Sunday, June 23, 2013

32 BBY: Save the Mantaris!

After reading through Save the Mantaris! mission, I’ve realized that chronologically it works better if it comes before Peril in the Ionosphere.  Since this adventure is so short, let me reproduce it here:

This adventure idea, a companion to Secrets of Naboo, takes place in and around the Civic Spaceport in Theed. The Gungans are preparing to launch an effort to colonize one of Naboo's moons, using the Mantaris transport, a spacecraft developed in a joint effort between the Naboo and the Gungans. Queen Amidala, the ruler of the Naboo, and Boss Nass, the leader of the largest Gungan community both want this project to succeed, as they see it as the dawn of a new era of cooperation between their two peoples.

However, anti-Gungan (well, anti-alien in general) terrorists seek to sabotage the mission. Their first step is to kill a Gungan technician and kidnap one of the lead Naboo engineers. The evidence seems, on the surface, to point to disgruntled Gungans. A faction among the citizens of Theed that still considers the Gungans barbarians, rushes to judgment. The Gungan contingent in Theed blames these Naboo, claiming they are attempting to manufacture an excuse to wage war. The terrorists' plan is working like a dream.

Enter the heroes.

The heroes are investigators (either from Naboo or a Republic delegation) charged with finding out what really happened, as well as rescuing the Naboo engineer. After this has been accomplished, they are assigned to ensure that the Mantaris reaches the moon and starts its colonization mission safely. During this duty, they must prevent the ship from sabotage on its maiden voyage - tampering that could destroy this historic vessel.

Like I said, I think these events make more sense if they happen before Peril in the Ionosphere.  After successfully rescuing the Nabooian engineer (maybe it’s Kharl Vanned or Sakme Kelene), figuring out which faction is responsible for the kidnapping and murder, and perhaps *thinking* they have saved the Mantaris from terrorism, do the heroes then board the “shuttle” (as it is called in Peril in the Ionosphere) only to have it attacked, leak kyvalon-4 gas, wherein they now have to subdue the homicidal Captain Worlhp.  I think this order of events makes sense.

On a side note, I mistakenly referred to the Mantaris in The Gungan Frontier as the tribubble bongo.  It turns out that the Mantaris is its own kind of ship, specifically designed by Gungan and Naboo engineers for the colonization of Ohma D’un.  Also, it turns out there was more scientific expertise in this effort than I had originally thought.  Graf Zapalo, the Master of Sciences in the Naboo Royal Advisory Council, led this mission.  I suppose The Gungan Frontier couldn’t have Graf Zapalo as its hero, or the kiddies (and everyone else who played the game for that matter) would be like “Zapalo who?”.  But if this game were to make some sort of comeback, I think it would be really neat if it did feature Zapalo as its protagonist.

Anyway, I still think it’s neat how all these sources have intertwined with each other.  The narrative it has weaved is quite intricate.

For my next post I’m going to look into a series of RPG sources that have always been on the periphery of my RPG knowledge.  The Living Force Campaign is something I remember seeing a lot of back in 2001.  It was a prominent feature on the RPG shelves of the comic stores I used to frequent, so I’m looking forward to delving into its material.  Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

32 BBY: Peril in the Ionosphere

Before I began writing my reactions to this source, I wanted to include a brief synopsis of this adventures’ events from Wookieepedia, but Wookieepedia has nothing on Peril in the Ionosphere, so I guess it’s up to me to write something for posterity (if any intrepid wookieepedian wants to cut and paste my summation with a little more detail, here’s your chance to add to the online encyclopedia).   

The adventure begins after the events of The Invasion of Theed Adventure Game, and the heroes are approached by a Nabooian official to help colonize one of Naboo’s moons.  The heroes agree and board a shuttle to the moon piloted by an Ithorian named Captain Worlhp.  Once on board the heroes meet Professor Celaar, an admired Nabooian botanist, Kharl Vanned, a young Nabooian graduate from the Theed school of Technology and Engineering, and Sakme Kelene, herself a recent grad of the Theed school of Technology and Engineering.  The crew begin to ascend into the atmosphere when things go terribly wrong.  The ship lurches as if it’s been hit by something, and begins to leak kyvalon-4 gas, which, hilariously, makes Ithorians temporarily homicidal maniacs when exposed (I seriously laughed out loud at this point.  How funny is this?).  The heroes have to subdue Captain Worlkp, all the while trying to avoid potentially life threatening situations, like repairing the life support system, repairing the navigation system, repairing the kyvalon-4 gas leak, dealing with blaster shots that miss and breech the hull, and then landing the shuttle.  If the heroes survive Captain Worlhp offers his sincerest apologizes, and the young engineers offer to repair the heroes’ ship anytime they want – IF the heroes survive.

