Jump to content
KalElKenobi1138

Running a Dark Side Campaign

Recommended Posts

So i’m Going to embark on a new journey, running a dark side campaign. So far I know I basically have to reverse the rules of morality and using light and dark pips. But does anyone have any suggestions about how to effectively do this? So far our characters consist of consular as an Imperial Inquisitor, a Droid Commando, a Sabateur/Mechanic, and I’m using a Sentinel Shadow as an Emperors Hand. There’s really no Dark side classes that I can find so this is what we’ve got. For us force wielders I’m going to change up a mission in acquiring lightsaber crystals to include making them bleed and require approval from Vader or the Emperor as a show of loyalty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you do switch using the dark/light pips on the die, be aware that the distribution isn't 50/50. There are more single dark pips than there are light, which may make using some powers easier if you use dark as your "normal" pip. Double pips are even more unevenly distributed between light/dark. Just something to be aware of.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, TheGuardian118 said:

If you do switch using the dark/light pips on the die, be aware that the distribution isn't 50/50. There are more single dark pips than there are light, which may make using some powers easier if you use dark as your "normal" pip. Double pips are even more unevenly distributed between light/dark. Just something to be aware of.

I think his comment was more along the lines of "the PCs now default to using the dark side pips to generate Force points" rather than changing the dice facings.  Or at least, that's how I read it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just like any "evil" campaign, your primary risk is the whole thing devolving in to a"Chaotic Stupid", descent into depravity and mutually assured destructive choices.

To combat that, I'd recommend setting it in a sector where the Rebellion is in control and/or at a time when the Jedi are around to keep them somewhat in check (and provide interesting encounters).

Also, remember, bounty hunters get sent after Sith/Imperials too.

Good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, KalElKenobi1138 said:

does anyone have any suggestions about how to effectively do this?

The group needs to understand that while they are playing characters on the dark side, this is still a cooperative game and that they should not be at one another's throats. Vader, Tarkin and Palpatine talked a lot and sometimes were verbally opposed but they did not come to blows with one another in the Original Trilogy films (until the throne room, of course, at what you could consider the end of a campaign).

If you want them to stick to playing dark siders, make sure that their experiences of the galaxy and whatever conflict is happening at the time tells them that the faction they decided to join is the right course of action. For instance, for all the tyranny of the Empire, it did create galactic peace for 19 years. Many people were employed by the formation of the empire, as the clone army was no longer in production and was 99% phased out by 1 year after the war ended.

If you start to show the faction they are with as not necessarily being the right one, their focus on that will waver and you may end up seeing them splitting off to do their own thing, potentially even joining the "heroic" faction in your story (which is totally fine if that is the story you and the group decide to tell).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the inquisitors, make sure to always make it a point how empowering cruelty, merciless behavior and the direct usage of the Dark Side feels to them. Once you've fallen, the Dark Side dominates your destiny, but it doesn't make you a moron - make sure nobody goes "stupid evil".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GroggyGolem highlighted the biggest problem that frequently comes up during evil/bad-guy campaigns, namely that you wind up with one (or more) players that decide it's perfectly in-theme and in-character to knife their fellow party members in the back.

Sadly, a good chunk of the lore about the Empire (especially in Legends) illustrates that this sort of mentality is very much encouraged, and that Legends!Palpatine generally encouraged that sort of "dog eat dog" mindset as a means of control over his subjects; after all, if everyone's busy trying to knife their peers in the back while trying to avoid getting a knife in their back, that's much less knives pointed in Palpatine's direction.

That said, definitely have a session zero with your players and make it crystal clear that even if they're playing the bad guys, this is fully intent to be a cooperative game and that the PCs are expected to work together.

As far as designing the campaign, I would suggest build it in a way that the players are going to need to have their characters work together in order to succeed.  Since one of the PCs is an Inquisitor, perhaps have that character be the 'commanding officer' of the group, with the other PCs nominally under that character's command (though again, session zero to make it clear that you're expecting cooperation between the characters and that being the CO doesn't mean the Inquisitor's player has carte blanche to be a jerk to the other characters), with the Hand perhaps being assigned undercover to keep an eye on the Inquisitor for the Emperor (but again, make sure the players understand that cooperation is the name of the game).

