Meet the Party: Tale from the Hydian Way

I’m waiting in the lounge of the Bogwing as the crew comes aboard their ship, David shrugging off his newly-acquired dealer’s coat and Ben putting down the credits from their latest Bespin heist. Eager to hear what they have to tell me I open up my datapad and get ready to begin recording. I’m always looking to Meet the Party, after all, and if what I’ve heard is true, this is going to be a great Tale from the Hydian Way.

Earlier this week the Mad Adventurers Society’s very own Tales from the Hydian Way podcast released their 78th episode, The Whole Group Tale. Ben Yendall and Mr. David Pickering started off the episode talking about how gaming groups can create an actual group of characters who are tied to one another, as opposed to a collection of PCs who have no reason to be together other than ‘the GM said so’. That’s pretty much what I try to do with the “How They Interact” segment of Meet the Party, so I’d be pointing people towards the episode in any case. But the latter half or so of the episode saw Ben and David challenging themselves to come up with an Edge of the Empire group on the spot, with a particular eye towards bringing more obscure specializations into the spotlight. After recording the episode, Ben got in touch with me about giving the wacky group they’d created the Meet the Party treatment.

I always have a lot of fun making these characters, else I wouldn’t do it, but I have to say that this crew are the most fun I’ve had in a while. So, without further ado, let’s see who the Bogwing crew met on their travels. Oh, and I know it’s hard with the Falleen around, but try to keep an eye on your credits (and the Gossam).

Sli Mondo – Gossam Smuggler/Gambler

Obligation: High Risk 20 (+10 for 10 XP)

Motivation: Beating the Odds

Characteristics: Brawn 1, Agility 2, Intellect 2, Cunning 5, Willpower 2, Presence 2

Wound Threshold: 10

Strain Threshold: 14

Soak: 2

Defense: 1 Ranged/1 Melee

Abilities: Free Rank in Deception, Silhouette 0

Talents: Convincing Demeanor, Grit, Second Chances x2, Up the Ante, Double or Nothing, Smooth Talker, Natural Negotiator, Improved Double or Nothing, Natural Rogue, Supreme Double or Nothing, Dedication (Cunning), Bypass Security

Skills: Deception 3, Skulduggery 2, Streetwise 1, Vigilance 1, Cool 1

Equipment: Boonta Blaster, Smuggler’s Trench Coat, Digital Lockpick Implant, Lockpicking Tools, False Credentials, Skifter, Fingerprint Masque, Sabacc Deck, Chance Cubes, Marked Sabacc Deck, Loaded Chance Cubes, Comlink (Handheld), Disguise Kit, Comm Jammer, 84 Credits

Sli was described as being ‘full tilt’, always pushing the limits, going for big wins every time out the gate. With that in mind there was no doubt about taking the long way around the Gambler tree to get Double or Nothing up to snuff. Now that it’s been fully upgraded, Sli can use a maneuver to increase the difficulty of his next check; after canceling out results, he then doubles the number of Successes, Advantages, Triumphs, and Despairs left over. Nothing this little guy does has minor results. Even when things go badly, he’s got multiple chances to turn things around, thanks to a series of different re-rolls available through Second Chances, Natural Negotiator, and Natural Rogue. At the end of the cycle, he’s just damn slippery, with the skills and the gear to cheat the slime off of a Hutt, as well as sticky fingers (even the cybernetic one) to steal the ears off a gundark.

Kalaila Ivalice – Human Colonist/Marshal

Obligation: Frontier Justice 20 (+10 for 10 XP)

Motivation: Society

Characteristics: Brawn 2, Agility 3, Intellect 2, Cunning 3,  Willpower 3, Presence 3

Wound Threshold: 14

Strain Threshold: 14

Soak: 3

Defense: 1 Ranged/1 Melee

Abilities: Free Rank in Cool, Free Rank in Discipline

Talents: Grit, Good Cop, Grit, Unrelenting Skeptic, Improved Unrelenting Skeptic, Dedication (Willpower), Street Smarts, Bad Cop, Toughened

Signature Ability: Unmatched Expertise

Skills: Cool 1, Discipline 1, Charm 1, Deception 1, Leadership 1, Streetwise 1, Coercion 2, Ranged (Light) 2, Knowledge (Underworld) 1, Vigilance 1

