It's finally time I sat down and told the story of how the
'Mutt Squad' was formed. It's sort of a funny story, at least it is to me as I
was there at the beginning almost nine years ago.
This game, which at the time wasn't called the Mutt Squad, or for that matter anything other than 'Star Wars: The RPG' started off in the hands of my very good friend Jimmy Bramble (see Hargoth, Mo, Messina and Vexa Cath on the players page.) who at the time was something of a novice Game master and looking to break into the field by running a Star Wars campaign. Now to be honest with you, me and anyone else who is apt to read this page, the truth of the matter is that the bunch of us (Robert Maxwell, Jimmy Bramble, Glenn Moss, Kevin Rowell, Ronnie Rich and myself included...) were all huge Star Wars geeks. I personally don't think that you have to be in order to enjoy the RPG, but it certainly helps.
Jimmy's idea was that this campaign would center around us all being pilots in the rebellion, the problem was that of all the characters brought into that game that night only one of them was an X-wing pilot and the rest were a random assortment of characters (including a Ship repair technician, a gambler, pirate and failed Jedi) that couldn't pilot an X-Wing if their lives depended on it. Somewhere along the way we picked up Rebecca Davison, Glenn's girlfriend and confident (and future (ex) wife.) as Rosh the smuggler, my cousin Derek (Dude) Thornton as 31-X and Mike Zaitz as Kryzah the Wookie.
By now you're realizing that there were eight players and a novice Game Master trying to juggle all these varying personalities, not an easy task to be sure. Personally I think that Jimmy did a wonderful job of getting us all into the game and sending us on our merry little way in the Rebellion. The problem that he ran into is the same problem that many Game Masters have run into...He wanted us to go one way and we fought that direction every step of the way. The module, of which I have long since forgotten the name, called for us to steal fuel supplies from the Empire and return to the Rebellion base with whatever it was that managed to get our hands on. The truth of the matter is that we probably shouldn't have been able to get away with slaving the droids on the Imperial fuel train into flying the thing back to our Rebel base, but with the help of Robert's Givin character Galdivar we managed to do just that and got away scott free (or so we thought...)
Now the module had just such a contingence plan in the event that something crazy like this happened, the Imperial tracking device leads the Empire to the system and our doorstep with a torpedo sphere to use on the hidden Rebel base (as some punk kid from Tatooine made some million to one shot and destroyed their Death Star...) a base, which by the way, had tons of civilians as the planet was an ardent supporter of the Rebellion.
Now comes the odd part.
Rather than evacuate the civilians from the planet, Jimmy had the Rebellion evacuating their various supplies and equipment. Needless to say we argued, we fussed and in the end Jimmy (a novice Game Master) quit running the game right then and there. I don't remember why, I'm almost sure thinking back on it now that the module said it had to go that way and rather than adapting to what we were trying to do, Jimmy felt stuck behind the veritable eight ball. So he quit running the game leaving us sitting on this Rebel base in some backwater sector of the galaxy with a torpedo sphere hanging over our heads!
Now for an aside note to all of this. I've run many game over the years. I'm not bragging about the matter, I'm just stating a fact. I'd run Star Wars before and really didn't want to see the game end, neither for that matter did Kevin Rowell. The two of us as we sat at the table decided then and there that we would Co-Game master the game. Everyone seemed to be okay with that idea and the very next week Kevin picked up the game and started off with us dealing with the pesky Torpedo sphere by using part of the fuel train that we had stole to destroy it.
As a reward for having gotten the fuel and temporarily dealing with the Empire (long enough for the Rebellion to get the civilians away) we were each given a reward and both Glenn Moss and I decided to pool our collective money and buy a used (very used) Ghrotc freighter that someone offered to sell us. I left it up to Glenn to give the ship a name and Kevin ended that game with me picking up next week. The truth of the matter is that Kevin really didn't run very many games, he opted instead to play more than game master, why I 'm not sure but it ended up with me running the majority of the games for the campaign. The next week we picked up and I had an NPC ask Glenn what name he wanted the transponder registered as and he replied 'The Dog pound'.
Their commanding officer replied that if the ship was the Dog pound, then they must be the Mutt Squad, because they were a motley crew. The players liked the nickname and it stuck (This is actually very similar to how my long running Marvel Superheroes campaign 'The Dead-End Avengers' got its name) and thus they became 'The Mutt Squad.' Along the way we picked up Jimmy who came back to the game as a player, playing Hargoth the Tuskan raider bounty hunter, Chris Tatta's character Domfree, Holly Nead as Illian Zaxnoran and Tim Moss (Glenn's younger brother) as Antony Carlito as well as Paul Umbarger as Kabarra the Wookie.
