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USH'S STAR WARS GAME- Light and Dark Side Tips thread!
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Ushgarak
Paladin

Gender: Male
Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

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USH'S STAR WARS GAME- Light and Dark Side Tips thread!

Welcome to my tips/advice thread for the Star Wars game! Unlike the Galactic Survival Guide, which is more of a play reference and gives some basic tips about combat, this thread is more about the role-playing experience, and how to better perform as Jedi or Dark Siders. This is, obviously, important for a better gaming experience for everyone involved. But important how, exactly? Well, there are two ways:

1. Mood. No fun playing a Jedi game if no-one ACTS like a Jedi- a problem Gundy always found frustrating when others did not live up to the style!

2. Efficiency. Good play brings rewards. By now, the vets are getting pretty solid with rules and how combats work, but people are still a little over-awed by trying to actually be successful within the game.

So here I hope to be able to give a few tips on how to live up to your role, and how to do better whilst playing! Because their plots and styles are radically different, this will be split into Light and Dark sections. Enjoy!


__________________



"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"

"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

BtVS

Last edited by Ushgarak on Feb 3rd, 2005 at 06:54 PM

Old Post Feb 3rd, 2005 06:44 PM
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Ushgarak
Paladin

Gender: Male
Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Co-Admin

LIGHT

This game is ultimately about the Jedi, just as Star Wars itself is. The Dark Side is fun to play around with in many ways, but as far as I am concerned, it is the EXTRA bit. The core of the game is the Light Side, and their story is one of heroism in the face of increasing adversity- one of the oldest tales of all.

Now, as you know, I like to keep the mood of the films as much as possible. However, it must be borne in mind that this is, ultimate, a role-playing game. The most important thing is that an interesting story is created for you to play through, and this means things must be covered in far more depth than the films. This, inevitably, means interpretations of style and procedure by me, the Gamesmaster, which may contrast with what you gathered form the films, for which I apologise, but there you go, this is my interpretation (and, obviously, my brother’s). I like to think that the way I run things is consistent with the films and logic, but opinions always vary.

This tips section is therefore split into three areas. First- how to be a good guy. Second- how to be a Jedi. And third- how to succeed in stories.

-

1. Good guys…

‘Good guy’ is an incredibly broad term in stories. It can vary from out-and-out Paladin types who are SO good and true and nice and honourable that it is vomit-inducing, to hard-bitten cops with a hatred of authority trying their best to bring justice to the filthy streets against both the punks and corrupt boys down at city hall, to- increasingly popular- anti-hero types who are all very angsty and vicious yet tend to come down to achieving good things in the end (but try and make out that they don’t care about it). Irritatingly, the idea is getting around- especially in video games aimed at the teenage market- that the third category is the only one that works in grown-up stories. As if! As with all things, any characterisation works fine so long as you do it well.

Role-playing as a whole can explore any of these things. However, this is a Star Wars game. The original Star Wars RP produced by West End games had an entry on ‘shades of grey’, saying how it can be really fun to play RP games where good and evil are not well defined and people’s morals cannot be pinned down… but that this was NOT very Star Wars and so should not be used in it. I think WEG were very perceptive here, and it is a shame that the newer version- a not at all bad adaptation of the d20 system- actually says you can try the exact opposite.

George Lucas has said on numerous occasions he was creating a simple morality tale- the term was ‘black hats and white hat’, referring to old westerns where good guys wore white hats and bad guys black. The term was not literal, but it meant that you COULD pigeonhole everyone as either good or bad. Han Solo wasn’t an amoral mercenary who fitted in where he pleased, he was a Scoundrel with a heart of gold. He may have had a façade, but at heart he was good.

I am aware that the EU novels tend to complicate this rather more. For a reason I cannot fathom, this is often used as evidence of their maturity. I can’t see that, to be honest. I can see that it makes them different, but not more mature- any kid can write a gritty story, and to be honest, not many ‘grown up’ people could have put together something as fantastic as Star Wars. Claims that putting in more complex motives makes things more realistic look a bit odd considering the Star Wars context. I repeat my basic maxim- if they put in more complex motives and do it well, fair play to them. If it is not done well, then all the so-called maturity in the world won’t stop it from being crap.

Oddly, considering my plea for simplicity, in an RP one probably doesn’t have the luxury of being quite as simple as the films are- interesting plots require interesting, in-depth people and motives tend to be complex. However, not nearly as complex as characters will be in, say, the Matrix game. There is some shading in this game- Kir Ascar, for example; hard to pin down as a bad guy, but not really a hero, to be sure. At the end of the day, however, it is very safe for you to assume that every character created in this game pigeonholes, ultimately, into either a white hat or a black hat.

And so to make this clear and relevant… you guys are ALL white hats. Sorry if you didn’t want to be, as some of the Renegades might have wanted to be more dodgy, but I am afraid it is mandatory. Renegades differ on means, not goals- you ALL want a better Galaxy. The best thing of all about Star Wars is how we can junk ultimate questions of what is or is not evil- because we have the Force, a Light Side and a Dark Side. It will let you know! You have access to an ultimate truth that we don’t have in real life (no offence to the religious minded amongst you, but I am sure you know what I mean). Therefore you guys can be secure that your work is objectively good.

This means your primary motivation in all your stories is that you are doing good. Even if, as in the first Campaign, you were actually being tricked to do the bad guy’s work, all stories in this game are designed to achieve good and/or defeat evil, and all of you should be automatically enthusiastic for that work for that very reason alone. The exception is when one of you is being tested by the Dark Side, should this ever happen. If so… we can deal with it when it happens.

