Rise of the Runelords–Nualia

Campaign Journal

Session 9:

  1. Date: 2012 Jul 13
    1. PCs: Camla, Derrik, Gragdar, Vaelmorn, Miyamoto
  2. Thistletop
    1. During the middle of the night, they spot a well armed human fleeing across the bridge. He is taken captive by threats of cutting the bridge.


      1. He tells them his name is Orik and he wantss no further part of Nualia’s crew; especially after seeing the massacre of the goblins by the heroes.
      2. He describes the ritual sacrifices that Nualia does. He requests they spare Lyrie. He is willing to go face justice.
      3. They tie him up and leave Shal to guard him.
    1. Goblins redux (and Lyrie!)
      1. Crossing back, they discovered the animated corpses of the goblins in the throne room. Entering in, they encounter a Sorceress, who is stationed there to guard against another incursion. Her scorching ray greets Vaehrun as they enter. Her magical attacks greatly injure the group, but she is taken captive.
      2. A fierce debate arises as to her fate. She is allowed to live, determined by the flip of a coin. She is tied up and left on the isle side of the bridge.


  1. Nualia
    1. Not wanting to give Nualia time to become alerted, they set off in search for her.
    2. They quickly search a capel to Lamashtu and move on.
    3. Descending, they find themselves in an ancient complex within the isle. The entire level appears to be canted, and the first room shows several statues that have toppled over. In addition, a pair of severed heads on spikes at the far end of the room turn and watch as they make their way forward.
    4. Within the exiting corridor, Camla detects a trap on a pair of statues. Sending forth Koruvus’ skeleton, they watch helplessly as a pair of portcullis slam down, subjecting it to the slashes of ancient weapons, before falling open to a pit beneath filled with spikes.
    5. Beyond, they find a small room within which waits an incensed Nualia flanked by a pair of dogs. “HOW DARE YOU INTRUDE!!” she screams at them as the hounds begin their attack. Her powerful sword blow cuts down Vartha’s skeleton in one slash; the dogs’ unearthly howl sends Gragdar fleeing in fear while Vaehrun is almost cut down by another swing of the magicked sword – he is only able to withdraw when his shield bash forces her to stumble back a few feet. When the drow tries to conceal the room in darkness to gain advantage, she banishes it with a wave of her clawed hand. “HOW DARE YOU INTRUDE!!!” Another howl sends Miyamoto fleeing in panic, his club dropped at his feet. A rout is avoided when Camla and Derrick step up to shore up the faltering line; Camla summons forth a skeletal champion behind Nualia – providing just enough distraction that Derrick is able sneak up and use Lyries’ wand of Shocking Grasp to send a bolt of pure electricity into the wayward Aasimar. Screaming at the sudden pain, her eyes lock onto the paladin and memories of her childhood tortures at their hands feeds her anger. “Camla. Derrik,” she utters, as the fury of the sword and claw dig into Derrik. The paladin uses all the force of his faith to remain standing, shored up by Camla’s healing to buy time for the others to catch their breath. Summoning the deeper darkness again, Vhaerun provides cover for Gragdar to once again use his connection to the negative energies to drain her life. She responds in kind. But the wear of the fighting has taken its toll on her, as she finally drops with a series of blows that find their home.250px-Nualia
    6. Upon her last breath, the heroes are assaulted by a wave of emotions; drawn into her death throes, they remember. They remember the fear of the dark, and the man who took her in. They remember the stares and murmurs and finger point by everyone wherever they went. They remember the whispered words murmured at each passing. They remember – was that Camla? – who plucked at her hair. They remember the shoving and rhymes – “Nualia, Nualia, girl with no mum; Nualia, Nualia, dad all gone; Nualia, Nualia, girl with purple eyes; Nualia, Nualia, beware her touch!” They remember the questions and requests – do your tears really cure warts? could you touch this? Could you kiss that? The varisians were always the worst. They remembered watching as their peers snuck their first kisses; and how no boy would talk with her. They remembered the giggling as they walked past. They remembered the young Varisian man who first told her she was wonderful and beautiful and special. They remember Dellek embracing them in hidden smuggler’s tunnels. And the shock when he called her those names when she told him that she was with child. They remember the man who had promised her forever, leaving Sandpoint with a sneer. They remembered her father’s anger and the nightly lectures about her sins. They remember the giggles that turned to snickers at the fishmarket. They remember the fingerpointing as her belly grew. They remember the night the pain felt as if the life growing in her was clawing its way out. They remember the blanching midwives stealing away the thing that came forth from her. They remember drowing into the grief, into the anger, into the loneliness, into the wrath… and waking months later into clarity. They remember locking the door to father’s room, and setting the fire. They remember going to Magnimar and taking vengeance against Dellek; and the quickening of the need for more against Sandpoint. They remember the woman who gave her the medallion that would guide them to destiny. They remember being drawn to the bricked up smuggler’s tunnel, and the quasit within. They remember the calls that led her to Thistletop. ‘FREE ME. FREE ME. FREE ME.’”
    7. Shaken, the heroes emerge from the memories, the pleading, demanding, monstrous voice echoing into the distance.



