Star Wars: Dawn of Defiance Campaign

Ten years after the rise of the Empire, the known galaxy in gripped by the tyranny of the Emperor Palpatine. The Jedi Knights, the once great order, has not only failed to protect the Republic, but has been decimated by the Emperor’s servant Darth Vader. The Dark Lord of the Sith hunts down and kills those Jedi who managed to survive in hiding. But the oppressed have begun to organize, and with the covert support of Senators who seek a return of the Republic, the Resistance begins to take form. This is the story of some who are ushering in the Dawn of Defiance.

This is the blog about my Dawn of Defiance Campaign run in the Star Wars universe set about a decade before the events of Star Wars IV: A New Hope (9 BBY). The campaign uses the Star Wars Saga Edition rules published by Wizards of the Coast and was written as a set of 10 connected adventure modules by the authors of the system and release as free downloads.
They are mostly well written, and I am running them with my home gaming group of more than 2 decades. I have also made changes (as always 😎 which I will periodically post along with their adventures. Without further ado, the protagonists.
Shroon-kor: A male Kel-dor Jedi padawan with great promise, and great struggles. Down 8 hp before Vital Transfer. XP: 15,750
Ehred: A female human Jedi padawan. Contemplative and determined to stay far from the darkness of her Dathomiri bretheren. XP: 18,750
Tex: Taung warrior. Rescued from slavers by Jedi, lost wife and sons. XP: 18,750
Bob-Nob: A Twi’lek who supports the Resistance, in return for their credits. With a knack for robotics, he is never far from his support droids. XP: 17,750
Bob-bob: A medical droid, Bob-Nob’s programming has been altered for “proactive protection.” XP: 13,750
TS “Sparktacus”: A former mining droid, he searches for his master. Currently damaged by Stormtroopers, and not fully repaired (hard to do). XP: 17,750
Nai-Keego: Not all are cut out for the Imperial Navy, even if you have the skills if you happen to be non-human. A Bothan pilot, Nai-Keego joined up with the Resistance, taking along with him his trainer Z-95.
@~46 hp after Medpac. XP: 16,750
Har-har: A Gungun Jedi, who has recently joined up with the Resistance. @ 23 hp after Vital Transfer. XP: 12,750
[Game Notes]
Campaign Changes
  1. The game starts at year 9 BBY. This is 10 years after Order 66. This allows the Jedi characters to conceivably be around 18-20 years of age, as they had just started their apprenticeships before their masters were killed.
  2. I plan to for PCs to be about level 16 at the end of the campaign. The d20 rules really start to break down past that point. Even the creators of the game acknowledge that (specifically, Rodney stated the difficulty of writing the last few modules of the campaign to be sufficiently challenging and still manageable.)
House Rules in Effect (and when they started)

a.     Roll stats rather than set
b.     May re-roll hp with Force Point
c.      Droids get Syntax Points (basically, Force Points)
d.     Using Force Point to avoid death costs ALL Force Points (Part 4)
e.     PC’s only get 1 Destiny Point per character level PLAYED (Part 4)
f.      Use the Force changed multiple times. Currently, Skill Focus only available to Knight Prestige class.
g.     Extra talents at base class levels 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, & 16. **Note, 1st level Talents must be from different trees. Also, this 1st bonus talent is not obtained when multi-classing into another class (just as not all starting feats are received.)
h.     Force Powers take 1 step longer to use. Practiced Force User Talent to reduce back one-step.
i.       Can only learn Force Powers with a teacher.
j.       Vital Transfer can’t be used to heal Vital Transfer (Part 4)
k.     Block and Deflect are one Talent
l.       Lightsabers deal 2d12 damage
m.   Movement: Diagonals cost 1.5 squares as D&D 3.5 (Part 3)
n.     Starship: Can flee a Dogfight as free action, but gives every opponent free critical attack from full attack. (Part 5)


Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

I just finished watching episode 2 in preparation for running the next part of my Star Wars Dawn of Defiance Campaign. I had been working on the encounters as we gear up for our next session, and over this past weekend, I had an opportunity to visit some friends in Indianapolis. During the visit, my old Star Wars Old Republic game group was getting together to go see the re-release of The Phantom Menace in 3D – so, as much as I didn’t want to give any more money to Lucas, I wanted to share the experience with them. It was fun reminiscing about waiting in lines for 9 hours at the original release and whispering to my friends as the MANY kids in the theatre ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the spectacle – but, I still couldn’t help cringe at each mention of the midiclorians, and the “will of the Force”.

