<– Chapter Two || SMUGGLER ||
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third chapter of the Smuggler storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic. To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.
When last we left our intrepid smuggler, they had just foiled a scandalous attempt on the life of Senator Dodonna using cybernetically enhanced beasts of unknown origin. The Senator tasked us with the job of hunting down where these beasts came from and how Rogun the Butcher got them. To find this out, there’s only one place to go and one person to talk to: The man with his hands in every plan – Darmas Palloran who sits chilling at Port Nowhere. Turns out that Darmas is completely on the ball on this one and has already got your answer by the time you arrive. The animals come from the planet Voss, a newly discovered world with insanely strict laws governing the coming to’s and going from’s the planet. Somehow Rogun managed to get these beasts off world, and that means going to Voss for answers. Sadly that will take some time. See, you’re not a fancy Jedi and you ain’t Republic special forces, so you’ll have to get to Voss the good old fashioned bureaucratic way – by getting a permit. That means it will take time. Luckily, Darmas has another lead you can pursue in the mean time.
It seems that our good friend/headache Rogun the Butcher has a bit of business on the secret prison planet of Belsavis. He’s apparently aiming to break out his old mentor who goes by the name ‘Ivory’. Ivory taught Rogun everything he knew, so he’s a powerful asset to Rogun AND to you against Rogun. Also I feel its worth mentioning that somehow it is actually easier for me to get access to super secret prison planet than it is to get a parking pass on the diplomatically neutral world of Voss. Keep that in mind the next time you go through there. That every other class is pretty much in the express lane to getting to go to Voss compared to the Smuggler and the rest of the galaxy.
So your first task to go get Ivory from his cell. Bit of a problem there though. Belsavis is in the middle of the biggest prison riot in the planet’s history thanks to the Imperials. So the guards aren’t exactly sure if Ivory is where he should be nor can they guarantee safe arrival to the cell. Could be worse though. They could be out of Space Coffee and Donuts, which they clearly aren’t given the ABUNDANCE of guards and prison personnel just standing around at the main compound. Get to work, you lazy pieces of trash.
It turns out that the cell is not empty at all. It’s full of explosives! Seems like when Ivory flew the coop he wanted to leave a goodbye present. You find a tunnel after taking cover that was dug into the stone that clearly indicates good ol’ Ivory has been contemplating getting out of here for a while. I mean that’s not poured cement we’re talking about. It’s solid rock. That’s determination! So you know that Ivory is out, and it seems from reports that a lot of Ivory’s crew is being busted out as well. Except for one. You race to a guard station where they have the last member of Ivory’s team in holding to see if she has any ideas on where Ivory has gone. But sadly, the girl is insanely fanatical and just spouts gibberish. The bad news rolls in as it becomes very clear that the guard holding her their was holding her not for you – but for Ivory. Ah, corrupt prison guards. Nice to see that even in the level 40’s that we’re still slumming it as a smuggler. One of Rogun the Butcher’s personal assassins joins you from the rafters and kills the girl, so you quickly have to take out both the assassin and the corrupt guard. And we’re back to square one with the whole ‘no clues’ thing. But wait! The guard has a list of names. Names to set free! Potentially for Ivory! Another lead! HUZZAH!
This lead sends you down to the prisons to meet up with two more members of Ivory’s crew whose names I never bothered to learn because I immediately just started calling them Bebop and Rocksteady. Their comedy relief henchmen essentially who you can – through no great effort – convince to fight each other instead of you. With them out of the way, it’s time to deal with the big ol’ gendai they let out and try to get some answers. Honestly, I don’t know how we really plan to defeat a friggin gendai since they establish on Imperial Nar Shadaa that they essentially can regenerate from almost nothing to the point that they had to run the corpses through meat grinders to stop them from coming back. Here you just blast him and walk off. Maybe he does regenerate. Not much reason to worry about him staying down so long as you can get out the door. Anyway, you get your next clue about Ivory’s location – the Deep Vaults.