Now, I don’t mean you all have to be the vomit-inducing stereotype I mention above, You can be flawed, you can be gruff, scarred, even disillusioned- but like Han, you all have that heart of gold. All of you would turn the Falcon around to come and help Luke.

On the other hand, it is not necessary for you to be gruff, surly and disillusioned to be interesting- the champion can be just as fascinating as the scoundrel. As with all things… you just have to do it well. Personally speaking, when I play a hero, I like to play him like a hero. Not necessarily to a sugary extent, but in a very professional way. When I play a Jedi, I play him like a policeman- more on that below. How you play is obviously, up to you- but remember that heart of gold.

-

2. Jedi

This is probably the most subjective part, because we have few clues from the films to go on. Our idea of how the Jedi work is taken from a combination of:

a. What we have from the films
b. What GL has said
c. How law agencies work in real life

In general, then, this section talks a little of the purpose of the Jedi, how they should act, what they should do, and what their powers and limitations are.

So, what is the job of the Jedi? As Obi-Wan tells us, they are the Guardians of Peace and Justice in the Republic. That gives a good general idea, but is rather rhetorical to be useful as detail

GL describes the Jedi as being like the old Wild West Marshalls- feared travelling lawkeepers of immense power, whose word is law. This is a good starting point. You guys get sent out to sort out trouble, with the authority to do that. This, however, needs to bear close examination.

First off, what ARE the Jedi? Why do they have the powers they do? Some people are of the opinion that the Jedi have these powers because… well, because they are the Jedi! As if the Galaxy just gives them the right to enforce law… I regard this as unlikely. It seems clear from the prequel films that the Jedi are part of the Republican establishment, most likely since its original foundation. The Jedi do not have legal power because they demand it or took it. They have it because it is GIVEN to them by the democratically elected representatives of the people. The Republic is like the United States, only even more independent- a rather loose political combination of SOVEREIGN systems. Note that word- it means that each planet is an individual state in its own right. The Republic is stronger than the UN, but not greatly so- indeed, it was as powerless as the UN tends to be to stop the Naboo crisis, and its transformation away from being like this is what the prequel films examine. The true federal power in the Galaxy appears to belong- much as in real life- to the ‘multi-nationals’ (in this case, interplanetary) corporations, like the Trade Federation and when somewhere like Naboo starts taxing these companies, suddenly a battlefleet turns up (note that GL points out that this was an extreme thing to do, even for the Federation- and Qui-Gon voices that point in the film. It’s not ALWAYS like that).

So how can the Jedi have such power in such a loose system? It can only be because people are letting it be like that- one of the articles of the Republic must be that all members agree to let the Jedi have this power throughout the Republic. Why do they do this? Because the Jedi are clearly happy to offer the service, and are also the obvious best choice to do it. Jedi aren’t like other policemen- with the benefit of the force, they are truly altruistic and only interested in a just outcome. We have no idea if people took a long time to work this out, but by the time of the films, this idea is firmly engrained in Republican society.

So the Jedi have this power, and so become the ONLY federal institution in the Galaxy for most of its existence. Remember, there is no Republican army or navy (until the Clone Wars start, of course,.The introduction of the Bureau in my game is also evidence of this situation slowly changing).

So remember, this power is granted to the Jedi BY the people, effectively. That is a great responsibility, and must not be mis-used. It does, of course, mean that you are part of a system of rules that can be corrupt and sometimes these rules will work against you- that is, sadly, the way of things, but you cannot say you are above the rules just because you are a Jedi. Any policeman saying that would lose his job- the same applies to you.


__________________



"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"

"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

BtVS

Last edited by Ushgarak on Apr 20th, 2005 at 03:29 PM

Old Post Feb 3rd, 2005 06:45 PM
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Of course, the Jedi don’t always do police work. It is apparent that they are sent to handle diplomatic situations also. This is delicate- what authority do they have here? What right do they have to arbitrate on disputes between sovereign worlds- or even worse, disputes contained within a sovereign world itself? In TPM, it is clearly said that the Jedi are here to ‘force a settlement’, on a matter not yet officially declared illegal. Even so, Qui-Gon expects negotiations, specifically that they will be brief because he expects the Federation to back down. Almost certainly, then, Jedi are sent out as true diplomats in these situations, to mediate rather than order. However, in extreme circumstances, the Republic may grant you power to enforce certain things under your own authority- even at your own discretion, if they think you can handle that. But never forget than in arbitration you are on dodgy legal grounds if you think you have the power to order the way the Galaxy should be- your main objective should be to push for a peaceful resolution via diplomatic means. Maturity and patience are musts in such missions, so don’t take one if you think you are more of the gung-ho type.

Most extreme of all are missions like Obi-Wan’s in AOTC to Kamino. Kamino is not a Republican world. The Jedi have no power there. You might think that Obi-Wan is just being sent as a visitor… but no, the Council specifically orders him to bring Jango Fett in for questioning- most certainly short of any case having been built against him! It is clear then that in extreme circumstances, the Council will ask you to act as an agent in the Republic’s interest. In these cases, you are more like James Bond than a policeman- you are an agent being sent into possibly hostile territory. Saying to everyone “But I’m a Jedi!” will cut no ice- you have no official power in such missions. Your only power will come from what you can talk people into doing, your force abilities- and at the end of the day, your lightsabre. Only the most trusted and capable Jedi will be sent on such missions.

