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grover2000

A grey, not evil Empire?

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Given what we know from Episode I-III, V, VI, and EU, it's hard to think of the Empire as anything but evil and on the wrong side.  But after only watching A New Hope, it seemed like the average citizen might be much more pro- or neutral Empire and I think it's an interesting take for an Edge of the Empire campaign. 

 

After all, didn't Luke and his buddies want to go to the Imperial Naval Academy and become pilots?  Given Palatine's secrecy and propaganda, I would think a lot of worlds would see the Empire as much needed stability after a chaotic Clone Wars, much needed "law and order" after living in a corrupt and fading old republic, etc.     And much like America today, many people were willing give up their civil liberties to be "safe".    Yes, ultimately there is evil at work but I like to think the day to day Empire is much more of a grey state  -- yes it's totalitarian, racist, and will use downright evil tactics to maintain its power (blowing up planets, etc.) but not many people are exposed to or aware of the more wanton acts of evil.   The Empire also perhaps doesn't outright exploit every planet and people and for many humans may provide a safer and more pleasant existence than the old republic or outright war.    Not every Imperial ship captain is an evil sadist, the empire provides free medicine to human worlds and tries to build them up, etc.   Thus the "face" of the Empire to many citizens and even local rulers would be of benevolent dictator and only when you get in the way or discover the truth does the evil show.   (as contrasted to Darth Krayt's Empire where atrocities were committed out in the open and there were a bunch of evil, sadistic sith running around out in the open and publically leading the empire's troops).

 

This might not be canon but seem like it would provide some interesting backdrop for those that wanted to play in a less black/white world.  

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I quite agree. As much as the mythology and atmosphere of Star Wars lends itself to a black and white dichotomy for us as an audience, from inside the universe, an overlapping grey feels more appropriate. Just started re-reading some of the Dark Horse comics (specifically Dark Times and Agent of the Empire) and there are some great examples of people within the "evil" Empire who don't see it as such or if they do, seek to hold onto their own moralities amidst the darkness.

In the game I'm currently running, I've tried to create "Imperial" characters who don't see themselves as evil...far from it. It seems to me that many of the people we might label as "evil" or "bad", don't perceive themselves as such, and so I try to create NPCs to reflect that. Moral ambiguities naturally create tension and conflict which make for interesting stories...at least I hope.

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I don't think the Empire's evil. It's just ran by evil people.

 

I honestly am of the belief that if the Rebels didn't have plot device on their side, there's no way they could have beat the Imps. So many Star Destroyers.

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A lot of the old WEG supplements go into the idea that the people who serve the Empire and those who support it certainly don't think of the Empire (or themselves) as evil.

 

After all, the Clone Wars threw the galaxy into chaos, and it was only through Palpatine's order that the galaxy was brought to peace again... from a certain point of view.

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I have often thought of re-visioning Star Wars from the Imperial side. The Rebels are traitorous bad guys, the Empire is the source of law and order. Much the same view as Loyalists took during he American War of Independence.

It could work. Besides it has only been about twenty years since Palpatine declared himself Emperor. Luke Skywalker was a twenty year old farmboy at the beginning of A New Hope. This likely means that much of the bureaucratic apparatus still dates to the late Republic.

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On the top level, everything out to bear level... the Empire is evil. However, unless you're one of the non-human groups being subjugated, you're not likely to see it that way. The Empire came to power because the galaxy was entering chaos and the Republic wasn't doing enough to prevent it. People wanted to trade some of their freedoms for stability rather than face all out war, so those people have gotten what they were looking for. People who join the Empire (who are obviously all human) do so because the Empire does what they promised: keep order, and (for the most part) protect people. Also a crap ton of propaganda.

 

The absolute best EU product I've ever found that gives this point of view is the game TIE Fighter. In TIE Fighter you start as an average Imperial pilot and through out the game fight to protect people and put down various rebellions and terrorist plots. The Empire brings down its might to help people. It's the only game that starts at an Imperial view that doesn't end with a character swapping sides when they find out 'the truth.' Because honestly? Almost everything you do is helping people, or putting down traitors or threats to the Empire.

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I have often thought of re-visioning Star Wars from the Imperial side. The Rebels are traitorous bad guys, the Empire is the source of law and order. Much the same view as Loyalists took during he American War of Independence.

It could work. Besides it has only been about twenty years since Palpatine declared himself Emperor. Luke Skywalker was a twenty year old farmboy at the beginning of A New Hope. This likely means that much of the bureaucratic apparatus still dates to the late Republic.

 

Remember, though, one of the first things in A New Hope is Palpatine dissolving the Senate. I've wanted to run a campaign with senators right as that happens and watch the chaos ensue. 

