So last night I ran my first adventure using the Scum & Villainy roleplaying game. I did it at the regular Dungeons & Dragons Saturday night open table event at the local science shop. There’s a regular DM who runs an ongoing D&D 5e campaign most weeks, but this week she wanted a break and I’ve filled in a couple of times before, running one shots using D&D B/X rules. Those have been a great hit. But this time I wanted to try something different and decided to run a Star Wars game using Scum & Villainy.
For the adventure, I adapted this idea for a Blades in the Dark one-shot: Part 1, and Part 2. Scum & Villainy uses the same Forged in the Dark game system as Blades in the Dark, so I figured I could reskin it for Star Wars with minimal work. Rather than Gaddoc Station rail terminus, I made it Gaddoc Spaceport, a secondary spaceport in Coronet City on the industrial planet of Corellia, which handles mainly freight. I was aiming for a vibe similar to the opening scenes of the movie Solo.
Here’s the opening narration I wrote:
You’re a gang of ne’er-do-wells, grown up on the harsh streets of Coronet City on the industrial planet of Corellia. The Empire controls this world and a million others, while a small Rebellion tries to overthrow it. But you don’t care about that. You’re out to make a name for yourselves, and maybe enough cred to get off this dump of a world and see the stars. Lady Proxima, leader of the White Worms gang, has asked you to transport a rare case of Savareen Brandy across Coronet City to the Pyke Syndicate cargo yard at Gaddoc Spaceport. The problem is, she obtained this brandy by stealing it from the Crimson Dawn, and Imperial Stormtroopers are looking for it as well, so this will not be an easy task.
When the game began I had three players, none of whom I’d met before. There was a young couple, man and woman about 20 years old, and a boy maybe 12 years old. The kid and the man had played D&D before, but the woman was new to roleplaying and her boyfriend was keen to introduce her to it. I let them choose pregenerated characters from the Scum & Villainy playbooks, except I excluded the Mystic, and decided basically not to mention any uses for the Attune skill – I didn’t want them using the Force. Given it was skinned as Star Wars, this made more sense than S&V’s default that anyone can tap into The Way. The kid chose a Speaker and the name Kodo Vale, the man a Pilot named Crix Baize, and the woman a Scoundrel named Myria Harend. She was a big Star Wars fan—she was wearing a Death Star T-shirt—and liked the idea of being a Han Solo type. (I supplied them with a list of randomly generated Star Wars-like names to choose from.)
Then I gave them their first choice:
This is a Transport job. Select your Route across the city:
• by the narrow alleyways and side-streets, to keep out of sight (requires pushing the cargo on a hover sled),
• by the canals, waterways, and sewers (using a small motor barge),
• or you can try and disguise yourselves as respectable merchants and take open streets (driving an antigrav truck).
I expected they’d choose one of the first two, opting for stealth, but they surprised me by selecting the last option. I got them to choose their Load values, pointing out that they didn’t need to select explicit equipment and could fill it in later as sort of indeterminate quantum-gear (using the game’s Flashback rule). Then it was time for the Engagement roll to kick off the job. They got 1 die for luck, added one for coming up with some nice plan details in discussion, and +1 for using one of their friends to give them a clear best route across town to the spaceport. Myria rolled the dice and got… two 6s! A critical success on the very first roll!
This meant their job began exceptionally well, having overcome the first obstacle already. I described how they spotted some Crimson Dawn sharpshooters on the roofs overlooking their route, clearly looking for them, but that they’d managed to drive right under their noses in their nondescript truck and get away from them without any problem at all.
Next they rounded a corner and spotted a temporary Imperial checkpoint, set up with troopers inspecting traffic. Being in a controlled position (game mechanically), there was a queue of vehicles and they had time to reverse or turn down another street to avoid the checkpoint, but they decided they didn’t want to risk drawing attention to themselves and waited it out to then try and bluff their way through. This first skill roll (Sway) scored a partial success, so they got through, but a suspicious trooper called in their vehicle registration for a check. I started a 4-segment clock labelled “Imperial alert”, explaining that if it got filled then the troopers would be actively looking for them. This was good because it really set the expectation that they needed to be careful if encountering more troopers.
