Friday, May 18, 2012

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire; Iron Eclipse

Not too long ago, Dark Horse Digital had a sale on their Star Wars titles. Having some extra funds after pulling mucho overtime, I plunked down the cash and downloaded my comics.

Among the sale items, was Agent of the Empire. In short, 007 meets Star Wars. Done well too mind you.

The main character, Jahan Cross, is a graduate from the same academy as Han Solo who makes a few appearance that quite aren't cameos but don't fall into full fledged team up status either. It works for the most part and brings the new in with the old.

One of the fun things about the Star Wars setting, when done right, is that the area that the setting encompasses is huge. In a science fiction setting like Star Wars, or others of that nature, this allows the action to take place in areas that aren't formally controlled by only one faction. It puts Cross outside the boundaries of the Empire and relies on other bits of history in the long line of Star Wars history to get more of the connection to the setting inherent in.

Another thing done well is the threat. One can only have so many Death Stars, Planet Bursters, and other overpowered Star Killers around before you have to wonder why the Empire could ever lose.

In this instance, it's a virus that will override all droids and make them dance to one tune. This is a viable threat in a Star Wars setting where droids are basically smart tech everywhere. Your toaster could be a droid in the Star Wars setting.

While it would be hard to translate such a direct threat to most fantasy campaigns, those that have machine men, like Eberon and the War Forged, could be in for some potential issues. Otherwise the standard virus threat is pretty handy.

In terms of Jahan himself though, he is right up there with Bourne or other super spies. If trying to run such a campaign, the Game Master should insure that the characters are highly proficient in their field compared to about 90% of the people around them with only some real big threats having some similar fire power.

The characters need to have access to fancy goods. This could range from unique items to one shot items or items that don't necessarily work unless the user has a certain skill set. By making this items one shot or consumable, the Game Master can provide some more powerful items then he might normally slip into his campaign. Even better if these items come for a specific person who doubts the characters worthiness to use them.

On a tangent that I find most interesting though, is how Jahan perceives the universe around him. He works for the Empire because the Empire represents order. During the various assaults at the end of the old Clone Wars, he lost his sister due to the rioting and chaos and confusion. And he blames that on the Jedi.

Here, to an outside reader whose more familiar with the Star Wars setting and knows how everything turns out, it showcases how perception can be warped and how things can be viewed through a narrow focus.

In a super hero setting, some factions may work for what others perceive as an evil power but those who work for it perceive as a stabilizing force. Pitting these types of viewpoints against the players as opposed to the standard 'evil' ones can make for some more challenging encounters.

On the other hand, if the series continues for a while, I am curious as to how Dark Horse will handle the long term effects of the character against the setting. For one thing, Jahan doesn't hate aliens. Such entities generally don't have the good life in the Empire. For another, he respects droids. For another, he doesn't tolerate corruption and well, the Empire is rife with it.

If you've never thought of using the Star Wars setting to run something like a Spycraft game, Agent of the Empire provides a lot of direct inspiration drawn from other sources that shows how to stir, not shake, it all together.