Redemption Podcast: Episode 101 – Interview with the Jedi

tl;dr The interesting conceit of this first episode has its positive sides, but ultimately fails to present the party and the universe in an engaging way.

Title: Interview with the Jedi
Episode: 101
Season: 1
Podcast: Redemption
Gamemaster: Chris
Party: Kendall, Michael, Nathan
Game system: Star Wars Roleplaying
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

I want to like Redemption. Partly because I need to be listening to more podcasts for this blog, and Redemption comes highly recommended. But also because it’s a Star Wars actual-play podcast, and I want to see someone dig into this universe well.

I’ll admit to some bias, though. I’m a big fan of the original West End Games Star Wars RPG  and the D6 system that came out of it. So other Star Wars RPGs are consequently less cool. It’s like seeing your friend’s ex dating someone else. You know intellectually it’s OK, but it’s hard to actually like the couple.

Redemption starts out with a marathon eight-hour first session in which the three main characters of the party are introduced. Enssan Tazi is from an old family, and wants to recover the ship his foolish father lost in a trade gone bad. Kaio Greel is his gunner and medic. And padawan-turned-mechanic Karrell’in Tarness keeps them oriented and moving in the right direction.

Together, they fight and kill the criminal Cantor who is now the supposed owner of Tazi’s ship. They free the cargo of seventy or so Wookiee and human slaves, and then run a blockade to get them back safely to the Wookiee home planet. Hearty stuff!

All of that audio, though, was lost. Or scrapped. Or something. Apparently, it wasn’t good enough to put on their podcast, so they had to find another way to start the show.

I love how the Redemption team managed to recover: their first episode is an interrogation, in which each of the main characters is separately interviewed.  Jedi maze Raze wants to get to the bottom of why and how they ended up on Transdosha with their ship, Krallet’s Fang.

It’s a trick that works well.  It gives the players a chance to frame their story up till now, and present it back to the game master and the audience. It makes them responsible for the thread of the story. And it gives the game master (playing the Jedi) a chance to guide the conversation to cover all the salient points from their first adventure.

There are downsides to this technique, too. Gray-area pilots, grilled by an authority figure, are going to be naturally tight-lipped and evasive. There’s a little too much time spent digging into how the crew disposed of illegal cargo they found on the Fang, and how Kaio was seduced under the effects of a truth serum. It’s not because the stories are that deep, but because none of the characters is willing to talk about them.

Mostly, the product comes off well. At the end of the show, the Jedi pulls together the three characters to ask them a favour. One of the passengers from the Fang might have been a servant of the Dark Side, and the Jedi would like the team to find that person again and figure out what’s up with them. The team has some good interaction as they decide whether to take this job.

There’s a lot to like about Redemption at this point. The universe is interesting, rich and familiar, and the characters at least seem worth listening to. The fundamental plot hook — that Tazi wants to rehabilitate his family name and the name of the family ship — is engaging, and gives a great incentive to move the ship and its crew around the galaxy.

But I had a hard time with the show. Partly because it’s a four-dude cast, and partly because I had a hard time telling the players’ and GM’s voice apart in this episode. They all do a good job with consistent character voices, but because their accents don’t really match up with anything I have experience with (what does a Twilek accent sound like?), it’s hard to tell them apart.

Overall, it was a good episode, but didn’t engage me entirely — thus the 2-star rating. I rarely like the first episode of any podcast, though, and I think this one has at least the potential to have some interesting story arcs in the rest of the season. I’ll keep you posted as I listen to the rest.