Astral Projections – Review of Friends Like These (AoR)

© & ™ 2016 LucasFilm Ltd.
© & ™ 2016 LucasFilm Ltd.

**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.

**SPOILERS BELOW!**

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.

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Linda Whitson

Linda Whitson

Contributing Writer & Copy Editor at D20 Radio
Linda Whitson is a long-time RPGer, amateur musician & artist, & an officer in the Rebel Legion Star Wars costuming club. Linda met her husband in an AD&D game and they have 2 teenagers, an anime fangirl daughter and a son who plays on his university's quidditch team. She is the Lead Mod of D20 Radio's forums and Copy Editor for the blog. Linda can be reached at GMLinda@d20radio.com
Linda Whitson

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2 Comments

  1. Sorry for the delay in replying. I am glad you took the time to comment.
    This is MY take on the module, and I felt talking about this specific content would help other gamers make a better decision about the product, not just whether they should buy it, but how they wanted to use it if they did. This is why I do reviews, to give people more information. And you gave the readers even more info, and another take.

    No, I am not comfortable running it as written **for my campaign.** It’s a GM’s job to decide what will work in her game. Preferably with input from the players. I know from previous episodes in my game and in a friend’s tangentially-related game with the same group of people, that the party working with the slavers wasn’t going to happen. Our game group falls very much in the “Heroes Act Heroic & So Won’t Do Some Stuff” camp, especially with SW. In fact, when I told my group I was considering using at least parts of FLT, one of my players straight out told me his PC would be taking his lightsaber to the lot of them. So it wasn’t a gut reaction of “Ew, gross–recruiting slavers–no way. Not happening in one of my games!” It was a case of knowing both my players and their PCs, and having my decision cemented by how those same players felt. And I do have use for that arc…
    It may work well for other groups. I am thinking Rebels with more extremist views, perhaps too extreme for the Alliance. (Think Saw Guerrera and Co.)

    As for the Zann consortium, I am not very familiar with the organization, so cannot really comment on it.

  2. Nesessity makes for strange bed fellows, that’s why chapter 3 fits. 🙂

    ***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

    I absolutely disagree about the inclusion of the Zygerrians. Conflict is what drives a story, and while the Empire v. Rebellion is the overarching one, this smaller scale instance is what puts spice into the module. It forces the PC to either up hold the stated morals of the Rebellion or take a pragmatic approach for the sake of the mission objective. Do you give up hundreds of bodies for labor and defense along with air support for intangible moral high ground? Tangible assets with strategic and tactical implications for the upcoming battle for an intangible asset that is arguably the foundation of your cause (freedom)? Oh, then there is the matter of getting the Mando’s and Zyg’s to play nice after a certain revelation. Makes for interesting times and interesting sub-plot, particularly for the party’s Face character.

    As for help else where; where? Feelers were sent out, well is dry. Even if it weren’t, no one is going to have the sheer number of bodies to allow for the quick setting of defensive emplacements or to counter the amount of personnel and hardware that’s about to be unleashed upon you. It’s a hard, sucky choice to make, but easy choices aren’t near as entertaining. Or you can GM fiat another, more palatable faction near by that would be willing to help, but I’m of the opinion you’re cutting out at least three interesting sub-plot in doing so.

    One: Morals vs military need
    Two: The Prince’s Sword
    Three: The Prince’s desire to start a Coup d’etat against his mother, which if played correctly, could lead to the PC’s doing far more long term good.

    Also, since this doesn’t fit neatly else where, the Alliance and the players are directly helping the Zann Consortium in defending an asset of theirs. Given their history, does this trouble you as well?

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