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Our Monthly Discord Community Game! (free)
Get in on the anti-imperialist action!
Once a month I’m inviting community members to join a drop-in Scum & Villainy campaign with my friend Danil on our Discord server. These are free and you don’t need to know how to play! (You’ll learn as you play.) The campaign is a continuing saga for the community to enjoy loosely connected Andor-style Star Wars heists and dramatic battles. Danil provides a fictional summary of the action for everyone else post-game. You’re allowed to join more than one game, but they are first-come, first-serve. I hope to continue this community storytelling and thank all of our participants for our first event!
Join the Discord! https://discord.gg/isfriday
A message from Danil:
Community games are an opportunity for the members of the community to come together in a free monthly game and enjoy an episode of an overarching story in the Star Wars universe – a story you can become part of and influence, coming and going as you please. Everyone is welcome: your experience level and familiarity with the lore will never be an obstacle – we are here to build a story, first and foremost.
The project is a collaboration between StartPlaying.Games Gamemasters, Friday and Danil, with the latter acting as the host of the community game. This drop-in campaign explores a side of the Star Wars universe that is not frequently displayed in the saga films: the lives and struggles of regular people under the oppressive rule of the Galactic Empire; dirty political intrigue within its bureaucracy; propaganda, xenophobia, whistleblowers… On the other side, you as the players, have a chance to stand up to all the evil the Empire stands for. Whether for personal gain or following an ideal, you will try to throw a wrench or two into the gears of the well-oiled machine that is the Empire. Will you get chewed up by it and spat out, like thousands before? Or will you leave an impact that will echo throughout the galaxy and bring hope to its people? We play to find out!
Dawn of Defiance
Disclaimer: Not everything presented here is original material. The game’s premise, especially in the opening episodes, is based on Dawn of Defiance – a collection of adventures for the Star Wars Saga Edition roleplaying game. It is an entirely different TTRPG, and the adventure itself is very linear, which fits poorly for the game system we are using (Scum and Villainy). As such, I am likely to use locations, NPCs and descriptions from that adventure, both in game and when writing these session summaries, but the story we are going to tell is very much our own: we will invent, improvise and build it together. That said, reading Dawn of Defiance is likely to spoil some of the experience for you, so I caution you against it.
Main Characters of this Episode:
Mallex D’urro, played by Jason (aka Trisynth)
DOC, played by Sam (aka Weltschmerz)
It is a dark time in the galaxy. The evil Galactic Empire has spread from the Deep Core to the Outer Rim, and its tyranny can be felt everywhere.
Fleeing from the oppression of the Emperor’s minions, agents of Senator Bail Organa have run to a remote space station above Brentaal. Known to be a vocal advocate for democracy in the time of the Empire, Organa may be the last hope of freedom in the galaxy.
In the hopes of stopping these dissidents before they can reach the Senator, the Empire has alerted its forces on Sel Zonn Station, where the first sparks of rebellion have begun to burn...
The year is 16 Before Battle of Yavin (from here onwards referred to as BBY). We start our adventure on Sel Zonn Station – one of the several XQ2 Space Platforms orbiting the Core world of Brentaal. Just like the other stations orbiting this planet, Sel Zonn is little more than a travel and cargo port. It has a moderate imperial presence, including a garrison, as well as a number of imperial lackeys among Brentaal’s nobility. For the most part, it is well maintained and held to the usual strict imperial standards, but due to the rise of anti-alien sentiments - especially heard here among the Core Worlds - the more run-down sections of Sel Zonn Station have now become inhabited by its non-human residents.
The opening scene of our adventure is as follows: we see a well-dressed human in the attire of an imperial diplomat; walking next to him – a medical droid. They are exiting what seems to be a storage bay; behind them is an intricately crafted desk of Japor ivory wood, completely out of place among the shabby metallic decor and scattered crates. Next to that desk – a 3D-4X administrator droid staring unblinking with its singular red optical sensor. As the camera zooms out and we see the door opening through which the human and the medical droid are about to step out, we see two dead Gamorrean guards lying on the floor, and standing over their prone bodies – a group of rough looking men, with blasters trained on the duo. One of the thugs, an older looking man in a long brown leather coat, shouts: “Droooiiid! You are hiding your deals with offworlders from me again?!” – and raises his hold-out blaster, ready to fire…
Record scratch. You are probably wondering how our heroes ended up in this situation?
