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Lit We Hav to Go on an Adventure with Jello

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Havac , Mar 7, 2016.

  1. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    The Greel Wood Haven is an interesting sourcefile piece. Author Craig Robert Carey, a relatively prolific contributor to WEG, the Adventure Journal, WOTC, and Gamer, provides a backstory for the established material greel wood, just sort of a throwaway reference that gets expanded out into the basis of a whole setting here. One that is, of course, infused with a Rebel tie-in. See, as the intro tells us, the company that harvests greel wood (why is there always only one company associated with each planet/resource/industry?) diverts its profits and resources to the Rebel Alliance. A subject as boring as wood is secretly rebellious!

    Greel trees are native to the third and fourth planets of the Pii system, the only places with the right environment for them to grow. I immediately like the fact that they're native to more than one planet, that they've spread throughout a system. The greel wood there is logged by the very mundanely named Greel Wood Logging Corporation, a subsidiary of MK Enterprises. MK Enterprises is led by the ridiculously named Meysen Kayson, a businessman and philanthropist who bought the rights to Pii 3 and 4 in the last decades of the Old Republic with the goal of creating a nature preserve. It's interesting to see a dude just buying planets like it's no big deal. The issue of planetary rights has to be an interesting one. Anyway, in the process of developing the park, Kayson found that the wood of the unique species of greel tree there was of a beautiful coloration, scarlet and violet, smooth, and generally suitable for use as a luxury wood. And what's more, the greel tree grew at a great rate and could regenerate from a stump, growing a thirty-five-meter tree in only five years, making it ideal for logging. Out went the nature preserve, in came the sustainable logging operation. Kayson logs mainly with manual labor and a few droids, not the massive industrial logging operations common across the galaxy, as he doesn't want to damage the soft wood.

    Kayson was originally a smuggler from Corulag who made enough money to go legitimate, becoming a big-time entrepreneur with interests across the galaxy. He owns properties all over and nine galactic businesses, all held by MK Enterprises. Carey throws in a few connections, making him friends with Kassar Kosciusko from Cracken's Rebel Operatives and the foster father of Kayson from Galaxy Guide 7, a Mos Eisley weapons dealer whom, we learn, Kayson found on the streets of Mos Eisley, took in, and taught the gunrunning and arms-dealing trade. A friendly, generous man, he was involved in politics as a big businessman and was a noted opponent of Palpatine's rise to power. With the arrival of the Empire, Kayson got worried about Imperial blowback and gave the greel wood rights to Xenon Nnaksta, a friend and fellow Rebel sympathizer. Nnaksta hired a bunch of top business consultants who were fellow sympathizers, and the operation is more successful than ever, with greel wood a popular material among high-end craftsmen. Kayson was able to dodge Imperial crackdowns until his political contacts cleared his name of all illegal associations in exchange for a public apology and fines, and he reemerged, putting a board of directors in control of the company while he and Nnaksta get more involved with the Rebellion. Meanwhile, the company diverts raw materials, spacecraft, and a significant chunk of its profits to the Rebellion, as well as allowing the Alliance to use Pii 3 and 4 as safeworlds and training areas for soldiers. Kayson is a major financier for the Rebellion, and is working on projects like buying up control of Kwenn Space Station. He's currently one hundred twenty-one, and is seen publicly as a funny old rich man, keeping his increasing Rebel activism hidden, but doing everything he can to protect Rebel operatives, including hiring many within his companies to provide them cover.

    Several other individiuals get profiles also. Nnaksta is a Vodran whose parents were killed in the Thruncon Insurrection. He grew up fearless and reckless in the streets and swamps of Vodran before making it to Delassin Six, where he worked as a longshoreman. He encountered Kayson, who hired him for a stockroom job, and within two years Nnaksta was an executive with Kayson's outdoor outfitting chain. He was given control of the Greel Wood Logging Corporation and hired Rebel-sympathizing executives before, two years in, taking a six-year sabbatical to attend a survival school. He came back and splits his time between being a director of the company and laboring as a logger. Dude sounds like a total weirdo, frankly. His friend from the survival school, Rebel Adazian Liebke, ended up hiding out on Pii 3 and convinced Nnaksta to join the Rebellion as a soldier. Nnaksta is now a lieutenant who works as a pathfinder and SpecForces type, but he refuses to use blasters. Instead, he relies on a customized vibro-saw.

    Adazian Liebke you may remember from offhand mentions in Carey's Wanted by Cracken from issue four. Carey's slowly building his own little universe of weirdo Rebel operatives. Liebke is a Weequay from a military family who served in the Dnalvec Militia during the Houk-Weequay wars on Sriluur. He became a dark wolf handler during the conflict, which sounds pretty badass, but when the Empire came in and occupied many of the areas Liebke had been fighting over, he was furious and left the planet to join the Rebel Alliance. There's a rumor that he also did a stint guarding a cybernetics laboratory, but he won't talk about that. He attended survival school with Nnaksta, who became his best friend, and whom he ended up recruiting. Now they often go on operations together and argue over who gets to drive. Major Liebke is a SpecForces wilderness fighter for the Alliance, stationed on New Kisge, and is responsible for sending Rebel soldiers to train on Pii 4 and integrating refugees into hiding among the workers on Pii 3.

    The Pii system gets a writeup as well. It's in the Arkanis sector, near the Mid Rim border, and far away from anything of significance. It's hard to get to, in an area with little mineral wealth, and therefore the whole area has been little scouted, exploited, or settled. It took Kayson looking to make a nature preserve and stumbling across these two beautiful planets to accidentally find a profit source. Pii 3 and 4, orbiting a red giant in an otherwise barren system, are collectively known as Teeda's Eyes, referring to the green eyes of Empress Teeda of the legendary Arkanis Regency. This is a reference nobody did anything with until The Essential Atlas. Each world produces a slightly different type of greel wood thanks to their differing environments. Pii 3 is dry and stable, and produces the grassland scarlet greel, a bushier tree that makes a lighter-colored, denser wood. The planet was briefly colonized by the Duro Relocation Colony program before the Duros got bored of the world and moved on. Pii 4 is tectonically active and rainier, with rugged terrain. The trees there are larger and straighter due to the rain, and produce band crimson wood, which is less dense, but more richly colored and has more extravagant patterning in the wood, with some very dark flaws. This wood is the most expensive, with a luxurious appearance that, when polished and finished, can take on a gemlike appearance. Pii 4 also has the more dangerous wildlife. As a result, it's where the more experienced employees and the ones from tougher species are stationed, with extra pay, while new employees and less physically robust species work on mild Pii 3. Pii 4 features the greel screamer, a flying reptile that nests in greel trees and will attack when disturbed, and the timber render, which is basically a wolverine the size of a room. Thankfully, sightings of them are rare, and there's only been one actual encounter with a timber render, though it left seven employees dead.

    There are also some writeups of equipment, which Kayson often develops for his logging operation and then markets through his other businesses. There's the Aratech Z-24 flatbed speeder truck, used to haul logs; the vibro-saw; and the lumberdroids used to assist on Pii 3. They can calculate cuts and fall trajectories, can help cut, and move on big dual treads, but are disliked by crews for being clunky and prone to breakdowns.

    The Adventure Idea for this consists of hiding out among a logging crew on Pii 4, facing the tough life there and maybe some pursuing Imperials. It's an interestingly offbeat piece. It doesn't get that much into the actual industrial angle of things, or even say very much about the Greel Wood Logging Company's operations. Carey's not interested in weaving a really deep setting. He seems more interested in creating a sort of outdoors setting to weave his wilderness-loving, eccentric cast of Rebel operatives into, one that he's going to continue further developing in his other WEG work. That's why most of the content is in the profiles of Kayson, Nnaksta, and Liebke, and the description of the whole operation, before we start getting into the specific writeups, takes only about a page and a half. Still, it's fun stuff, even if it ends up more focused on creating Carey's world than in giving players a compelling setting to mess around in. I'd have liked to have seen him give players a little more in the way of story hooks to work with, but there's good stuff there to work with if you have creativity.

    Next up, the big moment of truth finally arrives for Alex Winger.
  2. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    We come to the big moment in Alex Winger's story with Rendezvous With Destiny. As the climax to six issues of storytelling, this would doubtless get the lead-off spot in any issue that didn't have a story from one of the big-name novelists in it. As it is, Schweighofer still sticks it in prominent position up front, with only the short greel wood piece providing a spacer between the two high-profile short stories. Charlene Newcomb has a lot going on with this story, so there will be a lot to discuss.

    The story begins with Alex being interrogated by New Republic personnel on Coruscant about the secret research base the Empire took Dr. Carl Barzon to. Though it's possible that Newcomb's flashed-forward, I've got the strong feeling we're opening with yet another vision. Aaaaaand yep, it's a vision. Newcomb's getting a bit predictable in that regard.

