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Lit Fragments from the Rim: A look at Galaxy Guide 9 w/ Charlemagne19

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Charlemagne19, Dec 6, 2016.

  1. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 30, 2000
    Inspired by "We have to go on an adventure with Jello" thread, I thought I would take a moment to talk about the greatest RPG supplement of all time: Galaxy Guide 9: Fragments from the Rim. It's probably one of the single most influential supplements in Star Wars history and yet a lot of people have never heard of it.

    [​IMG]

    I have used this supplement on hundreds of occasions and I'm even now starting another West End Games d6 campaign with this as a basis for the characters. I invite any other owners of the supplement to read along with me and also newcomers as while I didn't finish my Legacy thread, I think I can certainly finish this one.

    Before we begin, though, I'd like to answer a question which many of you may be asking: "Why this supplement?" Well, in addition to creating the Inquisition and other ascended RPG elements, the biggest benefit of the book is that it is absolutely chock full of FLAVOR. Stuff which wasn't just Bounty Hunters, Rebels, Imperials, and Smugglers--though we have lots of that too as Watto would say.

    Most of all, Fragments from the Rim gave me a sense of what it would be like to live in the Outer Rim territories and inspired my love of the frontier which lived far away from the corrupt bright center of the universe.
     
  2. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    Before we begin, I should point out what the Galaxy Guides were all about. Before the Adventure Journals existed, they were basically gazeteers pumped out by West End Games which would contain information about various subjects in the Star Wars universe. They ranged from the very good (The Empire Strikes Back and Mos Eisley supplements) to the very bad (Yavin 4 - there's literally nothing there as Kevin J. Anderson hadn't put Sith there yet).

    West End Games was always at it's best when they had a largely free hand to develop material so the sourcebooks which benefited the players best had either very broad subjects of underdeveloped subjects. The Mos Eisley sourcebook, for example, talked about the corrupt police force, arrogant Prefect, numerous down-and-outers, and just why it was a universal pond of scum (and villainy).

    Fragments from the Rim, by contrast, talked about a subject which was always mentioned in Star Wars games but never really dealt with in the Outer Rim. It was a broad enough idea that they could shove in anything and what they chose to shove in was, "Stuff which Gamemasters can throw into their games and use."

    Introduction

    The Introduction says this is basically a sourcebook of stuff which to throw into your campaigns as I've just stated. Things like Guilds, News Networks, Villains, Heroes, and bits of flavor like Jedi training techniques. We then go into a discussion of the Outer Rim territories and state that it's a "Ending of the Wild West" period in the Outer Rim territories with the fact that it used to be completely unregulated but the Empire as well as new trade routes have started to civilize things. Indeed, Core Worlders occasionally take vacations to the Outer Rim territories to "get away from it all."

    Of course, this was prined in 1993 so it's long before the Clone Wars and the idea of vast Trade Federations, Banking Clans, and Geonosian Droid manufacturers has not entered the public eye. As far as this book is concerned, the Outer Rim territories really are a huge backwater nobody wants to visit and generally impoverished. This is very much the kind of book Joss Whedon would have drawn from for his vision of Firefly with the Browncoats vs. Alliance.

    Timeline wise, the book states that it is between A New Hope and the Empire Strikes Back. There's still Jedi running around the universe according to the book but they're being actively hunted by Darth Vader and his cronies. The Rebel Alliance has scored its first big victory but it's trying to capitalize on it and not really suceeding as the Empire reals from its defeat. The big deal is that the Empire's position is weak in the Outer Rim with widespread Rebel sympathy so the players can make a real difference as the Empire isn't in a position to retaliate with its full force.

    Yet.
     
  3. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

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    Jan 3, 2013
    This book is honestly one of my favorite things WEG ever did.
     
  4. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    Can't wait for your input!

    :)
     
  5. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    Title Picture

    There's a picture which is later re-used for the Corellian Merchant's Guild. I think it's adorable just because of flower pot guy.
    [​IMG]

    Chapter One: The Rebel Alliance

    The first section of the book is the Rebel Alliance! Which is weird for reasons which will only make sense if you know WEG in detail. The odd thing about them is, and I kid you not, the majority of supplements kind of ignored they existed.

    I don't know if I was the Traveler roots of the game or something else but the majority of West End Games campaign advice always tried to steer you away from actually being part of the Rebellion. You were encouraged, instead, to be tramp freighter captains. I think someone said it best by saying, "When playing West End Games, you had the choice of being Han Solo or Han Solo when he's working with the Rebellion."

