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Lit We Hav to Go on an Adventure with Jello

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

  1. blackmyron

    blackmyron Force Ghost star 6

    Oct 29, 2005
    Sadly, Decipher was a victim of turnabout corporate warfare. And one of their executives basically robbing them blind, but that came after losing the Star Wars license.

    Funny thing - their rival, Wizards of the Coast, bought out a rather successful RPG company called Last Unicorn Games that consisted almost 99% of a series of Star Trek RPGs. They were going to announce the buyout officially at GenCon 2000... and by an amazing coincidence, Decipher waited until GenCon to reveal that they had acquired the RPG license for Star Trek from Paramount, essentially gutting LUG and making the buyout worthless.

    So, WOTC went to LFL and said "Hey, you've given us the RPG and miniature gaming licenses, shouldn't we have the CCG license too?"... and by the end of the following year, Decipher lost the license.
    Random Comments and TheRedBlade like this.
  2. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 6

    Oct 4, 1998
    Not to get too far off on a tangent, but I liked LUG Trek. It was not a simple system and it could have used another pass through editing to clarify and reduce page flipping, but they did a great job of turning Trek into an RPG, IMO.
    Sinrebirth likes this.
  3. ATimson

    ATimson Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 19, 2003
    The story I always heard was that WOTC lost the license because of the buyout - that Paramount didn't like them having both the Trek and Wars licenses.
  4. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Some five months before X-wing: Rogue Squadron came out, Corran Horn was introduced to readers of the Adventure Journal in Michael Stackpole's Missed Chance, his first Star Wars prose (he had story credit on the X-wing Rogue Squadron comics that had just started coming out, so it wasn't his first Star Wars credit). The short story, set before Corran joined Rogue Squadron, not only sets up backstory for Stackpole's upcoming novel series in a savvy bit of promotion (the Adventure Journal could have run a lot more novel tie-ins, honestly) but also ties back into Tim Zahn's preceding short story, featuring as its Imperial villain none other than Mosh Barris. Many of you should be familiar with it, as the story was republished in Tales from the Empire.

    The story opens with Corran Horn and Whistler on Garqi, where Corran's hiding out, with his X-wing in an old abandoned shed. There's the nice detail of Whistler, who's stuck in the shed, spending his time rearranging the debris that makes it look abandoned. Corran can't get a needed part because Imperial security is tight due to Prefect Barris's overreaction to pro-New Republic vandalism (carried out, Corran points out, not by actual Rebels but just by idealistic college students) and the capture of a shipment of X-wing parts and supplies meant for Corran and carried by none other than Lai Nootka, soon to rocket to prominence in the X-wing series as the galaxy's most famous Duros Kirtan Loor lookalike. Whistler's prodding Corran to just join the New Republic already, but Corran's resisting. We learn he's left the Corellian Security Force thanks to the Empire, and is trying to hid out on Garqi. It's just that he can't keep himself from flying his X-wing at night, and it's brought down a lot of heat. He also resists sticking his neck out for the dumbass college kids trying "to shock their parents [by] playing Rebel," since they got themselves into it by leaving an obvious data trail, and he trusts the administration will figure out that Dynba Tesc, the arrested student, isn't a Rebel and is a meaningless figure, and let her go after a little time in the pokey. It takes aggressive prodding from Whistler to get him to promise to do something if he can. Corran's in full Han Solo mode here, trying to lie low, deny responsibility for anything, and stay out of it without joining the New Republic, because just because he's in trouble with the Empire doesn't mean he's for the New Republic. In fact, all this heat means he's going to blow town as soon as he can get the part he needs. Garqi's no longer a good hideout.

    We're then with Mosh Barris, who is now the military prefect on insignificant Garqi, where he usually finds himself in charge due to the governor's numerous absences. He's amazed that Dynba Tesc, even under narco-interrogation, won't admit to knowing anything about Nootka or the mystery X-wing, or the identity of Xeno, the leader of her slicer ring. He doesn't believe that's it, though, as he whines to his aide, Eamon Yzalli, and is still griping about the outcome of the Thrawn incident, which saw the alien and Parck promoted to glory and Barris's once-promising career destroyed. My favorite detail is that he's on Garqi because he was kicked out of his last post by the demotion of somebody from Tatooine who was being held responsible for Luke Skywalker's leaving Tatooine to become a Jedi Knight. Barris is a rung lower on the ladder than the guy being held ultimately responsible for the Emperor's death (Eugene Talmont, maybe?). Barris is consequently desperate to turn things around by making some kind of splash. And he thinks he has only a short time to do it, because some Intel nincompoop named Kirtan Loor is being sent to investigate Tesc, and no doubt to investigate Barris, or so old Mosh thinks. So he proposes to publicly execute Tesc, and try to figure out who her associates are by seeing who goes scurrying around in reaction. Yzalli says, very diplomatically, that that's dumb. He's got a better plan: announce the execution, but then let Yzalli approach Tesc, and, using his credentials as an Alderaanian, convince her that he's going to help her escape. In fact, they'll let her gather together her little Rebel cell and Nootka's crew and blast out in Nootka's ship, with his cargo. This will prove the Rebel threat and gather them all together, where they can be conveniently shot down by Barris's TIEs. Gimmicking the shield generator on the freighter will just ensure it. And Barris can enter a false report that he had Yzalli executed for treason to explain why he's not fleeing with them.

    The subject of this devious plan, Dynba Tesc, is meanwhile scared out of her mind and all drugged up in an Imperial cell. She's a dumb kid who sees the New Republic and Rebellion as some distant thing, a romantic group of freedom fighters. When she and her online friends got all excited about Nootka's arrest and the speculation about an actual NR presence on the planet, they were contacted by Xeno, who sliced his way into their slicer hangouts on the nets, and helped organize them into a little band of pro-NR cyber-vandalism propagandists. She always assumed he was a member of Nootka's crew who avoided the roundup, given he only showed up after the arrests. She's really not the sharpest crayon in the pack, though, having gotten arrested after she, in her assumption that Xeno was building up to something bigger, got a little over-thrilled and painted real graffiti onto the Imperial Courthouse . . . using a specially mixed color of paint she charged to her account. But Eamon Yzalli comes in and talks to her, telling her he'll help her escape. Since all of you should have read this already, I won't bother concealing the twist -- this scene has a great duality when you know it's Corran Horn posing as Yzalli. Talking about his sense of complicity, his attempts to moderate Barris and his regret at being unable to do so, you get the feeling it's Corran's real feelings coming through, about his year in this role, maybe even about his time in CorSec. When Tesc tells him those he lost on Alderaan would be proud, you can tell he's thinking about whether his father would be proud of what he's doing right now (it also makes his earlier resolution to blow town unnecessary, as he'd have to run anyway as soon as he realizes Kirtan Loor is coming, and the fact that he's already resolved to run makes it unnecessary that the Intelligence agent be Loor, which introduces another X-wing character at the cost of creating a very small-universe syndrome where Loor always happens to be coming across Corran).

    Yzalli thus orders people to replace all the contraband on the ship to show Loor how they found it, and releases Tesc to gather her friends and then free the crew by posing as Imperial Intelligence agent Kirtana Loor, explaining all this to Barris, and how he's kept knowledge of this as contained as possible. When you're paying attention, it's obvious how he's setting up Barris for the fall, with the shields rigged in such a way they can easily be brought back up -- but don't worry, they won't know they're rigged or figure out how to fix them quickly enough. And as for those parts that have mysteriously disappeared from the contraband, don't worry, he's sure somebody just helped himself and he's got a few leads on that.

    The story moves quickly along to Dynba Tesc impersonating Kirtan(a) Loor and freeing the crew. For an endearingly dopey, juvenile rube, she proves a surprisingly capable actor in the role of imperious officer; the weak link in this plan is the idea that Corran would have ever thought her capable of pulling this off. She and her buddies, driving the speeders, get the crew to the spaceport, where they let them in on the plan and Nootka readies the ship for takeoff. Xeno, however, has said his work isn't done, and they find out that Eamon has been executed. They take off, only to find the shields aren't working, and Dynba realizes Eamon Yzalli has set them up. But then another ship joins the pursuit -- it's Corran Horn, mysteriously absent from the entire story since the beginning, which should have tipped you off if nothing else did. He comms the ship with the code to bring their shields back up, leading Dynba to excitedly assume he's Xeno, rescuing them. Then we get some good old-fashioned Stackpole X-wing action, as Corran has Whistler paint targets for his proton torpedoes, dials down the inertial compensator, and quickly works his way though the TIEs with a little bit of fancy maneuvering. He then jumps out with Nootka.

