Star Wars: Dawn of Defiance - Traitor's Gambit (Episode I)
 
Our heroes in this tale include Jak Morningstar, and his charges Aeryn Highwind, Talath Starwind, and Justyn Rhane, all 2nd-level Jedi. We pick up a few months after Order 66 has been executed, with poor Jak on the run trying to keep his padawans safe. They flee to Sel Zonn Station, seeking safe passage away from the Empire. But the Force has other plans...

“Do you think we’ll be safe there Master?” asked Talath.

Jak pursed his lips before answering. The answer was that they would never be safe again after Order 66. They had been on the run for months and just sold Feryss' Defender-class light corvette in exchange for passage to Sel Zonn Station. But there was no guarantee Sel Zonn would be any safer than anywhere else from the Empire.

Seemingly motionless among a sea of starships and satellites above the twinkling world of Brentaal, Sel Zonn Station grew larger as the shuttle approached with each passing second. A central pylon formed the bulk of the station’s mass, and three landing platforms leading to docking bays extended from the central section, equidistant from one another and jutting out into space. The dorsal side of the station featured a disc-shaped secondary structure, on top of which blinking lights indicated the presence of a landing platform reserved for wealthy patrons.

“It will be safe enough,” was what Jak settled on.

After getting tangled up with an Alderaanian spy, the Jedi realize they can't blend in. The Jedi just can't walk away from people in need, and in this case it's a precious cargo bound to Senator Bail Organa. They heed the call and agree to help retrieve the cargo...which of course is in the most heavily guarded part of the station.

“Ah yes, the cargo is in the main docking bay on Blue Deck, a section of the station heavily traveled by Imperial loyalists and one of the few places where Imperial ships dock. Given your services, I am happy to provide this information free of charge.”

“WHY would you put the cargo THERE?” asked Aeryn.

“I managed to get the cargo stored there by calling in some favors, reasoning that the Empire would not think anyone would be bold enough to hide contraband right under their noses.”

“What’s so important about this cargo, anyway?” asked Justyn.

“The cargo is, in fact, another agent of Alderaanian Security who has been frozen in carbonite for transport from the Deep Core world of Empress Teta. The agent had himself frozen so that he could be transported as cargo rather than as a passenger, reducing the chance that the Empire would find and arrest him.”

“This just gets better and better,” said Jak.

Our heroes manage to rescue the cargo -- a spy encased in carbonite with information critical to the nascent Rebellion -- in the nick of time, thanks in no small part to Sirona O'Keefe and Crash, her BB-1 unit. I decided to put the BB-8 unit toy in our house to good use. Keeping him in display mode means BB-8 doesn't move, and when I role-play Sirona I just riff off whatever the little bot seems to be saying (when he turns his head it's a no, if he doesn't it's sa yes). The kids thought this was hysterical.

"Name's Sirona O'Keefe," said the Captain, tipping back her cowboy hat and kicking her boots onto the back of the copilot seat next to her. "You can call me Sir or Captain. I don't like formalities so you don't have to call me sir -- but seriously you can call me Sir." She winked at Jak. "Now don't be shy Crash, introduce yerself tah the nice people!"

After a moment she frowned down at the seat, and kicked it hard enough to swivel around to reveal the round form of a green BB-unit.

"This here's a BB-1, but I call him Crash." Crash beeped and shook his head in irritation. Whatever he said, Captain O'Keefe ignored him. "Now I know whatcher thinkin', why in the world would a co-pilot be named Crash? Not to worry, Crash is a great pilot. Ain't that right Crash?"

Crash burbled something unintelligible.

"Don't mind him, he's programmed tah be grumpy." Captain O'Keefe flashed Jak a smile.

I played Sirona as gung-ho cowgirl type -- think Applejack from My Little Pony -- who considers her story to be the true hero's tale. The PCs are just along for the ride...literally, since she pilots the Banshee.