At the end of the AOTC, the Jedi turn up en masse to actively invade a sovereign world from outside of the Republic. Ahem! Obviously, once we get to this point in the timeline, things change. Don’t be expecting this to happen at all in my games!

But as I say, most of the time you will be doing investigative police work. I do not intend to bring up everyone to full police procedure- because it is extremely boring- but several basic points should be borne in mind:

1. You might be Jedi but you cannot do whatever you want. If someone is not committing an obvious crime in your sight, you may not detain them without an arrest warrant. Getting warrants against important suspects is an important thing to bear in mind- sometimes your entire mission might be to get enough evidence for a warrant

2. Likewise, you cannot just go anywhere you like. Private property must be respected by Jedi, and this includes corporate offices and the like. If you have cause- and evidence- that you need to get evidence from somewhere that is otherwise off limits, provide the evidence to the Jedi and get a search warrant, the counterpart to an arrest warrant

3. Jedi work on sovereign worlds. You must respect the laws and customs of those worlds at all times, UNLESS you have reasonable cause to believe that those customs will directly impair your ability to pursue a case. This is very dangerous ground to mess around with. Take an example of a pacifist world where all weapons are banned. When investigating a crime on that world, you are bound to respect that law and not carry your lightsabres. If a maniac draws a gun and starts shooting people, you are then empowered to protect the public safety by getting your own weapons- but the threat must be direct. You may not carry your lightsabres ‘just in case’- you must be able to directly show that they are needed. Break these laws, and you become the criminal.

4. The Lightsabre is a weapon of defence. Now, this needs clarifying- a Lightsabre is designed to kill. It is, after all, a weapon, not a subdual device. Weapons kill, Jedi carry weapons, and Jedi are expected to fight and, if necessary, kill to protect the public. But, absolutely, you draw your sabre as a last resort. Note that when Maul turns up in TPM, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon draw first. Some people have taken this as some kind of breach of the sacred law of Yoda’s words in ESB that the Jedi use their powers for defence, never attack. I say they did it because Jedi are not idiots- they knew what Maul was there for. Note that there seems to be no legal requirement (judging from the films) for you to declare that you are armed and ready to engage in combat, as there is in real life… but it might be nice if you gave people warnings first.

5. Force powers also require particular attention. A common sense ethic applies on these- use them to help you, by all means, but never use them in an obviously corrupt way. Qui-Gon does NOT try to defraud Watto in TPM- he doesn’t try and Mind Trick him into just handing the ship part over, only to accept the currency he is offering, which would have been fair trade. I will be very quick to criticise abusive use of force powers. Using the more physical force powers on people is akin to punching them in the face, and equally illegal without good reason.

6. The override for these areas is the already mentioned ‘public safety’. You don’t need a search warrant to follow a dangerous criminal into someone’s house, even if the occupants don’t want you there, so long as you have reasonable cause to believe that the criminal must be caught in order to protect the public.

In general, I will warn you if you are going to violate any of these principles, rather than surprise you by arresting you halfway through a story because of something you did ten days earlier.


__________________



"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"

"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

BtVS

Old Post Feb 3rd, 2005 06:51 PM
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Ushgarak
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Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Co-Admin

The final Jedi ethic I will look at here is how the Jedi run themselves. The Jedi have a Code, we know that. What is IN the Code, we have rather less idea about. In the EU, there is this little poem floating around which some people say is the Code. This is clearly nonsense- the Code is presented in the films as a set of rules, and the only one we know for sure is “You cannot have more than one Padawan,” which does not appear in that poem. The current Star Wars RP (d20 system) has a more in-depth look at the Code which is also, I assume, an EU source, which is interesting but I want to point out I disagree massively with parts of it. Particularly, at one point, it says that the Code states that ‘a Jedi is not a creature of morals’, which it expands to say it is not your job to enforce your morals on other people. It uses the example of a Jedi that barters with people who ate her friend, excusing it on the grounds that it was in the culture of these beings to eat people and she had no right to criticise it.

In as much that you should respect the cultures of other worlds, that is fine… but only their LEGAL cultures. The definition of that might be wide, but eating sentient beings is way over any line. Jedi are very MUCH creatures of morals, just as Star Wars is a tale of morals, as I have already covered above. Any creature that eats people I think we can safely put in the ‘black hat’ territory. It is plainly and manifestly evil and it would be part of your job to stop that.

“The Jedi recognised that punishing the Colicoids for following their nature would be acting out of emotion and ignorance,” says the RP book. To which I say- bollocks! Stopping people pursuing an evil act- in a Galaxy where we KNOW what is right and wrong- is the very essence of a Jedi’s job. By all means, educate people out of criminal acts rather than stopping them by force if you can… but I suspect aliens that eat people would probably need a sabre in the face to be stopped.

“The second reason is that judgment leads to vengeance and vengeance leads to the Dark Side,” continues the book, which is gibberish- it would only work if Jedi never did anything. But they DO do something- they are the protectors of Peace and Justice in the Republic, with, as I mentioned GL himself says, the discretionary powers of Wild West Marshalls. It is endemic to their nature to be judgmental- and being judgmental is not wrong if you are guided by wisdom, which of course you should always strive to be. And being judgmental does not rule out being respectful or even tolerant- just that there are limits.

If you disagree with me on that point and prefer the interpretation of the d20 rulebook, then that’s fair enough... but this is how I run things in my game, I am afraid. In fact, much of the rest of what it says makes good sense (for example, the line “If a Jedi ignites his lightsabre, he must be prepared to take a life. If he is not so prepared, he must keep his weapon at his side.” Good advice).

