The Alexandrian

Go to Part 1


Star Wars: Red Peace - Forest Moon of Endor

There is a previously unknown covert naval yard for the Separatist Army built in orbit around Endor’s forest moon. (A half-constructed Trade Federation battleship can be seen.)

In addition to the primary naval yards, there is a huge construction facility of impossibly gargantuan proportions being built. Based on its scale, if it were to be completed, it could turn out entire fleets of Separatist Army flagships in mere days.

Fortunately, scans indicate that the entire facility is powered down except for a small landing platform. It looks like the naval yards are in the process of being mothballed.

GM BACKGROUND: This is, obviously, the same facility which will be used to construct the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi. The facility is being mothballed because Darth Sidious’ plans are in flux. The Red Holocron was brought here so that the Death Star plans could be loaded into it, preserving those plans along with the lore of the Sith. The Holocron was then sent to the Jedi Temple on Lothal (see Node 3).

LANDING PLATFORM: The landing platform consists of a small docking bay, several warehouse-size rooms laid out in a grid of corridors, and (at the top of a lift) the local control tower for the docking bay. (Another lift from this control tower heads up into the mothballed facility, although there’s not much of interest up there.)

GEONOSIAN SKELETON CREW: A small skeleton crew of Geonosians has been left to finish overseeing the shutdown of the facility.

  • Commander Andromias (a Geonosian Lieutenant General)
  • 8 Geonosians
  • 2 droidekas, 8 battledroids


Star Wars: Red Peace - Geonosian Commander


Star Wars: Red Peace - Geonosian

(use this stat block as a minion, WT = 4)


Star Wars: Red Peace - Droideka


Star Wars: Red Peace - Battle Droid Stats

EWOK SLAVES: There are also twelve Ewok slaves on the station, taken from the forest moon below. They wear slave shock collars (controlled by Andromias) and are being forced to assist in off-loading cargo.


  • Computer records indicate that encrypted schematic plans were transferred to a device featuring unrecognizable data encoding. The transfer was marked with a digital routing code labeled ER-LOTHAL-8756.
  • Questioning the Ewoks: They know that a damaged astromech droid was removed from the Red Hawk just before its departure. Astrogation or Computer checks with the astromech’s databnks will reveal the lightspeed calculations to Lothal that the astromech was making when its power converter burned out.
  • Questioning Andromias: A member of the Techno Union named Chal Bakkal took possession of an artifact from the Sith Empire. Bakkal was taking it to the Jedi Temple on Lothal. (Andromias suspects it may have been a super-weapon which will help the Separatists win the war.)


Star Wars: Red Peace - Rising Storm

Once the PCs have identified their next destination as Lothal, the Rising Storm (a Subjugator-class warship) exits hyperspace nearby. When their ship (presumably) fails to provide the proper Separatist authorization codes, the Rising Storm will begin launching fighters. If the PCs don’t dawdle, they should be able to easily outrun the Rising Storm, but there will be three waves of droid fighters that could potentially intercept them: 2 scouts, then 4, then 4 more (with a new wave arriving every 3 rounds).

The PCs need 12 rounds to escape the system, although a successful Astrogation check will reduce the time required by 1 round per Advantage.


Star Wars: Red Peace - Rising Storm


Star Wars: Red Peace - Droid Fighter


Star Wars: Red Peace - Droid Pilots

Go to Node 3: Jedi Temple of Lothal

Star Wars: Red Peace

August 31st, 2015

Star Wars: Red Peace

It’s the end of the Clone Wars. Order 66 hasn’t happened yet. General Grievous is at-large.

During the latter days of the Clone Wars, the Council became increasingly desperate and began pushing less experienced Jedi into service. In order to mitigate the risks, a large number of less-trained Jedi would act in small groups. You form one of these Adept Task Forces. You have not been active for very long (one or two operations; or this could even be your first mission in the field).

One or more of you could easily be an older Jedi who has been assigned to the task force in order to oversee the adepts.

