Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Happy Dark Times

I must be far behind; not only are there all the things still left over from 2013 to write about, but at the very least I also owe an update for the 4th season of Edge of Apocalypse, the USS Dauntless's Joburg Star Trek roleplaying campaign I ran earlier this year. The short version of that, for now, is that we finished the Dominion War phase, and will move onto new things later. But first, as we've found the CODA rules break badly at high levels, I want to convert us to a d20 alternative, borrowing from Prime D20, Star Wars d20, Spycraft and other variants. And as a playtest of this, we'll be popping back to the Original Series era for a quick mini-campaign there.

What have we done in the mean time? We've roleplayed, of course. Gail has run an excellent Star Wars campaign, The First Sparks, set in the Dark Times era. It is a grim world of perilous adventure, and I was really excited to enter it, because I loved the Dark Times comic series so much. Much like the characters in that comic, several of our characters initially had a pretty hard time figuring out exactly what their place in the new Empire could be, and it was interesting play through that.

We also shot a lot of things. I don't often go out of my way to play dumb characters, but with a super-intelligent Gnome less inclined towards combat in my other weekly game (D&D for Awesome People), I felt like something different: Geshi. He's a bit thick, awfully unwise, not all that tough, but an amazing shot. I found him quite hard to play, really. Gung ho seemed to be the best model, but there were times when that would clearly have fucked things up for everyone else, and I didn't want to lean on that all the time, so I held back. There were also times when I could see what needed to be done to push things forward, but couldn't quite justify how Geshi would have come to the same conclusion. Of course, the times I did let Geshi do something obviously foolish were fun, in their own way, but possibly only for me. It reinforces the "make sure it's playable" guideline of general character creation.

The other characters were fun too. Owen's Wookie (always a fun species) was played with remarkable dedication to the character's limited vocab. Shaun's two-brained Cerean provided the perfect balance of rational, calm, sensible intelligence against... pretty much the entire rest of the party. And it was quite fun watching Alex and others gradually coax Brad's Mon Calamari jedi ever closer to the Dark Side, or at least away from respectibility.

Gail kept the game running for a really long time, too. January to June, with hardly any weeks skipped, is a serious feat of endurance for even an experienced GM, and I think she's definitely beyond Noob GM status now.

On a technical note, we were using the Saga Edition of the Star Wars D20 rules, which certainly flow smoothly. After the messiness of Decipher's CODA rules and the sheer bulk of the Pathfinder rules we use for D&D, this minimalism was very distinct. I wouldn't hold it above the simple-yet-efficient Warhammer 2nd Ed. rules, though, and I felt some parts of it were a little broken, such as the guaranteed hit Autofire rule, which left Geshi's sniper build pretty pointless.

On the plus side, we finally (in the very last session) got to try out space combat!
Pew Pew Pew!

Geshi, not entirely by accident, was brilliant at that. But the fragile little TIE Fighters fell too fast for us to get a really good sense of how the space combat system has developed in this edition.