Star Wars: Dawn of Defiance

Episode Four: Session Five
Enter the Dragon

Leaving the archives and defeated noghri behind, the heroes make their way down the sloping tunnel and enter a large cavern with gaping holes leading to water deep below.

And there, standing on the other side, illuminated by his lightsabre and that of his apprentice, is none other than Inquisitor Draco.

“You make out a figure in a flowing scarlet robe of septsilk. You recognize him from the message you received many months ago after your adventure on Bespin: Inquisitor Valin Draco. He is flanked on one side by a stern-looking female whose lightsaber gives a red tint to their surroundings. There is a glint in Draco’s eye and a chilling smile on his lips, as if he already knows more about you than you know about yourselves. Just behind Draco, an incandescent object floats in the air, seeming to grow out of a small cube strapped to Draco’s forearm.”

As the heroes spread out from the entrance, Draco talks to them, as, unseen, his Shadow Troopers make ready to fire their stealth rifles.

“I am Valin Draco, and, like you, I once thought myself a hero. During the Clone Wars, the brave men and women I commanded called me the ‘Valiant Dragon’ as we fought in epic conflicts for the
corrupt Republic. But after I was left for dead on the battlefield of Parein II 4, flattering titles lost their meaning for me. These are dark times, and I know that you’ve suffered great losses, that you wrestle with the same concerns of virtue and compromise that I did as a Jedi, the same concerns that have plagued the conscientious since time immemorial. Surrender yourselves to the Empire. I promise your treatment will be gentler, and you might even be given the chance to serve me. Surrender yourselves—or face your destiny.”

The heroes, naturally, refuse, and initiate combat as Tracer opens fire, trying unsuccessfully to destroy the wrist-computer that the Sith Holocron is attached to.

Draco salutes them, saying “As you die, rest assured that I reflected on you as on all enemies:
despising that you must be wrong and I right, but reveling in the triumph of my convictions while whatever species of maggot indigenous to this world expedites the transition of your carcasses from this existence to the next.”

And while While Draco speaks, the sinister blot hovering behind him seems to pulse and seethe with rage. “Before your eyes, the wraith seems to transfer some of its dark energy into the Inquisitor, wreathing the Human in shadows. The evil holocron gatekeeper hovering in the room seems to writhe with malevolence, and there is clearly some vile connection between it and the Inquisitor. Draco’s eyes acquire a sickening gold hue, and his voice plummets in pitch as he gives a command to the woman and soldiers at his side. ‘My brave companions—kill them,’ says Draco”.

Raik Muun steps forward to deal with them:

“The fire-haired woman stalks toward you, clad in a dark version of the Inquisitor’s attire. She appears Human, but something about her says otherwise. Then you see it. Draco’s gaze shows ruthlessness and calculation, but this Dark Jedi’s entrancing, green-slitted pupils harbor only murder and dementia.”

With the flick of a thumb, the red blade of her lightsaber streaks into existence, casting her body into a bewitching vermillion glow. Each syllable of her death sentence tumbles like wisps of smoke from her lips. “Come at me one at a time or all at once. All shall pass from this world.”

And the melee commences:

As blaster bolts rip chunks out of the wall from the unseen rifles of the Shadow Troopers, the somewhat battered and scorched Droid of Doom opens up with a burst of auto-fire, missing Draco but catching Raik Muun with several bolts. The two Dark Jedi call upon the Dark Side of the Force, imbuing themselves with Dark Rage.

Jedi Riddick uses the Force to sense the Shadow Troopers, locating them and quickly pointing them out to the others. Valdor gestures to the others, directing them as the Jedi moves up to deal with the Dark apprentice and the former clone trooper starts edging around the edge, looking for the hidden Shadow Troopers.

The Dark Side is strong, and it seems that luck is against the heroes. First off, an invisible bolt hits Valdor, wounding him. Then Inquisitor Draco uses Move Object, which Riddick fails to Rebuke, and is thrown against the wall with a solid crunch. Raik Muun partially deflects another burst of fire from the Droid of Doom, and then the Dark Jedi stabs out with her lightsabre, but the blow is blocked by the Padawan’s hand as he Negates the Energy of the blade for a moment. He retaliates, swinging low and scoring a hit, using the following hesitation to catch his breath. Meanwhile, Tracer spots a couple of Shadow Troopers, almost hidden in the darkness of the cavern; he opens up with a burst of blaster bolts, piercing armour and wounding them; and then Valdor finished them off with a well-aimed frag grenade.

Inquisitor Draco follows up with a Force Grip on Riddick, clutching his throat, as his apprentice moves up hoping for a kill. She is distracted by another burst of auto-fire from the Droid of Doom, which helps the struggling Jedi block a thrust from Raik Muun’s lightsabre. As Tracer moves to flank, he tries to hit Draco, but the Dark Jedi deflects the shot, right back into Tracer, scoring a glancing blow, and Valdor lobs another grenade, injuring the other two Shadow Troopers, who both miss with their shots.

Then the heroes luck turns. Raik Muun fails to dodge more blaster bolts from the Droid, and her attack is blocked by the Jedi Riddick’s blade. Released from the Force Grip, the young Padawan uses the Force to drain the power from the Sith Holocron, taking out the Darth Rivan ghost, and visibly weakening the Inquisitor. This distraction allows both Tracer and Valdor to land shots on the Dark Jedi, neither deflected; and the two injured Shadow Troopers also miss, their shots going wide.