Equipment: Nova Viper Blaster Pistol, Quickfire Holdout Blaster, Concealment Holster, Smuggler’s Trenchcoat, Knockout Grenade x2, Comlink (Handheld), Hardened Comlink, Recon Remote x4, Imperial Army Military Pack, Forensic Kit, MCI-100 Magnacuffs, Extra Reloads x2, 585 Credits

Kalaila is a great balance of skills and abilities. Her Ranged (Light) skill makes her a great shot in close quarters, while her Nova Viper pistol’s Accurate 2 makes her even more dangerous. Good Cop and Bad Cop allow her to spend Advantage from Charm, Negotiation, Deception, and Coercion checks to upgrade an allied character’s next social check, making her a great support character no matter the social situation. Unrelenting Skeptic makes her very hard to deceive (which probably helps when Sli gets ideas). Finally, the crew of the Bogwing described the marshal as being the ‘Hannibal’ to Sli’s ‘Murdoch’, the planner of the group able to factor in the gambler’s wild plans to either capitalize on or salvage them. With this in mind I made sure to give Kal a Signature Ability, a Meet the Party first: Unmatched Expertise. By spending Destiny points, Kal can reduce the difficulty of all her checks for the remainder of the encounter. Whether Sli has provided a golden opportunity or left a mess for Kal to clean up, she’s going to be able to claim after the fact that it was all part of the plan.

Ginovae Zzhoren – Falleen Colonist/Performer

Obligation: Witness Protection 20 (+10 for 10 XP)

Motivation: Fame

Characteristics: Brawn 1, Agility 2, Intellect 2, Cunning 2,  Willpower 2, Presence 4

Wound Threshold: 13

Strain Threshold: 15

Soak: 3

Defense: 0 Ranged/0 Melee

Abilities: Free Rank in Charm, Beguiling Pheromones

Talents: Distracting Behavior x3, Dodge, Natural Athlete, Grit, Toughened, Coordination Dodge, Congenial, Smooth Talker (Charm), Improved Distracting Behavior, Deceptive Taunt

Skills: Charm 3, Deception 1, Negotiation 1, Streetwise 1, Coordination 2, Melee 1

Equipment: Molecular Stilleto, Kamperdine Armored Jacket, Thunderhead Portable Entertainment System, Common Musical Instrument, Comlink (Handheld), 175 Credits

Ginovae keeps all eyes on her, just like the Bogwing crew said she would. All the better to keep eyes off of everyone else. Distracting Behavior allows her to inflict Threat on enemies at up to Medium range with her performances. With her social skills, particularly her amazing Charm (all backed up by Beguiling Pheromones, Smooth Talker, Congenial, and even the smooth lines of her jacket) that means she’s the perfect distraction while Sly and Kuno go about their business. Not to mention that her Charm can be useful all on its own. In a fight, however, Distracting Behavior can still hamper those trying to harm her allies. Deceptive Taunt can actually force an enemy to attack her, and with Dodge and Coordination Dodge she’s a difficult target, a ‘tank’ who avoids being hit rather than shrugging hits off. While she’s not bad with her Molecular Stilleto, she’s at her deadliest when your eyes are on her, and not the heavy lining up his shot.

Pazda Marda – Klatooinian Bounty Hunter/Assassin

Obligation: Bounty 20 (+5 for 5 XP, +5 for 1000 Credits)

Motivation: Family

Characteristics: Brawn 2, Agility 5, Intellect 1, Cunning 2,  Willpower 2, Presence 2

Wound Threshold: 12

Strain Threshold: 12

Soak: 3

Defense: 0 Ranged/0 (+1 with Vibrosword) Melee

Abilities: Free Rank in Ranged (Heavy), Free Rank in Cool

Talents: Stalker x2, Quick Strike, Lethal Blows, Dodge, Dedication (Agility), Grit, Precise Aim, Targeted Blow, Sniper Shot, Deadly Accuracy (Ranged [Heavy]), Rapid Reaction

Skills: Ranged (Heavy) 3, Cool 2. Perception 1, Piloting (Planetary), Piloting (Space) 1, Stealth 2, Melee 2, Vigilance 1

Equipment: Heavy Blaster Rifle, Sakiyan Shadowsuit, Q-22 Retinal Tracker Implant, Cybernetic Reflexes Implant, Vibrosword, Commlink, (Handheld), Imperial Army Military Pack, Climbing Gear,  Extra Reloads x2, Utility Belt, Electrobinoculars, 30 Credits

