Cloud City Cantina

A Battle Among the Stars!
The start of a fantastic journey.

Hi all,

I recently wound down my Roll20 (Roll20.net) campaign that ran for two and a half years as I moved back to Seattle. Roll20 is great, but I’ve been craving an in-person game. Something with action and adventure in a modern or future setting. I was looking for a game to play in that had a nice combination of grit and adventure, but just wasn’t finding any. Sure if I kept looking there’s bound to be a cool game, but instead I decided to run my own..

As my buddy Ponch says: “If you don’t get adventure in my role-playing it has to come out in real life” True words for me, and a good game keeps a person from buying an old motorcycle and seeing how far into Central America they can ride. Consider gaming an investment in my health and bank account.

I’d originally intended to run a couple of one shot adventures to see what sorts of players showed up. Look for a good mix of easy going people who got along and weren’t Murder Hobos. I pretty much wanted a party that had inter-personal skills other than Intimidate. As luck would have it a great batch of players showed up to the first one shot. Rather than let them slink away I exaggerated my Star War knowledge, faked an opening session, and began the campaign. So now I’m furiously reading up on the Edge of the Empire rules and backstory.

That’s how this started, but who am I? As a player I’m the guy with a plan and funny comment who enjoys solving problems and forging a team. As a GM I’m probably the same way, though it’s hard to tell how the players see me. I enjoy building a detailed world and letting the players explore it. Much of the work I do won’t been seen in game, but it makes the little details more consistent. And it’s something I enjoy.

And the world isn’t just big, its gritty. I like moral ambiguity and hard decisions. Sometimes there are no good options, just bad choices and the fun of living with yourself afterwards. Not all players enjoy this, but for me the hard times give meaning to everything the characters earn or accomplish. And then I try to tie these accomplishments into interested narratives. I’m hoping for Space Opera Noir though we’ll have to see if I can pull that off.

I’ve also grown found of multi-media. Over the years with Roll20 I learned how to make decent maps and handouts and how to incorporate music, sound effects, and lighting in cool ways. Please check out the Wiki as I intend to post things in a Handout section and would love for other GMs to use the things I make.

As we play I’ll post my thoughts on GMing. The mechanics of asset creation, the idea of basing a campaign on broad themes, various sizes of overlapping story arcs, and who knows what else. Stick around I think it’ll be fun.
-Justin

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XP from Episode II

Episode II – Tuesday September 15th “You have a crate full of what?”

Recap:

The remaining escapees from Teemo the Hutt make their way to a Vapor Station outside of Mos Eisley. Repelling a cat’s paw attack by Tusken Raiders our adventurers save the Vapor Farmers and make it off Tatooine on the Krayt’s Fang

Within the ship’s hold they find crates on route to Nar Shaddaa for another gangster, Sinasu the Hutt. A quick trip brings them to Greentop a burned out shell of a building with signs of recent arson. Hoping to find Sinasu (and a hefty payout) the party looks for a place to land.

Players

Aaron, Dio, Frank, Michael, Phil

12 XP to each player for accomplishing the following:
  • Fighting off the Tusken Raiders
  • Exploring Greentop
  • Bonus for saving the Vapor Farmers
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Episode III - How to party like a Hutt
and get paid to do it....

Had a great third session last night. Will write up details soon. In the meanwhile here is the Into Crawl.

Recently escaped out from under the squishy psuedo-thumb of Teemo the Hutt our band or travelers liberated a small freighter and took to the stars. With a price on their heads, time on their hands, and a Krayt Dragon in their cargo hold, the team hatched a plan. They hoped to complete a transport run of Krayts to the infamous smuggler’s moon, Nar Shadda, to cash in with Sinasu the Hutt.

It was apparent during the trip to Nar Shadda that some of the credits they get from Sinasu should go towards a thorough cleaning of the Krayt Fang as the smell is abhorrent. Four Wookiee pelts made themselves and a smugglers hold very apparent.

Unfortunately the easy road to money had a few potholes when they found Greentop, a once beautiful spire in City 13 had been torched. The blackened tower standing as a reminder of what Hutt conflict looks like.

Seeking a buyer and possible clues to Sinasu’s whereabouts they pilot the Krayt Fang towards Rowo’s Landing a nearby public parking structure. Rowo’s is a massive cylindrical tower with a couple dozen speeder and starship hangar bays. It is old, grimy, and heavily dented. Traffic is heavy and they barely avoid a nasty collision with a speeder truck leaving a hangar. Hailing Rowo’s for Landing Clearance they meet Impact, a brightly tattooed Twi’lek.

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XP From Episode III
You can never anticipate good players...

Episode III – Tuesday September 29th “How to Party Like a Hutt!”

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Recap:

Docking at Rowo’s Landing the group shakes down some locals for information and find themselves in a seedy bar called the Holo Lounge. This off-track betting establishment is just the right kind of seedy. Dirty enough to scare off the norms, while clean enough to be too boring for anything but business. Here they meet Juan Solo a Rodian fixer who likes their style and Xeecho, a party slug type of Hutt. In the end our heroes save Xeecho from a group of Gamorean Bounty Hunters, learn of Sinasu’s underworld feud, and close the bar early.

Meanwhile Vercetti uncovers news that survivors from Greentop were taken to BactaMAX, a high end medical facility.

Posing as bereaved realtives in the employ of Xeecho, the party investigates BactaMAX and finds Lanni, a Mon Calamari dock master who works for Sinasu. She tells them of Tech Tank and that it is one of Sinasu’s best kept safe houses.

