GM Notes - Adventure 2

The second adventure took place over two gaming sessions and saw the introduction of two player characters that came in for cameo roles. I used the Tales of the Jedi sourcebook from West End Games and the Dark Side Sourcebook from WotC to develop this adventure.

In this adventure, I wanted to foreshadow some possible future game events (beyond just the next door) and I wanted to start to demonstrate that some of the mercenary or pirate groups active in the galaxy weren’t all they seemed. Along those lines, it would be an adventure that would provide the player characters some clues while the party achieved at least a few objectives in their own self interest. As a result of the players’ choices in the first adventure, in terms of who they were aligning with, I’d also basically worked out the most likely direction the game would go. To this end, I had envisioned a scene that I wanted to reach, and I was pretty confident we’d get there through me making adventures that would hook the players. I’d create adventures the players would probably want to go on and thus the illusion of choice would be maintained.

For the previous three Star Wars campaigns I’d run, I’ve designed every segment of play to reach an epic conclusion, sort of like the big scenes at the ends of the Star Wars films. Each time, I’d imagined a scene that I wanted to reach and then I’d set about weaving a universe and a framework of events that would eventually funnel to that point. It does seem like railroading when you flat out say, “we are going to get here,” and you point to a very specific point or mental image, but in the end, it’s critical to maintain the illusion of choice and many of the particulars (exact time, exact place, exact circumstances, etc…) of the scene are mostly able to be flexible. The reasons for the characters to ultimately be at the end may be different than I envision when we reach the end of the game, but the end will come.

In this case, I had decided to involve some unique temporal mechanics in the first part of the campaign as tech that the Sith were going to be researching and which they’d eventually use to launch their assault on the galaxy in earnest. I had envisioned a battle within this time stop phenomena taking place in or around the Jedi Temple between our heroes and a number of possible Sith antagonists. Because this is what the bad guys’ early campaign goal was (use time stop to perform a decapitation attack on the Republic/Jedi), I needed to set the party within that framework, so I would start to set that up with this adventure as well. In the meantime, the Sith were mostly collecting something I’d dubbed Illithium ore as part of their technology research and that facet of their operation would be the visible clues to the secret ongoing project.

I figured I might bring the players into possible contact with these research efforts from time to time during the course of their adventures and give them the chances to delay them, interfere with them, or at the very least be able to put the pieces together and be in the right place at the right time to be heroes when it mattered. This adventure on Cathar was the first such adventure where I’d brush the heroes against the bad guys’ operations during a mission.

Another decision at this time was that I needed a Sith undercover in the Jedi Temple. It would have to be someone powerful and someone that joined the Order as an “independent” after his childhood. I knew that the Brotherhood of Darkness was around at this point, but I didn’t want to transplant someone directly from it to within the Jedi Order, so instead I decided to make it someone that had the potential to become a Lord of the Sith. At the time, I weighed it over, and decided I had a ready-made Jedi that I could adapt to the role without much trouble at all since I hadn’t demonstrated much of his powers. I decided to go with Quintis Morgan, the NPC Jedi Knight from the first adventure as my insider. In the end, when he would turn on the Jedi, I knew it would really invest the players’ emotions into the game against him. For now though, he would maintain his undercover role and I’d continue to develop his background and the bad guys’ activities more fully.

Putting all of this together, I was going to send the heroes on a diplomatic mission to Cathar during which they’d stumble on the ancient underground ruins of a Sith magician that had perfected what effectively amounted to the “time stop spell” from D&D. This magician had used it as a defense mechanism in his demesne, but he had long since perished and this place was long since forgotten. The ruins still had a number of its defenses in place, including a “time stop” trap to catch intruders at a certain point near the heart of it all. In the meantime, some dark side acolytes were going to be around and they’d be prospecting for more Illithium in these same mountains and underground caverns on Cathar. As it would turn out, an encounter with these acolytes did not happen directly, but the players did at least get the impression that some mysterious people were around. In the end, with the players discovering the time-stop effects somehow, and living to tell of it, I knew that the Sith would eventually learn of this time stop location, either directly from the acolytes on hand or through the player characters’ own mission reports to their Jedi ally, Quintis the secret Sith agent. The stage was basically set for the second layer of events, so I then went on to the primary layer which was outlining an adventure within the framework of these starting premises.

A note on the time stop effect. It’s not a spell at all in this Star Wars game, at least not at the moment. It is merely a technology that can slow down the local time of a region dramatically without displacing it entirely from its relative position in space time. The particulars of how exactly it would work, or whether or not it’s completely impossible in a sci-fi setting weren’t important to me. I was relying heavily on the fantasy-to-sci-fi merged themes of Star Wars to carry this particular item and I was going to iron out complications later, such as how to operate within such an area or how to interface with such an area. This gets into some metaphysical decisions that aren’t as important as the feature as a plot device. For now it was just a concept and a plot device mostly.

This adventure was centered on taking a new job from Senator Lohk to conduct a diplomatic mission to Cathar so that the Republic could establish a greater presence there with a new and larger spaceport. I was going to put two factions on Cathar that disagreed over this, resulting in the need for a diplomatic mission to assist one faction with convincing the other that the spaceport is needed. I was hoping Joh-Kel’s diplomatic background and Sebastian’s primitive culture background, along with Tyson’s frontier-world upbringing would all lend themselves to this adventure. The Senator’s private ambition was to get the Republic to invest infrastructure in a lightly defended world the Sith planned to conquer near the outset of the invasion to come.

Note that at this time, neither the Senator or Quintis has an overtly hostile intentions for the party. The Senator regards them as resources to be employed and whom he hopes to build into personnel that he can trust with his secret motives someday if they prove able and willing. Quintis regards them much the same, except he is alert for any potential to turn the Jedi among the party. At this time he estimates the chances to be low, but he was willing to let it play out for a bit to see if he could discover a way to plant seeds of doubt in either Jedi someday.

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GM Notes - Adventure 2

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