3 Lessons from Star Wars Episode III for D&D

Table of Contents

After machete-chopping TPM, we went on to explain the 2 main lessons for D&D from AOTC, and now have the high ground with Revenge of the Sith. ROTS is all about the Dark Side so no one should be flat footed to learn that the messages from the final Prequel are all about Evil.  Specfically…

  1. Good is a point of view During his conversion of Anakin, Palpatine states that “The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way, including their quest for greater power.” There’s something to this. The Empire is about order & control, admittedly of the Lawful Evil kind. But that doesn’t mean what Palpatine says is invalid- after all the Jedi Order while the antithesis of the Sith, is also about well, order. Only its order as it applies towards the goals of their own High Council. That’s not much difference than the Sith. What this means for D&D is that many races with the Evil alignment truly may not see themselves as evil. Putting it another way, to the Orcs, the Dwarves & the Elves are the Evil ones. It would be interesting to have opponents of the PCs insist that it is in fact the party of PCs who are the ‘bad guys.’ And given the label for stereotypical adventurers being ‘Murder Hoboes’ who kick in doors to fireball first and Diplomacy later, this perspective may not be too far from a truth.  Its just a truth contrary to what the Good Guys are used to.
  2. You’ve become the very thing you swore to destroy The fall of Anakin Skywalker and rise of Darth Vader is of course the central theme in Episode III & to an extent the whole point of the Prequels. (That and merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made) Turning heroes from the light should be a recurring end goal of certain BBGs, whether those of Outsiders such as Demons & Devils or simply depraved mortals. Degrading a good soul until the pollution of acts contrary to its alignment twist the hero into a perversion of their former self is about as evil as you can get.  Per The Book of Exalted Deeds– the de facto official material in D&D on all things good, the ends never justify the means. Period. It would be better to let an entire city die than have a single Paladin foresake their oaths because in D&D cosmology, souls are what matter not lives. Characters should take care they aren’t corrupted into what they’re campaigning against.  And why might someone otherwise good succumb to temptation? Because…
  3. The Dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural. Anakin submits to corruption because he believes only the Dark Side can “save your wife from certain death.” The legend of Darth Plagueis being “so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence life…he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying,” may have been a ruse Palpatine created to trick Anakin.  However it can’t be denied that Sith do have capabilities exceeding Jedi because Sith sorcery harnesses the raw negative aspects of the Force and each time the intense energy makes them stronger. The potential manifests through Force lightning, spreading fear through illusions, memory tampering, aura concealment, and radically affecting the nearby environment. Like chucking Senate pods. Giving Evil more power in D&D is both logical as well as realistic because Evil beings do not care at what cost that power comes from, allowing them to tap into sources Good beings would never touch. Increasing the capabilities of Team Evil also lets your bad guys more ably hold their own vs a team of PCs. So consider bumping up Evil spells, items, & creatures to reflect their Darker Side. The Book of Vile Darkness presents some fiendish ideas on how to do this through such mechanics as rewards for ritual sacrifices, dying curses, using pain or even souls as power, & the very Sith-like Dark Speech. Finally, I’m not a fan of Raise Dead but imagine if the only source for it in D&D suddenly became from the Dark Side. Quite a conundrum indeed..

Ok that’s our takeaway from how Star Wars Episode III can help your D&D campaigns. Have any of your bad guy NPCs ever seen themselves as good? Ever gotten a character to switch over to Team Evil? Should the Bad Guys get some boost to better tempt players or just help their side stay alive in the game more? Tell us about in the comments below.

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1 thought on “3 Lessons from Star Wars Episode III for D&D”

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    That 3rd section just seems to trail off.

    Good is a PoV is why I ditched “monster races” in my campaign, as discussed here: http://wp.me/pylJj-11

    The Dark offers powers that the Light does not, because the powers of the Dark have costs (that whole end/means thing again) that effect others. Yes, can can save the life of X, but to do so, you will have to take the lives of five Ys, or five hundred. Is that worth it? If you are evil, yes,

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