Lyrie and Nualia


I changed Lyrie to be a Magus as a solitary level 4 Wizard for 2 reasons: (1) aw written, she would not even be a speedbump against a full party , and (2) I thought that the concept of a magical rapier wielding magus with the high crit chance of shocking grasp would be too sweet to pass up! (My players are min-maxers and it’s fun for me to create similarly powerful challenges). To make it interesting as well, after the heroes’ initial incursion onto the island, the defenders were on alert; the goblin bodies were animated into undead, and Lyrie was stationed at the keep.

Lyrie CR 6

Female Magus 5 / Wizard 1
CE Medium Humanoid (human)
Init +3

AC 21, touch 14, flat-footed (+3 dex, +4 armor, +4 shield)

DEF +11 (+3 dex +8 shield spell), Armor DR 4 (Mage Armor)

hp 39 (5d8+1d6 +6 Con + 5 favored class)

hp 51 (5d8+1d6+Con 12) :
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +5
Defensive Abilities mage armor, shield spell

Speed 30 ft.
Melee MW rapier +7 (1d6/ 18-20 & spellstrike)
Melee +1 keen rapier +7 (1d6+1/ 15-20 & spellstrike)
Special Attacks arcane strike (+2 damage), spell combat, spellstrike, arcane pool (6):

Magus Spells Prepared (CL 5th; concentration +15)
2nd (3/day): Scorching Ray, Mirror Image, Invisibility

1st (5/day-5) Windy Escape, Burning Hands, Ray of Enfeeblement, Warding Weapon, Shocking Grasp,

Wizard Spells Prepared (CL 1st; concentration +11)

1st (2/day) Shield, Mage Armor

Str 10, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 18, Wis 8, Cha 8
Base Atk +3; CMB +3; CMD 16
Feats Scribe Scroll, Combat Casting, Weapon Finesse, Arcane strike (+2 damage), Uncanny concentration, Combat Expertise (Magus bonus feat)
Skills Knowledge (arcana) +13, Knowledge (engineering) +13, Knowledge (history) +13, Knowledge (local) +13, Perception +1, Sense Motive +1, Spellcraft +13, Stealth +5
Languages Common, Elven, Goblin, Osiriani, Thassilonian
SQ arcane bone (cat named Skivver), wand wielder arcana

Combat Gear dagger, MW Rapier, wand of shocking grasp (CL 5, 9 charges), scroll of comprehend languages, scroll of minor image, scroll of see invisibility, scroll of sleep, scroll of whispering wind,

Other Gear cloak of resistance +1, silver comb (25 gp), spring loaded wrist sheath (can ready wand of shocking grasp as swift action), fine silk gown (60 gp), everburning torch, small pouch of artifacts (hair, fingernail clipping, used handerchiefs, and a pearl earring worth 50 gp) stolen from Tusto Kaijitsu, 3 pp, 278 gp

Spellbook Contains all prepared spells plus comprehend languages, detect secret doors, floating disc, identify, locate object, minor image, obscuring mist, see invisibility, sleep, and spider climb.


Before Combat Before combat starts, Lyrie casts mage armor. If she has sufficient warning, she subsequently casts shield.
During Combat

1st round: Using combat expertise and fighting defensively to augment her defenses while cast defensively warding weapon. (-5 attack, +3 AC)

2nd round: Swift action to spend 1 arcana pool to enhance rapier to +1 keen (lasts 10 rounds), cast shocking grasp, and use spellstrike to deliver the attack.

3rd round: Arcane strike each round after (+2 damage)

Lyrie uses windy escape (immediate) against any attacks that successfully hit her. She casts mirror image if she gets hurt even with windy escape. She uses spell recall (swift) for windy escape to use defensively. After using up her prepared offensive spells, she switches to using her wand of shocking grasp with spellstrike, all the while using the high crit modifier of her keen rapier.

