November 6, 2016

Achievement Unlocked - Kyber Crystal Acquired!

Wow, so much for that string of updates I talked about back in September.

To be honest, I largely lost interest in trying to hash together Villains for 7th Seas, due in no small part to the very fun Star Wars campaign that my buddy Eric "Oghen" Brenders has been running for our Friday Night Skype group.

As I understand it, said campaign was really only meant to be a one-shot set shortly after the events of The Force Awakens, but the three of us had such fun playing our characters that Eric was able to branch it out into a running campaign.  Since that first session where a former Rebellion field medic, a runaway Tapani lady, and a street rat found themselves scrambling to rescue the orphans of a remote world from being "recruited" into the ranks of the First Order's stormtrooper legions, our characters have come a fair distance, and even picked up a Gungan mercenary as a fourth party member.

It's an odd and interesting group, with my friend Linda playing Jade Morningfire and myself playing Valin Starsmore.  We tweaked our character's respective backgrounds (and I tweaked Valin's build) to account for the 30 year time gap, and for the most part our characters work quite well in this setting.

With Valin, the biggest changes came from doing research on the new post-RotJ time frame, and from everything I could gather, the destruction of Luke's new Jedi training center/temple only took place about five years prior to the events of TFA.  Which meant that rather than learning snippets of lore about the Jedi and the Force, Valin could well have been one of Luke's students at the temple about the time the Knights of Ren came in and tore it all down.  Yeah, it's a bit of a cliche that Valin is now a survivor of an extinct Jedi Order (albeit one that hadn't quite gotten off the ground), but it worked, and it allowed for me to provide Valin with a training lightsaber, one that he had built himself as part of his limited training  There's still a lot he doesn't know, and it's kind of funny that with Jade being even more clueless about the Force (she initially had no no idea that her empathy and persuasiveness were linked to the Force) she looks to Valin as a source of answers, many of which he simply doesn't have.  Granted, he's been adhering to the old Jedi tradition of "certain point of view" and generally neglecting to mention to Jade (or anyone) that he had undergone training as a Jedi.  In terms of the character's mindset, I figured it was less a case of needing to hide as one might do during the Empire's reign, but more that by this time frame the Jedi were seen as nigh-legendary figures by those who believed, and Valin really didn't want to disappoint the believers with how badly his nascent abilities didn't match up to the stories.

Now the campaign itself is set within a remote section of Outer Rim Territories, and our group has become embroiled in the plot of a mercenary company seeking to gain power in the region by spreading a fairly nasty manufactured bio-toxin.  Doctor Kane Dyson (the former Rebel field medic) has been making some pretty solid progress on countering this bio-toxin, having thus far devised a vaccine but still working on a proper cure.  We got asked/hired by the medical facility of the ice planet Boreas to make a supply gathering run to a more upscale planet in the sector, one that could be best described as a corporate police state (FYI, GM is Canadian so anything political you might read into that was not intended), only to find out that a lot of what we were looking for had been stolen in previous weeks by "smugglers" that we guessed were actually agents of the mercenary company.  While lounging around in a really glitzy cantina (think Los Vegas nightclub), we were met by a friend (a rather attractive if tipsy/aloof Human woman) of one of the Doc's medical contacts, who let us know that what we were after was missing but that she had a means to help us gather some of what we needed by heading out of the spaceport and into a "restricted area."  Valin piped up that we'd be glad to help with gathering the supplies, earning a sly remark from the woman if he was trying to impress someone (either hero or Jade, though Valin denied that insinuation pretty quickly).

Now, worth mentioning is that through all this, Valin has been having visions revolving around the actions of an older human male in tattered robes, with the very real sense that I've been following this man's path in reverse, starting where he ended and gradually heading to the beginning.  Well, en route to the latest planet, Valin (and somehow Jade who got dragged along for the visionquest) saw the man's start of darkness as he used his lightsaber to butcher an entire settlement of sick people, with the older man's lightsaber starting to turn red and his eyes going Sith yellow in the aftermath of the slaughter.  And sure enough, the restricted area we were going to was the remains of the village where the events of the vision took place, and a subsequent use of the Foresee power confirmed there was indeed something in the center of the ruins, something important.

We get there, successfully avoiding detection, and under a section of cobblestone that looked very out of place, Valin started digging (unaware he was doing so at first), uncovering a small box.  However, before he could fully dig it out, a bunch of seriously archaic combat droids showed up, with the ever observant Gungan being anything but and thus the droids catching us by surprise.  Sensing that this was the moment that Valin had to choose between embracing who he really was or continuing to hide, he calmly stood and instead of reaching for his blaster, withdrew and ignited his training lightsaber, with the intent to simply draw fire from the combat droids in the hopes of protecting his comrades.  Granted, this wound up drawing the attention of the leader droid, who was similar to a MagnaGuard (but not as deadly according to the GM).  What followed was a pretty cool combat encounter, with Valin getting to make use of his Improved Reflect at least once while going toe-to-toe with the commander droid, with both Valin and the Gungan slowly whittling the droid down.  Now, in hindsight I think both myself and the GM overlooked that Valin's training lightsaber only did strain damage, and the Eric was treating it as wounds; I certainly could be mistaken on that count, but either way it was still a tense encounter, with Valin proving the victor after a freaking awesome combat check (six successes from a dice pool of 2Y1G1B1R1P1S) and taking the droid leader down after it had rather non-chalantly beaned the Gungan with its combat staff.  We were all banged up to some degree, though I think Valin came out the least worst for wear thanks to those two ranks in Parry and Reflect he'd bought along the way (he did take a critical injury during the fight, but not a horrible one), but we know the Gungan got the worst of it due to being knocked out and suffering a couple of critical injuries.

