Chut-chut, Gizkas. Where are you going, today? How are you going to get there? I want to take a look at personal transit. Whether you’re cruising the skies of Coruscant, the apocalyptic ruin of Taris or the vast watery expanse of Manaan, you’re going to need a vehicle.
Star Wars is really good at this stuff. BioWare fall a bit flat, compared to the rich, warm detail espoused by the films and extended materials. Who had those Incredible Cross-Sections books, as a kid? I sure did. We the Players don’t have to abide solely by the devs’ limited scope, with such vibrant resources on-tap to fire the imagination.
Here’s my methods for dreaming up all kinds of transport guff, and a few suggestions on what to avoid, to enrich your world. Clicky.
A while ago, someone in the comments section said that maybe film and online RP shouldn’t be linked as closely as I often link them.
After all, one is long-form storytelling and the other is free-form. One is the (hopefully) polished work of a team of professionals and the other is a constantly evolving work in progress. Films are structured in ways that can’t easily be brought to real-time collaborative writing. The responsibility of the story falls not on one person writing all characters, but a team of people writing multiple characters. It all comes together to form a very different beast.
Despite all that, there are some crucial similarities. The dramatic question is one of them.
Picture a scene: Your character is taking a break from a hectic, life-defining week, to eat some drive-by dumplings on the balcony of a gentleman’s club. Someone whispers you, out of the blue, telling you that you're Doing it Wrong. Star Wars, this nebulous detractor says, is supposed to be Sith and Jedi and Epic Plots. The rise and fall of civilisations, life and death, grand schemes and other miscellaneous hyperbole.
It is unacceptable, they imply, that characters might actually have personalities! That they might eat and drink and talk and listen and meet with friends and colleagues. It is unacceptable, to them, that our characters in-world might have needs and wants beyond total galactic domination or kill all those other guys or cast the false oppressor asunder. How far you have fallen!
Say that happened, then click the thing. We'll hash this one out.
Bo shuda, Gizkas. Picture, if you will, an all-too-common scene: EXT. PUBLIC SPACE, NIGHT - Two sentients are having a disagreement. One of them is in a guild, say, <Dread Gloom>, or whatever you fancy. The conflict reaches a head; escalation is inevitable. Someone throws a punch.
Next thing you know, four more members of <Dread Gloom> just appeared out of the Aether, elaborate swords at the ready. They decloaked! No-one knew they were there! Especially not the Force-sensitives. See, these are special stealth-field generators! They bend light perfectly from all angles! And they deaden all sound the user makes! And they mute their presence in the Force! Very, very stealthy. But they can still communicate with their fellows, you see? Rakatan tech, probably! They can co-ordinate over groupchat in-character comms. Uh, you know, really quietly. No signals to intercept, either. They’re super-scrambled.
Yeah. This is a way to get one over on the Other Guys. You know it, they know it. Everyone knows it. Where am I going with this? Clicky.
A Broadcast by the Bureau of Social Harmony
Today we mark a solemn day. Greetings one and all; I am Dr. Zara Anoleis, and today is a day of remembrance. In this dark hour, at the time of twilight over the Spire of Zakuul, we mourn a fateful moment just over five years gone. The Immortal Emperor and Protector of Zakuul, Valkorion, perished in his own throne room.
I am not speaking here today to chastise or to scrape raw the wounds of the past, for we have had five years of mourning and bitterness to exchange our rivalries; on this day I wish to honour our fallen Emperor for what he was and what he meant to the history of Zakuul; a shining figure that even in his passing leads through the deathless ideals of our homeland. He who led us from darker times past into the gleaming dawn of the future, drawing forth the greatest civilisation in galactic history.
Today, we honour Valkorion in memory, ever immortal in the core of every Zakuulan heart.
“Grrr,” does not an interesting character make.
The Sexy Lamp Test is like a cynical monocle through which to peer at films. It dictates that for any film to pass, its female characters must do more than a sexy lamp could. If Wanda Wondertits is seen at a party and attracts the gawping attention of the protagonists, she has done no more than a sexy lamp could have. It’s used as a measure of how bad a film’s characterisation of women is. There’s oh-so-much room here for a Star Wars test though, isn’t there?
The Murderous Coatstand Test. Can that character over there be replaced in this scene by a particularly murder-inclined coatstand? Perhaps with a little automatic hinge to facilitate the sipping of Corellian whiskey (yes, we’re talking about you). Is their sole input in the scene to stand around and promise dire murderfication on anyone who might make fun of their Korbo™ Cruiser Class Pauldrons, or their Korbo™ Genuine* Smugglewear CrimCoat (yes, we’re still talking about you) without providing the least bit of actual interest or movement?
