This series follows the trials, tribulations, successes, and failures of a fairly inexperienced GM who has recently picked up the hobby after a long time away. It aims to assist new GM’s by examining what worked, didn’t work, and what failed miserably as he spins up new campaigns, modules, encounters, and adventures for his friends and family in Fantasy Flight Games’ Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion/Force and Destiny system.
I’ve tried to keep many stories about my personal games out of this column because every table has its own stories, and mine are no more special than yours. Everyone has fun adventures and I always figured talking about mine could bore readers. However thanks to a lot of encouragement from readers, I’m making an exception this time.
My main campaign group has met almost every week for a calendar year now, but on Saturday July 1st, it was the first time I got everyone at the same table. Normally, we meet on Roll20.net and play online, so this was definitely a change. Also, we normally have a two-hour window to play, but this time we had six hours! It was time-boxed, however, in that about midnight we needed to stop. Because the adventure was created for the table with minis and the like, porting it to Roll20 if we didn’t get done is not something I wanted to do, so I needed to wrap it up before we all left. So, let’s take a look to how it went with GM Scott’s Big Adventure!
First, I threw a ton of preparation into the game. Lots of handouts, images on a monitor, minis from Imperial Assault and Armada (of which I have all products of both games), videos, and a video of a custom opening crawl. It was fun to prep, but sure took a while!
This campaign surrounds Viper Squad, a SpecForce rebel unit that was thrown together after the group worked well together unexpectedly. After 500+ XP, the group can seriously handle themselves in a fight and in most situations. So creating situations for them that are challenging are pretty hard to come up with.
So far the members of Viper Squad have discovered a plot to destroy the Rebel Fleet with the use of new TIE Deceptors (an invention of mine), TIEs that can teleport within medium range, based on a new prototype variation of what makes TIE Phantoms stealthy. Recently in the campaign, the group double-crossed a group of Hutts and a smuggler which caused them all to get a lot of Obligation and some huge bounties on their heads. This adventure I prepped for our in-person game is based on that Obligation, as the smuggler, named Dekar, laid his trap for revenge. What the team thought was a legit mission turned out to be a mission where they simply needed to get out with their lives.
So things started pretty simply as the team discovered a ship reserved for VIP’s adrift and not space worthy. They followed the escape pods to a planet called Soronia in the Corellia system. This led them to an abandoned bunker where the trap was set, and where things first needed to be adjusted. The trap was designed to ensnare the entire team inside when they discovered the bait, a hostage senator the smuggler trapped and captured to lure Viper Squad too. But the team got very creative and one of the toughest of the PC’s stayed outside to watch and guard the bunker.
That changed a LOT of narrative for me. The stormtroopers and trap were to happen in the bunker, but it wouldn’t make sense for troops to just appear suddenly in a bunker the team had searched. So now the encounters of troops, and a full-blown Inquisitor, were going to have to happen outside. So when I sprang the trap and the Dioxis flooded the room to start, I had troops arriving outside instead of appearing inside. This didn’t modify things entirely, but it threw a wrench into my plans.
This then led to my first big mistake of the evening. The team is so powerful, and my son is such a good lightsaber wielder, that I had an Inquisitor, the first they’d faced. I had saved him for an epic moment. And with all the stuff I was keeping track of, and the fact that I had seven players, and the fact I’m likely mediocre… I forgot the Inquisitor had Adversary 3. So he went down super fast and much quicker than I intended.
However, as I looked at the clock, I was running out of time. So I actually threw out a lot of the encounters that were to take place in the bunker. I threw out snipers and stormtrooper sergeants that I had ready to attack as we were running out of time. That’s something I always intended… extra but expendable encounters in case the adventure goes too quickly if you’re time-boxed. So I let the mistake go as I needed them to dispatch him more quickly.
After being picked up by a U-Wing, the team returned to their capital ship to escape the system. That’s when an Imperial Interdictor Cruiser showed up with a Star Destroyer, and due to the gravity well projectors on the Interdictor, the team wasn’t able to jump into hyperspace. So the mission quickly became to destroy the Interdictor or at least one of the gravity well projectors on it, like at the end of Rebels season 3 finale. But that led to something I’m not sure I did right.
Correctly, the team resolved they needed to destroy a gravity well, so they used Concentrated Barrage on their cap ship to do so. But I had a quandary… how many hull trauma points does one component of the Interdictor have? I knew the hull trauma of the Interdictor but… just one gravity well? So I did what most GMs did… I guessed.
I determined that if the group destroyed 1/3 of the hull trauma of the Interdictor while shooting at a well, I would consider it destroyed. I don’t know how fair that is or how much it makes sense but it’s what I thought of in the moment. Also, the clock was ticking and we were down to 30 minutes and I needed the team to escape quickly.
And the very end of the adventure I skipped over a rule and common sense to end the adventure. The thing was our pilot missed a couple Astrogation checks, meaning another round was going to have to come around before the group could try again. But for time’s sake I allowed every PC to try an Astrogation check each round. While narratively this makes no sense, it made for a comedic time as every player missed several Astrogation checks and saved time as eventually a check was made and the team escaped, winning the day.
So overall the game was amazing and a ton of fun. It was also a very typical example of how GMs need to adapt and alter things on the fly to make the narrative work. I tend to over-plan making things not go as I intended often, but not so much that it throws me off too much.
And so ended our campaign’s biggest adventure… a year in the making. Hopefully we can do it again, sooner than June of 2018!