main
side
curve

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
    The Most Dangerous Foe . . . is yourself! At least that's what I'm guessing. That's how it usually goes. Angela Phillips wrote the short story about little Shannon Voorson joining the Rebellion two issues ago, and now she's back. Shannon was fascinated by stories of the ancient Jedi given to her by her grandmother, and now we're getting another ancient-Jedi story, marketed in the intro as a tie-in to the release of the Tales of the Jedi Companion.

    We start with Deen Voorson, Shannon's Rebel cousin from the last story, aboard a ship during the evacuation from Yavin, which actually makes this a prequel to the other story, asked by a bunch of kids to tell a story. What the hell were kids doing on Yavin? Does Phillips think the Rebels just have their families hanging around on military bases ready to be targeted by the Empire? Anyway, Deen settles on telling one of his grandma's Jedi stories, from thousands of years ago during the height of the Jedi.

    Now our real story begins. Vici Ramunee, the sixteen-year-old heroine of the dragon-slaying tale we saw Shannon reading previously, has made her first lightsaber for her Omwati Jedi Master, Tannis. Who is consistently called Mistress Tannis, because it's 1996 and how's anybody going to know any better? There's something kind of cool about seeing an underused EU species like an Omwati as a Jedi, especially in the old Jedi Order. Brings everything a little closer together. Vici's spent three years at whatever Jedi Praxeum this is, and already she's nearly ready to graduate and go back to her homeworld of Alderaan after she passes her final test tomorrow, because again, it's 1996 and how the hell's anybody supposed to know how this works? This is why you're always better off going vague than definite in these kinds of cases.

    When it comes time for her test, Vici is given from sunrise to sunrise to complete her task. She must go north into a forest, travel along a river, and into the mountains until she finds the Cave of Truth. There, she must triumph over her most dangerous foe in her trial, and may take no tools or weapons with her, including her lightsaber. She sets off into the forest, and feels all connected with the Force, and when she stops for a drink, she senses someone looking for her. It's her ten-year-old brother, Veni, who just arrived this year for training. The little guy heard what Tannis said, and got worried about her, so he followed her with her lightsaber. He's lost, so he can't go back. Which seems like crap, because all he's got to do is follow the river, but Vici lets him tag along because what if he does get lost? You can't really send ten-year-olds off through the woods alone. She does make him keep the lightsaber, though. And by the way, I totally buy the writing for this ten-year-old kid, which is fairly rare, to actually capture kids as characters well. Also as they proceed up the river valley into the mountains, there are something called planimals, which seem like exactly what they sound like.

    Vici senses something very large and alive coming at them in the valley, and gets worried about herself and her brother. She draws her (red) lightsaber and prepares to defend herself; when the giant dragon comes around the corner, she attacks it. It evades, and asks just what the heck she's doing, because she's an idiot, this is a Duinuogwuin Jedi Master named Willm Lywin who's been serving in this valley for six hundred years and has been a Jedi for over a millennium, and this really should be an automatic fail. He just seems kind of jovially baffled by how terrible a Jedi trainee she is ("The Sith Wars must be going badly, if Tannis is forced to graduate Jedi who can't tell friend from foe," which sets this in the timeline, but not that firmly because how many Sith Wars have we had again?), and blows it all off by passing it off as a lesson not to rush into combat when the situation is unclear.

    They walk toward the cave, with Vici explaining the family business of harvesting nectar for the production of l'lash, and how beautiful and wonderful her family's pastoral Alderaanian life is, and how she wishes she could help her family with their money problems. It's kind of funny that the anti-attachment, recruit-only-children doctrine was later established as having come out of this Praxeum. Anyway, Lywin explains that Duinuogwuins don't really care about money; they prefer to trade information. They come to the end of the valley, which seems to be a dead end until Vici uses the Force to sense an opening, and levitates rocks away to clear it. She's now got five hours left to make her way through the dark caves and find whatever her challenge is.

    She goes in, and hits a dead end before realizing she has to be more patient, making her way through a maze of concealed doors. She senses her way through the darkness using the Force. Finally, she finds a firelit chamber with a table and chair. She's tempted by the food on the table until she realizes it's rotten. In the chair is a skeleton dressed in her clothes. Now that she's sufficiently spooked out, both the skeleton and the food vanish away. She finds another secret door, and it opens onto a chasm full of rushing wind. She figures that there's some kind of symbolism at play here -- the room seems safe but isn't; the door seems dangerous but probably isn't, since the door she came in by is closed and this is the only way out. She steps out and the wind blows her up to a ledge, which is some Jedi Knight **** right there. Not the concept, the video game. There are a path up and a path down before her. She chooses the one that feels right in the Force, and heads down. Eventually, she has to crawl on her stomach as the passage narrows, but it still feels like the right one.

    Eventually she comes out in a cave with light. She sees a corusca gem lying on the floor, but figures it's got to be some kind of a trap, a temptation. It's nice to have some Jedi trainees who are at least a bit wise, a bit aware, you know, instead of just blundering into everything like dunces. But to go out the door, she has to cross the strands of light, which actually burn her. It's some kind of glowing net that's actually drawn toward her when she moves close. So she picks up the corusca gem to throw at the web, see what's up, but the strands jump at it and she almost burns her hand, so she rolls it around with the Force instead, gathering up all the light strands. I really don't understand the logic behind any of this, but whatever. She goes through the door into a chamber full of mirrors. She might be genre-savvy, but she's not genre-savvy enough, because she's confused and starts calling out, asking when her damn foe's going to show up so she can just face it already. You're in a room full of mirrors, think about it. She starts seeing glimpses of things from her life in the mirrors, and tries following them around for a bit before ending up lost and trusting to the Force instead to start finding her way out. She ends up boxed in, surrounded by mirrors, and water's leaking into the room around her. She can't find an exit, and finally decides this is a trap set by her enemy. The water's rising, and she gets panicky and angry, and finally draws her lightsaber, which I had thought she left behind. The sight of her in the mirror finally gets through to her, and she realizes that she's made the mistake of drawing her lightsaber in anger, like she was told never to do. She calms down, starts thinking about her reflection, if she's supposed to fight that, and touches one of the mirrors. Her hand goes through, she walks out, and there's Tannis. Congratulations, you've failed your way to success! You're a Jedi now, because you overcame impatience, doubt, greed, fear, physical limitations, your emotions, et cetera.

    That's the end of the story, and Deen wraps things up with the sleepy kids around him, when he's congratulated on an excellent story by a young pilot who, look, I'm not going to go into all the context clues but it's obviously Luke Skywalker, except that he probably shouldn't be hanging out on this ship during the Yavin evacuation. Maybe this is the first evacuation. I'd hope, what with the kids.

    Then we get writeups. Vici is the third of eight children belonging to a poor rural family on Alderaan, and when she was thirteen, Tannis showed up and recruited her and Veni for training. Interesting having two of eight kids Force-sensitive. She's trained for three years and enjoys it, but is also homesick and looks forward to returning to her family after she becomes a Jedi, which is kind of weird even without prequel Jedi concepts, the idea of a teenage Jedi just hanging around the family blossom-picking subsistence-level distilling business trying to balance family obligations and the "deeper responsibilities" of the Jedi.

    Veni was actually deemed too young by Tannis when she found him, and had to wait until he was ten to attend the Teyan Praxeum. He's excited to be there, but utterly devoted to his sister. Unlike her, he looks forward not to returning home, but to adventuring across the galaxy as a Jedi Knight.

