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Everything posted by ErikModi

  1. So, there's a good bit about this in the Shadows of the Empire novel. Darth Vader is trying to use the Dark Side to repair his damaged body, so he can breathe without his suit. He's making progress, focusing on his rage and hate and willing his lungs to inflate and absorb oxygen. And he breathes in unaided, and is so happy at his success he loses the focus on the Dark Side that was enabling it, and his effort falls apart. Now, this is an extreme version, since he was trying to do something very difficult (and something the Dark Side isn't all that good at, healing) but you could see using Light Side pips in a similar way. Just like a Force User drawing on the Dark Side is momentarily overcome with raw passion, a Dark Sider using the Light Side could be having a moment of simple, pure joy, feeling suddenly and unusually protective of a comrade when it's of no benefit to him. . . there's a lot of possibilities based on the character and exactly why they're a Dark Sider.
  2. Yeah, pretty much what I was thinking. There's a small window to hit with relativistic force, and an even smaller window to hit with really high relativistic force. Beyond that, it's either a standard ram or just being in hyperspace.
  3. So, I wrote this up with the idea of making a YouTube video about it, but. . . well, here: Holdo Maneuver Explained Okay, so, I know I’m a little late to the party on this, but I wanted to address the common complaint about this scene from The Last Jedi. It comes in a lot of forms and variations, but basically boils down to “if this is possible, we should have seen it before, and it breaks how warfare works in Star Wars.” I disagree, and I’d like to explain exactly the various reasons why. A note on terminology. I’ll be referencing both “Legends” and “Canon” as I talk about this. For the uninitiated, Star Wars has a long, proud history of “Expanded Universe” materials. Books, comics, video and card and tabletop role-playing games. . . basically, any medium you can think of, Star Wars expanded into it. When Disney bought LucasFilm and went forward with a sequel trilogy of movies, the decision was made to take that Expanded Universe material and dub it “Legends,” essentially an alternate universe of Star Wars canon, which the new Canon can draw from, modify, or ignore as new Canon works see fit. This means that there are literally thousands of years of Star Wars history that may or may not still apply. This is what TvTropes calls “Schrodinger’s Canon,” and you can check that out for more information if you like. Try not to get lost. Anyway, I’ll be referencing both Legends and the new Canon as we go forward, and I’ll try to make it clear what’s what, hopefully you can follow me. Ready? Here we go! So, first, the reason why we haven’t seen a hyperspace ram before is. . . because you can’t actually ram something in hyperspace. Star Wars FTL travel is via hyperspace, which is explicitly an alternate dimension where you can travel faster than the speed of light, which you cannot do in normal, or “realspace.” So, you can’t actually ram an object in realspace while you are in hyperspace. Now, according to Legends, objects in realspace cast “mass shadows” in hyperspace, which you can hit, and hitting a mass shadow in hyperspace is just like hitting the object itself in realspace. . . at a zillion times the speed of light and on another plane of existence. You get smashed into subatomic particles and radiation, and the object in realspace doesn’t even realize you were there. Now, there is at least one Legends source I’ve heard of that claims hitting an object I hyperspace does affect the object in realspace, annihilating it, but I can’t find that particular source and nowhere else in Legends that I am familiar with has this been treated as true. Except. . . Holdo does exactly that, ram an object in realspace while in hyperspace. Well, I don’t actually think so. You’ve seen it plenty of times, when ships enter or exit hyperspace in Star Wars. What Timothy Zahn calls in his Star Wars novels a “flicker of pseudomotion,” a ship transitioning between realspace and hyperspace or vice versa. It lasts just a second before the ship is gone. I would contend that, during that flicker of pseudomotion, owing to a quirk of Star Wars physics, a ship entering or exiting hyperspace is treated as a relativistic object in realspace, moving at a substantial percentage of the speed of light. As this excellent Because Science video shows, relativistic objects can pack near-infinite amounts of kinetic energy, making them extremely destructive. So, the Holdo Maneuver can be very, very effective, but only within that second while the vessel is straddling hyperspace and realspace. It requires very precise timing to pull off, and you need to be very close to the target, which negates the main advantage of relativistic or faster-than-light ramming attempts. . . by the time you see them coming, it’s too late to do anything about it. You’d have to be close enough that the enemy could potentially shoot you down before you engage your hyperdrive. And as we see in The Last Jedi, the Supremacy could detect that the Raddus was about to enter hyperspace, but blew it off as a distraction. . . until they saw the Raddus had turned to point at them. By the time Hux gave the order to “fire on that cruiser,” it was too late to stop Holdo. Against a more prepared (or more competent?) commander, this window may not have been as large, or existed at all. (Side note. . . I don’t think this was the first ever time a near-hyperspace collision had ever happened in Star Wars, in part because its such a big galaxy with such a long history lots of things must have happened before and will probably happen again, but because Hux loses all his **** as soon as he figures out what Holod’s up to.) So, you only have a limited window to hit your target while transitioning between realspace and hyperspace, and this requires you to be fairly close to your enemy and engage your hyperdrive at just the right moment to hit them with relativistic power. Already, its limitation as a tactic is becoming apparent, but there’s another drawback: accuracy. Holdo is pretty clearly aiming for dead-center on the Supremacy. But she hits it. . . here. Fully halfway between the centerline and the tip of the starboard wing. The Supremacy is 60 kilometers wide (the largest ship ever in Star Wars Canon that isn’t a Death Star), which means that if she was aiming for dead-center, she missed her target by a full 15 kilometers. The next biggest ship in Star Wars Canon, Darth Vader’s Super Star Destroyer Executor, is only 19 kilometers long. If Holdo had been trying to ram that dead-center from the side, that 15km margin of error is the difference between hitting it and missing completely. And again, that’s the largest Star Wars ship known to exist outside of the Supremacy and the Death Stars. So assuming this 15km margin of error is normal, this tactic is basically completely useless against anything that isn’t