Joined: 28 Aug 2020
|Posted: Fri Dec 11, 2020 9:59 am Post subject:
|Ok, here is a brief run down of the last 2 sessions. We are playing weekly thru Roll/20 for about 3 to 4 hours, so we manage a couple of scenes per session at most (long gone are my days and nights of 6 to 8 hrs of continuous RPGing).
We started with the hyperspace jump out of Shesharile towards Travnin. The Duro pilot had botched the astrogation roll and then hyperdrive malfunction, resulting in double travel time for main hyper and destruction of the backup one. We roleplayed the malfunction: I sounded the alarm, made them do checks to stabilize the hyperdrive and such and then they assessed the damage. Crew bickered around whose fault was it, from the Duro’s calculations to the droid maintenance of the ship.
The main hyper going from x2 to x4 speed put the pressure on the team because they were supposed to pick up cargo in Travnin and return to Shesharile in a few days’ time, so fast repairs in Travnin were in order. Luckily, it is the one planet in the system were it’s easiest to get spare parts and such.
To begin correcting some past weak points, I fleshed out Travnin more, mainly “importing” the Byblos 214 spaceport tower from Platt’s starports, using its visuals and background info, just reducing the scale quite a bit (30 lvls of hangars instead of 300 and such). It really worked. The Byblos drawings and scale felt impressive. The visual are extremely important when playing remote. It gave them a sense of Star Wars scale and of Imperial might (I placed an ISD in orbit too, because, why not? Gotta run Starfall sometime 😉 ).
On the way in I had them experience a near miss crash with a corporate bulk freighter called the Sagittarius and started some radio bantering and insults between the crews, as to set up a later fight. When they landed, they where routinely inspected by imperial customs and had to bribe the officer as to speed the inspection before he smelled the burnt hyperdrive. I also made the Cathar wear a “slave” tag to comply imperial safety protocols and to keep reinforcing the anti-imperial sentiment.
On the landing area, they spotted the Sagittarius crew unloading, and the doctor decided to prank them. He prepared a whisky-based cocktail with a strong dose of laxative and walked in to “make peace between the crews”. He rolled nicely in the charming and persuasion and had an antidote for him at hand. The foundation of a persistent enmity was solidified with that.
Then they went to business. Duro and droid went for hyperdrive spare parts, the rest to deliver both the regular cargo and the contraband. Some nice rolls and I sped up this part. Then they waited for the signal of the contact to pick up the “special” crate that they neede to haul back to Shesharile. That finally came and sent them to the lower levels of the Starport tower, where I had located the “Grand Design” spacer’s cantina from the book. Skipping the “revolving” theme, I described it as a nice colorful cantina full of colleagues.
When they were chatting with the contact, the crew of the Sagittarius came in and sat down. I described how the whole cantina went silent, music stopped, and everyone simply looked at the “corporate scum” in a mean way. They threatened to star a fight but then all spacers were on their feet at once so they took the cue and left, but before the noticed the doctor (who failed miserably in trying not to get noticed) and threatened him that he would pay for the previous “drink”.
Then they followed the contact to a shady warehouse and he gave them the “mystery crate”, with strict instructions not to open it and to be careful not to damage or be rough with it, and of course, not to be found by any third parties. Questions about its content were left unanswered.
On the way back to the hangar, I tried to run the combat encounter. I say I tried because it went badly from the beginning. I was expecting to run a simple fistfight to help learn the combat rules and give the Cathar martial artist spotlight time. Basically had the crew of the Sagittarius ambush them in one of the corridors of the lower levels.
It was a mess. First, it was already very late (about 2AM) so sleep was kicking in. But specially, I had no map: I tried to run it descriptively like in “theater of the mind” way. It was very bad, it felt disconnected, with just some random rolls when the initiative pass came to each player. It did not help that everyone but the Cathar had low brawling scores, so a lot of fails and misses. Was trying to describe both the fight scene and explain the fighting rules. After about ½ an hour I called the night and session was over.
For next session I did my homework. I set up a map with tokens on roll20, including a small cheat sheet with basic combat rules info like move and ranged combat rules and modifiers. When the game started, I dialed back and started the combat from scratch, telling them they had all their weapons and armor (but no grenades, to keep it simple) and that while the ruckuses with other crews were usually fistfights, we would run a full blaster combat to get the hang of it.
It worked brilliantly. The map allowed them to do tactical decisions like move for cover, look for lines of fire, use the move rules, etc. The opposition was numerous but not very professional: corporate spacers with 3D in blasters and no armor, and basically no dodging, only using range and cover from defense. It ran for about 3 or 4 rounds and played smoothly: the chars quickly thinned down the opposition with good shooting while dodging and covering from incoming fire. The Cathar moved into melee and pulled some great moves and used his martial arts maneuvers. Even when I was explaining all the movement, shooting and damage rules as we went, combat was quite fluid. In the end, the combat scene did its job. Takeaway: I’m really going to need to map the combat encounters… something I hoped I would avoid but now seems inevitable.
