In between sessions, our group was having so much fun that we ended up continuing the adventure by email. Most of this was discourse, minor actions, exploration, etc. But then the party got to a big battle scene. Star Wars: Edge of the Empire has a mechanic for one-check combat resolution, so I decided to use this mechanic and carry the story forward.
Spoiler Alert: This is a scene from Beyond the Rim (with some of my own modifications), so if you haven't played that yet and are likely to be a player, you might want to skip this post.
Later, as day turns to orange-brown dusk, Norta fetches the party. "Hey, you ever seen a Jawa trade party? Got a few of their skiffs coming in now. Come on, let’s see what they have to trade! Maybe they’ll have something we can bolt on to that rust bucket you call a ship."
Over at alcove number two, three repulsor-lift skiffs are float-docked, and a bunch of jawas are frantically waiving everyone over. One skiff is piled with parts and equipment that look to be from starships and vehicles. "Oooh, I hope they have that multi-phase capital transformer I’ve been looking for!" says Norta. The second skiff has all manner of crates, tanks, and other containers; the third has various droid parts.
Lots of folks are headed over when the wookie catches a smell on the foul wind that raises his hair a bit. Trandoshan. He starts to roar, but it’s too late - Norta is already on a skiff, as one of the jawas pulls out a blaster from his cloak and shoots. Norta’s instincts let him swat at the weapon, but he still goes down. The jawas throw off their cloaks, revealing them to be a variety of shorter aliens - sullustan, mostly. Trandoshans jump out from the crates and junk piles with heavy weapons. One of them croaks out, "Yav sends his best!", as he opens fire.
Comm links light up as the rest of the base is apparently under attack: it seems like a well coordinated assault.
The Action Declarations
I asked each player to declare a primary skill for the battle, and a secondary skill. This is a little more complex than the rules in the book, but I felt it would add welcome complexity to a large scene. Each player also had to explain what they were generally doing with that skill. My examples were:
- "Brawl; I try to punch them in their faces."
- "If no one is around to punch, then I'll use athletics to setup improvised defensive points for allies."
- Groz, a wookiee hired gun
- Duunrader, a twi'lek soldier/leader
- Monty, a human pilot
- Feeva, a rodian slicer/mechanic
- 5-0, a droid bounty hunter
I rolled checks for each of their declarations. While doing so, I added in boosts and setbacks as appropriate for the situation and their desired activities, difficulties and upgrades for the actions themselves, etc. The key is that each skill check happens only once, and the rest is narrative explanation.
I also made the decision that since the scale of the battle was larger, I would multiply the wounds and strain from failure/threat dice, helping to reinforce the risks in this fight. I also made sure at least one challenge die was present for each roll to represent the overall challenge of this fight, but also because I knew any despair would add good flavor to the results.
When rolling one-check combats in SW: EotE, it is assumed that the party will win. The rolls are to determine how well they won, and who had the greatest impact in the battle. As I went, I took advantages and dealt with them dramatically, frequently converting them to boosts for other party members.
Here were the results:
Here were the results:
- Leadership 6 success, 1 triumph, 1 threat
- Ranged Heavy 3 failure, 2 advantage
- Grenades 2 threat
- Vibroknife 5 success, 3 advantage
- Computers 2 success, 1 advantage
- Mechanics 1 success, 5 advantage
- Gunnery 1 failure, 1 despair, 8 advantage
- Ranged Heavy 3 success, 1 threat
- Perception 2 failure, 1 triumph, 2 advantage
The story these rolls generated:
The Yiyar clan forces made two key mistakes: they underestimated the IsoTech defenses, and they failed to secure their escape route. And they pissed off the wookie, so that’s four mistakes.
Right as the battle started, Duunrader’s leadership instincts took over. With Norta down, Duunrader was the only command voice, and he helped turn a rout into a powerful slow-retreat defense. The IsoTech folks knew the ins and outs of the base, and Yiyar, being mostly brutes, hadn’t done their homework, counting on the shock of a surprise attack to win. Duunrader made it his purpose to prove them wrong.
His efforts to inspire were aided by a crazy wookie, who followed his wildly inaccurate grenades in on foot, brandishing nothing but a small vibroknife. He seemed absent any comprehension of mortal danger as he stabbed the jawa-killers over and over. Later, he barely even seemed to remember it all, no doubt due to the adrenalin overdrive. 5-0 swore he saw the wookie foaming at the mouth, but as usual no one believed him. 5-0 also swore that Duunrader hit absolutely nothing with his blaster, and actually, pretty much everyone agreed on that. “Suppressive fire”, he said… sure.
Of course, it also helped motivate everyone when a starfighter came up and starting shooting at the invaders from behind. The first time Monty tried to fire the Z-95’s weapons, a console in the cockpit exploded all over him. The weapons could still fire, but the aiming systems were totally off and he hit a whole lot of nothing. Still, having starfighter lasers blasting from behind are a great way to incentivize troop movements, and he moved a bunch of the clan forces directly into the strongpoint of the hastily formed IsoTech defenses, boosting their efforts significantly.
Where Monty’s attacks couldn’t reach, Feeva’s traps took over. Some hastily erected explosives, falling beams, and tripwires harassed the clan as they tried to follow the organized retreat of the IsoTech forces to their decided defensive points, and that made for easier pickings. She also activated the automated defense turrets outside the base, quickly reconfiguring them for infantry targets, taking out some of the reinforcements before they could enter the various base points.
5-0 killed quite a few clan forces with his newly acquired IsoTech X14 light assault blaster, although he accidentally set off a few of Feeva’s traps a little early. Easy to go crazy with such awesome firepower. At one point, he completely missed a squad of sullustan sneaking up on him, but they tripped over one of Groz's undetonated grenades (he forgot to pull the pin) and blew themselves up.
Eventually it was clear even to the Yiyar that the IsoTech defense was superior, and they started to retreat. As they fled, with Monty’s lasers and Feeva’s turrets gently yet persuasively encouraging them to move quickly, they ran straight into a real jawa skiff. Now, jawas are normally more flight than fight, but these jawas pulled out blaster pistols and killed every fleeing attacker. A stoic jawa in a jet black cloak stood on the skiff and watched as his brown-robed brethren finished them off.
The IsoTech forces did suffer numerous casualties, and the party wasn’t exempt from wounds. Duunrader took 6 wounds; Monty took 2 wounds and a crit (avg: Head Ringer); 5-0 took 4 wounds. Duunrader and 5-0 both took 4 strain, and the great and powerful Groz took 8 strain.
But the joy of victory was undeniable as the IsoTech defenders cheered.