    Tannis is the head of the Teyan Praxeum. She believes all Force-sensitives should receive Jedi training, as it will benefit them even if they have other life plans. She's totally down with the Mon Mothma idea of Jedi in all walks of life across the galaxy.

    Willm Lywin, meanwhile, lives outside the Praxeum, and can withdraw to himself for years at a time, conducting research in his quarters in the mountains, but is warm, friendly, and funny, making good friends with all the Jedi who come across him. He was one of the original founders of the Praxeum, and before that he escorted a Chu'unthor-style spacegoing academy for four hundred years. Literally escorted, like he would fly next to it through space, because he's a fricking Star Dragon.

    The Teyan Praxeum itself was founded six hundred years ago on Teya IV, and currently has Tannis, nine Jedi teachers, and forty apprentices. Mornings are spent on physical and mental skills, and afternoons on academic studies. Evenings involve the chores required to maintain the Praxeum, as there is no support staff and the academy is entirely self-sustaining, teaching the students responsibility for their own community. The Cave of Truth is used for Jedi trials, being a maze of carved passages supplemented by a combination of technology, holographic projections, and Tannis's own Force powers, which is a much more interesting explanation than just "it's a mystic Force location." Lywin escorts the students there and talks to them, using his great people skills to understand their psyches and their strengths and weaknesses, and sends that information to the computers and Tannis to customize their trials, under cover of taking notes to himself on his datapad. You'd think Tannis would have figured out her own students already, but whatever.

    This story has a few weak points, like Vici making some big mistakes that somebody who's actually ready to be a Jedi probably shouldn't make, but in general it really works. It's creative and thoughtful, and does a good job of capturing the sense of a Jedi trial with a lot of interesting, fun details. It gets that cool, TOTJ-style Jedi spirit and just tells a pretty well-crafted story with it, something that feels very unusual and fresh in the Adventure Journal setting.

    It's followed by this issue's Fragments from the Mind's Eye. It has a banner for "B'hob's Discount Superweapons" strung across a tableau of the Death Star, Galaxy Gun, Sun Crusher, Eclipse, Executor, World Devastator, and Tarkin, all with giant price tags, and a floating sign promising the Darksaber and "Starburster" coming soon. While I am tickled by the inclusion of the Tarkin, there's no actual joke visible here. It's a concept -- a little nudge and a wink of "Haha, there sure have been a lot of superweapons, right?" in search of an actual punchline.

    Next, we'll have some Alien Encounters.
     
    jSarek, Nom von Anor, Sarge and 6 others like this.
  2. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    The inescapable Timothy O'Brien is here with Alien Encounters, a writeup of various alien species. That's just what it is: here's some species. No preamble.

    Adnerem are tall, skinny gray humanoids from Adner with triangular heads and a lumpy echo chamber on top of their head that functions as an ear. So pretty much they look like stereotypical aliens. They have four fingers, but no opposable thumb. The rich grow their nails extremely long to emphasize their distance from manual labor. They are descended from scavengers and hunters who grouped in bands of five to twenty, which still is reflected in their culture in the steris. This is a group of five to a hundred Adnerem who live communally and cooperate to advance the group's interests, thereby advancing their own. This is a social and economic unit, not a biological one, and people are judged by their steris and their position within it, rather than by caste, gender, or some other marker. They are raised among the group until they can attend school; after graduation, they choose a profession and work in it until they're twenty-four, learning and contributing to their community, before they're formally detached from the steris and forced to choose a new steris as an adult. About half choose to rejoin their home steris, which often offers some kind of incentive to keep them. Adnerem can leave and join a new steris as adults, but this is strongly disincentivized. Conflict comes in the form of raid-wars, brief, small-scall flare-ups between steri that readjust the balance of power without attempting to eradicate the enemy. Most steri therefore strive to retain a peaceable balance of power. Most are calm, patient, and unemotional with a strong emphasis on pragmatism and self-interest. They are quiet and prefer to be in small groups; they're actually less animated the bigger group they're in, with public venues practically silent. About ten percent of Adnerem, however, form sterikai. A sterika is a bond between two Adnerem who form a partnership close enough that they treat each other like a single entity, comparable to marriage; there's no clear explanation for why this happens. Adner was discovered five thousand years ago by a Duros scout, which is better than the usual "yesterday by the Empire" discovery date. They try to retain planetary self-sufficiency, and for thousands of years, their economy has specialized in entertainment, with steri running casinos and luxury entertainment facilities both offworld and on-, with mostly alien employees who don't count as steris members. Most Adnerem stay at home, but some steri operate their own ships, while others hire out as management consultants and contractors. One steris recently formed the Interstellar Strike Force, a well-regarded mercenary operation staffed mainly by aliens but run by the steris. Other steri run small organized crime operations.

    Lasats are concept-art Chewbaccas. They're rare, from a planet on the Rim that hasn't even been fully surveyed. They're tribal and nomadic, traveling Lasan's plains, with only hieroglyphic writing and a largely oral culture that passes on legends. A few regions have begun developing city-states. They're trappers who value cleverness and sneakiness, following undomesticated bantha herds, though some are starting to domesticate some smaller herbivores. Their closest thing to government is the presence of hereditary religious rulers who command a caste of order-keeping warriors. There are some small wars among both tribes and city-states, and the city states, growing increasingly sophisticated, have begun using tribal nomads as mercenaries in their wars. They're just undertaking metalworking, but have an unusually advanced grasp of chemistry, having achieved advances in fermentation and even being able to create some explosives. Very few Lasat have ever been offworld, and those found now are mostly the descendants of a few slaves who were taken, and then released when they realized that highly furtive slaves with good explosives-making skills are not a good investment. Most of them are now involved in bounty hunting, where they prefer to trap their targets rather than gun them down. An interesting quirk is that most use their name, rather than pronouns, to refer to themselves, but prefer not to speak the names of others.

    The Chikarri are rodents from Plagen. They're short, furred, with big cheeks and front teeth, pointy ears, and bushy tails. So they're basically squirrels. They can speak Basic, but at a high pitch and with a lisp. They're energetic, flighty, and love to hoard bright objects. Yep, just a ton of rodent stereotypes here. They live in nuclear families in modern apartments, having adapted quickly to modern technology with little disruption to their lifestyles since they were discovered a few hundred years ago and sold port rights to the Klatooinian Trade Guild, being positioned on the Enarc Run. On the plateaus, they live in treetop communities, while on the plains they live in burrows. They have no government above the city level, where half the officials are elected from a class of professional governors and half are drawn by lot from the population. Aliens who have been resident for ten years are subject to random drawing. Organized warfare doesn't exist on Plagen, though there is persistent tension over the balance of resources between the plateaus, which have access to water and more advanced technology, and the plains, which are dry but are the site of most agriculture and some mining. They export some forest products to the galaxy, but their two most successful businesses are a safe manufacturer and a security systems company. They're rarely found offworld, but are sometimes found as technicians or entertainers in their region using their agility and technical skills. Some put their acrobatic treetop skills to use as burglars. As a species, they're busy, cheerful, and often tightfisted, preferring to hoard goods.

    And that's it. Pretty short piece, not a lot to it, but as you'd expect from O'Brien, they've got some good world-building details in there that make for species you could definitely make use of in games, with some distinctive features.

    Next piece is the return of Patricia Jackson from a two-issue absence with the first story to feature everyone's second-favorite Inquisitor, Tremayne.
     
