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.
The whole group is available once more and Ezra and Zeb’s enthusiastic response to the last session has those who missed the ‘shopping trip session’ keen to play once more. Dave has decided that it is time to not only deal with Kanan’s indiscretion from the first session, but also present a game about the Force. Ezra has been stumbling along for a short while, and has been reading any Star Wars book with a Force Power (he’s been concentrating on the Tales of the Jedi Companion). As every player before him, Ezra realises there are never enough Character Points when playing a Jedi (especially if you keep spending them on actions).
Dave comes to the game with some schematics drawn up from the Death Star Technical Manual, and places the thin red book on the top of his pile next to the GM screen. Nervous glances around the table tell him the Spectres have all noticed the ploy. Hera grabs a copy of Stock Ships from the book pile and settles in for the night, which brings Dave to the next issue.
Hera has been very quiet since character creation. She seems content to come along to games, fly the Ghost, and be a part of the game, but isn;t actively engaged. Dave spoke to her during the week and she’s actually having a blast. She seems to enjoy the comraderie around the table and gets into character when needed, but Dave is still concerned. He has a plan for the next session (after re-reading the module You’re in the army now! in a Star Wars Adventure Journal), but the one after that will be an attempt to move Hera to centre-stage for a session.
Roll for initiative
Dave has agreed to set aside some time for Kanan and Ezra to role-play a little of the training. Kanan has spent time during the week thinking about the set-up and relays to Dave the environment. Dave is interested to see how this works, given that Kanan (remember that he played this character in the last Clone Wars chronicle and imported to Rebels) had no experience of a Padawan, only as a Padawan. Dave’s not sure that he is up to the challenge.
The training scene goes badly to say the least. Kanan thought he was ready, but not for a student who thinks, asks questions and really wants to get to the part where he swings a lightsaber in-game. Zeb tries to help out and Dave quickly loses control of the table. Realising that it could degenerate into further silliness (and completely destroy the mood for the session) he asks Ezra for a Dexterity check and refocuses the game (after they rescue Ezra from a messy death).
Tell it to them straight
The revelation that Luminara is still alive resonates with the Spectres. Many of the players had characters in the Clone Wars campaign and Luminara was a recurring character. Dave worked very hard to keep the circle of NPCs in that game small, so that the PCs forged deep relationships with only a few of the Temple residents. Even though the players have new characters, he plays on the emotional connection as a call to action.
Sabine gets the folder of schematics and as the party takes a coffee break, she pours over the contents of the player handouts. Back in the Shadowrun game, she played an infilitrator, and slips into this role almost as reflex (she survived Renraku: Arcology Shutdown and Bug City – what is a little Imperial prison to her?). Discovering that it is ‘blast proof and ray-shielded‘ comes as no surprise so Sabine and Dave fall into a time honoured tradition – rolling for information. Dave asks for a Tactics roll. The Difficulty is 15. For every five points that she exceeds the roll, Sabine is allowed to ask a question which Dave must answer truthfully. The questions can only be about the complex and security. Dave has already decided that the Mission Complication will be faulty intel, but has already chosen how this will play out. He gives Sabine the answers she needs.
Sabine rolls a 26 and is allowed two questions. She asks about the awkwardly placed balcony (which will be their entry point) and about the main hanger bay. Satisfied, the group ‘suits up’ ready for an incursion. After Sabine hands out ‘three miracles’, the running joke of ‘Saint Sabine’ is established. She likes the moniker and it sticks.
The ‘run starts with Kanan sparing no effort to take down the adversaries. He’s been feeling a little cocky around Stromtroopers (especially given Dave’s appalling rolls, and indecision in previous games) and there are plenty of force Unleashed references as he uses the Force to clothes-line ‘troopers and despatch them with remarkable efficiency. Ezra, keen to be part of the action jumps in. Sabine and Zeb, arguably the ‘heavy hitters’ of the group aren’t interested in hanging back and so the battle is joined.
Meanwhile, Hera finds somewhere to park the shuttle and Dave asks for a Sensors roll to mask the presence of the ship. Hera rolls a ‘1’ on the Wild Die and Dave simply smiles – Hera will be doing a little problem this mission after all…
The Cell Block
This is perhaps the darkest that Dave will get in Star Wars. He uses the holographic display and subsequent use of the corpse of a Jedi Master to underscore exactly how insidious the new villain is. Even Zeb’s quip of ‘it’s a trap!” fails to raise a smile.
The Inquisitor follows the capable and dangerous archetype established by Kallus in earlier sessions (and Dave is already working out a way to have them work together – maybe in the next session?). The Inquisitor is not a ravening lunatic; he is calm, precise, learned and obviously in control. Kanan’s earlier cockiness slips away completely in the face of this adversary. The Inquisitor also drops a lot of plot hooks – he is familiar with Temple Archives, he references the service that Luminara does by luring other Jedi here (what happened to them?), and knows all of the Jedi lightsaber forms by sight. Whilst his’join the Dark Side’ recruitment speech is a little trite, it’s an established and expected part of the encounter so Dave does not disappoint. In fact, it is during this scene that Ezra shows some solidarity to Kanan (‘you’re Master is unfocused and undisciplined‘ – ‘then we’re perfect for each other!‘) and these characters have an important bonding moment.
The Wild Die comes back to haunt Hera in a scene of levity that directly contrasts the previous encoutner. However, this is one time that a canny player turns the negative into a positive, and ‘we have a fleet?‘ can be answered with ‘we do now’. It is expected that the mission would be complicated by extra story factors (but that’s why we roleplay, right?) and the Spectres make the best of the situation. Running gunfights, escaping Dark Side Jedi, expending all three miracles of Saint Sabine and a frenzied rush to hyperspace all serve to move the action along and wrap up the story.
As everyone is counting character points, and contemplating the next session, Dave says to Kanan ‘I told you I wouldn’t kid around with Jedi‘ and Kanan believes him. They now have a dangerous adversary that is strong in the Dark Side and Ezra and Kanan are now targets. He decides that he won’t try to train Ezra, he will do it – and it’s now become very important that he gets it right.
What did we learn?
- This session served as a great counterpoint to the previous one and shows that any GM should consider a mix of tones in their game. Even Star Wars can swing between light and dark stories (no pun intended, honest). The inclusion of the Inquisitor could have been cheesy, or simply failed to have impact, but his actions showed confidence and competence. His willingness to use the corpse of a Jedi to achieve his goals, and his analytical mindset mean that the Spectres under-estimate him at their peril. If he ever teamed up with Kallus, the Spectres would be in serious trouble.
- Whilst the presence of NPCs can be extremely useful as mentors, sometimes the characters need to stand alone. Dave saw Kanan’s reaction when Luminara was mentioned – his first response was to abrogate responsibility to an NPC. Dave forced him to ‘step up’ by kicking the crutch away in a manner that made sense to the story.
- Dave also used reminders from the previous campaign to create an emotional hook (this is why Jedi avoid attachment – their GMs use it against them). If the players have a shared experience, it is worth using it sparingly to create connections between games. It also gives the sense that all of this is happening in the same universe.
Dave now has some homework. He’s decided that Kallus and the Inquisitor need to scheme together, and he wants Hera and Sabine to have some centre-stage time too. But for now, time for coffee, it is…
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.