Pazda is the ‘heavy’ of the group, but rather than being in the mix of things he prefers to stay at a distance and cover the others. Quick Strike, Lethal Blows, Precise Aim, Targeted Blow, Deadly Accuracy, and his Q-22 Retinal Tracker all take his Ranged (Heavy) skill and that Heavy Blaster Rifle and boost its range, accuracy, and damage. If you see him in his sniper perch, it’s probably because you’re about to die in a flurry of blaster bolts. You’re more likely to die without ever seeing him, though. Being distracted by Ginovae would be bad enough, but Pazda’s already-good Stealth score is then given four Boost dice by Stalker and his Sakiyan Shadowsuit. His ranks in Cool and Vigilance, supported by his Cybernetic Reflexes, mean that he’ll be shooting first more often than not. Even if you manage to find him and close with him, he’s a skilled fighter with that vibrosword, if he doesn’t just hop in a vehicle and make his escape.

Kuno Zapal – Gran Colonist/Entrepreneur

Obligation: Exiled 20 (+10 xp for 10 XP)

Motivation: Business

Characteristics: Brawn 2, Agility 2, Intellect 2, Cunning 1,  Willpower 2, Presence 5

Wound Threshold: 12

Strain Threshold: 11

Soak: 3

Defense: 0 Ranged/0 Melee

Abilities: Free Rank in Negotiation, Remove 2 Setback from Ranged and Perception Checks due to environment or concealment.

Talents: Sound Investments x5, Rapid Recovery x2, Greased Palms, Natural Merchant, Intense Focus, Dedication (Presence), Bought Info, Know Somebody, Hidden Storage

Skills: Negotiation 3, Charm 1, Knowledge (Education) 1, Streetwise 1, Knowledge (Underworld) 1, Discipline 1

Equipment: Czerka Arms 411 Holdout Blaster, Heavy Clothing, Concealment Holster, Appraiser’s Eye Implant,  Cybernetic Cavity, Mercantiler Datapads (Core Worlds, Inner Rim, Mid Rim, Outer Rim), Credit Cleaner, Magna-Lock Safe, Shadowcloak, Comlink (Long-Range), 385 Credits

Kuno is the money, and money makes the galaxy go ’round. All those ranks of Sound Investments means the Gran will be getting 500 credits at the start of every session, and he can put them to good use. Bought Info lets him spend credits to pass Knowledge checks, effectively making him the information gatherer of the group as long as he has the cash. He can also use Greased Palms to effectively give a bribe, resulting in an upgrade to his next social check. When it comes to making more money, his Negotiation skill is boosted by his Appraiser’s Eye and his assortment of Mercantiler Datapads. Know Somebody lets him reduce the rarity of an item he’s trying to acquire once per session. Natural Merchant lets him reroll a Streetwise or Negotiation check once a session as well, while Intense Focus trades strain for an upgrade to any check. Obviously useful for his usual job, it also makes him a decent shot in a pinch. Finally, Kuno is more than equipped to deal with the seedier jobs that he’s dragged into. His Cybernetic Cavity and Magna-Lock Safe keep his belongings safe, his Credit Cleaner launders ill-gotten funds, and his Shadowcloak keeps him anonymous.

There’s a lot going on here! I decided to use Knight Level for this group based on what I heard during The Whole Group Tale. This crew had to be a competent bunch to pull off the things they were described as doing, and that meant having the XP and the resources of Knight Level. Another point that the Tale was trying to make was about making a group that felt tied together from the beginning, and I thought it would be a bit more believable that they’d been companions for a while if they had the skills gained from some time on the Edge. I think that’s an interesting thought for the topic.

I pulled from a wide variety of books for this one, particularly when it came to equipment. The core rulebook, Dangerous Covenants, Fly Casual, Far Horizons, and Lords of Nal Hutta all saw use, and I got the Gossam from Age of Rebellion’s Stay on Target.

Who They Are

Sli Mondo is a Gossam who has never known when to quit while he was ahead. If asked, and you could be sure he was telling the truth, he would admit that he’s not even really sure how it got started. Someone flipped a credit chit, wagering the chit on what side it would land, maybe. However Sli got bit by the bug, he’s never been able to resist a challenge or turn down a long shot. Money and profits aren’t even the real motivator; the win itself is what matters. Sli’s bounced around the galaxy for quite some time now, chasing the next Idiot’s Array wherever it could be found, and he’s run afoul of the law more than once. Ironically enough, in the end that’s what let him really challenge the odds.

