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.

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Wednesday
Mar092011

Star Wars Wednesday - DoD 6 Question and Comments

A brief trip to the mailbag this week. I've received different versions of the following question from time to time regarding my contribution the the Dawn of Defiance SWRPG Saga campaign, Episode 6: Core of Corruption:

After running DoD 6 a time or two and having distance from the material, are there any extra encounters, skill challenges or errata you've added or would like to add to the module? - Garrett

It has been quite awhile now since I ran the adventure for my own Dawn of Defiance group, so bear with me if I don't recall aspects of it perfectly. For those who are going to play (not gamemaster) this adventure, you should clearly stop reading now and check out one of my earlier SW Wednesday posts instead.

For those who don't know, briefly, Dawn of Defiance is Saga Edition's 10 episode campaign, taking characters from level 1 to level 20, designed to serve as an example of how to run a Star Wars campaign. In my episode, designed to an outline provided by Wizards of the Coast, the heroes go to Coruscant, which is under the strictest of Imperial control. There they have to search for more clues to the Sarlacc Project, which takes them to some of the better known parts of the planet-city (known to the players and fans, anyway). It is very much an investigative adventure, and non-linear in many respects.

To address the question directly: 

  • I would not add any formal encounters (the Episode is long enough already), but I would encourage game masters to let the players look around and get to know Coruscant, I mean Imperial Center, as much as they like during the course of the game. I would avoid adding combat encounters at all, but playing up the oppressiveness of the Empire during their exploration adds even more to the adventure.
  • Skill challenges were not discussed at this point of Saga's development, but GMs ought to be able to adapt some of the investigative sections to a skill challenge if they so desire. Theoretically, one might be able to shorten the play time (though probably not "game time") of these sections this way.
  • I don't recall any errata offhand, but it's been awhile.

Quite a few people have played this adventure now, and with all things gaming, there are various opinions about how easy or hard it is, how well certain aspects of it work and so on. You can find commentary old and new in the Dawn of Defiance board at the Wizards Community boards. Look for the entries marked DoD6 or Core of Corruption, there are several threads.

Remember, if you're the GM and want to change or adjust something because it better fits your play style, your group or you just like something better, that is always your prerogative. Typically, the overall story is more important than the exact details of how you or the players get there - no adventure totally survives contact with either the players or GM without something changing. Giving someone an extra skill or Use the Force check if it seems logical to you or them usually won't derail the encounter.

A few additional comments:

The opening encounters on approach to the planet are intended to make the Force users wary and fearful of using their powers indiscriminately. This is the home of the Emperor, Vader and the Inquisitors, and one never knows when they might suddenly appear. Make the heroes nervous when you can.

Find a copy of Complete Locations - the Outlander Club cutaway view will help a lot in that encounter (and the map is based on it). Wookieepedia has a small picture of it.

Let the heroes split up if they want during the investigations (because when have you ever seen a Star Wars story where they DIDN'T split up), but try to get them to the major encounters together.

Some of the encounters/combats are easier than others. That's ok, because by now the players should be able to handle lesser threats quickly and this lets them feel heroic and powerful. If you have 6 players instead of 4, you might find this happens more often, but you can bump up the enemy numbers a bit if you like.

However, one side effect is that, as I recall, some enemies didn't feel threatening enough, or had trouble hitting characters with higher Reflex defense scores. I'd find a way to increase the accuracy of at least a couple of those characters (but not all of them). If you're finding the main bad guy/leader missing a lot in a given encounter, bump them up a bit.

One caveat - I wouldn't change anything about the Imperial patrols. If they're defeated quickly, it gives the heroes a better chance to avoid arrest. However, the main threat of the patrols isn't the first one they encounter - it's the fact that basically any number of reinforcements are only a comlink call and speeder flight away. If the heroes aren't running for the exits after one, keep piling them on. This is Imperial Center, after all. Use that Imperial might, especially if the heroes doing something foolish.

If you're having trouble justifying the somewhat slow collapse of the building at the end, describe how some of the charges go off in a strange order, seem under powered or ill-timed. Some GMs & players don't like the building collapse at all (and I probably would have done something different, but it was in the outline provided to me and already public in the GM's campaign overview, as I recall). The main point of the collapse is to destroy the Inquisitor's facilities to hide their existence from the Senate, and show how ruthless and evil the Inquisitors really are. However, you can achieve something similar by simply destroying the upper levels and letting the heroes use stealth and persuasion to get past the incoming Imperials and aid workers, as they flee the building.

If you notice that this adventure is longer compared to the others, it is. It's a side effect of trying to get enough XP into it to hit the desired levels. As the required XP went up, it became harder to pull this off in the wordcount given per episode (and I was over that - but it's a PDF, so it stayed in). About this time, I gave up issuing XP to my own players and just leveled them when needed.

Anyway, hope this helps.

 

 

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