Monday, August 27, 2012

32 BBY: Secrets of Naboo Sourcebook

Reading Star Wars RPG sourcebooks is a guilty pleasure of mine.  What I love most about the Star Wars Chronology Project is that it affords me the excuse to sit down and read an RPG sourcebook cover-to-cover.  If I wasn’t on this quest there is no way I’d simply sit down to read a sourcebook.  I’m not sure I could justify to myself such an expenditure of time.
As I’ve mentioned before in my other posts on RPG sourcebooks, what I love about them is that they offer the nitty-gritty details of the Star Wars universe.  They contain information that would otherwise be difficult to inject into a regular narrative like a novel or comic.  From this particular source as an example, there is this great explanation from the Trade Federation Technology section on the cost benefits of having a droid-controlled ship over having droid brains that operate independently.  Essentially the Trade Federation was saving millions of credits using the droid controlled ship because they never believed the ship’s defences could be breached.  But the most important thing I walk away with from this source is that this narrative even exists.  In what manner can an author effectively introduce dialogue between Nemodians as they decide how to set up their droid army?  I think a sourcebook is the best way to do this. 

I walked away from this source respecting the Trade Federation a little more, and basically having an overall higher opinion of battle droids.  The obvious benefit of a droid army is strength in numbers.   If they don’t come into contact with Jedi and are facing a regular standing army of beings they should be able to overwhelm their opponents into defeat.  What I never knew before is that battle droids are designed to be salvageable in order to re-deploy into the theatre of operations. 

“After a battle, cleanup droids gather the spent parts from the field.  Workers in properly equipped shops can then reassemble the undamaged modules into working droids.  In this way the Trade Federation can recover a majority of the droids who fell in combat, thus maximizing its investment in the manufacturing process” (11).
Here the Nemodians have taken a page from American military history.  Utility is the key to victory. Tank parts should be able to work in Jeep parts, and vice versa.  Any good military should be able to recover equipment from the battle field and reprocess into the theatre once more.  It’s simply a combination of good economics and military strategy if you ask me.  Like I said, my opinion of battle droids, and the Nemodians, increased a little. A wounded soldier takes precious resources to rehabilitate.  A droid requires only some welding and re-wiring.

Weapon stats are another feature of sourcebooks I enjoy.  Though I’m still unfamiliar with the inter-workings of the D20 system, figuring out which weapon is the most powerful is pretty simple.  In this sourcebook that honor goes to the Naboo S-5 Heavy Blaster Pistol with a damage output of 3d8 plus a 1d2 paralytic poison – Captain Panaka’s weapon of choice, naturally.  The artwork for the guns was pretty neat as well.
As far as story goes, the most important aspect of this text is the RPG scenario Peril on Naboo, but before I get to that I want to mention a tiny piece of narrative which, had I been lack in my reading, I might have missed.  In the section on Green Glie there is this strange little tidbit of narrative about the poisonous nature of the algae.  It starts with an advisory note at the end of the explanation of Green Glie:

“Advisory Note: All Jedi who visit Naboo should be extremely careful when accepting hospitality from even the most trustworthy individuals.  The Council is still investigating the death of young Jedi Knight Keiran Valn on Alderaan last month.  Preliminary reports indicate that he died by ingesting a glie-derived compound at a banquet held by his own family” (52-53).
When I first read this I thought it was a reference to another story somewhere else in the EU, but this is not the case. After looking through wookieepedia it’s apparent that this story is only found in the Secrets of Naboo sourcebook.  This narrative is curious because it raises some fascinating questions.  Firstly, why is this Jedi visiting his family?  Is there a Xanatos element going on here, where he has been called to his home planet on a mission and faced with his family to test his dedication to the Jedi Order?  What has this Jedi done to warrant an assassination?  Why would his family kill him, if indeed they are responsible?  For you short story writers out there, here is a great hook to explore the demise of Keiran Valn.  This story has yet to be explored and is opened to anyone creative enough to fill in the blanks of Valn’s murder.  Maybe the protagonist could be a Jedi investigator and the story could have a CSI type ‘whodunit’ element.

My last point of discussion centres upon the RPG adventure Peril on Naboo.  Taking up almost half of the sourcebook this RPG scenario is one of the largest I’ve read.  The adventure is separated into three parts with three scenarios per part.  It starts with a group of level 1 to 2 heroes stranded on Naboo as the Trade Federation invades.  The heroes come together to save the daughter of a tramp freighter by trying to smuggle out of Theed some medical supplies.  Needless to say events transpire against them, and the heroes are forced to fight battle droids and join the Naboo resistance movement.  The adventure ends with the heroes assisting Queen Amidala’s in her plans at the end of the film, with all the major players of the Phantom Menace making an appearance.  It was truly an epic adventure.
Star Wars RPG sourcebooks makes the Star Wars universe better.

For my next post I’m going to take a look at the 3-page RPG comic, Battle for Theed, from Wizards of the Coast.  Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

1 comment:

  1. I don't have any memory of the part about Keiran Valn. Thanks for the reminder! That's really cool. :)