    Barris, meanwhile, has enjoyed putting on the show of the Rebels' destruction to his guests, only for Kirtan Loor to show up. See, Loor was sent a report from Yzalli. A report that said Barris organized the Rebels' escape as part of a plot to take the planet over to the New Republic. A report that said Yzalli feared for his life. And now Barris has had him executed. So Barris is in the same position he put Dynba in -- to be interrogated ceaselessly by someone who will never believe that he knows nothing.

    Meanwhile, at the New Republic base they escaped to, Corran finally meets Dynba as himself and explains his deception. He'd meant to escape on his own and use the freighter as a distraction for the TIEs, just sending them a message with the shield code. But Barris was a bit too thorough, disabling his Eamon Yzalli accounts when he had Yzalli declared dead. So Corran had to fly to the rescue. He's not Xeno, though. No, that's the really good twist: Whistler was Xeno. Turns out the little guy's something of a New Republic partisan, and more importantly was running the group with the goal of getting them to steal the parts for Corran. Captain Dromath of the New Republic tries to recruit Corran for the NR, telling him that he may not think it's his fight, but if he stays on the run, he's going to keep on getting involved in the fight the way he just did. And he's better off fighting with allies than all on his own. Besides, they're reforming Rogue Squadron, and he seems like he might be good enough to join. Corran thinks, and he realizes he's right. He doesn't want to run on his own forever. He wants to have some damn friends. He might as well join.

    All the RPG material, of course, wasn't published in Tales from the Empire. So the profile information should still be new to folks. Corran's written up without losing the mystery of exactly what circumstances caused him to leave CorSec. He used the confusion of the transfer of power and some forged paperwork from Gil Bastra to pose as Barris's aide when Barris was put in the position. That's the only really new information. Whistler gets his own writeup, which points out his loyalty to Corran but also his independence, his willingness to pursue his own side projects and interests. Whistler is a voice of conscience for Corran, and is very pro-New Republic -- which is helped by his fascination with the heroic role of a certain astromech. Man, I'm so disappointed we never got an awesome Artoo/Whistler teamup story.

    Barris, we learn, had his promising career dissipate due to the consideration for his troops we saw before -- his overcaution caused him to fail to follow up on several opportunities, and order unnecessary retreats. He also politicked strongly for his preferred Army troopers and against the stormtrooper corps, which was a losing cause, and his failed politicking and loud dissatisfaction with the Empire's military administration made him enemies. He may blame all his fall on Thrawn, but really it seems likely he was always doomed to be a disappointing officer. He's long since lost an optimism about his career, wallowing in self-pity and minor scheming without any effort put behind it. In his latest job, he finds himself assuming the duties of the governor, who is always absent in the Core, enjoying perks and bemoaning the state of the Empire. He's constantly scheming to try to make some splash and raise himself back up, but his schemes are often harebrained, and he's mostly just good for drinking and getting subtly guided around by Yzalli.

    Dynba Tesc is a computer-automation student at Garqi Ag. She's a bored student who got carried away with romantic enthusiasm, and now dreams of joining the New Republic, "meeting some handsome starship pilot," and freeing the galaxy. I really like the way she's kind of set up as a naive, juvenile doofus of a character, someone who's well-intentioned but also largely out of touch with reality. It's part of the reason why having her act the part of hardass Agent Loor doesn't really work. It goes against what's great about her character, which is the insight into how not every aspiring small-town Rebel is going to be some Alex Winger badass. Sometimes they're just soft suburban kids, starry-eyed dreamers who could never make it in a real war. Still, she gets to join the New Republic, though probably not on the front lines, and it makes a nice little arc. Stackpole would of course return to her story eventually when Garqi shows back up in The New Jedi Order, filling in a little more of her story by introducing us to her son with Captain Dromath from the end of the story, who explains that she ended up as kind of a paranoid prepper on Garqi, fearing some new Imperial Remnant invasion, and was killed in the Yuuzhan Vong invasion but not before her stores allowed her son to build an anti-Vong resistance.

    Garqi is also written up. It's a quiet, sleepy, totally boring agricultural world where production is dominated by ag droids and the peaceful population (slightly lower than that of the tiny island nation of Comoros -- this entire planet would be only the one hundred seventy-seventh-biggest city in China) has little to do.

    It's a fun story, a little caper written in classic Stackpole style. If it has a weakness, it's that it's not a very good introduction to Corran Horn. The starfighter combat scene is vintage X-wing, but everything else has little to do with where the series would go, and since it keeps Corran's role obscured for most of the story he doesn't really exude a strong presence. Corran Horn, Master of Disguise wasn't really a paradigm the series would ever tap into, and it thus has little thematic linkage to anything but Corran's much-later undercover stint in I, Jedi. The story of how Corran decides to join the New Republic is important backstory, but staging it in this way doesn't give us much of an idea of who Corran Horn is as a character or what the X-wing books will be like. Corran's standoffish, loner nature that he struggles to overcome here plays into the opening of Rogue Squadron, but the character isn't really informed that much by his lonely year on the run from the Empire. The way he ultimately developed, it feels like a better introduction would have been giving us a Corran Horn story set in his CorSec days, maybe telling of his escape from Loor, featuring Gil Bastra and Iella. CorSec plays much more into Corran's character than this idea of him as Richard Kimble on the run doing good deeds. But still, it's a fun story and does tie into where Corran is at the start of Rogue Squadron.

    Next time, we'll get Ilene Rosenberg's interview with Michael Stackpole himself, plus a new Crackens' Rebel Operatives feature!
  5. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Michael Stackpole: The Adventures of Rogue Squadron is the standard author interview with Ilene Rosenberg. At only five pages long, it's short for these things, likely limited by the fact that Stackpole didn't have any actual books out yet to prompt deeper questioning.

    Rosenberg starts by noting both the excitement that Wedge Antilles will be getting his own novel series -- four-novel series, we're told, which doesn't even reflect quite how shocking it is for Wedge Antilles to get more novels, right off the bat, than the entire Thrawn Trilogy. -- and how cool it is that the series will be written by a veteran gamer, game designer, and gaming writer. He's played roleplaying games since they were a thing, designed computer and roleplaying games, and written military sci-fi series spun off from RPGs. He won the H.G. Wells Award for best RPG adventure twice in a row and is already a member of the Academy of Gaming Arts and Design Hall of Fame. In short, get excited, WEG audience, because this is your guy.

    The early questions center about that. How he first got involved in gaming -- he ordered Tunnels and Trolls by mail in 1976. Within a year, he'd written and sold his own solo adventure to Flying Buffalo, and started working for them after he graduated college. He still games, though because it's work and he's a pain-in-the-ass player, not as much as he did back in the eighties. His favorite part of roleplaying is getting into character, developing characters, character interaction, and the sense of discovery of figuring out what's going on in the story, of having a living world to interact with. While working in the gaming industry, he started writing novels in his free time, first writing his own fantasy novel, and then getting involved with the BattleTech series.

    He portrays getting the X-wing novels as simply a default thing: Bantam came up with a wish list of characteristics for their X-wing series author -- someone who was already a Bantam author, who did military sci-fi, who could work in shared universes, and who would work fast and well. He was the guy who happened to check all those boxes, largely thanks to his BattleTech experience. Since Rogue Squadron isn't out yet, the question is what to expect. Stackpole endorses Dupas Thomree Tom Dupree's characterization of the series, in the letter that was originally sent to Stackpole about writing it, as "Star Wars meets Top Gun." You can actually see a decent bit of Maverick in Corran -- they're both guys who cover the fact that they can kind of be screwups as people with young, dumb, cocky swagger. Stackpole points out that the only established characters he's working with as regular cast are Wedge Antilles and Admiral Ackbar. Luke, Han, and Leia will only appear as cameos, and he has to get special permission each time he uses them. Everything else is new characters, and LFL pushed to make sure the new squadron has a balance of male and female characters and humans and aliens, but then let Stackpole run with them however he wanted. His big goal, narratively, is to tackle the taking of Coruscant, which he makes sound more like the climax of four books about conquering the Core than the second book.

