Once more it is time for a Post Script thread. If we can keep this rough average of one every six months then the games should maintain the momentum they need. Of course, then the problem is whether I can supply enough plot. But we can worry more about that in future months.
Episode III for all parties saw the start of a new storyline to follow on from the introductory ones from the previous two. The previous Jedi storyline saw the establishment of a broader scenario- not just of an elongated chase against a single bad guy, but life as a Jedi in the final years of the Republic; the Sith were referred to, enemies like the Techno Union were set up, and the slow encroachment of mass droids beyond a Jedi’s capacity to handle them came along. The Dark Siders were confronted with new challenges of survival in a changed Galaxy, were given the Bureau to worry about, and after the highly successful Golden Serpent plotline finally got a place of their own to live in, from which their plots can now all be based.
The last post-script thread made mention of the disposal of old enemy personalities, from Kuylen to Balek, and how new ones for the Campaign would be established. In the forms of the BV-50, Rogan and Sienar I think you can accept that this has been done, and what The Lady means is, as yet, anyone’s guess.
We also established the idea of a separate Renegade play thread. Aside from breaking up the confusion of multiple Jedi plots (as opposed to the singular ones the Dark Side get), this gave an opportunity for the Renegades to assert their own personality and independence, and to have the Jedi turn up in their business for once, rather than the other way around. There is actually a wider scope behind the Renegade thread- a very different feel and mood to their game. However, as this Episode was more the one that ‘gave birth’ to that idea, this has not yet been established; it will be next time. Not all parts of the second Campaign will have a separate Renegade thread (and indeed, early ideas have intimated that the new storyline that will start in Episode V, whenever that happens, will be a unified Light Side one) but when they do, this difference of tone will be firmly established- basically, the Renegade plotline is fundamentally ‘about’ something different- though all players, Light and Dark, will be eventually drawn into one aspect of the plots, which I am sure you can guess.
All this meant four simultaneous plots for this Episode- two for the Jedi, one for the Renegades (including Jedi) and one for the Dark Side. Unlike last time for the Light Side, none of these plots actually interact at any point; they all have different causes too. Being all new storylines, they are all heavy on background which was discovered, less so on final resolutions, which will follow in later times. Let’s have a look at them, shall we?
"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"
First the Renegade plot- nice and simple (which is part of that theme I mentioned).
This plot sees the Renegades now in a more organised fashion than they have ever been, having formed a Private Investigation company financed by a collusion of planets worried about political developments in the Galaxy, especially as regards the great corporations like the Techno Union- Xeth’s contacts on Taloora being the most important. On the ‘third moon of Uridian’ they run their operations, trying to spread good throughout the Galaxy on their own terms, rather than that of the Council.
Of course, their prime reason to exist is to try and decipher and expose and- if it can be done- destroy the Conspiracy that Xeth discovered in the last storyline- that of the collusion between the Union and the Federation as they try and secretly produce droids. As a reminder no-one has any idea why they are doing this; as players, we know the truth that it is Count Dooku who is starting the long run up to the Clone Wars. For that, they need massive amounts of Droid armies, but since the Naboo invasion it is hard to build them openly in the Republic- which is a problem, as nearly all the major industrial capacity is there, not to mention all the Union’s power. Xeth’s main goal would be to discover how they are getting around this, and shut it down.
And so the groundwork for a very simple story is laid out. New bad guy organisation for this Episode is the ‘Cult of Charaeus’; a bunch of psychotic cyborgs on the fringes of the Republic who often make raids on outlying shipping in order to take what technical supplies they need- a habit which has led to them being inaccurately referred to as ‘Techno pirates. Their attacks have been massively stepped up lately, so the Jedi- in the form of Marcus and Vlad (rejoining their earlier duo from Episode I), accompanied by Marcus’ more-or-less invisible Padawan Vilpa- are sent to stop the situation once and for all, by any means necessary. It’s also personal for the Jedi, as the latest ship attacked contained a Jedi on leave; there is no clue of her fate.
Xeth is asked by his contacts to come along and help the Jedi, because their information is that the Union- and more precisely, Xeth’s Union nemesis Sirus Cannes (the Union’s Director of Technological Research)- is having some very dodgy dealing in the area, including a huge shipment of ‘lost’ parts that could go a long way towards building a droid army. The technology-obsessed Cult of Charaeus seem such natural allies for the Union, that Xeth’s contacts are convinced there is a link. He is asked to try and find that link, whilst ostensibly helping the Jedi.
