Monday, September 21, 2020

RPGs with Kids, 4: Frag Grenades and Force Powers

A little while ago I wrote Galaxy Far Away to play Star Wars with my young son, and we finally sat down to do just that this weekend. 

With a few questions and d6 rolls, Ted created Ithak the Ithorian, a Force-sensitive X-Wing pilot and loyal Rebel who is very shy but loves his family. He's great at sneaking around. At some point in the past he went to Tatooine and was ambushed by Tusken Raiders and is afraid to return to the planet. He also met R2-D2 once and they became good friends. His goal is to find Yoda and get real training in the Force.

Ithak the Ithorian, our protagonist

The setup is that Ithak is the main operative of a Rebel cell located on one of Corellia's moons. It's a forward outpost to oversee Imperial manufacturing on the planet below, as well as infiltrate core space a bit for the broader Rebel Alliance. The primary NPC and mission-giver is Commander Suto, who typicaly talks to the Rebel cell by hologram. Ithak pilots the Brave Eagle, a fancy YT-2400 light freighter with certain... special modifications. The Rebel cell is four-strong, and beyond Ithak it includes:
  • Jenssi, a Human woman who is good at tactical ops and clever planning
  • Dash, a male Duro with a murky past and a very sharp eye for targeting
  • 10-N, a black and gold astromech with kind words and sweet computer skills
The Brave Eagle, a YT-2400 light freighter

Commander Suto explains to the crew that their initial mission together will be to capture illicit tabanna gas reserves from a neutral supply depot outside of Bothawui which is otherwise being held by the Empire. The Rebel fleet is low on fuel and needs the restricted gas to resupply its hyperdrive capability. Of course, if the supply depot is held by the Empire, then there will necessarily be resistance to infiltration, and it would be best if no one ever realized the crew is made up of Rebels...

I ask Ted how we wants to approach this, and he says Ithak is a good pilot and should have no problem getting to the supply depot. The Brave Eagle drops into the Bothawui system and sees not only the orbital supply depot, but a huge Star Destroyer hanging next to it in orbit. Ted is a little scared that the Star Destroyer will be a big problem, but I assure him that the game is all about my telling him what's up, and him responding, and so on. He nods and says he'll fly the ship to the nearest hangar. An Imperial comm signal comes over the console, demanding identification. Ted is nervous because he doesn't want to spill the mission details to the Empire. Jenssi suggests being "creative with the truth." Ted pauses, then smiles, "Okay, Dad, I'm going to lie to him!" We laugh, and Ithak explains that they have some TIE Fighter parts from a recovery mission and are dropping them off. That works, and the ship lands in hangar 3B. 

Jenssi and Dash exit to scout ahead, and find three stormtroopers and a TIE Fighter hanging out in the same hangar. A few speederbikes are on racks to the left, and a broken-down Y-Wing sits to the right. They come back and explain that the tibanna gas is likely being held a floor up and over with a lot of consumer goods in storage. The crew enters a turbolift and a stormtrooper is inside. He greets the party and asks what they're up to. Ted is nervous again, and I explain that no one knows about their plan unless he tells them, even if I am playing all of the NPCs and know the details. He pauses to note how cool it is that the characters know stuff and we know stuff, even if it's not all the same. 

Ithak lets slip about the tibanna gas and Dash elbows him in the rib with a severe look. The trooper asks if they're Imperial contractors since tibanna gas is a restricted substance and isn't for standard trade. Ithak hesitates, but ultimately says that yes, their little ship is on contract with the Empire. The trooper is about to press for more, and possibly incriminating detail, when Ted flips a light side destiny token and says that the lift has arrived at the trooper's destination. I laugh, nod, and have the trooper depart without further conversation. Ted gives me a thumbs-up and smiles, looking clever and proud.

10-N, the plucky astromech droid

To the left is a long corridor with various doors, while the right has a cantina lounge and a door guarded by two stormtroopers. Knowing the gas must be in the warehouse room behind the troopers, the crew approaches. They ask for credentials and after some back and forth, it's clear that the troopers aren't going to let anyone inside as-is. I ask Ted what he wants to do. He says he doesn't want to fight, because he's good at being sneaky. He asks if there is some sort of distraction to leverage. I let him know that Jenssi has a frag grenade. He sends 10-N and Dash to the cantina and heads to a lonely part of the station with Jenssi. 