    Stackpole also talks very favorably about working in a shared universe. He enjoys doing the research of everything else to make sure he doesn't step on any toes, to make sure everything fits into the rich tapestry out there. And of course he uses WEG material for research. He even promises that he threw Dirk Harkness and the Black Curs into a Rogue Squadron chapter. He also specifically calls out Michael Kogge's article on bacta as useful to him in coming up with background information and what develops in his story.

    The X-wing comics are also briefly brought up; at this point, Stackpole says they're planned to be just twelve issues, three four-issue arcs that he writes the story for and uses to introduce some characters, while Mike Baron scripts. Obviously this would all change significantly; Baron disappeared after the first arc and the series ended up running for thirty-five issues.

    That concludes our brief interview; it obviously wasn't particularly penetrating given Rosenberg didn't have any actual material in hand to ask about.

    Cracken's Rebel Operatives is yet another instance of the Adventure Journal introducing a new recurring article series based on an existing sourcebook, in this case one of the million Cracken-themed products offering players a plethora of Rebel agents to populate their games with. This particular instance is themed around supply -- the Empire has a vast, slow-moving, and wasteful supply network, but the Alliance has no such luxury, being dependent on keen agents to quickly find and route needed supplies to their destination as fast as possible.

    Redda Macrebe is a thirty-three-year-old human male working the Trax Tube trade route. He runs a network of agents who obtain supplies and ship them to Rebel bases, coordinating an entire system of deliveries. He's constantly shifting roles and methods, doing whatever's needed to get supplies where they need to go. He'll buy or steal whatever's needed, and if he can't get it, he'll find a way to make it. He works with a vast network of merchants, smugglers, legitimate shippers who have no idea what they're transporting, black marketeers, sympathizers, corrupt Imperial quartermasters, privateers, and corporate functionaries. He's avoided Imperial notice by moving constantly, staying in the background, avoiding attention, and using cover names. There's a note from Cracken recalling a time Macrebe enabled him to complete a mission by staging it as a hunting expedition, complete with thorough provision of the necessary supplies and cover.

    Mister Tisilan is a Bith art dealer who works with Macrebe. I really hope his first name is actually Mister. He runs a legitimate series of art galleries, the profits from which he diverts to the Alliance. He also happens to be an art thief, stealing pieces from Imperial officials either to finance the Rebellion or to restore to their homeworlds, which often gives the Rebellion a diplomatic boost when it restores artistic treasures looted by Imperials. He's genuinely committed to restoring stolen art, and has an almost monk-like asceticism, living simply to direct millions of credits to the Alliance.

    Vo Lantes is another agent for Macrebe, a forty-year-old droid merchant on Deysum III. He owns a series of used droid lots which he markets aggressively along the Trax Tube with big, garish ads featuring his "Big Corellian" act (which seems to be a sort of riff on Corellians as Texans). What he's less well known for is providing droids to the Rebellion, and providing bugged droids to the Empire. These spy droids are specially rigged and programmed to provide the Rebellion with information, while he also rigs some droids as suicide bombers. Rebel operatives throughout the sector have picked up on the secret protocol to get hooked up with droids on his droid lots.

    A short but sweet piece, introducing a handful of characters who can supply players with needed resources and add a bit of color to adventures. Art thieves are always a fun element, while Vo Lantes's loud, showy salesman act makes for some potentially colorful comic relief and personality for any campaign. It's a straightforwardly useful article.

    Up next, we'll have an interesting new concept -- a succession of short adventure outlines from Tony Russo designed to jump-start adventures of your own.
  6. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    One thing I like about Michael Stackpole's writing is that he has a very different handling of the Empire than Timothy Zahn. I'm a big fan of Ysanne Isard but I'm actually referring to how Stackpole handles the lesser Imperials in the Empire's service. Kirtan Loor and Barris are thugs who have delusions of being military geniuses and men of honor. Instead, they're just a pair of scumbags who have uniforms and authority over the people around them. Stackpole's Imperials are interesting because even in most other books, they're possessed of dignity but in Stackpole's universe they're just a bunch of racist bullies. It even applies to Isard as she's a person who is guilty of horrifying atrocities which are not diluted by any kind of "for order" or greater indulgence. She's just an evil nut.

    I admit, I always liked this story, too, as it showed the gross overreaction of the local authorities to a university student's graffiti.

    Interesting, I never thought about it but Corran Horn is specifically NOT a pilot who was involved in the Rebel Alliance.
    TheRedBlade and Daneira like this.
  7. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Sep 7, 2012
    For me, #7 is the pinnacle of SWJ. Great stories and great worldbuilding articles combined.
    jSarek and Havac like this.
  8. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Yeah, and I'm not sure he ever would have been. One of the interesting things about Corran is that, as a cop, he's a total law-and-order guy, and he really doesn't have any sympathy for the Rebellion. He might not be the biggest fan of the Empire, but he accepts it as the legitimate government and can't countenance insurrection. Even after he gets in trouble with it, he can't bring himself to join the New Republic. He spends his time hiding out . . . as an Imperial official just trying to moderate Barris. It takes both the realization that he can't outrun the Empire and the establishment of the New Republic as a relatively legitimate galactic government for him to join up, and he still feels kinda guilty about it even as he brings himself to accept that the Empire needs to be fought. It's a really interesting character type, totally unlike the standard hardline Rebel-vet New Republic character type. I would be surprised, frankly, if Corran hadn't captured a few Rebels during his time in CorSec, even.
  9. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    A Taste of Adventure represents a new format in Adventure Journal pieces. It's a series of "adventure outlines," something less than full-fledged adventures but more than the Adventure Idea seeds, designed to jumpstart a night of gaming when you need an adventure quick, or an idea to expand into an adventure. Written by Adventure Journal vet Tony Russo, they look to play to the Adventure Journal's strengths, since my usual complaint about the adventures so far has been that they have a good core idea but are underdeveloped. Here, being underwritten is a feature, not a bug.

    The article launches right into the first adventure, Rebel Escape, without even pausing to explain the concept beyond a tagline over the (random production photo) opening image. This is an adventure for civilian characters with a ship, since it's about their being pulled into involvement with the Rebellion and hunted by bounty hunters. You start in a spaceport cantina on a busy commercial world. Then Boba Fett walks into the cantina. That will always get your attention. He faces off with a dude at the bar, and guns him down when the guy tries to resist. Fett takes his bounty, and says he's looking for another mark, human female, and will pay for anyone who tips him off. Later, the characters spot a crying woman in the shadows of the cantina. She disappears, and you can follow her out into the back alleys. You head into the bad part of town after her, only to hear a woman's scream. She's being accosted by a gang of thugs, one of whom holds the woman hostage with a vibroblade to her throat while the others brawl with the players interloping with their bounty. Beat the thugs and the hostage-taker backs away, until he gets jumped by the bounty hunter Zardra, one of WEG's recurring creations. That lets you escape with the mystery woman while they fight.

    If you can convince the lady you're not going to turn her over (why are you chasing her if you're not going to turn her over? Just a desire to get in Boba Fett's way?), she'll tell you she's Mari, a Rebel courier who, with her dead partner, was carrying an important message from an Imperial diplomat to the Rebel leadership revealing the identities of ISB agents working to infiltrate the Rebellion. If the bounty hunters capture her the identity of the traitorous diplomat could be revealed. Now she has no way offworld -- but you can help! But then who should show up but Boba Fett! He tosses out a huge bag of credits, and tells the players to take it as their fee for saving her from the thugs and go, or else he might think they're helping her. This is where the adventure gets briefly nonsensical. If you take the money and go, Boba Fett and Zardra snipe everyone to death and the GM should lecture everyone about how beginning characters shouldn't mess with characters like Boba Fett. This, however, is the only option where you're not crossing Boba Fett. If you try to take the money and escape with Mari, double-crossing BOBA FETT of all people, however, he'll let you get away with it with the caveat that you've just made a very bad lingering enemy. But really what you're supposed to do is try to just sneak away through the maze of alleys. No consideration is given to the ludicrous idea of fighting Boba freaking Fett.

