Saturday, April 9, 2016

Star Tours - Episode I - A Cypher System/Star Wars Campaign

The Force Awakens Everything

Like many of our fellow gamer-friends, our household has yet again become obsessed with Star Wars following this week's release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens for home viewing.  We're back to watching the movies, the animated shows, and the YouTube fan-creations, as well as playing the video games and reading the books.  My son Cooper has been especially struck, as his status as a fan has grown exponentially since discovering Boba Fett at Disney World last October.

Naturally, I've been itching to get back to Star Wars role-playing games, and have been flipping through my old Saga Edition stuff as well as my new Edge of the Empire and Age of Rebellion books.  I wanted to play something, but I also wanted to play something quickly and with the family.  Last time we were in one of these obsessive states I created a system of conversion notes for running Star Wars adventures using the Cypher System Rulebook.  

Since my family is already familiar with the Cypher System through our experiences with Numenera and The Strange, it seemed like the perfect way to get everyone to the table quickly.  It would also give me the opportunity to try my Cypher System Star Wars conversion notes for the first time.  While we had planned to play during my Villainous Scum blog series, the Cypher System game ended up getting cancelled due to illness.  

These kids are always bringing some kind of disease into our house!  

A Star Tours Campaign

If we were going to jump into a Cypher System Star Wars campaign, I wanted to do so with a full family-style campaign.  We've run a lot of one-shots in the last year, but it's been a very long time since we've run a series of adventures for the wife and kids.  Although there were some initial requests for me to run a Star Wars: Rebels adventure, using the characters from the show and the corresponding Disney Infinity 3.0 figures, I declined.  I wanted the kids to come of with some original creations, even if they closely mirrored other characters from the Star Wars universe.  

During our vacation to Disney World, during which I spent a lot of time reading through the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire corebook, I got the idea of running a campaign based on the Star Tours: The Adventures Continue attraction at Hollywood Studios.  If you are unfamiliar with what has become my favorite ride at Disney World (as well as Cooper's), you can get an idea of what to expect in this video.

On the Star Tours ride, guests board a Starspeeder 1000 for a sight-seeing tour around the Star Wars universe.  Something goes wrong on each trip, and the scenes are randomized so that you can ride two, three, or ten times in a day and have different experiences.  

I thought it would be fun for the player characters in this new campaign to work directly for Star Tours, as souvenir wranglers, vacation planners, and galactic tour guides.  The wife and kiddos were up for the idea, so we got right to character generating.

Our Star Tours Tour Guides

Creating characters to match obvious Star Wars archetypes is very easy with the Cypher System Rulebook.  Just like Numenera and The Strange, each character is built with three parts, forming a core statement:  I am an adjective noun who verbs.  

Carrie asked if she could use one of her original character designs (solidly based on Rey) from some Star Wars stories she had written.  She wanted to be a human force user and mechanic with repair skills, who will eventually unlock her powers and become a full Jedi.  Reia is a Mechanical Adept (Tech) who Focuses Mind Over Matter.  

Evie (the resident Star Wars: X-Wing expert) is an extreme wookie fanatic.  Note her Chewbacca Build-a-Bear above!  For her character she wanted to combine her love for the miniatures game with her furry fandom.  Her character would be the group's powerful wookie pilot.  Zhoosa is a Strong Explorer who Pilots Starcraft.  

Cooper is all about the Fett.  Boba, Jango, he doesn't care.  Back when we were at Disney in October Cooper fell in love with everything Boba Fett, and he insisted on playing a "relative" (perhaps a second unaltered clone?) of the famous bounty hunter.  Coopa Fett is an Impulsive Warrior who Masters Weaponry.

Finally it was up to +Jennifer Walls to come up with her own character type.  Since she's a travel agent in real life, specializing in Disney vacations, she wanted to bring some of her own experiences into her character.  The junk-collecting Squib alien species looks a little like a rabbit, so she could use our new Zootopia Disney Infinity figure for her galactic tour guide.  Galaxie Hopper is a Jovial Speaker who Explores Dark Places.  

The Pirates of Prexiar

For our adventure I wanted to reach back into my first experiences with the original Star Wars Role-Playing Game by West End Games.  I purchased the Second Edition: Revised and Expanded book back in 1997, and one of the first adventures I ran was "The Pirates of Prexiar", which is an introductory adventure that can be found on page 174.  The adventure included a daring infiltration, an awesome chase scene, and plenty of moments for the Star Wars themes to envelope players new to the game.  

Rather than base the adventure on Prexiar, I thought I'd move it to Endor, since its a world that all three kids know well.  Carrie wanted her character Reia to have been an orphan stranded on Endor, so that could make for some interesting backstory too.  

As with almost all of my Cypher System conversions, I did this one on the fly.  Pirate guards?  Level 2 foes.  Vangar the Barabel Pirate Lord is a Level 5 opponent, level 6 against any attempts to dodge his fearsome melee attacks.  We'll get to the spaceship stats next game, as we didn't get that far during this session.  

On to the game!