This was a bit of an experiment from me as I had both ‘sides’ on the same thread but with slightly different objectives- the Jedi were there to deal with the Cult, and might have found the Union link interesting but were in no position to do anything about it, as they had different orders and no grounds to investigate. The Renegades, meanwhile, obviously had no love for the Cultists, but wanted to leave that to the Jedi whilst they were determined to nail the Union- legally or otherwise. Because of this basic mis-match of goals, both sides were actually rather cagey with each other, Xeth not willing to tell anyone why he was there, truly.
This was an error. One thing the new storyline does for ALL the Light Side players is test them- the same principle as was done with the Dark Siders last episode. All are tested upon the virtues of the Light Side. Only with a certain amount of prodding did Xeth tell Marcus about the whole Union thing at all.
It is important to note that this is information that could have saved the Jedi- they might have otherwise walked into the most horrendous trap. Of course, the irony of the situation is that it was the Renegades in danger. If Xeth had not told Marcus at all, then there would now be no hope for them. As it is, there is at least something to be salvaged.
The value of trust and friendship on the Light Side should never be ignored. Other such tests will follow in the next episode. This is a way in which Xeth has to be very different from his Contacts- and to remember that such things have an importance in of themselves; he must judge for himself the balance between his friends and his contacts.
Meanwhile. The truth of the matter is very simple- the Union are secretly assembling a massive droid army, and are getting the Cult to put in the leg work for them; as they operate outside the Republic, this can be done safely. The Cult lack industrial capacity themselves, but part acquisition is their speciality. Other than the ’lost’ shipment bequeathed to them, the Cult are instructed to attack certain ships at certain times, upon which, by their involvement in a smuggling network, the Union have made sure that the needed parts are being transported. The successful Union plan would see this new army being created, and no legal liability for the Union, because after all, they can’t help it if parts are stolen and used outside the Republic, can they?
As both a sweetner to the Cult, and to ensure success of the operation, the Union (Cannes in particular) are trying out their new toy, the Battle Variant Fifty, or BV-50. This killer weapon, although it has a general purpose use, is actually designed to kill Jedi, the programming for which was based upon the information gathered at the end of Episode II, in the huge final battle against the droids on Arminium; the whole battle had been recorded and Ryamore sent the data to Cannes before he died. The BV-50 has already killed two Jedi, and is learning more each time; in the attack that finally brought Jedi involvement, the missing Jedi on the liner has already become victim number 3; one of the weapons of the BV-50 is a tissue disruptor which leaves no corpse.
The religious nature of the Cult is exploited so they become total slaves of the Union; Cannes playing the part of a messenger from the machine god they worship, and the BV-50 posing as that Gods avatar and angel of destruction, the Dark Thrael. The BV-50 has played a major part in destroying that part of the Cult that could not be won over by guile. Meanwhile, from a asecret base inside the Republic (Charaeus itself being too far out to be usefully used- and also being too carefully watched by local planets) the secret army is being assembled; its particular purpose not yet known.
Much of the game was spent uncovering this background- so when you look at this following summary, you can see that there were few actual events!
Jedi and Renegade meet on Alzarius, largest world in the area, and meet up with Captain Kiro to co-ordinate security efforts. An investigation of the most recently attacked ship soon shows evidence of a mysterious new weapon that did most of the damage. But once all this is discovered, the Jedi really have to push onto Charaeus and settle matters there; they agree on a commando raid on the Cult’s headquarters, the Ziggurat, on Charaeus itself.
The Renegades, meanwhile, engage in detective work to try and see if they can trace the Cult back; their unusual pattern of attacks making them suspicious. When they (at length) discover that the cargo manifest on the recently attacked ship has been faked (as part of the smuggling racket the Union are using to secretly supply the Cult by making sure parts are in place to be stolen) they go down to the surface of the planet to investigate the loading facilities. There they uncover the smuggling operation (discovering in the process that due to the current state of the Republic, these outlying areas are so poverty stricken that just about everyone is in on it; a political point much of the same kind GL likes to make) and find the true cargos of all the ships involved. Long suspecting that the Union are operating from a hidden base, they now have the clues they need to locate it, and they head out there.
