Sterling is an architect, writer and game designer. As an architect, he works on projects of all sizes, local to international. As a game designer and cartographer he works in fantasy settings and a galaxy far, far away.

Twitter Feed
Blog Categories
Convention Games
« Journal Entry - Dots on a Map | Main | Look, Sir: The Scavengers' Guide to Droids »
Monday
Dec212009

Dots on a Map

One of the astounding things about the new Star Wars Atlas by Daniel Wallace and Jason Fry is the sheer number of star systems covered. Over 4,000 star systems and their map coordinates are indexed within the book and updated online at starwars.com. Every one of these systems comes from one or more Star Wars stories, whether from the movies, games, novels, comics or surprisingly remote sources.

Bacrana in the Expansion RegionAs the creator of a few of these dots on the map, I take some pride and pleasure in having contributed to this universe. Beyond that, I have been most interested to see how the galaxy at large has evolved around these worlds, and what the effects on these worlds might be. Not only is this a great history book, it provides many new avenues of storytelling based on the events revealed and implied within the maps.

The first and most obvious target for me was to look up Brak Sector, from my first West End Games product and represented on the map by its capital world Bacrana (O-14). I learned a lot of information regarding the sector’s apparent history, but more on that below. Next, of course, was Rodia. I compiled and wrote much of Rodia’s history in the Shadows of the Empire Planets Guide, including creating the planet’s map, and like to keep an eye on its development. These days, that means Clone Wars events and Yuuzhan Vong influences. However, the Atlas had an additional surprise for me. While reading part 5 of the endnotes for the Atlas, as posted online by the authors, I was astounded to read the following paragraph:

As a last note, we worked very hard to track down every star system we could, no matter how obscure the source. We tracked down Official Poster Monthlies, RPGA adventures, first editions of WEG material, video-game manuals - you name it. After consultation with Lucasfilm, we agreed to include planets introduced in unofficial RPG articles in magazines such as Polyhedron and Dragon, so long as they'd been written by authors who at some point received an author credit for licensed Star Wars material. (Note that this says nothing about such articles' canon status beyond the fact that the star systems exist.) I'm sure we missed some things - in a project this big, that's inevitable. But I hope it isn't very many - and I hope Atlas readers enjoy finding some of the tremendously obscure mentions (and an Easter egg or two) in the appendix.

– Jason Fry

I fall directly into that category. My first published RPG work was in Polyhedron Issue #83, a Star Wars adventure called Milk Run. A quick flip through the adventure and the index revealed the planets Tancon and Karinda were assigned to J-18 (not far from Hoth, relatively speaking). For some reason, Soarin, the system where much of the action takes place, didn’t make it in, but I’d place it in the same area.  Correction: Jason let me know it's listed under Greyman's Planet and is in the same area. Somehow I missed that. All three were created specifically for this adventure. Cool.

These types of interactions between products are often a fun part of working in a shared universe. What other secrets or stories would the Atlas reveal? Let’s return to Bacrana and Brak Sector. I created Brak Sector specifically for my first West End Games Star Wars The Roleplaying Game product, Flashpoint! Brak Sector. This book provided an area where the players could be Rebel heroes of an entire sector, without being overly constrained by events already established in the movies and elsewhere. I set it in the Expansion Region because few stories used that region, it was relatively central to the galaxy, but remote in its own way. I placed the sector near the Corellian Run and within The Slice, to give it easy access to the rest of the galaxy. I also turned it into an Imperial Navy dockyard and staging area to make it a Rebel target.

Less galactic history was officially established at the time of writing, so I kept the sector’s history relatively vague. FBS specifically deals with events after the destruction of the first Death Star. Since publication, I was occasionally tempted to update it with later events, but didn't have a big enough understanding of the events in adjoining areas of space, such as the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. The Atlas changed that.

First, the Atlas itself didn’t violate the sector’s history, though some massaging is needed with the Corporate Sector references in FBS. Taking all of Star Wars history into account, Brak Sector is relatively new, and not very active as an entity until late in Republic history. The maps reflect this, as Bacrana rarely appears on the early maps, even though the Corellian Run is well-established even in the Old Republic. That's not to say Brak Sector was uninhabited, just that it is not a major player - until somebody writes something to the contrary in a new story. However, this also reflects what was written in FBS.