    Characters were encouraged to AFFILIATED with the Rebellion but in a loose, "Too cool for school" sort of way. This chapter, ironically, was probably up there with the Rebel Alliance Sourcebook for actually giving the Gamemasters enough information to run a game where you were full-time anti-government guerillas.
    It also, unfortunately, focused primarily on creating NPCs which were heroes in their own right. As any good Gamemater will tell you, the primary use of heroic NPCs in RPGs are to die so you can look good.

    This is, as a result, the chapter I used least in the game.

    This chapter will also suffer from the fact WEG had one poor flaw, which was the fact that it really was uncomfortable with player characters being "relevant" to the rest of the galaxy in the way the major NPCs were. This book actually goes a long way to correcting this but the books seemed generally designed to handle Darth Vader, Luke, and other "named" NPCs to be so far above you that killing them was nigh impossible even with the fact you only had to beat their STR score by 15 or so to kill them.

    For Dungeons and Dragons fans, most players were expected to be 5th-7th level in WEG while they made people like Luke and Vader 20th level. As such, prior to this book, it was basically your player characters versus a bunch of Imperial Captain Keystone Cops and Bounty Hunters versus say, Darth Vader. This will also apply to NPCs on the allied side as we'll see with our first character.
     
  6. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    Corwin Shelvay

    [​IMG]

    Note: Corwin is actually in his late twenties, he's just seriously been worked over by the Empire.

    Corwin Shelvay is one of the few characters from the Rebel Alliance chapter I've used, even if I haven't used him much. At the risk of denegrating an actually interesting character, Corwin is the Poor Man's Obi-Wan KenobiTMthe same way High Inquisitor Tremayne (who will go on to inspire the Grand Inquisitor of "Rebels") is the Poor Man's Darth VaderTM. This isn't to say that Corwin Shelvay isn't an interesting and dynamic character but he's the Rhona Mitra when you can't get Kate Beckinsale--not that I wouldn't mind having either.

    Basically, one of the things player character Jedi run into during the "Dark Times" era is the fact that they're usually self-taught or had some very minor Jedi training early on or are failed Jedi Knights. They want to be Jedi Knights like Luke Skywalker but if you actually introduce a Jedi Knight like Obi-Wan Kenobi then you immediately run the risk of making them the main character and you have questions like, "So why don't Obi-Wan and Yoda team up to kill the Emperor?"
    You know, the things we've all asked.

    Corwin Shelvay is meant to be the answer to that question as he's what would later be considered a "Jedi Padawan who never completed his training." Indeed, his history is very similar to what would later be the history of Kanan. Indeed, you could well consider Kanan to be what you would get if you combined Corwin Shelvay and Kyle Katarn with a heavier leaning on KK because KK is awesome.

    Corwin's story is a LITTLE off-kilter timeline wise because the Prequels didn't exist yet. According to the story, his Sullustan Jedi Master Darrin Arkanian recruited him as an apprentice (when he was an adult) soon after the Empire rose into power and started hunting Jedi. Darrin taught Corwin most of the fundamentals of being a Jedi Knight but far from enough to actually BE a Jedi Knight. Eventually, Corwin was captured by High Inquisitor Tremayne and Darrin rescued him but at the cost of his life. Corwin gave into the Dark Side and brutalized Tremayne with his lightsaber before running off to join the Alliance.

    This backstory never really sat right with me because it makes Corwin into Tremayne's archenemy more than a PC's. However, I always took the view Corwin is meant to be someone who will teach the PCs the rudiments of being a Jedi Knight (he has 3d in Control and Sense -- i.e. the bare minumum you need to teach someone ANYTHING but nothing in Alter) as well as their philosophy before being killed by Tremayne in a showdown. Thus, of course, giving the PCs a reason to want to avenge him.

    Corwin's skills are higher than a starting PC but not really disruptive and I give the developers credit for that. There's also another character tied to his backstory, Elena Shelvay, who basically is a perfect character for a love interest for male (or inclined females) as well as heavily tied into this storyline. Another good note is Corwin is a RECRUITER for the Rebellion and not the kind of guy who goes up and blows things up himself.

    Charlemagne19's Note: In my games, I actually made it a note Corwin Shelvay and Luke Skywalker knew each other and exchanged notes. Corwin provided Luke with a good deal of information on the Jedi Knights as a history and some meager saber training which combined with his telekinesis training from that woman from Splinter of the Mind's Eye. Corwin in my "canon" game, made it out of the Rebellion and was a student of the Jedi Academy along with his sister.
     
  7. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

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    Nov 28, 2000
    Cool thread -- one piece of advice. Like Hav does with his thread, I'd consider spacing out your posts so people have time to read/react/discuss.

    Including me. I had a response written to your first post but now you're way ahead of me. :p


    Missa ab iPhona mea est.
     
