While war rages on throughout the galaxy, a more subtle conflict is taking place in the shadows: a war of intrigue. Secrets are whispered in dark corners, bribes pass through corrupt hands, and saboteurs and assassins directly attack the resources and allies of their enemies. A campaign full of intrigue is a campaign full of mystery, where as one layer of the plot is revealed, so are three more mysteries whose true meaning have yet to be discovered.
Main Article: Introduction
The civilizations of the Star Wars galaxy are bound together in an intricate web of intrigue. Except for the most reclusive, every sentient being in the galaxy is involved in a conspiracy or plot, whether he or she knows it or not. A plot might be as benign as a corporation's ad campaign or as insidious as a scheme to overthrow the Republic. Heroes are pushed and pulled by powerful forces, such as planetary governments, the Jedi Council, or the military. A hero might owe a favor or have an obligation to someone and in turn wield control over others. Because of this web of intrigue, an Intrigue Campaign can quickly move from the immediate to the vast, depending on how involved and wide-ranging the Gamemaster wants to make the adventure.
Galaxy of Intrigue is designed for any era of the Star Wars timeline. Whether during the Old Republic, Clone Wars, Rebellion, or Legacy eras, life in the galaxy is complicated, as planets wage war with each other, ideologies clash, and rulers fight for domination and to achieve the Destinies that lie within their reach. Even the relative peace preceding the Clone Wars is riddled with intrigue as groups and individuals take advantage of a distracted and apathetic populace to forward their own agendas.
With Galaxy of Intrigue, Gamemasters can plunge heroes into a campaign of conspiracy. Although the heroes might be caught up in the plots of others, they can take an active role in solving mysteries or using their influence to help shape the galaxy, pulling the strings of intrigue themselves. Galaxy of Intrigue presents rules and suggestions for including noncombat elements into a campaign, allowing players with a flair for personal interaction, dialogue, and Skill use to stand out. Characters from the Noble Heroic Class, with the most Skills and Talents for solving problems with dialogue or quick thinking, benefit most from the ideas presented in Galaxy of Intrigue. However, Galaxy of Intrigue offers plenty for every Heroic Class, even the most martial Soldiers. The rules and ideas presented here should give the heroes of your campaign a new sense of purpose, helping them develop into multidimensional characters.
Heroes of Intrigue
Main Article: Heroes of Intrigue
Although the Star Wars universe is replete with scenes of breathtaking action, dramatic lightsaber duels, sweeping ship battles, and hair-raising escapes, it is also deeply immersed in intrigue. The galaxy is an enormous place with a huge variety of Species, ideologies, corporations, and other groups jockeying to gain power and to carve their own destinies. A dense, if delicate, web of negotiations, treaties, alliances, and obligations weaves disparate groups together to stop the civilizations of the galaxy from descending into chaos. Sometimes this web keeps the peace, but often stability is threatened or overturned as masterminds scheme for more control. For the heroes, adventure is around every corner and, more often than not, comes looking for them instead of the other way around.
An Intrigue Campaign has plenty of room for every type of character, although creating heroes for an Intrigue Campaign requires a bit more thought than it might in other settings. Campaigns that focus on intrigue are less about kicking down doors and tossing thermal detonators (Although these is a time and place for that, as well) than about the gradual, but steady, discovery of information and secrets as the heroes unravel plots. This chapter provides more Species, Feats, Talents, and a new twist on Skills to help your characters fit into a world of backroom deals, clandestine meetings, blackmail, infiltration, and political maneuvering.
At first glance, the Noble Heroic Class seems to be the wisest choice in an Intrigue Campaign. To be sure, with its tremendous amount of Skills and its intrigue-inspired Talent Trees, the Noble Heroic Class is well suited for this type of campaign, but the other Heroic Classes have just as much to offer. Scoundrels use their silver tongues or dastardly tricks for their own personal gain. Scouts, as masters of infiltration, use their resources to break into government facilities or corporate offices to retrieve valuable information. Soldiers need not be brutish thugs and can include military intelligence officers or bodyguards for the rich and powerful, picking up vital secrets as they go about their duties. Jedi, known for their role as peacekeepers and negotiators, find themselves wrapped up in densely woven plots and shifting agendas on a daily basis. In short, every Heroic Class has its place in an Intrigue Campaign, as long as the characters realize that not every situation can be solved with combat. The heroes must rely on their powers of observation and deduction to move the story along, as well.
