Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mynock Squadron Recap # 1 [RPG]

Four years ago, the Empire suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of the Rebel Alliance. After the destruction of the second Death Star and the death of Emperor Palpatine, Imperial forces found themselves on the defensive against the emerging New Republic. However, war still rages across the galaxy as system after system remains under control of Imperial warlords vying to take Palpatine's place. To help bolster its tenuous foothold, New Republic High Command has authorized the creation of a special military unit dedicated to high risk special missions. Now, on a remote moon, new recruits arrive ready for a position in the elite Mynock Squadron . . .
On board the Mon Calamari Cruiser Liberator, two New Republic pilots are summoned to a shuttle bay. There, a shuttle craft will take WARIC (a male Human with a partially reconstructed cybernetic head) and KER0 (a young, focussed Human woman) on the short hyperspace voyage to a rocky moon named Enoch V, home of the newly-formed Mynock Squadron. The shuttle pilot, Vasper Janz, tells the recruits that they have a difficult path ahead of him, citing his own experience as a failed recruit for the elite unit. He tries to engage WARIC and KERO in conversation, but they're each focussed on what lays ahead and remain terse. While on board the shuttle, KERO notices something odd about one of the access panels. Discrete investigation reveals a hidden code cylinder which she pockets. There is little conversation among the recruits, although WARIC reveals his desire to "Kill as many Imps as he can".

A separate shuttle delivers STAVROS (a somewhat cocky Human) and a gungan recruit named Slaprat. A third shuttle brings KETH (a Zabrak male) and some other recruits.

Upon arrival, an Aqualish named Lt. Tuvolo assembles the twelve potential new recruits and advises them that they will undergo a rigourous series of training exercises. Only the top six candidates will be inducted into Mynock Squadron, as half of the Squadron has already been selected and are away on maneuvers. As they are talking, KERO and STAVROS notice one of the base's patrol starfighters peel away from its wingman and head staight towards where everyone has assembled. KERO realizes it is about to crash and she warns Lt. Tuvolo who shouts at the recruits to seek cover.

The X-Wing explodes on impact, sending a wave of fire and debris into the quad. Extremely flammable fuel sprays from the wreckage, and fire threatens to engulf the base's fuel supply and its fleet of training starfighters stationed nearby. In the confusion, KERO is wounded, although she makes it to partial cover, and several cadets are injured or stunned. STAVROS gets the injured Slaprat to safety and saves the Gungan's life with timely medical intervention.

KERO realizes that if the fire reaches the fuel containers, the base could be destroyed. She rushes to a lift-loader and begins to carry the fuel containers to safety. The fire spreads quickly though and it looks as though she won't make it in time. WARIC and KETH, having grabbed fire suppression equipment, dash in and creates a fire break just in the nick of time. The flames are diverted and then suppressed entirely as KERO removes the remaining fuel containers.

Tuvolo advises the recruits to grab food and medical attention as needed prior to the start of the first test. Many of the recruits babble excitedly about what kind of malfunction could have caused the crash but WARIC sits quietly and attracts the attention of KETH, KERO and STAVROS. The four of them discuss their goals (joining Mynock) and philosophies (luck vs. tactics).

The first test for the recruits is the shooting range. Each recruit has the chance to fire at more and more difficult targets. One miss and a recruit is eliminated. Although several recruits are eliminated quickly, most hang in more multiple rounds. KETH gets a bullseye in the third round but then misses in the fourth. Soon, however, only the Rodian Torgo, KERO, STAVROS and WARIC are left. Torgo misses in the sixth round, while KERO misses in the seventh. STAVROS and WARIC engage in betting and banter as they stage an impressive display, with WARIC making trick shots. Eventually, the two tie for first place by missing in the ninth round. Tuvolo is suitably impressed with them.

The next test is hand to hand combat where two combatants attempt to be the first to score three "hits" on the other. Six recruits, KERO and WARIC among them, are eliminated in the first round, with KERO failing to score a single hit against the Neimodian Dosh'Tu and WARIC trips out of the ring to lose to the Cerean Tazo-Rhi. In the second round, STAVROS and KETH appear closely matched with each scoring two hits and exhibiting tremendous defensive skills, but KETH perseveres for the victory. In the third round, KETH prevails over the aggressive and demeaning Torgo and he goes on to overall victory in first place.

After everyone's finished the hand-to-hand trials, Lt. Tuvolo orders everyone to hit the showers. When the recruits come out, they notice he's posted the Day One Leaderboard. As only the top six will make it into Mynock Squadron, the recruits crowd in to see the standings so far.


1 20 Torgo (Male Rodian)
2 19 Keth (Male Zabrak)
3 18 Stavros (Male Human)
4 17 Dosh'Tu (Female Neimodian)
5 12 Waric (Male Human)
6 11 Kero (Female Human)
7 9 Torga (Female Rodian)
8 8 Tazo-Rhi (Female Cerean)
9 7 Stahlog (Female Quarren)
10 (tie) 3 Gatara (Female Ewok)
10 (tie) 3 Slaprat (Male Gungan)
10 (tie) 3 Szo-Dano (Female Kel-Dor)

Director's Commentary (June 14, 2015)

This was the beginning of a new Star Wars role-playing campaign using the Saga Edition ruleset.  After the enormous success of the Clone Wars Campaign, the players pushed for me to do another campaign.  I wanted to make sure it had a different feel, so I went with a very focussed campaign where every PC would be a member of a Rogue Squadron (fighter pilot/commandos) knock-off called Mynock Squadron.  I know a couple of players were skeptical of being given a directive for character creation like this, as in the past I've always run a "group of adventurers" campaign allowing full freedom in character creation.  Still, I wanted to challenge myself and the players, and use some of the optional rule subsets in the Saga Edition line (things I'll cover in a future post, like "Organization Score," "Requisition Allocation", and "Rank & Privileges").

One thing that made this campaign extremely tricky was that the players had relocated since the Clone Wars Campaign.  Waric's player (who ran A'tel and others in the Clone Wars Campaign) was still in Toronto, but myself (as director) and Kero's player (who previously ran Arresta in the CW Campaign) were in Australia, and Stavros' player (who previous ran Doxen in the CW Campaign) moved to Calgary.  It was thus extremely hard to get a time that worked for everyone, and the best we could do was a late night for those of us in Australia (running from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.) and an early morning for those in Canada (starting at 6 or 7 a.m.!).  It was unfortunately one of the things that made the campaign less enjoyable than it otherwise may have been, but it was an important way to stay in contact with good friends now halfway around the world.

To boot, in these first few sessions there was a lot of difficulty in finding a good, stable virtual tabletop.  This first session fell a little bit flat due to the technical problem, and it didn't end up being quite as exciting as I had hoped.  We ended up burning through three or four virtual tabletops in the first half dozen sessions before finally finding one that worked well (using Google+ and as a "hangout").

The last thing I'll say on this session's commentary was that the Leaderboard idea was "real."  I had 8 NPCs and the 4 PCs all competing to make the Squadron by finishing in the top half of the Leaderboard.  I made all the NPCs using a random generator, and had no idea which ones would make into the Squadron and continue into the campaign, and I told the players out-of-character in an e-mail: "And the top-six restriction is for real--anyone who can't beat out some randomly-generated NPCs, many of whom don't even have a level in a Heroic class, may have to play their back-up character or make a hasty use of the infamous Red Chip :)"

In future posts, we'll see how well they did . . .

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