Riddick cuts down Raik Muun, then is struck by a powerful burst of Force Lightning from Inquisitor Draco, which knocks the Jedi prone and causes his muscles and nerves to spasm. Tracer opens fire with full auto, some bolts hitting Draco, others deflected, and then Valdor takes out the last two Shadow Troopers with another grenade.

Only Inquisitor Draco stands before the heroes now, enraged and in melee with the Jedi. He lashes out, but Riddick blocks skilfully, but his return attack is just as easily blocked. Then the Droid of Doom and Tracer open up with full auto-fire, some bolts deflected and others striking the Dark Jedi, scorching his arms and legs. Then, visibly injured and weakening before their eyes, Inquisitor Draco Force Slams Riddick to the ground, and in a final burst of auto-fire, the deadly Droid of Doom guns the Dark Jedi down; who crashes to the floor, and rolls off into the dark chasm below, disappearing with a splash.

And as he falls, Riddick calls on the Force to summon the Holocron to him. The item they came for.

With the Dark Jedi left for dead, the heroes head out of the temple, as it begins to collapse around them:

“As you run through the ruins of the academy’s ground floor, the remaining walls of the fountain room and the columns in the entry hall collapse around you, showering you with dust. As you leap for the exit out of the academy, huge clouds of dust billow into the air, obscuring your view as the ground quakes and devours the ruins. As the dust clears, you could not have imagined how good
Almas’ toxin-filled air would feel in your lungs. It’s a good thing you rescued the holocron, because no one will be able to go back down there for a long, long time. Looking away from the falling rubble, you see the familiar buildings of deserted Forard city. You feel like resting a bit before walking back to your ship. You can’t wait to reunite with your uncomfortable bunk bed.
Master Denia will be grateful that you’ve recovered the holocron. You should return to the Resurgence soon, before more Imperial agents come looking for Inquisitor Draco.”

They quickly board the Heart of Alderaan and leave the system, entering hyperspace before the Imperials can locate them. Back on-board the Resurgence, they hand over the holocron to Master Denia, after telling them about Draco and learning that he used to be her Padawan.

“This sounds like quite an ordeal you experienced, and whether you follow the Jedi ways or not, you have contributed greatly to the enlightenment of the Force. With this item, I will seek answers about the slaves that you rescued at Bespin, and hopefully some clues about the Empire’s Sarlacc Project. I am also curious about the creatures and evil forces that you encountered in the academy, and if I find information about them, I will advise you. But now if you’ll excuse me, I must meditate.”

And as she does so, the heroes retire for some much needed rest and recuperation.

End of Episode Four

Heroes are now all Level 9

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Episode Four: Session Four
Illusions, Madness, Noghri

Their exploration of the second sub-level brings the heroes into the park at the centre of the academy.

No sooner do they enter, each suddenly finds himself alone, walled in, and from the shadows come people from their past: The Droid of Doom finds himself confronted with a Clone Trooper, raising his rifle to attack; Riddick finds himself a Clone Trooper too, the whisper of Order 66 strong; Tracer is squared off against an old Battle Droid, weapon ready to fire; and Valdor finds himself facing his old enemy, Baron Kithriss, vibroblade in hand.

It doesn’t take long for them too all realise that it is an illusion, although both the droid and former trooper exchange fire before they come to their senses. As soon as they are all convinced it is an illusion, the illusions shatter and they find themselves once more in the park; just as the T’Salak and its spawn attack: but they are more than a match for the black ooze, and dispatch it swiftly without any injuries.

They continue with their search, coming to a room with light pouring out of an open blast-door. As they approach, Tracer scouting ahead, they are surprised by a deadly Night-hunter that springs forth from the doorway; the former Clone Trooper opens fire, but the sudden appearance of the beast causes his aim to go wide, and the shot blasts a hole in the floor.

The Droid of Doom opens fire, but the Night-hunter’s hide is blaster resistant, and the bolt just bounces off harmlessly. Putting his rifle aside, Tracer whips out his knife and stabs at the beast, but it dodges out of the way. As Valdor moves aside to let Riddick get closer, the Jedi ignites his lightsabre and attacks, cutting deep swathes of flesh and hide from the beast; it tries to retreat, but a couple of more hits from the Jedi have it slinking away, and as the others keep it from escaping, the young Padawan and Knight-in-Training finishes it off.

Inside the room is a force-cage, which Riddick drains using the Force. Inside the cage is a broken Jedi, Master Vhiin’Thorla, who refuses to go with them, obviously deeply traumatised and in need of serious healing, both physically and mentally. However, the heroes do manage to get him to talk, enough to learn that none other than Inquisitor Draco is here, and that he has the holocron and was last heard heading to the archives on this level. Leaving the Master behind to be collected on their way back, the heroes head to the archives room and enter, spotting the ancient and damaged artefacts and the rubble partially blocking a tunnel leading into darkness.

