May the Fourth be with you (and with your Force Spirit, yo)! As we celebrate May the 4th, I thought it would be fun to take a deep dive into how you can rethink the use of Jedi in your roleplay game. Whether you are playing in a medieval fantasy universe or a Star Wars campaign, a Jedi is a fun concept that is worth investigating.
We will start by looking at the high concept for a Jedi character, and then look at how you can make the portrayal of your character more interesting and compelling.
I. What Is a Jedi?
First off, a "Jedi" is not just a person who wields a bladed weapon with magic powers that stem from the "Light" side of the magic system. A Jedi does train in the use of a lightsaber, but is not always a master at its use: there are many Jedi who specialize in the use of the Force for farming, healing, teaching - all manner of things not tied to the art of war.
Jedi are also more than just Force users connected to the Light Side: they serve as diplomats, advisors, and strategists, so having Charm/Charisma abilities is a large part of the lives of many Jedi (and probably more commonly used than saber skills).
The Jedi Code and their guiding principles also dictate a lot about what they are and what they are allowed to be/do (albeit with the caveat that the High Republic may shed some light on how long this has been the case). Jedi don't wear opulent clothes, own vast tracts of land, or amass wealth. In fact, we don't know that Jedi are "paid" at all - as far as we know they just receive funds for the journeys they go on, but don't have a salary or pension beyond that. They don't wear full armor, hold no titles save those that the Jedi Council give them, and are not motivated by money.
And of course, as Anakin clearly shows us, Jedi aren't just "good guys": they wrestle with issues and temptation just like others. So from a thought process perspective there is a lot to think about when building a Jedi.
So with this in mind, how can you integrate Jedi player characters or non-player characters into your campaigns? A few thoughts.
II. Rethinking Jedi
First things first, we need to determine what kind of Force user we are talking about here. I don't believe in Gray Jedi (Grey Jedi? Who knows, who cares, they aren't real), but there are many types of Force users and they all have different codes, abilities, and specialties.
Among the Jedi Knights you have sages, scholars, sentinels, knights, temple guards, and diplomats, all having different goals, aspirations, training, and equipment (let's hear it for the yellow double-bladed lightsabers of the temple guards!). Are you an older Jedi who is on the Council or almost on the Council, or a younger Jedi who might be more loose with the rules? All of this changes how a Jedi acts/talks.
You have Light Side servants who don't harness the Force like the Guardians of the Whills from Rogue One, as well as Light Side mystics who never joined the order (which Vader comes across in the comics during The Purge). And this doesn't even touch on the Sith, Dark Side Force Users, or even the Nightsisters of Dathomir that practice a very unique form of Force magicks.
So decide first and foremost what you are playing. If you are playing a Jedi, are you part of the Order, or did you leave it (like Eeth Koth and Yaddle do during/before the Clone Wars)? Are you on a mission for the Council, or is this a personal trip (like Anakin's trip to Tatooine)? How loyal are you to their commands? To the Code?
Next, training: are you a more martially-inclined Jedi, or are you a pursuer of the Will of the Force? Are you a mystic like Qui-Gon who follows prophecies and ancient texts? Are you trained as a pilot like Plo Koon, Anakin, and Saessee Tiin? Are you a calm negotiator, and how does that play into your use of swordsmanship?
While you were likely added to the temple at a young age, where did you grow up? How much were you told about where you grew up? What traits did you inherit from your parents/race (the Iktotchi are naturally sensitive to danger through the Force, which is why Saessee Tiin is such a good pilot)? All of these things will help to make your Jedi feel different and unique?
What would cause you to leave the Order? Part of the tension for a Jedi is whether or not to follow the Code (and this is generally true for clerics, paladins, oathmen, etc. too, not just for Jedi), so know what would tempt you, and mention that to the GM. This will help to bring your character to life in a crisis.
Is there anything you fear? Fear is a path to the Dark Side, so knowing what you fear will help you determine what might make a good challenge for you. What if your Jedi was afraid of heights - falling, lacking being in control, a loss of safety - how would that play out differently from, say, the typical "losing a loved one" fear?
What kinds of contacts do you have? Obi-Wan is an interesting character because he follows the rules, and yet he knows Dexter Jetster who has a seedy past. What kinds of company do you keep (both the party and before you joined them), and how does that shape you into who you are?
There's more we could go into, but we'll cut it off there. If you want to make your Jedi more interesting, find ways to express your views/use of the Force, the Code, and the Will of the Force in ways that are different and interesting. They will make you feel more like a real character and less like a copy.
I love Star Wars - it was my introduction to fantasy, even before Narnia and Arda. Just over a year ago I started a Star Wars group to start testing the sci-fi era aspects of Zurn, and I've been enjoying every moment of it because I've been trying to make all of the things people recognize a bit more real/different from the caricatures. The more you do this, the more vivid and real your world will appear.
In our next post this week, we will be continuing the Star Wars theme with a related D&D build: how to create a "Jedi" for your next adventure.
Until next time,