. Instead, because one only failed the roll by 1, I ruled that they had held on, but sprained/dislocated their shoulder, so that needs to be treated by one of the medically competent players in the near future, and the other plummeted to his apparent doom, only to be caught in the repulsorlift field that the players were due to encounter as they continued their climb down the ladder anyway.

It seems a crazy bit of campaign design to have such a deadly set of tests right at the outset of an adventure, especially when there's a reason why the fall wouldn't be fatal built in to the scenario in the next few paragraphs.

Anyway, I think everyone is having a good time so far. They are having to track ammo usage, and so think about every shot they take, which is fun.
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2020 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe that's WHy they made it 'seem deadly', as they knew it WOULDN'T result in anyone's actual death.
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Whill
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2020 11:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Starfall - Mission report Reply with quote

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Adventures and Campaigns
Discuss, develop, and request help with published or homebrew adventures and campaigns.
udat wrote:
Is this the right place to scrawl some notes on a play session?

Absolutely!

udat wrote:
I think everyone is having a good time so far.

Awesome!

Regarding equipment, I'm very much against the 'D&D equipment list', 'treasure-looting' PCs. Star Wars isn't that kind of game. I do not run dungeon crawls and my Star Wars adventures rarely have survival expeditions out in to the wilderness.

That being said, when the PCs get captured and break out, I usually have all their equipment and weapons in lockers near the jail cells. So they usually get all their stuff back right away. But not always. Every now and then, stuff happens in adventures and all their stuff is just gone forever. I warn my players ahead of time that bogging your PC down with stuff will become a disadvantage at some point and to not get too attached to material things. The only special considerations are for PC-owned starships, droids, and lightsabers. Most everything else is expendable and easily replaceable. You don't see film characters encumbered by stuff on their person. I've ran, many, many, many adventures where some PCs only had a comlink, a few credits, and a good blaster at their side. On the other side of things, if more stuff is needed for an adventure, I do play it fast and loose with equipment that might be stored on the ship. I never bother with keeping an inventory of common items. If it is reasonable that an item the PCs need might be back on the ship, then I often hand wave it into existence there.

Regarding the difficulty of actions, you are realizing an inherent flaw with the system. "Easy" is not easy for average human skill levels. Each die has an average result of 3.5 (without a 1 or 6 on wild die). The difficulty scale was based on multiples of 5s. That's wonky. The reason they made D6 use d6s because you didn't need to buy special dice for the game and you could just raid Yatzee and many board games to get the dice. The reason they made the difficulty levels based on 5s is just so it is easy to remember and the GM doesn't have to look at the chart so much.

To address this, I redesigned the difficulty ranges so that they are based on dice roll averages and not 5s. I find that this makes a good correlation between dice rolls and difficulty numbers and it is easier to plan adventures. Very Easy and Easy relate to 1D and 2D, but after that it goes up 2D at a time, or in other words, it is based on 7s instead of 5s. It doesn't take a whole lot of sessions before it starts to become second nature, so I really think they missed the boat on this aspect of game design. And keep in mind it makes PCs and NPCs more skilled equally, so there isn't a balance issue if you plan things accordingly. Below is a link to the details if you want to check it out.

Redefining Difficulty Levels (number ranges)

udat, I'm looking forward to reading more about your adventures.
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2020 2:32 am    Post subject: Re: Starfall - Mission report Reply with quote

Whill wrote:

That being said, when the PCs get captured and break out, I usually have all their equipment and weapons in lockers near the jail cells. So they usually get all their stuff back right away.


As someone who worked around prisons, that never makes sense to me. That prisoners would have their gear (Especially weapons, armor and the like) be easily stored NEAR Where the prisoners are, so if they ever escaped they'd QUICKLY get them all back.. I can MAYBE see clothing being stored that way, but weapons?! That makes no sense...
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udat
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:35 am    Post subject: Re: Starfall - Mission report Reply with quote

Whill wrote:

Regarding equipment, I'm very much against the 'D&D equipment list', 'treasure-looting' PCs. Star Wars isn't that kind of game. I do not run dungeon crawls and my Star Wars adventures rarely have survival expeditions out in to the wilderness.