Kalaila Ivalice used to be as close to the law as it got in her backwater city on her backwater planet. The hours were long, the pay wasn’t much, and genuine thanks were few and far between, but Kal always kept her eye on the prize: a better world, and a better galaxy beyond that. The years wore on her eventually, though. She never has (and never will) give up on the hunt for justice, but it gradually became apparent that the system was working against her. The syndicates, cartels, and corporations did what they pleased, and the Empire was no help to a marshal on her own. Kal’s days were each long struggles, and most of her nights spent despairing at all the ones who got away. Then the occupant of one of her own cells gave her an idea. She’s not the law anymore, but she’s got some good ideas about justice.

Ginovae Zzhoren was a rising star, a singer that could move souls and a dancer that could entrance the eyes, but that all changed when she had the misfortune to witness a brutal murder. She testified, and was hidden away under a new name, but she chafed at the loss of her old life. While she didn’t quite regret putting a member of Black Sun away, the loss of her dreams greatly wounded her. Eventually, Ginovae decided to take the risk. Using her new name and background as a cover, she sought to get back into the game, winning hearts and charming whoever she could. Her talent shone through, and soon enough she had herself a new agent. Still, things didn’t get truly interesting until a scoundrel tried to swindle them. Once she convinced the bodyguard not to kill him, whole new opportunities were opened to her, and she might even be safer from the Black Sun.

Pazda Marda is that rarest of Klatooinians: a genuine, devoted family man. The Hutts don’t really encourage such behavior in their slave races, after all. Pazda decided to follow his heart, however, and that just happened to lead him and his beloved through an entire pack of Gank Killers to freedom. Of course, now that he has a family he needs to support them, and the hunters haven’t stopped coming after him, so he’s seen fit to use his Hutt-funded training and augmentations to bring in the credits and maintain his new life. He wandered from job to job, taking whatever work he could, until his latest one saw him protecting a singer and her agent, and tangling with a gambler with more nerves than sense. He kind of likes the ‘do evil unto evil’ act the gambler’s partner has going on, and the pay is good. Plus, it’s nice to add some friends to that family of his.

Kuno Zapal‘s fate is how the Gran of Kinyen maintain their reputation of being peaceful, compassionate beings: they kick out anyone who doesn’t make the grade. At least, that’s how Kuno sees it. Rather than skulk off to Malastare like most of the scummier Gran, Kuno set his eyes and his ocular implant on the galaxy at large. It had been his cutthroat drive to acquire wealth and create his own business that got him kicked off of Kinyen, so he decided to double down on that drive. Any type of business suited him just fine, but eventually he found himself a steady gig in the entertainment industry, of all things. With an in-demand client and a hired gun to protect the assets she brought in, Kuno at last felt a little comfortable with his chances, until a little troublemaker tried to rob them blind and ended up giving him even more opportunities.

How They Interact

Sli has always liked Kal. Of all the marshals, police officers, and bounty hunters who’ve thrown him in a cell, she was always the nicest about it. She treated him fairly, and had a habit of looking the other way if he’d been swindling other crooks. He’s still surprised that she threw her lot in with him, and her choice in targets is a dangerous selection – but of course that’s exactly what he wants. Ginovae, marvelous Ginovae, the galaxy’s gift to cardsharps everywhere so long as they know to take advantage. He originally had her pegged as a mark; now she makes for a distraction better than anything Sli could come up with. Pazda still spooks Sli pretty badly: the Gossam knows that if the hired gun had pulled that trigger not even Kal could’ve saved him. It’s great having an angel watch your back, though, even if that angel is a cybernetically enhanced Klatooinian. Kuno is the other side of the credit chit: Sli is in it for the risks, the Gran is in it for the reward. It’s a delightfully symbiotic relationship, so far as the rewards keep funding bigger risks.

Kal never disliked Sli, despite the number of times she had to arrest him. Eventually something akin to friendship came about from all the times the gambler ended up in her cell, and when Kal was at her worst it was Sli’s presence that inspired her: take the Gossam’s crazy and use it against the real criminals in the galaxy. It should’ve been a hard choice. It wasn’t. Kal knows that Ginovae’s on the run from something, as surely as the Falleen is chasing fame in the opposite direction. She’s also pretty sure she knows what that something is. Being a marshal didn’t give much training as a bodyguard, but so long as Ginovae’s past service to justice continues to threaten her, Kal will do her best. Pazda is technically a worse criminal than Sli, but Kal finds that she actually respects the man. Even when doing bad things, he’s doing them for the right reasons, which makes them somewhat alike. It’s also nice to have someone covering her back while she’s in close covering the others. Kuno is in some ways the other ‘leader’ of the group, insofar as leadership is something that can be claimed. Kal thinks of the two of them as contrary allies: they sometimes argue over the justice Kal seeks and the profit Kuno hungers for. It’s worked so far, though.

