Sunday, March 2, 2014

Now that the Experiment is Over

The Honest Cid's Outer Rim Transport campaigns were experiments.  I wanted to see if I could run two games in the same universe on what for me would be a weekly schedule.  At the same time I was experimenting with that, I was also experimenting with my idea of making my campaigns more "TV season" like so that there was a shorter arc that definitively ended, and with making sure I communicated the length and what the campaign was about to the players in a manner well detailed in Engine Publishing's excellent Odyssey book.

I know that's a lot of variables, and it only proves I am a terrible scientist.  Now on to the results.

First and foremost, nearly every system I have run, and every campaign I have run, has left me with a little bit of fatigue by the end of the campaign.  By the time I was done running the games, I was ready to take a break and not look at the game or the mechanics for a while, and give a new system a whirl while my batteries recharged.

I don't have that feeling in quite the same way with Edge of the Empire.  The mechanics don't really burn me out.  While there are things I could do better and things I could understand better, overall I'm still really positive and energized by how the system works.  I even have a hard time with getting back into games that only have a pass fail axis when it comes to resolution.  It feels like something more should be going on in the background, the way Edge of the Empire has threats, advantages, triumphs, and despairs working on a different axis than successes and failures.

I am pretty happy with my campaign "season" structure and the pacing, however, I could have used a few more sessions for breathing room when story arcs needed another night, and with the pacing I was utilizing, I felt I rushed a few stories.  So, since this felt as if it worked but could use some fine tuning, I'd say next time I try to run a "seasonal" campaign, at least in this system, I'm tempted to expand the season to 18 sessions instead of 12.

Another reason I would like to do this is just because I had a run of insanely high dice rolls early on that kept me from having Obligation trigger, and a longer campaign arc makes is much more likely that more of the party is going to see their Obligations come into play.

I think I did a fair job of communicating the tone and setting of the campaign ahead of time, but I do think I could have done a better job of communicating my expectations.  Where this problem came up the most is the difference between "can you do something" and "should you do something."  For example, when to buy items, and when to loot items from opponents.  At some point when I was getting a bit overloaded on people scavenging items, I said something that care across more like "you can't scavenge anything after a fight," and it was more a call to look at the actual situation that particular night, and the logistics of actually looting characters in a short period of time with authorities around, etc.

I nearly tried to write rules to cover how I wanted buying and selling to work as house rules, but thankfully a few sessions later it really occurred to me that it wasn't the rules that were the problem.  Buying and selling in the system are more deliberate things.  If people came to me, one item at a time, things went fine.  I just didn't want to deal with it when half the table had each came up with five or six things they wanted to buy and they all wanted to do it now.  One at a time, or with the group making a shopping list, things work beautifully, but I think again, the "here is the equipment list" mentality from other games creates expectations about buying equipment that may not be true in a game where availability and prices fluctuate.

I need to get better at communicating and slowing down the session to where I can handle it, and that's on me.

I had the beginning of the campaign set up a certain way, and I had one of the two endings set up, but I tried to create a lot of plot threads so that the middle could go in multiple directions, and I think it worked for the most part, but I think with the rush to put out a game every week, I did fail in created some "plot light" side jobs that the party could do during their main missions, like local bounties or cargo hauling missions when they weren't already hauling something in their ship.

I had a much better handle on XP this time around than in the Beta version of the game, but I do wish I had handed out a little bit less.  I defaulted to a blanket 20 XP, with 25 XP for major story arcs, but the group rarely had a solid 4 hours of play, and I quit measuring whether people were acting according to their motivations, and I think that step is actually important.  Next time around, I really want to make sure I ask about Motivation and award accordingly, even if it just make a person think about how they would have viewed the situation a little bit.  It's a nice reinforcement, and I undercut it a bit.

Towards the end of the campaign, I dropped the ball on regular session updates, and I quit making the handouts that I started making at the beginning, in order to keep on the weekly schedule.  It made me realize that while I can run a fun and satisfying campaign on the weekly schedule, I think I could really fine tune and dial in some fun extras if I went back to giving myself two weeks to prep for a single table of players.

In other words, weekly GMing is withing my abilities, but the quality of my work does suffer.

Along with the above, I quit e-mailing the teams as often between sessions.  With two weeks to communicate and regular e-mails, I think I could have done a better job of making sure people knew where they were at and when they had downtime to utilize, so that's on the "get better" list as well.