I'm very much on the same page, Star Wars isn't a "loot" game at all. When the PCs enter a new location or defeat some bad guys I am training them out of the "we loot the room/strip the bodies" mentality that I think they get from video games. I get it. I am an obsessive looter in video games.

However, the smuggler had his signature Heavy Blaster Pistol, the engineer owns a droid, the Ewok has a spear that he and the engineer put money and skill points into improving, and it seemed mean to rob them of those things. The rest of their gear was generic Blaster Carbines, Grenades, etc. which can easily be replaced. I also wanted them to feel "resource constrained" at the start of the adventure, so that's why I didn't want them to find their equipment in a nearby locker. Plus it's a bit of a cliche Smile
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udat
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
Maybe that's WHy they made it 'seem deadly', as they knew it WOULDN'T result in anyone's actual death.


The module's text says "Anyone who fails this [test] falls to their deaths." which seems pretty final. I preferred "apparent deaths" Smile
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Whill
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2020 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know it doesn't make sense to store weapons near jail cells, but I find that doesn't really bother me that much.

I do admit that several times I've had the weapons near enough to the jail cell so the PC can just find them and we can just move on with the story. But I've also had the PC weapons and equipment nowhere to be found and long gone, never to turn up again. "Hey man, don't get too attached to things."
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udat
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:13 am    Post subject: Starfall - Episode 2 Reply with quote

Last night's session was Episode 2 of Starfall. The Rebels, escorting Wallex Blissex, made their way into the Engineering section of the stricken Star Destroyer, discovered that it was rigged to Self Destruct, and had a few run-ins with Stormtroopers while being taunted by the Imperial Captain.

In the module, as written, Blissex suggests that the players speed up the countdown timer on the Self Destruct, but his motivation for this isn't really clear, because they don't yet know that the self destruct will cause damage to Rebel ships. I was a little worried that they might not care about the destruct sequence and just head straight for the hangar bay to escape, however they surprised me. As soon as they heard that the ship was set to self destruct, they decided that their plan was to wait until the Imperial crew have evacuated, and then attempt to cancel the self-destruct sequence, and then *steal* the Star Destroyer! I was happy to go along with this.

There was also a large combat encounter in a smoke filled room with 10 Stormtroopers, where players had to pass perception checks to locate the Stormtroopers in the room. This worked ok, but I decided that once a target was on the map, it remained there, rather than allowing figures to be obscured by smoke again in subsequent rounds. I also ruled that as soon as a figure was revealed to any figure on the opposing side, that any player could shoot at it, so information was shared perfectly between sides. Trying to manage which Rebel could see which Trooper seemed like a logistical nightmare. Have any of you who have run Starfall done this?
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not really. Had imps launch smoke grenades IN between them and the rebels, cause THEIR helmets would let them see through it.. Players actually PLAYED IT out well, sounding fearful and panic'ed cause of the smoke....
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udat
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 8:41 am    Post subject: Session 3 report Reply with quote

I've been a bit lax in writing up session reports. Which is weird, because I am trapped at home with not a lot else to do!

The Rebels made their way to the engine control core of the stricken Star Destroyer. As written, the Rebel NPC wants to modify the self destruct sequence to make it happen sooner. My Rebels wanted to cancel it completely so they could try to recover the VSD once the Imps evacuated. This played out quite nicely.

I changed the script a bit for the section where Blissex doesn't know how to use a computer. I'd forgotten my own plan to have him temporarily blinded by a gas leak, so instead I decided that the task that he was performing was a two-man task - he was operating one terminal and the engineering-focused PC worked on the other. Working together they discovered that the destruct sequence could not be modified and had to have been initiated by Blissex's daughter. Then, the next trap was sprung.

48 Stormtroopers surround the Rebels, in eight groups of six. Fortunately only two in each group can have line of sight at a time, but there's still a terrifying amount of incoming fire.

