Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Star Wars Story - Part I

Feeling both melancholy and nostalgic of late, I was thinking back on ol' campaigns and cheered myself up with the memory of one of my best games of old.

Since new game stories may be few and far between under current conditions, I thought maybe I could entertain you all with my recollection of the time a group of second rate ne'er do wells made some bad people very angry, made good on a promise, and got a Bantha to smile.

Barking Alien''s
Campaigns I Have Known
Proudly Presents...


Title: The Smiling Bantha Gang

The name was inspired by a throw away line from a previous campaign run by my friend Pete. In that campaign, the gang known as 'The Laughing Gundarks' were supposedly wiped out years before the campaign started by their rivals 'The Smiling Banthas'.

The name of the rival group came from yours truly, so I decided to make it the name of this new campaign group, indicating a continuity connection between the two games. 

System: Star Wars, The Role Playing Game, 1st Edition - Some house rules. 

The house rules expanded the skills and were similar to what was eventually introduced in Second Edition. 

Circa: I want to say 1990. Not certain actually but around that time and post our Scum of the Galaxy campaign. Each of the two dozen or so sessions were about 6-8 hours long. 

Gamemaster: ME! Age 21.

Player Base: There were five regular players, all male, ranging from 21 to 24 years of age. Various ethnicities at always. 

There were one or two players who were only in the early sessions. Same age group. Their PCs were killed in the first major battle. While I intended on having them rejoin with new characters, they had joined in on another friends D&D game and so they didn't return for this campaign. 

Characters: The characters were all former members of a gang of Smugglers, Mercenaries, and other Scum and Villainy who nevertheless were never really 'bad guys'. Most of their exploits were small, petty, and of the trouble-maker and/or treasure hunter variety. They tended to fight against the Galactic Empire or other, much worse crooks and pirates. 

Their biggest job was their last, in which they hijacked an Imperial Bulk Freighter to steal what they thought was cargo hold full of ancient, priceless artifacts. They intended to give it back to the original owners if possible, garnering a hefty reward to make it worth their while. 

Unfortunately, the Empire quickly caught up with them and the group scattered to the four corners of the Galaxy! Only their leader, the Ortolan 'gangster' Jo Jetto, and his droid sidekick DC-77, were captured. 

Come meet the gang...

Griggle 'Grig', Rodian Smuggler (Played By Mike M.)

Griggle, Grig to his friends, was a Rodian Smuggler from a long line of Rodian Smugglers. He originally co-piloted the gang's namesake freighter, 'The Smiling Bantha', but later got his own ship, a GX1 Lantillian Short Hauler he named 'Cool Breeze'.

Being a repto-amphibious species, Grig found planets with cold temperatures extremely unpleasant, to the point where he developed a phobia of snow and ice. He would go to considerable, sometimes almost ridiculous lengths to protect himself from 'freezing to death' - i.e. being in conditions under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Grig's best friend on the team was Ja'bral Tar, the Chevin. The two stayed in touch more than any of the other gang members when the group was forced to break up. 

When the Empire captured The Smiling Banthas' leader Jo Jetto, Grig and Ja'bral escaped together aboard the Cool Breeze, eventually making their way to the planet Gardine. 

Ja'bral Tar, Chevin Mercenary (Played by David C.)

The oldest member of the group besides the gangest Jo Jetto himself, Ja'bral Tar was a Chevin Mercenary and former soldier who once worked for the Corporate Sector Authority on the planet Jundu.

Ja'bral originally hailed from a massive valley on his home world that was surrounded by dense jungle. His tribe was known as the Jah'bun'kal. This gave him a massive advantage when fighting on Jundu and other jungle or forest worlds. Because of this, his friends teasing called him Ja'bral Tar, the Jungle Jah'bun'kel (pronouncing it like 'Gibraltar' and 'Jabunkle').

Tar's preferred weapon was a 'Double Decker' Blaster; essentially two Blaster Carbines mounted on top of each other vertically but wired to a single power pack. Each 'shot' was essentially two bolts fired together. It suffered from potentially overheating or draining the power pack more quickly and could only be used by someone of considerable strength and weight. 

Tar slept standing up and could not swim due to limitations of his anatomy. Possibly due to too much time spent with Grig, who himself had a fear of the cold, Tar developed a fear of large bodies of water. 

