Sunday, May 17, 2015

Star Wars Sandbox: Alsapin

After we've had a look at the big picture in my previous posts on the Kreetan Narrows, let's go through each of the world in turn. First in the list is Alsapin, home of the Kassandre crime family, which (a) operates a major casino, (b) is engaging in a (quite possibly explosively terminal, if the PCs don't prevent it) conflict with a branch of the Black Sun syndicate operated by Sprax, and (c) is run by a female Laboi with telekinetic abilities (as I extrapolated here).

When I have little definite to go on when constructing a location, I like to use random generators for inspiration. Let's start by using the one in Silent Legions, since I have that, love it, haven't gotten to use it yet, and adding a slightly creepy Lovecraftian vibe is almost never a bad thing.. Rolling for two location tags, we get "Drug Epidemic" and "Recruitment Center". With the former, I am spoilt for choice considering the many crime families in the region (and it might not actually be the fault of the Kassandre Family, but of another syndicate wishing to cause problems on their turf). With the latter, while I could make this about a secretive Force Cult, I want to keep such things rare at this stage of the campaign. Instead, it could be for the Zealots of Psusan, which I mentioned earlier. The Laboi leader of the Kassandre Family - let's just call her Kassandre - might even be in cahoots with the cult. Or maybe not, considering how they view non-Laboi as prey...

But let's go back to my old favorite, the Random Nations Generator at the Arcana Wiki (remember, you can expand the "feed" for this generator by adding new content to the Wiki - so contribute to it, damnit!). For "Form of Government" we get Cosociational State, which in a Star Wars context probably means that there are a number of different alien species living on the planet who largely take care of their own affairs, but have a large Council where larger issues that affect different species are addressed. However, the Empire - taking cues from the British Imperialism School of Villainy - likely plays favoritism, giving one species more power and demanding less tribute from it - and put it in charge of keeping the others in line. This keeps the inevitable hatred concentrated on the local level - the different species will be so busy fighting each other that they won't unite against the Empire.

Moving on to Organizations, we get the Russian Business Network, which specializes in cybercrime - which implies that the Kassandre Family is also very good when it comes to code-breaking, slicing, and information brokering. Another result is Médecins Sans Frontières - apparently, a Core Worlds charity organization is on the planet and trying to do something against the drug epidemic. Presumably, they will experience some harassment/obstacles by the Imperial authorities, since they are unlikely to be keen on the problems of their worlds to be exposed - but not too much overt stuff, since they also have politically influential backers back in the Core Worlds.

Then we get Deep State (an anti-democratic, reactionary cabal within the establishment of Turkey) and Dark Enlightenment - a bunch of losers who post stuff online about how democracy is "fundamentally degenerative", liberal democracy is a "state religion", and "superior genetics" should determine who is in charge. Its main bloggers even call themselves "The Dark Lords of the Sith" - you just can't make that stuff up!

While the real Sith would likely eat these guys for breakfast, putting this in a Star Wars context likely means that Alsapin has a very active COMPNOR branch, who go out of their way to "prove" how inferior and degenerate those aliens really are. Considering the secrecy of the Deep State, they will probably hire all sorts of agents provocateurs to make trouble, and use any proof of alien strif for propaganda broadcasts that get shown all the way back in the Core Worlds.

Finally, we get the Order of the Veiled Prophet, and maybe they are the cult using the planet as a recruiting center, instead of the Zealots of Psusan - or maybe they are the same thing. So perhaps the Zealots meet on a regular basis to recite and discuss ancient poetry (written by Jedi? Sith? Other kinds of Force mystics), and every year there is this big event where one of the members is chosen as the "Queen" by the "Veiled Prophetess".

In the the "Major Personalities" section, we get James Wilkinson, a famous and skilled traitor. Let's make him (let's call him "Gar Haren", using the Star Wars Name Generator) a high-ranking Imperial Officer (possibly the highest-ranking on the planet - let's make him a General in the Army, since the military problems of the problems will likely be about controlling the world itself instead of space) who is not above selling military secrets to both the Hutts (for money) and the Rebels (to embarrass rivals) in order to further his career. He also frequently pilfers Imperial resources (selling them on the black market) to enrich himself, and has probably significant holdings on the planet and elsewhere. He hopes to supplant the current Moff.

