Archlyte

Star Wars feel: The No No list

222 posts in this topic

I have been noticing in my Star Wars games that I have to do a lot policing concerning players doing things that I feel like break setting conventions, or to be less stilted: don't feel like Star Wars to me. I had a big discussion about this with my players after the last game, and while trying to be nice about it, I told them that I was going to be creating a style guide. My players are committed to making the game something exceptional as far as feel and tone, so I have buy-in for all of this nit-picking. 

The thing is this, there are certain things that just don't work well with Star Wars in my opinion. It's not to say that they can't be done, so don't compare what I am saying with some idea of a generalized standard. This is just me trying to be really close to the movies and shows as far as feel. 

In Lord of the Rings, for example, we have several large books in which a lot of granular detail is narrated, but not once (to my knowledge) is anyone depicted in graphic sex, relieving themselves, making lewd jokes, or using references to any of those things. You know that people are obviously relieving themselves and having sex, and that they must reference these things at some point, but it doesn't make into the narrative. I feel that this is done purposely because Tolkien was a pretty prudish religious fellow, but also to retain the fantasy romance epic style. The characters were purposely filtered to make the whole of the story have a certain focus. 

Star Wars movies happen too fast to really be something that can be aped in a TTRPG for everyone's taste, as some players and GMs really like to get down into the detail and take their time looking around. If you run a game that is just like the movies in pacing and feel, then for one I say congratulations (sincerely), and two: I think that you and your players must be exhausted by the end of the session. It takes a lot of fast thinking to pull off something that plays like the movie script, and a whole lot of good improve skills to mesh events. Because the movies and shows tend to happen very fast, it can be hard to have enough of a grasp on what is going on to be able to "live" in the galaxy. It can feel like it does in the movies sometimes, like someone put a plate of food in front of you for 40 seconds and then took it away while you were eating. That keeps you hungry for more, but it can also be somewhat frustrating. 

The opposing forces seem to me to be:

  • Fast Pace vs. Exploration/Decision time.
  • Alien World/Culture that is not defined vs. Living in the Galaxy and being a resident who knows all the details
  • Alien World/Culture with its own identity vs. Real World Culture and Player convenience

So given that a Star Wars "feel" means fast pace in scenes, and also fidelity to the content of the movie/show scenes as far as which aspects of life are represented in the narrative (screen time), it seems to me that there should be things that you can kind of rule out as being not in alignment with the feel. They can be assumed to exist, but when they enter the scene they erode the feel. A No No list of things that don't fit well. 

  • Graphic Sex
  • Graphic Sex Humor
  • Character Elimination (Bowel and Bladder)
  • Real World references that are plainly Earth only (Historical, Pop Culture, Linguistic)

Sometimes this stuff just comes through, and if you are having a Beer & Pretzels game, then these things will likely be the actual sources of fun as you laugh and enjoy the juxtaposition of sticking in real world stuff into the setting. But if you are looking to capture the feel of the movies and shows then you can try to avoid having these things enter into game continuity.  

What things, if any, are in your No No list as you try to capture the feel of Star Wars? Thanks for any input :)

Edited by Archlyte
P-Dub663 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This may come off harsh, but...this sounds more like a theatre class assignment than a game.  Perhaps, though, my opportunities for games are limited, so I'll take what I can get.  If the players are particularly giddy and making Darth Vader vocabulator fart sounds (...yes...this has happened...) I just have to roll with it, and either deflect the giddiness, or actually include it in the narrative (ironically, the best way to nip it in the bud).  Usually I just let it play out, let the giddiness flow, and just before it devolves to that uncomfortable "where were we?" moment, I just move on with the story.  In my case at least, trying to enforce some kind of standard would put the players on edge and stifle creativity.

But if you have more opportunities for games then perhaps you can afford to be more selective about session behaviour.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On behavior I try to discourage (though I don't make a rule of it), it corpse looting. Even for games other than Star Wars, it just seems... uncool.

To this end, I prefer to have NPCs give out loot, rather than have it found after killing a foe.

Endersai and Archlyte like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Archlyte said:
  • Real World references that are plainly Earth only (Historical, Pop Culture, Linguistic)

 

Well, one of my PCs' son was kidnapped.  That boy's name is Nathan Arizona Jr.  By Arizona, I mean he was born to Florence Arizona.  AS you probably guessed, Florence Arizona is the wife of Nathan Arizona (Sr).  And Nathan Arizona, well you know who he is.  And yes, his backstory pretty well parallels that story. Except he's got much bigger problems than Nicholas Cage.

