Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Wonderful Resource

I recently purchased a great Star Wars book, in fact I would consider it one of the best I have in my collection: the Haynes Millenium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual. It's written partly as a generic reference document from the Corellian Engineering Corporation, suitable for all YT-series freighters, and partly as a history lesson into the past of the most famous YT-1300 around. I have found this to be a very entertaining read which strikes the perfect balance between techno-babble and legitimate physics; between style and substance; between fluff and crunch.

I am very interested in learning more about Star Wars technology, from hyperdrives to sublight propulsion systems, but I don't really want to know that much. Particularly if the authors are not physicists or nuclear engineers. An appropriate Star Wars level of detail is tricky to get just right. This book seems to have nailed it, and I very much appreciate it. In fact, it is a good guide for the sort of thing I'd like to pull off with this site. I am very interested in a quasi-realistic background in order to enhance verisimilitude, but I must remain wary about drowning out the free-and-easy nature so key to space opera like Star Wars. Ranks and badges and specific military units and named NPCs all have their place, but the goal is to use them to enhance the connectedness and continuity of plots, not drown in pages and pages of boring details.

Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual (Haynes Manuals), LucasBooks, 2012, written by Ryder Windham, Chris Reiff, and Chis Trevas

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Big News

For this post I have two important news items.

First and foremost is the publication of the Age of Rebellion beginner game by Fantasy Flight Games. I am very excited about this. While I very much like the rules system for Edge of the Empire, I really want to use it to run adventures for characters fighting against the Empire. Helping to tell those kinds of stories is the purpose of this blog, after all. The beginner game provides an introductory scenario very similar to that of the Edge of the Empire beginner game, except that it has the heroes raiding a potential new base rather than fleeing from a vengeful crime boss. There's also a bonus adventure PDF with more material for using the base as a jumping-off point for Rebel activity.

Age of Rebellion Beginner Game Support Material

Second, there's a big announcement on StarWars.com regarding the future of storytelling in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. It seems the powers that be are putting together a team to oversee continuity of future Expanded Universe material. What is more, they are not beholden to any of the existing material as they move forward. Check out the linked video for more information.

The Legendary Star Wars Universe Turns a New Page

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Close Quarters

A short primer on galactic geography (astrography?). The star systems of the galaxy are divided into regions, based largely on the historical migration patterns of early spacefaring races.

Deep Core
Few habitable systems lie this close to the super-massive black hole at the center of the galaxy.

Core e.g. Coruscant, Corellia, Alderaan, Kuat
This is where the truly powerful, wealthy, and influential planets are situated. Among the oldest human-inhabited planets. Center of Imperial power. 

Colonies e.g. Neimoidia, Koensayr, Shelkonwa
The first waves of exploration reached these worlds.

Inner Rim e.g. Thyferra, Bestine, Tanaab
The Inner Rim is the outer edge of what some call the Greater Core.

Expansion Region e.g. Tierfon, Woostri, Kira
Imperial might begins to diminish as one moves further from the Core worlds. The Expansion Region has a brutal history as a group of worlds initially controlled by large corporations of one type or another. Many of these worlds were stripped of natural resources to fuel the flowering of the Core. 

Mid Rim e.g. Naboo, Malastare, Bothawui, Kashyyyk
The Mid Rim is a large and sprawling space filled with beings that like to keep to themselves. They prefer to avoid both the political problems of the Core Worlds and the rampant lawlessness of the Outer Rim.

Outer Rim e.g. Sullust, Tatooine, Mustafar, Yavin
This is the last stop in terms of the "civilized" galaxy. Most planets in the Outer Rim are a far cry from the urbanized and sophisticated worlds in the Core. Imperial might is weakest out here on the fringes of the galaxy. Beyond the Outer Rim lies Wild Space and the Unknown Regions.

The Sumitra Sector (including Tierfon) is located in a thin section of the Expansion Region, and as such, is very close to systems technically situated in the Inner Rim, Expansion Region, Mid Rim, and Outer Rim. The sector is nestled between the Hydian Way and the Perlemian Trade Route, two of the major hyperspace trading routes spanning the galaxy, and also close to the smaller Vaathkree Trade Corridor.

X-wing starfighters ranging from Tierfon are frequently sent to support raiding and resupply missions targeting Imperial cargo shipments moving along the trade corridors.