As they enter, they are completely surprised by the noghri who are lying in wait:

The noghri get two hits before the heroes have a chance to react, wounding both Valdor and the Droid of Doom; moments later they are hit again, by knife and blaster. In retaliation, the Droid of Doom and Tracer open fire, spraying the room with bolts that hit and wound several of the noghri, while the Jedi moves into position, ducking blows aimed his way, and Valdor lobs a grenade, hitting the assassins and their leader.

The former senator takes another hit, but the rest of the noghri miss as the luck turns in the heroes favour: both the Droid of Doom and Tracer hit another noghri, while Riddick calls on the Force and Slams three of the noghri to the floor, where Valdor blasts them on full automatic, taking out two of the grey-skinned creatures.

The noghri leader raises his blaster to shoot the droid again, but the Jedi drains the power pack before he has a chance; while the others fire into the remaining noghri, injuring them, while all the time dodging blows and knife swipes. Valdor lobs another grenade, and takes out both the leader and one of the assassins.

Then, in a final flurry of blaster bolts and swishing lightsabre, the Droid of Doom, Tracer and Jedi Riddick take out the remaining noghri.

All is quiet once more, the cave tunnel beckoning them on…

…to an encounter with the Dark Jedi, Inquisitor Draco.

End of Session

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Episode Four: Session Three
Dream Beats and Cultists

After a bit of first aid and life transfer, thanks to the Force. The heroes gather themselves together and descend the stairs, entering the dark and still unpowered lowest level.

It is colder down here, the shadows seem thicker and the feeling of foreboding, of the insidious Dark Side, is even stronger. The light of the glow-rods seem to flicker and dim, drips of water fall from the cracked ceiling, and all around there seem to be half-heard whispers close, but far away. Sound is muffled, subdued. The air is stale and musty, the scent of blood and offal lingers.

They start to explore, slowly. They find a disused shooting range and a looted armoury, only a few old blaster pistols and viable power packs still functioning. They come across empty dormitories, and a refresher cubicle. An underground stream, covered by a pane of glass, cuts through the floor, through several rooms. They pass an archway leading to the remains of an underground garden, but leave it alone for now.

They enter another room, a larger dormitory with doors leading off. As they walk in, the room seems to swim before their eyes, and then, from the shadows, creatures born from nightmares spring forth.

Several of them are shifting masses of shadow and flesh, their forms constantly changing as they scamper towards the heroes, but the creature that transfixes them is a gargantuan dragon, flickers of lightning cackling from its mouth. It seems impossibly large, too big to fit into such a small room, but it is substantial and obviously dangerous.

In the first seconds, blaster bolts fly, claws swipe and lightsabre flashes. One of the nightmare creatures is pulverised, collapsing into a mess of body parts on the floor. Then the dragon opens it mouth and a burst of Force Lightning strikes the droid, once more causing his circuits to short and his shields to falter.

Riddick Force Slams the enemies to the floor, the dragon slumping against the wall. More blaster fire, more claws, and Valdor takes out another nightmare. The Droid of Doom takes a shot at the dragon, but its blaster seems to have little effect; in retaliation, more Force Lightning strike him, but his shields hold up and absorb most of the damage.

Thinking that his lightsabre will cut through the dragon’s hide better, Riddick engages it in melee, while Tracer and the Droid of Doom pour blaster fire into its hide, and Valdor takes out another nightmare.

The Jedi cuts into the dragon’s hide, causing more damage than the bolts from his friends weapons. But then the dragon tears into the Jedi with tooth and claw, cutting him badly. The other nightmare falls to further blasts, and then the heroes turn their full attention to the dragon, which moves up close and swipes at them with claws and bites with needle-sharp teeth.

For a moment is seems all is lost. Riddick is seriously injured, and both Tracer and Valdor are wounded, and the Droid of Doom is still suffering from the lightning. But then the tables are turned, as the Jedi takes a steadying breath, focusing himself as he stabs and slashes with his lightsabre. The former senator and Clone Trooper target the wounded side of the beast, burning away its hide, and with a re-routing of power, the Droid of Doom recovers and blasts away, burning large holes in its hide.

Then the Jedi lands the killing blow… and suddenly the room swims out of focus for a moment, and when it clears, the bodies are all gone, the lingering presence of the Dark Side stronger than ever. Some Force Dream, or phantoms, but real enough to injure.

They patch themselves up, take a moment to ready themselves, and once more start to explore the level, looking for the missing holocron. The sense of danger has grown, the shadows seem thicker than ever, but the heroes keep on.

Almost an hour since they first entered the ruins, they come across the medical bay. The door is forced open, to reveal a band of demented and manic cultists, dressed like scavenging monks, their eyes red like a Sith. Clutching crude spears, they scream and holler in some gibberish language and without further thought, they attack!

As Valdor opened the door, the first cultist charges at him, his spear stabbing into the Zabrak’s side. The former senator cries out for help, blasting at the cultist as he does so. The Droid of Doom opens fire, but without a clear shot, he hits the door frame. From the corridor, Tracer takes aim and hits the cultist in the shoulder. Then Riddick steps forward, and uses the Force to slam several cultists to the floor. The Force surges back into him, and his power comes back.

A shifting of positions allows the droid to use his auto-fire setting, covering the room with a flurry of blaster bolts, wounding several insane cultists. Then the Jedi slams more into the fall, and Valdor lobs a grenade inside, killing two outright and injuring a couple more. A follow-up shot from Tracer takes out another, but a thrown spear hits him, grazing his arm.