Very specific to this system, I think I needed to get the group used to the idea that even when Obligation doesn't trigger, you can come up with ideas to pay it down.  I stated that after the campaign started, but it should have been in the Campaign Standards, I should have said it, I should have given examples, and I should have said it and given more examples again later.  It's a new mechanic, and nobody knows how I, as a GM, am going to run with it, so it was important to make all of that clear, and it was a missed opportunity on my part.

Now, I found a lot of places I could make improvements, but I always do when I look back.  I'm not happy that some of these action items are the result of backsliding from bad habits of the past, but I will cut myself some slack in that I was maintaining a weekly schedule and juggling two related but independent plot lines for the campaigns.

On the other hand, I think most people had fun, and I hope that they felt they had room to play their characters, got to do some things they wanted to do with those characters, and felt that the overall story of the campaign had a satisfying degree of pacing and conclusion.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Future Gaming in 2014

At some point, I'm going to post my thoughts on running Edge of the Empire, between the Beta and an additional 23 sessions of the game, as well as my thoughts on running two bi-weekly interconnected games.  It was an interesting experience and I really am still digging the system quite a bit.

However, this year I'm doing something I have been thinking about doing for years.  I'm going to give up gaming for Lent.  So this year, no reading, playing, or planning any video, card, board, or roleplaying games during Lent.  I'm still leaving myself an out to talk about RPGs if other people bring them up, because last year I attempted to not even talk about comic books, and, yeah, that was hard.

The Thursday night vacuum that I'm leaving at Armored Gopher Games will be filled by one of my players running 13th Age, using their organized play program, and another player, from whom I got the GM talking stick during the EotE Beta, running Age of Rebellion.

When I get back into gaming after April 20th, I'll be playing in both games so as to relax and recharge a bit when it comes to the old GM juice  (although I have to say I am the least depleted after running this system than I have been when a campaign ended in a long time).

I may go "dark" on the blog for a while, but there are some other geeky things coming up that I'm sure I won't be able to resist posting about even before Lent is over.  The final season of Clone Wars will be out on Netflix  (if I can stand the super low res we get from our cable company and the constant streaming interruption), and Captain America:  The Winter Soldier  (and the reopening of the Harvest Moon Drive-In in the spring) is coming up.

Because I'm sure spring is out there.  Somewhere.  It has to be out there.

The Timeline of My Star Wars Galaxy

This is a fairly quick sketch of the overall timeline of the Star Wars Galaxy as I've been running it since my Saga campaign, and it's a shared timeline with another GM, from whom I inherited the EotE Beta campaign and who is going to be picking up where I leave off when he starts running Age of Rebellion.  It's kind of exciting having a shared universe within a shared universe.

Grexl Zor is a conspiracy blogger that is an associate of one of the player characters in the campaign, so I thought it might be fun to throw in his take on galactic events.

Circa 3900 BBY:  A team of Republic agents, originally thrown together as puppets of a Twi'lek mastermind, eventually uncovers surviving Sith in the Galaxy.  The Galactic Senate refused to believe the operatives, and they operated in secret to gather more information.

The Wookiee Jedi Rrowlaur holds off a Torgorian Sith on the Taris Reclaimation Station, and fights him long enough for his allies and much of the staff to escape, but is blamed for failing to stop "terrorists" from bringing down the station, despite giving his life in the effort.

Despite finding increasing evidence of the Sith survival, the Republic team manages to become victims of politics, and end up in prison awaiting charges, when they are broken out of prison by their former commanding officer.  The team disappears into the Unknown Regions, following a lead from the Togorian Sith that points his master and a secret, ancient virus hidden on a lost ship since before the time of the Republic.

The droid T3-R9 eventually returns to the Republic from the Unknown Regions, and downloads his personality to multiple other bodies over time.

Grexl Zor's Take:  You can't trust anything from this era.  You know that Rrowlaur guy?  The Jedi didn't mention this in any official record, but there were rumors that his master went totally Dark Side and tried to kill the Jedi Council back then.

My take?  Rorwlaur wasn't an incompetent padawan that failed to stop some terrorists . . . he was a Sith advance agent, probing the Republic for his masters.  I mean, look at what happened just a few centuries later!