Next up is Bertie Wooster (Star Wars name "Cen Felis"), who is "the Platonic Ideal of the Upper-Class Twit". Let's say he is from an important Core World family who got sent all the way out to Alsapin to get a high-ranking job in the local Imperial administration so that he can't embarass himself - but as he does next to no actual work in the administration, it falls to his servants (no doubt including at least one overly-anxious protocol droid) to get him out of trouble (possibly by asking the PCs for help - which will be both lucrative and silly jobs where maintaining appearances is all-important). He might also get entangled in Gar Haren's schemes, who knows a useful patsy when he sees one. And on further thoughts, let's make him from Corellia - with a fondness for participating in illegal swoop races. He actually is fairly competent at racing ("Corellian blood will tell!"), although the standards for "fairness" in Alsapin will likely differ from what he is familiar with.

Another entry is Pierre Parrant, one of the early frontier bootleggers. He is described as "pig-like" in appearance, so let's make his Star Wars equivalent ("Pugnub") a Gamorrean an unusually bright one, who came up with a new and potent variety of spice (possibly extracted from the fungi of his homeworld) and set up production in a remote frontier town. From there, he distributes it across the planet, where it is currently causing the drug epidemic mentioned earlier.

In the "Major Political Issues" section, we get "US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive". In Star Wars terms, this means that parts of major cities on the planet are planned to be bulldozed in order to make them "more economically viable" - but because this Star Wars, it probably (a) is primarily done to non-human neighborhoods, and (b) likely is part of some real estate speculation scheme on the part of Gar Haren.

Another issue is "Cracking Crime In Brazil", explaining how companies in Brazil sometimes make deals with criminal cartels - in exchange for protecting their property and employees, the company agrees not to assist the authorities in persecuting the cartel in any way. Certainly, the Kassandre Family will have similar deals in place.

We also get "Halliburton says radioactive material was stolen". Since nuclear weapons or power sources are not genre-appropriate for Star Wars, let's say there are minor deposits of Ionite on the planet - a material that interferes with electronics and deflector shields. And a shipment of the stuff was stolen - which makes it a great MacGuffin, as every faction in the sector will want to get it.

In the "Major Exports" section, we get Musk (extracted from native animals for export to both Hutt Space and the Core Worlds), liqueur, and algae-extracted synthetic fuel.

For "Forms of Worship" (which I interpret as being about the Zealots of Psusan, again), we get Ritual Purification, Polytheism, and Prosperity Theology - an interesting combination. So they worship a pantheon of female deities or spirits, Furthermore, they believe that "success" in life (however you define that) is a sign of favor from these spirits - so they help each other to achieve success in life, since the spirits also like it when women help each other (of course, donating heavily to the temple is encouraged). Furthermore, they believe that they should go ritual purification before worship after "unclean" activities, such as contact with men - which isn't forbidden, but you must be "clean" during worship. For shaking hands, this might merely involve washing hands, while intercourse might require a shower or a bath. Marriage is not forbidden, either - but the woman is expected to take charge of male partners in one way or another and lead the couple to success.

For "Worshiped Entities" I'm just picking any female deities that the random generator spits out: Hel, Cybele, Mormo, Lasa, Alpan, Lilith, Culsu, and Rán. If I get around to detailing the Zealots of Psusan further, these will be my starting point.

(As a side note, the Mythology Section of the Arcana Wiki could really use some further contributors - there are so many fascinating pantheons of real world history, and they all deserve some further exploration for how to use them and their forms of worship in a role-playing game context. And, of course, adding entries for their deities will allow them to be used in the Random Nations Generator as well. So if you have in-depth knowledge of a particular Mythology, please contribute to it!)

In the "Major Species" section, most listed species - being of a fantasy/mythology origin - will be inappropriate for Star Wars. Still, I note that the generator lists "Sasquatch" - and since Wookiees are essentially that, I'll stipulate that there is a hidden "safehouse" colony somewhere on the planet for escaped Wookiee slaves. There are also "Reptilians", which I interpret as Niktos (given the proximity to Hutt Space). I also get "Winged Reptilians" - let's just say those are Toydarians. Apart from the obligatory human presence, other local species will be determined by terrain and other local factors.

Before we get to the "Significant Creatures" section, let's jump ahead to "Dominant Terrain". While I want to avoid the classic single-biome planets so common in Star Wars, it is still thematically appropriate to have a clearly defined planetary landscape instead of the messy mixture found on Earth. Three types of primary terrain seem appropriate, and we get Glacier, Swamp, and Savanna. So... what I am imagining is a fairly cool planet with few oceans. Instead, most of the water on the planet is stored in glaciers on vast polar plateaus. In the spring, their boundaries start to melt and feed large swamp systems adjacent to them, and from there it travels to increasingly dry grasslands in the equatorial regions where it feeds some small, shallow seas. From there, the water precipitates and is eventually deposited back on the glaciers. Let's also say that the swamps are home to a vast variety of fungi - some of which can be converted into fuel (as in the "Major Exports" section), while others are used for the spice produced by Pugnub.