We also have a Sathari (bird person) named Captain Kernel.  Or maybe Captain Colonel, I don't remember.  But you get the idea.

Archlyte likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Major Tom said:

I don't know, stealing Stormtrooper armour is pretty iconic.

Yeah, I don't think stealing Stormtrooper armour so you can impersonate stormtroopers counts as looting!

It's more the stealing it and then trying to sell it that doesn't seem right (for Age, anyway, Edge could make a case, early game anyway if money is hard to come by - but that could be a dangerous thing to trade in!)

Archlyte likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Darzil said:

Yeah, I don't think stealing Stormtrooper armour so you can impersonate stormtroopers counts as looting!

It's more the stealing it and then trying to sell it that doesn't seem right (for Age, anyway, Edge could make a case, early game anyway if money is hard to come by - but that could be a dangerous thing to trade in!)

Oh come on! General Grievous was obviously hoarding all of those lightsabers to sell as his post war retirement plan. There's just no respect for the needs of the aging populace.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Astrid takes her time removing the dart launchers and unslinging her bag of grenades, waiting to see if her companions are going to comply. She half-expects Yorik to unleash into the mist, but is relieved when the arms start dropping. Good. They understand. 

Continuing her disarmament, she sets her holdout blaster and lancer on the deck, and steps back, waiting for the entity to resolve itself from the mist. 

 

almost wrote this as:

Quote

She half-expects Yorik to unleash into the mist, like a Floridian trying to stop a hurricane, but is relieved when the arms start dropping.

I managed to self-edit the inappropriate simile, prior to posting, but since you brought the subject up...

 

TheShard and Archlyte like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the great posts. The reference to Raising Arizona had me laughing. I have players who are committed to a certain type of game and are wanting me to give them direction. I also want to get something that is pure distilled Star Wars but the players are used to the Darth Vader Fart Simulator from their other groups and games. So I figured I would engage the sages here to give me advice, even if it's not something you would do in your own games, which I can completely understand. 

Edgehawk if you really edited that because of this thread I am honored. Your prose is great by the way, very inspiring. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, what really grinds my gears is people using the F-Bomb in game.  At no point in any of the movies, shows or books does anyone ever use the F-Word.  In one group, the non-iconic swearing got so bad that I started flipping destiny points to the dark side.

 

Star Wars is a rich, well developed universe.  There's no reason why folks can't use Sith-spit and bantha poo-doo in lieu of more "terrestrial" swearing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Darzil said:

It's more the stealing it and then trying to sell it that doesn't seem right (for Age, anyway, Edge could make a case, early game anyway if money is hard to come by - but that could be a dangerous thing to trade in!)

I think it depends on motivation.  If they are stealing or looting and selling to enrich themselves that's at the very least iffy behaviour for a Rebel cell.  If they are doing so to fund operations then it's an interesting moral choice and a potential way that the Empire could track them down and make their lives uncomfortable.  They've also got to ask themselves who the people are that they are selling the weapons to are, and what use the weapons will be put to.  If they are asked by their local contacts to find out who massacred a bunch of moisture farmers and it turns out it was done with guns they sold that might well adjust their attitude.

Archlyte and Felswrath like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Major Tom said:

I think it depends on motivation.  If they are stealing or looting and selling to enrich themselves that's at the very least iffy behaviour for a Rebel cell.  If they are doing so to fund operations then it's an interesting moral choice and a potential way that the Empire could track them down and make their lives uncomfortable.  They've also got to ask themselves who the people are that they are selling the weapons to are, and what use the weapons will be put to.  If they are asked by their local contacts to find out who massacred a bunch of moisture farmers and it turns out it was done with guns they sold that might well adjust their attitude.

And looting for the rebel cell is something that could happen, but I would think it would happen just as the screen wipes, or as an incidental action in the background while dialogue occurs, etc. They may want to know what they looted, and you could save that for OOC talk. This was a good example of what I'm wanting to talk about because it's often things that seem innocuous or normal that slip under the radar and contribute to erosion of SW feel. I am essentially talking about what gets screen time, but because we are using a medium that depends on oral narration, it has a different form. Almost as if talking about it puts it on screen, if you talk about it in the GM voice, or something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Edgehawk if you really edited that because of this thread I am honored. Your prose is great by the way, very inspiring. 

No, I did not edit it because of this thread (the post is from several days ago); but it was edited for the same reasons that prompted you to start this thread. I'm not even certain I typed it out, but after mulling it over, I decided it did not belong in a galaxy far, far away.

Oh, and thanks for the compliment!