Ginovae has always been a little impressed by Sli. It’s very rare to find someone who can resist her charms long enough to maintain a scam intended to rob her blind. She even forgave him for trying, and while she doesn’t necessarily approve of the scams he currently runs, they do provide excellent excuses to get on stage. Kal’s a tough old vibroaxe of a woman, not the type Ginovae would have associated with in her old life, but she knows that the human knows. She finds that oddly comforting. Pazda is like the big cyborg brother she never had, and she’s already lost count of the number of times she’s felt the heat of a blaster bolt on her cheek as Pazda fires around her to save her life. She makes him take some of her profits, sometimes; it’s fame she’s really hungry for, after all, and he’s got cubs to feed. Kuno was the one to set her on the path to fame once again, always looking for another gig. While she knows he’s really in it for the credits, she’s extremely grateful, and so long as the gigs keep coming she’ll be willing to work with him.

Pazda was shocked at how brazen Sli was upon their first meeting. Even when the Gossam figured out that Pazda had him dead to rights, the little gambler never stopped talking, never stopped looking for an angle to beat the odds arrayed against him. It’s about as gutsy as shooting up a pack of Ganks so that you can be with the woman you love. Pazda watches out for the little miscreant. Kalaila would’ve been an enemy, or more likely a target, back when Pazda worked for the Hutts. Her willingness to leave her old life behind to pursue her ideals resonates with the hired gun, however. It’s also nice that she hates the Hutts, and that she can keep Sli, Ginovae, and Kuno safe up close while he covers them from afar. Ginovae is a lovely, talented creature; if Pazda wasn’t already happily married, he could see himself being interested. As things stand, the performer is actually a way for Pazda to redeem himself for what he did while serving the Hutts, something he usually doesn’t concern himself with. If he can keep her safe, he can keep some more good in the galaxy. Kuno only seems to care about the credits, which rankles with Pazda a bit (the Gran’s attitude is a little Hutt-like), but the Klatooinian can hardly complain about the source of credits that feed his family. The Gran at least lacks the outright cruelty that the Hutts display.

Kuno marvels at Sli, at the same time that he is wary of the Gossam. Nobody has ever come closer to taking away Kuno’s wealth, and yet the gambler bears him no ill-will about having failed. In fact, once things calmed down the little creature seemed perfectly willing to make Kuno credits, so long as the making was challenging enough. It’s higher risk than Kuno is used to, but there’s always risk in business. Kal’s something of a bothersome do-gooder, but without her there’d be no Sli, and there’s no denying that the human is a valuable asset herself. She might take her eye off the prize in her hunt for frontier justice a little too often for Kuno’s taste, but the profitable times are worth it. Ginovae probably thinks that Kuno’s only interest in her is the credits she can make him, and Kuno tries to encourage that impression. It wouldn’t do to show his heart, after all, but in truth he genuinely cares for the Falleen. She’s got her dream, same as him, and while it’s different he’d love to see her achieve it. At first Kuno thought Pazda was merely hired muscle, but after a while he actually started to trust the Klatooinian. While he is aware that Pazda doesn’t like him personally, he knows that the sniper doesn’t just view protecting Ginovae as a job, and sleeps better at night for it.

The Future

I watch as Sli and Kal sit down at a Sabaac table, the former marshal glaring at the other players to put them off while Sli shuffles his ‘lucky’ deck of cards. Ginovae is on stage, drawing most of the eyes in the room to her as she sings. I can see Kuno at one of the corner tables, datapad in his hands as he trains his cybernetic eye stalk on whatever his conversation partner just handed him. And while I can’t quite spot him, I know Pazda is in the roof of that tower I can see out the window, keeping watch with one finger on the trigger. The Bogwing crew were right:  this was an excellent opportunity to Meet the Party, and it’ll no doubt make another exciting Tale from the Hydian Way. What kind of tale? Well, that’s for you (and your dice) to determine!

Originally posted 3/4/16 on the Mad Adventurers Society!

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