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Episode 1929: Total Eclipse of the Hux

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It's hard to blockade a planet with almost any number of ships, really. A planet has a lot of space to cover to prevent any ships from getting through.

Planetary blockades do occur in fiction, notably in Star Wars Episode I, so they're definitely a thing that some people might expect. You can just handwave things and declare that a blockade is at least mostly effective without worrying too much about the specifics. Or you can try to justify it with massive firepower and effective tracking so that any ships trying to get through can be hunted down and destroyed.

Blockades are more realistically likely to work in a two-dimensional space, such as a shipping port (where they have traditionally been employed in real history). A siege is essentially a blockade of a town.

In game terms, you can essentially define a chance that a ship can get through a blockade (be it on a planet or in space), and run with that. Of course, any ship attempting to run a blockade is likely to be crewed by PC heroes, so they should have better than average odds of success, and get to leverage their skills and wiles to boost their chances even more. Rather than just assign a chance and roll some dice, you'll want to allow the players to roleplay any innovative tactics or tricks, and to have control of any combat they happen to end up in. Running a blockade could be an exciting encounter in a greater adventure scenario.

Commentary by Keybounce (who has not seen the movie)

Blockading with one ship: Reminds me of Khan vs Kirk.

Hiding in space is really, really difficult. Or, ...

Hiding while thrusting is really difficult, given sufficient computer power and observational data. If you know the target is nearby, the list of things you need to observe and analyze is significantly less. Hiding while giving off waste heat is really, really difficult, especially if you are close enough for that waste heat to be detected.

We've seen some stories where this was well done. Motie book 2—The Gripping Hand—had a big deal with the moties trying to run a blockade, and the key point there was (I am going from memory, forgive me if I get this wrong) that they were basically tossing bare-bones ships with iceballs through the warp point, and if the defenders could only track down N-1 of the ships that came through, was that last one a real ship hiding out somewhere, or just an iceball without a ship that either got lost or melted? Can you even tell a natural comet from one that came through the warps? Could the defenders be certain that they had gotten all of the moties, or would there be one ship still somewhere in the system, hiding out for a better chance?

The simple idea of "Wait until we coast to the other side of the planet, and then turn on our heat generating equipment" will only work if the detection equipment on these ships is really poor quality. As much as I'd like to point to some examples, the truth is, I can't - we have ground-based systems on Hoth that detect the enemy ships far enough out to put up their shields, we have detecting shields up or down, and even spotting where the shield generator is located in Episode VI, etc. So this universe seems to have decent space sensor technology, so the heat coming off even a coasting ship with life support should be visible from a distance of what, maybe 3× the radius of the planet? Trying to thrust to get away? I'm pretty sure we've seen following a hyperspace trajectory leaving a debris field in Episode V.

In fact, all we really know at this point is:

  1. Hux wants to both let these guys get away and pretend to defect, and
  2. Hux wants to kill them now that they know about the secret research project location;
  3. Hux will probably determine that they have this (minor) MacGuffin;
  4. Hux wants to know where the Resistance is, and wants to recover this MacGuffin;
  5. Hux almost certainly has the technology to track this ship, and
  6. Geez, somehow this ship gets away with no one following, right?

Clearly, they are being tracked, and the First Order will be relaying a message to someone at their destination. After all, messages are always faster than ships. (That one should be a Tropes page, but I didn't find it.)

Commentary by memnarch (who has not seen the movie)

And with that, we wrap up the session! Jim is, of course, quite fine with the break time for more backstory writing. There were 74 comics between death and respawn in Episode IV, and we've only had about half that time so far. Ben only got a few neat bits of action, so I'm not surprised he'd mention continuing to play, even though he's obviously dreading another Han Solo type appearing as the result of giving Jim more planning time. I would be very pleased if we had another rogue like that though; the plotline the Irregulars came up with for Han Solo the Traitor was amazing.

Sally, on the other hand, was hardly was active this session, so either we're not seeing everything that happened here, or she didn't get to do much this time. Maybe she took over the camera work a little more than she had planned? I think that Sally might want to have another character introduced next time. Kylo might be a great villain/antagonist character, but there's only so much that can be done when most of the action is focused on the good/protagonist team. Not to mention the obvious parallels to Darth Vader and the fact that Annie played both Princess and Vader at the same time. Sally's also been the only other PC member of the group to have played multiple characters in the same game without them dying, so multiple characters seem probable.

Coming up next session, costumes! I'm looking forward to the descriptions of course, but I'm really looking forward to learning how the GM will be handling it. We've had lots of weird sock puppets, and it's hard to forget the multitude of various accents displayed in the NPC meeting in Episode II. Maybe we'll get to read about an attempt at quick changing costumes, the map and character tokens getting messed up along with damage to the table, and finally a decision to just change out funny hats and use more sock puppets.

Transcript

Rey: All right, we’re out of here!
Finn: The First Order star destroyer is probably still in orbit.
Rey: You can’t blockade a planet with one ship. I keep low until we’re hidden behind the curve of the planet, then we head into space.
GM: Hmmm. <roll> Okay, you get into space away from the destroyer, behind Tatooine.
GM: Aaand... that’s a good spot to stop for tonight.
Poe: {dead} Awesome. This will give me more time to work on my next character’s backstory!
General Hux: Are you sure we can’t just keep playing now?


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Published: Thursday, 10 December, 2020; 01:11:03 PST.
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