The Council’s restrictions on the age of would-be Jedi have also weakened over the long years of the war. And the war itself has brought to light a large number of potentials who would otherwise have never been identified. So if you want to play someone who was raised outside of the Order, there’s your window. You could also be a force-sensitive potential who got swept up by the task force on their last op.

Another option would be that four of you are playing force-sensitives outside the Order who are working with a Jedi contact. This would be highly unorthodox and you’d want to come up with some sort of back story for how/why the Jedi ended up working with a ragtag band of misfits.


Star Wars: Red Peace - Sanguine Shrike

The Sanguine Shrike is the Adept Task Force’s vessel. It’s an ILH-KK Citadel-class light freighter (Edge of Empire, pg. 260).

(My players christened their own ship, which is where the name Sanguine Shrike comes from.)


The PCs are contacted by Mace Windu via hologram.

  • While the PCs have been in the field (possibly while they were out of communication on their last mission), the Separatists have attacked Coruscant.
  • General Grievous’ flagship was captured by General Kenobi and General Skywalker.
  • General Grievous himself escaped.
  • The databanks on Grievous’ flagship have been analyzed. They’ve yielded dozens of possible leads on where Grievous might be hiding.
  • One of these leads are records of encrypted communications with a planet called Mustafar. The contents of the message couldn’t be retrieved, but any communication using such high-level encryption methods must have been of vital importance to the Separatists.
  • General Grievous must be located for the war to end. It’s possible that he’s hiding on Mustafar. If not, it’s likely that there are Separatist contacts there who may know where is.

The PCs can ask any questions they’d like.


Star Wars: Red Peace - Mustfar

The PCs are arriving on Mustafar just before the events shown on the planet in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: General Grievous has not yet ordered the Separatist leaders to Mustafar, but Darth Sidious knows that he’ll be sending them here shortly.

LANDING PLATFORM: There’s a squad of six battle droids on the landing platform. (Edge of Empire, pg. 410)

CENTRAL CONFERENCE ROOM: As seen in the film. Geonosian protocol droids (insectile in appearance with fractal-digit arms) are making preparations for the imminent arrival of the Separatist leaders.

VOLCANIC CRUCIBLE: Below the central conference room is a large, industrial chamber of blackened machinery and force screens — a volcanic crucible designed to channel the heat and lava of the volcano upon a single structure surrounded by heat-shielded droid arms and laser arrays in the center of the room. The room is surrounded by

Lying near the central crucible is a half-slagged ovoid. It has the appearance of green jade, but its surface (what remains of it) is marked with incredibly intricate, scrimshaw-like carvings that resemble computer circuitry filled with some kind of reddish-gold material. It bears the mark of a phoenix (which can be identified through a Knowledge check as the emblem of the Jedi Empire).

GEONOSIAN OVERSEER: Eorlax, a geonosian overseer, has been left to oversee the facility. He might be encountered in the central conference room giving orders to the protocol droids; or he might come out to great the “visitors” on the landing platform. If questioned:

  • Doesn’t know what was being studied in the Volcanic Crucible. He’s just an ensign charged with base maintenance.
  • A black float-palette was being sent to Endor. He heard Captain Andromias mention it by name.
  • General Grievous was never here, but Darth Sidious and Darth Tyrannus both came here frequently.


  • Computer records indicate a Theta-class shuttle named Red Hawk recently departed the facility, heading for the gas giant Endor.
  • Holographic records in the Volcanic Crucible were purged, but can be partially reconstructed: They show Geonosians moving a black float palette. Commander Andromias (their leader, see Node 2) mentions the name Endor.

GM BACKGROUND: This facility was primarily constructed in order to house the Volcanic Crucible, which was used to crack open the Jedi Empire seal which had been placed upon the Red Holocron. When that work was completed, the Red Holocron was moved to the Naval Yards of Endor (see Node 2). Darth Sidious then decided to repurpose the facility as a convenient place for killing all the Separatist Leaders.


Star Wars: Red Peace - Battle Droid Stats


Star Wars: Red Peace - Geonosian


If the PCs report their findings to Master Windu, they’ll be ordered to pursue their leads to Endor. Furthermore, with significant results in their pocket, their investigation has been prioritized and additional resources are placed at their disposal: They’ll be ordered to rendezvous with Commander Racto and a squadron of clone troopers on the edge of the Endor system.


