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.
WARNING: If you have not watched the season finale of Rebels you might not want to read this article yet. There are spoilers. Go watch the episode now and then come back and read this; we’ll wait for you.
It’s clear from the intelligence gathered in the last session that there is a time limit on Kanan’s rescue so the party needs a transport and a plan. Luckily, they can get the first from the Imperial starport. After some light combat (Dave previous bad luck with the dice comes back in the scene and Sabine gets to make a lot of jokes about Stormtrooper accuracy at his expense).
Sabine is touched though that the Stormtroopers have nicknamed her ‘the artist’ and recognise her work (both artistic and explosive, although Sabine would argue there is no difference) – it means that she has achieved the underground notoriety she craves.
The players are seriously considering their options to take down a Star Destroyer, or at least put it offline long enough to rescue Kanan. The scope of the plan is far beyond their usual banter and they realise that this session has a large chance of failing. The game will take an interesting turn if they’re all taken prisoner, but escaping from Mustafar isn’t really a story they want to explore.
Zeb and Ezra recall the TIE they hid a number of sessions back (the whole party knew they didn’t destroy it, but neither of the players would answer questions about the starfighter) and despite Zeb’s reservations they throw it into the mix. What’s also obvious is that Ezra and Sabine have been talking about the location well before today, especially when Sabine pulls out a picture of a TIE from her character folder and shows the art off to the group. Zeb stares in wide-eyed shock at the colour and Dave tells Sabine she isn’t to touch his X-Wing models – ever.
Dave switches tactics this session to work with Kanan. He’s focused on the physical dimension of capture, but as we’ve seen before, he’s adept at psychological scenes too. As GM and player explore Kanan’s back-story the rest of the group realise the guilt that underlies the Jedi’s character. As a young Padawan it would have been unbelievable for Kanan to have fought free of the Clone Troopers and their purge (and even more unbelievable to be the one person to escape Anakin’s attack on the Temple) so running made sense. The sense of ‘what if?‘ pervades the scene and Kanan needs to reflect on what he has done with his masters’ sacrifice. Also, given the Inquisitors deep knowledge of Depa Bilaba’s death one has to ask – was he there when she fell? Did he see the young Kanan run, but was unable to cut him down?
Hit and run
Zeb clenches a pencil in his teeth and intones ‘I love it when a plan comes together!‘ Sabine’s ‘present’ works perfectly and the Rebels gain access to the Sovereign unchallenged. They are on the clock, especially when Dave reveals Tarkin’s contingency plans (of course he had a plan) and reinforcements arrive. What follows is a long-running combat and direct contravention of the first rule of gaming – don’t split the party.
Dave has set up the final confrontation between light and dark to mirror Episode 1, complete with multiple levels, dual lightsabers, and a two-person Light-Side tag team. He completes the scene dressing with ‘Duel of the Fates‘ playing softly in the background. As Kanan uses the blaster-saber, effortlessly switching modes and splitting his Dice Pool, Ezra is impressed (‘I never thought of that‘). The older Jedi displays a high degree of creativity and gives the Inquisitor a lot to think about during the duel.
Ezra joins the fray, and the Inquisitor’s arrogance is on display. He knocks down both Jedi and throws Ezra off the walkway. When Dave is asked for the damage roll, he replies ‘let’s do it later‘. In doing so he removes Ezra from the scene and raises the tension – it’s very possible that Ezra is dead and from the look on Dave’s face and the handful of dice that clatter behind the screen hope looks in short supply.
The tension doesn’t last long, as Ezra is needed to reply to Hera but Kanan faces up to the scene and destroys the Inquisitor’s lightsaber (‘I saw that flaw when you first showed me the drawing‘ says Kanan, ‘and I’ve waited a long time to do this‘). It seems that the Rebels will be taking down a Star Destroyer in the last game after all.
As the Rebels flee the scene (and Ezra’s dark humour comes into play) Dave adds tension by Choppers absence. The players stare open-mouthed, and the seriously wonder if the droid’s mean streak has just reached new levels. Painfully aware that their TIEs have no shields and hoping as they make 2D Hull rolls against incoming fire, the players are really worried.
Chopper arrives in almost Deus Ex Machina style with a new fleet, framed by the exploding Star Destroyer.
It’s already been established that Hera doesn’t know who Fulcrum is and so she’ll be just as surprised as the rest of the players. Dave builds to it with Bail Organa, and then reveals Asohka Tano as Fulcrum.
There are very mixed reactions to this at the table. Some of the players are pleasantly surprised and like the idea, but others grimace. This will take a bit of time for the players to think through, but it’s a good point on which to leave the first arc of the campaign. Dave has used the first arc to really entice and motivate the players and allow them to explore a small region of the Outer Rim. He’s built relationships and respect for the NPCs (even their adversaries), given a triumph to the group, and set up a wider stage for the second arc of the campaign. With more resources, powerful allies, and a larger appreciation for the Rebellion the game has a lot of potential.
Leaving the session with the ominous breathing of everyone’s favourite Sith Lord foreshadows that the future of the campaign will include more challenges and a much higher threat level. For now though, the Rebels have created system-wide unrest and the impression that ‘the Empire is weak.’ That will do for now.
What did we learn?
- Switching scenes to build tension. During the escape on the Star Destroyer, Dave realised that he was running concurrent scenes and so hearkened back to Return of the Jedi for inspiration. Just as the Rebels in RotJ were split between Endor, space, and the Throne Room, his players were in two locations. He managed the scenes by allowing one to include some action and slowly build up, and then switched to the other group, repeating the process. It meant that both groups were interested in the outcomes but they were still thinking and planning. The fast-paced action continues, but the scene shifts. It’s a good method to keep everyone engaged, but also give the sense of speed of plot.
- Shrinking the universe. This is a temptation in any game, but especially one which has an established history and lots of NPCs. Often a storyteller will try to connect as many of the elements in the world together as possible and sometime the net result is that the setting feels smaller for it. Revisiting the same stories, NPCs or locations can feel contrived. When Fulcrum is revealed as Asohka, some of the party weren’t impressed. They felt Dave had the opportunity to expand the universe with someone new and instead went back to the Clone Wars unnecessarily. They also question the direction of the story now that both Asohka and Darth Vader will be recurring NPCs – there is unfinished business between these two NPCs that could overshadow the PCs efforts and shift the focus of the Rebellion story to one purely about the Force. On the other hand, some of the party are really excited by the prospect of working with Asohka and what this means for the Rebellion.
Dave definitely has challenges ahead, but for now he’s taking a break. The crew have mentioned a few other games they’d like to try and right now is a natural pause in the story. So far the group is undecided (when someone mentioned Werewolf: the Apocalypse Zeb immediately quipped ‘you’ve heard about the Rebellion against the Wyrm!?‘ and then they spoke no more of it), but perhaps a return to Shadowrun, or something new (Sabine is very keen on running some L5R).
Either way, the group has a new permanent member and plenty of scope for good gaming.
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.