Category Archives: Crush the Rebellion

CRUSH the REBELLION released!

imageTrue to my word, February has come and CRUSH the REBELLION has been released!

Go get it now! – LINK

While you’re at it, delve further into the minds of the designer (that’s me) by checking out the sick kicks of the customized CtR playlist, then go sign up on the CRUSH the REBELLION G+ Community to chat up other fans!

Spread the word, suffer no insurrection to your rule, and may The Emperor’s merciful shadow fall upon you!

CRUSH the REBELLION is a structured storytelling game with an emphasis on competitive world-building. It is a fast-paced roleplaying game of competing agents struggling to fulfill their own personal agendas in a hostile, bureaucratic nightmare futuristic fantasy universe.
The actions of the players all contribute towards a shared history together, set in the fictional game universe. However, Crush the Rebellion is also a strategic, competitive game between the players. There are winners and losers to this game.
The universe of Crush the Rebellion is grim, dark, and hateful. It is a futuristic fantasy setting, full of both awe-inspiring technological prowess and ancient mysticism.
A central dogmatic figure known only as The Emperor rules over the whole of Humanity. The Human Empire spans across an untold number of galaxies. The true size of The Human Empire is difficult to even comprehend, supported by the most byzantine, Kafka-esque bureaucracy of all existence. It rules through fear and intimidation, using unlimited resources to oppress the unruly masses of civilization who dare challenge The Emperor’s infinite wisdom.
The Emperor uses an elite cadre of specialized agents (the players) to lead missions against His enemies, crushing any rebellion. Unfortunately for The Emperor, these agents are highly ambitious and treacherous, subverting and abusing their Emperor-given powers to further their secret objectives.

Retrofit 02 – I am a Pirate, like my father before me

BAYSDo you remember the first time you ever saw Star Wars? Do you remember being introduced to the thoroughly evil and throughly badass Empire, only to be ripped away and dropped off with a boy whose life bores even himself? In more ways than one, this was how I felt when I first started the adaptation from the elite Imperial Green Berets of CRUSH the REBELLION to the freelance bagmen of BLASTER at your SIDE.

But of course, the inspiration for countless Han Solo cosplays didn’t come from the scenes where he’s telling Chewie about how they’re going to finally make enough money to get a slug off their backs. No one bought a Boba Fett action figure because the government chides him like a child (“No disintegrations”). Hell naw. We like Solo because, when he shows up in the trench to save Luke, we understood that his motivations were complex. We like Fett because, when he’s tracking the Falcon to Bespin, we realize that he will use anything at his disposal to get what he wants. This meant that the first thing that needed to be changed for BLASTER at your SIDE was the central tenet of character building in CRUSH the REBELLION: a new S is for Secret Agendas, which I call Contraband Channels.

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Critical Cards

losehandAs Galaxy Master, I like to run a very face-paced game of Star Wars. I don’t sit down. I treat my GM Screen as a clipboard and little more than a hard surface to help jot down notes on paper. I drink coffee and energy drinks at 6:00 PM just to get amp’ed up for a game. I don’t stop the game to discuss or analyze rules in a book. I listen to thrash metal and hard-beat industrial.

I cannot be bogged down by rolling on a critical injury table.

This function of FFG Star Wars has long been a speed bump in my GM’ing style. To get around it and keep the game pounding at my preferred breakneck speed, I devised a clever little system of Critical Cards (click to download) to replace the drudgery of rolling d100 and looking up the results in a chart. I implemented this first in FANE of the SITH LORDS and it worked amazingly well. Wow, it has been a long time since I’ve made them. Jeez, why didn’t I post these sooner?

Galaxy Masters wishing to use these instead of the traditional system should print out several copies, two at the least, and shuffle them up. Create one deck for Critical Injuries, those affecting an individual Crew Member, and Critical Hits, those affecting vehicles and starships. Whenever something or someone would suffer a critical, roll just a d10. Previous criticals held by the target, the Vicious weapon quality, and Wounds or Hull Trauma suffered above the target’s threshold all add a +1 to the roll, similar to the rules-as-written critical mechanics.

  • If the total of the roll is 8 or lower, use the end of the Critical Card that has a white background; a Minor Critical.
  • If the total of the roll is 9 or higher, use the end of the Critical Card that has a dark gray background, a Major Critical. Disruptor weapons always use the Major Critical end of the card.
  • If the total of the roll is 15 or higher, the subject is completely destroyed or instantly killed.

This system is intuitive to use, quick to deploy, and gives the players physical reminders of their debilitating conditions. It also opens up an avenue for customization for the Galaxy Master, tweaking the composition of the Critical Cards deck to suit his or her desired level of lethality. For example, during my CRUSH the REBELLION campaign it was made well known that the Critical Cards deck would be stacked with an overabundance (about three times as much as normal) of Maimed critical injuries. What can I say, I like my games of Star Wars to have a lot of lightsaber amputations.

ldvyields2The Critical Cards as presented do not fit the percentages and ratios presented in the rules-as-written charts exactly. I do not care and neither should you. This system overall is a little more swingy, risky, and dangerous; an injury of Dead can theoretically be applied on just the first critical injury delivered. If you’re uncomfortable with that, tweak the die roll thresholds (9 and 15) to be a little higher, or remove those offending cards from your deck.

