When our editor, William, expressed to me his interest to take part in a tabletop roleplaying game, you could say I was rather excited. But I was also apprehensive, as I had to make this right. I had to hold a game that would sow a good impression of tabletops to him and to the other players around the table, only one of whom would be a seasoned roleplayer. I had to balance game with story, and keep attentions focused.
And dependent on the system you are using, whatever they want to do can be absolutely anything. Which is why it can be terrifying to be the one holding the game – the Game Master. Even if you think you’ve planned for everything, it always happens that someone says something you weren’t expecting.
For our first game, I picked a system that was freeform and more focused on story and action than counting dice and numbers. As it happened, after people started to warm up to the fact that they could do practically anything, the session I had planned went out of the window in favour of whatever bull I could string together following their actions; they looted whatever wasn’t nailed down, they forged identification papers, stole military equipment, detonated an entire tower, shot the antagonist in the head, and killed each other in a ridiculous bloodbath.
It started in a spaceport near Kessel, where the group had arrived to collect from the last job. The assignment had been completed but payment was late. The group mostly stuck together as they visited the local pub to find information about their contact. Through a mixture of bribery, streetwise knowledge and intimidation, they discovered that the contact had become ensnared by imperial entanglements, and that his operations and estate were under investigation.
At this point the group became divided – half wanted to discover more about their shady contact and half wanted to go after another job, just to pay the bills. Can’t go snooping about an imperial affair or you’ll get your lights knocked out by stormtroopers. In the end, the group reached a compromise – they would find out what they could about the contact, and take another job.
When they arrived, they found a ship in lockdown – clamped to the ground by imperial bolts – and a horde of eight starfighters with Ugnaut pilots. A plump man with the look of someone who’s had a bit too much to drink beckoned the pair forwards, and introduced himself as a merchant of sorts who had been delivering ‘gifts of good faith’ to his best customers. He had stopped for a drink at Nar Shaddaa and been pulled over by an imperial patrol, and his ship had been impounded. So, he had put out a job for someone to transport the remainder of his cargo.
For someone who was quite drunk, he did a remarkable job of avoiding the team’s questions, and soon they were off – but not before swindling him out of double pay (and half in advance). Will pondered the ramifications of just buggering off with the fifty thousand credits and dropping the cargo into a sun on the way to a holiday.
The first delivery was actually to the spice mines on Kessel itself. Curiosity got the better of the crew, and they gingerly pried open the crate to discover bottles upon bottles of alcoholic beverages – something that the miners would no doubt set upon with gusto. Subsequent deliveries took them to exotic places such as Korriban, whose crate for the Academy appeared to be a holocron – a ticking holocron with radioactive signatures. That delivery was made rather sharpish indeed. They went to Tatooine and delivered a great many gifts to the Hutt families. And among other places, they also went to Dantooine, where my Ali G voice acting led to Dantooine now being an in-joke.
As it was, the team completed the job for Nicolas, the jolly fat man, and completed the Star Wars Christmas Special successfully. And then when all was said and done, Sarah’s character turned out to be an imperial spy and betrayed them all to the Empire. Good times. That’s what the Star Wars Christmas Special should have been all along.
Sarah Cook - "If you know about the subject you are role-playing, it really helps. And sometimes you find yourself stuck in a bit of a rut or waiting around for things to do which so someone with the attention span of a gnat may put you off. While I enjoyed myself, it's not something I could do repeatedly without having to dress up and go a bit theatrical about it all. Though, it certainly was a plus I got to do it with incredible friends and people who want to laugh about it."
Despite the title, being a game master isn’t all fun and games and terrible voice acting. It’s a dedication to a story and seeing the group through all their challenges, and it’s providing the difficulty to those challenges, analysing what the group is capable of, where they struggle, and changing the situation to match those abilities. In all, this was a pretty lazy Star Wars game, in that it was a new system of dice rolls to learn, and I wanted to start off easy. The next Star Wars game we’ll have full character creation open and a more dramatic, action-based story. Dice will be rolled all the time, every time. Stormtroopers will be terrible shots. Sith will be hammy and melodramatic. The heroes will be plucky and arrogant - this is how Star Wars is supposed to be. Vibroswords and Mandalorians and starfighters, and dice rolling all over the place.