As far as Force usage goes, I presume that rather than having the PCs start with Morality of 29 to be dark siders, the OP is intending to flip the default so that the PCs are using dark side pips to generate Force points as opposed to using light side pips as the RAW indicates.  Be advised that by doing so, a PC with Force Rating 1 is going to be more able to use basic Force abilities since the dark pips are more likely to come up (and PCs won't have to suffer strain/conflict to use them), but the overall effects are going to be weaker as you're more likely to just get one dark pip as opposed to two light pips under the standard paradigm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/13/2018 at 6:18 PM, Donovan Morningfire said:

(and PCs won't have to suffer strain/conflict to use them)

Small correction: You still suffer Conflict every time you use a Dark Side pip, no matter if you're a darksider or lightsider.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My advice for running a Dark Side campaign, based off of my very short-lived Imperial campaign:

Character motivation is a huuuuge factor. The characters should all have very, very good rationalizations for why they are fighting for the Empire. They're technically "bad guys," but they shouldn't necessarily be bad guys. To give some examples, I'll break down some of the characters in my prior campaign. 

One character was an Imperial pilot and flight commander. He had grown up on a world that had never joined the Republic, and was thrown into chaos by the Separatists during the Clone Wars. From his point of view, the peace and stability brought about by the Empire outweighed any of the drawbacks. He was very much a 'the ends justify the means'-kind of character, who truly believed that the Empire was the "greater good," compared to the lawlessness that would result if it ever fell. Therefore, his driving motivation was to ensure the continued power of the Empire. This meant his goal was to always succeed at any task handed to him, which required always working hand-in-hand with his superiors, allies, and underlings to achieve whatever ends needed achieved. No real reason for him to go around back-stabbing his compatriots. 

Another player was playing  an Inquisitor, who had actually been a character from my previous Edge of the Empire game before joining the Empire. She had started as a Force-sensitive street urchin, fighting and stealing to stay alive. Eventually she became a bounty hunter, which is how she met a surviving Gand Jedi masquerading as a Findsman. The Jedi, excited to pass on his supposed wisdom and continue the Jedi Order, took her on as an apprentice. However, he himself was only a padawan during Order 66, so he botched her training pretty badly. He forced Jedi dogma down her throat, but never really explained the "why" behind Jedi mentality, as he never truly understood it himself. So when she realized that drawing on her emotions made her more powerful, and he kept telling her she was bad for doing it, she began to grow disillusioned with the Jedi way. Then during an encounter against an Inquisitor (the big bad of that campaign), the Inquisitor rather easily dealt with the entire party until she drew upon her rage and gave herself over to the Dark Side. Her anger was all that saved the party from the Inquisitor, and he praised her for it. The Inquisitor advised her to seek out Darth Vader, and learn the true power of the Force that the Jedi had been denying her. When she did just that, trying to find out more about Vader, it ultimately lead to a split in the party. The Jedi went his own separate way, to rejoin a handful of other Jedi the players had found throughout the campaign. The street urchin-turned-bounty hunter felt betrayed and abandoned by her friend and former mentor, and that was the final push she needed to join the Inquisitorius.

As part of the Empire and its Inquisitorius, she grew far more powerful (in her opinion). She also had the might of the Empire at her disposal (from her point of view). She was put in charge of a Gozanti, its crew, and a small squadron of fighters (commanded by the aforementioned Imperial pilot). Her motivations were largely selfish, to grow in power and hunt down the Jedi she felt betrayed her. However, despite her selfish intentions, she had no reason to back-stab any of the players. They were useful assets to her, means to an end. For the same reason Vader didn't Force Choke Veers, the Inquisitor had no reason to turn on her underlings unless they seriously failed her (though, any such seriously failure would have probably left them dead already anyway). 

