Star Wars Wednesday - Rebels and Rogues

Rebels and Rogues...I feel like that would make a good title for something beyond a blog post. In any case, this week includes a few thoughts about how Rogue One and Rebels reveals details about the state of the Rebel Alliance, and how that might impact RPG sessions. Then I'll switch gears and note a few things about the rapidly approaching 2017 convention season.

Before Episode IV, how strong are the Rebels? How many are there? How widespread is the Rebellion? If you're running a Star Wars Age of Rebellion RPG session or campaign in this time, how do these questions affect the sort of adventure that might be appropriate? Of course, when you're a GM running your own game, the answers you select may or may not reflect what is seen in the official story lines, depending on how you feel about sticking to the established history. For now, let's assume that you are playing within the universe as presented, and not interested in a dramatic alternate version where the PCs get a crack at eliminating Darth Vader or join Vader in overthrowing the Emperor. That could be an amazing campaign, of course. 

Rebels highlights the fact that Rebel groups operate largely independent of each other, with occasional cooperation when an important figure knows of their existence and can persuade them to do so. This concept has long been established, but what might not be as apparent is that thus far none of these Rebel groups has made even a moderate victory beyond perhaps saving their own ships or bases from Imperial attack. The reason is simple: the first significant victory happens in Rogue One, and the first major one is the destruction of the Death Star. 

So, what does that mean to games happening in this era? It illustrates how great the obstacles to making a major impact. Even if the Rebels temporarily gain an advantage, it is short-lived or otherwise difficult to maintain. It may be easy to find Rebel sympathizers in some areas, but it is still very difficult to convince them to move from sympathy to action. The Empire is overwhelming and dominates everything. It is easy for people to believe there is nothing they can do to fight it. Sustainable sources of weapons and supplies are difficult to come by. Scoring a crate of thermal detonators is great, but finding another or enough to supply a significant ground force is something else.

Ships are even more difficult to obtain, especially warships. While it seems every starship in the galaxy is armed to some degree, few can really stand up to a Star Destroyer. Fighters are powerful attack ships, but sustain significant losses in many engagements. Replacing them is very difficult given the Rebel's lack of manufacturing facilities.

So, the fortunes of a Rebel PC group could have very high highs, followed by devastating blows that bring them back to where they started - at least militarily. They might be defeated, or they might deplete their supplies or lose their ships. One area where important gains could be sustained is by converting sympathizers to active Rebels, or average citizens into sympathizers. The GM should find ways to balance the frustration of attacking and largely losing to the immovable Empire with some visible rewards. 

However, not all significant victories in the game need to be a blow against Imperial forces. Star Wars stories focus on small groups of people. For the PCs, they could count their victories in much more personal terms. Saving families or individuals from the Empire might not change the course of Galactic history, but it could even more important to the characters involved. 

Moving on, convention season is nearly here:

  • Unfortunately, I'm unable to attend GamerNation Con this weekend due to some family obligations. I hope everyone has a great time, and says hi to FFG's Katrina Ostrander, who is the Guest of Honor.
  • I will be at Star Wars Celebration. More on that later. 
  • Next, I'll be running games at Planet Comicon. I've just learned that Knights of the Old Republic comic author (and fellow writer on the Saga Edition KotoR Campaign Guide) John Jackson Miller will be a guest at the con. 
  • I'll likely be at Kantcon again in July. There are a few days left for early bird registration (and save). 
  • And then there is GenCon 50. More on that later.