Birth of the Republic: The Force War

We were level 9 for like two months. A little bit into this plot arc, I (on suggestion of one of my players) began a much more involved application process for the game. This resulted in far more party stability. The effort required to fill out the application deterred flakes and the answers to the application questions made it obvious which players didn’t actually want to engage with the campaign’s plot or themes at all and were just blindly applying to every Star Wars campaign, which kept player turnover to a sporadic event rather than a constant inundation as players joined, played for two weeks, and then silently departed.

Level 9: Tython

Commander Edus Laurent of Corellia was seeking to turn the tide of the now desperate battle with Coruscant. The Corellian fleet had been badly damaged by their battle with the Coruscanti, and were regrouping at Kuat, which would undoubtedly be the Coruscanti’s first target. Giving Corellia a fighting chance was the fact that Tython had withdrawn from the Coruscanti alliance, sapping the Coruscanti of their otherwise devastating power. Tython had become deeply isolationist in the past month, for unknown reasons, and Commander Laurent hoped they might be persuaded to join the Corellian side, leveling Corellia with Coruscant and giving them a solid chance at not only avoiding defeat, but perhaps forcing a change in government in Coruscant to permanently remove them as a threat to Kuati independence.

To this end, Edus Laurent hired a band of mercenaries shifting about the underbelly of Coruscant, each somewhat infamous for their capability. Nalan Vex, a Force sensitive twi’lek with an interest in Tythan ways, Chalwaar Soopi, her friend and companion (are there no wookiees who are not friends and companions of someone else? Honestly), and Rowan Thayne, an expert sniper. These three augmented their forces by springing free another who had come to Tython illegally (the only way to come at all ever since the seclusion), Julan Jor. Tython is run by the Je’daii of five different Force traditions, and the team set out to convince each of them in turn to stay out of the war. Nalan Vex had no desire to get them involved with Corellia even though the rewards for doing so were much greater. They were able to track down Grandmaster Atasyof Seginus of the Tradition of Scholars and persuaded him to try and keep Tython out of the war, a stance towards which he had leaned already.

Next the team set their sights on the Tradition of Excellence, who were strictly opposed to Coruscant and had some leanings towards Corellia. In order to win the respect of the tradition, the party decided to hunt down some Bogan bandits nearby. These Bogan, a sixth tradition trying to establish themselves under heavy opposition from the Ashla Tradition, who greatly feared what would happen if the Bogan’s corruption of the Force were to become widespread throughout the galaxy, were the reason for the seclusion. Banned from every tradition under the strong insistence of the Ashla, the Bogan had turned to banditry to sustain themselves.

The attack went very poorly for the party. Chalwaar Soopi, Rowan Thayne, and Julan Jor were all killed. Nalan Vex was taken prisoner and probably would have been used as part of some deranged Force experiment if Mircellus didn’t happen across them. Mircellus, a Force-sensitive smuggler queen, had come to Tython to try and recover some rare artifacts for sale to collectors and was hoping to liberate some from the abandoned monastery this band of Bogan bandits was headquartered in. Accompanied by her bodyguard and righthand man Emir, a calculating warrior with a bad history with the Rakata, a stealth expert named Djenn, and a trandoshan named Kurrsk who had arrived under the guidance of some dark Force spirit he called Ak’ra’far, they liberated Nalan Vex and added her to the team. Over the next week, they further ingratiated themselves to the Tradition of Excellence, only to have most of their efforts ruined when Emir’s lack of Tythan cultural familiarity led to him accidentally giving the team’s outsider status away to Sahara Winters, an Excellence master and the youngest of her or any tradition to ever be appointed. Her being granted the status of master at the age of 23 (just a few months ago) was an issue of much controversy, and many both within and without her tradition doubted that one so young could have the wisdom necessary to be a master. Regardless of this she was a master and having earned her ire (granted, more through the treatment of some Bogan prisoners than for being outsiders, as Winters vehemently disagreed with the seclusion and did not particularly consider herself beholden to a command that had Ashla’s fingerprints all over it even if Excellence had officially assented to it), the party decided not to stick around.