We move a couple of hours back in time and up a few levels – to the Promenade of Sel Zonn Station. Once again, we see the imperial diplomat: Mallex D’urro, a neatly dressed Alderaanian nobleman with dark brown hair and blue eyes in an imperial uniform who really wouldn't stand out much from the crowd, if not for his medical droid. The droid looks like its been in service for some time, worn, but clean; he is a bit shorter than his “owner” (in reality, more of a companion) and has a model designation on his chest: DOC-0754. To an observant viewer, Mallex seems a bit annoyed, maybe tired. Indeed, the diplomatic mission he came here to carry out, while it was a success, drained him. DOC, on the other hand, is somewhat pleased, because he has managed to smuggle medical supplies and provide help to some of those in need.
The duo stands on the bustling Promenade, leisurely observing the crowd. There are many shops, casinos and cantinas here, and a steady flow of people moves between the establishments – but almost exclusively humans. Our heroes had already spotted earlier: every single place on the Promenade has a neon sign by the entrance: no aliens allowed. And, as the soft upbeat music known as Jizz is spilling out of one of the casinos, it reaches the auditory sensors of DOC, who remarks how hypocritically appropriative it was to play music created by aliens while not allowing them into the establishment.
Suddenly, something a bit unusual catches Mallex’s eye: among the otherwise unremarkable collection of tourists, businessmen, and lazily patrolling security guards, he spots two men who are attentively scanning the crowd with focused, stony expressions on their faces. Both are dressed in traveling clothes that seem normal at a first glance, but don’t sit on them too well, and are a bit too similar for it to be a coincidence to the trained eye. Mallex points them out to DOC, who zooms his photoreceptors in on the suspicious men and sees that they have hold-out blasters tucked into their jackets. They also seem to be occasionally mumbling or whispering to themselves – a hidden comlink, DOC surmises.
These men are clearly looking for someone, but, while they did rest their gaze on Mallex and DOC for a second, it is not the duo they're interested in. Nevertheless, Mallex suggests it is time to get out of the way before things get hairy, but alas, just as the duo turn around to leave, trouble finds them instead: they stumble into a black haired woman wearing the greasy carbon-stained uniform of a mechanic, who is clutching her midsection desperately, as though injured. She is clearly having difficulty walking, and, as she bumps into them, clutches at Mallex’s sleeve whispering: “Please, help me. There are credits in it for you, just help me!”
Following his obligation to help anyone in need, DOC begins to triage her, while Mallex nervously looks around. And surely enough: the two suspicious men they had spotted earlier are rushing towards them. They pull out and raise their blasters, aiming them at the woman, and shout, “Step away from that woman – she is wanted by the Empire!”
DOC refuses: “This woman needs immediate medical care, neglecting this would be against my programming.” He proceeds to start working on her wounds, and the men get tenser, tightening the grips on their blasters.
Mallex calmly says, as he pulls out his identification: “Gentlemen, I am sure there is no need for an altercation. As my droid here just told you, this woman is in need of medical attention. I am an imperial diplomat, so trust me: as soon as my droid treats her, I will deliver her to the authorities. We must naturally uphold our duties as citizens, yes?”
The imperial agents exchange a glance, then slowly put down their weapons, and one of them moves to examine Mallex’s identichip before handing it back over to him. “Sorry, sir, didn’t know who you were. Our orders are indeed to bring her in alive… Just make sure you deliver her to us right after she is stable. If not, we know where to find you.”
The two step away, holstering their weapons and whispering amongst themselves. While Mallex kept the agents busy, the injured woman had deftly snuck a datapad to DOC: “Hold on to this, if I don’t make it”.
“I am positive you will be alright,” - the droid responds. “I have treated your blaster shot wound now, none of the vital organs are damaged. But you must rest to complete your recovery.”
The woman, sneaking a peak at the two agents, whispers: “Sure. But I still need your help to get out. Follow me, we can’t stay here for long.”
She gets up, still clutching her side with one hand and leaning her weight onto DOC with the other, and starts leading them down the Promenade. “I’m Maya, by the way. And…thanks for the help back there.”
“We are not out of the woods yet,” - says Mallex, subtly gesturing to the imperial agents who are still trailing them at a distance. Maya nods, and they keep walking until, at an opportune moment, she quickly tugs her saviors into an alcove that unexpectedly turned into a narrow twisting alley. The agents didn’t follow; perhaps they’ve lost track of their quarry.
A few hundred steps into the alley, Maya stops by an inconspicuous maintenance hatch, looks around, then opens it and crawls in, gesturing hurriedly for Mallex and DOC to follow.
As the two squeeze inside, they find themselves in a cramped, rather poorly ventilated space. From the narrow mattress on the floor and consumed ration kits littering the area, it is obvious that Maya has been squatting here for a while. With a heavy groan, she collapses onto the mattress and pulls out a bottle of liquor from under it, taking a big swig and wiping her lips with the back of a hand before offering the drink to Mallex and DOC. “No? More for me then,” - shrugging off their polite refusal.