    She's actually in the resistance headquarters, and they get a message about a captain down at the spaceport who may be able to get her to the secret base. Because see, since Thrawn's defeat, explicitly mentioned, the Empire's been hiring ships to haul ore to its secret research base rather than ship it themselves, being in a state of disarray. This pretty unambiguous dating, with Alex here said to be on the verge of turning twenty-one, clarifies the timeline a good deal, making pretty much everything line up except for the extremely late taking of Coruscant. And you can't really handwave it as the galactic capital being the one topic on which Garos IV gets extremely belated rumors and news. You just have to sort of overlook it. Anyway, Alex, increasingly obsessed with her supposed destiny on this research base planet, as revealed by her visions, heads off not to question this captain who may be an Imperial hire, as she says, but to stow away.

    We then get an unusual new POV, that of our captain, female alien Tere Metallo, as she awaits the Imperial rendezvous with her first mate, nondescript young man Gil Crosear. It's nice to at least see an inversion of the Han-Chewie formula with a female twist thrown in for good measure. Turns out, though, she's not just some contractor; she's working for the New Republic, planning to introduce a computer virus to Sarahwiee to wreck anything Page's Commando's don't. Page's Commandos! It's interesting to note the extent to which Newcomb is engaging with the mainline EU material. A few issues ago in the letters column, Schweighofer stated that the Adventure Journal wasn't going to have big three adventures, was going to be about the little guy and stay away from the big picture. And we've seen that hold up. Drake Paulsen isn't meeting Han and Chewie. Darth Vader isn't showing up as a heavy. Nobody's so much as taking orders from General Rieekan or running around Bpfassh or Nar Shaddaa. That's understandable, and it prevents every fan author trying to cram Han Solo into all their stories and overdo it and create a small universe. But it also keeps the stories feeling isolated; everything's off in its own corner, and nothing's ever going to tie into the bigger network of stories out there, not even sort of around the margins. And then here we see Newcomb, the one author who's pretty much ignored that. She grabbed a minor character like Brandei and integrated him into the backstory of her setting. She's been namedropping Thrawn and the events of TTT. Now she's using Page's Commandos. And obviously everything is building up to an honest-to-God Luke Skywalker appearance. I don't know how she's the one author who's getting away with this, but I really like it, actually. I like that her stories are woven into the larger fabric of the universe even if they're still small-scale side stories about the little guy. Frankly I'd like to see the Adventure Journal allow itself to edge a little more in this direction.

    Alex, overhearing the discussion, is so overjoyed by the fact that the New Republic is finally taking an interest in her issues that she reveals herself to Metallo and Gil, who are obviously suspicious of this stowaway but eventually trust her earnestness. They also run out of time to deal with her because the Imperial ship finally shows up. We go get Metallo reflecting on the fact that the only other Alex she knew of was the daughter her former partner Matt Turhaya lost in an Imperial raid. Gee, I wonder if that's going anywhere? Kind of a big dumb coincidence, too, given that we already have the character Chance to explain Alex's backstory; we don't need her running into her dad's former partner completely at random.

    They follow the coordinates from the rendezvous ship to the Bseto system, which is home to Bseto I, Indikir, and Sarahwiee. Sarahwiee is the only inhabited planet, though as an iceball consisting of frozen mountains rising from frozen oceans, there's not much reason to inhabit it, except for its being a good hidden location for an Imperial research facility. Palpatine established the base there and had its location wiped from the star charts. As they land, we get some nice prose describing the lovely, icy vistas -- and Alex recognizes the mountain the base is on as the one she keeps climbing in her visions. In the docking bay, they satisfy the Imperial officer on duty that they're just some freighter jockeys and are left to wait for their cargo to be unloaded. Alex is able to get to a computer and find Barzon's location. They hang out in the lounge a bit with the other crews there until Alex and Gil sneak away to free Barzon.

    They crawl through the ventilation system, of course, and hop on top of a turbolift car before doing some more vent crawling. It's the middle of the night, so they don't seem to have too much trouble getting to Barzon's room. Security here really is terrible. You put your base in a totally inaccessible location and suddenly everyone gets sloppy about internal security. Barzon is wary of leaving due to the threat to his son, so Alex has to explain that his son is actually dead. Actually, she kind of killed him in a sabotage explosion that she couldn't warn him about. Barzon takes that news pretty well, all things considered. Barzon wants to take some of his work with him before he escapes, but Gil insists it's too dangerous to try to infiltrate the labs, where the Katarn Commandos are already at work. Alex tells Gil to take Barzon back to the hangar. She'll get the research. She feels that fatalistic pull of destiny.

    Alex just takes the turbolift up a few levels, because screw it, security here is terrible. And the doors open on who else but . . . Luke Skywalker. He knew she'd come. He's been having the same visions. And so he came here with Page's boys. One of whom is a man Luke calls Korran, which really makes me want to make this Corran Horn working with Luke and Page's Commandos because that would be awesome. Apparently they don't get much news in Garos IV, because when she hears his name, Alex is shocked to link the face of the man she's been seeing in her visions with the famous Luke Skywalker. Luke seems tired, filled with foreboding, in what's probably a nice nod to the upcoming Dark Empire, but he reassures Alex with words of wisdom.

    The other commandos head out, and Luke and Alex then get surprised by stormtroopers. Alex shoots them, gets the files, and they head out. They head up to the roof of the mountaintop facility and then rappel down the outside to reach the hangar doors. Until a big gust of wind takes Alex by surprise and she starts tumbling down the mountainside. Luke Force-grabs her rope and saves her. She's still clinging precariously when Luke reaches out for her and the snow crumbles beneath her, leaving her hanging on to her rope. This is the big moment from her visions. With Luke's Force encouragement, she summons the calm to let go of the rope and grab his hand, as he pulls her to safety.

    They give up on the lower bay, where everyone else is, and head for the nearer upper bay. Luke starts teaching her a little about the Force, telling her to reach out and sense how many people are in the hangar. Luke uses the Force to knock over a bunch of crates, creating enough of a distraction for them to sneak to the turbolift and take it down to the lower bay. They sense an Imperial waiting at the bottom, so rather than kill him Alex does the ol' kiss distraction. The tech is apparently sufficiently amused by seeing these people kissing that he doesn't question why these two people in non-Imperial gear are making out in the turbolift. Importantly, we are assured that both Alex and Luke are into it. Newcomb is nothing if not bold in setting up her original character as a romantic interest for Luke. I know this story originated as Newcomb's personal fanfic, but Schweighofer seems quite happy to let Newcomb slip her story into canon wholesale, and I can't say I disagree. It's a solid story and Luke's had way worse romantic interests than Alex Winger. Newcomb's doing well enough to get away with it. And it's all worth it for the mildly horrified look on the face of the tech in the Vilardi art.


    It's only after walking into the lift that the tech remembers these people shouldn't be necking in the elevator. So Alex shoots him anyway. Good job with that distraction that kept you from having to kill him, Alex. This starts a firefight and alarm as they book it to Metallo's freighter They part as Luke heads out with the commandos and Alex goes back to Garos with Metallo, but Alex knows her future remains intertwined with Luke's. Someday, perhaps, she'll learn to use the Force completely. I'm pushing for Alex to be one of the unidentified original dozen students at the Praxeum. And now the New Republic will be helping Garos in the future.

    Metallo gets a profile explaining that she was the heiress to her clan's matriarchy on Riileb until a jealous sister sold her into slavery at the age of twenty-five. She was rescued by Corellian smuggler Bek Nataal, who spent seven years teaching her the trade before the Empire killed him and captured Metallo. She escaped and worked repairing ships on Corellia until she could buy her own freighter and get started in the mostly-legit Mid Rim trade, but was sick enough of the Empire to start flying supplies for the Rebel Alliance. After Yavin, she joined Alliance Intelligence, and now is with the New Republic, using the cover provided by her career as a free trader to gather information for the NR and slip in and out of locations.

    Gil Crosear gets a profile also, with an awesome Vilardi portrait that gives him perfect shaggy seventies hair. He looks straight out of ANH. He's twenty-five, from Dantooine, and joined the New Republic after Endor. He excelled in training and was selected for SpecOps work, being partnered with Metallo for undercover missions. He has a particular talent for undercover work, blending easily into a crowd.

    One of the neater sidebars is a reproduction of Page's orders, which specify what his team will be doing to destroy this research base at Luke Skywalker's urging. They'll be infiltrated on another freighter and drop off part of the team on their way in so they can climb the mountain and infiltrate the research labs from the top. The rest will land, and some will spike the computer network to destroy all the research while others sneak into the warehouse level inside false cargo containers in order to place charges.

    There's an Adventure Idea, too, with the characters as part of a starfighter force stationed one system over to cover Page's escape that gets called in to help them escape the planet and the Imperial forces in orbit. Simple, but it ties in nicely.