Main Article: Intrigue Heroes
The galaxy is rife with intrigue. Every Species, corporation, planet, fiefdom, and other group has its own agendas and methods for getting its way. With so many interests jockeying for power, for good or for ill, nearly every individual can be considered to be involved in some form of conspiracy, if only as part of a demographic to be catered to or exploited. Even the hinterlands of The Outer Rim are home to plots for riches or power, meaning that only the most isolated creatures can truly pursue their destinies without influence. Heroes, however, are not such beings. They find themselves more enmeshed in the games of intrigue with every passing moment. This section explores how heroes who embrace those schemes and maneuvers can rise to become more than mere pawns- they can be vital parts of the board and, in some cases, the players who move the pieces in the first place.
Main Article: Skill Challenges
The Star Wars saga is full of examples of heroes doing amazing things. Such remarkable exploits often take place during shootouts, Lightsaber duels, and Dogfights between X-Wings and TIE Fighters. But not every exciting scene in the films is about combat; many of them focus more on Skills and Talents that do not relate directly to fighting prowess. Chase sequences, stealthy investigations, tense negotiations, and other such scenes reflect the heroes' abilities to use their cunning, their creativity and their well-honed skills to achieve their goals.
This chapter introduces the concept of Skill Challenges to the Star Wars roleplaying game. A Skill Challenge is a mechanical framework that Gamemasters can use to create exciting and interesting scenes in which the heroes use their Skills, not their combat abilities, to accomplish a particular goal. In a Skill Challenge, the heroes make a series of related Skill Checks that combine to determine whether they face victory or defeat. A Skill Challenge can take the place of a combat encounter in an adventure or can augment a combat encounter by adding a skill-based element.
Many scenes from the Star Wars films could be represented in a roleplaying game as Skill Challenges. The asteroid chase in The Empire Strikes Back, the negotiation between Luke Skywalker and Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi, the Podrace in The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan's investigation of the Jango Fett mystery in Attack of the Clones- all these are examples of sequences in which heroes use multiple Skills to accomplish a task. Typically, a Skill Challenge represents a scene or a group of scenes that moves the plot forward through skill use rather than combat.
This chapter teaches Gamemasters how to create their own Skill Challenges and run them in adventures. Players might want to familiarize themselves with the Playing Skill Challenges section, which provides tips on interacting with Skill Challenges and using them to create exciting, cinematic scenes.
Playing Skill Challenges
For players, Skill Challenges represent a chance not only to use your Skills in a meaningful way, but also to have your heroes contribute to an exciting scene. Skill Challenges are great for fleshing out your characters, letting their personalities come to life in the actions they take outside of combat encounters. A Skill Challenge offers an opportunity to roleplay your characters' strengths, and perhaps even weaknesses, in a dynamic way.
As a player, your responsibility in the Skill Challenge is to come up with creative actions that can help your allies achieve the goal of the challenge. When it is your turn, think of an action that is appropriate for your hero in that situation. If possible, the action should play to your hero's strengths and give you a chance to show off your character's areas of expertise. Describe the action to your Gamemaster, and, if the GM approves of the idea, make a Skill Check (Or another check that the GM calls for) to determine the result. Once each of your allies has had a chance to act, it will be your turn again, provided that the Skill Challenge has not ended.
Over the course of the Skill Challenge, the situation might evolve. You might receive new information, the backdrop could change, or the goals could shift as the challenge progresses. Be sure to think about how your hero would react to the changing circumstances of the Skill Challenge, and come up with new and interesting things to do. Below are some tips to help you choose actions that will contribute to an exciting, dynamic scene.