Morale Lyrie is a coward at heart, and when she gets to half her hit points, she attempts to flee to the closest ally for help, using invisibility to help flee. If she believes the PCs have harmed Tsuto, though, her anger takes over and she fights to the death in an attempt to avenge him.



Ahhh… what fond memories of Nualia. I too up’ed her challenge, and what a memorable experience! She is the perfect candidate to be a Antipaladin, so I used a mash-up of suggestions from the excellent Paizo forums on variant interpretations of Nualia. In combination with her aura of cowardice, and the yeth hounds fear effect with baying (and the possiblity of Nualia herself using the bane fear effects!), half the party was always cowering in fear. The memory of the fight was driven home with the monologue I gave the players having their PCs experience her troubled backstory. Quite fun!

Nualia CR 7

Female Angel-Blooded Aasimar (Angelkin) Antipaladin 6
CE Medium Outsider (native)
Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception -2
Aura strong evil, aura of cowardice (10 ft. radius, -4 to saves vs fear)

AC 17, touch 10, flat-footed 17 (+7 armor)

DEF +1 (armor), Armor DR 7 + DR 5/good if fiendish
hp 80 (6d10+24+Con 16) :
Fort +12, Ref +6, Will +8 SR 11 (if fiendish)
Immune disease; Resist acid 5, cold 5, electricity 5 (cold 10/ fire 10)

Defensive Abilities plague bringer, unholy resilience;
Speed 20 ft. (armored)
Melee +3 vicious Bastard sword +13/+8 (1d10+7/19-20/x2 + 2d6 damage if take 1d6) and
Claw +5 (1d6+2/x2)
Ranged Masterwork Composite shortbow (Str +3) +7/+2 (1d6+3/x3)
Special Attacks channel negative energy (3d6, DC 15) x3, cruelty (DC 15; sickened, staggered), fiendish boon 1/day (+1, 6 minutes), smite good 2/day (+2 attack, +6 damage, +2 AC), touch of corruption 6/day (3d6 plus cruelty)
Spell-Like Abilities Detect Good (At will), Remove Disease (1/day)
Antipaladin Spells Prepared (CL 3, touch +9, ranged touch +5, concentration +5):
1 (2/day) Doom (DC 14), Litany of Weakness, Bane

Str 18, Dex 10, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 16
Base Atk +6; CMB +10; CMD 20
Feats Channel Smite, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Bastard sword), Lamashtu’s Mark (1/day)
Skills Acrobatics -3 (-7 jump), Bluff +4, Climb +1, Diplomacy +1, Disguise +4, Escape Artist -3, Fly -3, Handle Animal +7, Heal +0, Intimidate +14, Knowledge (religion) +10, Linguistics +2, Ride -3, Sense Motive +2, Stealth +1, Swim +1; armor check penalty -3; Racial Modifiers +2 Heal
Languages Celestial, Common, Elven, Goblin
SQ antipaladin channel negative energy 3d6 (3/day) (aura of cowardice, aura of evil, channel negative energy, clean small objects, cruelties (shaken [dc 16], staggered [dc 16]), fiendish boons (fiendish servant iii [2/day]), touch of corruption (3d6) (6/day), unholy resilience
Other Gear +1 Breastplate, +3 Bastard sword, Masterwork Composite shortbow (Str +3), 20 arrows , Sihedron medallion, gold holy symbol (worth 100 gp)
Special Abilities
Antipaladin Channel Negative Energy 3d6 (2 uses of Touch of Corruption) (DC 16) (Su) Positive energy heals the living and harms the undead; negative has the reverse effect.
Aura of Cowardice (Su) Enemies within 10 ft. are not Immune to fear and take -4 to saves vs. fear effects.
Aura of Evil (Ex) The antipaladin has an Aura of Evil with power equal to her class level.
Channel Negative Energy (Su) You can channel negative energy to heal the undead and injure the living.
Channel Smite Channel energy can be delivered through a Smite attack.
Clean Small Objects Small metal items in your hands are cleaned and shined.
Cruelty (Shaken) (6 rds) (DC 16) (Su) When you use your Touch of Corruption ability, you may also make your target shaken for 1r/Antipaladin level

You may only apply a single Cruelty ability to each use of Touch of Corruption, chosen when used.
Cruelty (Staggered) (3 rds) (DC 16) (Su) When you use your touch of corruption ability, you may also make your target staggered for 1 rd per 2 Antipaladin levels