    Great story, definitely the best Newcomb has done. The dilly-dallying is over and Newcomb finally delivers explosively on everything she's been building up to with a big, exciting, well-written story that moves far beyond the usual trouble-down-at-the-old-mines formula. I really wish she'd moved into this dynamic a mode earlier. She also leaves some material on the table, with the liberation of Garos yet to happen, so the stories are open to continuing from here. I hope she doesn't fall back into episodic time-killing mode. There are a few iterations on the formula I'd still like to see -- I'm disappointed we haven't gotten any actual meaningful conflict between Alex and Tork yet, something where Alex has to use her position to change Tork's mind about Imperial policy or something important, something built around her wheedling information out of the system rather than doing mountain recon patrols -- but I'd most like to see the narrative continue its urgency. Newcomb is doing a great job of building her own corner of the universe that still ties into the bigger mesh of stories out there, and I'm eager to see that continue.

    We'll return with HoloNet Hype and Wanted by Cracken next time!
    Daneira, Nom von Anor, Sarge and 2 others like this.
  3. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    I always liked the Greelwood story bit because it's a perfect set piece for a mission in a unique environment. Well, as unique as Endor with giant trees and guerilla war among the massive logs around.

    I always wished we'd gotten an actual Alex Winger novel with Luke Skywalker as a character within.

    Or a Luke Skywalker novel with Alex Winger.

    One of Luke's best love interests.
  4. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 3, 2013
    Given the way these things tended to go, that would probably just mean Alex would be dead by the end. I can live without that.
    AdmiralWesJanson likes this.
  5. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    It's worth noting that as many love interests as Luke had, there weren't that many who were really great. Mara was a great character and occupied the traditional "sparks fly" end of the courtship spectrum where there's conflict to go with the attraction. It's easy to see how she was the one they went with. Callista was a wild concept and was notable for being written up as a big love interest, but there was nothjng that interesting about her personality itself or her relationship with Luke. They didn't have any particular chemistry together. Shira Brie, likewise, was more notable for the events around her than for her chemistry. Same with Akanah. What made her interesting was that she was scamming Luke and she was destined to be a short-term relationship; they weren't a particularly compeling couple on their own merits. And what made Teneniel interesting is thst she ended up being someone else's love interest. And then your Jem Ysannas and Tanith Shires were just totally forgettable one-offs. Alex actually reminded me a bit of Gaeriel, as they were both sort of "nice girls," unlike Mara's "bad girl," who made a cute couple with Luke and were well-developed as their own character. They were more than just a love interest. They worked as interesting characters themselves and complemented Luke well. Gaeriel was one of the only other love interests who actually had chemistry with Luke that I liked. And while Alex's chemistry with Luke after this one story remained more potential than actual, I agree that I like that potential.
  6. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    Gaeriel's biggest problem being she was a local girl and had no real stake in the larger galaxy.

    Alex, by contrast, is basically a more balanced Jyn Erso.

    Okay, she's nothing like Jyn Erso aside from looking a bit like her and being a Rebel.

    But you could see her becoming a Rebel.
  7. Nom von Anor

    Nom von Anor Jedi Knight star 2

    Oct 7, 2012
    I don't know, I always thought Luke and Tanith Shire actually had a bit of chemistry, but it was brief and unlikely to go anywhere.
  8. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Peter Schweighofer takes reader letters in HoloNet Hype. We only get one letter in this issue. I don't know if it's because Schweighofer's not getting enough usable mail, or if he just didn't want to spend the pages. Justin Bell of Midland, Texas would like to see some information about the Old Republic, things like Tales of the Jedi. It's a fair question, given that TOTJ is one of only a very few products out at the moment and the Adventure Journal hasn't done anything to even remotely touch it. He also wonders if there are more plans for stories from other novel authors like Dave Wolverton, Vonda McIntyre, Kevin J. Anderson, or Tom Veitch. This is the only recorded time a Star Wars fan has asked for more from Vonda McIntyre. Schweighofer explains that they're not doing anything with the Old Republic and Jedi because LFL has asked them not to. Those prequels are coming out, you know. There's better news on the novelist front, though. Tyers will continue to write even more, Tim Zahn is coming back, and Michael Stackpole has a short story coming up soon. There aren't plans for any other authors to write right now, but Schweighofer says they're welcome to inquire about writing for the Journal. Which seems kind of backwards. Seems like he should be recruiting them.

    This is followed by a succinct Wanted by Cracken. What does Cracken want this issue? He wants a cup of coffee and a chocolate doughnut with some of those little sprinkles on it. But more to the point, he wants Bryce Agoris and Myrgaanti Shi-Iki. But he's unlikely to get them, because they don't even have Wookieepedia articles. There is some real guy named Bryce Agoris who posts a lot about guns online, though.

    Bryce Agoris is a shaggy, thirty-two-year-old Alderaanian who looks like he should be protesting something in 1970. He's wanted for desertion and theft of New Republic military hardware. He was an excellent lieutenant in a Rebel infiltrator brigade who unexpectedly began developing behavioral problems, turning insubordinate and unmanageable. He deserted before Endor with the help of Myrgaanti Shi-Iki, taking with him two million credits worth of stolen equipment, including a prototype fighter the Rebellion had captured from the Empire. The two are currently working together, based from their fighter, the Warhog, and were last seen on Nal Hutta. They appear to be engaged in anti-Imperial activities, so Cracken would like them brought in for questioning, not killed. The NR doesn't understand what's going on in Agoris's head, what turned him away from the Rebellion, how hostile he would be to the New Republic. Which makes an interesting question, but not a particularly compelling story, especially considering we've seen the mysterious-defector card played more successfully in prior issues. Cracken theorizes that Agoris is trying to launch a personal crusade against the Empire to avenge Alderaan, but the New Republic can't just let people steal equipment and go rogue.

    Myrgaanti Shi-Iki has a name that is not fun to spell, and is a twenty-eight-year-old Gorvan Horansi from Mutanda. He appears to be a three-meter-tall cigar-smoking lion in a leather jacket, which is probably not a person you should mess with. He's wanted for the same theft charges and for assault on New Republic personnel, with the same five-thousand-credit bounty as Agoris. He's a longtime friend of Agoris, who worked with the infiltrators as a freelancer. He always had a problem with discipline, though, which is likely where Agoris got it from. But, really, how do you discipline a three-meter-tall cigar-smoking lion in a leather jacket? A three-meter-tall cigar-smoking lion in a leather jacket with a sword. Because that's his preferred weapon. Not a blaster. A friggin' lion with a sword. A large sword. And it's not even a vibrosword. It's just a straight-up broadsword. It's in his equipment. Broadsword (STR+3D). Anyway, this is a three-meter-tall, cigar-smoking, leather-jacket-wearing lion with a sword who likes to get drunk, screw, and fight. Do not try to catch this guy. This is a bad idea.

    Their ship also gets a bit of text. A Koensayr VGK-3 Shooting Star, it's a prototype that sounds like it was designed to be a bit of a Y-wing successor. It has five wings in a star configuration as seen from the front, with a laser cannon on each tip, plus proton torpedo launchers and a rear-facing ion cannon. It's slow, but durable and well-armed, a threat to capital ships. Its theft has disrupted attempts to get the fighter into production from Koensayr for the New Republic. Interestingly enough, the design sounds a bit like it could be a precursor to what ultimately became the K-wing design. The Warhog, though, is thought to be in poor condition because Agoris and She-Icky don't have the resources to maintain it properly.

    Short but effective. Authors Jason Knizley and James Taylor don't give us a lot of detail, and don't do anything particularly original. Craig Robert Carey's bunch of mysteriously-motivated deserters and traitors from issue four, the last iteration of Wanted by Cracken, was much more successful, more robustly drawn. But these guys are definitely good for a run-in with the players. I like them better than the generic bounty hunters of the first two issues. There's enough there for gamemasters to take and run with.

    Our next piece is an interesting adventure called Relic. I'm guessing it's about a relic.
  9. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 3, 2013
    Taking bets now on how long it'll be before someone makes those articles now that it's been brought up.
    Sarge likes this.
  10. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Relic is the first adventure of the issue, coming to us from Jar Jar Strayton George R. Strayton, who would go on to be a fairly prolific editor and writer for West End Games.

    Unlike many adventures, this has a definite setting, taking place shortly after Thrawn's defeat, three months specifically. The Imperial confusion has allowed the New Republic to push the Empire back, and many Core and Mid Rim worlds have flocked to join the New Republic, an interesting detail. I like the idea of the NR suddenly raking in worlds for a brief period when it seems like the Empire's been defeated for good -- only for Palpatine to suddenly sweep back in and take it all back. Many worlds, however, have remained neutral, and the NR is targeting them, trying to woo them in. That seems to be the big theme of the 10-12ish ABY period, in retrospect -- the New Republic has defeated the Empire, but much of the galaxy is neutral, broken up into warlord states, or seeking some other third party status to sit the war out, and the New Republic needs to figure out how to win the peace by pulling the rest of the galaxy in. It's not until the late Bantam era that the NR is really a galactic government.

