They’ve found themselves Dead in the Water and having to deal with Friends Like These. They’ve known there’s Trouble Brewing and tracked down the Mask of the Pirate Queen. They’re trying to find balance in the Force and working their way through the Chronicles of the Gatekeeper. Ever looked at a published adventure for Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars Roleplaying and wondered what kind of stories they could tell? Well this crew decided to find out for you, and no matter what cantina you drop into or freighter captain you talk with there’s a decent chance you’ll hear Why You Should Listen to Heroes of the Hydian Way.
Ben Yendall is the usual GM for the Heroes, and if their name is familiar than you may have followed me here to CHG from the Mad Adventurers days, or perhaps clicked on the fine and elegantly crafted link to The Hydian Way to the right. That’s because while I’m focusing on the actual play, Heroes does have a sister podcast. While it’s currently on indefinite hiatus (podcast editing takes a lot of time, who knew), Ben was the showrunner for Tales from the Hydian Way from and long past the MAS days, a discussion podcast with tons and tons of material, discussion, and advice for your Star Wars games. 300 episodes of it in fact. So if a ‘cast about games is more your speed compared to a ‘cast of a game, give that a listen.
So obviously you’ve got an outfit that cares about Star Wars roleplaying. When The Hydian Way wanted to branch into doing an actual play as well, Ben and co. decided that their twist on the concept was to be running Fantasy Flight Games’ published adventures across all three lines – Age of Rebellion, Edge of the Empire, and Force and Destiny.
So, what adventures have our Heroes gone on?
“… takes your team of Rebels to Xorrn, a planet under threat of imminent Imperial attack. Once you arrive, you have 48 hours to organize defenses and recruit military support from nearby systems…”
Our team of rebels are:
- Kristine Chester playing the Mirialan Commander – Neema Talemy, a squad leader with a lost love who protects her troops with blaster and shield.
- Chris Ing is playing the Mandalorian Soldier – Matu Ordo, of the Clan Ordo, armed with the sword of his father and his father’s father . . . who ends up being a Force unto himself.
- Brent Brown is playing the Droid Spy – TV-93, a tactical droid from the Clone Wars who specializes in demoralizing the enemy, and who goes through a personality and lifestyle change you have to hear to believe.
- Leslie is playing the Bothan Engineer – Kith Ursi’bek, often electrified, always ready to ruin the Empire’s day with a grenade and a mechanic’s toolkit.
Played using Age of Rebellion, our first batch of Heroes got their start with Dead in The Water (a piece of which CHG readers have already seen in Living on Borrowed Time, but the Heroes played it much differently and in its entirety) before moving into Friends Like These proper. This is the season for Heroes racing against the clock, taking big risks and putting themselves up against long odds for a long shot at victory, and asking themselves why they’re fighting in the first place. It’s also the season for electrical safety hazards, nice dresses, band practice, terrible pickup lines, bombastic speeches, a startling number of explosions, unexpected boarding actions, and the galaxy’s most dangerous pry bar.
“A powerful smuggling operation has placed a tremendous bounty on the head of the so-called Pirate Queen. In hunting this bounty you and your colleagues will explore the prosperous shadowport of Ord Mantell, fight an intense interstellar fleet battle, and discover the dangerous underworld sport of pit fighting. You never know where you’ll find the Pirate Queen– or what you might encounter in the search.”
Enter the crew of the Sky
Is On Fire (who you can see in the header image above, courtesy of Jocelyn Robinson):
- Leslie is playing the Droid Hired Gun – 13-1LL “Billie”, the card dealer who can be their own bouncer, and is trying to figure out who they are now that they’re free.
- Brandon Perdue is playing the Selonian Bounty Hunter – Barawyn, the honest-to-a-fault-but-with-a-mark-on-her-record guilded bounty hunter, Captain, and team mom.,
- Kristine is playing the Gand Technician – Kaav, apprentice bounty hunter, “pilot extraordinaire”, fiery weapons tech, and loving parent to a growing family of droids.
- David Pickering, who has spent some rough nights and hard days right here at CHG, is playing the Twi’lek Smuggler – Vuren Afa, an escaped Corporate Sector wageslave and gambler who ends up on some adventures of his own.
- Wren Knowles is playing the Pantoran Colonist – Vastrano Til, as dangerous with his fists as he is helpful with a medkit, a later addition to the crew who nevertheless fits in like he was always there.
The crew got their start with a relatively simple bounty hunting gig in Trouble Brewing from Edge of the Empire’s core rulebook. Once they wrapped up that job, though, they accepted the Pirate Queen contract and quickly got in over their heads. This is the campaign for diner brawls, gladiatorial matches, adopted Rodian navigators, an alarming percentage of the settings and characters being lit on fire, an alarming amount of friendly fire, wasabi peas, ‘great plans’ that go wrong really fast, MONKIES, and frankly enough injuries that poor Vastrano could probably write a few academic papers on Selonian and Gand biology. It’s also the season for an impressive amount of character growth as the crew try to find their way in the galaxy, pick themselves up and soldier on no matter how nasty things get, and grow relationships with one another.