Star Wars The Essential Atlas, LucasBooks, 2009 (Wallace, Fry)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Just as we will strive to flesh out the characters, places, and background of the Rebel base, we will also work to detail the main opposition that the RPG PCs (or X-Wing players) will be up against.

In this case, the Sumitra Sector Imperial forces. Since Sumitra is a relatively obscure location, the overall Imperial leader (in direct control of the Imperial Navy and Army units in the sector, as well as the boss of the civilian Imperial governors of the various planets) holds the rank of Moff (not 'Grand Moff', a title reserved for High Priority Sectors).

The Sumitra Navy fleet is likewise smaller and less imposing than can be found in other areas of space. Likely the best vessel in the sector fleet is an aging Victory-class star destroyer. Not a top-of-the-line type capital ship, by any means, but still much more powerful than anything the Rebels have assigned to Sumitra. Numerous support vessels aid the Victory-class ship in carrying out the edicts of the Emperor. We'll look to add details to the various units assigned to suppress the Rebellion locally: TIE squadrons, stormtrooper legions, army units.

The war against the oppressive Galactic Empire is actually hundreds (or thousands) of individual, localized fights, each spanning a sector or so. One of the main goals of the Rebel Alliance is to keep up the pressure, militarily, across as much space as possible. Even low level nuisance activities aimed at Imperial installations helps to keep the Empire's fighting forces spread out. The Alliance is not interested in set-piece land battles, pitting army versus army, nor do they desire direct fleet-to-fleet confrontation. This is a 'death by a thousand cuts' type conflict, at least at this stage.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tierfon--Troupe Style!

One of the animating ideas behind this blog is the concept of a central place to act as a grounding point for multiple forays into the Star Wars universe. The obvious two are using the outpost as a home for starfighters in an X-wing Miniatures Game campaign and at the same time using the outpost as a base for Age of Rebellion roleplaying.

Why stop there? It occurs to me, as I work to flesh out the back-story of the Star Wars world and the base itself, we can use this shared resource for much more than one or two groups. Setting up a believable base filled with interesting characters rooted in the Star Wars milieu is an interesting task. See the number of "pages" along the top navigation bar; including Dramatis Personae (a nod to Timothy Zahn novels), Alliance Military, and Imperial Military, to name three (there will no doubt be more). I start by gathering as many resources as I can find on a given topic, then comes the task of synthesis and filling in the gaps with reasonable guesses and extrapolations. The end result will not be Star Wars canon, but hopefully it will be built on solid canon foundations (for believability and accessibility, if nothing else).

At any rate, cobbling together such a collection of information cries out for it to be used...and in more than one way. This small Rebel outpost can be home to a number of groups of semi-related characters. One group is a rag-tag band of somewhat loosely-affiliated 'free traders', flying a light freighter on troubleshooting missions (this is the 'standard' RPG campaign, as far as I am concerned). These guys could be among the privateers sanctioned by OaS, they might also be a team put together under the auspices of Alliance Intelligence (Irregulars). Loose command structure, no formal uniforms, wide-ranging missions not confined to just the Sumitra Sector. The base serves as a place for rest and refit, as well as a source for recurring NPCs and adventure hooks (likely in the form of missions).

Living at the same base at the same time might be a small group of Spec Force soldiers. Perhaps the outpost acts as a training location in addition to a nice spot for a rapid reaction type force to live (right next to hyperspace-capable transports, for one). The free-traders with the YT-1300 might ferry these guys in or out on a mission or two, here or there. The PCs might also play the Spec Force guys for a few sessions as an exciting (and likely more deadly) change of pace.

The ground troops assigned to protect the base itself can also serve up a different RPG experience. No doubt their regular patrols through the wilderness surrounding the outpost (on foot or airspeeder) sometimes yield interesting encounters. A fire team (5 soldiers) of 'regular' infantry would make another interesting way to explore the region and setting.

 In the miniatures game, having both X-wings and a YT-1300 (at least) on hand make for some interesting linked missions. Damaged craft need repairs, spaced pilots need rescue. A demanding slate of required patrols, escorts, and strike missions will begin to take its toll on the operational capabilities of the outpost. Such a campaign of resource management and combat efficiency would breathe a new life into the otherwise mundane game of "dogfight until one side is dead".