She continues: “Phew… Hi again. We can speak freely here. As I mentioned, I am Maya, from Alderaanian Security, but I don’t think I got your names?”
She sizes up Mallex in his imperial outfit while the duo introduce themselves to her. She visibly brightens, recognising Mallex’s last name. “Pleasure to meet you! I can’t help but wonder: are you from the Alderaanian D’urros? Is that why you helped me?”
Mallex explains calmly: “Yes, my family is from Alderaan. But that’s not why I helped you, I didn’t even know who you were until now. You just seemed like you really needed help.”
DOC nods: “And we are not ones to abandon those in need.”
Maya relaxes a bit and leans back, but immediately sits up again with a wince: she forgot about her wound. As the pain subsides, she speaks again: “I am also part of Senator Bail Organa’s personal security detail. I was sent to this station to recover an important piece of cargo that was shipped here all the way from the Deep Core. I was trying to retrieve it, but got into trouble with the imperials shortly after arriving here. Apparently, working for such a vocal opponent of the Empire as the Senator has tagged me as a troublemaker and they want me off the station one way or another.”
Mallex says: “It’s good to meet someone from Alderaan. Things are…not good for us right now. I am glad I was able to help.”
Maya nods. “Yea! I owe you my life… And, I hate to ask, but I am really in no shape to finish the mission. Besides, they are still looking for me. Perhaps you would be willing to secure the cargo instead of me? I can get you on a ship to Alderaan, and I am sure Senator Organa will reward you generously!”
Our heroes look at each other. They don’t need to think for very long before Mallex says: “Yes, we will help!”
Maya’s face lights up with a smile: “Thank you, truly. The work you are helping with could save the lives of countless beings. My contact, Switch, was in charge of receiving and storing the cargo. You will need to find a way into deep storage v14 and speak with Switch who will provide you with the location of the cargo. That area is off-limits to non-imperial personnel, but you should have no trouble getting in, right?”
Mallex agrees: “Yes, it shouldn’t be a problem. But who is this Switch?”
Maya goes on to explain that Switch is a “rogue” administrator droid and an information broker. Switch inherited a criminal syndicate from his former employer when they had been fatally shot in a turf war. The droid is equal parts well-connected, smart, and dangerous. “He’ll probably be expecting you, but tell him I sent you. Oh, and give him this,” - she hands over a chip with 500 credits, then asks DOC for his commlink and taps her information into it. “Here. Once you have secured the cargo, contact me on this frequency. I will have a ship ready to pick you up. Look for a Baudo-class space yacht.”
If DOC had eyebrows, they would have raised slightly. Mallex comments with a smirk: “Hear that, DOC? Sounds like we might travel in luxury for once!”
DOC nods and turns to Maya: “We will do this, but I insist you stay in bed and rest up, doctor’s orders. And I doubt whatever you are drinking will help you recuperate in any way, so go easy on that.”
Before he even finishes the sentence, the wounded and tired Alderaanian is already slowly nodding off, and our heroes quietly leave, closing the hatch behind them.
After a bit of searching for information, our heroes have found the location of the deep storage V14, and are currently on their way there, pondering whether stumbling into an Alderaanian security agent was merely an interesting coincidence, or if Mallex and DOC had just been recruited. Looking around, they found themselves in a much more rundown part of the station. Flickering lights, carbon scoring from blaster shots on the walls, leaky pipes producing puddles of coolant liquid, humid and unpleasant air reeking of ozone and faulty wires – this is the only area aliens are allowed to reside in on Sel Zonn…
As the heroes turn into yet another run-down, dimly lit hallway, they see the end of it two massive Gamorreans, standing guard with vibroaxes in hand. Chipped paint on the wall next to them says “V14”. Our duo approach, hesitating only a bit, and address the guards: “We are here to see Switch.”
Almost surprisingly, the Gamorreans aren't hostile and simply step aside. The double doors slide open with a pneumatic psshhht, and one of the guards gestures for them to step through it. They enter, finding themselves in the large room that is deep storage bay v14. As shabby as the hallways leading up to it, the space is littered with large crates haphazardly stacked at random locations; metal plates are missing from the floor and walls, and an open exhaust shaft is humming near the back wall of the area. Sticking out like a sore thumb, in the center of the storage bay stands a large exquisite desk. Mallex, who has known luxury in his life, recognizes the material to be Japor ivory wood – an expensive and rare material – which he takes mental note of, but keeps his focus on the one sitting behind it – Switch, a 3D-4X administrator droid. He has his metallic feet up on the desk, and his ebony coverings seem to almost soak up light, and the single red eye looks in the direction of the approaching visitors.
