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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

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    John Beyer and Wayne Humfleet, the duo who gave us Swoop Gangs in issue six, have produced Lumrunners, a short story that gives way to a sourcefile-type piece about smuggling. We get a few definitions to start: lum is a common alcoholic beverage. A lum run is something easy, routine, low risk. And then there's lumrunner, a slang usage that can have two opposite meanings. Either someone who makes the hard look easy, which is good, or someone who only takes easy jobs, which is bad. It seems we'll be using it in the good way, to explore the elite among smugglers. Because everybody wants to be a smuggler these days, everybody who can get his hands on a light freighter thinks he's the next Han Solo, taking underworld contracts, Rebel contracts, whatever. But most smugglers will eventually run into an Imperial patrol and get boarded, and they'll either have to dump their cargo or get caught. But the elite, the lumrunners, are the ones who can get boarded and get away with it.

    Our story starts with Captain Alijah Orr receiving an informant's report that the freighter Lumrunner, Shamus Falconi, captain, will be trying to smuggle weapons out of Gallisport. Orr, extremely powerful as the head of Customs in the system, is constantly wined and dined but he can't be bribed and is actually very good at his job, for all his pomposity. He keeps gloating about how he'll show these pathetic smugglers what it's like. He'll conduct the inspection personally, he'll find these weapons, and he'll teach these guys, these guys who always think they'll get away with it and make a mockery of the Empire's laws, a lesson. Of course, he's going to fail. There's also a Simpsons joke tucked away in here, as Orr murmers "Excellent," and summons a Lieutenant Smythers. I didn't really expect to see Simpsons references in Star Wars, but hey, it's the nineties.

    Renea Luies, Captain of the Port, is busy resenting Imperial interference with his port as he surveils the docking bay before the Imperial forces and his guards move in. Falconi and his Wookiee first mate (REALLY?) Grasheel land to load their cargo on their PB-950, a modified Corellian patrol boat. As they're coming in, they detect that their ship is being scanned, which makes them suspicious. Falconi sends out an active scan at the same time, hoping to hide his signal in the return of the ground sensor activity, hiding his otherwise suspicious active scan of the bay. He detects the Imperials waiting for him, but has a plan to deal with that. Falconi, it should be noted, is from Algor, a planet noted for producing pirates and lawyers. Falconi didn't want to be either, so he became a smuggler instead, using the three-hundred-year-old patrol boat he inherited from his grandmother, a pirate who had stolen it years ago.

    On the ground is Chop Harlison, a swoop technician and minor criminal, with a crew of swoop thugs brought in to load the cargo, and Dutan Lee, an Arcona businessman who's behind the cargo. After the ship lands, Falconi signals him that they're being watched by turning out his cockpit lights. When the freighter crew comes out, it's Grasheel who's smoking a cigarillo, which is the signal to keep going with the plan anyway. So he's a smoking Wookiee with a scarf around his head and a bunch of decorative objects, including an earring, tied into his fur, because he wears all his possessions after his time as a slave. I'm almost willing to forgive them for giving us another Wookiee first mate.

    That's when Captain Orr shows up with his stormtroopers. No, I don't know why elite galactic marines are being used for customs enforcement, either. This has Dutan Lee nervous. Lee's officially in mining, but he uses the family business as cover for his arms dealing. He has a web of family members who facilitate his enterprise, feeding him information, helping him steal SoroSuub weapons from the factory, and passing along government information. He's had a lot of leaks recently; it's actually his salt-addicted younger sister who's been the source of the leaks to the Empire. Lee thinks they're cooked when the Imperials start opening crates, but to his surprise they find actual mining equipment. Lee's so agitated that Smythers has the port crew put Imperial Customs stickers on the re-packed crates, signifying that they've been inspected and can pass through Customs without further inspection when they land. Orr's not deterred by finding nothing, though, and brings in a scanning crew. They also find nothing. So Orr has his men go through the ship's hold by hand. All they find is crates of lum. Orr finally gets suspicious of all the lum, and has his men pull some out of the back. He forces Grasheel to drink it. Falconi and Grasheel are acting nervous all the time, and now Grasheel doesn't want to take the bottle, so Orr thinks he's got them. Once Grasheel finally takes the bottle, though, he chugs it all down. So they start going through the crates outside. One trooper starts handling the repulsor coils inside the crates, only to realize too late they've been treated with an anti-corrosion lubricant that dyes everything it touches blue. The stormtroopers are ruining their armor, so they stop handling the equipment.

    Orr finally has to give up. He's found nothing. Furious, he orders the two to get out of his port as soon as possible, which is fine with them, and prepares for his next inspection -- Platt Okeefe's Last Chance. As soon as he leaves, Luies brings in the actual cargo, and his men load the ship up. He's on the take, with a big operation that he runs right under Orr's nose, sometimes feeding him false reports, sometimes a few good tips, and always being able to claim a sting operation if any of his involvement is ever detected. As for the shipment Falconi brought in, the tibanna gas is hidden in the first few crates of lum, which he knew the officials would ignore because they always think smugglers are trying to hide stuff in the back, and the military-grade repulsor coils are actually hidden inside the big industrial ones.

    Next up, there's a bit of article discussing the smuggling art. Tactics include knowing your enemy -- know the strengths and weaknesses of the customs officials you'll be dealing with and play to that. Create cover stories and fake documentation to maintain an aura of legitimacy. Set up secret signals beforehand to let your contacts know what's going on and tell each other if something's up and what you plan to do about it. And above all, find a way to hide your cargo. You have to defeat not only scanners, but the human eye. Take advantage of the fact that customs officers are usually underinformed, and find ways to hide things in plain sight; they don't know what the innards of most technology looks like, or whether some exotic substance is what it says on the label. Have a plan to distract the official if he gets too close to finding something, too. This is where knowing them comes in handy, if you can get them off on a ranting tangent, talk about a favorite interest, or have their favorite food cooking in the ship's galley.

    Finally, there's a bit exhorting gamemasters to do better with boarding actions, which are a frequently used obstacle but often just amount to stashing goods in convenient smuggling compartments and rolling some dice. Our authors suggest bringing more roleplaying into it by getting players to use these techniques and having a good plan for their inspecting NPCs, as well as a clear idea of what narrative and gaming purpose the boarding is meant to accomplish. Also, players should know that the nature of the contraband matters, and even if they're caught, it might just end in a fine if they manage to restrain their urge for gunplay. Finally, there's a whole list of suggested WEG reading material for smuggling reference. There's also a section on required documentation earlier, and a writeup of the patrol boat, giving players a new ship design to play with.

    It's a very good piece. The story is quick-moving and funny, while illustrating the points the article makes, which lets it get away with the fact that its characters aren't exactly revolutionary. The sourcefile elements feel genuinely helpful to players, with a new ship, some new characters, and a big discussion of technique, both smuggling and gaming, that should actually help players and gamemasters get more out of their games. It's a thoughtful piece with good advice and good information, one of the better sourcefiles we've had in a bit. It'll be followed by another Sienn Sconn story from Paul Danner.
     
  2. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 3, 2013
    I generally complain about the use of "spacey" terms instead of real-world ones in the GFFA, but for whatever reason, the fact that rum was turned into 'lum' will never stop being funny to me.
     
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  3. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 30, 2000
    Funnily, it functions more like beer and it's more Smokey and the Bandit than Han Solo and his hard drugs.

    Which I find terribly funny.
     
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  4. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 1998
    Corebound and down, loaded up and spacin'
    We gonna do what they say can't be done

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. CT-867-5309

    CT-867-5309 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jan 5, 2011
    The boys are thirsty in Turkana, and there's lum in Tex-Rothana.
     
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  6. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Easy Credits is Paul Danner's second Adventure Journal story, following up on One of a Kind from a year ago. It's another Sienn Sconn story (a name which always makes me think he should be either a Sullustan or Davith Sconn from The Black Fleet Crisis, but never brings to mind a human thief).