ridiculously big. Granted, that does make scenes like this (Rebel fleet in Return of the Jedi jumping to hyperspace in tight formation) seem incredibly reckless, but maybe their navicomputers are linked in such a way so that if hyperdrives are off by about 15km per jump, the whole fleet is off by the same 15km. Slave circuits are a thing in Legends, just saying. That’s two strikes now against this being a viable, common tactic. . . proximity and accuracy. But there’s also damage to consider. Look at what the ram actually does to the Supremacy. That’s not superweapon levels of damage. The ship itself is still functional, all the major characters on board survive, and enough minor characters and redshirts survive that the First Order can launch a full-scale ground assault on the base on Crait not long after. It’s bit nebulous exactly how long it takes for the ground assault to get going, but I don’t think it was much over half an hour, if that long. Sure, the Supremacy’s support fleet gets destroyed by the relativistic shrapnel, but the Supremacy itself is largely intact, and may even be repairable (expanded material goes back and forth on this, as far as I’m aware). And the Raddus is three kilometers long, bigger than anything the Rebellion had available in the Original Trilogy. Twice as long as an Imperial Star Destroyer. Using something closer to OT-size ships, the damage would be much less, especially to something far more massive than the Supremacy, like a Death Star. Now, this amazing Because Science video shows that, were the Raddus traveling at something like 99.99% the speed of light, it would have annihilated the Supremacy and its support fleet in a massive nuclear fission explosion. But that’s not what we see happen in the film, so it’s likely the Raddus wasn’t “travelling” that fast, maybe more like seventy or sixty percent the speed of light. I don’t know, somebody way, way smarter than me would have to crunch the numbers. I love science, but I don’t speak its language. Anyway, there’s probably a point during that “flicker of pseudomotion” where hit those really high relativistic speeds, but precisely timing, within the span of that one second, where that point will be and where you need to be to hit your target with that force, is beyond the abilities of everything except, I’d venture, specially programmed flight computers and droids. Because it’s just not a problem most computers and droids would be expected to address. So, damage and precision, two more strikes. Finally, we come to the main problem I foresee with this: gravity wells. Remember when I talked about mass shadows in hyperspace, and how hitting one would be devastating? Well, because of that, hyperdrives in Legends have safeties that cause them to cut out if the ship is within a gravity well, precisely to try and prevent ships from hitting mass shadows in hyperspace. In a gravity well in realspace? Can’t flip on your hyperdrive, you might crash right into what’s causing the gravity well. In hyperspace and hit a gravity well? The hyperdrive cuts out, dropping you into realspace, hopefully before you crash into the thing that made the gravity well (either in hyperspace or realspace). These safeties aren’t perfect. In the Thrawn Trilogy, Talon Karrde tells a story involving a ship he once served on having a near-miss with a mass shadow that killed several of the crew, blew out the main hyperdrive, and severely damaged the ship, forcing them to limp home on the backup hyperdrive. But they do tend to save you from the worst. . . potentially. “Now wait a **** minute!” I hear you cry. “That may work in Legends, but obviously not in the new Canon, since Han made a landing approach at lightspeed and Rogue One shows a ship jumping to hyperspace while within Jedha’s gravity well!” Well, I think I can explain both of those. For Rogue One. . . I’d long maintained that the hyperdrive safeties would be built-in and hardwired, so they couldn’t be bypassed without deactivating the hyperdrive itself. This is because I’ve run many Star Wars role-playing games, and my players are exactly the kind of psychotic morons who’d turn those safeties off and then have the nerve to act surprised when one bad astrogation roll results in the whole campaign being smashed into a cloud of quarks. “Rocks fall, everyone dies” Star Wars style. However, in the new Canon, this may not be the case. The safeties might well be able to be bypassed or turned off, allowing Cassian’s U-Wing to hyperspace while within Jedha’s gravity well. Why would he do this? Well, as shown in the film, being able to jump to hyperspace when you really shouldn’t be able to can be very helpful, letting you escape from otherwise-certain doom. Now, I’m talking more “hot Imperial pursuit” than “planet-destroying superlaser,” but same difference. Also, there are Interdictor cruisers. In Legends, a very popular Imperial ship that projected gravity wells to stop ships from escaping into hyperspace or yank them out if they were on a known course. They’ve been ported to the new Canon by appearing in an episode of Rebels, but they also exist from a more important source: “We’re not going to attack?” “The Emperor has something special planned for them. We’re only to keep them from escaping.” In Return of the Jedi, when the Rebellion assaults the second Death Star, the Imperial Starfleet emerges from behind the moon of Endor to catch them in a pincer, preventing their escape and leaving them to be picked off by the unexpectedly-operational Death Star. The only way this is possible is if the Imperials have some means to prevent the Rebel fleet from just jumping back into hyperspace. Yes, Admiral Ackbar starts to order a retreat and Lando talks him out of it, but the Empire couldn’t just sit back and hope the Rebels would be nice enough to decide to stick around once it became clear that— “IT’S A TRAP!” Yeah, that. The Empire must have had some means to keep the Rebel Fleet from escape at Endor, and Interdictor Cruisers, or something like them, is that explanation. So, Cassian might have disabled his hyperdrive safeties not only to make unexpected escapes, but so he could thumb his nose at some of the Empire’s most expensive toys. And, let’s be honest. Doesn’t this guy seem just unhinged enough to cut away his safety net because he thinks it’s slowing him down? Sorry, Cassian, I love you bro, but. . . that’s a really dumb move. Please don’t shoot me. As for Starkiller Base. . . Han seems to take the dangers of hyperspace travel much more seriously than Cassian. Too seriously, as this excellent Because Science video points out. (But, it doesn’t talk about planets, moons, asteroids, black holes, etc., just stars. . . ah, whatever. The Star Wars galaxy is apparently more full of mass shadows than anything we know of in our observable universe, just like their asteroid fields are nothing like asteroid fields we’re familiar with. Just roll with it.) Anyway, it seems highly unlikely Han would disable his hyperdrive safeties, so how does he make his landing approach at lightspeed? Well, the planet Starkiller Base was on