Lessons for D&D from Return of the Jedi

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Captain Obvious after his promotion.
Captain Obvious after his promotion.

We’ve been working our way through all the Star Wars movies & how they can help D&D games. But after suffering through the infamous Holiday Special, we needed a break. Yet the show must go on, and RotJ is the last movie chronologically before the new hotness that is Episode VII. However it quickly becomes apparent why this one is considered 3rd out of 3 when it comes to ranking the original trilogy. (Producer Gary Kurtz has gone as far to admit that plot points were sacrificed to toy sales) Still, anything can be the source of useful inspiration if you look close enough. So here we go, lessons for D&D from Jedi:

  • Safely save good ideas for later, they might come in handy. The original name of Episode VI was actually going to be Revenge of the Jedi.  In fact this title went as far as to be produced onto on various posters as well as the RotJ teaser trailer before Lucas decided that revenge wasn’t the way of the Jedi.  He would of course later re-use it for Episode III Revenge of the Sith, which is a pretty sweet name for a film. Now, its not likely that George would have forgotten this key word for his movies but if you set aside a dedicated place to put your thoughts for gaming they’ll be there to go back through when needed.
  • Realistic campaigns need to have realistic elements Jedi is rated PG but that’s because PG-13 wasn’t around until another Lucas production, Temple of Doom, made the -13 necessary. Not only does Jedi show droids being tortured, Ewoks being killed, and very graphic Force-lightning you also see neck chained Princess Leia made to wear a metal bikini. An outfit that allowed Boba Fett to “see straight to Florida.” Look, slaves are a sad structure of many societies. Torture by state officials has been reported in over 141 countries. Child soldiers are the feature of Netflix movie, Beasts of No Nation. While RPGs help us escape from reality, if you want your game to ‘feel real’ & therefore be believable you should push PG-13 & beyond. By that I mean all those Half-Orcs have to come from somewhere. Include a few topics from the headlines if you want your fantasy to have a basis in reality. And speaking of Boba Fett…
  • Even bad-asses should have a bad-day The Fett is clearly a fan favorite but Mandalorian armor aside, he simply doesn’t do much other than look cool. The very first time we see the bounty Hunter seeing some actual action, his EE-3 carbine rifle is destroyed via Luke’s Sunder attack.  Then his quarry, a half-blind Han Solo, accidentally bumps into Boba causing the Z-6 jet pack to misfire. Fett flies off & comically crashes, sliding down to his doom in the Great Pit of Carkoon. One of the seemingly major villains falls stupidly into a stationary monster’s mouth, to his apparent death. Although his escape from the Sarlacc is now canon the fact remains that Boba Fett was total hype.  Which could very well happen to even one of your major NPCs. Forget strategy all it could take are a few bad rolls on your part, a few great rolls on their part. Accept it. Work it into the story. Maybe your bad ass can metaphorically climb out later or maybe their death stays. Either way its perfectly ok for the bad guys to have off days because your players sure will.
  • Good should be tempted by Evil, Evil should be tempted by Good Perhaps the focus of Jedi is the inner struggle of Luke Skywalker between him staying with the Light or going to join the Dark Side. There are some fan theories that say Luke actually DOES give in to his hate but that would seem to be accidental Lucas. Still, the testing of Skywalker vs the redemption of Darth Vader holds valuable story material for Dungeons & Dragons.  In a game world where alignment is a characteristic that can literally be detected, the various forces would surely try to sway opponents to their cause. Like Emperor Palpatine did with Luke have the PCs’ various villains try to convince the party to switch to evil, providing valid reasons to do so.  Likewise if the players are truly being ‘Good’ as in the official D&D game definition of the word then they will try to redeem villains to the Light.  That means capturing, not killing. Either way the battle for souls is as important as the battle for lives.

Ok, those are our takeaways from Revenge/Return. What would you have included? Is Jedi really the least of the original trilogy?  Let us know in the comments below.

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