3 Months ABY:  A viral Holonet video spreads across the galaxy depicting a Rodian and a Jawa spectacularly crashing an airspeeder on Imperial Center/Coruscant and catapulting into the lower levels of the city.

Laurika Nain, a well respected and connected Zeltron business woman, disappeared after a business meeting on Coruscant.  Eventually considered legally deceased, her body is never found.

Grexl Zor's Take:  Rumor has it that Laurika Nain was the mistress of the Emperor, which is why she got such choice concessions for her businesses.  Lots of reports have placed her at various resort worlds, so it may be that she just got tired of His Wrinkliness and is living out her years with a string of secret identities and a mountain of credits.  I mean, she is a Zeltron, why wouldn't she hop from resort to resort for the rest of her life?

4 Months ABY:  In the Expansion Region, Moff Angrial Tovin purchases a large number of droids to help automate his fleet, and the droids malfunction, causing his entire defense fleet to jump to an unknown location.  His sector being vulnerable, Moff Ontar Alimund sends reinforcements from his neighboring sector.

Moffs traditionally command a single sector with fifty systems, but in the New Order, this structure has been waived at the approval of the Emperor in the past, and Moff Alimund is awarded nearly half of Tovin's domain when Tovin resigns in disgrace, and subsequently disappears. Shortly after Tovin's disappearance, Moff Alimund's own son goes missing as well.

Grexl Zor's Take:  Moff Alimund's son was heavily invested in Gloridum chives and Ooftan Foodbeasts.  Moff Alimund played Laserball and Greenput at the University.  Tovin was part of the Nexu Leauge.  Tovin sold his stock in Krangmar Breweries.  When you put all of that together, what happened in this tragic incident is so obvious.

6 Months ABY:  Reports of Moff Alimund's son on Nar Shaddaa prove to be false, at least according to official Imperial records. Several of the capital ships from Moff Tovin's fleet resurface in the Tapani sector, attacking a gathering of Tapani nobles and stealing a Gladiator class Star Destroyer.  The attacks are linked to the mysterious Zann Consortium.

Grexl Zor's Take:  You all don't believe the Zann Consortium exists, do you?  Between Black Sun and the Hutt families, and raiding an Inner Rim sector like a bunch of spiced up HyperCurlers on Orto Plutonia its obvious that the Zann Consortium is a made up thing that the Empire throws around, just like Alderaan blowing up.

What, you didn't know Alderaan is still there?  Its just under Imperial Sequester.  It was the first place where the Corellian Brandy and Bantha Steak thing was confirmed, and the Empire wants to keep a lid on it, because the Nerf Herder lobby on Alderaan has a lot more power than anyone realizes.

7 Months ABY:  Grand Admiral Grant puts together a task force to hunt down the Zann Consortium fleet that has been plaguing the Tapani sector, including members of Vader's 501st on temporary assignment.  The Zann Consortium appears to scatter after several direct battles with the task force in a short amount of time.

A strange solar anomaly in the Kurrium system destroys the mining colony of Kurrium IV.  The Empire sequester the system as they send in science teams to study the solar anomaly in hopes of keeping something similar from happening to other systems, at least without warning.

A relatively famous sports figure, the Wookiee gladiator Tor'Waar, is caught on a holovid that spreads across the HoloNet violently murdering a large number Mining Guild security forces.  Further research shows that he is implicated in the death of a spectator on Cadomai Prime, and his employer quickly disavows him.

COMPNOR seizes on this video to show why Wookiees should continue to be on the "semi-sentient" list despite their technical skills, due to their inability to control their animal urges.  Tor'Waar is quickly apprehended and turned over to the Mining Guild, who have gotten special dispensation to question the Wookiee about his activities.

Grexl Zor's Take:  I've meet a lot of Wookiees.  Wookiees are good people.  Tor'Waar isn't a Wookiee.  He is the result of Imperial experiments to breed a Wookiee with a Wampa.  No, I don't think it happens naturally.  I'm pretty sure there is gene therapy involved.  But there you have it.

If you don't believe me, do a ShadowNet search on some guy called Doctor Smith and look up the Wampa Sanction.  Scary stuff, but just be glad the Gungan crossbreeding program he proposed never got past the theoretical stage.