  3. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    The Longest Fall is Patricia Jackson's first piece since issue eight. Both she and Charlene Newcomb, actually, have ghosted since that issue after being mainstay contributors. You'll have to wait until next issue to get more from Newcomb, and to get the continuation of either of Jackson's ongoing plotlines -- because next issue they've got a cowritten Brandl/Winger crossover story. For now, though, we get new material from Jackson, focused on a Star Destroyer captain serving High Inquisitor Tremayne, a WEG staple character now making his first appearance outside a sourcebook and in a narrative. Though it's not that much of an appearance.

    We begin with our protagonist aboard the Star Destroyer Interrogator's observation deck, watching as it enters a dangerous nebula it's investigating, supposedly home to a mythical space leviathan. Hey, sounds like a movie I just saw. He's been waiting for three hours to see Tremayne, expecting to be executed. He seems to have more or less made his peace with it. He feels confident in his service record, in his dedication to duty, and his reliance on respect over fear, unlike Tremayne. He's even tried to moderate Tremayne's effect on the crew, been willing to look him in the eye and take orders, when most officers won't even meet Tremayne's gaze. But, Vharing was a friend and student of the man he replaced, Captain Nolaan. Nolaan was executed. Every other one of Nolaan's friends has been executed. Vharing is the last, and he'll go soon.

    He's expecting to pay for a disaster he had nothing to do with. His ambitious senior lieutenant, Leeds, made the call while Vharing was asleep to launch a TIE bomber raid on a suspected Rebel base discovered by intercepted transmissions. A stray concussion missile, due to atmospheric interference, took out a residential compound nearby, killing almost sixty civilians, most of them prominent Imperials. So Vharing will make his report, blame Leeds, promise to have him court-martialed, and promote the com-scan officer, a more grounded man, a family man, to be his new aide. He'll do the right thing.

    Then the door opens and Tremayne starts choking him before he's gotten a full sentence out.

    Now we get a flashback to Jovan Vharing's backstory. He was born into what seems to be a Generational family. He excelled at the Academy and graduated in the top two percent of his class. He did very well as a lieutenant posted on the Outer Rim, drawing the attention of Captain Nolaan, who had come up the same way and had him transferred to Interrogator, where Nolaan mentored Vharing as his protege. He was quickly promoted, and within a year he was one of the youngest men to make captain, taking over for his executed mentor. This was mostly contrived by his colleagues so their heads wouldn't be in the noose. I don't get the feeling Nolaan actually did anybody any favors by having them transferred to his ship. Vharing went along with it and strove aggressively for perfection, so there wouldn't be any cause to kill him, so nothing would go wrong. He earned the highest efficiency rating in the fleet. Others thought he was nuts for treating the challenge of serving under Tremayne with pride, for treating death as just a risk he would have to avoid. He embraced the challenge.

    Vharing wakes up, in pain but not dead. He's injured, only slowly recovering his faculties and controls of his body, with a sharp pain in the back of his neck, but he gets up. He's thrilled just to be alive. He staggers away toward the medbay. He starts fantasizing about how he's going to have Leeds court-martialed. Everything's going to work out great. He seems to be having a hard time reaching the turbolift, though -- it just seems to get farther and farther away. He pauses for a moment, closes his eyes, and wakes up on the bridge. Leeds isn't there, but Lieutenant Waleran, the com-scan officer, is there, newly promoted to senior lieutenant. They're leaving the nebula. The pain just keeps getting worse, though, and as they jump to hyperspace, it becomes too overwhelming. Vharing gives in to the blackness.

    His neck, of course, was broken. He hallucinated the whole thing in his dying moments, and now, finally, he's dead, his body dragged from Tremayne's chamber.

    We get writeups, but they're obviously going to struggle for characters here. Vharing might be dead, but he gets a writeup, revealing that he's twenty-seven, specifically, an ambitious man but one with integrity. Senior Lieutenant Leeds is thirty-six but still stuck at that rank. He's desperately ambitious and will do almost anything, ignore the rulebook, in an attempt to cover himself with glory and win notice. This, of course, is why he keeps getting passed over for promotion, but he's too stupid to figure that out or learn from the many superiors he's had. Lieutenant Waleran looks up to Vharing and tries to emulate his manner, his emphasis on individual respect. He's a family man who's never seen his young child in person, but is devoted to his family. He's talkative, more of an easygoing people person than Vharing, but he still maintains his subordinates' respect and gets results.

    This was a pretty great story. It's fairly unusual, a little experimental in both form and topic, totally unconventional for the Journal. It's basically built entirely around the characterization of Vharing and the way Jackson does a really great job of putting us in this single moment, of a man waiting to meet his death with dignity. It's really well-written and full of well-observed little details that put you right in Vharing's mindset. It also functions really well, without being overt about it, as a critique of the Empire, illustrating the foolish madness of a principled, outstanding officer, a great young man, dying for no good reason thanks to the Empire's crazy capricious darksiders. It's a way more effective critique than a million "Oh no the Empire blew up my wife" stories. This is some of Jackson's absolute best work.

    Following this is the second adventure of the issue; we'll be going on a mission to Ando.
     
    jSarek, Nom von Anor, Sarge and 4 others like this.
  4. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 30, 2000
    I disliked that it made Tremayne look so pathetic.

    Tremayne answered to Vader, Palpatine, Torbin, and Sate Pestage.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
  5. KerkKorpil

    KerkKorpil Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2016
    Got the Solo: Official Guide an hour ago. The Uhl Eharl Koehng has been canonized! (It’s the name of the Corellian play and folklore legend that gives its title to the Patricia A. Jackson story in AJ #8.


    Enviado desde mi iPhone utilizando Tapatalk
     
    Havac likes this.
  6. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    The Ando Project is the second adventure of this issue. And for the Adventure Journal at this stage, two solid adventures per issue is nothing to sneeze at.

    You're a Rebel, stationed at Chiron Base on Tomark II, where the Rebels can raid Imperial convoys, and you're called into a briefing. Something big is going on, because Captain Amarith, your superior officer, has woken your group up in the middle of the night and is sending you off on her personal ship with a holorecording of her instructions for you that you're only supposed to play after you've taken off. She's afraid there are traitors on base, so she won't tell you any more here. For some reason she has a really nice yacht (really nice -- also in an illustration she wears a cape. Are we sure she's not Lando in drag?) called the Gambit, so you get on it and take off (apparently she got it because the Rebellion took out a Ho'Din crimelord who used to own it and she was just like "I'm taking this for myself now because **** the Rebellion I'm into piracy." Come on guys, we should at least make her Lando's ex or something). Once you jump to hyperspace using the preprogrammed coordinates, you break out the recorded orders. You're headed to Ando (with a population of about fifty thousand less than Indianapolis (the population of Quara Aqualish, specifically, is less than that of the critically endangered lowland gorilla)), where you can pose as wealthy tourists to get past the Empire. The yacht is stocked with clothes and equipment, plus datafiles and concealed weaponry. You're supposed to meet an Aqualish with an eyepatch at the Azure Overlook. You can never go wrong meeting an Aqualish with an eyepatch.