    Once you make it to your own ship, the characters are ambushed by a third bounty hunter. This one you can defeat and get into your ship. Just as you take off, however, Boba Fett and Zardra show up. Fett comms spaceport control, and now you have to fight off or evade four TIEs before you can escape the planet and make the jump before a Star Destroyer catches you. It's a decent intro to gaming, as a short adventure. Calling it an "outline" is really misleading -- it's thoroughly plotted and written, just short. Its biggest flaw is that its narrative is clunky. Why do the characters want to help this woman if they're not supposed to know anything about the Rebellion and they don't know she's with the Alliance to begin with? Why is the confrontation with Fett so perversely constructed? It feels underthought.

    The Battle for Gap Nine has Rebel characters trying to blow up an Imperial plant. It starts in media res with the characters caught trying to sabotage the fuel ore processing plant on backwater Gap Nine. You start pinned down by six Imperial Army troopers. Sirens start going off and you're meant to grab a cargo skimmer to use as an escape craft. If you don't steal the skimmer and blast out through the loading bay doors into the swamp, I don't know what to tell you. This sort of "you're in a situation and you're going to do this to get out of it" is one of the biggest limitations of the adventure writing in the Journal.

    Anyway, eventually the skimmer gets stuck in tree roots and you have to hoof it, with Imperial speeder bikes in distant pursuit. You make it into an elaborate set of ancient ruins, where you meet one of the local aliens. He's the Seer of the Temple, trying to protect it from the Imperials, who have been robbing the temples at the behest of Colonel Icus Traft, the corrupt plant commander. From the story he tells, it appears the Sith once colonized the world, building a network of temples across it. The Jedi eventually came and destroyed the Sith, then converted the dark temples into light ones, making them places of knowledge and peace. This is a really cool bit of background buried in here, something out of some ancient Sith war. I'm guessing Gap Nine is in Sith Space and this is something out of the Great Hyperspace War. The extermination of the SIth and cleansing of the temples, rather than their destruction or just abandonment, seems so thorough as to be characteristic of that era's wholesale uprooting of the Sith Empire, and the whole temple-network-building thing is characteristic of the original-flavor Sith Empire. At this point, two troopers show up. One investigates inside while the other waits outside. You can hide and let them go, in which case they report the location to Colonel Traft as a new temple to loot, or you can ambush the trooper while his comrade takes off. Either way, Traft is alerted and will be bringing a force here.

    The characters can either try to make a stand at the temple and defend the artifacts, or use the raid as an opportunity to head back and strike at the less-defended processing plant. If you defend the temple, you have to overcome six troopers, four scout troopers on bikes, and Traft in his command speeder. Traft will flee if things start going badly, and you have to catch him to stop him calling for reinforcements and a crackdown on the natives. If you go for the plant, you can leave characters behind to harass and delay the forces at the temple while you find a way to overcome six army troopers and six stormtroopers and set the charges before Traft gets back.

    Silent Fury has fringer characters offered the opportunity to find the fabled treasure of the Dread Buccaneer Hez Kragg. He's an Old Republic pirate thought at one time to be only legend who was ultimately defeated by a great Jedi Knight. Eccentric Professor Jonas Durns has researched Kragg and believes that the Jedi Knight killed Kragg aboard his ship, Kragg's Fury, and left it drifting in space. Durns believes that Kragg had sacked the Nijune Treasure Fleet only days before his death, meaning the hoard is likely still aboard the floating ship. He recruits the characters to help him find the ship. He's got funding from his university, but needs transport. If you sign on, you're taking him, his daughter Keya, and Sig Coven out to the ship. Coven is the scout who came across a drifting ship with Kragg's mark and, not knowing what he had, ended up taking the information to Durns, who believes he's found Kragg's ship.

    Coven provides the hyperspace coordinates on a secured read-only card. You can just plug it into the navicomputer and go. Or you can slice the card to get the coordinates and look them up, finding a report from an Old Republic scout citing dangerous ionic activity and flaring and solar discharge suggesting a potential nova. When you get there, you find the sun still intact, as is the ship, a massive, derelict war vessel almost the size of a VSD. Choose a spot to dock with it, and start exploring the ship, which still has power, gravity and lighting, but only in random areas. There are traps aboard that you have to be careful of. Some traps have to be swung over. There's a floor section that will tip the characters into a pit with a lowering spiked roof. It's all enjoyably Indiana Jones. Eventually you run into old, still-functioning defense droids and have to fight them. Eventually, you reach the bridge, which has a pattern of numbers on the mag-sealed door. Durns interprets the markings to suggest a numerical puzzle in which you have to punch the four numbers corresponding to "FURY" as the passcode, but if you do, it just releases more defense droids. See, you have to spell the ship's name out in Kragg's native star pirate dialect -- FURI. Somebody's been watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

    On the bridge, you find a skeleton in the captain's chair. Near it is a pair of treasure chests. One is full of booty, while the other appears empty. A dangerous-looking but inactive gladiator droid stands next to the chair. If you try to take the empty chest for some reason because you think you're smart and gaming the system somehow, a hologram of Kragg activates, warning you to take what you have and go, as the gladiator droid activates and sets a course for the system's sun, then destroys the maneuvering systems. You have to flee to your ship and escape. If you choose the treasure-filled chest, the same thing happens, but the gladiator droid attacks you too. There is no explanation of why Kragg somehow managed to stage an elaborate death-trap mindgame before his death.

    If you escape with the treasure chest, the Empire will confiscate it and you won't get your cut of the treasure, just the base pay for taking Durns out there. If you take the empty chest (which, I'll point out, nothing stops you from doing when you've defeated the gladiator droid anyway), however, the Empire isn't interested in it, but the seal on top is Kragg's sigil in precious stones, an incredibly valuable proof that his existence was real, and the university will give you twenty-five thousand credits as a reward. It's a neat little treasure-hunt adventure; the problem here is that the final setup doesn't really make sense, and Russo doesn't do much to integrate the daughter into the story -- there's a nod at the idea of saving her from a trap, which makes her chilly demeanor warm a little toward whoever saves her, but that's the only mention, so it's not exactly strong love-interest stuff. It just seems to be there to pad out the Indiana Jones theme.

    Countdown to Disaster is our last adventure, a New Republic one this time. You're on a maglev train when it's taken hostage by a terrorist targeting a New Republic senator. Players can either by bystanders, or part of the senator's protection detail. The senator's an interesting character. Drextar Pym, senator from Exarga, runs the panel responsible for prosecuting Imperials, apparently some kind of Senate war-crimes committee. He's made a lot of enemies with that high-profile position and his rhetoric calling for stronger punishments for Imperials. Fiftyish, he's extremely ambitious, openly jockeying for a position on the Ruling Council. His position as an anti-Imperial fanatic, though, belies the fact that during the Rebellion Exarga was distant from the war, and its ore companies profited from supplying the Alliance. Pym retain a strong secret stake in many of these companies, many of which still have some ties to Imperial factions as well. His wife and two hell-raising sons, Kyle and Dirv, are with him on the trip, as is the kids' caretaker, V-3P5. Pym's taking the three-day train ride to a diplomatic summit, rather than safer transportation, for the chance to hobnob with the passengers, campaign, and get a lot of attention from the press aboard. But the most important thing is that he looks like Krennic with a badass mustache.


    On the third day, Pym's holding a press conference when the intercom is hijacked by Dennis Hopper, who announces that he's hidden explosives aboard the train and rigged it to blow when it reaches the conference site. He's also kidnapped the senator's kids. He destroys the protocol droid, and says he'll kill the kids if anyone tries to stop the train or get off. The mysterious voice claims he's punishing Pym for treason against the Empire and "wrongful prosecution" of Imperials. You've only got a half hour, and even though the bomb in Pym's podium is spotted immediately and you can search for the others, one in each car, they're elaborately rigged and sensitive to interference, and the mystery man seems to be able to observe any attempts to tamper with them. He also says they're not even the main bombs. Disarming the bombs isn't really an option. To prove himself, the bomber gives you ten seconds to get everyone out of the last car, then he remotely detaches it from the train and triggers the bomb inside. The train is operating above its speed limits and the crew at the engine don't respond. The characters can contact New Republic authorities, coordinate with them, and start an evacuation of the conference site, though. As you try to figure out what to do, you'll be followed around by an obnoxious reporter, Sella Marik, who wants to get the whole story, for comic effect.