    Young Sconn begins our story face-to-face with Moff Caerbellak; he's posing as a waiter at some big reception by King Rilvvan K'ntarr (Danner LOVES him some double consonants), who for some reason doubles as the head of arms manufacturer Rythani Products, in order to steal a prototype weapon for Draskha the Hutt. He then bumps into Variise (and occasionally some double vowels), the Moff's Mistryl bodyguard. It's nice to see somebody running with a concept like the Mistryl Shadow Guard, instead of just inventing their own thing. It's acknowledged that it's unusual for a Mistryl to work for the Empire, but some say the Moff saved her from pirates. She gives him a hard time, and he thinks of some advice from his uncle Cryle Cavv, who claims to have gotten it from Yoda. He's identified as a delusional little green alien who thought he was a Jedi Master, but it's Yoda, and that's kind of ridiculous. Then, as he's walking down a hall to go steal some stuff, he's yanked into a dark room and a woman makes out with him, which I guess is not the worst problem to have. Turns out it's Princess Kalieva, who's mistaken him for somebody called Arden. I can't explain why neither of those names have double consonants. Sconn bickers with her as he realizes he's going to have trouble actually making his plan work. Since the princess was actually planning to run away with Arden, and still wants offworld even if he isn't showing, she agrees to help him steal the prototype if he'll take her with him.

    When they go to the prototype labs, with Sconn now disguised as the noble Arden, however, the princess is denied entry. So Sconn knocks the guards out, then ties up the princess and sticks her in a closet to keep her out of danger while he does the tough stuff. He knocks out some stormtroopers, steals the prototype, and loads it aboard an AT-AT, which does not seem like the lowest-profile escape route. He's then approached by the princess, who's slipped his knots, and also stole his ID. She's a little too good at this. He agrees to take her with him after she puts on a waterworks show about how terrible and empty her life is here. I don't trust her, and her bio, which says she's petulant, but also brilliant and manipulative. Though at least it bursts the bubble of my initial suspicion that she was just another thief/con artist playing him. He moves off in the AT-AT, bluffing Imperial control, until it breaks down in the middle of the city. He fixes it, but they're running late, and he ends up at the end of an Imperial parade accidentally.

    During the parade, Caerbellak is informed that the prototype has gone missing. He flips out at this threat to his military and political plans, manhandling the king, demanding the thief be found, and declares martial law. Variise kills the king's bodyguards when he objects, so the Moff isn't messing around. This is as Sconn's passing, so the princess sees the Moff with a gun to her father's head. Sconn gives in to his hormones and his do-gooder instincts, and starts taunting Caerbellak with the walker's loudspeaker. I love the image of an AT-AT turning to face the grandstand and shouting insults. He then shoots out one of the supports for the viewing platform, giving the king a chance to escape in the chaos. He doesn't take it, because he's fat and dumb. Instead, he ends up a hostage, objecting to Caerbellak's willingness to kill his daughter, who announced her presence aboard the walker, while Variise jumps onto the back of the AT-AT. Sconn goes back to check it out, but Variise gets him with a shock-whip. He shoots it in half, which sends some of the charge back at Variise. They fight until she knocks him over the edge of the side hatch. He's able to take a few shots at her, get up, and then knock her out the hatch, then blows off the ramp with a thermal detonator, resolving the issue. The explosion, though, damages the walker, which now careens along unable to slow down or steer. Which doesn't really seem like something you'd have happen with a walker, but whatever. They bail before it rams into the Imperial Consulate, taking off on a speeder bike pulling the repulsorsled with the mysterious prototype on it.

    At the freighter outside the city, Sconn and the princess part; she's realized that adventure is more dangerous than she thought, and decided to stick around to help her father. So he takes off to deliver the weapon, while back home Caerbellak lets him go, convinced the weapon will end up in the hands of the New Republic, being researched, and transmitting the locations it passes through back to him. It wasn't his original plan, but he's made it work. And working with him was none other than Princess Kalieva. Anyway she's apparently his teenage mistress and now he's killed the king and they're gloating together over how now she's the new queen and he's going to be a powerful Imperial Moff who destroys the New Republic. I knew she was going to turn out to be no good.

    That's it for the story. Danner gives it some humor and some fun banter, and I like the heist concept. His prose, though, feels amateurish and whole thing just sort of rushes along through a bunch of underdeveloped scenarios until it hits an endpoint. It just doesn't do a lot for me. Next, we'll see Tony Russo's last work for the Adventure Journal, an adventure focused on a secret Imperial project.
     
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  7. Zeta1127

    Zeta1127 Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    I am not familiar with these Sienn Sconn stories, but I can't wait until we get to Paul Danner's two stories that were reprinted in Tales of the New Republic, The Last Hand and No Disintegrations, Please.
     
  8. Bly

    Bly Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 28, 2005
    As someone who's only been exposed to those stories for Danner's work, I gotta say it's surprising how 'eh' his other work seems to be. No Disintegrations, Please in particular was amazing.
     
  9. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Tony Russo's been a prolific contributor to the Adventure Journal, and one of the better ones, producing sourcefiles, adventures, and a short story. Death-Hunter is his last credit, unless Wookieepedia's missing something. An adventure, it doesn't revolve around many of Russo's usual trademarks -- the Pentastar Alignment and the Red Moons being the primary ones -- but that's only because of the timeline, as it's set on future Pentastar shipyard Jaemus, just during the Rebellion era.

    It kicks off with a pair of messages. One is to Crix Madine, from a Rebel spy code-named Tigress, asking Madine to investigate a secret project named Death-Hunter. There's also some information on a shipment of courier droid vessels, I guess meaning some kind of dropship-type shells, sent to the Jaemus shipyards that Tigress thinks is related to the project. The second is from Madine to Colonel Dursa Conegan asking him to look into this. Madine is pretty sure, from other sources, that the Empire is up to something, but he's not sure Death-Hunter is legitimate, as Tigress broke contact with Alliance Intelligence for some time and her information since has only been sixty percent accurate, instead of her previous eighty.

    I was hoping that Conegan would be along for the adventure as an NPC in charge of the party, just as an interesting change of pace, but it turns out he just recruits the players and sends them off to Jaemus with forged dockworker papers and a light transport. Russo throws you into it rather abruptly, having you escorted to the facility by TIEs and landing at the same platform where the courier droid vessels were delivered. It's a private dock used mainly for Imperial VIPs' personal craft, and the group is put to work cleaning out yacht bilges. But you're immediately approached by an R2 droid that beeps at you until you follow it. Once you're in a quiet hallway, it shows a hologram of Tigress, all hooded, telling you that the droid will help you as long as you're here, and it's been programmed to slice your work permits to let you into a nearby dock used by Renikco. Renik is the name of a branch of Imperial Intelligence handling counterintelligence operations, making it suspicious. When you get to the dock, it's manned by Santhe Security personnel. You come in disguised as a scanning crew, and find the courier droid vessels being heavily modified. As you peek inside, some foreman comes over and wants to know what you're doing, as Moff Comark has forbidden unauthorized people in the area; you inevitably end up shooting it out with the guards. You can flee to your ship and escape the system, but with the alarm raised you have to get past some TIEs and a Skipray.

    Once you leave, you get another hologram message telling you about kidnappings on Bescane, a Galentro factory world (population: three billion more than Earth -- good job!), and pointing you to Cooper Dray, a swoop gang leader and Alliance contact there. In the dystopian factory-world hellscape, you eventually come across some corporate security goons beating up a Twi'lek while holding a young woman. Save the pair -- black-marketeers being shook down by the security types -- and they'll point you toward Dray. You can find him in the Arcade Omicron, a big holographic bar. You can talk to him about the kidnappings; he's trying to stop them, but doesn't believe that Imperial Intelligence is behind them. At that point, the corporate enforcers and the elite corporate marshals march in to arrest you for messing with the group before. You can escape out the back with him to his gang's swoops, and there's a chase where you're pursued by security speeder bikes and an airspeeder. Dray is shot off his swoop and captured.

