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grover2000

A grey, not evil Empire?

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During the Clone Wars, the separatist dissident terrorists were the Bad Guys.

After the Clone Wars, the separatist dissident terrorists were the Good Guys.

You know why?  Because the Good Guys always have Jedi on their side because if there's one thing that Star Wars loves, it is Jedi.


But truly, the Galactic Empire WOULD be great... provided the Sith weren't in charge.  The Sith literally mess everything up.  I love to hate them so much.

This is why I love the New Empire of the Legacy Era.  A Galactic Empire that is controlled by Force Users that are neither Jedi nor Sith.  It is so cool.

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Part of this is what makes a good villain. As someone else once wrote, good villains believe what they are doing is right, great villains ARE right. Darth Sidious/Palpatine knew that to bring order and security to the chaos in the galaxy, the path of the Sith offered the best way. The Jedi stood in the way, and therefore had to be eliminated. The promise of order and security at the expense of all else is the hallmark of the Empire. Characters who value that would be sympathetic to such a perspective.

That having been said, the Tarkin Doctrine took this to an extreme, utilising state terror tactics on even peaceful dissent. As others noted, the destruction of Alderaan was a step too far for many worlds, and the final straw that ironically drove many worlds into the Rebellion.

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Exactly.  Honestly, I despise Tarkin FAR more than Palpatine. I'm reading the Darth Bane trilogy right now and just seeing how the entirety of Palpatine's actions were literally 1000 years in the making really makes you appreciate the guy.

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Isnt there a quote of Thrawn somewhere, along the lines of:

 

 "Your view of the Empire is far too melodramatic. The Empire is a government, it clothes, feeds and educates billions of people of millions of worlds."

 

Thats really the thing about it: Most of the "Empire" is just a huge apparatus, dating back to the Republic, intended to govern at least several thousands worlds (never believed the "millions" thing as an actual figure, more a figure of speech, as it would have made the entire storyline of Star Wars very much impossible) full of various life-forms. While the people holding power are evil, the Star Wars thing to do is make those PEOPLE evil, and have them abuse the power given to them by the Empire, rather than making the entire government somehow inherently evil.

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The Empire is evil. Any organisation that carries out the actions of the Empire is. However, that doesn't mean that every person involved in the Empire is. Some people will be genuinely evil, some will have been perverted to commit evil acts, and some will never have been involved in an overtly evil act, aside from that of being a member of an evil organisation and so have facilitated evil.

 

Some people will commit evil actions because they feel they have no agency (ala the Milgram experiment). Someone is telling them to, giving them an order, and how much different is this order from the last one where they "only" destroyed a Rebel city/village/family/soldier? This would explain the faceless guy standing beside the Superlaser who flips the switch. He may flip the switch, but he doesn't really feel he has any choice in the matter, and he has gradually come to this point.

 

Some will be suprisingly willing to commit evil actions due to the distance the organisation puts between them and the acts they facilitate. I would see many senior officers as being a bit like this. Asked personally to gun down a farming family they might baulk at the idea, but help build a massive planet destroying battlestation, or to bombard a planet from orbit, exterminating billions and they barely blink an eyelid... but as they don't actually witness the results they feel like they are just bombarding a "target". Add on top of this with the constant looking over their own shoulders to make sure they aren't being judged for something (particularly in Darth Vader's flotilla).

 

Some however, are just plain evil: The Emperor. He is doing this to further his control of the galaxy, which is all he cares about. Grand Moff Tarkin: Conceived the horrific genoicidal weapon that is the Death Star. Darth Vader.

 

There will be ways that many people approve of, or at least justify, the existence and actions of the Empire.

Edited by borithan

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"I encounter civilians like you all the time. You believe the Empire is continually plotting to do harm. Let me tell you, your view of the Empire is far too dramatic. The Empire is a government. It keeps billions of beings fed and clothed. Day after day, year after year, on thousands of worlds, people live their lives under Imperial rule without seeing a stormtrooper or hearing a TIE fighter scream overhead."

―Captain Thrawn
Edited by gabriel69

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If you're any of the billions of average joe schmoe humans living in the core world, the Empire is great.

 

Your daily life is wake up, go to work, get your pay, come home to your family.  You have shelter, a solid living, a family.  You are a happy little nobody, and all is good.

 

The removal of alien rights meant more work, more jobs, more oppurtunities for humans.  Any jobs that humans don't want to do are being done cheaply by slave labor...and it's not like they are highly visable, the slave labor is kept away from the general population.

 

The universe is perfect.  Good work, good pay, happy life, cheap services.  There is basically no crime in the core worlds.

 

You have freedom, as long as you don't speak poorly about the Empire....but honestly, why would you?

 

Now...

