Friday, November 18, 2011

Thoughts on MY Star Wars

Like most of my fellows, I'm a Star Wars kid.  I was 5 years old when the only movie which is actually called Star Wars came out and it was a life-changing event.  Star Wars (not just the movie but the concept) was a definite First Love.  But, as is often the case with First Love, things changed.  We both grew older and began to get into different things.  Star Wars (the franchise, not the movie (of which there is just the one)) began to get into Ewoks and wuxia and Luke and Lei being siblings and I was getting into The Dark Knight and Elric and not kissing siblings.  Twenty-plus years later, we met again and - I'll admit - I was pretty excited at the prospect of getting back together.  But she had changed.  She was like some big video game with cool graphics and no soul.  Ah well; I'm sure you know the story just as well as I.

And now, my son turns 5 and, unintentionally,  I started showing Her to Him.  And seeing it through his eyes rekindles things.  I was reminded of a wonderful thought-experiment in which I took part on rpg.net last year: Using Ep. IV as the only Canon.  I had some ideas which I still really like about characters and the setting, but here's the one I'm thinking of today:

No one can really say what they Force is, but we know how it manifests in Ep. IV: hypnosis (“these aren’t the droids you’re looking for”; arguably Kenobi making himself unnoticed as he sneaks around the Death Star), spatial awareness (“close your eyes, Luke”), and some kind of telepathic/empathic connection to the universe (“I feel a disturbance in the Force”).  Notice that there ain’t no telekinesis here.  Arguably, Vader’s Force Choke is TK, but, at the time, I thought that it was Vader telepathically controlling the guy’s autonomic nervous system - essentially hypnotizing the guy into not being able to breathe.  If you buy that, then we have the Force as a very subtle, though still quite powerful thing.

This remains, to me, a much more interesting Force than that the one that evolved into guys flying around and knocking over platoons of soldiers with a wave.  Jedi aren't super-heroes in my SW; they are mystical warriors.  Perhaps more importantly, this strikes me as a kind of Force that is much more playable in a game with mostly non-Jedi (like in the one and only movie Star Wars).  You can't pick up rocks and crush the big robot or absorb blaster-fire or make enemy ships smash into each other.

The Force in my SW is still a potent weapon, but it's one that requires thought and subtlety; once things goes past subtlety, it's time to draw light-sabres (e.g. Obi-Wan on the Death-Star).  Of course, the Force still helps there, since the Jedi's ESP (isn't that a great, old-fashioned-sounding term now?) is a huge boon when fighting; he knows what his opponent is doing as he is doing it.  The Jedi Knight feels his enemy's anger preparing to strike and his years of self-mastery allow him to control his own movements to an exceptional degree.  Not super-human, mind you, but think of what a true martial arts master can do with his body and you'll know that you don't need super-powers to be awesome.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Needs No Telekinesis To Be Bad-Ass!
Those hypothetical readers who are old enough might recall that great issue of the Marvel Comics version of Star Wars, which told a story of Obi-Wan in his prime (but still old enough to be gray-haired, which is part of why it's awesome).  Extra-canonical though it is, this issue is a good example of how I think a Jedi should be played: a cunning warrior with mysterious powers, but not a super-man.

Ironically, thinking in this direction led me to a nice rationale for the Droid troops we see in those movies I don't even want to name: many of the Jedi's tricks become useless against machine-foes.  A Droid's thoughts can neither be read nor controlled.  And thus a Battle-Droid becomes a much more credible threat to a Jedi, whose combat training is based, in part, on knowing his foe's mind; even more so since these Jedi can't just wave their hands and send the whole army flying away.  Indeed, a War-Robot could be something of an Anti-Jedi Device, theoretically more dangerous to him than to the regular joes in his party.  An equivalent to the various Wizard-Slayers in Ye Auld Game.

Finally, my vanity requires me to post a bit of fun from the old thread:

Yes, Emperor

PALPATINE: Vader, how is it possible that the most potent weapon in the galaxy was destroyed by a farm-boy with a defective astromech droid?

VADER: Well, Emperor, that is, of course, a most perspicacious question and, may I say, one that fully deserves to be answered in complete and unambiguous terms, with no qualifications, cover-ups, or tentativity.

PALPATINE: [Pause] Yes?  And?

VADER: [Startled] Oh, you mean you wanted an answer now?  Unfortunately, Emperor, as much as I should like to approach the entire issue with alacrity and celerity, you must understand that the Force is mysterious and not always...er, tractable.  That is, I must align myself with the energy field that connects and binds us all together; there are also forms to fill out.  I suggest we convene a Sith Committee to really get at the heart of the matter; study it from all angles and so on.  Once we convoke that assemblage, I should think a few years of investigation and debate...

EMPEROR: A few years?!  Vader, I want answers now!  I have a Rebellion to crush.

VADER: Ah...but you don't want answers now. 

EMPEROR: No...I don't want answers now.

VADER: You want to convene a committee to fully explore the matter.

EMPEROR: You know Vader, on second-thought, I think that I want to convene a committee to fully explore the matter.

VADER: On your way, Dark Lord of the Sith.

EMPEROR: Well, on your way Dark Lord of the Sith.

VADER: Of course, Emperor.  Sound decision.

EMPEROR: [shaking his head slowly as Vader leaves the room] Curse your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader!

VADER: Yes, Emperor.

5 comments:

  1. Good thoughts. Though if the Force is too subtle it makes it even stranger that Vader believes that the "poor to destroy a planet" is "insignificant compared to the power of the force" (not that it doesn't already seem like hyperbole even with the Force powers taken as they are displayed in the whole officlal "canon."

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  2. Perhaps Vader believes if given free rein, he can "Force" Alderaan to be loyal to the Empire.

    I did take the Force choke to be TK. It looks more like that than the body not breathing. But obviously the amount of force used isn't as great as shown in the earlier movies. Perhaps you could limit it to a characters strength i.e. make it essentially 'long reach', if you couldn't do it standing next to an object, you can't do it with the force.

    That could cover the Empire fight as far as I can recall. Luke's jump out of the carbonite pit works as: he jumps physically, adding his TK to push himself up and then switches it to pull himself up into the overhead rigging. Just my two credits...

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  3. @123: See, I don't have to cover anything from Empire cause only the first movie is canon in this little game. I'm not saying anyone has to want to do it my way; I just like it.

    @Trey: I don't think "subtle" means "not powerful". I think of Vader's statement this way: what if the only power you had the 1st level spell Charm Person and, instead of trolling dungeons, you wanted to subvert your political system and take power? Even the power of the mighty Fireball pales in comparison with that of the Charm Person,

    I did think of one little contra to my "Droids as Wizard-Slayers" idea. The little, flying sphere that Luke trains on is a (simple?) droid and the Force obviously helps Luke fight it. Well, I could do some mental gymnastics on that, but I'm not sure it's worth the effort.

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  4. Thank you, thank you for that wonderful spoof on one of the best shows Brit TV has to offer!

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  5. Thanks GK; I'm rather proud of it myself.

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