    You land at Quantill City, the largest city on the planet and controlled by the Empire, and get a customs inspection. You've got to make sure the customs official doesn't find the concealed compartments with all the gear aft, or bribe him if he does. You head to the touristy Overlook site, and a group of Aqualish thugs will try to mug you along the way. At the Overlook, you're approached by Koral-tae, the eyepatch guy, a former Rebel and compatriot of Amarith who retired from the fight due to old age. Now he's fired up again because the Empire is moving in on his home. He explains that the Empire suddenly stepped up activity a few months ago, replacing the prefect with a much more aggressive governor, increasing the garrison, and moving to take control of the population. They stopped all Aqualish fishing and replaced it with Imperial harvesting activity, yet food production is down and the Empire is now importing food to feed the Aqualish. The Empire has also been closing off the salt marshes. Obviously something is both up and going down.

    Koral-tae wants you to go check out the salt marshes while he works on a plan to get you onto one of the Imperial fishing platforms. If you do, you can take some speeder bikes out. You've got to get past a power fence (literally, it's just energy arcing between poles) to get in. There are various ways to do that, including tampering with hidden generators, which you would think should be inside the damn fenceline. Then once you're inside, you get attacked by a marsh lizard. Get well inside, and it turns out the Empire is actually protecting the breeding area of the Andoan mineral-fish. Look at the Empire, so eco-friendly! You've also got a chance to get in a fight with some Quara poachers who want mineral-fish for the sedrellium that can be extracted from them, which has black-market value. Then some Imperial patrols get drawn in, and you can decide to fight or run.

    When you get back, Koral-tae has set you up to deliver a gas shipment to an Imperial harvester. When you fly out there, you find not much going on. One or two players can try to slip away while they're unloading and explore the harvester. They're not really harvesting, but are taking live samples of something. There's a cryogenic freezing facility and a bulk freighter comes by regularly to pick up whatever the harvester is collecting. Obviously they're collecting the mineral-fish, putting them in stasis, and shipping them out. While you're there, the freighter conveniently shows up to pick up its shipment. You can try to stow away, slice the computer to find its destination while you're helping load it, plant a tracker, or try some other route, but at any rate you're expected to find out that the ship is going to Uridia.

    The only signature in the Uridia system comes from a moon of the single gas giant, where the Imperial secret base is protected by a web of sensor satellites. You'll have to find a way past them if you didn't stow away and are in your own ship. You can find a gap in the irregularly-distributed sensors (Uridia is irregularly-shaped itself, as we'll get to), or just shoot one down to open a bigger gap, which the Imperials won't immediately react to because the sensor satellites regularly go on the fritz (though I'm not sure how you'd know that). Anyway you can sneak past and land. Uridia is kind of a mess, with a trace atmosphere that requires breath masks, because it was long mined for uridium, which helps enhance laser effects. The Old Republic blast-mined for it until it became uneconomic, and only lighter mining continued until the oddly specific date of thirty-two years ago, when an explosion blew out thirty percent of the moon and stripped half the atmosphere. Now the Empire is working on a more effective way to extract uridium. Once you're on ground, you have to sneak into the base, which isn't actually that hard because it's not guarded outside, being on an abandoned desolate rock and all. Once you get inside, though, there are security droids on patrol. There's a writeup of the various areas inside the bunker you can explore in your quest to understand what the Empire's doing, notably including holding cells where nine Mon Calamari and five Aqualish aquaculture scientists are being kept, forced to work on the Empire's project. What they're actually doing is depositing uridium-rich rock, which is expensive to process for the trace amounts within, in massive tanks with lots of mineral-fish, which naturally leach out and concentrate the minerals as part of their feeding process; the mineral-fish are then harvested for the uridium and also their natural sedrellium. The Empire is still trying to figure out how to raise mineral-fish in captivity; they've yet to succeed, but they need to be able to in order for the effort to be economically sound. Until they figure it out, however, they're still importing the mineral-fish for research.

    The resolution is open-ended; explore the facility, figure out what's going on somehow, get into whatever fights you want, and find some way to sabotage the project, the operations of which are pretty thoroughly described (author Chris Doyle is an actual aquaculture scientist) with some obvious weak points. If you want; you could just find out what's going on and escape to inform the Rebellion so they can send in a team to knock the place out later. Though it would be pretty nice if you freed those captive scientists. You can also steal some research data if you want. Of course, you've also got to escape, so it could be helpful to neutralize the TIEs stationed there, and if you all stowed away you're going to need the freighter to get off the moon again. Get back to the Rebellion, give Amarith the information, get some awards, and call it a day. I'm a bit disappointed the whole intimation of Rebel double-agents never played into the storyline.

    Overall, though, that was a pretty good adventure. It's fairly creative, within the limits of the well-worn "secret Imperial project" framework, probably because Doyle is putting his actual knowledge and passion to good use to create something more unique than your usual magical-tech-gizmo macguffin. There's a lot of detail put into the story to work with, including well-described environments, but a lot is also left open-ended to give the players room to work. It’s good, solid writing. Not exceptional, but good, above the Adventure Journal adventure-writing standard, I’d say.

    We’ll follow this up with Bungo, and also Rusti. And at the same time cover a big piece on updated rules that won’t require much actual writing from me.
     
  7. jSarek

    jSarek VIP star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Mandatory mention that "The Longest Fall" is an homage to Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge."

    How so?
    Where does the story contradict this?
     
    Sarge and Havac like this.
  8. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 30, 2000
    He's just panicking over a minor error in bombing,
     
  9. jSarek

    jSarek VIP star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2005
    He's not panicking, and he's not answering to anyone. He's just killing a guy who, in his eyes, failed him. It's no more pathetic than Vader killing Needa over the escape of the Falcon (which is, admittedly, kinda pathetic, but standard-issue pathetic for devotees of the dark side).
     
  10. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    It’s also kinda implied that he’s loking for any excuse to kill this guy who disagrees with his philosophy and isn’t afraid of him.
     
    jSarek likes this.
  11. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Bungo n' Rusti Get Carry-Out is introduced with reference to Fragments from the Mind's Eye, which is dubiously characterized as "a place to find amusing Star Wars humor." With Jim Anderon's short comic, they want to try out multi-page illustrated humor. Ultimately, this would wake up Dark Horse to the existence of the Adventure Journal (hey, maybe we'll see some actual comic promos in future issues!) and they would assert their exclusive license to be the ones making Star Wars comics, thank you very much, forcing Bungo n' Rusti out of the Adventure Journal. It was ultimately picked up by a terrible site called TheForce.net, which hosted more Bungo n' Rusti comics alongside such features as prequel spoilers and forums full of idiot losers. They're still hosted there, on a website still hilariously stuck in 2003.

    We begin with Bungo and Rusti landing on Sullust in their ship, the Chubby Gundark. There the hungry Sullustan SoroSuub pilot Bungo orders a Bantha Breakfast Biscuit from Biscuit Baron. Bungo extols the virtues of the Bantha Breakfast Biscuit, and his sarcastic droid sidekick Rusti suggests they smuggle some out on one of their company runs to make some extra money, if they're so good and there are people out there who can't get them. They're intercepted by a Star Destroyer, whose Captain Wankle confiscates the Bantha Breakfast Biscuits for himself and his crew. They're left with only one crate as they continue on to Gastrula, where Rusti asks a native, "How many times have you asked, 'Where can I get a really good Bantha Breakfast Biscuit?'" This prompts his amusingly incongruous reply to her, "A lot, really."

