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“A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”

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There's a discussions that pops up from time to time, both here on the forums and at my table(s) that I'd like to bring up to discussion. As the Yoda quote in the topic says, a Jedi doesn't the force for attack, and indeed, some force powers and talents that directly attack an opponent always hit you with conflict. Of course, there are plenty of them that also don't.

The rules seem quite clear on this, only awarding conflict for going for violence as the first course of action or being excessively cruel. Meaning, if someone's shooting at you, it's generally not conflict worthy to respond by using the Force to throw an x-wing at them.

On the other hand, this, quite clearly, using the Force for attack, so perhaps it shouldn't be completely okay? There is a definite argument to be made there. But then it becomes an issue where to draw the line. Is rolling force dice as part of a combat check, like using Hawk-bat swoop using the force for attack? What about if the force dice don't directly influence the combat check, like Ebb/Flow? What about indirect help in combat, such as using Foresee or Uncanny Reactions (the latter of which does not use Force dice) to win the initiative and then shoot the enemy with a blaster (or hand your slot off to let someone else do it), or using Enhance on your pilot check to Gain the Advantage, setting up an attack? What if you roll your force dice as part of a combat check, but decide not to use any pips (didn't need them, they were the wrong color or any other reason).

The philosophy of it gels pretty well with the idea of a Jedi winning by not fighting, exemplified by Obi-wan in ANH, and Luke in ROTJ and TLJ. On the other hand, Jedi do a lot of fighting pretty much everywhere else in the franchise and is only rarely called out as something problematic. Of course, taking a little conflict isn't usually a big deal, when you roll for morality every session, but if you start to effectively rack up conflict for every combat check you make (unless you stay away from all the cool abilities you picked your spec to be able to use) this can send you down morality track very quickly.

As I said, to me, RAW is quite clear on this. Conflict is only awarded for specific powers/talents that explicitly state it. This isn't meant to be a discussion on what the rules are, but what people think they should be. I want this to be a bout personal preference rather than what's right or wrong, so all points of view are equally valid. What are people's thought's on this?

 

Also, while I use Jedi in this post, it's meant to be read as "Light side Paragon" although everyone may not see these as perfect synonyms. If you make a difference between them, make sure to make this known.

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I take almost everything Yoda says with a grain of salt. He has such a bad habit of warping the truth to meet his immediate goals, you just can't take his words at face value.

Granted his goals are usually good, but a white lie, is still a lie.

So... For me the intent is merely that a Jedi should usually not shoot first, but by the same note there will be times when shooting is going to happen and who is the first to pull the trigger is merely a formality.

So yeah. Try and avoid being a jerk, and you won't be thrown out if you are having a bad day. Being a paragon is great, but not required, sometimes the universe just doesn't want to play along.

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I think too many take Yoda's words much too literally; WEG especially as any offensive use of the Force got your PC an automatic dark side point, no matter the target.  Granted, they only had the original films to work from, and the only two offensive Force effects we saw were Vader's Force choke and the Emperor's Force lightning, but I still think they went a bit too extreme on the whole "never use the Force to attack."  I recall a number of d6 loyalists nearly losing their minds over seeing Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan freely using Force push/slam effects against the droids, which per WEG's rules would have pushed them dangerously close to being dark siders since it was an offensive use of the Force, especially if one counted each battle droid affected as a separate infraction.

While I disagree with Ghostofman that everything Yoda says needs to be taken with a grain of salt, I do agree with the sentiment that what Yoda says in any instance shouldn't always be taken as a literal statement of fact.  Consider his advice to Anakin in RotS, which was "people die, it's a natural part of life; don't let yourself get obsessed over preventing it, it's okay to mourn their passing and still cherish the time they were part of your life."  At it's core, what he says is good advice, but it's not what Anakin wanted to hear; maybe if Anakin had been a bit more honest with Yoda, the Jedi Master could have been more helpful.