    So . . . a lost relic has popped back up in Corva sector on the Outer Rim. Various powerful figures are intrigued, offering big money for it, and NRI is concerned and threatened by the prospect of it falling into the wrong hands. I'm not clear on how this relates to the geopolitical setup we just got, or on how something going for big money is, prima facie, "dangerous to the continued existence of the New Republic." Literally, the piece says that "Any object that brings an asking price in the millions of credits must be dangerous to the continued existence of the New Republic." So, what, famous art is now dangerous to the continued existence of the government? Luxury yachts are now dangerous to the continued existence of the government? Mansions must be dangerous to the continued existence of the New Republic? The New Republic is way more precarious than I thought.

    Your characters, NRI agents, are briefed by the captain in charge of the Corva sector fleet. Just recently, the mystery device has been acquired by the crimelord Mahk'khar. You need to go to his palace on Tuulab, download his encrypted files, and bring them back to figure out what he's doing and where he's keeping it. You're given a ship, Instigator, and sent off immediately. You make it to Tuulab without incident. It's a rural, low-technology planet inhabited by a colony of people who wanted to get away from the Galactic Civil War. They live a neutral, peaceful, government-free life. For some reason, Mahk'khar decided that an Amish planet sounded like a great place to build a crime palace, so he built his crime palace elsewhere on the planet and left the colonists alone.

    The adventure proceeds on the idea that you're going to just walk up to the palace and knock to get in. No allowance is made for maybe trying to sneak inside, since it is, after all, an infiltration mission. In fact, the guards know you're coming and have orders to let you in before springing an ambush on you. So definitely you'd never want to try to sneak in. You totally go up and knock and get shown into a waiting room. The interior is decorated in the Kashi Mer style, belonging to an extinct civilization wiped out in a supernova shortly after the creation of the Republic. The Kashi Mer would, of course, go on to get namedrops from your Abel, Jason, and Dan types as an early galactic civilization. This is the one point at which the adventure acknowledges you might want to sneak in, nothing that whether you snuck in or not, you get jumped by the guards as soon as you connect up to one of the computer ports and start trying to download files. Then shortly into the combat, a panicky guard triggers the internal security system and releases a knockout gas. If everybody fails their rolls and gets knocked out, you all wake up hours later outside your ship without your weapons, but with the files. Nothing suspicious about that. Look, Strayton's overthinking it here. He's trying to do too much at once and getting in his own way.

    So you get the files and go back to the rendezvous. Strayton writes out a big debriefing scene and then a briefing scene for the next episode. Guy's spending too much time on these scenes, and not enough text on fleshing out each episode. Captain Bluuis is upset by increased Imperial activity in the sector that he suspects may be linked to the mystery relic for some reason. He's sending you to find out more about it from Professor Oron, an archaeologist. He's on Delari Prime, a formerly lush planet now home to gusting winds and enormous, arid canyons after an asteroid strike knocked it into a closer orbit, with his daughter, living in an abandoned Imperial communication post. Which is ironic, because the guy's a nut who refuses to communicate with anyone except in person. He spent years traveling the galaxy, becoming an expert in ancient civilizations, but since the fall of the Empire he's gone kind of bonkers, convinced himself he has little time to live, and locked himself away to write up all his discoveries and knowledge for posterity. He doesn't want to talk to you when you show up. He can't be bribed, because he thinks he's dying, and he's nuts. The only thing Strayton has to suggest is intimidating him, which . . . okay? The professor finally lets you know what the hell this relic that's supposedly so obviously dangerous actually is. It's a dark stone that was a Kashi Mer royal heirloom. It had been stolen by a Force-user named Reda Jalooz, who returned to the planet months later to ask forgiveness, saying she had discovered a dark secret within the relic and that had forced her to steal it, but she had defeated the relic's dark power. It wasn't long after her return that the system's sun went supernova. Then Oron reveals one thing more: the Imperials arrived earlier and kidnapped his daughter to force his cooperation. They knew you'd be coming and forced him to set a trap. He's just set off the signal for TIE Interceptors to attack. But he only tells you that if you don't intimidate him. Thanks, Strayton.

    You escape and go back to the cruiser with the captain again. This is very episodic stuff. They've decoded the files, and Mahk'khar sold the relic to smuggler Ree Shala. Bluuis sends you out to one of her five known bases, while agents visit the others. Obviously you're going to the right one, because come on. In the middle of your jump, the hyperdrive cuts out, and you find Imperial patrol craft surrounding a disabled Skipray Blastboat. They leave. The disabled blastboat is abandoned. All this is is a pointless tease dangling a secondary storyline, the development of a special, powerful heavy ion cannon by the Imperials, which can disable an enemy ship in a single shot, but runs the risk of backfiring and disabling the ship firing it, and which leaves a convenient cloud of ionized particles behind, providing a trail if you also want to start tracing this weapon. We have enough going on already, I think. It's basically an Adventure Idea stuck into the fabric of the adventure, a further-adventures-in-Corva-sector hook jammed into the main storyline.

    You land on Jaresh, a swampy forest moon that Shala bought two years ago to use as a base. Her actual base, though, floats on repulsorlifts high above the surface. It's not clear why she didn't just build a space station and skip on the expense of buying a damn moon. You have to find the hidden lift disk that takes you up to the base once you reach it. Once inside, you find it was abandoned only hours ago. Only a lonely droid waits to ambush you. You do find a damaged datapad, however, with information on Galaan, a gas giant in the Galaanus system. Which happens to be the location of a hidden communications and NRI facility, which could cripple communications out of the sector if it were destroyed. Why are there always these single points of failure?

    But you're not necessarily going to the Gala Anus system, because you get a message from Bluuis's assistant Kiara, a Sullustan who tells you to hurry back to a set of coordinates because the fleet is under attack by Imperial forces. Now, Kiara has been hanging around in the background of these briefing scenes for some reason, obviously. And if your perception roll is high enough, you might notice the bulkhead she's in front of isn't from the cruiser Nova. And if you try to communicate with anyone else, you'll find your comm equipment has been sabotaged by a small explosive charge. What I'm saying is you should maybe be suspicious. You can move on to Galaan and avoid the trap, you can go to the coordinates and fall into the trap, or you can go back to the fleet's former coordinates and find it's not there anymore, necessitating one of the other choices.

    If you fall for the ambush, you find Kiara's betrayed you to the warlord running the Imperials in the sector. You're about to get ambushed by some more heavy ion cannon ships and have only thirty seconds to jump to hyperspace before they start in on you. You know, it's a poorly planned ambush if they still have to close on you when you were fed specific coordinates. No provision is made for what happens if you actually get disabled. That's one thing that bugs me about the way these adventures are often written. They threaten consequences, but hold out no options if you don't avoid them; they don't even really consider the possibility that you could not just succeed right away and get out of trouble.

    So you escape, or you head out initially, but you end up at Galaan. There, the big criminal attack on the communications station consists of Shala and Mahky Mahk with an assault shuttle, a bulk freighter, and two blastboats. It's fairly sad. And then once you show up and attack, Shala and Mahk both flee with the shuttle and freighter. This is really kind of pathetic. You have fifteen rounds to defeat the blastboats. Once that's done, you'll encounter Shala's shuttle when you try to leave the planet, because its hyperdrive was damaged. So she lies and claims she was coming to warn the New Republic of Mahk'khar's attack. For safe passage out of the system, she's willing to tell you that Mahk'khar has the relic aboard his ship, and he's trying to sell it at Jandoon. You've already heard she has it, but whatever. She fixes her hyperdrive and escapes. If you fly around the planet, you'll be just in time to see Mahk'khar escape.

    Jandoon is a dead world, home to a species that died out centuries ago, and rumored to be haunted by evil spirits. So that's where you go, obviously. Mahky is there, meeting with Durrei, a Dark Jedi serving a mysterious Imperial master. Abel and Dan later retconned this master as being the jerk from Crimson Empire III. If you sneak up on the ruins, you find Mahk and Durrei doing their deal. Meela, Oron's daughter, is also there, as she's part of the payment, since Durrei doesn't need her anymore and Mahky Mahk can sell her on the slave market. You need to fight against them and their bodyguards before Durrei can get the relic. Maybe you retrieve the relic, or maybe Durrei gets away with it. It's actually fairly open-ended. If you get Durrei or Mahk'khar, the other one probably gets away with either the relic or Meela, and you can chase after them. There's room for a lot more adventure if you want it. This can be it, or it can just be the starting point. I really like that element. In any case, you wrap things up with a debriefing where you tell Bluuis whatever happened, including Kiara's betrayal if you figured that out, and things roll from there.