This does of course leave the question- what if you discover something that is immoral, but not actually illegal? Sadly this happens all the time, what with the corruption of the Republic. The only advice you have there is to try your best, and explore these problems in-game. The important point is that Jedi you may be, but you have no moral right to carry out judgment over others if it is not against the law of the democratic Republic- note the difference between judging people, and carrying out a judgment ON people. Being in the right does not give you THE right to do something- those rights are only granted to you by law.

So, what IS in the Code? It’s hard to say, but I think that if you strive to be good a guy Jedi and not abuse your powers and always strive for wisdom and understanding and control of your emotions… then I reckon you’ll get most of it. The procedural rules- like not taking a second Padawan, and obeying your Master- should also be obvious enough.

Renegades, in my game, are not people who have left the Order, but people who do not follow the Code. Renegades are still good guys- we can safely assume that they follow all the ‘don’t be evil’ parts of the Code. It is the procedural aspects they will have issue with- and the way that the Jedi work with the Republic, a system the Renegades find too distasteful to work in. Whilst we are talking about Renegades, Renegades must remember that unless the Council grants them the power to act as proper Jedi, you get none of the legal powers of a Jedi in a mission. The advantage of being a Renegade is that you are a free agent, able to investigate matters at your own leisure- but you lose the official power to do so.

All of this looks like a lot of restriction- this is often the problem with being a good guy. But do remember… your powers really are great indeed. Each one of you is one of the most important people in the Galaxy. Little wonder that this needs some counterbalancing.

Other than that, all there is to say about the Jedi is their mannerisms from the films. Jedi are trained from the cradle upwards to be as they are- and with the Force guiding them, they tend to be very sure of their actions. Not that they are incapable of error, but they do tend to act on firm grounds. Jedi tend to be patient, reserved, and dedicated. Some of you, of course, will have a taste for action and adventure and hacking things in two with a Lightsabre. Yoda may disapprove, but there is a place for this in your job- just make sure you keep it in that place.

-

3. Gaming

Ok, how to do well in games… ok, I have two parts to talk about for this one- how to do well in context of your characters, and how to do well in context of being players, yourselves.


As characters…

Don’t forget the basic maxim of means, motive, opportunity.

Being a detective aside, your primary job in an investigation is to identify exactly what has been done, identify who you think might have done it, find evidence until you can narrow down to a prime suspect or suspects from that list, and then find as much evidence as you can until you have a reasonable case against that suspect, then you can get your warrants!

Gather evidence of all sorts. Get forensic investigations of crime scenes- forensics isn’t just DNA testing and so on, it is finding little things that point towards something. Search places properly. Talk to people that might know something. Make sure you know exactly what people were, what they did etc.

If you think someone might have done something, find out if he COULD. If something difficult or unlikely has happened, narrow your field to find out who could possibly have done such a thing.

It’s a big Galaxy, so use your contacts for specialist info.

Likewise, use your mentors for advice.

Use your force senses to try and infer info from people. Jedi are master psychologists in this respect- even posing questions to a suspect can tell a Jedi a heck of a lot from how that person reacts.

Don’t forget people are SCARED of Jedi finding them out. If the person you know is behind things, or at least involved, is NOT scared, something is wrong.

If you have a Padawan don’t forget he/she is watching you. But if you do not actively involve your Padawan, development will be slow- and they won’t learn if you don’t tell them.


As players…

Pay attention! With a little experience, you should soon learn to pick up important details from background ones.

It may help to take notes. Not detailed ones, but just somewhere where you are bearing in mind the important facts of a case or plot, so you don’t lose track later on. What seems fixed in your mind at one point might have totally vanished three months later.
If you miss stuff, I would much prefer you to read the missed posts rather than asking me to write out things again- other players may oblige you better.

However, don’t be afraid to ask for more detailed info on something- often I leave details vague until someone actually checks them out.

Make skill rolls! Skills are useful. Look for times when you might be able to make one and ask for one. I’ll tell you how well that might or might not work. If you don’t know what skill is relevant, ask me! The more pro-actively you find out stuff, the better- though apply common sense limits.

Don’t forget your supportive force powers- Instinct/Luck re-rolls, or the power Insight, and most certainly don’t forget info from predictive force powers!

I give hints all the time. What people say, do, their mannerisms, descriptions of places and events… keep a look out.

Times can get tough in RPs, but I am not setting you up to fail. Keep your cool and try and do the best you can at all times- you’ll be amazed how well things might work out if you stick at it. I very much believe that players SHOULD feel pressured and things should be hard- else victory is worth little.

Talk with other players, in the thread or in private. Share info and ideas. Come up with plans- but don’t overcomplicate. A simple plan, decisively delivered, is a hundred times better than a complex one that people might not be certain about- I say this because a lot of time seems to go past as people fret about maybes and details. If you can make a Master Plan out of such worries, fine- but more often it just seems to make no plan at all. Keep things simple, then maybe work up to bigger things in later stories… on the off-chance things get harder…

In short… never forget what it is you are meant to be doing, and the means you are taking in order to be able to do that. Stay on track at all times, and things will go far more smoothly!


