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 gang is back at the table on time this week (see, cliff-hanger endings still work) and there has been a lot of planning involved. There isn’t too much table-talk at the beginning and everyone wants to start the night – and rescue Kanan.
Knowing is half the battle (thank you 1980’s G.I. Joe) and so the team needs to gather some intelligence on Kanan’s location. Tarkin has destroyed the Communications Tower, and whilst the crew of the Ghost don’t fully understand the ramifications of this action, they do know that information is hard to obtain.
Dave, however, has thought through the lack of Comms on Lothal and has some contingency planning for the Empire. His solutions actually open up plot opportunities, but we’ll get to them later.
For now, the team has found that every vehicle has a link back to the Imperial mainframe and there is a strong chance of hacking (Sabine’s speciality) so they head out into the streets and look for a patrol. After lots of Climbing/Jumping rolls (‘you still haven’t asked for that jet pack, have you?‘ ask Zeb, reminding Sabine of an outstanding request. ‘Bet one of them would have made all of this easier, right?‘), followed by plenty of Dodge rolls, the team turns up no data. The gamers waste no time emulating scenes from Return of the Jedi, and generally enjoying the scene – which seems a little at odds with the tone of this session but Dave lets the fun roll. It will get a lot darker later.
The Comms Tower situation is more desperate than they first suspected. This immediately raises the question – how is a bureaucracy as entrenched as the Empire functioning? This is the equivalent of removing the internet access of a multi-national corporation and the results have to be crippling. On the positive side, this could open up a lot of opportunity to bypass normal security because – as the crew rationalise – Lothal only has so many resources to dedicate to the current situation whilst also maintaining the production schedule set by Tarkin.
Hera collects the crew (with a cry of ‘Starfighter scale!‘ as she shoots AT-DPs) and they head home empty-handed.
Kanan and the cut-scenes
Dave has made use of the WEG suggestions for cut-scenes during the entire campaign to good effect. This session won’t be any different, but it will be to highlight Kanan’s plight. He spoke with Kanan before the session and explained that the Jedi won’t get a lot of ‘play time’ tonight. ‘Hey‘ replies Kanan, ‘I expected to be rolling up a new character tonight, so this is a win. I’m cool with watching this play out.‘
In the meantime Dave will use scenes of Kanan, the Inquisitor, and Tarkin to underscore the urgency of the mission at hand. This will be handled by descriptive narrative rather than dice, which is one way to portray the effects of the torture. It would lose a lot of impact if Dave simply asked for Strength rolls against 2D damage – rather, the descriptions of the electrical field and Kanan’s suffering are far more useful.
It’s been clear from the start that Hera knows a lot more about the Rebellion than the rest of the group. She wrote this into her back-story and she and Dave have discussed the consequences of her responsibility. Dave is now coming to collect with Fulcrum’s directive to ‘focus on the mission’ and to leave Kanan behind [BK Note: think about this scene when Fulcrum is revealed next episode and wonder why this leader was willing to abandon Kanan to Tarkin. Does it make sense?].
Hera has always been driven by a higher duty and right now it is in direct conflict with her feelings of family. She has the strongest bond with Kanan and giving him up to torture and death doesn’t sit well – but there is a larger goal at stake. Jedi can afford to be aloof with attachment, but that doesn’t work for the rest of the galaxy. She uses the term ‘soldier‘ to disassociate the choice, but it simply feels wrong.
During this session, the crew realises how little they know about the Rebellion, and how this was a deliberate ploy on Hera’s part. Despite helping the Rebellion and furthering their goals, the Spectres really don’t know very much at all – and they start to wonder if they should.
Deal with the Devaronian
The group is divided right now. Ezra refuses bluntly to leave Kanan behind and hatches a plan with the rest of the crew. He’s taken some of the discussions with Dave to heart, especially those about making choices that lead to good story. Inspired by these sentiments, he makes a deal with Vizago. In doing so, he agrees to owe an undescribed favour to a crime lord, and reveals his (and Kanan’s) true identities to someone who can profit from this information. Knowing Dave, this will come back to haunt Ezra in a later session.
Vizago’s response to ‘because Kanan is a Jedi‘ is a nice touch from Dave. It underscores that the Jedi are gone from the galaxy and people simply don’t believe anymore. When Vizago does understand (and believe) there is a touch of awe in his voice. He’s a professional so it doesn’t last long – but it was clearly there.
Aside from that, Ezra rolls a ‘1’ on the Wild Die during his Alien Cultures roll and clumsily fumbles his way through the encounter – but he’s learned something about Devaronian culture in the process.
At the end of the encounter, the Spectres have a solid lead. Dave’s been very thorough in planning the Empire’s response to the lack of comms. The elegant solution of the Messenger Droids makes a lot of sense and the planning begins anew.
Droid in distress?
With Chopper in disguise and the Ghost ‘flying casual’ the plan has begun. The Ghost is pushed to the limit and everyone (even the new droid) has a clear role to play. This is the type of work that shows that the players have created a team that are all willing to work as a single unit.
Droid acquisition is put on hold by Chopper (Dave has a little too much fun playing this NPC sometimes) and the information on Kanan’s position is revealed – Mustafar ‘where Jedi go to die‘.
On those words, Dave closes out an action-packed session and promises to wrap up his first campaign arc next week.
What did we learn?
This session reinforced two ideas, character vulnerability and good planning.
- Ezra’s decision to bargain with Vizago was based on desperation, and the crime lord was unwilling to alter the terms of the bargain even after realising he was dealing with a Jedi. This made the decision extremely difficult (owing an unnamed favour) and also highlighted a key difference of this era. In the Old Republic, a Jedi might have been able to obtain assistance by only revealing their nature, but in the ‘Dark Times’ most of that respect has been lost.
Ezra’s decision though is worth a Character Point chip because he has taken a risk that will lead to a story later on. Dave can easily take the favour and make this an interesting session in the future. The only question will be about how to use this story hook for maximum impact. Last session Kanan spoke to Ezra about ‘playing it safe’ rather than ‘playing like a hero’ and the words seem to resonate with the new player.
- Internal consistency is one of Dave’s strong points in this campaign. There is a sense of interconnectedness to the setting which lends believability to the Empire especially. He has a good sense of cause and effect and (as the solution of the puffer pig a few sessions back proved) he’s inventive when thinking about non-standard responses to problems. The destruction of the Comms Tower (at Tarkin’s orders) cannot be portrayed as a crippling blow to Lothal’s operations – if it did derail the bureaucracy completely then Tarkin’s credibility as a ruthless planner is in jeopardy. A smooth back-up plan was essential, so it became very clear that Dave had this all planned well in advance (or at least it appears that way to the players, which is the sign of a good GM).
Next session will be an attempt to rescue Kanan and a response to the players requests to know more about this ‘Rebellion’ that they have signed up for.
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.
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