8 Months ABY:  Tourist activity on Manaan is slowed with rumors of murder victims and disappearance beginning to surface, but eventually the mystery is solved when local planetary records show that all of the victims were on the same chartered sea skimmer which malfunctioned and was lost at sea.  The planetary governor brings in Imperial safety inspectors to insure there will be no repeat of the accident.

Grexl Zor's Take:  All of the people that died were members of some weird pleasure cult.  They did "rituals," and stuff, but some videos got out.  Couldn't find them myself, but there are some rumors that Laurika Nain was involved, and, well, you know . . . she's Zeltron.

So anyway, jealous husband, sea trooper friends, and that secret device that the Empire has for controlling mollusks, and the next thing you know, tentacles in places even a pleasure cult wouldn't normally thing about.  Sad and disgusting stuff, really.

9 Months ABY:  Tor'Waar is rescued from Mining Guild custody by an alien organization known as the Undefeated Hand, based out of the Outer Rim and Wildspace.  They promise aliens rising up and bringing war across the galaxy, and declare Tor'Waar their leader.

The Undeafeated Hand is not seen again after this event.

A mysterious video appears on the HoloNet briefly implying a terrorist attack on Eriadu.  A Rebel Alliance terrorist cell is blamed for the plot and arrested, but this doesn't keep a massive explosion from killing a thousand bystanders in Tarkin Memorial Plaza.  The planetary governor issues a statement that the plot was carried out by droids programmed by the Rebel Alliance cell that had just been arrested and that the droid part of the plot were sadly missed.

All droids on Eriadu are subject to mandatory mind wipe as a matter of public safety.

Grexl Zor:  Okay, by now I'm sure you all know that the Rebel Alliance is a myth as well, so the Empire can cover up anything they don't want to pin on things like the Zann Consortium.  So what happened here?

Certain fuel cells made by Seinar Fleet Systems are heavily volatile, and react to a manipulated photon matrix.  Which means, you pass through a big enough holographic display, and BOOM, there goes your brand new speeder, all over the place.

Endgame Team Aurek: The Big Job (Light Side Ending)

Team Aurek got the full 12 sessions that I was planning on running  (although I would have liked to have expanded the finale into one more episode, but I've got a hard limit this time around).  Before we jump straight into The Big Job finale, though, there was a story that I planned between the end of the Fade arc and the Big Job to give the team some breathing room.  Sort of.

A professor from the Tapani sector asks Cid to send Team Aurek to Manaan to recover an artifact that he lost when one of his associates left with it.  It turns out that the artifact is from the Infinite Empire, and may be a little dangerous.  Team Aurek heads to Manaan and finds out that the artifact has been stolen by a student.  Manaan has been turned into a resort world, and the native Selkath don't really have any important positions that don't involve the tourist industry, and the student is using the artifact to sacrifice tourists to the Progenitor in an effort to restore the Kolto trade to Manaan.

Side Note:  The original theory posited by the team was that if the artifact was stolen by a college student, it was probably being used as a really dangerous bong.

Team Aurek manages to track the student and his followers to a bombed out undersea city on Manaan, and they end up fighting both a patrol of Sea Troopers and the cultists.  In the end, the student is killed after unleashed the artifact to do horrific, painful damage to various members of Team Aurek, and one of the other cultists attempts to use the artifact and his life is drained away.  The team is very careful with the artifact, but it still manages to do something while the team is traveling in hyperspace.

Donra is told by TK-655 that he is being transferred to Vader's flagship, but that he got an offer from Grand Admiral Grant to serve as a guard at the Tapani consulate on Imperial Center, but he wouldn't want to do something like that unless he was going to settle down.  Donra eventually realizes what he is asking, and despite the fact that TK-655 does not realize she isn't human, she wants to stay with him, and tells him that she will go with him to Coruscant . . . er . . . Imperial Center.  Then TK-655 mentions that they should get Max transferred to a mental institution there, where they might be able to better care for him, and Donra is less than thrilled.

The team arrives home, turns over the artifact, and is told by Cid that his silent business partner  (that the team has already figured out is an Assembler) wants them to go on an exploratory mission into the Unknown Regions to research an ancient Varlian treasure ship and determine what and how valuable that cargo might be.  The team buys up lots of exploratory gear and prepares for their trip into the unknown.