On Charaeus, the Jedi lead the assault team, and soon discover evidence that the Cult has been fighting itself lately, as the Heretics who do not believe in Cannes’ (easily identified by reference to his artificial eyes) word are purged. They also receive the first whisper of this ‘Dark Thrael’. Pushing ahead, their assault on the Ziggurat is successful, though with heavy casualties- but then they soon discover that the Thrael, and the main bulk of the Cult, has already left to go on a great war somewhere. The Jedi are in the wrong place (although the destruction of the Ziggurat was still a laudable achievement).
Meanwhile, on a freezing ice world, the Renegades spend sometime forlornly searching the glaciers for the hidden Union base. Finally working out that the glaciers have been built around the base- not the base inside the glaciers- they find their target… but attempting to sneak in, they are attacked by the BV-50, whose vast combat power, especially the Disruptor, which it uses after luring Jedi in, and its powerful (as powerful as a sabre) cutting beam, is too much for the Renegades- as is its incredible speed and the fact that it flies. Xeth is the worst loser, losing a leg in the battle; all are overcome.
Maters here will have to resolve themselves later.
Other than my comment about trust and friendship above, there is not much to add to this; the BV-50 (which, as I have noted elsewhere, shares irritating similarities with the machine in ‘The Incredibles’, though once more its conception predates the writers seeing that film) is a hyper-powered new bad guy, though only in very numeric ways, a style that will be common among such Union enemies. Yes, it has huge combat skills, but that’s all it has- no force powers, and no fortune; these Techno constructs are lethal but soulless. Its incredible danger is appropriate for a team of several Jedi, some of whom have a lot of experience points. It is very much possible to destroy, and will continue to plague the players in subsequent episodes until it is.
The one manoeuvre it was slightly vulnerable was in fact a sabre throw (though if anyone had tried, it would have tried itself to shoot out the sabre, but that is hard even for it). This allows you to hurt it without getting close and risking the disruptor. However, it has its own problems. In the end, the best way to fight the BV-50 is to fight smart, rather than relying on good dice rolls, because it will win the numbers game. It is a tactical challenge
There is no great mystery to the Renegade plot, but the following episode, I think, will be found very great fun by all involved. Once you get out the mess you are in, of course.
"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"
After the intenseness of the last episode, this one was much quieter- in fact, being an extended prelude that was given more prominence than it originally would have had.
But this was fine, because the nature of the Dark Siders had changed- they had elected to have no leader- there were new players, and there was still much practice needed in planning and teamwork.
So, this was an old0fashioedn heist story- the default Dark Side story. A pirate attack on the Dark Side base for their valuable shield generator leaves the pirates dead but the generator destroyed (one of those plot inevitabilities that; the opening fight was more an interactive intro sequence than an affectable plotline). Worse, having killed the pirate chief’s son, the chief will now being his fleet and bomb the crap out the Dark Siders; precisely the eventuality they need the generator for. So, after a two year absence, it is time to go back to the Republic as briefly as they can, and to nab a new generator before the Bureau tracks them.
Much was made in the early parts of this game what having no leader is like- the base is falling into disrepair, and everyone was arguing. Yet this is still better than having an unclear leader, which was the situation before, and it also allows for plenty of comedy to break up the otherwise rather relentless mood of Dark Side play- better still, it is ‘buddy’ comedy rather than simple Jar-Jar slapstick.
Their target is Newhaven, the closest major world that can supply a generator, but by consequence also one with a Bureau base on. The Dark Siders have to out together their own plan from scratch; no pre-ordained route is given to them.
Just about any means to get a generator was acceptable- steal money and buy one, steal one, steal the parts for one and build it, even building alliances and trading favours and commitments for one. Each option had its own subtleties- how do you move the generator? How much violence in stealing it? Where do you get it from?
This would all be complicated by the Bureau- which first of all, as an Immigration service, would be dodgy about new people coming onto the planet with no clear reason. Secondly, the Bureau agent, a recurring villain named S’ri S’Nar, is the Bureau’s best; ever so slightly forcer sensitive enough to sense when something is up on his patch; he guarantees that the players are always against the clock no matter how well they do in seeming innocuous. Third problem is the other recurring villain- Guildmaster Rogan, who heads the local Osokan hunting tams, and indeed in fact heads the entire world of Lanzar itself, being their best.