Another borderline offense is using Star Wars quotes from the movies... Apart from the occasional, mandatory "I've got a baaad feeling about this.." I try to steer clear of them.

Archlyte likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Edgehawk said:

No, I did not edit it because of this thread (the post is from several days ago); but it was edited for the same reasons that prompted you to start this thread. I'm not even certain I typed it out, but after mulling it over, I decided it did not belong in a galaxy far, far away.

Oh, and thanks for the compliment!

Another borderline offense is using Star Wars quotes from the movies... Apart from the occasional, mandatory "I've got a baaad feeling about this.." I try to steer clear of them.

Good stuff! I had not thought about the movie quote thing. Yeah if it's not something absolutely germane to what is going on then I think you are right, it kind of drops it a bit. I would allow it over an F-Bomb or a casual Earth reference, but it's not optimal I agree. Because being in the world in detailed or lengthy scenes is something that novelists occasionally get into, some (not all) of the worst offenses against the Feel came from EU novels. That is where I saw the most abuse of things being re-skinned as Star Wars. A famous bad example from the movies comes from the diner on Coruscant, which was basically a sterling streamliner diner complete with sassy robot waitress and a Besalisk doing the part of the fat human cook. I try to really make things differentiated from reality where I can, and try to remember that there are thousands of cultures mingling for thousands of years. Many of the popular ways of doing things will not be familiar to us. 

So I guess in the guide I will have to make note of this. If something seems super Earthlike, try not to describe it. If you must, describe in a way that looks like it's from a McQuarrie drawing.

 

Edited by Archlyte

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to admit, though... 

In a current campaign I am quite fond of, there have been a number of thinly disguised pop-culture references, from The Hobbit to The Sex Pistols. 

These infrequent allusions to the real-world have thus far seemed to have a positive impact on party cohesion, creating comraderie, as opposed to detracting from the experience. 

I guess it depends on the group (your mileage may vary).

 

whafrog, Archlyte and kaosoe like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Edgehawk said:

I have to admit, though... 

In a current campaign I am quite fond of, there have been a number of thinly disguised pop-culture references, from The Hobbit to The Sex Pistols. 

These infrequent allusions to the real-world have thus far seemed to have a positive impact on party cohesion, creating comraderie, as opposed to detracting from the experience. 

I guess it depends on the group (your mileage may vary).

 

Yeah and the thing is that that stuff is always there if you want it. I've been playing TTRPGs since 1984, and I know that folks like to joke and have a laugh. I think that I could have that game any day of the week and twice on Friday, but something that comes across as being very Star Wars and affects me like the movies is another exercise. I don't mean this thread as an attack on regular games, just as an alternative for me and my players. They can go out and find the casual game just as easy as playing with me, but they want more or less what I want. The trouble is that with smoking and joking being the rule for so long it's hard to come up with reasonable guidelines for a more serious venture. That's what I was hoping for here because this forum is excellent as far as knowledgeable and excellent Star Wars RPG fans. 

Edgehawk likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm usually pretty happy with Earth-type references as long as there is a Star Wars spin to it. I mean, we see this all the time in the movies...

Tusken Raiders are basically Bedouin raiders, ala "Lawrence of Arabia"

Watto runs a junkyard

The pod race is essentially a Cecil B. DeMille chariot race

The Mos Eisley cantina was a classic saloon from a spaghetti western, right down to a shootout, a "We don't serve their kind here!", and a "sorry about the mess" line. 

Jabba is basically Al Capone

The Empire = Nazi Germany; stormtroopers = Waffen SS; Death troopers = Einsatzgruppen; ISB = Gestapo

 

I'm also lucky in that my players are pretty good at coming up with "Star War-sy" references, swear-words, and sayings without prompting. :)

 

Felswrath, Stan Fresh and Archlyte like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My groups have a tendency to devolve into quote-offs, usually started as a relevant quote, but usually migrating into Princess Bride, Monty Python, or a number of others.

Felswrath likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Edgookin said:

My groups have a tendency to devolve into quote-offs, usually started as a relevant quote, but usually migrating into Princess Bride, Monty Python, or a number of others.

I think that's just about universal. I've always imagined if the movies were an RPG (even long before Darths & Droids)...

OBI-WAN: "You were Chosen One!"
REST OF GROUP: "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy!" 

