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grover2000

A grey, not evil Empire?

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Yes, people can do that. Or they could also have fun doing the other. The idea that there's only one acceptable way to play Star Wars, and that anyone who does otherwise is DOING IT WRONG!!! is one that I'm sure most people won't agree with you one. George Lucas might be one of those people, but as has been said before, many find his version of morality as expressed in the movies to be childishly simplistic.

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ErikB,

 

"Evil" campaigns in which the PCs are simply a vehicle for players to live out their fantasies of power and lust are even more boring than strictly "heroic" ones (and kind of pathetic), but there are many great stories that can be told by reversing the conventions, and there are some even better ones that hinge on deceit and betrayal.

 

You seem to object to the Empire being thought of as anything other than a massive boogey man. Not from a narrative angle, but as a moral imperative. You seem to think that people can't separate the fantasy from the reality, and playing a character in a game that is evil means that those people are or will become evil. Then comes the appeal to "think of the children".

 

First off, I (and probably many others here) remember a time when this argument was used as leverage to censor this very hobby and restrict its sale and practice (as well as being applied to video games, music, etc.). I doubt it will have much traction on this forum. Secondly, many of the readers of this forum are GMs, and play the "bad guys" all the time, and don’t manage to suffer from any “corrupting influence”. Third, rhetoric like this usually leads to the exact opposite of what it purports to hold up.

 

It's your choice. Do whatever you want. Ask yourself this, though: Which one of us seems incapable of separating the fantasy from the reality? Which of us is really attempting to live vicariously through their character?

Edited by Zychon

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Couldn't you have fun, yknow, shooting at Space Nazis, rather than dressing up as them?

If you look at every individual of a group in which parts have committed horrible atrocities as evil, even down to the lowest person on the furthest post from those acts, you begin to think of them as inhuman and make the act of killing them have no meaning. They might as well just be an annoying bug. This complete lack of concern for motivations and individuality is a tool used to remove any conscience from taking a life, even if that individual was good at heart.

 

Why do people want to play the "bad guys?" Some people have fun every once in awhile just playing a monster, it's a chance to take things that scare us and play with them. Some people are a bit demented and find joy in the amorality. Other people enjoy the idea of taking things that in a black and white morality are evil and taking their point of view, finding the humanity there of an individual with good motivations in a position that forces them to do things they might not want to do. Acknowledging that there is more to morality than two sides of a coin is important, because otherwise we start to go to extremes where any person who disagrees with us is an outright villain.

 

Also, Stormtrooper armor looks awesome.

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I think that a lot of the Star Wars books do a better job of presenting the Empire: it's run by jerks, but the majority of the people involved are actually quite personable. In fact, once nicer folks start taking the wheel (Grand Admiral Pallaeon for instance) some planets are stated to have returned to the Empire, or at least considered it thanks to the Empire's stability.  Most of the military side of the Empire are just guys trying to keep order after the chaos of the Separatist war, and they see the Rebels as terrorists determined to undermine that hard-won order. The issue of the Empire being evil is more about the civilian leaders with military authority: the Emperor and his Moffs.

 

That isn't to say that Pallaeon and the "nice guys" of the Empire are people you should mess with though... because

.

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Taken in total, you've got no argument here that the Empire is an "evil" thing. It's deliberately been portrayed that way as part of the iconic and mythological feel of Star Wars. I'm not asking you to consider the motivations of every Stormtrooper minion that comes into play, but is every Imperial character a zealot, a despot, or a mindless slave? For me, this makes for a pretty static and boring setting in an RPG.

 

 

As the OP, this is a little of what I was originally getting at.   From the source material, I'm not sure you can spin the Empire as anything but evil and that was done on purpose as the original trilogy was meant as a retelling of the classic good vs. evil mythology.   Even within this mythology, there seems to be room for individuals who are not evil but have to do their best living within this system (e.g., by helping when they can, by just not being a total sadist, etc.).