Now that the basic biomes, we can move on to the Significant Creatures - and many obscure cryptozooligical critters are perfectly suitable for Star Wars. The Gowrow, for example could be dropped into the swamplands without any changes. The Giant Penguin of Clearwater Beach could show up at large glacial lakes. The Northwest Pacific Tree Octopus could live in the forested areas of the swamps or savanna. And the Ozark Howler could inhabit remote regions of the grasslands.

Among the Cultural Influences, the first result I get is Azerbaijan. Since I don't know a thing about Azerbaijan, I will keep this in mind for further inspirational reading once I need to detail the planet further.

Now we get to "Historical Events", and the first result is "San Diego Menaced By Jumbo Squid". Which leads back to the swamp octopi mentioned earlier, so let's say that every few years these swamp octopi explode in population, leading them to leave the swamps in large numbers and attacking everything that gets in their way. This is a dangerous time - but their musk organs can be harvested and sold for a high profit.

There is also the "1908 New York to Paris Race", which we will interpret as an annual swoop race that is in fact a round trip around the entire planet! No doubt this is precisely the kind of thing Cen Felis will be interested in, and following around the various checkpoints along the route should be good for a series of adventures - not to mention showcasing the variety of the planet.

Furthermore, we get "Portal to mythical Mayan underworld found in Mexico", which we will interpret as some ancient Sith temple in a remote region. Combine this with "Doomsday Cult In Cave Stand Off", and we have some local cult of Sith worshipers - with only a vague understanding of the Sith and the Force - barricading themselves into the temple. Eventually, the proper Imperial authorities will learn of this and send an Inquisitor to take charge of the site. In the meantime, the PCs might get involved here.

Finally, we get the "Mysterium", a piece of music that, if properly played in a certain valley in the Himalayas, will end the world (according to its composer, at least). This ties in well with an entry in the "Famous Locations" section - "The Quietest Place on Earth - Orfield Labs". Let us say that the Sith carved a valley out of the polar mountains which they made supernaturally quiet - even to this day, sound is suppressed. But with the right focusing instruments, you could make sounds that... well, the effects would be nasty.

Another entry is Kitezh, a Russian sunken city. Let's say that this ties in to a Sith settlement that sunk during fights with the Jedi of old and now has vanished into the swamp - but even to this day, it is a focus of Dark Side energies.

The last entry is the Drones Club - which is linked to Bertie Wooster, and thus our Star Wars equivalent Cen Felis. It's likely a place for all the upper-class expatriates from the Core Worlds (businessmen, high-ranking administrators, Imperial officers) where they can hang out and complain how primitive this world is, as well as doing some social networking. Naturally, PCs would normally not be invited to such a place - but they might have to infiltrate it for an adventure.

With this, I've come to the end of the entries in the Random Numbers Generator, and now have plenty of details for embelleshing the world of Alsapin later, should I find the time. Hopefully I have also demonstrated how useful said demonstrator is, and I encourage you to contribute to the Arcana Wiki so that it can grow!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Star Wars Sandbox: The Kreetan Narrows, Part 5

Now that we have gone through the list of systems in the Suolriep Sector, we should give some thought to its interactions with its neighbors - in particular, the trade routes passing through it, since that's likely where the most interesting stuff happens.

The Lesser Lantillan Route is quite lengthy. It starts at Zeltros in the Inner Rim, a leisure world and homeworld of the Zeltrons, who are famous among other things for their "Carafels", courtesans who were sought after by many crime lords, especially Hutts - so any kidnapped Carafels would likely be transported along that route. It also passes through Bimmisari, the capital of the Halla Sector (the Mid-Rim neighbor of Suolriep), It is home to two species, both confusingly called "Bimms" - one is a short, furry species, and the other one is a species of near-humans. Both have a reputation for being (fairly peaceful) traders, so it wouldn't be surprising for them to show up in Suolriep. The Lesser Lantillan passes through Suolriep at the planet Boonta (the likely end point for any "wares" entering or leaving Hutt Space) before terminating at Junkford in the adjacent Tharin Sector. Junkfort is noteworthy for Junkford Station, where smugglers can get illegal modifications to their ships.