To the specific line in question, consider also to whom Yoda is speaking, a hot-headed youth that has a level of impulse control on par with his father.  He's trying to get Luke to take a more cautious and measured approach, effectively telling the kid "don't go around intentionally starting fights, but protect yourself and those around you."  It's advice that didn't really sink in until RotJ, given Luke rushed off to Bespin and we know how that turned out.  Luke perhaps takes that advice to an extreme in TLJ, using the Force to distract Kylo and the First Order but never doing so in an offensive manner (granted, his situation didn't exactly leave him with many options).  We do see Ben Kenobi draw his lightsaber and cut down a couple of thugs in ANH after his efforts to defuse the situation between them and Luke had failed and the thugs drew blasters.  At that point, Obi-Wan is acting in defense, narratively speaking using his Force-enhanced reflexes and training to draw and dispatch the mooks before they can cause harm to him, Luke, or the other patrons.

Yoda's line could also be taken as "don't use force excessive to the situation at hand."  To use OP's example, using Move to slam a stormtrooper who is shooting at you into a wall is fine, but using Move to drop a starfighter on them or to fling them off a ledge to plummet for Extreme falling damage is excessive, and to me as a GM might be worth conflict for using excessive force to defeat the opponent.  But that part is up to the GM (likely deliberately on the writer's part), and some GMs might be fine with their players taking a Force Unleashed route and letting the players go over-the-top with how they use the Force to deal with opponents.

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26 minutes ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

WEG especially as any offensive use of the Force got your PC an automatic dark side point, no matter the target.

I was under the impression this had as much to do with the D&D fallout of the 80s as it did the films.

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1 hour ago, Ghostofman said:

I take almost everything Yoda says with a grain of salt. He has such a bad habit of warping the truth to meet his immediate goals, you just can't take his words at face value.

 

42 minutes ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

I think too many take Yoda's words much too literally;

You're not wrong, but let's not get too hung up on Yoda as the source. In the vein of "actions speak louder than words", let's consider some of the more powerful Jedi victories: Obi-wan letting vader destroy him, Luke refusing to kill Vader and Luke not fighting Kylo Ren. It does set some kind of precedence that not fighting is the better choice.

Of course there are shades of this, Obi-wan defeats Anakin when Anakin attacks his defense, but the lines get a bit blurry when you start calling physically moving your lightsaber through someone's limbs an act of pure defense. You could also argue that if Obi-wan did what he did years later back on Mustafar and let Anakin cut him down, that might have snapped Anakin out if it. Of course, that is putting a lot of faith in the Force.

Anyways, we're talking game design here. If we look at it from the perspective of granularity, one could argue that the pacifist path should aware less conflict than simply not being overly violent, and if the latter path already gives you the minimum amount (zero), is this a problem that needs to be addressed?

For bonus points, I'd love to see you argue both sides of this.

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20 minutes ago, penpenpen said:

 

You're not wrong, but let's not get too hung up on Yoda as the source. In the vein of "actions speak louder than words", let's consider some of the more powerful Jedi victories: Obi-wan letting vader destroy him, Luke refusing to kill Vader and Luke not fighting Kylo Ren. It does set some kind of precedence that not fighting is the better choice.

Of course there are shades of this, Obi-wan defeats Anakin when Anakin attacks his defense, but the lines get a bit blurry when you start calling physically moving your lightsaber through someone's limbs an act of pure defense. You could also argue that if Obi-wan did what he did years later back on Mustafar and let Anakin cut him down, that might have snapped Anakin out if it. Of course, that is putting a lot of faith in the Force.

Anyways, we're talking game design here. If we look at it from the perspective of granularity, one could argue that the pacifist path should aware less conflict than simply not being overly violent, and if the latter path already gives you the minimum amount (zero), is this a problem that needs to be addressed?

For bonus points, I'd love to see you argue both sides of this.