    At that point, Tigress shows up. She says the Imperials are going to take Dray to Moff Jesco Comark. Everybody heads down to the sewers, where Tigress reveals that she's Lady Amber Comark, the Moff's daughter. She actually assumed the identity of the original Tigress, a librarian at the Imperial Archives who was a close personal friend, after Tigress was arrested and executed. She's pretty sure Dray will be taken where the other kidnap victims have been taken, out to the Wastes. This is easily the coolest concept in the adventure. The Wastes are a forbidden sector of space beyond the Outer Rim, full of uninhabitable worlds identified by scouting report numbers, where the Empire carries out weapons testing; planetary siege practice; practice bombardments; testing of biological, chemical, and radioactive weapons; and terraforming experiments. To get in, you'll need forged scavenger's credentials, which a guy named Lucky Ordomire can make. He's pretty reclusive, though; to contact him, you have to make a specific order at a fast food joint and wait for him to contact you. Tigress has you place the order, then tail the courier to Ordomire's hideout instead. You can sneak in to find Ordomire, but he doesn't want to do business. Tigress bribes him with a brooch and some speech about how he's better off working with the Rebellion than the Empire, but I'm not clear on how revealing that Moff Comark is her father is supposed to win the guy's trust. It's all moot because as soon as he does the work, the Empire comes knocking with a squad of stormtroopers and a Death-Hunter. We finally get to find out what that stupid name is. It's a big old cyborg. And not just that, it's the absolute best cyborg design ever. He makes Lobot look chintzy. He's absolutely convincing as a fearsome weapon of war. The Dark Trooper has nothing on the Death-Hunter.

    [​IMG]
    The Death-Hunter is a man with a Prince Valiant haircut wearing an R2 dome as a hat.

    The Death-Hunter knocks out Lady Amber, picks her up, and walks off while the stormtroopers cover him. You have to kill the stormtroopers and escape; you can rescue Ordomire, who still has the permits, get to your ship, and follow the shuttle the Death-Hunter is on. It jumps to hyperspace, but you can track its trajectory or get the information out of flight control: it's headed to Zeta Zero Nine in the Wastes. Rather than being smart and calling in backup, you head off there, a savage world of rocky islands in icy seas. You can head down, but the planet's magnetic field will cause an ionic discharge that disables the ship, which crash-lands on the heaving ice. Then you're jumped by snowtroopers and an AT-AT Swimmer that bursts out of the ice. The characters surrender and try to use their salvager permits to explain their presence. You board the swimmer and dock with an underwater base. If you failed your roll against the commander when he checked your permits, you go straight to detention; if not, you're taken to a holding area where Moff Comark shows up on the video screen. Comark, we learn, is an early convert to New Order fanaticism, a supporter of Palpatine from his days as a senator, who is from Chandrila of all worlds. He was appointed the first Imperial governor of Chandrila, but Mon Mothma railed against him and he wasn't particularly good at his job, so he quit for an advisory job in Renik, where he's pioneered the Death-Hunter project as his own personal program to create cyborgs that can track down Rebel spies and leaders, replacing the loathed bounty hunters. I like several elements of this backstory: the fact that bad people can come from Chandrila too; the fact that Mothma had enough power in the Senate to force out an undesirable governor, properly illustrating why the Senate could remain an obstacle to Palpatine; the implication that Comark was not an experienced political operator and maybe got the Imperial governor position as a kind of sinecure for a supporter who may have come from outside the political world (maybe he was an academic or a businessman); and the fact that Comark is spending a bunch of money on a really stupid project to solve an issue that is completely not an issue -- hiring bounty hunters is working -- just because Imperials have a distaste for using these outside solutions. Anyway, Comark says he's going to look into your permits, and you're left in the room, which is off the detention facility, from which you can hear screams. So either way, you're ending up in the detention facility, breaking in or breaking out.

    Anyway, you end up witnessing a droid doing tests on Dray, and Comark shows up with guards and says you've just volunteered for the Death-Hunter program. A Death-Hunter shows up to round you up, but Amber drops a guard on it from a higher level and throws you weapons; Comark must have thought she was just captured or something, because she was free to come to the rescue and now he's surprised that she's fighting him. Shoot it up, escape with Dray and as many prisoners as you can, steal a disruptor box that can protect you from the magnetic field, and then steal a torpedo sub and shoot off a few torpedoes at the base while you're pursued by a bunch of underwater craft. The characters escape in their freighter as there's a big explosion under the ice -- but of course you can't be completely sure Comark and his Death-Hunters have been eliminated. Amber is upset at the death of her dad, something she never wanted, but she's still committed to the Rebellion.

    There are a lot of ideas here I liked. Zeta Zero Nine is a genuinely unique planetary concept that I really like, and having some underwater action is cool. I already explained why I like Comark. Bescane isn't a bad concept either. A Moff's daughter secretly being a Rebel spy by assuming the identity of a fallen Rebel is cool. The Wastes are a tremendously cool concept. Russo is a good ideas man. But even by the normally railroaded standards of Adventure Journal adventures, this one was absolutely on rails. There are hardly even any meaningful opportunities for role-playing built into it. It's completely stage-managed from beginning to end, with Russo telling you exactly what's going to happen. As full of cool concepts as it is, it's just terribly designed as an adventure.

    This will be followed by an article on repulsortanks. Looks pretty interesting.
     
  10. Grand Admiral Paxis

    Grand Admiral Paxis Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Renikco: Coming to a neighbourhood near you!

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Repulsortank Battlefield! Now there's a name for an article! Prolific WEG contributor Timothy O'Brien is here with a sourcefile article about repulsortanks. It's a useful subject to cover, since they're a notable part of ground combat, but walkers get all the attention and ground combat in general just doesn't get as much print on it as space combat does.

    A note is attached to the beginning, establishing that we're looking at a report compiled by General Madine (shouldn't Madine have better things to do than write these reports himself?). He was actually working on it when he got word of Hoth, which is a nice detail, both in the image of Madine at his desk hearing the Rebellion has suffered a terrible loss, and in the way it takes the time to think about the fact that other people are still around even during events they're not participating in, and it's worth thinking about them and their reactions too, as Madine shares the news that Leia, Luke, and Han have all gone missing in the aftermath of the assault (and bemoans the base's unpreparedness to counter AT-ATs).

    We're told that walkers are an Imperial trend, but the fashion is cycling back to repulsortanks again, which were an Old Republic mainstay. With the Empire not going for much beyond the Ubrikkian Floating Fortress, the Rebellion has been able to scoop up surplus repulsortanks. Imperial ground assault doctrine is built around the assumption that their ground assault vehicles will be superior to the enemy's, but probably outnumbered, will be supported by infantry, and will be operating under the shield of Imperial space superiority. The Empire recognizes three categories of ground assault vehicles: walkers, surface assault vehicles operating on wheels or treads, and repulsorlift assault vehicles. Walkers, as terrifying, heavily armored assault vehicles, are best suited to attacking fortified positions and breaking lines in setpiece battles, but where mobility and speed matter, they're poorly suited. That's where SAVs and RAVs come in. Since the Empire doesn't have these standardized across sectors to the degree they do with ubiquitous walkers, Imperial doctrine on the subject is a general set of principles rather than specifics. They're to be used in mobile fashion, surrounding and overwhelming the enemy with concentrated force. And they should always be used with infantry support, and preferably air cover as well. That's pretty general.

    The main Imperial hovertank is the Ubrikkian Imperial-class, a top-notch tank with a significant fraction of the AT-AT's punch and durability, and far greater speed and maneuverability. It comes in light, medium, and heavy versions; the heavy is a hard hitter with a big long-range heavy laser, and the light is still better armed and armored than most repulsortanks. The medium, though, is the command tank version, with the turret replaced with a commander's station. "The command tank is designated 'medium' because it is not armed well enough to be heavy, and officers do not ride in light tanks." Notably, Imperial tanks don't have significant anti-infantry weaponry, keeping them dependent on infantry support, which isn't issued anti-tank weaponry, keeping both elements dependent on each other and forced to cooperate.

    The Alliance uses the term combat assault vehicle instead of ground assault vehicle; I guess they've got to be special. They use their CAVs differently, avoiding attacks on strong points, where they don't match up well with Imperial forces, and instead using them for ambushes, raids, and other asymmetric warfare. They leave strongpoints alone and defeat enemies in detail, encouraging them to stay bottled up in fortresses. Rebel doctrine is likewise broad: use their mobility, preferably against the enemy's rear and flanks, use them to support infantry and break up enemy infantry, and don't use Rebel armor against Imperial armor without a three-to-one numerical advantage. Rebel commanders, of course, have much more leeway to modify or deviate from Rebel doctrine than Imperials, who are likely to end up court-martialed if they try to make their own decisions.

