HoloNet Uplink – Contact Networks Mini-Review + Examples


Welcome to the HoloNet Uplink, citizen. This series focuses on Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars Roleplaying Game, with content aimed mostly at the Gamemaster. Threats, adventure seeds, rules supplements, and more are all to come for those who access The HoloNet Uplink.

I’ve just had a chance to dig into Endless Vigil, the Sentinel sourcebook, and I must say d20radio’s own Order 66 podcast nailed it with their review episode name: The Sourcebook the Galaxy Deserves. If you haven’t checked out that episode and have the time, hit up that link or tune in your pod catching software. That said, I know many of you don’t have a lot of time to listen on a regular basis, perhaps saving up a handful of episodes to enjoy while travelling on business or waiting for an empty weekend. For those who haven’t listened, and for those who never listen, the following is my mini-review on the phenomenal Contact Network rules. To add some extra value, I’m including a few example Contact Networks for use in your game and as inspiration.

These Contact Network rules are found on pages 76-79 of Endless Vigil, just flip through until you find the cheesy but awesome first person handshake art on page 77. These rules are meant to aid players during investigations, allowing a simple way to represent the numerous contacts investigators will cultivate in their careers. I’m reminded of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s investigation in Attack of the Clones. As much as I hate Dexter Jettster and his space diner, its a trope of the investigation genre to have characters turn to their wide and varied network of contacts to gather information or gain a new perspective on an existing clue.

The rules themselves are elegantly simple and use existing skill check mechanics in a manner similar to how Mass Combat is handled. Each contact or contact network has a Scope rating, representing the size and influence of the network, and an Expertise rating, representing how knowledgeable the network is. Scope is treated as the characteristic and expertise as the skill ranks. The obscurity of the information requested, for which a handy chart providing guidelines can be found on page 78, is the base difficulty. Gamemasters may upgrade, boost, setback or otherwise modify the check as they see fit. Obviously you will need Endless Vigil for the actual rules, but that is essentially it – simplicity at its finest. Suggestions for spending narrative dice results are also included.

As you can tell, I am a big fan of these rules. In part because of my Dark Heresy roleplaying game roots I like to incorporate a lot of investigation into my games, both as a gamemaster designing adventure and as a player seeking solutions to challenges placed in front of me. The Contact Network rules make very effective use of existing mechanics to produce something that is light weight, but adds a lot of value to the game. By absolutely no means should these rules be exclusive to Force and Destiny. Investigation heavy games using Edge of the Empire, such as a bounty hunting party, or Age of Rebellion, in particular for Diplomats and Spies, will benefit arguably even more from them.

Example Networks

Lieutenant Colonel Alexis Zaravian, Retired

A retired military Communications Officer with both Imperial Army and Republic service, Lieutenant Colonel Zaravian retired early from a promising career to take advantage of lucrative consulting opportunities. Zaravian has recently headed extensive overhauls of the communications infrastructure and information management systems of companies such as Czerka Arms and the Hyrotti Corporation. While such freelancing has been a profitable enterprise for Zaravian, rumours circulate in some circles as to whether credits alone can explain her sudden departure from military service. Through her links to the Grand Army of the Republic she may be seen as a member of the “Old Guard,” and her personal activities may indicate affiliation with the mysterious Firebird Society for female military officers. Neither fully explains her departure.

In reality, Zaravian is a moderate Imperial who was unwilling to continue supporting an oppressive military but still too loyal to defect to the Rebellion. Players who gain access to Zaravian as a contact, likely through mercantile or noble connections, will have access to her personal knowledge and associations. This is represented with a Scope 3 Contact Network, with an Expertise rating of 2 for Knowledge (Warfare) and 4 for Knowledge (Education) related to communications systems including the HoloNet. Zaravian treats information exchange as a business proposition, but in general most PCs will be unable to afford her prices. In lieu of credits, Zaravian will take future considerations (Obligation), favors (missions), or information of equal value. Finally, as a member of the Firebird Society, Zaravian will not disclose information which could harm current or former female military members.

University of Byblos Archaeology Society

Despite the heavy Imperial presence on world, the University of Byblos is renowned for its History and Archaeology departments. The Archaeology Department in particular boasts a healthy graduate program headed by renowned archaeologist Reina Solov. The university enjoys an excellent publication history, with student and faculty alike featured prominently in galactic periodicals and book lists.

The University of Byblos Archaeology Society is an academic organization composed of faculty, students, and alumni. As a Contact Network, the society has a Scope of 2 and an Expertise of 3 for the Knowledge (Lore) skill. The society is monitored for anti-Imperial activities by COMPNOR. As a result, the difficulty of any check related to counter-New Order ideology or the Force is upgraded once.

 

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Christopher Hunt

Christopher Hunt

Staff Writer at d20 Radio
Ready to pull the ears off a Gundark, Chris is new to writing in the gaming industry. Up in the mystical Canadian land of Manitoba, he can be seen running Star Wars for his home group and at PrairieCon events. Chris has a passion for gaming he hopes to unite with academic and corporate writing experience .
Christopher Hunt

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