Well keep in mind Obi Wan chose not to fight Vader and actually according to Lucas became one with the force before Vader's attack landed. But that choice also was made after Luke and Co were back to the Falcon and were leaving.  I think his goal was to tie up Vader so Luke could escape knowing he could continue to help Luke from the other side.

But in the Cantina he did fight. In the defense of others. But again Obi did try and buy a drink to defuse the situation first. I think the key is try other option before resorting to violence and dont be excessive about it.

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2 minutes ago, Daeglan said:

I think the key is try other option before resorting to violence and dont be excessive about it.

And yet the Jedi are among the few in the galaxy that routinely use a primary weapon that lacks a stun setting. When they resort to violence, it is most often crippling or lethal. It makes you wonder if they realize that those uncivilized weapons would allow them to end confrontations without ending lives.

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10 minutes ago, HappyDaze said:

And yet the Jedi are among the few in the galaxy that routinely use a primary weapon that lacks a stun setting. When they resort to violence, it is most often crippling or lethal. It makes you wonder if they realize that those uncivilized weapons would allow them to end confrontations without ending lives.

Obi Wan ended the Cantina fight non lethaly

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Posted (edited)

 That and there are some people that cannot be treated nicely.  Cutting off an arm served as an immediate statement to uncultured people. "Yes I am a Jedi, and if you threaten me any further, you will lose more then just your arm." It was already established that Mos Cisely was a town full of scum bags and criminals, we shouldn't feel bad because one decided to overstep his boundary to viciously assault another man. Likewise, people who hindered the Jedi order in the days of the republic would receive the same punishment. If you come at the Jedi with murderous intent, one has only themselves to blame for their subsequent crippling.

Besides, cultural norms change all the time. It was perfectly fine for Amercia to drop two Nuclear Bombs to force an end to the war, prior to world war 1, war was a glorious adventure and you weren't a real man until you went on one, namely because the people who Europians regularly declared war on were less capable militarily thus war was generally a one sided landslide. Likewise, while the Jedi existed in a era that had a limited number of stun weapons (yes, I don't believe that every blaster has as a stun setting as standard. Stromtroopers aren't the average person until they are shot at by heroes) I don't believe that was common place and likely when the Jedi were around initially, stun weapons didn't exist. Thus their traditional weapon dated back to an era that stunning a man wasn't conventionally avalible option.

Is my statements without evidence? Absolutely. I just simply don't believe in the civilised world as we believe in it as always having the best possible options, when I live in a time where a bomb is being dropped once every three hours when we have tazers, I can't consider myself as living in a civilised era.

Edited by LordBritish

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Daeglan said:

Obi Wan ended the Cantina fight non lethaly

Well, you could draw a parallell with this and the increased use of tasers by police. The idea was that you would reduce the use of firearms by having a less lethal option, and there for reducing the level of violence overall. Turns out that in practice it often didn't raise the threshold for using firearms so much, but lowered the threshold for violence overall, since tasers are non-lethal and therefore more likely to be used when not strictly necessary, such as against non-violent but non-compliant people.

I'm generalizing to make a point here, and being intentionally nonspecific to avoid this turning into a discussion about use of force by law enforcement in some country or other, so please work with me on this.

Carrying a lightsaber without a stun setting (it's a possibility to have one in the game) may be intentional, serving as a constant reminder that if a situation turns violent, someone is likely to get killed or maimed. Meaning that for both the Jedi him-/herself and whoever they're confronting (assuming that they know anything about Jedi), it's in everyone's best interest not to let the situation escalate into violence; Violence is to be avoided if at all possible, but if unavoidable, use it to decisively resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

Ie, don't win the fight, end it.

EDIT: I realize I quoted the wrong post, but iirc @HappyDaze has me on ignore anyway, so maybe that doesn't matter so much.

Edited by penpenpen

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The old D2 Power of the Jedi Sourcebook makes a specific observation regarding non-lethal "weapons" told from an "in universe: point of view: "If a weapon cannot kill, it is not a weapon." Lightsabers don't have a stun setting specifically because that lethality brings with it  a responsibility to use it sparingly and only when every other option has been exhausted in order to preserve the Jedi's life or that of others. 