was gutted for that gigantic superweapon. Gravity is a function of mass, and the planet’s mass had been substantially reduced, resulting in a smaller gravity well. I posit that Han’s maneuver was probably only possible on Starkiller Base, since the reduced planet mass meant there was enough space between the shield and the gravity well for limited hyperspace travel. He came out well below that, but. . . that flicker of pseudomotion goes both ways. So, what does this have to do with near-hyperspace rams and Death Stars? Well, the Death Stars are massive, and I mean that technically. They’re huge hunks of metal and have a lot of mass, and thus they would have their own gravity wells. Probably not one full Earth gee, but noticeable, and quite likely enough to trip the safeties on hyperdrives near them. By the very nature of their gigantic design, they may be proof against this attack. Even if they aren’t, in the Battle of Yavin all the Rebellion had left after Scariff was a few snubfighters to throw against the Death Star. Given the limited amount of damage the Raddus was able to do to the Supremacy, and the probably inaccuracy of near-hyperspace ramming in general, those tiny ships wouldn’t have done sufficient damage accurately enough to cripple or destroy the Death Star. And in the Battle of Endor, where the Rebellion had larger ships available, there are the Interdictors to consider. In addition to preventing the Rebels from escaping along their incoming hyperspace lane, they may have been close enough to keep the Rebel ships from entering hyperspace at all. Even if not, the damage and inaccuracy problems remain. And a near-hyperspace ram on the second Death Star really only would have been an option while the Death Star’s shield was up. . . once the shield was down, they could go with the original plan of flying inside and attacking the main reactor directly. Remember what Han said about Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens: “Their shields have a fractional refresh rate, stops anything slower than lightspeed.” If the second Death Star’s shield didn’t have that fractional refresh rate, it would have blocked even lightspeed ramming attempts, and I’d go so far as to say even if it did have a refresh rate, it would still block near-lightspeed ramming attempts (since you’re still slower than light, even if not by much). So. . . the Holdo Maneuver. Extremely tricky to pull off, unlikely to succeed in a wide variety of situations, and probably not going to pack the bang to make it worth it if you do manage it. Pretty good reasons why it’s not a standard tactic, huh? Look, I know I’m assuming a lot of facts not in evidence. This is not necessarily how everything works in the new Canon. I might be wrong about most or all of these assumptions. And I’ll be the first to admit that the filmmakers probably weren’t thinking any of this through with this level of detail and just said “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if?” But these facts stand: near-hyperspace ramming is possible in Star Wars, it happened in The Last Jedi. It wasn’t used in any other Star Wars media before, so there have to be reasons why not. I just went looking for some, and found a bunch. Personally, I love it when filmmakers leave some things for the audience to figure out, it engages us and lets us feel more connected to this universe. Being thought-provoking doesn’t have to mean only making you think about philosophy and the nature of good and evil and big, fundamental moral questions. . . it can also be about just making you think about how this universe works, about what rules are in place to allow the cool things we see on screen to occur in this fictional world. So, have I changed your mind about the Holdo Maneuver? If so, feel free to tell me how. If not, and you still have a beef with it that goes beyond “it’s stupid and the movie still sucks,” bring it up in the comments. Maybe I’ll do another video to address those. Maybe you’ll convince me that it really is stupid. Thanks for watching, thank you for your time and attention.
  4. Exactly. Kurt Russel says of The Thing that he thought it was a great movie, he had a great time working on it, and if it took five, ten, or fifteen years to find its audience, that's just fine by him. And yeah, the comparison between TFA and TLJ always amuses me. "TFA sucks because it's just a remake of ANH!" "TLJ sucks because it's nothing like other Star Wars movies!" While there's certainly a middle ground between "remake" and "too different," I really think both those films are in that butter zone. TFA hits a lot of the same story beats as ANH, but it's different enough and setting up its own story, so I wouldn't write it off as just a remake. TLJ goes in a very different directions, but it raises some excellent questions that have existed within and about Star Wars since the beginning, and I praise it for doing so.
  5. Her lightsaber. Anakin/Luke's lightsaber was destroyed at the end of TLJ. She retrieved the pieces and apparently repaired it, but it's hers now. From what I've heard, Abrams liked Johnson's "Rey is no one" twist, and it was pretty much what he'd intended initially anyway, so I don't think they're going to retcon that out. My fear is that it's Ben Solo's redemption arc, which he absolutely does not deserve, or in-universe, want. But there might be another Skywalker who might finally "Rise," and continuing on from TLJ's theme of failure and learning from it, pass on some of his own hard-learned lessons. . . I honestly don't think they'll be retconning much, if anything, from TLJ. I've said it before, but ESB got a lot of the same reception when it was released, and it wasn't until years later, when the whole trilogy could be watched backwards and forwards, that it got its status as the best Star Wars film ever made. And TLJ has a lot of the same "problems" that made Empire so divisive when it came out. . . a tonal shift, big revelations, straight-up telling the audience that a lot of what you thought you knew was wrong, or at least terribly incomplete. . . and I have to be honest, a lot of the hate TLJ gets is just really, really petty. "They didn't validate my Snoke theory! They didn't make a Rey a Skywalker/Kenobi/Palpatine! Phasma didn't get to be a badass and kill everyone! Luke wasn't the same starry-eyed, naieve farmboy who left Tattooine 40 years ago!" Star Wars may, in part, belong to us, its fans, but we do not create it. We leave that in the hands of professional filmmakers, and they are not beholden to give us what we say we want, their job is to tell the best story they can the best that they can. Once people get over knee-jerk "that's not how I would have done it" and accept that, I think TLJ will be seen as a much better film than a lot of people give it credit for. And already, the "love it/hate it" narrative is decaying, with more people falling into "it's mostly good but has some flaws" or "I didn't care for it, except X, Y, and Z." But yeah, I have loved pretty much all the new Star Wars films we've gotten, so I am definitely excited for this.
