The Australian census is due soon. In 2001, 0.37% of the population wrote “Jedi” as their religion. Will Yoda triumph this time around?

It’s not exactly unsung at the moment, but I thought I’d link to this excellent news article announcing the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi in a firefight with Imperial Storm Troopers on Alderaan. It’s a rare occasion that I enjoy humour based on morphing real life figures into fictional characters, but this is one of those moments. The delicious peskiness of casting Obama as Darth Vader is so perfect in so many ways, as is the satire of modeling Obi-Wan Kenobi as a terrorist mastermind. It makes very nicely the point that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, but at the same time pokes fun at the semi-mystical powers ascribed to bin Laden by the American intelligence community – by giving him actual semi-mystical powers. This isn’t the first time the US security apparatus has been compared to the Empire either – the brilliant parody Troops does a similar job of turning the evil bad guys of Star Wars fame into everyday men trying to bring order to the Universe, and is well worth watching.

The real brilliance of this Galactic Times article though lies in the comments, which manage to take the piss out of every single conspiracy theory floating around in the war on terror, from September 11th onward, without ever straying from the Star Wars format. We have demands to see the body, claims that Vader was actually born on Tatooine, accusations that the destruction of Alderaan was done by the Empire, demands to cut spending on war, suspicion that Vader is himself a Jedi, and fears of further losses of personal freedoms. It’s like the entire 10 years of the GWoT can be morphed into the Star Wars framework, reduced to farce and genuinely criticized all at the same time. It also does a great job of undermining conspiracy theories – we know that in the Star Wars context most of the conspiracies are true, but precisely because it’s an insanely cool science fiction story set somewhere else, a long time ago.

Conservatives of course are pissed about this, because it doesn’t take the GWoT seriously and implies Osama is the good guy, but even here the irony is perfect. After years of unrestrained attacks on Obama, they find themselves defending him against accusations he is Darth Vader – even though they have spent years accusing him of wanting to introduce “Fascism” to the US, of being a closet muslim, of planning “death panels” who will decide who gets health care and who dies, of sympathizing with Osama, of not being American, and of course of wanting to undermine the Republic with his health care socialism. The Australian conservative ex-Prime Minister, John Howard, even claimed in 2007 that Osama bin Laden would be “praying for” Obama to win the election [how wrong that was!] So now they find themselves defending him from comparisons with someone they have until recently quite openly implied he wants to be.

Perhaps because its construction was based on a theory of the development of myths, Star Wars will always be amenable to parallels with significant real world stories; but I think it says a lot about the lies, misinformation and hyperbole connected to the war on terror – and particularly to Osama bin Laden – that the real world story fits so well with a silly myth from another galaxy. Dishonesty, bad motives, incompetence and lack of faith in our own governments have combined to turn the war on terror into a story so incomprehensible to most of us that it might as well be fiction.

Hey guys, have you heard the one about the Jawa, the Ewok and the Jedi?

Using the idea of random character generation for WFRP from the previous post, I came up with this idea for a character created randomly for the Star Wars universe, using the WFRP 3 template. This character is a Tusken Guide,  a specialist role for an elite minority of sand people. Every aspect of this character class was generated randomly.

Background

The sand people know the desert and its ways with an intimacy to match the intricate knowledge of an Imperial Courtier, but when it comes to interacting with those who share their world they are as naive and helpless as babies. Prone to respond savagely to that which they do not understand, the Tusken long ago realized the need for a kind of diplomatic caste amongst their tribes. These diplomats are not dispatched to the towns and cities of Tatooine to negotiate treaties and settlements with governments; rather, they visit the markets and bars of Tatooine’s smaller settlements in order to carry out the more basic tasks of trade and news-gathering. Tasks that are basic to the social fabric of other societies are so alien to the wild and savage Tusken that they have developed an elite caste of non-raiders to discharge them. Like bards of ancient legend, they move amongst the towns and cities of the desert world gathering news, selling desert products and buying the kinds of products the Tusken need to make their desert lives easier – firearms, vehicles and very basic droids.

The similarity between Tusken Guides and the bards of interstellar legend are only superficial, however, for though they can interact with non-Tusken, Guides have little empathy with them, and in place of the easy charm of the bards of old they maintain a rigid discipline, the better to prevent their natural scorn for the trappings of civilized life from showing itself. They are neither educated nor naturally suited to the sophistication of Tatooine’s human or Jawa societies; rather, they restrain their natural temper while in the company of such people, and do their best to mimic their ways. This barely-restrained scorn for the softness of non-Tusken often manifests itself in ways that cause the Guide trouble, and of course like all Tusken the Guide must be able to defend itself and act decisively in any physical situation; for this reason the Guide remains a formidable fighter and an imposing physical presence, at least while not amongst its tribemates.

Career Details

Career Attributes: Strength, Willpower

Career Skills: Athletics, Coordination, Weapon Skill, Discipline, Charm

Talent Slots: Focus x2

Career Talent: Dilettante (once per session can use any skill as if it were trained, or employ an advanced skill as if it had been acquired)

Force User: No. Tusken have antibodies to mitachloreans[1], so no Tusken can use the Force.

Notes

I rolled up a character class that has a kind of jack-of-all trades talent but a strong physical/combat focus, and one career skill – charm – that really doesn’t fit the career abilities. Had I rolled a different career talent the two Focus slots would have suggested some kind of monk or ascetic character, but the dilettante doesn’t fit with that. What kind of character is a combat-focussed jack-of-all-trades? A pirate, some kind of bounty hunter, or perhaps a representative of a savage race. Had I rolled up Agility instead of Strength I would have chosen, perhaps, to make this PC a Jawa trader.

Of course the description here doesn’t have to represent a class at all, but could just be a unique character. Then instead of representing this as a caste of Tusken, I could turn it into a famous Tusken outsider, that has taken it upon itself to act as a social bridge between the tribes and the humans on Tatooine. The jack-of-all-trades element could even mean that the Tusken PC is to be found off-world when the adventure starts.

From this point character development would begin, with the assignment of ability scores, etc. I would be treating Fellowship as a dump stat, so even though the PC has charm skill they remain pretty poor at charming people. I wouldn’t be loading up on social or support action cards either…

fn1: haha, mitachloreans…


According to the Guardian today, at a recent convention Gary Kurtz, the writer of Return of the Jedi, revealed the original plot to the movie, which was that Han Solo would die halfway through in a raid, Princess Leia would have difficulty adapting to her new role as leader, and Luke Skywalker would walk off into the distance an embittered loner. That last part certainly fits with his presentation in the movie. I don’t know about Han Solo though – people like him are meant to survive anything, it’s part of their mystique. Someone who can say “I know” just before being frozen, possibly forever, is the kind of guy who doesn’t die in mid-level base raids.

So, would the movie have been better done this way? Note the alternative storyline doesn’t preclude ewoks.

I think Skywalker’s end, particularly, would suit him better, but I also think that Vader’s redemption was a really important part of the 3rd movie and there’s nothing in the alternative described in the Guardian to suggest what happened to him. I actually liked the existing end of the movie, with the rebel alliance successful, Vader redeemed, and Skywalker a bit of a grump. The only thing that spoils the movie in my view is the ewoks, and they don’t spoil it much.

But in the decision about how to end the film, there is a hint of the real tragedy to come: Lucas decided to give it a happy ending because toy sales were very high. It’s really hard to work out what happened to the mind of a man who allegedly wrote the first 3 movies as a film representation of the journey of the hero, as described by that academic (Campbell?) and how he slid so far in the making of the new movies. Proof of the existence of the Elder Gods, I suppose.