You may only apply a single Cruelty ability to each use of touch of corruption, chosen when used.
Damage Resistance, Acid (5) You have the specified Damage Resistance against Acid attacks.
Damage Resistance, Cold (5) You have the specified Damage Resistance against Cold attacks.
Damage Resistance, Electricity (5) You have the specified Damage Resistance against Electricity attacks.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Detect Good (At will) (Sp) You can use Detect Good at will (as the spell).
Fiendish Boon (Enhance weapon) (1/day, 6 min) (Sp) Add keen
Immunity to Disease You are immune to diseases.
Lamashtu’s Mark (1/day) 1/day: inflict 1d4 CHA penalty on an opponent you strike.
Smite Good (2/day) (Su) +3 to hit, +6 to damage, +3 deflection bonus to AC when used.
Touch of Corruption (3d6) (6/day) (Su) You can inflict 3d6 damage, 6/day
Unholy Resilience (Su) You gain your Charisma Bonus as a bonus to all saving throws.


Before Combat If Nualia suspects combat is imminent, she summons her fiendish spirit into her sword, granting it the vicious ability, and casts protection from good.

During Combat Nualia activates her Sihedron medallion as a free action at the start of combat to gain false life.

She prefers to casts litanies on her enemies while in melee. She prefers to fight with her bastard sword and claw, her face an impassive mask save for her eyes, which blaze with anger; but she will not hesitate to use her touch of corruption to stagger particularly dangerous enemies. If she can, she will move to make sure her aura of cowardice affects as many of her opponents as possible before her yeth hound ally uses its bay.

She uses smite good as quickly as possible, preferring to target good-aligned divine casters. If possible, she moves into the hall to the south so that it’s harder to surround her, and so she has an escape route handy, using channeled negative energy to clear a path if needed.

Morale Nualia is loath to abandon her hard work, but if reduced to fewer than 15 hit points, she does just that, reasoning that escape and eventual revenge is better than death at the hands of the PCs. She does her best to flee Thistletop, ordering any surviving minions she encounters to guard her retreat.

To increase her nastiness even further, there’s a gray area in the rules that suggests she might be able to use her claw to deliver her touch of corruption as a standard melee attack – if you decide to go that way, her claw attack is a +9, and deals 1d6+3 damage (plus the touch of corruption damage and stagger effect).

Also not only is the yeth hound bay a fear effect, but so is bane, and bane‘s penalty to fear effect saves stacks with her aura of cowardice. She should quite literally leave your PCs cowering in fear! 😉

6hp * 5 + 10 + 3*6 + 6 favored class

False life: 1d10+5

Divine Favor: +1 hit and damage

House Rules for d20

There’s a lot of things that I like about the d20 system – the amount of granularity makes it so that there can be a LOT of customization for how a character is portrayed. I’ve had a lot of fun playing and (mostly) running it, from 3.0 to 3.5, Modern, Saga, Pathfinder, and numerous other incarnations.

Still, there were things that bothered me about it, and so I’ve tinkered with it in multiple ways over the years. Many of these changes I started implementing since my 3.0 campaign the “Frozen North”. With my home group deciding to start a campaign of Rise of the Runelords, I decided to codfiy them, and throw in all of the house rules that I’ve been using, as well as the ones I’d been planning and working on. For those that are interested, here are the major changes that I am utilizing (with probably numerous small changes)!

First, the design thoughts behind how I like using house rules:

  1. Maintain as much compatability with the base rules as possible. This allows the use of as much published material as possible without heavy conversion. As time is the scarcest resource for me now, this is a major consideration.
  2. Return to a grittier, deadlier feel for the d20 system. With a d20 roll and bonus that range from +1 to +10 (at even fairly low levels), the game can be quite “swingy” with skill not playing much of a roll.

The Base Rules:

  1. The standard roll is NOT a d20! (Yes, for a d20 system, this is huge!). Instead, all d20 rolls (other than things like random encounters, etc) utilize 2d12.
    1. I like a bell curve much more than the linear one of a single die.
    2. Why not 2d10?
      1. I like 12-siders… just cool looking, well balanced, and fun to roll. These are my favorite dice. Also a d12 is a true polyhedral unlike a d10.
      2. The probabilities at the higher end (15+) match closer to 2d12. The effect is low DC tasks are easier to accomplish, and high DC tasks are about the same.
      3. HOWEVER, the target numbers are also fluid; ie. specific examples are…
  2. Base numbers for opposed rolls are not a fixed 10, but 2d12.
    1. In melee, the defender is also active in rolling. A base AC is no longer fixed 10, but an opposed roll from the defender of 2d12 as well.
    2. Saving throws are not 10 + modifer, but rather, 2d12 + modifier
  3. Degrees of success improve the outcome. For every 10 above the needed target number, there is another “level” of success.
    1. In combat, that means for every level of success, there is additional damage dealt equal to the base weapon damage (ie. 10 above needed number with a longsword does 2d8 + modifiers.) Damage from these additional levels of success are not multiplied in a successful critical hit.

