Throughout this section, the greater wars between galactic powers were largely dice driven. While powerful planets like Coruscant had better odds of success than comparatively weak planets like Corellia or especially tiny ones like Corulag or Brentaal, in the end it was pretty much anyone’s game at all times. The party would attempt to influence the course of events, but were still too low level to get involved in a clash of the titans directly (they could kill a few storm troopers, for sure, but they wouldn’t be turning the tide of any battles), so instead they focused on building alliances and black ops. A lot of the direction of the plot here came from the party reacting to these semi-random events.
This arc also includes a quick look at what happens when all the party’s main strategic thinkers aren’t around that week, so the next step of the delicate black ops-assisted diplomatic negotiations is left in the hands of the guy who’s barely taking things seriously. It turned out better than you might expect, all things considered.
Level 10: Esseles
While the party had resolved Tython’s Force War, the Azure Imperium had marched into Corulag and seized it with minimal casualties. The planet, left alone at the mercy of a major power, was barely able to put up a fight. Coruscant had started a fullscale invasion of Kuat in retaliation against Corellia. The Corellians ran a campaign of disabling Coruscanti ships before they could land and deploy their massive manpower, but their ability to prevent Coruscant from bringing their full force to bear could only keep Kuat free for so long. The party resolved to align the Perlemian Worlds into a new power bloc, and then use this new power bloc to persuade Coruscant to back down from their war before Kuat is overrun. To that end, the party journeyed to the world of Esseles, an authoritarian world that used the promise of freedom in its frontier zones, combined with the threat of terrible retribution, to keep its population in line. After over a century of colonization, cities in the frontier zones had grown massive. The new leader of Esseles, Zess Talion, was cracking down on the frontier zones as possible hotbeds of revolution, which itself encouraged revolutionary sentiment amongst the population of the frontier zones (especially those who had recently arrived after paying their dues and proving their loyalty). Making contact with Eios Organa, the party plotted an infiltration of Zess Talion’s palace, kidnapping him as part of a convoluted plot to remove him from the picture to avoid assassinating him (though killing dozens of his men is apparently okay). Ultimately, both Emir and Kurrsk grew sick of the contrivances as it became more and more clear that it would be impossible to smuggle Zess Talion off the planet, and Emir killed him. As Eios had planned, a new, more cautious dictator succeeded the old one, one less prone to provoking rebellion and more open to discussions of alliance against the threat of the Azure Imperium.
In the aftermath, however, Coruscant advanced on Kuat, establishing a beachhead and bringing in tens of millions of soldiers. Corellia threw everything they had at the beachhead in an effort to deny it to Coruscant, but ultimately they failed, their fleet shattered, their armies spent. With their military almost completely annihilated, Kuat and Corellia surrendered. Corellia maintained their independence, but were forced to cede their colonies to Coruscant and agree to favorable trade terms. Kuat was reclaimed by Coruscant.
Level 11: Rhinnal
With Corellia defeated, the party shifted their attention to keeping the Azure Imperium in check, using essentially the same strategy. They would create a Perlemian Alliance which would prevent the Imperium from attacking the Perlemian worlds. Their next effort to build the alliance was centered on the democratic world of Rhinnal. Rhinnal was a series of allied and fairly culturally homogenous city states, and was facing its own internal crisis due to the controversial actions of Cain North, governor of the city Frieste. Rhinnal considered one of the most important elements of their culture to be the high emphasis on medicine, and as such prided themselves on their universal healthcare. Governor North, whose city faced a growing shortage of volunteers for medical research, implemented a new system whereby those so poor they could not pay more into the system than they received from it would be used as test subjects for medical experiments (subject to the standard approval of ethics boards, of course – nothing goes to human trials without plenty of safety checks first). This was popular in Frieste but caused outrage in many other cities. Governor Corr Ferran of Rhire, the most prosperous city of Rhinnal, spearheaded the opposition, threatening to cut trade to Frieste entirely if the policy weren’t revised. Unwilling to appear weak to his constituency, Governor North refused to back down.