Running Skill Challenges
Main Article: Running Skill Challenges
In many ways, a Skill Challenge is like any other encounter. It has opportunities for success and penalties for failure. It requires multiple heroes to participate and often has both obstacles and antagonists. However, whereas combat encounters require the heroes to use weapons or special attacks to achieve victory, a Skill Challenge requires them to use their Skills and creativity to succeed.
One of the most important points to remember is that a Skill Challenge, like a combat encounter, is meant to create and exciting scene or sequence of scenes in the tradition of the Star Wars films. A Skill Challenge should have the same tension and uncertainty as a combat encounter, with real consequences for success and failure. When running a Skill Challenge for players, you have many of the same responsibilities as when running a combat encounter: you must keep the game moving, ensure that the pace does not slow too much, encourage players to be creative and act cinematically, and adjudicate the rules of the challenge.
The basic Skill Challenge mechanics are relatively simple. Over the course of the challenge, the heroes take actions that either succeed or fail. If the heroes accrue a set number of successes before a set number of failures, they succeed in the challenge. If they accrue too many failures, they fail the challenge.
Of course, that description is a very simplified version of the mechanics; the rest of this section provides a step-by-step breakdown of the process used when the Gamemaster runs a Skill Challenge. Throughout this breakdown, examples walk you through a sample Skill Challenge based on the Endor Speeder Bike chase in Return of the Jedi. The examples do not detail the entire sequence, but instead they highlight how elements of the Skill Challenge combine to create and exciting and iconic scene from Star Wars lore. The premise of the Skill Challenge is that the heroes have arrived on Endor and encountered a Scout Trooper Patrol. Their goal is to make sure the scouts do not report back to their superiors and alert the Empire to the Rebel presence on Endor.
Designing Skill Challenges
Main Article: Designing Skill Challenges
Designing a Skill Challenge is much like designing a combat encounter. As the Gamemaster, you determine the location of the Skill Challenge, the obstacles and antagonists that might play into the scene, several options for providing the heroes with variety, and the consequences of success or failure. Conceptually, Skill Challenges and combat encounters are similar, although they differ in execution.
This section walks you through the creation of a Skill Challenge, from the initial concept to challenge effects that can be added to spice things up. By following these steps, you can create Skill Challenges that contribute to exciting scenes in the Star Wars tradition.
Main Article: Equipment
For most of the intrigue-savvy people of the galaxy, wits and secrecy are the two most valuable weapons in their arsenals. However, sometimes inherent ability and learned skills are only part of what it takes to maintain secrecy or manipulate one's enemies. From time to time, even the wisest conspirators must make use of the technology that the galaxy has to offer, although they often use those things in deceptive ways. For the master of intrigue, equipment and weapons are merely a means to an end, but one should always make sure to have the right tools for the job.
Most equipment used by masters of intrigue is designed to either create or enhance deception, keep secrets a secret, reveal someone else's secrets, or protect the keeper of a secret from harm. For example, the Xerrol Nightstinger, which produces an invisible blaster bolt, creates deception by preventing observers from seeing where the shot comes from. Likewise, the same weapon can be used to keep a secret a secret by taking out someone who is doing too much snooping around. Most of the equipment and weapons in this chapter perform one of those four functions, but they do so in very different ways.
Droids are always something of a risk in an intrigue-based campaign. On one hand, Droids are immune to many tricks that living beings are susceptible to. They often cannot be bribed, smooth talked, or deceived into revealing the information within their databanks. They are often more focused on their missions than are living beings, and and they are incapable of actively betraying someone thanks to their rigid programming. However, Droids also present a significant risk, in that someone with the right computer slicing skills can extract information from them. Moreover, Droids are often less capable of defending themselves and thinking creatively than their living counterparts, making it more likely that they will fall into enemy hands.
Most of the Vehicles presented in this chapter are designed to put more tools in the hands of the intrigue-minded player or villain. Scout ships with excellent sensor cloaks can make spying on the enemy easier, and many spies prefer vessels with low profiles over those that, while more defensible, are more likely to attract notice.
