Okay, so much for themes. What did I do to the SW universe?
Firstly, I wanted to divorce the Sith and the Empire, and Alliance/Jedi. The Empire must be defined by its money, its navies, its technology, its faceless, endless hordes of clones. And be embroiled in a damaging civil war. We no longer need Evil Wizards, so Palpatine has to go. History’s greatest monsters were mortal men, and let’s stress that with the Empire. We have the perfect one in Wiluff Tarkin already.
Vader is part of Luke’s PC story, so he needs to go, cool as he is. Luke and Han can’t be around, for the same reason Alan Moore didn’t use Holmes or Dracula in League of Extraordinary Gentleman. Some characters are too big and iconic, and we want our own characters to breathe. This still leaves lots of background characters – Lando, Leia, Ackbar, Fett, etc can all add colour without overshadowing the PCs. Some like Jabba will be removed just to mess with the player’s minds, to let them know they’re not in Kansas any more.
So, what goes down? At this point I’d like to thank Chortles on this very board, for his inexhaustible patience, cool ideas and for cherry-picking the best cuts of the EU for me to use! Thanks buddy!
About 20-30 years ago, the Jedi and Sith (of which the latter are many, not two) begin to cease hostilities to face a new and growing threat they see in visions. (Behind the scenes, these two Factions will be revealed as cosier than most people realise, both flawed visions of a single society). This threat isn’t determined, but is likely a reworked Yuzhan Vong, who are now invulnerable to normal technology but terribly vulnerable to Force powers.
Plans are made, and a dark plot is hatched. Resentful of their most powerful member, the Sith agree to sell him out. The Jedi agree to abandon the Old Republic to those who would dominate it. Dark bargains are struck. The rising Tarkin agrees to betray Palpatine in exchange for the others leaving him alone. (Why do the Jedi do this? They likely see a mere human as the lesser of two evils – defeating Tarkin on their return will be easier than defeating Sidious).
Anakin is killed early on – he falls to the dark side early, tries to ravish Padme, who disembowels him and cuts off most of his face. He escapes, castrated, and now wearing a hideous mask and breathing apparatus... For years, the Sith and Jedi hunt him; he brings down many, but eventually is captured by the Jedi (or Sith, nobody knows!) Inquisitors, and horribly tortured to death. By the time he expires, they know every bit of his master’s plan.
So when Sidious calls down Order 66, it backfires horribly. Tarkin now has the real codes and cancels it, while withdrawing the clone armies to himself. Swarms of angry Jedi decapitate Sidious. His head is delivered to Tarkin, who now declares himself Emperor, denouncing Palpatine as an Evil Wizard and claiming emergency powers to protect the galaxy from the Sith. The Sith and Jedi abandon the galaxy to face a greater threat on the distant Far Rim.
Left to swing in the wind, the remnants of the Old Republic refuse to accept Tarkin as Emperor. While ‘rebel scum’ remains an Imperial insult, they do not see themselves as ‘rebels’, but see Tarkin as the usurper. Seven races (of which humans are but one) form the Alliance of the New Republic, formed to combat Tarkin’s xenophobia and megalomania.
Alderaan’s destruction happens earlier now – Tarkin has planned this for ages, and about six months into his reign, uses his new shiny Weapon of Mass Destruction to blow up a Core World (Leia and her real father, Bail, are thankfully elsewhere). Tarkin intends this to be his crowning glory, but it drives entire worlds and species into the arms of the Alliance, and begins the toxic civil war that will eventually slow the Imperial war machine to a standstill.
The calendar is restarted about now – Tarkin starts it from his coronation, the Alliance starts it from the destruction of Alderaan. Alderaan becomes their symbol, and the rising phoenix becomes the official symbol of the Alliance. About now, Monobrow Boy becomes the highest-profile casualty of the ‘Bad Company’, an Alliance cell of misfits and straight-up terrorists. His unibrow becomes their trophy and banner, and wins them lots of kudos from Alliance Command, to the extent that they will ignore many of their unsavoury activities in the years to come.
Twenty years after Alderaan, the game begins.