    If you look under the train cars while trying to find the main bombs, you'll find an explosive. Disarming it will just result in realizing it was just a decoy, and the bomber will give you seven seconds to get everyone out of the last car again. If you go toward the engine, you'll be locked inside the storage/crew quarters car, the last before the engine. It's a trap, as the bomber reveals he's left out combustible acid that will create a huge explosion if you try to shoot out the locks or do anything brute-force. You can either slice the doors or open a loading door and climb onto the top of the speeding train. When you get to the engine, you find he's wired it with electricity -- you can't touch it. And he gives you five seconds before he blows the last car again.

    The monitors start displaying financial data revealing Pym's secret business connections with companies that have Imperial, warlord, and criminal connections. NR forces contact the characters, revealing that an empty mag-lev train is attempting to catch up to evacuate everyone if you can keep the bomber distracted. Somehow managing to get another train racing down the track seems like the least plausible and effective way to evacuate people as opposed to, say, launching a ship, but what do I know? Just as the train catches up, you go into a dark tunnel. The last car detaches again, slamming into the pursuing train and blowing up, collapsing the tunnel on that end and wrecking the pursuit train. Also, while the lights were out, the senator's wife has disappeared. I feel like your half hour is well and truly gone by this point, but Russo claims you've still got fifteen minutes. At this point, if you haven't picked up on the culinary references the bomber's been dropping (and why would you, they're not exactly obvious), a steward points out that the cook is new, a substitute for the sick regular chef. If you head to the dining car, you can find the kids in his quarters. But he's gone, leaving an open window next to rungs leading to the top of the train. Of course it's going to end with a fight on top of the train. You find a jetpack-sporting dude holding the wife hostage and carrying a set of remote controls for the train. He says he's a former Storm Commando sentenced to prison by Pym and seeking revenge. He's then distracted by the idiot reporter, who's snuck up behind him and asks if he "has anything to say to the viewers watching at home." The wife drops, and you're free to open fire. In the fight, the controls are destroyed. You have to run along the top of the train to the engine and stop the train, but there's still too much momentum. You've got to disable the sensor on the nose of the train that will trigger the bombs when it crashes into the conference center, then jump onto a New Republic airspeeder just before the crash, while everyone else still on the train braces for impact as the train careens off the rails and comes to a stop in a field of sand dumped by emergency crews. If the Storm Commando was captured instead of killed, he gets debriefed and reimprisoned, while Pym's career goes down the drain as he's investigated -- but he's just happy his family is safe. Sella Marik gets promoted, while the characters get rewarded for their extraordinary performance. It's a big, dumb spectacle of an adventure -- deeply silly but so thoroughly cinematic players shouldn't care.

    As always, the adventures aren't perfect, but I like this overall idea a lot. If gives you a variety of compact adventures that do a pretty good job of taking a premise and running through it without trying to stretch it out into something bigger. It leans into the strengths we've seen so far in Adventure Journal adventure writing and dances around the weaknesses. Also, it has good variety, which is always a plus. Stick around for Pablo Hidalgo's History of R-Series Astromech Droids!
  10. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    I played the "Goonies" adventure and the exploding train adventure.

    Both of which are very simple exciting Star Wars concepts.
  11. Grand Admiral Paxis

    Grand Admiral Paxis Jedi Master star 3

    Sep 2, 2012
    The Drextar Pym story is without a doubt my favourite one, both because of the lore it contains and the fun "Mystery on the Mag-Lev Express" trope it plays on, complete with climactic showdown on top of a speeding train.


    I especially loved the background on Senator Pym, with him being the head of the Senate Committee responsible for investigating and prosecuting Imperial war criminals. It's always struck me as incredibly weird that someone in such a high-profile position with a lot of potential story connections was never referenced again. For example, I could see him being the one who recommended that Grand Admiral Osvald Teshik be prosecuted for war crimes following the Battle of Endor and, depending on the date this is set in, somehow involved in the trial of Bevel Lemelisk. I also like the way that even though the story plays out much as you would expect it to under the circumstances (guy responsible for prosecuting Imperial war criminals gets targeted by the Empire), the end result isn't too obvious. Rather than the villain being a self-interested, generic Imperial baddie out to kill Pym to interfere with a current investigation, he's a rank-and-file black ops type who was already convicted, but feels aggrieved enough about having his war record dragged through the mud to plot revenge after he escapes. And Senator Pym, rather than being some self-righteous do-gooder waxing poetic about justice and the rule of law, turns out to have an inappropriate financial interest in companies tied to the very people he's prosecuting. Despite this, he's clearly not a horrible person - even though he's ambitious and has a serious conflict of interests, his reaction to his career being ruined is essentially just being happy that his family is safe. The other stories were a bit generic (although I found the concepts of a legendary Old Republic pirate with a booby-trapped lost treasure and Sith temples converted by the Jedi to be fun or interesting), but the Pym one stood out to me the most for the sheer volume of interesting characters or concepts that inexplicably never got referenced again.
    jSarek, blackmyron, Vthuil and 2 others like this.
  12. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    I agree. Pym as a character is by far the standout element of the whole feature. He's a fascinating character concept who would fit right in with the political conflicts of the Bantam novels. It's a real shame none of the Essential Guides or other Abel/Jason/Dan material went back and added him into the mix, referenced him some more. I'd also be really interested in nailing down the timeline here when he falls from power. Since he's a senator and not a provisional councilor, it's presumably post-Dark Empire. I also really liked how his downfall was fairly innocuous. There's nothing wildly corrupt in what's exposed; he's not an Imperial plant or maneuvering for power with assassinations or bribery or something. He just quietly holds on to some local stocks he's not supposed to directly control, in companies which sell to people they shouldn't. It's nothing grand. He's just chasing a little extra money, a little fairly mild local corruption. And ambitious as he is, he's a decent enough guy that he genuinely cares about his family and is more concerned about them than his political career. It's a good characterization of a politician who's dirty and ambitious in a very normal, regular, realistic manner, who feels like a grounded character, rather than grandiose treason or murder-a-million-witnesses paranoid-conspiracy corruption.
  13. comradepitrovsky

    comradepitrovsky Jedi Knight star 3

    Jan 5, 2017
    He also later joined the Avengers. True story.
  14. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    A young Pablo Hidalgo is here to tell us of The History of R-Series Astromech Droids. This is Hidalgo's first published written work on Star Wars -- he's been doing his cartoons for a few issues now -- and just look where he is now. I rather like the idea seen here and in Kogge's piece on bacta of finding some element of the setting that WEG hasn't fully expanded and just laying out a full background of it for people to work with. It's nicely ambitious.

    A little intro lets us know of the vital role astromech droids play in repairing the advanced technology of modern life. The most successful astromech droids right now are the R-series from Industrial Automaton.

    Industrial Automaton was initially formed way back in the Old Republic when droid manufacturer Automata Galactica bought up research-and-development think tank Industrial Intelligence. The Industrial Intelligence people strongly disliked the buyout and merger, and the executives ended up resisting by locking up their most sensitive files with extremely strong encryption. Thousands of these files are still locked today, leading to wild rumors that they contain fantastic technological secrets, superweapons and time-travel and teleportation technology. IA was able to slice several of them, though, and among the designs they found was the powerful Intellex computer system, designed to be installed in starships. Instead, IA put it in the P2, a prototype astromech droid sold to the Old Republic shipping fleet. The P2s, looking like giant R2s, served aboard capital-scale transports. It performed rather well, but was clumsy in getting around, not very bright, and communicated only through its video screen. IA was preparing to bring a production model out, with an improved Intellex II, but production was delayed by a lawsuit from former Industrial Intelligence executives, which stopped production for decades as the case awaited trial. They eventually dropped the suit when they realized it would bring too much scrutiny to their own business practices and their secret files, but the damage was done. The P2 had been delayed for too long, and far too much bad publicity was now associated with it. Some of the prototypes, however, are still in use.

