It's always a satisfying moment when a character you've created so long ago at last takes that major step towards realizing their full potential.
As some may know, way back during the Edge of the Empire Beta, my friend Ben "Cyril" Erickson proposed a one-shot scenario to try out FFG's new system. This was done as one of our players (Rikoshi) had some scheduling conflicts on Sundays with his Shadowrun group, and by running EotE this allowed the rest of us a chance to game without putting Rikoshi's character on the bench for a session.
As has been tradition since I first played a Star Wars RPG (WEG 2nd edition way back in 1993), I wanted my first character to be a Force user of at least some type. Well, seeing as how FFG hadn't pulled back the curtain on Jedi as playable characters, that left me with the option of the Force Exile. I was tempted to use the Morningfire surname as I'd done many times in the past, with my first WEG PC being a Young Jedi named Ryu Morningfire (hey, I was big into Street Fighter II at the time, sue me). My first OCR PC being a Jedi Guardian named Donovan Morningfire, from whom I've pretty much taken my fan community handle (it's reached the point that more people know me as Donovan or Dono than by my proper first name), and was carried over to the RCR as well. The first Saga Edition character that I played that wasn't a conversion from the OCR/RCR was Zayne Morningfire, a Legacy Era descendent of Dono that wound up becoming an obscenely powerful Force user thanks to a combination of unusually good dice rolls and a homebrew talent that didn't look anywhere near as broken on paper.
So yeah, the temptation was there to once again use the Morningfire surname for this EotE character. But, this character wasn't a Jedi, hadn't really even been trained as a Jedi, so my using Morningfire for a character that wasn't a Jedi just didn't feel right. A leafing through some old WEG characters that I'd created by never played provided the right inspiration at the right time, and so Valin Starsmore, a Force-sensitive street rat (Human Smuggler/Scoundrel/Force Exile) was created.
Well, as I noted in a prior post, Valin has made his return to active play as part of a new campaign, this one blending elements of Edge of the Empire with Age of Rebellion, with the young Force user having found himself keeping company with a group of Alliance operatives. While we've yet to really strike a major blow against the Empire (yet), that's mostly as the GM has been running us through the Long Arm of the Hutt module, taking us through the events on Ryloth and Geonosis aboard the YT-1300 that we'd appropriated at the end of the first adventure (Escape from Mos Shutta) but have since retro-fitted, repaired, refurbished, renovated, and rechristened the Rascal's Folly. According to Rala, our Chiss field officer, there's a story behind the name, but we're still waiting on the details.
However, the past couple sessions have seen us taking a detour from the events of LAotH, first with a trip to Nar Shaddaa to satisfy an Obligation we'd incurred during the prior session, with events quickly spiraling out of control (and it was NOT Valin's fault in the slightest!) and us having to make a hurried departure with Ubese hunters and ISB operatives on our trail, simply because we'd agreed to ferry a Bothan historian to an undisclosed location (that one can be blamed on Kyun, our Sullustan tramp freighter 'captain' who agreed to the charter without getting input from the rest of us).
Well, our most recent session was this past Saturday, and it started off with the Bothan, a rather timid-seeming yet excitable fellow by the name of Lorik Feryess revealing that our destination was the planet Tython... which drew a bunch of blank stares from the entire party (nobody passed the Knowledge: Lore check the GM asked for). A bit dismayed, Lorik revealed that Tython was said to be the birthplace of the Jedi Order, and had served as the Order's home in the aftermath of the Sith Invasion and the following Galactic Cold War. With Valin's interest in the Jedi and his own limited training in the Force, that part got his attention.
As a team of archaeologists, our party needs a lot of work. Getting to Tython wasn't too hard as Lorik was able to provide astrogation coordinates, though the data was horrifically outdated and gave Kyun fits trying to properly chart a course (took him several hours due to all the Threat he'd rolled on his Astrogation check, and that's counting his Galaxy Mapper talent). Finding the temple in question that Lorik wanted to investigate was another matter. As the temple was located quite a ways off and there wasn't anyplace to park the ship, we wound having to walk, though we at least didn't get lost. After some run-ins with the native fauna (including a bunch of savage mutants that called themselves Flesh Raiders) we finally made it to the temple itself.