As written in the module, the Rebels have to survive for 7 rounds before Blissex comes up with an escape plan (modify the energy fields to act like repulsorlift fields and jump) and I didn't like that for two reasons - one, it's a bit passive if the NPC just rescues them, and two, for those first six rounds, the situation feels a bit too hopeless.

So I decided to have Blissex suggest the solution after the first round of combat, but have his solution take several rounds to implement. The Rebels didn't know how long it would take, but one of them could work to assist him in the modifications to shorten the time. That gave the engineer, who can't shoot for s***, something to do during the combat. I decided on 7 rounds to make the changes, reduced by 1 round for each successful "moderate difficulty" Technical skill roll the engineer made. I think they managed to complete the changes after 4 rounds of combat, which was decent timing because most of the Rebels were at least wounded, and two of the five were heavily wounded by this point. They jumped off the platform and escaped.
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udat
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 9:20 am    Post subject: Session 4 report Reply with quote

The battered and bleeding Rebel group have temporarily shaken off the pursuing Stormtroopers (who think the Rebels are dead) and gather their wits. They have to head towards the hanger deck, which involves traversing a dangerous area with a damaged and leaking energy cell. Luckily, for the first time in the campaign, they find one of the alternative routes, which allows them to avoid that hazardous segment of the journey, and they find a few welcome quiet moments to thoroughly loot a supply store, and heal up a bit.

I've noticed that my Rebels get shot a lot. They are really just starting characters, so typically only rolling ~4D for dodge, assuming they haven't taken any other actions. Stormtroopers are well capable of hitting them, and a Stormtrooper blaster Carbine, rolling 5D damage against their 2D+1 to 3D strength is wounding them (at least) every time they get hit. This means they are burning through medpacs at an incredible rate.

We started this game using 1e rules (with the rules upgrade) and then I introduced the 2e wound system (so added "wounded twice") and then when we were forced to move to playing on Roll20 I adopted the 2e REUP initiative system. I think next on my list is going to be to introduce the use of skill points to add dice to tests. That should allow them to soak up some damage.

Next they make their way through some droid access/maintenance tunnels. They meet an annoying droid who helps them a bit, but mostly just belittles them whenever possible. They defeat an automated defence turret, and then they reach a corridor with part of a crashed Y-Wing protruding into it, and a section with low gravity.

My players are idiots, so they think that something is likely to happen that will mean that they need to use the Y-Wing turret. They decide to send a single PC over to the other side of the Zero-G area to see what's up. They send the Retired Imperial Officer over. He triggers the arrival of six Stormtroopers, and because they only have line of sight on one guy, they all shoot at him. I was expecting him to burn a Force Point to try to survive the round, but I think he forgot about it.

I decided on a difficulty of 10 for the Stormtroopers to hit him (about 50/50 chance of a hit). He can't really dodge, because he's floating weightlessly, carried only by inertia (-2D penalty to dodge, meaning it couldn't benefit him even with a max roll). The first two Troopers both hit him, and each hit wounds him, so he's wounded twice with 4 Troopers still to fire. I really thought he was going to die. Amazingly, and luckily, the next 4 Troopers all genuinely rolled under 10 and missed. This was somewhere I would have fudged the numbers if I had been rolling the dice around the table, and said that a Trooper had missed when he didn't really, to avoid killing a PC, but I genuinely missed all 4 rolls using the dice roller in Roll20.

After that, the PCs didn't have much trouble mopping up the Troopers using the Y-Wing's turret to blast them, because the Brash Pilot has pretty good Starship Gunnery skill.

They use their last medpac to bring the battered PC up to just "wounded" status, and reach the Hangar Bay...
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udat
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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2020 8:24 am    Post subject: Session 5 report Reply with quote

With time running out, the Rebels reach the hangar bays of the Star Destroyer. They are one bay above the main bay where the Imperial Shuttle they need to hijack is being prepped for launch.

