Friday, February 26, 2016

Why I'll Always Opt To Play The Jedi

My L5R game is about to go on a small hiatus for a time skip, and when we do that we break and one of the players GMs a side game. Previously this has been a Halo game, that was awesome, but we ended the Halo game before the last generation of L5R ended. This time we're going to do Star Wars, and despite my intentions (initially) to not play a force sensitive, when pressed for character ideas yesterday everything that popped into my head was the different Jedi classes. Today I want to talk about why, then ask if you feel the same.

The Unique Experience
That's it. That title is the reason I do it. There is no other game universe out there that will let me be a Jedi - to the full extent of what that means - or a Sith except Star Wars. Yeah, I could be a Jedi-esque eldritch knight or whatever in D&D, or some mystic copy cat for a FATE Core game, but nothing is going to give me the Star Wars force, a light saber, and a world full of blaster bolts to deflect that isn't the Star Wars universe.

In a lot of ways Jedi are the iconic portrayal of the Star Wars universe, and that's because they are what the universe has that "no one else" does.

In much the same way if you put me in a Halo game I want to be a Spartan (preferably a 2 or a 3 in specific). If you put me in a 40k game I want to be a Space Marine, Sister of Battle, or Tau. If you put me in an open World of Darkness game I want to be a normal person. Why? Because these are all the unique experiences for this game. And yes "normal person" is a unique experience for World of Darkness, because where else are you going to get to be just a guy or girl in a world full of supernatural monsters that are also fellow PCs?

But You Can't Fly An X-Wing In Another Game
One of my first responses to my own realization here is that while being a Jedi is unique to Star Wars, so to is being an X-Wing pilot (or an A-Wing pilot or a TIE Interceptor pilot.) Except, is it really? I mean, when it comes down to it an X-Wing pilot is just a fighter pilot. It's not like I see the craft while playing an RPG. It could just as easily be a F-22 in a modern day game, a Viper Mk. VII in a BSG game, or one of those new alien hybrid F-35s in the new Independence Day movie trailers (I think those are F-35s, I also assume since the government is trying to market them like crazy for various reasons.)

The same is true for smugglers and bounty hunters. Sure, they're awesome, but Firefly is basically an entire universe about being Han Solo. By the same token, any military sci-fi game will give you the feel of the Imperial Guard from 40k, the non-Spartan II and IIIs from Halo, or the colonial marines from Aliens. It's not that these experiences aren't meaningful, it's just that I'll get lots of chances to delve into them...but the niche cases like Jedi? Who knows when I'll get another chance at that.

What About You?
I like experiencing the unique niche of the universe, at least in the verses that appeal to me. What about you? Some of the friends I have prefer the opposite. They love the stories about the "normal" people in a world with those other super soldiers. They don't want to be the Master Chief, they want to be the ODST guy that is doing everything he can to keep up knowing all the while that they probably can't. They want that aspect of the story, and that's totally all right and perfectly cool.

Others like taking routes to power where they can be just as good, but decidedly not the niche thing. They don't want to be Luke Skywalker, they want to be Wedge Antilles. Sure, Luke is hot shit, but no one beats Wedge in an X-Wing, not even Luke Skywalker with all his force abilities.

So where do you fall? Are you like me? Or do you go a different route?


  1. I like taking the most cliche type of character, the most basic and boring. The type that makes everyone groan when you show your sheet, because it has no originality whatsoever. And then I start playing this utterly bland character, and it grows into an awesome and well-rounded character. I make the different aspects of the character interact and take them to their logical conclusion (or not so logical in some cases, but fitting the game). It's not only for PC's though, when I GM I do the same with my NPC's, they tend to have one or two flavors to make them stand out. :)
    If I played Star Wars I'm not sure I'd play a Jedi, it depends on the scope of the game I think. If the party is a group of Jedi's I definitely would, but I wouldn't want to lose the opportunity to play a stormtrooper who is trying to find his/her own identity.
    It's not the class or race or whatever that makes a character awesome, it's what you do with it as a player. You can tack on as many 'special snowflake'-aspects onto your character if you want, but unless you take the effort to make it work, it won't ever be as cool as my D&D 3.5 human fighter. :)

    1. I love this post. It is a great counter point to what I mentioned above. And yeah, no matter what you do the character itself has to pop. Often the most amazing character at the D&D table is the lawful neutral human fighter without the tramatic past, because they're just so normal they can't help but stand out.

  2. I tend to prefer playing the character that is the every man, and becoming awesome despite not being automatically "special." I have to admit I even enjoy it more when I can manage a story interesting character that is mechanically handicapped by Not being a Jedi, or a Spartan. I think it's because I'm a bit contrarian.

  3. I understand both points of view and I usually, at the point, drift more into the standard character type well played side of things.

    In SW (in games that have lasted more than one session), I have played: young senatorial, jedi and jawa droid liberationist.

    Usually, I leave jedi to people who really want to play them, even though I find them quite compelling. But jawa are also very specific to the SW universe so it is nice to get a chance to play one.