Star Wars: Red Peace - Commander Racto


Star Wars: Red Peace - Clone Troopers

Go to Node 2: Naval Yards of Endor

The Strange: Mastodon - Bruce Cordell

As I’ve done previously for Into the Violet Vale (for Numenera) and Eschatology Code (for The Strange), I’m offering up the prep notes I made for Mastodon — an introductory scenario for The Strange designed by Bruce Cordell — before running it at Gen Con 2015.

Unlike those previous adventures, I didn’t put together a GM cheat sheet for the adventure. But I did put together a bunch of other cool tools that I hope you’ll find useful.


The Strange: Mastodon - Notice of Termination

(click for PDF)

This Notice of Termination is designed to be given to your players as they approach the table. (Or you could e-mail it to them as a pitch for the scenario.) It’s designed to serve as an initial briefing for the background of the scenario.


The Strange: Mastodon - PC Cheat Sheets

(click for PDF)

The adventure includes pregenerated characters. The PC cheat sheets I’ve prepared are designed to eliminate book look-ups for the abilities that aren’t fully described on the character sheets. (I’ve found that this usually saves about 20-30 minutes of playing time, so their use greatly improves pacing if you’re using Mastodon as a one-shot for introducing people to the game.)

These cheat sheets, however, also include additional briefing material regarding PROJECT MASTODON and a “flashback memory” specific to each character that reveals a slice of what happened 10 years ago. (Note that I’ve specifically altered the background of the adventure to include the “amnesia” the PCs are suffering from.)

If you’re not using the pregenerated characters, it should still be relatively easy to adapt these flashbacks to whatever characters the players are running. They serve three functions:

First, in combination with the Notice of Termination, they eliminate the need for the GM to do a verbal exposition dump at the beginning of the session. Instead, you can frame hard to the PCs having drinks in the hotel bar before going up to their meeting with Alessandra Torres.

Second, they introduce an element of mystery around their experiences on Ruk. I found that this provided an additional driver for the scenario and also delivered a bigger pay-off for the players when they finally reach Ruk.

Third, by giving each PC a different clue/memory about their experiences 10 years ago, it gives them a topic of meaningful conversation for that first meeting in the hotel bar. This allows that conversation to continue at greater length, which means it also works better at introducing and establishing the characters. (Before I introduced this change to the scenario, the hotel bar meeting would usually consist of everyone saying “hi” and then sitting in awkward silence until I cut away from the scene.)


  • Mastodon Handouts: These include a Deinonychus photo, the whiteboard in the conference room, the Breakaway Couriers logo, Anson’s note, and photos of both Amla-Shoon and the Rukian guards. (You’ll need a couple of envelopes: One for the Breakaway Couriers delivery. The other for Anson’s briefing on Ruk. Glue the logo to the former; paperclip the note to the latter.)
  • PC Tent Cards: Using the pregen characters included in the scenario, I put these in the middle of the table. As people approach, they can select whichever character looks appealing to them and put the tent card in front of them. It’s a nice, quick way to facilitate character selection and also means that you (and other players) can quickly identify who’s playing who with a quick glance during play. These files are designed to be printed with Avery “Small Tent Cards” (template 5302), but you could also just print them on normal cardstock. What you need to do is take each A file and then flip it and print the matching B file. (Each sheet has four tent cards, so I’ve designed the three files so that I get two complete sets of character names if I print all three (to minimize wastage). If you just want one set, print sets 1 and 2 and you should be good to go.)
  • Cypher Cards: These are for all the cyphers that the PCs can find or gain during the adventure. (This includes the three cyphers that Frin brings them, see above.) These cards are designed to be printed on Avery 8471 business cards, but can easily be printed on any paper or cardstock and then cut out.

