Laser cannon fire lit up the darkness of space as Bolt Squadron and the Sleight of Hand dueled with most of a squadron of TIEs. A Raider-class corvette listed badly as the Borrowed Time came about for another attack run. The Last Ditch lurched from incoming turbolaser fire from the second Raider-class even as the MC-30 Kath Hound rushed to assist. Onboard the Interdictor cruiser Shadow’s Web a raiding party of Alliance Infantry, Alliance SpecOps, and Borrowed Time crewmembers fought to seize control of the ship. And in the distance an Imperial Star Destroyer began to bear down on the battle, dropping two squadrons of TIEs and an assault shuttle. The Rebels needed a plan, and it had better be a good one.
Verjylla, aboard the Borrowed Time, and Patience, aboard the Last Ditch while trying to command the overall battle, quickly weighed their options. The first impulse, to flee into hyperspace before the ISD could get within weapons range, wasn’t possible because the gravity well generators on the Shadow’s Web were still active. Now the rebels had no choice but to deal with the Interdictor one way or another. Destroying it would likely take too long given the limited firepower at their disposal, and disabling the generators from within would likely take as long or longer as simply capturing it. The decision was made, with agreement of the rest of the crew still aboard the Borrowed Time, that the YT-2400 would attempt to dock with the Interdictor and fully commit to taking the Interdictor or die trying.
First they had to reach it, a task that thankfully proved easy: as the Borrowed Time closed in Nak put a pair of concussion missiles into the hull of the ailing Raider-class, breaking the ship’s back and creating a chain reaction that destroyed the ship (Triumph)! Some Advantage let the freighter use the explosion to vanish from the sensors of the ISD and lose the quartet of TIE fighters pursuing it; Bas flew the ship through weakening quad-fire from the cruiser itself and managed to find an airlock near to the bridge. Patience meanwhile directed the Last Ditch to charge into the starfighter melee, laser cannons blazing, and a destroyed pair of TIEs helped even the odds.
Deeper within the Interdictor cruiser Bee’f vanished into the vents while The Wookiee tried to pull flechette shrapnel out of her armor. The Inquisitorial Stormtrooper who had shot her backed out of reach of AL’s vibroswords, managing to clear the jam in his flechette launcher that the party had caused, but was unable to get off a round before AL surged forward again. The trooper’s left leg (that’s the third one this campaign!) went one way, the trooper went the other, still alive and fighting mad. Just as Caleb was drawing a bead the Mando heard a whooshing noise behind him and whirled to a second Inquisitorial Stormtrooper charging him on hoverboots and swinging a pair of stun batons. Caleb was able to dodge both blows, but his SE-14r return fire only winged his target. A third Inquisitorial trooper charged around the corner towards AL with a vibroaxe in hand, and although his blow missed the former security droid one of AL’s vibroswords was shattered at the hilt. The Wookiee stepped towards the trooper with the flecette launcher, yelling “Not enough gun!” as she sliced the launcher to pieces with her own vibroaxe.
Up above Bas and Verjylla had managed to slice open the airlock, and Nak and Shikte took point as they began making their way towards the bridge. The corridors were eerily empty, with much of the rank-and-file crew having taken to the escape pods after seeing Verjylla’s broadcast of The Wookiee’s rampage. They thus made excellent time, only to skid to a stop right outside of the sealed bridge doors when they noticed the three identical black-armored figures bearing large metal shields and staffs standing outside. “Greetings, Warriors of the Alliance to Restore the Republic! I bid you welcome, in the name of my Emperor.”
Taken aback by the central figure’s comparatively polite and respectful tone as much as the appearance of what seemed to be three Inquisitors in their way, the rebels actually stopped to exchange words. The Inquisitors, who identified themselves as ‘The Knights’ when asked, knew all of them by name, and complimented them on their battle record so far. Having confronted them, however, the Knights insisted that surrender or a fight to the death were the only options the rebels had. As Verjylla weighed her options she managed to tap into the Force and Foresee how the confrontation would proceed, She was surprised to glean a detail that some of the Inquisitors were actually illusions. Calling out the Knight for his deception and mocking his fake honor, the battle was joined.
Nak lobbed a grenade and Shikte took a shot with her Verpine shatter rifle, each trying to expose which was the true Knight, but the illusions were too good, bunching together and mirroring any damage the others took. The figures ignited their lightsaber pikes and slashed out at Nak, who staggered back from a burning wound straight into the arms of Bas, who jabbed her with a stimpack. Verjylla, surprising everyone including herself, landed a shot with a blaster rifle while also haranguing the Knight with her Scathing Tirade.
Down below the trooper-who-formerly-had-a-flechette-launcher spent a Destiny Point to draw a disrupter pistol and shoot The Wookiee, but although it was quite the hit it wasn’t enough to save him from her next vibroaxe swing. AL managed to land a Critical Hit on the vibroaxe trooper that staggered the man, sending him into a scrambling retreat. Caleb, meanwhile, was locked in a duel with the hoverboots trooper, neither managing to land a solid hit as the Mando poured on blaster fire and the trooper zipped about swinging his stun batons. Finally Caleb managed to land a hit and trigger enough Autofire to finish the job . . . but the Despair he rolled meant a stray bolt hit the plasma grenade on the trooper’s belt. Caleb emerged from the fireball alive and combat-capable, but not exactly happy.