Anyways, with that background, and swinging by the Disc Replay to pick up a copy of Star Wars: Clone Wars, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 1, I thought it would flow well to watch Attack of the Clones again since I hadn’t seen it since the original theatrical release; so I picked up a DVD of that as well.

Well, I gotta say that my opinion of it hasn’t changed. The lines were so bad (especially between Anakin and Padame!!!), the storyline so contrived at times, the “wise” Jedi so clueless, and the directing so bad that it made excellent actors into bland cardboard actors, that I couldn’t help muttering and spouting off how just plain DUMB the lines were… and I thank my poor wife for putting up with me as she quietly read her kindle next to me (I was wearing earphones).

It was especially appalling as I decided to prolong the pain and watch some of the deleted scenes and featurettes.What particularly struck me, and pushed me over the edge to write this tonight instead of waiting until the morning, were the interviews with Natalie Portman. Now, she’s been one of my favorite actors since I saw her in The Professional when it came out – and it was quite telling when SHE HAD MORE EMOTION IN HER FACE DURING THOSE 45 SECONDS THAN THE ENTIRE MOVIE PUT TOGETHER.

The greatest tragedy in my opinion (and there are quite a few in the prequels)? Every action sequence is a reminder of how much cooler this whole triology could have been if Lucas had been content to let someone else write the lines and direct, and he went hands off after the initial vision… kinda like for Empire – the best of the saga.

So, I hope my players appreciate the pain I put myself through to give them a good time and immerse them in the Star Wars Universe.

Star Wars Saga Edition Use the Force Fix

For the most part, I like the newest incarnation of the Star Wars RPG put out by Wizards of the Coast – the Saga Edition. However, the main thing that bugs me about it is the way the Force works. By having Use the Force (UTF) as a skill, its (usuaully) starts at an absurdly high level for what I feel a 1st-level Jedi should be able to do. Plus, it doesn’t get a whole lot better as the character advances (a 20th-level Sith Lord only has ~10 more over that of a 1st-level – compare a 20th level Soldier with a 1st). Over the years, I’ve tried to come up with some fixes for it.

I’ve listed below some possibilities and have link to a table showing what a “typical” progression would look like.

1) Easy1: UTF cannot be a Trained skill until achieving a level of Jedi Knight/Sith Apprentice. A pre-requisite for the Feat Skill Focus (UTF) is a level in Jedi Master/Sith Lord. This significantly lowers the UTF for lower-level Jedi characters, but has the same maximum as the books. The problem is there are large bumps upon attained the Prestige Classes (not necessarily bad, as getting trained and taking skill focus for other skills does the same thing).

2) Easy2: A pre-requisite for the Feat Skill Focus (UTF) is a level of Jedi Knigh/Sith Apprentice. Similar to Easy1, but not as drastic a measure. This is what we are using in our current Dawn of Defiance Campaign.

3) Feel1: UTF is not a skill. Rather, it is a special check that is available to characters with the Force Sensitive Feat. The check is = character level + Cha mod + 1 per force-user level (ie. Jedi, Jedi Knight, Sith Lord, etc.) This leads to an extremely high final UTF at the higher levels.

4) Feel2: Same as Feel1, but the progression is only +1/2 per force-user level. This lowerls the maximum as compared to Feel1, but still leads to high UTF at levels 15+

5) Feel3: Similar to Feel1 & Feel2, but the check is = 1/2 character level + Cha mod + 1 per force-user level. This keeps the skill mechanic of adding +1/2 per character level. The same difficulty with high UTF at levels 15+

6) Mike1: UTF is a skill, but change the Feat Skill Focus (UTF) bonus to be a maximum provided by the level-based skill bonus, with a maximum of +5 at level 10.

7) Mike2: As Mike1, but the Skill Focus (UTF) bonus is equal to the Cha mod.