The Salin Corridor meanders through the Outer Rim. Its point of origin of Salin is probably a bit too far away to concern us here, but Columex, the location where it crosses the huge Perlemian Trade Route, is likely more of interest, since it is the center of the Commonality, a multi-system confederation. This is likely another major trade route used by the Hutts. A bit closer, Belderone is used to manufacture AT-ATs. Kile II has a major Imperial Navy base, and after that the Corridor enters Suolriep, passing via both Komnor and Boonta (both Hutt-controlled worlds, though no longer officially part of Hutt Space) before ending in the Tharin Sector, reaching first Novor 23 (home of the Ry'coz and a major economic and cultural center) and terminating at Nwarcol Point, a space station controlled by the entirely legitimate business interests of Xixor Transport Systems (owned by Xixor, the leader of the Black Sun Cartel). Oh, and it has a huge casino. Of course.

The last trade route, the Talcene Transit, only has a few planets listed despite its great length. It starts at Talcene, home of "notoriously competitive commerce guilds" and then immediately jumps several sectors to Saleucami in the Suolriep Sector. Are there really no intervening steps, or have the planets on its way just not been mentioned anywhere else? I suspect the latter - in particular, since the Zealots of Psusan - an all-female group whose members have elaborate tatoos - are said to "dominate three worlds" along the route. How much influence they have on Saleucami and the Suolriep Sector is something I will have to ponder at a later time - as well as what their actual beliefs are.

Curiously, there is something missing in the trade route descriptions - mention of Suolriep itself, which is after all the sector capital. I suspect that before the annexation of the region Suolriep was a fairly unimportant world. By all rights, Saleucami should probably have become the sector capital, since it has the biggest industries and economic importance (well, Boonta might come close, but as a Hutt-dominated world it clearly wasn't suitable). However, the Empire likely viewed Saleucami as too "politically unreliable" (all those aliens with a history of sedition...) to create the capital of its new sector there - thus, they moved it to Suolriep and built a government infrastructure from the ground up, likely importing massive numbers of human colonists from the Core Worlds. Useful real world parallels might be Brasilia (in Brazil) and Naypidaw (in Myanmar) - both examples of capitals which were created from the ground up.

No doubt Imperial authorities are attempting to create new hyperlanes that pass via Suolriep (which the Rebel Alliance can use to disguise the increased traffic to Delta Base, as I have outlined earlier). Meanwhile Saleucami experiences Imperial/Iotran crackdowns and might actually see parts of its industrial base taken apart and moved to Suolriep - further antagonizing the natives.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Star Wars Sandbox: The Kreetan Narrows, Part 4

Moving on through our lists of worlds in the Suolriep Sector, we get to the Saleucami System. Which actually has multiple Wookiepedia entries for its various planets, although most of them are onliners - I will just make a note that Casparer, in the second orbit from the sun, is an "aquatic" world, which means it has likely life of some kind. More noteworthy is the planet Saleucami itself - it's in the fourth orbit, yet still listed as "hot", possibly due to the widespread volcanism. Its entry is rather lengthy, due to appearances in both Revenge of the Sith and Clone Wars. It was first colonized by the Wroonians, but they were joined by Weequays, Grans, humans, Twi'leks and numerous other species. In pre-Republic times, it was one of the Outer Rim's most prosperous trading hubs. It saw some major orbital battles between the Republic and the Sith. In 67 BBY, a Force Prophet was active on the planet who predicted the Fall of the Republic and the Rise of the Empire until Darth Plagueis (Palpatine's Sith Master) visited the planet and murdered her in order to prevent further spoilers.

Then Saleucami became a member of the Techno Union shortly before the Battle of Naboo, which in turn caused it to become one of the most important worlds of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Likely, this world was one of the main reasons why the Empire annexed the regions, and the Imperial presence on the planet is undoubtedly strong to this day. Since the human population on this planet is so limited (only 6%), this is probably a good place for them to import some of their Iotrian patsies to "restore order" over all those unruly aliens so that the human colonialist elite can go about their business in peace. And this "business" is likely to be significant - with a population of 1.4 billion and a major manufacturing base, this world can contribute a lot to the Imperial war effort - if it can be tamed. The world probably doesn't produce anything truly critical - no TIE fighters or the like - but blaster rifles or all sorts of "ordinary" military supplies are still plenty useful.

But wait, there is more! Shortly after the Battle of Yavin, some of Jabba's holdings on the planet - including a secret communications outpost - were captured by the Zann Consortium! As one of the more militaristic crime syndicates, it's possible that Zann is the secret backer of the "vicious warlord" on Komnor, as outlined in my previous post. It is quite possible that the attack on Komnor was a feint against the Desilijic, which was then abandoned after Zann came to his agreement with Jabba soon after. As Zann also has a grudge against the Empire, his influence will certainly make the politics in the sector even more interesting...

