- Star Wars: Scavenger's Guide to Droids
- by Sterling Hershey, Rodney Thompson
- 160 pages
- Wizards of the Coast
- This article originally appeared on GameCryer.com and is reprinted with permission
Scavenger’s Guide to Droids is the definitive droid source book for Star Wars: Saga Edition, introducing a new chassis-based system for creating droids, a new streamlined “protocol” format that lets players run droids as equipment rather than NPCs, new droid manufacturing traits and personality quirks and a 96 page codex containing dozens of droids.
The Droid Codex, with its myriad combat, technical and utility droids, makes it tremendous resource for game masters, particularly for those running Clone Wars or other droid-heavy campaigns. It’s easily the most statblock-heavy book since Threats of the Galaxy, which may make a less essential buy for players. Those who enjoy playing droid will find plenty of new options for their characters, and tech specialist types should appreciate how the protocol format allows them to put their creations to work, but even they may be disappointed by how much of the book has been dedicated to the codex.
Scavenger's Guide to Droids starts off by tearing down the system for creating droids presented in the core rule book, and presents a new one based on droid chassis. With this approach, the chassis -- like astromech, battle, and medical -- take on the role normally served by species, providing droid characters with certain advantages and built-in equipment.
The new approach brings droids in line with the standard character creation rules, and makes the entire process a lot easier. The new species-approach to droids is backed up by manufacturing traits, which provide bonuses or penalties based on manufacturer. For example, Baktoid Combat Automata (creatures of the infamous B1 battle droids from the Phantom Menace) are easily confused; players can make a Persuasion check to cause the droid to question it's programming and stand idle for a round) while the personable Czerka Corporation droids are extremely personable, allowing them to use their Charisma or Wisdom modifiers in place of Charisma when making persuasion checks.
It's all enough to create a droid character that's every bit as compelling as an organic character with a background from the Rebellion Era Campaign Guide or a Legacy Destiny from the Legacy Era Campaign Guide.
There are 40 quirks that droids can start with or acquire when they're reduced to 0 hit points. These include "curious" in which the droid likes to intrude on areas where it's not invited or "helpful" in which it attempts to assist with any skills it knows ... as well as those it doesn't.
There are also five new droid-specific talent trees, one for each degree of droid. First-degree droids (medical, scientific, espionage) gain skillful new options such as "Science Analyzer", which doubles Intelligence modifiers when making skill, while second degree droids (such as astromech droids) get technical talents like "scomp link slicer" which introduces new hacking options. Third-degree droids (protocol droids) gain new talents to improve their diplomatic and persuasion checks, fourth-degree (combat droids) gain enhanced targeting tools, the ability to greatly reduce damage from a single attack per encounter, and a new overload option for onboard weapons. Rounding out the new talents are the fifth degree droid talents that allow construction droids to enhance their durability, temporarily double their Strength bonus to melee attack roles, and turn their cargo loads into projectiles.
Droid prestige classes gain new talents as well -- independent droids gain new options for their Specialized Droid, Autonomy, and Elite Droid talent trees, while the droid commander prestige class gets the override talent tree.
Of course, sometimes all of this can be overkill when all you want a droid for is to make the occasional skill check or provide covering fire in a fight. That's what the new protocol format is for. Borrowing a page from The Clone Wars Campaign Guide’s Follower talents, the protocol format allows players to have a stripped-down droid companion. Rather than running another full-blown NPC, the droid companion gives players two to four offensive, defensive and skillful options. Each of options takes 1 to 3 of the player's swift actions to execute, meaning that a player can still move and perform a standard action (such as shooting, using a talent or feat, or aiding another character) and order the droid to help.
If the encounter demands it, the GM can always step in with the full droid stats, but for the most part the protocol format is about providing characters with additional flexibility without complicating things with another full-blown NPC in play.
I like it; my own character is a lightsaber-wielding, tech specialist Jedi and I can easily see him building a droid assistant. It's not something I'd considered of before Scavenger's because I didn't want the overhead of another character, but a protocol-format droid could work well. The book provides 10 examples of popular droids converted to the format -- including HKs, 3P0s and B1 battle droids -- rules for converting existing droids to the format.
There are a number of new feat options, the bulk of which involve combat. Among the new offensive options are Aiming Accuracy grants a +5 bonus after aiming, while Pinpoint Accuracy allows a droid to move a damaged foe one step down the condition track. Meanwhile Tool Frenzy allows a droid to gain +2 to attacks with non-weapon appendages while taking a -2 penalty to Reflex Defense and Mechanical Martial Arts causes enemies to take a -5 to attack and damage rolls after being hit by the droid.
There are also several defensive and skillful feats. Turn and Burn lets a droid withdraw through two threatened squares instead of just one, while damage conversion allows a droid to take extra damage instead of moving down the condition track. Logic Upgrade: Skill Swap lets a droid change out a trained skill for an untrained one and Sensor Link lets a droid share sensor data with another droid. There are 17 new feats in all, and should nicely round out both offensive and utility droids.
Rounding out the character options is the Droid Equipment chapter, which presents new forms of locomotion, appendages, processors, and accessories. Options include hidden holsters for concealed weapons, high-speed cutting torches, holographic game systems, comm jammers, hidden compartments and blaster recharge interfaces, just to name some of the most interesting ... and iconic.
All of this is packed into the first half of the book. The second half is given over to a massive, 92-page Droid Codex. It's essentially "Threats of the Galaxy" in droid form, providing statblocks and write-ups for 46 new droids. Actually, it's two to three times that number, since almost all of the entries provide two or three variations on the theme, as well as a separate protocol-style statblock. Packed in amongst the statblocks are adventure hooks and insights provided by one of four characters: Klikk the Jawa scavenger, Raalo the Toydarian junk dealer, Mavvern the Besalisk arms dealer, and EV-6T6, a supervisor droid.
This is a huge amount of space to dedicate to statblocks and GM-specific material. As a game master, I'm glad to have it; while there have been plenty of new droids scattered among the various campaign guides, it's nice to a single source book I can go to for new threats and allies. The plot hooks are great – as I’ve said before, any time I can read through a source book and see a dozen ideas for my campaign in as many pages, I know I’ve got a winner.
For players though, all these droids may be a disappointment. One of my players bought the book, and was chagrined to find it was essentially "Threats of the Galaxy lite". He would rather have seen more options for the game, like additional droid prestige classes and tech specialist options. I see his point -- I would have loved to see them peel of 20 pages to create Galaxy at War-style battlebase write-ups for droid factories and a skillful droid prestige class -- but I enjoyed the book all the same.
Ultimately, Scavenger's Guide is a worthwhile purchase for game masters who want droids to play a prominent role in their game. Players with droid or tech specialist characters will find the first half of the book adds a bunch of welcome options. Whether or not that's enough to make up for the half of the book that's dedicated to droid and encounter material is something individual players will need to decide.