Star Wars: Force and Destiny - Fantasy Flight GamesIn my review of Star Wars: Force and Destiny, I explained how the game’s core mechanic uses three inconsistent pairs of symbols in order to generate a huge mess of meaningless results that even the game’s designers can’t figure out how to interpret or use consistently.

Now I’m going to show you how you can make it a little better.


Build and roll your dice pools the same way.

(1) The Triumph symbol counts as a Success, but also has the additional effect of either (a) cancelling Despair, (b) cancelling all Threat symbols, or (c) if there are no Threat symbols, counting as two Advantage symbols.

(2) Despair does the exact same thing in reverse: It counts as a Failure, but also has the additional effect of (a) cancelling Triumph, (b) cancelling all Advantage symbols, or (c) if there are no Advantage symbols, counting as two Threat symbols.

(3) Any effect in the game that uniquely requires a Triumph symbol requires 4 Advantage instead. Similarly, anything that uniquely requires a Despair symbol can be triggered with 4 Threat.

(4) With the exception of damage and recovery, the number of Success or Failure symbols you roll is irrelevant. (The only thing that matters is the binary assessment of whether you succeeded or failed.) Everything else in the rules that ask you to count or use Success instead uses Advantage.

(5) The guidelines for Knowledge skills are chucked completely: If you succeed on a Knowledge check, each Advantage gives you an additional piece of information. If you fail, Advantage can give you a lead on where information can be found. Threat either corrupts the information in some way (misleading, missing detail, missing context), gives you straight out misinformation, puts you in immediate danger (such as an angry alien in a bar shouting, “You’ll be dead!”), or alerts the bad guys to your search (like stormtroopers noticing that you cut off the alien’s arm).


Essentially, what I’m doing here is lopping off one of the dice result tiers and having Triumph/Despair cancel each other so the symbols are all counted the same way. The system will no longer generate 18 different possibilities (with varying degrees along multiple axes), but the system will still give you:


You get two bits of information: One is a binary success/fail. The other is good/neutral/bad, with varying degrees of good and bad.

In play, I think you’ll find that this:

(1) Gives you guidance essentially indistinguishable from the original system;

(2) Results in dice pools being resolved about three times faster (because of simple symbol cancellation and players needing to report less tangled information); and

(3) Quietly eliminates a wide swath of the game’s dizzyingly inconsistent mechanics.


This house rule won’t magically fix the entire game: Mechanics that flirt with elegance are still going to be mired in a bloated, inconsistent mess. And you’re still going to have to lay out $180 to get a complete Star Wars game.

But it helps. It helps a lot. And I think if you’re interested in putting a little more elbow grease, then it also gives you a pretty good foundation for cleaning up all the other problems these games have. (Your next stop would be to start stripping all the weird inconsistencies which remain in the game. Working from my system cheat sheet can probably simplify that process.)

Good luck!

Review of Force and Destiny
Force and Destiny: System Cheat Sheet
FFG Star Wars: The Big Fix
Star Wars: Red Peace

The core rulebooks for Fantasy Flight’s iteration of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game are incredibly gorgeous. For several years I would walk past them in game stores, pick them up, and say, “Wow!”

Then I’d look at the price, realize I wasn’t likely to get a Star Wars game together any time in the near future, and then slowly put the book back on the shelf with a lingering pang of regret.

Star Wars: Force and Destiny - Fantasy Flight GamesOver time, though, I started putting the book back faster and faster, and eventually I just stopped picking them up. And that’s largely because I find Fantasy Flight’s packaging of the game absurd.

Back in 2012 when they released the beta version of Star Wars: Edge of Empire for $40 I didn’t have a problem with it: It provided early access to the game. Nobody was being forced to pay for it if they didn’t want to. And it wasn’t the first (nor the last) time that a beta program had a price of admission.

… but then they did it again for Age of Rebellion and for Force and Destiny. And it began to look a lot more like a marketing strategy: By executing a beta-beginning-core triumvirate for three separate games, it looked suspiciously as if Fantasy Flight Games had figured out how to sell the same core rules nine times over.