If you live on the fringe worlds, or if you are a alien species, the Empire isn't so nifty.  The Empire barely cares about the fringe planets as they don't offer much to the Empire.  Crime is rampant, life is harsh.  Happiness is hard to come by.  If you are an alien, you're better off on the fringe planets because at least you have a chance at remaining free of slavery....until a slaver nabs you off the street.

 

It's all perspective.

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Lets quote Order of the Stick via TvTropes:  "So what? Audiences always think the villain is cooler than the hero is, anyway."

I don't think people think the guys they shoot in Call of Duty games are cooler than the SAS/Delta Force/Seal Team Six guys you are playing as.

At this point we have had more than a decade of propaganda telling us why it is okay to torture and assassinate people in order to suppress insurgents, and I'm not keen on Star Wars going the same way.

As Yahtzee said in one of his reviews,

>>>I'm really, really missing the days when the vicious, imperialist, xenophobic, war-hungry nationalistic bastards treading all over other peoples' countries with a ridiculously excessive war machine are the people I'm supposed to be killing, not playing as.<<<

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Lets quote Order of the Stick via TvTropes:  "So what? Audiences always think the villain is cooler than the hero is, anyway."

I don't think people think the guys they shoot in Call of Duty games are cooler than the SAS/Delta Force/Seal Team Six guys you are playing as.

 

The bad guys in Call of Duty aren't villains, they're just bad guys. The difference between an enemy and a villain is charisma and style.

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I am not sure I want to see Disney using a multi billion dollar franchise to sell how stylish and charismatic Nazis are.

I mean, they may think industrial murder to enthnically clense untermensch to promote the idea of a blond haired blue eyed Master Race is a good idea, but on the other hand they do have really shiny jackboots.

Edited by ErikB

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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.  

 

It seems to me that much of what you're talking about is more to do with whether the Empire is perceived as evil than whether it is evil, so there's probably a fair bit of room for what you're talking about even in the black-and-white morality of Star Wars.

 

One thing to keep in mind, it's rare that the PCs in role playing games in general are model citizens.  In many games PCs are basically rootless drifters who go around getting into trouble, not stable members of the community.  The "average" citizen in any given setting would probably be uncomfortable with PCs under any but dire circumstances.  Sure, they appreciate you when the orcs are raiding the village, but once the orcs are driven off, you're just a heavily armed stranger whom we know is both prone to and skilled at violence.

 

In Edge of the Empire in specific, though, you can take that a step further.  The "default" PCs in an EoE game are wrapped up in the criminal underground, even if they are not criminals themselves.  Page 37 of the Core Rulebook asks "what caused [your PC] to enter into the nebulous and dangerous world of EDGE OF THE EMPIRE."  These are people not only on the fringe of the Galaxy, but also on the fringes of civilized society.

 

To an NPC not part of the criminal underworld, a guy just trying to live his life in peace, the PCs in an EoE game may look like just the sorts of people the Empire is there to protect him from.

 

And all that can be true even though the Empire is, at its core, evil.

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I am not sure I want to see Disney using a multi billion dollar franchise to sell how stylish and charismatic Nazis are.

I mean, they may think industrial murder to enthnically clense untermensch to promote the idea of a blond haired blue eyed Master Race is a good idea, but on the other hand they do have really shiny jackboots.

Sigh, I understand what you want to say but I think that your comparision is goint a bit too far. Star Wars is a fictional universe, not real world  and playing evil, evil is cool and rooting for the Empire is way of blowing of steam and enjoying the fictional universe we love. If I offended you by my comments about rebel scum I apologise but I meant them tongue in the cheek.

 

And I seriously doubt that people playing for the GE/Sith Empire/Dark Side in SW prodcuts, wearing Darth Vader and Stormtrooper t-shirts or getting involved into the existential debates on the internet are supporters of nazi ideology. 

 

Also I think majority of people are perfectly aware that in the movies Empire was intended as the most evulz thing in the galaxy. Expanded universe and personal tweaks (acceptable in rpg games) changed it a bit.

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George Lucas abhors the idea of moral gray areas in the Star Wars universe. He's made responses to the "civilian contractors" on the Death Star argument (I believe he decided to say that the Geonosians built the Death Star and are just bugs so it doesn't matter... so still stupid). He made certain there could be no question about Han Solo being in the right when he shot Greedo (everyone knows this one).

 

The problem is that on a whole, people aren't that evil, and the EU has made some efforts to show that. Not ever Imperial is going to go around killing puppies, some of them genuinely wanted to help people. In the EU, a substantial portion of the Rebel Alliance forces are made out of ex-Imperials who saw a better way... but they didn't just flip a switch from bad to good, they probably did try to help protect the galaxy while serving.