    IA responded by bringing out the R1. The R1 was designed to make some of the lost money back by being a cheap stopgap. They took what was now the Intellex III and stuck it into the body of their Mark II reactor drone series. The R1's computer systems were more versatile, and could calculate a single hyperspace jump. This model also introduced a vocoder which could communicate in droidspeak, a very dense language allowing droid-to-droid communication, but almost incomprehensible to people. The language was designed for a perfect interface with Cybot Galactica's translation processors, which has created great speculation as to how IA could have access to CG's proprietary designs. Personally, I'd rather speculate on why they'd design it to use a rival's droid as a counterpart and not their own. The drawback for the R1s was that they were also large, and fairly immobile, moving on a single tread and, the more they're allowed to develop personalities, becoming largely intractable and unwilling to move unless absolutely necessary.

    The R2 was where the line really took off. IA was looking at trends, and they saw that ownership of small starships was skyrocketing, while droids were tending large and bulky, like their own R1, focused on capital ship service. They thought there was a market for a smaller, more agile repair droid for the small-scale consumer. Thus the R2, marketed with the slogan "No job is over this little guy's head." Its systems were massively improved in every way, while being fit inside a smaller body style that developed mass appeal for being rather cute. It looked like a smaller P2, but with a streamlined, more appealing design achieved by hiding its appendages and tools inside the body. Their more advanced personality software allowed more pleasant personalities to emerge, though many remained relatively stubborn. It was also designed to fit into starfighter astromech sockets, which had before been the exclusive province of military models, not commercial droids. They're highly modifiable, and older models often accumulate a wide variety of optional add-ons and retrofitted tools. The R2 was a massive success, the most popular astromech model ever, and is the only early R-series design still mass-produced. Its performance made IA finally the equal of huge droid manufacturers like Cybot Galactica, Arakyd, and Rebeton Kl'ian (the only time this supposedly massive corporation has ever been mentioned).

    The R3 was designed to follow up on the R2's success with a droid once more explicitly designed for capital ship service, with an increased emphasis on weapons repair and security. Its appearance is identical to the R2, except with a clear "head" dome to show off the Intellex V computer and allow the droid's sensors slightly greater range. They were not produced as widely as the R2, given they were targeted only to Old Republic warships, but the Republic bought one hundred twenty-five million just in its first order and the droid saw continued service well into the Empire, and was extremely profitable for IA. It continues to be manufactured on a small scale and sold to the New Republic and planetary fleets; IA has ceased all sales to the Empire or Imperial remnants to keep the New Republic satisfied.

    The R4 was designed a yet another response to previous successes. The limited-market R3 and relatively expensive R2 were compensated for with the R4, an inexpensive model designed for the Outer Rim and urban markets, designed to fix repulsorcraft as well as small starships. Less powerful and versatile than the R2, it was much cheaper and still met the limited needs of the small buyer, making it a sales success. It was especially popular with the Rebel Alliance, which was able to buy lots of them.

    This success didn't greet the R5. The R5 was an attempt to cash in on the R2 that wasn't fully thought through. IA produced the R5 as an economy version of the R2 without doing enough market testing to see if the market really needed another astromech design, or if this was the design the market wanted. It turned out nobody really wanted a corner-cut version of the R2, or at least nobody who wasn't already being served by the better R4. It was the cheapest droid yet, half the cost of even the R4, and also the least useful. It was marketed toward the R2 market, but wasn't as good of a droid, with a less useful design and cheap quality. It was a bomb and the line was quickly discontinued. Its parts were recycled in the R2-AG4 line of farming agromechs, but they didn't sell well either.

    After the rise of the New Republic, many corporations had to switch from dealing with the Empire to the New Republic. IA was one of the more successful given the strong relationship the Rebellion had already had to its products. While IA began work on a new droid to complement the design work on the E-wing, it brought out a publicly available model designed to capitalize on the galaxy's feeling of a fresh start under the New Republic, which stimulated a desire for new products and designs. The R6 got the biggest marketing push since the R2. A powerful, modern droid sold relatively cheap for its features, and especially designed to have a pleasant personality after the disappointment at the rather sour R5s, the R6 helped redeem the line's image after the R5's failure, selling well throughout the early days of the New Republic.

    The R7 was designed in close cooperation with the New Republic and FreiTek to work with the new E-wing design. This was the first R-series model designed for such a specific application. It was also the first not to sport an Intellex computer, with a model specifically built to interact with FreiTek's systems and achieve and even closer counterpart relationship. It's also the first R-series to sport a domed head since the R3, with the previous three designs having gone for different variations on the truncated-cone design. The model was rushed into service before testing was complete, however, along with the E-wing, in order to fight the resurrected Emperor. They are not available for civilian purchase and don't interface as well with anything but the E-wing, but their advances in design could provide the basis for an improved mass-market model in the future.

    IA is already working on the R8, which is rumored to be the first astromech to speak Basic. These attempts, however, have been of limited success, as the droid's personality when allowed to speak was "so abrasive that sales to the general public would be disastrous."

    This was an excellent piece. It presents a coherent development history of the whole series of astromechs that wraps a lot of neat little details in, without getting too cutesy or artificial in a "this one does this and that one does that" format. It feels like a relatively realistic, natural product history. It's a really good little piece of writing that fleshes out the background of an important element of the universe in a well-thought-out way. The high quality of Adventure Journal 7 just keeps rolling on. Hopefully it'll continue in our next piece, in which Platt's back with a Smuggler's Log on Wroonians. And the run after that is a real doozy.
  15. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Smuggler's Log returns in this issue after sitting out issue six. Platt talks about having been on an Expansion Regions run with some Wroonian contacts, and dedicates this entry to letting us know all about Wroonians. Not natural subject matter for a Smuggler's Log, perhaps, but let's see how it goes.

    Wroonians, we learn, are from Wroona. Makes sense. A world at the far edge of the Inner Rim, it's an oceanic world interrupted by long continents with extensive coastlines of blue sand. I guess this is supposed to complement the fact that the Wroonians are blue, too. Near-humans, they look almost totally like normal humans except for having blue skin and hair. They're usually taller and skinnier than normal humans, and live slightly longer, but that's it. They're just Star Trek aliens, really.

    Wroonian culture is philosophically hedonistic, dedicated largely to obtaining material comforts and enjoying life. The definition of pleasure, what's most important to them, varies from Wroonian to Wroonian, but they all basically agree on the pursuit of personal pleasure. This creates a balance between the effort to obtain possessions and wealth and the easygoing desire to relax and spend. The culture is thus materialistic but not miserly or obsessively acquisitive. They're relaxed, friendly, cheerful, and fun-seeking. They're largely spontaneous and don't believe much in planning. They like to be entertained, and respond to challenges or dares for the fun of it. Platt traces their willingness to take risks and pursuit of adventure to their ancient maritime culture, which was built around the risks of sea trade, given their world is almost entirely coastal.

    The Wroonian government is fairly unstable, and Wroonians don't like authority in general, leaving them disposed to generally ignore it in the pursuit of pleasure. Okay, I see why they're showing up in a Smuggler's Log now. The economy is dominated by the Wroonian Guilds, cooperating trade organizations and businesses that often have a governmental role. Most Wroonians belong to one of the guilds, at least a token membership to give them a sense of belonging and a resource for aid when they're in system or the cooperation of other guild-members they come across. Many Wroonians work outside the system as traders, smugglers, scouts, pirates, and mercenaries. They aren't very concerned with death or the afterlife, and don't seem to have any organized religion. There's a trace belief left in Master Fate, who controlled the wind and waves and did as he pleased with them, granting favor to some and blowing up storms or causing doldrums where he feels like it. He's a capricious deity or mythological figure, one with a jolly nature but ruled only by his own pleasure, as are the Wroonians.

    They're longtime Old Republic members who explored nearby space, but never took to colonization. Instead, they got involved in trade, and sometimes smuggling and piracy. Their representatives to the Senate were usually corrupt, out to make the most of their position, when they bothered to send Wroonians to the Senate at all. Under the Empire, the planet was garrisoned for its strategic position and the stardock we saw in issue five's Black Curs story was built. The Empire installed a governor, who's done such things as shut down the Wroonian guild for smugglers, which had previously been an open component of the guild system.