One might ask why the leader of a planet is out their doing grunt work. There are two answers- first, he enjoys it. Secondly, although it is not a major preoccupation of his like Kuylen was, Darth Sidious has carefully stationed S’Nar and Rogan out there because he has a vague feeling that Kuylen’s old followers, and their more recent friends, aren’t as dead as his Agents told him. And what Sidious wants he tends to get, hence Rogan is there.
The players made a bit of a mess going through immigration, claming they were trying to re-build a home trashed by pirates- full marks for lying so closely to the truth, but it was an awkward scenario; Immigration didn’t take well to the conflicting stories of the players and few could prove they had the knowhow to shop for technical parts, and so a lot of the early part of the game was spent clearing up this mess.
This problem looked rather hard at the time, so as a gift I will contrast two three more elegant solutions:
1. Use Law and Lying to claim asylum. That way, they have to let you in regardless of their skills. Using the laws of the Republic against itself should be a joy for the Dark Side. This option was suggested in-game.
2. You guys have Law, which is nice, but if you didn’t that didn’t rule out an easy way in. Absolutely the easiest thing to do- though it would have involved advanced planning- would have been to lad up your ships with as much gear as you could scrounge, go to Newhaven and say you are merchants there to sell stuff. Dozens of such people go in and out each day and Immigration would have easily accepted a good lie roll, which you could have made. Some attempt to pose as Merchants was made, but not as part of a coherent story (and indeed, your story was very complex, which never helps).
3. For the real risk takers… actually the boldest thing to do would be to deliberately get into the situation you did- being closely interviewed- and then fake it getting even worse so that you were taken to the Bureau offices themselves. This would have given you a chance to gauge Bureau strength, and know of the presences of Rogan and S’Nar (and noticed S’Nar’s power) in advance, and known what you were up against. Of course, this would involve the construction of a story which leads to you having to be checked that carefully BUT still be allowed in… but with good Law and Lying skills in the group this was easily possible.
So there you go, always plenty of ideas.
The other mistake was not bringing Epireans, a new option for the Dark Siders. Epireans could have made you look better in negotiations, could have carried the generator so there was no need for a transport, could have acted as look-outs, and at the end of the day can get in the way of the Osokans when it comes to a fight. Epireans are an inexhaustible supply, so use them. Animosity was increased as two players attempted to use Corruption to gain personal control over them. It has been suggested that they split this up co-operatively in future. This is not possible. The Dark Side is selfish, and if you use it to gain control that will be total or nothing.
Meanwhile, bonus marks were on offer if the players also stole enough spare parts to cover technical shortages on Epireus. Unfortunately, this lured the players into spreading out their criminal activities far too widely, and S’Nar had plenty of time to trace their presence. The players had elected to get criminals to supply a generator illicitly, and then use force in lieu of paying. An early meeting with the criminals did not go well and required the use of one of the player’s ships as a deposit. S’Nar first showed up in that scene, but no-one followed him up- even though the sudden imposition of a disease quarantine on the starport was evidence that the Bureau was suspicious somehow.
Hence, during the stealing of the technical parts, the Bureau directly tracked the Dark Siders. Although they lived to fight another day, this led to a loss of xp that directly wiped out the gain, and also to the Dark Sider’s ships having their transponders traced, which the last storyline made very clear was the big no no.
In the end, during the final heist, the players escape because the Bureau was not sure what they were doing there; expecting them to stay their escape with a generator was not expected. However, it was a tough time for everyone, with last second plans having to be made, and two players paralysed out by Osokans. Rogan himself was shown as the very dangerous opponent he is, with high skill, combat pool- and also, this time, Fortune points.
The players escaped Newhaven with what they needed, only to find that their base at home has visitors, in the form of The Lady (who has a name, which you will soon learn), who is the ‘Woman with White Hair’ that there has been so much talk and speculation about in people’s visions, and her followers. Who the bloody hell are they, then? Good question, and the Jedi are just as curious. What she wants, people will have to wait on.
Oddly, this Dark Side Episode was written before the last two. This was the first written Dark Side plot of the new campaign, before my brother wrote the additional Serpent plotline for you on-line guys alone, partly as a gift, partly for a better introduction, and partly to keep things in synch with the Light Side. S’Nar, then, predates Helkin (though if Helkin had lived, it would have been him again), and originally a big fight wit the Osokans at the end would have been the big demonstration of how nasty they are (though the original DS players were at least told that these killer hunters existed). So technically no need for an Osokan fight at all, but the extended nature of the Episode made it useful, as did the chance to show off three things- first, how the Osokans adapt over time, now with body armour and Martingales to prevent disarming. Second, how small amounts of Osokans well-used are at least as dangerous as the mass numbers you faced before; this is the much more likely scenario in future. And thirdly, just how damn dangerous Rogan is. He has been created with the same relatively level of difficulty as Kuylen was in the first game- he is built to be as good as any three players teaming up to take him on.