  6. This. . . this is truly beautiful. Thank you.
  7. That is more clear, yes. And one should certainly be able to play a morally ambiguous character, even a Force-Sensitive one. But the Dark Side is inherently corruptive, it pretty much the only constant in all Star Wars media. The only difference is in what one considers to be "the Dark Side." Take the Bendu from Rebels, who calls himself "the one in the middle" and states the Sith Holocron can't make one evil. All he's really saying in the latter case is that no knowledge is forbidden, only certain practices. Understanding, intellectually, how to channel "OMFG I WANT YOU SO DEAD RIGHT NOW" into creating Force Lightning to make that happen doesn't draw one to the Dark Side. . . but actually doing it will. That, I think, is what he meant by "the one in the middle," he understands the Dark Side and how to use it. . . and thus knows better than the Jedi, who just say "don't do it" why it should be avoided. The whole concept of the Force having a "neutral" side, neither Light nor Dark, also stems from the very same arguments used in favor of Grey Jedi: if a Dark Side then a Light Side, and those are opposites and therefore extremes, thus there must be middle ground of compromise. That's a logical fallacy, not every extreme position has a rational middle ground. The Empire wants to completely destroy Alderaan to make a statement. Everyone else would rather they not blow up whole planets. The middle ground is. . . only blow up half the planet? Still just as wrong as blowing up all of it.
  8. Ah, yes, the good old "Path of What I Was Going To Do Anyway." How I have not missed you.
  9. That's an interpretation, but I doubt it's the official one (since the Mortis arc wasn't even conceived until well after Revenge of the Sith, and thus after the saga was complete, as far as Lucas was concerned). Near as I can tell, the "official" position is that Anakin was to destroy the Sith, which he did by killing Palpating and suffering fatal injuries in the process. Fans frequently add in that all but eliminating the Jedi, erasing their narrowminded rules and strictures, was also something the Force had in mind. The dumbest interpretation (from my perspective) is that Anakin was to kill all but two Jedi and join the Sith, "balancing" their numbers ("balance" only in the crudest sense of the word). The Mortis arc was far more metaphorical in than literal in any event.
  10. You have to separate the observed facts from the religious dogma that grew up around those facts. I will be the first to admit the Jedi of the prequel era were deeply, irrevocably flawed, and agree wholeheartedly that part of Anakin's destiny to "bring balance to the Force" was to wipe the slate clean of their narrow, dogmatic teachings. Their view of the Force, however, is not wrong just what they decided that view means. It is fact in the Star Wars universe that the Force has a Dark Side, and this Dark Side is corruptive, seductive, and lures you into ultimate evil even if you initially use it for the best of intentions (this has been well-established both in-universe and by statements from the creators). Consider: the Force has always been presented as something of an enlightenment superpower, as you gain knowledge and wisdom in the Force you gain power. And the ultimate knowledge is knowledge of oneself. Thus, to achieve ultimate power in the Dark Side, one must, at some point, look in the mirror, realize that by every civilized metric one is completely evil, and be okay with that. The Jedi, recognizing the corruptive nature of the Dark Side and the passions that lead to it, established the quite logical and completely wrong practice of forbidding all emotional attachments, removing a potential source if corruptive influence. Then comes Anakin, and they're totally unprepared to help this boy deal with his emotions, instead just telling him to cast them aside and ignore them, which he doesn't know how to do and probably couldn't if he did. Then comes Luke, who turns those passions and attachments into a strength, redeeming Anakin through his love. The old Jedi considered all emotions as potential paths to the Dark Side, and instead of teaching essentially emotional intelligence, they just tried to teach how to ignore emotions. I highly doubt Anakin was the first failure of this doctrine, just the last and most dramatic. Basically, while the Jedi view of the Force is not wrong, many of the conclusions they came to about that view were. Just like real life. . . many observable facts have lead to many wrongheaded conclusions, ranging from highly amusing to utterly horrific.
  11. Well, yes Force in d6 could be powerful, but if you earned 6 Dark Side Points the GM got to take your character sheet away. But you still needed to learn the powers and develop the skills to use them well, and multiple actions (like deflecting a blaster bolt and then making it hit the person who fired it) were rather brutal. So on the whole, yes Force Users could be obnoxiously powerful, but usually by the time they got there, the other characters had hit "obnoxiously powerful" in their bailiwicks as well. As for The Force Unleashed, the canon policy was always that the events of a game and it's light-side ending are canon, the game mechanics are not. So Kyle Katarn stole the Death Star plans then stopped the Dark Trooper project, but he didn't have a personal shield generator that let him take a blaster cannon shot to the face. Likewise, Starkiller being Vaders's secret apprentice could be canon, his ability to implode TIE Fighters with a wave of his hand less so. (The games are still pretty definitely "what-if" and the whole Legends universe ended not long after their release, so Starkiller could be canon. . . or not.)