    Schweighofer stats out Wroonians, who are treated as a race of humans by the piece. For GMs and players, he emphasizes their spontaneous, fun-seeking nature -- Wroonian characters should be colorful, flamboyant, impulsive thrill-seekers who can help drive a story by dragging others around into their exploits and who are always having fun and leading the way no matter what's happening.

    Platt ends the piece with a Wroonian she knows, Nell Indigo. Indigo is a mercenary who wanders the galaxy taking on odd jobs for as long as they hold her interest. She was raised by her smuggler parents as part of the family business until they cut her loose to make her own way, the traditional Wroonian coming-of-age. She then became the apprentice of another Wroonian mercenary, and at twenty purchased membership in the Guild of Glorious Mercenaries. Now she's a thrill-seeking hired gun.

    It's a fun piece, creating a pretty colorful, easy-to-use bit of lore with a lot of flavor, and then dropping a potentially useful and fun character on top of that. The Wroonian characterization reads a bit awkwardly like an old "island people" stereotype -- fun-loving, hedonistic, careless of the future -- but it certainly provides a lot of personality for gamers to work with. I always did find it a bit odd, though, that WEG decided to come up with a species that was just Thrawn without the red eyes. It just feels like occupying territory that's already been thoroughly claimed. I don't know why they couldn't have at least been a different color.

    I'll note a new ad following, this one for Absolute Magnitude, "America's only action/adventure science fiction magazine!"

    Next up is Retreat from Coruscant, another great Laurie Burns short story.
  16. blackmyron

    blackmyron Force Ghost star 6

    Oct 29, 2005
    It's weird to see Hidalgo making such an in-depth article as compared to what he does now (and the general approach to canon being to avoid 'info-dumps' like this), but in hindsight, I think it's best to describe the EU as the one of the best detailed RPG universes and accept that, yes, LFL was making blatant misrepresentations about how it all - but we ignored the elephant in the room because we were getting stuff like this. And you know what? That's okay - we got a quarter century of some of the best world-building around, and there's always something new to discover, which is one of the reasons I like this thread.
    I do wish they'd relax a bit and try to recapture a bit of the old fun, though.
  17. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 3, 2013
    I found the PT expanding the Blue Man Group again with the Pantorans to be rather more peculiar, honestly. There's not a lot Thrawn has in common with the Wroonians as described here except for being a blue "near-human", which is kinda superficial.
  18. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    I took the Wroonians as a basic planet of Player Characters.

    It's basically a checklist of the typical smuggler PC ideal.
    jSarek, Gamiel and Sarge like this.
  19. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    They don't have anything in common culturally, but the thing is that their appearance is a duplication of effort. The Chiss are blue humans with blue-black hair and red eyes. The Wroonians are blue humans with blue-black hair. It's not common to make something near-identical to a high-profile species for next to no reason in a fictional universe. It's just sort of a fictional law -- when there's no particular reason for the Wroonians to be blue, and Thrawn has already called dibs on the whole blue human thing, you make your off-brand island people aliens something distinct. It's not offensive or anything -- if anything, it seems almost inevitable with the explosion of near-humans in the galaxy that you'd have some occupying more or less the same territory, realistically -- it just stands out as really unusual in terms of how fictional universes tend to work.
  20. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Jul 30, 2000
    To be fair, colored humans are one of the single most common things in sci-fi when you want something to be identified with.

    Orion Slave Girls
    Gamiel and TheRedBlade like this.
  21. Grand Admiral Paxis

    Grand Admiral Paxis Jedi Master star 3

    Sep 2, 2012
    The thing that I find most interesting is the manner in which the Wroonians have largely been overwritten by the Pantorans, without any sources going on (to my knowledge, at least) to explain the relationship between the two species. Chi Eekway was originally a Wroonian and the Senator of Wroona, before TCW retconned her into a Pantoran. In an even weirder example, Saleucami was originally colonised by the Wroonians, until FFG's Mask of the Pirate Queen kept the exact same backstory for the planet but replaced all mentions of them with the Pantorans without ever mentioning the former. While I understand that they no longer have to worry about the Wroonians given the reboot, I always found it baffling that no source back when it was all just Legends ever offered an explanation since it's such an easy fix (one is a colony world of the other, and they've either had some small divergent evolution to make them distinct subspecies or their denonym refers to their homeworld rather than their species).
    Nom von Anor, Daneira, Sarge and 2 others like this.
  22. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 3, 2013
    Well that would never happen because it would be way too logical.
  23. Gamiel

    Gamiel Force Ghost star 6

    Dec 16, 2012
    Tell that to the toy-figure of her
    Grand Admiral Paxis likes this.
  24. blackmyron

    blackmyron Force Ghost star 6

    Oct 29, 2005
    Yeah, the replacing of references to Wroona by Pantora was already underway before the buyout, unfortunately.
  25. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Laurie Burns returns with Retreat From Coruscant. I was a huge fan of Burns's stories from last issue, and I already know I'll like this one, which was republished in Tales from the Empire. After a quick run of three stories, this is the last we'll see of Burns for a while; she won't return for a year and a half, when her fourth and final story is published in Adventure Journal 13. The story is notable for a couple reasons. One, it's good. Two, it's about a courier, continuing Burns's trend of picking out interesting, less-explored professions to center her stories on. Three, it's a major departure for the Adventure Journal. When the Adventure Journal started, it leaned strongly away from involvement with the main storyline of Star Wars. It was telling side stories about generically WEG-style little people who stayed away from the main action, with a few notable exceptions in letting Zahn play with his own toys and Newcomb hint at Luke's involvement. On the one hand, this was a great impetus to let the stories stay away from everything we know and explore new ground, giving us new characters like Alex Winger, Dannen Lifehold, and Drake Paulsen, and new settings like Sevarcos, Socorro, Lan Barell, and Byblos. And we didn't spend our time constantly on Coruscant, or rehashing the Battle of Hoth, or sorting through everybody's Han Solo fanfic. But the disadvantage was that nothing was ever allowed to really tie back to the main thrust of the Star Wars saga story, which kept things feeling disconnected and fairly inconsequential, and feeling slightly odd if nothing we actually knew was ever going to be involved. So I think this story is one of the most emblematic of the recent shift we've seen in the Journal, with Luke showing up in Newcomb's stories, Zahn and Stackpole writing about their main characters, the adventure after this revolving around a Talon Karrde appearance, of loosening up a little bit without going crazy, being a bit more willing to tie into the big picture. This story, with its fairly unprecedented coverage of a major event in the storyline that not even other material had touched -- the Imperial reconquest of Coruscant between The Thrawn Trilogy and Dark Empire -- and appearances by such a major supporting character as Garm Bel Iblis, Mara Jade, and the borrowing of a Zahn creation in Colonel Bremen, is a big leap for the Adventure Journal, something very new. It stakes out a very workable approach to this, by focusing on events largely ancillary to the actual big historical event and sticking to supporting characters rather than roping in Leia or something for a cameo, but still connecting itself to that big ongoing saga storyline and cast.

    Captain Taryn Clancy is, we learn from her bio, a twenty-six-year-old courier for Core Courier Service, captaining her own courier ship, the Ghtroc freighter Messenger. She had always wanted to fly as a kid, and eventually convinced her father Kal to let her join him in his work as a freighter captain, but their relationship wasn't great and working together only aggravated it. At age twenty-one, she finally decided to break away and signed up with CCS. She's had an excellent career and lots of promotions, but she still can't get father's approval. What she doesn't realize is that he thinks she can do better things than this job if she'd just take more risks -- he's just not very good at expressing anything but negativity.

    So that's our protagonist. She's on Coruscant, delivering datacards in the old Imperial Palace, when alarms start ringing. Coruscant is under attack. It had been rumored that the Empire would try to strike back in the Core despite Thrawn's relatively recent death, and it turns out it's true. Taryn tries to rush back to her ship to lift off before she's trapped on the planet -- on the Palace landing pads, no less -- in the middle of an Imperial assault. The shields have already been raised, however, and she's grounded. She and her copilot, Del Sato, are stuck sitting in the cockpit, watching turbolaser fire play against the planetary shield. (This is where I feel a bit of the typical science-fiction failure of imagination comes in -- shouldn't they still be able to get out on the other side of the planet?)