They lock the blast doors to frustrate the pursuing Imperial forces, and look around. The bay is filled with thick smoke from a coolant leak in one wall, so they cautiously spread out, finding the vehicle lift to the floor below (which is down, on the lower level) and the controls for the lift. As Blissex activates the controls to raise the lift platform, a squad of Stormtroopers hidden in the smoke opened fire. The Rebels are distracted by the firefight, and just as they are mopping up the last of the Troopers, the captain of the Star Destroyer arrives in an AT-ST. The Rebels hadn't found the environmental controls to clear the smoke by this point, and so did not know there were additional AT-STs they could use deeper into the hangar.

I had the NPC, Blissex, activate the environmental controls to clear the smoke, and the Rebels legged it for the AT-STs. The Imperial Captain, Kolaff, destroyed two of the 4 AT-STs before being distracted by sustained blaster carbine fire from a couple of the Rebels still on foot (which managed to lightly damage the enemy walker) and then the Mechanically capable Rebels got their walkers up and running, and there was a ding-dong battle between Kolaff and two Rebel walkers.

At one stage the Imperial's walker was Ionised for two full turns, and one of the Rebels decided to climb up to walker's top hatch and try to drag Kolaff from the controls. He spent a Force point on a frankly ludicrous series of actions which resulted in him clambering to the roof of the walker and wrestling with the Imperial captain, but the sheer number of actions eventually got the better of him, and he failed the opposed strength roll to see who got tipped off the walker roof.

The Rebels in the other walkers waited for the outcome of this craziness, then poured fire into the walker, bringing it crashing to the ground. Kolaff abandoned his walker, but was disabled as soon as he crawled out of the wreckage by a predatory Ewok. The Rebels decided to take him prisoner, which interestingly the published scenario didn't seem to anticipate as a possibility. Now they just have to steal the shuttle and escape.
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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2020 4:56 am    Post subject: Final session - mission wrap up Reply with quote

I thought that the final session of the Starfall adventure would be very short and easily resolved, but the encounter caused the Rebels some problems.

On paper, it looks pretty trivial - take their AT-ST down to the hangar, blast any Imperial troops between them and the shuttle, and escape.

They descended into the hanger on the vehicle lift and saw the waiting shuttle. Between them and their objective was a group of Imperial Navy Troopers. A better trained and more capable enemy than the Stormtroopers they were used to blasting. At first it looked like it was going to be a relatively simple exercise to clear the bad guys when the AT-ST managed to would 3 of them in the first combat round, but by concentrating fire on the Rebels not protected by the AT-STs armour, and taking cover by the shuttle that the Rebels needed to keep intact, the Imperial Troopers became quite the thorn in the Rebels side. Things went from bad to worse when the Rebel AT-ST driver, living up to his Brash Pilot archetype, got frustrated and tried to use the AT-ST to kick one of the Imperials. He fluffed his piloting roll and brought the AT-ST crashing to the floor in a tangle of metal limbs.

It was looking a bit grim for the Rebels, but judicious use of their last Force Point finally managed to take out the last Navy Trooper, and then a great Command roll by the Retired Imperial Officer convinced the Imperial shuttle pilots to surrender, and the Rebels made their escape.

Overall this was a pretty good module. Some of the encounters lent themselves really well to the Roll20 online environment we were playing in - e.g. when the rebels were surrounded by 48 Stormtroopers. I couldn't have represented that as nicely on the tabletop as I could on Roll20.
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Whill
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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2020 6:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Final session - mission wrap up Reply with quote

That sounds like a tense climax in the adventure. Awesome! Thanks again for sharing these.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 6:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Starfall - Mission report Reply with quote

udat wrote:


My board game buddies and I have wrapped up Tatooine Manhunt, and last night we started Starfall. We are playing using Roll20 while we are all in lockdown because of COVID-19. I've spent more time than I care to admit taking photographs of my Imperial Assault minis to use as tokens in Roll20.

I built a map in Roll20 using the advanced fog of war and line of sight engine, so that the PC's light source sensibly revealed only what they could see, and they could see shafts of light from NPC light sources, but not the NPCs or those bits of the map. .


I'm also a Roll20 user, would it be too much to ask to see or share your maps for when my players do Starfall? It's your call, my friend but it would be great to see your maps at least.
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