What else can the Atlas tell us about Brak Sector throughout Star Wars history?

 * By 25 ABY, Bacrana and Brak Sector average between 1 billion and 10 billion per inhabited planet per sector, with some portion of the sector rising to 10 billion to 100 billion. FBS notes that Bacrana has a population of 1.5 billion after the Battle of Yavin.

 * Bacrana gains a mention in the Expansion Region description, which further develops the sector’s history with the Empire and the Corporate Sector. It also informs us that the New Republic attempted to help the sectors rebuild before the Yuuzhan Vong invasion ended the effort.

* The Corellian Run near Brak Sector was explored 20,000 to 25,000 years BBY. Some early exploration and settlement of the sector may have occurred during this time.

* No major actions of the Great Sith War made it to Brak Sector (4,000 BBY), but the sector is within the civilized galaxy at this time.

* Brak Sector was not part of Darth Revan’s Sith Empire (3959 BBY), but a Sith campaign did use the Corellian Run, so it is possible some fighting or other actions occurred within the sector.

* No major actions of the Mandalorian Wars (3976 BBY) even came close to Brak Sector.

* Brak Sector remains within Republic space during the Fall of the Republic and New Sith Wars (1004 BBY).

* The Corellian Run is used by many factions during the prequel trilogy.

* During the Clone Wars, Brak Sector is part of a pocket of Separatist space. During the Outer Rim Sieges (20 BBY), Republic fleets chase the Separatists from the core using the Corellian Run. It is logical that fighting occurred within Brak Sector both from the war itself and during the pursuit.  However, Bacrana isn’t shown on the map and not very influential at this time, which is in keeping with its established history.

* By the Galactic Civil War, Brak Sector and Bacrana become more significant players in galactic events.

* Brak Sector isn’t listed on the Flashpoints in the Galactic Civil War map. This I would change, especially Flashpoint was in the title of the book. However, since no official outcome is stated within the FBS (as it was up to the players), I’d classify it as Multiple Battles (Different Outcomes). I’ve also dropped a note to the Atlas authors advocating the addition via their feedback address.  In any case, Brak Sector is highly active in the Galactic Civil War.

* At 4 years ABY, after the Battle of Endor, Bacrana is listed as an Imperial fortress world. Given the sector’s critical Imperial fleet facilities, this feels correct. Additionally, secondary movements by the Nagai Raiders and pursuing Tof Forces appear to pass near or through Brak Sector, though any actual action by either is unknown.

* Later that year, Bacrana is abandoned by Imperial forces prior to a New Republic advance up the Corellian Run in 5 ABY. Though no reason is stated, I would like to think that the Rebel forces within Brak Sector prove strong enough to either push the Imperials out, or at least make holding the system and sector too costly to make it worthwhile to the Empire.

* By the time Grand Admiral Thrawn’s forces reinforce the Empire, Bacrana is listed as a New Republic stronghold, likely meaning that the sector’s critical shipyards are in full use by the New Republic. None of Thrawn’s main campaigns make it to Brak Sector.

* Brak Sector avoids the early Yuuzhan Vong invasion, but is ultimately conquered by the Yuuzhan Vong in late 26-27 ABY. The invasion of the sector comes from nearby Milagro. It appears (but not confirmed) that the Yuuzhan Vong hold the sector until the end of the war.

* Brak Sector is not involved in the New Galactic Civil War (40 ABY) and remains part of the Galactic Alliance.

* As with the majority of the Known Galaxy, Brak Sector becomes part of Darth Krayt’s Sith Empire after the collapse of the Galactic Alliance and Emperor Roan Fel’s exile (137 ABY).

Most of the Brak Sector systems appear in the index. I’ll eventually check on other systems I created as I run across them to see if they appear as well. A lot of generalities are now known about the sector, but this still leaves a lot of room for future stories and development. And this is just one example of one dot on the map. This same analysis method applies to each dot or index entry (as not all systems are actually on the printed map), allowing for an enormous variety of story development around the galaxy.

Well done Daniel and Jason.

Atlas Endnotes Part 5

Atlas Online at starwars.com

 



Reader Comments (1)

Great stuff Sterling! You're absolutely right -- we should have highlighted Bacrana as a flashpoint at the very least. Thanks for the comments!

December 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Wallace

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>