**Spoiler Alert: SPOILERS! There are at the end below several hard returns and another warning. I do try to keep my module/scenario reviews spoiler-lite, but felt that portion needed to be included.**
Friends Like These is the latest Age of Rebellion module, by Keith Ryan Kappel and Ryan Brooks. In addition to a long campaign arc, FLT presents 2 new species (Mandolorian Humans and Zygerrians) and has a mix of combat and social encounters, as well as a lot of Mass Combat. This is a well-done module, no surprise considering the writers.
Many players will welcome official stats for Mando’ade, which have been popular ever since Boba Fett took up an Imperial bounty posting in The Empire Strikes Back. The stats are solid. Like regular Humans, the main feature is bonus skills, with two different options depending on whether you want the traditional Mando who earns her bread as a merc or bounty hunter, or a modern one, who might be a professional in any field. Check with your GM, but I see no reason not to use this as a template for Mando’ade PCs of other species. either using it as is or swapping the species-specific skills or abilities for the Mandalorian ones. Bonus: if someone wants to play a Talz, there are NPC stats that could be used as the base for a playable homebrew Talz species.
In addition, three more planets are added to the Galaxy Far, Far, Away. Xorrn, the central setting for FLT, boasts repair facilities of use to both the Alliance and scum and villainy. Port Vlemoth is home to both displaced Talz and a traditional Mandalorian clan. Finally, there is the home of the infamous monkey-lizards, Kowak. In my opinion, it is even more unpleasant than the monkey-lizards themselves. All three worlds have full gazeteer entries.
I am not kidding when I write that FLT features a lot of Mass Combat (MC). The climactic Episode 4 is mostly MC, with several optional missions, played against the mass combat backdrop, that one or more PCs may undertake. Episode 3 may also feature a fair amount, depending on how your party handles things. But don’t despair, if you’ve never used those mechanics. FLT not only covers them thoroughly, but each phase the devs take you step by step. They call out all the items that may affect the MC check and even provide the pool. The pool may need some minor changes, for example if a PC is leading that engagement. This is very helpful.
But FLT isn’t all combat, mass or otherwise. Episode 1 is a mixture of local politics that will keep your Diplomats and Consular-wannabes happy and preparing for an Imperial attack will likewise keep the soldiers and engineers busy while their comrades politic. Episodes 2 and 3 offer more challenges for all as the party has the opportunity to make 2 desperately-needed alliances to defend Xorrn. Even if you don’t opt to run the whole module, these 2 Episodes offer several encounters and subplots that you can drop into your own scenarios with little effort.
Overall, I recommend the sourcebook, aside from one issue (see below). Even if you don’t run the full adventure, it is a good resource for Edge of the Empire as well as Age of Rebellion GMs. I don’t see it being much use for a Force and Destiny campaign, although it is suitable for Force-sensitive PCs, whether they are more martial or diplomatically inclined. Friends Like These is available for US$30.
I do, unfortunately, not care for the inclusion of the Zygerrian slavers in this book, especially not as potential Alliance allies. Allies, for the Rebellion. My first reaction was “WTF?!” and I still have reservations. Overall, it seems the species and the whole Zygerrian Episode 3 would be a better fit for Edge of the Empire. After reading that Episode, I will concede that it is possible the slavers won’t become allies, as there are subplots about rescuing a slave and/or leading a slave revolt that PCs could choose over allying with the Zygerrians. And, of course, a GM could opt to substitute a faction of her choice–extra prep–or just skip that Episode.
However, the lack of slave troops and/or Zygerrian materiél, will leave the PCs and Xorrn extra weak in the final battle, with no options given for replacing those allies. I would have appreciated some more suggestions for what the GM should do instead if they aren’t running this portion.
Also, please read the short sidebar on potential issues of this arc for some players/groups. It was a great idea to include. Sometimes we gamers don’t think about problems like this until we’re in the middle of a session, someone gets upset, and the out-of-character damage control is difficult at best.