It is, of course, dodgy to make people THAT good without any plot reason- the BV-50 is a robot, and can be excused in certain ways. Balek was intensly dedicated, and most of his advantages were in gear; his skill was ‘only’ 14. Rogan has no plot excuse, he really is just that good, but in having established how dangerous Osokans are in general, and making Rogan the absolute, best of the best, then it works. If Rogan is killed, there isn’t a spare.
Meanwhile, despite its difficulties the game went well, and I think the group is working together much better now. People might be surprised what their next plot is; it is far more innocuous than might be suspected. But other than some very important moments for some of them, it also carries great opportunity for their general plot of trying to improve their own situation- as opposed to the Campaign plot of The Lady (although the two can interact).
"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"
"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"
Last edited by Ushgarak on Nov 26th, 2005 at 09:17 PM
Without a doubt, the main plotline was the Jedi one. Two VERY important plots being introduced inside otherwise standard missions, involving great tests for the players and events that will have a huge effect on the Campaign to come- and even beyond.
Plot one was Cassilis- an ancient Republic world, run by the “Z’Har”, a group of Mensa-like geniuses, an organisation as old as the Jedi, who run Cassilis very well indeed, from a building called ‘The Sanctuary’, a kind of vast combination of school and museum that is considered one of the wonders of the Republic, containing many of its most important cultural achievements in its 25000 year history. An unexpected dispute with farmers has brought this pacifist world near the brink of armed uprising; Jedi- in the form of Roan and Jelena- are dispatched to try and help bring a peaceful resolution.
Plot two was Spiridos- Spiridos is a vast hospital world, very advanced, but now mainly given over as an enormous spa, given to the luxury treatment of very rich people. The Jedi are fairly certain that Spiridos is the point of supply of a vast drug smuggling network of the stimulant ‘aspidrol’; a huge problem in the Inner Regions, The Spiridos authorise refuse to help out in any investigation, so the Jedis Gallagher and Andro are sent in undercover to try and expose the source. Undercover means no sabres, so Gallagher is a good choice as he is no combat specialist anyway; Andro makes good emergency backup as he can fight sabreless. Gallagher is also a good choice as the wealthy family in his background are the sort of people who would use Spiridos’ facilities; his Ally- a protector for the family- makes an ideal companion for the story.
Both stories were a combination of the mundane- the mission- and the mysterious- the evil problems involved in each one that form the titular ‘Revelations’ of the story. Both sides were equally important, though obviously the ultimate impact of the latter was greater. To explain the plot framework, I shall explain the mundane first.
The problem on Cassilis is one of the nature of democracy. The Z’Har effectively operate a restrictive franchise; in any practical sense, only the Z’Har can hold political power. But the success of Cassilis is making the farmers and traders so powerful in other ways that they resent not being able to hold political power. Z’Har are selected for their intellect at a very early age and the ideal is fixed. The latest dispute is started by a new tax plan for the farmers which is meant to fund social services but which they see as a. too punitive but b. more to the point, something they had no democratic say in, because the Z’Har are all of the same mind. The farmers’ and traders’ rich and powerful spokesperson, Volun, was the mouthpiece and leader of the discontent, and by the time the players get there they have mounted a forced occupation of the Sanctuary in order to get publicity for their undemocratic plight.
This was the bitchy, and very intellectual, situation the Jedi were confronted with. The situation is obviously that Cassilis isn’t very democratic at all. The Z’Har themselves do not understand why anyone would want to vote for anyone else. It is inevitable that any meritocracy, like the Z’Har are, will eventually have the prime objective of sustaining itself, at the expense of democracy. But the problem is that Cassilis is the nicest and most well run planet the players have veer been to. There is no corruption, (indeed, their Senator was clearly against the activities of the Techno Union and the like), crime was effectively non-existent, everyone was cared for, and there was no poverty or disease. They very intellectual abilities of the Z’Har were making this possible; widen the franchise, and Cassilis would eventually become like much of the rest of the Republic- corrupt and degenerate- or at the very least, this was a huge risk.