:)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/16/2017 at 1:49 PM, Archlyte said:

Graphic Sex

Graphic Sex Humor

I don't know, Jabba was pretty crude and sexual with the way he was leering at his strippers.  And yes, they were strippers/dancers, clearly put there for their sexual appeal.  I mean, you even see Jabba sticking out his tongue and making "Yeaaaah" kind of noises like some drunk dude at a strip club.  And he comes pretty **** close to sexually assaulting Leia when he first grabs her, by almost licking her with his tongue (as big as her torso), before putting her in an outfit that has galvanized millions of libidos worldwide for multiple generations

So I would say that sexual references aren't totally out of place in Star Wars.  Sure, you don't see any of the stuff you'd see on pornhub or something, but it's far from totally sexually neutral.

 

 

On 9/16/2017 at 1:49 PM, Archlyte said:

Character Elimination (Bowel and Bladder)

Eh, again, the movies aren't without this.  We have that alien in Phantom Menace that farts in Jar Jar's face, he even steps in a turd on the street at one point.   And then there is that podracer alien with the four arms who yelled out "poo doo!", which is most definitely an allegory for sh -it .

So I do think there is a place for it.

Overall though, I mean it's your table, so do whatever.   But I personally don't see the need to enforce that kind of thing to secure the sanctity of the feel of the setting.  It's not a perfect translation of setting from film to table.  There's just so much more stuff that can happen in a game, compared to a movie.   It seems like undo effort for very little gain in my opinion.   But again, your table, so whatever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, KungFuFerret said:

I don't know, Jabba was pretty crude and sexual with the way he was leering at his strippers.  And yes, they were strippers/dancers, clearly put there for their sexual appeal.  I mean, you even see Jabba sticking out his tongue and making "Yeaaaah" kind of noises like some drunk dude at a strip club.  And he comes pretty **** close to sexually assaulting Leia when he first grabs her, by almost licking her with his tongue (as big as her torso), before putting her in an outfit that has galvanized millions of libidos worldwide for multiple generations

So I would say that sexual references aren't totally out of place in Star Wars.  Sure, you don't see any of the stuff you'd see on pornhub or something, but it's far from totally sexually neutral.

 

 

Eh, again, the movies aren't without this.  We have that alien in Phantom Menace that farts in Jar Jar's face, he even steps in a turd on the street at one point.   And then there is that podracer alien with the four arms who yelled out "poo doo!", which is most definitely an allegory for sh -it .

So I do think there is a place for it.

Overall though, I mean it's your table, so do whatever.   But I personally don't see the need to enforce that kind of thing to secure the sanctity of the feel of the setting.  It's not a perfect translation of setting from film to table.  There's just so much more stuff that can happen in a game, compared to a movie.   It seems like undo effort for very little gain in my opinion.   But again, your table, so whatever.

In regards to sex, I think to keep the Star Wars feel, the old precept "show don't tell" is the best route, we didn't have to have a rated R Return of the Jedi to understand what was going on in Jabba's palace. If you want to have a Crime Lord or Imperial who has a weakness for the women, having some scantily clad Twi'leks in the room will serve to show this to the same extent and keep the Star wars feel of a Family movie that isn't immature.

As for the poop jokes, they are only in Episode I, which is undoubtedly the most kid-like of the movies.

Archlyte likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, Felswrath said:

In regards to sex, I think to keep the Star Wars feel, the old precept "show don't tell" is the best route, we didn't have to have a rated R Return of the Jedi to understand what was going on in Jabba's palace. If you want to have a Crime Lord or Imperial who has a weakness for the women, having some scantily clad Twi'leks in the room will serve to show this to the same extent and keep the Star wars feel of a Family movie that isn't immature.

As for the poop jokes, they are only in Episode I, which is undoubtedly the most kid-like of the movies.

I enjoy the fact that "scantily clad strippers doing dances on poles" is considered Family Friendly in the Star Wars universe.   :D   Generally that kind of content includes at least a PG 13 these days.

Degenerate Mind and Archlyte like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, KungFuFerret said:

I don't know, Jabba was pretty crude and sexual with the way he was leering at his strippers.  And yes, they were strippers/dancers, clearly put there for their sexual appeal.  I mean, you even see Jabba sticking out his tongue and making "Yeaaaah" kind of noises like some drunk dude at a strip club.  And he comes pretty **** close to sexually assaulting Leia when he first grabs her, by almost licking her with his tongue (as big as her torso), before putting her in an outfit that has galvanized millions of libidos worldwide for multiple generations

So I would say that sexual references aren't totally out of place in Star Wars.  Sure, you don't see any of the stuff you'd see on pornhub or something, but it's far from totally sexually neutral.

 

 

Eh, again, the movies aren't without this.  We have that alien in Phantom Menace that farts in Jar Jar's face, he even steps in a turd on the street at one point.   And then there is that podracer alien with the four arms who yelled out "poo doo!", which is most definitely an allegory for sh -it .