    When it comes to the matchup, Madine doesn't share the general Rebel optimism that Rebel units are superior to Imperial ones and only Imperial numbers give them the advantage. The Rebels have the advantage in morale and loyalty, but the Empire generally has better equipment, training, and discipline, and the Imperials are better indoctrinated than Rebels like to think. Rebels are misled by Rebel success in starfighter combat, where Rebel equipment and training are at their best relative to the Empire. He also points out that Imperial tanks perform better than Imperial infantry because infantry can be worn down by lesser foes keeping them under persistent fire until they withdraw, whereas Imperial troops, in superior tanks, simply don't feel as threatened and lose their morale; even under fire, you feel safe inside a tank right until you blow up.

    Among Imperial forces, there are significant rivalries; infantry tends to consider armor primarily as personnel carriers, and overlook repulsortanks in favor of walkers, while repulsortank operators likewise consider walkers as personnel carriers -- a lot of firepower and armor wasted carrying troops. Madine also claims that nobody likes artillery because they're always back from the front; that may be true, Crix, but only until you need artillery. There's nothing like artillery support. And while high command in armor prefers walkers, and career-oriented personnel see walker assignments as a fast track, many in the lower echelons would rather be assigned to repulsortanks, which are more mobile and not such towering targets.

    There's a collection of armor slang terms; I won't duplicate it, but it's less cheesy than this kind of thing generally is. It's pretty good. It also notes that hovercraft crews are called "fanboys." Is fanboy a derogatory term?

    The piece then goes through the variants of the Imperial-class that were already mentioned in more detail. The Imperial is a late attempt to bring the same standardization to repulsortanks that is the hallmark of other Imperial forces, but which had been neglected in repulsortanks. It got its impetus largely from the success of the Hell's Hammers, an elite repulsortank unit under Colonel Zel "Rancor" Johans (this unit is taken from the Imperial Sourcebook, yet more nice WEG cross-pollination). Johans won fame leading a tremendously effective unit, and got the Empire to invest in a new tank series from Ubrikkian, with significant design input from Johans. The initial production run mostly ended up on the Death Star, and since then there's been a weird decentralized production scheme where interested sectors get local contractors to build the tanks under Ubrikkian supervision, leaving distribution very uneven. Madine also notes that about five percent of centralized Ubrikkian production is just disappearing, apparently warehoused somewhere he can't find. The obvious conclusion is they're going to the second Death Star. The three designs are basically the same, with the light just lacking the heavy's big, expensive main gun in favor of a lighter weapon. The medium command tank is roomier to fit command staff. The heavy is the most commonly produced variant, with the big gun.

    When it comes to countering tanks, you can destroy them with artillery, airstrikes and orbital strikes, other tanks, infantry anti-tank weapons, mines, and in desperate situations, charges. There has also long been talk of developing tank hunter vehicles -- light repulsorlift platforms with heavy long-range guns on them designed to take out tanks from a distance -- but they've never really been successfully developed and neither the Empire nor Rebellion is eager to invest in them. Infantry aren't the ideal way to take on tanks, but they can get up close and be pretty dangerous in cluttered terrain like cities and jungle, which are danger zones for tanks.

    And that's it. A pretty good piece, informative, coherent, generally thoughtful and well-informed, and useful to players. I quite liked it. There's more from O'Brien to follow, a miniatures scenario, when we come back, as well as Pablo Hidalgo's Lazy Dad Joke Corner.
     
  12. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 3, 2013
    This whole section is probably the most fascinating part of the article, for me. It's not often we get to see a candid in-universe discussion of areas where the Empire legitimately has the advantage and the corresponding risk of unrealistic rebel expectations. And it's particularly interesting to see coming from well-known Imperial defector Madine.

    While 'fanboys' is hilarious (and yes, probably somewhat derogatory), I'm 90 percent sure it's purely a reference to literal hovercraft fans.
     
  13. Zeta1127

    Zeta1127 Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    One thing that has really bugged me is the arbitrary abandonment of the unit designation, 112th Repulsorlift Armor Regiment, that apparently happened in the Imperial Handbook, which led Wookieepedia to basically remove almost all references to the old designation in favor of the rather confusing designation of Imperial Hammers Elite Armor Regiment.
     
  14. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    It's a joking reference to a famous trainwreck of a JCC thread.
     
  15. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    "Today's forecast . . . cold again," says a man dressed in Hoth gear, in front of one of those tracking boards from Echo Base, under the legend, "The Galaxy's Worst Job: Hoth Weatherman." It seems like a pretty good job, all things considered, since it's so damn simple. You'd think meteorologists would be killing for a job where they could finally be right every day. Anyway, that's this issue's edition of Fragments from the Mind's Eye, in which Pablo Hidalgo brings you half-assed "jokes" with accompanying art. This has to be the Adventure Journal's most pointless recurring feature, but I guess it only wastes one page and it fulfills the tradition of newspapers and magazines having a regular cartoon.

    Objective Sighted: Stand at Bhir'khi Pass is yet another miniatures scenario, this time by Tim O'Brien. It ties into his previous article by presenting a battle of ground vehicles, no infantry, and showing off his repulsortanks. O'Brien brings a little flair to a usually functional feature with dueling vignettes: the New Republic commander holding the mountain pass resignedly realizing he's facing not only an AT-AT, but two Imperial-class tanks as well, and the major commanding the Imperial force, annoyed at the escort tanks showing off their maneuverability, expecting an ambush. It's a good little bit, adding some atmosphere to the battle about to play out.

    We're then given the full context, after a bit on how the standard scale has been altered to deal with a vehicle scenario. Our battle takes place near the end of the Thrawn campaign, on the Outer Rim planet Sheris. The Imperials are trying to capture the spaceport city Marter An, which is under a shield, so they've dropped their assault force on the other side of a mountain range. The New Republic is guarding the titular pass to the city. They managed to get forces onworld only just before the Imperials, so they're still deploying. They've scrambled limited forces to hold this point while the others deploy; the Imperial force, on the other hand, is correspondingly small because they're trying to get a small strike force over the mountains to disable the shield generator so they can land a full force in a more convenient location for seizing the spaceport.

    The Imperials have the AT-AT and two heavy repulsortanks; the stormtroopers aboard the AT-AT won't be deployed in the scenario because the Imperials are trying to break through as fast as possible and aren't going to stop to deploy infantry. Meanwhile, the New Republic has seven KAAC Freerunners, and a heavy tracker as a command craft (despite what its name suggests, this is a repulsorlift, not tracked, vehicle). They significantly outnumber the Empire, but the Imperial equipment is much better quality. O'Brien actually has to explain that the scenario has been thoroughly playtested and bears out the fact that the Empire stands a very good chance of winning despite being badly outnumbered not just numerically, but in squad generation points, the intended measure of balance in the game.

    The terrain is a glacial valley dotted with large boulders, which can be toppled and potentially roll downhill into vehicles. There's a lake in the middle that will slow the walker, and the steep valley sides will flip any vehicle that goes out of control and runs off the side of the map. The Imperial objective is to pass through the valley and, from the end, fire on the shield generators off-map and destroy them; it's a major victory if they do it within twenty turns, and a minor victory if it takes longer and the New Republic will be able to reinforce the shield generator at Marter An. The NR wins a major victory by destroying the AT-AT, and a minor victory by delaying it until there are reinforcements. The Imperials have a minor defeat if the shield generator isn't destroyed within the time limit, and a major defeat if the AT-AT is destroyed; the NR major defeat is to lose the shield generator, and they have no minor defeat. O'Brien ends with playing advice: the Imperials should attempt to rush the AT-AT to the other end of the valley, covering it with the tanks (which can't sit still or they'll be too easy to swarm); it can destroy anything in front of it, but if it gets bogged down trying to chase the repulsortanks around, they'll just run circles around it. The NR needs to keep its tanks moving fast and get them in behind the AT-AT

    Objective Sighted has always been a feature with limited upside, but this does a good job by presenting something fresh and different. O'Brien does a nice job not only tying it into his article, but giving the setup a little literary flair. He also gives some good advice about using his scenario. This is probably the best I've seen this feature done. It'll be followed by the NewsNets. I haven't decided yet if I'll throw Bill Smith's mechanics-focused letters column, ISB Intercepts, into the same coverage to wrap up Adventure Journal 9 in one post or not.
     
  16. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Time for everybody's favorite feature, the Galaxywide NewsNets! Let's find out what's going on in the galaxy as we approach two years after the Battle of Yavin.

    Things begin with Imperial HoloVision on an escalation of the feud between Jante and Freda that we learned about last issue. These two systems have now gone to war over the mining rights to the Rettna system, as Freda forces launched a surprise attack against Jante mining operations, destroying several orbital plants. Jante forces counterattacked, but were pushed back, and Freda now holds Rett II. This has set off Moff Haveland (it was Havaland last issue -- Sudlow has a serious flaw with spelling consistency throughout his work), who was overseeing negotiations for the past several months that broke down only this week when Freda's president, Rolf Petruma, withdrew. He's now sending in CompForce troops to enforce a ceasefire and threatening to punish both sides for allowing the conflict to escalate, to which Jante is protesting its victimhood.

    TriNebulon News carries a story from Femon, Gailea. Guests at the elite Marqua Spas Grand Ball were shocked and appalled to witness a floubette performance by Jantaa Binx. This one's so damn funny I just have to quote the body of the article.

    "Floubette dance, an idealized form of the Floubettean mating ritual, is considered aesthetically pleasing when performed by avian performers. Unfortunately, the sight of a human performing the dance is somewhat shocking (some would say revolting), as the ball attendees discovered to their dismay. Binx. the only known human performer of floubette dance, got nearly a third of the way through her performance before being escorted off the dance floor and off the premises.

    "Falaco Don-DeMardo, the general manager of the Spas, was mortified by the incident, and this morning sacked his assistant manager Tarin DeHallo, who booked the performer. 'I had no idea she was a human,' sobbed DeHallo as she was escorted off the Spa premises with a box of belongings. 'How was I supposed to know that? Who ever heard of a human floubette dancer? It was horrible.'"

    Prime WEG, right there. Funny, and it does a perceptive job of playing off the oddities of a galaxy of different species.

    Next up, word of Rebel attacks on Esseles. A Rebel faction called the Faceless that's recently sprung up is supposed to be behind an attack on the Imperial base at Tralee executed at the same time as a blast at a fuel depot and refinery on the polar island of Grande Hyet, killing fifty, injuring two hundred fifty, and doing fifty million credits of damage. It's the worst terrorist attack on Esseles since the Algeran Faction's attacks during Palpatine's ascent to the throne. Official response to the catastrophe was slow as a result of bickering between President Ralle and Governor Takel over who was allowed to send troops, a standoff ultimately won by Takel.

    That's only the first in a string of three Darpa SectorNet stories. One from the next day has Ralle appealing for calm and reassuring the populace that Esseles is not in immediate danger, security is being beefed up, and the Rebel presence is under investigation. This attack is further damaging Esseles's struggling economy, and a further Faceless broadcast during Ralle's address, accusing the government of anti-alien bias, as many nonhuman Esselians are fleeing the planet and alien union bosses are encouraging strikes.

    A few days later, we learn that Ralle has reached an accord with Kanno Sebak, the Sullustan who leads the Guild of Offworlder Skilled Laborers. Ralle appointed a task force to look into anti-alien workplace discrimination and established scholarships to Camalar University for immigrant workers' children. Sebak in return called for union members to return to work and denounced the Faceless for their attack, the death toll for which has risen to one hundred forty six alien laborers killed. Jamson Freller, Ralle's rival in the upcoming elections, issued a statement backhandedly congratulating Ralle on the agreement, but all-but-openly stoking anti-alien sentiment.

    From Ralltiir, Galaxy News Service has the story of Governor Graeber's bust of a hidden Rebel armory. The raid was the biggest in two years of occupation, netting three hundred tons of weapons, thirty-five Rebels, and a trove of documents that, together with interrogation of the captives, are leading to further arrests of a hundred or so additional Rebels.

    TriNebulon News continues the fallout from the rawmat crisis with a story on Imperial economic advisor Pinac Galous's announcement of a fifteen percent hike in consumption taxes throughout the Outer Rim, effective retroactive to the beginning of the year. The justification is both the rawmat shortage and the increase in Rebel attacks, which since they mostly originate from the Outer Rim, supposedly justifies the imposition of the tax on the Outer Rim only. The money will fund military projects; we're supposed to read that as Death Star II. That's a hell of a tax hike, and concentrated on the Outer Rim, it appears punitive as much as anything.

    Brentaal Trade News covers Imperial Customs' discovery of a smuggling operation on Brentaal redirecting raw materials to the Outer Rim. Customs investigators raided a warehouse full of raw materials misrouted there via sliced manifests, recovering the materials. They have no idea who was behind it, however, as there was no one at the warehouse, and the operation appears extensive. I'm not sure what this is supposed to be getting at, exactly, unless we have a hilarious case of Imperial Customs accidentally busting the Empire's secret efforts to route rawmat to the Death Star II covertly.

    From Camaa, Fremond III, we learn that a three-day siege of a Rebel-held warehouse has ended. The Rebels were caught trying to sneak into the prefect's offices, and retreated to the fortified warehouse, from which they sent several transmissions to a ship in orbit that then jumped to hyperspace in some kind of odd reenactment of the Death Star plans theft. The Rebels finally surrendered after the transmissions were complete. A minor detail: the commander of the troops besieging the warehouse is named Rumo Takashi, which does a pretty good job of suggesting ethnicity without any visual description.

    In news for the Jello set, Grand Admiral Rufaan Tigellinus has been inducted into the ultra-elite Order of the Canted Circle in a ceremony at the Skydome Botanical Gardens. This is a shocking event for multiple reasons: the incredibly exclusive Order has now admitted thirteen new members within the past seven years, when it rarely admits more than eleven in a decade, and Tigellinus himself has rocketed to prominence from relative obscurity. Membership in the Order of the Canted Circle is an incredible honor that even some of the most elite players at court have been excluded from, while Tigellinus only became a significant Imperial Court figure within the previous year.

    Finally, we learn that the Wroona Stardock suffered from sabotage when one of the drives of the VSD Rampant blew, followed by a raid by fighters, a corvette, and a gunship that inflicted losses on the dock's TIE complement. Kabalard Vinne, former representative of the Guild of Armament Distributors, claimed responsibility for the attack, vengeance for the outlawing of several of the criminal Wroonian guilds. Vinne, in the way of Wroonians, refuted the existence of a grand plan for revenge; it was pretty much just done offhand, for spite.

    That's it for the NewsNets. It's not the most notable of entries, with mostly short, functional articles, not a lot of the more flavorful social stuff, and no big advancements of some of the more interesting ongoing plotlines. Still good stuff, though.

    The last element of Adventure Journal 9 is an all-new feature. ISB Intercepts has been created to answer reader requests for a column taking questions on more functional aspects of the roleplaying game. These answers will come from Bill Smith, editor and rules expert for the second edition. There's a totally pointless framing device of the article as material intercepted by an ISB functionary who's convinced it's Rebel code; I don't know why this is a thing, because it's dumb and clearly there's no way to actually buy reader questions about the roleplaying game as being in-universe material.

    The first is about Galaxy Guide 8: Scouts' statement that scouts receive .01 percent of a planet's value if they discover it; how do you value a planet? Smith says that desolate rocks might be worth only ten thousand credits, but an average undeveloped world could be worth one hundred thousand to a billion credits, which is a pretty wide range. A planet with valuable resources could be worth hundreds of billions. Developed worlds you discover could run from only a few thousand credits, if there's a primitive species squatting on it and no significant resources, up to quadrillions for trade worlds with major economies. Smith also points out that payment for scouts may not be that rich -- they only may be as high as .01 percent; they could be lower. Companies could gimmick their valuations of the worlds discovered. Payment could be non-monetary, in corporate credit, equipment, or stock. It could be drawn out on a payment plan, or require the scout to show in person at corporate headquarters deep in the Core, and they could be conditional. In short, your scout can get paid . . . but the GM has plenty of tools to make sure no scout ever gets too rich.

    Other questions include whether there's a penalty on natural healing rolls when a character is wounded (no, they use their full strength code), and a request for the stats of a stock Firespray, which are dutifully printed. One GM writes to say that his pilot player complains when the starting X-wing from his character template is identified by Imperials, and wants to know if there are any non-Rebel fighters his player could get. Smith identifies the Headhunter, CloakShape, Preybird, MRX-BR Pacifier, the Mestapol Zephyer (sic), and the Trianii RX4 patrol ship, and suggests a little adventure to find a new ship; he even cites the old Marvel issues with Luke and Lando on a junkyard world looking for ships. Yes, the issue with the infamous Ceasar. A GM incredulous at his player's 9D starting computer programming/repair skill is reassured that, yes, Verpine really can have starting technical skills that high, and you'll just have to manage it if he abuses it, perhaps by giving the character some hassle from those noticing his skill.

    The final question is from someone who wants a conversion formula to adapt first edition creatures to the second edition. There is no formula, so Smith just prints second edition stats for every single first edition creature. It's extensive as hell, running about twelve pages and covering dozens and dozens of creatures. Smith also explains just how all the stats for creatures work. He ends with some errata, corrections on the stats for the first and second Death Stars, which had their turbolasers and heavy turbolasers listed as starfighter-scale weapons when they should have been capital-scale. The second Death Star also needs its laser cannons broken down into two different types with different stats, for some reason.

    This is obviously a completely dry feature for those looking for lore, but it's incredibly useful for players, rich in gameplay details and with Smith willing to answer just about any question. It's a great addition to the Adventure Journal. That concludes this issue (the first Adventure Journal ever to feature no work from Charlene Newcomb!), which might not quite live up to the high point of issue eight, but keeps things moving forward without losing momentum. We'll be starting a new issue next time around, so you can look forward to a Kathy Tyers short story continuing the saga of Daye and Tinian, an article on TIE fighters, the short story Do No Harm, a juicy Cracken's Rebel Operatives, and The Free Trader's Guide to the Planets.
     
  17. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    [​IMG]

    And now it begins: Adventure Journal 10. This quarter's Admiral's Communique is a tribute to Brian Daley, who died in early 1996 when this, the May 1996 issue, was being put together. Titled "Brian Daley Inspired Fans" and written by Eric Trautmann, it's actually so long it continues off the single page reserved for the feature and is continued at the end of the New Horizons. Trautmann begins, as all discussions of Star Wars must, by describing how amazed he was by seeing Star Wars in the seventies, how desperately six-year-old Eric wanted to just go and live in the Star Wars universe. And how that urge was met by the books and comics that came out after the movie. How his teacher, trying to get kids excited about reading, told them that a book about Han Solo would be coming out in a few months. And if that doesn't get you excited about reading, I don't know what will. And finally, after months of agonized waiting, young Eric Trautmann got that Han Solo book. And it was everything he could have wanted. Gunfights, dogfights, romance, excitement -- and unlike the movies, he could revisit the story, and the Star Wars universe, any time he wanted. "In fact, Han Solo at Stars' End was one of the first books that told the kind of story I truly wanted to read and wanted even more to tell. It didn't talk down to me or treat me like an idiot (as a lot of pop fiction tends to do -- even today). Brian Daley handled themes of honor, integrity and bravery in one exciting package that trusted me to be smart enough to keep up." Trautmann credits Daley's work with inspiring him to write his own stories, Star Wars stories, and look where he is now. Two decades later, writing Star Wars stories. He signs off with a simple thank you to Daley. It's a nice piece, a heartfelt, well-expressed explanation of just what Daley meant to one of WEG's core personnel.

    Before New Horizons, you've got an ad for The Secrets of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, promising to spill all the titular secrets in the "ultimate guide to the sinister side . . . of Star Wars." I'm not sure that ellipsis is really called for. The image is just Xizor's face. I enjoy how whoever was behind the push for SOTE decided that all you needed to sell it was Xizor's face. The great, unifying symbol of this media push was going to be . . . this green alien. All you need to know about this story is expressed by the fact that it has a big new villain. And this villain has a face. And it's green.

    Anyway, on to New Horizons. We start off with Bantam's new offerings, which include X-wing and Black Fleet Crisis sequels. Wedge's Gamble is coming out, and it has the Rogues forced into a dangerous espionage mission on Coruscant, where one wrong move means death. The New Republic is ready to seize Coruscant, but Rogue Squadron has a spy in its ranks! It's a lengthy, rather florid promo, in the best pulp fiction tradition. I like it. It's got atmosphere and pizzazz. Also coming out is Children of the Jedi in paperback. It also gets a lengthy promo that was clearly written by professional marketing. Same with Shield of Lies. Whoever's handling this feature seems to have realized that the Bantam novels are where the franchise's bread is buttered right now, and it's to everyone's benefit to hype them up with Bantam's big, sexy blurbs instead of just quietly plugging them. Also out is War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches, marketed to those who enjoyed the Tales from compilations. It's another KJA-edited anthology, with many of the same writers from the Tales from books, writing "stories about the invasion of Earth by Martians, from the perspectives of famous writers and personalities like Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, H.P. Lovecraft, Teddy Roosevelt, and Albert Einstein." That's actually kind of a neat concept.

    From there we go straight to WEG's new releases, which WEG usually saves for last; clearly nobody except Bantam had anything to promote this quarter. Dark Horse needs to step up its press release game, at the least. No reason there shouldn't be some X-wing comics featured here. Second Edition, Revised and Expanded is coming out, reorganized for the convenience of beginning players who may not be familiar with roleplaying but whom WEG wants to bring into it. They want to make the game easier to learn to get ready for an influx of new fans with the theatrical rerelease of the trilogy. It has a "flashy new presentation, organization, and expansion," including having sections presented by in-universe characters the way WEG is so fond of. The rules have been tweaked to make movement and chases flow more quickly and cinematically, so games don't get bogged down. The game is still compatible with all the older material; stats will just be used slightly differently. For those concerned about the rules changes, the next issue of the Adventure Journal will have a rules upgrade inside, and they'll send a copy of the rules upgrade to anyone who sends a self-addressed stamped envelope with sixty-four cents of postage.

    Lastly, the folks at WEG know this is nineties Star Wars fandom, and everybody's nuts about Timothy Zahn. Well, Zahn is coming to GenCon in Milwaukee, where he will do the usual con things, and also play two RPG sessions with the highest bidders, money going to charity. They know that you already know him and love him from the Thrawn trilogy, so they instead highlight his numerous contributions to WEG's material, and note that he's promoting Conquerors' Legacy, the third of his Conquerors trilogy about a major human-alien first contact war.

    Lastly, before we get to our first piece, Kathy Tyers's short story, there's a lovely little two-page feature called Remembering Brian Daley. It starts off with the obituary details: Daley died on February 10, 1996 at his home in Maryland. His cause of death (pancreatic cancer) isn't given. He's known for his Han Solo novels, his scripts for the Star Wars radio dramas (he died only hours after receiving a phone call from the wrap party for work on the Return of the Jedi Radio Drama), his Robotech and other collaborations with James Luceno, his original novels, and assorted other works. Then comes the tribute to Daley's work.

    "For many Star Wars fans, Mr. Daley played an important role in opening up and exploring that galaxy 'far, far away.' 'One of Brian Daley's most important contributions to the Star Wars mythos was not a character or a type of spaceship: it was a style of storytelling,' said West End Games' Star Wars editor Bill Smith. 'All of the "traditional" Star Wars elements were present in his novels, from spaceships travelling faster than light to evil and corrupt villains scheming against valiant heroes. Droids, aliens, starships, blasters, even Chewbacca the Wookiee -- it was all there. But not once did the fate of the galaxy hinge on the actions of Han and Chewie. The stories were much smaller in scale and narrower in scope than the movies, but were no less satisfying. Brian Daley gave the Star Wars universe a much more personal and intimate face.'

    "The staff of West End Games will always have fond memories of Mr. Daley's contributions to the Star Wars universe. Clear skies."
     
    Vthuil, Nom von Anor, Sarge and 2 others like this.
  18. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 1998
    IMO, Brian Daley is still the best SW novelist.
     
    Landb, Havac and AdmiralWesJanson like this.
  19. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Only Droids Serve the Maker kicks off this issue as Kathy Tyers returns to her ongoing story of Tinian I'att and Daye Azur-Jamin. She's written two stories already for the Adventure Journal, and Tinian and Chenlambec would appear in her Tales of the Bounty Hunters entry several months after this story. It is, by Adventure Journal standards, a huge story, running about forty pages.

    Our story starts with Daye, which is unusual enough given that Tinian has been the dominant presence in these stories. He and his Rebel friends are approaching Monar II; they've dropped off an arms shipment on a moon, and are going to launch a pod with the information on where to pick them up. They're supplying arms to the Sunesis, the natives, for Una Poot, the gunrunner from the last story. I really just wanted to write "Una Poot" again. Daye's running guns for the Rebellion now, after the Rebels helped patch him up. He's still pretty messed up, though; he's got a new shoulder, but his legs are run by mechanical braces connected to a spinal implant, and he's mostly blind in his right eye and his left eye is damaged enough that he's had a temporary lens implanted over it. They're tractored by Kline Security; Monor II is now known as Kline Colony to the Empire, which is exploiting its cirrifog, a coating of light crystals that floats through its atmosphere. The Sunesi, a species that undergoes metamorphosis to mature (a nice touch) aren't too happy about that, and are rebelling under Agapos IX, their priest-prince, an eloquent philosopher whose tracts against the Empire are widely distributed offworld. This is a lot of exposition to take in, but Tyers is speaking my language with some cool ideas.

    They're boarded by troops who really don't care what their story is. Daye tries to buy time for the message pod to land, but they're arrested and the bridge crew reports it destroyed after they blow Daye's ship. On the surface, they're taken to see Administrator Brago, who dismisses them and decides Toalar, the Gotal, is probably the leader. So he has him interrogated. Daye's taken back to a cell, where the troopers strip off his cybernetics, deriding him as a droid.

    Cut to Tinian and Chenlambec . . . who happen to be on Monor II. They're tracking Agapos's pirate broadcasts to a giant ore vein he's using as an antenna. They blow their way in, and Flirt, Chen's tiny slicing droid, eliminates their security, so they storm the broadcast center, out to capture Agapos. Chen takes an arrow to the chest, but they stun Agapos's entourage and capture him. Agapos, playing the martyr, refuses to cooperate, leading Tinian to stun him, but not before Agapos heals Chenlambec by touch. You know what, Rebel alien space Jesus is not a bad character concept. So they grab him, spray some of his blood around the room, and head back to the Wroshyr, Chen's ship.

    Daye, meanwhile, gets rescued by the young kid who was part of the team who captured him -- and also the one who reported the message pod destroyed. He's their Rebel contact, and he busts Daye and his friends out along with a couple Sunesi. Daye is puzzled to hear the Sunesi referring to the Maker; he knows they let droids live among them as equals, and he wonders if they worship the "quasi-deity" of the droids. The Sunesi leader gets injured during their escape, but heals herself with a little help from another. A little touch, a little chant, and things start healing right up. Natural Force sensitivity among the Sunesi? Or is Agapos just leading a limited priest class of Force sensitives? Daye notices, and wonders if he might be able to use his own Force-sensitivity to heal himself. He tries it, and nothing happens. He tries using the Sunesi chant. He opens his eyes. He can see again! Out of both of them! Trying it again for his legs doesn't do anything, though.

    They land, but everyone's upset because Agapos appears to have been captured. They head to meeting run by BK-4, a protocol droid who serves as Agapos's second-in-command. Which is odd. The Sunesi have ships pursuing a fleeing craft that they believe to belong to Agapos's killers. Daye recognizes the ship as Chenlambec's. He knows from Una Poot that Tinian is with him, and that he's "not an ordinary bounty hunter." Daye quickly puts it together and realizes Chen is a Rebel agent, and calls on the Sunesi to let the ship go. He explains, and BK-4 changes his mind. He sends the Rebels to a shuttle to meet up with the ship, which was damaged before the pursuit was called off. Chenlambec jumps to hyperspace, but not before Daye feels Tinian's presence in the Force, and the shuttle gets their trajectory to follow.

    On the other ship, Agapos breaks out of his cell and starts ranting grandiosely about how he's going to take them out with him until Tinian explains that they're not Imperials, you idiot, they're Rebels saving his life by using Chen's bounty-hunting license to spirit wanted Imperials to safety. They won't be very safe, though, if Chen can't repair the scrubbers, since they lost a lot of air to a small breach before their jump. Agapos, however, says that he can use the Sunesi's natural ultrasound abilities to cavitate oxygen out of the oxywater used in the miniature cloning tank Chen is using to grow some of Agapos's tissue to pose as his last remains.

    They head to Tekra Point, a space station, pursued by the shuttle. Chen drops Agapos off on the station, gets replacement parts, and takes off. So I guess we won't get a Tinian-Daye reunion yet. The Rebel contingent stays on the station and finds Agapos. On hearing Daye's name, he realizes that Daye has let Tinian think he's dead. Agapos rips him for being too prideful -- Tinian would love him as he is, and he's being both too self-pitying and too self-congratulatory about his self-sacrifice and pain. He's hurt Tinian, and now she's trying to cut off her own ability to love. Chenlambec is trying to reach her, he really cares for her, but it's up in the air if he can save her. Agapos does counsel Daye, and teaches him pain-control techniques that can help him with his body. He invites him to join the Sunesi, among whom he could eventually heal his entire body. He's willing to help. He wants to help heal Daye's prideful, pained spirit, not just his body. Daye prevails on him not to go back to the Sunesi, to protect Chen and Tinian by staying in hiding. Agapos agrees to stay hidden, to write under a new name. The Rebels here can hook him up with a safeworld, one where they build weapons. Daye could not only be Agapos's assistant, but could put his knowledge to work helping arm the Rebellion. It's an offer too good to refuse. Daye agrees, though Agapos tells him that someday, they will have to find Tinian and make things right.

    There's a last scene with Tinian, as she prevails on Chen to finally spend some of that bounty money on upgraded shields. The story also ends with a small author's note pointing out that most of Agapos's sayings on liberty, quoted throughout the story, have been adapted from Jefferson, Paine, and Adams, which is the kind of detail sure to win my heart.

    There are extensive writeups at the end of the article. Monor II gets a writeup, explaining that the planet's beautiful cirrifog is harmful when inhaled by non-Sunesi, but humans live on the world using breath masks and sealed buildings. Only five thousand, though; the main population is eighteen million Sunesis. That's a Chile's worth of Sunesis across the planet. They need the cirrifog for their juveniles to pupate, but the Empire has begun harvesting it after Eujustus Kline established his colony. The Sunesis get their own writeup; their name means pilgrims in their language, and they're religious, disposed to believe in an afterlife. They mature into their vaguely amphibian adult forms through pupating; the juveniles are furry creatures with sap- and nectar-drinking probosces, which keeps them from being able to speak. The juveniles are intelligent, though, despite being unable to speak and spending most of their time eating. Some die during metamorphosis, but most juveniles regard being adults who can speak and use opposable digits to be worth it. The adults have bulging heads and natural ultrasound abilities, as well as swiveling ears.

    There's nothing we don't already know about the established characters. Agapos IX has an interesting biography; even among the frequently Force-sensitive priest caste of Sunesis (well, that explains that) he's got a strong connection to the Force. Even as a juvenile, he showed unusual intelligence, spending less time eating and more time around adults picking up knowledge. He pupated early but took twice as long to emerge, and immediately rose to prominence as an adult, where he was inducted into the priesthood. He stood out as a healer and leader so much that his father, Agapos VIII, abdicated in his favor. When the Imperials arrived, Agapos started turning more of his attention to politics in addition to spiritual leadership.

