What with the popularity of The Force Awakens, other than with a small demographic of people who are adamantly refusing to understand what happened to their power fantasy from the 70s, I’ve been thinking about tabletop Star Wars and the events as laid out by the movies so far – and in so doing, I hit on an idea for a campaign that I would dearly love to play in, even though the odds of that are fairly slim indeed.
At the end of the prequels, we have the Jedi Temple on Coruscant broadcasting a message telling any surviving Jedi to stay away and go into hiding. Obi-wan and Yoda both go into self-imposed exile, although Obi-wan kind of was a dick and left Anakin to burn to death at the edge of the lava rather than killing him quickly and mercifully, a mistake that came back to bite him decades later as Darth Vader. As far as the galaxy knows, the Jedi are extinct and the newly-minted Emperor has an enforcer with a lightsaber of a color not associated with the Jedi.
Still – the Jedi Temple is warning any survivors of the purge away from Coruscant – telling them to go into hiding. While some Jedi have faced this before in the last few thousand years, it has never been anything of this scale. The survivors either are getting this message along with filtered rumors that the clonetroopers have turned on others, or they just survived the clonetroopers betraying them. Either way, these survivors are going to be confused and frightened. A lot of them likely go to Coruscant anyway, hoping to have it be some terrible mistake, only to be cut down when they arrive.
A few may trust the message, or be terrified by their own direct experiences, or show up just behind another survivor only to see them get torn apart by Republic forces. These few go into hiding; they’re the PCs of this campaign. Even in as large a space as the Galactic Republic covers there can’t be many of them. Some probably get killed before long – they make mistakes, accidentally revealing themselves and getting hunted down.
The rest learn to masquerade as something else – bounty hunters, with a penchant for obscuring their identity behind the armor; smugglers, brazenly hiding in plain sight as the most ubiquitous and unremarkable of scum; some join criminal organizations, hiding their nature behind a thuggish attitude and rough behavior.
And so a few survive the purge and live into the long night of the Galactic Empire. They avoid rumors of the Rebellion, scoff when there’s word of some Jedi hermit here or there. They know no one else is likely to have survived. Lightsabers are a last resort, the Force gets used only in private or when absolutely necessary to remain unimportant and anonymous. A whole new era of Jedi shadows arises – hidden even from one another.
And that’s where we’d begin the campaign – no more than one to three players and a GM, in the time period between the prequels and the original trilogy. The PCs are all Jedi in hiding, who draw a lightsaber as an absolute last resort because every single witness has to be silenced – because there’s a bounty on stray Jedi and any stories that slip loose might draw Imperial attention that they don’t want.
They’re hiding in plain sight – smugglers, which gives them an excuse to wear clothing that obscures their faces and under which their lightsabers can be concealed, or bounty hunters, never taking their helmets off outside their ship, the lightsabers hidden in clever hidden compartments on their armor.
The plot, initially, revolves around their latest near miss – an Imperial dreadnought has just arrived in the backwater system they’re in just as they’re preparing to leave, and traffic is interdicted as stormtroopers march through the spaceport, inspecting spacecraft and interrogating people who look like they might be subversives.
The long plot would revolve around a theme – the question of choice. Will the Jedi, when they learn that there’s a resistance movement – a Rebellion – choose to stay in hiding while people who aren’t Force sensitive – or worse, who might be but who lack any training in using it, relying on instinct – fight the Sith whose machinations destroyed the Jedi Order? Or will they join the fight? If they join the fight, will they do so openly, knowing that it paints a bullseye on them, or will they strike from the shadows, aiding the rebels without revealing who they are?
And what of it, should they discover other Jedi in hiding – ones who haven’t even dared to keep their lightsabers, who have come to the attention of the Sith? Or when they discover that both of the Sith in power over the galaxy have apprentices in secret? Or when they find a fallen Jedi, wrapped in the Dark Side, who still refuses the ways of the Sith?
Everything about this campaign can be wrapped in questions of choice, forcing the PCs to choose between courses that at least seem to be equally dangerous. Ultimately, the campaign could revolve around the question of whether the Jedi will live up to what they were supposed to be, or if they’ll shrug off the ideals of the Order in the name of personal survival.
Is a Jedi still a Jedi if they refuse to defend the weak and uphold the light?
“What is a Jedi, even? A lightsaber and a few Force tricks? Or is a Jedi something more than that, more than a single person standing alone?”
I’d really like to find out. Hopefully you do, too, now!