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ErikB

How big is your Empire?

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Since it appears the EU and the prequels are being thrown under a well deserved bus, maybe we can revisit the size of the Star Wars playground.

I always kinda got the impression that things in the movies were a bit smaller than they tend to be in some of the WEG stuff. Does it seem the Empire has 25,000 Star Destroyers, for instance? Or there being only a few million clones works a lot better if there are not millions of worlds in the Republic.

On the other hand, the Empire do tool around in moon sized battle stations and can blow up planets just to make a point.

So what seems like a good number of total worlds in the Republic/Empire to people?

I think 'a few thousand' would suit me quite well. Enough to get lost in, but not perhaps enough feel like too many.

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A few million clones barely makes sense on one planet, let alone a galaxy. For scale, the United States alone had over sixteen million servicemen from all branches during World War Two.

As far as the total number of worlds in the Empire, that really depends on the time frame. Obviously around the time of the Battle of Yavin the Empire had more planets than it did immediately after taking power. And honestly, the real number we should be looking at isn't the number of planets, but the number of inhabited planets. Given that figure, let's take a look at our own galaxy as comparison, which has roughly seventeen billion planet with a rocky terrain according to the Kepler data revealed back in January.

So, giving this a thought, I'd say that the number of inhabited planets in the Empire (including Outer Rim colonies and tributary states) at the time of the Battle of Yavin is still at least in the millions, if not the tens of millions.

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>>>>>>I tend to work from the Star Wars Encyclopedia for my background knowledge<<<<<<

Oh aye, but for want of a better term that is all 'EU Crap', and more on point for this, the Essential Atlas tells me there are a billion inhabited worlds in the GFFA, and 50 million of them are significant enough to send representation to the senate.

And to me, the civilisation presented in the movies, but also elsewhere, just doesn't feel to me like it is a grouping of fifty million worlds.

If nothing else, if fifty million worlds had a throwdown, I'd kinda expect the space battles to be bigger. If  each planet only sent one ship you'd have fleets of tens of millions of ships battling it out. And the senate room is big, but it isn't THAT big. And stuff like that. You can say 'the rebel fleet' without asking which one. 

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Per Canon, Couscant is an entire beureacracy planet. Just one big city (ala Trantor from Isaac Asimov). The senate has some 12,000 representatives. So, that means somewhere on the order of 1.2 Million worlds (since most senators represent more than a single planet or star system).

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The Senate isn't the best example of how big the Republic/Empire is, however, because there are multiple cases of a single senator representing multiple worlds, with only the largest and most powerful worlds having their own senator. (This was a major point of contention between Kashyyyk and Trandosha, as both planets were represented in the Senate as a single system with a Wookiee senator.)

As far as the number of clones are concerned, it's heavily implied that a significant portion of the Republic military during "Clone Wars"  was comprised of natural-born beings. The use of a clone army was a defining characteristic of the war, but they were hardly the only combatants, and they certainly weren't the only military personnel.

Consider the given number of 16,000,000 military personnel in active service to the United States during World War Two. How many of those were actual combat troops, and how many were simply support? Even in today's modern military, well over 90% of the personnel are support personnel who will never see combat.

The clones weren't conscripts, and they weren't working in supply or finance. This was a group of elite units who were bred and raised for the sole purpose of being elite soldiers. It stands to reason that their numbers within the Republic military are going to be proportionally small.

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Like I say, I don't think there is anything actually in the movies to imply the Empire is anything like that big.

I remember thinking when I first got the West End Games Star Wars Sourcebook that saying the empire ruled a 'thousand thousand' worlds seemed too many.

And given that I think Disney is likely to care about 'canon' even less that George Lucas did, I think it might be better to talk about how things feel to people.

So my question really is this - if you imagine you had only seen the movies, how many planets would you guesstimate there were in the Empire?

I will also entertain arguments as to why you like any random number you want to make up. 

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Maybe not overwritten, but I think it is entirely possible that going forward they may get mentioned about as much as midichlorians and the christmas special.

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Kallabecca said:

 

Per Canon, Couscant is an entire beureacracy planet. Just one big city (ala Trantor from Isaac Asimov). The senate has some 12,000 representatives. So, that means somewhere on the order of 1.2 Million worlds (since most senators represent more than a single planet or star system).