    We're then informed that over just two weeks, Bungo and Rusti made hundreds of thousands of credits running Biscuit Baron Bantha Breakfast Biscuits to Gastrula, until discovering that the food in question reacted with the Gastrulan atmosphere to form an aggressive new lifeform. One of the barges they're towing with unsold crates on it generates a blobby bantha that starts eating through the hull. Rusti takes to an escape pod, while Bungo's cornered by the giant amorphous bantha, which flees at the presence of Biscuit Baron blue sauce. Bungo shoots it with some sauce, which causes it to explode. Bungo then picks up Rusti's escape pod (she claims she was "going to get help"), they clean up the ship, and then Bungo gets rid of the last contaminated crate by crossing the same Star Destroyer's path, leaving it to be confiscated without any blue sauce.

    We get writeups of Bungo Bung, 42-RST "Rusti," the Chubby Gundark, and the Giant Amorphous Bantha Breakfast Biscuit, which are appropriately silly. Key takeaways: Bungo "spent his childhood learning a trade in the caverns of his father's boaboo fungus farm. This mostly consisted of sitting in a chair daydreaming, while droids created new and exciting breeds of boaboo fungus, nurtured them, mashed them to booboo juice, and short-circuited from all the excess moisture (booboo fungus is very moist), leaving a mess all over the fermentation room floor." Rusti's model was created by the Mephout, in the female image because they were accustomed to female-led diplomacy, for translation, but lacked more advanced protocol programming to manage cultural relations on a level beyond pure translation, which led to some diplomatic problems. About twenty percent of SoroSuub's cargo is carried by smaller, non-bulk frieghters like Bungo's barge driver. "There is a rivalry among Nyubba-class freighter pilots over who can haul the most barges over a prescribed distance. The Chubby Gundark holds the record for the most barges hauled over 35 parsecs with an uncontrolled landing: 13 barges!" And the full writeup of the Giant Amorphous Bantha Breakfast Biscuit:

    "Not much is known about these giant, amoebic ruminants; they are a new lifeform. and no one has gotten close enough to study one without being consumed. What is known is that they're big, they're mean, and they'll eat anything that happens to find itself placed in front of them. Several laboratory chefs working for the Tagge Company learned this the hard way from inside the gullet of what they thought was going to be their morning meal! Imagine their terror when they popped a couple of Bantha Breakfast Biscuits into the autochef and out came their worst gastronomic nightmare.

    "Though accidentally created when Biscuit Baron preservatives somehow bonded to bantha genetic material, these beasts are now being considered for use as biological weapons by the Empire. Until such time as they can be controlled, however, the Tagge Company has restricted Bantha Breakfast Biscuits from being shipped to those planets which they refer to as 'Inadequately prepared to delight in this yummy breakfast delicacy.' Come hungry, but carry plenty of Biscuit Baron blue sauce with you!"

    While I like Anderson's art style and some of the off-the-wall goofiness, mostly it's just kind of there, not very highly developed as comedy. It's got some funny bits, and we can all appreciate Biscuit Baron, but it never quite comes together into anything greater. I don't dislike it, but I can't really say the Adventure Journal needed to be spending the pages on it, either. Though it's spent pagecount on worse.

    Less excitingly, we also have the Star Wars Rules Upgrade. This is WEG bigshot Bill Smith letting everybody know about the Second Edition, Revised and Expanded rule changes. There's not much point in my replicating these here, so I'll just note that Smith encourages readers to copy these changes and pass them out to anyone playing the game -- they're not trying to make money off constantly revising editions, just trying to clarify rules and speed up the game so it's more about fun and storytelling, less about number-crunching, a constant WEG refrain.

    I am amused that rocket pack operation and jet pack operation are separate skills, though. Also, I love the idea of capital ships dodging attacks. I imagine a Star Destroyer doing Han's little Special Special Edition CGI head-bob.

    Anyway, this takes up a great deal of space in the Adventure Journal, and it's nice that they published this to push the changes out, but there's not really a lot for me to discuss here, so we'll just pass on until next time, when we get to talk NewsNets.
     
  12. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 1998
    How much did I like Bungo 'n' Rusti? A lot, really.
     
    Iron_lord and jSarek like this.
  13. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    We've caught entire nets full of news in the Galaxywide NewsNets! And yes, I already hate myself for that wordplay.

    We go meta in the opening, in which the Nal Hutta Kal'tamok issues its annual summary, summarizing and reviewing the leading NewsNets its readers may be interested in. This is an effective way to review the various sources for readers who may have missed the introductory description of the different NewsNets way back in issue three. Imperial HoloVision is biased, but still valuable due to its enormous resources, with twenty-eight thousand bureaus across the galaxy, "including glorious Hutt space," which is described as "independent." Galaxy News Service is similarly big and Imperial-slanted, but doesn't extend coverage outside the Empire, making up for it by actually being better at covering big Coruscant-centered stories. They're the two big galactic nets.

    Core News Digest has wide distribution outside the Core, relative to other Core regional nets. Darpa SectorNet is a collaboration among local Darpa sector nets that receives unusually wide circulation because of how important the industrially-prominent Core sector is to the rest of the galaxy. Colonial NewsNet is an agglomeration of local Colonies news agencies, though I object that it doesn't actually make that much sense to organize anything in terms of concentric circles. Are Fondorians really going to care more about what's going on halfway across the galaxy in Arkania just because it's in the same concentric region, or about what's going on just down the Rimma on Thyferra and Yag'Dhul in the Inner Rim (or for that matter, what's going on way down the Rimma on Sullust and Eriadu)? But anyway, CNN (heh) is very pro-law-and-order, which means it's very pro-Imperial in general but can also be naively affronted enough to actually call out Imperials who fail to follow Imperial law. TriNebulon News has a tabloid style and fairly wide circulation throughout the Outer Rim, where it's one of the more prominent nets, but it's moving away from the sensationalistic, trivial-over-consequential tabloid style. NovaNetwork is similar, but straddles an editorial line between Imperial nationalism and Outer Rim individualism. Sektor 242 NewsLine won't bow to the Imperial line, but mostly does that by ignoring stories it would have to be openly critical of, allowing it to remain a major Rim newsnet, and it does very little economic reporting.

    Coruscant Daily NewsFeed is counted among special-interest newsnets, using their distribution model of being carried by newsnet distributors alongside the big galactic/regional nets, rather than being considered a regional net. It focuses on news from the capital for consumption across the galaxy, with a big focus on social life and news of the Imperial Court. Imperial Defense Daily is for military junkies and industry insiders, and while it covers only unclassified news, it's so comprehensive that skilled observers can sometimes draw conclusions from what doesn't appear in its coverage. Human Events Network pushes the "Imperial High Culture" line. The New Order Progressive is the organ of COMPNOR, covering the cultural topics COMPNOR is interested in -- art, society, education, economics. The Herglic Trading Journal, Basic Edition, is a top financial net (the Kal'tamok makes sure to point out that the Basic Edition's current editor-in-chief is a Hutt), a Wall Street Journal of the Empire that's similarly widely read. Though that's not widely talked up, since the Empire pushes the rival Corellian Times, being all not-alien and such. Independent Traders' Infonet covers topics valuable to small traders, leaving it in a semi-legal gray zone due to the widespread instances of smuggling within that population. It's not traditional distributed through broadcast networks, but is easily available on chip at spaceport kiosks. Galactic Resorts is singled out by the Hutt author as a useful reference for those interested in knowing the best places to stay and finding accommodations suited to their species, an example of the wide variety of narrowly focused special-interest reporting available.