And there’s really no justification for it. The claim by the game designers that the “core experience” of the Star Wars universe is for Han Solo (Edge of Empire), Princess Leia (Age of Rebellion), and Luke Skywalker (Force and Destiny) to all adventure separately from each other is utterly bizarre.

On top of that, however, there’s the specialized dice. I don’t actually have a problem with a game using a specialized dice set, but these are sold at $15 per set… and in order to get a dice pool large enough that a table of beginning characters can reliably make their checks without having to reroll dice to form a full pool you’ll need three sets. So there’s another $45 you need to spend in order to start playing the game effectively.

Money-grubbing corporations will grub money, right? Fair enough. But I think what I find particularly frustrating is that the Star Wars roleplaying game should be a major point of entry for players new to RPGs. And that’s particularly true right now as Star Wars enters its second renaissance. And instead of opening the door wide to those new players, Fantasy Flight has packaged the game at an exorbitant price point which makes it basically as unattractive as possible.

Honestly, the cost would have kept me from ever trying the game. But I had a friend who wanted me to run it for them, and they purchased all the books and supplies. So let’s lay the cost aside and talk about the game itself.


In FFG’s Star Wars, your character is defined by their Characteristics and their Skills. In order to resolve an action, you take a number of Ability Dice equal to either your Characteristic or your Skill, whichever is higher. Then you upgrade a number of those Ability Dice to Proficiency Dice equal to either your Characteristic or your Skill, whichever is lower.

Star Wars RPG - Dice Pool(For example, let’s say you’re making a Brawn + Athletics check and you’ve got Brawn 3 and Athletics 2. You’d take three Ability Dice because the higher score is 3. Then you’d upgrade two of those to Proficiency Dice because the lower score is 2. That would give you dice pool of one Ability Die and two Proficiency Dice.)

This basic pool can be then be modified in various ways: The GM can add Difficulty Dice (representing the difficulty of the task), which can be upgraded to Challenge Dice by various horrible circumstances. Particularly notable successes or failures on previous checks might also grant you Boost Dice or Setback Dice, and so forth.

The key point is that all of the dice in these pools are marked with a number of different symbols: Success, Failure, Advantage, Threat, Triumph, and Despair. You roll all the dice, you count up all the symbols and…


 … and that’s when the hoverpads fall off the landspeeder.

After you’ve rolled the dice, you have:

(1) Success vs. Failure (these cancel, multiples successes accumulate but failures don’t)

(2) Advantage vs. Threat (these cancel, multiples of both accumulate)

(3) Triumph vs. Despair (these don’t cancel)

Ignoring quantitative differences, these give you 18 qualitative results:


I’m a huge fan of systems that characterize the quality of success or failure (instead of just treating those as binary qualities). But why do we need to count each tier of dice symbols in a slightly different way? And why do we need three separate tiers of symbols? This system literally generates outcomes like, “Moderate success with something vaguely good, but also something vaguely better than vaguely good, but also something seriously bad in a vague way.”

Okay. So you flip over to the skill guidelines hoping for a little guidance… and that’s when you discover that even the designers have no idea how to use their convoluted dice system.

For example, advantage can’t turn failure into success… unless it’s a Knowledge skill, because then advantage can grant you “minor but possibly relevant information about the subject” even on a failure. (Except… if you’re gaining access to relevant information, that sounds like a success, right?)

Star Wars: Edge of Empire - Fantasy Flight GamesIf you’re making a Computer check, then additional successes reduce the time required to make the check. But if it’s a Stealth check, then you’re going to use advantage to reduce the time required. With Skullduggery you use advantage to gain additional items, but if you’re making a Survival check you’ll use successes to gain those items.

It goes on and on like that.

So you have a system that’s supposedly feeding you “useful” information, but the designers can’t even figure out how to interpret the results consistently despite multiple years of development and nine different products featuring the core mechanics. Why should we believe that this system is going to do anything useful at the table?

Based on my experiences running the game, it doesn’t. A system that says “success-but-complicated” or “success-but-extra-awesome” is giving you valuable guidance in adjudicating the outcome of a check. What FFG’s Star Wars gives you, on the other hand, is a tangled morass.