Said temple was really more of a training outpost, one located on a rocky outcropping with barely enough room to land a landspeeder much less a YT-1300. Lorik seemed content to explore the grounds around the area while leaving it to us to explore the temple proper. And so we ended up on what amounted to a dungeon delve, leading most of the group to conclude that Lorik sent us ahead because he was too frightened to go himself. Of course, the exterior wasn't exactly danger free as Valin had inadvertently triggered an archaic training droid, forced into a brief sparring match using what Lorik identified as an archaic training lightsaber. It was a weapon that Valin felt oddly comfortable using in spite of having never seen it's type before, though he noted it was similar to the sparing sticks he'd used during self-defense lessons with his mentor, the man that had helped Valin gain a basic understanding of the Force and whom the young lad suspects may have been a Jedi that survived the purging of the Jedi Order.
After dealing with various pitfalls, we reached the "heart" of the temple, which was where ancient data recordings the group had salvaged lead us to believe the major archeological find would be located, and even picked up a few other items along the way. However, the problem we soon ran into was that the access doors to the main "treasure trove" were sealed tight and any attempts to force them open failed, up to and including our sassy demolitions expert trying to use a shaped detonite charge. As most of the group tried to figure out a way in, Valin opted to do a bit more exploring on his own, and came across the remains of a library, with the "books" having long since succumbed to the ravages of time and the lack of a controlled environment.
However, something in the room was able to recognize that Valin was Force-sensitive (or just noticed that he was the only one carrying one of those training 'sabers) and revealed a well-hidden door as a recorded voice instructed "Approach the entry Padawan, and be tried." Not sure if anyone else would have been able to enter, but based on an intuitive feeling (which he's come to trust), Valin stepped through the door and embarked on what I can only take to a set of Trials. This itself was handled as a one-on-one session between me and the GM, with the rest of the players observing from the sidelines if they wished (a couple of them had gotten to wondering where Valin had wandered off to, and found the library just in time to see Valin step through the door before it slammed shut behind him).
I have to say, going through these Trials was an interesting experience, with each Trial reflecting some facet of the Jedi Code (which Valin had long ago learned and taken to reciting portions of during stressful situations), and I think lead to some character growth as he was put in situations that forced him to really consider what those sentences meant. He succeeded, though the Third Trial was rather nerve-wracking, and was rewarded with the means to open those impenetrable vault doors (a rather hefty ornamental sword) and perhaps more precious, a crystal of a type quite similar to the one he wears around his neck, but larger, in pristine condition and noted as being suited for usage in constructing a lightsaber.
The main treasure for the adventure was apparently an ancient Jedi holocron along with a host of other historical items pertaining to the lore and history of the Jedi Order. You know, the sort of stuff that belongs in a museum; I even had Valin make a remark about how someone he'd met briefly on his travels, a Bothan archaeologist named Priska, would have been thrilled with a find of this caliber (you're welcome Linda). Attempts to reach Lorik via comlink weren't working (presumably something was interfering with the signal down here), so we grabbed the holocron and a few other portable items and headed out.
Sadly, it seems that we weren't quite as adept at covering our tracks when fleeing Nar Shaddaa as we'd hoped. We exited the temple just in time to see Lorik being gunned down by a combined force of Ubese hunters and Imperial stormtroopers, with the Imperial agent in charge ordering his troops to take us out. They failed, though we were able to learn from one of the few surviving Ubese that they'd been ordered to kill Lorik and his associates, then plant a series of beacons that would allow the Vindicator-class heavy cruiser that was in orbit to make a pinpoint tactical strike and ensure the temple and any traces of the Jedi Order were obliterated. Against Kyun's opinion, we opted to salvage as many of those books and cultural items as we could from the reliquary, figuring we could use the troop transports our enemies had used to ferry the goods back to our ship. We had just managed to clear the immediate area when destruction rained from the skies in the form of turbolaser fire; apparently enough of the beacons had been placed to give the Imperials in orbit enough data for an accurate firing solution. The return trip was a lot faster, and we did manage to escape, though we had to outrun that Vindicator (callsign appropriately being "Merciless" with some jokes about Captain Ming being in charge) and half a dozen TIE fighters in the process, but we escaped without too much damage to our ship.
After escaping, we had to figure out what to do next, particularly as Lorik was the one who knew where we were going to deliver the various historical items we'd found (and get paid, which Kyun insisted was the important factor). Apparently Lorik had some foresight that he might wind up dead on this trip, and left us a recording on the ship's computer that gave us our next destination and point of contact, those being the planet Dac aka Mon Calamari and an eldery Mon Cal woman by the name of Plashi Wul. She'd take the recovered items off our hands and provide the agreed upon credits along with a bonus for any significant finds.