CtR PreGen Character Sheets

I will be running some local one-shot games using the FFG Star Wars at some local cons and MeetUps in the coming weeks. Naturally, I went with what I am excited and passionate about at the moment and put together a quick little adventure related to my CRUSH the REBELLION campaign. When running adventures like this with strangers in the mix, or any one-shot game really, I always prepare a set of easy to use pre-generated characters.

My ultimate goal with these character sheets is to have something available so that any player can sit down with one of these, grab a pen, and start playing immediately. Everything should be easy to read and work in an intuitive fashion. Additionally, I wanted jaded fans of the Star Wars lore to be immediately become enraptured and excited at the audacity of the characters I was providing. These aren’t nameless Imperial lackeys that no one cares about; these are the big time movers and shakers within the deep core of the Empire’s machinery. I want every character to inspire someone to say, “Whoa, this person is such a badass!

I’ve already established a method that I enjoy for showcasing skills, talents and the like. For this adventure, however, there was another wrinkle to consider.

Secret Agendas

A core mechanic for any CRUSH the REBELLION campaign, the thing that makes it really unique, is the use of Secret Agendas. To foment an atmosphere of tense, cold-war style manipulation and intrigue, I needed to have each character with something to instantly focus their disdain on, something for the character to hate; and also a seemingly simple end goal with an added complication of needing to rely on someone, perhaps another Agent, to be able to accomplish. The tension between the Agents competing against each other in the macro scale, but also needing each other to survive the micro scale, is what defines this setting.

These characters are each built with an additional sum of experience points above starting level (I think I ended up with +100Xp for each), basic gear, and one special equipment; a gift from The Emperor that defies the normal order of Imperial dogma and gives that character a special advantage.

In the rare chance that you might be involved in any of the local Baltimore games that I am running, please do not read these character sheets until after your game. No spoilers!


C is for Crime & Punishment

ugo_princess-leiaThe Galactic Empire rules its subjects through uncompromising laws. Frequently, your player characters will encounter, or become, special Imperial citizens that have been accused of a heinous crime. These crimes all represent cases that are somehow unique, with the details of the circumstances left open to fit the needs of the Galaxy Master’s story.

Each crime has a Perpetrator, an individual suspected to be the head of the offense or perhaps merely a scapegoat. A suggested list of misconduct is then provided to describe the Crime for which this character stands accused.

Each wrongdoing here is consider a grave felony and with comes a Punishment designed to instill abject horror in any would-be felons. When the player characters get involved with this crime, and surely they will, a complication or wrinkle will be brought up that may make them question their previously held values. The Motivation behind the crime, why the perpetrator committed such an act, should come as some sort of surprise or revelation, a most excellent way to introduce ethical and moral decisions onto the players at your table.

Roll randomly (d10) on the charts below or choose the grim sentence of your own volition.

When designing a Crime & Punishment, it may be helpful to also envision the associated Trial to go with it.

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CRUSH the REBELLION – Post Campaign Interview


At the beginning of this year, I launched an ambitious FFG Star Wars campaign, pulling mostly from the then-new Age of Rebellion Beta, titled Crush the Rebellion. An overview of the core assumptions, house rules, and scattered campaign notes have already been posted HERE on Triumph & Despair. I encourage readers who wish to probe for additional information on something specific to post Comments below; it is very hard to see from our perspective where we are vague and what details outside observers find interesting or lacking in detail.

The campaign had a rare, though certainly not unique, concept of the players acting as Imperial Agents sent out by The Emperor Himself to stop the most heinous crimes against the Empire. The player characters are set at a level on par with such legends as Darth Vader, Mara Jade, and Grand Admiral Thrawn. The Agents have bonus starting XP and unlimited funding; but are limited in terms of Restricted items, item modifications, and vehicles. The story of the campaign follows a seemingly natural theme of The Empire; corruption, a bloated beurocracy, traitors, and various threats from within are the true villains. Every Agent has a Secret Agenda that they pursue and must balance advancing that agenda, thwarting the rival Agents’ agendas, and keeping their activities hidden; all while still completing the incredibly dangerous tasks assigned to them. It is one thing to conquer the galaxy, it is a much harder thing to rule it. It’s dangerous at the top.

The most daunting task for me, as Galaxy Master, was to appropriately handle the innate player-vs-player dynamic that goes with this sort of campaign. This is something that many have found to be troublesome and problematic, experience showing the pitfalls, frustrations, and hurt feelings of such an endeavor. However, I felt very strongly that this was absolutely essential to the kind of story I wanted to tell; the story of the fall of Galactic civilization, the problems inherent in humanity’s empires, and how our own unchecked ambitions and hubris are the cause. Not only that, but in all humility, my track record has shown (HERE and HERE) that I am uniquely qualified in the endeavor of successful PvP roleplaying games. In other words, I am the shiiiiittttt.

