Advance Scout

Guided by his dimensional compass, the Scout roams the infinite universes, ever treading from world to world and plane to plane, seeking the latest tidings of new RPG-related releases...

This week my trusty dimensional compass has opened a portal to the universe of Star Wars, or to be more specific, to that of the Star Wars RPG from West End Games. There I discovered a new sourcebook that's just come out called Hideouts & Strongholds. It's a book that provides information on a multitude of fairly generic locations that are meant to be used as headquarters for characters, both PCs and NPCs alike. As a quote from the introduction of the book asserts, "There are two kinds of places in the galaxy: those you call home, and those you are called upon to destroy," and this sourcebook presents detailed information about locations that can be brought into a game as either kind. Whether a site from this book is incorporated into your Star Wars campaign as a home base for your own characters or as an enemy's lair is up to you, but either way the hideouts and strongholds in Hideouts & Strongholds should give a GM some helpful tools for bringing a setting to life.

The variety of locations in the book is pretty wide. There are descriptions of bases in space, such as the Battle Station, Space Platform, and a couple of Asteroid Bases, and a diverse selection of planetside bases as well, including Desert Oasis, Glacier Base, Island Hideout, Volcano Base, and Waterfall Cavern. The book includes locations that are specific to one political affiliation, like Imperial Rapid Deployment Station and Rebel Outpost, and also has some more generic entries like Starport and Lunar Surface Station. Altogether there are more than twenty bases described in the book, allowing PCs to explore, invade, or inhabit bases on a variety of worlds if they so desire.

Each entry in Hideouts & Strongholds includes floor plans and/or maps of the location, as well as a thorough description of what characters might encounter therein. Attention is given to the base's history, weapons capability, traps, surrounding terrain, and unusual environmental conditions, if any. In addition, descriptions of prominent NPCs that may be encountered are included for each base, and suggestions are offered concerning how each base might be integrated into an existing Star Wars campaign. It seems to me that GMs and players will likely put the locations to their own uses, but the suggestions are there all the same. Moreover, the locations described in the book can be used as models, examples to refer to when creating brand new bases of one's own.

Hideouts & Strongholds also (appropriately enough) contains a section on Base Engineering, which introduces a new advanced skill, (A) engineering, and provides a detailed description of one particular specialization of that skill, engineering: installation. This section discusses what skills, equipment, and resources are necessary to create a new home base or to modify a previously existing one. Players whose characters wish to design and build new bases must plan for such necessities as life-support systems, vehicle hangars, med bays, and airlocks, among others, in order to determine the cost of building the base and the time required to complete construction. Also included are statistics on certain crucial pieces of equipment that characters might want to integrate into their base's systems, such as vaporators, tractor beams, planetary shields, or heavy anti-orbital ion cannons (just in case). You can build a fleet of Death Stars if you've got the credits! (and a ridiculously generous GM…)

When I'm running a game (not necessarily Star Wars) and am using published source materials, I find I typically get the most use out of sourcebooks that are not entirely fleshed out, the ones that allow for some input on the GM's part. Sometimes I'll take a dungeon or something from a published adventure and graft my own rooms and passages onto it, or I'll just use the published map and change the contents to suit my own sinister purposes. I guess I enjoy taking a basic framework for a location or an adventure and completing it with my own details. Maybe that's why I like Hideouts & Strongholds. Its contents are pretty diverse, but a lot of room is left for creative GMs and players to develop their own bases if they're of the inclination to do so.

I can feel the energies of the portal forming before me, and my dimensional compass is telling me that my time here is short, but before I go, let me say again that I welcome your comments, questions, complaints, or suggestions on how I might make Advance Scout better. If there's an RPG item you're interested in knowing more about, let me know and I'll try to get some information on it. I want this area to reflect the interests of lots of gamers, not just me, so let me know what you'd like to see here. Until next week, may the force yada yada yada...:) Scout out.

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Scott T. Watkins
RPG Scout