As for Yoda's statement, the deeper intent of his words were that a Jedi should never use the Force to initiate combat, to attack someone who has not already engaged you or taken offensive action against you already. You can use the Force to counterattack, in order to defend yourself or others. 

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Defense is a very broad term. In defense of friends, self-defense, In defense of ideals, In defense of Republic. As long as the jedi isn't initiating the conflict it is fine. I think this falls squarely under "taking yoda's words to literally". Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, that is what Form V is born off of, and Form V is still a JEDI form, and it shows the philosophy of those that use the force offensively (note I say offensively instead of to attack, because they aren't really attacking as much as they are disabling a threat and in doing so defending those that can not defend themselves from said threat.)

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, Jedi Ronin said:

I think the comment was primarily intended to apply to the direst use of the Force. I don’t think it extends to the use of a lightsaber. He was training Luke to kill Vader and Sidious after all. 

I think that is reading what is said way to literally. And sounds like WEG talking. 

Remember Yoda slammed 2 Imperial guards into a wall when they moved against him.  IE they were moving to attack him and he used the force to stop them.

Edited by Daeglan

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Daeglan said:

I think that is reading what is said way to literally. And sounds like WEG talking. 

Remember Yoda slammed 2 Imperial guards into a wall when they moved against him.  IE they were moving to attack him and he used the force to stop them.

Sure. Lucas didn’t develop this as literally as it’s taken. Force pushing is definitely something the Jedi trained in but that use is the Force has other uses too including defensive fighting (Yoda knocked the guards out and didn’t crush them to death for example). 

Overall point is that Jedi were not pacifists but didn’t train in exclusively aggressive uses of the Force that draw on the dark side. 

Edited by Jedi Ronin

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1 hour ago, Jedi Ronin said:

Sure. Lucas didn’t develop this as literally as it’s taken. Force pushing is definitely something the Jedi trained in but that use is the Force has other uses too including defensive fighting (Yoda knocked the guards out and didn’t crush them to death for example). 

Overall point is that Jedi were not pacifists but didn’t train in exclusively aggressive uses of the Force that draw on the dark side. 

I think moderation is key. Slam the guy into a wall is fine. Throwing a guy off a bridge as your first response. Not good. Crushing with the force...bad. lightning really bad. Draining life super bad. 

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There was a great line in the WotC RCR supplement Power of the Jedi (which I highly recommend reading for anyone that wants to actually play character with the actual mindset of a formally trained Jedi) about why they use lightsabers as opposed to less-lethal weapons such as stun batons or stun blasters.

That rationale is that for a Jedi, resorting to violence should be the absolute last response, and only employed when all other options have failed.  Thus, by carrying a weapon as dangerous and deadly as a lightsaber, it requires a Jedi to really consider the weight of that action before committing to it.  Even if they attack to literally disarm as Obi-Wan has been shown to do on three separate occasions, there's still the fact that the Jedi as irrevocably damaged the target.  But, if a Jedi carries a weapon that only deals non-lethal damage, then the weight of using violence as a solution is lessened, which in turns can inspire the Jedi to use violence before all other options have been explored.

It is similar to the real-world concerns of police being armed with tasers being too eager to engage the taser, which isn't 100% non-lethal as people have died from being tased due to the taser causing cardiac arrest; after all, if you are reasonably certain your weapon won't kill the other guy, it's a lot more tempting to go for your weapon to subdue a potentially violent person as opposed to trying to de-escalate the situation.

Given the sort of power that is at a Jedi's disposal (especially in films where they don't have to worry about spending resources to learn to use various powers and effects, but can just do them), it's a very dangerous slope for a Jedi to tread, as it can lead to them being far more aggressive than they might otherwise be, which we know can lead a Jedi down the path of the dark side.