  8. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

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    Jan 3, 2013
    To be honest, it's hard to consider this a flaw when your players shouldn't be killing Darth Vader in the first place.
     
  9. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    Ehhhh, it depends what you think the point of your game is supposed to be. Is it meant to be playing in the same universe as the movies or is it in an alternate universe where THEY'RE the heroes.

    This is something which should be gone over with the Players. Because one of the things I liked about Knights of the Old Republic and The Old Republic is you're not a side character but THE hero.

    At my table, if the player characters can actually figure a way to kill the Emperor then they can kill the Emperor and suddenly, it's a whole new ballgame.
     
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  10. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    Hey, GrandAdmiralJello!

    I actually just wanted to get to Corwin Shelvay.

    I.e "The First Article."

    I have plans to do one article per day. I should have held off but I don't intend to do any more today. I also would love your thoughts on that. :)
     
  11. The Positive Fan

    The Positive Fan Jedi Master star 4

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    Jan 19, 2015
    Same here. It was the total package - a fascinating read that was also uncommonly useful from a roleplaying perspective. Just a grab bag full of great stuff.
     
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  12. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 6

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    Oct 4, 1998
    I made photocopies of the chapters about music and drinks and stuff and handed them out to my players; they liked learning about everyday life in the GFFA and referred to their favorite items often. GG9 simply added a lot to the immersion in another world aspect of RPGs.
     
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  13. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    Devon Fuller

    [​IMG]

    Devon Fuller is the Poor Man's Han SoloTM to go with Corwin Shelvay and Tremayne's archetypes except he's not so much the Poor Man's SoloTM as pretty much fully up there with Han Solo. Basically, he reminds me a lot of Dash Rendar in that the author of the book seems desperate to make him look cool. "He looks more at home behind the cockpit of a starfighter than a beat-up Tramp freighter." He's honest and charming about being a con man and a rogue. Oh and the ladies love him too. Did we mention he's also Force Sensitive?

    Devon Fuller, What a Guy!



    Did we mention he believes in the Force after Corwin Shelvay taught him the hard way? We also have a lengthy Wanted Poster with about a hundred charges against him versus the usual Wanted By Cracken three or four.

    We actually don't get any past for him either, just explanations of how variously awesome Devon Fuller is. It kind of feels like the guy was someone's PC they felt the desire to canonize. The idea being "So, if Luke Skywalker grew up to be Han Solo." No, seriously, it just talks about how he's great and the occasional aside of how he's a terrible legitimate businessman but a great con man?

    Oh and Tremayne is after him too.

    Maybe I'm overstating how much the book talks him up as he isn't listed as doing all that much but he does seem to be a character who doesn't have much use in a game where the PCs are the heroes other than explaining how Corwin putters from planet to planet. I also have severe issues with NPCs who exist to show up the PCs. Drizzt Do'Urden is okay in the Forgotten Realms because he's a novel character and the hero of his own story but throwing him in your game makes it about him probably. It's why Luke Skywalker shouldn't go on missions with you.

    The lack of detail of his past is part of what's bothering me as we don't really have the intricate backstories most of the other Rebels have in this chapter. You can't really sit down and talk to Devon about his past because aside from listing that he's lost three ships for the Rebellion (which seems like carelessness) there's not a lot there. He doesn't even have a story about how he joined the Rebellion, unlike the majority of characters here versus a more generic "I love freedom" story.

    I will say that we do benefit from his latest ship, a modified "Ghtroc" freigner being pretty easily stealable. I found this to be a very useful vessel as I routinely just gave it to the players as their own as it is modified from a stock-light freighter enough to be cool in its own right. I love the old Ghtroc Light Freighters as they all look like turtles and yet feel awesome.

    Another element is that Devon Fuller feels so player-charactery. you could probably use him as a PC if you were doing a pre-fabricated adventure as he's a stock archetype.

    Charlemagne19's Note: I mentioned I think Corwin Shelvay is the kind of guy who should die heroically against High Inquisitor Tremayne but you could make it possible for him to survive? Yeah, Devon Fuller doesn't quite have that since the Empire killing a smuggler doesn't seem quite as big a deal. Maybe if you have a character who he could be a romance option for but really he just looks like he'd overshadow characters and he doesn't seem to have any real flaws which would make him useful in a game.

    I'm inclined to have Devon Fuller used as a character who could be a rival of the PCs who is taking the story less than seriously. I think a good use for him would be to have him apear in your games and be all cocky before doing heroic things on his own. I'd then crib from the "Tay Vanis" arc of Marvel's Star Wars and have him captured by the Empire only for the PCs plan to rescue him, only to find out he's either dead or a broken shell of his former self. Maybe also have him brainwashed and the PCs have to kill him.