__________________



"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"

"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

BtVS

Last edited by Ushgarak on Apr 20th, 2005 at 03:35 PM

Old Post Feb 3rd, 2005 06:51 PM
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Ushgarak
Paladin

Gender: Male
Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Co-Admin

DARK

In the above section, I mention that the game is really about the Light Side plotline. This is true. The game could run without the Dark Side, but not without the Light. The Light Side IS the plot- the Dark Side is an extra. Come the main plot of the Campaign, all of it could be done without any Dark Side players- Kuylen and his cronies would have done all their stuff themselves if the players had not been there. Similarly, in the new Campaign, the Dark Siders once their prequel is done, will plotwise be adding interesting perspective and detail to the Campaign plot, but the plot would still be there without them.

I point this out not to make Dark Side players feel unimportant. All players are important. I just want the Dark Siders to understand what their gaming experience is all about. Whilst the Light Side storyline really is about doing things in the Star Wars tradition- heroes battling great odds to win victories in dark times- the Dark Side storyline, really, is about looking at what it is like to really be on the Dark Side, and what it involves, and the challenges and conflicts and personality tests it brings. It is not simply that you are playing the bad guys. That would in fact, be a very boring experience. Although you are ‘bad guys’ in a literal sense, you are not THE bad guys in a story sense- in the first Campaign, THE bad guys were Kuylen and Chion and Saar and the like.

This tips section, then, is split into three sections. First- why the Dark Side? This is less about tips and more about explanation. Secondly, some advice on how to play bad guys. Third, some specific advice of how to succeed as Dark Siders. I also recommend that you look at the ‘players’ tips above- the ‘characters’ tips are covered in the Dark Side section.

-

1. Why the Dark Side?

To explain: In films (and to a lesser extent in books, where things can be more detailed and so therefore muddled), you have antagonists and protagonists. Protagonists are the ‘heroes’ of the story, whatever their motivations, and antagonists are the villains, the people they fight or struggle against. The golden rule is this- players should never ever play antagonists. By definition antagonists are those who are struggled against, not those that do the struggling, and from a role-playing point of view this is very boring. Antagonists can make fascinating characters, but almost always presented in a way that does not make for interesting role-playing potential. People have asked before to play Orcs in LOTR or Agents in the Matrix, and this I disallow for this very reason- these people make interesting antagonists but crap players. Believe me, playing bad guys like that very quick loses all its appeal once you have played around doing unpleasant stuff.

So why is there a Dark Side plot in the SW game? Well, as I am sure some of you have guessed, you aren’t playing antagonists in that game- you are actually playing a different sort of protagonist- because ‘protagonist’ does not HAVE to be synonymous with ‘good guy’. This is possible in some franchises and storylines in a way it is not possible in others. In film terms, ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and ‘The Usual Suspects’ are good examples of films where the protagonists are villains (note that in TUS, the antagonists are, of course, Keyser Soze and his minions, who are even worse than the criminals who are the main characters, but it is important to recognise that in Reservoir Dogs the police are NOT the antagonists- there are in fact no antagonists in that film; the characters play off against each other).

The deciding factor, then, is that ‘can the villains be interesting enough in themselves, and be given interesting enough challenges, to warrant protagonist status?' In Star Wars the answer is yes. Taking the original films, Vader looks like an antagonist at first, but film by film, we see that he is actually another protagonist, just on a different side. If those films had been a role-playing game, the Emperor could not have been a player- he is definitely an antagonist. But someone could certainly have been playing Vader.

In this spirit, then, the Dark Side game has been created. But because the information required to create this sort of game is far more sparse than from the Light Side, the Dark Side games are far less about re-creating the feel of the films. The spirit of the films is there, for sure, but the happenings are different. Dark Side play is far more character based, punctuated with extreme violence. You might even like to think that it is a more sophisticated game than the Light Side one- it is certainly more difficult to write. This is the reason why the odds are always so heavily stacked against you- there is simply no interest in playing a Campaign against the Niceians of the planet Nicertron. I may as well start each episode saying ‘you win’ and leave it like that. The Usual Suspects is probably a good inspiration here- the best villain to confront bad guys with is… something worse. Now… that needs to be taken with a certain amount of dramatic license. Technically the Dark Siders should be as bad as you can possibly be- but I like to think that Dark Siders in Star Wars are theatrically bad, and also, you are in the end all nice people (I hope!) in yourselves, and there is only so much viciousness you can bring to play. I think you may have already noted that some of the people you are meeting on the Dark Side are just soooooo nasty as to make even you bridle. I don’t want to pretend that they out-evil you as such, just that… in the end, you really can see the protagonist/antagonist division.

To a lesser extent, the division is also that you guys start off with nothing and have to win victories, whereas the evil antagonists tend to control vast power, like the Golden Serpent or the Bureau. In the first campaign, this was performed by Kuylen always giving you difficult tasks to perform- this was fair enough, but as a plot idea it had a limit of how often it could be used, which was another reason for cutting you loose in the new campaign (admittedly, the current Episode (at time of writing, Part One of Episode II, Second Campaign) is using that trick again, which shows it is not completely exhausted, but the change in principle still holds).

But the main division is one of personality and motivation. Dark Siders are, simply, interesting characters. The main focus of the entirety of the films is the question of ‘why?’ for a Dark Sider. Because this RP is designed as a fun game, I won’t be going into TOO much detail on this point, but it is a reason why you are constantly challenged about motivations and reasoning and a kinda struggle for self-understanding… well, certainly if you play for more than one episode, because I can’t bring that stuff in until I have a good idea about how you work.

It is, then, very important that you guys put effort into creating interesting characters! Even Galder, at first looking only like a hired thug, has become an interesting character, in a way that, ultimately, playing Chion, the actual thug, could never have been like. Chion could only ever have been an antagonist- in the end, to just about everyone! These following sections will give you some tips about how to meet that role-playing challenge.