 

However, this really wasn't the point of my OP.   I was hoping for a thought exercise, in the service of making a more interesting setting for an RPG, of "What if the Empire as an institution was actually a (objective) good for a large portion of the (human) population vs. the clone wars and the last hundreds of years of the decadent Old Republic"?   What would this benign dictatorship look like?  How would this manifest itself?  For example, perhaps Imperial law and court systems are actually pretty fair for the common citizen and the Empire makes it a point to execute corrupt magistrates?   This could be a remarkably positive change for common citizens who had to put up with a completely corrupt Old Republic system where you had to be rich or connected to win a legal case.  In this universe, I'm not saying that the Empire wouldn't bend the rules, make people disappear, etc. when it needed to.  However, this would be in the case of vocal dissidents and rebels.   If you are disputing the right for the local Baron to confiscate your land, Imperial Justice might be on your side....

 

A second example, could be the availability of medicine and medical care.   Perhaps the Empire makes it a priority to eradicate all disease from human worlds, even low tech worlds (it hopes that this will ingratiate generations to the Empire).  There was a great Firefly episode where the crew robs an "Imperial" train and the loot ends of being medicine bound for needy colonists.  These are the kind of cool scenarios PCs can get themselves into if the Empire is doing both "good" and "evil" acts.      

 

So, how would this reimaged Empire look like and operate?  What other "good" acts could this Empire be doing?  

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Reading a book like "Death Star" which includes many of the events of A New Hope as seen from the Imperial side does put a different spin on it.

Yes, we all know that the Empire are "supposed" to be the Evil Bad Guys. And it can be a lot of fun to portray them that way. But, Star Wars is not The Lord of the Rings, and Stormtroopers are not Orcs. Orcs are inherently evil. It is in their makeup, they are bred that way and cannot be otherwise. Stormtroopers are human and have a choice about their morality. Even Darth Vader has good in him.

I don't see anything wrong with playing an Imperial pov campaign, or a campaign where the Empire is grey rather than black.

I am sure we have all even played at least one murder spree by player characters in our gaming careers.

It's not the real thing. It's just a fantasy.

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Taken in total, you've got no argument here that the Empire is an "evil" thing. It's deliberately been portrayed that way as part of the iconic and mythological feel of Star Wars. I'm not asking you to consider the motivations of every Stormtrooper minion that comes into play, but is every Imperial character a zealot, a despot, or a mindless slave? For me, this makes for a pretty static and boring setting in an RPG.

 

 

As the OP, this is a little of what I was originally getting at.   From the source material, I'm not sure you can spin the Empire as anything but evil and that was done on purpose as the original trilogy was meant as a retelling of the classic good vs. evil mythology.   Even within this mythology, there seems to be room for individuals who are not evil but have to do their best living within this system (e.g., by helping when they can, by just not being a total sadist, etc.).

 

However, this really wasn't the point of my OP.   I was hoping for a thought exercise, in the service of making a more interesting setting for an RPG, of "What if the Empire as an institution was actually a (objective) good for a large portion of the (human) population vs. the clone wars and the last hundreds of years of the decadent Old Republic"?   What would this benign dictatorship look like?  How would this manifest itself?  For example, perhaps Imperial law and court systems are actually pretty fair for the common citizen and the Empire makes it a point to execute corrupt magistrates?   This could be a remarkably positive change for common citizens who had to put up with a completely corrupt Old Republic system where you had to be rich or connected to win a legal case.  In this universe, I'm not saying that the Empire wouldn't bend the rules, make people disappear, etc. when it needed to.  However, this would be in the case of vocal dissidents and rebels.   If you are disputing the right for the local Baron to confiscate your land, Imperial Justice might be on your side....

 

A second example, could be the availability of medicine and medical care.   Perhaps the Empire makes it a priority to eradicate all disease from human worlds, even low tech worlds (it hopes that this will ingratiate generations to the Empire).  There was a great Firefly episode where the crew robs an "Imperial" train and the loot ends of being medicine bound for needy colonists.  These are the kind of cool scenarios PCs can get themselves into if the Empire is doing both "good" and "evil" acts.      

 

So, how would this reimaged Empire look like and operate?  What other "good" acts could this Empire be doing?  