Soderia is mentioned as having Soderians as a native (presumably sapient) species, and their major claim to fame is producing weftfabric, which is used in producing sails for sail barges. Nothing more is said about them, but I imagine some kind of spider humanoids to go with the "spinning" theme.

The planet Tefau has the Tefaun as a native species.

The Timja Suns are producing a strange radiation which affects people spending too much time in their light - including changing their skin to yellow.

The planet Yurb is home to the Razor-Tailed Tigers, who lived in the planet's Dust Pits region - another critter no nasty crime lord's private menagerie should be without, I am sure.

The Zarkis system is mentioned for having a black market where an Alliance team sought to purchase a "weapon of alien origin", so presumably it has a significant shadowport.

Apart from the 18 "main systems" of the Suolriep Sector, the sector also has two subsectors - which presumably have more than one star system, though only one is mentioned for each. The first is the Ansuroer sector, which contains the Reibrin system, where the planet Lijuter can be found - the homeworld of the Houk. The other one is the Iotran Expanse, run by the world of Iotra which we already identified as a source of disposable alien troops for the Empire.

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Star Wars Sandbox: The Kreetan Narrows, Part 3

After discussing the main Rebel stronghold in the Suolriep Sector in the previous post, let us go through the list of the sector's worlds to see if we can find anything interesting.

Alsapin has the "Alsapin Casino" associated with the criminal Kassandre family - which was killed when the Kerestian bounty hunter Limna Yith bombed the Casino during the Galactic Civil War. Which might happen any time between the start of the campaign and 3 ABY (when she apparently moves on to other things). Both represent NPCs that the PCs might encounter, and eventually they might get involved in the bombing plot itself - either to pull it off, or foil it (more likely the latter, if the PCs have any moral scruples).

Her entry also mentions a connection to one Sprax, who is a Nalroni Vigo in the Black Sun cartel. He primarily operates in the Periphery Subsector of the neighboring Tharin Sector.

He is described as a "fence and patron of smugglers". He would certainly have interests in the Suolriep Sector as well (presumably, this is the reason for the bombing). One of his rivals is Durga Besadii Tai, a fellow Black Sun Vigo... and also he leader of the Besadii Kajidic, one of the oldest and post powerful Hutt clans and one of the primary rivals of Jabba himself! Durga also has had problems with the Rebel Alliance in the past, thanks to their raid on Ylesia (Durga also gets some space in Lords of Nal Hutta).

The Dernantine System has the planet Boonta, which is named after the hero Boonta the Hutt, who defeated Xim the Despot thousands of years ago and was deified after his death. The planet itself never fully recovered from the devastation that both that war and the later Great Sith War. Its current claim to fame is the Boonta Speeder Race, which was established so that the slow little humans didn't feel left out because the Tatooine Podraces were too tough for them. There are also some other extreme sports on the planet, such as the Zed'hoffa Orbital Diving Competition over the Living Pits, whatever they are - no doubt that diving into the wrong pit is lethal. All of this is run by one Yenchara the Hutt, who is of the Desilijic kajidic - Jabba's cartel. Presumably, he also runs most Desilijic activities in the sector.

The Komnor System entry is interesting - it was the home of "a large clan of Hutts". Around 0 ABY (i.e. shortly after the campaign starts), "a vicious warlord arrived in the system and evicted the Hutts from their home." The evicted Hutts then complained to Jabba, who sent a bounty hunter to assassinate the warlord.

...okay, why does a "vicious warlord" coming out of nowhere decide to conquer a Hutt-controlled world, out of all places? The Hutts are no pushovers - or at least, they have minions who are no pushovers. And why is the Empire sitting idly by when someone conquers what they see as one of their own world, when that would be a great time to show that they are in charge? The best explanation I can come up with is that the whole thing was engineered by Jabba to bring a minor kajidic under his control. Unless I can come up with a better scheme. In either case, there is plenty of opportunity for the PCs to get involved with the conquest and its aftermath.

Laboi II is a rather inhospitable planet thanks to its 4000+ hours day/night-cycle. More interesting are the native sapients, the Laboi - who look like this:

They are also carnivores who grow up to 10 meters long - and some of the females have natural telekinetic abilities. Furthermore, their entry mentions that the few who escape the planets often become crime lords in competition to the Hutts. So... let's say that the secret leader of the Kassandre Family (the ones that run the Alsapin Casino, above) is such a Laboi female. It's appropriate for a telekinetic to control gambling operations, after all...