__________________



"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"

"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

BtVS

Last edited by Ushgarak on Apr 20th, 2005 at 03:04 PM

Old Post Feb 3rd, 2005 06:53 PM
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Ushgarak
Paladin

Gender: Male
Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Co-Admin

2. Evil…

So, you guys are ‘Black Hats’. You don’t have any of this noble nature or do-gooding attitude that I go on about in the Jedi section above. But how do you make sure you are playing an interesting evil character, rather than one that would be better suited to being controlled by me? I could spend a long time discussing various possibilities, but I think it is best to look at certain broad areas instead.

a. Motivation

The twin motivations that make it possible for you guys to be interesting at all are Survival and Ambition. In the Jedi stories, the fact that they are doing good is all the motivation you need. For you guys, a vague command to ‘do evil’ gets you nowhere; killing a few thousand innocents every week soon gets bored. Your two overwhelming desires are to survive, and to grow. Some people might even connect the two- your ambition is merely a way to ensure your survival. Others might see ambition as a pure motive in of itself. Regardless, every story you play has one of two motives for you to be interested in doing it- either you are fighting to survive, or you are fighting to secure more power for yourselves. This can be complicated. Survival might be as simple as a story about fleeing the Bureau. It might be as complex as one about you making it your objective to destroy the Serpent, as they pose too great a threat to you; an objective which might take an entire Campaign to achieve. This might also be seen as revenge, but that is a sub-set of survival if you look deep down- and deep down is where one or the other, or perhaps both, of these ideas will be your motivation.

b. Style

Important to both antagonist and evil protagonist, a bad guy is no good if he is really dull. Style can be a matter of personality- like Dooku- or sheer ambience- like Maul- but one way or another, you must try your best to project yourself as a valid an interesting person. Jedi can just be… well, Jedi- you need to create your own niche. This skill often develops over time.

c. Sense

This is one of the killers. Antagonists tend to be very powerful and dangerous and seemingly unstoppable… but somehow, they always seem to have a weakness which gets them stopped. Star Destroyers and Death Stars have weak points. The Emperor could not predict Vader’s switch. Maul didn’t finish the job when he could (mind you, I have no objection to you guys swaggering like that). The point is, antagonists ARE set up to fail, in a way players are not. For all their power and ability, there is always something they have done wrong, or have overlooked, or cannot do… else they would be unbeatable, and there would be no story. Antagonists are flawed on purpose.

Now, without a doubt, you guys are flawed, but only as part of a natural consequence of play, and adapting to situations. But you guys should, even if you are not always successful, be showing sense. Bad guys you may be, but you are the ‘heroes’ of your own stories. You don’t make the same arrogant mistakes as others. This is another reason why antagonists are poor choices for players- players just don’t make the same mistakes that decent antagonists have to do so (at least, if the players are playing well). The situations you face are hard- but you rise up to meet those challenges, and always, always, look to exploit the errors made by the opposition.

d. Heroism

This is another killer. Heroism, I say? Why the hell should you guys be interested in that? Well, you should, for two reasons that apply to all protagonists, good and evil. First of all, don’t confuse all heroics with automatically doing good. A man rushes a machine gun post in World War II, grenades it, takes it, and clears the way for an entire division to move forwards. He wins a medal for his efforts. But is the solider Japanese or American? Fighting for good or evil cause… the heroism was identical. When you wanted to play a bad guy, you might have had amusing visions of being like a Bond villain, sending others into the piranha pool, or even like the Emperor, sitting in your chair all day plotting. But story-wise, it is far more interesting to match and test your skills to the maximum, and see you do all that you can to win. That sheer desperation to win, that drive to succeed at all costs, and attempt and even pull off the seemingly impossible… that is part of the interest of the Dark Side. Heck, as the scroll text for the new film states- ‘There are Heroes on both sides…’

The second reason is because, in your own way, you CAN be heroes. Pretend your game is a tv series. You are all popular characters with the viewers. So now look at Jena. Man, what a cow! Everyone is going to hate that woman, all the more infuriating for her skill and intelligence. How dare she treat the characters like that!? Doesn’t she know who she is messing with? Someone kill her! Come onnn! Why isn’t she dead yet? The drive of the story demands that you overcome and destroy these people- and failing to do so might well be considered failure indeed! You have the equivalent of a heroic role to play in killing these people. Sometimes, this concept might be stretched still further- you might, in the interests of saving yourselves, defeat a threat to the Galaxy bigger than you are- for example, say someone else got control of the Zeitonians and invaded the Galaxy, you sure as hell would fight back. In this respect, you might actually be heroically taking on bad guys as much as the Jedi are. The motivation may be different, but the contribution it makes to you as interesting characters is the same.

e. Teamwork

This one I have been hammering in for a while. It is also going to be covered from a different angle in the section about being a Dark Sider below. But basically, whilst antagonists- including the Sith- live in a welter of betrayal and mis-trust… well, it’s not as if these things are forbidden in the game, but one of the reasons you do well, and one of the points of the Dark Side game, is that you guys work together as a team- just as in Blake’s 7 or the Usual Suspects, you are bound together by mutual need, the drive to survive, and after a little while because… it is basically part of your life to do so. Good guys perform well as a team without effort. You guys need to MAKE such effort… but it pays off.

f. Depth

This is the final part to it. It is not essential, but it greatly improves your experience and allows me greater leeway in creating plots for you. Your written backgrounds go greatly towards creating this. Who and what are you? What made you as you are? How do you react to things? What are the complications and limits of your evil? What makes you more than a Chion?


