Monday, February 29, 2016

STAR WARS - THE FIRST CAMPAIGN

This is the last of the Campaigns I Have Known for the month of February, but not the end of the series as my next post will explain. For now, let's discuss another first in my personal hobby history. 
 
If you forced me to choose between my love of Star Trek, and Star Wars, I'd have to choose Star Trek every time, but only because you forced me to pick one. Why would you do that? It's so cruel. Who the heck do you think you are? I...wait...ahem.

I do absolutely love me some Star Wars, as should be readily apparent from the Star Wars Traveller project I started last month, if nothing else. I discovered D&D, and Role-Playing Games in the same year that Star Wars came out. It was inevitable that I would incorporate my passion for that galaxy far, far away into my favorite pastime.

Unfortunately, unlike Star Trek which had an official RPG in 1982, Star Wars wouldn't see one until the awesome West End Games version came out in 1987.

Wait a moment. Think about this for a bit. I mean really think about it.

In 1982 there had only been two films, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. The 'Expanded Universe' consisted of four novels: 'Splinter of the Mind's Eye', 'Han Solo at Star's End', 'Han Solo's Revenge', and 'Han Solo and the Lost Legacy'. There was also the Star Wars Holiday Special, but the less said about that the better.

That's it. That's all there was to base a campaign on. To be honest, that made it so much easier, and so much better than trying to do it now. Now there are a million non-canon things that are confused with canon, and people have a hissy-fit if you don't include as law that one, ridiculous idea that just happened to be in that one book that was their favorite, but you put down after chapter 2.

This was when Star Wars was focused, pure. When Star Wars was Star Wars.

Well, this Star Wars fan wasn't going to wait for an official RPG.

After a particularly vibrant discussion about Star Wars in the lunchroom of my Junior High School, my friends at the time convinced me to put together a Star Wars RPG. Using an unholy mish-mash of rules from Dungeons & Dragons, Gamma World, and Villains & Vigilantes, I was able to create a workable system.

Here is all I can remember about this endeavor. Like that Star Wars game of many years past, here goes nothing...

Warning: I remember only bits, and pieces of the details of this campaign. If you have any questions about the game, the characters, or anything at all please don't hesitate to leave a comment. I will do my best to clarify.
 
 
 
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Campaigns I Have Known
Proudly Presents...
 
STAR WARS - THE FIRST CAMPAIGN



 

 

Our Ship - A Corellian Medium Freighter
Based on this early concept painting of the Millennium Falcon
By the incomparable Ralph McQuarrie



Title: STAR WARS - THE FIRST CAMPAIGN

Yeah, this campaign didn't actually have a title. I don't think I titled any of my campaigns from 1982, or earlier. If I did, I probably gave them a title afterwards, even years later.

System: Homebrew/Kitbash. Class/Level system similar to D&D. Special powers based on Mutant Powers in Gamma World, and Superpowers in Villains & Vigilantes. Weapons, Droids, and other technology taken from, and based on Gamma World. Armor similar to V&V.

Sadly I have very few memories about the rules specifics. I remember that the Jedi Class had four 'Stages'. Levels 1-3 you were a Wanna-Be Jedi. You needed to find some kind of teacher in order to proceed to Levels 4-6, Jedi Apprentice. For 7-9 you are a Jedi Knight. You could stay a Knight, or face a great personal challenge and proceed to Jedi Master, Levels 10-12.

Circa: 1982. We played a few days a week for about six months, with each day's session lasting only 4 hours or so. Once, or twice a month, we would meet on a Saturday, or Sunday for full 8 hour sessions. If I had to venture a guess, there were close to a hundred sessions.

Player Base: Our core group consisted of five male players, all about 13 years of age. Other players would pop in and out playing guest star roles on a fairly regular basis. Some of the guest stars had pretty substantial roles, appearing quite regularly.

Our grand finale had about 7, or 8 players.

Characters: I wish I could recall all the Classes I created, the specifics of the Alien, and Droid rules, and many other elements that are completely eluding me. If any of my friends reading this recall anything please let me know.

As with my previous post on Star Trek - Polaris, my memory is a little dicey here. I don't recall all of the PCs' names, and I'm certainly missing a lot of details, but I'll do the best I can.