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Of all the RPGs that FFG is going to produce for the Star Wars line, Edge of the Empire is the one where this argument is the most relevent. The other will deal with the Rebellion and Force Users, so the Empire and it's secret Sith masters are going to be much more visible and in much more of an obviously antagonistic role. For the rogues and scoundrels of the Outer Rim, though, it doesn't really make much difference who runs things from Coruscant. It's not like those people come out here much anyway.

 

As has been stated before in this thread, while the morality of the Star Wars universe is supposed to be clear-cut black and white, often the only real difference is with the Force Users. The side the Jedi are on is Good, the side the Sith are on is Bad. They swap sides, the Good and Bad flip-flop. Even accepting this as valid- since the average citizen of the Galaxy in the Rebellion Era doesn't know anything about the Jedi or Sith, they're not going to have these clear-cut indicators to base their opinions on. Even if the Empire is pure evil in your game, a large chunk of the populace won't accept it.

 

One thing that struck me watching the Clone Wars TV series was just how the announcements at the start of an episode made the Republic of this period sound hardly different from the Empire in later decades. The Core Worlds are sending armies of Clone Troopers to subdue rebellious systems in the rest of the galaxy for the crime of not wanting to be governed by the Republic anymore. Imagine if, with none of the Star Wars fluff or preconceptions, someone described a Sci-Fi setting where that conflict was taking place- would you think the Republic or the Seperatists were the heroes?

 

Also, while George Lucas clearly has no problem with bug-people genocide and the enslavement of self-aware machines, I'm afraid that my own interpretation of morality is a little more complex than that. A grey Empire seems to me to be the only realistic way to portray it.

 

It probably doesn't help for my own RPG group that we're so used to playing FFG's Warhammer 40,000 RPG games. They've spent years playing servants of the Imperium of Man, which makes the Empire of Star Wars look like the Star Trek:TNG-era Federation by comparison...

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Keep in mind that Han Solo was an accomplished TIE Fighter pilot before "going rogue." He saw something in their service that resonated enough with him to join intially and achieve a rank of lieutenant. So he himself was not evil, but when he saw something that offended his sense of justice and morality, ultimately he could no longer remain with the Imperial Military.

 

I'm still of the school that Han shot first, but in self defense and not cold blood. Greedo was clearly preparing to bring Solo's smoking corpse back to Jabba "I've been looking forward to this for a long time."

 

I know that it belongs more firmly in D&D, but borrowing a bit from alignment, the Empire is essentially "Lawful Evil" whereas the sentiment that essentially allowed the Emperor to take power was "Lawful Neutral" --the preference for order whether or not it benefits all people in society, and it is likely this is where most of the public support would still come from. The Death Star and the Alderaan incident would certainly draw doubts, pushing some that were on the fence into the orbit of the Rebellion.

 

Most characters would either be straight up Neutral, perhaps with a penchant for a more lawless outlook.

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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

Thats because of poor film making..remember, it was lucas who added these shots to the end of an already finished movie.

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If I offended you by

It isn't that. It is just that I think it would be really, really, easy to turn Star Wars in to the same kind of pro-torture, pro-predator drone assassination program, pro-Abu Ghraib pro-everything sh*tty about the war on terror propaganda as something like 24 just by pointing out that the Rebels look a bit like Al-Qaeda.

I dun like it. Star Wars is about nobility, standing up to oppression and doing the right thing. Hell man, I'm a nerd. What would Luke Skywalker do? yknow?

Edited by ErikB

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This all reminds me of an article called Playing Dirty written by John Wick for Pyramid Magazine when it was web-based.

 

It was all about twisting the "known facts" and looking at heroes/villains with a different perspective. The poster children were "Bad guy Corwin (from the Nine Princes of Amber) and Good guy Vader. He talks about the fact that Ben, Owen, Beru, and Yoda constantly lie about Luke's Father. Vader killed your father.

 

Maybe Vader just wants to get rid of the evil Emperor and rule the Empire with his son. My favourite bit is alluding to Ben using the Jedi Mind Trick on Luke to get him to go to Alderan for training, then when that doesn't work, using his attraction to Leia's holovid to get him to go with him.

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This all reminds me of an article called Playing Dirty written by John Wick for Pyramid Magazine when it was web-based.

 

It was all about twisting the "known facts" and looking at heroes/villains with a different perspective. The poster children were "Bad guy Corwin (from the Nine Princes of Amber) and Good guy Vader. He talks about the fact that Ben, Owen, Beru, and Yoda constantly lie about Luke's Father. Vader killed your father.

 

Maybe Vader just wants to get rid of the evil Emperor and rule the Empire with his son. My favourite bit is alluding to Ben using the Jedi Mind Trick on Luke to get him to go to Alderan for training, then when that doesn't work, using his attraction to Leia's holovid to get him to go with him.