Additional rules:

  1. More hit points
    1. All creatures start with an additional number of hit points equal to Constitution score (times a size modifier.)
      1. Medium sized hit point modifier is 1. Small is 0.5. Large is 2, Huge is 4, Gargantuan is 8.
      2. This makes large creatures much tougher.
    2. Death and Dying. Death does not occur at -10 hp.
      1. At 0 hp or below, a character is staggered.
      2. At negative hp, all actions have a penalty = the hp. (ie. a PC at -8 hp has a -8 to rolls.)
      3. At the start of the character’s initiative, a roll is required to see if the character can stay concious. This is a Fort or Will save vs. DC 2d12 – note, the hp penalty applies to this roll!
      4. In most D&D 3.x games, death of a PC is not a major hinderance, if anything, is is more of a monetary penalty than anything else. As such, I wanted to have a gradation of that.
        1. At negative hp equal to Con score, 1d6 ability scores are damaged by 1 point.
        2. In addition, at negative hp equal to twice Con score, gain 1 temporary negative level (daily save Fort vs DC 2d12).
        3. In addition, at negative hp equal to 3x Con score, 1d6 ability scores are drained 1 point (needs restoration spell).
        4. In addition, at negative hp equal to 4x Con score, gain 1 permanent negative level (needs restoration spell).
        5. In addition, at negative hp equal to 5x Con score, death.
  2. More dynamic combat
    1. Attacks and defense are related. Will use a dice pool mechanic: Instead of standard 2d12 for attack and 2d12 for defense, a character may allocate 4d12 between attack and defense. This decision persists until the character’s next attack.
      1. Attack:
        1. The number of attack dice are the same for each of multiple attacks (ie. 2-weapon fighter)
        2. NO interative attacks. For each additional iterative attack listed, the character gains an additional d12
        3. If more than 2d12 used for attack, two of the dice are designated as the primary attack dice, and used to determine if an attack is a crit. There is no chance of a crit if only attacking with 1d12.
      2. Defense: Facing of characters matter.
        1. All defense dice can be used for each attack coming from the front facing.
        2. All defense dice minus 1 are used for attacks coming from the flanks. A shield’s defense bonus can be used against attacks coming from the shield’s side.
        3. All defense dice minus 2 are used for attacks coming from the rear. A shield cannot be used against rear attacks.
        4. An unaware defender (ie. attacker successfully snuck up) gets no dice, nor Dex nor shield bonus against an attack.
      3. Ranged:
    2. Armor and shields
      1. Shield defense bonuses are higher:
        1. Buckler grants +2, small shield +4, medium +6, large +8
      2. Armor grants DR equal to the AC against physical attacks.
        1. Armor grants a penalty to Defense = Armor Check Penalty
        2. An attacker can attemp to bypass the armor DR by attacking at a penalty equal to the DR (ie. armor works as AC modifier like standard d20).

Flavor rules:

  1. Races:
    1. Humans: Humans are to be the majority of the races in the world, so I wanted a compelling reason for players to choose playing them.
      1. Gain an additional +2 bonus to a seoncd ability score
      2. Gain Hero Points at double the rate. Can have maximum of twice the number of Hero Points
  2. Hero Points:
    1. The Hero Points rule will be used. PCs gain one Hero Point per level gained while playing the PC (a new PC who joins in the game at level 5 only has one Hero Point).

Dawn of Defiance V – [Mechanics Part 2]

We ended up with a few guest players showing up, so I had to quickly modify the encounters I created on Alderaan to increase the Challenge Level. I had been learning to use the wonderful SAGA Index and the CL calculator to plan the encounters, so it wasn’t difficult to enter in a few more droids/clones/stormtroopers to make the encounters at the difficulty I envisioned. This combined with richterbelmont10’s NPC statblocks allowed for doing this very easily on the fly. I also like his renditions of stormtroopers / clonetroopers, etc. better as they take full advantage off all the books, something which my players love doing in their min-maxing quest.