Instead, they began a full investigation of the Bogan. Soon, they were able to track down Vatari Starfire, the apparent leader of the Bogan raids (though there were many other Bogan warlords beneath her who led their own bandit warbands with little oversight from her). At this time they also recruited a Selkath healer named Gimmel. Vatari Starfire had recruited hundreds into the Bogan tradition, leading them in a campaign of terror across about a third of Tython. Her movements, baffling to the Je’daii who were used to solving everything with the Force or the application of some traditional philosophy or words of the Dai, were easily traced by the intensely focused and dedicated Emir. Cornering her, they were able to make short work of her, and Kurrsk proclaimed himself the new leader of the Bogan tradition, intending to reorganize them into a less hostile and more palatable tradition with which he would create a powerbase on Tython. Mircellus discovered several Bogan texts which included writing from Vatari as well as other, previous masters. The writing seemed not all that severe a divergence from the Tradition of Excellence. Much of the radicalization of the Bogan seemed to have been wrought by Vatari’s influence, maintained principally because the Bogan desperately needed powerful, violent leadership due to the persecutions of the Ashla (and this violence turned traditions like Excellence against them, thus further increasing their need for militancy). Most importantly, they discovered a Bogan artifact (claimed by Kurrsk, who was in any case the only person who wanted to touch the thing) which revealed that there were others.

Over the course of the next few weeks, it was determined that the Bogan were led by a Force Hound named Shivas Caballa. The other four Bogan masters (including Vatari) were Force Hounds in training when Shivas, freed from the Infinite Empire by their collapse, came to slaughter their handlers and recruit them into his cult. On Tython, they hoped to sow the seeds of a new empire founded upon the Dark Side of the Force (what the Tythans call Bogan). Vatari Starfire’s job was simply to keep the Tythans distracted with overt raids so that they would not notice the movements of the others. Two of these masters, Rena Minara and Kresh Aryss, had been kidnapping Tythan children for indoctrination into the growing cult, and the party set out to rescue them to earn back the goodwill of the Tradition of Excellence. Minara and Aryss were, in addition to laying some longterm foundations for Shivas Caballa’s empire, putting more and more pressure on the five mainstream traditions, especially the Ashla, to do something drastic. His plan was to push the Ashla into committing their forces to total extermination of the Bogan at all costs, which the Tradition of Excellence, already nearing the limit of their patience for Ashla’s drastic measures, would respond to with military force. With Excellence and Ashla at war, Predor Dragoon, the fourth Bogan master, would launch a decapitation strike on the Ashla Tradition’s leadership with a team of elite Bogan Je’daii.

Though Gimmel departed the party in disgust at Kurrsk’s growing lust for Bogan artifacts, even after their Rakatan origins were laid bare, the rest of the party (also distrustful of Kurrsk, but not so much as to ignore the growing Bogan threat) picked off the masters one by one, chasing down Rena Minara and Kresh Aryss, and then racing to intercept Predor Dragoon before he could kill the Ashla high council. Also tracking Predor was Sahara Winters, who had slowly grown distant from her two friends, Setisat of the Ashla Tradition and Jemini of the Tradition of Harmony. Setisat had been a mentor to her second only to her own master Gariel Antares, but the declining relations between the Ashla and Excellence, and Sahara’s growing antipathy towards Ashla’s entrenched position, poisoned their relationship. Darkened by what she perceived as Setisat’s betrayal of their friendship, Sahara refused Jemini’s efforts to reconcile the two, at one point unloading on her oldest friend in a torrent of rage and vitriol. Though she regretted the decision and admitted (to herself, at least) that she was wrong to treat Jemini so harshly for merely adhering to the ideals of her own tradition, Sahara did not apologize in person, instead leaving a written message behind before striking out on her own to find and end the Bogan, hoping to defuse tensions and avert the war. To that end, she aided the party in killing Predor Dragoon. As he fell, Sahara took his armor, not quite admitting to herself that if war between Ashla and Excellence did come to pass, she would use the anonymity provided by this armor to enact Predor Dragoon’s plan and leave the Ashla disorganized.

Parting ways with Sahara, the party finally cornered Shivas Caballa and killed him. Here the party retrieved two forcesabers, hilts that emitted ghostly blades of silent, white fire which were fueled by the Dark Side (much like most of the rest of Rakatan technology). Mircellus claimed one, and Kurrsk the other. Kurrsk then set out to defuse tensions between the Bogan and the Ashla, but ultimately failed, and the Ashla set out on the warpath against them. The Tradition of Excellence, refusing to let Ashla armies simply march into their territory and usurp their role as keepers of the peace, and equally unwilling to accede to any more Ashla demands for more draconian measures against the Bogan, went to war. Under Emir’s leadership, the Tradition of Excellence led a desperate struggle against the Ashla, bleeding them dry over the course of multiple lines of defense and hitting their overstretched supply lines until finally the Ashla were forced back out into neutral territory. Here, the Tradition of Balance intervened, declaring Ashla the aggressors and joining Excellence in fighting them, smashing their army and leaving the Ashla so thinly stretched they could not even police their own territory. It was during this battle that Sahara killed Setisat. Each had offered surrender to the other, but both knew they would be refused. Balance declared the war at an end after the annihilation of Ashla forces and, with the decimation of Excellence (and Harmony and Scholars never being particularly militarily powerful), Balance became a global superpower.

 

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