What makes Peril in the Ionosphere an incredibly neat source is that it weaves together two disparate sources: The Invasion of Theed Adventure Game, an RPG, and The Gungan Frontier, a video game.  As it says at the start of this adventure:

“The adventure begins as the heroes are boarding the doomed shuttle. If you are using this adventure as part of an ongoing campaign begun with the adventures in the Star Wars: Invasion of Theed Adventure Game, create a scene in which a Naboo official approaches the heroes with an offer to join the Naboo/Gungan effort to establish a colony on Naboo’s water rich moon.” (Star Wars Gamer 1, pg. 75)

Here is yet another example of the relationality, interconnectedness, and interdependence found within the Star Wars mythos.  In this particular case the history of Star Wars connects, fluidly, between two different mediums and their respective creators to make a larger cohesive narrative (for a brilliant look at this concept in practice take a look at Abel Pena and Rich Handley’s article at titled The Droids Re-Animated, Part 1) .  Honestly, here is a broad sketch of a thesis that’s been knocking about my brain for a while: Intertextuality and the Star Wars Expanded Universe: An investigation into how the theories of Barthes, Krestiva, Saussure, and Bakhtin can be applied to the larger mythology of Star Wars as it appears over many literary and non-literary mediums.  But what I’m really trying to do is formulate the bigger answer to the “so what?” question.  What I mean is this: so I demonstrate that the Star Wars Expanded Universe is a giant example of intertextuality at work – so what?  What does this mean for literature as a whole – if anything?  What does this mean for fantasy literature – if anything?  What does this mean for contemporary American literature – if anything? I have yet to come up with an answer to these questions.  I don’t think it’s enough to demonstrate that the Star Wars Expanded Universe is intertextual, as neat as an investigation like that may be.  The idea has to go further, but I’m not sure where.  Any literary theorists out there get what I’m driving at?  Your thoughts on this would be welcome, even if you think the idea is bust, I can at least put it to rest.

Anyway, back to Peril in the Ionosphere: this adventure is intended for the characters from The Invasion of Theed Adventure Game, namely; the Jedi Padawan Rann I-Kanu, the solider Garak, the scoundrel Arani Korden, and the Wookiee scout Rorworr (the four main characters from the Smugglers of Naboo adventure).  It could also be played with Sia-Lan Wezz, also a Padawan, Deel Surool the scoundrel, Toba the Gungan scout, and Dane, one of Amidala’s handmaidens in training.  When it comes to one of the characters being able to subdue Captain Worlhp, I’d put my money on Rorworr being able to do it, or maybe Rann or Sia-Lan forcing pushing him and keeping him in a corner of the shuttle.

On that note, I want to highlight an awesome blog post featured on where the blogger Mark Elwood did some meticulous work and managed to sort out which Jedi survived Order 66.  In relation to this source, it seems Sia-Lan did survive the initial massacre, but was later eliminated by Vader. I look forward to Star Wars: Purge, where this battle is depicted.   

I suppose after all the action the heroes decide their time is best spent elsewhere, leaving only poor Obi-Wan or Queen Amidala to colonize the moon .  At least one of my objections to The Gungan Frontier was addressed, and in fact the Gungan and Naboo delegation did send up qualified people to colonize the water rich satellite. 

For my next post I’m going to look at another source which ties these two events together, Save the Mantaris!  Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

32 BBY: Bad Business

Ahhh…. Vilmarh Grahak, after Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and Hondo Ohnaka, you’re my fourth favorite scoundrel, and I write that with all sincerity.

This is the third time we’ve come across this Devaronian rascal in Star Wars history, and in typical rouge fashion, he’s still trying work the angles to his own advantage.

In John Ostrander’s tale Bad Business, Vilmarh is saddled with three DUM-series pit droids – payment from Watto for a previous debt.  But the joke’s on Vilmarh, as the DUM droids’ programing “fixes” things to the point of destruction – including the Devaronian’s ship.

All is not lost though, as the story ends with Vilmarh disposing of the droids on the planet Felacat, leaving them with instructions to "fix the planet to death".

What I found most interesting about this source was Shmi Skywalker’s little cameo.  Her short appearance in this story highlighted for me the pain she must be feeling being separated from her son.  It was sad to think of her still laboring on Tatooine without the joy of her only child to brighten her day.  In this tale she’s been ordered by Watto to place the droids on Grahak’s ship.  She dutifully does as she is told and quietly exits the frame.

I really haven’t much else to say about this story.  Besides the little bit of sorrow I felt for Shmi Skywalker the story was funny.  The Felacatian species seemed a little silly, but it worked well as a plot device.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of Vilmarh Grahak – I think he shows up with Quinlan Vos down the line.  What Bad Business shows is that a character like Grahak can carry his own smaller narratives.

For my next series of posts I’m going to delve into some Star Wars RPG material.  The semester is gearing down and I’m going to have a little more time on my hands to get back to what I enjoy doing.   Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.