 

On a similar note, but taking it a step further (into the real world), I wrote a paper in college titled "You're a Good Man, Adolf" to illustrate how perception and popular opinion is frequently used to determine "Good and Evil" but that motivation is the only real judge of character. If Hitler firmly believed that what he was doing was right and the best option for the human species as a whole, was he not a champion of good?

 

PS: I do not condone Hitler's actions or that of the Nazi party. The paper was written with an extreme example to draw the reader in and keep their attention.

Edited by JaWaMike

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One idea that came to my mind after reading a whole bunch of EU books, especially the New Jedi Order is that Emperor Palpatine knew of the incoming invasion from the extragalactic invaders that were slowly approaching and it was one of the reasons why he advanced Thrawn as high as he did and sent him to the edge of space for whatever the supposed reasons were, and why he committed the genocide of the Jedi and wanted to bring the Galaxy together under a single, unified government... because maybe he knew that if the Galaxy was united when the Vong showed up it would have been easier to combat and fight them.

 

 

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One idea that came to my mind after reading a whole bunch of EU books, especially the New Jedi Order is that Emperor Palpatine knew of the incoming invasion from the extragalactic invaders that were slowly approaching and it was one of the reasons why he advanced Thrawn as high as he did and sent him to the edge of space for whatever the supposed reasons were, and why he committed the genocide of the Jedi and wanted to bring the Galaxy together under a single, unified government... because maybe he knew that if the Galaxy was united when the Vong showed up it would have been easier to combat and fight them.

 

Dosent hold up. Palpatine could have fed the Outbound Flight to the Vong, used that to scare the heck out of the galaxy, and then made himself emperor the exact same way, only with the Jedi on his side. Then he could have fed even more Jedi to the Vong during the war, and watched them die a slow death as they each fall in battle.

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One idea that came to my mind after reading a whole bunch of EU books, especially the New Jedi Order is that Emperor Palpatine knew of the incoming invasion from the extragalactic invaders that were slowly approaching and it was one of the reasons why he advanced Thrawn as high as he did and sent him to the edge of space for whatever the supposed reasons were, and why he committed the genocide of the Jedi and wanted to bring the Galaxy together under a single, unified government... because maybe he knew that if the Galaxy was united when the Vong showed up it would have been easier to combat and fight them.

I'm actually making one of the major antagonist/potential allies in my campaign (set in the Old Republic era) who receives a Force Vision of the Vong and begins trying to force the underworld to all rally together under her banner by proving that all of the other leaders can't be trusted.  It should be interesting, especially if she decides that the PCs are going to be her puppets, whether they like it or not.

 

But I think having no morally grey area in Star Wars makes no sense.  

 

The Jedi aren't perfect, and there are plenty of flaws in their ideology, even if they are pretty good for the most part.  But, they can be severe hypocrites at some of the best times, and zealots at some of the worst.  I mean, they DID draft an entire clone army without giving them citizenship or a choice in whether or not to fight.

 

The Sith aren't purely evil in every respect.  While most are egotistical, ambitious cutthroats, some are actually honorable and decent, if you prove your worth and give them respect.

 

The Republic isn't all great.  They preach equality and peace, but most of the population of Coruscant still lives in poverty, and humans and human-like aliens, like Duros, Twi'leks, Near-Humans, and Mon Calamari, are given more opportunities than more exotic species, like Dug or Talz.  And they stooped to some of the same lows as the Empire does.

 

The Empire isn't all evil. Though some of its leadership is less than good, you honestly can't think it is ALL bad.  I mean, look at Thrawn.  Was his Empire *truly* a bad thing?  Or was it just "Not the Republic?"

Edited by Endrik Tenebris

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If I offended you by

It isn't that. It is just that I think it would be really, really, easy to turn Star Wars in to the same kind of pro-torture, pro-predator drone assassination program, pro-Abu Ghraib pro-everything sh*tty about the war on terror propaganda as something like 24 just by pointing out that the Rebels look a bit like Al-Qaeda.

I dun like it. Star Wars is about nobility, standing up to oppression and doing the right thing. Hell man, I'm a nerd. What would Luke Skywalker do? yknow?

 

Thats why I would prefer as few real world references in SW as possible, as for me, Star Wars are all about wonderful space fantasy. Heh, I would ask what would  Pelleon, Fell or Hand of Judgement do, but you can see the trend (passionately disliking Lucas childish black and white morality and I am influenced by 40k as well...) :P

 

Good thing is that Edge of the Empire is well, about the Edge of the Empire. So I may have envisioned Imperial intelligence officer not called Lethbridge-Stewart and definitely not baron Harkonenesque Moff, but those pesky Hutts, Tyber Zann and Nighsisters-in-Exile would be much more actual problems.

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