 

 

I can concede the 12,000 Senators since I really don't know. There was a huge chamber of them in the prequels on Coruscant. What I can't concede is the ratio of planets to Senator you jumped to - 100 planets per the average Senator. I'm not an EU expert at all, so I have to go by what I see in the movies. What we see in the movies is a ratio of 1 Senator to 1 Planet (Alderaan, Naboo). While you could easily speculate that other Senators rule over several planets, it's a huge leap from what we see (1 per) to an AVERAGE of 100 per.

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ErikB said:

Maybe not overwritten, but I think it is entirely possible that going forward they may get mentioned about as much as midichlorians and the christmas special.

 

You just made this old nerf herder smile 8)

 

As far as the size of the Empire (I am assuming you mean the size of the galaxy as a whole) I would break down like this. Billions of stars/star systems, millions of planets/planetoids/moons, hundred of thousands of inhabitable planets/moons, tens of thousand inabitable planet/moons with a space faing culture. Now of these tens of thousands of worlds I would assume based on previously published maps of the galaxy that the great majority of them lie within the Empire's zone of influence (lets call it 70% percent) we can than attribute 10% of those tens of thousands to the Corporate Sector and the remaining 20% to the unkown region (again this is going off the picture of the galatic map I kinda sorta remember)

 

 

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I always assumed those senators seen in the movie represented maybe hundreds if not thosuands of worlds per senator podium alone not counting the reference in A New Hope that these systems would be overseen by Imperial Administrators suggesting the time between the end of revenge of the sith and the start of A New Hope they had established enough forces and means to supervise the inner core with patrols of the Outer Rim being the more obvious problem.

I never understood how the Republic didn't have a standing military when even Naboo had a sort of Royal Flight Squadron, but then alot of the Phantom Menace made no sense but as far as worlds are concerned maybe what Palpatine really needed was to secure his control and replace those around him and in charge of those sectors' military or governmental forces with those loyal to him specifically and I thought that number of clones was just counting the first batch and not the total number of clones produced by the start of revenge of the sith let alone whats left afterwards if you take that comment about securing fresh clone templates.

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mouthymerc said:

My Empire is as big as the plot needs.

+1 The Empire is omnipresent when I need it to be, and all but non-existant when it should be. Currently, its pretty big, but not an immediate threat to the players… yet.

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Tashiro31 said:

As far as the size of the Empire (I am assuming you mean the size of the galaxy as a whole)

I don't think they need to be the same thing. I don't remember anyone in the movies actually saying the Star Wars civilisation covers the whole galaxy.

--

But yes, as an unreconstructed sci-fi fan, my first urge upon seeing a space navy is to start working up its order of battle, and this is an urge to be resisted, much of the time.

I can't actually think of a time when the number of planets controlled by the Empire has ever actually mattered in a game.

Still, I wouldn't have said it was millions.

And Freedom in the Galaxy, the 1979 Star Wars knockoff boardgame has said galaxy consist of about 24 systems.

freedom_map.jpg

Now that may be because that is as many as even old boardgamers thought they could track, but I think if before I had read the Star Wars Sourcebook someone had told me the Empire consisted of 24 systems I would have thought it was a little low, but not as out as there being a million or more.

 

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ErikB said:

And Freedom in the Galaxy, the 1979 Star Wars knockoff boardgame has said galaxy consist of about 24 systems.

I don't think I'm going to use a boardgame that isn't even set in the Star Wars universe as a source for information on number of systems.

I would agree with the above posters that you probably shouldn't try to quantify the size of the Empire. For the PCs, there will always be another planet to visit they've never yet heard of. That's all that is really needed.

If asked how big, I might respond the Empire is vast, but there are still countless unexplored planets and systems.

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I use the map found in this:

Star Wars Essential Atlas

I do not own the physical book but my impression is this notes every planet ever mentioned in the Star Wars canon and maps it.  If you wanted to get real detailed (a n a l) you could cross-reference and read all their histories on Wookiepedia (if not detailed in the book) and note which planets at one time had an Imperial presence.

