Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Flying Through Space Ain't Like Dustin' Crops

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, here I am again with more analysis of the convoluted mess that is Star Wars hyperspace travel times.

In the recently released Fly Casual book we find a small chart listing Hyperspace Travel Times (in days) for a Class 1 Hyperdrive.

There is some preamble and the usual hand waving as to whether the established galactic "Trade Routes" are safer, or easier to travel, or whatever. I will save that old debate for a later post (later this week, perhaps).

I won't reprint the entire chart here, but I will use a few relative measurements in comparison to my previously published Star Wars Gazetteer.

Suffice it to say, taking Taanab as an example, the average difference in travel times (in hours) between my Gazetteer and the Fly Casual chart is a 20 times multiplier (minimum of x13, maximum of x25 for the sample I tested). That is, if I say it takes 1 hour to get somewhere, Fly Casual says it takes 20 hours. Another thing to factor in is that I used straight line distances on the galactic map. They might be actually following the trade routes through space. I will try to estimate what difference that would make to these numbers later tonight.

There are numerous canon sources (including the OT movies themselves) that contradict FFG (and WotC before that, and WEG before that) in terms of travel time charts of this kind. The worst offenders, in my opinion, are the variable charts that suggest crossing the galaxy takes a random amount of time.

I have heard it all before: Star Wars ships in hyperspace "...move at the speed of plot." That same bland, facile comment could be applied to all aspects of this Sci Fi setting, in such a way that nothing matters and there are no "truths" anymore.

So that leaves us with evaluating either tea leaves or gut feelings.

How long should it take to travel from point A to point B via hyperspace?

I will look at this question in the following ways, and keep my thoughts in the comments section of this post.

A. Canon sources. A few tidbits from OT movies and some quotes from The Clone Wars. Whatever you thought of that cartoon series, it is one of the only "non-Legend" sources still in existence.

B. Starship Consumables Ratings. I don't get the feeling from Star Wars that the ships we see flitting about, here and there, are arriving at the starport in desperate need of anything, in particular. taking stock of the consumables info might help us to see what the number of trips between re-stocks would be, and whether those numbers seem to make sense.

C. Gut Feeling. I guess, in the end, we need to figure out what feels right for these travel times. I guess I lean toward saying my Gazetteer might have travel times that are too short. Almost all of them (if not all of them) are less than 20 hours. Many are in the single-digit numbers of hours for the Class 1 hyperdrive. On the other hand, the Fly Casual chart lists a minimum of 12 hours and has most of the trip times hovering around the 1 week mark, with a high water mark of something like 11.5 days. That's a looooong time for a crew to be stuck in hyperspace playing Dejarik or wrestling in the cargo hold. It feels too long for a quick paced story to me. Learn this new clue! Pick up the chase! Run to your ship! ...Wait a week....What were we doing, again?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fly Casual

"...Keep your distance, though, Chewie, but don't *look* like you're trying to keep your distance..."

I just picked up my first Rules Supplement for the FFG Star Wars game: Fly Casual.

What's not to love about Smugglers and their toys? I could not resist this one. New weapons, vehicles, starships, modifications, etc. First, the basics (using Nate's template).

Pages: Contents
1: Crawl
2: Credits
3: Contents
4: Fiction
5-9: Overview and Introduction
10-39 (Chapter I: Free Traders): Backgrounds for Smugglers, including Disadvantaged, Privileged, Ex-Military, Respectable, and Born and Bred; a new Smuggler Obligation chart; three new species, the Falleen, the Gotal, and the Quarren; three new Specializations, the Charmer, the Gambler, and the Gunslinger; some new talents; a new Smuggler Motivation chart; two new Signature Ability trees ("Narrow Escape" and "Unmatched Fortune").
40-63 (Chapter II: Tricks of the Trade): New equipment including 9 energy weapons, 2 slugthrowers, 3 "other" weapons and 1 explosive, 1 Brawl weapon, 3 Melee weapons, 3 new types of armor, a dozen "gear" items (cybernetics, tools, etc), info on two types of drugs, 4 weapon attachments, 2 airspeeders, 3 landspeeders, 3 new starfighters/patrol boats, 11 new freighters and transports, the Interdictor-class cruiser, the Golan I Space Defense Platform, 9 starship/vehicle attachments.
64-96 (Chapter III: It's Just Business): Tips for incorporating Smugglers, smuggling jobs, hyperspace travel, Imperial Customs and other occupational hazards, showdowns and shoot-outs, and smuggling rings into your game.