Jake Sunrunner  - Jedi (played by David F.)

Although all the characters in this campaign were awesome, and had their own moments in the sun (or in the case of Tatooine, Suns) the campaign's protagonist was very much Jake Sunrunner. He was the star of the show, no doubt about it.

Sunrunner starts the game as a mechanic, working at a fix-it shop on the desolate, ash-covered planet of Gardine (pronounced GAR-deen). The shop is owned by his uncle, whom he lives with as his parents are deceased.

Jake becomes involved in the adventure of a life-time when a pair of Smuggler types call on him, and his uncle to help repair their ship, a modified Corellian freighter. The vessel is old, beat up, and has obviously seen some combat recently, but the Sunrunners think they can fix it. The Smugglers indicate they are in a hurry, and are willing to pay extra.

Eventually, while moving through the bowels of the freighter, Jake senses something in the cargo hold that is calling to him. He searches for the source of this strange phenomenon until he comes across a small, very old case about the size of a lunchbox. Not sure what it is exactly, he seeks out the Smugglers to ask them, when all of a sudden Imperial Stormtroopers show up to capture the Smugglers and their ship.

Jake's uncle (Jeb, I think) tries to talk to the Stormtroopers, possibly stall them so the Smugglers can escape, but they gun him down. The Smugglers, whose ship is not completely repaired, beat a hasty retreat, taking Sunrunner with them.

Jake begins the hero's journey, learning about the Rebellion against the Empire, discovering his Smuggler allies are actually Rebel Agents, and finding out that he is the inheritor of a very special destiny. Jake Sunrunner is strong in the ways of The Force, and another with a similar gift, a similar curse, is out to get him.

Jake's first lightsaber, given to him by the Worsellian Jedi, Wossow, had a blue blade. When Jake build's his own, we decided his experiences, personality, and optimism warranted the first golden-yellow blade we'd seen outside of the original Kenner action figure of Luke Skywalker.


Human, Male, Smuggler/Spy (played by Chris D.)

As with a number of Player Characters from this campaign, and others of the time, I can not recall the character's name. A shame too. I remember most of the names from this campaign were great, and very Star Wars appropriate.

A typical Corellian Smuggler on the surface, this persona was a cover for an accomplished Rebel Agent, and Spy. He was part Han Solo, a little Peter Quill/Star Lord as seen in the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' film, but also a touch of James Bond.
 

Ithorian, Male, Smuggler/Scout  (played by Raymond G.)

Along with his Human partner, this member of the Ithorian species, commonly called 'Hammerheads', was only posing as a Smuggler to hide his true identity. In actuality, he was a member of the Rebel Alliance, and a former Explorer/Scout. The Rebels, and his friends, valued his extensive knowledge of the various planets, creatures, aliens, and spatial phenomena found on the frontier of space.  

Another character whose name eludes me.


 
 

Ithorian 'Hammerhead'
 
Concept Art and Costuming
from Star Wars (1977)



Human-Cyborg, Male, Bounty Hunter (played by Bruce D.)

While I can easily remember the name of this character's NPC enemy, and arch-rival, the name of the PC itself is gone from my memory banks.

A Bounty Hunter working for the Corporate Sector, this fellow was badly banged up, and left for dead after an encounter with some space pirates. Saved, and turned into a Cyborg by the Imperial Empire, he eventually escapes them to become their worst nightmare. After a run in with the other PCs he joins up with them, and the Rebel Alliance to overthrow the Empire, and destroy the Corporate Sector Authority.

Had cool armor, a cybernetic right eye, right arm, and right leg. Possessed Heightened Senses, Heightened Strength, and could leap high, and far.


Ungawarra -  Wookiee, Male, Soldier (played by Joe C.)

I loved this character. Still do.

Ungawarra was a pale, tawny-brown colored Wookiee who travelled the galaxy trying to pay back the Life Debts of those Wookiees who had died without fulfilling their end of the Life Debt bargain. He would go from world to world, and do something for people who had saved the lives of Wookiees at some point.

When he encountered the rest of the PCs, he was engaged in trying to find a Human's stolen droid. During his excursion, Ungawarra ran afoul of the Empire, and the other PCs ended up saving his life. Now having a Life Debt of his own, he temporarily stopped his karmic endeavors, promising the spirits of the universe he would return to it at some point.