  12. How Jedi are portrayed in tabletop RPGs (and somewhat, video games) tends to reflect how the fans think of them. Back in d6, when we only had the Original Trilogy, we knew Jedi could do some normally-impossible stuff, like Luke making the shot to destroy the Death Star, Vader Force-choking someone when he wasn't even in the same room, and Yoda lifting a submerged X-Wing. So d6 was fairly downplayed, with Force-Users being powerful but not obnoxiously so. . . and by the time they got obnoxious, the normal characters would be sporting 19d Blaster skills, so it evened out. Then Legends happened, and Force Users could cast Light by vibrating air molecules, among other such ridiculousness. Star Wars Galaxies came out, making Jedi an "Alpha Class," simply more powerful than other professions, partly to balance the ridiculous difficulty in unlocking the Jedi profession (itself justified because the game was set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, so there shouldn't have even been Jedi running around anyway). Around now the Prequels happened, but it took awhile for it's "Jedi aren't physical gods" message to sink in. The d20 Star Wars RPGs at the time were all over the place, trying to remain balanced while allowing the insanity of Legends. Probably the last gasp of this view of Jedi was The Force Unleashed, which fully admitted it was going beyond what the Force was capable of in the films for the sake of being deliriously awesome. Finally, we have FFG, which is embracing the idea that Force Users aren't better or more inherently powerful or worthy than anyone else. The Force can do impossible things, but not for free, and writing "Jedi" on your character sheet does not mean "I win."
  13. I think a lot of Jedi hate come from something I brought up in the "Grey Jedi" thread. A lot of people like to play cool, dark, edgy characters, like Batman, and feel that having Big Blue Boyscout Superman tagging along hampers that character (nevermind that Batman and Superman are best friends in most continuites and have a deep mutual respect and admiration). Of course, part of this stems from a certain class of player who violently dislikes any restrictions on their behavior. Batman has just as inflexible a moral code as Superman, Batman just has fewer rules overall. But these kinds of players won't set any kind of inflexible moral code on their characters, whether it has so much as one single rule. Because then they aren't free to do whatever they want. Another part it that, yes, the Jedi Order in the Prequels was very flawed. That was the point. The whole reason the OT exists is because Luke needed to be a new kind of Jedi to defeat this new breed of Sith, and did so not by dicing them up with his lightsaber but by reaching the good Anakin Skywalker at the core of Darth Vader, letting Anakin fulfill his destiny and finally destroy the Sith. This is all but spelled out in The Last Jedi, where as long as Luke is clinging to what remains of the old Jedi Order, he's mired by their failures. Once he embraces being his own kind of Jedi on his own terms, he succeeds again. Note what he's wearing on Atch-To versus how hew appears on Crait. The wardrobe tells a story itself. So a lot of people probably start to see Jedi as doomed failure heroes, unable to do anything right, and just don't think to (or aren't interested in) engaging in the narrative of learning from the failures of the past to build a better future. Ironically, the next reason is rather the opposite. Jedi have long been considered invincible physical gods by Star Wars fans, unable to be challenged by anything short of another Jedi. The Prequels went out of their way to explode this myth, and even they weren't entirely successful. Especially considering the Bantam-era Legends books still exist, where the solution to every problem was for Luke to pull a brand new Force power out of his butt and pretty much literally handwave the problem away. Those familiar with these stories may be under the impression, whether the game rules support it or not, that any Jedi can solve any problem, from a squad of stormtroopers to a Death Star about to vaporize the planet, just by wiggling their fingers at it. So a Jedi makes every other character superfluous. Never mind that even the Prequels show several non-Jedi who can stand their ground with Jedi and even beat them. The main characters aren't awesome because they're Jedi, but because they're main characters. The truth is, you don't need to be a Jedi to be special, and being a Jedi doesn't make you special. Remember all the dead Jedi on the floor of the Geonosis arena, mowed down by battle droids that Anakin an Obi-Wan eat for breakfast. And Padme lived.
  14. A release date is a three-edged sword. When we want it, when they say it'll be out, and when it actually comes out.
  15. Indeed. . . I found it very, very interesting that, when Revenge of the Sith came out, so many people accused Lucas of taking shots at the George W. Bush administration, when it was clearly inspired by the fall of the Roman Republic and its transformation into the Roman Empire. If that parallel scares you. . . well, it should. And yes, there are absolutely many subtle layers of politics in the Prequels, and lot of it makes more sense the more pull back those layers (and account for Palpatine's chessmastering). Why do we never see Palpatine as hidebound as Valorum? Well, he'd arranged behind the scenes for Valorum to be that bureaucratically overwhelmed in the first place, partly, and partly he was deemed a "safe" candidate who wouldn't really interfere in everyone else's agenda. Because he honestly didn't care what the Senate got up to between him becoming Chancellor and the start of the Clone Wars, because once that happened he'd have all the Emergency Powers he needed. As for the Jedi's role in the Republic. . . that's a bit harder, and it doesn't really have a real-world analogue, in part because it evolved and adapted over the Republic and Jedi's thousand-plus year history. Their job, at its most fundamental, is to just try and keep the Republic running. Mediations and negotiations are certainly part of that, and if you think about it, the Trade Federation blockade of Naboo was probably the biggest deal they'd had to deal with in a long time. Most of their job is probably relatively small things that can be sorted out just by getting the two sides talking, figuring out what they want, and reaching an accommodation acceptable to both parties. Something the size of the Republic can't micromanage every planet, so a Jedi doesn't necessarily need Senatorial