Players

Aaron, Dio, Frank, Michael, Phil

15 XP to each player for accomplishing the following:
  • Interacting with Impact
  • Uncovering clues about Sinasu
  • Completely surprising me and saving Xeecho!
  • Breaking into BactaMAX with no casualties
  • Learning of Tech Tank
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BactaMAX
The making of maps and handouts for an important scene

BactaMAX

A burn victim held a clue the players needed and I wanted a scene where the group must infiltrate a hospital. I envisioned two large circular towers rising above Nar Shaddaa catering to the well to do. Searching the internet I found some art that worked well as landing pads and a U shaped bit that got turned into free standing wings off the main tower. I envision these are reserved for the wealthy and the whole wing can be flooded with whatever atmosphere the patients wants. These are details that came about because of my design process and I enjoy how making maps adds depth to the world.

Partitioning a circular building was tricky and I’m not real happy with the results. But it was a fun challenge and I already have plans to improve the next map. The walls in future maps will be more interesting and I’ll save the maps in a higher resolution.

Because there are many ways a team might infiltrate a hospital I made a number of maps and handouts for BactaMAX. First there is the hospitals internet homepage (I call it the Spectrum) then an overview map. Manipulating the basic map in PowerPoint I created a cyberspace looking map. This I use when/if the players try to hack a building through cyberspace. It is cool effect and in the case of BactaMAX it narrowed down where the burn unit was in the building. Lastly I made a blown up map of where I figured the action would take place.

A new trick with this map is the city background. I took a screenshot of a Google Map of Manhattan and used that as a backdrop. Pretty pleased with the results.

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Episode IV - Underground yet over their heads
Delivery and Paydirt

Another excellent session. Here is the Intro Crawl.

Having crawled through the underbelly of City 13 following leads and making friends our heroes found themselves ideep in the entertainment sector. Past streets that have never known sunlight and alleys bathed in perpetual neon lurked the Bak Bak an off track sports bar.

There they met a Rodian fixer with a love of Sombreros and protected the life of Xeecho, an adolescent Hutt with a wild streak. Costing a thousand credits and a Hutt’s arm they struck a deal with four Gamoreans bounty hunters which paid off in the end.

Sooon they heard of a dock master recovering in BactaMAX and an ingenius plan was hatched. It involved a sick Bothian, a VIP Hutt, and a waffle cart. In short order the group learned of Sinasu’s treatment plant safehouse. After a quick trip they dropped off Xeecho, pick up their rank ship, and now the Krayt Fang, the team, and two interesting crates are cruising the airways of Nar Shaddaa ten kilometers out from the massive water purification and recycling complex and the hope of a big pay out.

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Creating a Mission Lead Player Handout
Adding style to a simple bit of text

Video Call and Mission Lead

The party recently met a Mexican themed Rodian Fixer and promptly started calling him Juan Solo. I’m not one to pass up great player ideas so now they have a contact Jannick “Juan” Solo a sombrero wearing Rodian.

I like it when the players make contacts or friends with NPCs because it allows me to interject parts of the story and plot hooks in novel ways. For instance I had ideas for a salvage mission (much more to come on that!) and now that the players have already asked Juan for other work this fits nicely. So i made this handout as a video call. I only regret not seeding the mission when the players first talked to the Rodian. Way to much to juggle at times.

I made this in PowerPoint working from my basic Datapad graphic. The Rodian is from the web layered with a stock sombrero image. I wanted it to look like Juan was calling from a bar so I found a couple of “Future Bar” images to layer behind him and put his name in GalBasic above like a contact list. To help the datapad display pop out I used bright blue for the text and the video feed highlight square. Then made some light maroon boxes which add depth to otherwise boring text. Finally I added a few menu symbols on the datapad so it feels in use and part of something larger. These show the datapad has full signal strength, the player has an unread text message, and that he’s connected to his ship’s and the station’s wifi.

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Ship Brochures
Giving players a choice of vessels

The players had the opportunity to change out the Krayt Fang for another ship. I made these brochures to highlight the differences between the four models.

Then the group took on a salvage job and the contact sent them a brochure for the large freighter.

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XP From Episode IV
Delivery and Payday

Episode IV – Tuesday October 13th “So Nar Shaddaa drinks this stuff?”

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Recap:

Learning that Sinasu took refuge in a nearby water treatment facility the team fired up the Krayt Fang. Playing a deadly game of cat and mouse amid the huge cooling towers, vent stacks, and bypass pipes Ioun out flew the pursuing bounty hunters and found the entrance to the tertiary filtration tank. Able to hold cubic kilometers of water, the tank is also home to Tech Tank an illicit repair and modification team working with Sinasu.

Irys made introductions and began negotiating the trade but was interrupted when Naoko’s goons flew in on speeder bikes. Gand and Sylraris cut the bounty hunters down while Vincetti liberated a speeder bike and Ioun found creative ways to apply repulser exhaust. Irys proved he loves Hutts when he saved the second in as many days and the group escaped just ahead of two cloak ships.

Sinasu was impressed by the groups pluck and chose to overlook the fact they had liberated a ship he still had a lien on. In fact he offered them good terms on a ship upgrade provided this lot of scoundrels would take care of just one little job for him.

Players

Aaron, Dio, Frank, Michael, Phil

22 XP to each player for accomplishing the following:
  • Navigating the Water Processing Plant
  • Saving Sinasu
  • Escaping from the Bounty Hunters
  • Negotiating the sale of the Krayt and Krayt Eggs
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Ship Map
A player resource and map in one

This is a map of the players ship “The Wanderer”. Included with the ship layout are sections denoting what actions and maneuvers players can make aboard ship. I lifted the idea from somewhere in the Fantasy Flight Forums (can’t find a link) and then modified and applied it to the YG-4210.

My goal is to send the file to FedEx and have it printed as a 22″×28″ poster with dry erase lamination.

The_Wanderer.png

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