“The holocron of a mysterious, vanished Jedi Knight surfaces. Its Gatekeeper offers to instruct you in an incredible Force power and leads you on a perilous interstellar quest in which every choice you make can affect countless innocent lives – and profoundly alter your destiny.”
Four travelers just happen to come together, as if it were the will of the Force:
- Leslie is playing Lord, High Lord, Ghillary Al’auroch (of the Flying Al’aurochs), an Aleena Consular with an entertainer’s eye and a family man’s caring.
- Wren is playing Skipp Gobi, a Kalleran Seeker with a wanderer’s heart and an animal companion , who may just be the protagonist – after all, everyone else is old!
- Brandon is playing Koba, a hard-boiled Dug Sentinel whose every story brings mournful jazz and constant rain to mind.
- Kristine is playing Khesh, a Trandoshan Mystic with a long career as a mercenary, now a disciple of the Scorekeeper.
Now, this is the ongoing Force and Destiny campaign, so we’re still journeying with these characters; who knows what they’ll end up doing or where they’ll end up going? In many ways these lost acolytes are a much more standard adventuring party: the Heroes of Friends Like These were a squad, and those of Mask of the Pirate Queen were a crew, but the Heroes of Chronicles came together largely by happenstance and weren’t a group until the plot hit the table. The differences between the characters, which seem more stark than the differences in the other Heroes, are making things particularly interesting as they play off one another and try to work together.
So far, though, this is looking to be a season of hard questions and difficult choices, and the question of whether they’ll rise or fall seems truly up in the air.
These adventures and characters tell very different stories, and as even the cast has had a few changes the input for those stories has changed as well. A universal constant, however, is that the Heroes are having fun playing together, and that comes through in every session. Ben’s GMing style is a highly cooperative one which goes well with the Narrative Dice System even when they’re sending in killer robots and even more killer crustaceans, and the players have responded accordingly with a lot of creativity – always a good thing to see when you’re dealing with a published adventure.
The Heroes also have a particular skill at showcasing rules in a way that is easy for listeners to understand, including some really corner-case ones, making it a useful actual play for those who are new to the system or don’t have a particular mastery of it – as Heroes is one of those actual plays with some Dice for Brains DNA in it, that’s not surprising.
Gateway to the Outer Rim
While published adventures are the main offering, they’re not the only story these characters get to tell. There are spooky shenanigans in the bowels of the Shadow Raptor. Vuren finds himself as a gentleman adventurer – with a holonet team! Kaav runs Kaverns and Krayts for the Sky On Fire crew. Hyperspace jumps go awry and find our Heroes in their own version of the Twilight Zone. Each of these stories offers something different and fun, and often expands upon characters or links to the larger stories in interesting ways.
But Heroes of the Hydian Way is also a great gateway to other podcasts (partially why I’m making it my first contribution to WYSL). Chris and his Brother Matt tell one-on-one Star Wars stories of small aliens with big personalities on Silhouette Zero. Brandon GMs where no GM has GM’d before with Star Trek Adventures and Endeavour: Through the Maelstrom. Kristine handed Heroes editing duties off to Ben after MotPQ but I’m still not entirely sure she actually sleeps since she’s up to her ears in Trek technobabble, glass daggers, and ill omens. It’s always a delight when Leslie pops up at SilZero, and you can also find her at Flight Risk. Wren can be found as part of Fast Times at D&D High, and is up to all sorts of cool things from discussions to one-shots at Make Believe. For all I know there’s even more, it’s getting hard to keep track!
That’s just the people behind the curtain; Heroes is also the crossroads for something of a small Star Wars podcast universe. SilZero gets another note as some Heroes (and their choices) make an appearance pretty far down the line, and when Kaav needed a very special blaster the only choice was invoking Force Majeure.
Point is, when you catch up with Heroes and find yourself wanting more? Not going to be a problem (and yes, you’ll see some of those other ‘casts in WYSL down the road).
A Cantina Where You Can Always Find A Seat
This is more of a meta note, something you won’t quite get the full affect of by just listening to the podcast; you’ll need to follow some of the people involved, or drop into their Discord for a chat. Fact is, though, that the Heroes have managed to build a community that is just extremely welcoming and friendly. A wider fandom, especially a large one like Star Wars, is rarely so; you need to find your pocket within it.
Now, I want to make one thing clear, by no means does an outfit like the Heroes have an obligation to provide such a place. It’s not on a bunch of folks just trying to play games and share the fun they have to provide a port in a storm (whether that storm is the troubles of the world or the vitriol of fandom), they shouldn’t have to bear that responsibility. That’s what always makes being part of that community feel like coming back to a favorite cantina after making a run to Bonadan, though; they just do it, never mind that they don’t have to.
♫ Will this team find the light or will darkness win the day? Find out with the Heroes of the Hydian Way. ♫
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