This is part of an ongoing series that examines each episode of Star Wars: Rebels as though it were a session of the West End Games D6 Star Wars: the Role-Playing Game. The game mechanics referenced in this series are drawn from the Second Edition of that game.
When we last left the gaming group they had created a direction for the upcoming game and build characters that supported the overall story. They have successfully added an extra player and this will be Ezra’s first game. The GM is aware that Ezra might not want to stay after the first session and so build it with an ‘escape clause’ that fits within the plot.
Note: for ease of understanding I’ll be using character names to denote the players. We’ll call the GM Dave for the sake of this narrative.
During the week two conversations have started. One is between Dave and Ezra, as the latter is very enthusiastic about his character and wants to build up a story to introduce Ezra to the rest of the Spectres. They agree that the session will start with a highlight on Ezra and part of the first game will be the ‘coming together’ story. The second discussion is between the Spectres and Dave. Dave wants to start the game in media res, and outlines a plan. They’ll all be on Lothal running a job for their ‘Mr Johnson’ and Dave promises excitement. Both conversations end in the affirmative and game night looms large.
Scene 1: Snatch and run
Dave preps the room with a CD and Episode IV. It’s not a Star Wars beginning without a Star Destroyer and when the group is ready he turns the lights down low, runs the Star Destroyer into on the television, with The Imperial March playing throughout the room. Without waiting for comment, he plunges into the story.
Dave figures that he needs to provide a range of familiar experiences for the group to establish this a Star Wars game. His checklist reads:
- Stealing something from the Imperials to achieve ‘the common good’
- Encountering Stromtroopers
- A chase scene involving speeder bikes
- A starship battle
- A desperate attempt to ‘jump to hyperspace’
By the end of the first act, Dave has ticked all of the items off his list with the following complications:
- Not all of Kanan’s actions are un-noticed by Dave. When Kanan delivers his ‘just kidding’ line and tosses a grenade at the bike trooper, Dave starts considering whether a Dark Side Point is in order. That was a little callous, wasn’t it?
- Ezra has picked up the rules quickly (it’s D6, we expected that) but has blown almost all his character points. Dave hopes that this lack of character points won’t make Ezra reticent to get involved later (but he’s wrong).
The main achievement was that everyone in the party had something to do:
- Kanan and Zeb secured the crates and with Ezra fought off the pursuers
- Sabine initiated the ‘snatch and run’, provided fire support, and secured a crate
- Hera flew support, downed TIE fighters, and rescued everyone
- There was a moment for everyone to shine, and to start working on their own niche skills and value to the party.
Scene 2 & 3: Meet The Employer and Ambush
The party, now energised with an early success is introduced to a (hopefully) recurring employer (Visago) and reinforcement that fighting against the Empire is ‘a good thing’ (via the scene of Tarkin Town).
Dave also gives the players a chance to take on another job. He underscores the value of the job by asking that they give up a cut of their pay for information that leads to new story. It’s a risky move, because the players could decide they want credits more than complications. However, they take the bait.
During this scene, Ezra decides to rummage in the ship. As a new player, he’s not quite understood gamer etiquette (lucky he’s not the Thief in AD&D), but Kanan and Dave see an opportunity. Dave passes Kanan a note: ‘I’m letting him find your lightsaber and Holocron’. Kanan take Hera out of the room and lets her in on the secret. After the other players hear a shouted ‘You’re a what!’ from the other room, the story progresses.
Between this and the next scene there are a few player moments worth mentioning:
- When the Wookies are mentioned Zeb steps up and provides a background reason for help ‘I owe those hairy beasts. They saved my life more than a few times’. This statement raises interest from the rest of the gang (and Dave) as this plot thread dangles. Sabine, who is becoming more sure of a potential military background jumps on the Wookie idea too.
- Hera was set up as ‘the Face’ for the group and gets a chance to fast-talk some Imperials. Likewise, it’s natural for the rest of the group to look to the Original Trilogy for inspiration when forming a plan (putting Zeb in binders and marching him into the Imperials). Ezra thinks the idea is very cool, but (as he is out of character points) withdraws from the scene. Dave will later get him back in the action when the ‘recurring adversary’ is revealed. As a reward for engaging with the action, Ezra will be given some vital information to take back to the group (‘They’re on Kessel’).
Also, Dave has spent the evening rolling really badly. His Stormtroopers have not been the finest example of Imperial Doctrine (in fact they are down-right embarrassing) so this is the time to retake the initiative and introduce Kallus. Kallus is competent, leads from the front, is decisive, and represents an actual threat. Which leads us to…
Scene 4: The Finale
The session began with action and Dave wants a big finale. Again, the stakes are high, the Imperials are centre-stage as the bad guys (reinforcing again why opposing them is A Good Idea), and everyone gets a chance to shine.
- The escape plan is referred to as a ’22 Pickup’. One of the players mentions the scene in ‘The Avengers’ between Black Widow and Hawkeye (‘This reminds me of that time in Budapest’ – ‘You and I have very different memories of Budapest’). By adopting a similar tactic, the team can create deep history as they play. It fits with the professional theme of the group (and the usage of ‘Spectre’ call-signs). They all agree to use this more often.
- In the middle of the battle, he decides to have a ‘hero moment’. Dave is stunned ‘What? What happened to having a big reveal with a slow build-up? You didn’t even last one game!’ and begins to build an Inquisitor in his mind’s eye even as the game progresses (‘What about a male Assaj Ventress?’ he wonders).
- Kallus may have been defeated, but he will be back. He has a reason to hunt the Rebels, and has already been proven as capable. Smart players should be worried. Kanan has also painted a big blazing target on the party, so they won’t lack for adversaries.
The first session is considered a success, but Kanan will be coping a bit of strife from the party for a while yet. Ezra is asked whether he wants to come back next week and agrees (by handing back the lightsaber and joining the crew).
What did we learn?
As a ‘first game’ this one seemed to work for the party. When you’re considering how to approach a WEG Star Wars game, here’s what you can take away:
- Use the familiar to establish the game world (Dave’s checklist) to build player buy-in
- The first game should introduce at least one recurring character (in this case we see both a potential ally and an adversary)
- Give everyone at least one moment in the spotlight per game. Think about this in advance and design scenes with character strengths in mind.
- Look for ways to get quiet players involved. Giving them information is a good start, provided that there is enough reason for them to share rather than remain silent.
- As a player, look for ways to get involved and tie the plot to your character (‘I owe those hairy beasts’).
- As a player, try to say ‘yes’ and think about the big picture (such as agreeing to pay Visago for intel)
- In-character references (like ’22 Pickup’) help to establish that your character has a history – they didn’t arrive whole cloth at the beginning of the game.
- If you’re playing a Jedi and promise the GM a ‘big reveal’ wait more than one session. Seriously, would it have hurt?
Image Credits: All images have been sourced from Wookiepedia and remain the exclusive intellectual property of Disney. Their use as part of this series should not be construed as endorsement of this blog, or a challenge to their ownership of copyright for Star Wars Rebels.