I suggested no immediate ‘correct’ answer for this puzzle; the player’s mentors sided with the Z’Har but even pointed out that as fellow members of the establishment this was probably inevitable. It was also important to understand that when Volun said that no democracy in the Republic was ever founded except by such protest he is correct- in real life, proper democracy in both the US and the UK took place only after vigorous war, and even by peaceful means, look what happened in India and Gandhi. If you value democracy as a goal in of itself- as our modern world does- then Volun was absolutely correct, there was no other way. So much of this question came down to what you thought the job of the Jedi was- the fairness of Democracy, against the standard of living on Cassilis for its people. What do they ‘need’ more? There is no answer, of course. You can debate the relative merits of freedom vs. quality of society all day. And indeed people do, in the real world, just about every day. But if there is one point I did want to make, it id that as Jedi no matter what you WANTED to be so, you had no real place trying to alter the cultural balance of Cassilis; that is very much a matter for a sovereign world to handle itself, and if that is unfair on its people, then there are countless thousands of Republican world that fare far worse in that respect, and the Jedi can’t go around sorting them all. I also made sure one other complication was stated- that Jedi complaining that a system that selected those for power by quirks of birth alone was unfair… were being massively hypocritical, because that’s exactly how the Jedi themselves work. If the Order can work and be fair, it might have been possible to find ways to get the Z’Har to work differently also.
What was important as Jedi is that you maintained dialogue between the two sides as much as possible- and tried very hard to get them to consider the point of view of the other, and see what common ground could bring at least some measure of resolution. Even if problems were apparently insoluble, whilst people were still talking they were not fighting. Admittedly under difficult circumstances, the Jedi failed in the latter and so did not get a full award for the game.
I mention this now rather than earlier because it deserves a mention of its own- the Z’Har had no capacity to fight themselves, and so had called in Mercenaries to enforce their law; the mercenaries in this case being the armies of Anaz Kuylen, cousin of the first campaign’s Larios, Voivode of Antanon and the subject worlds under his command, and all around military supreme. There was meant to be an interesting counterpoint as the Jedi debated about the relative democracy on Cassilis, whilst Anaz was openly talking of ‘subject’ worlds under his command. Anyway, other than his vast military presence making talking more difficult, this afforded all kinds of opportunities to refer back to the previous game- from the revelation of Charnellian soldiers and the name ‘Kuylen’, and the players not knowing it as not the same man at first, to plenty of talking about the nature of Charnellians, how only Larios Kuylen’s Jedi status stopped him from being the one commanding Anaz’s army, some opportunities to try and study the person that Larios was, and finally the discovery that, despite being a military-minded autocrat, Anaz is actually no bad guy with some very decent ideas about duty, loyalty and honour. One of the first things Anaz did was hand over control of his army to the players, on the idea that their authority was the more important- even though he clearly wanted military action to begin at once.
Meanwhile, on Spiridos, the facilities there certainly were the source of the drug running. The theme of the Spiridos plotline was moral degeneration- the people on Spiridos were not evil, just selfish and greedy and wanted to make even more money; the drugs themselves were not abused on Spiridos itself; the authorities just wanted the cash and never thought about the problems that drug abuse cause in the Galaxy- out of sight, out of mind. It was an example that it was more than just war and Techno-conspiracy that ay at the heart of the Republic’s ruin. Being a hospital, getting and storing aspidrol was no problem, but exporting out enough to feed a Galaxy was a much more difficult issue. This is where things turned darker. First of all, it was being smuggled out by a Church- a very large Church known as the Synod of Ferradyne, who worship the Force and believe in Balance, but have philosophical issues with the Jedi, mainly because they think it is a mis-use of the Force to use it to predict the future; they think that renders the potential of destiny within the Force impure, if you can see your decisions ahead of time. Such differences aside, they are out and out good guys, big on charity, trying to put right various wrongs in the galaxy, and the last people you would expect to be secretly taking out huge amounts of aspidrol from Spiridos to sell it to the criminal networks just to fund their charitable efforts, but that is in fact what was going on. The regular need of their famed Abbot Sienar- a man who has done much good for the Galaxy, and is currently trying to rack a difficult issue of famine relief- for medical treatment after contracting an exotic and incurable (but treatable) disease gives them a good excuse to keep going to Spiridos. More evil still, the way this aspidrol use was being covered up was in a section known as ‘Tranquil Repose’, an advanced cryogenics facility where those terminal illnesses can be stored to await curing in future. Aspidrol was used to keep their brains active in hibernation. Instead, these people were being killed, robotics shoved in their corpses to make them look still alive, and all this vast quantity of aspidrol was going into the Synod ships instead.