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3 hours ago, Jedi Ronin said:

Sure. Lucas didn’t develop this as literally as it’s taken. Force pushing is definitely something the Jedi trained in but that use is the Force has other uses too including defensive fighting (Yoda knocked the guards out and didn’t crush them to death for example). 

Overall point is that Jedi were not pacifists but didn’t train in exclusively aggressive uses of the Force that draw on the dark side. 

Mace Windu even said in AotC that the Jedi were keepers of the peace, not soldiers, which does imply that they weren't shy about using violence when the situation called for it.  It's even been said that the true death knell of the Jedi Order had sounded the moment they agreed to service as generals to the Clone Trooper army, as they forswore their oaths as keepers of the peace to instead become soldiers, taking a much more aggressive stance as opposed to being the defenders of peace and justice as Obi-Wan described in ANH.  One can't help but wonder how much bitterness there was for Obi-Wan after having had a couple of decades to mull over just where it was that things went so wrong for the Jedi and the Republic, and realizing just how much the fault was his in the chain of events.

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4 hours ago, tunewalker said:

Defense is a very broad term. In defense of friends, self-defense, In defense of ideals, In defense of Republic. As long as the jedi isn't initiating the conflict it is fine. I think this falls squarely under "taking yoda's words to literally". Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, that is what Form V is born off of, and Form V is still a JEDI form, and it shows the philosophy of those that use the force offensively (note I say offensively instead of to attack, because they aren't really attacking as much as they are disabling a threat and in doing so defending those that can not defend themselves from said threat.)

So an interesting tidbit regarding Form V and it's acceptance by the Jedi Order prior to its fall...

Form V was accepted, but only just as it was held by some masters as being too aggressive, perhaps even more so than Ataru, which is by nature a very aggressive Form.  This was due to Form V's mindset of needing to dominate/overwhelm the opponent using sheer brute force, literally battering them into submission as Anakin did against Count Dooku in Episode III.  The novelization of Episode III covers that duel from Doou's perspective, and he's both alarmed and amazed at how adept Anakin has become at Form V, to the point he's seriously worried that the boy will just literally smash through the precision-based defense of his Makashi mastery.

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8 hours ago, Ghostofman said:

I was under the impression this had as much to do with the D&D fallout of the 80s as it did the films.

I don't think it was ever stated that was the case, though it may well have been something from the original designer's POV.  I know more than a few game designers over the decades have written RPGs with portions of the rules done in such a way as to run counter to the long-established approaches that D&D embodies.

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Given the question that Yoda's statement was in response to (context matters!), a de-Yodaized version would be "Assess the situation before you act, because it might not be what it appears."

It's good advice in either form, but it doesn't actually prohibit Jedi from going on the offensive. It does mean that they should do their due diligence first.

Non-Jedi light siders may or may not fully agree with that but they'll probably stick somewhere close to the spirit of it.

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Yoda says, not to use the Force for attack...

And then uses the Force to go all ape-excrements on Dooku, tossing, twirling, jumping, bouncing.

A couple of games say, not to use the Force for attack...

And then tyhey provide Force powers that enhance Lightsaber hits, and one for lightsaber damage.

 

My interpretation has always been to use this more as "Don't use the Force in anger". Approach your fight (which you didn't start yourself, of course) with a clear head. Some form of berzerk offense, and then enhancing that with the Force, can only lead to the Dark Side.

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59 minutes ago, Xcapobl said:

My interpretation has always been to use this more as "Don't use the Force in anger". Approach your fight (which you didn't start yourself, of course) with a clear head. Some form of berzerk offense, and then enhancing that with the Force, can only lead to the Dark Side.

This is how I interpret it, as well. Yoda's phrasing is very simplistic, but Luke at that point has a lot to learn, and Yoda appears to be keeping it pretty simple for him (and even that didn't stick, as Luke casually Force Chokes two Gamorreans in RotJ when he could have just handwaved past them).

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