The most recent episode of Star Wars: Rebels struck a chord with me. Entitled “Breaking Ranks,” it saw young Ezra Bridger infiltrating an Imperial training facility by impersonating a cadet. In addition to undertaking his mission, he participated in some training exercises. This reminded me of the episode “Clone Cadets” from season 3 of The Clone Wars. In both cases, we see characters practicing situations in controlled environments. Using these simulations, in my opinion, can have numerous benefits in a campaign.
1. They help make Tierfon base feel like a familiar place.
Most assignments will take the PCs away from Tierfon, to other worlds. Including scenes in which the heroes do some training onplanet helps to reinforce the notion that it is their home. That way, no matter where a given adventure is to take place, the PCs also see some action close to their base of operations.
2. They incorporate NPCs for troupe-style play.
A previous article mentioned the benefits of troupe-style play, in which Tierfon is filled with a variety of characters. Since most of these NPCs aren't involved when the PCs take off for missions on other worlds, a bit of training allows these characters to play a regular role in adventures. This could include a physically fit, demanding drill sergeant; a tech-savvy, but socially awkward engineer; a boastful, yet skilled pilot; etc. Such characters could be conducting the training exercises, or could compete against the PCs in them.
3. They take the PCs out of their comfort zones.
It is an important element of game balance that characters have strength and weaknesses. Hopefully, any given mission provides opportunities for all of the PCs to shine. On the other hand, putting the characters into situations where some of them will fail can make for good roleplaying opportunities. Nothing adds flavor like a little humble pie.
4. They create a sense that the PCs are part of a military organization.
All too often, Rebel agents—especially irregulars—seem like loose cannons, ones who are unconnected to any kind of governing body. Having to take some time for training, especially while having a drill sergeant shouting “Move it, move it, move it!” during the exercise, can help ameliorate that perceived disconnect.
5. They can act like a pre-title sequence.
The James Bond movies are a classic example of this. Sometimes missions start with a briefing which, although important, isn't filled with action. Starting with a training exercise can allow for some dice rolling and fun before getting down to business.
6. They can provide a chance to troubleshoot difficult situations.
Should the PCs be facing a truly difficult challenge, they might be given an opportunity to try out a simulation of it before attempting the real thing. This could be especially useful for starfighter combat situations, which can prove lethal if the heroes aren't properly prepared.
Some Sample Training Exercises
Detailed here are some options for training exercises that incorporate different Age of Rebellion skills.
- Astrogation—Navigate a difficult hyperspace jump via a simulator, especially when timed, with the results (good or bad) being provided.
- Athletics—Scale a rock face, swim a body of water, or navigate an obstacle course, perhaps while carrying a heavy pack.
- Brawl and Melee—Win non-lethal bouts against other competitors.
- Computers—Bypass a security code before an alarm is triggered.
- Coordination—Traverse a narrow ledge, a tight passage, or something similar. (This could be part of the aforementioned obstacle course.)
- Discipline—Stand at attention for an extended period of time, perhaps in cold or hot conditions.
- Gunnery, Ranged (Heavy) and Ranged (Light)—Win skeet-style shooting contests against other characters.
- Mechanics—Field strip and rebuild an item in a set amount of time.
- Perception—Watch out for approaching SpecForce operatives who, in heavy camouflage, are approaching the characters' position.
- Piloting—Handle various simulated situations, possibly including one that is impossible to beat.
- Resilience—Run a long and grueling course.
- Skulduggery—Bypass mechanical security or filch an item from an unsuspecting associate.
- Stealth—Sneak up on other candidates who are making Perception checks to notice approaching “enemies.”
- Survival—Spend a certain amount of item in the wilderness with limited supplies.
Indeed, a GM could fill a session with these kinds of training exercises, and perhaps even award experience points to the characters for undergoing them.
Keeping Track of the Results
As a final note, the GM might want to keep track of the best results achieved for each of these challenges. Tierfon Base could have a Wall of Fame, posting the names of those Rebels who have proven most capable in each category.