If you're keeping track we're now up to twelve players and little old me game mastering for them. The only thing I had going for me was that not all of them showed up at the same time and people had a tendency to drift in and out of the game on a fairly regular basis. We lost Tim, Holly, Glenn and Rebecca pretty quickly with my co-game master Kevin following soon there after. Jimmy, Robert and Chris all moved off as well and somehow Paul Umbarger managed to find us three new players in the blink of an eye. We added Larry Parr as Kazdan Navaro, Seth Walker as Punchana the Ewok and Alan Woods as Wook the wookie. We lost Alan pretty quickly, he had problems with the other players (outside of the game) and decided to bring the matter to the game table in the game. It was decided that after suffering through two such attempts to ruin the game that enough was enough and he just wasn't invited back. In the mean time my cousin Dude swapped over from 31-X to Thomas S. Blastech and Paul Umbarger dropped Kabarra in favor of Otas (Tak) Sands, a young idealistic farm boy who dreamed of being a Jedi Knight. (and whose player begged me to make him the relative of any and all existing Jedis either in the party or in the game universe, up to and including Palpatine's love child...)
Shortly there after Seth Walker also changed characters, this time deciding that since he got no respect as an Ewok, he would play a Quarren repair technician named Shubquix Rendilli. The game went along for a good long while with the new group now working for the New Republic fighting the Empire and taking on the bad guys. There came a time when I decided to bring the game to a breaking point (something I had done before...) and announced that I was going to bring it to a close. Now Paul Umbarger (whose character had found out he was the younger brother of Stromgald Caballa and who was well underway in his training to be a Jedi Knight) begged me to throw a Sithlord into the game as I had threatened to (and he scared some of the other players into believing that evil Sith were going to swoop down off the mountains on horseback to kill everyone!) and to give them the classic chance to join the power of the Darkside.
Now I knew where Paul was heading with that suggestion before he even got it fully out of his mouth and I told him I might consider it. The truth of the matter is that it was a better idea than what I had planned at the time (which at this writing fails to come to mind) so I threw in Darth Valious (who I had made veiled references to throughout the latter part of the game leading up to this confrontation.
Now the other players (including my cousin Dude, who is a co-conspirator in a great many things I do) had no idea what was going to happen when the three Jedi (J.S. Boggins, Otas Caballa and Shubquix Rendilli) walked into the room to deal with this Sithlord. The offer was thrown down to join the Sith and betray their master came up, J.S. Boggins replied with some sort of Pithy retort and pulled his lightsaber. The Sith's armed minions revealed themselves (now changing the odds considerably) and Otas turned on his master and tried to kill him. The game ended with Boggins and Shubquix barely getting away and Tak being taken under the wing of Darth Valious to become his new apprentice Darth Bane!
The looks on the players collective faces was astounding and the silence was deafening, up until my cousin looked over at me and uttered an expletive, that I can't post here, cursing Paul and his entire family dating back to the beginning of the Umbarger clan (Wherever it was that they came from...) The players (well everyone but Paul...) demanded that I run another game to finish this one off, that I just couldn't leave a cliffhanger like that hanging unfinished.
I didn't come back to the game for a long time, I can't remember how long it was off game but I know it was eleven years later in game when I picked up the campaign with my cousin playing Kae' Caballa, son of Stromgald Caballa who had been killed by his younger brother in the intervening years and who Kae' was now charged with finding and redeeming Darth Bane or destroying him at all costs. I used Shubquix Rendilli as the NPC teacher of Kae', Larry Parr brought in Rance Kellor, son of Kazdan Navaro, Seth Walker brought in Grishnak Nahathmaq, Our good friend Chris McDowell joined the game bringing Filva, the Filven from the planet Filve into the mix and later Ronnie Rich brought back J.S. Boggins who he was determined to get to Jedi Master status. This version of the game played out for a while and eventually came to an end as Chris McDowell and Ronnie Rich, who had been with us from the very beginning, finally had to bow out of the game.
I was content to let Star Wars RPG lay for a good long rest and might have done that if not for George Lucas (yeah I'm blaming him, deal with it!), you see George Lucas went and released this movie you might have heard of called 'Episode II: Attack of the Clones' and when the bunch of us went to see the movie (and when I say bunch of us, I really mean Glenn Moss (Who had moved back to town), Tim Moss, Jimmy Bramble (who also moved back...), Larry Parr, Owen Barron, Seth Walker, Dude and myself...) I came out jazzed back wanting to run Star Wars again and the players decided that they were ready to come back and play again.
Jimmy Bramble brought in 'Ash' as a second in command to Glenn Moss's character 'Orbin Goss', Tim Moss brought in Kendo Fett (Guess who he was related to...), Dude brought back Kae' Caballa as the teacher of Larry Parr's 'Drex Marr' (in a surprising turn of events Larry had decided to play a Jedi, albeit a Corellian Jedi...) Seth Walker played TC-1 an android and Owen Barron brought in Tue Qui'Tanis a Nautalon outlaw. I threw Xam Jalba, a genetically engineered military experiment from the Empire into the mix and we were off to the races. Foster Bamford would later join the game playing Skizzle the Squib only to leave nearly as quick as he joined us and then Pete Spahn joined us playing an NPC (Garel Drayson) until I could get him back to the known galaxy and he could properly bring in 'Zorg' the mighty Trandoshan as his first of two characters. This game like many of the others had an interesting shelf-life with us losing players (Glenn, Tim, Larry, Owen and Pete) for a great many reasons. The game ended with the marriage of Ash and Xam as well as Kae' and Kalli. Anakin Solo (Who had been gifted with prophetic visions in my game and became my Oracle of Delphi as a result) ended the game telling the players their fates in game.