Again, discovery of much of the above was what took up much of the plot. On Cassilis, after the Kuylen shock, the Jedi tried- mostly in vain- to keep negotiations going. They seemed sympathetic to Volun at first but were critically hampered by mostly just letting events happen without interjecting. They talked a lot and found out a lot but couldn’t find a way to improve things.
On Spiridos, things went better. Andro eventually uncovered the criminal side of things, whilst Gallagher- plagued by the Force warning him of the impending death of Abbot- spent a lot of time in more social interaction and discovering the other side of the story.
Other characters brought complications- on Cassilis, the “Venerable Z’Har”- leader of the Z’Har- was respected by all, including the nominal leader of the world Skorzeny, but seemed to hate the players at once, and tried to force the military solution. On Spiridos, charismatic- but shrewd- businessman Deel Twain played sports with the characters and talked a lot about business (he is one of the richest men in the Republic) before turning up dead in the Synod rooms when Andro snooped around there, before being every much alive again a few minutes later, just as Andro and Gallagher were trying to raise the alarm. Confused? So are the Jedi, and they have no answer yet. The sexy nurses on Spiridos were an amusing sideline, but the sinister Father Varm of the Synod was not, likewise the Abbot’s secretary, Kathya.
Eventually the plots raced towards their conclusions, and here the sinister aspects played their part and must now be revealed.
On Cassilis, events were manipulated by The Lady. The Sanctuary, it turned out, was home to ‘The Vault’, a collection of information of which the Z’Har were guardians; this was all the information that was considered too dangerous for the Jedi to know- the Republic’s copy of the Treaty of Komal (see the plotline for the original campaign) was shown as an example. The Lady wanted information from that Vault, and needed the Venerable Z’Har out of the way to have the opportunity to gain access. She had manipulated the situation to get the rebellion to start to make this happen; using a power unknown to the Jedi she was stimulating all on Cassilis to be more aggressive and angry than normal- everyone was feeling the effect of the Dark Side without knowing it and it grew as time went by; I often wound up players in the game to make them more annoyed also. She had an agent on-site trying to break into the Vault with a piece of sophisticated technology, but she was interrupted by the Jedi who recovered the technology but did not spot its owner; this was their clue that something else was going on.
In fact, the Venerable Z’Har was only too well aware that someone was trying to access the Vault which is why he wanted the Sanctuary re-taken as soon as possible, but seeing as one of his jobs was to guard the Vault FROM the Jedi, he was in no mood to trust them. An important parallel as drawn as to the Jedi not trusting the Elder on Zeiton either- the point was made at the time that the players judged him prematurely, and on Cassilis it happened again. This wedge of mis-trust between the Jedi and Z’Har was intentional on behalf of the Lady and suited her purposes, as they opposed each other and did not see her work. In the finale, Jedi and Venerable Z’Har alike went into the Vault to protect it from each other. It was the Venerable Z’Har that the Lady’s agent followed in, as planned, but it could easily have been the Jedi as well; both sides lost out. However, Jelena’s Foresight allowed her to escape the fate the Lady had planned, as the Jedi become obsessed wit their darker feelings and ignored other events entirely (though it was a close run thing for Roan). Breaking free, the Jedi managed to make an attempt to stop the Lady’s deadly agent escaping. Although she proved to much for them- even with Anaz’s help- they exposed her existence, which was not the plan, and so the stage is set for future meetings. The Jedi are left with little idea what was removed from the Vault, and as the Venerable Z’Har put in motion the device that destroyed it- shortly before being murdered by the Lady’s agent, though he managed to warn the players of the Lady’s existence before dying- it now cannot be discerned. The effect of the lady on Cassilis caused a disturbance in the Force which was felt by Mr. Sensitive himself, Gallagher, on Spiridos- but he had his own problems by then.
