In the first two articles in this series, I provided some reasons to play a Star Wars: Saga Edition game in the Dawn of the Jedi era as well as some house rules to help capture the feel of the era. But what should a campaign in the DotJ era look like? What is there for the PCs and NPCs to do in a DotJ game? What parts of the Star Wars universe are there to explore, and what should party composition look like? These central questions of campaign design will occupy us for this installment of Dawn of the Jedi in Saga, and though I won’t answer them fully, hopefully the suggestions below will inspire you to design your own DotJ campaign.
My first piece of advice for DotJ campaign design is to set the game in an alternate universe. I know that many players and GMs alike prefer to set their games in continuity, but with that continuity not yet established in the DotJ era, it’s possible that even slight discrepancies between your understanding of the era and what’s established in the comics could have destabilizing consequences down the road. So that your own house rules aren’t constantly in flux, it’s best just to lay out your rules for the era from the start and stick with them, relying on the fact that you’re playing in an alternate universe to justify any differences between your world and that of the comics’ that arise.
But what is there to do in this alternate universe? Well, the central villains of the era are the Rakata, founders of the “Infinite Empire” at its zenith during this period. The Rakata are perfectly set up as the big bad for a campaign during this era as their reach expands into new systems. Their technological dominance is supplemented by their natural proficiency with the force, making them formidable opponents, and they are as ruthless a villain as you’ll see in the Star Wars expanded universe. The Rakata employ force-sensitive slaves of other species known as force hounds to seek out new worlds for them to conquer and enslave, providing a nice hierarchy of villains for the PCs to face down over the course of the campaign.
But there are other potential threats aside from the Rakata during this era that allow for compelling DotJ campaigns. One threat that seems particularly interesting is that posed by the Je’daii Order, forerunner to both the Jedi and the Sith, themselves. The Je’daii, based on a planet that has yet to be invaded by the Rakata, believe in a balance between the dark side and he light, encouraging their proponents to appreciate different aspects of the force. As the threat of the Rakata looms larger, it seems reasonable that such an order will begin to fracture with factions that favor either the dark side or the light side forming within the order to oppose one another. Depending on the subtlety of the factions, this could manifest as political backstabbing and intrigue or as a literal civil war within the Je’daii Order.
Just from these two potential threats, I think it’s clear that the DotJ era lends itself to numerous campaign and party types. My own PCs are almost all members of the Je’daii order dealing with both of the threats described (to a greater or lesser extent). There’s room for exploration, intrigue, and battles both big and small, so I think a party composed of members of any class and nearly any prestige class would be fine. Much more important, however, are the backgrounds of the PCs. With so much going on in the era, you’ll need to ensure that all of the PCs share similar motivations so that one PC doesn’t run off to fight the Rakata in the second session, leaving the other PCs to deal with internal issues in the Je’daii Order. To this end, I’d suggest the following three backgrounds as examples that may be fruitful for your own campaign:
- The PCs are slaves on a Rakata-controlled planet. They have heard rumors of a resistance against the Rakata, escaped their evil masters, and banded together in hopes of finding a way to rescue their enslaved comrades.
- The PCs were raised in the Tython system, home of the Je’daii Order, who has just learned about the existence of the Rakata. The Je’daii (or a local planetary government) has tasked the PCs with coming up with a way to resist the coming Rakatan forces, perhaps by exploring nearby systems in hopes of discovering new allies.
- The PCs are members of the Je’daii Order who have been ordered to investigate some recent, possibly dark side, activity of some of the members of the Order.
Hopefully these examples have helped you think about exciting and innovative campaign design elements for your own DotJ game! Are there other options I’ve overlooked? And where should the DotJ in Saga series go from here? Let me know in the comments!
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