They also avoided conflict with a pair of thugs tailing them by some fast driving (using Helm), and then found their final path to the spaceport blocked by construction work. This time they used Command to order the workers to clear a way for them by pretending to be delivering urgent medical supplies. By now a fourth player had arrived, the usual DM for the weekly D&D games. She chose to play a Stitch named Jama Vancil, and used her medic garb and supplies to convince the construction workers of their mission and urgency. Again, the roll went well – they’d had no failures so far, but I had their situation at Risky now due to partial successes.
There was another obstacle at the spaceport perimeter. Lady Proxima had given them a security pass, but swiping it resulted in a red light and “fail” bleep. I described a security camera pointed straight at the face of Crix, the driver, and a speaker emitting a voice, “Looks like that’s expired. Do you have any other ID?” They tried to Sway their way through with the same medical emergency story and showing Jama’s actual medical ID. The roll was good, so they got in.
But the Pyke Syndicate cargo yard inside the port was surrounded by customs officials and troopers, apparently doing an inspection for contraband. I’d expected some blaster fighting at some point and thought this would finally be it, but again they tried a fast-talking approach, this time with bribes. They also asked if any of the customs officials had a small medical issue that Jama might be able to deal with, so I rolled a Fortune roll and it came up positive, so I said the captain had a dodgy leg. Jama made a Doctor roll successfully to provide relief, and the captain let them through.
And so they delivered their crate of brandy to the Pyke Syndicate! Now I processed end-of-job payoff, Heat, entanglements, and downtime. Lady Proxima gave them a small crate of valuable Mandalorian iron as payment, plus a portable nanofab that could produce any small tool up to the size of a hamburger or so, in a few minutes. I figured they could use this creatively on the next job. I explained the Downtime options briefly, and they decided to try some healing on Kodo, who’d taken a grazed leg at some point as a partial success consequence (I think at the construction site). They almost rolled good enough to fill his healing clock, but left it at 5/6 completed. Oh well… time for the next job!
This job was based very heavily on Sean Nittner’s Gaddoc Rail score for Blades in the Dark, just reskinned for Star Wars. I introduced the job:
Gaddoc Spaceport is a secondary spaceport in Coronet City, concentrating on freight, but with some passenger capacity. Passengers can be tied up for days in its Imperial immigration offices. Independent trader pilots are detained here while Imperial troopers poke and prod their ships to check for smuggling holds, illegal cargo, and fugitives. Dingy shops hawking local souvenirs to travellers are butted up against foreign quarters offering temporary housing for visitors from other worlds. It is rife with opportunity and peril, often both aboard the same ship.
Last night the light freight cruiser Ursa Vaga limped into Gaddoc Spaceport on auxiliary engines, its hull plating scorched and sparking with electroplasmic lightning. On it was your mark. Nobody left the freight terminal after it landed. No one has left the terminal since…
Next I asked them questions about the job to set up the details. “Who sent you on this job? Who will you have to answer to if you come back empty handed?” They got to choose between Lady Proxima (the one who gave them the first job), Lom Pyke (head of the Pyke Syndicate, who they delivered the brandy to), or Jabba the Hutt. They chose Jabba!
Next: “Your score is valuable, dangerous, and illegal. What is it especially?” They chase dangerous. I asked them what was so dangerous about it and what did they need to do to keep it contained. They discussed and decided the target was a crate of assassin centipedes, as seen in Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. Fatal bites, but they could be controlled by a gas, similar to using smoke on bees. They packed a gas canister for use.
Next: “What do you just know will make this job harder?” They could choose between a trap laid by their enemies, a rogue bounty hunter lurking in the spaceport, or Rebel agents also interested in something on the Ursa Vaga. They chose the last one. And so the job was set up.
Now they had to choose their plan: an open assault on the spaceport, infiltration unseen, bluffing in via deception, or negotiating their way in with bribes/persuasion. They chose infiltration, and came up with a plan to go in via underground maintenance tunnels, disguised as maintenance workers.