Ring any bells?
So just how many skills can your character realistically have in one life-time? Let's consider that carefully. But before we do, lets take the c.v of a real-life person in their late thirties and describe it in Star Wars terms.
Jaxar is a 37 year old med-tech. She started out adult life with seven years as an officer in the Republic Army. During that time they earned an undergraduate degree and, after picking up an injury that ended her front-line service, she went on to pick up a post-graduate degree in Interplanetary Relations. After her niggling injuries proved too troublesome, Jaxar resigned from the army and spent a few months as office worker and a maitre de on Pesh while waiting for their Sector Rangers application to be approved. She then spent four years in law enforcement before eventually choosing her love for her husband over her love of the job. After leaving law enforcement behind for good, she made a respectable income out of her favorite hobby and became a professional artist. Working alone a cramped studio all day every day to make ends eventually wore her down. Looking for some social interaction and to do something constructive for the community again, Jax started volunteering in a residential care home for elderly sentients. Right after that, she decided she wanted to be a nurse. After three years of study and retraining, she completed her nursing degree and started looking for work on the local job market and hiring fairs. She's recently taken on a role as senior med-tech at a busy Republic Space Station where her husband works inspecting spacer's insurance claims.
So what's my point?
Chut-chut Gizkas. The prophecy is come. The oathsworn moment. Trinkets. Useless fluff. Odds & Sods.
Tarantino loves this stuff, don’t you know? The chap fills his actors’ pockets with stuff their characters should have. These things are never seen on camera, but are trappings of the life and personality of a given character, included so thespians-at-work can get at the ephemeral soul of a fictional entity. That’s what we’re looking for. Stuff. Not stonking-great shooters or pointy knives or Relics of Dread Power. Paraphernalia.
Okay, okay. I know what you’re thinking. Who’s going to see? Who’s going to know? Ah, but there’s the rub: It is for you, the writer, to reveal these trinkets appropriately. Items spill out of a pocket. Stuff collected from a desk and hastily pushed into a handbag. The picture on the glovebox of a ‘speeder. You have to write it all in, when relevant; when another character shows an interest.
Let’s go through some ideas.
Profit and Plunder, the next chapter for Fallen Empire, is coming to live servers on May 5. With its release, we see one popular companion and one not-so-popular return to our sides to aide us in the ongoing struggle against the Eternal Empire. The popular one has blue skin, and the not-so-popular is missing half a horn. I don't feel I need to elaborate further.
One of the recent chapters saw the relentless and cunning Havoc Squad's Major Jorgan swear his allegiance to our cause, and previous to that, Kaliyo signed up to the alliance, alongside Talos Drellik, T7, Theron, and Lana. Squad goals so far are on point!
However, we're still missing some well-known and well-loved characters. Where's Kira, Doc, Corso, Nadia, Mako and Andronikos? Are they and the rest of the companions all going to make an appearance?
Tell us which companions you're still eagerly waiting to see return to your rightful side and why in the comments section below. Do you think they're definitely still out there in the known galaxy, limbs and living organs still intact? Or has Arcann seen to their demise? Say it ain't so! <insert hysteric crying emoticon here>
We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast from the Bureau of Social Harmony to bring you an urgent public service announcement from the Overwatch.
In the small hours of yesterday evening, a disorganised force of rebels was repelled attempting to launch an assault on a military watch-post manned by the Knights of Zakuul. Citizens may rest assured that Zakuul casualties were minimal and the attackers were forced into a costly retreat and it is believed that no security breaches that could affect the safety of civilians were reported.
However, disturbing reports from after-action recordings show that these attackers were being aided by those citizens once humanely exiled for their civil offences. This shocking disregard for the Emperor’s mercy will not be tolerated and any citizen considering aiding dissident parties should be aware that they will be indicted as accessories to their criminal activity. Any who are found to be aiding enemies of the state will be penalised accordingly.
For offworld forces considering this breach of our sovereign homeland to be a victory, be aware that this attack was repelled with complete ease and at significant cost to opposing personnel. We hope continued attempts to oppose the Eternal Empire meeting with laughable failure will discourage any further attempts to disrupt the galactic peace we are all struggling so hard to maintain.
We will now return you to your regular broadcast schedule.
Glory to Emperor Arcann.