On Spiridos, the twist is that the Abbot Sienar is in fact a super-powerful Dark Side Master; once known as Brith, Gallagher’s nemesis from his background, but with a history stretching back far further, with many different names. Sienar is the real deal, the equivalent of a Sith Lord; powerful, cunning and totally malevolent. It is, of course, his influence and use of Corruption that has turned the Church into turning out murderers like Varm and the horrific nature of the dead in Tranquil Repose (when Gallagher called him evil, he took it as a compliment).
Gallagher spent a portion of the game talking with Sienar before this revelation and discovered his charitable work. Gallagher knows that Sienar can save the lives of billions threatened by an extreme famine crisis approaching part of the Republic. Little of this makes sense right now; much of it will be explored later.
The important point is that the Jedi survived their trials on Spiridos, as Varm (not knowing they were Jedi but knowing they were nosy) tried to kill them, before making their final attempt at arrest (earlier than planned, though old NPC Ithrorn, general purpose Jedi Knight, was sent to aid them at this point), killing Varm, and then being totalled by Sienar who, despite being crippled by his disease (which also left him unrecognisable to Gallagher) had no trouble taking out two relatively inexperienced Jedi who were already injured by earlier fighting. The drama of Sienar’s revelation- as the Jedi had spent most of the game trying to ensure his survival- is one of the highlights of the entire game since its foundation because it had all worked so perfectly. One of the best parts of the set-up is the way Kathya and Varm seemed to be trying to hide their criminal activities from Sienar, who was seen as an innocent. On the contrary, they were actually trying to hide their failure from Sienar, who would have killed them for it (much as he knew anyway, of course, but Varm wasn’t the smartest tool in the shed. In retrospect, Kathya mocking him for having to be the one to explain things to the Abbot now looks very different). Indeed, he sent Varm to die fighting the Jedi at the end as penance.
Final twist is the personal relationship between Gallagher and Sienar. Gallagher doesn’t understand this- but Sienar took Gallagher with him at the end, which was the conclusion, and the set-up for next time.
So then, much intellectual work for the Jedi, very detailed settings, and mighty events. Both the Lady’s agent and Sienar were very dangerous foes indeed, but at this point the real struggle is being locked with Sienar, as the Dark Siders will be interacting with the Lady. The Jedi have no clue as to the nature of their foe, whereas they know exactly where Sienar is going, back to the Synod homeworld of Mandragos; the story will continue with Sienar.
In the same way parts of the campaign ‘test’ what a Clone Wars campaign would be like, Sienar is an enormous excuse to test what having a Sith Lord (other than Palpatine who we can’t really use) in the game. Not that Sienar is a Sith, and in fact there are some very important differences, but the Sienar plotline could have easily been in a Sith era game, where he would have been a somewhat aberrant Sith Lord doing the exact same thing, posing as an goodly Abbot, with a secret Darth title and everything. As it is, villains like him are one-offs in this game.
Jedi were tested on patience, and on remaining positive at all times; many times I made references to the Jedi on Cassilis feeling irritable or angry, and if they did not try and contradict or fight this things got worse. On Spiridos, it was more a matter of maintaining control under extreme provocation from Varm- but a far more personal test for Gallagher is coming.
The Jedi story is dark, and it will remain so. Next episode is the big one… but we do not yet know when it will be played.
Well folks, there you go!
"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"
Gender: Male Location: St. Marys, Ohio
Cool, I really enjoyed the story, and was totally blown away by the Seinar revelation. I can't wait for the next story, I hope very much that Andro eventually gets the opportunity to go after Galagher and whup Seinar. With lots of help, of course.
'Jedi are at their best when things don't go as planned.' - Anakin Skywalker, whom we now know never met Andro Fenris.
Lady is obviously evil- look what she did to Cassilis.
Thanks for great game, Ushgarak!
__________________ Yet the lies that Melkor, the mighty and accursed, Morgoth Bauglir, the Power of Terror and of Hate, sowed in the hearts of Elves and Men are a seed that does not die and cannot be destroyed; and ever and anon it sprouts anew, and will bear dark fruit even unto the latest days.
"… his name is Melkor, Lord of All, Giver of Freedeom, and he shall make you stronger than they."
Sauron to Ar-Pharazôn
But yes, Episode VI was great. It's the one where Galder takes over the galaxy, brings Kuylen back to life, hooks up with Jolanta, makes Rand, Sidious, and Dooku his personal servants, and converts Yoda to the Dark Side.