The information the spy provided is the location of turncoat Admiral Varth, trapped in a secret Imperial prison on the planet Felucia. Varth has information valuable to the Rebellion and wants to defect. Of course our heroes go along for the ride.

After crash-landing on Felucia, the Jedi are forced to explore on foot. I made sure they discovered evidence of something BIG roaming the jungles of Felucia. We play in our garage, which is open to the elements, and it was steaming hot that day so the atmosphere worked out nicely. You can see the playlist I used on my YouTube channel.

Jak made it a point of not angering the native Felucians, even when they were hostile. With judicious application of some Force-fueled charm, he calmed them down and averted an inter-species incident. Curiously, the adventure assumes the PCs just beat the living crap out of the Felucians and everyone's supposed to just chalk it up to a misunderstanding later.

This more sane approach by the PCs meant their relations with the elder went much more smoothly. The padawans helped heal sick children in the village and Jak taught the chief a healing power using the Force. It was a big kumbaya moment...until a scout trooper spotted them and sped off on a speeder bike!

The PCs mounted up on kybucks -- tauntauns for the jungle, basically -- and pursued the fleeing trooper. This was an awesome chase scene that the PCs really enjoyed, ducking through foliage, avoiding deep marshes, and all the while trying to catch the scout trooper. They don't, of course; instead, he leads them right to a communication center. My son insisted on capturing one of the stormtrooper's speeder bikes...this would be critical later. I used the Star Wars soundboard for the sound effects. You can check the sounds out here.

A scout trooper and a stormtrooper showed up at the prison facility with two Jedi prisoners in tow. Using some Force powers and smooth talking, they marched right into the prison proper. After attempting to get the guards to leave their post (which they wouldn't do, the guards didn't like stormtroopers), the Jedi just settled for getting the door to the prison open and then dropping the disguise. The Jedi struggled with the guard droids and troopers but defeated them just in time for the warden of the facility, Captain Vischera, to show up.

I'm not entirely sure why this is, but the scenario gives everyone a name starting with a V: Admiral Varth, Captain Vischera, and later Captain Verana. It's all a little confusing.

Vischera shuts off the alarm and declares the escape over. He's ludicrously confident that the Jedi have lost but appears to be by himself...until the huge mutant Felucian behind him squeezes into the room.

Once again, the PCs did an excellent job of thinking outside the box. Jak attempted to use the Force to contact the Felucian's mind, bolstered by Talath (who is the resident "face-man" of the group).

A huge shadow lurched its way behind Vischera as he stepped into the room. The towering monstrosity was once a Felucian, but now it more closely resembled a beast than a sentient being. Both arms were replaced by a bone blade fused into the elbow joint, and its muscles ripple with unnatural strength. Chitinous plates were grafted onto the creature’s body, and it slithered along on a snake-like tail that caused the floor to rumble with its weight.

The hulk lifted one blade over Jak's head.

"Wait!" said Jak. "I know the Felucians. There's good in him, I can sense it." He put one hand out, eyes closed. "Search your feelings."

Hagrak hesitated.

"No!" Vischera's eyes went wide. "You are my loyal servant! You will do as I command!"

Watching his master, Talath closed his eyes as well and stretched out one hand. "You have been twisted to believe that you are loyal servants of Captain Vischera. But you are not. You are Fellucian."

"I gave you life!" shouted Vischera, spittle flying from his lips. "You will not defy your master!"

Hagrak's blade flashed...

Sure enough, they managed to turn the mutated Felucian on Vischera and secure their escape.

They made it to the rooftop, only to be fired upon by an AT-ST. Fortunately Captain O'Keefe came to the rescue, but not before one of the other prisoners was incinerated.

This session went much better. We're now in the flow of things, the PCs are getting comfortable using their Jedi powers, and they even threw in a few Star Wars quotes along the way. It's also an excellent example of how skill checks can make the game interesting. These Star Wars adventures are expertly crafted to be about more than fighting, and it shows in how the PCs chose non-combat solutions to solve combat-oriented problems.

My patrons can read the full fictional retelling of Episode I here.

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