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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Game Day: Dawn on Zebulon

by Ken Newquist / October 17, 2008

Our first official Star Wars Game Day is upon us. After two weeks of playtesting starship combat, we're launching into a first-level prelude campaign with about half of our regular players in attendance (the other half having family/work commitments).

Set in the time of the Knights of the Old Republic, the campaign begins on the Outer Rim binary planet of Zebulon in the Vargis Tau system. Zebulon's comprised of two worlds: the primary, Zebulon Prime, and its sister/moon, Zebulon Beta. The later of these is home to the Jedi academy that will serve as home base for the Jedi in the campaign.

World Building

As with our Dark City D&D campaign, hashing out our Star Wars universe is going to be something of a group effort. Frequent commenter  (and longtime campaign member) Erilar worked up this excellent overview of Zebulon after I tweeted the name on Twitter:

Due to its slow orbit around "the Prime", "Zeb" Beta loses one day of sunlight every two months, dropping the temperature of the planet 50 degrees and treating the inhabitants to 75 hours of darkness and snowy chill – a fact of life that Beta denizens have always called simply, the Darkness.

Zebulon Beta is otherwise a temperate, fertile, and rather resource-rich world. Due to their ecological foresight, this colonized world enjoys an unusually pure fresh water supply. Moreover, the world is also rich in mineral content. Even though most of the minerals are highly dispersed and difficult to harvest, the side effect is atypically rich soil and a booming agricultural industry.

Zebulon Prime, by contrast, is a large world of hot oceans and steaming, oppressive jungle. The notoriously ferocious wildlife and flora, coupled with a dangerously hot climate, make any habitation or industry on The Prime dangerous and highly problematic. Some resource-gathering enterprises subsist, reaping benefits from the substantial risk, but barring infrequent scientific exploration, few Zebulites ever visit its verdant surface.

The Jedi Academy on Zebulon Beta is known as the Unified Force Academy (UFA), and it has a particular interest in seeking out variant Force traditions in the galaxy. Many of its masters practice a variant Jedi tradition of its own that posits that there is no Light or Dark side to the force, indeed the force takes no "sides", and again, you can thank Erilar for that take on the Force.  I expect we'll have masters representing a few other Force traditions at the Academy; I think it's very much in keeping with the more diverse nature of the Force in the  KOTOR setting, and on a practical note, it'll give our Jedi access to a variety of Force talents.

Back in Time

If the name "Zebulon" seems familiar, then you may have played Star Frontiers as a kid. Zebulon was a frontier world in that game, and the setting for its first three modules. It set my imagination afire as a kid, and I've always wanted to work it into a science fiction game ... if I ever ran one.  Our Zebulon bears little resemblance to the Star Frontiers one, save that their both located on the frontier, and both could be threatened by imminent invasion. In Star Frontiers, it was the reptilian Sathar that were the threat; in Star Wars, it's the Mandalorians. The campaign is set about five years before the start of the Mandalorian Wars, and placing Zeb within striking distance of Mandalorian territory should give the players a vested interest in that conflict.

Our group is interested in exploring the tough moral questions that the Mandalorian Wars posed to the Jedi, and the United Force Academy's myriad Force  traditions should place it on the front lines of Jedi debates about how to respond to the growing war.

There are a few other ideas I've lifted from my long-ago Star Frontiers campaign (and by "campaign" I mean the mindspace I built up as a 12 year old, but never got to run). The Starrior Exploration Corporation, a small company specializing in frontier adventures, will play a roll in the campaign and will be one of the  parties exploring Zebulon Prime. AMF -- Astro Mining & Freighting -- will also be making an appearance, serving as the primary cargo hauler for goods leaving the Vargis Tau system and seeking to establish its own operations on the Prime. 

Folding in KOTOR

The prelude campaign's shaping up to be Jedi focused, simply based on the folks who are able to make it to the game, but there are adequate hooks to get everyone else to the table. As such, I don't expect to pull in a huge amount of KOTOR background in the first two or three episodes, though I am introducing the amoral (and occasionally downright villainous) Czerka Corporation.

Once we get into the campaign proper though, and our heroes venture beyond Zebulon, I expect to pull in all manner of Mandalorians, Dark Jedi, Sith, swoop gangs, crazed assassin droids and everything else that made the Knights of the Old Republic videogames so much fun.

Comments

I suppose that you could call Star Frontiers a d100 system. It was, in many ways, a far superior game than 1st ed D+D. (plus it incorporated space ships and laser guns and cool stuff!) It was sleekly packaged and I was rather suprised that TSR let it fade away. With some major tweaks (some might say re-writes) I ran the Zebulon adventures in a 2nd ed D+D game. (I think that bob was a player) You may want to see if any can be used for your KOTOR game. Gamma World may also fuel the imagination. Any sufficiently advanced tech (or any good con) can pass a magic (or a force talent)

My understanding is that they killed Star Frontiers to make way for their Buck Rodgers adventure game, which promptly tanked. A lot of people talk about old school Traveller, but for me it was always Star Frontiers (even more so once Knight Hawks was released and I could make all my own starships ... I still have the remains of the boxed sets down in my basement. Maybe for Nuke(m)Con 2009 we should go old school and run nothing but ancient games like Star Frontiers, Gamma World and 1st Edition D&D. :)   

OMG that would frickin ROCK!!

I LOVED all of the old TSR D&D spinoffs!

Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Top Secret and Boot Hill were just frickin awesome!

I never played Travellers, but I have great memories of all of the above games. Playing a retrospective of all of them would just be too great. :)

Hmmm, it would be even cooler if there was one over-arching plot that could somehow be played out in each setting ......

Get on that, Ken!

Yeah, and old school game day would be a lot of fun. You could always do a Crisis-style storyline to explain how the different time periods happening alongside one another. Or maybe a time travel plot in which you head to different eras to fight the agents of some Big Bad Villain?Remind me when it comes time for Nuke(m)Con 2009. Also, volunteer to run one of the events. :)