Finally, one of the players was actually a double agent. He was the son of a Clone Trooper, on a constant quest to uncover what became of his father. Having exhausted all paths of investigation he could think of outside of the Empire, he eventually joined up at the same time as the Inquisitor player, becoming her right hand man within the Imperial ranks. On the surface, he appeared to be completely loyal to the Empire, doing their bidding and following through on every order he was given. But in truth, he was finding little ways to circumvent the atrocities committed by the Empire, all the while trying to find out more of its secrets and uncover why Clone Troopers were disappearing throughout the galaxy, and what their connection was to the mysterious project "Storm Forge" (My equivalent of the Dark Trooper project from Star Wars Dark Forces). I had actually intended for him to become one of the Fulcrum agents of the Rebellion, had the campaign continued.

Due to the nature of him being a double agent, he was perpetually "back-stabbing" the party, but in a very indirect manner. There was no way an actual face-to-face confrontation would ever work out in his favor, so he had to act covertly to foil the party's more evil actions, while outwardly appearing to be on their side. This was the most difficult group dynamic to achieve, and due to how few sessions we got before the campaign was ended (thanks to various non-game-related factors), it's hard to say for certain how it worked out. But I feel it was going pretty well, and everyone at the table had fun with the idea of there being a double agent in their midst. 

 

On top of personal motivations for the characters, I found it really helped to put them in situations where they were arguably doing "the right thing." Instead of throwing them at Luke Skywalker trying to blow up the freaking Death Star, I'd do things like pit them against Rebel terrorists akin to Saw Gerrera's partisans, or throw them up against pirates and other criminal scum who have been attacking civilian vessels. Sometimes I'd throw them in situations where they're clearly the bad guys doing bad things (for example, hunting down the surviving Jedi), but I found the party was more engaged when they could feel like they were doing the right and just thing by fighting for the "bad guys" of Star Wars. 

 

And lastly, purely for theme, you have to make sure the game truly feels like they're part of the Empire. Standard-issue equipment, requisition paperwork needing filed to acquire special gear, minions at the party's disposal (I found giving them a single minion squad of 4 Stormtroopers on the ground, and two minion TIE Fighters during space combat worked pretty well), access to Imperial databanks, ect. really went a long way toward achieving the right feel of an Imperial game. I still remember some of the best moments of the first session where moments when the Inquisitor was reminded that, "hey, we don't need to operate like scum & villainy any more. We're the freaking Empire." Some of my favorite examples include:

Inquisitor: "Okay, how should we go about sneaking into that Rebel base?" Pilot: "Sneaking? Why should the Empire sneak? I suggest we just execute an orbital bombardment and deploy fighters to mop up any who attempt to flee." Inquisitor: "Oh, yeah. I guess we should do that."

Inquisitor: "Okay, now that combat's over, I want to look over the bodies to see if there's anything worth looting." Two other players: "Why would we loot the bodies? Rebel equipment is objectively worse than our standard-issue gear, and any special equipment we want, we can just requisition. Also, we actually get regular paychecks now, and don't need to sell weapons on the black market for credits any more." Inquisitor: "Oh... Right. Burn the bodies, it is!"

Admittedly, this drastically changes the feel of an RPG, but realistically, being part of the well-funded and well-established Empire should change how playing the game feels. You're not playing the underdog any more. You're playing the thing that the underdog fights. Now it's the enemies that have to fight clever, using ambushes, traps, hit-and-run tactics, ect. to whittle away at your forces. Meanwhile, you're stuck trying to root out the elusive small numbers of Rebel agents, trailing them across the galaxy in a constant struggle to bring peace and security to the Empire. Enemies should, on average, be statted well above your typical minions, but combat encounters should be a bit more few and far-between.

Part of the fun of playing the Empire, at our table, was trying to find ways to draw the Rebels out into open conflict, or trying to track down roaming Rebel cells. It felt a lot like the scenes of Star Wars Rebels that were focused around Kallus, the Grand Inquisitor, Thrawn, and Tarkin. You have the numbers, the firepower, the equipment, but those blasted Rebels just keep finding ways to slip through your fingers! 

Anywho, that's my two cents on the topic. I hope at least some of this long-winded ramble will prove to be helpful for your Dark Side campaign. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...