    It's a couple hours of sitting there, watching the attack, Taryn worrying about her responsibility as a newly-minted captain, about her father's belief that she's not challenging herself by taking an easy job, her fear that she doesn't have what it takes. Flight control won't let them move off the pad to somewhere out of the direct focus of the invasion fleet. Taryn finally gets fed up after seven hours of it and goes inside to demand some answers. She's routed by security to some military offices, where she's met by Colonel Jak Bremen, whom you might remember as the head of security for the Inner Council from The Last Command. Bremen takes her down the hall -- did she just see Mon Mothma in one of those rooms? -- and to none other than General Garm Bel Iblis, commanding the defense of Coruscant. He tells her that their defense fleet has been forced to retreat and that the shields won't hold up past morning. They won't be able to get reinforcements in time. The New Republic is evacuating its capital that night. What Bel Iblis needs are courier ships to spread the word to other New Republic forces of the evacuation and where the New Republic leadership will be retreating to. They don't want to broadcast transmissions past the Imperial fleet in orbit, and communications are out anyway. Taryn's not here because she wants answers, but because Bel Iblis wants couriers. Her ship is being requisitioned, so her only choice is if she's going to fly it or not.

    She's going to fly it. She's provided with a datacard with the relevant information on it, which is hidden in the hold among the stacks and stacks of other datacards bound for elsewhere in the Core. Bremen comes along as security, stuck in a much-too-small CCS uniform. You'd think they'd need him back on Coruscant to coordinate the government evacuation, but Taryn suspects Bel Iblis put him on the mission just to get rid of the prickly Bremen -- she could tell they didn't get along. The armada of courier ships launches all at once so Bel Iblis can open the shields just once, and Taryn picks out a course that tries to cut through the massive fleet, picking a spot between two Dreadnaughts. Several other transports are with her, splitting up the attention from the TIEs that swarm them. They lose their shields just before making the jump to hyperspace.

    During the jump toward Coriallis, Bremen and Del have plenty more time to bicker, since they don't like each other either. It all stops, though, when the Messenger is pulled from hyperspace. As they prepare to be boarded by a shuttle from the Interdictor, Taryn holds off Bremen's demand that she let him pose as the captain and handle this. It's her ship, she's got the proper ID (and a uniform that fits), they're not going to find the datacard unless they go through thousands of them one by one, and she'll talk them through this. When Commander Voldt boards, she explains that they were coming from a scheduled stop on Coruscant, but bugged out to their next stop when they saw an Imperial fleet in orbit. Bremen explains his lack of ID and sloppy uniform by saying he was robbed in port. When Voldt checks the hold, Taryn's caught by his demand to see the mail bound for Coruscant that they didn't deliver. Of course, Taryn actually delivered all her Coruscant crates. But Del points out some properly labeled Coruscant crates in the corner, with properly labeled Coruscant datacards. He and Bremen were getting something done during the trip. Voldt lets them go.

    It takes almost a week of hopping back and forth, with jumps programmed by Bremen, to work their way out to the Borderlands to contact one of the New Republic fleets. They wait until a Skipray jumps into the system. It's none other than Mara Jade. This is one of the only glimpses we get of Mara during the period of Palpatine's return. Bremen's none too happy to talk to her -- you may remember he's the guy who arrested her. Her smuggler network learned of the shift in the fleet's schedule and she was sent to let Bremen know. Another courier's already taken up the task of informing the fleet, but she gives them the fleet's new location. Just then a Carrack jumps into the system and deploys TIEs. Bremen thinks Mara's betrayed them and doesn't want to use the fleet coordinates as a destination, but they don't have time to calculate any other routes, so Taryn makes the call to use them.

    They jump to the fleet, which is still happy to see them since Captain Arboga is concerned the datacard he got may be corrupted and he wants to compare it against Taryn's. But as they're coming in, Bremen comes back from rummaging the hold: he's found a homing beacon. The Imperials planted it when they were looking through the crates. That's how the Carrack found them, and now it's here again. Taryn runs for the fleet, hoping the backup shield generator she rigged will hold long enough, as the Carrack follows and tries to finish them off before they get in range of the fleet. It follows too far, though, and three Mon Cal cruisers plus a squadron of X-wings blow it out of the sky. Bremen admits that things worked out okay after all, and even offers her a job with the New Republic if she ever wants it. She has to go back and finish her route -- and Del is retiring after this run -- but she finds herself actually considering it. Maybe she doesn't want the comfort of an easy job. Maybe she wants a challenge. Maybe she wants to make a difference with her skills. Maybe she'd finally make her dad proud. Then she shrugs and decides she doesn't really care about her dad's approval anymore.

    Del's writeup lets us know that he's on the verge of retiring after thirty years as a copilot. As a young man, he was told to "get a good job and dig in," which is what he's done, settling into a comfortable, unchallenging rut with a decent-paying, dull job. He's perfectly happy to clock in, take orders, and clock out, unwilling to take on the responsibility of being a captain himself and unconcerned with the fact that his captains keep getting younger and younger than him. He's just an ordinary guy, living his life, working his job, counting down until he can retire, kick back, have some drinks, and watch some holos starring aging bombshell Serra Hailey. I like Del a lot -- a genuinely workaday, unexceptional guy, something you almost never see in your stories. My favorite detail is that he's a Corellian -- not exactly your typical odds-defier.

    The main takeaway from Bremen's profile is that he's still not entirely convinced Mara Jade is innocent; just because she helped the New Republic out and his investigation was dropped doesn't mean he shouldn't still be suspicious of the Emperor's Hand.

    There's also a sidebar on courier services. It explains that physical communications, in the form of recorded messages on datacard, remain popular due to their relative cheapness and are often used for communications where immediate interaction isn't imperative and/or privacy is highly valued. This was handled by a galactic courier service under the Old Republic, a kind of post office. This was shut down by Palpatine, ostensibly as a cost-saving measure, though actually to impede communications and enable the Empire's rise. That doesn't make that much, though, since keeping it under government control gives him more control than shutting the service down, which will only inspire private operators to fill the gaps if there's actually a market there. Which is exactly what happened, with private courier services taking up the slack. It remains a fairly disorganized business, however, with a proliferation of small operators with various different routes and distances they're willing to deliver. There's also the risk of fly-by-night operations, as seen in the discovery of at least three different courier services simply dumping their holds outside the Averill system. Consumers are usually better off opting for the larger, well-established services with extensive fleets and established networks. The New Republic is looking into reestablishing its own courier system as part of its assumption of governance, but it just doesn't have the resources right now, and talks with the larger companies about folding them into a government service haven't gotten results. Is it wrong that this sidebar was my favorite part of the whole story?

    It's a solid story. There's not all that much going on in the narrative -- it's just a space run with an Imperial encounter, something we've seen before. It doesn't really compare to the mystery format of Burns's previous two stories. But it makes up for that with a compelling lead character, a young woman in an interesting line of business who has to manage this very unusual situation and who gets to do some maturing, and a really neat premise, grounding the story around the sidelines of a huge event in galactic history that we haven't even been privileged to see before. It's a really canny decision by Burns to set a story here, and props to Schweighofer for not only letting her do it, but letting her use cameos from Mara and Garm in the process, and appropriate an existing character in Bremen as a main character in her own story. The Mara cameo felt rather superfluous, but it tied into Bremen's history with her nicely, and certainly helped continue the tone for a story that's dealing in major battles, New Republic battle fleets (that's got to be one of the numbered fleets they visit), General Bel Iblis, and doing some lifting to link TTT to DE. The result is an engaging story that feels like a real treat for fans. I really wish Burns had written more for the Journal.

    Up next, we have my personal favorite adventure, written by Peter Schweighofer with some help from a guy named Timothy Zahn. Spun out from an Adventure Idea all the way back in Adventure Journal 2, it stars Talon Karrde, Moff Prentioch, and Talon Karrde's mullet, and features the debut of Jeng Droga. Stay tuned for that!
    jSarek, WMIRTUTSF, Sinrebirth and 8 others like this.