Guest Stars Included:

A snappy, and sarcastic Protocol Droid (played by Martin F.)
A Human-Cyborg, Male, Rebel Soldier (played by Buzz A.)
A Human, Male, Starfighter Pilot (played by ?)

 

Synopsis: The galaxy is locked in a state of interstellar civil war...you know the score. The fledgling Rebel Alliance fights a desperate battle against the seemingly endless military might of the Galactic Empire.

Enter two Rebel Agents, undercover as of a pair of Smugglers, who are bringing supplies to a Rebel base hidden away on the distant planet Undrador.

In addition to various medical supplies, and mechanical components, a contact from Nor Randan gave the 'Smugglers' a small package to take back to Rebel Alliance Command. Unfortunately, Imperial forces are on to them, and they are attacked by Tie Fighters as they attempt to jump to lightspeed.

The Rebel Agents escape, but their ship is damaged, and they are forced to set down on the ash world of Gardine for repairs. That's when they meet up with Jake Sunrunner, and the three of them end up escaping together once the Imperials catch up with them.

Sunrunner turns out to be Force Sensitive, and the mysterious package the Rebels are carrying is a crystal capable of unlocking the secrets of an ancient Jedi temple. An Imperial Inquisitor named Sinistros knows about the crystal, and hopes to obtain it for either himself, or to win the favor of Darth Vader.

Sinistros has at his disposal an army of war droids that he designed himself, based on a model that pre-dates the Clone Wars. The PCs eventually discover that part of his plan, should he fail to get the crystal, is to lay siege to the Jedi temple with a superior version of these robots called Sinistroids (just sort of Anime style Mecha).

The campaign culminated in a multi-part battle between some PCs in ships, and starfighters against space worthy Sinistroids, some on the Jedi temple planet against Sinistroid ground forces, and Jake Sunrunner in a lightsaber duel with then Darth Sinistros on the latter's personal battle cruiser.

EPIC!
 
Appendix N: Obviously the films Star Wars, and The Empire Strikes Back, as well as the various Star Wars novels available at the time. The Art of Star Wars, and The Art of The Empire Strikes Back were major inspirations. Also, Marvel's Star Wars comic books, the Kenner action figures, Star Wars Radio Plays, as well as the Terran Trade Authority books by Stewart Cowley. Lastly, like Lucas himself, the Lensmen series by E. E. 'Doc' Smith also played a significant role in this campaign's design.

Bonus Features:

The rules system used here was probably my first attempt at kitbashing, homebrewing, or creating my own system. I don't remember the details of the rules well enough to tell you if it was actually any good, but it worked well enough to run the campaign.

The art of concept artists Ralph McQuarrie, Ron Cobb, and the other greats who worked on Star Wars were of course major influences on the campaign. Many of the designs not used in the films became important elements in our campaign. This is something I've done ever since.

The Terran Trade Authority books, filled with illustrations by some of the most fantastic artists of the 1970s, also provided ideas for starships, planets, and other bits, and remains a huge source of inspiration for me when running Sci-Fi games to this day.

A big part of the story deals with Wossow, an old alien Jedi who has been in hiding since the rise of the Empire and the elimination of the Jedi Knights (back then believed to have been accomplished by Darth Vader, and his agents). It turns out Wossow's original job was guardian of the crystal that will unlock the temple. He lost it in a fight against Vader, who lost it to the elements of the planet they were fighting on. The crystal made its way from person to person, until an ally of the Rebel Agent/Smugglers recognized it as some kind of Jedi artifact, and thought the Rebellion should have it.

Before The Empire Strikes Back came out, a fanzine had a rumor that Luke Skywalker would meet another surviving Jedi, and that he would be 'a green, lizard-like creature with pointed ears'. We eventually discover this character to be Yoda, but my friends and I had fun speculating what this Jedi might look like.





The sketches we made became Wossow the Worsellian. The name of his species, The Worsellians, comes from the dragon-like alien Worsel from the Lensmen books.

Kenner Star Wars figures were used as 'minis' on occasion.

Well, that's finally done. Whew! It took forever to write this up, but I'm glad I did.

Boy I love Space Adventure games! Seriously! Hmmm. 

We'll talk soon,

AD
Barking Alien








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