The two soldiers and Jedi enter the room, dodging spears from cultists. They wound a zealot, take out the remaining cultist, and leaving only the leader alive. He swiftly follows as they combine fire and take him out.

With the dust settling, and cultists lying dead around them, they do a quick search and find a couple of medpacs. They find nothing else, and start exploring the rest of the ruins.

End of Session

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Episode Four: Session Two
Zombies!

The ruins of the Jedi academy are full of shifting shadows, a deep feeling of foreboding and the almost palatable sense of the Dark Side of the Force. The building is unstable, debris falling as winds shift stone and rock. Dust trickles from above, and the groan and creak of settling masonry echoes through the ground floor of the academy.

Following Seven-Ay’s directions, the heroes enter the ruined ground floor and make their way past broken statues and buried rooms, towards the only entrance to the sub-levels below, a dysfunctional turbo-lift that is only partially blocked by rubble. They pass a dry fountain on the way, a pool of black goo at its bottom, seeming to move of its own accord, but dismissed as nothing more than a trick of the light. Seven-Ay tells them that although the academy lies in ruins, the generator room below might be able to be kick-started, allowing them to light their way. In the meantime, they shed light on their surroundings with glow-rods and lightsabre.

As they reach the end of the corridor, the ceiling sags and then breaks open as rubble falls down: bricks and stone bounce off the heroes, but two larger chunks slam into Valdor and the Droid of Doom, trapping them underneath the old stone. With some help from Tracer, Jedi Riddick uses the Force to lift the rubble from them, and they continue on.

They descend into the first sub-level, using ropes to abseil down the shaft. It is dark, pitch black except for their lights. They begin to explore, following Seven-Ay’s directions, locating the control room. Valdor plugs his portable power generator into the door controls, opening them, and when inside he swiftly gets the consoles ready to be powered up. Then they do the same for the Generator room, and access the back-up, providing power to the level once again. Lights flicker back on, sparks fly from damaged controls. Back at the control room, they download a map of the level and open the blast doors. They decide that the library is probably the best place to look for the Holocron and set of for it, exploring the other rooms on the way. In most they find nothing, just debris, signs of past looting, but in a store room that find a pair of secure lock-boxes, old Mandalorian safes that are impervious to most forms of energy. They pick them up and being them along with them.

They reach the library and enter, feeling on edge, expecting something to leap out of the shadows at them at any moment.

This library isn’t as large as its austere counterpart on Coruscant, but the ruination that greets them is no less dismaying. Even in dim light, they can make out a room that once was filled from floor to ceiling with shelves that housed hundreds of holobooks overflowing with
Jedi wisdom. Now, the repository has been pulverized into dust by blaster fire, and the shelves rest toppled at precarious angles throughout the chamber, shattered against research stations and
the marble floor. The shelves are kept company by overturned chairs and damaged computers spitting sparks. About 2.5 meters above is an open second floor, where even more despoiled shelves, holobooks, and datacards lie. More bloodscrawled graffiti again attests to cultist desecration. The second floor has a catwalk that cannot be reached without a hoversled. Beneath the walkway ledge, at the eastern wall, a wooden door has been splintered open. Framing it are two bronzium busts, presumably of noble Jedi, one of them decapitated. A small plaque identifies the bust as Jedi Master Qornah. The head lies on the floor, severed in half. Oddly, the inside of the sculpture appears to have sheltered something cubical. Just the right size for a Holocron.

Thinking that the Holocron might be hidden in the other bust, they break it open, but find nothing. A search of the library and the study also reveal nothing. But then they notice that, according to the map, there should be another room adjacent to the library, opposite the study. A more determined search soon reveals a door hidden behind a bookshelf, and with some skill, the former noble turned rebel, triggers the lock and the door opens.

As the blast door whooshes open, the unmistakable odor hits the heroes like a punch from a Barabel shockboxer: decaying flesh. Strewn before them, barely lit by their glow-rods, are about twenty cadavers representing the gamut of alien anatomy and osteology, from Besalisk to Dug to Pinurquian. Judging from the death grip that the deceased have on their weapons, you surmise that two different parties met here a while ago, possibly to cut a deal or as rivals of some sort, and wound up wiping each other out. They spot a descending stairway on the other side.

Slowly, cautiously, they enter. There are no signs of life. They reach mid-way, then Valdor and the clunking Droid of Doom trigger a motion sensor, and the stairway and entrance are suddenly sealed off by blast-doors whooshing shut.

An unexpected chill runs through up the spine, as they all hear moans coming from all around behind them. Impossibly, the cadavers that were littering the floor earlier are now shambling toward the group. One of them vaguely resembles a Kel Dor. Many of the corpses hold blaster pistols in bony hands that are blemished with chunks of spoiled flesh. The heroes are surrounded by the approaching corpses. Along with their putrefied organic remains, the dark side drips from the reanimated cadavers like saliva from a predatory nexu. Dancing light fills the cavernous eye sockets of their decomposing general as the Kel Dor corpse levels its blaster pistol, and the undead horde charges.