Linking all of these aspects together into a cohesive whole, wherein each aspect might affect the others, wherein the outpost itself becomes an interesting central character in its own right, is the goal of this site.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scope and Scale

There was a time when I used to read all of the Star Wars novels. I did it twice, in fact. Of course, the first time around there were only ten of them—one for each movie, a trilogy for Han Solo, a trilogy for Lando Calrissian, and Splinter of the Mind's Eye. All told, it was maybe two thousand pages of reading, and I loved it. The second time around there were more of them, including Tim Zahn's groundbreaking trilogy, The Truce at Bakura, Kevin J. Anderson's first trilogy, to name a few. I enjoyed those books, too, but gradually I started to lose interest in them.

One of the reasons I didn't like them as much was because their scope and scale didn't mesh, in my opinion, with that of the movies. In A New Hope and Return of the Jedi we see the Rebels destroy the first and second Death Stars (not to mention defeat the Emperor and Darth Vader, and restore freedom to the galaxy). That's exciting stuff. If one follows the novels, however, it turns out that those superweapons aren't all that impressive. After all, the Sun Crusher doesn't just blow up a planet; it can explode a star. The Galaxy Gun and Centerpoint Station can destroy worlds from halfway across the galaxy. And that doesn't even account for the Darksaber, World Devastators, and others.

All in all, those story elements for me cheapened the value of the events and deeds in the original trilogy. (Don't even start me on the New Jedi Order storyline, which makes the events of the movies seem inconsequential by comparison.) In my mind, a good Star Wars RPG adventure should fit into the existing scope and scale of the Trilogy; the heroes should contribute to the battle against the Empire, but not outshine what happens in the films. Essentially, their deeds should be woven into the fabric of the Star Wars universe in such a way that the players can say, “Our characters accomplished this, while the heroes in the movies were doing that, and they don't contradict each other.

Here are some examples.
  • One of my favorite campaign finales was when the heroes stole a handful of X-Wing fighters from an Imperial research facility and delivered them to the Rebel base on Yavin IV in time for the first Death Star attack.
  • During another scenario, the heroes helped extricate an Imperial officer's loved ones from “protective custody,” thereby allowing the officer to defect to the Alliance.
  • The heroes' deeds could always have a major impact on a specific planet, such as by defeating the Imperial forces on Tatooine at the same time that the Battle of Endor is happening.
Each of these made for exciting and meaningful action in which we made significant contributions to the Alliance, but didn't overshadow what Han, Luke, Leia, Land, Chewie and the droids were doing.

Tierfon Base
One other thing I'll mention is that Wookieepedia has a good article about the aforementioned Tierfon Base, including a map of the facility.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Origin Story

Every good story has a beginning. The first appearance of the Tierfon Rebel base was in the 1987 Star Wars Sourcebook for the West End Games Star Wars RPG, written by Bill Slavicsek and Curtis Smith.

Ever since I first laid eyes on this small, out of the way outpost, one of thousands scattered across the galaxy, I was hooked. There is something very special about this base that I fell in love with. Perhaps it was the out-of-the-way nature of the locale. One of many. Anonymous. Small and secret.

We never did use Tierfon as our base of operations, but I always planned to make the place a central location in a campaign I'd run someday. That "someday" is today. This blog is to be a creative outlet for the pent-up ideas, jotted down over a decade or so, that somehow relate to a cool little X-Wing hangar, carved into the side of a mountain, in a galaxy far, far away.

Many of the WEG RPG materials had a certain vibe, I think, a certain philosophy concerning the actions of the RPG heroes versus the heroes of the original trilogy. There is ample room in the Star Wars universe to play heroic beings without having to kill Darth Vader single-handedly, for instance. We always preferred to slip into the universe, so to speak, without making a huge splash. Not quite like a "leave no trace" mentality one might adopt when hiking in a National Park, but perhaps close. Hopefully we'll hear more on this aspect from Nate, the other Tierfon Campaign founding blogger (and the GM for the old WEG Star Wars campaigns of which I speak).

Tierfon Campaign

The goal of this site is to provide a fan-produced resource for use in Star Wars gaming; specifically in the Age of Rebellion RPG and the X-Wing Miniatures Game, both produced by Fantasy Flight Games.

The idea is to focus on the goings-on at a small Rebel starfighter base on the planet Tierfon in the Sumitra Sector. The starfighters based there (eight X-Wings) will be used in a series of missions designed for the X-Wing game, while RPG stats and material (including adventures) will make use of the base as well. I envision eventually having a large amount of varied material being available on this site, all of it somehow tied to the Tierfon base.