I quite like the look-and-feel of the FFG products, of course. Great artwork, full color interior, hardcover book. Based on my initial perusal, I think there are a couple of inspirational pieces of art that will form the basis for adventure scenes in my future; I also like the ideas concerning Imperial Customs and BoSS. I am very interested in building a legitimate sounding net of Imperials through which the heroes (in AoR or EotE) have to pass from time to time.

I am not planning on using this book for an Edge campaign, but rather filtering it into the Age of Rebellion motif we're working on here. I will likely make great use of the Imperial Customs material, including some of their starships (Imperial Customs Frigate, VT-49 Decimator) and practices at and around starports where the characters have to operate from time to time.

Finally, I am sorely tempted to re-create one of my favorite old WEG characters, a slightly out-of-shape, just past middle aged Gambler who retired to the Coral Vanda casino on Pantolomin.

Side Note
I am very likely to pick up the Stay on Target book in the near future as well. Having an adventure or two where each of the PCs is flying an X-wing out of the Tierfon hangar is simply to compelling to avoid (and that book could help flesh out the characters and their potential range of actions and options a bit more, I think).

Other Edge books I'd consider are Dangerous Covenants (to fill out Bounty Hunters a bit) and the recent Lords of Nal Hutta (for a guided tour of Hutt Space).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Coordinated Action

Just this last weekend I ran Operation Polar Strike at a local game convention, Con of the North. We had a fun time infiltrating a new TIE base on a moon orbiting Flax. Then blowing it up.

My previous post (entitled "Report on Operation Polar Strike") features a bit of an after action wrap-up of the mission. The players did very well. They kept the raid running at a brisk pace and did not get split up, separated or trapped in the Imperial installation. Many blaster bolts flew in this one, as you might expect of a typical Alliance SpecForce assignment. Add in some demolition charges and a number of grenades (both stun and frag), and you get the idea.

Here is a link to download the adventure background and notes, a PC pre-game read aloud script (an homage to WEG), and the six SpecForce PCs (on form fillable PDF sheets).

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Report on Operation Polar Strike

To: Brigadier Reese, Sumitra Sector Command
From: Lieutenant Juno Bast, Intelligence
Regarding: Operation Polar Strike

Brigadier Reese:

   Operation Polar Strike commenced yesterday, 1400 hours Tierfon time, as scheduled. The SpecForce team was transported to the target installation near Flax by a co-opted automated resupply vessel.
   Once inside Hangar 3, the team preserved their cover by eliminating a protocol droid en route to a utility crawlspace access point. The SpecForce troopers then gained entry to the crawlspace and maneuvered toward their objectives in Hangar 1, the new home to an entire wing of TIE fighters.
   Right on schedule the team broke their cover and raided the TIE fighter launch control facility, ultimately removing the ability for the TIEs to leave their landing racks. The team also disabled all entry doors into Hangar 1, then began their assault on the Secondary Shielding Reactor complex, located adjacent to the hangar bay.
   Even before the reactor facility was fully secured the team set to work planting their demolition charges on the hypermatter containment structure. The team fought bravely, holding out through a number of Imperial counter-attacks on their position. At least two of the operators were gravely wounded during the battle. Thanks to the quick action and medical expertise of Trooper Leda Sturm, all of the SpecForce raiders were ultimately able to leave the installation under their own power.
   Against mounting opposition, the team continued to hold the Secondary Reactor section until the next phase of the operation began, a starfighter attack coordinated with the arrival of a light freighter extraction vessel.
   The crew of the light freighter flew their craft into the TIE hangar itself, rendezvousing with the SpecForce team just outside the Secondary Shielding Reactor. Under intense enemy fire, the team leapt to onto the hull of the transport as it hovered 10 meters above the hangar floor.
   Soon after exiting the installation the demolition charges exploded, destroying the hangar and its contents. The resultant blast critically damaged the rest of the Imperial base as well.
   All involved in this daring raid should be commended for their bravery and resourcefulness.

Lieutenant Juno Bast
Alliance Intelligence
Tierfon Base, Sumitra Sector