Minos Cluster Setting Part 1 - Deciding on the Cluster and the Imperial Presence
This is possibly an ongoing series - either that or in a few months I'll need to get rid of that Part 1 when no one is looking...
So after doing what we thought would be a one-shot D6 Star Wars game back in May, my gaming group wound up doing an Edge of the Empire Star Wars campaign throughout the summer. We did a 5th Edition D&D game in the autumn and are back to the Edge of the Empire game again.
After running the Beginner Set game which was set on Tatooine the group needed something of a "home base". While jumping through the galaxy is traditional in Star Wars, as GM I find Star Wars games go a bit smoother with some unifying element to them, with a sector location working best. In one of my favorite D6 Star Wars games a large portion of the campaign had taken place in the Elrood Sector which had been detailed in Planets of the Galaxy, Volume Three as well as the campaign Operation: Elrood. We had a rather memorable climax to that campaign, with the Rebels successfully destroying a Star Destroyer. As they'd been in the White Crane, a Mon Calamari Deep Water-class freighter throughout the entire campaign, the set of a Star Destroyer was always their signal to run. So it was a great triumph for them to be able to cause the Empire such a loss.
After a few initial adventures on various planets throughout the Outer Rim, we talked about various options in our group for a more permanent home. The players liked the idea of some place far away from everything. They'd made enemies of various Hutts as well as attracted the Empire's attention by helping an Imperial Senator escape arrest - our game is set a few years before the dissolution of the Senate, with organized Rebellion in its infancy, as seen in the Star Wars: Rebels animated series.
So we were looking for a place farthest from the bright center of the universe that wasn't Tatooine. Even though all of the Expanded Universe has been consigned to Legends continuity, this was our game so I could use whatever I damn well pleased. It's not like Disney was gonna send Mortimer Mouse to stop us from playing. Not that I'd go out of my way to violate "canon" but all that old stuff is a goldmine - and you can see elements of the Legends continuity being adapted into the canon - for example, Project Shantipole, the creators of the B-Wing, seems to have become the planet Shantipole - where a Mon Calamari created the B-Wing (and there is still a possibility of a full production being realized by a Project Shantipole).
What I decided on, with input from the rest of the group, was using the Minos Cluster, as seen in Galaxy Guide Six: Tramp Freighters. There were a number of things I liked, some things I changed, and some I added.
To begin with, a sector well away from everything allows the PCs to be the stars. They are not competing with Luke Skywalker - for the natives, they get to be the Luke Skywalker. Tramp Freighters indicated only six fully colonized planets. While I understand the frontier feel the authors were going for, I wanted something that felt bigger. Not that I wanted a crowded sector, but I wanted something with a lot of planets, even if many of the colonies are smaller settlements. I wanted the feel of the Rim of the Firefly tv series. I made a map of the sector (something never officially done in the D6 line) and added my own planets as well as adding some blank planets to be filled in as need arises. And should those get filled out we can always expand the sector further.
With the Star Wars prequels completed, the Clone Wars are no longer a nebulous period - we know what the fight was about and this allowed me to decide what most of the planets were doing during the war. I'll go over individual planets in other postings in this series, but for the most part I decided the Minos Cluster was primarily for independence, with most of its planets joining the Confederacy of Independent Systems, though with a few Republic Loyalist worlds. Unlike the major economic powers of the Confederacy, the average citizen was interested in independence due to the neglect they felt from distant Coruscant. Tramp Freighters also suggested it was a journey of weeks from the Cluster to the nearest Imperial world, something which does not quite fit with what we know of the galaxy after many more years of details since the original trilogy. It is more likely that the next world from the sector is at most a day or two away from the edge of the sector. Based on what I've seen in The Clone Wars animated series, I'm assuming that the normal way of navigation throughout the galaxy is by known and well-established trade routes, it is absolutely possible to plot a course from any planet to any other planet - the problem being the calculations get rather difficult and it is unpractical to always operate in that manner. This explains how one can run a game set in a single sector while still existing in the same universe where characters jump from Tatooine to Coruscant in a negligible amount of time. For most people, this much of an explanation isn't necessary, but I'm one of those people who needs these little details...
Tramp Freighters suggested that the Empire, never a large presence to begin with in the sector, withdraws much of its in order to better hunt the Rebels down after the Battle of Yavin. As our game is set a few years before that event, I'd clearly need to change that. In my mind, while the sector would be heavily occupied in the early years of the Empire, now, some 15-16 years after the end of the Clone Wars, while there is an overall anti-Imperial sentiment, it is not a strong feeling. The Empire does not consider the sector to be a particular priority - it doesn't have any resources it specifically needs - certainly it needs metals and other supplies to build its ultimate weapon, the Death Star, but the Minos Cluster would be one of hundreds of sectors providing that. I imagine in the years since the end of the Clone Wars, the Empire has been slowly reducing its presence.
Per Tramp Freighters, there are four capital ships in the sector - an aging Victory-class Star Destroyer, a troop carrier, a fighter carrier, and a light cruiser (dedicated to securing the Imperial prison). I decided to keep that arrangement, though I've done some tinkering. For example, the troop carrier is now one of Acclamator-class Assault Ship seen at the Battle of Geonosis in Attack of the Clones. Officially there are also only a pair of customs ships in the sector - I've decided to up that a little bit given the increased number of planets in the sector, but it is still possible the characters will go entire adventures without seeing a single stormtrooper or Imperial ship. I do figure most systems have a planet-based TIE Fighter squadron available - a dozen fighters. And each colonized planet has customs officials assigned to the spaceport - and for many adventures, this will be the extent of the Imperial presence.
What does this small Imperial presence mean? If the characters become Rebels, it means the forces against them are manageable - but there is also the risk of attracting greater Imperial attention. Imagine the horror the arrival of a single Imperial Star Destroyer would bring.
However, if the characters do become involved in the Rebellion, this is something I foresee happening slowly. The starting Imperial presence allows for a realistic presence of pirates which can serve as actual threats - a dedicated pirate fleet could likely be able to attack colonies and be able to hold off any defenses, much like historically pirates would attack coastal towns. It also means characters such as bounty hunters and mercenaries might be hired to be the "good guys", hunting down slavers, pirates, etc.
So far in our game we've done three adventures (taking five sessions) in the Minos Cluster. In those adventures, there have been occasional appearances by customs officials, no stormtroopers, and no TIE fighters. The adventure I'm working on currently looks to be the first one where the Imperial presence is important.