 

 

Realistically, what you've just described is exactly how the Empire operates at the local level.  Remember, none of the Empires plans that the Rebels interfere with in the movies are publicly known.  The *plan* to use the Death Star to keep local systems in line under threat of destroying whole planets certainly wasn't common knowledge among the collective 'Joe Average' citizenry (or non-citizen populace).  The very *existence* of the second Death Star was a secret that was leaked to Rebel agents, not to the galaxy at large.

 

Local government corruption happens in *every* civilization.  It only becomes a serious problem when it gets too blatant, or it becomes the official policy for the whole of the government.

 

Did the widespread corruption of the Chicago police during Prohibition mean that there weren't *any* good cops?  Certainly not.  Even at its worst, life in Iraq under Sadam Hussein was better for most of the population than what they had immediately after he was deposed.

 

The Empire's public face is 'Peace and Order'.  Name me someone who is honestly against that.  Many will disagree on the theoretical specifics of implementation, but if people are, by and large, actually *experiencing* Peace and Order, most will gleefully turn a blind eye to 'small' problems like the way the police search houses, or tap communication lines without warrants.  They'll go along with it, whether happily or grudgingly, because people aren't getting shot on their streets by gangs any more, and the epidemic that broke out last year was handled by the government bringing in extra doctors and medicine.

 

The apple can be rotten at the core, but still *look* perfectly good.  It's not until you bite into the thing that you find out how bad it really is, and most won't bite into the apple, because it's somebody else's apple.

Edited by Voice

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"The Empire you ask?  Good people.  I served with the Imperial Army for a few years.  Did me some good.  Payed the bills and kept me out of trouble with the law.  To bad I can't say the same for my son.  He got... Let me just say it's safer for him out here.  Good thing I did spend some time with the Army too.  Seems that somebody somewhere is willing to pay good credits for me to ventilate a melon or two."

 

It's all perspective.

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Yes, people can do that. Or they could also have fun doing the other. The idea that there's only one acceptable way to play Star Wars, and that anyone who does otherwise is DOING IT WRONG!!! is one that I'm sure most people won't agree with you one. George Lucas might be one of those people, but as has been said before, many find his version of morality as expressed in the movies to be childishly simplistic.

There are a lot of us who, when confronted with people wanting to place the space nazis, want to just run them the hell off. 

 

Why? Because when they brag of their exploits, the crowd that wants all the RPGs burned uses them as evidence that "RPGing is training to be evil"....

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Yes, people can do that. Or they could also have fun doing the other. The idea that there's only one acceptable way to play Star Wars, and that anyone who does otherwise is DOING IT WRONG!!! is one that I'm sure most people won't agree with you one. George Lucas might be one of those people, but as has been said before, many find his version of morality as expressed in the movies to be childishly simplistic.

There are a lot of us who, when confronted with people wanting to place the space nazis, want to just run them the hell off. 

 

Why? Because when they brag of their exploits, the crowd that wants all the RPGs burned uses them as evidence that "RPGing is training to be evil"....

 

 

And the rest of us look at statements like that, and wonder why you're unable to distinguish between 'space nazis' and the folks whose jobs didn't change one bit from *before* the 'space nazi' regime, even while the worst of the depravities were going on.

 

The typical person in the Empire (or in WWII Germany) for that matter, had no *idea* what was going on in the camps.  That's the way the really bad stuff happens in the real-world.  If everyone actually knew the truth about the Imperial slave labor camps (or the German concentration camps), and what was being done in/with/through them, the Rebels would have had virtually the entire galaxy on their side (and the Allies would have had virtually all of Germany on their side).

 

Even looking strictly at the military folks involved at all levels, very few had any inkling of the things that were going on.  The guys on the front line?  Very unlikely to have any idea at all, and they had more immediate concerns than trying to track down the folks from back home that their families said were being arrested as dissidents.

