Check out this illo of the characters from our Aurora Star Wars campaign!
L-R: Pharsah, Lillireelareefia (Lily), FX-807 (Foxbot), and Khayrat.
The playtesting of the Star Wars ruleset for my Aurora Engine continues well. We’ve all been having a blast in our adventures across the galaxy, and I’ve been steadily tweaking the rules to make things run smoothly or to shift the game’s playstyle more towards what we want/like.
One of the prime ways of character distinction and ability definition (that has needed no tweaking) has been the inclusion of freeform “Stunts,” of which each character starts with three (And can buy more later through advancement.)
While they’re (for now) simply called “Stunts,” they are intended to represent just about anything nifty or special about the character in just about any area: species traits, unusual training, extra experience, exceptional knacks, or various powers, including the Force. They “break the rules” in specific areas /ways to provide bonuses or additional/special abilities for the character.
This isn’t by any stretch a new idea; both FATE and Cortex Prime use something similar to this, and it is akin to Talent or Feats or Advantages or any number of similar mechanics in many an RPG (though these latter ones are generally prescribed and selected from a list). But two things make them especially sing in the Aurora incarnation. First, by allowing them to be so freeform, they invite creativity and customization and let the player state what’s important to them and the character. Second, and even more importantly, they are all expressed/worded in a particular way to call attention to themselves, and as such further highlight the defining aspects of the character in the fuller narrative sense:
Because I/of X, when Y, Z
The first part of the statement describes how the character is unusual, amazing, has a special bit of gear, or whatever; the middle part is a limited situation where this “rule breaking” applies; and the last bit is the special benefit.
Here are some examples from our SW playtest games/characters…
Some of the stunts describe bits that are important to the character from their character’s species:
Because I am a Twi’lek, and have spent time learning how to control my head tentacles (lekku), I gain the “Extra Limb” trait.
Because I am a Squib, and can smell with my fur, I gain the “Discerning Smell” trait.
Because I am a Miralukan, I have Force-sight and I can see through walls and containers up to 1m distant.
Because I am made of many different parts, I gain the trait “Faceless Droid”
Because I am a Selonian when I drop to all fours my speed increases by 50%
Because I am based on Imperial technology, when I slice Imperial equipment, I gain +1d.
Here are some that represent special training, or abilities. Note that as part of the description it helps evoke the why of it, ie, is this from your background, something you trained at, bought or had implanted, or something else?
Because I have subdermal plating, when I take damage I can roll 1d: on a 5 or 6 I gain an additional point of resistance to weapon or impact damage.
Because I have spent my life around machinery, I don’t always need the right parts to fix things, and half any penalties for lack of proper parts.
Because I am a tinkerer, I am rarely caught unprepared, and have trait “Lots of Gizmos”.
Because I was raised in small tunnels, whenever in confined quarters I gain the trait “Tunnel Rat”
Because I am trained in Jedi precognition, when I wield a lightsaber I can use Melee to defend against ranged attacks.
And then there are those that provide amazing role play opportunities/nudges…
Because I am a crazy ass squirrel, when I do something incredibly stupid, I remove 1 die from any penalties.
(I just love that one so much!)
Some of these straight up allow something that isn’t usually allowed, such as the Lightsabre deflection of ranged attacks, seeing through walls, or the dermal plating for extra armour. Most however provide skill boosts, a reduction in penalties, or create a trait/tag/aspect on the scene/character. Here, wording the stunt with a trait/tag/aspect is the best/most flexible and provides the most opportunity in play as it allows for all the things a trait can allow, not only providing bonuses or negating penalties, but also creating ‘narrative truth’ that can allowing things that wouldn’t ordinarily be possible (and vice versa). With that in mind, we might revisit these stunts to re-word them towards a broader tags/trait language/way.
These stunts have worked great in our games thus far, providing for a lot of cool moments and places for the characters to shine, whether in the traditional sense of doing something remarkable, or in the RP sense, reinforcing the character and the story they are creating.
(Just the other session, the “Extra Limb” trait came in handy as the character had been knocked off the edge of a tower, clinging for dear life – fortunately that “Extra Limb” trait allowed them to grab their rifle before it fell never to be seen again!)
Alright! With a gaggle of sessions under our proverbial belts, our Star Wars game and my new ruleset that powers it have been going great. Thus far, things have run very smoothly and has already fueled a lot of great moments. There’s still some rules gaps and wrangling to do, but the base document is pretty much complete (if written completely in point form language). I’m not quite ready to share it yet, but I will try to get back to writing its big gestures and intents. Until then, here several cool things that have emerged thus far, specifically around core Aurora Engine elements: Continue reading
Last week ShadowCheetah and I got a chance to hop into my starfighter and fly ourselves down to visit Batuu… and it was a decidedly good time!
After following the construction progress from afar, walking into Galaxy’s Edge and experiencing it was very cool. It’s a deliciously hyper-detailed land, with an attention to detail I’d not seen in a Disney park outside of the ones in Japan.
Every nook and cranny has been paid attention to with set dressing so that there’s no blank or disused areas. And the design of the land purposefully avoids any clear sight lines so that it unfolds bit by bit as you journey through it. While it has its downsides (or even flaws) from an operation’s standpoint (such as lack of casual seating) the land is glorious eye candy everywhere you look (which would be great to observe from said missing seating).