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What are you talking about? The Empire is the good guys -- they bring order and stability to an otherwise chaotic and war-torn galaxy.  The Palpatine Administration was a good two decades of peace and prosperity.  Just look at the very end of the latest Special Edition of Episode VI -- you don't see demilitarized zones or communist hell-holes -- just perfectly civilized worlds that were just as vibrant and happy as they were in Episodes I, II and III:

 

10338167_gal.jpg

Looks more like Las Vegas than Pyongyang.

 

500px-Theed.png

Not East Berlin

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Personally, I suspect it is actually quite hard to get people to remember the Empire are supposed to be the baddies.

 

I think Call of Duty: Ghosts points the way to helping people reconnect with their inner rebel:-

 

 

Edited by ErikB

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In the Star Wars novelization the prologue makes it sounds like the Emperor is not necessarily a bad guy (and probably not a force user) and is being manipulated by his court (don't recall exact wording). I always though that would make for an interesting alternate history of Star Wars.

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Given what we know from Episode I-III, V, VI, and EU, it's hard to think of the Empire as anything but evil and on the wrong side.  But after only watching A New Hope, it seemed like the average citizen might be much more pro- or neutral Empire and I think it's an interesting take for an Edge of the Empire campaign. 

 

That's pretty much the standard approach I've taken, and even Lucas seems to say as much, especially at the end of the Clone Wars.  "Liberty dies to applause", to paraphrase Padme.  Only a few people knew what a travesty it was, and how bad it was going to get.

 

But the veil was pulled from people's eyes by Alderaan, comprising a shift in opinion.  I'd expect people's opinions would have polarized into pro- and anti-, and much fewer neutrals.  Also, the Core worlds tended to be more pro- in general.  So the public sentiment in your campaign would depend on when and where it took place.

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After all, didn't Luke and his buddies want to go to the Imperial Naval Academy and become pilots? 

 

In that same movie, Luke tells Ben "It's not that I like the Empire, I hate it!"

 

The academy Luke wants to attend is the same one Biggs attended. It's not "the Imperial Academy" - it's an independent institution to train people to become certified spacefaring pilots/navigators/crewmen/what-have-you. Remember, at this time, Luke believes his father was a navigator on a freighter.

 

In the cut scene with Biggs, Biggs says "I'm not going to sit around and wait to be drafted by the Empire." So it would seem that the Empire culls some of its ranks from the Academy but it's not a direct Imperial establishment. However, It could very well be an indirect establishment that the public (such as Luke and Biggs) knew nothing about that secret relationship (between academy and Imperial machine) at the time. The same idea behind why the Emperor kept the Senate around for so long - the illusion.

Edited by mrvander

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Isnt this the same empire that blew up an entire planet, and killed nearly two billion people just to say 'Dont screw with us'?

And, I'm fairly certain, used misinformation to lay some confusion (more effective in Core worlds) to suggest that the Rebels used an Imperial mining station to blow up an occupied planet. The key thing to remember is that propaganda is the rule in the Core worlds.

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And then in blew up, so the plan had to change.

 

I don't actually recall if the "Rebel terrorist" excuse was from an EU product or from some other thing (fan or roleplaying game I was in), but it's exactly the sort of propaganda that would have been deployed by the Empire in the Core. Obviously not everyone would believe it, but the Empire isn't going to admit to having a battlestation capable of blowing up planets that they used to blow up planets... if they no longer have that battlestation.

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Yeah because a good army would never use a weapon of mass destruction. In the narrow context of the movies the Imperial forces and the Empire were made to look like the ultimate evil. In the broader world of an rpg there is no reason there can't be room for a more gray Empire. The Empire had to still deal with crime and other actual threats as those didn't just disappea. Or even if you want to play an Empire game. Lots of room for it all with a little imagination.

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. The Empire brings down its might to help people. It's the only game that starts at an Imperial view that doesn't end with a character swapping sides when they find out 'the truth.' Because honestly? Almost everything you do is helping people, or putting down traitors or threats to the Empire.

 

Yeah, this is more of what I was going after.   A lot of the posts are about people rationalizing to themselves why their bad actions are actually not so bad or serving a greater good, which I think would definitely be part of making it a "grey" setting.   But I was envisioning a universe where the Empire also actually did some real good as well.   They actually did reduce criminal elements and pirates, build the equivalent of 'roads' and 'aqueducts', etc.   

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What has the Empire ever done for us?

Well, there are the hyperlanes.

Ok, apart from the hyperlanes, what has the Empire done for us?

Law and order, they're go at that, it's so much safer now.

And the schools.

Antipiracy.

Yes, yes, apart from hyperlanes, law and order, schools and hunting down pirates, what has the Empire ever done for us?

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In my game I am painting the rebels to be bad for the group. My group is pretty much all outlaws anyways, but they know the Empires process to a degree and have the connections to get the right forged or even legit copies of paperwork and the such. Add in the fact I am basing support of the rebellion off the historical standpoint that most people aren't that sympathetic to them. 

 

Plus one plan is to have the group do something for a rebel operative with out knowing who he is, and have him try to cash in on the bounty on their heads. 

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