    Illegal newsnets include the Kal'tamok itself, the Basic Edition being widely read across the galaxy despite its illicit status. Focused on illegal business, it remains a premier source for economic and political reporting. Cynabar's InfoNet is highly exclusive, very expensive subscriptions being available by invitation only, but pays for itself by being full of insider information and on the leading edge of reporting the latest news and rumors within the smuggling world before anybody else. HoloNet Free Republic is an Alliance newsnet broadcasting Rebel propaganda openly through almost every Imperial system, though the Hutts of course have little time for this. They're more interested in the Alderaan Expatriate Network, since it's run by professional journalists who cover galactic news with extreme professionalism and wide resources, providing a valuable counterbalance to Imperial bias in mainstream reporting.

    Now it's on to the other nets. Galactic Resorts has the story on Fitz Roi, the NewsNets' musical bad boy of choice, dropping a new sound slug and debuting his new songs with a live festival performance before hundreds of thousands of fans. It's the first live festival performance he's done since his pistols were stolen at the Priole Danna Festival two years ago . . . in the first NewsNet. He's kicking off a new tour, and there are rumors he's finally going to get a new, Outer-Rim-based sponsor.

    Galaxy News Service reports that the spaceliner Calabar Queen exploded on approach to Cadomai. JAN claimed responsibility.

    Cynabar says that Thrawn -- here identified as a Grand Admiral, so I guess Han's subscription must have lapsed by now -- is headed back to the capital after years in command of a fleet patrolling the borders of the Outer Rim.

    TriNebulon News lets us know that the Tombat has struck again, raiding the art collection of the Whiphid Baron Galrowk, a wealthy Gambolla merchant whose extensive collection, including many pre-Republic artifacts, is held to be a cultural bright spot on the Outer Rim. Inspector Zanza Gata is hot on the case, having arrived the day after, too soon to have left after the theft became known. He has to be onto some lead.

    Lastly, the Colonial NewsNets let us know that a very aggressive replanting program has paid off, helping the apocia hardwood industry of Bethel, Altoona recover from a greddleback plague far ahead of schedule. Its economy was on the verge of collapse due to the failure of the timber supply, but an Imperial disaster declaration led to intense aid that cut decades off the possible turnaround to recover the timber supply, which is now projected to return to pre-plague levels in only thirty years. And while the replanted timber is maturing, Imperial programs have helped diversify the economy by helping farmers expand into other crops on now-fallow land.

    And that's it. This is definitely an off issue for the NewsNets; most of it is taken up with review of the different newsnets, and the few stories we get aren't anything special, and don't do much beyond reference a couple early stories. It's nice to reflect on how far we've come, but I'd rather have kept the momentum up.

    Next feature is our second-to-last for this issue, as we learn about some of Cracken's Rebel operatives.
     
  14. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Craig Robert Carey's been working up a whole miniverse of Rebel badasses and the bad guys who run across them, and with this instance of Cracken's Rebel Operatives, he explores Scandium Team (not to be confused with Team Scandium, a model of tandem bicycle), which he started playing around with last issue, featuring one of its survivors. Dutra Zeneta, as a Rebel operative.

    Scandium Team is a famous unit of elite commandos who fought the Empire in the early days, before the Declaration of Rebellion. They were legendary badasses who took on the toughest missions, and when the Rebellion formed, they provided a lot of the basis that SpecForces were built on. Only six of the twenty-eight members still survive, and the profiles here will be on the five who haven't been covered yet. Seven were lost in missions over the course of time, but a full fifteen members were killed in the Wellte-ir Massacre, in which the team, through no fault of its own, ran into two elite Imperial armor units, one of which is believed to have been a Royal Guard unit on exercise, and, massively outnumbered, took staggering casualties over the course of four days before the survivors could escape.

    Harovan Toth, a forty-one-year-old human, was the unit's last leader. He was drawn to the Rebellion and ended up at the Dantooine base, which has to have been part of the Organa organization pre-Corellian-Treaty. He fell in love with a woman there, got married, and had a daughter, but his wife was killed in a battle and Toth had send his year-and-a-half-old daughter to the safeworld Isis to be raised by refugees from his homeworld. Toth was trained as one of the first Infiltrators, and spent years leading Scandium Team, one of the original Infiltrator units, rising to the bizarre rank of lieutenant commander, before Wellte-ir, after which he retired from frontline duty, burnt out by several missions gone bad in a row and the slaughter of his team. He was promoted to commander, but insisted on non-combat assignments. He was stationed at Yavin and Thila before moving to Suolriep Sector Headquarters, known as Delta Base. He's content working as a mere patrol pilot and occasional advisor, keeping in touch with his daughter, who is now a lieutenant and Alliance pilot, which pushes the Dantooine base and therefore the Organa network as an active, militant Rebel cell way back to, like, 15 BBY at least.

    Korgath is a sixty-seven-year-old Taloron male who served as Toth's second-in-command and is still working as an Infiltrator, the only survivor to do so. It's not clear how Taloron differ from humans given his illustration, but they're famous as hunters and assassins, and Korgath wears their traditional garb. He continues working at a constant pace, involved in almost nonstop peril. Some claim he's an adrenaline junkie, some that he's trying to make up for all his lost comrades' output himself, but Cracken thinks he's just resigned to dying on the job and is trying to take as much of the Empire with him as he can before he goes. He's just too good to ever actually go. Cracken doesn't have him on any leash, allowing him to do pretty much whatever he wants while working mostly solo. He's warm to his friends, but cultivates an image as a tough guy, meaning he usually gives anybody he runs into a bad attitude.

    Lieutenant Opit-Wenbruh is a fifty-eight-year-old Tren (I like the way Carey tends to assign his alien species varied lifespans). Opit-Wenbruh hails from Nopsin, the third planet colonized by the Tren, which voted overwhelmingly to join the Empire while Opie (there's no way I'm typing that out each time) was serving in the Nopsin military. The Tren's law-and-order proclivities led them toward the Empire, and the government put down its scattered Rebel movements itself. Opie was a Rebel sympathizer, but faithfully served out his service obligation. Once he got out, however, he dedicated himself to fighting the Empire, feeling complicit for his service. He joined the Rebellion and was made a heavy weapons gunner on Scandium Team due to his training (Carey's really muddling the timeline here, insisting in the introduction that Scandium Team predates the Corellian Treaty, but then saying it's just formed when Opie joined it, just after the Rebel Alliance's formation; the only real conclusion is that Carey's way off about the date the Alliance was founded, and say it's the Organa branch that's newly formed). Major Cracken, at the time, personally commended him for helping save his life during the Tynquay Skirmishes. After the unit was disbanded, he avoided field duty for a while, working as a technician and helping design weapons, before eventually returning to field as part of Brace Team, an elite heavy-weapons unit. He's less scarred by the massacre than the other survivors, being more wounded by his feelings of betrayal by his entire species, and has quixotic hopes of re-forming the old team with his former colleagues.