Finding himself toe-to-toe with one of the corpses– a rotting rodian– Riddick slashes out with his lightsabre, cutting into the flesh of the creature: as chunks of spoiled muscle burn away, the zombie lashes out with its own fist, catching the Jedi a glancing blow. Another zombie rushes as the Droid of Doom, who side-steps and blasts at the approaching glowing-eye corpse– a near-human in ripped and stained space-suit– his blaster bolts burn more holes into the corpse, but still it advances. Another zombie raises behind Riddick, pummelling his back, while Tracer takes careful aim and virtually disintegrates the corpse that the Jedi slashed. Valdor joins in with a grenade, lobbed in the middle of the undead, fragments cutting into the flesh of all, severing fingers and removing one of their arms completely.

Then the Jedi feels a surge of Dark Side power, and the Kel Dor corpse flings outs its decaying hand, throwing a Force Slam at the heroes: Riddick Rebukes it, dissipating the attack before it reaches them; but is then unprepared for the bolts of Force Lightning that swiftly follow, crackling into both the Jedi and causes some of the Droid of Doom’s circuits to fry. The other glowing-eyed corpse turns to Tracer, hand raised in a clenching motion: suddenly the ex-Clone Trooper finds it difficult to breath as his wind-pipe is squeezed tightly.

In retaliation, Riddick Force Slams back, dismembering two of the zombies, chunks of their flesh hitting the walls with a wet smack. The Droid of Doom takes revenge by filling the Kel Dor with more holes, and while Tracer struggles to breath, Valdor takes a shot at the near-human, but narrowly misses. Then the Force-using corpses return the favour: another Force Slam knocks the ex-Clone Trooper and Jedi to the ground, and the former senator suddenly finds himself unable to breath, as a couple of zombies close in on him.

Riddick summons the Force and picks up the Kel Dor, throwing him into the near-human to knock them both to the ground, and the Droid of Doom blasts them as they fall; the Kel Dor is splattered on the ground, but then a swarm of firefly-like particles pour forth from its mouth and eyes, and head straight into one of the other corpses. With a lurch, that body climbs to its feet, its eyes glowing!

The same thing happens as the Droid of Doom blows the near-human to bits; more particles of light gush from the mouth, and another corpse stands. Realising what is happening, the heroes quickly count the number of bodies that could be used as hosts, and know that they have to do. In the meantime, Riddick takes on the new host, engaging it with his lightsabre, and Tracer blows the head off the last standing non-Force using zombie.

As the Jedi and ex-Clone Trooper keep the two new hosts busy, exchanging blows and ducking attacks, the former senator and battle droid start blasting the remaining corpses. But now the damage to the heroes is getting bad; the droid’s shields are down and his circuits damaged; the senator is barely standing, claws and bruises and sore ribs slowing him down. Everyone has taken damage, but they are still standing.

Valdor almost falls as the hosts bring up their blaster pistols and fire, wounding the senator. He ducks back, as the droid comes up to protect him. Riddick calls on the Force and drains the power packs of the blasters, allowing Tracer to move in and aim a shot right between one of the host’s eyes: the corpses falls as its head explodes, and the swarming particles, with nowhere to go, suddenly scream and burn up in the atmosphere.

The second host follows quickly, as a combined burst of blaster fire from the two soldiers takes it out. The particles, some sort of Force-using parasites, burn up and the fight is over.

All is quiet in the aftermath. Seven-Ay has been badly damaged in the battle, hit by the Force Slam and Lightning. As his power starts to ebb out, he picks up a piece of paper he saw. On it are words, written in the old Sith tongue. He quickly translates them, reading them out loud before his power fails. A name appears on it, half scorched away: DA-TH R-V-N.

The words:

‘There is no passion . . . there is solely obsession.
There is no knowledge. There is solely conviction.
There is no purpose. There is solely will.
There is nothing . . .
Only me.’”

As soon as the words are spoken, there is a surge in the Dark Side. The room shakes as if an earthquake has hit, dust cascades from the ceiling, and from somewhere wind blows across the room. Then all is still once more.

End of Session Two

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Episode Four: Session One
Pirates, Squirrels and Blobs

On board the Resurgence the heroes are briefed by Jedi Master Denia on their next mission:

“Your help to our cause in the last few months has been invaluable and your dedication exemplary. During my recovery, I had time to reflect on our goal—to discover the purpose of the Sarlacc Project.

“While studying at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, I learned about holocrons—recording devices into which Jedi stored their wisdom to pass on to future generations. Some holocrons, such as the prized Tedryn Holocron of Jedi Master Ashka Boda, were tailored toward helping Jedi Masters penetrate the secrets of the Force. Even beings already trained in the Jedi ways, like myself, greatly benefit from such a source of learning.

“I summoned you because the Force has pulled together threads of knowledge to reveal the location of a holocron similar to the Tedryn. Some time before I traveled to Cato Neimoidia, Master Ashka Boda contacted me with news that he had joined the former Almas Academy student Halagad Ventor in trying to form a network between the scattered Jedi survivors of the destruction of the academy. During the Clone Wars, an orbital bombardment decimated the academy in the Cularin system, and if any artifacts have survived, common sense suggests that they have since been stolen. But the Force tells me that the holocron we require is there.