Star Tours - Episode I - The Pirates of Endor

Zhoosa, Reia, Galaxie Hopper, and Coopa Fett were all members of Star Tours' Concession and Souvenir Division on a desperate mission to the Forest Moon of Endor to recover stolen brochures from the dastardly Pirate Lord Vangar.  Star Tours command paid a hefty sum for the printing of those brochures, and believed it was worth risking the lives of four employees to ensure their return.  

"Budget cuts," Reia mumbled.  

Orbiting the forest moon in the Starlight Espresso, a sleek Starspeeder 1000, the team needed to scan the moon for the secret pirate base.  Fortunately, R2-E0, the team's astromech droid, aided Zhoosa in her scan.  Once the coordinates were locked into the ship's system, the wookie pilot guided the ship into the forests below.  

Unfortunately for Zhoosa, there were high winds during the landing, causing the Starlight Espresso to pitch and roll wildly as it descended through the trees.  The ship crashed into a mossy hill and rolled onto its side.  

Reia knew that she could repair the Starlight Espresso, and preferred to do so before the team started searching for the secret pirate base.  Climbing outside of the vessel, the mechanic grabbed her tool kit and started mending the starboard stabilizers.  She was almost done when she heard primal screaming from a nearby tree.  


Reia had befriended many ewoks during her time on Endor, but these five seemed especially agitated.  They were each armed with spears and seemed intent on fighting.  Noting the threat, the rest of the crew climbed outside the ship.  Coopa Fett was prepared for a fight, and had his rifle trained on the nearest ewok before Galaxie Hopper stepped forward.  The team's squib tour guide used her Vocal Translator to ensure her words were heard correctly.  Galaxie stated that the Star Tours employees meant the ewoks no harm, and that they were there to deal with the pirates.  The ewoks must not have been fans of Vanger, and they offered their aid.  

Nugget, Wugget, Wocket, Pocket, and Socket were now official Star Tours subcontractors!  

[GM's Note:  Cooper named three of the ewoks, and Evie two.]

Coopa Fett still wanted to blow something up, so he offered to explore the pirate base on his own.  Engaging his Jet Belt [Wings Cypher], Coopa Fett flew off towards the base.  Careful to stay out of sight, the bounty hunter circled the base several times and got a good look at the layout before returning to the rest of the team.  

Once back, Coopa Fett drew a map.

[GM's Note:  I thought it would be entertaining to let Cooper draw pirate base map "as he saw it."  So I let him peak behind the GM screen and look at my map, and he in turn drew his own rendition.  The team then had to make their plans based on Cooper's drawing.  Needless to say, the map wasn't very accurate.]

While Coopa Fett begged to invade the base guns blazing, Galaxie Hopper had a much more measured plan for entrance.  The fast talking squib approached the front of the base and claimed that she was a member of "Gleaming Galaxy Cleaning", ready for her first day on the job.  The dimwitted guards bought into the ruse, and pointed Galaxie towards the cleaning supplies.  Crossing the base, she found that the brochures were still safe in their boxes, just outside of the massive Pirate Corvette. 

Using her commlink Galaxie called for the rest of the team to enter the base.

Coopa Fett still had some juice left in his Jet Belt, so he stealthily flew across the base, landing on top of the Pirate Corvette but still out of view.  His blaster rifle was drawn, and Galaxie Hopper had to repeatedly ask the bounty hunter to not shoot anyone.  

Reia dug through her backpack and found a Visage Changer mask that could make her look like anyone.  The mechanical adept took on the appearance of a pirate, and bound Zhoosa's hands together.  

[Yes, they were going for the classic "Wookie Prisoner" technique.]

Reia talked her way past the pirate guards.  Once inside the base's perimeter, the mechanic and her wookie pilot ran over to stolen brochures.  There was a large speeder near the Pirate Corvette, so Galaxie had the team load up the brochures for a quick getaway.  Zhoosa then powered up the speeder and took off for the base's fence, but crashed into a stack of metal crates along the way making all kinds of noise.

Now alerted to the theft of their rightfully stolen property, the pirates sounded the base's klaxons and prepared for battle.  

As Zhoosa sped off, followed by a flying Coopa Fett being ridden by Galaxie Hopper, the entire team thought that they had made it away safely.  Until they reached the Starlight Espresso!  

Parked next to the Star Tours vessel was another speeder piloted by Vanger the Barabel Pirate Lord.  Before the team could react, Vanger blew up the Starlight Espresso, and let out a maniacal laugh.  The team was stuck on Endor, and they could hear more pirate speeders in the distance.

Did R2-E0 survive?

What about the ewoks?

How would the Star Tours employees escape Endor?

... to be continued in Episode II... 

Parting Shots

This definitely felt like Star Wars!  

I have a second Star Wars Cypher System game scheduled this weekend with "grown ups", so I may save some of my thoughts until then, but I definitely got all of the "feels" during this session.  The encounters were quick and exciting, and over-the-top when necessary.  Since the team were supposed to be "good guys", they relied on their Cyphers over their weapons to think their way out of direct confrontation.  I expect this to change during the next session, as Cooper seems hellbent on blowing something up!  

Fingers crossed for another great session tomorrow night, and a successful follow up to our family campaign next week.

Now I'm off to prepare for some Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game action!

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