After the engagement roll I had them go in via the tunnels. They had to deal with some tunnel space-rat type creatures and get through some obstacles that I used a progress clock to track. The last one was a biometric door scanner. Jama tried to Hack it to get through, rolling a partial success, so I had the consequence be that she left her fingerprints all over it and this could come back to haunt her later. But this filled the progress clock and they emerged inside the spaceport from a maintenance building.
They headed towards the Ursa Vaga, but found it surrounded by a quarantine fence enclosing the ship and three adjacent ships on other pads. Workers in armoured suits were poking crevices of one of the other ships with shock prods. I had in mind a kind of mynock-infestation thing that they were trying to control.
The players figured it was probably safe enough to get into the Ursa Vaga, if only they could get past the quarantine barrier. And here’s where they made the coolest flashback of the game. Jama had a drug-dealer friend who she said had contacts in the spaceport quarantine department. Narrating the flashback, Jama’s player said she’d arranged with her friend to have someone in quarantine primed to help them. I assessed the Stress cost and called for a roll and it was successful, setting them up to have a friendly face in the quarantine crew letting them slip inside the perimeter.
They climbed the cargo ramp of the Ursa Vaga, but right behind them were two thugs, apparently from a rival gang. Their position was controlled at this point, so there was no immediate threat of danger from the thugs, so the crew just decided to ignore them and let them look around the ship independently. The crew searched the cargo holds and found one room with a large cage, with bars bent outwards like something had escaped. In the final hold, they found their target—the crate holding the centipedes—and the giant rancor that had escaped its cage! Having avoided blaster fire the whole adventure so far, I was sure they’d attack the beast at this point. But no! They decided to leg it and let the rancor chase them outside, then duck back around and go back in. Crix with his Pilot speed and daring led the group action and they pulled it off. I described the rancor ripping into the quarantine workers outside, and the crew went back on board the ship to get the centipedes.
They were debating how to get the heavy metal crate, too heavy for them to carry, off the ship. I decided they were taking too long and activated the Rebel agents complication. The Rebels were after holographic data intel on the Empire, and the agents they sent had decided the best way to escape with it was to steal the ship! I described the cargo ramp coming up and the engines warming up for take-off. The crew raced to the bridge to deal with the Rebels…
They decided to appeal to their better natures and just let them off the ship with their cargo before taking off. It was a partial success, so I allowed them to get off with the crate on a hover-dolly. But as the ship took off behind them, the crew now stood on a vacant landing pad, bloody bodies all around, and an angry rancor staring straight at them.
Finally, they drew blasters and opened fire! Their goal was to distract or incapacitate the beast enough that they could scramble past it with their cargo and escape. The roll was another partial success, so they succeeded, but two of them took wounds from the rancor’s claws on the way. The entire ruckus and ship blasting off filled the Imperial alert clock, so now they had stormtroopers racing in to stop them escaping the spaceport. Blaster fire all over the place! Jama Rigged the gas canister with some other medical supplies to create a distracting cloud of covering fog, and they used this to escape while the others returned fire, taking a few blaster wounds along the way.
And so they managed to get away with their precious cargo and deliver it to Jabba’s agents. The crew were all bruised and battered, everyone taking at least one wound, and all of them very close to full Stress tracks. It was really awesome and gave a great feeling over the adventure of things going from smoothly to risky to desperate and them getting away by the skin of their teeth.
We finished up there, and didn’t go through the Downtime activities, but I explained the rules options and that if we were playing a campaign, they’d have to prioritise indulging vice to clear Stress, or healing their wounds, or lying low to reduce their Heat (notoriety with law enforcement), which had accumulated to 7 Heat during the two jobs.
Here are the props we used during the game. I made stand-up name tags for everyone, so we could remember the character (and player) names. I used Lego stormtroopers to represent the crew’s gambits (optional bonus dice for rolls).
Wow, it was a fantastic adventure that really rolled to an exciting climax. And the Scum & Villainy system was easy enough to explain relevant rules when they came up, and all the players really got into it.
Today I spent some time making comics, and had three ethics classes. I made a sourdough loaf for lunches over the next few days. And that’s about it. I didn’t really go out at all. I would have liked to do a run, but my ankle has gone sore again, so I want to stay off it until it’s better.
New content today: