Monday, December 29, 2014

Stay on Target

This past week, FFG released its first sourcebook for the Age of Rebellion RPG--Stay on Target. This post provides an overview and first impressions of that book.

Pages: Contents
1: Crawl
2: Credits
3: Contents
4: Fiction
5-9: Overview and introduction
10-37: Backgrounds for Ace characters, including Entertainer, Prototype Tester, Clone Wars Veteran, Imperial Defector and Criminal; Ace Duties; three new species, the Chadra-Fan, Dresselian and Xexto; three specializations, the Beast Rider, Hotshot and Rigger; a compiled list of new talents; a list of Ace motivations; two signature ability trees ("This One Is Mine" and "Unmatched Survivability")
38-65: New equipment including five weapons, six sets of armor, five equipment items, two droids, flak cannons, twenty vehicles and seven modifications or additons for vehicles
66-96: Tips for using Ace characters in campaigns and incorporating Astromech droids; new tables for spending advantage, threat, triumph and despair in Ace encounters; rules for beast riding; seventeen new creatures; ideas for Ace missions and rewards

At first glance, of course, this book seems to be ideal for use in an Age of Rebellion game run out of Tierfon Base. Even so, it provides a satisfying addition to this RPG. First and foremost, it is packed with new material. That alone makes it, in this reviewer's opinion, worth the money. I liked the inclusion of the Beast Rider specialization, for aesthetic reasons; it and the Rigger specialization would be a nice addition to an AoR or Edge of the Empire campaign. More importantly, though, any Rebellion-oriented game that features chases and dogfights can benefit from this supplement.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Imperial Entanglements

“Where, pray tell, is Captain Reendor now?”

Fleet Admiral Cantari Rast didn’t bother to keep the disdain from his voice. There were definite perks to being the highest ranking naval officer in the Sumitra Sector. Rast strode confidently from the turbolift, heading for the bridge view ports. Behind him, dressed in black, came Commander Xemus Drallig of the dreaded Imperial Security Bureau. Crewmen in their recessed work pits cringed as the imposing figures passed on the walkway above.

Commander Terek, officer of the watch and Reendor’s second-in-command, turned from overseeing the navigation team and saluted. “I will fetch him at once, sir,” Terek added smartly, hoping to assuage the older man’s anger.

Terek stepped toward a rear bulkhead and discretely thumbed his comm unit. “Bridge to Captain Reendor, the Admiral requests your presence at once, sir.”

“Very well,” came the groggy reply. “I’m on my way.”

Turning back toward the fore, Terek strode down the command walkway to join the Fleet Admiral and ISB Agent near the transparisteel windows. “The Captain is on his way, sir,” Terek said in his most accommodating and diplomatic tone. Rast did not acknowledge the information. Commander Terek came to a stop beside the flag officer. The trio stood in silence, staring out into space.

Looking down the length of the Indomitable Will always made Commander Terek smile. The distinctive wedge shape of the Victory-class star destroyer’s white hull came to a point some 900 meters in the distance. Beyond that Terek could see two of Indomitable Will’s sister ships, Demolisher and Protector, also in orbit above the blue-green planet of Boordii IV. To his right the imposing bulk of the system’s space station, to which the Indomitable Will was currently docked, filled the view ports. The Sumitra Sector fleet was a formidable weapon. If it could just be brought to bear on those elusive rebel scum, all of their problems would be solved in short order.

“Commander,” Fleet Admiral Rast interrupted Terek’s reverie.

“Yes, sir?”

“What is the state of my ship? How soon can you depart?”

Terek consulted his datapad. “We should finish the re-supply in two point three hours, sir.”

“Where is that blasted Reendor?”

“Here, sir,” came the reply as Captain Jirra Reendor moved to join them, still adjusting his duty cap.

“Ah, Captain. How nice of you to join us. I trust you had a nice rest?” The Fleet Admiral turned on the newcomer, sneering openingly.

A seasoned officer like Reendor knew enough to ignore the barb. He saluted crisply while waiting for Rast to continue.

“Somewhere out there,” the Admiral gestured out the forward view ports, “traitors to the Empire gather and plot against us. Moff Jusik is not amused by your failure to uncover them. I am not amused either.” Rast turned to let his anger encompass Agent Drallig as well.

“We need more time,” the raspy voiced Drallig began.

Fleet Admiral Rast cut him off brusquely. “I am not interested in excuses, Commander, I am interested in results.”

Eyeing up Captain Reendor, the old Admiral continued, “You will personally lead the sweep of the Thustra B Asteroid Belt. I want a full report in 48 hours. And you,” Rast growled, turning toward the frowning Drallig, “will get me more actionable intelligence. That is what you’re good at, isn’t it?”

“Yes, sir,” both men answered in unison.

The Admiral let his caustic gaze linger a moment on the pair of officers before turning to leave. “No excuses,” he reiterated as he crossed the command walkway back to the turbolift.


“We shall leave immediately, sir,” Lt. Commander Seena Yolon replied crisply, closing the commlink connection. Dressed in a black naval uniform, Yolon was an Agent of the dreaded ISB, Imperial Security Bureau. She had detected hints of annoyance and fear in the tone of her superior, Commander Drallig. Rebel activity in this sector was increasing, and it was up to the ISB to put an end to it. Swiftly.

She trotted across the cavernous hangar, motioning to Lieutenant Kiel. On cue, Kiel barked out an order and the Imperial Army platoon assigned as Agent Yolon’s escort leapt to their feet. The men had been resting among the tools and spare parts stacked neatly in a maintenance alcove along the edge of the bay.

As Yolon approached the open boarding ramp of her Sentinel-class shuttle, the nine white-clad stormtroopers of her personal security team fell into step beside her. The crew was already aboard the transport, preparing the craft for departure. The repulsor fields whined through their pre-takeoff warmup and she felt the familiar rush of pride and excitement build within her. On the hunt, again.

Yolon made her way toward the bridge, passing through the auxiliary weapons station. “Sir,” the three members of the gunnery crew snapped to attention and saluted as one. She ignored them and entered the cockpit.

Sentinel shuttle Mindorian to Demolisher flight control,” the co-pilot spoke into the comm, “requesting immediate launch.”

“Roger that, Mindorian, you are cleared for take-off,” came the reply.

A green indicator on the flight console confirmed that the passengers were all aboard and the loading ramp was closed. Agent Yolon strapped herself into the chair near the secondary communications station, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. Suspected rebel activity in the Flax system. She would get to the bottom of it. She would make those traitors pay dearly, indeed.

The shuttle rose from the deck and rotated toward the huge, open blast doors. Beyond lay the blackness of space. The pilot eased the throttle forward and the vessel left the hangar behind.

“Plot a course for the Flax system,” Yolon said.

“Yes, sir,” the co-pilot responded.

The shuttle banked, picking up an escort in the form of a pair of TIE fighters. The trio flew down the length of Demolisher, an aging Victory-class star destroyer. Demolisher was small, by modern Imperial standards, but utterly dwarfed the Mindorian and the TIEs. The shuttle cleared the star destroyer’s bulk and turned away from the planet it was orbiting, Boordii IV, home to Sumitra Sector high command. In the distance, off to the right, Agent Yolon could see the imposing shape of Demolisher’s sister ship, Protector. On the other side, farther out, hung the Boordii IV space station. Currently docked for resupply was the sector’s flagship, a third Victory-class vessel entitled Indomitable Will. The powerful trio represented only half of the star destroyers in the Sumitra fleet. Yolon smiled, thinking of the potential destruction such capital ships could unleash. Finding them appropriate targets is the job of ISB, she thought. My job.

The TIEs turned back at the edge of the Military Exclusion Zone, leaving the Mindorian to join the steady stream of civilian vessels of all shapes and sizes heading to and from the planet-side starports. The shuttle vectored toward the flow of outbound ships heading for the popular hyperspace entry points. Frowning, Agent Yolon couldn’t help but feel some of the nearby transports must belong to rebels. Right here, under our very noses.

“Course set in, sir,” the co-pilot said.

“Engage,” Agent Yolon commanded. The stars stretched to long white lines then quickly gave way to the mottled blue and white backdrop of hyperspace. Another mission was officially underway.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sumitra Sector ISB

Sentinel-class shuttle

The dreaded Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) has 34 agents working in the Sumitra Sector, all trying to track down Rebel sympathizers and other traitors to the New Order.

Led by Commander Xemus Drallig, each ISB field agent is given the effective Imperial Navy rank of Lt. Commander, though most are simply addressed as "Agent" while on assignment. Each Agent is escorted by an entire platoon of Imperial Army troopers (42) and a single squad of Stormtroopers (9). All of them fit aboard a Sentinel-class shuttle.

The following NPCs (from the Age of Rebellion CRB or the Imperials and Rebels Adversary Deck can be used to represent the Agent and his or her retinue.

Imperial Intelligence Agent (Rival)- the ISB agent in charge
Imperial Army Officers (Rivals)- the Army platoon leader and Executive officer, a Lieutenant and a 2nd lieutenant
Imperial Army Trooper (Minion)- the other 40 rank-and-file members of the Army platoon
Imperial Stormtrooper Sergeant (Rival)- leader of the stormtrooper squad
Imperial Stormtrooper (Minion)- the other 8 stormtroopers in the squad
Imperial Gunnery Corps (Minion)- the three gunners aboard the Sentinel-class shuttle
TIE Pilot (Minion)- the pilot and co-pilot of the Sentinel-class shuttle

Friday, December 5, 2014


One thing that has always confused me about Star Wars RPGs (including the current effort by FFG) is the strange and warped economy. The worst offenders are the starships.

The Light Blaster Pistol is listed at 300 credits. As a weapon with a dual self-defense and "sporting" use, this compares favorably with a 1:1 dollars to credits exchange rate if we look for a real-world alternative. This suggests that, for low prices, the Star Wars RPG economy is seemingly correct if you assume 1 credit = 1 US dollar.

What about the YT-1300 light freighter? In Star Wars RPGs costs a mere 100,000 credits brand new. Less than half the cost of a Ferrari!

A bit of searching online tells me that a well-equipped Winnebago (in the real world) is $425,000.

A brand-new semi tractor trailer costs $125,000.

Ocean-going yachts are at least $500,000 and can easily climb to the multi-million dollar range.

Single engine aircraft are in the $75-100,000 range at least. A small luxury Learjet costs $17 million. A larger luxury jet can be more like $60 million. A Boeing 737 cargo plane has the same cargo capacity as the lowest figure listed for a stock YT-1300 (~20 metric tons), but you'd need the Boeing 777 to reach the highest figure (~100 tons). The 737 costs $78 million and the 777 costs $310 million (and neither can go into space!).

It seems as if it would be hard to see a YT-1300 selling for less than $100 million. That sounds like an awful lot. Even $10 million sounds like a larger investment than a smuggler like Han Solo could hope to pull off. However, let's take a look a the cargo capacity and what they could earn in one trip somewhere. If they carried 25 tons of gold, that would be worth $953 million in today's prices. Illicit drugs (like spice) could likely fetch $680 million for 25 tons (if it costs the same as cocaine). With the cost of cargo factored in, a $100 million freighter doesn't sound so bad. Talk about being in debt to a crime lord!

With all of this taken together, I'd suggest the Star Wars RPG price for a space transport is off by a factor of 1000.

Now for a look at starfighters and capital ships. A military-grade F-16 fighter jet costs $15-20 million dollars, while an F-22 Raptor costs $150 million.

An Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, used by the US Navy, costs $1.843 billion, and the cost of Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier is $12.68 billion.

None of these things is rated to fly into space. Or has a hyperdrive!

For standard vehicles, like airspeeders, the prices are probably only 5-10 times too low. This is based off comparisons between high end motorcycles and speeder bikes/swoops, for one.

Since the X-Wing represents "...the cutting edge of starfighter performance..." (according to the WEG Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition Sourcebook), I would suggest that starfighter prices are at least 1000 times too low. Charging 1000 times more for an X-Wing still makes it cheaper than an F-22 Raptor. I would hazard a guess that a hyperdrive-equipped space vehicle would be more than double the price of a high performance atmospheric craft; so for a rough guess we could assume starfighter prices are "off" by something like 3000 times.

For the sake of comparison, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, above, has a crew complement of ~330. Roughly speaking, comparing the price to something in the neighborhood of the Vigil-class corvette, we can use this to guess at the capital ship price modifier. I estimate something like 400 times (1200 times, if we factor in space-worthiness). The Gerald R. Ford-class carrier has a crew complement of 4300. This is something like a 75% sized Victory II-class star destroyer. I'd estimate that we'd be off by approximately the same 400 times factor (1200 times for the space-worthy "upgrade").

In reality, of course, these massive capital ships (and military-grade starfighters, for that matter) would never actually be for sale to a random buyer. Kuat Drive Yards won't accept a check from the Rebel Alliance for a cool 60 billion credits and build them a Victory II-class star destroyer. The price of any of these sufficiently large behemoths would effectively be listed as "not for sale".

Here are the modified prices for the starships listed in the Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook and elsewhere.

Military Grade Starfighters and Captial Ships
RZ-1 "A-wing": 450 million credits (not for sale)
T-65B "X-wing": 360 million credits (not for sale)
BTL-A4/BTL-S3 "Y-wing": 240 million credits
A/SF-01 "B-wing": 450 million credits (not for sale)
TIE/ln: 150 million credits (not for sale)
TIE/in: 225 million credits (not for sale)
TIE/d: 900 million credits (not for sale)
TIE/sa: 330 million credits (not for sale)
Lambda-class shuttle: 420 million credits (not for sale)
Sentinel-class shuttle: 720 million credits (not for sale)
Vigil-class corvette: 4.2 billion credits (not for sale)
CR90 corvette: 1.44 billion credits
Lancer-class frigate: 5.71 billion credits (not for sale)
Nebulon-B frigate: 10.2 billion credits (not for sale)
Dreadnought-class heavy cruiser: 8.64 billion credits
Vindicator-class heavy cruiser: 12.48 billion credits (not for sale)
Interdictor-class heavy cruiser: 18.48 billion credits (not for sale)
Imperial I-class star destroyer: 180 billion credits (not for sale)
Praetor II-class battlecruiser: 840 billion credits (not for sale)
Victory II-class star destroyer: 60 billion credits (not for sale)
MC80 Liberty-class cruiser: 124.8 billion credits (not for sale)

Space Transports and Others
YT-1300 transport: 100 million credits
YT-2400 transport: 130 million credits
YV-929 transport: 380 million credits
Consular-class transport: 340 million credits
Gozanti-class transport: 200 million credits

Super-class star destroyer: (estimated) 1.37 trillion credits (not for sale)

Note: I think FFG's price of 3,400,000 credits for the Consular-class transport is too high for their scale. Comparing it to the Gozanti-class vessel, I'd say the Consular-class should have been listed for 340,000 credits.