8) Mike3: A combination of Mike1 and Mike2, where the Skill Focus (UTF) bonus is capped at the lower of the level-based skill bonus or Cha mod.

I’d be interested to hear about other suggestions. My favorite at this time is Feel3; partially because it gives a good progression and follows the skill mechanic. A +33 is very high for a 20th level force-user, but I am of the opinion that the game really starts to break down past 16th level, and I don’t plan on running games past that level. In addition, I don’t see that as being a complete negative, as I would expect an equivalently leveled gun-fighter to have ~+28 on to-hit rolls and defenses to be around the same.

Link to the table. The light blue is what I expect most optimized force-user UTF will be with core rules, and the light green is where the various optional rules meet the inflection point as compared to that light blue column.

Dawn of Defiance IV: Echoes of the Jedi

[Originally posted on Dwarven Forge forums 2011 Sep 07. Game date 2011 Jul 02]

Here are some pictures from our Star Wars Dawn of Defiance game (Episode IV – Echoes of the Jedi). This shows off the great versatility of DF – using Sci-fi and Return of the Ancient sets as the layout for an abandoned Jedi academy (haunted with creatures tainted by the dark side of the force) and the lower level combining the Caves with Sci-fi sets.

Episode IV

It is a dark time in the galaxy. The Jedi Knights, peaceful guardians of the Old Republic, are all but extinct, exterminated by the Emperor’s sinister agents. But a few Jedi still survive, exiled from the galaxy they once protected and leaving echoes in the Force behind. The Emperor has sensed these remnants and seeks to control them, leaving no chance for future Jedi to arise from the ashes.

Most Jedi stay in hiding, some try to foil the Empire without revealing their existence, and others seek links to their former way of life, risking the wrath of the Emperor in hopes of re-igniting the flame of their ancient order . . .




“Oh, Master Ran, I simply detest violence and do not condone it in any circumstance! I’m a medical droid and my basic programming is to heal organics. But that meatbag was trying to render me nonfunctional. He refused to calm down even with my offers of antidepressants or illicit substances. So of course I had to shoot him through the ascending portion of the aortic arch lest he deprive the galaxy of my invaluable skills as a highly sophisticated medical droid that could potentially save many more lives than that dirtbag’s wretched existance. It does certainly perturb my programming on the most fundamental level however.”

I just joined a group playing a Star Wars Saga edition game set in the Old Republic (just after the 2nd KoTOR). The group had already been playing for a while, so I came in midgame. They had just acquired a droid NPC, so I offered to use that as my PC as it sounded like a fun character.

AG-420 was a Republic medial droid prior to ending up in the hands of Tagg, a drug smuggler who later became a dead NPC at the hands of the PC’s. Under Tagg’s ownership, AG was programmed to become a pusher for Tagg’s wares. This became evident upon the heroes first outing when, upon their return, AG proudly showed his new Master Ran how much money he had made selling off all of their med-kits… the looks on the players’ faces was hilarious. I happened to be observing that game, and that’s when I decided I wanted to join in as AG’s newly acquired Independent Spirit.

This last game, they got a chance to see a little of AG’s schizoprenia. Throughout the game, AG kept protesting violence against organics, bemoaning how he would have to patch them back up afterwards. That was, until the climactic last battle, when we were trying hold off waves of baddies while waiting for the Jedi that was rescuing slaves about a gladiatorial entertainment ship. Asked to provide help by Master Ran, AG proceeded to unveil a blaster rifle that was a part of his left arm and loosened a hail of blaster fire into one of the enemies… Amidst the looks of shock (again) among the players, I had AG respond as quoted above

(And yes, I did spend a turn trying to offer the baddie meds to help alleviate his feelings of hostility and anger; which only led to him shooting me).

Medium Droid, 1st degree
Noble 2 / Soldier 1

Feats: Skill Focus (Treat Injury, Knowledge – Life Sciences, Use Computer), Weapon Proficiency (Rifle, Heavy), Burst Fire

Talents: Medical Droid, Devastating Attack (I rationalized it as his detailed knowledge of biological beings allows him to hit them where it hurts the most)

Str 10 Dex 14 Con – Int 16 Wis 18 Cha 10