The first set of coordinates take the team to the lost world of New Agon, a world of Tion survivors subjugated by "the goddess," who is in fact a Hutt warlord that goes into stasis for years at a time to prolong her life, and has been ruling the lost world and others since before the founding of the Republic.  She has awakened early this time, and is pushing her servants to search for Infinite Empire technology, so that she can return to Hutt Space and take over, ruling it as an Empress.

When the team is ordered to land their ship and surrender their technology for it to be scavenged for other projects, the team decides to leave, but not before convincing the people of New Agon that they have a Hutt on board their ship as well.  They find that the Goddess has moved her ship to another world under her control, and Team Aurek follows.  Unfortunately they also find out that they have had information implanted in their brains by the previous artifact, and Wyrrlryyn, the Wookiee doctor, creates a drug to help remove the deep seated psychological suggestion.  Everyone seems to deal with the drug well, except Drifter, who apparently has a reaction with compounds already in his body, and develops a split personality, one of which is extremely precise and proper in all things that he does.

JX-244 meets a tiny spider droid, hiding in the escape pod of the Squibbed  (the party's ship), who convinces him that he is being repressed by Udu-Vochar, the Assembler that Cid is beholden to, and that the tiny droid would be better treated under Scheduling, a node of Udi-Vochar's that is developing a separate personality and is attempting to take over the hive mind.  JX-244 vouches for the droid, but doesn't fully explain what it has told him to the rest of Team Aurek.

Arriving on Vchoota, the second world of Charkuta's domain, Gahto the toydarian merchant attempts to speak with Charkuta, continuing the ruse of the party having their own Hutt master on board.  This goes poorly, and Gahto enrages Charkuta.  The party takes flight from the ancient starfighters attempting to destroy them, but Donra gets a message from the planet, and convinces the mysterious stranger on the comm call that the team can be trusted, and he sends her coordinates on the planet where they will be safe.

The team ends up at the mountain stronghold of Tasha'anri'alari, known as Aanrial, who is Charkuta's administrator.  He is a Chiss explorer who crashed on the world and is now secretly in league with a group of monks who wish to return to the old Tion religion and way of life.  Donra convinces him that the team is upright and honorable, causing Prawn great confusion, and the Chiss offers to sneak them into Charkuta's compound to scout out the treasure ship and assassinate the Varlian warrior goddess.

At the starport, Team Aurek splits into three groups.  Drifter and Donra wait outside of Charkuta's domain, and JX-244 and Gahto sneak in.  Prawn goes his own direction and attempts to sneak into the treasure ship, and no one else in the party notices his curiosity or absence.

JX-244 misses with his first shot to assassinate the Hutt, but his disruptor manages to completely disintegrate what it hit instead, so it makes no noise, and he fires a second shot.  Charkuta has taken a lethal wound, and is dying, but her Hutt constitution won't let her die easily, so as she is dying, she sees only Gahto in the hallway, and charges him on her hoversled, hitting him with her vibro axe and embedding the poor Toydarian in the wall.  She then dies.

Prawn accidentally alerts the partially Rakatan droid brain that runs the treasure ship, and it arms its weapons and fires on Drifter and Donra, who are badly hurt.  JX-244 hides behind the Hutt and maneuvers her in front of the guns, so the droid brain will not fire again.  Gaining access to the ship, the uninjured members of the team look for a way to shut the ship down, and are forced to fly it away without the help of the now damaged droid brain.

After three days in the wilderness, Wyrrlrynn finds enough preserved Kolto to revive Donra, Drifter, and the Weequay sidekick Ti-Kaz, and she finds the proper controls to save Gahto, who was placed in suspended animation in order to keep his critical injury from killing him.  The team revives the monk that traveled with them so that he can give the access code to Aanrial's stronghold, and when they arrive, Aanrial begins to attempt to negotiate for a ship of his own, so that he can go back to his homeworld.  In the midst of this negotiation, three ships drop out of hyperspace.

The team gets ready to slave the Varlian treasure ship's navigation computer to the nav computer of the Squibbed to make a quick get away.  They ask for Aanrial's help, and Aanrial still trusts the team at this point in time.  He rallies the planet's defenses against the three ships, implying that they may be in league with the murderers of their goddess.  On the way out of the system, however, these turn out to be mercenaries working for Scheduling, the Assembler node attempting to betray it's primary, and they set up a place to meet in Wildspace, and Team Aurek fails to mention that the starfighters attacking the three transports were set upon them by Team Aurek and their ally.