The Lythia system was home to the Lythian Pirates who were active in the years before the Clone Wars. Thus, it's probably a good place for hunting for pirate treasure.

The Mantillorr system has a native sapient species named the Mantillorrians, some of whom work as rat-catchers. No more detail is given. The Nerria system likewise has the Nerrians as a native sapient species, with similarly little detail.

The Nomaria system is home to the Nomarian Thunder Sharks, predatory fish that go into feeding frenzies. I expect that every major crime lord in the sector worth his salt will have a tank of these creatures, for disposing people who have annoyed them (except for Laboi crime lords, who will simply eat them themselves).

To be continued...

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Star Wars Sandbox: The Kreetan Narrows, Part 2

Now that we have established the basic situation in the Kreetan Narrows in the previous post, it's time to see what Wookiepedia has to say about the Suolriep Sector - and what we can extrapolate from it.

First of all, the sector is described as "desolate", and only having "light traffic". Why is it desolate, though? Is it just because there are so few star systems - or do ancient evils hide here that even the Hutts were loath to disturb? I haven't read up on the ancient history of the Star Wars Galaxy ("The New Essential Chronology" is lying on a table nearby, waiting to be read), but ancient Sith ruins and the like would be great for both treasure-hunting adventures and stories revolving around the Force (I expect at least one player character to become a Force-sensitive because, well, there is always one).

The entry also mentions that the sector is the location of the Rebel Alliance's Delta Base. Sadly, the entry is a bit sparse on what Delta Base is all about and the sources cited refer mostly to long-out-of-print West End Games supplements - but on the other hand, this means I can feel free to make stuff up.

Some things can be inferred, though. For starters, the base gets an influx of new people soon after the Battle of Yavin (which is still a bit in the future at the start of the campaign) - most notably among these is one Vanden Willard. Who was actually the military commander of the forces at Yavin, and who subsequently won another important battle for the Alliance before taking charge of Delta Base. Considering that the Alliance is chronically short on capable people, much less competent commanders, I can only conclude that Delta Base is a very important base for them.

Delta Base was established on the moon of New Kisge - apparently by Willard before the Battle of Yavin. So maybe he used his newly-won prestige to vastly expand the base - making a good argument that it would be an ideal location for basing future operations from. New Kisge is also the homeworld of the near-human Samuac (whose only difference from humans is apparently their red eyes, allowing them to see in darkness), who "managed to avoid subjugation by the Galactic Empire". In fact, the whole moon - which has "dense undergrowth-covered wilderness" - has "escaped the attention of the Empire".

Zooming out, New Kisge is the eight moon of the planet Chaasch (presumably a gas giant). Chaasch is located in the Suolriep System... which also includes the planet Suolriep, the sector capital!

Wow. So apparently there is a near-human species living on a habitable world in the same planetary system as the Imperial Sector Capital - which has got to be one of the most populous and highly-trafficed worlds in the sector - and yet somehow the Empire doesn't even notice them! No wonder Willard thought this would be a great place to hide out!

So, how to explain this? Well, let's start by assuming that Chaasch is generating fierce magnetic storms which scramble all sensors (which are especially harsh on unshielded ships such as TIE Fighters). However, that won't be sufficient to hide all traffic in the area, so there is also a massive and ancient mining station that extracts resources from other moons - and which has been throroughly subverted by the Samuac.

Speaking of which, the Samuac are listed as having the "Samuac Tree Code" as their native language, which doesn't exactly speak of "high-tech civilization". But let's try this: The "undergrowth" of New Kisge is actually a single plant system, like the Pando Aspen Tree but on a planetary scale. The Samuac have learned communicate through this plant, allowing them to maintain a largely coherent planetary culture despite their low tech level.

Then, maybe a thousand years ago, a group of human smugglers landed on this planet and discovered the natives. The natives learned of the dominion of the Hutts and decided that they'd rather stay hidden for the time being. The smuggler rather liked having a hiding place that the Hutts didn't know about, and concurred - and a profitable bargain was worked out. The smugglers gradually introduced high technology to the world, which the Samuac only used in underground caves (which were gradually expanded to entire underground cities) in order to avoid detection. A crucial piece of tech was the introduction of cybernetic eyes, which the Samuac could use to pass for human. Selected agents were sent to the world of Suolriep (which had been settled by humans, among other species) and gradually arranged for the construction of Chaasch Station, the aforementioned mining station.