Mircellus was, fortunately, able to persuade Governor North to adopt a new plan to encourage the poor to volunteer for medical testing by using a tax break incentive system, which had very similar results to the current mandatory testing system but was far more palatable to the other cities of Rhinnal. Governor North agreed to push the system through, and opened talks with Governor Ferran about resolving the difference between the two cities and the possibility of entering into the Perlemian Alliance alongside Esseles, a dicey proposition considering the long history of enmity between the two diametrically opposed political philosophies, but realpolitik certainly necessitated unity amongst the Perlemian Worlds in face of the Azure Imperium’s invasion of Corulag. The talks were interrupted by a squad of incredibly powerful Imperium supercommandos, the most elite warriors in the Free Worlds, there to attempt the assassination of both governors. Doubtless the Imperium had a plan to manipulate Rhinnal into remaining divided in the aftermath of the attack, but the plan never came to fruition as the party was able to evacuate all VIPs and escape from the fight unharmed. After the VIPs and the party fled, the supercommandos picked up their own wounded and retreated.
Level 12: Brentaal
With the Rhinnalian governors hammering out terms of the defense pact amongst themselves and the new supreme commander of Esseles, only one planet was still needed to complete the Perlemian Alliance which, with the addition of Alderaan, would be the most powerful political bloc in the galaxy. Brentaal was a heavily industrialized world divided up between four different major corporations: BarrCom, Telesy Mechanical, Mercer Rare Earth Holdings, and AlterCorp. BarrCom was quite open to the idea of a global merger and subsequent joining with the other Perlemian worlds in alliance, but unfortunately they were the only ones. Telesy Mechanical and Mercer Rare Earth Holdings had a long and vicious history with one another, and while both were willing to join with BarrCom and AlterCorp, under no circumstances would they join with one another. Worse, AlterCorp refused to consider any kind of alliance. AlterCorp was led by a ruthless megalomaniac who was committed to ruling Brentaal or seeing it burn around him. This information was relayed to the team by their latest recruit, Riven Kuno, an Alderaanian commando who had answered to Eios Organa before her fall from grace, and since then had been somewhat directionless, reporting still to Eios but with little to do now that Eios was helpless to actually influence the situation.
After entering into talks with BarrCom about arranging an alliance, Emir and Mircellus stepped away to Rhinnal to help smooth over a small hitch in the negotiations between governors, while Nalan Vex and Kurrsk took a trip to Tython, Nalan Vex intending to reside their permanently, complete her studies with the Je’daii, and try to guide the planet and galaxy towards a brighter future, and Kurrsk making a brief visit to oversee his growing Bogan tradition and, in secret, recruit Sahara Winters to the cause. After even a brief interaction with Kurrsk, Sahara, her insight keen even if she often lacked the patience to get full use of it, realized that he was hiding some sinister purpose from her. Knowing that his intentions for the planet were likely dark, after some thought Sahara nevertheless accepted a leadership position in the Bogan, knowing that being granted direct command like this would easily allow her to cut Kurrsk out while he gallivanted around the galaxy.
Back on Brentaal, Riven Kuno and Djenn were left to their own devices, and decided to attempt to assassinate the leader of AlterCorp, who was clearly completely unwilling to consider any sort of alliance. Such an assassination would hopefully lead to a more amicable successor inheriting the company, thus uniting the planet without requiring a bloody war that would sap its military strength. Digging into the dirty secrets of the AlterCorp CEOs past, Riven and Djenn discovered that he had a predilection for sleeping with and subsequently murdering women, usually prostitutes bought from pimps who preyed on the underprivileged poor of Brentaalian society, a practice which was quietly endorsed in AlterCorp territory so as to feed their leader’s twisted desires. In order to exploit this, Djenn used his criminal expertise to disguise himself as a whore and have himself sold to the CEO. Once inside the CEOs doom fortress, he changed plans to trying to get the CEO to sign the corporation over to Djenn using his mastery of the Force, however quickly realized that, having done absolutely no surveillance, not having any idea what anti-coercion measures the CEO had in place, and having made absolutely no plan, he had no idea how he would actually accomplish this in a building swarming with AlterCorp’s most elite soldiers. If he had access to his state-of-the-art gear he might reasonably contend with them, being highly skilled himself, but only the slightest weapons could reasonably be hidden beneath his disguise. He was barely able to make contact with Riven Kuno. The CEO, it turned out, had measures in place for efforts to drug or threaten him into turning over his corporation which worked equally well against Force persuasion, the attempt failed, and an alarm was sounded, which was followed by a failed attempt by Riven to snipe him (the tower had, it turned out, quite powerful shielding over its windows), which led to a panicked assassination of the CEO using Force powers, followed by a failed escape that saw Djenn gunned down by roof-mounted AA turrets while fleeing the guards.
I am not making any of this up.