Main Article: Intrigue Campaigns
In addition to The Force, the galaxy is bound together by one other factor- intrigue. Republic Senators bluster and pontificate in the Senate Rotunda on Coruscant and engage in secret deals behind closed doors. Criminal masterminds scheme for profit and power, sometimes behind a facade of legality and legitimacy. Corporate CEOs try to maximize profits and expand their market shares while trying to force the competition out of business. Even a simple avenue in an obscure settlement on Tatooine can hold a wealth of secret deals, power struggles, and tangled relationships- all potential hooks for adventure.
An Intrigue Campaign can occur during any Era of Play, so Gamemasters have full leeway in when and where the game can take place. During The Old Republic Era, corporate power expands and The Sith operate openly. The Rise of the Empire Era is thick with intrigue, espionage, and intelligence gathering, not only between the Republic and the Separatists, but also among neutral or otherwise unaligned planets and organizations- each with its own motives and agendas. The Dark Times are rife with paranoia and treachery, with the heroes facing the unbelievable might of the Empire. The Rebellion Era pits The Rebel Alliance against Imperial forces for years, leaving tremendous room for any intrigues the Gamemaster and players develop.
In an Intrigue Campaign, the heroes delve into the tangled skein of intrigue to foil plots and expose the truth. As with Fringe Campaigns, the heroes do not have to be the most law-abiding or altruistic individuals, and in fact, characters who strictly adhere to legal behavior can derail a campaign to a certain degree, since breaking and entering, assassination, extortion, and illegal slicing are standard themes. In most cases, the heroes are the underdogs, going up against powerful political organizations, corporations, or criminal networks. Secrecy and duplicity are the tools of an Intrigue Campaign, and even trust can be employed as a weapon. Nothing is as it seems in this type of campaign, as layers are peeled away to reveal deeper, darker secrets threatening the safety of the galaxy and the balance of good and evil.
Factions and Organizations
Main Article: Factions and Organizations
In the Star Wars galaxy, war is not always obvious and in the open. While the skies are full of fighters and blaster reports echo in the streets, more subtle combatants watch from the shadows. A Rebel deep within the ranks of the Imperial Army can do as much for the war effort as a fighter pilot on the front line. In fact, they might do more than the pilot, because if they do not "Lose" a report from their Imperial Intelligence counterpart inserted inserted into the staff of Admiral Ackbar, the pilot could be blown to pieces by a much larger, much better prepared force guarding the convoy they are sent to raid.
As the Empire and the Alliance struggle for control of the galaxy, leaders of noble houses curry favor with one side or the other, all the while hedging their bets. No matter which side wins, the nobles plan to retain their wealth and power.
The same is true in the boardrooms of the galactic megacorporations. Backroom talks are organized with those who have the Emperor's ear, while security operatives are dispatched to either befriend or defend against the Alliance. The companies exist to supply the galaxy with goods and to turn a profit, and they need to protect their ability to do this during both war and peace.
Small stellar nations on the Empire's borders, such as those of The Chiss Ascendancy and The Hapes Consortium, need to secure their safety during and after the conflict. And while Imperial troops and Alliance soldiers blast away at each other, double agents, corporate spies, and emissaries from noble houses and independent governments whisper to one another and exchange information in their out-of-the-way corners. War in the shadows can be every bit as exciting as the one being waged in the open.
This chapter presents organizations that embody some of the intrigues that can unfold in a Star Wars campaign. The members of those organizations can be the heroes' friends, foes, or both, depending on the objectives to be achieved. Although most parts of the Empire and the Alliance are as clearly contrasted as black and white, many of the groups in this chapter defy such easy categorization.
They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. When it comes to the organizations and people in this chapter, the heroes might not be able to tell the difference.
