My Smuggler with the Gunslinger advanced class is by far my favorite character to play in Star Wars The Old Republic. I’d created her using an old NPC I’d actually developed for Rifts and the Phase World setting to have as a friendly ship captain for my players to get along with, a ship pilot who seemed tough as nails but still had a heart under that cold exterior, was an excellent pilot and good with a gun, but was still in it for the money and had a plethora of character flaws and personal issues. This was not hard to bring over into the Star Wars universe, and with a little tweaking in my head of her back story, she fits in just fine with the Smuggler story line and this is a big part of why I’m having so much fun with the game and the character. Part of my adapted back history that we’ll never see in the game includes that when she was younger, just in her teens, she lost her father to the Empire trying to escape a planetary bombardment, and not too long ago her sister in a firefight, leaving just her and her ship, the place she grew up with her family. She took having her ship stolen by Skavak on an insanely personal level because of this. She was a bit ambivalent to Corso as she thinks he’s far too much the boy scout, but has warmed up quite well to her Wookie companion. Risha could be a great friend if she wasn’t so money hungry (money was a big motivator but my Smuggler has moved a bit beyond that) and eager to protect her own hide, especially since while my character is trying to survive, she has a big personal beef with the Sith and what they’ve cost her over the years. I’ve loved the storyline and putting my character through the paces of The Old Republic quest line and even the world quests.
I’ve read a few arguments on The Old Republic’s conversation system, that it actually limits your role-playing potential, and in a few instances I could see it, especially if you’re trying to play someone who doesn’t talk a whole lot, having dialogue kind of kills that. Realistically though, while it’s great for comedic effect, even the most stoic and quiet characters do end up talking. There’s almost always a response in those conversations that seem to fit my characters, so much so that I almost always try to get in my character’s head before I click a response. It’s a little harder when you’re in a group, but I play my Smuggler more when I’m out on my own and want to have fun. Have my companion’s reactions tempered my choices? A little bit. I’m one of those people that thinks the people you surround yourself with do affect your morality and ultimately your decisions, but I won’t always agree with them on their thinking. Corso and Risha can attest to that. I figured the easiest way to really understand my thought process was to take you through that last leg of the Smuggler quest line, Alderaan.
When last we left our Smuggler heroine, I’d just headed to the last planet in my first chapter series, Alderaan, a war torn world of political intrigue that puts Palpatine’s little machinations in the movie series to shame if you think about Alderaan as the Republic on a smaller scale. You have a ruling family who’s been ousted through a coup by another family who’s trying to take power by siding with the Empire who’s be opposed by several families who aren’t necessarily working together who are all against another family that wants you to help out and set things right. On top of that the Empire and the Republic forces are fighting all over the place while they’re getting ambushed by the bug aliens that used to be Alderaan’s main sentient race before people came in and mucked things up. Confused yet?
The Smuggler’s main goal on Alderaan is to get another piece of the puzzle needed to retrieve what you’ve been after since you got your ship back from Skavak, Nok Drayen’s treasure. Part of why I’d be after it if it was the tabletop is because we know where it is, or rather Risha does, and it should let you live comfortably for awhile and get Rogen the Butcher off your back. You end up working with Lenn Teraan, one of two family members left who have taken up refuge in House Organa. They’ve lost a few family heirlooms they’d like you to recover from House Baliss. After you reacquire the items, you end up directed to deliver the head in a jar from your hold to Peema Ahuff. I was more than eager to drop this off as the head was totally creeping me out. It seems the head belonged to Darth Bandon, someone who’d wronged the family who took over Alderaan by force, and Peema wants the head as a gift for them. The bigger side quest is working with the Organa family to try and restore order on the planet. With the death and coup attempt of the ruling house, the planet had left the Republic, leaving it open for attempted conquest by the Empire on top of the Civil War that’s spread across the planet. The area you can explore on the planet is massive with lots of quests peppered about. It took me a week or so of hard questing to beat everything here on my own before I finished it all up. I try to do my class quest stuff and area quests as I go to save on running around.
Skavak again rears his ugly head, attempting to steal the part you need just as you’re trying to tie up all the loose ends for House Organa and to try and give the Republic a leg up by getting the deposing house eliminated and the rightful house put back on Alderaan’s throne. It’s a political mess, has some plot twisting quests in it, and I loved every minute of it and so did my Smuggler. After all, by doing these you’re really sticking it to the Empire as far as Alderaan is concerned. Skavak has brought a head of his own, and duped Peema into thinking you have a fake. After working things through, you end up beating Skavak at his own game and retrieving the special hyperdrive you’ll need, screwing Skavak over once again which is always fantastic, but where I thought my character’s quest in chapter one would end wasn’t quite it.