Now where in the Deep Vaults? Never really pinpointed but the mission marker tells me where to go and I follow. Apparently, Ivory headed to what at least appears to be an ancient Rakata starship hanger complete with repaired starship. I’m suddenly having flashbacks to the end of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Ivory says he’s going to use this ancient starship (Up next on The History Channel) to blast off and leave Belsavis. This is actual fairly funny considering that a few scenes back with Ivory he was ranting about he was mastering the ancient Rakata technology and no longer needed to escape. Meaning that he was going to use the Rakata technology to escape? I’m not sure. But sinister plotting is a foot as that assassin you killed earlier isn’t dead! But he is! He’s actually just got like a dozen identical twins! What the fu-?!
Cornered by the baker’s dozen, you quickly learn that they’re not just there for you. It seems Rogun considered Ivory too risky to have alive in or out of prison. This opens up the brilliant opportunity to negotiate. You and Ivory team up to wipe out the goons and then you can press your leverage on him to either get intel on Rogun from him and send him back to the prisons, just flat out kill the guy or – my personal favorite – bring him with you and smuggle him out of the prison to work under you and teach you the ways of being an underworld boss. Heck. Yes.
This first interlude is just a really weird brief break. A Jedi Master, Sumalee, who is apparently yet another old friend of Risha’s gets a hold of you and asks you to retrieve another old friend of Risha’s who is an SIS team member from Hoth. She’s pinned down and on a mission investigating something that isn’t really important to the plot at all but because of this she can’t trust anyone in the Republic base. In other words, she needs to be smuggled off world.
I honestly don’t know what the point of this was beyond reminding you that you are a smuggler and to introduce Sumalee who has a minor presence in the story ahead on Corellia. Beyond that it’s just an experience buffer. You could have easily stuck this in the Interlude-less Act 2 (unless you count Quesh as an interlude. Might as well given how short those class story missions are.) Sumalee isn’t so vital that she needs introducing, and we already know that Risha is friends with everyone in the galaxy (Heck, she’s friends with Vette from the Sith Warrior storyline! That’s cross storyline friendship!)
Well, looks like those permits have finally come through and we can land on Voss. Or more accurately the space station orbiting Voss and then take a shuttle down. But we’re totally allowed to be there now. Unlike all those riff raffs and undesirables. Like the Exchange. Who run a massive criminal base just outside of Voss-Ka… Why did I have to wait for the paperwork again? I thought I was a smuggler. Like just in the last mission I smuggled friggin PEOPLE. Can I just smuggle things off of planets? Can I not smuggle myself? To make things worse is that the Voss assign you a chaperon to keep an eye on things. That won’t put a kink in these plans at all. Seriously, Dodonna has to be the worst negotiator ever to get me here on just these terms. Luckily, our nanny isn’t completely useless. He actually leads us to the aforementioned Exchange base. Seems our babysitter has a eclectic taste for offworlder music that the Exchange can get him. He introduces you to a fixer who is willing to put you in contact with Rogun’s smuggling ring for a meet if you help him gather up some Voss artifacts to sell.
So once you get him set up, he sends you off to this meeting with Rogun’s team and this may come as a shock to you but Rogun’s lackeys recognize Rogun’s number one kill on sight most wanted. I know. I didn’t see it coming either. Shock. They’re not dumb either. These guys not only have found a way to work with the Voss’ hated enemies – The Gormak – but found a way to smuggle Gormak modified cybernetic animals off world. Better yet, they actually got a plan together as soon as the fixer arranged the meeting. They’re going to pin the whole thing on you. They knock you out and take off just in time for the Voss Commandos to show up and see only you and an entire smuggling operation. Wow. This sucks. Luckily, my chaperon is willing to do the talking while I sneak off. He apparently trusts me implicitly as long as I tell him that I’m not lying. How the heck have the Voss survived contact with the outside galaxy?
You rush back to the Exchange Fixer (Honestly, more than anything else I am utterly shocked how somehow the Exchange ends up being the good guys here) and explain what happened. He feels terrible about how sour the deal went since after all he’s a business man and has a rep to think about. But if the Gormak are involved, he does have a shipment going to the Gormak later and he can freeze you in carbonite (you know, it’s easy. Like going to pick up some milk from the store. Just a quick carbon freezing and then back to work on Monday. Takes years off your face, dahling.) so you can sneak past their lifesign scanners and get into Gormak territory.