    Profiles of Ree Shala and Mahk'khar reveal them as up-and-coming criminals who were recruited by a mysterious human, presumably Durrei or his mysterious master, to do jobs. Shala, a Twi'lek smuggler, agreed to work for the mystery figure and was sent to attack Galaan. Mahk'khar was hired to retrieve the relic, and then attack Galaan. He was tipped off that the New Republic was on to him, and so planted the misinformation about Shala having the relic. He's a Gotal bounty hunter who worked his way up and is fascinated by ancient civilizations and their mythologies. Which explains the convenient coincidence of his Kashi Mer decor. Durrei, meanwhile, is a twenty-two-year-old Force-sensitive who was learning to use his fledgling Force powers as a child when the Empire came for his mother. The troopers opened fire on his father, and Durrei gave in to the dark side to destroy them, but his parents didn't survive the battle. He since wandered the galaxy, trying to learn more of the dark side so he would never be helpless again. Eventually he was approached by a strange man who offered him the chance to come work with him, using stolen Imperial technology against the Empire.

    All this was significantly expanded by our favorite retcon warriors. Xendor himself was declared a Kashi Mer exile; the relic here in question was in fact his, the Kashi Mer talisman Xendor passed on to Arden Lyn, who used it to preserve her life for twenty-five thousand years. Lyn ended up becoming Durrei's master and lover, and it was her desire to recover the talisman that drove this whole adventure. Durrei's ultimate fate was not to be killed by your party, but to be betrayed, with Lyn, to High Inquisitor Tremayne by Devian, the Crimson Empire III warlord who was retconned to be his mysterious benefactor. It's all been quite tremendously built out, made a much more interesting and integral part of the fabric of the universe. One thing we never did get, though, was a clear statement of what happened to the talisman.

    Overall, it's an intriguingly different adventure. Its episodic nature helps it feel big, hopping from planet to planet and situation to situation. It's not some stale one-planet story. On the other hand, none of the individual scenarios are very well-developed and the plot is pretty much on rails. It's not helped by Strayton's devotion to rather wordy scene-setting sequences. There's the outline of a great adventure here, but Strayton leaves it pretty much at the outline level without also leaving a lot of room for creativity. He does redeem himself somewhat with the open-ended ending and the sheer amount of interesting elements he introduces that subsequent EU ran with with an obscure vengeance. I wanted to like it more than I did, but altogether I like it more than its clumsy construction probably deserves. At least it's not another world-of-primitives adventure.

    This issue's Fragments of the Mind's Eye follows. This time Pablo's cartoon, labeled "Ewok Pranks," is of a scout trooper opening a door as small logs swing in from both sides of his head. Like last issue, it's a visual gag that just sort of sits there. The first Fragments was a total dad joke, but at least it was a joke. These last two have just been, like, half a joke. They're just sort of high school notebook doodles that fill a page but don't make any strong argument for their inclusion in the Adventure Journal.

    Next time around, the first of two Laurie Burns short stories in this issue.
  11. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    I actually used Bryce and Shi-Iki, interestingly enough but I had to ditch the fact their story sounds less like an interesting adventure and more like player character origins. I had to (temporarilly) abandon my Fragments of the Rim re-read due to personal issues (my wife broke her leg) but one of the things WEG struggled with was they kept throwing in heroes to the story who weren't the PCs when they needed more villains or characters to build adventures off of.

    How did the adventure I did go?

    Interestingly enough, I made Bryce's story actually one of cowardice and potential redemption with the fact the Rebellion/New Republic giving the PCs dossiers that painted a picture of the two in somewhat apologetic if not glowing terms. Cracken was the kind of guy who depended on rag-tag bands of misfits so the profile was all about making it seem like this was a (fundamentally) good guy.

    That allowed the twist in my adventure to work very well. Basically, that Bryce had been traumatized by the twin losses of Alderaan and Hoth so he came to the conclusion the Rebellion was incapable of winning against the Empire. The twist being this was a case of SPECTACULARLY bad timing in the same way Benedict Arnold's defection ruined his heroic reputation. He could have been a hero and part of the new government if he'd stuck it out a couple of more months as well as witnessed the Empire's fall (possibly dying at Endor but heroically). Instead, they were remembered as deserters and thieves. The pair have since then been attacking Imperials as a kind of perverse atonement as well as sustaining themselves with anti-Imperial piracy.

    The players did their best to try to redeem him but I made it also clear Bryce was hostile to the New Republic, essentially, because he needed it to self-justify as well as a bit suicidal. He ended up getting Shi-Iki killed then going out in a pointless suicide strike against the Remnant. The PCs, however, did get the stolen plans for his ship back.
    Vthuil and Havac like this.
  12. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Laurie Burns gets in her first of two short stories in this issue with Ringers. Burns, who has worked in newspapers and as of writing published a horse magazine with her husband (it's not specified whether it's a magazine about horses, or a magazine for horses. I really hope it's a magazine for horses. Horses deserve their own magazines too), here gives us a story with a really original protagonist -- a detective. Well, original for the Star Wars Adventure Journal.

    The story opens by characterizing protagonist Sergeant Zeck Tambell, making a mess, harassing his partner, and giving us a general sense of him as he looks at evidence on a case of an unusually lucky bettor on ringer, making six big-money bets in a row and collecting on all of them. Someone higher up wants this guy investigated, so Tambell and his more uptight partner Corporal Valon Rizz are on the case. We get profiles on both up front. Tambell was a cop on his homeworld of Coriallis before joining the Imperial Navy for some adventure. He was assigned as a naval security trooper aboard a Star Destroyer, finding less adventure and more boring routine and the sort of formality he detests. So he put in for another assignment, and ended up as a special investigations agent for Governor Tren Pergallis of Stassia. He doesn't have to wear a uniform, and he gets to poke around in the interesting cases the Empire won't give to local law enforcement or where the governor has a particular interest. Rizz is a Stassian local who wanted to avoid the farm, so joined the local police force. A high-profile case made him the first Stassian on the Special Investigations Office staff. It's a nice PR move for the Empire, but Rizz is less interested in the Empire than in just getting ahead in his career.

    Our Imperial heroes head off to the ringers tournament to check for signs of tampering, since the Imperial financial droid has gone over suspect Reye Sedeya's finances and it doesn't look like he's bribing anybody. At the sporting venue, Tambell spots Sedeya making a bet, and uses his law enforcement credentials to get information out of the machine, just like that. It's a nice, prescient bit of sci-fi, given how generally retro nineties EU kept its tech. Sedeya just bet ten thousand credits on the fifth ringer tosser. At the ringer pavilion, there's muscle guarding the entrance, muscle from Aalia Duu-lang, Stassian lady crime boss and longtime sore spot for Tambell, who's never quite been able to get the dirt on her. He once played the nice guy with her in interrogation and halfway fell for her act himself, which makes him furious, feeling it's his fault the cast didn't get made somehow. A teen orphan, she moved to the big city and got involved in a life of crime as a con woman for Hek Dallan, then eventually betrayed him and took over his organization. In fact, she's inside, in box seats with Sedeya.

    We finally get a description of what the hell ringer is: the tosser (our British readers may feel free to laugh) stands at a line and throws disks through rings. The trick is that the rings are various different odd shapes, and are suspended from the ceiling and move about. Each ring is worth different points. So it takes skill and judgment to get the disks through the rings for a high score. As the game starts, Tambell watches Sedeya for signs of using a remote control or other cheating mechanism, while Rizz keeps an eye on the equipment and flight of the disks. Sedeya spends the whole match staring intently at the action, but doing nothing obvious. In a break between rounds, Sedeya appears to disagree with Duu-lang and walks off, followed by henchmen, so our investigators sweep in to take him into custody.

    Sedeya, a nineteen-year-old, appears timid, nervous, and politely cooperative. And a search turns up no cheating devices on him. He insists, however, that he's just lucky. And he doesn't really know who Duu-lang is; he was just introduced to her that day. If the guy's a liar, he's coming up with a terrible story. She wanted to know how he was picking winners, too. He says all he does is watch them warm up, and he gets a good feeling about one of them and goes with his gut. Then he watches, and he pictures the winners winning and the losers losing and it happens. I was already calling it, but it's plain at this point we're going to be dealing with an untrained Force-sensitive who really is innocent. Tambell, though, suspects he may be an unwitting front for Duu-lang, placing bets for her without knowing he has the games rigged.

    Without the kid there, his pick loses. They let him go, but put a surveillance drone on him, which spots him meeting with Duu-lang that afternoon as she asks about who'll win the big swoop race the next day. They're kept busy that day looking into her financials, so it isn't until the day of the race that they get out to inspect the ringer equipment. They can't see anything wrong with the equipment, so they interview the tossers. They're adamant they wouldn't cheat. Asked if they can think of any other way a gambler might rig the contest, one says no, it's not like there are any more Jedi. Tambell immediately dismisses her with the Imperial line about the Force being a myth and the Jedi extinct -- it's obviously a dangerous subject to bring up -- but when she mentions people just picturing what would happen, willing things to move with their mind, Tambell can't help but think of Sedeya's protestations.