In the long hyperspace journey  (at pre-Republic speeds, due to the treasure ship), Aanrial begins to not trust the team, and attempts to slice into ship controls from his cabin.  A great debate begins about trying to kill the Chiss since he is a "loose end," with Donra and Wyrrlryyn firmly against killing the Chiss.  Prawn sneaks into his cabin and shoots the Chiss, but doesn't kill him.  JX-244 attempts to shoot the Chiss and hits Prawn instead.  Wyrrlryyn knocks out the Chiss and stops the fighting, and the Chiss is tied up in the cargo hold.

During the more than two weeks in hyperspace, Drifter is alone on the treasure ship experimenting and teaching his droids how to dance.  No, really.  But he determines that the treasure ship's "treasure" is chemical weapons, including an adaptive virus, a powerful neurotoxin, and a will sapping compound.  Drifter develops an antidote from some of the notes on board the ship.

Upon finally meeting with Scheduling's mercenaries, they outline Scheduling's plan, which involves Team Aurek talking to Udu-Vochar while the Scheduling shuts down the security systems and his mercenaries keep most of Udu-Vochar's attendants away from the throne room.  They then begin to move the compounds from the treasure ship to the three faster, modern transports.

Drifter is upset over the team's behavior with the Chiss.  He mentions that his entire purpose in maintaining his conspiracy blogs and posting videos to the holonet is to help fight oppression in the galaxy, and if they kill off people just because they are "loose ends," they are no better than the Empire, Black Sun, or any of the other villains in the galaxy.  The group is a bit stunned by the normally medicated Drifter and his passion on this topic, and Drifter convinces Prawn to help him set explosives that will crack open the compound stasis pods, releasing the toxins, and set the detonators for three days.

The team manages to assassinate Udu-Vochar and survive, and Scheduling explains that he now holds Cid's debt and that they should inform him of this development when they return to Polis Massa.  The team sets out, and while they are in hyperspace, the stasis pods detonate in Scheduling's cargo bays in his space station, killing everyone aboard and ending his operation, as well as keeping the compounds off the black market.

Cid welcomes the team home.  The new facility has been completed, but he is confused that he can't communicate with Udu-Vochar.  The team intimates that he may no longer owe the Assembler anything, and Cid is thrilled.  He is upset that he won't have Donra has his right hand anymore, and the team puts forth Aanrial, the captive Chiss, as a potential replacement, and Cid and Aanrial come to an agreement.

Drifter says his goodbyes and tells the team that it's time for him to move on, buys a one man ship from Cid's surplus, and heads out.  Donra starts to pack, and the rest of the team begins to discuss how the team will be organized now, and when the group argues about who will be captain, the Weequay Ti-Kaz volunteers for the job.

And thus we have the light side ending.

Side Note:  The team increasingly asked for the almost non-speaking Weequay's advice, which he constantly gave based solely on the Quay diviner that he carried with him.  By the end of the campaign, almost everyone on the team except Donra was impressed with how unerringly the device worked, causing Donra to exclaim, "you're making major decisions based on a toy!"

Endgame Team Besh: Undefeated (The Dark Side Ending)

It's been a long, long time since I summarized what was going on with my Edge of the Empire teams.  We had lots of fun, but keeping up with both campaigns on a weekly schedule tended to take up a lot of my gaming resources and energy, and I erred on the side of prepping the campaign.

Tales of Team Besh and Tales of Team Aurek were both designed to be interconnected and both designed to run twelve sessions.  Due to weather and weirdness, after a few cancellations Team Besh's campaign ended at 11 sessions.

Team Besh ended up getting the "support" story arc, meaning they didn't get the Big Job that would determine the fate of Honest Cid and his business, but still had to feel like a solid ending.  Throughout the campaign I had a few dangling plot threads to determine which one would become important enough to become the secondary arc.  I had a corrupt Moff whose name kept coming up.  I had the Zann Consortium that was growing a fleet and specifically harassing the Tapani sector.  I even had a brief hint of Cid's family story coming forward more.

In the end, however, it made a lot more sense to make the last arc a bit more personal, and it was tied to Dia  (the respected scholar who also happened to be a former slave, bounty hunter, and assassin) and Doctor Smith  (the former Imperial doctor looking for redemption, and being blackmailed by corrupt Imperial Intelligence officers) and their backstories.