When you arrive, you come face to face with “Gormak Zac” the ‘Human Gormak’. Essentially, a human who went native. He was momentarily in the earlier scene with the smuggling meet but we didn’t really get that much about him other than he was the contact between Rogun’s goons and the Gormak. However, he’s not loyal to Rogun and defnitely not on his payroll. Once you explain the situation and what Rogun’s been doing, Zac will happily help you since its against even Gormak law to sell abominations from the Nightmare Lands – a market Rogun’s female lackey is hoping to bust in on. He helps you escape if you promise to help stop her. Turns out that it’s two birds with one stone since while going after her in the Nightmare Lands, you get a chance to record a meeting between her and a Sith Lord that proves that you weren’t the smuggler to the Voss. Well, not THAT smuggler at least. You fight the abominations, the Sith and Rogun’s henchwoman and head back to Voss-Ka for your big fat… criminal… trial. Damn.
The trial isn’t even remotely fair either. You prove your innocence handily with the recording but then they change the rules after the fact and charge you with all this other crap you did while on the planet that you weren’t on trial for. So, in Voss law, it doesn’t matter if you can prove you didn’t murder a guy if you even DARED to jaywalk while proving your innocence. Forgive me, honeycomb eyes. You can choose to take your licks will gives you an entirely optional and don’t-need-it-to-progress side mission of delivering packages to various planets, OR you can throw your babysitter under the bus when he volunteers to shoulder the blame for the whole incident. Don’t be a dummy, kids! If you do the crime, let your buddies do the time.
So the words gone out. Between the hit on the Voss operation and the royal mess up with trying to eliminate Ivory, Rogun is calling in all his remaining lieutenants to a secret meet on Tatooine that you just happen to have got the deets on. Time to put an end to this pain in the rear once and for all. However, as you confront Rogun and square off with his goons, a pair of strange Sith appear. They delight in revealing the twist: The Voidwolf is the real bad guy! Okay that’s not the actual twist. It turns out that Darmas Palloran and Senator Dodanna are in league with the Voidwolf. They’ve been pitting you and Rogun against each other so the two of you wipe each other out, leaving Darmas to control the criminal underworld. Senator Dodanna’s privateer “project” was actually just a front for you to acquire things FOR the Voidwolf so she can earn ruling over an entire planet once the Imperials conquer the Republic. They both have been playing you for a sap!
Next comes the big choice. Rogun’s been hounding you since level 1. He’s come after you time and again. This is your chance to kill him. But that’s not the only option. You can also force him to work for you and for him to give you his share of the criminal underworld. Revenge or profit. It’s a race between my two favorite vices. Take your pick!
With Rogun dealt with in one way or another, it’s time to go for the Voidwolf and his partners in crime – Darmas and Dodanna. You reunite with Master Sumalee (Yup. Super vital to establish earlier for this express purpose) and try and convince her of the Senator’s guilt but without proof there’s not much hope. After all, Dodonna’s a well respected senator of Coruscant, not scum like Darmas. Speaking of which, you do scope out Dodanna’s partner – Darmas’s – safehouse and find he’s working with the Corellian rebels to blow open Supply tunnel 26, which happens to be the ‘artery’ of the underground tunnel network that many soldiers died to seal up so the Imps couldn’t use the tunnels to invade all of Corellia. You find Darmas preaching to a bunch of Corellian revolutionaries who have all been told that you were a traitor who stole White Maw cloaking tech and Balmorran weapons for the Voidwolf (Technically accurate, but not knowingly). You can respond by either opening fire, try to convince the angry mob that Darmas is an Imperial, or you can be like me and convince them that Darmas is trying to steal the women of Corellia – which apparently turns out to be somewhat true as he’s been flirting and asking girls back to his ship since he got there. (Who knew?) He flees back to the Imperial’s base when cornered by siccing droids on you.