    Aven Cholus, a forty-two-year-old woman, comes from an elite family on Pencael IV. Her Imperialist family trained her to fly young, hoping she'd follow her brother Senn, now a decorated commander in the Imperial Fleet, into the Academy. She, however, abandoned her comfortable family life as soon as she could in order to join the Rebellion. She was soon assigned to Scandium Team as a pilot after her skills became clear, and took over as lead pilot for the unit after Jouffer Talamiin was permanently disabled (I love the wartime detail of having her disabled, not just killed). She served for several years, winning the Alvace Star for her flying in a low-altitude chase in the gas clouds of Fendry. After the massacre, in which friends died at the landing zone waiting for extraction as she was delayed by TIEs, she found the string of disastrous missions too much to bear, and was the first to suggest that the team be disbanded. She was made leader of Gale Team, a unit of freighter crews drawn from the Kwuennox Smugglers, a similarly decimated unit who resented that an outsider had been given command shortly after the death of beloved original leader Ozik Poyiu. She didn't mesh well with them, and was still struggling with obvious PTSD. She made some poor decisions, leading to further losses, and was demoted to status as a regular hauler pilot, the job she had when she first joined. She's still hanging onto The Agent (yes, the article is part of the name), her ship from her Scandium days, and is very attached to it despite (and probably also because of) the memories it brings up. Cracken suggests that he regrets it, but the Rebellion has little choice but to shuffle her off somewhere where she can still be useful and her depression won't get anybody killed. There's no suggestion of getting her any kind of help. It definitely shows a darker face of the desperate, under-resourced Alliance.

    Finally, we come to Rith Tar'ak, a fifty-six-year-old female Ebranite (who look a bit like six-armed Duros), which gives Scandium a pretty darn good diversity score. Rith served as a desert specialist on Scandium Team along with her sisters Nyik and Tor'ara. She's one of the Rebellion's top experts on desert and cave survival, having fled her mountainous desert homeworld after her clan, one of the few to still maintain warriors, decided to attack the Empire as soon as Governor Evitch Jenton moved in. She and her sisters volunteered for the raid, during which the Ebranites were easily cut down and the sisters were captured. They were enslaved and put to work harvesting lu-ramin, but Rith planned an escape in which the Ebranite prisoners kidnapped a pilot and took off, where by luck they ran into a Rebel ship in a nearby system. The Ebranites happily joined, serving across Kesh sector, before Scandium was put together and the sisters were transferred to join it. They called themselves Sandstorm Unit and were some of the team's most effective members, but in the last mission Rith's sisters were killed and she was wounded. She healed and transferred to Yntrann, where she led a desert task force in one of the early SpecForce wilderness regiments. She was a good leader, but didn't enjoy it, and turned down a big promotion to colonel, instead transferring to Recruitment, where she's one of two personnel assigned to recruit and train Ebranites into the Alliance. She works with A-5DS, one of a model of protocol droid modified from 3PO standard by Imperial technicians to interface specifically with Ebranites, having six arms and a more Ebranite appearance. This kinda backfired as to the intended goal of fostering better relations, since the Ebranites don't trust technology. Rith captured A-5DS, the first unit of the model, and reprogrammed him before sending him back to his work area, using him to help her maintain contact with the subjugated Ebranite population, which tolerates the droid only because it helps Rith keep in touch. Rith herself is fairly technophobic, even moreso than most Ebranites within the Rebellion, and still prefers melee weapons and basic projectile weapons over blasters, dislikes space travel, and uses technology including the contact droid only when she absolutely has to. She's mostly past the loss of Scandium Team, though she still doesn't want to return to field work. She's kept in touch with Korgath, who's trying to bring her around to returning.

    A really good installment, chronology issues aside. It's creative and well-crafted, giving us a lot of aliens instead of the usual blandly human Rebels, and while it introduces Carey's typical style of early-Rebel badasses, it does a lot of interesting things with that by examining the PTSD-marred wreckage of a formerly elite squad, with some returning to service in different areas, some avoiding the frontline, one throwing himself headlong into danger, and two appearing to have been completely ruined by their service, formerly elite warriors now plunged into depression and only marginally useful to the Rebellion, which appears unprepared to support them. It's fascinating, dark, intelligently-written, and provocative, really bringing the early Rebellion to life in all its glory and disappointments. It definitely stimulates the imagination and gets you into the stories of these people, which is the best thing this kind of short profile can do. It's not just good writing, it's good NPC-building, which is the technical point of this effort -- you can easily imagine these characters finding a way into players' stories. It also, by tackling the early Rebellion, manages to establish a lot that it probably wasn't even intending to establish, one of the areas of canon that WEG was always really good about building up and fleshing out. Great stuff.

    We'll close out the issue with Smuggler's Log before we move on to number twelve.
     
    Sarge, Nom von Anor, Daneira and 5 others like this.
  15. jSarek

    jSarek VIP star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2005
    To be fair to Carey, I don't think the date of the foundation of the Rebel Alliance in Legends was nailed down until Rebel Dawn, which came out a year and a half after SWAJ #11. The working assumption of WEG seems to be that the Alliance had been around for a lot longer than that. For instance:
    "Many votes" on a two-year election cycle outright contradicts a 2 BBY date for the Corellian Treaty as originally conceived, and suggests something on the order of 8 BBY or more.
     
    Havac likes this.
  16. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    It was fuzzy, but not “join the Rebellion, have a daughter who’s now an adult Rebel” fuzzy. That’s a long time for the Rebellion to wait for its first victory.
     
  17. jSarek

    jSarek VIP star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Honestly, I think it WAS that fuzzy, and people were just overlooking or choosing to creatively interpret the "first victory" line in the A New Hope opening crawl. Legends had a lot of Rebel victories prior to Yavin, many of which had nothing to do with the Death Star plans.
     
  18. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Yeah, the first victory thing was never really going to hold up, not as soon as anybody got to tell Rebel Alliance stories and give it a history of more than five minutes, but I think the spirit of the idea that it was a relatively new thing that had just been scuffling along previously restrained the general conception of the Alliance to being something about five years old, maybe ten at most. In any case, attempting to nail it down as an entire generation long is obviously a much bigger reach than necessary.

    But this brings us to the Smuggler's Log for this issue. Platt's responding to inquiries about how she got started in the business. Smuggling isn't a lemonade stand; to get started you need contacts and capital for a ship and cargo. That means you need a patron. Lots of people go to loan sharks and crimelords, but that's a good way to end up in deep debt to bad people who'll own you for the rest of your career. Platt, being a bright lass, preferred to get started in the shipping business with a legitimate organization. So she found a group that sounded respectable and offered reasonable terms -- a loan for a down payment on a ship and an immediate cargo and run lined up, on a simple contract. The problem is that the Klatooinian Trade Guild might have sounded legit, but that contract came with some serious fine print, and the Klatooinians have some silent backers.

    Klatooinians are a Hutt client species, and the Klatooinian Trade Guild, over its thousands of years of history, has been a Hutt front. It offers Klatooinians the opportunity of indentured servitude for the Hutts and the Hutts a legitimate front for shipping business that includes smuggling, slaving, and loan-sharking. It operates throughout Hutt Space and the wider Rim, operating entire starport blocks of hangars, repair bays, and warehouses, though Guild ownership is usually concealed from non-members. Members are steered toward Guild-operated facilities, and nearby starport operations are often put under Klatooinian protection rackets. The Guild also often runs cantinas, casinos, and hotels nearby that members are forced to utilize, and operates protection for its members, including warehouse and dock guards, protected cargo transfer, and even fighter escorts in particularly dangerous systems. Members who use outside services run foul of the racket, which is amply supplied with strongarm artists, saboteurs, and shipjackers.

    The contracts promise reasonable terms, including access to the Guild's many, very real services, but buried in the lengthy fine print are the catches. The terms to pay back the initial loans are extortionate, and the ships you buy with your down payment have to be bought through the Guild. Enormous guild dues are taken out of the profits of each run. They start pilots out with legitimate shipping, but quickly force them into smuggling runs that make them criminals under the Guild's control. The ships they offer are actually pretty decent, and the services really are an outstanding package -- but being massively indebted and under the control of a Hutt syndicate really isn't a great tradeoff. Their guards are omnipresent -- good security if you're on the Guild's good side, but also very good for keeping you in line. Their kneebreakers are mostly Klatooinians, plus an assortment of other common Hutt client species -- Weequays, Niktos, Gamorreans.