“I’ve never been to the planet Almas in person, but I knew the headmaster there, a serene Jedi Master named Lanius Qel-Bertuk. I have no current information on the planet, but I can provide you with coordinates and a path through the treacherous comet cloud that surrounds the Cularin system. These were obtained at great expense thanks to Senator Organa’s vast connections.

“I feel this is crucial to our cause, because I have sensed a link between the Sarlacc Project and the slaves that you tried to rescue above Bespin. But I have probed the Force tirelessly and at last reached my limits. With this Jedi holocron, however, I might expand my ability to see through the Force and find the answers we seek. Furthermore, I will be able to pass on the lessons it contains to a future generation of Jedi, thus coming one step closer to restoring peace and justice to the galaxy."

Basically, she wants the heroes to go to the planet Almas, find the lost holocron and bring it back. Sounds simple enough…

Several hours after leaving the Corellian Run, their starship, the Heart of Alderaan, exits hyperspace at the calculated point just outside the Cularin system. Exactly as they were warned by Master Denia, the heroes notice innumerable comets of all shapes and sizes occasionally colliding with each other, forming an enormous cloud around the system. Fortunately, they were supplied with a sensor package that analyses their erratic patterns and calculates a safe path through the cloud. Once past that danger, another jump must be calculated to avoid flying for weeks at sublight speeds. However, this time the calculations are trickier due to large, overlapping gravity wells created by the system’s dense planet cores. But knowing people who’ve made the Kessel Run, this can’t be worse than skirting the Maw cluster. An hour later, the ship again emerges from hyperspace and the planet farthest from Cularin’s twin suns comes into view, lambent and mysterious: Almas.

The first thing the heroes notice from orbit is the strange luminescence that emanates from the planet itself. The twin suns are too distant to illuminate the planet, and they are approaching from the side facing away from them. Yet most of the surface emits a faint glow, except for one dark spot where the Jedi academy happens to be located according to the nav computer.

The second thing they notice is a consular-class frigate heading their way, just rising above the orbital plane: a ship painted blood-red and flanked by a pair of Z-95 starfighters. Almost as soon as they spot it, the communication panel beeps and the viewer flickers on to reveal, in all his preposterous glory, is a pointyeared, male near-Human with thick, flaring eyebrows, a patch of fur on his jutting chin, and a razor-thin mustache that would be the envy of any holodrama villain. He’s wearing an open crimson blouse, strapped down at the waist by a gold sash, and he brandishes a menacing vibrorapier. His gloating smile says it all.

“Let’s not waste time, you starforsaken spawns of space slugs,” the man says. “By the authority of the Red Fury Brotherhood, you’re now Captain Reddjak’s prisoners. Cut all power to your weapons and shields, and the Blood Brother won’t blow you out of the stars. Prepare for the pleasure of being boarded.”

The heroes waste no time in talking and activate their shields and power-up their weapons, hoping to outrun the vessel. Their ship is swifter and more agile, dodging a warning flurry of turbolaser blasts with ease, but the two Z-95 starfighters are soon closing in; but the combined fire of the Droid of Doom and Tracer quickly takes them out, and even score a lucky shot on the pirate ship. That ship, in turn, almost takes them out with a well-aimed turbolaser, but Riddick’s skilful Force-aided piloting rolls them out of the worse of it, and Valdor quickly re-establishes the shields.

Dodging the ship’s tractor beam again and again, the heroes manage to fly round the pirates and dive into the atmosphere of the planet, taking some damage from the hard-entry, but escaping the clutches of the pirates and safely arriving at the abandoned city of Forard.

A quick sensor scan indicates that the atmosphere is slightly toxic, high in oxygen and cold. The local plant-life, Kaluthin, covers the city, glowing. All except in the centre, where the remains of the Jedi Academy lies. Breath masks on, leaving their non-combatant droids to repair the ship and look after it, the heroes make their way through the deserted city.

The city is empty of men, women, and children. Hostile winds whip through the lifeless streets and between the alleyways of abandoned buildings. Unlike most of the planet, here the unchecked kaluthin has taken over, growing up to 2 meters tall in some parts of the city. And yet, the plant fails to mask strewn debris and the occasional decomposing body—the calling cards of looters and bandits who plundered the city after the unexpected attack almost two years
ago.

As the heroes walk through the discarded remnants of old lives, they notice the empty twin buildings housing the local children’s school. To the left, they see faded graffiti on the wall, below a sign that reads “*Remembrance Hall*.” And collective chill runs down their spines
as they make out suspiciously red letters that say, “*DEATH TO THE UNFAITHF*UL." When they get within a hundred meters of the academy ruins, they realise that all the kaluthin inside this radius has died off. This area is as dead as the entire planet was millennia ago. Furthermore, Riddickcan sense a strong feeling of the Dark Side here, spreading out across the wilted zone.

Up ahead they hear the sound of arguing, and spot a trio of rotund space-suited beings towering over five squirrel-like blue-furred beings, having a tug-of-war with a broken tarnished silver protocol-droid, who seems rather distressed. They spot the heroes as they approach and all eyes turn in their direction:

“Ged your unholy pseudopoda off dis Holy Artifact, Zquib-thing,” the big one says.