“Mr. D’urro, Mr. DOC, good evening. I’ve been expecting you,” he gestures to the desk, with screens displaying feeds from several security cameras. “I am 3D-4X, although my friends and guests have selected to call me Switch. This here is R5-27,” - he pats an astromech droid next to him, then points off to the side, where a tough looking Twi-lek in a long coat is smoking a deathstick , - “and that is Hallan.”
He gets up from behind the desk and leads them to a slightly worn, but still decadent lounge sofa. “Please, take a seat,” - he continues, speaking softly and cheerfully in a clean Coruscanti-Imperial accent. “May I offer you a drink? I do not partake myself, but I do have an extensive collection of fine liquors”.
DOC politely declines, but Mallex accepts the offer, sizing up the droid's respectable collection: “I’ll take a Corellian brandy. Thank you.”
After pouring the drink and giving it to the imperial, Switch, now sitting by his desk again, turns towards them: “Now, what brings such esteemed guests into my humble home?”
When DOC and Mallex explain that Maya sent them here to collect cargo for her, he nods and says: “Oh, yes, Maya. I am indeed holding a piece of cargo for her. For the reasonable amount of one thousand credits, I will happily release it to you as her agents.”
“One thousand? Maya said the deal was for five hundred,” - Mallex slightly raises his eyebrows.
“I will accept five hundred, on the condition that you help me. Small ask, really: simply install this chip into your datapad, it will allow you to transmit any information you deem valuable directly to me. Information is my business, after all. Deal?”
The two friends look at each other for a moment, then agree: they don’t really have a choice. DOC takes a mental note to check the datachip for spyware – later, of course. Right now, he simply grabs the chip and installs it into the datapad in front of Switch, while Mallex slides over the 500 credits they earlier received from Maya.
“Wonderful. Looking forward to our partnership. Now, the cargo is in the main docking bay of the Blue Deck – the section reserved exclusively for Imperial ships. Quite clever, really: it’s hiding right under their noses… You should have no trouble getting there,” - the droid adds, nodding approvingly at Mallex’s uniform.
“Sounds good. What’s the cargo?”
Switch pauses, evaluating whether he is willing to part with this information, before explaining that the cargo is, in fact, another Alderaanian Security agent, who got himself frozen in carbonite in order to be transported as cargo and hopefully avoid detection by the imperials.
After finishing the drink and the conversation, Mallex and DOC get up to leave. “Thank you for your hospitality. We should get moving,” - DOC says, as he and Mallex head towards the exit. Mallex warns his friend: “Keep a low profile until we get to the Blue Deck. Would be a pity if we ran into some…”
He is interrupted by blaster fire sounds coming from outside, and the blast doors leading into the storage bay slide open to reveal a number of armed thugs outside and the two Gamorrean guards lying behind them in pools of their own blood. Leading the intruders is a middle aged human with a smirk on his scarred face, wearing an armored vest with a dark brown leather coat over it. He and his men have hold-out blasters at the ready, and he yells out: “Droooiiid! You are hiding your deals with offworlders from me again?!”
Switch responds calmly: “Ah, Ganga Lor, we meet again. I look forward to your extermination.”
Ganga Lor continues shouting: “I want my cut! I’ll take it myself if I have to – get ‘em boys!”
His goons charge forward, while he takes cover behind one of the crate stacks. DOC and Switch dive behind the massive desk, where Switch hits a secret button and, with the sound of machinery moving into place, an auto-turret lowers from the ceiling, charging up. On either side of the desk, Mallex and Switch’s bodyguard Hallan, having grabbed their weapons, start shooting at the incoming gangsters from behind cover. The goons simply rush into the storage bay to their untimely demise. The first few get peppered with blaster fire from the turret and from Mallex, but Hallan is missing all his shots. Perceptive DOC picks up on that and, quickly running an analysis of the shooting pattern, realizes that the bodyguard is missing on purpose. He calmly informs Switch of the betrayal, and the administrator droid equally calmly processes the news – nothing phases him, it seems – and redirects the turret fire onto the Twi’lek. Hallan tries to return fire, but the shot misses DOC, burning a hole in the side of the deck, before the traitorous bodyguard himself is shot full of holes. This gives the gangsters an opening, and they advance, firing wildly; even Ganga Lor himself peeks out from behind the cover, taking a few shots. Realizing the bandits aren’t likely to last without their leader, Mallex and DOC give each other a nod. DOC reaches for the control panel on the desk, trying to knock over the crates that Ganga Lor is hiding behind using a crane, but before he is able to input the correct sequence, the panel is hit by a blaster shot and sends an electric shock up his wiring. Even still, as the turret turns on the goons again, Mallex has found an opening to get their leader in his crosshairs. He fires - pew! - and the shot hits the gang leader, who falls to the ground with a jarring deathrattle. The remaining thugs turn to flee, only to take blaster shots to the back.