Emir, Mircellus, and Kurrsk returned to find that AlterCorp had been split, as per the CEOs will, between four of his subordinates who all hated one another and immediately went to war, attempting to win the favor of the three other corporations to earn protection, as each of them was far weaker than any megacorporation on their own. Using Kurrsk’s mastery of the Force, the party persuaded a mid-ranking PR official in first one company, then another, to send a public message on the planetary internet about going forward with the BarrCom merger. The goal was that each corporation, upon seeing the other about to join, would be forced to join themselves or else be crushed by their rival in alliance with BarrCom. Then the AlterCorp remnants could be cleaned up through diplomacy or force, resulting in the very least in minimal damage to Brentaal’s overall military power. Unfortunately, if there was one thing Telesy and Mercer could agree in, it was that there shouldn’t be any kind of merger with BarrCom until after the two had resolved their differences. Telesy and Mercer began to fight a proxy war against various AlterCorp remnants, but their luck was unimpressive, their chosen puppets folding quickly while BarrCom’s, though ultimately destroyed, went down with quite a fight. Badly bloodied, Mercer Rare Earth Holdings was rapidly finished off by the triumphant BarrCom, who then merged with the crippled Telesy Mechanical. BarrCom became a hegemon on the planet, the only other corporations to survive being Telesy, who limped out of the war with massive damage to their infrastructure, and the Brentaal Entertainment Network, the only AlterCorp remnant to survive (Aeon Gene Pharmaceuticals, Elysar Ultratronics, and Hansen Logistics Financial all having been totally annihilated by the war). Both of these now pale in comparison to BarrCom’s might both militarily and economically. BarrCom signs into the Perlemian Alliance on behalf of Brentaal and, though having lost a significant chunk of their military might in the civil war, their joining brings the alliance up to comparable power to Coruscant, the Duro Kingdom, and the Azure Imperium.
During the conflict, Kurrsk betrayed the party. After a failed attempt to kill them with his gunboat saw him ejected from the ship’s hangar, followed by a brief chase in which he tried in vain to whittle away the much larger ship’s shields and hull while they powered up their hyperdrive, Kurrsk retreated to Tython. He attempted to make contact with the Bogan, but Sahara Winters had worked swiftly and assembled a team of loyalists. Knowing that Kurrsk would split the fledgling tradition if he returned to the planet fulltime, Sahara used her loyalists to assassinate him, and reported his death to the Bogan public as being the result of unknown assailants, suspected to be either Ashla or else the group of miscreants and criminals he had traveled with on Tython. After all, the only other decent person in that group, Nalan Vex, had abandoned them eventually. Sahara cautioned against being quick to jump to accusations against the Ashla specifically, however, as though they were certainly a suspect, Sahara adamantly refused to endorse any war without absolute proof. She then assigned loyalists to the investigation with the instruction to make a big show about finding nothing.
Coruscant, meanwhile, had attempted to resolve its dispute with the Azure Imperium by ceding the Corellian colonies, seized after their war to capture Kuat, to the Imperium. The Imperium sent a colonial task force to administrate them, and the Corellian citizens began fleeing to Duro colonies (often located on the same planet) en masse. The Imperium attempted to close borders and demanded that Duro assist them, but Duro steadfastly refused. So far as they were concerned, millions of new employees flooding into their colonies, many of them highly qualified, could only be good and it wasn’t their problem that the Azure Imperium’s government was so repellant to Corellians that they would gladly abandon their homes to flee from it. Enraged, but worried about a backstab attack from Coruscant (widely believed to have ceded the colonies for exactly this reason), the Imperium engaged in lots of empty sabre-rattling before finally committing their colonial task force to a retaliatory strike against Duro. And Coruscant laughed.
The Imperium fleet avoided the main Duros force at Tinnel and instead attacked Iseno. Taken off-guard, the Duros fleet raced to defend Iseno, only for the Imperium to immediately withdraw and attack Tinnel. By the time the Duros fleet arrived at Iseno, realized they’d been tricked, and returned to Tinnel, the defenses at Tinnel had already been seized. Refueled and resupplied and with the advantage of ground-based anti-ship defenses, the Imperium fleet had a hefty advantage. Fearing that Duro itself might be attacked, however, the Duros fleet attacked Tinnel anyway. Brilliant maneuvering on the part of the Imperium fleet saw the Duros shattered, and with their forces in the colonies (the bulk of their military) utterly annihilated, Duros was unable to prevent the Imperium from capturing Iseno. The Imperium then turned its eyes towards Duro, their own fleet virtually unscathed. Coruscant, no longer laughing, rapidly agreed to an alliance with Duro, the Perlemian worlds, and Alderaan, who reluctantly admitted that there would be no diplomatic resolution to the Imperium’s aggression.
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