The little guy retorts, “From our dead, cold paws, ugly Ugor fiend-being! We did the location finding of this silver-ish, prettisome treasure pre-secondary!”

“It is unfortunate,” the half-droid says, “that Jedi Master Lanius never programmed me for a denouement of this particular design.”

“Hey, byu!” One of larger ones yells, popping off its helmet and turning part of its flabby amoebic body into an arm to wave the heroes over “Hey byu, tell Zquib zinners we find dis Holy Artifact infinitely dimes infinitely before dem. Blease!”

A quick discussion amongst themselves, the heroes decide to pretend that the droid is theirs, and that Jedi Riddick has come to claim it. Valdor does most of the talking, while the Droid of Doom readies his weapons, just in case. Meanwhile, Tracer sneaks through the ruins and flanks them: as he does, he sees a trio of large, pitch-black lizards sneaking towards the commotion: he yells out a warning and gets off a shot, singeing one of the lizard’s hides, as the creatures move into attack; the blue-furred Squibs and the squat Ugor scatter, pulling blasters, as another lizard rears up from behind them.

The Dark Lizards’ hungry, inky tongues unfurl from gullets that seem bottomless, thanks to the 10-centimeter ebon teeth lining their mouths, which dribble tarlike drool. These beasts resemble living shadows, and only their ivory claws indicate that their origin is not supernatural. Their obsidian hides radiate incalculably vile energy. There is no sign of intelligence in their primeval gazes, only the brand of distilled evil—their eyes smolder with the orange-red glow
of the dark side.

But the heroes aren’t daunted by such creatures. One-by-one the heroes spread their fire, wounding the lizards and avoiding their darting tongues. Valdor inspires them with a few well-chosen words, while Riddick calls on the Force to slam the beasts to the ground. Tracer takes the kill on the alpha lizard and another, one of Ugor and Squibs take out a third, and Valdor takes out the last lizard; all very quickly and efficiently.

In the aftermath the squibs and ugor hand the droid over to the heroes and then scarper, still arguing amongst themselves.

Leaving the heroes with the rescued droid, and the ruined Jedi Academy looming before them.

End of Session

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Episode Four: Update
Campaign Update

Echoes of the Jedi opens some months after the last adventure, The Queen of Air and Darkness.

The few Jedi who managed to survive Order 66 are in hiding, hunted down by the Emperor’s Inquisitors and stormtroopers—and by bounty hunters encouraged by the large sums offered. One Jedi was recently found inside Darga the Hutt’s palace on Cato Neimoidia, but luckily it was by an organization opposed to the Emperor’s tyrannical rule. Thus, Jedi Master Denia joined Senator Bail Organa’s small rebellion, now headquartered in a secret fleet of ships spearheaded by the Nebulon-B cruiser Resurgence. The fleet’s focus is the investigation of a top-secret Imperial military operation called the Sarlacc Project. The existence of the project has been revealed to Organa by an Imperial defector, Admiral Gilder Varth.

The heroes who rescued Master Denia have spent the past months investigating the Sarlacc Project and pursuing other ventures to further their individual careers, though they never lost contact with Senator Organa. However, Captain Sirona Okeefe, who transported the heroes aboard her ship the Banshee during their early adventures, has decided to part ways and take her chances with a more lucrative smuggling business.

The heroes now have their own ship, the Heart of Alderaan, bought with the winnings from the Sabacc Tournament, along with modified Z-95 Headhunters, and a couple of droids to look after the ship.

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Episode Four:
Opening Crawl

Opening Crawl

STAR WARS: DAWN OF DEFIANCE
Episode IV
ECHOES OF THE JEDI__

It is a dark time in the galaxy. The Jedi Knights, peaceful guardians of the Old Republic, are all but extinct, exterminated by the Emperor’s sinister agents.

But a few Jedi still survive, exiled from the galaxy they once protected and leaving echoes in the Force behind. The Emperor has sensed these remnants and seeks to control them, leaving no chance for future Jedi to arise from the ashes.

Most Jedi stay in hiding, some try to foil the Empire without revealing their existence, and others seek links to their former way of life, risking the wrath of the Emperor in hopes of re-igniting the flame of their ancient order . . .

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Interlude Session
Asteroids and Strange Aliens

As the Heart of Alderaan approaches the derelict ship, Valdor does a sensor sweep: the drifting ship, a few hours away from entering a decaying orbit that will destroy the vessel, is operating on minimal power, its engines have been slagged and are pumping radiation into space, making it impossible to scan for life-signs.

He also detects two asteroids, one floating behind the derelict, the other moving slowly towards it. As Riddick pilots the ship towards the vessel, the moving asteroid suddenly changes course, aiming for their ship. Concerned that the asteroids might actually be ships instead, Tracer straps himself into the Turbolaser gunnery-bay, and the Droid of Doom takes charge of the ship’s front-mounted laser cannons, operating them from the co-pilot seat. Meanwhile, Valdor activates the shields and concentrates the sensors on the two asteroids. Then he hails them, but gets no reply. Tracer locks the turret on the approaching rock, which triggers something: immediately, the two asteroids speed up, driven by some sort of gravity drive, glowing nodules on their fronts showing that these rocks are actually ships of some sort, possibly organic, armed and hostile if their intercept approach is anything to go by.