Later that night, Valin opted to privately inspect the holocron, which to this point he'd avoided touching. As he figured, the device "awoke" when he tried to reach out to activate it via the Force, and Valin got a brief and unexpected lesson on the Jedi, having some actual facts to now work with instead of the half-truths and suspicions he'd been working from. Of course, Rala had figured he'd do something like this, but given the rather dismissive attitudes most of the group held towards the Jedi at least understood why Valin wasn't forthcoming with his abilities. She did make it clear that as far as she was concerned, the holocron was going to be among the items turned over to whomever Lorik's backer was, since that was part of the agreement they'd made with the now-dead Bothan.
So, what does all this mean for Valin in game terms? Well, he's got that archaic training lightsaber to work with, and the GM is allowing Valin to gain the Lightsaber skill as a career skill, effectively allowing me to replace Insight from the Force Emergent specialization with the Jedi Training talent from my Ways of the Force fan supplement, granting him both Discipline (which I'd gotten from Insight to begin with) and Lightsaber as career skills. Between the session's length and the bonus I got for Valin's motivation coming into play, it was enough for him to increase his Force Rating to 2 and take a rank in the Lightsaber skill. Plus, the GM will allow Valin to learn enough from the holocron to eventually construct his own lightsaber as well as pick up any of the Force Powers in the two core rulebooks (EotE and AoR Beta). And with a suitable crystal in hand, two of the major hurdles to Valin building his own lightsaber (the first being learning how) have been met. Of course, there's still plenty to spend XP on even without Force & Destiny being released yet, such as honing his Discipline and Lightsaber skills and bolstering his Force Powers (thinking of picking up Foresee next though Enhance is awfully tempting, plus I need to snag some Strength Upgrades for Move and the offensive Control Upgrade for Sense). But I got a feeling it won't be too many sessions for Valin trades that heavy blaster pistol of his to another PC.
Of course, one very interesting element to Valin's background that got
revealed was that the small crystalline pendant he carries was of a
similar type to the lightsaber crystal he'd earned through those Trials,
raising a serious question about just who his parents were and how
they'd have come into ownership of a lightsaber crystal.
So after several sessions in this campaign and a number of "Infinities" adventures, Valin has finally taken that big step into a much larger galaxy. While there is a certain level of excitement on my part that he's finally on track to becoming a Jedi, there's the knowledge that such power is going to result in our group earning the notice of people we'd rather didn't take notice of us. After all, there's still Teemo the Hutt out there, and he seems to have posted a sizable bounty for the heads (just the heads) of three members of our group (Valin's not one of them). Plus there's that Imperial cruiser that's probably got us on file now, and the Imperial in charge of the ship who was quite keen on wiping out traces of the Jedi Order, even ones that were thousands of years old. Yeah, that's not going to be an issue later on in the campaign, not one bit *cue rolling of eyes* And there's still his Bounty Obligation to contend with, as I'm sure the ISB's going to take notice that a person that's wanted for connections to a "known terrorist and fugitive" was sighted fleeing from the sight of a ruined Jedi temple just prior to its destruction, so there's that to deal with as well.
Truthfully, this kind of felt like Valin's "day in the limelight" episode. For most of the campaign, he'd kind of been playing second fiddle and simply going along with what the group wanted, so it was nice to have an objective that he as a character would be really interested in completing. I'm really hoping that Valin doesn't wind up being a full-time spotlight character as a result of the changes this last session has introduced, and have communicated that to the GM. And while Luke has been and probably will always be my favorite character from the original Star Wars movies, I'm really not keen on playing a rehash of his story from the movies. Though at least I can safely presume that Valin's current love interest (Jynx, a cute and flirty Mirialan Hired Gun/Demolitionist) isn't a blood relation of any sort.
Hard to believe this campaign's only been going for only seven sessions, and that Valin's come so far between the campaign's start and where he currently stands. And with Force & Destiny on the horizon (allegedly a Beta will be released at GenCon, and the final book will like drop around this time in 2015), there's still plenty of room for Valin to grow as a character while pursuing his motivation of eventually becoming an actual Jedi Knight. And I really do hope this campaign lasts long enough to realize that particular ambition. And I'm already looking forward to how the rest of this particular adventure plays out. Call it veteran gamer's instincts, but I think there's going to be at least one more Force-related surprise in store for our group and Valin in particular.