(Luke is about 30 here, older than in the films, already powerful and exploring both sides of the Force. His natural parents are murdered by the Empire, but he reins in his anger to watch and wait… He is certain the Jedi and the Sith are wrong in their approach, and remains in the galaxy seeking a third way…)
The Empire is riven by civil war. Tarkin is older, and unwell, now paranoid and bitter. He rules by fear, and by the Death Star, hated now even by many other Imperials. Four factions have arisen – the Tarkin loyalists, and those kept in line by his Dark Side acolytes, who worship him as a god. Then there’s the pro-alien faction, who disagree with Tarkin’s xenophobia and have Thrawn as their reluctant poster boy. Then there’s the Sith loyalists, who see him as weak, and want the Sith running things – these are ruthlessly hunted by Tarkin’s own fanatical Emergents (which is ironic, seeing as how he hates and fears the Force). Lastly, there is a ‘Lawful Neutral’ faction, under the reluctant Wulff Yularen, who believe that while the Empire could be a good thing, a paranoid and murderous Emperor is not. This faction is naturally the one that keeps its head down the most.
An attempt to destroy Tarkin’s hated weapon occurs at Yavin – it’s a disastrous failure and the Alliance’s first serious setback. Mercifully, the Death Star is later sabotaged from within, momentarily rendered incapable of firing. It is now hated by most of the Imperials as well as the Alliance. Tarkin frantically works to get it functioning again.
The Alliance and Project Emergent – when the Jedi left for distant stars, they left their youngest with the Alliance, those who had not yet made Padawan. The Sith did the same with their young, entrusting them to Tarkin, knowing full well he would betray them. The Alliance now had a small group of talented Force Sensitives, left to swing in the wind by the Jedi betrayers. Some of the Jedi – now known as Exiles – refused the Exodus, breaking ranks to remain in the galaxy. Some hid – Tarkin detested the Jedi and made a point of trying to wipe them out. But a handful stayed true to the New Republic, training the next generation of Force-sensitives in a wholly new tradition.
This became the Emergent Project. Trained without the weapons of the Jedi betrayers, the Emergents grew up in the Alliance, nurtured as elite warriors and saviours of the New Republic. The Alliance was not only their cause, but their family and their religion, even. Bonded as brothers, most grew up fanatically loyal and devoted to the ideals of the New Alliance. They also were trained as soldiers, or engineers, or spies; their Force powers were something in addition to their role in serving the Alliance. They worked together, or were sent to support other elite units like the Special Forces. Due to the necessity and power of these rare Force-using agents, every single Alliance child who showed Force-sensitivity was enrolled in the Project, no exceptions. While there were occasional mishaps, this was mostly successful, producing unique and powerful agents who were exceptionally faithful to their cause. They were heroes to the Alliance, and hated targets to the Empire (Tarkin did not risk his own Emergents on the battlefield, using them as assassins or personal guard)
The Galactic Civil War now stands balanced precariously. The Empire might deny it, but it is torn apart by civil war, the most powerful military force in history ground to a halt. The Alliance is slowly gaining the upper hand. On paper, it should be no contest, but the Empire is stricken by its internal struggles. However, the moment will soon pass – it the Death Star becomes operational again, or one of the Imperial factions gains control of the others, then it’s Game Over for the New Alliance. United, the Empire will win in short order, so the time to fight is now.
And then, on both sides, the Imperial and Alliance Emergents with Farsee begin to experience visions. Their battle in the Far Rim won, the Sith and the Jedi will soon return. And will demand their own positions of leadership back, something neither the Empire or the New Alliance will permit. The Emergents relish showing the ‘betrayers’ of the Exodus how well they have trained and how much they have learned.
(And somewhere, Luke Lars watches and waits to make sense of the chaos that is to come…)
So, that’s the game setting. Thanks for listening if you made it this far! It gives the players a bunch of factions and sub-factions to choose from, with everything to be won or lost and allies and enemies to be made. The players have two groups, fringers and Alliance, but could easily find friends or enemies in every faction. Some Imperials want peace and stability. One group of Alliance SpecOps are definitely bad guys and violent terrorists – but the players must learn that the end does not justify the means. Not all the Sith are evil; some simply embrace their emotions. Not all the Jedi are arrogant and domineering, and some (like the future Jedi PCs) may want to make amends and help the Alliance. All the elements are still there, but everything is different.
Surprisingly, thus far it has made almost no difference to the EoE group - they don’t care much who is Emperor – and little difference to the AoR team, though I expect that to change when the Jedi finally return.
Anyway, I’ve gone on enough. If anyone has their own alternant timelines or divergent campaigns, I’d be delighted to hear about them!
Edited by Maelora, 05 December 2013 - 04:47 PM.