A few times during this fight, Valin felt a strong pull to whatever was in that buried box, sensing/knowing that the contents would help him to easily win this fight.  It's debatable if it was willfulness on Valin's part, but he refuse the promise of "easy power" in the belief that he if couldn't protect his friends without that added power, then he didn't deserve it.  Thinking on it, it's not unlike Karrin Murphy in the Dresden Files short story Aftermath (found in the Side Jobs collection) where she didn't go running to collect Fidelachius out of the belief that she had to prove that she didn't need the power of the sword if she was going to be truly worthy of it.   Well, with our foes defeated, Valin was able to finish unearthing that box, opening it to find an ancient lightsaber hilt that was covered in the blood of the slain.  Because Valin had remained true to the light and not succumbed to the lure of power, the hilt disintegrated into the wind, leaving behind a kyber crystal.

Now, I've played Star Wars RPGs for a great many years, and of all the different ways that my Jedi PCs (and I've played a lot of them) have obtained the proper elements to construct a lightsaber, this was probably one of the coolest.  And yes, there was a very real temptation on my part to have Valin go the quick and easy path and rip open that box.  Not sure what the result would have been, but seeing as how the kid knew enough about the dark side to know it was a bad thing, even going so far as to caution Jade about being wary of the dark side, I felt that he wouldn't succumb; in a way, it would have been better for him to have relied upon his own strength and failed than become reliant on the dark side and won.  So it wasn't just Valin obtaining a kyber crystal so that he can now build a proper lightsaber, but also an important step in his character growth, embracing that while he may not be a Knight, he is a Jedi, and that hiding away isn't going to do him or anyone else any good.  And that was where the session ended.

Now, I've had some time to weigh what type of focusing crystal I'd like Valin's newly procured kyber crystal to be, and ultimately settled on the Etaan crystal from Endless Vigil.  It's not got as much raw damage potential, but since he's a Shien Expet it wouldn't take much XP for him to get to Falling Avalanche so that he can get a damage boost when needed, sheer raw damage isn't really needed.  Plus, that extra rank of Parry and Reflect are mighty nice, though I'll have to hopefully succeed on modding the crystal to get those; the rank of Reflect I could do without since I plan on going into Sentry, but that rank of Parry will be mighty nice to have.  Have to say, if I can get that thing fully modded, it'll be a pretty sweet lightsaber, especially as I start adding in attachments like the curved hilt (though narratively it won't be curved, just a specially customized grip) and the overcharged power cell (a bit dicey since GM can spend threat to reduce the damage, but worth the chance), with the superior hilt customization likely being an end-game objective due to cost.

I did wind up buying a non-career rank of Mechanics, both as he's been picking up things in helping the Doc keep the beater of a starship the group travels around in up and running (no small feat) as well as remembering lessons he'd forgotten from when Valin built his training lightsaber during his time at Luke's Jedi academy.  Which if Eric permits, that yellow die will hopefully prove a boon when using the lightsaber hilt construction rules in Endless Vigil.  You know, it's kind of funny that prior to playing the Sentinel version of Valin, none of the other career sourcebooks for FFG's Star Wars line were ever of the "dude, this book has so much awesome stuff for my character!"  Hopefully my dice will continue their uncommonly good fortune and I can get some sweet bonuses for Valin's lightsaber hilt.  Seriously, I think the fact that I've used my dice in games in which FFG notables like Jay Little, Sam Stewart, Andy Fischer, and Katrina Ostrander may have had something to do with it.

Anyway, that's the long version of a very cool story of how one of my Top 10 favorite RPG characters has earned his (proper) lightsaber.

I've also been playing in a 7th Sea second edition campaign, playing Estevan Santiago de Montaya, and that campaign has also been a lot of fun.  Thus far, the GM has run us through a tweaked version of "Music of the Spheres" and part of "Lady's Favor" of the Erebus Cross series.  And much like his 1e incarnation, Estevan has been both fun to play and quite awesome in what he does, with my d10s rolling above the curve and netting him one or two raises above what his dice pools would indicate as the norm; giving flavor-filled descriptions of how he's tackling a given Risk probably helps since it's gotten him an extra die at times when it'd really be helpful.  I'll type up a post about that campaign later on in the week, probably sometime around the weekend.

Until next time, may the dice odds be ever in your favor.