The Cerulean campaigns: (Part 1) Moving the game to make a vehicle
This is going to be another series of blog posts, but unlike the others which were updated when I had the time to write them, these are going to be updated as I reveal details to the players. It’s also may be a bit random, as I am showing my work a little here, not something I do very often.
I have mentioned it several times now: the best way to avoid canon conflicts is to take your game to an environment where this doesn’t happen. And the best way to do that is to make up your own content, which I fortunately have some experience with from my writing of fan fiction. One thing that I learned there, and this is true of storytelling in general, is about the value of setting and character, both of them need to have purpose. In gaming, they need to more than have purpose, they need to be load-bearing.
This sounds like a digression, but I will now take these into account in the forming of the planet which forms a stage for my online and real-time campaign. The planet Cerulea.
The purpose of setting
It should be a maxim of gaming if it is not already, put a player in a setting they have been before and they will know how to react. Put a player in a setting that they have been in hundreds of times before and they’ll all but carve their name on the wall to attempt to make themselves at home.
And the most ubiquitous of setting is, no doubt, the public house. And in Star Wars, this is no exception. Yet even your average campaign starter inn can have purpose, if you give it that. For example, my favouite bar that I created in an alternate universe fan fic about Anakin Skywalker, it started from a place for him to get information and ended up being the title and a crucial place of my detective story The Seventh Star.
Why is this significant? Well, right from the start I created it with a purpose in mind and not just because I wanted Anakin to go bar-hopping. It’s known for a place to exchange information, and anything else that goes along with it or happens inside is just the gravy. Of course, it appears in my campaigns whenever there is a need for it’s function, and I have even been there in-character.
This purpose was extended to an entire planet when I sat down about six months ago to plan the first Cerluean campaign, The Threat of Peace*. I made the planet with several goals in mind:
- A battle that my players could take part in and have some influence over
- Political divisions within the various peoples of the planet to make things interesting
- A city that needed to be laid siege to but had several weaknesses that small teams could use to enter
- Certain key events completely independent to my story needed to take place there
Those goals in mind, I started world-building. I needed to get my players there, but that wasn’t all. I had to get my players there and to be on good terms with several influential NPCs (planet rulers, Jedi Council and stuff) so they could be influential in my big set piece battle.
The purpose of character
To be honest, I’m not really sure what one came first here so I’ll start with what one of my players said. While I was planning the campaign, one of my players (now former, to my frustrations as you’ll see in a minute) wanted to be a clone. At first I was hesitant, mainly because the nature of the campaign seemed to not allow clones. Most of the party were free agents doing their own thing, to put a clone there with them who was created to obey orders without question seemed to go against the group nature. I explained this to him and he understood, and then changed my mind. I moved heaven and earth to accommodate him and ended up creating a better campaign that he wasn’t around to appreciate in the end. Such is life.
Okay, I admit she was created in the mould of the original Star Wars princess, but she kind of grew on me as I roleplayed her and certain things started to happen with plot.
Anyway, she was the clincher to bring the party together. I had her kidnapped and disappear. My clone player, whom I gave command of a squadron of clone followers, was on a mission to find and protect her, given orders by a very familiar Jedi Master, and the rest of the party happened to stumble upon her when meeting an old acquaintance. Varina gave the clones purpose and the spacers legitimacy. As she was de-facto leader of her people after her father’s murder and a political coup by the Prime Minister, she had to be protected by the clones and ask the rest of the players to do things for her so she could be kept safe.
But getting into the battle itself required an NPC of a different colour, Varina had clout but she was still a civilian. And to make matters better, the players had connections to a character who could help them who was in my very first gaming session. My favourite Jedi, Master Wu-Wei Kuvar.
Wu-Wei is not my GMPC, at least not anymore as I have taken steps to make him not as he originally was one. Yes, he does do cool Jedi tricks but I haven’t had him nearly as much as I would like. But, he had several points in his favour to be included:
- As a non-canon Jedi, I could do whatever the hell I liked with him, so he was the perfect candidate to lead my show-piece battle.
- He had connections with the players and with some of their characters, which meant it was not too much of a stretch of narrative for him to use his considerable influence to include them in the battle in an influential spot.
- From the outset, I told my players that I would invoke Order 66 at some point in the campaign. This makes Wu-Wei a target, much to my angst as I hate to kill off characters I love even when the plot calls for it.
There’s a third character I need to add to the mix, one who intervenes directly between the players and Varina and (at least I think so) is secretly in love with her. This is Vaynar, a Qava which is one of the two species I created for Cerulea. And I need to make it perfectly clear that I did these up before I knew anything about Avatar (to be honest, then I confused it with Avatar: The Last Airbender).
Vaynar was created to get the characters to have some sort of sympathy with the people of Cerulea, as well as illustrate internal struggles. In a critical scene his mother, a well-respected leader, imprisons him, Varina and the party in order to hand them over to the third Cerulean species (after humans and Qava) the Cayr. He also has a rather influential role (I hope) in the online campaign as the party needs to bust him out of prison. Why and how he gets into prison on Coruscant, I will not reveal but rest assured it is a result of events that occur well-after the real time campaign has finished. I needed a mission for my online players, I just chose to continue the story.
There will be more after this, but nothing that I am prepared to reveal at the moment or anything that would make this less of a article worthy of the Star Wars Fanon Wiki. But Cerulea is a planet I am looking forward to have my layers explore, even though it’s largely made up of elements I just threw together for the hell of it.
~ by katanageldar on February 12, 2010.