So I do think there is a place for it.

Overall though, I mean it's your table, so do whatever.   But I personally don't see the need to enforce that kind of thing to secure the sanctity of the feel of the setting.  It's not a perfect translation of setting from film to table.  There's just so much more stuff that can happen in a game, compared to a movie.   It seems like undo effort for very little gain in my opinion.   But again, your table, so whatever.

I don't know how in the **** Jabba could have possibly been sexually attracted to those dancers. They are disgusting: two segmented tails that they walk on, a tiny head with tiny eyes and a mouth that is not big enough to put a slimy frog down, they are not covered in slime, their coloration is hideous, and they are as fragile as all get out, they would never even survive mating. I imagine if he was leering at them it was because he wanted to eat them or kill them but was savoring the drama of it all. Hutts would have dancers like that for only one reason, status with other races. Those girls were captive entertainers whom Jabba used for sport as much as entertainment. The physiological differences between Hutts and Bipedal Humanoids is not compatible, and his instinct for reproduction would not be triggered by something like those alien women. 

There are Turd and Fart jokes in the prequels, but I hope you are not suggesting that these were high points of the Star Wars experience lol. Keep in mind that I know some of this stuff has to come up, but when it becomes a Focus of Narration by players or GM that is the issue. Bantha Pudu is one thing, but a bounty hunter killed while taking a **** like in Pulp Fiction (while funny maybe) isn't really in line with what I think is cinematically Star Wars. 

Felswrath and TEK like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Daronil said:

I'm usually pretty happy with Earth-type references as long as there is a Star Wars spin to it. I mean, we see this all the time in the movies...

Tusken Raiders are basically Bedouin raiders, ala "Lawrence of Arabia"

Watto runs a junkyard

The pod race is essentially a Cecil B. DeMille chariot race

The Mos Eisley cantina was a classic saloon from a spaghetti western, right down to a shootout, a "We don't serve their kind here!", and a "sorry about the mess" line. 

Jabba is basically Al Capone

The Empire = Nazi Germany; stormtroopers = Waffen SS; Death troopers = Einsatzgruppen; ISB = Gestapo

 

I'm also lucky in that my players are pretty good at coming up with "Star War-sy" references, swear-words, and sayings without prompting. :)

 

I think this is the least of the problematic references and I am glad you brought it up. I can't expect them to reinvent the wheel, but I want them to at least try and avoid overt Earth analogs like that bad diner in Coruscant. I think that is great that your players try to talk in a way that promotes the feel of the setting. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

I don't know how in the **** Jabba could have possibly been sexually attracted to those dancers.

Given how many real world humans are sexually attracted to non-human things, I don't think it's that far of a stretch to think other aliens might be kinky for the alien.   

 

 

18 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

 The physiological differences between Hutts and Bipedal Humanoids is not compatible, and his instinct for reproduction would not be triggered by something like those alien women. 

And yet, despite the reproductive incompatibility from the other angle (humans to aliens), there are plenty of humans who have their libido triggered by seeing non-human things.    I mean, just take a browse of google with the safe search off, and you will see it in action :)   IIRC, it's commonly called Rule 34.  At least I think it's 34, I've sometimes seen 36, but anyway, the basic gist, if you don't know is "if it exists, SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE, wants to hump it, and will make porn/sex art about it."  So it doesn't really surprise me that Jabba might actually be physically attracted to his dancers.  I mean, his body language, when compared to a human, was VERY much coded "leering, sex creep".

 

 

21 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

There are Turd and Fart jokes in the prequels, but I hope you are not suggesting that these were high points of the Star Wars experience lol.

Nope, just saying that it's not "out of the spirit of Star Wars" to include bodily function humor sometimes, as there is cinematic precedent for it.  I didn't say it was funny, just that it's there. :) 

 

 

23 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Bantha Pudu is one thing, but a bounty hunter killed while taking a **** like in Pulp Fiction (while funny maybe) isn't really in line with what I think is cinematically Star Wars. 

Oh come on, if it's good enough for the Lannisters, it's good enough for Star Wars :)    

But yeah, I mean I get what you're saying, I just don't think a table game should be limited in how the game is played.  The movies are, because they are subject to the censorship/film commission that rate films, and thus it directly impacts their profits.  But there isn't any need for that in a table game.   I think you could easily just boil down your rules to "Keep it PG guys." and that's really all you have to do.   And depending on the age range of your players, I can understand that.   

whafrog and Archlyte like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now