Game Day: Beyond Endor

When Pennsylvania went to full-on “stay at home” to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, my gaming group went fully online. We put our Saltmarsh campaign on hold and launched a new Star Wars campaign using the Saga Edition rules.

The campaign is set in 9 ABY (after the Battle of Yavin), which is the same time period in which The Mandalorian takes place. It features a team of frontier heroes based on the forest moon of Endor. They’re heroes for hire, willing to venture out into Wild Space and the Unknown Regions in their starship, The Horizon’s Promise. Their ranks include:

  • Jedwozd “Zhoomy” Zhom, Male Durosian Noble/Scoundrel: Pilot and owner of The Horizon’s Promise. Friend of Ewoks.
  • Valen Shaw, Male Human Soldier/Scout: Former Imperial scout who turned against the Empire on his first mission. Worked with the Ewoks as part of their local resistance, still on certain Imperial hit lists as a deserter/rebel.
  • Eyegee, IG-class Droid: An IG bounty hunter droid who was reprogrammed by one of its would-be bounties to serve as muscle. The re-programming was botched, leading to an independent spirit and the droid’s belief that it is, in fact, a human in disguise.
  • Loris, Male Ewok Scout: Wants to explore the universe to bring back info to the Ewok family. Seeks to meet people, learn lore, find things, explore, etc. Amazed by all the technology and cultures in the larger universe.
  • Nelko, Male Bothan Scout: (backstory pending)

The last time we ran Star Wars as a group was 2016, and the last time I personally ran it was 2012. After all this time, returning to Star Wars was harder than I expected. I spent the last five years running D&D 5th Edition rules which are far less crunchy than Saga Edition’s. That said Saga Edition had some great mechanics – particularly skill challenges and the ability to fine-tune your character through feats, talents, and gear. In some ways, it anticipated what we’d see in 5th Edition (which is probably one of the reasons we enjoyed it so much back in the day).

The biggest difference between the two games (aside from feats and talents) is the lack of 5th Edition’s bounded math, which makes Saga Editon a lot more challenging to run. 5e effectively caps how “good” characters can get at things and as a result, it’s easier to intuit what the difficulty classes should be for a given skill or ability check. Saga Edition, like its cousin D&D 3rd Edition, is unbounded. The result is characters who are very good at the things they are very good at … and kind of suck at everything else (even if they can use those skills “untrained” and still have a few bonuses). It’s not a bad thing, but our initial adventure reminded me just how swingy dice can be in this game.

Adventuring Beyond Endor

While The Mandalorian shows the chaos left after the fall of the Empire, and the sequel movies tell us that Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy is doomed to fail, we’re focusing the campaign on the more uplifting aspects of the new era. The intention of this game is to play big damn heroes helping the galaxy. The intro crawl from Chapter 1 of Beyond Endor sums it up nicely:

The New Republic ascendent! It is a bright time for the galaxy. Seeking to undue the fear and xenophobia of the Galactic Empire, the New Republic looks to rebuild old alliances and found new ones. On the Outer Rim, brave explorers carry the New Republic’s ideals of collaboration and shared strength to unfound worlds.

The frontier town of Far Hope on Endor’s Forest Moon epitomizes this restored ethic. Salvage teams from the Sanctuary Cooperative seek to protect the system’s ecosystem from the fallout of the Death Star II’s explosion while the Republic cruiser Defender of Light and her flight of X-Wings defends the system against would-be looters.

Meanwhile, teams working for New Republic Ranger Nedo Trillin explore the chaotic regions of Wild Space, often including the curious and eager members of the Ewok tribes to assist in these quests. The crew of The Horizon’s Promise is one such team.

Their latest mission is to track down the survey ship Wayfinder III, a Republic vessel charged with cataloging star systems along the edge of Wild Space and is 30 days overdue. After tracking the ship through the first three stops on its itinerary, The Horizon’s Promise has entered the Jante system … and picked up an automated Republic distress call from the lost ship!

While our aesthetic is different from that of The Mandalorian, there are aspects of the series that I love and would want to retain. In particular, I like finally getting to see how the Imperial remnants look and act after the fall of the Empire. Sure, we read about this in comic books, novels, and games, but never in a format that so closely matches the look and feel of the original Star Wars movies. From leftover Imperial mechs acquired by mercenaries to dingy and dirty stormtrooper armor to former Imperial officials left scrambling for credits, The Mandalorian does an excellent job of showing the consequences of the war. The same is true, to a lesser extent, with the Rebellion as we see how soldiers who once fought in the war get tired of peacekeeping jobs and move on to more exciting opportunities.

I love the series’ action sequences as well, like the Mandalorian’s battle against the Jawas, the infiltration of the Alliance prison, and the final battle against Moff Gideon. They mesh well with the same sort of fast action scenes we had in the original trilogy, like the Battle of Hoth and Luke Skywalker facing off against the rancor. It’s that sense of adventure and fun that I want to feature in Beyond Endor‘s chapters (possibly with a little Indiana Jones mixed in).

Star Wars Resources

After being away from Star Wars and Saga Edition for so long, one of the first things I did was go looking for some new web resources. I found some great ones.

  • Wookieepedia: Essentially an unofficial sourcebook for any Star Wars game you want to run, including legends (aka legacy) and canon content, which is clearly labeled as such. Where applicable, the wiki includes entries for both versions of the content.
  • Star Wars: Saga Edition Wiki: A comprehensive rules reference for the out-of-print role-playing game.
  • Star Wars RPG Index: I love Star Wars: Saga Edition, but its greatest strength – a diversity of rules to support any era of play – is also its greatest weakness. It’s hard to find a particular feat, talent, or technology using just the indexes provided by the core rules. This site addresses this weakness by providing an easy-to-use tool for finding that particular rule you’re looking for.
  • Star Wars Saga Edition NPC Statblocks: A fan-created PDF with 200 NPCs. Think of it as Threats of the Galaxy, vol. 2.
  • Star Wars Galaxy Map: An interactive map of the Star Wars galaxy that shows both legends and canon star systems. Each system links out to its corresponding entry on Wookiepedia.
  • Den of Geek: 50 Best Star Wars Alien Races: When running a Star Wars campaign, it’s easy to fall back on the same popular, commonly-used species (e.g. Humans, Twi’leks, Duros, Wookies, Zabraks, etc.). Den of Geek provides a huge list of alien inspiration for your game including lesser-known aliens like Yuzzum (furry aliens from Endor), Talz (fuzzy aliens with a proboscis), and Kitonak (alien musicians).
  • Fantasy Name Generators: Star Wars: Dozens of name generators, each with an explanation of the logic that went into designing them.
  • Star Wars Name Generator: Coming up with good, Star Wars-sounding names is always a challenge, particularly for non-humans. This generator lets you create names for a dozen or so species. You can also use it to create location and star system names.
  • Fantasy Name Generators: Star Wars Spaceship Name Generator: Great inspiration for naming your next Star Wars ship.
  • Universal Adventure Idea Generator for Star Wars: A series of d12-based tables for generating adventure ideas. Tables include a contract (who’s hiring/commissioning you), theme, location, MacGuffin, victims & NPCs, antagonist/target, twists, and a dramatic reveal.
  • Star Wars: Saga Edition NPC Generator: Randomly generates 20+ different species as well as five kinds of droids using the five core classes and a handful of prestige classes. The results are output as easily-readable stat blocks that include a gear list.
  • Star Wars Generators Guide: A list of generators for a galaxy far, far away. It includes generators for names, quests and adventures, planets, and equipment.

Featured Image Meta

A view of Endor from the forest moon. Credit: Lucasfilms.

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