To get to Darmas, you need to get inside the Imperial base that is in a commandeered hospital. Only way to get through that many guards is to attack various targets to lure them out and then sneak in using the revolutionaries’ doctor contact. Once you make contact with the doctor, he mentions he was expecting a captain with an injured leg and notes that the only way in is on a stretcher – so he shoots you. Once inside you find Darmas talking to a weasely Corellian politician that helped sell out the planet to the Imps, and here you can either kill him, turn him into the Republic to testify against Dodonna, or let him escape in exchange for all the info he has on Dodonna.
Next is to get to Dodonna, who fled to the Voidwolf’s men as soon as she caught wind that this was going down. They’re holed up in the Museum of Alien History, but the only ‘safe’ way in is through an old abandoned selonian tunnel that was caved in. After blowing through some walls, and fighting escaped zoo animals that decided to live there (Raising the question of how long they’ve been down here. Did they escape the zoo during the invasion and get stuck? Or did the zoo just really suck at its job?), you find Dodonna affixed with a slave collar and cleaning the floor for an Imperial Lieutenant. She’s willing to tell you about the Voidwolf’s plans – that he’s building a pirate fleet to attack the Republic ship yards – but will mock your attempts to arrest her since she knows she’ll just walk free in exchange for all she knows about the Voidwolf. Instead she wants ‘free free’ – to just be turned loose and let vanish into the greater galaxy. You can let her do that if you want, or you can lie to her and then kill her once she’s turned over the evidence. After all, it’s just a lie for a lie. However as a nice touch, if you do take the lie and kill route, your smuggler will look away as they pull the trigger. Just one of those ‘not completely heartless’ moments that I really enjoyed.
Finally it’s time to go for the Voidwolf. To get to him, you’ll need to break into the weasely senator from earlier’s home and stow away or catch a ride with him to the Voidwolf’s flagship. After the Jedi Master Sumalee gives some not-so-Jedi advice on breaking-and-entering (She was Risha’s friend, remember?), you go and deactivate all the cameras and sensors from around the house. Then you defeat the guard captain and force him to walk you through the security system that will fry anyone who isn’t authorized or not with someone who is. You then meet the senator who offers you a deal to work with the Voidwolf. In the moment you might sped thinking that offer over, he calls the guards on you. What a toad. Then you have to chase him down to get the codes to take off in his shuttle by either just killing him or forcing him to give you the codes before letting him go. Either way you take his ship and we’re off to see the Voidwolf.
The finale starts IMMEDIATELY as you board the Senator’s ship, so be ready. From there it’s your standard ‘fight through the ship’ mission that if you’re like me and are playing every class mission – you’re quite used to. There’s a mini boss in the form of the Voidwolf’s Underboss at the end of the first area which is actually a refreshing change of pace. There’s also a small easter egg I found of a female officer kicking back with her feet on the table watching a double than life size holo of a female twilek pole dancing. So there’s a fun bit of same sex… uh… interest? When you finally reach the end of the ship, the Voidwolf is ordering his new pirate fleet around when you interrupt, and the various captains decide that they will serve whoever wins. Because as pirates they all work on some weird Mad Max style set of rules where only the strongest is worthy of loyalty or some such. You fight and defeat the Voidwolf, who tries to trick you with activating a thermal detonator when you kick over his assumed dead body, but you throw it back at him blowing him up.
With the Voidwolf dealt with, your new pirate fleet wants to know orders. You can tell them to pay a tribute to you and then disperse, to attack the Imperials, or to serve you as pirates and to plunder from the Imps AND Pubs while they fight each other. Then, because the Voidwolf is an ass and has to pull ever villain card from the deck, your crew informs you that a self destruct is imminent so you have to go find an escape pod. AND THE IMPS ARE STILL FIGHTING YOU ALL ALONG THE WAY. WHY? DO YOU WISH FOR DEATH THAT MUCH?! And in case you didn’t finish up any business planet side – good news! You crash back down on Corellia after escaping.