Outside Patience was attempting to coordinate with the captain of the Kath Hound to get every rebel ship behind the Interdictor to shield themselves from the ISD. A small disaster struck on the next Mass Combat check; the remaining Raider-class targeted and destroyed one of the supply ships following the Kath Hound. Fortunately the party used the Advantage that was still on the roll to get the crew safely to the escape pods, and Captain Pontay aboard the Sleight of Hand quickly devoted his ship and its tractor beam to recovering them.
Near the bridge the fight with the Knight carried on, Nak picking up another lightsaber burn for her trouble as she brought out her old vibroaxe. Although she wasn’t able to land a blow she was able to hook the axe head around the shield and rip it from the Knight’s grip, and a Despair rolled in the attack against her was used to drop the illusions to reveal the true Knight. Verjylla landed another shot and continued to mock the Knight, but things truly turned the rebels’ way with Shikte’s next shatter rifle round, which took the Knight’s weapon arm off. Nak rushed forward and buried the vibroaxe in her opponent’s chest, but one last Despair came up. Complimenting Nak on her strike, the Knight reached out with his remaining hand and used the Force to ignite and pull his lightsaber pike towards them, impaling them both.
The Knight slid to the deck, another slain Inquisitor added to the crew’s tally. As for Nak, when asked by the others if she was okay . . .
“Of course I’m still up, I’m Nak!”
Outside the battle also took a turn in the rebel’s favor as the Kath Hound and the Last Ditch managed to flank the surviving Raider and catch it in a crossfire, destroying the Imperial corvette in a storm of proton torpedoes and turbolaser fire. Even as the rebels cheered their success, however, the ISD began lobbing turbolaser and ion cannon fire downrange as her TIEs rushed to join the fight. It was definitely time to leave.
As Caleb, The Wookiee, and AL joined the others outside the bridge Verjylla opened a com line to the bridge and made a Coercion role: open the door and surrender the bridge or the rebels would get in there anyway and take it. The door hissed open moments later to reveal an Ensign standing over the blaster-shot body of the Captain. ‘Acting-Captain Hosfin’ surrendered the bridge, and was immediately welcomed to the Rebel Alliance, continuing the Borrowed Time tradition of recruiting confused and alarmed Imperials against their will. With Lieutenant Averre’s team having captured engineering and the infantry having spread throughout the ship, the Shadow’s Web was renamed on the spot as the Time Sink.
The Rabblerouser Fleet’s exit from the battle was not without issue, however. The rebels aboard the Time Sink coordinated with Patience and the others outside to make the jump to hyperspace as soon as the gravity well generators were turned off, but that took time, during which the Sleight of Hand was struck by ion fire and disabled. Nak rushed to a tractor beam console and managed to grab the Darvro-class freighter – a little too enthusiastically, as she basically crashed it into the hull and lodged it there, but Pontay, his crew, and the rescued transport crew couldn’t really complain. That did reveal that the Interdictor had been taken, however, and there were a few tense moments as the ISD’s TIE squadrons shrieked into the fight while the ISD herself sent more shots downrange. But before any major damage could be done the rebels had made their calculations and jumped to safety!
Hosfin reported, however, that the Time Sink had not gotten away cleanly. Just before they made the jump, the ISD’s assault shuttle had managed to dock at an airlock. The Time Sink had some unwanted passengers along for the ride . . .
This particular session saw something rare for the crew of the Borrowed Time: the use of miniatures to show where everything was, using ships and fighters from Star Wars Armada. It worked pretty well I thought, particularly having the ISD gradually close the distance across the table to provide a sense of dwindling time (plus the size of the thing definitely got the players into the proper mindset). But it did get me thinking a little more about using props.
The spectrum between ‘theatre of the mind’ and a tactical grid with miniatures has a lot of systems and folks dug in at their chosen point along it. FFG Star Wars has something of a strange relationship with the concept, I’ve always thought; by and large it’s got theatre of the mind, but most players are introduced to the system via the Beginner games that include maps and, more importantly for this line of thought, tokens to show where characters and vehicles are. Once you go beyond those it gets difficult to keep things tactical, partially because of a lack of support and partially because the range bands are nebulous.
Still, taking the theatre out of the mind has proven helpful from time to time. The battle over the Shadow’s Web is one example; another is a recent Force and Destiny game I was a player in, wherein a ship schematic was used because it was vital to know where exactly everyone was. Now that I think of it, even the Borrowed Time schematic got used once in the Edge days when the pirates they were smuggling to safety wouldn’t free the slaves they’d brought along and things got violent.
I suppose the lesson here is that, even if theatre of the mind is the preferred method for your group, keep some props on hand for an emergency. The props could just be a few pieces of paper and some writing utensils, but when communication breaks down and confusion sets in, or things just get too complex or fast-moving, having something to show to your players can be a big help. Just the other day my Eberron group, which I largely run without minis these days, asked for me to break out the tiles so they could set up their defenses properly. If I hadn’t had them, it would have been a much more awkward and confusing battle.
Until next time, go play some games and have a good time! We’ll see the increasingly large Rabblerouser Fleet regroup and try to repel some boarders in the next installment of Star Wars Age of Rebellion: Living on Borrowed Time!
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