    That immediately makes him worried for the swoop races, as we've had a background throughout the story of reports of gruesome accidents at the track. If Sedeya unknowingly wills mistakes into the field, they could prove fatal. He eventually gets to the track, but Sedeya is on the far side and the race is about to start. Tambell resorts to running across the track. The cops make it to where Sedeya and Duu-lang are seated together. Duu-lang tries to make Tambell get an arrest warrant, but an uncomfortable Sedeya agrees to come with them voluntarily. And Rizz gets the call that Duu-lang's finances showed bribes to every racer except the two she picked to come in first and second. She gets arrested. Sedeya sneaks away in the confusion of the race's finish, but Tambell's confident they'll pick him back up eventually. And maybe by then he'll find a way to explain his role without referencing any Force mumbo-jumbo.

    Sedeya gets a write-up. As a baby he mysteriously survived an accident that killed his mother, and continued to be judged lucky throughout his life. He chose to get away from the farm as a teenager, and now he's had great success gambling, but he's too dumb and naive to realize his winning streak is going to look suspicious and get him investigated and in trouble with either the law or the criminal world. Those orders from higher up to investigate him, though . . . they were just filtered through the governor. They were really from a High Inquisitor. Dun dun dunnnn! Because, duh, he's Force-sensitive.

    There's an amusing profile for Stassia, which points out that it's a long-settled Core World, but one with almost no distinction, a sleepy agricultural world (population: China . . . they've done worse) that's quite content to be boring and insignificant. The government, led by fifteen Head Clans descended from original colonists, controls all the agricultural exports and keeps the profits, distributing money back out to growers. With everybody rewarded equally, there's little incentive to try very hard and little awareness of how much more dynamic the planet's economy could be and how significant it could be. The complacent, ignorant populace is largely indifferent to galactic politics, used to having no say, and has quietly accepted the Empire. It's a great, flavorful depiction of the sort of minor Core World that has to be out there -- not all of them can be jewels of civilization -- with its agrarian sleepiness kept from hicksville cliche by the addition of the stultifying communist-type element of nationalized agriculture.

    There are no Adventure Ideas, oddly enough, but there is a write-up of Franni, the financial investigation droid, that provides plenty of sidebars for this story. FRN-I, the Finance Retrieval and Net Investigation droid, is a humanoid droid with feminine programming, designed to access financial networks and databanks, and slice in if she's not granted access. With a lot of processing power and access to the Finance Net, it's a lot easier for her to untangle the finances of Imperial citizens than a flesh-and-blood investigator.

    I loved this story. Burns is a pretty good writer, getting personalities across through actions, thoughts, and dialogue, not heavy narration, and making a tight, fully functional pulp story that feels satisfying, unlike many stories which feel only half-developed, limited by an inability to work within their page count or an inability to make the most of their page count. Equally importantly, it feels totally fresh. Throughout the Adventure Journal's relatively short run, we've seen a lot of focus on knockoff-Han-Solo protagonists. Everybody's stories are about some smuggler and his partner smuggling, or maybe a fringer joining the Rebellion. That or you've got your occasional Rebel agent. But everything feels fairly locked down. There are a lot of other storytelling paradigms that just aren't getting explored because of the WEG focus on Rebel-fringers in a freighter. Kathy Tyers has broken a little ways out of the mold with her munitions heiress turned Rebel bounty hunter, but here we see Burns challenging the whole Adventure Journal storytelling paradigm by actually going back to a classic pulp standby, the detective/crime story. There's not a lot to the mystery, but it is a story of a detective doing an investigation, and while it comes with a unique Star Wars twist, it's not jammed into the Rebellion-versus-Empire format. It's a classic and it works for Star Wars. I'd love to see Adventure Journals continue to branch out with short stories about pirates, mercenary missions, Rebel SpecForces, bounty hunters, embedded spies, treasure hunters -- anything but more smuggler-scoundrel stories. Burns will go on to excel at this. I would have loved to have seen Tambell and Rizz become recurring characters, but Burns didn't write any more stories with them. What she did do, though, was write stories featuring a reporter, a courier, and an undercover New Republic agent. She's got a great, original perspective and I really wish we'd seen more of her writing. One of those stories will follow in this issue. That'll be a while, though. The next piece is one on swoop gangs.
  13. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    What's interesting is the kid really reminded me of Ezra and his situation with the Inquisition.
  14. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Our last short story had swoops in it. Now we have a whole article on Swoop Gangs. Like this type of article has a tendency to do, it splits its time between discussing the general subject and setting up the authors' own personal set of characters, in this case the Rabid Mynocks swoop gang of Gallisport. It also mixes up vignettes, straightforward article-format writing, and setup for an adventure.

    At this point I'd kind of like to see one of these things not open with a vignette. We're not so lucky today, as a pair of Rabid Mynocks streak through the streets, unable to lose the authorities' armored personnel carriers. Amusingly, they're wanted for having robbed a food distribution center because the workers were on strike and the gang was hungry. See, they're heroes because they give food to the poor. They escape by splitting up and then maneuvering the two pursuing vehicles into hitting each other. Much fun was had by all.

    We then get an explanation that swoop gangs can vary from good to bad. Some may be associations for mutual protection, allowing rebellious types to band together against corrupt officials or predatory crooks to protect each other and their communities. On some planets, the swoop gangs have become institutionalized, with elaborate rituals and hereditary heirlooms, functioning as the central source of order on their worlds. There are some swoop gangs dedicated to fighting the Empire. However, their anti-authority bent doesn't make them natural recruits for the Rebellion. The Rebels frequently try to recruit these anti-Imperial gangs, but have little luck with riders who are skeptical of the Alliance as well. The bad swoop gangs, though, are just a bunch of criminal thugs, often engaged in robbery, assault, and extortion. What both sides have in common is an indifference to the law, loyalty to the gang, and adherence to some type of honor code, complete with gang colors. Which may not be literal colors, but symbols or insignia.

    We then get character sheets for various types of swoop gang characters. The article makes the interesting point that swoop gangs are generally composed of tough, fringe-type individuals who don't travel the galaxy. Unlike the cosmopolitan, rootless tramp-freighter fringe we're used to, these are individuals without spacefaring skills, experience, or inclination, characters who are strongly linked to their homeworld. It's a definite point of distinction to be aware of when we're so used to planet-hopping characters, both from the upper class and the underclass. If you want to adapt an existing character type to a swoop gang campaign, therefore, you're advised to replace any standard-issue spacefaring skills like astrogation, starship shields, and space transports, with swoop operation and similar ground-based repair and operations skills. The all-new profiles we get are for the swoop gang leader, swoop gang brute, the outlaw swoop tech, street thief, and best of all, the street weasel, a grifter and con-man for whom the authors wonderfully recycle Zahn's "come-up flector" nonsense.

    For running a swoop campaign, you can go big or small, but the authors recommend using a light, humorous touch, enjoying the fact that the characters can play for small stakes with all the intensity of bigger galactic drama. They can spend the effort to secure sold-out concert tickets that you would to get the Death Star plans. You can play with the characters as local heroes resisting corrupt planetary oppressors, basically good-natured heroes operating similarly to other campaigns. Or you can play what they call the renegade campaign, with the characters as wanted felons, who may or may not be guilty, on the run from authorities, hiding out among the local fringe but constantly forced to move on. Or the gamemaster can simply add a swoop gang element to an existing campaign, allowing the characters to come into contact with swoop gangs, or to use lawless, bad-guy swoop gangs as the enemies of a storyline.

    The elements of the Gallisport campaign come next. The authors actually borrow the location from Galaxy Guide 6: Tramp Freighters, which is some nice synergy. Gallisport is the capital of the system, a city on one of two inhabited moons (in a wildly improbable turn by WEG standards of astonishing underpopulation, they have a population of twelve billion. I think this is the first location we've seen with a population greater than Earth's own, but in any case, it's shockingly reasonable). The place is an economically depressed, polluted industrial wasteland, controlled by a spectacularly corrupt government in the grips of organized crime. Gallisport law enforcement is mostly given over to private contractors, the Legally Authorized Law Authorities, or as the gangs call them, LA-LAs. These organizations are also amazingly corrupt and generally just function as another criminal gang, when they're not outright controlled by them. There are Imperial forces in the system, but they don't do much other than collect taxes.

    There's also a section on swoop slang, but none of it's that interesting. So I'll skip to the next vignette, which has the celebrating Rabid Mynocks suddenly affronted in their watering hole by a rival gang leader, who shoots up their colors and tells them to stay out of his territory.

    The pieces moves on to a write-up of the Rabid Mynocks themselves. They were formed to protect the citizens of their zone against the other, more predatory swoop gangs out there. They've recently been disrupted by the arrests of key leaders, who mostly escaped, but which weakened the gang and led their rival Spiders to move in on their territory.