    Pok Nar-Ten is the particular Guild boss Platt got involved with. A Nimbanel middle manager, he runs his syndicate out of a tower at Boztrok spaceport where he can keep an eye on all his starport properties. He seldom leaves the fortresslike tower, which is staffed by Klatooinian guards and an Advozse majordomo, Gjeel Dhantra. He's got a big ego, a deliberately flashy and oppressive style, and tries to play the bigshot with his smuggler underlings to disguise the fact that he's really just a middleman for the Hutts. The one person he's not a domineering jerk with is Dhantra, whom Pok actually respects. Rumor among his underlings is that Dhantra used to run a Guild operation involved heavily in Twi'lek slaving until something went wrong and he was demoted. Platt can confirm that he used to run a Guild syndicate involved with Big Quince, and suspects she caused his disgrace when she and Tru'eb killed Big Quince. Pok's chief enforcer is Kuuvat, a Klatooinian who's loyal and effective and runs all the guards and mercenaries, many of whom are his relatives. A final employee is Nazrita Villache, his chief technician who runs his repair bays and oversees starport operations. Nazrita's one of the best techs Platt knows, but she's not exactly trustworthy. She charges full rates rather than the seventy-five-percent rates the Guild mandates and skims off the difference, and she'll install tracking devices, secret compartments, and even bombs for Pok that shipowners know nothing about. She'll also go out, slice into your ship, and repossess it if Pok wants.

    [​IMG]
    Pok Nar-Ten has some serious Dark Empire fashion going on.

    It's a good piece. The Klatooinian Trade Guild is a good concept, and Schweighofer makes it even more usable by giving us Pok and the personalities around him as an access point to the organization. It makes for an interesting, totally credible corner of the universe and one that you can very easily see players getting involved with and potentially adding a lot to a campaign. Very good stuff, as usual for Schweighofer.

    That concludes this very strong issue of the Adventure Journal. Stick around for issue 12, which features the return of Drake Paulsen, an adventure that's actually set on Sevarcos from way back in issue 2, the introduction of Cryle Cavv (and more importantly, an appearance by Rivoche Tarkin), a rundown on Imperial garrisons, Pablo Hidalgo writing about shapeshifters, an adventure on a frontier boom world, and an amazing bonanza of collaboration. Not only do we have the first half of the pioneering Zahn/Stackpole collaboration Side Trip, but we have a Winger/Brandl crossover story co-written by Newcomb (back after a prolonged absence) and Jackson!
     
    Sarge, Daneira, jSarek and 5 others like this.
  19. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    As in last issue, with the overhaul, there is no longer an Admiral's Communique to open the more short-story-focused issue. We get right into New Horizons to lead things off.

    First we learn that Darkness Settles on the Planet of Twilight! Which is not quite as good as darkness falling on the rise of the Dark Falls, but I'll take it as a header. The blurb marks an interesting phase in the novel's evolution, as it's clearly not based on the final draft. It has warlord Seti Draconis controlling Renat Chorios, where he lures Leia and holds her hostage in a plot that's somehow related to his plans to wipe out the Theran cult and sell the planet's crystals to an Imperial remnant who can use the crystals to make unstoppable missiles. All of which makes the plot seem both more and less coherent than it is. At the same time, Luke shows up on the planet looking for Callista, while the New Republic fleet is hit by plague and the attacks of Moff Getelles and Admiral Larm, who is here treated as somehow significant. Han, Chewie, and Lando all go on a mission to rescue Leia, and it turns out that the whole galaxy is threatened by the "long dormant sentient life form" now awakening on Renat Chorios. But while a few names might have ended up changed, perhaps the description most inaccurate to the final product is at the end, when Planet of Twilight is hailed as "a dark epic chronicle, a visionary tale of courage, betrayal, and survival in the true Star Wars tradition. Packed with action, suspense, and adventure, it is a novel that no fan of this best-selling series will want to miss."

    A novel that is actually packed with action, suspense, and adventure is The Paradise Snare, coming in the fall of this year (1997). It's the first book of a trilogy exploring the life of everybody's favorite smuggler before the movies. We get Han's backstory, telling us he was an orphan snapped up by Garris Shrike's criminals. He escapes to fulfill his dream of being a Navy officer, but first needs piloting experience, which lands him on Ylesia, "a steaming world of religious fanaticism, illicit drugs, and alluring sensuality . . . where dreams are destroyed and escape is impossible." Now this is a book that deserves more promotion. Forget about Planet of Twilight.

    We move on to WEG products with the Star Wars Introductory Adventure Game, a simplified starter version of the game designed to get you started with roleplaying that teaches you the rules as you go. It's "targeted toward media fans who want to participate in roleplaying games but have found it difficult to get started." This constant effort by WEG to appeal to potential customers who are interested but daunted by the prospect of actually playing the game, and to pare down the rules into something that doesn't get in the player's way, is emblematic of the economic problems the RPG industry has run into trying to expand its player base outside of dedicated nerds into the complexities of rolling dice, and into the broader arena of people intrigued by the possibility of playing out their own stories.

    It's briefly back to Bantam to note that Shadows of the Empire is now out in paperback.

    LucasArts finally gets some play with the release of The LucasArts Archives Vol II: The Star Wars Collection, consisting of Rebel Assault, Rebel Assault II, TIE Fighter, and the Dark Forces Sampler Edition, whatever that is (some kind of demo, I'm guessing). To think that 1997 could witness LucasArts releasing its "archives" -- and that Star Wars could be relegated to the second compilation, at that. Very different days indeed. There's also a CD-ROM with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Special Editions.

    And now we're finally back to West End Games for good, with Instant Adventures, a book of scenarios that'll get you going right away. The fact that they're coming out with a whole book of (professionally-created) adventures kinda points out how the Adventure Journal has failed to fully live up to the purpose in its name; it wasn't so many issues ago that they were disclaiming plans to write any further adventure books because that was the Adventure Journal's role.

    There's also Pirates and Privateers, a detailed sourcebook full of the information needed to run a privateer campaign, and no doubt grew out of the long-ago Adventure Journal article on running a privateer campaign.

    Finally, we have No Disintegrations, a supplement designed around running a bounty hunter campaign, featuring adventures for bounty hunter characters.

    Featured Artist: Robert Duchlinski shows off the art of the aforementioned artist. Here, it's the colorized pieces from the Smuggler's Log of last issue. Notably, there's art of Nazrita Villache, which didn't actually make it into the Smuggler's Log, presumably for space.

    Coming up next: a trip to the side!
     
  20. Nom von Anor

    Nom von Anor Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 7, 2012
    Seti Draconis? Interesting, but I think I prefer Ashgad. And this reminds me what a chore it was to read POT from start to finish. The only good parts were the adventures of the droids.
     
  21. jSarek

    jSarek VIP star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Yep. It was the first three levels of the game, if I recall correctly.

    And far and away one of the most useful supplements in the game. The compilation of stock ships of all stripes was alone worth the price.
     
    KerkKorpil and Havac like this.
  22. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 30, 2000
    I'm currently caught between doing a thread where I review WANTED BY CRACKEN or PIRATES AND PRIVATEERS after FRAGMENTS OF THE OUTER RIM.
     
    KerkKorpil likes this.