Nyriaan, World of Intrigue
Main Article: Nyriaan, World of Intrigue
The planet Nyriaan is the center of a struggle as turbulent as the planet's violent atmosphere. It is a world rich in Madilon, a rare naturally occuring alloy that is crucial to modern Hyperdrive production, making Nyriaan an invaluable piece on the game boards of a dozen competing galactic superpowers. Nyriaan possesses great stories of a much-sought-after commodity, and many beings in the galaxy would do almost anything to acquire those resources. Controlled by none and coveted by many, Nyriaan is a dangerous planet steeped in intrigue and conspiracy.
Nyriaan is covered in a dense cloud layer that makes landing on the planet without assistance challenging. Moreover, the planet's atmosphere makes sending data and other communication by any means difficult, effectively walling off the planet from the rest of the galaxy. The high demand for Nyriaan's resources, combined with the difficulty that outsiders face when attempting to intervene in the planet's affairs, creates a situation where only those on the planet can truly influence the flow of resources to the galaxy, and it puts a great deal of power in the hands of those who control the Madilon mines on the planet's surface.
By the same token, the inhabitants of Nyriaan are caught in the midst of a constant struggle between the various factions seeking to control the planet's natural resources. Daily life on Nyriaan is filled with political maneuvering, infighting between factions, espionage, sabotage, and the scheming machinations of the most cunning minds in the galaxy. Although tensions on Nyriaan rarely erupt into full-scale, violent conflict, the intrigue runs so thick on the planet that anyone- and everyone- is entangled in some scheme or plot.
Main Article: Intrigue Encounters
This chapter is intended for Gamemasters and contains several mini-adventures ideally suited for heroes of intrigue. If you are a player, you probably should skip this chapter and wait for your Gamemaster to spring these adventures on you and the other players in your group.
Occasionally, heroes take a tangent that their Gamemaster had not planned for, or the Gamemaster needs to fill a few hours of play with an entertaining diversion from the main plot. The Gamemaster can improvise something, but, when he or she is at a loss for a scenario (Or is just pressed for time), a mini-adventure might fit the bill.
The mini-adventures presented here cover a range of themes and challenge levels, including stakeouts, infiltrations, and the extraction of deep-cover spies from behind enemy lines. Each mini-adventure includes background on the events and challenges presented in the scenario, which the Gamemaster can use to construct a few "Off-the-Cuff" situations or as a jumping-off point for future encounters.
In addition, each mini-adventure also features a fully developed tactical encounter designed to serve as the climax of the scenario. The Gamemaster can use these encounters as written, alter the details to play to the heroes' strengths, or completely redesign them to fit the needs of the campaign. The Gamemaster can also reference these encounters when designing his or her own mini-adventures and scenarios.
These mini-adventures are designed to cater to different heroes' abilities, as well as the players' interests, within the realm of intrigue. For example, action-oriented heroes should appreciate "My Enemy's Enemy," while stealthy and tech-savvy heroes will like "Arms Dealers Beware." Heroes hoping to show off their espionage skills should enjoy "Betrayal at Cloud City" and "Double Down." Similarly, "Opportunity Knocks" is aimed at heroic nobles, and the group's fast-talking con artist should find that "Shooting Trouble" makes good use of Deception and Persuasion. Each mini-adventure in this chapter gives heroes of all Heroic Classes a time to shine, even if the scenario is not aimed specifically at their competencies.
Although these mini-adventures are designed to be completely independent of one another, common threads run through all of them, allowing them to be strung together and run as a sort of "Sub-Campaign" within the main campaign. How they are used is purely up to the Gamemaster's discretion.
The Perfect Storm
Main Article: The Perfect Storm
"The Perfect Storm" is an adventure for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game. This adventure is designed for a group of four heroes and focuses on the contested mining world of Nyriaan. Heroes can come from any background, although characters with espionage experience, interpersonal skills, and knowledge of how to survive in harsh environments are likely to be more successful. This adventure can be set during any Era of Play of the Gamemaster's choosing.
If you are a player, you should stop reading now so that you don't spoil the surprises that "The Perfect Storm" has in store for you. Of course, if you are the Gamemaster, continue reading.