    I'm cruel, I know.
     
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  14. BobaMatt

    BobaMatt TFN EU Staff star 7 VIP

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    Aug 19, 2002
    Sorry, by this do you mean that you've made Corwin a post-RotJ Jedi Master killed by Kylo Ren?

    Because.

    Awesome.
     
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  15. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    Another good use of Corwin is he's a character you can reverse the nature of in terms of PC interaction. If your PC actually does become a Jedi Knight in whatever era you use him, you could actually have them come back to Corwin and complete HIS training. Which is a nice little dynamic shift.

    This, of course, is easier in Star Wars D20 than WEG.

    Yes, yes I did. Albeit, Elena was changed a bit in that she was his niece and brainwashed by the First Order. Kylo Ren, unlike Anakin, took the Jedi children because he's not QUITE evil enough to be grandpa. The PCs finding out what happened to them was a mission. The goal of the adventure would be based around how they dealt with Elena as they could awaken her dormant memories of the good man her brother was and have her aid them in rescuing the latest crop of children kidnapped by the First Order from the public at large or they could kill her then steal her datapad.

    You can guess which is more Star Wars.

    :)
     
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  16. BobaMatt

    BobaMatt TFN EU Staff star 7 VIP

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    Aug 19, 2002
    Obviously. I mean.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Ender Sai

    Ender Sai Bitterest Ex-Mod star 10

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    Feb 18, 2001
    Ugh Devon Fuller. Every group has someone like that. My group now does, a guy who described his smuggler as "like Archer". Except, unfunny, and without the resentfully good skills to underpin the talk.

    It's like the adjective awesome is the beginning and end of the character gen process. I want to be "awesome" like <extant character X from other media>.

    The good news about Devon Fuller is he can't take shots from a DL44 and bowcaster. Just putting it out there (yes, Charles, your rival idea is on point and how we ran it).
     
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  18. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    It's an interesting statement that I love Fragments from the Rim so much I want to somehow figure a way to do an adventure about "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "Boba Fett and the Assassin Droids" but I never figured out what to do with them.

    The holonews section is just really helpful in general.
     
  19. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    West End Games stuck pretty closely to the formula of "Rebels=Good, Empire=Evil" which isn't a bad thing and certainly better than trying to change the genre. However, I think the character of Devon Fuller would have benefited a bit by ramping up the obnoxiousness and cockiness. Having him end up as the guy strangled to death by Darth Vader after the Rebel ship is taken over makes a pretty good example of how dangerous being a Rebel is, even for "Heroic" characters.

    You could also definitely make him the guy to loathe before he bites it or gets them in trouble with their actions. I always felt Dash Rendar would have been a more interesting character if he'd had a crippling flaw which Han couldn't have risen over but I admit, I always felt the biggest problem with Dash was he was wholly unnecessary for the story. We already had Lando to fill the Han-shaped hole in the narrative.

    Speaking of subversions, I always regret the Justice Action Network never got much development and if they were going to, it probably would have been in here. I always loved the idea that in addition to the Rebel Alliance, there was other non-affiliated resistance and one of them was just a straight up bunch of terrorists. It was an element of Tarkin I really loved.
     
  20. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

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    Jan 3, 2013
    I actually suspect most of the characters in this chapter are based off of someone's PCs.

    Ironically, it's the opposite of which one is more characteristic of stereotypical RPGers.

    (Though I've rarely actually met anyone like that in real life).
     
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  21. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    I'm surprised GrandAdmiralJello hasn't piped in with a statement of how disappointing this book was for existing versus a description of the Core Worlds.
     
  22. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

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    Nov 28, 2000
    I imagine my silence is deafening. But yes, I don't know what WEG was thinking for not doing a Core World-centric Galaxy Guide.
     
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  23. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    One article I'm looking forward to in the Adventure Journal thread is that some guy actually did want to do a Galaxy Guide for the Core Worlds and because he didn't, basically stuck it in an adventure journal. I remember that was one of my favorite AJs because it gave a finale for Richove Tarkin's storyline, introduced the world of Corlag (which I got a lot of use out of), and really gave a sense of how the Core World operated as well as the subtler ways the Empire was awful--like the fact aliens all had to carry transit papers.
     
  24. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

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    Nov 28, 2000
    Do you mean the Into the Core piece from SWAJ #7?

    I haven't read the other pieces, so I didn't realize that was the one with the Rivoche Tarkin story. I just read the Core Worlds piece and the NewsNets for that issue.
     
  25. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

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    Jul 30, 2000
    I believe it is. Sadly, all my Adventure Journals are locked away in an ancient forbidden vault called a plastic tub upstairs.
     
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