Of course, sooner or later the inevitable happened and the Samuac agents sired or gave birth to children with human partners while being offworld - and some of these had their Samuac parents' red eyes. It was decided not to automatically tell these children of the truth about their heritage in order to protect secrecy. Gradually, a story spread that the rays of Cardai (the sun of the Suolriep system) gradually mutated humans until their children were born with red eyes - which is total bunk, of course, but the Hutt overlords of the region were not interested in any scientific research that didn't promise future profit, and so the story survived. Now "red-eyed humans" are called the "Children of Cardai" and have spread across the sector - further confusing the truth about the Samuac.

Of course, eventually it was discovered that there were people living on New Kisge - but the Samuac simply pretended that they were the descendants of shipwrecked human survivors, and that they had no interest in leaving their dark, overgrown, monster-infested hellhole of a world and that any outsiders should just leave. Outsiders who couldn't take the hint suffered attacks from the native fauna or otherwise suffered from "accidents", and thus the world was largely left to its own devices.

The Empire, once it showed up, didn't bother with the world either - like later events on Endor showed, the Empire doesn't bother with crushing primitive populations of worlds that don't have valuable resources to exploit and do not pose any other threat to its interest. Chaasch Station paid its tribute, and reasonably on time too, and that's all that mattered.

Then, somehow, Willard ended up on New Kisge and won the trust of the Samuac. I imaging a grand tale of the Planetary Romance style, which likely involved him marrying a native princess (which always seems to happen in these kinds of stories). He convinces them that opposing the Empire is worth risking an end to centuries of secrecy, which must have required some truly spectacular heroics. And thus, Delta Base is born, with Chaasch Station serving as a cover and the Samuac agents abroad providing additional intel.

Star Wars Sandbox: The Kreetan Narrows, Part 1

I am currently on a job hunt, which means that I will likely have to move to another city in a few months once I find a job - which in turn means I will unfortunately have to abort my current Cold Frontier campaign. Now, ideally I would want to "reboot" the campaign with a new group. But it's always a good idea to have a backup plan, and for this the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire game has caught my eye.

As I have come to enjoy the "sandbox" nature of the Cold Frontier campaign, I want to establish a sandbox for this campaign as well. The PCs would start as a small crew of smugglers and similar never-do-wells in a fairly confined area of space - a single sector or so - and have Obligations that keep them there for a while. That doesn't mean that eventually the PCs won't be able to join the Rebellion, become a new generation of Jedi, or otherwise traverse the galaxy - but the initial focus of the campaign would start on this reasonably small scale so that the protagonists - and their antagonists as well - have space to establish themselves and grow.

The region of the galaxy I have picked for this campaign are the Kreetan Narrows (in particular, the Suolriep Sector), a region that used to be part of Hutt Space but which was annexed by the Empire when they pursued Separatists in 19 BBY (the "starting time" of the campaign is set approximately at the destruction of Alderaan). The primary reason for this is that I have the supplement Lords of Nal Hutta, which I want to get a lot of use out of - the Hutts make great patrons or antagonists for crime-focused games. However, running a Rebellion-era game set outside the influence of the Empire proper seems just wrong. Thus, the Kreetan Narrows represent the "best of both worlds" where both power blocks clash. And the Suolriep sector seems to be the best choice within the Kreetan Narrows, as it represents a "bulge" into Hutt Space with an especially long border. Here are two maps to showcase its position:

Let's think about the strategic implications of this. The Hutt Kajidics (clans/cartels) who used to control the Narrows lost a lot of territory to the Empire, and with it a lot of wealth and influence. They are prudent enough to realize that they cannot openly oppose the Empire, so military reconquest is right out. However, the Hutts were never known to be graceful losers, so if they can subvert Imperial control of the region without an obvious slime trail leading back to them, they will. I expect lots of junior Hutts in the region trying to increase the influence of their respective kajidics - while also revelling in the relative freedom from their elders (since those don't want to appear to be directly involved). Since the territory is now "up for graps", these junior Hutts will also spend much time and effort on covert wars with each other.