Moments after the shootout died down, it’s quiet again, apart from the moaning of the few goons who are still alive – but not for long: Switch gets up, grabs Hallan’s blaster, then proceeds to methodically walk from one fallen body to another, firing a shot into each of their heads. Mallex and DOC check on each other: DOC is a bit jittery from the electroshock, but no major injuries have been sustained. After firing the last shot, Switch turns to them and says: “Thank you for your assistance. You both are very capable. And do not worry, I calculate the risk of repercussions at less than 3%: it appears that Ganga Lor brought his entire crew for this ordeal”. Otherwise still completely unperturbed by the events, he walks over to the desk and points towards the burned control panel: “Although it does appear that you owe me for the repairs. I might just have a way for you to do this. In the same location as Maya’s cargo, you will find a crate of Corellian ale. If you manage to secure it and leave it in the landing bay upon your arrival on Alderaan, I will not only forgive you this debt, but pay 500 credits on top.”
Mallex nods: “Sounds like a good deal. But I do think we’ll get moving now.”
Switch replies: “Assuredly. Pleasure doing business with you. We shall be in touch.”
..The turbolift doors slide open, and our heroes step out onto Blue Deck. After navigating the run-down hallways below, it feels like entering a wholly different space station. The floors are polished and possess an even metallic sheen, and the massive windows along one wall grant a magnificent view of Brentaal. Banners with Imperial symbolism and propaganda decorate the walls at even intervals. Maintenance and service droids flit about from one place to the next, keeping everything clean and ordered. Moving about the halls of Blue Deck are large numbers of humans, most of them wealthy by all appearances. They pay little attention to the few aliens found in the area, except, perhaps, to sneer as they pass, and the general anti-alien bias here seems to be even worse than on the Promenade. Saddening as it is, Mallex and DOC try to blend in as they keep walking towards their destination: the hangar bay. On the way there, the duo devise a plan: they will get into the area under the pretense of visiting the diplomats whom Mallex had negotiated with earlier…
The hangar smells of exhaust fumes and coolant, and appears to have seen a fair share of traffic recently. We see our duo being escorted down a broad hallway to the docking area of the diplomats by two Imperial army troopers. One of them, walking in front, is extremely chatty, and is venting to Mallex about everything. But this has been Mr. D’urro’s plan all along: with the trooper distracted, he gives a subtle signal to DOC, who quickly produces a syringe with a strong sedative and plunges it into the second trooper’s neck.
The guard slumps and falls to the floor. Immediately, the second trooper pulls a blaster out of the holster. Mallex grabs his hand, attempting to stop him, but a wild shot goes off and hits DOC in the chest – thankfully, his definitely legally modified reinforced chassis absorbs most of the damage. DOC steps towards the trooper and administers the sedative before he is able to call for help or cause any more damage. The two companions then drag the snoring troopers into a maintenance room nearby, before heading back to the hangar where their cargo awaits.
Upon entering, they see little activity. Most of the guards are assigned to the ships stationed here, and there are a couple of officers in the control room, shouting orders at someone. As nonchalantly as they can, the duo examine the area for their carbonite cargo and the Corellian ale. DOC quickly spots the block of carbonite; the crate of ale is luckily right next to it. Mallex, flashing a badge of Imperial diplomat, flags down a pincer loading droid, while DOC discreetly contacts Maya, letting her know that they are ready for pick up.
In the tense moments following the call, the duo start getting a bit nervous, when finally a Baudo-class star yacht gracefully drifts into the hangar and lowers its ramp. DOC’s comlink comes alive with a woman’s voice: “Maya sent me, get on board as quick as you can before anyone gets suspicious.”
The two heroes get on board, while the loader droid places the carbonite and crate of ale into the cargo bay. As the ramp closes, Mallex catches several security guards and troopers rushing towards them, waving and shouting, but they get drowned out by the roar of engines as the ship blasts out of the hangar. Woman’s voice speaks again, now through the ship’s loudspeaker: “Welcome aboard the Banshee, I am her captain Sirone Okeefe. Hold onto something!”
Mallex and DOC quickly grab onto whatever they can, as, a moment later, they feel the unmistakable pull of the starship jumping into hyperspace…
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