backing to resolve Planet A being peeved because they feel Planet B stiffed them in a trade deal. I think a great example of the kind of day-to-day stuff a Jedi might deal with actually comes from The Thrawn Trilogy. A Rodian and a Barabel are having an argument, and the Barabel (whose species has a deep respect for Jedi) asks Luke to settle the dispute. The Rodian had been hired by the Empire to do a job, the Rodian subcontracted part of it to the Barabel, and the Empire paid the Rodian in Imperial scrip, only usable on Imperial worlds and stations (the Barabel calls this being paid "in no-good money.") Luke manages to resolve it (partly through some luck), getting fringer-type Niles Ferrier to change the Barabel's scrip for New Republic credits. Unfortunately, the Barabel had blasted a cantina droid during the argument, and Luke tells the Barabel he's responsible for paying for that. . . no matter what the Rodian said or did, he's not the one who shot the droid. The Barabel accepts this as fair, as well. Now, this might seem like a very small-scale problem (and, yeah, it is), and Luke only got involved because he just happened to be in that cantina waiting to meet up with Han and Lando. But its still being a guardian of peace and justice, resolving a conflict without (much) violence and reaching an agreement that works for both parties (or, at least, one they can live with). And it just doesn't require anyone in government authority getting involved. Even if you blow it up into a clan of Rodians and a clan of Barabels and their dispute over payment for services rendered, it's nothing that the Senate needs to get involved in. Even if a dispute is big enough that Senate-level concessions need to be made, before going in a Jedi should be aware of what the Senate is and is not prepared to offer in exchange for resolving the situation. Or, in the case of The Phantom Menace, since the Jedi were dispatched by the Chancellor while the Senate was endlessly debating, what the Chancellor is willing (and able to convince the Senate) to concede. So they can offer pre-agreed-upon terms going into the negotiations, and if those are insufficient, then a long process involving getting the Senate into the negotiations proceeds. And here's a key point about the Jedi in this kind of a situation. . . they aren't strictly part of the Senate. If they Senate tries to say "We'll give them nothing, and they have to life the blockade and pay reparations and a fine for illegal parking," the Jedi can turn right around and say "That offer is stupid, they have a legitimate grievance and you need to do something to address that." Not that the Jedi can turn against the Senate and the Republic on a whim, but that they can call out the Senate for being jerks and, if not force, then strongly recommend the Senate at least meet the other party partway. At least, in theory. In practice, how much control and authority the Senate has over the Jedi and vice versa is a tricky issue, and the Jedi certainly don't want to exercise whatever ability they have to bring the Senate to heel, since they don't want to be, or be seen as, secretly controlling the Republic government. There's also the question of how creative the Jedi can be in solving a dispute. I'm reminded of an episode of Babylon 5, in which EarthForce is insisting Sheridan and Ivanova pay an extra 5 credits a month for their senior officer's quarters or move to smaller quarters. Sheridan refuses, and they're shortly locked out of their rooms until they pay. Sheridan resolves the situation by taking ten credits a month from the station's budget for military preparedness and applying it against the rent, on the grounds that "I'm not prepared to fight anybody until I've had a decent night's sleep in my own **** bed." The Jedi might not be able to force the Senate to concede something, but the Jedi might be able to use some of their resources (funding supplied by the Senate) to resolve the situation. Or, another episode of Babylon 5, where Sinclair is ordered invoke The Rush Act, which allows him to end a dockworker's strike "by any means necessary," including using station security to break up the strike by force and make the workers go back to work. Instead, Sinclair takes money from the station's military budget to hire extra workers, repair and replace equipment, and increase dockworker wages, meeting the demands that caused the strike in the first place (which he couldn't do until the EarthGov representative, clearly wanting to see the dockworkers put in their place by the station's military personnel, forced the invocation of The Rush Act). Being a Rules Lawyer in-universe can provide unexpected and awesome solutions.
  16. I think the key here is "about which members were previously hesitant." This implies a few things to me: 1) If you are a military commander, then troops under your command should not be hesitant about taking whatever actions you order. That's kind of the whole point of chain of command. Leadership checks to overcome battle stress, first-fight jitters, reasonable objections to courses of action, and so on are normal parts of leading people under your command, and thus not covered by this Signature Ability. 2) If you are a military commander and the people under your command are hesitant about following your orders, something has gone excessively pear-shaped. Either you've failed to lead them properly so badly and so consistently they're on the verge of mutiny, or the situation has gone so hopeless the only order they're willing to follow is "run like fun for the nearest horizon." This Signature Ability would allow you to regain control of that situation. 3) People who are hesitant about following your orders are generally not within your chain of command. Any commander might be able to stand up in a village and give a rousing speech in an effort to recruit soldiers, and might get a few volunteers based on how well they roll. This Signature Ability allows that action to be far more successful, rallying most if not all of the listeners to action. On the flip side, it can be used by a daring commander to push their superiors to authorize a daring but risky operation. As mentioned, this is more or less the situation of the Act II/Act III divide in Rogue One, with Jyn (and to a lesser extent, Admiral Raddus) trying to convince the Rebellion to hit Scarif for the Death Star plans. But, since apparently no one had this Signature Ability (or no one passed the 3 diff Leadership check), the speeches fail. But, Jyn rolled well enough (probably Failure with Triumph) to get a solid platoon to help her out.
