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.
Disaster has struck. Two days before the game, Dave receives a phone call from Kanan and Hera. A few of their old university friends have breezed into town and will be staying for the weekend. Sabine’s week has been busy and sleep is at a premium, so she is out too (‘Sleep?‘ thinks Dave, ‘who needs sleep when you can game?‘).
New games are strange entities. The first game is always held to a different standard (how many times you heard ‘yeah, it was good – for a first game‘?) and then continuity of play is essential to avoid the stutter-step scheduling that leads to game-death. This is game three, so Dave is worried.
Ezra and Zeb are still free and want to game (Zeb tried to convince the group once to move the game to his hospital room after waking up from appendix surgery, so it’s a given that he’s in), but Dave is a little unsure about the mix. Ezra has been a little unsure around Zeb and the two have an unformed dynamic. Still, this is an opportunity for Zeb and Ezra to play, so Dave agrees to run a two-player game. The others will make cameo appearances (after lots of assurances that no-one’s character will die) and Saturday night is booked.
Dave decides to keep the story simple. After the last game, the group has credits and needs supplies. The story will be a simple shopping trip with some Imperial entanglements. There are plenty of chase scenes, Stromtrooper fights, a chance to rescue old friends (Morad Sumar and family) from Imperial oppression, use the Telekinesis power again, and finally steal and fly a TIE Fighter.
One important note is that Ezra has taken note of some earlier advice. In one of the first two sessions, she told Ezra to look for ways to include other characters and link their stories to his. So, when Zeb hands him the Imperial helmet (‘you collect these?‘), Ezra looks at the list on his character sheet and states that he actually already has one listed. Seeing Zeb’s expression, and recalling Hera’s advice, he quickly amends his response – ‘but I don’t have one this good. Perhaps I could ask Sabine to paint it for me.‘ Zeb is mollified and Ezra has a talking point with Sabine for the next gaming session.
Running the ‘side trek‘ game – what did we learn?
Many years ago, Dungeon magazine ran a semi-regular article series called ‘Side Treks‘, designed as one session mini-adventures that could be slotted into any campaign. Whilst a DM could tie them explicitly to the ongoing plot, they could easily be used as stand-alone stories. Similar approaches are used in long-running television series. There is often an episode that strikes the audience as ‘quirky‘, ‘different‘, or (when they misjudge the pacing) ‘not quite right‘. The most recognisable format for these episodes is The Christmas Special. During this time, normal plots are suspended, the holidays take centre-stage and we are treated to a plot that (usually) has nothing to do with the ongoing series (except in the case of Downton Abbey – they use Christmas specials to kill off main characters which is very cheery, right?).
Dave’s game took a very similar approach by necessity. He wanted to run a light-hearted story, but also link it to the ongoing plot in some way. However, the key element here was letting the character explore, and letting them have a lot of fun. In some ways the rules were run ‘fast and loose’. Could you imagine the events (especially the TIE Fighter scenes) playing out if the whole group was there? No. If the scenes had played out with the entire group, the resolution would have been quite different.
These types of games can serve a range of purposes. For Dave, he managed to run a third session and keep player commitment. He also gave Ezra and Zeb a chance to work together, away from the rest of the group, and run a game the others will only know via re-telling. Whilst the game was light in nature (the whole purpose was a shopping list, after all), there are serious ramifications for the campaign. Firstly, some of Ezra’s story has been revealed and it’s an interesting choice to refer to Morad Sumar as a friend of Ezra’s parents. The relationship between Sumar and Ezra is still vague, but there are lots of possibilities.
The game also gave Dave a chance to let the characters explore Lothal. This planet will be the default location for a lot of the games and he has already established that Lothal is an Imperial world with TIE Fighter production responsibilities. In building the terrain, he’s borrowed from some recognisable planets. Morad Sumar’s farm is from Tatooine (but the area doesn’t seem arid enough for moisture farming – perhaps Dave has an explanation for that later?), the grasslands are reminiscent of Naboo and those rock-like formations are something he saw in a Ralph McQuarrie art book. The urban centre was inspired by numerous other sources including his recent purchase of the Infinity Starter Box by Corvis Belli. The group has used some of the cardboard terrain with Wizards of the Coast Star Wars miniatures to run a few scenes, so it’s only natural that the terrain elements are incorporated into the story.
Also, we all know that Zeb and Ezra stashed the TIE Fighter somewhere. What D6 gamer would destroy loot that cool? In the future though, we’re sure that a hidden TIE Fighter on an Imperial planet will simply remain undiscovered. Dave will surely leave this plot hook and never exploit it against the characters.
Next week the gang will all be available and Dave has promised a game that will make their old Shadowrun characters proud.
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.