So, at a boardgaming convention this weekend I got to play an RPG called The Trial of Lando Calrissian! Amazing experience.
I'm a fairly novice tabletop gamer. I have done some one-shot games, which is what this is--you're given a ready-made sheet with your character on it, including their statistics (which are used in dice rolls) and some general facts about them. So they don't improve over time and aren't used for multiple sessions, but I got the feeling this session was looking for relatively experienced players. So I put my name down as a backup the day before and didn't get my hopes up. But when the time came, only three other players had showed out of a maximum of six, so in I went!
The setting was a few years before Empire Strikes Back: Lando has been arrested for the murder of a mining guild representative. We all played different characters who knew Lando from his days as a scoundrel and showed up when we heard about the big-deal trial. I was Lirin Carn, a wandering musician/alien who played a clarinet-type deal. We also had a charmer type, a space pirate, and a coercive sort...both of the latter two were good hackers. We all had our own obligation ("Lando is groovy") and motivation ("Dig that Lando vibe") for helping out on the case, even if at first our characters didn't believe his weak protestations of innocence.
Lirin began investigating by asking who stood the most to gain from Lando's arrest--who was the new administrator? Serafina? Could she be behind it? Then Lirin went with the charmer, Tarax, to a casino owned by a Hutt involved in a crime syndicate. After trying to make some awkward small talk with the locals ("I'm from off-planet, what's up with this murder case?" "Do you start all your conversations this way?") Lirin finally learned that the so-called miners weren't really miners at all.
Meanwhile, the other two were returning to the scene of the crime, and encountering a droid. "Can I charm the droid into talking to us?" asked the coercive character. "No," explained the GM, "your character doesn't have any of that skill. "Aw, man! I'll have to threaten it instead! Give us all the info or we'll destroy you!" After a very lucky dice roll, the droid complied easily, and we got some unedited footage of the crime scene--a bright blue astromech droid was there at the time of the murder, too.
The dice were one thing it took me a while to understand. To accomplish something that took luck, we'd roll some number of special green dice; if we had a lot of skill in that area, we could swap in green to yellow dice as indicated on our character sheet. Mixed in with that, we would roll purple dice that were weighted against us at the GM's discretion--more purple dice were assigned for harder task. He'd also give us white dice to represent narrative advantages that we had on our side, and black dice to represent disadvantages for us. All of this made sense, but then when the symbols came up there would be some "successes" and "failures" that canceled each other out as well as "advantages" and "threats" that carried over into the future of the story (which we'd all ad-lib). So everyone else recognized these symbols, but I was just throwing dice down and going "great, tell me what this means."
Tarax, Lirin's buddy at the bar, decided to play a game of sabacc with the Hutt owner, betting his ship for information. "Okay, some green and yellow dice for you, purple dice for the Hutt...plus black disadvantages since it's his home turf. Plus more if he cheats. Hmm, plus more advantages since you're working the crowd and getting them on your side, more since they hate the Hutt too, he's interrupting their games!" Sadly, he lost his ship, but the Hutt confirmed the information anyway--the "miners guild" was a cover story.
So we all met up at the hotel room where we had information that the droid's owners might be registered, but it seemed uninhabited. The coercer decided to continue along the threatening lines, tyrannizing a housekeeper until she gave up information. This led us to a spaceship. We split up there; Lirin and one of the others found a droid transmitter hidden in the cargo bay, while the other two took over the ship. When some mooks came onboard, our guys bluffed that they were going to zap them with radiation poisoning from the vents.
So the mooks confessed that they were actually not mining guild representatives, but rather, working for the new leader of the "delegation," on behalf of the former administrator, who wanted their job back. The questionable leader of the Cloud City police assured us that he'd take it from there, and that we needed to exit the spaceship.
It seemed like our job wasn't completely done, though, since the droid on the transmitter had told us that it was on a gas refinery a little ways out of the city, then abruptly gone silent. We decided we should not tell the authorities, but rather handle this ourselves. The coercer was extremely paranoid and kept double-checking that the coast was clear, refusing to move until the loading dock was totally empty. Since we were alone, we hailed a pair of cloud cars and took off. Lirin has no qualifications either to shoot or fly anything (the other three, minus Tarax who'd gambled his away, all had their own private spaceships), so just sat down at the "gunnery" station on one of the cars with the qualified pilot.
At that point, we were trailed by five more cloud cars, and combat began! Our car was carrying the droid transmitter, and we had no ability to shoot behind. It seemed like the best thing to do was for the other car to make an unexpectedly heroic move (scoundrels, remember), turn around and start shooting at the pursuers, giving us time to speed ahead and hopefully make it to the refinery. Combat is accomplished by a different system of rolling dice--first everyone "rolls for initiative" to see who'll get lucky and get to act first. Then we act and see who gets a hit, taking damage, or who gets a "critical hit" that can inflict lots of random damage in one go.
While the other cloud car took out one of the five pursuers, that left four attacking them, and they damaged our allies pretty badly. Three continued to fight them, while only one zoomed onward to fight us. While the other cloud car was left to plummet onto some weird sky-jellyfish things, we had to make a controlled crash into the refinery. "Okay, you have this many green and yellow dice in piloting...lots of purple, very hard. Disadvantage is you've just been shot and are reeling. Do you have anything else going for you?" "I ca play some inspirational music on my kloo-horn?" *has already exhausted "Cantina Band," tries "May The Force Be With You"* "Sure, we'll call that an advantage."
So somehow, through luck or a kind GM, we don't die, and break into the office space at the refinery. There, we find the "victim" of the murder! We take him hostage, and as we proceed, run into some minions. My partner and I both had useful special abilities, though; theirs was to suffer some "strain" (like wound damage, it's something that seems to have a maximum threshold, but I don't think anyone else took any), in order to reroll her initiative rolls. This gave her a better chance at getting the first strike in in a fight. As for Lirin? Once per fight, he could dazzle people with his kloo horn and disorient people for two rounds! So we had a head start in bolting past them to yet another spaceship. I did sustain some damage along the way, losing 7 of my maximum 12 hit points...but also took out one of the mooks. By bashing them with the kloo horn. :D
Finally, on the spaceship, we confronted the droid and the old administrator who was behind the scheme. Again, Lirin tried distracting him, while the space pirate maneuvered down to drag the fight towards his own cargo hold and lock him in there. Our friends showed up, with their cloud car being towed by the tractor beam of the previous spaceship we'd found. And justice was restored. :)
All in all, an awesome time, and I'm really glad I did it. Other than interpreting the dice rolls (and they tried to teach me what it meant at the end again), I didn't feel that out of my depth--a little quiet and unsure "what should a scoundrel do" sometimes, but definitely worth it.
Here's a picture of my character sheet and a map of one of the spaceships with our dudes running around it.