    Quayce, the leader, is a woman who stowed away to escape her world as a ten-year-old, not realizing she was hiding aboard a pirate ship. The pirates took her on as one of their own, but had her mostly doing grunt work. So she jumped ship in Gallisport as a sixteen-year-old and joined up with the Rabid Mynocks, eventually rising to be their leader. She's extremely loyal to the gang. She also lucked into having that stupid haircut with one side of your head shaved that's inexplicably popular right now, so suddenly she's cool again.

    Chop Harlison was studying repulsorlift engineering when his parents died in a Gallisport gang war and he didn't have the money to finish his education. Instead, he took care of his younger brother Roy. Both ended up homeless, and joined the Mynocks. Chop put his skills to use repairing and modifying their swoops, soon becoming a hot-rodding wizard and developing an experimental swoop called the Star Slinger. Chop fell in love with a woman named Sharda, and had a daughter, Jardra. Sharda was killed by the Spiders, pushing Chop to get away from the gang life. He pulled out of the gang and opened Chop's Shop, a legitimate garage, and raised Jardra, who's now lead singer with a band. These authors are quite obviously in love with rock music. They're constantly talking about concerts and bands in their swoop gang article. Anyway, he still keeps in contact with the Mynocks and helps them out here and there for his brother's sake. He has a sweet goatee and seventies sideburns.

    Roy Harlison was ten when his parents were killed. Chop raised him as they took refuge among the Mynocks. He was eventually conscripted by the Empire and joined a scout unit. He lasted for a couple of days, until he modified the speeder bikes without telling anybody and the captain crashed into a tree. That got him court-martialed and discharged. He returned to the Mynocks, where he's made a name for himself as a tough enforcer. When the last leader died, the gang wanted Roy to be the next leader, but he didn't see himself as a leader, and recommended Quayce instead. He's been a loyal right-hand man since. He's a big, bearded hairball in a vest, bandanna, and sunglasses, a totally stereotypical biker. But the most important thing about this image of him is that, for some unfathomable reason, he has a bicep tattoo that says "BIG DADDY." Yes. Seriously. His weapon of choice, a riot gun, gets a writeup. It's basically a shotgun, a double-barreled breech-loading weapon firing a pair of shells that are most effective at close range. The difference is that instead of firing shot, the shells produce an explosion that just fires a concussive blast of air, made for knocking down people and objects, not killing.

    Bobi is a dumbly-named orphan Chop has taken in after Bobi tried to steal from him. The kid's a street thief, and he's helped the gang out, including helping Chop bust the arrested members of out of prison. He's joined the Mynocks, and is excited to help them out as they help out the population. He flies a speeder bike because he's not ready for a swoop yet.

    Their main rival gang is the Spiders. Currently flourishing under Dean Lado, who's made a habit of integrating other gangs into the Spiders' membership. These guys are outright nasty criminals. He was abandoned as a kid and raised by the Spiders, becoming vicious and violent. He took over the gang when he was twenty by killing the former leader during a raid on a rival gang. Recently he's become obsessed with stealing the Star Slinger.

    Then it's time for another vignette, with Quayce racing Lado in a formalized challenge. Lado's kidnapped Jardra, and issued a challenge for a showdown race around the old abandoned swoop track. If he wins, he gets the Star Slinger plans and Quayce steps down. If he loses, he gives Jardra back and he steps down. They race, with Quayce secretly riding the Star Slinger. Lado, the better rider, takes the lead, and is known for setting traps. In the home stretch, he activates a repulsor minefield set to take out the second swoop to pass over it, which seems kind of pointless if he's already in the lead, but whatever. Quayce one-ups him by tossing a grenade at him, which causes him to freak out even though she knows it's a dud. She's able to hit the experimental booster and pass him while he's distracted, and as a result he gets killed by his own minefield, she wins but crashes the Star Slinger, and good things happen to the good people. I've never seen a piece like this establish the ending to its own scenario quite like this. I guess the authors are too into their setup to hold back from giving us their conclusion.

    The article ends with three adventure scenarios. One is a Rebel mission to sabotage a factory inside Spider territory that produces AT-ST parts. The Rebel agents need to show up, get the assistance of another gang, scout the area, infiltrate the factory, reprogram the computers, sabotage the assembly line, and get out. Another has the characters in a swoop gang, trying to find the stolen equipment of a band that's friends with the gang shortly before their show. This is a good example of the kind of low-stakes storyline they were talking about. There's a fight with the thieves, a quest to obtain some replacement gear, and the necessity of stealing computer cores from the Imperial consulate's communications lab to fix the light-and-sound system. The final adventure is an escape from prison, with swoop gang members arrested by the LA-LAs and broken out by friends. They then need to recover some resources and steal back their impounded swoops.

    It's a nice concept for an article. I really like the localized, small-scale adventures angle. The authors are more than a little idiosyncratic, and make some odd choices in putting so much emphasis on their scenario and then not leaving it open-ended. The details they give us are fairly standard stuff, no really striking characters or immersive levels of creative, original detail. But it does its job of firing our imaginations with a fun new concept for gameplay and setting out enough basics to get you started.

    Next up is The Cure, the second adventure of this issue.
  15. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 6

    Oct 4, 1998
    Swoops are cool.

  16. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    The Cure is probably the single best adventure of the books with the possible exception of the yacht race.
  17. Daneira

    Daneira Jedi Master star 4

    Jun 30, 2016
    What an unnecessarily sexual drawing.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Random Comments likes this.
  18. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    I've heard nothing but good things about The Cure. However, I'm mixed on James Cambias, who's had an adventure in every issue with an adventure since issue two (this, however, is his final contribution). Cambias has a pattern of good ideas and creative premises marred by underwritten execution that leaves it up to the GM to get anything out of his linear storylines. So I'm interested to see how this goes.

    At least it doesn't start with a vignette. Dr. Andros Hareel, the head of the Alliance's medical section, briefs the characters to begin the adventure. Sedesia's been suffering under a mysterious virus for six months. It infected a truly ridiculous ninety percent of the population and killed thousands, giving it a fairly low mortality rate, but on the other hand the whole planet's population is that of Phoenix. The Empire took the opportunity to take over the planet and declare a quarantine. Sedesia's gone silent, but the Empire claims to have cured the plague. Hareel doesn't buy it. The Empire doesn't do nice things! Despite its not exactly being in their interest for virulent plagues to spread around. So everybody's sent off to Sedesia to do some spy work. Luckily, there was a strong Rebel presence on the world beforehand, so you've got lots of information, contacts, landing zones, etc. It's a high-gravity ranching world with extreme weather, lightly populated by independent rancher types.

    You will find the planet protected by one fairly pathetic quarantine, a Dreadnaught, a Strike Cruiser, and two Customs ships, with two squadrons of TIEs total. You can sneak past or just try to outfly them. You can land your ship at the secret landing site on a ranch thirty kilometers outside the capital, Besia Osurne. No one will notice a ship landing eighteen miles from the capital. If you go in the house, you'll find the whole family dead. It's a pretty nasty virus. Head to the capital. Nothing ever happens on a planet except in the capital city.

    Besia Osurne has a population of two hundred fifty thousand, or one sixth of the entire planet. Or it had that population. I'm guessing a lot of them are dead now. By the way, is your party wearing some kind of environment gear? You know, it's just an idea. But it turns out . . . the city's full of happy people. People who love the Empire! There are health stations set up to give injections, manned by friendly youths from the local COMPNOR SAGroup. If you head to one of these, though, you can't get an injection without being in the system. You need to go to the central medical facility to get registered. Everybody is just getting their regular boosters from the health stations.

    Your Rebel contact in town is Sybegh Abya. You have to go to a bar and tap a certain pattern on the table. What, is this guy just constantly living in this bar? You don't want a drunk for a contact. He'll take you back to his home. The independent-minded rancher is accompanied by his droid, I2-B4, a floating ball with arms. It's a business droid, and it handles Abya's accounting and business, and is aware of his Rebel role. Its first owner was Lord Anstaal, one of the Old Republic's richest aristocrats. The droid constantly brags about this and complains that things were better with him. It's an amusing detail, the kind of fleshing-out Cambias too often forgoes. Abya actually approves of what the Empire has done. They really have cured the plague, and without just dragging infected people off to die. The "Gray Death" killed thirty thousand people before the Empire got it under control (which is about two percent of the number Cambias claims were infected with it). Almost as soon as the Empire got on the case, however, the Gray Death disappeared. The Rebel population, however, was hardest-hit because they didn't trust the Empire and therefore held off getting the immunizations. Most of the Rebel leadership is dead. Cambias then chimes in to note that the player characters should be worried about catching the plague (what, only now?), but actually they're in no danger and can only get the plague if they get the shots. Which kind of gives the game away, and also is a brilliantly cruel twist given that players should want to, you know, not get sick and die. Character might notice something, however, from the fact that the head of the Imperial medical effort is Dr. Fesjo Negleem. A very difficult roll would let them recall that the guy was a big deal in the Imperial Army's biowarfare research.

