Alright, in the previous article of this 7-part series on how Star Wars can help your D&D games, we explained why we put the prequels in the middle and took a machete to Episode I, completely cutting it. However, Attack of the Clones- in addition to its numerous references to Episode V- has 2 solid lessons for Dungeon Masters: leave clues as to what the bad guys are up to & remember that bad guys lie, cheat, and lie some more. To differentiate from the other 3 Star Wars pieces we’ve done plus give you guys some possible NPC names, story ideas, and bits of dialogue to borrow, much of the explanation for these 2 lessons from Episode II will be shown via short scene summaries + direct quotes from the film itself.
Dangerous and disturbing this puzzle is. After stopping yet another assassination attempt on Senator Amidala- this time preventing poisonous Kohuns (space bugs) from biting Padme’s face, Detective Obi-Wan is on the case. He & Anakin go on an extended Skill Challenge flying chase through Coruscant before finally capturing the Clawdite assassin Zam Wessell. Zam admits that she was hired by a bounty hunter called…and then the changeling is shot in the neck by a toxic dart before she can say anthing other than ‘slimeball’ in Huttese. Fortunately the murder weapon itself is the next clue, so Obi-Wan then talks to his multi-armed mustached CGI friend Dexter Jettster & the cook/diner owner explains that the “funny little cuts on the side” means the weapon is a Kamino Saberdart. Now Obi-Wan just has to find Kamino which is a system- purportedly located just south of the Rishi Maze. Unfortunately there is no such system anyhere to be found in the Jedi Archives. When questioning this, according to Chief Librarian Madame Jocasta Nu, “If an item doesn’t appear in our records, it does not exist!” Although Obi-wan has lost a planet (how embarrassing) a youngling named Liam uses his truly wonderful child mind but poor child acting to point out that the planet was wayward “because someone erased it from the Archive memory.” Yoda admits that only a Jedi could be responsible so he’ll meditate while Obi-Wan goes “to the center of gravity’s pull.” Detective Obi activates his hyperpace transport ring to reach the Outer Rim watery world of Kamino. There he impersonates a unit inspector to discover there’s an army of combat-ready Fett Clones, right on schedule. Moreover he learns from the Prime Minister, Lama Su, that these units plus an upcoming million more are all thanks to the late Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas who secretly commissioned them for the Republic. However the original template for the clones, Jango Fett, instead claims he was “recruited by a man called Tyranus on one of the moons of Bogden.” Obi calls these conflicting facts ‘Curious.’
Ok. So what we have is an attack, leading to a chase, leading to an interrogation, leading to an investigation, leading to yet more investigation, leading to a (mostly offscreen) journey, leading to some negotiation which rewards in revealing a major secret, albeit a reveal with a conflicting answer. At one point the winding trail hits a dead end (losing a Planet) until other sources (Yoda’s Younglings) assist. The lesson here is that while the plot of an adventure may seem obvious, the plot of an adventure is obvious to us DMs because we DMs are the ones with full access to it! The players (hopefully) haven’t read the module, and will likely need at least a little help at some point. This assistance could come from NPC contacts or magical divination or even further clues, but if they get stuck give them opportunities to unstick themselves. Otherwise they could be wandering around; much like Obi Wan would have if he hadn’t been aided by NPCs.
The Dark Side clouds everything. Yoda warns that for Count Dooku “lies, deceit, creating mistrust are his ways now.” Indeed these obfuscating tactics cloak Darth Sidious’ plans from the Jedi. Duped, the good guys courtesy of a proposal from acting senator Jar Jar Binks, literally hand over everything to the BBEG that he needs to win. Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine is given emergency powers that do not require a Senate vote to instill. “And as my first act with this new authority” Palpy indeed bypasses the Senators to create “a grand army of the Republic to counter the increasing threats of the Separatists.” But he is only reluctantly doing this and “once the crisis is over I will lay down the powers.” Meanwhile on the Separatists capital of Geonosis, Dooku/Lord Tyranus apologzes to a captured Obi-Wan about this all being a mistake, warning him that the Republic is “now under the control of a dark lord of the Sith” & that he should join him so that “together we will destroy the Sith!”
Despite people’s problems with the prequels there’s actually a complicated, layered story here; mainly the engineering of a total political takeover by manipulating people into clamoring for the regime change. And the main villain accomplishes this feat through intricate planning. Albeit combined with the trickery of telling partial truths to better hide crucial lies. So try that tactic the next time a sly opponent is talking to the party: have them be just honest enough to reveal some actual secrets but muddy the waters with enough deception that the party won’t know what is actually what. They could even ‘be’ 2 or more separate figures, simply by adopting aliases & donning disguises like Palpatine/Darth Sidious did. Finally, the quintessential way to demonstrate the power of the Dark Side is to dupe the good guys into the ultimate betrayal: getting them to betray themselves. See if you can setup a situation where the party willingly gives their true enemy the tools to their own destruction. The best way to attempt such a shocking surprise is slowly, gradually. Play the long con. Have the bad guy bide his time, taking short strategic moves. Especially those suggested by the PCs…
Well those are the 2 main lessons from Attack of the Clones for Dungeons and Dragons. Do you use clues in your own games? Have your bad guys ever tried to ‘cloud everything?’ Tell us about it in the comments below.