After Alderaan, there were a few more places to go, which was rewarding and infuriating for my character and myself all at the same time. I really wanted my Legacy system for my characters so that I could start earning experience on it and I just wasn’t quite done. On top of that there was the whole treasure deal as well. You see, Risha, who’d sent you on a galactic scavenger hunt delivering goodies in exchange for needed parts to get to the treasure in the first place, just got an emergency call. It seems some of her friends are in trouble on Tatooine, so you head back there to help them out. It seems Risha has an even darker and more mysterious past than she let on, and while I didn’t mind helping her out, I wanted to know more, and my Smuggler most definitely wanted to know more about this person she was carting around. Without many answers, and rather begrudgingly, I headed to Nar Shaddaa again, where not only did I have Risha’s errand delivering the guy trapped in carbonite, but it seemed the Republic wanted my help again as well in the form of a bonus quest series on Nar Shaddaa. More quests! Since I’m not one to skip them, I did them all especially as my Smuggler wouldn’t have let things lie with that situation, and then delivered the man encased in carbonite, who turned out to be Nok Drayen himself, and not only that he’s Risha’s father. Secrets, secrets little Risha.
After an interesting conversation where both my Smuggler and I weren’t sure we were getting all the information, I used the gear equipped on my ship to head out to Nok Drayen’s ship, the Long Shadow which is in a decaying orbit over a Black Hole. It turns out it’s not entirely Nok Drayen’s and that it belonged to their ancestors, and well, the ancestor wasn’t exactly very nice either. You end up having to fight your way out against aging security droids with the ship warning you over and over again that its destruction is imminent, and then when you arrive back at your ship, disaster. It seems Skavak hid himself aboard and knocked out whoever you didn’t take as a companion, in my case, Corso since I’d been taking Bowdaar as my active companion since I picked him up on Nar Shaddaa awhile back. You have a rather interesting exchange in which I made allusions to him having a tiny manhood and then start a fight. Skavak is about level 33 and I was at level 36 when I fought him and my little Gunslinger did not disappoint. I did lots of nice damage to him while Bowdaar kept him occupied and it was oh-so satisfying to take out that thorn in my side. I actually let out a cheer and almost got up to do a happy dance, but I was worried about staying on the derelict ship for too long. I ended up looting a blaster off Skavak, the one he stole from Corso at the start of the game when he took my Smuggler’s ship, and you can give it back to Corso for some affection or taunt him with it. I chose to be nice, and at that point you can also equip Corso with his beloved Torchy. Corso’s naming system is almost bordering on creepy, but then I look at what I name my PCs when they show up on the network and give him a pass.
Flying back to Nar Shaddaa, things have not been going well for Nok Drayen, and it’s a rough scene to watch no matter how you play it. Risha and I were on the same page and we watched him die as he was proclaiming her to not be worthy of her heritage. It’s at this point that Risha joins your crew. I’ve actually found her difficult to take along in conversations because of the choices my gunslinger makes (Risha will get along famously with my Scoundrel who will have a totally different set of values) but great in combat, as Bowdaar fits my own character dialogue choices more, and Corso fit them most of the time. Risha is looking for the quick buck and saving her own skin, so taking the noble approach doesn’t quite work for her. It’s harder to play the Smuggler with a heart with her in your group, but that’s why we have gifts, isn’t it? After a quick meeting, you head to Port Nowhere and meet up with a “Ëœfriend’ Darmas and his new friend, Senator Dodonna, who has a tempting offer to help the Republic out. This is after I got jumped by Rogan the Butcher’s goons. He’s finally starting to catch up to my Smuggler, and I maintain that it is still not her fault! Having Risha with me, and not actually looking for a fight off the bat since I was just now meeting him over the holo, we tried the diplomatic way out, which failed miserably. After your rather impressive display, Dodonna has decided that a Smuggler of your character and skill should be working for them as a Privateer, and yes it’s basically a Pirate for the Republic, but hey, it’s legal!
Looking back I can see where people might feel a bit more constrained by the conversation system, but for me, this really, quite obviously gets me more into my characters. They each have different motivations and reasons for doing what they do. They’re not all nice and idealists, even on the Republic end of things, and if you really don’t agree with helping someone out, even for the money, as long as it’s not your class quest you can always refuse to help. There’s more than enough experience in the game to allow you to do that. I will admit though that the voice actress for the Smuggler has me playing her with far more snark than I’d originally envisioned, but for this version of my character it just fits. Now to get hunting me down a Butcher, his boss the Voidwolf, and patching up another war torn world for the Republic, Balmorra.
Tags: Bioware, Digital Tabletop, EA, LucasArts, MMO, MMORPG, Star Wars, Star Wars: The Old Republic