But maybe I was still missing something. So I talked to people who were playing the game. And what I discovered is that people who were enjoying the system were almost universally not playing it according to the rules.

Many of them weren’t even aware they were doing it. (Subconsciously house ruling away the inconsistencies in how symbols of different tiers are tallied is apparently very common, for example.) It’s as if we were talking about a car, I mentioned the gas pedal, and multiple people talking about how great the car is to drive said, “What’s a gas pedal?”

Even among those who were aware they were changing the game, it would lead to some really weird conversations where I would criticize the dice system; someone would reply to say that they loved it; I would ask what they loved about it; and then they would reply by basically saying, “I love the fact that we changed it!”

Which is, I suppose, the ultimate condemnation of the system.


What about the rest of the system?

Actually, there’s some really interesting stuff in there. The way mooks are handled is really elegant, allowing the GM to rapidly group their actions together (all the mooks using suppressive fire on Star Wars: Age of Rebellion - Fantasy Flight Gamesone guy) or split them apart on the fly (as the mooks pursue PCs who split up while running through the corridors of the Death Star).

Also of note are the starship combat rules, which do a really nice job of creating a simple structure that (a) captures the dynamics of the dogfighting we see in the Star Wars films and (b) allows all of the PCs on a ship to take meaningful actions during the fight.

But there are two problems.

First, you can’t escape the core mechanic. It is, after all, the core mechanic. It touches everything. So, yes, the starship combat system’s mixture of starship maneuvers and starship actions creates what looks likely a really dynamic structure… but the core mechanic you’re rolling multiple times every turn is still a clunky, time-sucking disaster.

Second, the system is frankly riddled with inconsistencies.

For example, combat initiative works in all ways exactly like a competitive check… except for how ties are broken. Why?! Why would you do that?

Another example: The difficulty of a check to heal someone is dependent on how injured they are. Similarly, the difficulty of repairing your ship is dependent on how damaged it is. If you take those rules and you put them on a table, you end up with this:

Star Wars: Force and Destiny - Medicine & Damage Control

Oh! That’s nice! They’ve unified the difficulties so that you can easily memorize and use… Wait a minute.

What the hell?!

I honestly can’t tell if that’s just incredibly sloppy design or if it’s actually a revelation of Machiavellian evil. (I literally keep looking back at the rulebooks because my brain refuses to accept that this is true. But it is.)

The whole game is like this. (We’ve already talked about how the skill guidelines seem to take an almost perverse glee in never doing something the same way twice.) It’s almost as if the designers said, “This system is pretty slick and elegant… let’s go ahead and randomly change half the mechanics for no reason.”


Somewhere inside the nine core rulebooks that FFG has published, I feel like there’s a pretty good Star Wars game screaming to get out. And if you’re the type of roleplayer who’s comfortable just kind of playing vaguely in the vicinity of the actual rules, you might even be able to find it in here occasionally.

But all the clunkiness adds up.

I designed a short little scenario for the game: A few modest combats. A little investigation. Some cool set pieces.

It’s the kind of scenario that, if I was running it in most systems, would take one or two sessions to play through. As we wrapped up our fourth session, we still hadn’t finished it. The mechanics superficially lend themselves to dramatic, swashbuckling action, but the system is so sluggish in pace that even simple combat encounters drag out. The result is that the system takes narrative material and stretches it out until it has long since been drained of interest. It’s bloated, unfocused, and…

Ah. I know what this reminds me of.

FFG’s game is the Special Edition of Star Wars roleplaying games.

Style: 5
Substance: 1

(Substance would be a 2, but you have to buy the game a minimum of three times to get all the rules to play something resembling any of the Star Wars movies. So, weighing its value against the actual price of $180… nah. And that doesn’t even include the dice.)

Author: Jay Little, Sam Stewart, and FFG Development Team
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Cost: $59.95
Page Count: 456
ISBN: 978-1-63344-122-4

Review of Force and Destiny
Force and Destiny: System Cheat Sheet
FFG Star Wars: The Big Fix
Star Wars: Red Peace



Recent Posts

Recent Comments