    The planet is occupied by three battalions of CompForce troops. There are regulars aboard the Dreadnaught. You can try to learn about troop dispositions if you want. Me, I'd focus on this whole mysterious disease thing. The Imps have taken over an old veterinary station outside Besia Osurne. Cambias doesn't make much of getting inside. You just have to do it. Get over a fence and past the guards somehow. The location doesn't seem to be heavily guarded or staffed, the way Cambias writes about it. Once inside, you're supposed to notice that the labs are big old fakes. It's just a jumble of random science equipment set up to look all sciency. Negleem must be out to lunch, because you can break into his office and look around. He's got the only working lab, which produces the drug that's sent out for the immunizations, and a little report on how COMPNOR has achieved Imperial loyalty from a highly Rebel-supportive planet by seeding the plague throughout the planet by spraying (CHEMTRAILS!), causing ninety-nine percent infection, and then swooping in in the confusion, seizing control of the planet with minimal personnel, and making themselves indispensable to the population by providing inoculations . . . which actually kill the plague, but also contain fresh plague cultures designed to activate in a week or so, meaning people will die unless they're constantly visiting these COMPNOR centers for booster shots from their friends at COMPNOR. And you just don't give the Rebels the shots. Let 'em die. In fact, Negleem is recommending expanding the program to more planets. So the goal here is to get a sample of the pure antidote out of the lab, one not contaminated by having the plague added to it.

    On your way out of the building, who should you run into but Negleem. A fight ensues. You can escape his four bodyguards, but if you flee the location, a truly ridiculous chase occurs. What is ridiculous is not anything about the chase itself, so much. What's ridiculous is that you're on striders, six-legged native reptiles, and you're being chased by personnel on wheelbikes. So the whole reptile-mount-vs-wheelbike thing basically anticipates the General Grievous/General Kenobi chase scene by ten years. You run into a bunch of herd animals, and may have to deal with a stampede. Get to the hospital ASAP, before Negleem can secure it, and have them make the cure and broadcast the formula. Good luck convincing them that the Empire has been poisoning them all along and these random people running around have what's totally a cure and they should make some batches up really quick and shoot it into everybody. Cambias's idea of a "further adventures" epilogue is that the planetary populace gets pissed off at the Empire, understandably, and starts revolting. With most of the local Rebels dead, they look to your group to lead them in throwing the Empire off the planet. Good luck getting a bunch of widely scattered ranchers to outfight a Dreadnaught. The most likely scenario is just turning things into a guerrilla resistance. Or you could just have to deliver the cure to remote locations of the planet. A ranching planet can also be used for Western-themed adventures, and its forty-five-degree axial tilt leads to a proposal to have to search for a crashed starship during the dark winter near one of the poles.

    Honestly, I feel like this was standard Cambias. Really cool ideas, but the adventure is so underwritten that it's totally dependent on you to do something with it. He doesn't set up any particularly interesting setpieces, doesn't give you much to work with, just sets up a quick series of "here's a goal and you accomplish it" in a row and gets out. The issue of how is almost always ignored. He rarely sets a scene or gives you anything to really get your creative juices flowing. I want to like it, but Cambias doesn't give me enough substance to like.

    Next time, we'll get the answers and the winners for the contest from issue three, as well as a DarkStryder preview.
    Sarge, Daneira, Vthuil and 2 others like this.
  19. blackmyron

    blackmyron Force Ghost star 6

    Oct 29, 2005
    The problem with these types of adventures is that the players can metagame the predictable result. Terrible plaque? Secret Imperial bioweapon test. Starships go missing? Secret Imperial starfighter training. Massive earthquake? Secret Imperial earthquake machine.
    Havac , Sarge and Daneira like this.
  20. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    Predictability isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're running a game which is all about high octane Pulpy space adventure. The benefit of "The Cure" is it pretty much resists the biggest problems with WEG and that was their inability to provide a dramatic Star Wars experinece where you're the big heroes. Here, there's an EVIL Imperial scientist and his EVIL plague with an obvious plot threat to follow up. It's not a mystery but a question of hwo you're going to get inside and deal with it.

    It's a Blow up the Death Star in miniature adventure and I don't see a problem with that.


    I also like we get some attention for COMPFORCE.
    Havac and Sarge like this.
  21. blackmyron

    blackmyron Force Ghost star 6

    Oct 29, 2005
    If I wanted that, I'd run the SWAJ adventure Counterstrike, which is literally what you described. :p
    Havac likes this.
  22. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    Which is the one about blowing up a shipyard of the Dissension? I got SO much mileage out of that adventure.
  23. blackmyron

    blackmyron Force Ghost star 6

    Oct 29, 2005
    That's the adventure! One of my favorites as well.
  24. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    The Cure was followed by a page listing West End Games's future releases across all their lines, as well as a card you could cut out and send in to order directly. It may not be coincidence that they left whitespace, pretty rare in the Adventure Journal, at the end of The Cure, allowing you to cut out the card without removing any material on the back of it. This is faced by a new ad for Sword of the Knight Publications, what appears to be an effort to sell supporting material for smaller game lines; they advertise magazines for Traveller and Earthdawn. The competition's buying ads in the Adventure Journal.

    Medals of Honor is three pages, which almost seems like more than you even need to announce the answers and winners for the "scavenger hunt" contest from way back in issue three. The answers are that John Ratzenberger played Bren Derlin, the Jedi Knights guarded peace and justice in the Old Republic for over a thousand generations, the Bpfasshi Dark Jedi visited Dagobah, the famous Rebel general and his son are Airen and Pash Cracken, and "I have a bad feeling about this" was said oh dammit we screwed up. See, "I have a bad feeling about this" was said twice. However, characters also said, "I have a very bad feeling about this," "I got a bad feeling about this," and "I have a really bad feeling about this." So Schweighofer throws his hands up and agrees to take any answer from two to five. Did they not check their question beforehand or something?

    The winners, drawn from the pool of correct answers, are then announced. Ashley Williams (no, not the Mass Effect character) wins some Star Wars pins. Trent Rasmussen of Saskatoon gets Micro Machines. ET1 Charles Motheral of the USS Independence wins a complete set of Topps Galaxy trading cards. Rey Fadri wins a hundred and fifty bucks of WEG swag. A year of free AJ subscriptions goes to Kathy Ventura, Rob Forsyth of the suspiciously lucky Saskatoon, John Gago, Ed Lindquist, and Raymond Rivera.

    Finder's Fee is a short preview designed to advertise the upcoming release of the DarkStryder Campaign. This is the Star Wars Roleplaying Game's first boxed campaign set, and it's promoted as being something new and exciting. It's "gritty," featuring a New Republic starship crew made up of "criminals, outcasts, Imperial prisoners and rogues, all held together by a few loyal New Republic soldiers." What's more, it promises an interesting mechanic in which players can play any member of the crew, and switch which character they're playing on the fly. One of this crew is Loh'khar the Finder, a Twi'lek "procurement specialist." Finder's Fee is a brief short story about his background, plus a profile.

    In Lorana's Labyrinth, the bar from all the way back in issue one, the Rebel infiltrator Thella is looking to get her team offworld after the Empire caught on to their effort to steal some important data. And the person she turns to is our friend the Finder. He acts quite knowing and imperious, as befits mysterious fixers. Once he's promised payment, he easily starts calling in favors and directing his assistants, procuring a pilot to get them past the Imperial ships in orbit, an interface pad to decode the datacard Thella's team stole, and an Emdee droid to treat one of her team. For payment, he asks not for money, but for the chance to copy the information she took on the sector fleet. And almost instantly, Thella is read to head off with her new ride, who is of course Platt Okeefe.

    Loh'khar's profile tells us that he claims to have fled Ryloth as a result of a clan conspiracy against him. He's now obtained a ship and his cadre of alien assistants, and travels across the galaxy procuring whatever's needed and selling rare merchandise. Sometimes he'll establish a home base at some starport temporarily before moving on again. He maintains networks of agents, spies, and favor-owers across the galaxy. He does work for the Alliance and Empire alike. His three closest employees are Rizzal, Vizzal, and Nizzal, three Turazza, exceptionally ugly waist-height aliens. He raised them from infancy, and they serve as his runners.

    A short piece, the story isn't of any inherent value itself; it's just a marginally more entertaining way of establishing what Loh'khar does than a plain writeup. But it does establish a character who should prove quite useful for players regardless of whether they go for the DarkStryder Campaign or not. It doesn't focus at all on how he's connected to DarkStryder, just on establishing a character gamers can use anywhere. So it does a really nice job of giving us something genuinely useful and interesting and not a simple preview.

    Next we'll be tackling everybody's favorite feature, the NewsNets!
  25. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 3, 2013