Following the campaign’s conclusion, I conducted an in-depth discussion about both the faults and advances of the campaign; what made it good, where did it fail, and how we can use this information to craft better, more fun gaming in our futures. Listed below is a brief description of the Agents and a long, detailed discussion of the campaign via 12 questions I have asked and the players and their long-winded answers to them.

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CRUSH the REBELLION Campaign Summary

Per request, here is a short summary of the characters involved in my CRUSH the REBELLION campaign and a few words describing each of our 9 sessions. Where applicable, links have been provided to longer discussions on individual Operations. As always, general feedback and specific questions of interest are appreciated. Later in the week, I won’t let you just take my word at it and will provide a comprehensive interview with the players to get their view on the campaign as experienced.

TaggeNeedsBureaucracy-ANHIMPERIAL AGENTS

Besk, Bothan Spy Infiltrator
Secret Agenda: Assassinate The Emperor (succeeded).

K1LL1NG3R, Droid Hired Gun
Secret Agenda: Construct a superweapon that would enable a new droid revolution to conquer the galaxy.

Zebb, Twi’Lek Slicer
Secret Agenda: Grand Moff, build an unspecified superweapon.

Tar’Yun, Twi’Lek Diplomat (Force Sensitive)
Secret Agenda: Orchestrate a massive military defection to the Rebellion.

Delanar, Human Bounty Hunter (Force Sensitive)
Secret Agenda: Hunt down and slay a hidden Jedi Master.

Daktari Jonez, Duros Scholar
Secret Agenda: Oversee the genocide of all Ewoks.


Operation I – A convoy of five Imperial transports must be protected from an anticipated ambush by Rebel military forces. Imperial Intelligence has determined that a lost Jedi outcast is among the terrorists. The Jedi must be captured and interrogated to learn further information about Rebellion military activities in this sector.
Surprise: The Jedi Knight is a non-gendered, weird alien composed of a slippery mass of tentacles.

Operation II – A geneticist located at an isolated research outpost has been selling Imperial secrets to the highest bidder. Prove which of the scientists is the traitor and bring him or her to justice while quelling uprisings from the local populace.
Surprise: The only way to route out the true traitor is to solve a complicated Zebra Logic Puzzle.

Operation III – Local organized crime on an outer rim world has been supplying outlawed, dangerous medicines to a plague-ridden populace as well as explosives to nearby terrorist cells and must be stopped.
Surprise: The Rebel Leader from Operation II returns angry and cybernetically enhanced.

Operation IV – The captain of the IEF Tydeus has succumbed to the unclean influences of a heretical cult located in the unknown regions. Find a way to board the renegade Imperial vessel and relieve its Captain Kitano of his command before the ship escapes and makes the jump to lightspeed.
Surpise: This adventure is a speed run of Only Two Ways Home, giving the players only about half the time that they really need to complete it. Players must use their metagaming knowledge of previous runs of the adventure to win.

Operation V – A shapeshifting alien has infiltrated the ranks of a local planetary government cabinet and the senate hall is on lock-down. Kill the shapeshifter and save as many cabinet members as possible. Everyone trapped inside is either vitally important to Imperial operations or is a noted public figure.
Surprise: The shapeshifter is a liqui-metal droids and there are, in fact, two of them.

Operation VI – With a Victory-class Star Destroyer at your command, watch over the development of the new TIE Phantom stealth fighter and goad any traitors into action so that they can be caught red-handed and in the act.
Surprise: The commander of the VSD is Zebb’s nemesis and does everything in his power to make this Operation difficult for the Agents.

Operation VII – Preside over negotiations on behalf of The Empire at the Kimanan star system, whose people have taken the local Imperial Moff as hostage and who are now led by a Jedi fugitive.
Surprise: The Agents’ covert, pirate transport captain has sold them out.

Operation VIII – Following your previous Operation’s failure, the Kimanan star system has gone into revolt and joined the Rebel Alliance, taking with it the military defenses supplied to the planet through The Empire and protected by the Pirate Queen Kath Scarlet. Command an Imperial-class Star Destroyer and support fleet to invade the system and punish the Kimanans for their treachery.
Surprise: The Kimanans have a Cloning Facility and Mitichlorian Infusion Center that will soon produce a clone army of artificially-empowered Jedi.

Operation IX – Hunt down the fleeing architects of the Kimanan revolt. Kill the Pirate Queen Kath Scarlet at the pod racing contest of Tattoine. Capture the Jedi Knight MacKenzie hiding in a lost Jedi ruin and bring him before The Emperor Himself.
Surprise: It’s a Trap! designed by The Emperor to kill the scheming Agents and put a stop to their Secret Agendas.