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.