__________________



"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"

"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

BtVS

Last edited by Ushgarak on Feb 4th, 2005 at 01:04 AM

Old Post Feb 3rd, 2005 06:54 PM
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Ushgarak
Paladin

Gender: Male
Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Co-Admin

3. The Dark Side

The first complication about playing a Dark Sider as opposed to a Jedi is that the Dark Side is a philosophy, not an organisation. The Jedi Order IS an organisation, with rules and procedures. In its time, ‘The Sith’ was an organisation, and technically it still is but really not in the same way, and in any case, you are not part of it. So when I am trying to talk about good Dark Side play, I cannot relate it to anything specific. You had Kuylen’s organisation in the first game, now you are an organisation as unto yourselves. At the end of the day, you will make your own rules. So instead I will discuss some concepts for you to think about.

First of all, there is the matter of organisation. Currently- and it seems to be a permanent arrangement- you have a Master, which brings things down a certain angle- a dedicated leader. If you did not have a Master, the set-up is different, and could lead to you having no leader, which brings an entirely separate dynamic to the story. At the end of the day, having a leader is only a means to an end. The end is that everyone knows their place in the team, and that what the team is working towards. A leader can make these decisions for everyone; in a leaderless team, it must be based on mutual consent. Because you decided in advance of the game to have a leader, his opinion about what your group is and what it is for is the one I will accept.

You guys have had some time to work together now, and it really is time to get some dedicated organisation. Just who DOES do what? If confronted by a problem, who is the best person for the job? Who works well with whom? What things can you do well, and what things badly? What gaps need to be filled? These are all complications involved in creating your own group rather than being part of a larger one like the Jedi. The more you start having a concentrated dynamic, the better and better you become.

Of course, this is advice that applies well to any group. Being a Dark Sider complicates it on an individual level. In the past, I have run little surveys on Dark Sider behaviour- two questions I pose here are good ones to think about.

The first question was ‘Why do you follow Kuylen?’ We’ll translate this as “Why do you work with the others?” At the time they were presented as distinct options. This time, I think the various ideas should be prevented as a mix.

a. Survival. I cannot survive alone. I must work in a team to thrive.

b. Force. I am not powerful enough yet to command others. I must work with others until I have power enough to rule others.

c. Tradition. Working with others is the way of things. There is a Master, I am a servant of that Master. Perhaps one day I will be Master.

d. Association. After everything I have faced with these people, it is inconceivable that a certain bond has not grown between us.

Try and think about how well these ones mix with your character. The first two are traditional bad guy motives. The fourth has been created by long-term play. The third is rather unique to the Sith- who like the Jedi, recognise a ‘way of things’. Don’t forget, however, that the Sith went through this process that you are- and eventually destroyed themselves. It is hoped that you will do better.

That covers why you might work in a group. But what is it you want in the first place? My other question asks you to consider… what do you DO all this for? The options I gave were:

a. Power variant one- Imperialism. I see a New Order for the Galaxy, with me at or near the top.

b. Power variant two- Greed. I need to accumulate! I want more riches and more influence than you can possibly imagine, and to be the biggest thing there is.

c. Power variant three- Control. I must have power to be secure. If I cannot control all around me I am at risk.

d. Revenge. I am going to get my own back on all those bastards who ever laid me down. I will show that I am superior to them all.

e. Fun. It's great! Look at what I can do, oh, it's marvellous! Kill people, see how the others run... the more I get the more I can do!

f. Nihilism. I have no reason. I just do it. Chaos is the result.

g. Destiny. I am just following the Path before me in the most efficient way I know, which is the Dark Side. Considerations like Morality are irrelevant to me.

h. Other- please specify.

It is suggested, btw, that e and f are motivations not suited for characters- they were the motivations of Krisha/Jolanta and Chion, respectively, and have limits for interesting play. Of course, as with the question above, I invite you to mix motives, including bits of e and f, so long as they are not all there is to you.

When you have identified your motives, then you should be looking at how the group helps you fulfil them. The group as a whole should also be looking at the needs of its members. If everyone feels that everything is good and worthwhile… things will work so much better!

Achieving goals is the next trick. You can have the perfect set-up and clear goals, but that is bugger all good if you cannot get anywhere. What tools are at your disposal?

First of all, sheer force. You represent a considerable block of dangerous aggressive power. Yet for all that power, you are individual heroes, not vast armies. You cannot fight the Galaxy alone, and as you have seen, the resources of the Galaxy turned against you are formidable. If it was as simple as being very dangerous personally, Sidious would not bother with any of his political machinations. Even in the heyday of the Sith, they may have been powerful, but the Jedi were powerful also. Undoubtedly you can bring considerable force to bear when necessary, but never enough to solve all your problems.. Often, the threat of violence brings more than violence itself. Intimidation is a powerful tool.

There is also your intelligence, or at least I hope there is. Whilst you are not on official jobs like Jedi, applying a similar professionalism can be helpful. Keep your eyes open; pay attention to what people say or do (or are feeling- use Scan!). Acquire info as much as you can, within safe limits. Don’t be afraid to be pro-active in this; if you can get away with it, break into places, steal things, hack into things… get as much as you can!

Applying some basic criminal instinct here is handy. The weak point in any security system is normally the human factor, a point which hackers exploit way more than trying to mathematically decrypt passwords- why bother when it is far easier to impersonate the system admin and phone the secretary to get the password? Criminals always look for back doors- players tend to get obsessed with the front.