I didn't run Star Wars again for a long time. The truth of the matter is that when you get a campaign that lasts for the length of time that this one has it tends to take on a life of its own. The weight of the thing that you've created hangs over your head like a veritable sword of Damocles and you look back on it thinking, if I do something else, am I going to screw it up? And so I left it alone, we talked about it and thought back on it fondly from time to time but after that it was time for Star Wars to end.
Until Pete Spahn decided that he wanted to run a game...The idea of a sid-quel (side-sequel) was, I'm sure, not in Pete's original plans. The truth of the matter is, I think he would have preferred to not deal with my game at all. Not that he hated it (at least I assume he didn't as he did love playing Zorg and Tuval...) but rather the lack of integral knowledge of the various characters and things that I allowed in the course of the game. But Pete relented and let me play the Grandson of my one of my favorite NPCs Wald, this opened the flood gates as Jimmy Bramble decided to play Mo the Jawa, grandson to 'Harry the Jawa' an NPC from my original game. My cousin Dude brought in Cid Galleon, Jeremy Haller brought in Bira and Owen Barron eventually returned long enough to play Bracken N'Dar for a short while.
In a relatively short amount of time we lost Jeremy and gained Dude's girlfriend Kayla as Zera Kirka, Jimmy moved (again!) and we got Seth Walker who brought in the Shrii the Triani Ranger. Now the funny thing is that Seth and I started working with one another and got to talking about my up and coming Jedi character training someone as a Padawan. Somewhere along the way we got to talking about the idea of a Klingon Padawan and were tickled by the idea of a Klingon trying to master his own inner rage and learn patience. The idea was to good to pass up and Seth left Shrii at the side of the road and picked up Dirka Kimalamala J. Nahathmaq, grand nephew of his original Klingon character Grishnak. Kayla decided to change characters as well and brought in the winged assassin Phenix and again we were off to the races. The game lasted a good long while and I think its fair to say that I had a blast finally getting to play again after all those years running the game. Pete took things in a direction that I wouldn't have gone, but I enjoyed it none the less. But like all good things the game came to an end when Pete had a serious of misfortunes and had to bow out of running the game just as Jimmy Bramble returned (once more!) to rejoin the game. He left us at a good place for an ending point and made us cherish the game all that much more.
This brings us to the new game that only just started a few weeks back.
I decided that it was time to get back to Star Wars, I needed a break from Marvel Super Heroes and decided that it was time to fill in the gap between Pete's game and my own (as there was a one hundred year gap between the two games) I briefly considered picking Pete's game up, he even gave me his blessing to do just that, but in the end I decided that it would be to much like playing out the events of X-Men 1 and 2 and then having me direct X-Men 3, the Game Master styles were just to different to mesh well and in the end I decided that filling the gap between the two time periods might be a better idea. So now we have Jimmy Bramble playing Vexa Cath, Jedi Padawan to Strom Minigrod (younger half-brother of Kae' Caballa) Jedi Knight, my cousin Dude playing Starjumper (an Autobot!) a Transformer who has found himself in this strange new place, Harold Bates playing Sonya Milas, a Protean shape-shifter and business partner to Seth Walker playing the resident Smuggler Falco Crickhollow and rounding it all out with Beau Hammock playing Rishik Corsque, an outlaw looking for some well needed revenge.
Where will the game go? What will I inflict on my players next? Who will be the first to move off? Who knows, I'm just glad I'm running Star Wars again and have the time to work my friends into my life.
I want to thank everyone who has been a part of this game, all the players who have played a part in the making of this game...Robert Maxwell, Jimmy Bramble, Glenn Moss, Chris Tatta, Derek (Dude) Thornton, Ronnie Rich, Holly Nead, Rebecca Davison, Kevin Rowell, Paul Umbarger, Tim Moss, Larry Parr, Seth Walker, Alan Woods, Chris McDowell, Foster Bamford, Jeremy Haller, Owen Barron, Pete Spahn, Kayla Kirkland, Harold Bates, Beau Hammock, Stephanie Turner, Jeff Turner and Paul Bowls. (The last three played in an adventure I ran in Ohio...)
I also want to take the time to publicly thank the talented Mark Hudson, whose art adorns the majority of the character pages. Mark has brought the characters that we all imagined to life for us, never failing to go that extra mile and always managing to surprise us with his talent as an artist. I also want to thank Mark for his use of his own campaign characters (located on the Rebellion page...), the characters will always have a special place in my heart thanks to you and your players!
Until next time...I remain as always
Keith A, Kilburn
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