And hostile they are: the closing ships open fire, spitting superheated plasma at the ship, which shatters against their shields, some of the molten magma burning marks along the hull. Tracer and the Droid of Doom open fire, as Riddick begins evasive manoeuvres, and Valdor uses his sensors to track the strange vessels. The two rock-ships are nimble and their weapons are powerful, easily capable of destroying the two Z-95 starfighters in the hanger bay. But the Heart of Alderaan has excellent shields, and a thick hull, taking the shots that strike the shields. The combined fire causes one of the rocks to explode, shattering, expelling atmosphere into space, along with a body that is vaporised in the blast. The second ship follows soon after, and Riddick skilfully docks with the tumbling derelict.

Donning vacuum suits, the heroes enter the ship: they quickly discover that it has been wrecked, machinery destroyed, computers shattered. They head towards the bridge, but as they open the door to the rec room, an alien figure looms out of the shadows: a tall humanoid, with a sloping brow and piercing eyes, covered in scars and tattoos of strange design. He wears armour that reminds the heroes of a crab’s shell, and coiled around his arm is a snake-like creature that snaps into a staff.

The alien issues a challenge in a tongue none of them recognise, and attacks. A few seconds later, a second alien comes through the doors leading to the bridge, and also attacks.

But the heroes are used to combat now, their skills honed and sharp, and they are well-armed. The two aliens quickly fall, killed, before any of the heroes take even a scratch.

Into the bridge they go, to find it a complete wreck. Two corpses, two of the four-man team, lie on the floor. Valdor tries to access the ship’s logs, but the damage is too severe.

With nothing else to do, the heroes board their ship and head off to the planet, landing far enough away to escape notice, using their speeders to travel the few kilometres to reach the communications relay station. All seems quiet. They make their way to the station, on foot now, and enter. Before they go much further, as the Droid of Doom enters the communications room, it spots another of the scarred aliens, who seems enraged to see the droid, and attacks, yelling out in its alien tongue. This brings three more of the aliens into the fight, and soon blaster bolts are flying, the Jedi’s lightsabre is flashing, and the aliens are lashing out with the snake-staves.

Riddick tries to use the Force on one of them, but to his surprise they seem immune; more than that, they are voids in the Force, something unheard of. But even with this disadvantage, the Jedi is more than capable of holding his own, even when the staves spit venom and catch him, slowing his reactions.

The Droid of Doom becomes the focus of several attacks, the aliens giving him looks of hate and disgust; his shield quickly fails, he takes some damage, but in response he blasts holes through their armour, wounding them.

The aliens fall to the heroes, but the battle is tough. In the aftermath the heroes search the place, finding another corpse, but also a survivor: one of the team, injured but alive, tells them that the aliens came out of nowhere, attacking and destroying the ship, then the base. He was injured and managed to flee, and would have been killed too if the heroes haven’t arrived when they did.

Recovering the communications logs, the heroes bury the dead, and return to the Resurgence with the survivor, with a tale to tell.

End of Session

The heroes are now Level 7, and are respecced for the next campaign adventure

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Interlude: Opening Crawl
Mission to Pola IV

Episode IIIa: Interlude

Mission to Pola IV

While former Imperial Admiral Gilder Varth continues to search for clues to the identity of Project Sarlacc, our heroes act as couriers and messengers for the Resistance, helping to build contacts and establish resources.

On board their new ship, the Heart of Alderaan, the heroes are on a mission to the planet Pola IV, a swamp world with a toxic atmosphere, where a communications relay station is awaiting new supplies. Their mission is simple: deliver the supplies and return with the latest reports on Imperial communications in that sector.

But when the heroes arrive in the system, the station does not respond to their hails. As they approach a derelict ship, the station’s small frieghter, hangs lifeless in orbit.

As the heroes head towards the ship, they can not help but have a bad feeling about the mission…

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Episode Three: Session Three
Battle Over Bespin

The Gallofree Medium Transport identified as the Shackles of Nizon floats in space, illuminated by the light from Bespin below. A massive Tibanna gas hauling starship, laden with the explosive substance, barrels through space directly toward the slave ship.

However, between the heroes and the Tibanna gas hauler is nearly an entire squadron of the Empire’s newly commissioned and fresh off the production line, Imperial TIE fighters. Eight of the flat-winged vessels scream toward you, lasers flashing even at a great distance.

It is quickly apparent, that the heroes are no space combat pilots. Only Valdor seems to know how to fly the small fighters, but even he is no match for trained Imperial Pilots. The prototype TIE/In Fighters engage the heroes in dogfights, keeping them from the transports as they hurtle towards one another. In the distance, the Imperial Star Destroyer Assiduous looms.

The heroes take a heavy pounding, shields quickly depleting and Riddick finds himself close to being destroyed. The heroes manage to take out a few of the fighters, but they have done their job: the two transports collide with a mighty explosion, removing all evidence of the Empire’s dealing with the Hutt, and ending the lives of nearly 4000 slaves.

Knowing that they can do no more, the heroes take off and escape into Hyperspace, with heavy hearts.

End of Session

NB: There is now an interlude of six months before the Interlude Adventure that takes place between the first two Acts of the campaign. The heroes are now Level Six.

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