When Tor'Waar from Team Aurek went crazy and ripped the Mining Guild guards to pieces, Dia's hunter's license is what Cid used to hire mercenaries to take out the Wookiee, and this she got her own cut of the bounty.  Now, Tor'Waar has been mysteriously broken out of Mining Guild custody, and Cid makes another deal with the Mining Guild to send Dia after Tor'Waar.

There are rumors that Tor'Waar has rescued by the Undefeated Hand, a cult of gladiators that has been releasing videos on the Holonet talking about spreading war across the galaxy to test the mettle of all beings.  The Undefeated Hand has been known in the past, but not as a serious threat.

The group follows a lead to Terminus, the planet where Team Aurek started.  Dia and Garner set up a cover story where he's trying to act as her manager to get her fighting jobs.  This marks the first time Dia wears more traditional Twi'lek garb, to fit in with the look of the Undefeated Hand.

Side Note:  After describing what the Undefeated Hand looked like on the Holovids they released, the players immediately dubbed the Undefeated Hand the Jersey Shore Mandalorians.  Thanks guys . . . ;)

Team Besh is approached by a local infochat, but they get the feeling that he's setting them up for a trap.  They avoid him, get a hotel room, and Dia talks to Drifter  (from Team Aurek) about finding a conspiracy blogger friend that might push them in the right direction.  This leads Team Besh to Grexl Zor, an Aleena sports enthusiast and someone even more crazy than Drifter.  After sifting through a lot of other theories, they get a lead on someone to talk to in a diner near the industrial district, and Dia then distracts Grexl by telling him that Drifter needs to hear these theories.

Before the group can follow up on this lead, one of the people that Dia owes her obligation to shows up.  Turns out she was set free to help a group of Twi'lek slavers undercut other slavers with her killer tendencies.  The Twi'lek in Dia's hotel room gives her the location of a Zygerrian slaver ship, and tells her that it would be best if only one of the slavers survived to explain what happened to the rest of his fellows.

Dia has a surprisingly easy time recruiting the rest of the party for her side mission.  Garner already hates slavers himself, and Dia promises S-1R can sing his preprogrammed killing song once they get next to the slavers.

Once again Dia and Garner set up a cover story about Garner wanting to talk business to the Zygerrians, but before the group can get inside the compound and surprise the group, the Zygerrian second in command touches Dia's lekku, and the scene turns into all out war.  Doctor Smith does get onto the ship before all Hell breaks loose, but that means Doctor Smith has to face off against the captain face to face.  As the fighting starts, Doctor Smith, despite wanting to turn over a new leaf, instinctively takes cover behind the slaves, and the captain burns a few holes in them as a result.

Krill, the low key slicer, sneaks over to the ship during the fighting, enters the ship's top hatch, and surprises the crew starting to warm up the ship, and by surprise, I mean, shoots them in the face, which was a bit of a surprise given Krill's low key demeanor.

T3 frees the slaves with his mechanical skills, and gets swamped by the fleeing slaves.  S-1R and Dia cut a swath through the Zygerrians until they finally get to the captain and kill him.  Garner wants to look for valuable items among the dead and in the cargo hold, but the authorities are on the way, so the group launches the Zygerrian ship, makes sure one of the slavers is alive, preprograms the ship to jump to hyperspace, and then makes a daring escape in the ship's escape pods as the ship lurches towards lightspeed.

When the team returns to the hotel room, the next morning the whole hotel floor is blacked out and T3 and S-1R are shut down.  One of Doctor Smith's blackmailer arrives and wants Doctor Smith to ruin the operation of an up and coming Imperial Destab agent making them look bad.  It turns out that this Destab agent is a private investigator that the team met upon arriving on Terminus, with the cover story of looking for a young Rodian that has run away to join the Undefeated Hand.  Dia also hears the Imperial agent mention one of the blackmail files on Doctor Smith as the "Ryloth files."

The group heads to the diner that Grexl Zor sent them to, and they "audition" for the Undefeated Hand contact by fighting a band of Undefeated Hand underlings.  Before the group heads to the Undefeated Hand's local headquarters, an abandoned lumber mill at the boundaries of the industrial district and the forest, they decide that they should contact the Destab agent to act as their promoter, so that they can get him close at hand and figure out what he's doing on Terminus.  Once they contact him, Dia also takes him aside, tells him that she knows that he's Imperial, and she wants to cut a deal for the Ryloth files.