They find a security door with an access panel. Neither of the duo has any background with computers, so I tell Ted that we can roll off to access the panel successfully--if he wins, no problem, while if I win, he'll likely set off an alarm. We roll our opposed 2d6. He gets 5, I get 11. The panel turns red and starts a local alarm. Ted is scared, but I tell him that this isn't the end for him, just a wrinkle that has to be ironed out by his decisions. Two troopers show up and demand credentials as before, but since Ted knows that Jenssi and Ithak don't have it, whips out Ithak's hand scanner and flips another light side token, telling me that "Rebels have fake IDs all the time, right?" That they do, my boy, good call. The troopers realize it must be a false alarm, then shut off the klaxon and return to their patrol. Ithak uses his now-enhanced hand scanner to bypass the security door. Jenssi finds a power conduit and plants her frag grenade there with a remote detonator in hand. 

Meeting back up with Dash and 10-N, the full crew sits in the cantina when Jenssi triggers the bomb. They hear an explosion off-camera, and the two stormtrooper guards at the door down the hall quickly depart to backup the other side of the station. The crew heads to the door, which 10-N easily slices, and inside they find all sorts of goods stacked high, as well as several restricted crates of tibanna gas! The crates are really heavy, so Ithak tries to use the Force to lift them. He's too untrained and the load is way too bulky for him. Instead, he reaches out with the Force to find something to help. I let Ted know that there is a big maglift cart in the back of the hold. 

Dash loads up the crates and the crew heads outside, returning to the turbolift from before. I flip a dark side token and explain that the turbolift is for personnel only--it's too small for the maglift. They head down to find a bigger freight lift, but two stormtroopers show up. The troopers demand that they halt, but Ted says "No way! Gotta go!" The troopers open fire and Ted is nervous, but I remind him that stormtroopers are usually inaccurate and are more of a threat when there are lots of them. He knows that Dash is a great gunner, but he's pushing the maglift. Jenssi and Ithak exchange fire, droppin the troopers, but one of them shoots Dash in the leg and he cries out. The crew makes it into the freight lift and heads down to the hangars, but Dash is in bad shape.

Jenssi and Dash, hardened Rebel friends

Opening out into hangar 3B, the crew finds the Brave Eagle untouched, but the stormtroopers here earlier are now in greater number and the TIE Fighter is active and hovering in the landing bay. The cadre of troopers approach and ask for clearance, explaining that this area is locked down due to an explosion in the station. Dash trips and falls from his leg injury, and the troopers note that he's been shot. They become much more aggressive, asking the group to drop any weapons and step away from the maglift. Ted asks if Ithak can find a weakness here with the Force, and I give him just enough time to try. He reaches out towards the TIE Fighter, and I let him know that since he's a solid pilot, he knows that crippling a stabilizer on the ship will send it spinning out of control. He lifts his pistol and aims. 

I explain that this will be a roll given the risk, and that it's a BIG risk since the troopers already asked them to drop their weapons, and opening fire on Imperial troops will have major consequences. He follows through, rolling 12 against my 3. Amazing! Ithak's shot nails the stabilizer on the TIE Fighter, and it quickly buckles mid-air and spins to the left, swiping the stormtroopers and slamming into the wall with a crackling explosion. The crew hoofs it to the ramp leading into the Brave Eagle and hop on board. 10-N gets the ship started and begins plotting the jump back to Corellia when the bay doors open and more than forty troopers rush forward in formation, quickly opening fire on the freighter. Ithak asks if Dash can get to the gun turret, and he can, if barely. Dash lays waste to the troopers with the big turret on the ship, and the crew gets clear of the hangar and tries to escape. 

10-N is still working on the jump calculation while several TIE Fighters give chase from the capital Star Destroyer looming over the system. Dash fires on them, taking one out, but three more strafe the Brave Eagle and knocks Jenssi and Dash out of their chairs. Ted says there must be torpedos on the ship, and flips a light side token, firing two and blowing two more TIEs up all at once. 10-N chirps that the jump is live, and Ithak blasts out of the system, leaving the supply depot and Imperial entanglements behind. Commader Suto congratulates everyone, and the day is won. 

In short, the daring action of the story did alarm Ted a bit, but he later told me it was because he was scared the story would end right away. He's five, and just inside the window to do this sort of thing, but he takes to it well. I encouraged him by saying that he is the hero, and he and his friends in the game are really cool and capable, and that if there is a setback, it just makes the next decision more exciting, not scary. He said that made sense, and immediately asked me to run another mission for him. We did, but that's another post for another time...

1 comment:

  1. Very cool game! I enjoyed read the little sidebars on playing with your son, cool to see how he reacts and how you responded to his thoughts and doubts. Makes me wish I had a son to impart my love of RPGs too! Great stuff!