During the annexation, the Hutts were, of course, evacuated in a hurry. But beyond leaving their palaces and hidden treasures behind (I expect that there will be a lot of "Maps to Lost Hutt Treasures" for sale in the region...), they also had to leave many of their servants and slaves, which gives us a start on the "List of Prominent Species" for the sector (which I would hand to the players as suggestions for player character races, as well as background information):

  • Niktos: Prominent enforcers of the Hutts, and thus likely to be common. (Stats in Lords of Nal Hutta.)
  • Gamorreans: Ditto. (I am not aware of official game stats for this species.)
  • Ganks: Probably only around in small numbers, but they will be around as a sign that Hutts are conducting Serious Business in the area. (Stats in Lords of Nal Hutta.)
  • Toydarians: They have probably adjusted the political shifts in the Kreetan Narrows fairly well - business is business, and they can make arrangements with the Empire just as well as they did with the Hutts. (Stats in Enter the Unknown.)
  • Weequays, Vodrans, and Klatoonians represent further servant species of the Hutts which are likely common in the area. (None of them have game stats for the FFG Star Wars game, as far as I am aware.)
  • Twi'lek were popularly held as "exotic dancer" slaves by the Hutts. I expect that when the Empire annexed the region, they made a great show out of "liberating Twi'lek slaves from the vile Hutts", then put them into refugee camps for processing... and then basically left them there to fend for themselves when their propaganda value was exhausted. Those who could afford to leave did, while others got stuck there and made new homes for themselves out of necessity. By now, many have children.
Now let's move on to the local Imperial presence. The Empire took the Narrows from the Hutts via overwhelming force, and it doesn't want the Hutts to forget this. Thus, the garrison will likely remain significant, with the largest portion at the sector capital away from the border and a smaller "forward base" closer to it. The forces will be focused on patrolling the very long borders to Hutt space. However, they are not particularly effective in this, as corruption is widespread - the Hutts have their ways of getting hooks into the right people. The Sector Moffs are replaced on a fairly regular basis, either because it was discovered that they let themselves bribed by the Hutts or because the Hutts succeeded in intrigues against them. Betting pools on how long the current one will last are frequent (though illegal).

Now let me digress a bit on how I want to portray the Empire. Given its general evil and its pro-human bias, many are inclined to portray them as Space Nazis when it comes to its interaction with non-human species. However, Space Nazis are the shtick of the Warhammer 40K universe, and anyway as a German I tire of Nazi variants quickly. But after reading some columns by the War Nerd, I've come to the conclusion that the British Empire would be the better model for my campaign (appropriate, since so many officers of the Star Wars Empire were played by British actors.).

So... while most of the ruling elite of the Empire of course things that humans are superior to everyone else and should run things (except for Palpatine, who distains every non-Force user equally and only sees himself as fit for rule), they are not generally out to exterminate or mass sterilize aliens (unless they are really troublesome) - they just want to see them in their proper place so that they can be "civilized" by the humans. Having some non-human servants? No problem. Having a Twi'lek mistress? You dog, you. Having deals with nonhuman merchants, industrialists, or even criminals is also not a problem, as long as the bribe money keeps flowing and they don't make any problems for humans in general or Imperials in particular. Aliens just aren't allowed to hold any official power over humans.

And one thing the British knew how to do (and which the Nazis were ideologically incapable of) was to play the game of Divide and Conquer. While the British certainly had no problems with sending their own young off to die in some pointless colonial war, there was only so many young British people available - so it was a lot more efficient to make some other ethnic group die for you. Support one local tribe against the others, give them weapons and point them into the right direction, and they will be so busy tearing each other apart that they won't be able to resist your rule.

The Star Wars Empire will certainly use this strategy as well (especially since it feeds local hatreds, which Papatine would approve of). In the Suolriep Sector, a prime candidate for "local flunkies" would be the Iotrans - no mention of how they fared under the Hutts, but their penchant for order, stability, and militarism would make them fairly useful patsies. Thus, the Iotrans get to fight all those troublesome remnants of the Hutt servitor species while the Empire attempts to gradually attempts to assimilate the sector.

And another trick of the British Empire that the Star Wars Empire is likely to emulate is that when you colonize a new place, you should get colonists from the far ends of your empire to settle it instead of relying on native labor. These colonists will have no local allies, and are thus dependent on you for protection and prosperity - making them a lot more loyal than the natives, who will resent you anyway. Obviously, the prime candidates for colonists and the administrative upper class in the Suolriep Sector will be humans - but some nonhuman species who have done reasonably well under the Empire might join in as well. They might be only second-class citizens under the humans, but that's still far better than a third-class (or worse) citizen like the natives. The Imperials would certainly throw them a few scraps of privilege to make them feel "favored". Divide and Conquer.

These are my first thoughts about the "macro" level of the Suolriep Sector, before I delve into the details of the individual worlds. But before that - do you have any suggestions? I am hardly a big expert on Star Wars lore, and if you have any suggestions on expanding on this material I am all ears...