 

You can have a *very* evil government, without having to pretend that every person who works for, or lives under, that government is completely and utterly evil themselves.  No, that's not how the Empire was portrayed in the movies.  But the movies weren't so much about living on the edge of the Empire's sphere of influence, as they were about fighting against the plans and policies of those key few at the top who *actually* knew and planned the atrocities.  (And it's not like the war-time atrocities are actually only ever done by the 'bad guys', either.)

 

There's a big difference between what is being suggested, and what you drew from it.  Going back to some other examples used:

Would you "want to just run them the hell off" if you saw kids who wanted to play the robbers when they got together to play Cops & Robbers?  How about if they wanted to take on the role of the cowboys in Cowboys & Indians?  (After all, the 'cowboy' side is largely the side that committed the historical atrocities in *that* little dynamic.)

Edited by Voice

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To the original post. You really ought to look at the TIE fighter video game.

The Empire will be involved in many positive activities.

They will serve as a security force versus, raiders, pirates, criminals, hostile native forces, arbiter of interplantery conflicts.

They will promote economic development, scientific research, agricultural expansion, planetary settlement.

Unified communication institutions, historical and cultural integration, political stability, centralized medical facilities and knowledge, education, laws, courts, justice.

Essentially peace and prosperity for the citizens of the Empire.

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You seem to object to the Empire being thought of as anything other than a massive boogey man. Not from a narrative angle, but as a moral imperative.

 

I think too many people have forgotten we are supposed to be the good guys. That we are supposed to even try to be the good guys. That might doesn't make right.

 

Star Wars seems a good place to give people back their heroes.

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Honestly, take away the Sith ambition and power mongering, take away the anti-alien sentiment, and turn down the ruthlessness from "Destroy Planets to Prove Points" to "Bring Justice to Lawbreakers and Dissidents," and you have a pretty fair and legit government.

 

I again bring in the Fel Empire as an example, considering they are all the things I just mentioned :P.

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Well, I would prefer that Star Wars not be used as a vehicle to make people feel better that they said nothing when it became apparent that their government used torture as a means of policy, or to help people more easily consent to give up their freedoms and become docile herd animals.

 

 Better that it remind people why it is better to die as a free man than live as a slave.

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You seem to object to the Empire being thought of as anything other than a massive boogey man. Not from a narrative angle, but as a moral imperative.

 

I think too many people have forgotten we are supposed to be the good guys. That we are supposed to even try to be the good guys. That might doesn't make right.

 

Star Wars seems a good place to give people back their heroes.

 

What we consider good guys, or what George Lucas consider good guys? Eschewing argument about the nature of the Empire and nature of roleplaying games for a moment, I consider black and white view on morality and having only one good, right and DO NOT QUESTION IT decision forced upon me, an evil act, punishable by a very special hell (alongside people who talk in the theatre).

 

I respect your opinion that Rebellion are the good guys and Empire are bad ones, and I recognize it as what was intented by SW creator. But comparing people who want to forge their own narrative in the Empire setting, has different opinions on morality than George Lucas, or go full evil campaign for fun (have you never played Dungeon Keeper or Evil Genius?) to the defenders and propagators of Nazi ideology and enchanced interrogation techniques is more than bit intolerant and demagougic. Funnily, it is the same thing an Empire would do.  ;)

Edited by TorogTarkdacil812

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People can have fun pretending to be an arrogant young man marching up and down in a sharp uniform once they demonstrate that they can remember why the Empire are supposed to be the bad guys in the first place.

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People can have fun pretending to be an arrogant young man marching up and down in a sharp uniform once they demonstrate that they can remember why the Empire are supposed to be the bad guys in the first place.

 

All right, ErikB. You've made your point- you really, really dislike the idea of people portraying the Rebels as anything but good and the Empire as anything but Evil. It offends you on a personal level to hear people suggest that they might consider anyone in Imperial service to be anything other than a faceless mass of evil with a target painted on their chest who the Heroic Good Guys can gun down without any moral consequence. That's how you like to see things, that's apparently how Lucas likes to see things, so yes, that's how you can do things.

 

Now, will you please stop constantly giving one-line replies to every post to the contrary that all ultimately boil down to you making the same statement over and over again?