Unfortunately, the Undefeated Hand is a front for the Destab agent's operation.  Made up primarily of aliens from the Outer Rim and Wild Space, the Destab agent is hoping to enforce stronger anti-alien laws by having the Undefeated Hand perpetrate a terrorist attack on Eriadu, and Tor'Waar was recruited to be the "face" of the crazy, dangerous aliens.

Mundo Korr, Dia's friend and fellow bounty hunter, was on this case before Team Besh, and Argus Lorn throws his body at the team, having killed him for getting too close to the operation.

Since Team Besh told the Destab agent what they are doing, the Destab agent drops a force field around the team and unleashes a Rancor on the team.  Unfortunately, T3 has been coated with Rancor bait, and the Rancor is primarily concerned with eating the droid.  S-1R attempts to save T3, and both of them get slammed hard.  S-1R does manage to stab the Rancor very effectively, and it starts bleeding out, but the team still spends a little bit of time running from the dying, but still dangerous, Rancor.  Krill manages to get the force field down, and the group chases after Argus Lorn  (the Destab agent), who escapes.

Krill gets T3 up and running again, and the group chases after Lorn's ship and heads to Eriadu.  On Eriadu, the group meets up with a Bothan who has been keeping track of the Destab agents movements, and he lets them know that something big is going to happen in Tarkin Memorial Plaza, but the Rebels he was working with have all been arrested.

After an argument with T3 and S-1R over getting an oil bath, and Sir Sparkles (Dia's K-9 droid) joining into the conversation, Dia is suddenly out in the open, and people are starting to take notice.  Thankfully, Krill has found a public information terminal, sliced it, and shut down the facial recognition software.  He also uses the cameras to locate the two cargo vans that Argus Lorn is hauling the Undefeated Hand around in.  The team hurries into position as the vans reach either side of the plaza.

When the vans open, Argus Lorn sets Tor'Waar free, and he promptly kills a half dozen civilians.  Both vans also have bombs on them.  Lorn is hoping there will be plenty of footage of aliens killing humans on Eriadu before the bombs go off.  S-1R engages the Wookiee, and T3 attempts to disarm the bomb.  The rest of the team heads to the other van to take out the second half of the assault.

T3 begins to disarm the bomb, but is slammed on the head by an Undefeated Hand member with a power hammer, and T3 accidentally sets the bomb off early, blowing up a thousand or so civilians, and nearly dropping Tor'Waar and S-1R.  S-1R sets off a bomb he has had installed in himself, which badly injures Tor'Waar, but doesn't kill him.  Tor'Waar makes his way slowly to Dia.

The rest of the team has been fighting Argus Lorn and the rest of the Undefeated Hand members.  Lorn has a jet pack, so he doesn't have a hard time maneuvering the battlefield and can escape the bomb blast quickly if he needs to.  Doctor Smith and Krill are trying to shoot Lorn's jetpack to strand him near the bomb blast and slow him down, while Dia goes into her vibroknife murder dance and the respected scholar kills the rank and file Undefeated Hand members.

The badly wounded Wookiee catches up with Dia, and Dia manages to cut the arm off of the badly wounded Wookiee.  He hits her hard with his bare hand, but then Dia manages to cut out the Wookiee's eyes, and Tor'Waar finally drops, dead at last.

The group has moved the second van to the cleared out area where the first van blew up, since there is no time to disarm the bomb.  Argus Lorn drops Dia and Doctor Smith, and Krill is standing alone against the Destab agent.  The group has ruined his plans in so far as he doesn't have footage of the aliens killing humans because the bombs went off too fast.  Krill can't take out the Imperial Agent, but he holds on long enough to stall Argus Lorn, getting the agent to talk long enough to make him forget the bomb about to go off, which blows and takes out the Destab agent.

Team Besh, minus the poor, dead T3, wakes up in Bacta tanks.  Doctor Smith's blackmailers mention that he didn't quite need to be that extreme in ruining Argus Lorn's operations, and they mention to the rest of Team Besh that so long as the blackmailers know that the group was involved in the now infamous Tarkin Memorial Bombing and the death of an Imperial agent, they will have to do a few jobs for them, from time to time  (+5 Obligation, Favor to Imperial Intelligence blackmailers).

Thus, the Dark Side ending.