The greatest weapon of the Sith- and the Dark Side in general- is deception. Confuse and entrap your enemies, whether in a simple way- laying in ambush until he comes past and then twatting him on the back of the head- or a complex way- a multi-layered nefarious plot that will taken ten years before coming to fruition, like Sidious does. One way or another, the Dark Side excels at the tactic of deceit. This is very difficult to role-play, and likely your greatest challenge. Still, see what you can do.

Other than that, you will have to rely on the heroic qualities I list above- grit, determination, sheer force of will… but always limited by a modicum of good sense. Power takes time to achieve; go for too much at once and you will lose all.

Also, as some people have had hinted to them… building power as a Dark Sider is not all about conquest- deceitful or military. Palpatine as Emperor has many willing cohorts and colleagues. These you will need also. Making contacts and building alliances are both important parts of your work also. Just remember, the politics in these things can get complex- the trick is to remain top of the pile.

Finally… it might be a bind, but in the final analysis, the Jedi are more heroes than you. For you, the odds are longer, your prizes always more under threat. The game examines what the Dark Side is like. The answer? Bloody vicious. The possibility of your total annihilation is ever present, and the galaxy will never be yours. There are achievements to make, but never any ultimate victory. The joy in playing for the Dark Side is very much IN playing- and in achievements taken in the most trying of circumstances. At the end of the day, you can, at least, make a difference, and in some areas thrive better than the Sith did. More than many people get out of life!

----

Well, there you go, that is all that.

If you have any other questions or want tips/advice on different areas... ask away!


__________________



"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"

"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

BtVS

Last edited by Ushgarak on Apr 20th, 2005 at 03:25 PM

Old Post Feb 3rd, 2005 06:56 PM
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Delfedd
Beware of the Dark Side

Gender: Male
Location: Ank morpork

hey thanks ush, this'll be really helpfull.


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Come visit me sometime

a public service anouncement (put in your Sig)

Old Post Feb 3rd, 2005 10:12 PM
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General Zink
Bane

Gender: Male
Location: Evil high-backed chair

Rand would have to go with Power Varients A and B. He wants to be on top and he wants to be able to brag about it...


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Old Post Feb 4th, 2005 12:13 AM
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REXXXX
Networking

Gender: Male
Location: San Diego

Moderator

Hah! B & E!


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Old Post Feb 4th, 2005 12:22 AM
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Peach
mordrem

Gender: Female
Location: verdant brink

Moderator

quote:
Originally posted by Captain REX
Hah! B & E!


WHY am I not surprised? stick out tongue

I think with Rianna I'd have to go with D and C, with a little bit of E...heh!


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I can hear the call of the dragon...

Old Post Feb 4th, 2005 12:24 AM
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Tptmanno1
Life Ponder-er

Gender: Male
Location: Dreaming...Or am I living...

Thanks much Ush,
It'll help with the missions.


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Old Post Feb 4th, 2005 12:30 AM
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Lord Melkor
Senior Member

Gender: Male
Location: The Land of Confusion

For Gallador it is between A, D and E


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Yet the lies that Melkor, the mighty and accursed, Morgoth Bauglir, the Power of Terror and of Hate, sowed in the hearts of Elves and Men are a seed that does not die and cannot be destroyed; and ever and anon it sprouts anew, and will bear dark fruit even unto the latest days.

"… his name is Melkor, Lord of All, Giver of Freedeom, and he shall make you stronger than they."
Sauron to Ar-Pharazôn

Old Post Feb 4th, 2005 12:34 AM
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REXXXX
Networking

Gender: Male
Location: San Diego

Moderator

You know, we never got a background for Gallador, Melk!


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Old Post Feb 4th, 2005 01:21 AM
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Ushgarak
Paladin

Gender: Male
Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Co-Admin

Anyone have any opinions on the first-asked Dark Side question?


__________________



"We've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa burgers and not one of you buds has the midi-chlorians to stop her!"

"You've never had any TINY bit of sex, have you?"

BtVS

Old Post Feb 4th, 2005 01:24 AM
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REXXXX
Networking

Gender: Male
Location: San Diego

Moderator

First question for Galder would be D. He hasn't exactly been Mr. "I'm Going to Own You All!," and he rather likes Takuan and Rah as companions.


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Old Post Feb 4th, 2005 01:25 AM
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Peach
mordrem

Gender: Female
Location: verdant brink

Moderator

For the first one, probably A with a little bit of D.....


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I can hear the call of the dragon...

Old Post Feb 4th, 2005 01:28 AM
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Dexx
wingless

Gender: Male
Location: Bucharest, Romania

first one: a with d
second...c with g

those should basicly describe it

Old Post Feb 4th, 2005 05:50 AM
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Baylin
Back in story!

Gender: Male
Location: Deep shit as always...!

I think Rah is a mix of d, e, and g


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Old Post Feb 4th, 2005 07:47 AM
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Lord Melkor
Senior Member

Gender: Male
Location: The Land of Confusion

A and B concering the first question


__________________
Yet the lies that Melkor, the mighty and accursed, Morgoth Bauglir, the Power of Terror and of Hate, sowed in the hearts of Elves and Men are a seed that does not die and cannot be destroyed; and ever and anon it sprouts anew, and will bear dark fruit even unto the latest days.

"… his name is Melkor, Lord of All, Giver of Freedeom, and he shall make you stronger than they."
Sauron to Ar-Pharazôn

Old Post Feb 4th, 2005 10:54 AM
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