 

Your behaviour in this forum is beginning to resemble that of a Troll. You've had your say, people have read your posts, and if they still don't agree with them you have no further right to keep harassing people with that same point. Kindly cease posting here unless you've actually got anything new to say, or at least until you can say something that consists of at least two to three paragraphs instead of two to three sentances. Regardless of whether what you're saying is right or not, the way you've been saying it here- trying to win the argument by the sheer number of posts you make- is not acceptable forum behaviour.

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Now, will you please stop constantly giving one-line replies to every post to the contrary that all ultimately boil down to you making the same statement over and over again?

 

Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.

 

:-)

Edited by ErikB

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I hope your new master treats you well.

Passive aggressive sniping, that'll really help a discussion.

 

It's only really you here that are saying people shouldn't want to play the bad guys, Erik. Have you ever thought, considering the lack of support for your view, that you might be wrong in trying to push your opinions as objective fact?

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That is a good line. The problem with giving up freedom for security is that you no longer have a say in who controls your fate, so if a new master you don't like comes along it is too late. You are putting yourself at the mercy of other people in perpetuity, and if you have met a cross section of other people, it should be obvious why that is a terrible idea.

 

Hence, I hope your new master treats you well, because having given up freedom, hoping your master treats you well is all you can do.

 

--

 

And since I believe this **** because I grew up watching movies like Star Wars, and I think it is a pretty good message, I don't think it is a good idea to mess with it just so people don't have to acknowledge that they haven't objected very strongly to the fact that they live in the kind of country that runs an assassination program.

 

--

 

So all in all, it isn't playing the bad guys I object to so much as trying to rewrite Star Wars in to being Nazi apologia, especially when the last thing we need is more media about how being The Empire is awesome.

 

Leonardo Dicaprio in Django Unchained is playing the bad guy. He does a fantastic job, but no one watched that movie thought Wow Leo is really cool in this. I want to be a slave owner!

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Leonardo Dicaprio in Django Unchained is playing the bad guy. He does a fantastic job, but no one watched that movie thought Wow Leo is really cool in this. I want to be a slave owner!

 

Well, firstly I have to contradict you right there. Look around on the web and you'll discover that there's actually a number of people who saw him in that movie and thought exactly that. I was as surprised as anyone to learn this...

 

And while you've at least progressed to decently written replies, the core objection remains the same. If you feel this strongly about the subject, then just stop reading this thread. This aggressive bludgeoning of people with the Correct Way To Do Things amounts to you being the self-appointed Game Police who won't stand for anyone not playing the game the way you feel it should be.

 

As for saying that Good vs. Evil is a good message...

 

Good Vs. Evil, in the pure Black & White terms that Star Wars portrays it, is not a good message. It's a Fantasy, which is comfortable escapism to indulge in but in no way a good thing to take as a life lesson. Because the moment you start applying it to the real world, the fact that you're Good- and everyone who believes in this stuff decides they're the Good ones- means anyone who doesn't think or feel exactly as you do must be Evil. And you know what has to be done to Evil. It won't matter what you have to do to crush this Evil, either, because you're the Good Guys, so anything you do must be OK.

 

Witness your own attacks on this thread, ErikB. It wasn't, in fact, a Nazi Apologist thread stating that the Empire were really the good guys as you state. Admittedly, a few posts have veered toward that point of view. But overall, it was about how an organisation of that size can't possibly have every single person in uniform be Evil. From what we see even in the original trilogy, only the people at the very top were capital-E Evil. The rest?

 

Well, we know what ErikB thinks of them. Who cares who they are of why they joined- they have it coming, because they're wearing Imperial uniforms! Kill the despicable scum!

 

Most of the people playing this game will have grown up with some form of Star Wars. But as this thread shows, most of us then also grow up and start to appreaciate how morally simplistic the movies are, and start to consider the bigger impications of the setting. Implications such as how Droids are treated, and the

.

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Can you have a grey, not evil Empire without it being Nazi apologia?

 

Indeed, I would suggest that discussing why Nazis were not all that bad is pretty much the definition of being a Nazi apologist.

Edited by ErikB

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