  17. That. . . depends greatly. Legends authors got into the really bad habit of taking Vader's "The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force" entirely too literally, and came up with wacky, insane, super-duper crazy uses of the Force to make it an all-solving hammer for whatever corner they wrote the characters into. In particular, I remember the Mon Calamaria healer in the Jedi Academy trilogy curing Mon Mothma's poisoning by literally pulling the poison out of her body with the Force a molecule at a time. Also, I think it was Jaina in The Crystal Star creating light in her darkened cell by using the Force to rub air molecules together to the point where they glowed (never mind that I'm pretty sure that's not how friction and gasses work, when you have a preteen Jedi literally casting Light like a D&D wizard, you have a problem). And let's not even discuss the Force Storms in Dark Empire (or anything about Dark Empire, really). Come the Hand of Thrawn novels, Timothy Zahn had a problem. The other writers had made Luke, and by extension other Jedi, physical gods to the point where nothing could challenge them. He couldn't straight-up retcon this level of Force use and say it's not possible, since it was part of the canon he was writing in. So instead he decided to examine what the Force is, what it means, and what such unbearably over-the-top uses of it do to someone. He posited that using the Force as an all-solving hammer is dramatically, comically missing the point of what the Force is. Sure, you can tear a Star Destroyer in half with the proper use of telekinesis, but by using the Force so blatantly, so actively, you drown out its more subtle nudgings and urgings, the little pushes and flashes of insight it gives you, which are in their own way just as or more valuable. On the more mundane note, deciding that the answer to every problem is "Use the Force" means devaluing it and not looking for solutions to problems that don't involve the Force. You become overreliant on it, and can't solve problems without it. And a non-Force powered solution might be a better one, but you don't stop to think about that. If the Prequels did nothing else, it struck a heavy blow to the idea that all Jedi are superpowered physical gods. We see plenty of them die to ordinary folks, even spindly, useless little battle droids. Yes, Jedi can do amazing things, but not all Jedi are created equal, not all of them are equally good at everything, and everyone had vulnerabilities and blind spots. The Jedi characters we follow in the film are practically invincible not because they're Jedi, but because they're the characters we're following in the film. Han Solo has the exact same power of survival that Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Anakin do. . . Plot Armor. Jedi are not, and arguably have never been presented as, superpowered gods untouchable by mere mortals. In the context of a role-playing game, this becomes even more important. You don't want one character type to be demonstrably better than another, so all players can play the characters they want and contribute to the group's overall success. And Star Wars RPGs have struggled with that constantly. Even back in d6, as amazing as Force powers could be, the experience investiture was steep and the multitasking rules absolutely punishing, making Jedi a bit underpowered compared to non-Jedi. . . until they really hit their stride. Come the d20 games, and. . . well, it changed so much it's hard to say for sure, but overall, Jedi were fairly well-balanced compared to others. Saga did it almost perfectly. . . save for the horrible multiattack rules. . . and really drove home that heroic characters are powerful because they're heroic characters, not because of sensitivity to the Force or lack of same. The Force Power Suite, in particular, was an ingenious method to both eat a Jedi's character build resources and limit their powers compared to non-Force characters without being too limiting or feel like you're being punished for playing a Jedi. You spent a feat to add a selection of Force Powers to your Force Power Suite, and could use those powers once per encounter. When the encounter was over, all your used Force Powers came back into your Suite (and there were a few ways to put Force Powers back in the Suite during an encounter). It helped the character decide for themselves if they wanted to focus on "Force Wizardry" or more straighforward lightsaberage, or do a little of both. And while the Jedi was burning feats on Force Powers, the non-Jedi were burning feats on things to make them more capable in their chosen roles. FFG also does a really good balance job, though it kind of annoys me personally. With every Force Power requiring XP to purchase, and to purchase additions for it, it becomes very difficult to have a Jedi that has access to a broad range of Force powers, usually only specializing in one or two, and maybe picking up some utility with a few more. And by the time the Jedi has done that, other characters have a talent tree filled out and a Signature Ability maxxed and probably picked up another spec or two, so it all evens out. But the true beauty of the FFG system is its flexibility with the narrative dice. If you want a more gritty, realistic tone like the OT, narrate the characters actions and Advantages and Threats in line with that. If you want to replicate the trailer movies for Star Wars:  The Old Republic, narrate their actions in line with that faster-paced, more epic style. If you want to go full-out Force Unleashed, go for it. The rules don't have to change at all (maybe for Force Unleashed), but it's all in how you narrate it.
  18. That's. . . actually not a bad idea. Yeah, you add a Dark Side point straight away that the GM can use, but it's still an extra point in the overall pool. And as soon as the Gm flips it, it becomes a Light Side point for the party to use. Cheers to you!
  19. Exactly this. "Grey" Jedi is not a thing in Star Wars, it's been repeatedly proven. Mechanically, being "Grey" is an attempt to access cool, evil Force Powers and not get smacked down by the evil stick. Pretty much every single Star Wars tabletop RPG has some variant of the "when you fall to the Dark Side, your character irrevocably becomes an NPC" rule. There have been rules for playing Dark Side games, but the default assumption is that the characters will be the heroes, and at least trying to be good. Mechanically, "Grey" is trying to work around the system so you can do evil things or use evil powers and not get your character sheet taken away from you by the GM. From a character standpoint, the people who tend to want "Grey" Jedi are the same kinds of people who think Superman is a boring, lame stick-in-the-mud who is no fun, while Batman is the coolest of the cool for being willing to do almost anything to win (or that The Punisher is even cooler because he just shoots dead everyone who pisses him off). They're too cynical to engage with the old-fashioned, idealistic morality Jedi are supposed to aspire to, and want to play a darker and edgier anti-hero with a lightsaber and force powers. They think people who do engage with that utterly selfless sense of bringing hope and light into the galaxy are hopelessly naive, foolish, and stupid for refusing see the "reality" of the world. The above are strictly my opinions, based on what I have encountered from previous discussions and instances of these ideas, dating all the way back to the d6 iteration of Star Wars Roleplaying. I am not stating unequivocally that everyone falls into these categories or that these are the only reasons for wanting a "Grey" Jedi. Rather, in my experience, at least one of these two holds true for those I have seen advancing the "Grey Jedi" cause, though I am open to the possibility of this not being the case one of these days. Now, you can still play a conflicted anti-hero while engaging with the morality system (of whatever version of Star Wars you're playing), you don't need special rules to give you permission. You do need to be aware of what the rules are and how they're being enforced, and play the character in such a way that you toe the line closer than everyone else while not quite