Security Droids: One CL4 lead droid (I used the mandalorian charger stats on pg 10), three CL3 heavy droids (I used the Heavy Trooper stats on pg 15, and 6 CL2 super battle droids (pg 7.) Total CL of 8 -4 = 4 vs. APL of 5.5

Chase sequence: Three CL2 speeder bikes (pg 17)

Clone troopers: Two CL4 clonetroopers (I used the mandalorian charger again pg 10), three CR3 heavy clone troopers (pg 15), and 6 CR2 Clone Troopers (pg 8). As one of the Core worlds, and especially one that has strong resistance to the Empire, I figured the Empire would want its most loyal forces onplanet – hence the aging, but still very potent clone troopers.

After leaving Alderaan, I used the module’s suggested encounters as guidelines. The biggest change was to change the Nazren to Taung. That was primarily made to incorporate Tex’s backstory into the storyline. That also gave me more justification for increasing the difficulty of the imperial patrols since the Taung have a distinguished past of being accomplished warriors – even this far removed from their prime.

Starships: I used it as unmodified as written in the module with the V-wings and the Star Destroyer.

Stormtroopers: Six CR2 Heavy Stormtroopers (pg 6), six CR2 stormtroopers (I used the Clone Trooper stats from pg 8).

Dawn of Defiance V: The First to Strike [Mechanics]

The part of the adventure on Alderaan was created to allow a chance at getting some more XP before starting on the next part of Dawn of Defiance Episode V. The PC’s were mostly level 5, or just reached 6, and I felt that mostly level 6 would be better for Episode V. It also gave me a chance to have them re-visit an old friend while giving a cameo to Leia, which I wanted to do at their first meeting, but neglected to do so. That turned out very well as it was a pleasant surprise to them all and gave their characters a hook into the movies.
Mechanic checks to change the transponder on the Glorious Chariot and modify the exterior.
Deception checks to get past Star Destroyer.
Use Computer check to attempt to circumvent weapon locks.
Deception checks to successfully hide the weapons.
Sneak check failed to smuggle weapon past customs.
A single Use Computer check for each character.

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 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.

Game mechanics and player investment

Ideally, all of our players will be fully invested in each game that we as GM’s devote countless hours preparing and planning. That they would like to see their characters interact with the world, developing relationships buillt upon shared struggles, delving mysteries still unsolved, charting unexplored jungles; but alas, it seems that many of the times, those are just means to the end of leveling up. It’s not that I’m saying my players don’t like the role-playing aspect – they do enjoy the storylines and we have a great time playing all the time, its just that power-gaming is inherent in our group.

Because of that, I think that this places quite a bit of bias in the game systems we tend to play as a group. Whereas I think my preferences now tend toward the rules-lighter, less “crunchy” systems like Hollow Earth Expedition’s Ubiquity, there is by definition quite a bit less player investment in character mechanical development as compared to a d20 system on the opposite end of the spectrum. In the latter, a character is quite defined by the mechanical bits that comprise him, and these can be planned out in a multitude of combinations throughout the “growth” of the character’s life. A player can (and my players do!) plan out which classes, feats, skills, talents, and equipment he will take at each level, as well as which prestige class he will qualify for and train in. In doing so, the mechanics define and shape the character just as much as – or even moreso, the original character concept. And that large investment of a player’s time into planning out the character translates directly into the player’s investment into his character.

I wrote yesterday that I’m thoroughly enjoying the Star Wars Dawn of Defiance game that I’m currently running. And while I don’t think that the d20 system is a good representation of the Star Wars universe (especially when compared to just Episodes IV – VI), I think each player’s investment of many hours into planning how his character is going to developed has helped to continue driving the game onward – they want to play their characters just as much as they want to see their characters reach their goals of getting this prestige class or that feat combo. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing – in fact, I think its great that this aspect of character building really draws the players into knowing their characters VERY well (no, “wait, what’s my bonus to hit now?”) and gives them an attachment to the character such that a PC death does cause waves; its just, I would love for a system that combines this aspect with a more rules-light approach.

As an aside, one system that I think manages to balance well the rules-light flow along with a great flexibility of player options and foreplanning is Savage Worlds (and to a lesser degree, Warhammer 40K RPG). There’s enough planning possible for the gamers who like the crunch, but still a very flexible and rules-light deployment of the mechanics. I think Savage Worlds would make an EXCELLENT vehicle for running a Star Wars campaign.


“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