After the combat scene, they finished repairing the main hyperdrive but decided to skip the backup drive replacement, despite my warning as GM. They needed to get back to shesharile ASAP to meet the deadline. They rolled to find some cargo to haul and I gave them a mid-profit run to Karideph, so they could drop the “mystery crate” in Shesharile as a side stop.
They took off from Travnin and were about to plot their jump when they were hailed by an imperial corvette with others to kill its engines and get ready to be boarded. Mini panic ensued. When it happened, Babel Torsh came on board, showing impeccable imperial efficiency with a side order of full platoon of stormtroopers. The doctor character, a former imperial, got into a nice chat with him. I had Torsh say “I noticed a newly registered VCX100 in the system and I couldn’t resist my curiosity in finding out If I was not seeing a ghost… but alas, you don’t look like a female twilek, captain”. Half my players got the reference, hehehe, and I told the Duro player that his character got it too. Still, Torsh had the cargo fully scanned but the “scanner resistant secret compartment” the players had purchased remained undetected. The “mystery crate” was safe. So off they went, and with a non-botched astrogation they jumped towards Shesharile.
Next session should be about surviving the pirate attack and delivering the “mystery crate”, and that’s a wrap on this “tramp freighters intro adventure”.
Some notes, ideas and questions for next session:
I’m still undecided about what’s on the “mystery crate”. The players all seem content to leave it alone, so it could be simple as that, yet that feels like a wasted opportunity. I have a rough idea of it transporting some live specimen that the Cathar could manage to sense thru the Force while training. Might give him pause in trying to find out more. Maybe have the “cargo” sedated or on statis as to not reveal much of it’s “feelings”. I decided against a “sentient” creature as to avoid the slavery “dilemma” and use it later. What else could the crate hold? Please, not a Baby Yoda 😉.
I also welcome any ideas on spicing up the delivery in Shesharile, as to not have it be a simple drop off and good bye. Still, the main course of the night should be the space combat, as described below. It might happen before or after arriving in Shesharile, probably before, as to play it early in the night. Then again, ending the session with combat might be better.
For the space combat, I plan on using the ideas shared in previous posts: have them drop from hyperspace because pirates are using an old clone war era piece of interdictor-like equipment. When the come out they will find that another light freighter is about to be boarded after being ionized and getting caught in the pirate frigate´s tractor beam. A squadron of Z95 headhunters immediately head their way with ion weapons ready. They need to get away from the frigate in order to jump away, while avoiding being ionized by the headhunters. But they could also risk it and try to help the almost trapped freighter, and become heroes in the process.
The players chose for their ship a VCX100 and companion shuttle and used a good chunk of starting credits in the shuttle’s weapons and maneuverability: it’s well on it’s way to become a starfighter. The Duro might jump in the shuttle and try to blow the tractor beam, freeing the freighter, but he needs to get close, below the ship´s shields to get a chance to one-shot it. Maybe they will try to do it in the VCX instead. Besides the Duro and the Astromech, no one is really trained piloting or gunnery (and there is a good chance the droid player might miss next session). So if the Duro goes “brash pilot” in the shuttle, the rest are really going to sweat it in trying to survive the space combat in one piece. If they manage to help the freighter out, It’s captain will become a lifelong ally and friend, to be fleshed out more later. If they escape without helping, word will spread they failed to help a collegue. If they get trapped, then I will have to create a follow up session dealing with the boarding scene and such. I hope they will manage to both escape and free the freighter, that would be a satisfactory ending to the intro adventure.
After the fiasco that was the first combat, I dread the space fight to suffer the same fate, specially if it all falls in the Duro’s hands and the rest simply roll some random gunnery now and then. So I’m preparing a “space combat” map in Roll20 and will try to use the full regular Star Wars rules for starships. It’s squared grid, about 115 x 115 squares, so plenty of room for flying and maneuvering, taking into account that the ships could easily move 20 to 40 squares per turn. No asteroids or debris this time, and of course 2D. Each grid square will be 1 “space movement unit”, several hundred meters big, so no collisions and such save for mishaps.
I have no idea what a good challenge would be for the players… they have a stock VCX and shuttle, the latter with a 5D laser gun and extra maneuverability. I was considering using the Pirate Corvette stats from the “Pirates of Prexiar” adventure and about 4 regular Z95 headhunters with Ion weapons, maybe ion missiles, as to allow them to try to shoot them down as a reaction? The Duro pilot is very skilled in piloting and gunnery (8D each), but the rest of the crew will be sporting about 2D to 3D in those skills (defaulting to attribute most surely). I might also give them temporary control of the NPC light freighter if they manage to free it as to give them more options. Is this a fair, challenging fight? Do I need to ramp up or scale down the NPCs? Some other tips and ideas for running this encounter? Do I need to read “pirates and privateers before Tuesday?
I want it to be s fun and challenging space combat, having the players really on their toes but ultimately succeed. Please, help me do it!
This needed up being nothing like a “brief rundown”… sorry for the wall of text, thank you for reading and for your input and ideas.
I’m one with the force
The force is my ally