crossing over it. The Superman, Batman, and Punisher examples were very carefully chosen. . . all those characters (at least, when their stories are at their most compelling) have codes of conduct that inform their behavior, lines they will not cross, and should they be forced to cross one of those lines, have hugely dramatic moments of character growth. Batman pushes the lines farther than Superman, and The Punisher pushes them almost to breaking, but all three remain heroes because of those lines they will not cross. Same applies in roleplay. A technical pacifist character is willing to do more than an actual pacifist character, and a character with no qualms about using violence goes father than either of them. But it doesn't make any of them automatically more or less moral than the other. As for the lack of a mechanical benefit for being "in the middle," I'd like to talk about The Potentium. It really got going in the New Jedi Order novels as part of that series' ruminations on the nature of the Jedi and the Force itself. It seemed as though we were on the verge of a great revelation about the very nature of the Force itself. . . then papa Lucas stepped in and said "this idea is baloney," and he would know. There is a Dark Side of the Force, and much like the Force itself, it seems to have a will and desire to corrupt the powerful to its service. Obeying its call and dedicating yourself completely to its service nets you power. . . at a price. On the opposite end, achieving true balance and understanding within the Force, not just its Dark Side, leads you to enlightenment (the Light Side Paragon end of the spectrum). Being in the middle is just being undecided. "Balance" in the Force isn't equal amounts good and evil, equal amounts Dark and Light, or even the concept of "neutrality," not hinging toward one side or the other. The Force itself is balance. Death and destruction lead to new life. The Dark Side is the imbalance, the twisting, the perversion of the natural into the unnatural. "Powerful Light, powerful Dark," is part of this balance, but only a small part, and here's the thing: balance between Light and Dark isn't being a little bit of both. Doing something good than turning around and doing something bad doesn't equally strengthen or weaken the Light and the Dark each, all it does it pull you one way, then the other, leaving you still in the middle. The Dark is greedy, it wants you all to itself and for you to serve it completely. The Light is balance itself, so claiming to be the balance between Light and Dark is like claiming to be the tightrope on which God walks. A rather arrogant belief. Now, there's nothing to say a character can't believe these things, but they are not how the Force works in-universe. Just like a character in a High Fantasy game can believe there's no such thing as gods, and all the Cleric's fancy spells are just like all of a Wizard's fancy spells. In-universe, that character is demonstrably wrong, as the gods are baked into just about every setting at a fundamental level and unequivocally exist, but a character who believes otherwise can be very interesting. But they don't get a bonus on their saving throw versus Divine Smite because of it.
  20. He also apparently did quite a bit of research (since he now knows the name "Darth Sidious"), and came to realize that, almost every time a Sith order came about, it had splintered off from the Jedi (in Legends, at least). Even when the Sith weren't arising from within the Jedi, the Jedi tended to supply a few powerful turncoats to the Sith (two-thirds of Sidious' apprentices were former Jedi, after all). And, again per Legends, the Sith only exist because of the Jedi in the first place, the very first Dark Jedi to break off went on to found the legacy of the Sith that continues all the way through the Original Trilogy (how much of this is still in place in new canon is entirely debatable). Considering all that, I find it very believable Luke could come to see the Jedi as part of the problem, and to believe that no matter what form a new Jedi Order takes, mistakes will still be made and new dark threats will arise from them. Of course, he's wrong about a great many things in this analysis, and him learning that is his entire character arc in the film. I'm still reminded of the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, where Yoda, in the midst of his battle with Sidious, realizes that he cannot defeat this new breed of Sith. The Sith had spent a thousand years learning to fight a new war, while the Jedi had spent those same thousand years training to refight the last war. Yoda's Jedi just don't have what it takes to defeat this new breed of Sith. It's why he refuses to allow Obi-Wan to take Luke in for training as an infant, as Anakin should have been trained, because all that would result is another Old Jedi with no chance of defeating Vader or the Emperor. And because Luke didn't start his training until he was twenty, he had attachments that the old Jedi would have forbidden, and he comes to believe, despite Yoda and Obi-Wan's insistence to the contrary, that Anakin Skywalker still exists and can be saved, and does so through a son's love for his father, something else the Old Jedi training would have drummed out of him. That's not what Yoda or Obi-Wan expected to happen, but it's exactly what Yoda's epiphany in the novel was leading towards. . . Luke wasn't the only hope to defeat Vader and the Emperor because he was a super-powerful Force user who could slaughter them, he was the last hope because only he could prove that, buried in the deepest, blackest depth of Darth Vader's soul, Anakin Skywalker still loves his son. The Jedi Order may change and reinvent itself all the time, and while the details may change the core belief, being the guardians of peace and justice, remains. But the devil, as they say, is in the details. Even a relatively minor change from "no attachments, no family" to "those are okay" can have profound effects on how Jedi go about their mandate of guarding peace and justice. Do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reason.
  21. Actually, it did get functionally wiped out around Knights of the Old Republic II, though it rebuilt in short order. And the Ruusan Reformation was a major enough reorganization that it functionally considered itself a "new" Jedi Order. So Obi-Wan's "a thousand generations" speech refers to multiple iterations, reorganizations, and rebuilding of something recognizable as a Jedi Order.
  22. I would have gone with "Lucy Pinder in Princess Leia's bronze bikini," but the judges agree this answer is also acceptable.
  23. Having three core rulebooks is not necessarily a bad thing. Any veteran gaming group will tell you having multiple copies of the rules to hand speeds up play and character advancement dramatically, as you're not waiting for one person to finish looking something up before you can look something else up. I admit I was a bit turned of by the three game lines to start, but I've embraced it as a smart decision from both gameplay and marketing standpoints. If you're only interested in one type of game (fringer campaign, for instance), you only need to invest in one game line. If you want the complete experience, you have to invest in all three. . . but the Star Wars license is expensive, I have no problem with FFG doing what they have to do to keep it and continue providing us with the best Star Wars RPG to date. And they've balanced it well, making accessible for most games while allowing the ones who can afford to splurge a wide range of useful products to invest in.
  24. I agree with the above. Make the story being getting the crystal personal enough, and the game stats are much less relevant. The crystal becomes personal, "there are many like it, but this one's mine." Combined with letting them choose from most, if not all, the available crystals from various books and applying mods to them, you can end up with a crystal that is, in many respects, effectively unique (especially if there's a lack of other lightsaber-wielders in your game). Trying to stat up the Meetra Surik crystal would likely result in a game-breaking mess.
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