    BK-4 is a protocol droid designed for a planetary management role. He was assigned to one of Palpatine's friends who was appointed "dictator" of a minor world shortly after his accession. This owner beefed up Burger King Four's systems to illegal levels, but also constantly memory-wiped him. When the dictator heard Palpatine was moving to replace him, he fled in a shuttle with BK and ended up at Monor II, where Agapos VIII gave him asylum. Agapos ended up with the droid, which he gave to Agapos IX.

    Now that's a pretty good short story. Like most of these short stories, it's not rich in plot. It's reliant on a pretty stock scenario. Capture, escape, whatever. But where it shines is all the stuff around that. Tyers, who's always been underrated as an author, has some good characterization at work with Daye and Tinian, who have strong emotions and compelling character arcs. I really wish we'd gotten another story on them out of Tyers. Chenlambec, who could be trite as another Wookiee sidekick, works mostly on the basis that he's actually the lead here and Tinian is his sidekick, and we get his POV so that he gets actual characterization. Tyers is also full of really cool ideas here. Agapos, the philosopher-Rebel, is a great character. He's part Revolutionary political wisdom, part spiritual monk. And with his Force-sensitivity, he's Alien Space Jesus in a way that works, mostly because it's not oversold as having any galactic significance. Tyers has ideas here about the Force, about religion, that help open up the universe without imposing anything definite on it. Her nods toward the Maker as a sort of monotheistic conception of the Force is really interesting, and you can definitely see it being something a civilization would latch onto, the Force personified as the hand of God. It's just a great, creative story, full of atmosphere and ideas and meaningful characterization. It's way, way more interesting than your average smuggler-joins-the-Rebellion or Rebel-rescues-his-girlfriend story.

    At the end of the whole thing is a little box. Talk about burying a story: this really should have been the Admiral's Communique. The Adventure Journal is retooling. It's going to feature even more short stories by the authors you know and love, "with supplemental game and source material," which suggests they know where the strength of the Adventure Journal lies right now (hint: it's not with the adventures). As part of that, the Adventure Journal will now only be published three times a year, not four. But that doesn't simply mean the next Adventure Journal will come out in four months instead of three. There won't be a new Adventure Journal until November. They're skipping a whole quarter as part of the transition. That's certainly a jarring move for subscribers. We'll see how it plays out in the future. For now, though, it's Cracken's Rebel Operatives up next.
     
  20. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Cracken's Rebel Operatives, introduced in Adventure Journal 7, returns for the first time in this issue. It follows Shroud Team, a notorious Rebel unit hailing from the Divis Arm, a hotbed of Rebel activity. This is the only time I can recall seeing a name for one of the galaxy's spiral arms other than the Tingel Arm. Tracing it through Wookieepedia, the systems assigned to it don't appear to have been placed out on any of the arms, though, but rather just north of the tip of Hutt Space. Which, if that's any arm, would be the one that wraps around the back of Hutt Space and comes out way down by the Corellian Run. It's possible the Divis Arm isn't an actual spiral arm, but that would be disappointing. Shroud Team is known for its role as a foster team, recovering cut-off operatives and reinserting them or returning them to the main Rebellion.

    The leader of Shroud Team is Lieutenant Dutra Zeneta, a seventy-four-year-old Jin, which is only middle-aged for Jin. He joined the Rebellion after the conquest of his homeworld and served twenty deadly missions with Alliance Intelligence, most with the famous Scandium Team. Then, facing assignment to a desk job, he convinced High Command to give him command of one of the first teams of foster agents instead. He's a highly-trained badass, but as one of the only survivors of his former unit, he suffers from PTSD. He's warm toward his subordinates and eager to share his wisdom with them, but a loner in his personal time.

    We also get writeups for both Scandium Team and the Jin. Scandium Team was an elite commando unit formed even before the Rebel Alliance officially came into being that ran legendarily dangerous missions across the galaxy. It had twenty-eight members at its peak, but there are only six survivors of the team. The Jin are reptilians from the Zchtek worlds of the Mid Rim with green to orange skin. They are tall, thin, and can see into the infrared spectrum. Their culture was one of art and literature before the Empire conquered it, shortly after its formation. Many younger Jin left the planet to fight the Empire, which has significantly diminished their numbers.

    Dheendo is a twenty-four-year-old Rodian. He was originally a mediocre bounty hunter, lacking a passion for the profession. He found purpose in joining the Rebellion, and is now Zeneta's second-in-command and the primary foster agent for the team, the member best-known by the other Rebels in the region. He mostly circulates through the underground Lowtown region of Corint City, where the team is based, making his way through popular establishments where Rebels can easily contact him. So I guess his job is basically to drink all day?

    Thilis-Brin is a thirty-six-year-old Ishi Tib. She's only been in the Alliance two years, but has been a standout operative. She's the main technician and thief of the unit, responsible for procuring supplies. Before this assignment, she was working in the Mon Calamari shipyards (I like the idea of other aquatic species working there too). She's known for her high-profile rescues around Corint City, which she pulls off with the help of her customized Ikas-Adno Sunwolf speeder bike. She's a daredevil and thrill seeker, unlike most Ishi Tib. But due to her aquatic nature, she still makes daily trips to the ocean near Corint City. The Sunwolf gets its own blurb: it's a militarized version of the Ikas-Adno Starhawk. It's not as high-end as the Aratech 74-Z, but it's also cheaper and looks enough like its civilian version to not draw attention as a military-spec speeder bike.

    Tamo Lan is a twenty-eight-year-old Carosite and the unit medic. He was trained as a doctor on his homeworld, but joined the Rebellion after killing a slaver who threatened one of his patients. He's served for several years, including time at Yavin just before the Battle of Yavin. He's become a little more hardened over time, but is still an optimistic person. He's recently taken in Gondara, the younger sister of his Aqualish best friend, Karlon, who died on Bresnia recently. Gondara, seventeen, is the newest member of Shroud Team. Her parents had already died fighting the Empire, and she was living on an Alliance safeworld when Karlon was killed. Gondara then began active service with the Rebellion, serving under the wing of Tamo Lan. She's learning some medical skills from him as well as being a capable thief.

    Finally, there's a writeup of Corint City, on the planet Pirik, where the unit is based. It has about the population of Seoul, making it not huge for a galactic city, but still one of the most significant population centers in the Divis Arm. It's economically vibrant, supported by the Jalor docks and the ytterbium and corintium mines throughout the system. The city is an urban environment of high-rise towers built atop subterranean development in Lowtown. Both the Jalor Docking Facilities and the Talamp Industrial District are separate from the main city, with the seaside industrial zone separated by a barren strip called the Bounds. The industrial zone is a swoop-gang-ridden, decrepit and dangerous. The Laforn neighborhood within the main city is where most of the residential population is; a concentrated Wookiee population often clashes with the large Trandoshan population. It's a diverse city, only five percent human, with an alien population among whom Rodians, Duros, and Trandoshans are most prominent. The high-end part of the city is Overtown, which is built over Lowtown, an underground, seedy web of tunnels full of bars and black markets.

    Once again, Craig Robert Carey delivers a piece that does a lot of worldbuilding based around interesting Rebel-operative character concepts. He's got a good feel for how to make characters seem interesting with just a little writeup, and build a web of connections that feels like this Rebel network of old badasses. He also gives us an interesting setting in Corint City. I especially liked that it's majority-alien, and the team itself is all-alien, a refreshing change from defaulting to mostly-human lineups. Good ideas and some cool characters who seem like they'd fit right in showing up in your characters' adventures, either recruiting you to help them or showing up to bail you out when you get into trouble. Following this is Erin Endom's Rebel-medic story Do No Harm.
     
  21. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 1998
    Did anyone else feel like Canto Bight came out of a WEG supplement?
     
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  22. Amon_Amarth

    Amon_Amarth Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Now that you mention it, yes. I spent most of the Boxing Day setting up a one off adventure on Cantonica, featuring the Mechanical Liberation Front, using the Saga edition rules. Perhaps I should force the group to switch to D6.
     
  23. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 1998
    Do you need to switch to D6? I would always borrow material from any system and adapt the stats to whatever game I was running. That's usually easier than forcing a group to change to new rules.
     
  24. Landb

    Landb Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 7, 2017
    Changing away from a d20 system is always the right choice.
     
  25. Amon_Amarth

    Amon_Amarth Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Merely for the old school feel.
     
    Sarge likes this.