When the Empire captured The Smiling Banthas' leader Jo Jetto, Ja'bral escaped with his close pal Grig aboard Griggle's ship, the Cool Breeze, eventually making their way to the planet Gardine. 

Mees, Jawa Droid Mechanic (Played by ? - I forget)

No one was quite sure where the team picked up Mees (pronounce it as if it were the plural form of 'Me'), a Jawa from Gardine who dressed in gray robes and had red eyes unlike the stereotypical examples of his species from Tatooine*.

What they did know was that no one in the Outer Rim Territories had a knack with droids quite like this feisty and dedicated little guy. Constantly tinkering with some piece of hardware or another, Mees usually had at least two but often three droids working at any given time and another two 'in the shop'.

Among his 'Droid Pool' were a GHK Power Droid (better known as a 'Gonk' Droid), a badly damaged and incomplete Probe Droid, and a Treadwell Maintenance Droid. His pride and joys were a Protocol Droid named JD-3PO, and R2-D0D, which he lent out to his best friend Ximet for use with Ximet's X-Wing fighter. 

Of course they were best friends. They were all his best friends. Everyone loved Mees! Well...they put up with him but he could be irritating, stubborn, he stole things, he smelled bad, and he often wandered off on his own to grab a part he coveted. Yeeeah. Jetto's droid assistant, DC-77, was particularly unfriendly towards the small but earnest Jawa. 

Shuuth, Ubese Bounty Hunter (Played By Pete H.)

Originally taking on a Bounty to capture Jo Jetto, Shuuth swore allegiance to the gang when they saved his life following a botched demolitions job. Jetto would, with warmth and humor, turn himself over to the Bounty Hunter on numerous occasions in a twist on 'Good night Wesley, I'll most likely kill you in the morning'. Eventually the two formed a very close bond. 

Even after joining the team and spending a few years with them, few members of The Smiling Bantha Gang besides Jetto could be said to know Shuuth well. He was very secretive and often seemed melancholy, almost homesick.

When Jetto was captured and the group scattered, Shuuth felt he had personally failed his mentor/father figure and was at first reluctant to run. Forced to by Jo himself, Shuuth made haste to his homeworld of Uba IV. Unfortunately he found he didn't quite fit in among his own people any longer and for a time wondered the Outer Rim searching for a purpose. 

Ximet Phours, Human Mercenary Pilot - Force Sensitive (Played By Nelson)

Ximet Phours, who went by the brazen nickname Ximet 'Force', was a brash, young Starfighter Pilot who flew a custom T-65 X-Wing he inherited from his late Uncle.

Ximet earned his nickname from other pilots who thought him so good at such a young age that he must 'Have The Force or something'. In addition, there were some who claimed that while fighting planetside he wielded a Purple Lightsaber**. With the Jedi long gone and purple an unfamiliar color for Lightsabers, most rational folks assumed those starting such rumors were spinning tall tales or getting into the Spice a bit too heavily. 

The truth was that Ximet did indeed own a Purple Lightsaber, which once belonged to his Uncle, a very young Jedi Knight at the time of Order 66. Ximet found the saber and a note revealing the truth about his Uncle in a hidden compartment in the X-Wing's cockpit. His Uncle had a escaped the Purge but was eventually tracked down and killed by one of Lord Vader's Inquisitors. 

Ximet himself had a deep connection to The Force but with no knowledge or training he could not make use of it in any way. He would occasionally have hunches showing remarkable foresight and exhibited almost unnaturally fast reflexes when piloting.

When the Empire attacked the Smiling Banthas and captured Jetto, TIE Fighters had damaged Ximet's X-Wing, forcing him to eject. The Empire impounded his fighter as well as R2 unit, R2-D0D. 

The back story of the group being around for a while before the Imperials caught Jo Jetto and forced the gang to split up and disband was established in the 'Opening Crawl'. The actual campaign began a decade later. The gang were therefore mostly in their late teens and early twenties but were in their late twenties and early thirties when the campaign starts. 

Stay tuned for Part II...

Barking Alien


  1. Nice! I've recently gotten into 1st Edition Star Wars so this is cool to read.

  2. Glad to see you back posting! 1st Ed SW has a special place in my heart so looking forward to this.