HoloNet Uplink – Imperial Intelligence and Cipher Agents (SWTOR)

Copyright Bioware

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.

The Legends setting of Star Wars: The Old Republic has captivated many. I fondly remember playing with the Order of 66 back when the game first launched. I tend to get the occasional break from very high tempo work, and have been known to fire the game up occasionally. Not for its MMO aspects by in large, but to experience the distilled Star Wars awesome that is contained within. My current campaign is  set in this era, revolving around the exploits of five somewhat aligned Sith Lord PCs.

Dain Simpkins can clue you into all the details about this Legends era. I’ve touched on the era in the past, but today I want to take a closer look at one of the coolest organizations in Star Wars lore: Imperial Intelligence. Spoiler alert: it’s what you get when you cross Tarkin with James Bond.

Imperial Intelligence

This isn’t glamorous work. We’re sanitation workers—we clean up after the military and the Sith and do the jobs no one else will. Without us, though, the Empire falls apart. So we do whatever is necessary—even if it’s thankless and ugly.” – Keeper

From an out of game, storytelling, perspective Imperial Intelligence was designed to provide the Imperial Agent class storyline a journey through the ranks of the Sith Empire despite having no Force abilities. The designers speak to the fact they were heavily inspired by Tarkin and how he could stand on seemingly equal footing with Darth Vader in A New Hope. The inclusion of Chiss as a playable species for the Agent implies that Thrawn was an influence as well. Add the Three Bs of Spying (James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer) and you have the recipe for my favorite Class Story within The Old Republic MMO. Since an entire class is dedicated to this role, there is a fair bit of information available as background within your game.

A state with as long term a strategy as Vitiate’s Sith Empire cannot succeed without a highly capable intelligence and security service. Imperial Intelligence is that service. With thousands of agents across the galaxy, Imperial Intelligence was capable of covertly manipulating events to achieve the Empire’s objectives. A scalpel when compared to the hammer of the Imperial Army or the Sith, Intelligence operatives have instigated wars, incited revolutions, and disappeared anti-Imperial influencers.

Even more so than the military, Intelligence was seen as the path to higher station for those born without sensitivity to the Force. While not socially the equal to the Sith, Intelligence operatives gain personal abilities and access to influence networks within and without the Empire. The Minister of Intelligence, traditionally a former Keeper, may be subordinate to the Dark Council but wields de facto influence on par with them – just primarily through back channels and through intermediaries.

An entire group consisting of Intelligence agents could make for a very interesting campaign. Much of what I have written in the past about Galactic Empire era Imperial games would apply equally as well here, if not even better, considering Imperial Intelligence was created specifically to provide that Tarkin-esque play experience. High-level Intelligence operatives are provided a functional descriptor and numeric designation in lieu of their names: Ciphers are the elite field agents, Watchers are analysts and planners, Fixers develop and dissect technology, and Minders police intelligence from the inside. An Intelligence party could include a few Ciphers (say an Assassin and an Infiltrator), a Watcher (likely an Analyst), a Fixer (maybe a Scientist), and perhaps some contacts and affiliates.

Cipher Agent [Nemesis]

Copyright Lucasfilm / EA International

When Imperial Intelligence has a mission of the utmost importance to be completed under extreme circumstances, they turn to the elite Cipher Agents. Stripped of their identities, Cipher Agents were like high level operatives in Intelligence in that they were officially addressed only by a numeric designation such as Cipher Nine. Cipher Agents were given broad authority, with permission to recruit operatives and move about the galaxy on their own initiative. Expertly trained, armed with enhanced weapons, and provided with experimental equipment, Cipher Agents are some of the most dangerous individuals in the galaxy. The advanced capabilities of these operatives has not escaped their Sith masters. Several Cipher Agents have secretly been brainwashed with powerful hypnotic controls known as Castellan Restraints. These restraints are used as a control against Cipher Agents acting against the Sith.

Br 3, Ag 4, Int 3, Cun 4, WP 3, Pres 3

Soak 4, W. Threshold 18, S. Threshold 18, Def M/R 1/1

Skills: Coercion 2, Brawl 2, Charm 3, Cool 3, Coordination 1, Deception 3, Discipline 3, Knowledge (Education) 3, Knowledge (Underworld) 1, Knowledge (Warfare) 2, Melee 3, Perception 3, Ranged (Heavy) 3, Ranged (Light) 3, Stealth 4, Streetwise 2, Vigilance 3

Talents: Adversary 3 (upgrade difficulty of all combat checks against this target three times), Deadly Accuracy – Melee (add damage equal to ranks in Melee [3] to one hit of a successful Melee attack), Lethal Blows 2 (add +20 to Critical Injury rolls inflicted on opponents), Plausible Deniability 3 (remove three Setback die from Coercion and Deception checks), Soft Spot (After making a successful attack with a non-starship scale weapon, may spend one Destiny Point to add damage equal to Cunning [4] to one hit of the attack), True Aim 2 (once per round before making a Ranged attack, may perform the True Aim maneuver. Gain all the benefits for aiming and also upgrade the attack roll once per rank of True Aim [twice])

Abilities: Counter-Jedi Tactics (upgrade the difficulty of any checks targeting this character’s mind using Force powers once, add 1 to this character’s defense against lightsaber attacks).

Equipment: Armored clothing (+1 soak, +1 defense), accurized blaster rifle (Ranged [Heavy]; Damage 10; Critical 3; Range [Long]; Accurate 1, Stun setting), heavy blaster pistol (Ranged [Light]; Damage 7; Critical 3; Range [Medium]; Stun setting), ShockBlade vibroknife (Melee; Damage 4; Critical 3; Range [Engaged]; Accurate 1, Pierce 2, Stun 4, Vicious 1), personal stealth field generator (as per Outlaw Tech Personal Stealth Field, EotE pg. 186 – these devices tend to self-destruct in non-Intelligence hands), encrypted holocom, three stimpacks, additional high tech gear as desired.

This has been a brief look at Imperial Intelligence. I’d love to delve further into the subject, with deeper analysis, more stat blocks, adventure hooks, and campaign ideas. If that’s something you want to see, let me know!

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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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