Our plan was to visit the planet both during the daytime and then return to see it under the glory of night. This worked out even better than we expected — our boarding pass was called for Rise of the Resistance (more on that in a bit!) late in the evening, which had us emerge from the ride just a few minutes before park closing. Which was enough time to hustle it over to Smuggler’s Run for our third ride of the day. We ended up being the last ones on the ride for the day, and when we were done piloting (woohoo!) we exited Hondo’s garage to a very empty Black Spire Outpost. Which allowed us to not only marvel in the great detail and lighting, but also take some nice shots with nary another person in sight.
So clearly we enjoyed Smuggler’s Run, but we were especially fortunate that our trip to Batuu came after the opening of Rise of the Resistance. Because it is truly something else. Several something elses, really, as it is more like 5 rides in one. Spoilers hereon out if you want to avoid, as I kind of did, studiously avoiding watching any on-ride videos so that I would go in semi-fresh. So while I knew of a few of the big set pieces from following the construction photos, the overall of it I didn’t know. I’ve heard it described as the first “F-ticket” attraction, and I would agree. There are a lot of very nifty moments, a tonne of incredibly creative set pieces and effects, and it has a more cohesive plot and perhaps even story than did the The Rise of Skywalker movie. It’s a tour de force (pun semi-intended), and I’m keen on seeing it again!
Some of my fav moments:
All in all, a great ride experience, and super impressive from a technical standpoint. Hats off and lightsabres up in salute to Imagineering for such great work!
One big addition to (and to fix a glaring omission from) my review of TRoS from last Sunday, and that is to commend the actors. They did what they could with the material given to them to do, and often went above and beyond the call. Adam Driver especially – he didn’t even get to speak for the last third of the movie and managed to pull off a lot of communication with only body language and expression. And a glass raised in condolences to John Boyega, for whom I think 50% of his dialogue opportunities was, started, or ended with, shouting “Rey!” in various ways. Their embodiment of the characters throughout the trilogy (whether they were in all three or just some of them) is one of the series’ strong points, and for some of the installments was the reason why the movie worked at all in any capacity.
It’s also gotta be rough as an actor, signing up for something you’re excited in and then being presented a script… and a reshoot, and another reshoot… and then seeing on screen what was finally edited together. And then everyone’s reactions to it. (Doubly so since, especially for some of them, they were hit with insane and disgusting vitriol hurled towards them personally as actors. That’s really shitty.) Like many I both dream of and would jump at a chance to be in a Star Wars movie (or any other movie, really, but Star Wars has extra resonance). I would sign on the dotted line and be ready to dive in. I can also imagine then being handed the script like for TFA or TRoS and feeling my heart sink and continue sinking throughout the process.
Now, I don’t know if any of the actors felt this way, and maybe they didn’t, but I still commend them heartily for giving it their all and bringing what there was to life and for making us like and invest into the characters, even as we may have wanted to see them (with these feelings even heightened because the actors were doing a good job) in better stories or better told stories.
And so my friends we have come now to the end. Episode IX, the final chapter in the “main” Star Wars saga! Thus far in the trilogy, The Force Awakens largely disappointed, and The Last Jedi was strong in concept and rich in both direction and character arcs if, unfortunately, weak in storytelling. For this third installment, JJ is back to direct. Will the third time the charm? Will The Rise of Skywalker rise to the occasion and satisfyingly wrap up this 42 year journey?
Spoilers ahead…. Continue reading
Missed the usual Wonder Wednesday post this week as it was in the midst of another wonderful day at Disneyland!
Meeting up with some old friends…
Chip and Dale were totally amused by my shirt, and spent several minutes alternately pointing themselves out, hiding the other’s picture, doing hearts over them, and so on, all in a rapid flurry of paws. It was great!
Getting a deliciously big hug from Tigger…
I went with my friend Shadow Cheetah, who, as a costumer himself, totally loved watching all the mannerisms and especially interactions of the Disney characters with the guests. It was also his first time to Disneyland, for which I was incredibly excited and honoured to be the one to introduce him to all the theme park magic.
Can’t say hi to Tigger without visiting Pooh as well!
Also finally got a chance to try out the new Guardians ride at California Adventure, and it’s a blast! The Rocket animatronic in the antechamber was especially well done. Only got a chance to ride it once, so only saw one of the six music/sequence combos. More for next time!
Also got a chance to see the latest of the Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge construction. You can get a great view from the second lift hill on Thunder Mountain, and what a view, oh my! Night had fallen, but the land was still lit up letting us see just how big it is. It. Is. Freakin. Huge. I never grasped the scope of it until now. Framed by the spires of Thunder Mountain, it filled the horizon to the edges of our vision with massive rock formations and a mess of buildings. And it’s all looking great already, the detail and the level of craft I think is going to be mind blowing.
Click on the above to see it in a 360 degree panorama format! (You may need to click on it a few times to get to the panorama feature)
To finish off the day we attended the Mickey and Minnie mouse 90th birthday dance party on Main Street. With a gaggle of Disney songs remixed (quite well) into a dance beat, it was a rocking time as projections flowed over every facade down main street, accompanied by a thousand spotlights all waving in patterns to the beat (even around the castle, which was half-covered in scrim for maintenance — you can see it in the image above).
As the lights returned to normal and the after-party music began, Shade and I continued to dance away, eliciting cheers and “right on!”s from other guests as they began to stream towards the exit. A powerfully fun end to a wonderful day.