I've always had the impression that membership in the Empire was at the will of the Emperor.  A system may not be part of the Empire but the Empire sure as heck would/could invade and "have a presence" there thus making it part of the Empire (as far as Sidious would be concerned).  The point of the Empire is that it is too big to stop or fight.  If the Empire took interest in a planet there was little to stop them and nearly all resistance would be crushed, with the obvious exceptions of Mon Calamari and others.

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The Essential Atlas is great.  I only just got a copy, but it lists a whole slew of planets and systems.  Many of them are undocumented (cross-reference with Wookieepedia for the win…) and thus make ripe ground for RPGing.  But the population of the galaxy is apparently in the order of quadrillions, with a number of different sections, Core, Inner Rim, Mid-Rim, Outer Rim, Hutt Space, etc.  I don't think it would be odd to expect the Empire to be huge, especially when its predecessor had been around for some 4,000 years…

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Sturn said:

I don't think I'm going to use a boardgame that isn't even set in the Star Wars universe as a source for information on number of systems.

 

Oh aye, it has no significance other than that, in 1979 and hence before much exposure to Star Wars fluff or even The Empire Strikes Back, when someone wanted to duplicate the feel of Star Wars they made up an Empire of 24 systems.

And like I say, I don't think the Essential Atlas and related material tally with the movies. When the Empire searches for the Rebel Base on Hoth did they really go through millions of systems to find it? And if they had dispatched that many Probe Droids, why did they bring so few ship to make the assault?

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ErikB said:

When the Empire searches for the Rebel Base on Hoth did they really go through millions of systems to find it? And if they had dispatched that many Probe Droids, why did they bring so few ship to make the assault?

The direct quote is "Thousands", not millions.  Leading a reasonable assumption to there being at least thousands of systems that are home to planets that are safe to inhabit to some degree.

As for your second point, the Empire was needing to assault as quickly as possible before the Rebels fled the system, it takes time for ships to travel from system to system and there could conceivably only be a few within immediate response range, given that they have a whole Galaxy to police.  Furthermore, you're not considering the ultimate fallacy of the Empire.  That is their over-confidence and belief that their superior firepower and strength are more than enough to outmatch the rebel alliance (case in point, both death stars).

In the end this is all academic anyway.  My Empire will be as big as it needs to be to give my players the necessary scope and scale, and nothing says space like a lack of solid definition.

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Leechman said:

The direct quote is "Thousands", not millions.

Good point. I think these are the relevant lines:-

--

 

The evil lord Darth Vader,
obsessed with finding young
Skywalker, has dispatched
thousands of remote probes into
the far reaches of space….
 
--
 
We have thousands of probe droids searching the galaxy. I want proof, not leads!
 
--
 
Now, one probe droid could search multiple planets, or multiple probe droids could be needed to properly cover one planet, but I wouldn't have said, based on those lines, that they had millions of systems to search.
 
And travel times is another thing. For aesthetic reasons, I prefer it if hyperspace travel takes some kind of time. Just so that going places is a bit of an event. So crossing the entire Empire should take, like, some time. Probably not years, but enough that it isn't like nipping down to the shops. 
 
The travel times derived from the WEG books work pretty well for me, but travel in recently cancelled Clone Wars cartoon can sometimes seem a bit quick.

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It's reasonable to take the "far reaches of space" line at face value as just being limited to the very small (but largely still wild west) region of space that the Rebel Alliance Main fled to -- like the Outer Rim. I don't take it to include Wildspace or the UR. Likewise I don't think they sent probes to Coruscant, Byss, etc.

Taken simply and reasonably that way, we end up with a far larger Empire (and galaxy) on scale of WEG, simply based on the movie information.

But that's only if one feels they -must- justify a large galaxy beyond the very reasonable EU assessments. Me? I'm squarely in the camp that it's as large as you (GM) needs it to be.

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I tend to use the Atlas, knowing that between even two of the most closely grouped named systems on those maps there is light-years of space.  The Empire didn't include most of the Outer Rim, and there were many other inter-stellar political entites co-existent:  Hutt Space, Hapes, etc.