The ending of the story depends entirely on what you chose on the Voidwolf’s ship. I’ve done this storyline twice and have got two completely different endings to this story: When you chose to have the fleet attack the Imperials or take the money & have them disperse, you get a medal ceremony with Supreme Chancellor Saresh and Master Sumalee where I was proclaimed a Republic hero. If you choose the pirate option? Well the three captains show up to give you a share of the haul, Ivory and Rogun show up too if you had them join your team. They announce that galaxy wide you are being called ‘The Bandit King’ and you can reopen Port Nowhere as your personal pirate fortress. So Galaxy’s greatest hero or greatest crime lord. Not bad for a two bit smuggler who just wanted to run some guns to a bunch of freedom fighters on Ord Mantell.
My Reactions & Looking Back
Chapter Three is a really solid cap on an overall solid storyline. Again, I think the thing that seems to really encapsulates the smuggler story is momentum. The stakes keeping getting raised, the dangers escalate, the threats get more menacing – that kind of thing and Chapter Three carries on that whole process really well. I was initially very worried when Skavak was defeated at the end of Chapter One that we would have a repeat of the situation in the Bounty Hunter or Trooper storyline but no, because the story had the foresight to neither string us along with the annoyance of Skavak for three chapters but to also include a secondary villain to wait in the wings and occassionally send goons after you to remind you of his presence with Rogun the Butcher. Rogun is first mentioned right there on Ord Mantell and you don’t actually ever come face to face with the guy until right before Corellia. All the while he exists as a threat to you. The Voidwolf may write you off as insignificant but Rogun wants your head on a plate and he keeps gunning for you the entire storyline.
That’s the kind of momentum this story has. No matter whats going on, there isn’t a lull in the danger. It never diminishes or even stays constant. It’s always growing. From Skavak to Rogun & the Voidwolf to the surprise betrayal of Dodonna and Darmas, you find yourself constant fighting an uphill battle – which is what good drama should do. In the Trooper storyline, there is no major threat to fill the gap of losing the first chapter’s villains. The Bounty Hunter kind of meanders around in Chapter Three without a clear cut idea of what you’re doing beyond ‘earning favors’ to cash in for the ‘where to fight the bad guy’ coupon. Here though? Everything ties together. Everything plays a part in the overall story. That junk robot Skavak wanted from the Seperatists? The ‘freaky trophy’ from the Imps? All used as items for trading to get what you need for the treasure. Your seemingly unrelated privateer missions? That’s how Dodonna and Darmas buy their way into the Voidwolf’s inner circle. The only point where the connections are stretched at best is a few of the interludes and even they aren’t pointless – just not necessary. The smuggler story just builds until you – a lone plucky starship captain with no backing from any major organization – either takes down an Imperial admiral and his pirate fleet to save the day or rises up to become the most notorious pirate king since the days of Nok Drayan.
The one other perk to the story is that it’s funny. Like honest to goodness funny. I found myself constantly laughing while playing through this. Especially if you play it with kind of a gray morality. The light side stuff falls on the side of ‘help the innocent, save the day’ and the dark side stuff is mostly ‘get paid and kill anyone in your way’ but the gray choices usually fall firmly in the snarky category, and it is SO worth it to pursue that route.
There’s a reason I listed this storyline so high on my list of Worst to Best storylines. It really is a well constructed and fun storyline. It has two distinct endings that change based on your choices instead of just some basic fluff of a changed line in a default ending like the Jedi get. It never feels like it slows down or stalls, and it always has some new wacky card to pull out to put a smile on your face. It also exposes you to a side of the Star Wars universe you don’t get to see much of in the other storylines – the seedy underbelly. Oh sure the bounty hunter starts on Hutta and there’s scum everyone on a Hutt controlled planet but beyond that your clientele seems to be those who can afford your fees. Here? Your a smuggler. By definition you are working below the legal line. Which leads you to meeting the more colorful characters in Star Wars.
Seriously, I don’t think anyone will be disappointed playing through this storyline. Do yourself a favor and give it a try. I never thought it felt like a slog and I’ve played through it twice already.
<– Chapter Two || SMUGGLER ||