When it comes to the size of the Republic, just pulling a number out of my dark zone gives me around 40,000.  First, the size of the Senate building demonstrates a limit.  Many (most) systems might have been represented by a Senator shared with others in their region, while only the Core Worlds could expect direct representation.  Also, from what I gather, membership in the Republic was simply an agreement to adhere to certain laws, principles, trade agreements, etc., some of which could be arbitrarily ignored.  The Republic sounds more like a beefed up UN, able to impose sanctions but possessing limited military capabilities.  A planet could ignore Republic proclamations and still be in the Republic (think Iran today).

Second, even though there might be billions of rocky planets in the galaxy, only a small few would fit the golden balance of having an atmosphere, gravity, water, and enough photosynthetic life to create an oxygen-rich environment.  Only a few species are shown needing special equipment to survive on "human-normal" worlds.  Even Tatooine, dry as it is, would be that tiny sliver of perfect environments.  So starting from 17 billion, cut in half because the Unknown Regions encompasses 1/2 the galaxy; round up to 10 billion for fun.

10B * 5% (rocky planets within 0.7 and 1.5 G) = 500 million

500M * 2% (enough water for life, and in a golden range from star) = 10 million

10M * 20% (life…as far as we can tell, life appeared on earth almost as soon as conditions were ripe) = 2 million

2M * 25% (photosynthesis…once life started, photosynthesis wasn't far behind, geologically speaking) = 500,000

500K * 10% (explored, colonized or native, and represented) = 50,000

So that's 40,000 for the Republic, and another 10,000 belonging to other political entities, or no one but themselves.

That's plenty for me, and if it's not enough, there are 450,000 other systems waiting to be discovered.

 

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I'm personally happy with a mix of EU information and plot reasoning. It rarely matters, since the plot focus usually just sticks to a select few planets (usually related to the characters) in addition to some (or all) of the main ones from the movies.

However, in the game I periodically run I allow my players to roam rather freely. They have on occasion found interesting star systems using wookieepedia or other sources. With a proper Knowledge roll and Astrogation, they're free to explore.

And in the game I'm playing in, the GM uses the Essential Atlas which has thoroughly been mentioned here. It's a great source, and possibly a nice middle ground between the people claiming the whole EU being too much, or that the films don't offer much in terms of scale.

There are some things to remember, though: The Empire and Republic rarely only relates to planets. Instead they relate to systems (and in some cases even sectors). This lends a lot of support to the Senate having a rather finite size in that systems could include several inhabited planets, and sectors several systems. Also, interestingly enough, a comment by Lucas from a behind the scenes book about the first film indicates the senate represented 24,372 systems, making the 40-50 000 total planets estimate not so bad. This assumes not all systems having a senator, and possibly several systems having more than one inhabitable planet (which some Star Wars systems do). However, I could find no other mention of such number.

And about the probe droids I agree that one should remember that these droids are searching the far reaches of the Galaxy. For the Empire, hardly anything past the Colonies is considered civilized, and once you reach the Mid Rim (and especially the Outer Rim), you're really on the frontier. Republic and especially Imperial presence out there is diminishing. Also, the worlds or systems being searched by the probes would be known to be mostly uninhabited or at the very least sparingly inhabited (such as Dantooine, for instance). This would mean that past the civilized sections of the Galaxy, there are uncounted worlds as far as the Empire is concerned. (This would also make the Republic a much larger entity, which would mostly be true, due to the looser organization and the fact that the Clone Wars sort of split the Rimwards regions off from the rest of the Galaxy).

But I can see the point of there not being a lot of apparent evidence to the size of the Empire, or Republic for that matter, if you're only looking for evidence of such planets in the movies. I thought maybe there were some quotes about the Republic somewhere, but I couldn't find any, however there is one interesting tidbit about known systems in Episode II when Obi-Wan searches for Kamino. The Star Map he shows to the youngligs shows quite a bit of systems. I'm not going to make an argument on how many, or if it's all of them, but I will make an argument that the ones on a Jedi chart would likely all be inhabited for the purpose of keeping track of Force Sensitives. It's an assumption, and a vague one, but at least it provides a clear picture of the scope of planets in the Republic (and possibly beyond) - and one that's from the movies, too. Point being: There are movie evidence of a far greater Galaxy than can be seen or indicated by individual locations or references alone.

Mapreader.jpg

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